frogg files

"She could never be a saint, but she thought she could be a martyr if they killed her quick." --Flannery O' Connor

Friday, March 31, 2006

The Things I Carry...In My Car

Today I cleaned out my car. Here is a list of things I found (by no means exhaustive):

Books:
-Til We Have Faces, by C.S. Lewis
-Three Junes, by Julia Glass
-Interpreter of Maladies, by Jhumpa Lahiri
-Esther Stories, by Peter Orner
-The Jesus I Never Knew, by Philip Yancey
-My California, a collection of essays about... California (duh)
-A book of piano exercises by Kohler (I was wondering where that was!)
-A Bible

Magazines:
-Harper's
-Paste Magazine (2 issues)
-Poets & Writers
-Shape
-National Geographic Traveler
-Granta

(All of the above were from 2005, except one issue of Paste, which was from 2004. Oh, and Poets & Writers, which was from 2006.)

Clothes:
-Snowboarding pants
-2 sweatshirts
-Thermal shirt
-Beanie
-A bathrobe I bought for someone for Christmas and ended up not giving to them, and yet not returning--still brand-new in its packaging

Misc:
-"Fresh Vanilla" body splash from Bath & Body Works
-"Cucumber Melon" anti-bacterial hand gel, also from B&B (never used)
-"Juniper Breeze" anti-bacterial hand gel, etc. (used once or twice)
-Vanilla bean lip balm from B&B (which I think might be two years old, and which went through the wash once, but it still tastes good)
-Chocolate peppermint stick lip balm, by the folks who make Luna/Cliff bars, and which I picked up at the SF Nike Marathon in October
-A bar of glycerine soap, still in its wrapping
-A lipstick called "Wine With Everything" which I tried once and thought was WAY too magenta-y (why do I have this? I don't even USE lipstick!)
-A check for $19.38 from my mother--made out to me in July 2005
-A St. Patrick's Day clover-shaped plastic green ring, which I took off of a cupcake and kept for some reason (but hey, at least it was from THIS year's St. Paddy's)


Note: This whole post constitutes reason #54 why the frogg is still single.)

How Does He Do It, Folks?

Our president is not my favorite person in the world, but he does say some of my favorite things. For example, while at a summit in Mexico with Presidente Fox, Bush employed his usual perspicacity to sum up the illegal immigration situation as follows:

"When you have robust trade like we have, there are issues that come up. One way to look at it is, if we had no trade, we'd have no issues."*

Yes, I guess that IS one way to look at it. One amazing way. Wow.



*Quote was on CNN.com this morning, but has since been replaced. Too bad.

Bemusings

Every Thursday night I drive to North Hollywood for piano lessons, and every Thursday night I am struck into bemusement as I get off of the 170 freeway at Oxnard. Because right there on the side of the off-ramp, before you even get to the bottom of the exit, there is a big handicap sign at the side of the road. You know, the big blue sign with a white wheelchair-person on it.

To say the least, I'm puzzled by this. Are there handicapped people hiding in the bushes along the side of the ramp, that are suddenly going to run (or walk, or hobble, or roll if they are in a wheelchair) across the street? Is the off-ramp only FOR handicapped people? Am I handicapped because I use it? Or will I BECOME handicapped if I use it long enough? I mean, it's a tight turn as I come off the freeway, but it doesn't seem THAT dangerous.

I just don't know. It's very perplexing.

Anyway, off the topic, but my piano teacher recently asked me if I'd like to be in a recital with some of her other students. Instantly I had this vision in my head of me sitting in a room with a bunch of 10-year-olds, waiting to play Mozart's Sonata in C Major K545, after they are all done with their Spinning Songs and Chopsticks, and so on. (Actually, the kids will probably be playing harder pieces than me, if I know them. Grrr, kids!) And other parents would think I was a parent too, in the audience, until I got up to play. Ha! So of course, I said yes. How could I refuse an opportunity that, at the least, is sure to afford me a good blog? I ask you.

But it will be fun to perform again. Though I wonder if things have changed in the piano-performance world since I used to be a (minuscule) part of it. So long ago--why, back in my day, we didn't even HAVE pianos. We had to move our fingers and sing the notes as we went.

I'm lying, of course. We had pianos... and we had to strap them to our backs and walk three miles in the snow (because back then SoCal would get snow, it was the Ice Age you see) and then set it up in the little wooden school house where Laura Ingalls resided and then play for everyone, our brave little fingers stiff with cold.

Ok, I am being silly now. "Brave little fingers"?? Whatever.

The POINT is, I'm looking forward to playing in front of people again. It's great learning music for it's own sake, but after all, music is meant for communication, for expression. You don't get the full experience of music when you play it only for yourself.

So it should be a fun time, and I'll keep you all posted. In the meantime, if anyone can come up with reasons why a handicap sign might be placed alongside a freeway off-ramp, I'd be forever grateful. It's driving me crazy!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Lookin' for Leprechauns!

If someone came up to me and said, "Hey, I'm going hunting for leprechauns, where should I start?" I'd probably laugh at them. A lot. But when I recovered (which wouldn't be for awhile), I'd suggest, oh I don't know, maybe Ireland. Just as a guess. But it turns out that I'd be wrong.

Because according to the following news report, a leprechaun was spotted in a tree in Mobile, Alabama (and there's a series of phrases that I never thought I'd string together in a single sentence). Why Mobile, you ask? It's a mystery. Maybe the leprechaun likes deep Southern cooking. Anyway, his presence caused great excitement among lots of people (except for one lady who said it was probably a crackhead, and that the crack told him to climb the tree).

Watch the Leprechaun News Report here.

I really hope you are able to watch this clip. Trust me, it is SOOOO worth it.

My favorite part is the African-American man who is "prepared for his encounter with the leprechaun," carrying around a special magic flute that, I guess, attracts or repels the Wee Folk (I wasn't clear on that one), and which has been in his family for generations, passed down by his great-great-grandfather... who was Irish.

(Upon several viewings, I've come to the conclusion that he was being sarcastic. He MUST be being sarcastic!)

My other favorite part is when they show an amateur sketch of the supposed leprechaun.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Oh, What A World

Ladies and gentleman, what kind of a world do we live in when a poor, defenseless, three-year-old child has to be rescued from a prison? A prison, I might add, that is under the control of... the Godfather?

I ask you.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Immigration Blues

I walked into my office this morning and was immediately greeted by cheering. Which struck me as odd, even though I think I'm pretty cool and totally merit such a welcome. Then I realized that the cheering was coming from outside, and stepped out onto the balcony to see what the fuss was about.

Turns out it was lots of schoolchildren running down the sidewalk waving banners and screaming in solidarity with illegal immigrants, as an extension of this weekend's various protests against anti-illegal immigration laws.

Being the daughter of a legal immigrant, I personally feel like supporting illegal immigration is a bit of a slap in the face for those people who, like my father, went through all the bureaucracy and paperwork and various requirements to become citizens of this country. Sorry, folks. Can't find it in me to rally behind this one, unless I get to wave a flag saying, "You've got to be kidding me."

I was amused by the following quote from an article about the aforementioned student march (which was actually a walkout) on CNN.com:

"We are illegal immigrants if you trace our heritage all the way back, but we are here and we are working and we are living the American dream," said Janet Padron, a 22-year-old Allen Park resident.

Yeah, well. Some of us are here AND paying taxes for the privilege. Not to mention NOT getting free healthcare.

Do I sound bitter? Well, I should. No one cheered for me this morning!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

A Gaping Wound Needs More Than Band-Aids

I hear that Abdul Rahman is probably going to be released due to "lack of evidence." Case dismissed.

So am I happy? Not entirely.

In other articles I've been reading this past week, it became very clear that the Afghani people in general were in favor of him being put to death. The imams were also emphatic in their calls for his execution. If the government simply lets him go free, his life is in danger on the streets of Afghanistan. So no, I am not happy about that.

Again, the problem here goes deeper than this one man's case, and I cannot stress that enough. If Islam is not reformed, we are going to keep running into this issue. We need to face it head-on, and this case provides our chance, and we are BLOWING IT by letting Afghanistan simply dismiss the case and let him go, as a measure of appeasement. I don't want to be appeased! I want to to see CHANGE!

It's time for Western countries to realize the truth: that we are not at war simply with corrupt regimes. We are absolutely embroiled in an ideological war, and the ideology we are fighting is so inherently tied to a religion, that you can't tell where one begins and the other ends.

The U.S.'s failure to acknowledge that fact is a big reason for our continued failures in all of our dealings with the Middle East, throughout history. We have no excuse to continue in our ignorance. The case of Abdul Rahman has revealed the truth, and if we don't learn from it, we will pay for it.

And so will countless others.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Just A Thought

I'm so tired.

I like to think that I could make a difference in the world--that my being here matters. But most of the time, I don't feel like it much.

One day, I hope that I do something that goes beyond my own narrow little world, to make someone else's a little better. One day, I hope I really and truly care more for other people than I care about myself.

I think that would be nice.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Finally, This is News

So, it's finally come to the attention of the international media in a big way that a native person of a Muslim country who converts to Christianity can be put to death.

The article on cnn.com states, "...the case of 41-year-old Abdul Rahman has many Western nations wondering if Afghanistan is regressing. Rahman, a father of two, was arrested and is on trial for rejecting Islam. The Afghan constitution, which is based on Sharia, or Islamic law, says that apostates can receive the death penalty."

One of the things I find most interesting in this story is the way the government of Afghanistan is trying to get around dealing with the case because of the furor it's causing, i.e., tell everyone that the guy in question is probably insane. If he's found to be crazy, he can't be tried in the court and "...definitely Islam has no claim to punish him. He must be forgiven. The case must be dropped." (quote ascribed by the AP to Moayuddin Baluch, a religious adviser to President Hamid Karzai.)

In other words, the government of Afghanistan doesn't come out and say, "This is a problem in our government, that we have no religious tolerance." No, they say, "Oh, the guy is mentally ill, so we can't try him. End of problem."

Only it isn't. The end of the problem, I mean.

And the problem isn't that Afghanistan is regressing, by the way. There is no regression where there has been no fundamental paradigm shift away from the original foundation.

I know that it is the politically correct thing these days to talk about the "sublimity" of Islam, and how a perfectly peaceful and good religion is getting a bad rap because of psychotic extremists, but I for one don't buy it. The history of Islam is covered in blood, from its inception to the present-day, and it shows no sign of changing.

Representatives of "moderate Islam" like to say that theirs is the true version of the religion. My response: When the majority of the Islamic Middle East--the region where Islam actually was born and where it is still the rule of law today--reflects democratic, peaceful and equable values within their own societies and governments, then I might start to believe that Islam is fundamentally a democratic, peaceful religion. But not until then.

I traveled through the Middle East two years ago, and had the chance to meet with many native Christians there. And I found that even in Egypt, which is probably the most liberal of the Middle Eastern nations, at least in terms of religious tolerance, Christians still suffer discrimination and persecution, and someone who converts from Islam to Christianity could face imprisonment or death. I had Christians tell me I couldn't write down the things they told me, because they were afraid that it could end up "in the wrong hands." And when I did write anything, I changed names, or didn't mention them at all, because I didn't want to inadvertently cause trouble for anyone.

This has been an ongoing reality in Muslim nations. Christians, and members of other religions, live in fear of their lives in many countries. This is not a sudden, recent development, and I find it appalling that only now are Western countries expressing outrage over this situation. Still... perhaps it is better late than never.

Here's a favorite quote from the article:

"All four nations [the US, Germany, Canada, and Italy] have expressed displeasure over the situation, some even saying that it is intolerable that soldiers of all faiths die to protect a country threatening to kill its own for converting to Christianity."

Yes, it IS intolerable. But that is exactly what's going on. And pssst, guess what--Iraq won't be any different. Why? Because the new government is Islamic. Do we honestly think that we're creating a society that understands and will adhere to the principles of democracy and equal rights for men and women, when Islam shows itself to be antithetical to those principles in practice, in every country where Islam rules? Do we honestly think that THIS Islamic government is going to be different from all the rest?

We are fooling ourselves in this matter, at great cost, and that's because we don't understand the history of the different cultures involved. If we did, we would know that democracy is not a universal mandate; it is a product primarily of WESTERN philosophy. And contrary to the underlying assumptions of many of us in Western nations, the West is not the whole world.

Surprise.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

LA Drivers: Part II

Ok, ok. Maybe I was being unnecessarily cynical with that last post. I am sure there are lots of reasons to love LA drivers. For instance, their patience.

Like, sometimes they will wait an entire half-microsecond between the time a light changes from red to green before laying on the horn, which is very considerate really, because you might have made everyone behind you wait for, I don't know, a whole second or even two, due to the fact that you were blinking just then.

Or what about the eager helpfulness that characterizes the typical LA driver? I bet you didn't know about that, but it's so true. You'll find out when you do something utterly misguided and ridiculous, like slowing down at a green light before turning right, because there happens to be a pedestrian in the crosswalk. Well, an LA driver (or maybe even more than one!) is bound to honk helpfully at you, letting you know that you shouldn't hold up traffic for the sake of something as trivial as a person's LIFE--they probably don't need it that much anyway, right?

Then there are the super-thoughtful folks who are just looking out for your best interests when they give that horn a tap because the car in front of you isn't moving through the green light. That's obviously no excuse for you to be selfish and not run right into them in order to MAKE them go like they're supposed to.

See what I mean? If it weren't for the uber-courtesy of LA drivers, you wouldn't know about all the stupid things you are doing out there on the road which are endangering other people's ability to get where they are trying to go (usually at speeds exceeding the maximum velocity of the Space Shuttle). I for one am now positively GRATEFUL that LA drivers exist. What would I do without them!

(Probably get to and from work in 20 minutes instead of an hour, but I won't mention that. Oh whoops, too late. I did.)

LA Drivers: Gotta Love 'Em

Welcome everyone, to another episode of the Frogg's Top Five! Today, I will share my top five reasons why I adore LA drivers:


5)




4)




Oh here's a really good one:

3)




And let's not forget:

2)



Finally, let's have a big drum-roll, please, for the #1 reason why I love LA drivers...

1)

Monday, March 20, 2006

Saturday Play-by-Play

Went snowboarding on Saturday. Thought I'd write out a detailed account of the day, for your reading pleasure. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 18

4:50am Miss my alarm, which I don't realize until...

5:09am ...at which point I jump out of bed in a panic because I am the one who made such a big deal about everyone being READY TO GO at 5:30am. Naturally, that means I am the last one ready. Sigh...

6:00am Stop in Azusa to leave my car at a house where I will theoretically be attending a friend's birthday party that evening, after we get off the mountain. As we all pile into M's truck, I notice that my brother's girlfriend, J, still has store tags on her pants and I tease her about it.

6:10am-6:30am My brothers regale everyone with a story about how I wore a tag on my jacket in Christmas pictures taken TWO YEARS AGO, and how they didn't understand why I didn't take the tag off when they TOLD me to, but no, I had to be STUBBORN and RUIN the Christmas pictures, which is pretty much the same as ruining Christmas, to hear them tell it. I realize that I will never, ever hear the end of this story. I make a mental note to take tags off of my clothing from now on.

7:30am We're heading up the mountain and notice a cell phone tower disguised as a tree. Which, of course, means that the disguise isn't really working out so well. My brother makes fun of it. We all laugh, because he's witty.

7:45am We stop to let my brother and his girlfriend pay a visit to the restroom, otherwise known as The Great Outdoors. I try to take a picture of J but she has hidden herself behind a bank on the opposite side of the road. Oh well.

8:30am We stop to rent equipment for T, KD, and J at a shop about 20 miles from Big Bear. There is one kid running the place and he's obviously hung over. He asks us what day it is. We tell him. I'm glad I have my own equipment.

9:30am We get to Summit and the parking lot is full; parking lot attendants are directing everyone to the lower lots from where we will have to take a shuttle. We find out that M is good at lying, when he rolls down his window and, without batting an eye, tells an attendant, "We're meeting a buddy up there"--meaning in the main lot close to the mountain, the lot they had blocked off to everyone else because it was full. As we drive up, the rest of us pray that we find a space, but then feel conflicted, because we are basically asking the Lord to reward us for telling lies. While we are considering that maybe we should instead pray for M's soul, we find a spot. We aren't sure what this means theologically, but we don't care anymore. We're happy.

See?



10:00am-1:30pm Mountain time! Yeeha!

1:30pm-2:30pm We spend KD's life savings on three cheeseburgers and a couple of hot dogs. Oh, and a bag of chips.

2:30pm-4:30pm More riding. I also use my little digital camera to take some video clips which would rival The Blair Witch Project in terms of motion sickness potential. Cool.

5:09pm We had all agreed during lunch that, should any separation occur within our group, which it did, we would all meet at the car at 4:30pm. T and I end up together and neither of us has a watch or cell phone with us. As we head off the mountain, I ask a guy what time it is, then feel bad because he has to go to all this effort to get at his cell phone; i.e., digging into a pocket, taking off his gloves, etc. He eventually tells us it is 5:09, which is EXACTLY the time when I got out of bed that morning! Weird. But more importantly, it means T and I are over half an hour late for meeting the others. T says he figures the rest of the gang will probably be waiting in the car with the heat on, nice and warm, so no big deal.

5:12pm The gang is waiting outside the car, where it is not warm at all. T had the keys the whole time. Oops.

9:30pm Traffic is bad, so we don't get back to Azusa until after 9pm. The others drop me off, but before going in to my friend's birthday party, I change clothes in the backseat of my car, proving yet again that I missed my calling as a Cirque de Soleil contortionist. Once inside the house, I start chatting it up with a couple of guys, and am feeling pretty good, until I go to the bathroom and look in the mirror. My hair looks... well, like it's been under a beanie all day, while the part of it that remained exposed to the elements got wet and then dried in very interesting sculptured shapes. And it looks like I got sunburned in just one spot, next to my left eye. I laugh at myself and leave the party about 10 minutes later, confident that I've made a very lasting impression.

10:30pm-11:00pm I drive home listening to some station's "Totally 80s!" Saturday night music show, because I can't find anything I like on the radio but desperately need something upbeat (and annoying, apparently) to keep me awake. I wonder, not for the first time, why 80s music is so enduring. Coincidentally, that's the exact same kind of music they were playing at the party I just left. Weird.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Fun with Dave!

Well, I don't know what I would do without humor columnist Dave Barry's blog. I do know I would probably never have found this article, which would have been a shame because it's about flying cows in Texas somehow leading to police cars catching on fire. Now those are the sort of events you just don't see every day. Unless you do, in which case I really want to know where you live, because I am coming to visit. Or perhaps take up permanent residence.

My fav quote is, well, hmm, the whole article pretty much. It's fantastic.

Another reason I am grateful for Dave Barry is this page, which wins the Frogg's "This Person Has WAY Too Much Time On Their Hands" Award.

Faith an' Begorrah, But 'Tis Me Hair They've Super-Sized!

First of all, HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY! I hope you are all wearing green; if you aren't, consider yourself pinched.

Of course, being a frogg, it goes without saying that I am decked out in the mascot color of the Emerald Isle. (Also, in addition to being half-Egyptian, I am part Irish, so it's kind of a requirement and one with which I don't mind complying. I love green!)

Second of all, I want you all to know that I am having a bad hair day. The reason is this. A couple weeks ago, I bought shampoo and conditioner, from the product line called "Super Skinny" by Paul Mitchell, in case you ever want to avoid it, which, if you have my hair, you will.

What it's supposed to do is make your hair sleek and shiny and smooth. I thought that sounded like a good idea, because I think my hair looks great when I straighten it, but my hair stylist lectured me about overusing the flatiron and destroying my locks, the last time I got a haircut. So I thought, hey, maybe this shampoo/conditioner will help keep my wavy-wild hair under control; after all, it's expensive! So it must do what it's packaging implies, right?

Well. What it does in actual fact is make my hair pouf out to 80s diva proportions. And I don't even need any AquaNet! Lucky me.

In other words, "Super Skinny" made my hair fat.

I guess we can all learn a little lesson from my experience. Namely, to be profoundly grateful that Paul Mitchell doesn't make diet pills. Yikes.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Why, Jessica? Or Should I Say: Why Jessica?

Yes, the simple placement of a comma can be a beautiful thing.

Apparently Jessica Simpson opted not to appear at a Republican fund-raiser. I am at an uncharacteristic loss for words. Mostly what I keep thinking is, "They asked JESSICA SIMPSON??" I am not a Republican, but neither am I a Jessica Simpson fan, so I just don't know who to make fun of more, today. But I do have to point out my favorite part of the whole article:

"People close to Simpson said she declined a request to appear that same evening at the gala fund-raiser of the National Republican Congressional Committee -- even after she was offered some private face time with Bush -- because Operation Smile is a non-partisan group."

Private face time with Bush! Oh, it's too, too much...

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Someone Tell Her To Take A Deep Breath. Please.

I haven't seen Brokeback Mountain. But after reading 70-year-old author Annie Proulx's rant against the Academy Awards for not giving the movie the Best Picture Oscar, I don't think I ever will. No, not because it's about gay cowboys, but because her attitude is so incredibly rude and ungracious.

To be honest, I couldn't even read her entire article, because it was so gaggingly bitter. Her sense of contemptuous superiority is truly nauseating, and I can tell that she and I would probably never hit it off over tea. We might end up hitting each other, though.

Now THAT might make for some interesting cinematic fare, wouldn't you say? "Fractious Frogg Faces Off with Growling Grandma." WWE, here we come!

But anyway, Proulx actually made me want to see Crash because she trashed it so badly. To borrow a line from the also-non-Academy-Award-winning film Happy Gilmore: "Talk about your all-time backfires."

And I take extreme exception to her phrase, "dim L.A. crowd." I am a part of that L.A. crowd, gosh darn it, and I'd say I am an 80-watt bulb at the very LEAST.

Finally, I have to say that for someone who doesn't think much of the Academy Awards, she sure is angry about not getting one. Geez.

Yes, Ms. Proulx. Sour grapes is EXACTLY what it is, and you left a bad taste in MY mouth. Bleah.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Lost in the Myst

The lovely Candace has been writing interesting posts lately about how programming languages kind of tell cool little stories to her when she sleeps. She doesn't quite say they whisper sweet nothings in her ear, but I still have to ask, "Does your husband know about this? Does he?!"

(Mind you, as an English major, I am pretty skeptical about storytelling program languages anyway, because even though letters of the English alphabet float around in the impenetrable cloud of code, they don't get all comradely with each other and make real WORDS. Also they look about as at ease amongst all the numbers and symbols as baby sea lions surrounded by a school of sharks. But I digress.)

Today, Candace writes:

Okay, so I've thought of a better analogy to describe programming (or at least how my subconscious deals with it when I'm asleep). It's an obvious one, really. It's Myst!

In the world of Myst, you're playing a game where doing certain concrete things (turning a dial, pushing a button, etc.) will yield certain results which will lead to your evetually winning the game. But to get to the point where you can do the concrete thing, you have to use a lot of imagination, inference, logic, and investigation (i.e., wandering around).
(emphasis mine.)

In other words, then, another name for Myst could apparently be "My Life: The Video Game." Catchy title, isn't it? But I bet Myst would still sell better--after all, 30 years into "My Life" and I have yet to get to the concrete thing. For that matter, I'm not entirely sure I know what, exactly, the concrete thing is.

But I've sure done the wandering around thing...A LOT. And quite frankly, it's getting, well, just a little old. (Entirely unlike yours truly, by the way, who only gets younger and more beguiling with every passing year.)

So, my question is, does anyone know a magic shortcut to the next level? You know, one of those "press B and A at the same time and hit the directional buttons in the following order: right, right, left, down, down, up while you are standing on the bag of gold" kind of shortcuts that you only find out about by putting on 3-D glasses and reading certain pages of gaming magazines backwards. Or something.

No? Darn. Oh well, just thought I'd ask.

Things That Make You Go "Hmmm"

On the front page of cnn.com early this morning, I found these two headlines, coexisting peacefully despite fundamental semanticarian differences:

Bloody Baghdad: 86 bodies found in 30 hours

Bush: Iraq turning away from 'the abyss'

If you think these two headlines contradict each other, you only showcase your novitiate status in the realm of world politics. I feel sorry for you.

Monday, March 13, 2006

My Tummy Hurts Just THINKING About This

Now, raise your hands: how many of you out there have thought that maybe putting a burger between plain old buns is getting a little boring? How many of you have thought, "I wonder what a cheeseburger would taste like between, oh I don't know, say Krispy Kreme doughnuts?"

Wonder no more.

I've been hearing a lot in the news lately about how Americans are struggling more and more with obesity, and then I read a story like that and this and I have only one thing to say:

Duh.

But there's nothing like a good old-fashioned story about a man chopping up a dead friend and feeding him to pigs which were then sold at the meat market and eaten by unsuspecting people to really make a strong case for the health benefits of vegetarianism.

(Fav quote from the above article: "OK, it was stupid but I was broke.")

Woof!

One of the things I love about Los Angeles is the fact that you never know when you are going to see--as I did this morning--a grown man dressed as a big shaggy dog, chillin' on the freeway overpass connecting Cahuenga and Highland over the 101.

LA is a strange and, in many ways, disturbing place, but I guess that's part of its mercurial charm.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Picture Time!

It's been freezing cold this weekend, with snow coming down pretty low--in fact, I can see a fair amount of dusting on the mountains right near my house. I wish I had gone snowboarding. As it happens, I did not. But here are pictures from Tahoe, when I did go snowboarding a few weeks ago. It's the least I can do.

Here's a view through Steve's cracked windshield, on highway 89...almost, but not quite, there!



Steve had the hookups for free lift tickets to Squaw, so naturally we went there. Here's a shot from the Red Dog lift, which I personally think should be renamed the Vertigo Lift of Death, but hey who asked me?



Ah, beautiful Lake Tahoe...



The We-Know-We-Look-Like-Dorks-But-Ask-Us-If-We-Care Posse, aka Steve, Mark, and grackyfrogg.



(Um, yeah, so there aren't any pictures of us actually snowboarding. I had really good intentions about that, but frankly, it was mostly too cold to take my gloves off, dig my camera out of my jacket, take a picture, then put gloves back on, etc. Sorry, folks. Maybe next time.)

Friday, March 10, 2006

News Flash!

I just got the news from one of the schools I applied to, that I was accepted for their Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing degree program! I am still a little in shock, because they sent the letter in one of those thin #10 envelopes, which I seem to remember as being a bad sign, from my college application days. So as I opened it, I was already reading the letter in my mind, and it went like this: "Thank you very much for your application, but we regret to inform you yada yada." Then I saw the word "Congratulations," and I thought, "That's an odd way to start a rejection letter," before I realized--I was IN!

Then I did some cartwheels through the house.

No, I'm lying. I can't cartwheel, are you crazy? I'm 30, for goondess' sake! People who are 30 have to be dignified and handle all news, whether good or bad, with gracious maturity and aplomb.

So I did a little jump-up-and-down dance in the kitchen instead, while shouting. Yeah, I'm not so big on the maturity and aplomb thing, sorry.

Still waiting on the other schools I sent apps to, but I'm encouraged that I actually got in to one. I had my doubts! But thank you to all of you who had none, on my behalf. Hugs from me! Now back to my jumping up and down... Yay!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Loyal to the (Apple) Core

I am a loyal Apple girl. I have my 40GB third-generation iPod (and I actually know what all those words mean), I have an iPod shuffle, I have an iBook, and I have a ruby-red iMac circa 2000. If I dig around, I could even unearth my first Apple laptop, a Powerbook 180 that weighs about 25 pounds and has a screen the size of a single slice of bread (ok, maybe two slices, stretched out). However, all my loyalties aside, I have to say this:

Just because you can write the code for the elegant and easy-to-use MacOS doesn't mean you can write good poetry.

This may seem like a non sequitur, and if you're surprised, then you must be new to this blog. Thanks for stopping by! For the newbies and veteran readers alike, I would like to share the following poem, written by some unnamed person and embedded within Mac OSX to discourage potential hackers from pirating the software that now runs on Intel chips. Here it is (quoted on cnn.com last month):

"Your karma check for today:
There once was a user that whined
his existing OS was so blind
he'd do better to pirate
an OS that ran great
but found his hardware declined.
Please don't steal Mac OS!
Really, that's way uncool."(C) Apple Computer, Inc.
-- Apple's poetic warning to would-be hackers

Limerick or not, it still sucks. Sorry, Apple. I love you, but please don't write any more poetry. It hurts me. It hurts me deep.

But this does beg the question: How effective is poetry at discouraging crime? That sounds like a national study waiting to happen. I wonder if it would work against muggers, such as the guy who held up me and three friends at gunpoint in Berkeley several years ago. Maybe I should have quoted poetry at him, like this:

There once was a robber named Dan
who tried to take money from Stan
But Stan was bigger than he
And kicked Dan in the knee
Now Dan can't walk anymore and learned his lesson.

Ok, so it's not going to win the Pulitzer, but it's a work in progress, alright? And I can see how it might work. I mean, the mugger could have doubled over laughing, giving us time to get away before he could take our money. Why, I could be $25 richer today if I had just been more poetic!

Well, it's fun to dream about what might have been. But the truth is, I find it pretty unlikely that a couple of hackers, after stumbling across Apple's poem, will look at each other and say, "Awww, look at that! A poem, just for us! Hey man, you know what? This IS way uncool! What were we thinking? And after all, they did say 'please.' Let's not pirate Mac OS!"

It's a nice thought, Apple. And hey, it made me laugh, if not the hackers. But please have some mercy on my literary sensibilities--they're easily outraged. I wouldn't want them to spoil a beautiful relationship.

Monday, March 06, 2006

When Too Close Just Isn't Close Enough

Men, are you tired of having to give up your sweatshirt and freeze your chivalrous butt off when the light of your life gets chilly because she forgot to bring a jacket along on a night out? Or have you ever been walking down the street with your beloved when it was a tad too cold outside and thought something along the lines of, "Gee, I really wish my darling and I could fit inside the same sweatshirt, because that would be so adorable and romantic"? Well, never fear, just go here! Every couple I know NEEDS this piece of clothing in their wardrobe. Please buy it! I mean, what better way to spend $79? I ask you.

PS also look at this. The Hug Jacket, according to the web site, is "more affordable than many imitations." I was unaware that there was an ORIGINAL out there, let alone imitations, and let alone "many" of them. The Internet is nothing if not educational. (Note the picture in the lower-right-hand corner; it's priceless, I tell you. Priceless!)

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Response to a Friend

A friend of mine was ruminating on the trend of the "emergent church" and the leaders who characterize it. Specifically, he writes in part,

"What strikes me most forcefully about the writers who are attempting to articulate the ethos of the emergent church is their humility. They seem unconcerned about being the ones who are 'right' and conversely very concerned about letting God have that privilege."

I thought I would share my (slightly edited) response here, and see what other people think.

people say things like "we need to change how we DO church," and i think that part of the problem is that church has become something we do, rather than something we are. we find our identity in this institutional sphere we have created, and in participating in the various actions and events we have prescribed for it, but that institution is not in itself the Church.

but yes, we must be humble. i don't want my pride to be my downfall, that i should arrogantly view myself as better or more enlightened than others because of what i do or don't believe about church. that, to me, is a greater sin than any errors of being and doing in which the Church finds herself struggling today. for how can i help her, if all i do is despise her difficulties?

but the one thing that concerns me the most about the emergent church is this. sometimes i think that we are simply reacting to how the world perceives us as Christians; in other words, we see that they don't like us, thanks to "crazy fundamentalists" who bomb abortion clinics and gather in protest rallies with signs saying "God hates faggots." i feel like at times we are scrambling to do "damage control" with our image, and perhaps some of that is good and right, for those who love Christ, the Lover of the world, cannot reasonably abide with those who hate others in His Name. but we go too far if we ever lose sight of the fact that we are to be salt and light in this world. and sometimes salt will sting if it falls on a wound, and light can hurt the eyes of those who have been in the dark for too long. the prophets of old said hard words that people did not always like to hear, but where are the prophets of today?

now wait, let me think. perhaps...if in these last days, God has spoken to us by his Son, well, there is the Final Word, and the Son then is the last Prophet and our Great King. and what did he say to us? that if the world hated him, so we shouldn't be surprised if it hates us as well. and i think that should be a warning to the emergent church; that far from seeking to placate itching ears, and tell people what they want to hear, and letting a disgruntled world tell us what we ought to be like, how we ought to behave, and what we should really believe, instead we should be concerned with following Christ, speaking truth and lighting the way back to where we belong. and if the light shines on a rough, uneven, and difficult road, what is that to us? we are here to point the way, not make it easy.


Discuss amongst yourselves.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Mmmm, Bring on the Brats!

Ok, I realize it has been awhile since my last post, but I have a good reason for my absence. I'm just not going to tell you what it is. But I will tell you that if you are planning a trip to Wisconsin anytime soon, you might want to think twice, especially when you read this March 1st headline from the doubtless award-swamped Sheboygan Press:

City Asked To Abolish Brat-Eating Contest.

And people say California is weird. They're right, of course, but at least we know enough to just SPOIL our brats, not eat them. Goodness.

You know, I had no idea that cannibalism was such a rampant problem in Wisconsin, to the point where they actually have contests for it, but then again, we are talking about the Midwest. And Wisconsin, no less... the very same state where I once spent an afternoon paddling down a river named (I am not joking) Kickapoo, in a canoe that had the word "Titanic" scrawled on the side. Look, it's a strange, strange land. Believe me.

Until next time, when I hope to have a full account of my adventures in Tahoe, even though it is frightfully old news now, be good and try not to eat any brats. It just doesn't sound too healthy, if you ask me.