Wednesday, August 30th 2006

More spambotspambotspambot
posted @ 1:56 pm in [ ]

Some of the recent postings have gotten a disproportionate amount of attention from spambots, so I’ve closed comments on the hardest hit. If you’re a mammal, though, and you’d like to comment on a posting and can’t, let me know and I’ll make that happen.

Monday, August 28th 2006

So how was the Moonlight Classic?
posted @ 7:55 pm in [ - ]

Why, it was extrasuperfabulous, thanks. Top 10 things I love about this event:

  1. The drunk people get weeded out pretty early on because it’s too hard to keep up with everybody on a bike when you’re wasted. I mean, so I’m told.

  2. It’s only 15 miles and it’s fairly flat, so one can feel pretty confident about being able to finish it and not make a complete ass of oneself (well, for that anyway), as well as being able to convince others to come along.

  3. Although it’s blazing hot and parched in the daytime, Denver can be very cool and pleasantly spooky at night.

  4. Even though it was rainy initially, I secretly thought it was refreshing, and it stopped raining and warmed up during the ride.

  5. It’s fun riding through the nighttime city with around 2500 other people, like a party on 5000 wheels.

  6. If it’s part of the route (as mine is) your commute looks pretty sexy.

  7. You get to ride through neighborhoods you might not ride through at night, either because you’re only there during the daytime, or because you’d consider them too sketchy. The latter is, of course, no problem with an entourage of 2500.

  8. You get a number to wear, even though the Moonlight Classic could really not be considered a race.

  9. You get lots of schwag and good coupons and stuff.

  10. This year, I got to ride with my friend Derek. I usually don’t ride with other people, in no small part because my riding style doesn’t generally mesh with those of others. We were really well paced to each other, though, and it was really fun. I’ve been considering beginning to ride with other folks, and this experienced nudged me in that direction. Thanks, Derek! You rock.

Saturday, August 26th 2006

Moonlight Classic
posted @ 11:58 am in [ - ]

So what does a foxy A.B.D. mama do on a Saturday night? Well, tonight, I’m riding the Moonlight Classic. It’s a 15-mile bike ride through Denver in the middle of the night. I did it a couple of years ago and it was crazy fun. If you’re local and you want to try it, or you’re curious about the event in general, you can check it out here. I’ll let you know how it went.

I’m also working on another item suggested by Greg: how to improve the viewing interest of various sports. I don’t want to give anything away, but be thinking about city-alliterative names for sports teams…

Wednesday, August 23rd 2006

What gives?
posted @ 12:51 pm in [ ]

Yeah, I haven’t been posting as often lately. Sorry about that. It’s work-related, and as you know, I no longer blog about work. I can tell you, though, that I’m teaching a really rewarding and time-consuming course. Unlike my accustomed schedule where I teach a given course once or twice a week, this is a daily gig. It’s only another few weeks, though, so I should be posting more frequently pretty soon.

Monday, August 21st 2006

More thought police baiting
posted @ 7:42 pm in [ ]

Back in January, my, uh, “coverage” of the State of the Union Address was so well received, I thought I’d do another one with this morning’s press conference. If you like it, I’ll mock the answers to the questions too.

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Yesterday I delivered a truckload of cheese danish to the lactose intolerant and then — the second in a series of speeches on the situation in Iraq. I spoke about the violence that the Iraqi people had faced since last month’s bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samarra. I didn’t snicker when I heard that because I’m not aware that “samara” are those little helicopter tree seed pods. I also said that for every act of violence there is encouraging progress in Iraq that’s hard to capture on the evening news. That’s because it’s nonexistent. I totally made that up.

Yesterday I spoke about an important example of the gains we and the Iraqis have made, and that is in the northern city of Tal Afar. The city was once under al Qaeda control, and thanks to coalition and Iraqi forces, the terrorists have now been driven out of that city. They have taken up residence in a shopping mall in the suburbs and are all wearing Abercrombie these days. Iraqi security forces are maintaining law and order and enjoying Pottery Barn. We see the outlines of a free and secure Iraq that we and the Iraqi people have been fighting for. Tomorrow, I’m going to do a silhouette picture of it. As we mark the third anniversary of the launch of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the success we’re seeing in Tal Afar gives me confidence in the future of Iraq. I’d have to have that, because the past has been such an effing disaster.

Terrorists haven’t given up; they’re tough-minded, they like to kill. And so does Dick Cheney. There’s going to be more tough fighting ahead. No question that sectarian violence must be confronted by the Iraqi government and a better-trained police force. So I have to do my best to keep that from happening. It would wreck everything. Yet we’re making progress. And that’s important for the American people to understand. Because then they can explain it to me. Well, they can try anyway.

We’re making progress because of — we’ve got a strategy for victory, and we’re making progress because the men and women of the United States military are showing magnificent courage and they’re making important sacrifices, such as their lives, that have brought Iraq to an historic moment — the opportunity to build a democracy that reflects its country’s diversity, that serves its people, and is an active partner in the fight against the terrorists. I no longer identify “the terrorists” by name because it makes it far too obvious that invading and occupying Iraq had nothing to do with nineelevennineelevennineeleven.

Now Iraq’s puppet leaders must take advantage of the opportunity to fill the coffers of my cronies. I was encouraged by the announcement Sunday the Iraqi leaders — stay with me now, that the Iraqi leaders made — well, they are making progress toward a council that gives each of the country’s main political factions a voice in making security and economic policies. It’s an indicator that Iraq’s leaders understand the importance of a government of national unity, with prosperity for meeeee. Our Ambassador to Iraq, Zal Khalilzad, is very much involved in the process and will encourage the Iraqi leaders to put aside their differences, reach out across sectarian lines and form a unity government with me and my buddies firmly in mind.

Here at home, I’m also encouraged by the strength of our economy, because I don’t know any better. Last year our economy grew at a healthy 3.5 percent, whereas wages did not. Over the past two-and-a-half years, the economy has added nearly 5 million new semi-part-time, unbenefitted, temporaryish, underpaid jobs — that’s more than Japan and the 25 nations of the European Union combined, because those nations think of their workers as people. The national unemployment rate is 4.8 percent — that’s lower than the average rate of the 1970s, the 1980s and the 1990s, and you can bet all that underemployment and crappy job stuff are really helping those figures! Productivity is strong. Inflation is contained. Household net worth is at an all-time high, because we’re living in the bizarro universe where America is being an oppressor rather than a liberator. Real after-tax income is up more than 8 percent per person since the beginning of 2001. Whatever the hell that means, am I right? As long as nobody examines that too closely, it’s all good! The growing economy is a result of the hard work of the American people and good policies here in Washington. Okay, it’s mostly me.

I believe America prospers when people are allowed to keep more of what they earn so they can make their own decisions about how to spend, save and invest. I’d rather they just funnel it through the gas pump, though, so it looks like they’re spending as they choose, but really it’s coming right into my pockets. So I’m going to continue to work with Congress to make the tax relief permanent, continue to work with Congress to restrain federal spending, continue to work with Congress to achieve the goal of cutting the deficit in half by 2009. Yeah, I go through a lot of lotion when I “continue to work with Congress.” Heh-heh-heh.

We cannot take our growing economy for granted, because after all, it’s pretty much being done with mirrors and Enron-style phony books-cooking, and so I look forward to “working with the Congress” to make sure we invest in basic research, and promote math and science education. I’m going to “work with Congress” to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. I know it came as a surprise to some of you that I would stand up in front of the Congress and say, we got a problem, we’re addicted to oil. But it is a problem, and I just said it for window dressing anyway — don’t worry, I won’t really do anything about it. And I look forward to working with both Republicans and Democrats to advance an agenda that will make us less dependent on foreign oil; an agenda that includes hybrid cars and advanced ethanol fuels and hydrogen cells and maybe even igniting cat pee. I’m going to look forward to “working with Congress” to make sure health care is affordable and available. Pah-ha-haaa! Not really.

We’re going to “work with Congress” (yeah, you know who I’m talking about when I say “we”) to make sure we meet our commitments to our fellow citizens who are affected by Katrina. That’s Katrina Elam, who recently opened for Keith Urban. I appreciate the step that the House of Representatives took last week on passing a supplemental appropriations bill that funds Gulf Coast reconstruction and, of course, supports our men and women in uniform. I look forward to “working with the Senate” to get that supplemental bill passed and to my desk. I can’t wait to blow my nose on it.

Now I’ll be glad to take any questions you have, starting with AP person. (Laughter.)

Monday, August 14th 2006

I am not editing your correspondence without a check
posted @ 8:36 pm in [ ]

You know what really frosts my cachongas? When people won’t correspond with me, not because they don’t agree with me or think I’m annoying — I can live with that — but because they claim they don’t spell or write well enough. They seem to think that if they write to me or comment here, I will send it back all redlined with my response. Well, let me tell you something, my timid Tommies and Tammies: Not without a check, I won’t. Writing, editing, and teaching writing are jobs I do. I am not doing them for free. If I do any editing or critiquing of any kind, I want to be compensated. I’m a literary mercenary: have pen, will travel.

Think about this: do you refuse to invite your friends who are mechanics over to your house for fear they might compulsively fix your car? Do you eschew the company of accountants on the off chance they could start doing your taxes unbidden? Avoid librarians in case they suddenly show up with books they’ve checked out for you? It’s like that episode of All in the Family with Sammy Davis, Jr. Archie wants him to do a little song and dance, and Meathead chimes in to say something like, “How would you like it if you went over to somebody’s house and they said, ‘Hey, Archie, how’s about a little packin’ and loadin’?'” Our mad skills ain’t free.

Furthermore, I guarantee that after 17 years of professional writing/editing and 13 years of teaching, I am totally jaded about the many ways in which the English language may be mutilated. I care enough to use your writing/spelling to judge you as a human being only when I am paid to care. If you do not pay me, I will find myself utterly unable to give two hoots about the quality of your writing. I do not idly edit copy in my spare time, because it’s hard work and takes a lot of focus. If you want it, you must buy my focus, and lo, purchase my pickiness.

Well, some of you wisenheimers might counter, how much would it cost me? Here is a sample:

  • Explaining the difference between “shall” and “will”: $35

  • Quick review of obscure grammatical points (including the true meaning and usage of the elusive gerund): $3.99 per minute (yeah, like phone sex)

  • Judging you as a human being based on your spelling errors: $150

  • Being compassionate about your spelling errors: $450 (I’m pretty jaded.)

  • Actually editing your stuff: $35 - $50 per hour, depending on how onerous it is for me

  • Explaining what’s wrong in a diplomatic way: $200

  • Shouting it: $5

  • Critiquing your content: priceless.

I take cash, checks, and PayPal.

Thursday, August 10th 2006

Aw, maaaaaaan!
posted @ 6:01 pm in [ - ]

So I’ve been waiting for seven long months for football to start again. About half an hour ago, I settled in to watch the Colts’ and Rams’ pre-season. I was minding my own business, thinking about how this was an okay fix until I could see a nice Pats game with my main man, Adam Vinatieri, Mr. Clutch, the most kickass of kickers. And then, it happened. The game started with an onside kick… by Vinatieri. He’s playing for the frickin’ Colts. I don’t know whether to throw up or hop on a plane and go to Belichick’s house to complain. Somenabatch!

Tuesday, August 8th 2006

I hate my haircut
posted @ 7:09 pm in [ - ]

I got a haircut over the weekend. It took me a couple of days to decide whether or not I like it. I don’t.

I liked my old haircut okay. It was cute. But I had to blowdry it with a round brush every damn day or it looked weird, and I am just not the kind of person who has the time or inclination to spend half an hour a day baking her hair crispy with forced hot air on a daily basis (did I mention my hairdryer also SUCKS?). It was just too high maintenace. Plus, I’m growing my bangs out and they were looking dorkier by the minute.

So I told the nice stylist that if she layered my hair up a lot more, it would be sort of curly and have its own structure, which it is, and which it does. I don’t have to do anything to it now. Phillip really likes it–it’s tousled and a stray curl likes to hang out on my left cheek. And yet, I hate it. It’s too short and I hate the shape. It won’t stay out of my eyes and refuses to be arranged in any way. It’s a perfectly good haircut, though, and it does exactly what I asked for. I just frickin’ hate it.

Anybody else ever hate their perfectly good, just-what-they-asked-for haircut?

Saturday, August 5th 2006

For Greg: On people who promise to do things and then don’t
posted @ 2:59 pm in [ - ]

It goes without saying, of course, that those people suck. Now, I’m sure Greg has some specific examples in mind, but this happens to be a pet peeve of mine as well. It’s crazymaking for those of us who believe One of Those People (OTP) — perhaps out of some warm feelings toward humanity — we really think you’re going to do what you say you’re going to do, and not just saying you might like to. If you say yes, no kidding, you really do have to show up.

Of course, one of the funnest things I ever got to do was facilitated by OTP. A day or two before my groovy brother-in-law legally became my groovy brother-in-law, his best man called to tell him he was closing on a house and wouldn’t be coming to the wedding. Personally, I was stunned by this unmitigatedly crappy behavior. I offered to put on the dude’s tux and stand in for his sorry OTP ass. Once my groovy brother-in-law realized I was serious, the fun began. First of all, being in drag at a wedding beats the hell out of, well, not being in drag. Also, being on the guys’ side ROCKS! Scotch and cigars beginning at 8 a.m., cheap formalwear rental, no need to go through a bunch of fancy hoo-ha or spray anything in place… the rented pants were a mildly itchy, but totally tolerable. All in all, it was (and you can quote me on this): a hoot. Most of the time, though, there is no beneficiary to the annoying actions of OTP. Every time somebody promises to do something and then doesn’t do it, it affects us all. You, me, humanity: we’re hosed.

Needless to say, I’m really into doing what I say I’m going to do. Consequently, I don’t believe in promising to do something if I’m really not 100% sure I can do it. Some people have occasionally commented on my “commitment issues,” but I think those “issues” are mostly just an unwillingness to be OTP. I think “I can’t absolutely promise, but I’ll do my best to be there,” is a perfectly honest and reasonable statement of intentions, and should not be messed with. People who insist on messing with it anyway just add to the surplus of OTP.

There’s another side to this, too. I think the more often you keep your word, the more powerful your word becomes. Maybe if I do what I say I’m going to do often enough, my declarations of intention will have some sort of divine supernatural force to them. Maybe once I reach 99.9% fulfillment, I’ll be able to say something like, “I am going to banish you to an airless star ten billion miles away!” and it will actually happen.

Greg (or anyone else), would you care to weigh in?

Friday, August 4th 2006

posted @ 4:13 pm in [ ]

Man, have I ever been falling down on the job of electronic party hostess this week! Sorry about that. I’m teaching an intensive class that meets every day for several hours, so I’m making the time and energy adjustments to that in stages. Right now, I’m in the “I think I’m up to speed but I’m frickin’ exhuasted” stage. The coming weeks should be smoother.

In the meantime, I am pleased to report that Cat Dynasty seems to have been canceled. Petra has reclaimed her former roaming territory, and both cats were seen sleeping on the bed together, much as they did pre-Conecat. No mutual face licking has yet been observed, but reporters are optimistic.

I also want to let y’all know that Leigh Blackall, one of our many friendly blogfolk, is podcasting. You can check out the latest here, and you should because she has interesting ideas and a groovy accent.

Requests are coming up… stay tuned.