frogg files

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

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Practically Perfect Procrasination

Ok, I just had this totally weird experience with Blogger. I was trying to login in to my account (after being horribly remiss for days and days; yes, I am aware of my delinquency and I am just as sorry as you would expect) and for some reason after I typed in the URL and hit "return" the entry page for Blogger just kept loading and reloading itself. It wouldn't give me a chance to sign in! I tried to hit the link for "Sign in to Blogger" in between the page's resets, and started to feel a little like the boy in Mary Poppins who gets stuck inside a closet while they are cleaning up the nursery and every time he tries to get out the doors close again and all the toys mock him. Do you remember that part? I think that whole scene is one of my favorites in that movie.

Also the scene of everyone flying around the ceiling laughing and having tea.

Wait, what was I talking about? Oh right, technical difficulties with Blogger. But that's so boring! Why would I waste all of our time talking about that? So strange.

Well, I must have had my reasons. Since I can't figure out what they are, though, I'll just move on to another topic.

Namely, the topic of the new cafe in my town that sells some of the best hot chocolate EVER. And when I say, "EVER," I absolutely mean every single one of those capital letters. They make it from real Belgian chocolate, and the chocolate is infused with any one of a variety of flavors: jasmine, mint, chili pepper (!), cinnamon, and ginger, to name a few. I can personally vouch for the cinnamon and ginger flavors as being quite delectable.

Oh and they have great tea, too.

I sat there in this cafe, drinking down the hot chocolate and (later) a cup of tea in the blissful determination to maintain an appearance of diligence without actually being diligent. To that end, I dutifully pulled out my laptop, typed 250 words of a short story and then wrote up a "plan" for what stories I want to turn in with my next packet. Because hey, writing a plan counts as work, right? (All I can say is, it better.)

Then I went home. Which is where I am now. Blogging.

Man, it's hard work being lazy.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Writing Program Update #1

One of the books on my reading list this semester is Amy Bloom's A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You. So last night, I was checking a nearby library's online catalog database to see if they had it available. And they do!

In the large-print edition.

I love irony.

In other, rather shocking news, I sent in my second writing packet to my mentor EARLY. This is shocking because I am rarely early for anything, especially deadlines. (On time? Yes, definitely. Early? Not so much.) And the reason, of course, is that I am a highly skilled procrastinator. Give me a project, and I will find something else to do instead, in under five seconds. Flat.

So what happened to me this time? What combination of circumstances conspired to knock my normally late-running world off of its lazily lolling orbit?

Nothing, actually. I was still living up to my last-minute tendencies. See I thought my packet was due on the 22nd. So, of course, I sent it on Saturday (the last possible day before Monday). I ponied up for the Express Mail because that would guarantee it arrived at its destination by Monday at noon, ON TIME, thereby making me look like a paragon of industry and diligence.

Then I get a call from my mentor the next day, laughing at me and saying, "What are you doing?? Why did I just get your packet on a Sunday morning? You aren't even supposed to send it until Monday!"

Turns out my packet wasn't DUE on the 22nd, it just needed to be POSTMARKED by that date. (Which is actually a big relief, because I always thought it was a little unreasonable of the program to expect us to estimate when a packet would arrive at a mentor's house!)

On the other hand, I learned the (to me) completely amazing fact that the USPS actually delivers Express Mail on Sunday. Naturally, you can imagine how glad I am that I forked over $14.40 for that valuable lesson.

Oh well. It's not every day I can say that I came in ahead of schedule on something. Maybe that in itself is worth the almost $15.

Ha. No.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Frogg's Grammar Lesson, #1

As a proofreader and writer, I try my best to keep abreast of the evolution of language and syntax in the English language. This is, of course, a lie. But in spite of myself I can't help noticing that one of our punctuation marks has been getting kicked to the curb more and more often, with disastrous consequences.

As you've probably guessed (yeah right), I'm talking about the hyphen.

I know it's not the prettiest member of the punctuation family. No elegant curves, like commas and apostrophes. No circular reasoning, like the periods. No combination of the two, like question marks. The hyphen is plain and simple: a straight line between two words, joining them together.

And when it is left out, the writer runs the risk of paying a high price... in clarity.

To prove my point, I offer Exhibit A: A headline link on CNN.com. Here it is:



This sentence, as is, can be read in one of at least three ways:

1) A trucker's attempt to smuggle people was deadly; or

2) The people the trucker was smuggling were deadly; or

3) Deadly people were attempting to smuggle with the help of a trucker.

As you can see, all these meanings are very different indeed. So what to do?

First, we have to click on the link and read the article to see which meaning is correct. Once we do, we discover that—disappointingly—it's #1. (I was rooting for #2.) Now that we know the true meaning, however, we can fix the sentence! Yay! This is so exciting!!

(Well, comparatively. I mean, it's more exciting than, say, sitting at my desk twiddling my thumbs because work is slow. Er, not that I was doing that or anything. Not that work is ever slow! I am speaking very hypothetically.)

Anyway. The solution to our original problem, it turns out, is simple. Look closely:

"Trucker jailed for deadly people-smuggling attempt"

There! Do you see it? Do you see the hyphen?? Makes a difference, doesn't it! Miraculously the sentence becomes so much more clear!!

And a lot less amusing, I admit, but you can't have everything in life. More's the pity.

So. The moral of today's lesson is that you should not be a trucker.

No wait, that's not it. Wrong moral! Sorry, let me just look through my notes... Oh. The real moral is that hyphens are super-cool.

That's a tip, kids. Write it down.

Nothing To Say, But Lots Of Words In Which To Say It

Wow, I can't believe there was a time in my life when I updated this blog every day—sometimes more than once! Now I can barely manage once a week. Either I am getting less creative, or I had waaaaay too much time on my hands a year or so ago.

Hmm, maybe it's a bit of both.

Anyway, to sum up the most exciting news of the past week-in-the-frogg's-life:

I went snowboarding.

Yep, that's it! That's all my exciting news! Almost everything else is work or more work, and believe me, you do not want me to go on and on about that.

In other, less fun news, our water heater broke last night, so I can't take a hot shower this morning. Compounding the unfortunate consequences attendant upon this situation is the fact that it's currently 39 degrees Fahrenheit outside. Brrr!

Finally, since this whole post was pointless and served no purpose at all except to allow me to say, "Hey, I finally updated my blog!" I would like to leave you with some words of wisdom, some profound observation on the vagaries of modern life, or some particularly cogent speculation on world events and their far-reaching implications.

But if I did, you might think you'd stumbled onto the wrong blog. So never mind.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Bottoms Up!

So I just thought of a cool new drinking game.*

Every time Bush blatantly ignores the overwhelming majority of public and political opinion to put forth his own agenda, take a drink.

Every time he says the phrase "war on terror," or "freedom for Iraqis," take two.

And every time he says, "democracy in the Middle East," take as many as you deem necessary. Guzzle it down, baby.

It'll make the ending much more bearable, believe me. If it ever comes, of course.




* As a Christian, I cannot endorse this game. Even though I made it up.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

At Least People Probably Won't Forget The Homework

I'm sure glad they didn't offer this course when I was in college.

My GPA would have been so ruined.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Still Here...

I know I have been sadly neglecting the frogg files of late. But I have a good reason, honest.

I have actually been writing and revising short stories for my graduate program.

I'll wait a moment for the shock to subside.

Yes, I have eschewn my normal procrastinatory tactics for something that might (if you squint a little) bear a passing resemblance to diligence. It's a whole new year, what can I say.

In addition to writing, I've been enjoying summer in January. Right now, according to the little weather widget on my Mac, it is 83 degrees outside. And it's barely noon.

You know, every now and then I think about leaving California, and living in a state where the word "cold" doesn't just mean "less hot." I try to picture myself, say, shoveling snow or scraping frost off of my windshield in the morning, or wearing a big heavy coat. That's when I discover that even my wild imagination has its limits.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Happy New Year!

I'm back! And from the overwhelming amount of comments that I did not receive during my absence, I can see that I was not as sorely missed as my ego would have me believe. Which is good, because one of my New Year's Resolutions is to be more humble, so thank you to all my readers for helping me along in this endeavor.

(Although, since you didn't know that was one of my Resolutions, I am not sure I really owe you that much gratitude.)

Not that I have New Year's Resolutions per se. I have found that the surest way to not keep a New Year's Resolution is to make one in the first place. For that reason, I prefer to call them New Year's Suggestions.

I haven't quite made my list of Suggestions yet, but if you want to share yours with me, I'd be happy to hear them.

Also, any highlights of everyone else's New Year's. Mine were as follows:

1) Getting sick—again!

2) Unexpectedly getting the chance to see a friend who had been part of the group I traveled with to the Middle East in 2004. I took him and his wife to the Getty Center, where they were hosting an exhibit on religious icons from St. Catherine's Monastery at Mt. Sinai—a monastery that my friend and I had walked right past when we visited the mountain during our travels. So we wandered through the entire exhibit kicking ourselves for not taking the time to actually go into the monastery where we could have seen the icons in their original "habitat." And then we had coffee. Good times.

3) Going with my brother to a party where I didn't know anyone, and everyone looked like they were about 18. Also, I got asked if my brother was my husband. (And he wonders why I never go places with him!!)

4) Contracting a 24-hour travel bug, which prompted me to do the six-hour drive from Los Angeles to the Bay Area starting at noon on Monday, and coming back on Tuesday evening. (I think I can scratch "do something wildly spontaneous and crazy" off of my New Year's Suggestions list.)

5) Surprising a friend at her farewell party on New Year's Day, after I had said I wouldn't be able to make it. (That was before I caught the travel bug.)

6) Wearing a "Michigan" sweatshirt to the party, totally oblivious to the fact that Michigan was playing California's own USC in the Rose Bowl, and that a whole bunch of boys were watching the game when I arrived. I just like the way the sweatshirt fits, ok? Thankfully, no one killed me. That would have been a sucky start to the New Year.

I'm sure there were more highlights, but I'd better get going if I want to be less late for work, which may or may not be one of my New Year's Suggestions. It probably should be, but see, that's exactly what might let it out of the running. It's a fine line between Suggestion and Resolution, you know.

But here's a suggestion I think we can all live with most amicably: Do something fun in 2007. You should be able to handle that.

I mean, only if you want to.