Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Andrew Bird is Terrific

This new album (does anyone but me say "album" these days?) by Andrew Bird is truly amazing. It is lyrical, symphonic, and textured. Thank you to my wonderful writing group for choosing to meet at Third Place Books Pub on Sunday night so that I could hear it. The best new music, new to me at least, that I have heard in a very long time!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Bikini Body

So this is the new body of Valerie Bertanelli. I haven't read the article, I'm sure that it is scintillating, but I have heard that she lost weight by eating 1200 calories a day and exercising of course. The exercise part is easy for me, it is the calorie reduction that seems challenging. That is not very many calories. I envy the discipline it must take to accomplish that, I would love to have that discipline. Now that she has done it, will she be able to keep the weight off? Hmm...it would be encouraging to all of us forty-something women if she could manage to do this. Sometimes I think about dieting, I do try and eat healthy and I exercise, but 1200 calories a day, that means that I would probably have to reduce my wine consumption more than I would like, I am just not sure that I would ever have the willpower to accomplish that.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Who is the "Other?"

I recently read this book for my book club. We had the discussion last night, a more rousing discussion than we typically have, this could have been because everyone present actually read the whole book. It also could have been because we didn't all agree on every point.
The book is about a friendship between two men, Neil Countryman and John William Barry. Neil is from an average, middle-class family and John William is a rich kid, with rich kid family problems and a mentally ill mother. The story starts when the boys are in high school in the 1970's and follows their friendship until John William's untimely death in the early 1980's. I say "untimely" death, but at that time John William had been living as a hermit in the Hoh Rain Forest on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state for seven years. He probably wouldn't have lived that long if it hadn't been for Neil's forays into the hermit camp with necessities from civilization. In the end Neil is left with a huge surprise from his friend twenty-one years after his death.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

I am Tired of Forking out

Today at work I noticed it, I hadn't seen one in a while, but there it was, the good old "save the date" for a double wedding shower for two of my co-workers. Now, don't get me wrong, I like my co-workers, they are fun to go out to lunch with and talk with during the workday, on some occasions I have become very good friends with a co-worker and the friendship has outlasted the co-worker relationship.

Now, back to the "save the date" poster in bright red tacked there by the copy machine. My first thought is will I be invited to the wedding? I don't love going to weddings, but if I am going to fork over the coin for a bridal shower gift for someone that is not a close personal friend, I sure would like to get something in return. This may sound selfish, but we have three kids to support and close friends and family whom we may choose to buy gifts for and most definitely do buy gifts for at special times in their lives, like bridal and baby showers.

I feel a bit bad saying this as I have been the recipient of bridal and baby gifts in my lifetime. However, at the place I worked when I got married and had my kids we didn't schedule weekend showers for employees. It was a pool based system, each employee contributed some money that went into a pool and I was presented with a work gift, sometimes at a potluck during the work day. If I was good friends outside of work with any of my co-workers, and I was at the time, I invited them to the bridal/baby showers hosted by friends outside of work on the weekend.

Just a few months ago I finally had to bring what I called "the birthday debacle" to the attention of my boss. It seemed as though every month, sometimes more than once a month, we were celebrating the birthday of a co-worker. Our office used to be quite small, it has now grown tremendously, and I felt nickled and dimed at every turn being asked for contributions towards yet another birthday gift. We have since changed our policy and do a card and monthly potlucks. I like this, it seems more work appropriate.

I have now decided that I won't be setting aside any of my valuable weekend time with friends and family or forking over unnecessary sums of money for these work based bridal/baby showers. With the bridal showers, I will consider it if I am invited to the wedding. This may sound selfish, but two of my kids have a birthday party to attend this weekend, there are a slew of family and close friend birthdays coming up and I am on a budget. The budget is not going to include co-workers that are not out of the office friends or generous in their wedding invites.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Honoring Benito Juarez

I looked at my calendar today and realized that I had missed Benito Juarez birthday. Every year I celebrate the birthday of this great man with two of my friends and we MISSED it. Fan Girl and Silver Fox are you up for a belated celebration?

Fondue Party

I went to a fondue party in my neighborhood about a week ago. What a great idea, fondue pots bubbled throughout the kitchen while the guests sipped beverages, dipped their food, and milled about. It was a great Melting Pot experience without the price. I loved it, hopefully we can create an annual tradition.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

So Many Movies, So Little Time

I visited my favorite local video store today. I swear is there nothing that Scarecrow doesn't have in stock? Even very far fetched and out-of-distribution movies have been found there. I don't make it into the store as much as I would like, When in there, I feel like I am a kid set free in a candy store, "I want to see that and that and that!" It never ends. This is today's list.
1) 9 1/2 Weeks (uncensored and unrated version, much better)
2) Aerosmith Live, Texxas Jam '78
3) Bottle Shock ( I have hear that it is just as good or even better than Sideways)
4) Lennon Legend ( I tried to watch it today, makes me depressed, even thirty years later, that John Lennon was shot down by a lunatic in his prime. I love his music)
5) The Stones in the Park (I will be renting more Stones videos, as there are so many and I do love them)
6) That Night in Toronto (I am in love with the Tragically Hip all over again)
So that's a wrap, I am on a movie roll. I wonder how long I can keep this up. Sometimes I am on a book roll, sometimes a writing roll, sometimes an outdoor roll, now a movie roll, hmm... I wonder what will be next.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Breakfast at Tiffany's

My girls and I went on a short ski weekend. We stayed at the vacation home of some very generous friends and hit the nearby slopes. While we were there, we watched "Breakfast at Tiffany's." In hindsight, maybe my younger girls were a bit too young for this movie, but most of the references went over their heads. As I talked to them, mostly on the chairlift, today all they could talk about was the fashion and the glamor and wanting to see New York City-all in all, great things to take away from an enduring classic. I had forgotten how much I love it.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Worst Idea Ever

On my way to work yesterday, I was listening to the radio, a local classic rock station. On the morning show the DJ's usually present some opinion and ask viewers to weigh in on how they stand. Yesterday's opinion was "the price of traffic tickets."

The announcing DJ had seen a woman pulled over for speeding. This woman apparently sped by said DJ in a school zone and a cop was right on her tail. She drove a "fairly new" bright red BMW. The DJ, being curious, followed the car and cop into the McDonald's parking lot where they had pulled over. He described himself as being "about four parking spaces away," enough to be discreet. The DJ was upset by the exchange between this "good looking" woman and cop. He stated that she was laughing and appeared to be joking around with the officer as she was being issued the citation. He knew that she had been egregiously speeding and felt that she did not show proper remorse.

"Should traffic ticket amounts be based on income?" was the question on the morning show. The DJ proposed that traffic ticket amounts were not high enough for some people to "properly learn a lesson." The suggestion was that officers be able to access W2's or 1099's of drivers as a quick "income reference" when pulling them over and write a ticket for an amount proportional to their income.

My personal feeling is that the woman who was pulled over was laughing and flirtatious because she is beautiful and rich and some women are used to getting EVERYTHING that they want in life by batting their eyelashes and showing some cleavage. It is quite possible that she was trying to flirt her way out of a citation or at least lower the price. It also could be that she was nervous and afraid of being seen by someone she might know. Rather than "cowering" in regret, she may have been putting on a show to make the stop look like a mistake or just a routine pull-over, nothing big. That was my take on it when the DJ described the woman as "hot" and driving a fast car. Yeah maybe she wasn't remorseful on the scene, maybe the remorse will come later, maybe her husband won't be as willing to get her off this time as he has been in the past, people have different ways of dealing with confrontation, maybe this was hers.

These are the reasons why I think tickets based on income are a horrible idea:

1) This is a huge violation of privacy. The police already have enough control over us and knowledge about us when pulling us over, they don't need more.

2) In other countries police are not only allowed to exercise the "law" over people based on income and status, in fact, they are encouraged to do so. I don't want individuals in our country to have less freedom when stopped by a police officer than they already do.

3) A quick perusal of a W2 or a 1099 really tells nothing about the person's income as their expenses are not listed. In addition, there is usually a set of 1099's, not just one, quick perusal would be impossible. Therefore this quick reference is biased and tells nothing about where the individual stands financially.

4) What does the city do with the money? I have tried to find this out. About six years ago I was stopped and immediately given a ticket by our lovely "traffic patrol," the fee was reduced and I went to the local court house to pay. I asked several people where the money went and they didn't know. One woman thought that it went to pay her salary and the salaries of others processing traffic ticket fees.

5) What about people, like drug dealers, who have nice cars and presumably extra money, and no 1099? High money criminals would incur pauper level traffic fees.

6) The whole plan encourages tax fraud and a whole new level of government would be needed to patrol this.

7) Our legal system is already clogged. We have an attorney where I live who advertises her ability to get traffic fines reduced or eliminated and from what I have heard, she is good at her job. If a person is cited a higher amount, based on income, it is unlikely that they will willingly pay the full amount, no, they will take it to court and add to the backlog.

8) This is my personal feeling, but I really hate it when the government thinks that they should be the ones telling you how to spend your money. So you get pulled over for speeding and the officer decides that you are in a high income bracket and levies the fine accordingly. Maybe you had that money set aside to do a remodel on your house, go on vacation, send your kids to college, it doesn't really matter, it is your money, you earned it, you have a right to decide how it is spent.

9) Where do layoffs and firings come in? This is a consideration, especially in this economic climate. Maybe a person had a 1099 from the previous year that showed a high income, they have subsequently been fired/laid off and haven't yet filed taxes for the current year. Now they have to spend unemployment $$$ to go to court and prove that they don't have the money to pay a higher traffic infraction fee.

10) I do consider myself to be a moderately liberal person, but I get tired of rich people always being targeted as the "bad guy." It seems O.K to claim discrimination if you are poor or a person of color, but rich people never have that option. They are seen as having hordes of money that should be given to everyone in need and shared with the government. I know a lot of nice rich people who are not deserving of this stereotype.

This DJ went on to talk about how really poor people would be exempt because they are "not out driving around." Now that is just not true. I have known "really poor" people out driving around my entire life. Being poor does not give one the right to disobey traffic laws or be exempt from being pulled over by a cop if their car is not nice enough to target.

I think that traffic citation prices should be based on traffic violation record. I don't know if cops have this information available when they pull someone over or not, but they should. If you have a high amount of traffic citations within a certain period of time, your traffic fine should be higher. This would be an infinitely more fair way to increase traffic violation fines and "encourage remorse" if that is the goal.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Lifetime by, Myself

How is it that
we survive this
life managed timeline?

From cradle to grave
our connectedness to
the earth, one another
is both the source
of our solace and
our undoing

Life stages as they
come thus far,
seem doable, loveable
times to look forward
to and pieces of
myself to give

I hunker down now
in dread as I
watch age ravages
overtake the parts
of my body that I
once loved

Can I do this?
let go of the old
self, physical
and embrace

The new, aged version
yes, I think that I
can grow to love this
new body with carved
roadmaps to my soul

It is the mind that
I hold dear, the mind
that I most cherish.
Will the blue-dye
tinged hair erode
what I most love
about me?

Where will I go?

It is during these
moments of reflection,
that I would most
like to believe in
re-incarnation, a heaven
Where I will be whole again-
my body, mind,
and me

This new stage forthcoming
does not ask that I
tread lightly into it.
It is from this stage
Last that I will not
return. I will go
completely through it
until my final end.

I can hope to be graceful
find love and embrace
life. It is harder on
this timeline of ending
to see what, when, and
where will become of

Peaceful rest
Peaceful soul
I have never.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Australia Movie

I watched the movie "Australia" a couple of nights ago. I started it kind of late, the plan was to watch a bit of it and then save the rest of the next day. Instead the man pictured above kept me awake enough to watch it all in one late night! Every time that I would start to doze off, Mr. Jackman would appear and I would find myself suddenly wide awake once again. My wonderful friend, Meg, who is from Australia (amongst other countries), joined me the following evening to see the last 45 minutes, which she had missed and wanted to see. This was great because, in addition to seeing Mr. Jackman again, I also got some "inside" information on Aborigine culture, the white Australian response to it, and tidbits about Australian culture and geography which helped me to understand and appreciate the movie above and beyond Mr. Jackman's appearance in it.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Monday, March 16, 2009

How to Guide: Changing a roll of toilet paper

Contrary to the popular belief of some people, new rolls of toilet paper do not levitate into place, no, someone actually has to change them. It would be tempting to blame this phenomenon on men, but I have a sneaking suspicion that some women are guilty of being "non-toilet paper roll changers" as well. Here is a simple, pictorial guide to educate those unfamiliar with toilet paper roll changing etiquette:

Lo and behold! an empty toilet paper roll!

Look! some kind person actually went to a store and purchased some new toilet paper.

Hmm....Is this where the roll belongs? This makes for too much grab and drop to be considerate, let's try again.

It would be tempting, I know, at this point to leave the toilet paper roll empty and simply remove the new one, use what you need and then put it back where you found it. But...

The really considerate and proper thing to do would be to take the center bar out of the roll holder, put it in recycling and replace it with a new roll. Ta Da! Now the next person who comes along can easily access their toilet paper and that is a little act of kindness that makes everyone happy.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Who is Humanely more Important???

I know that I shouldn't blog when I am angry, but I am very angry today. While waiting for my younger two children to sell Girl Scout cookies at a local grocery store, I sat down with my snack and the morning paper hoping for a brief period of relaxation. Then I look at the front page of the NW Friday section of The Seattle Times and there it is, "Brown Execution Delayed." Great.

Cal Coburn Brown was convicted of kidnapping 22 year-old Holly Washa in May of 1991. He car jacked her at gunpoint near the Seattle-Tacoma Airport, took her to a hotel room, and repeatedly raped, tortured, and slashed her until she was dead. He then dumped her body in the trunk of her car. Cal Coburn Brown admitted to killing Holly in this manner and now his execution is stayed because the drugs that they would use to execute him may by inhumane if they don't work correctly.

Excuse me? Inhumane? Torturing, slashing, and raping a person for thirty some hours is hardly a humane way to die. They have the monster that committed this heinous act, he admits his guilt, and now they are worried about how him dying in a humane manner? I have other suggestions on how best to rid the earth of this creep, but I might be considered deranged were I to describe them in my blog.

I take the "gray side" when it comes to capital punishment. I am not always for it. In this circumstance, I am adamantly for it. This man deserves to die. Yes, he says that he is sorry. Is he sorry because of what he did or sorry because he got caught? People who are capable of committing torture crimes don't come by that ability over-night, it is unlikely that the desire to commit such a crime again would subside through the simple act of being sorry. Personally, as a resident of the state of Washington, I don't want this man free on our streets and I think a lethal injection, humanely administered or not, is the only way to prevent him from freely roaming our state or any other part of the country ever again.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Jimi Poem

I haven't posted any poetry for a while. Today I was thinking about peace, love, and understanding and the late, great Jimi Hendrix came to mind. Most of his poems eventually became songs. I have read that he always considered himself to be a poet first. Here are a few words that he penned the year that I was born.

Written in 1966

My friends of fashion
Turned out to be my enemies of thought
They don't dig the way I'm thinkin'
They say they adore my chequered bell-bottoms
And wine-colored socks
But in reality one of us is faking
So what do I do after thinking about you
And your beautiful long-haired friends?
I just hope and pray that someday
They'll all begin to appreciate the bag I'm livin' in

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I Love the Elephant Today

Today, I love Elephant Car Wash. Yesterday, I got a speeding ticket, I didn't deserve it, but then does anyone ever deserve a speeding ticket? I could dedicate an entire blog entry to how I think that police officers exist to do police work and not have a traffic patrol to set speed traps in order to line their coffers with extraneous funds from innocent motorists, but I will save that diatribe for a later time. So I digress. To continue, I showed copy of said ticket to the attendant at the Elephant Car Wash and he gave me a 50% discount on the spot. That is great customer service and makes me want to advertise! To the elephant I shall go!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Ski Day

Here's to a great day skiing with the girls! Maryam and Megan you were wonderful. The powder, glimpses of sunshine, and beautiful mountains were marvelous as well.

Friday, March 6, 2009

It All Happens at the Opera

I am an infrequent opera attender. I have a friend who loves the opera. She used to live in New York city and has a repertoire of favorite opera stars, some of whom she flies specifically to New York to see. I usually attend at least a couple of operas a year with her and sometimes with a few other friends as well.

Last week Seattle Opera featured two operas, Bluebeard's Castle by, Bela Bartok and Erwartung by, Arnold Schoenberg.

Bluebeard's Castle is an old story, but the staging brought a definite new life to this version. It appeared as though the two performers, Bluebeard and wife number four, were being viewed in a moving picture as the stage was bordered by a huge, opulent frame. The stage was dark, there was actual water. Bluebeard's first three wives emerged from door number seven and swam through the small pool in order to get onto the stage. The effect was quite staggering. The shadows and lighting set the tone for "weeping" walls and "blood soaked" riches. Each wife had a time. The first was "dawn," the second "noon," the third was "evening," and wife number four embraces her fate eloquently as "night" to march off stage with the rest of the doomed wives and "all shall be darkness, darkness, darkness."

Erwartung is a one-woman opera. At least she is the only one singing, the stage is full of people though, moving, dancing, and rolling though this dark tale. The story follows a woman who is on an internal journey, where time is fluid, searching the woods for her lover. As the opera progresses, she becomes more disheveled and more panicked as she believes her lover to be with another woman. Is she in an asylum? or Is she really roaming the woods? In the end, she discovers the body of her lover, did she kill him?

The staging was again excellent. The movement of people, furniture, walls, and trees reminded me of Salvadore Dali's art come to life. People were pulled from the wall and slid effortlessly off and under the bed and chair, the water was used again as the naked, almost dead lover rolled across stage, finally splashing into the pool with his last breath.

No, these were not uplifting pieces in a bright and cheery way. They were, however, thoughtfully provoking in a dark and soul challenging way. I loved them both, but I actually liked Erwartung better. I had thought that I might not like it at all and maybe would sit out in the lobby sipping wine instead, but it captivated me in a surprising and spellbinding way.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Does Penis Size Really Matter?

It is often considered to be the basest of put-downs, when a woman makes reference to a "small penis size" being the cause of a man's behavior. Small penis size has been attributed to all sorts of behavior including, but not limited to, buying fast cars, driving over-sized cars, buying expensive toys, hunting, and building big buildings. I combed the internet for research into the truth of this put-down and found that there is not much truth to it at all, at least not in the way that it is most commonly used. The general consensus seems to be that men are far more likely to do such things in the hopes of getting laid rather than to make up for what may be lacking in their pants.

www.webmd.com/sex-relationships/news/20070601/small-penis-syndrom-common defines Small Penis Syndrome as: The anxiety of thinking one's penis is too small...even though it isn't. this is totally different from the micropenis which measures 2.75 inches when erect.

Approximately 55% of all men surveyed want a larger penis. Approximately 85% of all women surveyed were content with their partner's penis size.

Kevan Wylie and Ian Eardly are two British Urologist have further defined Small Penis Syndrome as: "An obsessive rumination with compulsive checking rituals, body dysmorphic disorder, or as part of a psychosis."

I found more specific characteristics of this syndrome at www.pvmhmr.org/poc/view_doc.php?type=doc&id=24026&cn=1

1) Psychological rigidity, obssessionality or fixation
2) Focused and fixated on what women want. Tend to view females as ridiculing, castrating, powerful, and "goddess like." Not the goddess like Aphrodite, but more like the goddess Kali.
3) They thus avoid women and do not have social relationships with them although these relationships are longed for.
4) It is thought that these men may be developmentally delayed in the area of social maturity and be less likely overall to engage in social interactions with both men and women.
5) Inverted narcissism: A form of narcissism whereby the roles of the exploited and exploiter are reversed from their classical position.
6) Body dysmorphic disorder: A condition where a consistent perceptual distortion exists in that a part of the body is thought to be larger or smaller than it actually is.
7) These men also tend to be very angry at themselves, at women, and at the world.

The website that listed these characteristics was probably the best website that I found dedicated to this issue and dedicated to helping men overcome this problem. The researchers wrote about their frustration with trying to help these men. They stated that the men always mailed in their measurements and persisted in thinking that they were too small even when presented with statistics proving the oppostie to be true.

They also stated that many men who experience this syndrome have exposed themselves to pornography and thus a distorted way of thinking about male/female relationships: Replacing intimacy and love with simple and raw sex.

So, I guess that this is a wrap for my first "armchair psychology" post. Next time you are thinking about the "small penis size" put-down, think again, the guys who suffer from this the most are most likely guys women won't even know.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

I am a Computer Abuser

Let me begin this entry by first stating that, like most people, I have a very busy life. Until I am able to get my hands on a touchscreen Blackberry or an iPhone, I have to be near a computer to actually get on the internet. This is unfortunate because I often need to access e-mail information while en route in a car.

This morning I have exactly 20 minutes before I have to leave the house for work to get stuff done on the computer. Once I get to work it is challenging, but not always impossible to get personal business done on the computer. Since I work in healthcare and not for a health insurance company, we don't have the money to spend for each employee to have their own computer. If you want to know where your healthcare dollars go, look at the top of the health insurance corporate ladder.

So I digress, I sat down to do my quick work and the internet was not connected. The computer was giving me all kinds of wonderful messages, like telling me that my blogger address was invalid. It then gave me the option of "diagnosing computer problems" none of the problem solving options even related to what I saw on my computer screen. Alas! I was desperate and had to ask my husband to help me. I did this when I reached the point of frustration where I actually wanted to hit the computer or throw it out the window (not very effective problem solving techniques, I know, but very emotionally vindicating).

My husband, who works on and in harmony with computers daily was able to "fix" the problem. Let me also state that he knows computers so well he uses program function keys and pretty much never relies on an icon or pre-listed "help" choices. As I am not that savvy, friendly, or interested in computers, I will probably never be able to do this.

Once this latest technological glitch was under control, I began to reflect on my history of computer abuse. It usually happens when I am in a hurry and really wanting to get something done. My abuse is sometimes limited to yelling obscenities at the computer. It is located near a window in our house and I often fantasize about chucking it through the glass and watching it roll down the hill and into the small stream below. I never get to the part about what I would do afterwards if I were to ever enact this scenario. Sometimes I just want to hit the computer, probably not a good idea as it would only end up hurting my hand.

My father-in-law and I were discussing this recently. He is in his seventies and is very computer savvy, he even participates in a very active local group of senior computer users. Some of whom know a lot more about the computers than the young guys. He said that when my mother-in-law has these problems ( I know that it is scary, but she and I are an awful lot alike), she has to ask "Why doesn't the computer just work?" That is what I have to ask today, "Why can't it just work?"

Monday, March 2, 2009

Being Hands On...

I have always admired people who are hands-on, working hard and right in the middle of things. That is one of the aspects of National Public Radio (NPR) reporting that I have always appreciated, the interviews with the people that are really there in the thick of it. I appreciate and value that kind of reporting.

In my line of work I am hands-on. This blog entry is not intended to be a testament to my admiration of myself. Believe me, I always think that I could do better. I am more impressed with my friend Dawn's work and her latest blog entry at http://www.dawnapepper.blogspot.com/ Dawn is one of those people that I admire who is in the thick of it probably more than I will ever be because she is truly on the front lines. I think that this is a beautiful testament to what it means for professionals who "see it all" every working day.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Ballerina Movie and Beautiful Movement

I just got through reading The Elegance of the Hedgehog," by Muriel Barbery and Alison Anderson. In this book, the young character, Paloma, is considering committing suicide. She is twelve years of age. She decides that she won't take her own life if the can find a movement that is beautiful and perfect.

Yesterday, I saw the documentary Ballerina with my children. The trailer for this movie can be viewed at http://firstrunfeatures.com/trailers_ballerina.html in the beginning of this trailer a ballerina is rehearsing and her arm movements are the most beautiful movement that I have ever seen. The stillness of the studio with the dancer in the shadows and the children peering through the window to watch her rehearse only add to the effect. Although this arm movement is probably the most beautiful movement I have ever seen, I am unlike Paloma in that I wouldn't stake my life on it.

The entire portion of this part of the movie can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vGW90ex9QwA It starts between 34-54 seconds into the video.