Thursday, July 28, 2005

One of THOSE days

Make that one of Those weeks. I'm in a terrible mood right now, alternating between "turn on the waterworks" and "kick the crap out of whatever's available." Right now, I think I'd prefer the latter. This whole summer has been an exercise in frustration: I start out with simple personal goals, accomplish none of them, scale them back, continue to accomplish nothing, and so forth. I can't even spend time with people I care about because our schedules have all gone to hell. Add in one uncomfortable bike mishap (ah, the joys of striking one's seat with great force), and I'm liable to wither anyone who makes eye contact.

I took a long walk tonight after sunset, trying to clear my head. Part of me wanted to keep walking, to see where I wound up when dawn broke over the Sound. Running away from my problems never sounded so good. I also thought about going to a bar for a few drinks, but being solo is never a great idea, particularly since I'm likely to put a pool cue through anyone who says anything smart right now. Somehow, I don't think the Gates people would appreciate if if I skewered a lewd member of society. Kelli got it right: half of me is thrilled about what lies ahead, and the other half couldn't be more dejected. Self-imposed schizophrenia: I wouldn't recommend it.

Grumble. Sorry to be the grinch of the evening. Hopefully, things will improve...sometime? At least until then, I can watch my Daily Show highlights.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Light a candle tonight

Please consider lighting one tonight for an online friend whose mother is very ill. To read her story, visit Thanks.

Monday, July 25, 2005

This little piggy got none

I've seen some disgusting things in my brief life, but this one might top them all. Bryan's genetics lab held its annual summer barbeque tonight. Some companies like to see how many hot dogs and hamburgers they can pile on a single platter, while others are content to stockpile massive tubs of potato salad. This group, however, has come up with a sure-fire way to top them all:

One large, fully intact, roasted pig.

Complete with apple.

So, as the vegetarians picked at plates of rice on the edges of the table, others brandished large knives and hacked into Mr. Piggy. You couldn't really avoid it, particularly since the highlight of the evening proved to be the Opening of the Brain Case (you wish I was kidding), in Which Otherwise Sane Geneticists Challenge Each Other to a Test of Manhood. Or, in my case, in which the vegetarian hides behind the counter trying not to think about what her husband's friends are spreading eagerly onto crackers.

It's times like these when I feel the need to dispute this claim that we are more intelligent than other life forms. Who else got excited about the inner contents of a roasted pig? That's right: the dogs dancing giddily around the room. No wonder cats show utter disdain for both species...I really wanted to point out that, intellectually speaking, there was no real difference between the pig atop the table and the dogs beneath it...but something tells me it wouldn't have gone over well.

Ewwwwww. I feel yet another full body shudder coming on. At least now, I won't be phased when a Brit digs into a pile of blood pudding. Bring it on, lads: I've seen the inner workings of a pig. And geneticists wonder why they can't find dates...

Back in the atmosphere

Just got back last night from a trip down to Eugene to bid adieu to my best bud, Kelli. Have I mentioned how much I hate saying goodbye to people? It's a punch to the gut that no one should have to experience...She's off to Kansas, and I'm off to Cambridge -- so begins a long series of conversations via AIM and e-mail. I don't know if any other farewells will be more difficult: Bryan and I will see each other a few times per month, and I know my family will be able to see me at least twice per year...but this is my best friend, my sister and my confidante, the one who's always stood by me, even when I've done some ridiculously stupid things. I can't imagine being so far from her. Maybe that's why I didn't want to let go when we hugged in the driveway, holding back tears and trying not to let our voices crack too much. I know it will be okay; right now it's anything but.

It was a long drive back to Seattle.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Lyric of the day

"Nothing in the past or future ever will feel like today" -- Bright Eyes

(Yeah, I know. Who else, right? I swear I actually have a well-developed musical palate...I mean, name one other person who listens to Bright Eyes, 2Pac AND Strung Out in the same day. Okay, maybe that just indicates musical schizophrenia. I think I'd better go back to studying my Spanish.)


You know you have a cycling addiction problem when you walk into a bike store to purchase a helmet and walk out with said well as a second pair of fingerless gloves, a neon yellow jersey and an orange summer safety vest. You know it's really a problem when you were going to buy more but got kicked out when the store closed because you couldn't choose between a U-lock and a second pair of bike shorts -- and when the guy behind you in line started teasing you about your gear's coordinated colors (blue, thank you). He told me I should buy an airhorn to grab the attention of wayward drivers...and I almost did...Can't you see me furiously squeezing my horn bulb and shooting death glares at the guy who tries to make a quick left into my path?

The podiatrist removed my stitches today and made the mistake of telling me I could start biking whenever I wanted. Tomorrow morning at 8am, I'll be flying down Eastlake on my way to the dentist -- why drive in this weather when you can combine a workout and a tanning session?

Seriously, there's something wrong with me. I'm dreading the transition from my Trek 520 to the single-gear junkheap I'll purchase to slog along Cambridge's paths. I knew I was in trouble when I experienced a total high biking down the Burke on a frigid January night while the rain spattered my clothes. There's no sight in Seattle that rivals the Burke's panoramic views of the downtown skyline at night -- and no better way to experience those views than to be flying down a deserted trail in the dark with nothing but the sound of your tires singing.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

It hurts so bad

Today was not a good day. I woke up in a funk at 10:00, two hours later than I planned to get out of bed. Why was I so slow to rise? Try being alone in a dark, creaky house at night while your significant other is out of town, lying in bed on the second floor while raccoons the size of polo ponies scuttle across the roof. Every sound jerked me back into wakefulness, and I managed to look out the window just in time to see a police car roll by with its silent flashers whirling. Consequently, it was well after 3am before I fell asleep.

My workout took forever -- possibly because I have a Frankenfoot -- and the house was a mess. I spent over an hour watering the fricking plants so they wouldn't perish in this unanticipated stretch of warm weather. I returned "Million Dollar Baby" to the video store and found out it was due two days earlier.

Finally, I got home and decided to let Ndugu out for a stroll. He must have eaten something bad or have been bitten/stung, because I brought him in two hours later, set him down...and his back legs were useless. Completely useless, splayed out behind him and scrabbling at nothing. His breathing was agitated and he looked very uncomfortable. I was trying to rub some sensation back into his legs when he started to make a choking noise. Now, seriously. What the heck do you do with a choking tortoise? Shake him? Pound on his shell? All I could do was put him in my lap and rub his throat when he wasn't trying to pull back into his shell. I was scared sh--less. Finally, he started calming down -- but he's been under close observation all night, and now I'm paranoid about letting him go outside.

Despite all this, I still couldn't understand the bone-weary lethargy I'd been feeling. I couldn't study anything today; every time I tried, I just stared at the page without comprehending the difference between por and para. At sunset, I went for a walk to clear my head. I had Bright Eyes on the Ipod, and I was walking down towards the water listening to "I'm Wide Awake It's Morning" (have I mentioned how obssessed I am with this singer/songwriter? You must go out and purchase this album now, then listen to it at least five times, which is when the lyrics begin to wash over you until they're as much a part of your day as breathing). When "Old Soul Song (For the New World Order)" came on, my chest tightened. By the time "and when I get so lonely I can't speak" tore from his throat, I knew exactly what was wrong.

These three days are a precursor to my new reality, when I'm not going to wake up next to Coalescent Boy each morning, when I won't pull up on my bike and glimpse him through the front window. My new lifelines will be the phone and the internet -- and my calendar, dutifully counting down the days between visits. I know I'll adjust -- I have to, or else I'll never move off the couch -- but right now I'm too tired to even think. It's the worst thing I've felt in a long time, a pain so raw and ragged that it yawns a little wider every time I feel his absence. Which is ALL the time. There's a sob stuck somewhere below my throat, but I can't find the tears to remove it. So it sits, reminding me of its presence by welling up as I type.

Since January, I knew this was coming. I felt it looming beyond the horizon as the days grew longer; now, they're waning and I feel its presence just over my shoulder. I should have prepared a little better, but I didn't know how. For now, all I have are my walks and my music, which I will play over and over again until the words soak into my bones. I don't want to think about tomorrow yet. Today's enough, for awhile.

Okaaay, maybe it IS time for me to leave the country

You know your state is screwed up when, in 2005, a senator is fighting to pass a law banning bestiality.

Apparently, she sprang to action after incidents that took place in Enumclaw (oh, how that town now loathes the sound of its own name). I'll let you read the article to learn the details; in short, a man died after being kicked in the groin by a horse while he was...well, you know...You can also read Seattle Times columnist Nicole Broeder's remarks on the whole affair, which pretty much encapsulate it all. Why would anyone want to read? For the same reason that the story is the most e-mailed article of the week among our local papers: because part of us just can't believe it's true, and the rest of us has to know what the hell happened!

It's also a bit alarming to learn that 17 states accept bestiality; several others (including Rick Santorum's home state) outlaw it but fail to delineate specific penalties if one is caught in the act.

Suddenly, those empty suitcases in my room are just begging to be packed.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Things that annoy me, exhibit B

Gale Norton and her ridiculous runaround when asked about the Endangered Species Act. Just answer the damn question and spare us the down-home anecdotes!

This is what happens to me when the husband leaves town

Apart from pulling dead leaves out of my tortoise's indignant jaws, I've been surfing the internet randomly for an hour only to stumble upon this literary gem: British Food, An Extraordinary Thousand Years of History.

I can only assume that by "extraordinary," the author means: "breathtakingly awful cuisine that could peel the tastebuds from your tongue."

Have you ever skimmed the titles of cookbooks at local bookstores? There's a notable dearth of texts on British cuisine. In a geography textbook on food, several English people said that they did not live in a food culture. That may be the understatement of the year, coming from a place where I ate eggs and freaking baked beans in a can for breakfast (and yes, every establishment where we stayed offered us this concoction...every person I know who's ever been to England has encountered it...). I'm more frightened by my dietary options in the UK than I am by their rigorous academic standards, and it does not encourage me to learn that they're in the midst of a national debate over whether cooking skills are important.

Seriously, if globalization has any benefits, it's that a vast array of foods can flow freely across borders. Note to UK: you are a wealthy country. You can afford to import fruits and vegetables. Cabbage should never be the summation of one's national produce. For the love of god, fix it before two very homesick former vegans wash up on your shores and spend the next three years subsisting off cheese and cucumber sandwiches.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

It's getting hot in here...

For anyone who still thinks climate science is a joke, try talking with Austrians. According to the Seattle Times, their mountains are melting.

"In the Tyrol region of western Austria, they're fighting the [glacial] melt by covering the weak spots with blankets of white plastic or foil that keep the cold in and the heat out."

Switzerland is experiencing similar problems:

"...Studies show that glaciers there have lost almost a fifth of their total area between 1985 and 2000, at a rate seven times faster than during the entire 123 years up to 1973."

Of course, this isn't anything new; Mount Kilimanjaro's glacier has been receeding for years. The same thing is happening in Peru. (Scroll down to see the time-progression photos. It's a weird site, but the visual depiction of the melting is stunning.)

Ah well. I'm sure some oil-funded scientist somewhere will write a brief report decrying the trend and chalking it all off to normal climate fluctuations. Maybe he'd like to make a presentation in Austria. I'm sure they'd receive him well.

Whining and dining

The Dining:

The wine flowed, the food sizzled, and the conversation was...well, a fairly typical conversation in our household. Actually, our dinner party was a success, judging by the number of empty bottles in our kitchen and by the conspicuous absence of cheese and chocolate products from their wrappers. Somehow, we managed to move the conversation from general raves about the house to a brief discussion of animal rights to a drawn-out, excrutiatingly detailed dissection of a recent King County bestiality case, to bashing Seattle's transit plans -- and we even threw in some mid-20s career reflections for good measure!

Ndugu marked the occasion by straddling his log to reach the outstretched hands of visitors, then subsequently flipping himself over.

It makes me wish I'd had the space and friends to throw dinner parties earlier, perhaps when we weren't imminently departing for England. Nonetheless, I've spent the day with elevated hopes, thinking that I'll be in touch with everyone long after the UK culture shock fades. I can't wait to move back to Seattle someday, where I will find a house of my own and hold more dinner parties for the incredible cadre I've met since college started. By then, I will also have taught Ndugu to wash dishes for us, thereby eliminating the massive cleanup operation we have to start this evening. It's times like these I wish I could levitate furniture back into their rightful places. I also wish I could miraculously make the compost take itself out, so it could understand how much it hurts to be attacked by small, psychotic pests that spring from the compost bin like pop-up book characters. Except pop-ups don't have microscopic fangs capable of inflicting quater-size wounds.

The Whining
*Warning: this is NOT for the eyes of blood relatives. Also, no one may speak of it to my blood relatives, or discuss it with anyone who knows them. EVER.*

I'm having a David Sedaris moment.

There comes a time in every person's life when you realize that your family is crazy, and when all the illusions of normalcy crash down around your ears (if any remain by the time you hit your 20s).

That moment arrived recently, when two members of my immediate family joined the ranks of the tattooed. This may not sound like a big deal, but keep in mind that I only have three people in my immediate family. (Can you feel the outrage seething through the italics?) Never mind that it's completely normal for everyone to have tattoos these days, from the checkout clerk to the pastor of my local church. That doesn't mean it's okay for formerly sane relatives to become part of the masses.

I instantly regressed to my teenage years and fought an urge to hunch my shoulders while snarling, "Don't even talk to me!" I mean, the tattoos were my form of rebellion, my personal affirmation of identity, and my freaking idea in the freaking first place! Now I find out that I'm no longer the odd person out -- worse still, I think I may be the unwitting instigator of all this. Imagine the hororr you might experience if you were confronted by your own parents, grandparents and cousins as they beamed and pointed at their new ink jobs. Good god of all things holy, what natural order has been perverted here??

Quickly, I tried to envision a new way to stand out from the crowd. I realized that only three options remain to me: piercing (too difficult), branding (too painful) and scarification (who the hell even contemplates cutting their skin into artsy patterns?). I could always shave my head or dye it fuschia, but I don't think the fine upstanding elders at the Cambridge foundation would appreciate my reinvented self.

The worst part of it is that the family tattoos actually look cool. Better than mine, even; one of mine is incredibly simple and the other self-designed, and I possess all the design skill of an orangutan. The teenager in me is choking on her teeth, trying not to scream, "And did you have to make them better, too? There is no justice in this world -- it sucks." I can feel my posture mutating into a slouch as I internally insist, "I don't care. I just don't, okay?" But...crap. They look amazing. Maybe my self-created epiphany at 16 was correct: the world really is an unjust pit, ringed by oblivious relatives with gorgeous tattoos.

Oh yeah, one other thing. The two family members have seen the same artist for their work. In a moment of humor I will never appreciate, he designated himself our family tattoo artist.

There's something only my family could attain: a tattoo guru of our very own.

I think I'm going to get the rest of my work done in London.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Last supper

So, I've spent the day cleaning the house in anticipation of our dinner party tomorrow, when 10 or 11 friends will descend on Wallingford for wine, cheese and sopa seca. All of this seemed like a good idea until I purchased the ingredients and realized I had to dice six tons of bell peppers. What the hell was I thinking??

I hope no one is expecting spectacular, five-star service. If we're lucky, I'll drag the spare chairs in from the yard so people won't have to perch on the couch and the Incredibly Ugly, Barely Functional Ames Chair. I might even manage to get the giant box of stemware down from the kitchen's top shelf without raining a hail of glass fragments into the bodies of any onlookers.

Actually, I'm looking forward to it -- I've never really entertained on a large scale before, so hopefully this will be fun. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that everyone gets along and that I actually manage to triple the recipe without overdoing any ingredients or omitting anything crucial...For more reasons than one, it's probably best that my first dinner party will likely be my last in this country.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Finding Achilles' heel

So yesterday, I go into the podiatrist for a routine procedure. I have curiously screwed up toes on my left foot; they always rest akimbo, with two leaning to the left and two leaning to the right. This results in the squashing of my fourth toe -- for years, I've been unable to keep nail polish on it for more than a day because my third toe will step on it and buff the polish right off.

In the past, this made a slightly uninteresting party tale. However, that changed when I went for a run back in May; about halfway through, I felt a shooting pain in my foot. I couldn't exactly stop, since I was a couple miles from home, so I ran back to the house and took off my shoe...the toe of my sock was a nice tomato red...suffice it to say that my third toe decided to beat the fourth one into submission. I spent the rest of the night trying to relieve pressure from the toenail digging into my skin.

So, yesterday, they cut one of the tendons on the bottom of my toe. The theory is that snipping it will cause the top portion of my toe to relax and flex up from under its neighbor.

The best part? I was privileged enough to go home with a stylish black bootie which I get to wear for the next 10 days! I can wear it everywhere: on a (very slow) walk, as a mate to the sexy kitten heeled sandal on my right foot, to the P-patch and the beach...My husband finds this incredibly amusing. He keeps hobbling next to me whenever we walk anywhere, saying things like, "Wanna race?" and giggling hysterically. Coalescent Boy also takes tremendous pleasure in joking about my "shower bag," a piece of blue plastic designed to keep my foot dry. According to him, it makes me look like I have a tortoise foot (read: big, clubby and relatively useless). He wants to incorporate it into a Halloween costume this year. If he can unwrap it from his neck in time, he's welcome to it.

This from the man I nursed to health after his knee surgery two years ago. Might I remind him that I did not laugh at all, even when we went for some air after his operation, which happened to fall on Halloween. As my Vicodin-intoxicated boyfriend limped unsteadily around Greek Row on his crutches, we passed a group of frat boys heading to a nearby costume party. One looked wide-eyed at Coalescent Boy and said, "Dude, he's dressed up like a gimp!" Coalescent Boy was in too much of a drug-induced haze to hear anything -- so I'm sure his constant egging now is only done to ensure that I don't miss any witticisms that fly my way. Awww, and he just walked by to ask, "How's my little cripple?" Thanks, sweetie. That's why I married ya'.

Farewell to our little redfooted friend

Well, Ndugu is moving to Wenatchee at the end of the month. Surprisingly, he had strong objections to being shipped to England in the manner of other tortoises, possibly because the accepted transport method is to place the tortoise inside a sock, place the sock inside a padded box, poke a few airholes and label "do not turn over."

There is no way for us to take him along for the journey: England lacks the variety of foods he needs (good luck finding endive and mustard greens in winter, let alone tropical fruit). Moreover, the climate is just too cold; he needs to get outside whenever he can, and even here he's limited to approximately a four-month window. Then there's the whole issue of not having pets in student housing...

I can't believe how upset I am. I've grown so attached to our furious little baby and his indignant glares when I scoop him up...Coalescent Boy and I are both somewhat embarrassed by the hours of entertainment he provides by investigating new substances and attempting to consume them, battling small insects, wreaking havoc in his pen...he has a gregarious personality, which is typical for the redfoot species -- but I don't think we anticipated just how personable he'd be. Plus, Ndugu and I developed quite a bond during his prolonged illness last year. When the vet traumatized him beyond repair trying to get a jugular blood draw, all she had to do was return his tightly closed shell to me -- and Ndugu would relax instantly, come out of his shell, and sniff my fingers as if to say, "Save me, woman!!" He always trusts me, even when I'm poking him with injections or trying to scrape something inedible off his beak.

CB's mom will take excellent care of him, and he might provide a nice balance to the hyper terriers who will be his (well-segregated) housemates. Still, I get choked up thinking about saying goodbye. He probably won't care at all, but I certainly will.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Ay de mi

Bueno...tengo que practicar mi espanol mucho en los dos meses proximos, porque ayer aprendi que mi vocabulario esta other words, my Spanish sucks.

There's not much to report right now, except this: go see "Crash" right now. It is the only movie worth seeing this summer.

Try not to talk about it with every other person who's seen it. I dare you. Once in awhile, movies come along that make me think, "If I were a high school teacher who really wanted to make kids think, this is what I'd have them watch." The film challenges viewers to think about race and racism in all of their multifaceted, tangled realities. It asks us to think not only about how racism occurs in everyday life, but also about why it happens and what the hell we can do about it. Coalescent Boy and I saw it recently -- we talked for over 2 hours afterwards, sitting in the office of our home while the city slept.

Check it out, then write me! This one's worth the price of admission.

Attack of the techie geek

Just bought my new laptop on Sunday night - I am so pathetically excited about it. Here it is, my Fujitsu 4010D.

There are so many laptops out there now that it's almost impossible to review them all, but the consumer raves and the testimonials from friends convinced me this was an optimal choice for grad, it has an indoor/outdoor screen, so I can sit under the trees on Cambridge's rare sunny days.

I haven't had a new computer since my desktop monolith died last year, so this is very exciting.

In other news, I started my Spanish re-immersion yesterday, and me duele mi cabeza...there's nothing more terrifying and draining than speaking a rusty second language for an entire hour in the midst of a crowded cafe. I don't think I embarrassed myself too badly, but there's a lot to catch up on! Hopefully, once I spend money I don't technically have on language books, I should be able to get rolling.

Monday, July 11, 2005

The jitters arrive...

The computer is being shipped, the plane tickets have been purchased...well, almost -- as soon as I convince my credit card company that my Visa hasn't fallen into the hands of a thief. I can just imagine the phone conversation: "No, I actually do need to use the full limit on my credit card. Yes, I know I've only used it to purchase small, useless items from the university bookstore, and that I've suddenly maxxed it out in three days."

The nerves have kicked into high gear.

One thing I didn't think about was the logistics of staying at an all-women's college. Where, oh where, will my husband be showering when he visits me for several days at a time? Couldn't tell ya'. Possibly my sink, maybe the hostel down the road...we're working out the kinks with the accomodations people right now.

I never pondered important matters like that because I was too busy panicking about next year's funding. I've decided that the only way I'll stop agonizing over it is if I have that part of my brain lobotomized. Since the odds of that seem unlikely, I'm doomed to grow ulcers and stress myself to death by the age of 25.

There are perks, however, to being in Europe for a few years. Their names are Ryanair and Easy Jet. For kicks last night, I decided to see how much it would cost to fly to Barcelona for Thanksgiving. Ryanair mulled my request and spit out a range of prices, the highest of which was SIX POUNDS. (The equivalent of $10 or $11)

Holy hell. Maybe Bryan won't mind showering in the sink when he finds out he can visit anywhere in Europe for the price of a movie ticket.

Pointless Quiz!

So, which Family Guy character are you?

The link worked yesterday, although it seems to be down this morning. Still, if you can access it, it's a great way to kill 5 minutes...

I'm Lois. Bryan is Peter. What this says about our marriage, I don't want to know.

Saturday, July 09, 2005


What a horrendous disappointment Cardinal Ratzinger has turned out to be. No moderate or liberal Catholic expected him to be great for the progressive movement within the Church, but now he's supporting another cardinal who's suggested that belief in evolution conflicts with the Catholic faith.

In the past, popes and church leaders have expressed support for evolution. When I went to Catholic school, my science classes never invoked God as a way to explain the creation of the earth or the appearance of modern-day species. I'd hate to think that's going to change now, but this NYT article certainly suggests that the Church is shifting right.

What the hell is happening in this country? Why do science and religion have to be in conflict with each other when they shouldn't even be compared to each other? One is a system of inquiry and fact-finding, while the other is a system of belief. Religious views about human origins belong in a philosophy class, and I say this as someone who is a religious person. We have hard, detailed evidence of evolution, and it's ludicrous to suggest that intelligent design or creationism merit the same attention in a biology class. I don't see why so many Christians view evolution as a threat to their faith. When I grew up, evolution and Catholicism could co-exist peacefully, and neither had to stamp the other out of existence. If your faith is so fragile that everything which contradicts it must be eradicated or debunked, well, what does that say about its viability?

Thursday, July 07, 2005

The agony of mindless drudgery

I really don't know how my mom did it. Maybe staying at home is better if you have kids to keep you entertained, but I am about ready to start plucking arm hair for fun.

I have texts to read, papers to analyze and a house to clean...and yet, I'm stagnating in this quiet, cable-less bungalow where the only other occupant is my disgruntled tortoise. If I had money to go out, I'd spend my days at coffeehouses, or wander over to the Guild 45th to catch the latest indie film. Instead, I wake up every damned day to another 16 hours of slow suffocation. I hear Ndugu climbing the walls of his pen in futile efforts to escape, and I think, "Me, too, little, too."

I don't care if I need downtime before grad school starts. I hate it. HATE.

I think there's something wrong with me.

At least I get to start my Spanish lessons next week...maybe that will help. Then, I can wander from room to room in the afternoons muttering dark curses in two languages instead of one. It's sick, but I can't wait for classes to begin again.

You go, girl

Just what I like to see: a woman kicking ass in a man's world.

I don't even like golf, but Michelle Wie is amazing -- imagine finishing under par in one of the toughest qualifying rounds in the US when you're only 15 years old!

If you don't know much about Michelle, check out Wikipedia for an overview of her phenomenal start. She's already capable of driving over 300 yards...just wait until she hits her prime. I might tune into the PGA Tour this year if she makes the cut. We'll find out tomorrow...fingers crossed...

Life in the 21st century

I woke up this morning to the news about the London bombings. I'd never been to New York when 9/11 happened, but I've been to almost every place in London where the bombs exploded. We stayed right near King's Cross and went in and out of that tube station a dozen times. I also just realized that our hotel is in Russell Square (the site of the bus blast) -- it blew up across the street from where we spent our nights in the city.

London may be more resilient than we were; this isn't exactly the first bombing in the city. When my mom visited England 30 years ago, she left Piccadilly just before the IRA launched an attack there. London probably is better prepared to respond than most cities...still, it's frightening to think about being there myself in a few months, even though I know the odds of being involved in a similar attack are slim-to-none.

The saddest thing may be the fact that this occured on the dawn of the G-8 summit, which intended to address some of the primary factors driving global poverty. Now, the focus will be on the terror attacks instead of on climate change and economic aid; the terrorists have managed to disrupt dialogue which actually might have helped their people. I hope everyone recognizes the pointlessness of what happened today. At the same time, I also hope London doesn't respond with a knee-jerk reaction like the US did four years ago. There's no easy way to escape this cycle of violence -- which is why we need to think about the ramifications of our choices before we act.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

One stoned puppy

I'm fighting off a crummy summer cold, so I'll keep this short tonight. I'm going to start one-on-one Spanish tutoring next week; hopefully, that will prepare me for solo learning in the fall. It's been a long time since I've studied the language, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I don't look like a total idiot...

Now for tonight's subject line. According to the LA Times, many a Fido has been to the vet lately with a set of mysterious symptoms: glassy eyes, slow pulse, delayed responses to stimuli...well, it sounds like Fido has a drug problem. Maybe the federal government can start busting dogs and sick people, all at the same time!

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

The lady sure cleans up good

Our wedding photos are up! Check out our astonishing number of pictures here:

Notice how our smiles go from "Yay! We're so blissfully in love!" to "Hey, we're still smiling!" to "My god, if someone doesn't get me a goddamned drink and stop asking me to smile EVERY DAMN SECOND, I'm going to SHRED this dress and hightail it to the nearest Bavarian bar."

Actually, we had much more fun than that -- but it does tax one immensely to smile for FIVE. STRAIGHT. HOURS. It also makes me wish I'd had the foresight as a teenager to stop drinking caffeinated beverages in preparation for the glorious day when everyone and their mothers would be staring at my not-quite-white teeth, immortalized forever in a set of 4x6's.

Our photographer is amazing, by the way. I recommend him if you ever need someone to take your picture for anything (wedding, important birthday, crucial girls-only party that must be documented for future blackmailing).

We celebrated the 4th yesterday by crowding onto a friend's balcony and watching giant fireworks explode right in front of us. After the better part of a six-pack, I could swear those suckers were coming closer with every bang, to the point where the vibrations rattled my breastbone. We spent most of the show twisting the words to God Bless America ("God bless America, except for blue states") and remarking on the unfortunate similarities between firework noise and gunfire. Soon, most of us were naming each new firework pattern after a new weapon or military acronym. Only in Seattle, baby. :)

By the way, here's why I love my husband. Just now, after a period of prolonged silence, he turned to me with a spark in his eyes and said with ferocious intensity, "This variation (in patterns of linkage disequilibrium between different populations) will translate to different sets of tagging SNPs for different populations...the essential prerequisite to my algorithm!"

Oh baby, oh baby. I think I need to start force-reading him Seamus Heaney and Chaucer, just for good measure.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Headbutting the creative process

The wedding scrapbook, she is actually coming together.

I've spent three or four hours cross-legged behind mounds of photo tape, cardstock, decorative sticky-things and glitter pens, and I haven't lost my mind yet. Better still, the scrapbook doesn't look like the creation of a 4 year-old child -- although those 4 year-old concoctions often bodyslam what I can produce. I'm four pages into it, and I'm trying not to feel too smug about the fact that I can layer things in pretty patterns. This marks significant progress from my initial foray into a crafts store four weeks ago, when I suddenly started quivering like a spooked horse, eyes rolling and nostrils flaring as I confronted unending rows of brads and stencils. Now, I'm glad I checked my original instinct to bolt back out the door towards my familiar, cluttered world.

My final product won't win any highbrow scrapbook awards (yes, there are people who pursue such accomplishments), but it won't be something I hastily kick under the nearest piece of furniture when friends or relatives visit.

The other, technically more important creation is moldering in the grave. My ambitious plans to write a novel this summer have turned into dimming hopes of completing half a chapter. I think I'm going to be a late-blooming author. I have this uncanny knack of being able to come up with great ideas, which I promptly fail to develop or follow-through for more than a few pages. Plots I can do, at least beginnings and ends. Middle ground and character development? Well, it would help if I weren't hell-bent on writing the Great American Novel, which makes anything I do seem sub-par.

Writing is a bitch. Anyone who states otherwise is lying to you. Love it I may, but it doth make my head hurt.

Random thought for the day

I'm wondering if I should change the title of my blog to "Celebrity Sea Slugs." The current name just sounds so self-centered, and it probably doesn't capture the interest of readers who happen to find it. Plus, I just like its completely nonsensical nature.

Ndugu is trying to scrabble up the side of his pen again...gotta go.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Justice for all

Well, we all knew it was coming, although I'd hoped William Rehnquist would be the first to retire, so Bush would just replace one conservative judge with another.

Instead, it's Sandra Day O'Connor who announced her retirement this morning, surprising judicial advocacy groups on both sides of the political divide. In addition to being the first female Supreme Court justice, O'Connor is recognized as an important swing voter, a moderate conservative whose votes weren't always predictable. The Associated Press has compiled a summary of her decisions during her tenure on the court; the choices reveal a complex intellectual who remained close to the center, a woman who not only upheld abortion rights and struck down the death penalty for minors, but who also cast the crucial vote during the aftermath of the 2000 presidential election.

O'Connor is a rarity these days: she's someone who manages to make every part of the political spectrum felt it has been heard, even if it doesn't win out entirely. While no one knows who her successor will be, one thing seems clear: the odds of bringing another moderate to the court are slim. As the BBC notes, this summer is going to erupt in a fury of political backbiting as the legislature clashes over her successor. It's going to be very, very ugly -- and it will be difficult to believe that anyone involved in the choice will act out of altruism. In this political climate, no one is interested in appointing an erudite legal philosopher who considers precedence; rather, every side wants its vocal advocate, someone who unabashedly favors their political beliefs. O'Connor's successor likely will be a conservative idealogue, perhaps a staunch anti-abortion advocate, or a "wise use" philosopher who despises environmental protection laws. One thing is for sure: this nomination battle will set the tone for others to come. Rehnquist can't last forever, and many justices are teetering on twilight's edge. All we can do is cross our fingers and hope for reason to win, even though the odds of that are unlikely.