Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Daily 3 - Stabby Reduction Day

Today I'm grateful again for the interwebs. Yes, it's a facile observation - you're reading this on the internet, duh - but I love the infection nature of happiness, joy and pure wackiness that the Internet inspires. Like H1N1 for giggles. Also I feel an obligation to reduce world stabbiness, since my friends all use that adjective now, too. (Thank you Jezebel.) Today's daily 3 are things that have helped me feel less like stabbing annoying people with a dull butter knife, namely:

1) A Customized Cupcake Car - for the person who has everything, including a need to crash parades or other street theater, Neiman Marcus offers a lovely motorized go-cart for only $25,000.00. Straight from Burning Man (shocking :) Thanks to @atxfoodnews and @MykleT for helping me find that gem.

2) 4-year-old Finnish Rappers I have no idea what they're saying but there's no way to be mad after listening to them. Plus I have a soft spot for Finnish cartoons. (thank you @knitmeapony and @BoingBoing)

3) I really don't have a good 3rd thing, so I'm just going to suggest Cute Overload for all your cute and de-stabbifying needs.

Hope you're having a good Tuesday!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Daily 3

Life really does seem to be a series of happy and haphazard decisions. Which, being a recovering overachiever, isn't the greatest validation of all my anal retentiveness. Sometimes I wish I had played around more, enjoyed the freefall instead of fighting it all the time. Sure, it's important to squeeze every last ounce of usefulness from ever hour of the day, but sometimes you just have to sit back and spend a second looking, breathing.

Today I'm grateful for the things that make me respect time more:

1) Perspective. As much as I'm impatient to keep summitting that next mountain, I try to reflect on the last few mountains I've climbed. I also keep thinking to myself - how is my perspective going to change in 30 years? I feel like I've barely begun learning in my first 30. Our generation never thinks of things in 30 year chunks.

2) The Interwebs. Today was a win and loss for me. A win because I've found another opportunity to help my small corner of the world move a little closer to the digital age. Also I am hoping these guys can help me out - the loss was a piece of malware that made me really stabby today.

3) Horizons. I'm actually thinking in the literal sense. I haven't been away from my homeslice for long, but I've been here long enough to appreciate the huge, open skies of Texas. It's amazing that such a vast space would make me feel so full and grounded.

Happy Monday.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Daily 3

Its funny what we try to predict - the weather, the political victors, our careers, the winning football team. It seems like life is really made up of happy (or tragic) coincidences. We might try to plan, but as the saying goes, that's just a good way to make The Universe laugh. Today I'm grateful for:

1) Mud - everyone at ACL is getting a nice mud massage on their feet right now. I have a feeling Zilker is going to look a bit chewed up for a while. It looks like a gigantic slip and slide.

2) Love - it happens, comes out of nowhere, and then you wonder how you ever lived without it.

3) Tater tots - they have nothing to do with love or mud but I just ate some and they were delicious. Also I don't know anyone who doesn't love 'em.

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Daily 3

My dear friend and I are walking to the Austin City Limits Festival. Being in a state where you drive everywhere, my urban hiking chops are pretty piss poor. On our way there, we pass a Whataburger shop. Why am I posting a pic of this fast food shop? Because its one of the things I'm grateful for today, namely:

1) My lack of commitment to radical fashion choices. I was thisclose to getting a tattoo on my 30th birthday of the Wonder Woman icon. Guess what the double W's also look like?

2)Weekends. We need them. Thank your local trade unionist for those.

3) Funnel cake. Except I don't know if I'm gonna get any. Austinites take their food seriously. Which is good but also sometimes you just want to eat something deep fried and pedestrian :)

Happy Saturday!

Friday, October 2, 2009

This is a test

This is a test of whether or not I can go mobile. Because I'm that lazy slash think people want to read the detritus of my day. Love ya, mean it. PS I don't care what people say about blogger. Its still the most idiot proof mobile blogging I've come across.

Reducing World Suckitude

I've decided to try and get my writing chops back. There are so many things I want to write about, and the days end up getting railroaded or frittered away. So I'm going to try this exercise -where every day - as close as the first thing I can do - I'm going to write down three things I'm grateful for. Can I get past a week? We'll see.

Today's 3 things I'm grateful for:

- El Gato Negro coffe from Mozart Coffee Roasters here in Austin.
- The Austin City Limits Music festival, which I will be enjoying with friends this weekend.
- The Dark Crystal, possibly one of my favorite movies. Which I watched with my dear friend last night. His reaction to my giddiness - "wow, you are a nerd." Me: "Duh."

Happy Friday!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Southern Hospitality. Srsly.

So my car is unloaded, and the furniture is arriving tomorrow. It's official, I live in Austin. My heart is still adjusting, but I'm glad to be here.

I wouldn't, however, be sitting here in the air conditioned comfort of my new apartment, typing away like nothing was amiss, had it not been for my two bubba guardian angels. Yep, that's right. God Bless all those good Southern boys.

Outside of Nashville on my trek out here, my front driver's side tire blew out. And by blow out I don't mean I popped a flat, I mean I managed to run over something like a lug nut or piece of metal, and my tire made the sound of a loud, grinding explosion. Somehow I managed to slow down and pull over to the shoulder of I-40. I was stunned, and the side of my car was smoking, filling the inside with the smell of burning rubber. I was royally stranded.

At the same time that I pulled over, a large black pickup pulled up in front of me. The vehicle started backing up towards me at a healthy clip, and in my confusion I started pounding my horn. What the hell is going on here, I thought to myself. Who are these people? The truck stopped, and two tall White bubbas get out of their truck and start walking towards my car. You have to visualize this: two tall, sunburned men, with matching blonde crew cuts, shirtless, blue jeans and work boots, walking towards my car. I was scared out of my mind. Every terrible story I'd ever heard cycled through my head. They beckoned me to get out and talk to them, and I grabbed my cell phone and got out of the car.

"You need some help, ma'am?"

Turns out the two had seen the whole tire blow out and pulled over at the same time to help. Between narrowly missing a major traffic wreck and being totally stranded, I was utterly dazed. I managed to squeak out to them "uh, but why are you helping me?"

The older of the two shrugged, and said "looks like you need help, is all. Where's your spare?"

Next thing I know, they had popped off the wrecked tire, and put on the donut. I have never seen a tire get changed out so fast. "Spare's low on air, we'll follow you to the next gas station. Don't worry, there' lots of tire shops down yonder. We'll be right behind you."

Crawling down the highway, they sheparded me towards the next service station, and then on to not one, not two, but THREE tire shops until I found someone who could fix the tire. Along the way I learned a little about them - the younger one's mother was born in DC (he shares, after he looks at my DC tags.) The older one's "got people in Laurel, MD." Apparently he spent a good amount of summers there, growing up. Both work construction, but the younger one is going to college to study criminal justice. The older one's dad owns a construction company. They're cousins, and had just gotten off shift when they saw my predicament.

As they were filling the spare, we watch a heap of a truck backfire down the country road. "Looks like someone needs a few new spark plugs, there." The heap lets out an enormous bang. "Yup," says the other "that was a good one, huh." I think to myself, I should play the lottery today because the Tennesseean Click and Clack brothers just saved me from being utterly stranded.

They wouldn't take money. They were utterly gracious and warm, and even now, and probably for a long time, I'm speechless with gratitude. And I have to admit, having spent my whole life in urban centers, where people don't really take time with one another, the whole experience was incredibly singular. My whole perception of the South (and frankly, of random acts of human kindness) was transformed. People really ARE genuinely friendly.

As I got back on the road, I was reminded of a story a friend told me. Mike is a buddy of mine, tall and broad - a big Black guy built like a line backer, with a huge mane of locks. Mike works for a men's halfway house, that helps people transitioning out of rehab or minor offenses. One day he was driving the house's van up 16th Street in Northwest during rush hour. The van broke down, and he was stranded in the middle of DC. No one stopped, everyone was honking their horn, irritated that he was plugging up traffic. Mike didn't know what to do, and then out of no where, a truck stopped with (according to Mike) a Stars and Bars sticker in the back window. This big Southern White guy (trucker cap and overalls) gets out and walks over, asking Mike if he needs some help. He gives Mike's van a jump, and also gives him a diagnostic on what's wrong with the engine. Then he gets back in his truck and drives away.

So perhaps my experience isn't so unique. Driving in to Arkansas on my way to Texas, I counted five broken down cars on the shoulder. Four of them had people who had stopped to help out the stranded person. Not tow-trucks or service cars, just regular people, helping out someone in need.

I've left everything I've ever known behind me, but somehow, it's a little less terrifying now. Turns out, in the real South - outside of what the media wants you to think, outside of regional biases, outside of fear - in the real South, no one goes it alone.

And thanks to my Twitter family for keeping me company on the three day road trip - via twitter or sometimes on the phone :) THANK YOU for seeing me through this: @davekarpf @paukku @MegaRan @KathleenLD @JoelStevenCoon @aharris75 @shayera @kirohara @johnnyb0731 @xtall68 @DistrictofAris @lrothschild @martinboz @rpbp @laurinmanning @mollytics @mehzombie @aliceinthewater @dhskee @You2Gov @RichHL @hkremer @johnbrougher @ibenjaminbarnes @joaquinhguerra @TeresaKopec @cacowan (haha, "please keep not dying", very funny.) @celeloriel @adamjbink @LeahsGotIt @pigtailpals @cksieloff @LWP @skyle @NoMemoryJill @MsNovember @holdie1 @five13 @mergyeugnau @ravenb @Suezeta @grioghar @readergirl @Jadesfire @texas__ex @kbladow
(And yes, Blogger.com gods, those are my friends. It ain't spam, tyvm.)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Time Series Analysis of Sunburn, Breaking up with you

I'm clearly on a graphing kick these days.

And yeah, I posted it to GraphJam.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Asymptotal Emotions

I remember when I was first learning algebra. I was a punny little dork. So one day, thinking I was a clever little nerdette, I drew a picture like this for my dad:
And wrote: "I love you, asymptotally!" on the margin. I think my dad laughed, but being a robotics engineer, he was like, I don't think that's totally correct, my dear. To which I said, "I mean it's boundless. Don't you get it?" :)

Oh engineers and logicians. Ye of rigid definition.

Sometimes I feel like we box ourselves out of creatively experiencing the world. There is no formula or proof for faith. There is no conservation of love. I'd like to think of the Divine as limitless, stretching forever against the bounds of the universe in a infinite cosmic hug.

Some might say they don't believe there is a higher power, intervening on our behalf. I agree and disagree. I agree that there isn't some cosmic fairy, intervening to save us from our bad decisions or accidental tragedy. I think the Divine made us all with the ability to critically think, to express free will, to make choices. With this ability comes the bitter and the sweet. We have ultimate personal liberty, but that bears a level of responsibility. The way I see it, if there is Divine Intervention, it's less an invisible hand that keeps us from falling, and more like a very strong light. The light shines and shows us the truth of our existence. Sometimes we see the answers, sometimes we miss them because we close our eyes, and sometimes we intentionally ignore the signs.

In the end, we are only human. We are all in the midst of learning, stumbling, running and sometimes flying. To fuck things up is to be normal, and probably standard. It's when we're brave enough to stand up after we fall, brush ourselves off and reflect and learn - then we grow. And then comes the divine part. If we're lucky, if we muster compassion, then we forgive and move on. When we exist with total freedom from fear is when we express the essence of the Divine.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Because the Universe keeps me humble.

Yesterday the word got out that I won an award. It's been really incredible to get all the thanks via twitter, facebook, email (thanks, everyone :) I am very humbled to have received the award, and I'd like to thank the academy, Politics Magazine, Julie and all my friends. Oh, my friends! You have endured my eternal bellyaching over years of campaigns, conferences, fundraisers, and various other projects where you've talked me off ledges and reminded me that my hair is, in fact, not on fire.

Speaking of bellyaches, the Universe reminded me yesterday that I can never get a big head about anything. In it's perpetually humorous fashion, the Universe made it clear that despite receiving awards, winning tough campaigns, or receiving accolades, I'm not immune to stupid acts of chemistry.

I managed - in my infinite wisdom and odd food geekery - to create a volcano of acid in my stomach yesterday. Lately I've been jamming on the delicious miracle of yogurt, and not just because I'm a target of clever ads, although that might have something to do with it. I was also was craving something salty and delicious.

In to Potbelly's I went, to grab a cup of seemingly mild blueberry yogurt. Waiting in line, a row of shiny bags of potato chips taunted me and I thought, well, why not? Let's go with Salt and Vinegar chips because - as much as chips are awesome - no one can eat too many Salt and Vinegar chips. I know, Salt and Vinegar is to many people a gross combination to begin with. I was under the impression that a lifetime of eating kimchi had insured a titanium stomach. (yeah, not so much.)

NOTE TO SELF: Acetic Acid and another weak acid with LOTS OF CALCIUM is a really bad combination to throw in your stomach. Because this reaction
acid+ + base → salt + water

Results in this reaction

Add to that the unusual (and very nice) positive recognition (hey, I like to keep a low profile, ok? I love ninjas, remember?) by my professional colleagues, the boss, frenemies and strangers, and voila! My boss found me in a near fetal position under my desk. She innocently stopped by and the following ensued:

"Hey I saw the press relea.... oh my goodness, are you ok?" my boss looks at me aghast.

"I'm ok."

"Go home!" my boss said to me.

"Oh, no, I'm fine! Really," I moan weakly.

"You're doubled over."

"No, no I'm not" I muttered, my head by my knees.

10 minutes later, I sent her an email from a cab, with the subject header: I am an idiot and going home. She wrote back: feel better.

Yeah. Like I said. The Universe. It keeps me humble. :)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Don't make me shoot the kitten

So Bob is still heartsick over the ex. You remember my friend Bob. The "I'm a hot piece of nerd ass" Bob. The one I make say "I'm a tiger..." That one. Bob, my BFF.

Bob has a sad.

It's not the typical heartsickness. He's definitely over her, but she - and let's call her "MeanGirl" to protect the not-so-innocent - is turning in to an emotional bully. And being a fiercely loyal friend, I hate bullies - in a "You make me want to smash things violently" kinda way. Which is unfortunate, since MeanGirl originally seemed like a cool woman, and at the time made Bob really happy. Also MeanGirl was a fan of E.B. White's books (according to MySpace.)

So Bob and I were IM'ing the other day, and the conversation went something like this:

Bob: Yo
Me: -gurt. what up?
Bob: she's emailing me again.
Me: Srsly?
Bob: Yeah.
Bob: I know. It's just she makes me really sad sad sad OMG sad. And sad angry, sad sad regret sad angry. Sad sad. Sad.
Bob: Well and sad, angry, regret sad. Sad sad sad. Sad.
Me: Bob....
Bob: And I emailed her sad sad sad draft email sad sad angry sad sad sad.
Me: Bob...
Bob: Sad sad srsly sad WTF sad sad
[at this point I'm kind of losing it and might just reach through the Interwebs and smack Bob.]
Bob: whuu?

Bob: Dude.
Bob: I know you. You're not going to shoot that kitten. You're totally going to hide it in your apartment and feed it kitty snaks.
Me: Dammit Bob.
Bob: You know you would.
Me: Fine. You're right.
Bob: I still has a sad.
Me: I'm going to go buy a copy of Stuart Little and beat MeanGirl about the head and shoulders until she apologizes to you.
Bob: WTFevah.
Me: Srsly.
Bob: That's not nice.
Me: I know, especially to Stuart Little, dude.
Bob: lol
Me: I hate book abuse, but I'll DO IT FOR YOU BOB.
Bob: thanks dude.
Me: Feel better?
Bob: Yes.
Me: ok good because I don't want to club this baby seal for lunch.
Bob: Ew.

Moral of the story: I hate bullies and I will make empty threats of committing violence to cute animals in a sideways attempt to empower you. Or something. I need more coffee.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Watchmen can suckit.

Last night I saw The Watchmen - a live action film based off of an illustrated graphic novel - like a comic book but a series of them. It portrays a distopic alternative reality - where Nixon is elected to 3 or 4 terms, lawlessness rules and The Watchmen (previously The Minutemen) are a gang of masked crusaders who keep the world from ripping apart at the seams.

After watching the movie, I wanted to fling dishes off a very high building, or go to the batting cages, or pummel a punching bag. In short, it made me very, very mad. The movie is so profoundly anti-woman. I know, I'll get people telling me I'm oversensitive or I'm misinterpreting things. But this is my response to them: I'm telling you what I see, what I feel, and it's a potential interpretation and set of observations that COULD be derived from this film. I haven't read the graphic novel yet, and not sure that I will. But my hope is that my interpretation was not the intent of the novelist or creators of the film.

Paul MacInnes much more eloquently put down what I'm about to point out.
"The real disappointment of Watchmen the movie is not its stodgy pacing or its unconvincing climax, it's the way it treats its female characters."
His post poses the same question that I do - for an author that generally creates strong women characters, why in the movie do they all lose their powers?

Other reasons why I think the film is infuriating:

- Silhouette - who is seriously hot and creates an alternative post-WWII picture, kissing a nurse during a parade - is one of my more favorite scenes in the film. She is brutally killed, and the shot of police taking photos of her and her murdered lover look more like a weird photo-shoot, rather than people taking care of what could be seen as a hate-crime. As MacInnes points out - this attention is paid to a character that isn't even illustrated in the original book. The other gay couple of superheros in the movie (and book) are killed - barely mentioned in the movie.

- There are no people of color in this film - one of the psychologists that tries to help Rorschach is Black. Everyone else is White. I don't know why that bugs me but it does. It's the least irritating thing about this flick.

- The ladies costumes are trifling. Any costume made out of PVC or latex that close to the va-jay-jay does not say to me "empowered woman". It says "extremely bad YEAST INFECTION."

- At one point Miss Jupiter finds out who's her daddy (The Comedian). You have to understand that her daddy tried to rape her mom once. Then the mom (Silk Spectre) ostensibly seduces The Comedian and Silk Spectre gets pregnant. Without digressing into a 3rd wave feminist discussion about whether or not a woman is conquering her victimization by boffing her former assailant, one thing is beyond argument: rape is VIOLENCE. Anyway, in the scene, Silk Spectre, Miss Jupiter's mother, says to her with tears in her eyes - I know it doesn't make sense and he was an evil man but he gave me you and that makes it ok.

Yeah, ok. Maybe that's a very warped version, a twisted attempt to somehow speak to female empowerment and the power of life. But the way I see it, it sounds apologetic, pro-life and condoning of rape.

Also - I have seen enough naked tushies of dudes (digitized and real) for a long time. Not really complaining because they were well-formed behinds, but seriously? Lots of cheek going on.

I get that the comic was written during the height of the Reagan Era. That politics - both in governance and personal mores - were different. That the author was trying to deconstruct the concept of the superhero. There are elements of this movie that are wonderfully shot - particularly some of the scenes on Mars, and the one scene where Nite Owl finds Rorschach in his house. But I can't shake a bubbling rage that the movie evoked in me.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

When the going gets tough...

.... the tough give high 5s.

This is why I love Twitter - I was having a seriously rough day yesterday, but decided it was time to recommit to staying positive. I remember reading at the end of last year all the positive and contagious effects of social media in helping not only emotional health but physical health, too. I don't know if it's possible to really measure happiness but for me - like how I approach data analysis - it's all about direction. If happiness spreads it can be enough to keep you moving.

Anyway, happy friends make you happy, and I want to give a shout out to these people in my twitterfamily - some of them high 5'ed me, and some of them actually danced at their desk for me. So thank you for taking the time, and for possibly embarrassing yourself in your respective cubefarms or homes. There is always time for a high5 and that tiny encouragement can lift you out of very dark holes. Sort of like flipping the bird to the boogey man. Love it.

Please always count on me and my readiness to embarrass myself for you:


You gals and guys seriously helped me stay lifted. Thanks :)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Even tough guys get the blues

As much as women agonize about their relationships, men do, too. Granted my friends are on the Left side of the aisle, and they're mostly nerdtastic. So not really a representative sample, but studies indicate that men have a tougher time talking about breakups and getting over them. (Yeah, I know, you're like that's a CANADIAN study.) They're clearly not as verbal about it. And mainstream media seems to be chipping away at the self-esteem of dudes like some woman-focused marketing. Exhibit A: marketing towards men for diet colas as well as men's magazines promoting unhealthy notions of fitness and virility worries me. I mean I'm all for dudes being more open to their emotions and all that, I just hope that we can all come to a more open place without promoting hallmarks of American women suckitude like eating disorders or tanorexia.

In any event, heartbreak sucks for all of us. The other day, one of my best friends and I were bar-hopping, discussing his latest heartbreak. My friend - let's call "Bob" to protect the innocent - is one of my favorite people. He's funny, creative, smart and loving, and good looking. He's also getting over this chicky-doo, and like many (maybe most?) he suffering from a temporary low self-esteem. It's been a few months, but he's still down about it.

So, being a good friend (and walking around mildly inebriated) I decided it was time for a pep-talk. In an outside voice.

Me: You are better than this.

Bob: I know, I'm just sad about it still.

Me: Bob...

Bob: what? I just don't know what I did wrong.

Me: You did nothing wrong.

[this is when that 2nd shot of Jameson kicked in]

Bob: Sad sad sad sad

Me: Bob, you need to realize that...

[and I mean REALLY kick in]


Bob: um... do you really....


Bob: (facepalm)

Me: ...and you just need to channel Jack Donaghy - did you see the last episode of 30 Rock?

Bob: of course.

Me: Say to yourself: I'M A TIGER, TAKE WHAT'S MINE.

Bob: (rolls eyes)

Me: Say it.

Bob: (starts walking away from me)


Bob: (sigh)


Bob: Dude... could you maybe not....


Bob: (looks around at people staring at me)


Bob: I'm-a-tiger...

Me: and...

Bob: (shrugs)


Bob: I'matiger, I'mtakingwhat'smine.


Bob starts walking rapidly away from me. But the next day he said he felt better, and the day after when I looked at him in a crowded room and asked "what are you?" he rattled the rest off. So either he's embarrassed of me, or it's helping. Hopefully the later.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

I'm a bad blogger

So I don't consider myself a blogger or a social media person. Despite what my friends might say, I'm fairly introverted for all my wisecracking and loud-mouthed ways. I watch Amelie and know the beauty of an overactive imagination.

If I was a good blogger, I would have dumped google analytics or site meter code into this blog, so I could see that 2 people read it today. The reason I don't track traffic on this blog is because it's a labor of love (it's a vanity blog. Tracking traffic seems silly and prideful.) I'm a little OCD, compounded by studying performance metrics in college. I've messed around on the Internets enough to know that tracking traffic rapidly becomes a compulsive twitch for me.

Luckily, ranting by writing down your frustration is a healthy form of cognitive therapy. It can be more effective than anti-depressants on the long term, and drugs don't really help me the way they're supposed to.

Yep. That's right. I deal with depression, and with millions of others, I pay a therapist (more like a counselor) to help me work things out. Almost every week, she reads me - chapter and verse - the definition of mental illness, to show me I'm just neurotic and not sick. My therapist thinks I suffer from being a highly creative person without a creative outlet, not chronic depression, and is thrilled I'm writing and farting around on the Internets.

She also seems to think I'm humorous. What she doesn't know is that's what kept me motivated to stay in therapy - if I made her laugh. Poking fun at myself helped me get through it. Every time I made her laugh - and not just snicker or just politely chuckle - but really make her gut-bust, can't keep it in, if she was drinking coffee she would snarf it - laugh, I would give myself a gold star. My work would be done. I'm not nearly as talented, but I've seen enough E True Hollywood stories to know that most comedians are funny because that's how they got through the bad shit in their lives.

Growing up, I dealt with more than my share of kaka, but the real soul-crusher was being told I could "do that as a hobby." I could play music, paint, act in a play, write, dance - as a hobby, not a profession. The Responsible Adults in my life were convinced that if they squelched every creative inclination in me, I'd grow up to be a successful lawyer, engineer, doctor or professor of Something Important. (and maybe lucrative, and probably boring.) So much for that.

The truth is, being active in the creative arts helps kids achieve, because besides helping things like memory and recall, it's a way for them to express their authenticity. They have a chance to express that intangible beauty that is imagination. It helps them grow fearless and strong. I mean, solving math proofs or diagramming a sentence are important skills, but does it help a curious young person express their inner self? Probably not.

So anyway, that's why I'm a bad blogger. I have no idea who stopped on by the blagh here, but I'm glad they did. Luckily the Internets is vast, so I have space to publicly express the random observations in my head. It makes my therapist happy, and it makes me feel better. And sometimes, if I press my ear to my laptop, very faintly -- very softly, I can hear you laughing. Hopefully with me. But if you're laughing at me, I'll take that, too. Laughter is the best therapy in the Universe.

p.s. - if you have kids, hug them for me. And when they give you that finger-paint picture, know that it's going to help them be more successful than you can ever imagine.

p.p.s. - I realize my posts when from funny to maudlin this week, so I promise to drink a lot this weekend and bring back the funny. Or at least watch a lot of other people drink and point and laugh at them. Or something.

Because drugs are weird

The other day I ferried a friend of mine from the hospital to her home after she underwent minor surgery. The nurse - who meant well - was making me a little stabby. When the friend was hanging out in the recovery room, the nurse called and our conversation went something like this:

Nurse: She's done with the procedure.

Me: Ok, great, when can I come pick her up?

Nurse: Well, it's hard to say, but not now.

Me: Um, ok. About when?

Nurse: Hard to know.

Me: [why the heck am I having this conversation?!] Ok, well, I'll come and park and wait in the waiting room.

Nurse: Oh, yeah I don't think that would be a good idea. You'd have to park.

Me: [WTF]

Anyway, boring story short, my friend was fine, and on the drive home, I asked her what recovery drugs they put her on. Percocet, evidently. Which, of all the pharmaceuticals, is the one drug that makes me hyper. It's an opiate, which is SUPPOSED to knock you out.

Years ago, I had four wisdom teeth removed, and the surgeon put me on Percocet. My head swelled up to the size of a basketball and for weeks I resembled a living cabbage patch doll. No, really, a freakish cabbage patch doll. Or that thing behind the radiator in Eraserhead. And along with recovering from surgery, I was also decompressing from a long and intense bout of work. So the logical thing would be for me to be laid-out on my butt, watching day-time teevee or old movies, or snoring away in my bed. But no. My roommate would come home to me vacuuming the apartment for the second time that day, offering her an assortment of 3 dozen cookies I'd baked earlier. So yeah, percocet makes me become compulsively domestic. And hyper.

I take it as further evidence that I have some sort of adult attention deficit disorder.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Walking in a crooked line*

I woke up this morning, thinking about William Gibson. I remember reading his novels as a kid, fascinated by the concept of a future time, never bothered by Gibson’s non-linear story telling. Much as a kid falling down, you don’t understand what’s at stake and it’s easier to get up. It’s easier to suspend your disbelief – you take things on faith – you trust in the idea that it will all make sense in the end, regardless of confusion. You’re a kid. Confusion surrounds you.

In this networked world we live in, things travel in a non-linear fashion.

There’s another reason why I love the futurists – Gibson, Asimov, Heinlein, Stephenson, even Murakami – the gang. Being non-linear frees them from conformity. There is always a theme of whimsical possibility in their stories – a less rational person would call it magic. It hangs in the air, at every corner of the story, dangling at each sentence. In the future, everything is rewritten. And sometimes it’s rewritten in a jagged way that makes no sense.

There is power in rewriting things. There are parts of my history and my heritage that aren’t linear, that don’t follow a clear line. I was complaining about it to a cousin, and she turned to me and said: well dammit, write you own story, then! So I did. In my rewritten story, I am the love-child of a cosmic spore and a wood nymph. The spore got bored, floating around the solar system, and decided to check out a rainforest. The spore and the nymph fall in love, and there I was – a twinkle of desire that took human form. I got too big for the rainforest nest, so they kicked me out and I was supposed to be delivered to a nice couple working for the Carter Administration. The stork had a bit of a drinking problem, and I ended up on the wrong doorstep. But eventually, I found my way home, and am on a quest for my cosmic spore.

Gibson once said
: The future is already here, it’s just unevenly distributed. This could be his clever way of commenting on the Digital Divide, but I’d like to think it was him pointing to the fact that some of us don’t even KNOW we can rewrite our stories. Sometimes technology helps us see than, sometimes not. It is the act of rewriting our stories takes us wherever we want to go.

*Is also the definition of the Department of Silly Walks, which sadly is not listed in the Plum Book.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The view from Zombie Mars

Do you ever think about what you would look like to aliens? For instance: here I am, hurdling down the highway in a metal box. Hurdling with other metal boxes, listening to recorded sound waves, drinking coffee and bloviating to someone via (hands-free, hopefully) phone? What about people from 2000 BC? Maybe a neaderthal? What would their hairy self think if they saw you smooshed in a train with hundreds of other people, hydraulic doors wooshing in and out, making a mad dash to get out and to the office. Despite being so close to them that you could smell their mouthwash, you never talk to or make eye contact with any of them because you have little plastic doo-dads stuck in your ears. You are insulated in your own world, walking through a personalized music video.

The silence of morning commuters is deafening.

There is one stretch of sidewalk, between the bus and the office, where I realize I'm walking with hundreds of other people, and none of us say a word. Not a word. We're all caught up in the day ahead, or the day that just past, worrying about bills, matters of the heart, what we'll eat for lunch. Clomp, clomp, clomp. The sound of the mental wheels turning just shouts at me, little cerebral hamsters running in place on a wheel in the cerebral cortex. We're zombies on a march to the cubefarm. Stomp, stomp, stomp.... braaaaains. Sometimes I want to break out into this dance just to see if anyone would take notice.

I had a music teacher in elementary school who was one of the best (for lack of a better label) reality disrupters I've ever met. He would drive around with a plastic unicorn mask on the passenger seat and when stopped in traffic or at a stop light, he'd put the mask on, look to his left and wave at other commuters. He liked watching their stunned reactions. He was also responsible for having us listen to the original War of the Worlds radio show which scared the ever living bejeezus out of me. (I couldn't sleep for weeks. My perplexed father would have to assure me that we were decidedly NOT going to be invaded by a Martian force any time soon, despite my 10-year old misgivings.)

So maybe the inclination to think about what aliens (better: zombie aliens!) think of us is really me projecting my childhood fear of extraterrestrials. Or something.

In any event, have a pleasant day - and if you don't, try breakdancing on your way home.

Monday, February 16, 2009

i'd rather eat glass

I forget which movie it was - I think it was a Woody Allen movie - where one character has just gone to the doctor and says "it could be worse - it could be benign." I feel like I'm misquoting it, but eh, you get the idea. I was going to try and get the exact quote and link to it, but I'm not channeling the google mojo and I got a bunch of hits on diseases I'd rather not read about.

So I'm keeping a running tally of things I'd rather do than go on blind dates in the near future:

1. Eat a lightbulb.
2. Get a root canal (without Novocaine) while being forced to listen to Barry Manilow.
3. Self-amputate my right arm with a butter knife.
4. Go to my 10 year high school reunion, naked.*
5. Swim in a tank of hungry piranhas in a bathing suit made of raw bacon.
6. Watch "Everyone Loves Raymond", sober, with eyes taped open.
7. Wear patchouli after not being able to shower for a week. (double ew.)
8. Be stuck in a jammed elevator with a sweaty polka band in August.
9. Have lemon juice poured on a papercut.
10. Eat toejam.

*This would require a time-travel machine.

Ugh. I'm going to go bake now and drown myself in delicious carbs.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Everyone loves a good trainwreck

What's a date?
A date is a pre-arrangement with the possibility of love.

Thank you, Say Anything.

Oh EPIC FAIL, how you must laugh in my general direction. I'm watching Say Anything and pondering the fact that the Universe has a really twisted sense of humor. I think the gods convened and decided that opposites, while not attracting all the time, might be funny from a third party's point of view. I'm reading the carnage of my anthropological safari.

So here's the Truth:
1. The date was real.
2. The live-tweeting was consensual.
3. Adults were involved and no one got harmed. (Well, no one got physically harmed, although at points I thought I might stab myself or barf, but that was just a thought not acted upon.)

Reading through the twitter search, I came across this post which does a good job of pointing out some of the major privacy flags we face in a new, networked, real-time world. Some might say we're addicted to outrage, some might say that life imitates art, and some might say I'm gigantically douchey or brave for exposing myself in a ridiculous way. Turns out, this is the Internet and all of the above might be true. I wonder why we're not asking a larger question, which is - why is it in a networked world we're drawn to "fake" news, celebrities, personas? We're probably also reading the "real" stuff. If it's a golden age of satire, I welcome it (particularly when it's not super mean-spirited, although I'd imagine some people would yell at me after last night's spectacle.)

Fact is, I'm a tinkerer, a slightly mad social media scientist, and an accidental humorist. Life is absurd. It should be laughed at, when appropriate. I happen to think most times are appropriate. People laugh about being addicted to twitter. It doesn't replace my life grounded in physical reality, and I like that I share a tiny window in to other people's lives, and they mine. With that comes the bitter and the sweet, but but the potential for sweetness outweighs the bitter -- I think of all the good that's being done: people are getting jobs, people are raising money for clean water, people are coming together during times of crisis and great joy.

And for the record, I have maintained friendships and romantic relationships with Republicans and people of all types of political affiliations (even those without affiliation.) In my world there is space for everyone, even if I don't agree with them. I stay sane by laughing, and try to have a sense of humor about myself and my trips and falls. I don't hate Republicans (see #4). For the haters, well. Yeah. I'm not selling anything except the opportunity to make you laugh. So it's free. And you get what you pay for.

Thanks to those that sent kind words, and thank you for giving me an opportunity to make you laugh. I wouldn't have been able to do this without you. :) Happy Valentines Day.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

My Bloody Valentine

Hello Valentines Day. I have no idea why people make such a big deal over this made-up holiday. St. Valentine got stoned to death, and not in a Michael Phelps kinda way. People buy each other crap they don't need. I'm such a nerd I can't help but find dead flowers ugly because they're dead (what kind of symbol is that?) but also because I have a feeling they have a huge carbon footprint. (Also in all honesty, I do like getting flowers. But find me something weird, something quirky. And just one.)

I'm going on another blind date tonight, with someone a mutual friend knows. All I know about the dude is that he's a technophile (like me), and a Republican (not like me). For good or ill, I'm treating this in a very light-hearted way, which I think is appropriate. I'm irreverent by nature, anyhow. If he doesn't like it, check please!

And in the realm of things true love, I hold to the belief that a true lover is someone who can make you crack up in bed. We got one shot on this rock called Earth. Might as well be fun.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Global Warming Blows

You know why I hate global warming? (Besides feeling sorry for the polar bears and other good reasons to hate it.) Because I somehow got a MOSQUITO BITE in the middle of February. And not only a bite, but a big ass bite on my neck. Which is a wonderful thing to have during my week of blind dates - I look like I have a hickey on my neck. AWESOME. Hello, Awkward.

Where the hell did this frakking bug come from, anyway? Was it laying in wait, an egg forgotten in the building over winter? WTF. I hate you, mosquito. I really do. I hope the Valtrex in my system made you die a horrible, horrible death. Also I hope I have a snazzy enough scarf to cover up this insect abuse.

Happily, it was cold enough for me to wear a scarf on my blind date last night. We'd been emailing for a few days - things seems interesting enough, the conversation seemed promising. He's nice looking, but he does bear a resemblance to someone I've seen before. Luckily there was no Bog of Eternal Stench. It's funny how online chemistry so rarely translates into immediate in-person chemistry. But hey, them's the breaks. I'm reading a book called Quirkology, which is similar to Blink and a bazillion other pop-psych books (I don't care if they're Science-lite. I LOVE THEM.) They all seem to say the same thing - human beings - particularly women - know within about 15 seconds whether or not they want to jump someone and get jiggy. Either my internal jiggy is busted, or ... well. Yeah.

Happy Friday the 13th! I'm going to go read my zombie survival book now.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Dropping the torch

I know why movements fail. I used to make fun of the Leadership and team-building classes in grad school, because I thought it was pretty fluffy stuff. I mean, isn't it obvious how to build a team and be a leader? Isn't it clear that if you just treat people with respect, have a plan and a list of things to do, and actually get off your damn ass, you can move forward?

Many years later, I realize that's not the case. I feel like life is a process of people bending the truth enough that you learn a concept, but only come to find that in the "real world", the implementation often falls short. It's like when I was learning about different voting systems - plurality count, runoff, Borda count (I hate the Borda count, for the record), single transferable vote, the Hare system, First-Past-the-Post - I could go on forever. Point is, every system has a flaw, and you could take the same voting population, apply a different decision rule and get completely different outcomes. In other words, I learned systems, I learned the concept of democracy, and I realized that there's no such thing as right or wrong - the Electorate doesn't know what they really want, and it's all a racket.

So back to my original rant. I'm really angry at the Women's Movement. First of all, it's not a Movement. Second, the so-called leaders do not do any job, let alone a good one, of passing the torch among generations. I don't know why it makes me so angry (I am truly filled with rage, and then profound sadness.) Then I feel like that little bird from "Are You My Mother?" I mean, where the frak are the leaders? I blame it on loving kungfu movies. I grew up thinking that I'd find my teacher, my yoda, and that she'd help me along. She'd show me the path. Turns out, most the women I thought were going to be my teacher are too busy, too self-absorbed and too shortsighted to take the time to help younger women out.

Pathetic. You 2nd wavers worked so frakking hard to advance women. How could you flub passing the torch?

It's not particularly enlightened or helpful, but I want to stand outside their window and yell "YOU SUCK."

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


I spend too much time on Twitter. But perhaps it's not in vain. Turns out there are nerdy dudes like this nerdette who think it's HYSTERICAL to livetweet that which should probably not be shared.

So, we're going to go on a date and livetweet it. I'm laughing hysterically. This could either be the best thing ever, or the worst. I feel like there are reality tv shows based around this kind of stuff.

As much as I feel an honest level of revulsion at being so cavalier about the quest for true love, it gives me pause. Is it necessarily a bad thing to bring along all your friends - via pocket and mobile - to an event where a potential mate would be subject to the scrutiny and approval or dismissal of your friends, peers and loved ones? Wouldn't the potential partner at some point have to engage with your friends, relatives, loved ones? In some cultures, it's a matter of course that a suitor would come and woo not only the object of her affection, but the family and tribal elders. That's just what they would do. So maybe livetweeting an intimate affair would save time.

I recently went on a blind date where I ended up hanging out with the date and that date's friends. Afterwards, dishing to a friend about the nervous event, my friend's reaction was - well, that's kinda awkward. But my reaction was completely the opposite. This is an interesting norm for the Milennial Generation. Engaging in activities, including dating, is something done in in groups, and isn't a solitary event. There is no such thing as the more "traditional" one-on-one dinner and a movie.

I'm kinda a Millennial, depending on who's drawing the boundaries of that segment, and my blind date is a little older and falls just short of being a Millennial. From what I've observed, I would argue it's more about behavioral and media consumption patterns more than anything else. Maybe it's less about age, or even gender or race, and more about income, education and whether or not you've gone mobile. A Digital Generation?

The real, sad truth is I have NO IDEA what I'm going to wear to this date. Sigh. I mean, it's going to be on the Internet. :)

warning labels

Normally I'm not a huge fan of medication, which is probably why I love things like Airborne. Is it a sugary vitamin-water-actually-placebo? Maybe. Does it make me feel better? Yes. Do synthetic drugs make me feel like a blind humpback whale in a small, deep pool of raw sewage? YES.

I just read the warning label on this bottle of stupid pills:

May cause dizziness.

[Yeah NO SHIT, GlaxoSmithKline.]


May impair ability to use machines. Use care until familiar with effects.

[aw eff you GSK. Srsly eff you and all the horseshit you ....]


I hate being sick.

Deep Thoughts on Getting Things Done

The gentle art of irritation is how things get done (srsly.) The best thing any of us can be is an annoying turd in someone else's punch bowl. Everyone says it's the squeaky wheel that gets the oil. Nope. The stinky turd gets the attention. And it's immediate.

Also - I don't care how anti-smoking our society is, I gladly trade short-term lung damage and sidewalk judgement from strangers for stabbiness in cubeland. Granted, I should get my lazy butt to yoga and breathe on purpose (in a stinky studio, sweating my guts out) but that would be so unAmerican. So much more American to go for the short-term, high risk damaging solution.

On that cheerful note...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Crazy Logic

Well that was interesting.

My great grandmother was fond of a saying that goes a little bit like this:

To each, his own, as the old farmer kissed the cow.

Yeah, I know. You're thinking, what crazy person kisses a cow? To update it to reflect the ME, I would say:

To each, her own, as the nerdette kissed the dork.

Yeah, I said it. I love dorks. Nothing makes me happier than a person who's comfortable in their own skin. Take a young, handsome, buttoned-down executive, and this nerdette has just gotten a one-way ticket to snorville. Granted, this might be me projecting my own insecurity about dorkitude, but hey. I'm getting older. I'm comfortable in my own dork skin. I've come to realize that I can't stand wearing heels, makeup makes my skin go crazy, and I love using slang. That probably rules me out of a lot of fun stuff like being a celebrity, marrying a prince or other random-ass fantasies that most people have about meeting their true love, but yeah. So it goes.

Also the problem with being so passionate slash dorky about what I do is that this conversation leaves me cold:

Him: I was so excited about [redacted]'s campaign because I totally wanted to write a technology strategy paper about how the campaign could use, that, you know .. New

Me: oh yeah you mean New Media stuff

Him: Yeah, New Media techniques to ...

Me: yeah, I'm friend's with [redacted] who head's up [redacted]'s New Media shop.

Him: (crestfallen) (pause) right, well and it was so exciting, as I was saying, to see them do all the things I wrote about in my strategy memo.

Me: yeah I met [redacted] once

(Him: (further crestfallen look on his face))


I'm sorry, dude. You're very educated, well-dressed and drive a late model luxury car. I'm still looking for my scruffy dude in a banged up early-model beater that he retrofitted to run on used vegetable oil. He's probably running late to his band practice. Most likely he's part of the rhythm section.

I know. Crazy logic. Sigh. I think I'm going to go listen to some Sigur Ros and crochet for a while. Cuz that's how us dorks roll.

Because herpes are hysterical.

The Universe has a sense of justice. Truly.

I'm frenemies with my skin. Last week I discovered a mysterious row of bumps on my left shoulder. Could have been poison ivy or reaction to detergent. My over-active imagination got the best of me, and I started googling symptoms. And pictures (exceptionally bad idea.) Pretty soon I had self-diagnosed myself with scabies, contact dermatitis or possibly leprosy. (I know, you're thinking: HYSTERICAL. Also: NEUROTIC.) Sometimes I have Monk-attacks, but I do my best to fight the OCD.

A few days later I got to the doctor - a stoic, middle aged Asian man who's been my doc since I was a teenager. He took a look at my shoulder and said "shingles." Turns out shingles are adult chicken pox - apparently once you get chicken pox, the virus sticks around in your body, rearing it's fugly head around particularly stressful times.

And you know what they give you for that? Yeah. Valtrex.

I thought to myself, is this because I make herpes jokes all the time?


25 Random Things About Me

Much like herpes or glitter in a pre-school class room, I got tagged with this ridiculous 25 things questionnaire. So here are 25 random things about Moi - Ms. Nerdette.

1. I cannot believe I am doing this. PS obviously I don't like talking about myself. or peer pressure. eff you guys, my Facebook friends. srsly.

2. I'm allergic to most nuts but not almonds, not pine nuts and not peanuts (yeah, I know, not really nuts.) Also mangoes (which blows, because mangoes are awesome), eggplant and recently, corn chips. I hate being allergic to food. I love food.

3. Growing up I had really disfiguring eczema. Once I got it around my eyes. In a weird way I liked looking like quasimodo. You can imagine what it was like, growing up a gawky nerd with a skin affliction worse than just acne. But I wouldn't change that experience for a second. Nerds rule. Weird looking nerds rule harder.

4. My family is almost entirely (at least on the Right Coast) very Republican (I met Dan Quayle as a kid, and when my grandfather passed away, George H. W. Bush's office couriered a letter of condolence. THAT much of a Republican.) I also find it appropriate that as much as my grandfather worked against certain groups, I work for them. And for Democrats. The Universe has a sense of balance.

5. I pulled my sister out of a pond when we were kids. I guess I saved her life - at the time and the only memory I have of it is laughing at her, because when I pulled her out she was crying and I thought it was funny she was soaked. I vaguely remember a very upset adult rushing over. I can't tell you how glad I am I drag her out.

6. I was raised in a very Christian household. I used to serve as a youth missionary. I don't agree with most of the policy positions of what most people consider "Evangelicals" but I couldn't have asked for a better training for political work. I've been in some of the poorest neighborhoods in this country, had guns waved in my face, talked to people who couldn't care less. It gave me sense of fearlessness and a dedication to service. By contrast, canvassing most neighborhoods is a walk in the park.

7. My (only) boyfriend in high school had to ask my dad if he could take me to his prom. My father said yes, and he and my mother accompanied me to the prom. Not as chaperons for everyone, as MY personal chaperon. That plus #3 -- yeah. Be jealous. It was a laugh riot growing up.

8. I wasn't allowed to watch much teevee growing up, so I ended up spending most of my time in the creek, making friends with frogs, earthworms and bugs. I spent a lot of time in trees. I loved every moment of it.

9. I had a guinea pig named Cindy Lou and a dwarf Siberian hamster as pets, growing up. Cindy Lou lived for about 6 years - the hamster (named Spunky) met an untimely death, choking on a stale cracker. It was tragic.

10. The only time I ever broke any bones was when I first learned how to ride a bike. I went down a hill too fast and BAM, right in to the side of a parked van. Broke my left arm. It was pretty embarrassing. I was 8.

11.My favorite color used to be green (still is, mostly :) Now I'm more drawn to deep blue. Or sometimes a clash-y combo of hazard orange and green.

12. I didn't like pro-sports until I tried measuring the effect of long-term budget implications of spending and education attainment, for 2 years in grad school. After writing a long paper on No Child Left Behind, I realized what a relief it is to have a CLEAR OUTCOME. Hence, my love of the NFL and the Steelers was born.

13. I can't believe you're still reading this.

14. My first "real" campaign was working for Al Gore. They did a big thing on campus my senior year. In my 15 seconds of local news fame, a crazy yellow jacket hornet decided to dive-bomb my head. I looked like I was having a seizure on stage. Somehow, I went on to work for the Vice President. It changed my life.

15. I realized 5 years later, looking at a pic my mom snapped of the rally, I was the only woman on that stage with the Vice President and a bunch of dudes.

16. I was an avid reader at an early age. I was raised on a steady diet of Asimov, Bradbury, Gibson, and a lot of pulp murder mysteries and who-dun-its. It was in the house.

17. I also watched a lot of Star Trek and Dr.Who (my dad is an engineer and worked in robotics.)

18. I was probably going to be left-handed but it's bad luck in Asian culture (Confucious? I dunno.) to be a southpaw so I was told to do everything with my right hand. I'm sad I'm not ambidextrous, 'cause that would have been cool.

19. I was a Girl Scout for 12 years. I love camping. I can start a fire anywhere, made out of pretty much anything. Girl Scouts rock.

20. I used to work with Military families. I learned a lot about volunteer recruitment from helping build strong military family support groups. It helped me as a field organizer, and taught me how to build teams. I have relatives that served in every branch except the Air Force, and it was fulfilling work to do.

21. I played piano for 10 years. If you ask me to sing I will break you face. But I'm a really good cheerleader for karaoke.

22. I went to college on a full scholarship to a school I didn't visit (I didn't do a grand college tour, we didn't have the money.) I probably wouldn't have gone to college without the scholarship. I often think college is a 4 year vacation for most people and it's overrated. But I'm glad I went.

23. My stupid human trick is I have a photographic memory. Unfortunately I suck at poker, and my stupid human trick is of limited use. But I never forget a face.

24. I love yoga. Bikram yoga has helped change my physique and my life. Everyone should try or practice yoga. We all need to be reminded to breathe.

25. When I was in Louisville, KY - a woman told me she didn't like Asians - to my face. I told her she should try Korean BBQ because it would change her life. I truly believe food is the great equalizer. I don't know if she could tell I was half Asian. I don't care. I hope she tries Kalbi someday, because Kalbi is delicious.