21 December, 2005

Happy Christmas From The Cobles

Enjoy a Blessed Christmas and Hannukah! Blogging will resume in earnest on 2 January, 2006. Until then, enjoy your tribe.

20 December, 2005

You Can Always Buy A Baby

I've been caught up in my own reality for more than a week, so the case of Emma Alvey, the recently deceased baby in Spring Hill, flew under my radar. After Brittney mentioned it again this morning I read myself up on the issue. There is not a single person in that scenario for whom I don't feel extreme amounts of pity. A couple wanted a baby and went through the long process of adopting a daughter from China. Eight months later, that little girl is dead from a cranial bleed. Early news reports imply the mother's culpability in the situation. Friends have come forward in the media to proclaim the innocence of the very nice lady and to offer exonerating hypotheses. All the friends seem universally agreed that people who wanted a baby as badly as Jennifer and Phillip Alvey would do no harm to the child.

I don't know the Alveys. I can't make any claims to presume their actions or motivations. I do know my fair gaggle of infertile couples, though, and feel that it is safe to say that yes, many times people who want a baby will harm it. There are many kinds of infertile people, just as there are many kinds of happily reproductive families. There is, however, a special breed of Childless--The Professional Martyr. I try to only write about my circumstances when they inform the subject at hand. I realize that I talk about it more than most, but try to do so only when and if it is pertinent to the conversation. My lack of children is as much a part of me as children are to parents, and a dating life is to a single person. So I talk about it when it comes up in conversation. This conversation is about those folks who become their infertility, who allow themselves to be consumed by their desire for a baby and allow a baby to become some sort of trophy for a game well-played.

I've led Bible studies for infertile women, met them in UseNet groups, seen them in chat rooms. The older you get without a baby, the larger your circle of infertile friends, as you all flock together by default. Everyone else gets knocked up and moves on to play groups, PTAs and college savings accounts. You can spend your evenings as you choose. If you're lucky you only feel the stabs at Christmas, Halloween and the occasional baby shower. It's sort of like a cruise ship, where you focus on all the good stuff and try to ignore that you are adrift. There is a small subset, though, that can't find contentment and doesn't necessarily want to. These are the people who spend three or four years buying pregnancy tests in bulk and wailing at every negative pee. They'll nail down everyone in their life with very public grief, holding funerals for failed attempts at In Vitro fertilization and naming every pregnancy that fails. [If you think I'm kidding, peruse alt.infertility for five minutes.] When these folks make the decision to adopt, they make a very public drama out of every step of red tape. Having a support group through a very stressful time--buying a house, adopting a baby, changing a job--is necessary. Telling your waiter at Casa Fiesta that you're stressed because you're adopting a baby from Guatemala is histrionic. Somewhere along the line the experience becomes less about a call to parenthood and very much more about being the fragile one in the spotlight. The one who can manipulate every social situation and exert a passive-aggressive control. When you spend a decade as everyone's top prayer request, as the woman treated with kid(less) gloves, you can get used to it. You can like it. What happens when Baby shows up? Congratulations, you've got what you wanted. Your prayers are answered. Now we're all paying attention to Susie, whose been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Oh, and all your infertile friends on the S.S. EPTNEG don't want to hear it. They won't even read your posts when you put "BM" in the title--it's worse that poop, it's "baby mentioned." So the drama is over, you're not the prom queen and you've got this stinking, wailing oh-so-human-of-beings totally dependant on YOU. Oh, did I mention that Babies always always always get the spotlight? So, yeah. Crossing the finish line holds a distinct lack of charm for some who found the race so enchanting. Would they hurt a child? In a heartbeat. That child who represents the end of their drama. When you wake up and realize that Baby means Person and people are complicated, the dream dies and an anger from the deepest part of your brain rises up. It happens all the time.

We were once told by a friend that we "could always buy a baby". When I stop wanting to be a parent, and start thinking of a child as a purchase, I know that I've lost that part of me that deserves to be a mother.

19 December, 2005

An Uneasy Confluence Of My Last Two Posts

Meh on Kong

Aunt B. started it. She blogged about what Tim has been saying since Sunday. King Kong had a lukewarm reception. I'm not surprised. I posted this in the comments over at B's, but feel that I need to go on record. So I copied my comments here. Because I'm that kind of a lazy jerk today.

I really was iffy on the movie. Connie Lane saw it early at Harry Knowles' Butt Numb A Thon. She had me thinking that I wanted to see it after all. But I've lost the yen, I think. And here's why.

[insert recycled comment]
It's not the ape that gets me. In fact, I'm a big fan of monkeys, with 5 on my desk and a life size one in the spare bedroom--which sounds kinkier than it really is.

The story has flat out never appealed to me. Why?

1. I first saw the stupid version with Jessica Lange. It was a bad, horrible, nogood, awful piece of dung.

2. You KNOW that Kong dies in the end. I don't want to spend chunks of my time growing attached to someone I know is doomed. I already have dogs and a husband that will all die. That thought sickens me. Why pay someone to rub my nose in the fleetingness of loving animals?!?

3. When I was a little kid these friends of mine had a poster with Kong on top of the Empire State building swatting at the planes. That poster scared and confused me. To this day, the idea of the movie scares and confuses me.

4. If I hear that "Lo, the beast...." poetry thing one more time, I'll stab someone in the ear. I'm not beautiful. I'm nice enough looking, but I just know in my heart of hearts that the monkey would take one look at my average-looking but well padded ass and say "huh. appetizers." I'd be gone. I fail to feel sorry for a monkey who won't eat a woman just cause she looks good. The monkey is symbolic of all the a*((^^&^**(&^ in the world who don't date "nice" girls, but only want to objectify the pretty ones.

5. What the hell is the point of the monkey being in love with the woman? She can't have sex with him. He could maybe use her to pick his nose, but that's it.

6. Jack Black's character seems annoying in the previews. Jack Black is someone well suited for exactly one roll. That of Jack Black. Watching him play NotJackBlack holds no appeal for me.

I have loved Peter Jackson since his much underappreciated The Frighteners and I feel like I owe him attendence to this movie. But I just can't bring myself to go. I know I lose major geek points. But there it is.

18 December, 2005


I spent the weekend laying (lying?) around on the couch or sitting at my desk. What social obligations I was able to maintain were done so under the haze of pain medication and with the everperesent groin-stabbing little elves carving at my guts with dull spoons.

Tim, on the other hand, achieved his yearlong goal. Sunday afternoon he hit 4,000 miles for the year. Yes. My husband has ridden his bike 4,000 miles in the year 2005. That's the equivalent of a drive from here to Ojibway, Manitoba. Okay. No it isn't. I made that up, because I went looking for stats on the 'net, and the only thing I found for "4,000 Miles" was some very confusing lyrics by Blackalicious. Frankly, those lyrics kinda scare me a little bit.

Even if the homey got the shot
Then there still be the bump knockin in your trunk
Get ya out your slump rockin it straight off the top
I'm cockin it like ingredients thrown hap-hazardly inside a
With a magic sock schnapps a big ass book and some vodka
And pass it my way cause im a real big talker

I really have no idea what they're trying to say. I guess I have no idea what I'm trying to say, either. Except, of course,

Yay, TIM!!!!!

16 December, 2005

The Great Society

Both John and Sharon discuss our wonderfully social evening last night. Allow me to add my five cents.

I come from a big family of big people who are big talkers. There's little I enjoy more than sitting around a table with other folks and talking. I spent my formative years with two brothers and a sister, so I even enjoy it if we disagree on an issue. Unless that issue is whether I was the one who wrecked dad's car. Last night was undoubtedly one of the more fun evenings I've had lately. We ruminated on Iraq, discussed the nature of God in the lives of everyday people and tried to figure out who did the best cover of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah". Everyone watched as I decided that the Egg Nog Chai at Starbucks is a decidedly unpleasant concoction. We talked about inclusiveness, liberalism and kindness. John and I agree that Hugh Grant's portrayal of the Prime Minister sullies an otherwise wonderful film (Love Actually.) Since we kept getting sidetracked I never got to tell John that the other part of the movie I don't like is the Laura Linney storyline. Sharon, the book you NEED to read is Helen Fielding's Cause Celebe. In case we wore you out to the point of forgetting.

The moveable feast spontaneously relocated to the sushi bar, although regrettably without Kerry Woo. In another "small world" coincidence, Kerry is close friends with one of the Coble family close friends, so that was a treat. Everyone patiently listened to me ramble about my as-yet-uncompleted book which actually helps me toward completing it. So blame them.

I really enjoyed it, and am much looking forward to a repeat engagement.

15 December, 2005

The Susan Question or Why Women Hate Narnia

Eventual Narnia Spoilers

Connie Lane saw The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe last weekend. Her short commentary brings up one of the most debated parts of the series. I've read many position papers on the matter, heard speakers hash it out and know many women who loathe C.S. Lewis because of it. Neil Gaiman wrote a beautiful story about the matter from Susan's point of view called "The Problem of Susan" which is excellent, even though I disagree with his critique.

Susan Pevensie doesn't go to heaven because she wears nylons and lipstick.

When I was in high school this started to bother me, because I HAD to wear nylons and lipstick as part of the dress code for my Christian school. I even argued the point with my Bible teacher, who plainly thought I was nuts. Somehow "Mr. Imhof, C.S. Lewis says the Dress Code will keep me out of heaven, so I'm wearing pants tomorrow" didn't work like I planned.

I've since read the majority (if not all...but there's always an article or paper that slips through the cracks) of Lewis' works. I figure that gives as good a window into the mind of the man as anyone can hope. What constantly comes through to me is his love of Christianity and its compassion for humans in spite of imperfection. What is also very apparent is his love for the fantastic and the childlike willingness to accept it.

When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty, I read them openly. When I became a man, I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.

That's one of the more readily famous Lewis quotes, and one which is handy for throwing my mother when she tires of our Lord Of The Rings marathons. But I also side with those in the Susan Debate who think that it elucidates Lewis' intentions toward poor maligned Ms. Pevensie. It isn't her female sexuality that leaves her out of the full experience of Heaven, but her inability to continue in the faith of a child.

Whatever the reasoning behind it, I still stand firm in my utter hatred of nylons and lipstick. They're just darned uncomfortable.

Space Men

I started this post about six different times, with various opening sentences, but none of them seemed to provide adequate coverage for my theme. So I'll just jump right into it and omit the background. The short form is that I love the Space Program and almost anything related to it. (Yes, I drink Tang.) I could, and probably will, write much longer lovescreeds to NASA, Test Pilots, Mercury, Gemini and Apollo. But since it's December, it's time for my annual viewing of From The Earth To The Moon. I am addicted to these DVDs, and watch them several times throughout the year, but I always make it a point to watch them now.

Almost everywhere you look, men are buffoons. On TV shows they are idiots who can only make it through the day because they've somehow entrapped a smart hot chick. In movies they are idiots who don't realize that the smart hot chick is the girl for them. They apparently can only dress themselves if they're homosexual--or have a gay man's help. My personal theory is that we are so used to seeing men portrayed as lackwits that even when they aren't as stupid as we think, people project lowered expectations on them without question. (Case in point: President Bush)

The Holy Trinity of Space Movies [The Right Stuff; From The Earth To The Moon; Apollo 13] tells a different story. It shows men as they were, as they should be and as (I believe) most of them still are. Men driven by curiosity--by the simple question "Can we do this?"--who set goals and achieve them. I admit that I'm a sucker for slide rules, pocket protectors and black-rimmed glasses. I grew up in a city full of actuaries and engineers, so my template was set pretty early. To me there's nothing sexier than a man at the top of his form. For many women that's embodied by a cowboy. For me it's a man who can sit around a table with other men and crunch numbers, find solutions and put hunks of metal into space. FtETtM has several episodes, but my favourite, without question, is Spider. A full hour of the engineering process for the Lunar Module from conception to delivery, it showcases the marvels that men can accomplish. It's a happy thing in a misandrous world.

14 December, 2005

My Big Fat Greek Riding

The saga that is my sister's car accident and subsequent new-car shopping seems to at long last be over.

To shorten the veeery loooong story of touring Northern Indiana car dealerships in single-digit weather, allow me to simply say that she got right up to the point of signing for a new car when the finance guy intervened. Since Miss Bee was paying with credit union loan, the dealership saw its fat nut of interest disappear and wasn't willing to meet her price. Seeing as she was there with Dad (the tough law guy); Tom and Chad (the Queer Eyes for The Straight Girl Who Goes Car Shopping) and Dave (Captain Argument), she had all the forces of intimidation at hand. Just goes to show you...never send the rest of the lot to do the Katherinian Business. As they were all trying to cure their nasal frostbite, I looked up the car she wanted on Carmax.com. There it was, with $2500 knocked off the dealer's price, and $502 less than the price she was trying to get the dealer to give her. It was used---with a grand total of 680 miles on it. Hello! Someone else ate the initial depreciation!

Miss Bee paid a $150 transfer fee to bring the car from NC, which was then applied to the total price. Last night she and The Clan drove to Indianapolis to pick up the new baby. I lived vicariously through the magic of cellphones, but insisted she name it. All things in my world--animate and inanimate--have names. Cars must be named with the letters A-Z in the order of purchase. (Your first car is an "A" name, etc.) I'm forcing my poor younger sister to adhere to my odd personal culture. How nice for her.

The car's official name is Athena. In my sister's words, it is because the car is beautiful, blue like the Greek flag and she likes the name "Athena." I of course insisted that it also because she made a wise purchase and the actual car sprang fully-formed from my head. And I'm kinda like Zeus. Except I'm not a god and I've never turned into a bird to rape some poor girl.

It just now occurs to me to feel sorry for my family members.

13 December, 2005

Running With Scissors

"Get me the wooden spoon."

Those were words to die by in our house when I was a kid. If you heard them, that meant the next thing you'd hear would be the sound of a spoon cracking against your skinny kid-butt. (Ah. Life's irony is that I didn't have a fat arse until well past the time I outgrew spankings.) Around six or seven, you knew the rules. Some things got you a time-out before the days when the trendy parents called them that. In my house it was called "Sit on the kitchen chair until you hear the timer buzz." I like that better than Time-Out, actually. One sounds like a break in a busy, fun game, accompanied by Gatorade and spirited hugging. The other is definitely a punishment for some stupid thing your dumb six-year-old self did. Sassing back, slapping your stupid brother Dave (who had it coming for being a big smelly stupidhead), running in the house when you'd already been told to stop--that all got the SOTKCUYHTTB or the dreaded Wooden Spoon. I knew we were stepping up in the world when the phrase later became "Bring Me The Ping-Pong Paddle". I also knew why we didn't get the pinball machine. You can't smack someone with those flipper-things.

It may sound like my parents were cruel, but they weren't. They knew life was hard and that actions had consequences. With four kids, you learned as much from your siblings' punishments as your own, and I doubt any of us were spanked more than five times, ever. It was the threat of it as much as the stinging thwack that kept us unruly bastiges in line. You knew the Spoon was waiting if you didn't stop pulling your sister's hair in the backseat.

There is much handwringing today about Tookie Williams being killed by the State of California. I don't know much about Tookie Williams, but I do know that he spoke English. I'm pretty sure he watched television. I'm darned sure that he knew what a 187 is. And what the penalty is for that crime. Yet he decided he'd take someone's life. I'd really like to be mad at the State for sullying the hands of its citizens with ritualized murder. I'd like to wring my hands in despair about how sad it is for us to sink to Tookie's level. I'd like to kvetch about how much money the execution costs the State, and fantasize about China--where they bill your family for the bullet. But I'm not. Anyone knows that the penalty for ending a person's life can be death.

We don't keep the Death Penalty a huge secret. It's always there, like the wooden spoon in my mother's kitchen. You don't want it used on your butt, then don't earn it.

How Some Geek In TN Made Me Weep

There just aren't any words.

10 December, 2005

The Death Of Politics

I would like to blame pro wrestling. But I don't know which came first--the calling each other 'chicken' or the egging on members of one's own party to attack. Is politics more like pro wrestling because of that 'sport's popularity or is that sport popular because America no longer has any manners?

Allow me to share a paragraph from a fundraising email I received from The Democratic Party.

Over 7,000 Americans stepped forward to fund a campaign designed to show Republican leaders that there will be consequences for continuing their pattern of shamelessly attacking the service of veterans who don't share their warped view of reality.

I received this email on December 7th. The anniversary of Pearl Harbor. And a good few weeks after the Murtha/Schmidt kerfluffle.

There are some real problems in America. Taxes are too high. The wheels are falling off the Social Security bus. Illegal immigration is grit in the dentures for both parties. With Republicans as the party in power, the Democrats have the excellent opportunity to build their opposition platform. To craft clear ideals about the alternatives they offer, and to make themselves an attractive option to the Undistributed Middle. So they're spending cash money, public visibility and goodwill on a billboard that reads "Shame On You, Jean Schmidt. Stop attacking veterans. Keep your eye on the ball. We need a real plan for Iraq."

(How disengenuous. "Stop Attacking...." Even if you view her speech to Murtha as an attack on a veteran, the ad wording makes it appear as though Schmidt is mounting nightly raids against the VFW, not making a single oratorial faux pas on the House Floor. Weeks ago. In pursuit of a plan for Iraq. )

The Schmidt Billboard is just the teapot for this current tempest. The gasps from the dying man called Civility are heard in one single adjective. Warped. Isn't that a word generally saved for serial killers, assasins and pedophiles? I think it's awfully discourteous to apply that term to someone who merely disagrees with you.

Maybe I blame Rush Limbaugh. I've pulled a straight Republican ticket in every election. If there's an (R) I don't agree with, I've left them deselected. So Rush should be my guy, right? Except he lost me when he decided to raise the level of political discourse with deragotory nicknames and attacks on little girls. He spawned the likes of Ann Coulter, Michael Savage and countless bloggers who think that the best way to argue an idea is with invective and hyperbole.

Nashville's own Glen Dean is someone with whom I agree on nearly every issue. Yesterday he asked me why I always seem to disagree with him. I don't. But I'm getting old. I'll be 36 on May 23rd, which means I've already lived a full Marilyn Monroe complement of years, and I'm no longer part of the In Crowd. I can't see how the particular style employed on the Right by Glen,etc. and on the Left by egalia,etc. does anyone any good at all. How can you talk through ideas with someone while papering them with derogations? How can you win friends and influence people you belittle?

Do you smell what the Kat is cooking?!

09 December, 2005

Sharon Cobb

She has no idea I'm writing this, and would probably beg me not to. But I'm in that quasi-arsey mood that means I'm gonna write it anyway.

Sharon and I agree on almost nothing politically. She's Jewish. I'm not. She rarely eats meat. I love steak. She tries to keep kosher. I'm a slob who loves cheeseburgers.

But Sharon is my friend. She's a nice person who means well, even when her methods don't take the path I would take. She's had an interesting life that has brought her into contact with more varied people than you could ever imagine. I encouraged her to write some of those stories because they are far and away more interesting than the typical "should we pull out of Iraq" bloviating that the rest of us do. We all have opinions, and that's what drew many of us into blogging. This whole post is an opinion. But not all of us are willing to take the step of sharing our vulnerable selves with everyone on a daily basis. That's completely fine, because not everyone feels they should do that.

But when someone does, it is perhaps not cricket to mock them. I know there's a fine line between disagreement and mocking. I try not to cross it, although I sometimes have and for that I apologize.

When people are sitting around in a bar and arguing over opinions that's one thing, and that's what we've got in blogland on a daily basis. But when someone is quite obviously crying and you kick them, that's bullying. It doesn't say much about the victim, but it says a whole lot about the jerk doing the kicking.

Party Food Conspiracy

I have to make something called "heavy hors d' oeuvres" for our Christmas party this evening. Part of me really wants to dip pebbles in cream cheese, put them on Ritz crackers and scream "heavy enough for you?!"

I am resentful of being a Heavy Hors d'oeuvres person. The Sunday School department may as well prop me up and point "responsible older married couple". Allow me to explain.

Our Sunday School Department meets in a homeroom for a few minutes and then breaks into several classes. (In all fairness, everyone else calls homeroom "morning assembly". To me you can't call it an assembly unless an ex-astronaut comes in to tell everyone not to use drugs. Hasn't anyone been to middle school?!?) You can choose your class, which means that everyone else chooses the one that I'm not in. Can you blame them, really?!

My class seems to for the most part be filled with people who don't have kids. And have been married forever. And apparently we drew the short straw, because we are all responsible for these mystical, weighty concoctions. The other otherpeople('s mother) get to bring desserts. Desserts are easy. Desserts are a very Kroger-friendly category. You can zoom into the Bakery and grab any old thing. Not so easy are the "this is supposed to be our supper, so make it hearty" snacks that my group has to whip up.

I'm getting my sweet revenge. I'm making Ham Buns. If you've never taken the long hard slog of hours to put these things together, allow me to assure you that they are full of ham, butter, cheese and other artery-hating evilness. Tee HEE.

Of course, then i feel guilty, because what the heck is Lydia gonna eat? Maybe I'll stop at Kroger and get her a soy thing.

08 December, 2005

Coming To A Groin Near You

My husband is from Pennsylvania, and the first time he drove me across the state to meet his parents I swear half the road signs were for "Scrotum." It freaked me out. I guess it's one of those brain-illusion things, like those French Connection-UK clothes everyone wears.

The actual name of the town is Scotrun, but to this day whenever I see it I still have to think about it for a second or two. Which is why I laughed when I got the email about a new indoor waterpark in Scrotum.

07 December, 2005

And The Night Is As Fair As The Day

How do you say good bye to someone who shouldn't have gone? What do you do when the picture beside the closed casket is more suited to a learner's permit? What do you tell a parent who is having to bury a child whose loving spirit couldn't stand up against the tidal flood of drugs in his system?

We sat in the front of the church and stared at the casket. The lid didn't shut quite plumb, and one carnation in the arrangement on the floor was broken at the head. It was in full bloom, but it faced the floor--snapped dead when it was at its prettiest. If I'd made that up it would sound over the top. Sometimes the world seems to know all on its own how things are. I wondered for an instant if we were on the bride's side by mistake, and then I remembered. The preacher's name was Gaia, and that made me smile.

The church was full of children that would irritate me if we were at the mall. I wrote my name in a book that reached me during the final words of the sermon. It said _________, my Boo on the cover. If you're someone's boo, how bad must all else be if you need to leave? The book was full of addresses, like it made us all feel better to reassert our belonging someplace. This is where we are. This is where you can find us. We are here.

His father is a salesman more comfortable in front of a group than any other man alive. He might have been president if he hadn't wanted other things from life. He gave the most important speech of his life. He begged a roomful of weeping kids to not give up the same battle that robbed him of his boy. This more than any other time I hope his audience bought it.

I was talking to Tim about King David on Sunday night, before we even knew about this. I had felt so moved earlier in the day by David's love for the son who betrayed him. The words David spoke at the news of his hanging son are now etched in my mind more firmly than I thought possible.

My son Absalom, Absalom my son: would to God that I might die for thee, Absalom my son, my son Absalom.

Captivum Solve Israel

Aunt B. has some interesting thoughts about Women and Worry. Since I live my life in an almost perpetual state of worry, I'm always halfway between relieved and regretful when I hear of others who are in the same bad way. Tim will exclaim loud and long that I look for things to worry about, but anyone with half a brain knows that isn't true. Causes for worry present themselves wherever you look. Loved ones are always riding in cars and taking showers. Close friends are always cutting bagels with knives, which is silly when they make those handy guillotine things. Honestly, the world is a fretful place.

And now it's Christmas, which means that worry is coming in extra-large "can we make it to Indiana and back in one piece" packages, all wrapped in a "will everyone like what I bought them" bow. As if that wasn't enough, we have to figure out if our churches are open on Decemer 25, and what we will call that day when it gets here.I'm fussed over writer's block and the attendant hair-pulling that comes with it, so I've spent the evening trying to table the myriad causes for worry while I indiscriminately destroy the Iroquois and Romans. (Those bastards are hogging all the luxury resources!)

I've got Mannheim Steamroller playing softly in the background to lubricate my Christmas spirit, and the beautiful latin is rapelling down the rockwall of my mood.

Veni, veni Emmanuel,
Captivum solve Israel,
Qui gemit in exilio
Privatus Dei Filio.
Gaude, gaude! Emmanuel
nascetur pro te, Israel.

Funny how right now at the big "yay, Jesus came to Earth" party time, I'm still captive Israel in my mind, mourning in lonely exile here.

06 December, 2005

May You Live In Interesting Times

Please excuse the distracted nature of this. I don't know how well I'm stringing words together tonight, and large parts of me don't really care. In many ways this has been the best Christmas season we've ever had. Both our time and our finances have been less constrained, so we've been able to enjoy little things that make big memories. One of our mutual Christmas presents came early, which means we now have fully wireless TiVos. There's a method to our madness, and as usual that method involves bicycles. Now Tim can watch Mythbusters in the garage while riding his rollers. Theoretically I can also listen to my iTunes through the television, although I'm starting to wonder whether I'll ever be inclined to do so.

In many other ways this is quite possibly the worst Christmas season we've ever had. A boy we've known since he was about 7 killed himself this weekend. He was 17. All day I've had memories of him over the years, and it doesn't seem real that he's actually gone. We weren't really that close--because what teenage boy wants to hang out with a nerdy old friend of his dad's? But he was someone who moved in my universe, and his parents are close friends of ours. It's one of those shocking wounds that hurts everyone in some way, whether through gaping wounds or pinpricks of guilt. I imagine that as bad as all of us feel there is no way we can fathom the great pain that led him to this point. I hope his soul finds peace now.

Oddly enough I got a letter from my mom today (if you knew my mom you'd know how odd this is...) with pictures of my 2 week-old niece. Quite a feeling, to go careening from death to birth like that. Even more interesting how God reminds you of the vagaries of circumstance when you least expect it.

05 December, 2005

Who Are They, Really?

When I was eight my family booked a room at the local Holiday Inn so we could swim in the Holidome. Indoor pools are a prized commodity in Indiana winter. I was one of the annoying kids whose parents let them sit in the hot tub. I remember a group of adults all fawning over one guy, assaulting him with questions about his life. That guy was Charlie Daniels. That is the most intimate encounter I've ever had with a celebrity. Safe to say, my life is NOT Notting Hill (I love that movie!)

On the other hand, Sharon has lived among Them, and is full of interesting tales about her life and friendships with various celebrities. She has a great tribute to Pat Morita today that is worth a read. I wanted to say that she waxes on about Pat Morita, but I've been trying to avoid that joke. Apparently unsuccessfully. Come on. It was obvious. It was out there. It had to be said.

04 December, 2005

Random Notes From The Weekend

I want to write something, but we've had a pillar-to-post weekend, and all the thoughts are swirling. So here there are, in one of my infamous "Larry King" posts. Except I've still only had one spouse.

1. To all my friends, relations, solicitors and political parties: I don't ever check my voice mail. The only way I even know we have a message is if I'm tempted to call someone and I get the stutter dialtone. It's a bad habit, borne out of years of reading. I do check my email. I do not check my voice mail. Please. If you want me to know about it INSTANTLY, send me an email. If you want me to hear about it in four or five days....voice mail is okay.

2. To the people who translated "Stille Nacht" from German to English: Saying that the Holy Infant is "tender and mild" makes Him sound like a Roast Duck. Bad move. I've laughed in three consecutive worship events today because of it. Songwriters in general, please find something else to rhyme with "child". For that matter, is it just me or does "Away In A Manger" rob Jesus of all His majesty and awe by attempting to turn him into a well-behaved lullabye dolly? I think so. I don't like this Christmas Carol. I do like the one verse of Adeste Fideles that starts "Yea, Lord, we greet Thee!" I feel so excited! YAY! LORD! It makes me frabjously happy.

3. If you are not at a Thai restaurant, do not get Pad Thai. It is apparently only really good if fixed in an actual Thai restaurant.

4. We ate all three meals today with Patrick And Lydia. We've now spent more time on this day with them than with our dogs. But I will rub neither Patrick nor Lydia's belly. So there.

5. I think I would like to live in Austin, if it came right down to it. Even though I'm "weird in [my] own way", I fail to see the community of Austin as being too weird for me.

6. Just because I disagree with someone politically it doesn't mean I don't like them. I'm not prepared to dislike large chunks of the human race. Unless they have crank teeth. I'm really grossed out by bad teeth. I'll still try to like the person, but avert my eyes when they speak.

7. I'm officially shouting at the entire world--"Don't make me seperate you!!!" because I'm bored with the whole "Is-it-Christmas-or-Holidays" fauxtraversy.

8. I love church, especially at Christmastime. But the people carrying the long garland really did look kinda like they were holding a python.

9. Like Aunt B. I need a new bra. My Christmas Bra makes it look like I have 3 boobs. Like that woman in Total Recall--which is still the best Arnold Schwarzanegger movie ever. The Terminator films are weak on subsequent viewings.

10. Don't complain about how I haven't posted since yesterday, when you all went a week without posting. Yeah, I finally heard that voice mail.

There. I feel better. Happy Monday! Happy Holidays! Merry Christmas! Froeliche Weinachten! (Hey. I got a C- in German. You now know all the German I know.)

03 December, 2005

The Other Man Who Is Ruining My Marriage

I am blogging at 4:00am. That means I am not in bed with my husband. As happens with so many marriages, another man has come between us.

Sid Meier.

Yes. I have been playing Civilization III** since 10:00. I had no idea what time it was. I looked at the clock thinking "Man, it's late. I bet it's 1:30 already. Well, baby. No, it ain't. It's 3:45. THREE FRIGGING FORTY FIVE. These are vampire hours.

What's worse is that I only want to sleep so that my gameplay is fresher tomorrow. Make that 'later today.'

**I'm on a Mac. I won't get IV for another 6 months--after all you nice PC people have beta tested it for me..

01 December, 2005

Red SwingLine Blogging

I used to work in an office. 8:00am to 5:00pm, one hour for lunch. It was an autonomous position, so I could take my OSHA-mandated breaks whenever I wanted. If there was time. Offices are a funny kind of servitude in many ways. There will be days of non-stop activity that really needs doing. Filing purchase orders, executing contracts, pacifying high-strung artists who want to know why they don't have a royalty check this quarter &mdash all the important stuff. But there are days, both whole days and fractions of days, where nothing happens. You've got to wait for this woman to get out of a meeting or that guy to figure out the new policy. So you sit there. Before computers you'd file your nails or read a magazine. You'd leave your light on and your chair facing outward to make it look like you just got up for a minute when in reality you are down on the third floor trying to make time with the cutie in Payroll.

Now there are computers. And now you can blog. You can read the tossed-off crud from other people's brain or you can toss off your own. You can send emails to your husband, you can IM the guy in Vermont who sells you all your hardware. I've been there. I've seen it done. For about three months my company was on a 'no-internet-for-personal-use' policy. In the end the policy was dismantled by the President's secretary refusing to do his shopping for him over the Internet. Shopping falling as it does under the "personal use" category that the home office was in such a twist over. So, Presidents wielding more clout than Associate Brand Managers in these types of situations, that policy was quietly retired.

Company internet policies are strange animals. Everyone (save certain industries) disallow porn, but beyond the obvious "NSFW" sites there seems to be a sliding scale. Some companies encourage web use as refreshing and productivity enhancing. Others discourage it outright, with detailed specifics in handbooks and memos. I'm betting most places merely tolerate it out of the realization that a no-personal-web policy would be to difficult and costly to enforce. It's also very difficult to tell people whose health insurance premiums you've just doubled and whose annual raise you've just cancelled that they can't read "Dilbert" on the internet first thing every morning.

So what? Well, first we have the AllState guy fired for apparently writing something that his company didn't like. The debate rages on as to whether or not he wrote his pieces on company time. Then today we have the Nashosphere in a twist over allegations of a state employee blogging on company time.

My questions are these:

1. Should a blogger be fired for writing about something other than their own company? If my boss is a big Garrison Keillor fan, should I be fired for saying that I think the dude is teh suck on my blog?

2. If there is nothing in writing made available to employees about an internet policy, can one be enforced? Do we assume that people know by osmosis what the correct use of the Internet is during work hours?

3. Most importantly, what the blue-blazes is 'company time' anymore? If you are salaried you are constantly told that you are being paid not only for your time but your expertise. So you will have those 18 hour days during crunch time. With no added pay. But you will also have those lulls. Since the demand for your time can't always be accurately measured, the breaks due you can't always be scheduled. So, if you can blog on your break or your lunch hour, but neither one is scheduled how can the "blog only on your break/lunch hour" philosophy be enforced?

In case you can't tell, I'm mighty glad to not be in an office anymore.

Kat's Laxities

This post over at Exador's has me wondering just exactly how many "bad" habits virtually everyone shares, but is loathe to admit to.

So, I created this little survey of laxities in which I indulge some or all of the time. I've also added others, so you can't actually tell which are mine. I'm evil that way.

Don't Put All The Folded Laundry Away

If you occasionally leave the laundry in the laundry room/folding area, deciding it's more straightforward to just dress from there.

Don't Put All The Dishes Away

On a related note--if you just leave them in the dishwasher/draining basket to use again as needed. Thus ending up with one or two plates, forks and glasses that get used every night.

Eat In Front Of The TV

Come on. Admit it. It's easier, because it saves you time. You don't have to set the table and you get a free show with dinner. This can, however, backfire on CSI nights.

Don't Put The Toilet Paper on The Holder

Why should you? It's not like it matters that much, really.

Don't Make The Bed Before You Leave For Work

You get up, you go to the office, you run errands after work and are home in time to eat hastily and then go to bed. You won't actually see the bed until you get back into it for another short night of sleep.

Eco on God

I confess. If I hadn't married Tim a month after I turned 21, I more than likely would have travelled to Italy to marry Umberto Eco. His The Name Of The Rose both made me want to write and realize that I will most probably never write as well as I want. It was also one of the precipitating factors in my brief flirtation with Catholicism. He has a beautiful, brief new article on God, Man and Society in the London Telegraph.

Human beings are religious animals. It is psychologically very hard to go through life without the justification, and the hope, provided by religion. You can see this in the positivist scientists of the 19th century.

They insisted that they were describing the universe in rigorously materialistic terms - yet at night they attended seances and tried to summon up the spirits of the dead. Even today, I frequently meet scientists who, outside their own narrow discipline, are superstitious - to such an extent that it sometimes seems to me that to be a rigorous unbeliever today, you have to be a philosopher. Or perhaps a priest.

I know that Eco left Catholicsm many years ago. His continued respect for the role of religion is refresing, to say the least.

I think I agree with Joyce's lapsed Catholic hero in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man: "What kind of liberation would that be to forsake an absurdity which is logical and coherent and to embrace one which is illogical and incoherent?" The religious celebration of Christmas is at least a clear and coherent absurdity. The commercial celebration is not even that.

Tim W. Is the Man.

He has finally taught me how to get an Em Dash in HTML. You know, since my Google finger is broken and all...