Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Ted Stevens: old *and* corrupt

Since every other Alaskan Republican seems to be indicted on various corruption-related charges, I wasn't particularly surprised to see Ted Stevens accused of failing to disclose gifts he received from the oil industry. I'd personally love to see that old-ass, out of touch Senator lose this reelection bid. Lest we forget, this is the man who, while the Chairman of the Commerce Committee which regulates the internet, described it as not being a dump truck, but rather "a series of tubes".

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

My new jobbie-job

I didn't want to jinx myself, so I haven't posted anything yet about my new job. But, since I start on Monday and am taking this week off, here goes!

I'm going to be the new VP Business Development at the Cablevision-owned network Fuse. It's quite the dream job for me for a number of reasons. It's the role and responsibility I was looking for, and as an added bonus it's for a music-focused cable network. On a very high level, any non-advertising, non-affiliate revenue falls under me. This could be anything from partnerships for merchandising or travel, to launching entirely new lines of business. From a corporate perspective, Fuse combines the feel of a start-up, in that it's now getting a fresh focus on programming and marketing, with the stability and infrastructure of a real business. Plus, I'm working for a guy I know well from TV One, and the entire management team is excited and energized.

My consulting gig at BET Digital wrapped up on Friday, and it was a great experience all around. I left on a very high note. They were sad to see me go, and have promised I'll have a place there if Fuse doesn't work out.

I've got really high hopes for this new position. I can't remember ever wanting a job so badly, and I'm really fired up to do some great things! If only there are crazy sign-leavers, my life will be complete.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Spoonbridge and Cherry, Minneapolis

My sister just bought what sounds like a fabulous new condo in Minneapolis. Mom and Dad went to visit her last weekend, and sent this postcard. The sculpture is in a lovely park near the apartment Jessie had been living in.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Girl in Landscape

Girl in Landscape is the second novel by Jonathan Lethem that I've read. Lethem gained mainstream recognition for his fantastic 1999 novel Motherless Brooklyn, but he'd been writing science fiction for a number of years before that. I actually found Girl in Landscape, written in 1998, to be more akin to the western genre than sci-fi, in that the landscape itself is a primary character.

The book starts a little slowly, with 13-year-old protagonist Pella's family preparing to move from Brooklyn to the planet of the Archbuilders light years away. Once they arrive, the story that unfolds is a character-driven coming-of-age meets pioneers-on-the-frontier. Pella's family and the other settlers from Earth have to co-exist with the indigenous Archbuilders, whose mannerisms, language, even food and shelter are barely understood by the humans. More important to Pella are the personal battles they are facing. Her father is a failed politician trying in vain to regain something of his former glory. Her younger brothers are dealing poorly with their mother's death. She herself is going through puberty. And surrounding them is a supporting cast of Earth's (and the Archbuilders') rejects.

About halfway through this book, I became convinced that Lethem is one of the most brilliant contemporary authors out there. His ability to create characters with incredible depths of emotion through his spare writing style lifts him above the fray of ordinary writers. I am enthusiastically looking forward to reading more.

Another courtesy lesson

For those of you who have passed Remedial Courtesy and Courtesy 101, yet another sign appeared in the ladies' room yesterday that you might find helpful:

Again I will reiterate, this is not an unpleasant bathroom. It is apparently just frequented by crazy people.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

My new night terrors

I've always been a very weird sleeper. As a child, I would walk and talk in my sleep. After college, I'd wake up in the middle of the night doing some very bizarre things. Once, I was on my hands and knees in my closet, I'd taken out all of my shoes and piled them in the middle of the floor, and I was searching for the hole that the gnomes came through. Another time, I had removed all of the framed pictures from the wall and leaned them against my bed. Since I've been married, my "night terrors" have been more along the lines of thinking I see giant spiders on the ceiling, or that there are things hanging from the shelves or lamps.

The last week or so, I haven't slept well at all. Each night, I've woken up with the frantic realization that I've lost the Bug somewhere in my room. Like I was supposed to be watching her but then she disappeared. I look in the covers, under the bed, under the desk, in the bathroom. Mind you, she's still sleeping soundly in her crib in her room. I read in the Times that this is fairly common for new mothers to experience. But the Bug's a year old... so why now?

A belated shout-out

I realized that I was delinquent in wishing a congratulations to my sister's good college friends, Carly and Dave, in the birth of their daughter Samantha Lee Brantz. Sam arrived on July 3, while we were in DC. I've been following Sam's in utero experiences via Carly's blog, which has been a pleasure to read... and I'm looking forward to staying tuned!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Welcome, Thor and Emma!

"Congratulations" and "best wishes" to more of our dear friends are in order! Rebecca and Leif welcomed baby Thor Bates Nelson on July 13, two weeks ahead of expectations, and Christine and Chris brought Emma Grace Zelle into the world on July 19, four weeks early. I'm not sure what to make of these babies wanting to leave their cozy nests so early, but I am thrilled to report that mothers and babies (and daddies, too!) are all happy and well. Thor has been home for almost a week; Emma hopes to come home by the weekend.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, the review

As you know, I was really looking forward to seeing the internet musical Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. It was typical Joss Whedon in a number of ways: great music, fantastic casting and acting, intelligent writing, decidedly unhappy ending, random reference to a florist. In another way, however, it did come up short. Whedon is well known as a feminist with incredibly strong female lead characters, and there was not one to be found here. Penny was the least developed character of the three, and primarily served as a prop for arch-nemeses Dr. Horrible and Captain Hammer.

That said, the show as a whole only confirmed to me that Whedon is a creative genius. Whedon is at his best when he explores complex characters that don't follow stereotypes. In Dr. Horrible, he addresses the questions of what makes a hero a hero, and what makes a villain a villain. His "hero" was a bully and a womanizer who cried at the slightest pain; his "villain" was a computer nerd who desperately wanted to fit in. One was in love with the pretty girl from the laundromat; the other just wanted to show her his "hammer." Particularly given the super tight budget of this project, which was filmed during the writers' strike, I have to give it full props. Whedon will continue to feature strong women. But for once, it was enough to simply enjoy the singing, the laughs, and the terrible twists.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The ultimate DIY

I read in the Times today about a submarine that was seized by the Mexican Navy, on suspicion of carrying a shipment of cocaine. It would probably not have caught my attention, if it hadn't been a HOMEMADE submarine. With a crew of four. Submarines scare the hell out of me. I cannot imagine (a) having the bright idea to build one myself, or (b) convincing three of my buddies to come aboard the craft.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Dr. Horrible, Act I

Yippee!! The first act of Joss Whedon's Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog is online today. It is totally awesome!! Act II will be posted on July 17, Act III on July 19, and free online viewing ends on July 20. You can also download it on iTunes. Enjoy!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Fat ass in a bowl

Joker's away tonight for a Widespread Panic show in Philly. Since he took the train down mid-afternoon, I had a great opportunity to hang with the Bug - we had a fabulous trip to the park, and a super fun bath. But after she went to sleep, I was left with this burning question: "What in the hell am I going to eat tonight?"

That question was answered very simply, as follows. Boil water. Open a box of macaroni and cheese. Cook macaroni. Drain macaroni. Add to saucepan a little butter, cheese powder, and double the requisite amount of milk, the latter on accident. Add macaroni to saucepan. Wonder why it looks runny. Realize mistake. Figure out solution. Throw in a handful of shredded cheddar cheese and a handful of grated parmesan. Add a little more cheddar. Stir. Toss in an avocado. Douse with chipotle hot sauce. Wash down with half a bottle of white wine.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Board priorities

My first NARAL Pro-Choice Connecticut (NPCC) meeting was last night. I got to meet the rest of the board in person, and I have a bit better sense of what will be involved going forward. The biggest priority of the Board is definitely fund-raising. I'll be joining, and perhaps chairing, the Brunch Committee. Although it is probably the easiest of the fundraising committees, this will be the first time in my life where I will not only be responsible for rallying like-minded friends to an event, but also for recruiting them to become members.

This won't really change anything for me in the context of my blog, but I did want to let you know what's involved in my role at NPCC. Those of you who live in Connecticut can expect to hear from me from time to time, particularly in the spring when the Brunch is approaching. The rest of you will see notable updates, whether about key Connecticut legislative news or NPCC events, posted here from time to time.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Roadtrip to Our Nation's Capital

For the July 4th holiday, we took the Bug down to Washington, DC to visit Uncle Shane and Ali. We had a great visit, and got to see some sights, too! We started our 5-hour drive at Bug's bedtime on Thursday evening, in the hopes that she'd sleep the entire way. It worked great, though Joker and I were pretty tired on Friday.

We went to the National Zoo on the Fourth. The Bug really likes animals, and she was able to get good views of the red pandas, the sloth bears, the gorillas, and the elephants (baby elephant even went for a swim, which I'd never seen before). As always, the biggest highlights were the other kids running around. At lunch, she showed off her new skill: doing "Cheers" with us before taking a drink from her bottle.

Saturday we took a day trip to Annapolis: walked around the lovely downtown, went for a boat tour of the harbor, and cracked crabs at an awesome place called Cantler's. Downstairs at the restaurant, they had tanks of horseshoe crabs, and some gnarly old dude lifted a couple of them up to show the Bug and me their mouths and their claws. Pretty cool - it's like gazing into a creepy dinosaur.

Sunday we toured Mount Vernon, which is a fantastic museum. The house gives a really interesting tour, the grounds are beautiful, and the Bug loved the lambs and horses at the barn. We decided to skip the Mall, but after a picnic on the Potomac we stopped at the incredibly powerful FDR Memorial on our way back into the city.

Vacations with the Bug are certainly different than those we used to do, but the Bug's schedule gives enough us plenty of flexibility to see some sights and have some fun! Plus, I firmly believe it's good for her to be dragged along, she can see and do different things, and she learns to go with the flow.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The French Lieutenant's Woman

I've been wanting to read John Fowles' The French Lieutenant's Woman for several years, not because I knew anything about it, but because it was in a box of books that used to belong to my Grandma D. I didn't love the book, but there were things about it that I really found intriguing, and I am very glad I finally read it.

The book, written in the late 1960s, is set in Victorian England. The noble Charles Smithson and his rich, shallow fiancee Ernestina Freeman come across Sarah Woodruff on a coastal walk. Charles becomes intrigued with the story Ernestina tells him, about the situation surrounding Sarah's jilting at the hands of a French seaman. Sarah and Charles meet accidentally, she engenders his emotional support, and they become involved. Romance, scandal, yadda yadda.

What made this book interesting to me was not so much the plot, but rather its writing. For one thing, it's written about Victorian times, in a style reminiscent of Victorian literature, but through a decidedly modern lens. Then, the narrator makes two appearances in the novel, after the first and second of the three proposed endings, to explain how the characters of a novel come to life and take off in directions one doesn't necessarily intend. While I am quite sure J.K. Rowling would not agree, it seemed an interesting perspective to me. And though when I finished the book I found the final two endings to be a bit unsatisfying, upon a night's reflection I really liked the vastly different outcomes that they proposed.

I like that the book's style has made me think, made me try to decipher the true motives of the mysterious Sarah. I'd particularly recommend The French Lieutenant's Woman for a book group discussion.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Like sands through the hourglass...

Sick Day #3 has also represented the third day I've watched Days of Our Lives in about ten years. Three episodes, and I know everything that's happened in ten years. The sum total of those happenings: not a damn thing. Sure, Sami thinks she isn't evil right now, but since both of her twins' baby daddies are in adjoining elevators having sex with her two arch-nemeses, I'm pretty sure ole Sami'll be evil again by next week. John Black isn't dead. Again. And he has no memory. Again. But every time that happens Doc finds a way to snap him out of it, no worse (or less vacant-looking) for the wear. The only real difference is that half of the screen time is taken up by the babies who were born ten or fifteen years ago, were rapidly aged, and are now twenty-somethings carrying on relationships with the other rapidly aged kids of the other characters on the show. The show's tagline should be "Like sands, sitting sedentary in a jar, so are the Days of Our Lives."

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

"Sick" is practically "suck"

I've been home sick the past two days. This is not the "sick day" you remember, where you watch TV all day and every time you ring a bell your Mom brings you cheese or juice or soup. Nor is it Ferris Bueller's sick day, complete with sexy cars and a sexy girlfriend and a best friend who completely loses his nut. My sick days have been pretty sucky.

Yesterday I barely got out of bed, and my fever ran between 102-103 for most of the day. This morning, my fever was better, but my tonsils had all these icky white splotches on them. So I actually went to the doctor for a sore throat, for the first time in I-don't-know-how-long. Not having a primary care physician, I went to the Urgent Care facility associated with my OB/GYN's office.

The facility and the staff were fantastic, but there were a few decided differences from the doctor's office of my youth (which I loved!!). First, there is now an instant strep test. They do a regular throat culture, too, but the instant one responds, well, instantly... very reminiscent of a pregnancy test, actually, complete with a little blue line. When the doctor came in, I had my second surprise. She was younger than me. I've had relatively young doctors before, but I checked the website, and this doctor is definitely about three years my junior. That was funny... though I'm pretty sure the ratio only goes one way from here.

Apparently the germs didn't get the memo that I am no longer a teenager. Despite the instant test indicating I do not have strep throat, its 90% accuracy rating (meaning it misses one in 10 cases), combined with my nasty throat and fever, made my doctor pretty sure that the lab culture will come back positive. I started antibiotics in the hopes that this is the case. If my lab test comes back negative, however, there is a decent chance that I have mono. I am having trouble grasping the lameness of that possibility. Mono at age 33? Strep at 33 is bad enough, but MONO???