Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Wagging the Dog.

How about this? In addition to us having to put up with images of Arnold Schwarzenegger and George Bush having a make up making out backstage of their press conference regarding the S. California fires, FEMA had their own press conference during which they had employees ask scripted questions.

" The Federal Emergency Management Agency, still struggling to restore its image after the bungled handling of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, issued the apology after The Washington Post published details of the Tuesday briefing.T "

Details on what the hell they were thinking here.

Sexy Research Assistant

The story so far:

Someone who has repeatedly flaked on me, to the point of absurdity, suggested dinner. The plan was for Wednesday, but, true to form, he flaked! I'm not sure why he flakes 90% of the time, if he's poorly organized, unable to reconcile some residual feelings for me (and is working through it by strangely suggesting meeting and then flaking at the last minute) or if he's just a rude person. Anyway, here was my response. I've included it in this blog because it'll be a good reference point in the future for what I was doing in late October, 2007.

I'm back from Austin on Sunday. It won't be as fun as it theoretically could be, it's a wedding. In addition to that, I'm in it.


I have to read a poem. Talia suggested that I read the following:

I carry your heart with me(I carry it in
my heart)I am never without it(anywhere
I go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
I fear
not fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)I want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

I carry your heart(I carry it in my heart)

e.e. cummings

I responded with the following:

>I read that one. Unfortunately cannot stomach it as the last time I heard it, it was coming out of Cameron Diaz's mouth, directed at Toni Collette in one of the sappiest, most awful movies I've ever had the misfortune of waking up in front of. God damn you, HBO!

>The scene was during the wedding which, I might add, took place at a jerk chicken restaurant. A jerk chicken restaurant.

>So, rather than risk vomiting (pre-reception party), on your special day and on my new dress, I'd rather not.

>xoxo ali

As for Halloween, I've retired my "sexy cop" outfit and my "sexy nurse" outfit as well as my "sexy dentist" outfit, my "sexy mcdonald's clerk" outfit and my personal favourite, my "sexy certified public accountant" outfit. I'm not dressing up: I've grown to appreciate Halloween for what it is, a reason to eat candy and wear bad and revealing clothes. As I can do that anytime of year, I usually don't celebrate it. What about you?

Friday, October 26, 2007

Preparing Fido

I found this today.

It's a cd of baby noises to help your pet get used to a squalling larval human before the larval human has actually been born.

Imagine sitting around listening to a cd of a crying baby while your dog freaks outs trying to figure out what the hell is going on.

Smoking Cessation Therapy

It seems that companies are now paying for smoking cessation programs for there workers. I found this interesting as my father returned to smoking after having quit for 10 years. He started for a number of reasons, one of them being finding a "smoking buddy" with my now ex-boyfriend. ("Reason # 103 for asking you to move out, you passively encouraged my father to continue smoking!")

These programs, as described in this NY Times article, often include nicotine patches, drugs to ease withdrawal and phone sessions with counselors.

"Spending as much as $900 or so to give a participant free nicotine patches and drugs to ease withdrawal, as well as phone sessions with smoking addiction counselors, can more than offset [the cost]"

I read that and thought about what a phone session with a smoking cessation counselor might be like.

"Hey! It's your smoking cessation counselor. How is everything??"

"Oh fine. I kind of want a cigarette right now."

"Why do you think you want that cigarette?"

"Well. I think... it's the nicotine addiction."

"And why do you think that?"

"Um. I think there's some fairly substantial scientific research to suggest it."

"And how does that make you feel?"

"It makes me feel like I'd like to have a cigarette."

"Where do you think this dependency comes from? Do you think that it might have something to do with what we discussed last session?"

"You mean the time my dog got hit by a car and my parents told me he ran away because I did not clean my room?"


"I'm not sure how that has anything to do with my..."

"Great. I feel like we've reached a breakthrough here. Same time next week?"

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

My Latest Evolutionary Quandary

A strange thing happened last week and it has raised this question for me:

How much of a persons personal situation should be taken into account when judging how to react?


Studies have shown that humans are far more likely to remember faces of those who cheated them than those who did not. This "cheater detection" makes evolutionary sense: If I wish to protect myself from further damage, I better remember their face. Maybe this is also why people hold grudges, are unable to forgive and developed such emotions as frustration, anger as well as the ability to plan ahead.

This need for protection must have also lead to loyalty and perhaps even the tool that so many dictators use: mob mentality. Mind, I am not referring to group selectionism, because it doesn't exist. Mob mentality would be beneficial because you are raiding or attacking a different group together and there is safety in numbers especially when you all receive similar advantages upon being successful. You go and steal women, adding to your gene pool. Chances are, you are already related to everyone in your group* so this has many advantages. New blood introduced into the group and your brother might find a mate, thus passing at least some of your genetic material, not to mention the chance to spread your own genetic material around some, with the women you don't steal.

People search for these mobs, false groups are created, people are constantly looking to belong to something or someone. No one stays in their home towns any more and home towns are much bigger than they ever used to be. It' s no wonder that things like facebook and MySpace are so popular - in the old days, you knew your ex-boyfriend was still working at the soda fountain because you saw him there. Nowadays, the curiosity is still there, but how to go about satisfying it, seeing as you can't just walk passed the shop window? What about Second Life? All the ease of belonging to something with none of the pressure that goes along with it.


So how do identify cheaters when you can't actually see their face or really know anything about them beyond what they have chosen to share with you (which may be a baldfaced lie from them, entirely misinterpreted on your part, half truths, whole truths, mostly truths, believed to be truths but in actuality false, preconceptions, misunderstandings and what is reality anyway?).

All these questions exist in face to face interactions but, true to form, the internet magnifies, aggrandizes and intensifies to absurd proportions. Take for example, written word. It both allows for complete descriptions of emotions and feelings but leaves the door wide open for any interpretation the reader chooses. For the purposes of this examination, let's say the email replaced the letter. It not only replaced it, it created it's own purpose, it's own language, it's own set of etiquette rules. But people write emails now instead of letters. Letters take a long time to be written, sent, read and replied to. They have to be drafted, reread and let's face it, having to find a stamp, an envelope and an address is much more time consuming than hitting the send button. So what we have is a magnification of misinterpretation, simply by reason of the fact that email is faster. This misinterpretation is augmented by the short, sharp nature expected of emails. The composition form of a letter, the use of descriptive language and lengthy material is inappropriate. To borrow from Orwell, we are developing a form of Newspeak.


This brings me to my own issue. How do I feel about a person who may or may not have undisclosed personal issues who has expressed, via several emails, deep and venomous disapproval the decision that Ryan and I have made to get married? Through the email that she may or may not suspect me to have read, she questions Ryan's true intentions and suggests that he has made a very unwise and rash decision for no reason other than his wanting to inflict intense pain on everyone he is close to. She uses members of his family as examples of people he has made miserable and by doing this she avoids any culpability.

In short, she sounds prideful, hurt and angry, but mostly tremendously unhappy and not necessarily because of Ryan. I think about her particular situation: cold, in a trailer, up north, with few friends. The winter is drawing near, it must just be getting colder. She doesn't drive, so she must take the bus to school. It's much wetter up north so that means standing in the rain. She is an older undergraduate student. She has no one to really commiserate with besides her husband and perhaps alienates herself as a matter of principal. She perhaps has made some mistakes and is too proud to admit them, to afraid to appear fallible for some reason.

None of this is revealed in any of her emails: it is all secondary information and conjecture. She doesn't mention herself being miserable at all in the email, her displeasure is expressed instead by her incense and moral outrage at Ryan's behaviour.

It almost feels dishonest and unfair that she is not revealing more of herself in the email. To me she has left the impression of a "cheater" to use the evolutionary psychology sense of the term. Her only mention of herself and her own experience is to assert that she was indeed a much more emotionally mature person as well as much more prepared for marriage at 19 than Ryan is at 26. She is also angered that he brought her experience up at all - claiming that the discussion was not about her, it was about him.

As much as I give people the benefit of the doubt, second chances, third chances, 50th chances, especially when I think about their extenuating circumstances or even just regular circumstances, I can't shake this feeling of dislike for her. I think I regard her, innately, as a "cheater" and someone not to be trusted. Someone who holds values that I find unattractive. This bothers me because is singularly uncharacteristic of me to abjectly dislike someone for not attacking me directly. Especially someone who's opinions bear little or no effect on my own life. Most especially someone I haven't even met. I consider it immoral and against my principles.

So I am in, once again, an evolutionary quandary. My genetic programming is telling me to be annoyed, mistrustful and to dislike her and yet my education, principles and culture are telling me that not only is it a waste of time, it's mean and unfair. How do I reconcile this?

*you're probably related to the next tribe over too, just not as closely - and beyond 1st cousins, the danger of deleterious recessives is as negligible as breeding with a stranger on the street

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Here Come the Warm Jetsons

A few weeks ago, I made this remark to someone:

"I wonder how long it will take before shoulder pads come back into fashion?"

After the word "shoulder pads" I shuddered.

Well, they have hit the runways are featured in the spring collections. Far be it from me to keep an eye on the fashion world, I just couldn't not comment on the fact that it seems that soon, we will all be expected to dress like the Jtson's and that it seems TV shows from the 50's and 60's were absolutely correct about what life would be like in the "distant future" of the 2000s (at least in terms of clothes). Soon our houses will be filled with kidney shaped accessories done in silver and lemon yellow. The electric and hybrid cars will soon go out of fashion - what better way to reduce your carbon foot print than to make no print at all with a hover car! Of course, soon surprisingly humanoid aliens that bear a striking resemblance to a people wrapped in tin foil and duct tape will come and either dominate the earth and enslave us or their presence will become commonplace and they'll move in next door.

I can't wait!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Lists: more odd things

*Waiting on hold for some lackey to talk to me about some cameras and pondering this question:

"Exactly how obnoxious is it to post GPS coordinates on your website's contact us page?"

Lists: odd things

*Every time I go into my bank, the Food Network, on mute is on all the televisions. I think this is strange, but I also couldn't come up with a better option except possibly No Television.

*A friend of Ryan's acted poorly when he told her that we were getting married. I don't want to think about it anymore, yet my mind keeps wondering back to it. I feel like I should rise above it, I know that it doesn't really matter. Perhaps that's the concern - maybe she is worried that she doesn't matter and is trying to change that by behaving badly, to have some effect on Ryan's life, even if it is negative.

*Hubig's Fruit Pies mysteriously appeared in the office and then not so mysteriously disappeared. Well. Except the coconut flavour. Duh.

*I had a long dream last night and woke up with absolute determination to write a letter to the person who the dream was about - they weren't in it, it was a dream about their absence. I've had the dream at least twice before, somehow I wander into my beloved house in Santa Barbara and it's been done up with nice furniture, more loft space and beautiful artwork is on the walls. The house is empty, they are in Bend, Oregon except for one girl I've never met, who lives there now. I'm annoyed that she's there and she's uncomfortable that I'm there. I try and leave a note on the white board next to the 805 Joy-Walk phone but my handwriting or phrasing or words are all wrong and I keep erasing it. I woke up thinking I must write that letter.


"It's awful, but I just can't help it. Whenever I see the Buddha, I think of Rove. We used to call him "Buddha." Karl's lost weight. Still, if you ever pictured him in a diaper, you never forget it."

George W. Bush, talking to the Dalai Lama

Monday, October 15, 2007

Impending Weddings

I went to Sacramento this weekend to spend some time with Ryan's parents. I had a really nice time because he has a really nice, down to earth, strangely normal family. There is obviously so much unspoken love in that family.

I will say this though: it's strange to spend time with people that you know you are going to know for the rest of your life, but you don't know them very well -yet-.
I imagine that the feeling was mutual but possibly even weirder: here is some girl, you've only met once and you're son is planning on sharing his life with her, yet another reminder that your child is not only an adult, but has a whole life away from you.
In other news:

We've gotten as far as creating a guest list and I understand one is supposed to choose "colours" for the wedding. I've chosen peach and aqua (the bridesmaids will be in long sleeve, peach chiffon with aqua sashes and shoes to match) , but I haven't decided whether or not the theme will be "Disneyana" or "Classy."

I think I want a 4 tier cake, with custom made bride and groom dolls on top - I hear you can get them made with actual hair clippings - so they'll actually look like us too!

I'm hoping to have the reception in some sort of cheap, large, church. It doesn't matter what denomination although I like the modern look of Church of Christ churches and it is always nice when they have gift shops - that way, the guests can buy their own mementos of the weddings, in addition to the key chains and refrigerator magnets that I'll give out at the reception from my chair that's been elevated above everyone on risers so that I can feel like the princess I am.

The magnets will be pictures of me and Ryan and Jeeves. Jeeves will be in a little doggy tuxedo and Ryan will be wearing the jersey of his favourite sports team. I haven't decided on what I'll be wearing but it will either be my Tigger sweatshirt with those jeans I love, the ones with the 9 inch zipper or that floor length, floral shirt dress that I got from the JC Penney catalogue.
My hair: crimped bangs and pulled back into a pony tail of course. I want people to remember that despite the bitch I've been planning on behaving like since I was 10 years old and given my Super Wedding Barbie Doll, I'm still the same Christian rock loving, pressed penny collecting, zany, wacky me!

PS. Ryan and I aren't on speaking terms at the moment. He has flat out refused the idea of us leaving the reception in a horse drawn carriage or even hot-air balloon just because the reception is taking place in the back room of the local YMCA!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Internet Wives and Second Life

This is a bit of a disjointed entry that is an effort to preserve information for a paper.

Rather than writing about the Craigslist Goldigger I'm going to attempt to sum up a conversation that I had with Ryan yesterday regarding internet relationships, such as the one exemplified by this man.

The article that I linked to above is the one that started the conversation - it's about a man who spends all his waking hours (between 6am and 2am) living his "Second Life" with his second wife, that is, his internet wife as opposed to his real, legally bound one.

I made a statement that suggesting that his relationship wasn't real because it wasn't based on reality.

But, in fact, a great many "real" relationships aren't actually based on reality. Also, we go through the same emotions and behaviour with online relationships as we would in the non online world - we aren't equipped otherwise. The man in the story claims that he could express things to his internet wife much more easily than to his real wife - he could tell her "anything." So despite the fact that there is no actual bearing on his life, that there is no "risk" involved in expressing himself, people still get emotionally attached to avatars representing people that don't exist.

The emotions are real, the people aren't.

It's the same situation as seeing someone on the bus everyday and conversing with them. You could be anyone, tell them anything and it wouldn't matter.

Then there's this story, which is fodder for a movie.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Good Calories, Bad Calories and Troglodytes.

There is a current backlash towards the backlash towards fat. I first read about it yesterday in an article by Gina Kolata about Gary Taubes' new book "Good Calories, Bad Calories" (Knopf, 2007). Today, again in the NY Times there is an article about how wrong we are in regards to fat intake and whether or not fat is actually bad for you.

Unfortunately, Gina Kolata's article does little to debunk Gary Taubes other than this blurb at the end of the article:

"I'm sorry, but I'm not convinced."

I'm not convinced either and John Tierney's article today did little to convince me either.

"In the case of fatty foods, that confident voice belonged to Ancel Keys, a prominent diet researcher a half-century ago (the K-rations in World War II were said to be named after him). He became convinced in the 1950s that Americans were suffering from a new epidemic of heart disease because they were eating more fat than their ancestors.

There were two glaring problems with this theory, as Mr. Taubes, a correspondent for Science magazine, explains in his book. First, it wasn’t clear that traditional diets were especially lean. Nineteenth-century Americans consumed huge amounts of meat; the percentage of fat in the diet of ancient hunter-gatherers, according to the best estimate today, was as high or higher than the ratio in the modern Western diet.

Second, there wasn’t really a new epidemic of heart disease. Yes, more cases were being reported, but not because people were in worse health. It was mainly because they were living longer and were more likely to see a doctor who diagnosed the symptoms."

First of all, after WWII, we experienced a cultural and economic shift. We went from a country of farmers to a country of factories, corporations and office buildings. Since then, due to a number of reasons, our lifestyles have gone from active to sedentary, from physical labor to sitting at office desks all day. It would make sense that a fattier diet would not result in the same health problems that are prevalent today: we exercised more and thus needed to eat more.

Second, I'm not sure how often Mr. Taubes or Mr. Tierney has tried to catch game using nothing but a wooden stick, but it isn't easy. There is no way we ate meat in the quantities that we do today and when we did catch it, it was shared among family groups of 20-30 people. It's true we do need fats, sugars and salts. But we like them because they were scarce and hard to come by: Our ancestors who craved meat, went out, caught it, received appropriate nutrition and survived. The ones that didn't died from insufficiencies. Why else would we waste the effort? It's dangerous and hard work to hunt, physical labor or "exercise" is required - much easier to sit around eating roots.

Which brings me to another point. The list of "bad calories" that Mr. Taubes has put in his book:

"Bread and other baked goods, potatoes, yams, rice, pasta, cereal grains, corn, sugar (sucrose and high fructose corn syrup), ice cream, candy, soft drinks, fruit juices, bananas and other tropical fruits, and beer."

This list includes yams, potatoes and bananas - some cultures subsist on diets that are primarily made up of these foods. They do not have a prevalence of obesity. Americans, who live on a diet of McDonalds hamburgers, french fries and oreo cookies do. Bread, cereal grains, corn and beer are all things that we have been consuming for thousands of years. Mr. Taubes argument that "we used to eat it before" appears a little thin here - you can't claim that we've been doing it forever so it can't be bad for you and then suggest that something else that we've been doing forever is instead bad for you.

Unfortunately, this is getting a lot of press and it will provide one more excuse for the overweight troglodytes to eat crap and not exercise.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Addendum to Late For Work

I just arrived home, there was a chewed empty bag of Jeeves "Missing Link" supplement on the floor, Benjamin was missing, there was a trail if discarded cartons and bags out into the garden where Benjy lay on the grass chewed but still in one piece. My bed had mud and dust all over it and chewed tissues from the tissue box were strewn over it!


(From my mother)

Late for work

I was 10 minutes late for work this morning. I woke up at 5:15 am, got up and got out of bed and started to walk towards my closet. Something in the corner made me turn my head and I realized that Jeeves was in the corner of my room, in the process of waking up too. He was stretching out his front and back legs while he lay on his side. His eyes were squeezed shut and his mouth was open wide while his tongue curled upwards towards his top front teeth. I thought it was odd that he was even present, because I had left him at my parents house. I sat down next to him and put my arms around his neck. He was warm and soft and sleepy, so he let me. Normally he doesn't like being cuddled, but when he's really sleepy, he puts up with it. I try and take advantage of that when I can.
As happy as I was to see him, I thought it was really strange that he was there. Then I walked over to the closest, he followed me quietly, with his ears and head carried low and his tail wagging, silently. His nails clicked on the hard wood but it was clear he was trying to be soundless. I started to decide what I wanted to wear. I noticed something on the floor - it was one of his toys, which he picked up and then dropped as he noticed something else, also in the closet. I bent down although I was sure it was another toy. It was, in fact, but not one of his. It was one of mine, a soft toy of a Beatrix Potter character, Benjamin Bunny. He had been given to me when I was very small by my aunt Fran. He wore a little brown jacket and a green tam o shanter and had a red handkerchief in his pocket for stealing onions from Mr. Macgregor's garden.
The day before, Jeeves had savagely torn Benjamin's jacket into pieces and dragged him into the back garden at my parents house. But here he was, lying in my closet with his jacket in one piece. Upon closer examination, I noticed that it wasn't actually in one piece, but rather someone had carefully stitched the pieces back together.

I concluded that my mother must have visited me in the night, bringing both Jeeves and Benjamin, after mending Benjamin's coat. How she hadn't woken me or why she had done it was beyond me. It occurred to me that I might even be dreaming but that made no sense. I was up and awake and getting ready for work.

I continued to get dressed and finally went to turn the radio off. I was right on time. And then I saw myself lying in bed still.

Then I rolled over and looked at the clock only to realize that it was 5:57 and I was supposed to be at work in 3 minutes.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Offending Bits

My dog has earned a new nickname.

"Offending Bits"


Because he mauled a cherished stuffed animal. And then Ryan said something about getting rid of "Offending Bits" while eating a wormy apple.