Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

 I come from a line  of soldiers, sailors and Marines.

I am the daughter of a Marine.  And the niece of a career Marine.  I am the granddaughter of a Navy seaman turned Navy aviator. (Granddad Greene became an aviator in 1920, after his service in World War I.)  All three of them served honorably in the Pacific theater in World War II.  My uncle's service continued on through Korea and Vietnam; my Dad's through the Marine involvement in China in the post-war period.

My ancestors fought in the Civil War (mostly for the Confederacy, alas) and, on my mother's side, the Revolutionary War.

I have the utmost respect for men and women in uniform.

I was from the start opposed to the war in Iraq.  I have come to oppose the war in Afghanistan.  People who hold mine and similar views were frequently (and still are) accused of "not supporting the troops."


I support the troops.  I think they should be paid a decent wage and their families back home cared for during their service and after they return home (or more sadly in cases where they don't).  They should be given the equipment best suited to keeping them safe in the field. Care of returning injured veterans, whether they have physical or psychological wounds, should be a top national priority.

They should never be sent to places we have no business being in to begin with.  We should never squander their lives or health to fight for any but the gravest reasons, by which standard neither of the current wars qualify.*

The analysis of that is for another day.

Today, I wish to salute and honor those who did what their country, rightly or wrongly, demanded that they do, and paid the ultimate price.  May God grant peace to their souls and their families.

*Peacekeeping missions with NATO and the UN are complicated issues; I have still not figured out where I stand on those.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Oh, for Pete's sake...

After careful review, I have decided that the iTunes genre designations are almost but not quite completely random.  How else to explain labeling the Beatles White Album as "pop" and Abbey Road as "rock"?  Or Billy Joel as "pop" and Great Big Sea (including The Hard and the Easy, which is comprised exclusively of traditional Newfoundland roots music) and Jimmy Buffet as "rock"?

And John Denver?!?  John Denver is many things, but a rock singer he is not.  He won Entertainer of the Year  from the Country Music Association for 1975, after all.

All of this is faintly reminiscent of Jethro Tull winning the first Grammy for Best Metal Album.


In Defense of Starbucks

I have to take medicines for a medical condition.  I have to take them with food -- specifically carbohydrates. On the rare occasions  I wait too long, or forget, I get dizzy spells.  I can work, or write, or use a computer; I just can't drive (or even walk steadily) until it goes away. That can be anywhere between thirty minutes and three hours.

The moment I feel one is imminent (they give me a few minutes warning), I know exactly what to do.  I find the nearest Starbucks and sit down, and proceed to snarf decaf and carbs until I feel fine again.  Why Starbucks?  Because they are ubiquitous.  And on the rare occasion I don't see one immediately, I stop at the next food establishment I see, or pull to the side of the road and call someone to come get me.

Which is why today I am sitting in the Starbucks on University Avenue in Palo Alto (where I was heading when it hit -- University Ave, not the Starbucks -- I was a block away), downing Skinny Decaf Carmel Macchiatos and madeleines.

People like me like Starbucks because it is familiar.  I would never go to one in a foreign country, where the opportunity to experience new and different things is right before one's eyes (and where there is likely to be much better coffee),  but at home, I know exactly what I am getting, and I find that oddly comforting.  (I also patronize local coffee shops when I am downtown in my hometown, but there are other options there that I am familiar with.)  There are other reasons to patronize the Starbucks near my house:  it is the only real neighborhood meeting place, and it pretty much kept the local strip shopping mall from going derelict.

I know many people view Starbucks as a menace, as a soulless corporation driving the local mom-and-pop coffee shops out of business.  And I know that is to some extent true.  Still, in an age where all of us are constantly on the move, finding something you can count on (even if the coffee is less than stellar) can make all the difference.

Especially to me.
Yesterday I mentioned that the last ten seconds of the bridge from "Polythene Pam" to "She Came in Through the Bathroom Window" on Abbey Road were my favorite ten seconds in all of rock and roll.

Ttoday, I decided to list some of my other favorite moments:

The opening to Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song" (used to wonderful effect in Shrek the Third.)

The first line of Prince's "Little Red Corvette."

Roger Daltrey's in tune scream near the end of "Won't Get Fooled Again."

The bass parts in Van Morrison's "Brown Eyed-Girl" and Paul Simon's "You Can Call Me Al." (Not to mention the lyric about "the angels in the architecture.")

The opening guitar riff on the Beach Boys "Fun, Fun, Fun" which they blatantly stole from Chuck Berry.

Not to mention Roger McGuin's wonderful riff at the opening of "Mr. Tambourine Man."

And of course, you can't mention guitars without talking about  the opening to "Layla."  The original version, by Derek and the Dominoes.

The opening to the Rolling Stones' "You Can't Always Get What  You Want." The choirboys kill me.

Last but certainly not least, Michael Shrieve's insane drum solo during Santana's Woodstock version of "Soul Sacrifice." Have you ever seen the Hermitage version of the Marc Chagall painting "The Dance"? This is what the people were dancing to, albeit 59 years before the fact. And Shrieve was nineteen (nineteen?!?!?!) at the time.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Content? We don't need no stinkin' content!

Ah, yes.  I am having trouble finding things to say these days.  I'm not sure why -- I actually have proto-posts written down in a notebook (an artifact of the time when I was computerless), but a combination of being out of the habit and mood and being preoccupied (make that obsessed) with other things has led me to be relatively silent these days. I also have writing I have done about things which are personal enough that placing them on a public blog (because, after all, the Internet is forever) would not be a good idea.

I find myself writing more on Facebook because, let's face it, FB is mostly brainless.  A lot of space on my friend's list is comprised of links people find interesting.  A few people actually use it to let others know about their lives, but even then it is a shallow medium at best.  Not quite as bad as Twitter, but at roughly 400 characters, not much better. And lately when I am writing here, I find myself writing short odds and ends, rather than longer analytical pieces.

So...  things.

Georgia is lovely, shiny and new.  She is still clean, mainly because I get annoyed at anyone other than me eating or drinking within five feet of her, and I semi-religiously blow dust off her keyboard.  I need to get a cloth to clean her lovely, high graphic screen. The hardest part to get used to is her sensitive trackpad.  With Jan, I became used to resting one thumb on the pad while I scrolled with the other, the better to open things with, except with Georgia when I do that it opens a lot of things I do not want, or otherwise acts the way the new fancy trackpads are supposed to act but which I am totally not used to.

Because I can now access iTunes, I can catch up with all the episodes of Criminal Minds that I have  missed this year (which is quite a lot, let me tell you).  It also means that I can go back and read Elizabeth Bear's quite amusing liveblogs of the episodes.  I probably could do an entire post on CM, and how appearances can be deceiving, and that one of the most annoying things about this season is how it seems to be devolving (a good, BAU-type term) into a standard cop show, albeit with more explicit pictures of dismembered bodies.

I have also got all my music back.  At last.  At lot of things were bought from iTunes during the period before you could get things DRM-free, so when your computer dies, you have to unauthorize and reauthorize everything.  This is impossible if you cannot access the iTunes store.  And I was very good: I resisted the temptation to rip all the music on the computer I was borrowing (which was a great deal more than mine) onto my backup drive.

For Mother's Day, I got the "betting version" of Trivial Pursuit.  It's in many ways a different game, but in many ways a better one, because it still allows for smarty-pantses to show off (not like anyone I know) but also allows other people to be involved in the action rather than leaving them to wander over to the fridge to scope out what types of soda we have. It also can provide incentives for people to throw questions, which makes it all the more amusing.

I have been listening to the Beatles today.  I have about ninety songs, including five from the Help! soundtrack I bought off of iTunes last night.  The bridge from "Polythene Pam" to "She Came In Through the Bathroom Window" in the song-cycle on Abbey Road is absolutely freaking brilliant, and the end of it is my favorite ten seconds in all of rock and roll.  It goes on my list of "better-than-sex music".*

"And, in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make."

Another observation about the Beatles.  George Martin is an unspoken hero of the revolution, so to speak, and a large part of the reason they were as awesome as they were. (Compare Revolver, Rubber Soul, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, the White Album or Abbey Road, which he produced, to Let It Be, which he did not.)  One of his most wonderful creations is Love, which was originally developed for a Cirque du Soleil show, if I remember correctly.  It takes Beatles tracks and transforms them into... something even more wonderful than they were before.  "Revolution," for example, has fuzzed out guitars, and is even more raw and primal than it was in the first place.  My favorite, though, is the heart-achingly beautiful "While My Guitar Gently Weeps,"  with George Harrison on acoustic guitar, with strings coming later.  It includes a verse not found on the Abbey Road version: "I look from the wings at the play that you're staging/ while my guitar gently weeps/ as I'm sitting here doing nothing but aging/ still my guitar gently weeps."  Maybe it is the place I am in in my life, but that just resonates.

School is nearly out for the summer.  The Not-So-Little Drummer Boy was on the ball after he returned home, and actually has a good summer job before June starts.  His first job was as a "sign dancer,"  one of those people who stand on street corners advertising for, in this case, a Mexican restaurant.  For the week he did it, he was extremely good -- he had people honking at him, and several groups of people coming in the restaurant commended him to his manager.  In fact, he had been terribly excited about getting the job, not particularly surprising for a kid who told me once that he viewed his entire life as performance art.  His stated goal, at least as he told me, was to be such an outrageously good sign dancer that he got onto the local news.  He sadly had to relinquish that goal when he got a job that a) paid a dollar more per hour, b) was full rather than part time and c) would actually give him skills he could put on his resume.  Nothing in life is perfect.

He also ran at least part of the way in the Bay-to-Breakers.  Afterwards, he commented "whenever there is an outdoor event in San Francisco with more than fifty people, at least one of them will be naked."  He was exasperated when both his father and I separately asked if he was one of them.

Last weekend was the Pokemon Regional Tournament.  I attended, mainly because Railfan was participating and wanted someone there for moral support.  The contestants in the Masters division (people over twelve) were 95 percent male (not an exaggeration, I actually counted) and ranged in age from the aforementioned teenagers to men who looked to be close to forty.  I can't imagine being that interested in a handheld video game at the age of thirty-five, but then I can't imagine being completely obsessed with Pokemon at any age.  Failure of imagination, I suppose.

Summer is here, and I am trying not to be overwhelmed.  I have something akin to Seasonal Affective Disorder, only it hits during the summer rather than the winter.  Something about all the light, and the lengths of the days, feels disorienting and crushing, rather than exhilarating, as it is for most people. And the kids will be out of school after next week, with all that entails.  At least this summer they have set goals for themselves: the NLDB has a job (and, finally, a driver's license so he can get himself to said job), Railfan is looking for one, and the Red-Headed Menace wants to take classes so that he can get in shape for next school year. Not to mention doing summer track, and training for the cross-country team he wants to join in the fall.

In a couple of months, the Rocket Scientist will again leave for the Arctic, and I will spend two-and-a-half weeks obsessing about the weather in Nunavit, and worrying about polar bears. And the statistics for crashes among small planes.  And ATV rollovers.

Maybe before than I will find other things to distract me.

Like actually writing.

*Depending upon how good the sex is, of course.


Today, fans of Terry Pratchett are remembering the Glorious Revolution of the 25th of May.  And wearing lilac.

Fans of Douglas Adams are commemorating Towel Day.  And carrying towels.

Celebrate accordingly.  Perhaps by carrying a lilac colored towel.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Hello folks, I would  like to introduce you to .... Georgia.  As in O'Keefe.

She is a lovely, brand new (as in picked up last night) MacBook Pro with a Intel Core i5 and running Snow Leopard.*  Her graphics are crisp, her keyboard action is lovely, and she is (in the words of the Sydney seagulls in Finding Nemo) mine..mine...mine...

Who knew that getting rear-ended could have such a pleasant fallout?  Not that I would recommend it as a matter of course...

I have been having some connectivity problems which may or may not continue.  I still have to get everything set up correctly.  All of this means:

Hopefully more writing.
I can finish setting up my spreadsheet which will allow me to set prices on the jewelry I hope to sell on Etsy before too long (I figure with ten necklaces and the same number of bracelets I have enough stock to at least get started).
Job searching should be easier.
I can return to hanging out at Starbucks, which, believe it or not, I find more productive than working at home.  (I do buy stuff, I promise.  I do not simply freeload.)

I currently have no access to the latest edition of MS Office, which means that I will need to download Open Office or some other open source software, or resort to using Google Docs.


*What the heck is Apple going to do when they run out of large cat names?

Monday, May 09, 2011

Osama Bin Laden is dead.

Unless you have been living under a rock for the past two weeks, I expect you know this.  Actually, make that under a rock in a remote cave.

Certainly nowhere in the United States.

As Jon Stewart said, I suppose I should be ambivalent about the killing of another human being...

But as Jon Stewart also said, uh, no.

Yes, I rejoice in the death of this man, the same way I would have rejoiced in the death of Adolf Hitler had I been alive in 1945.  There are just some people who deserve to die.*

 However, it was not, contrary to what the President said on that Sunday night, justice.  Was it necessary?  Possibly.  Was it completely justifiable?  Damn straight.  That does not make it justice, except in perhaps the most abstract and universally karmic way.  In the casually metaphorical way we speak of people getting what's coming to them.

Thomas Nachbar wrote an excellent article for Slate which dissects the difference between an act of justice and a military action.  He does a better job of analyzing this issue than I ever could.  It is an important article and I encourage you to read it. Even more than that, I would urge you to read what Terry Karney has to say on the subject: he points out what we have lost by not allowing justice to be done

For me, I am most concerned about the role that torture may have played in the operation.  Apparently, some of the information was obtained through the use of "harsh interrogation techniques."  USA Today, in rosy-eyed view of the American public, stated "It's a safe bet that most people would accept torture if it were the only option for catching the most hunted villain in U.S. history. Indiscriminate use of torture is another matter entirely."

They're absolutely wrong. If they thought it would give them a small amount of security, the American public would be more than willing to torture just about anyone. Because who's to say that the next terrorist we stop through use of torture is not a Bin Laden in the making? Or worse?

But how many terrorists will we be making through torture?  And what damage are we doing to our own psyche, both as a nation and as individuals?  Do we have a right to ask people to become what they must to be able to torture another human being?

And there is a glaring question that needs to be answered.  Was there a way to get this information through other means?  According to USA Today, one of the ways that the CIA was able to confirm the importance of a Bin Laden courier was because other high ranking Al Qaeda figures lied about him after being waterboarded. The question is, if they had enough information to know that the people were lying, why did they need to torture?  For confirmation?  Am I the only person that is bothered by that? Anyone? 

There are roads you don't walk down because  they may prove so enticing that it will be impossible to come back.  Way leads on to way, as Robert Frost noted, and it is possible to lose your identity -- personal or national -- so much that you can never reclaim who you were.  Yes, Virginia, there really are slippery slopes.  Torture is one of them.

I once said that there are fates worse than death, that I would rather risk dying as a free and ethical woman than support torture to make myself more secure.  That the rule of law and due process and the moral requirements for how human beings treat each other matter more to me than whatever I might gain in exchange for throwing them away.

Nothing that happened to Osama Bin Laden changes one damn bit of that.  And any regret or sadness I may feel over the death of one of the most justly reviled men in history would be that it will be a continuing justification for those who will continue to do evil in my -- and my country's --name.

*Given my unalloyed opposition to capital punishment, for me this is a very small group indeed.

Our recurring cast of characters...

Recent readers of this blog may or may have not become acquainted with the diverse group of inmates in my insane asylum. Unlike the CIA agent and little girl that followed John Nash around "A Beautiful Mind," these alleged people really do exist.

First off, there is the Rocket Scientist, my husband of 28 years.  There is a reason that his ring-tone on my phone is the theme to Raiders of the Lost Ark.  He can't go to space, so he makes up for it by going everywhere on earth he can. As an aeronautics engineer, geologist, arctic explorer and generally all around smart guy, he can go a lot of places.  He was recently disappointed that a project he wanted to do didn't get funded, because, among other things it meant he would not get to spend next May in the Atacama desert. (The main reason, of course, was that it was an interesting and important project, and he really likes his job.)  That means he will have to postpone picking up his sixth (and seventh) continents until next November, when he goes to the Antarctic.

He is the only person in my personal life, as far as I know, that has his own IMDb page. (Not to mention a Kevin Bacon number of 3.) When I discussed on Facebook whether or not I should write a bogus biography for him, several friends chimed in to say that would be totally unnecessary -- his actual life is pretty interesting on its own.  He spends time every summer in the Canadian Arctic, and is one of only three people that I know personally who have had training to ward off polar bears. He is also a smart ass, although he disapproves of snarkiness and sarcasm on general principle.  (In that regard, he is a nicer person than I am.)

Once, during a very contentious project he was heading up in Spain, he walked into a meeting he was leading with a flogger.  He slapped it down on the table, and said in a quiet but menacing voice, "The beatings will commence until morale improves." The entire group went completely silent (except for me and a couple of friends, who were desperately trying not to snicker).  It worked, though: people piped down and stopped fighting with each other.

There is my eldest son, the Not-So-Little-Drummer Boy.  How much does this kid love music? Years ago, the first weekend he had his drum set he played it so much that the neighbors called the cops.   He has the largest music collection of anyone in my immediate circle, much of it by artists I have never heard of.  I can't figure out whether I am happier or more worried that he may well end up working in music or art:  on the one hand, he would be really good at it, and he really should follow his heart; on the other, it's hard to make a living doing that.

On the surface, he is almost too cool for words. Underneath, he is a big goofy puppy.  He likes doing crazy things -- he was looking forward to college so that he would be able to do stuff and his friends wouldn't act like he was completely insane.  He's a sophomore now, and it both freaks me out and breaks my heart that in a couple of years, he will be mostly gone from my day to day life.

Then we have Railfan.  I have a lot of sympathy for my middle child:  he is a solid, smart kid, who most families would be a standout, but in ours is sandwiched between two peacocks.  He doesn't show up in this blog as much as his brothers, because he is less likely than they are to say outrageous things.  He is the nicest person of the three, and the one most likely to ask how my day has gone.  He has struggled with Asperger's Syndrome, and still has issues with social cues, but is at heart a really really sweet boy who has come a very long way.

Railfan is the one of my children I would most want with me on a desert island. He's also the one that I am least worried about being able to cope with the logistics of the real world once he leaves home.  He'll be the one that has his checkbook balanced (better than me) and will pay his bills on time.  I am terrible at providing structure -- he has learned how to create some for himself, and I fully expect him to be fine on his own.  He is also, of the three of them, the one I am least worried about being in a car with him behind the wheel.

And then we have the Red-Headed Menace.  Last weekend, when he complained that I always blogged/Facebooked the things he said, I informed him "That's why we keep you around, comic relief.  Otherwise we would have sold you to the gypsies long ago."  A flamboyant, brilliant child, with a tendency to melodrama as strong as the current in the Colorado River, he is far more likely to want to have a discussion about the fall of the Soviet Union than, say, baseball or movies.  What can you say about a child who on the way to school one day asks you what your favorite subatomic particle is? (My answer, for the record, is charmed quarks, simply because of the name.  His was the Higgs boson -- I don't remember why.) Or who exclaims, on Valentine's Day, "I suck at relationships" with a huge dramatic sigh?  (I was very good.  I did not give my first response, which was "my, we're being a drama queen today" or even my second, which was "you might have better luck if you did not develop crushes on girls with boyfriends" or even what a friend of mine said, which was "of course he does, he's fourteen! What does he expect?"  Instead, I very gently stated that he was still very young, and that things would get better when he got older. And spent the afternoon snickering about it.)  I have discovered that the secret to dealing with RHM when he is in full Oscar-worthy mode is a poker face and the oft repeated phrase "that's nice, dear," said in the blandest voice possible.

He also hates hates hates to lose arguments.  When he is discussing something, he will increase the outrageousness of his hypotheticals until the other side gives up in disgust, and you find yourself saying "Fine, if the sun goes supernova tomorrow, you do not have to mow the lawn on Sunday.  In the meantime...." He's the one I am most likely to tell "Because I said so" simply because arguing with him can be exhausting.  Amusing, often, but exhausting. (That is why reducing him to speechlessness during the lawyer discussion was so very satisfying.)  I have explained to him that he really does need to become a lawyer, but he is having none of it.  (He keeps changing what he does want, though, which given that he is fourteen, is entirely predictable.  A couple of months ago, he wanted to be a physicist.  On Sunday, he stated he wanted to be a genetics engineer.  He has also expressed a desire to be a philosopher, preferably one of Plato's philosopher kings.  Good luck with that one, I tell him.)

We also have a housemate, the Resident Shrink.  We forgive her for being a New Yorker, and she forgives us for insisting that there is actually reasonable pizza outside of the five boroughs. (I'm willing to concede that there are no decent bagels other than in New York, however.) She's a vegetarian, and we go around and around about our own dogmatic views on food: she has the aforementioned pizza/bagel issue, and I keep trying to make her see that neither proper red beans and rice nor proper pea soup are vegetarian. (Neither is proper onion soup -- it's made with beef broth -- but I have kept a discreet silence on that one.) Proper chili is not vegetarian (nor does it have beans in it), but I am willing to concede that vegetarian "chili" is mighty tasty and I am very willing to eat it provided a) it does not have fake meat products in it and b) it is not really called chili.

So that's the household.  If I seem bemused by them all, it is because I generally am.  In many ways, I am the least interesting of the bunch. I have no idea if that is a good thing or not.

Sunday, May 08, 2011


Me:  You really need to become a lawyer, Red Headed Menace.
RHM:  I don't want to be a lawyer, I want to be a genetic engineer.
Rocket Scientist:  Then you can create giant mutant cockroaches!
Me: Or giant mutant lawyers.
Railfan: There's a difference?

Because we're THAT sort of family

I just received a Mother's Day card with the greeting on the envelope written in hex.  

I have interesting children.

Friday, May 06, 2011


I will be getting a new laptop soon, probably within the next week.  I will hopefully be posting more then.


The laptop is courtesy of the insurance company of the elderly man who ran into me in February.  They offered me (in addition to paying all my medicals bills) $1000, basically as a "We're so sorry you're hurt, please don't sue us" gesture.  I resisted the temptation to tell them to talk to my counsel, since I had absolutely no intention of suing anyone, provided they paid my medical bills.  Suing people is a pain in the backside, and I had had no real "pain and suffering" (which is what this is compensation for) except for a mighty uncomfortable three hours in the Stanford ER and several days stoned out of my gourd on Vicodin. I didn't tell the insurance company that, of course, but simply took the grand.  I think if I had pushed I might have gotten two, but that seemed unethical to me.  Contrast this with my insurance company, who is being aggressive with the people who I hit in March (it's been a bad year for cars in my household), even though it was the same sort of injury (soft tissue damage, whiplash).

The litigious nature of American society is also why I have certificate for three days stay at a resort hotel in Hawaii, as another "We're so sorry you fell getting off the poorly designed tram, we're very glad you weren't seriously hurt, please don't sue us" plea. 


The Apple Store in Palo Alto California employs some seriously pretty geek-boys, such as the one today who explained to me the difference between flash or solid state memory and traditional hard drives.  Cute, enthusiastic, and didn't condescend to me when it became clear that I was a reasonably intelligent person -- actually, not even before then.  And he did not even steer me towards the most expensive option!  (Well, he did suggest I consider a Macbook Pro, when I told him I keep computers until they die, since it had the most recent Intel processors, but I had already decided to do that anyway.) I realize that in some sense this is objectifying this lad, so I lose some feminist street cred here.  Oh, well.


Quote of the week comes from the Red-Headed Menace.  After reading about a third of Romeo and Juliet (you could tell he was reading it, too, because he yells at the characters in books the way other people yell at characters in television shows -- in this case, "Romeo, you wuss.  What is this about Rosaline?  Get over her, man!), he came into the kitchen and asked "Mom, I realize this is purely hypothetical, but do you think a romance between me and Juliet would work out?"

No, son.  It wouldn't.  Her family would definitely disapprove.  On top of that, she's a fictional character.  From the sixteenth century. Who had a boyfriend/husband. Who committed suicide. So I think you're pretty much out of luck on this one. Things not going too well with the crush object, are they?


In the toy store today, while buying a butterfly net for Railfan for his Bio project, I noticed that there are two new versions of  Trivial Pursuit out.  The Trivial Pursuit Master Edition seems to be nothing more than a standard game with a timer added.  I can just swipe the timer from the game of Pictionary gathering dust in the hall closet and save myself $45.

Trivial Pursuit -- Bet You Know It!, however, seems to involve betting on who will get what right.  Hehehehe.  I see the possibility for an entire new income stream. Of course, I'd mainly be winning stuff off of the people in my household, so in the end it wouldn't matter, but still....


I have discovered that the Rocket Scientist has his own IMDb page, due to having appeared as "himself" in two episodes of the documentary series, Mars Rising.  (He does not, alas, have his own Wikipedia page.)  Also, by virtue of Mars Rising having been narrated by William Shatner, he has a Bacon number of three, and an Erdos-Bacon number of 6, the same as Natalie Portman.  I'm not sure what to make of all this, other than to find it terribly amusing. [Edited to add:  The Rocket Scientist says that James Cameron was also onscreen in Mars Rising, so he has two different routes to get his Bacon number of three.  He also says that when he was introduced to Cameron, he had no idea who he was, since he had not seen Titanic and it was before Avatar.  *facepalm*  To say that popular culture is not his forte would be an understatement.]

I have thus far resisted the temptation to create an entirely bogus biography of him.  It's taken a lot of willpower, but I am being good.


A friend introduced me to Straight No Chaser.  Oh. My. God.  I think I may have a new obsession in the making.  I especially love their version of Tainted Love, and am thinking of trying to find a version to use as a ringtone on my phone. 

Of course, I do love having the Superchicken Theme as my default ringtone. I have come a long way since I had Pachelbel's Canon in D Major as my ring tone mainly so as to not bother other people.  Maybe, having turned fifty, I just don't care anymore.  The Superchicken theme is so much in keeping with my personality, anyway.  Really.


When I was considering law schools, I made the mistake of visiting Stanford on a day almost exactly like this one.  The sky was this amazingly intense cornflower blue, it was neither too hot nor too cold, and the hills were still green  and lush.  I fell in love.  Who knows, had I visited during a heat wave in August, when all the hills have turned brown, I might have ended up in DC.  Or Austin.

This is not to say that Stanford was not very very good to and for me, and I still have a great deal of fondness for both the place and the people associated with it.  It's just that I need to remember and treasure days like today, because all too soon everything will dry up.

It is also an object lesson in doing your homework.  Had I actually checked it out, I would have found out that the the area around Stanford has an average annual rainfall of roughly 18 inches a year, as opposed to over 50 for the Tampa Bay area (where I grew up), or Atlanta (where I moved from).  There are (sob) NO summer thunderstorms.  Oops.  What can I say?  I was young and stupid(er).

It all worked out in the end, though.  I do wonder, sometimes, what I would have been like had I gone to Georgetown, UT, or even Berkeley.


Mother's Day is Sunday.  I suppose that it would mark me as a bad mother to say that I really would like to go out drinking.  I think that I should emulate the example of my mother.

My mom loves Disney World.  My father hated it, primarily because his knees had gotten bad enough that walking around/standing were uncomfortable for him, and he would have had to be completely immobile before he would consent to something like a scooter.  (True story about my Dad: I showed him the book Real Men Don't Eat Quiche when it came out.  Dad growled "Real men eat whatever they damn well please."  He paused, then asked, "What's a quiche?") So Mom only got to Disney World when the grandkids were in town.

After my dad died, one of the first things Mom did, after her first initial mourning period, was buy a season pass to Disney World.  "I love him, but he's gone, and I want to go to Disney World.  I'm too old to worry about what people will think."

You go, Mom.  I never said this when I was growing up, what I have decided you're the person I want to be when I grow old.

I hope you got my phone message last week.  If not, then here's wishing you (again) a belated Happy 84th Birthday.  You'll outlive us all, I expect.  At least I hope so.  I'm going to miss you when you go.

And a Very Happy Mother's Day, Mom.  And to all the other mothers I know out there, regardless of age, race, creed, sexual orientation, or birth/adoption status: you guys rock.

Here's hoping the people around you tell you so.