Monday, June 30, 2008

Sunday, June 29, 2008

What did I tell you about Beijing?

Paul Goldberger writes,
"This clever prototype for a city without streets is also an admission that the traditional street-based city doesn’t have much of a future here.'

Also from the New Yorker, a must -read for those interested in the soul of China.

And while you're reading the New Yorker, last week's fiction piece was phenomenal. In additional to the beauty of the story, the piece offers a line filled with meaning, on the "clear link between education and dignity, between the hard, obvious things that are printed in books and the soft, subtle things that lodge themselves in the soul." But that's not the best part of it, so if you have time, read the whole thing.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

That's certainly a problem

"She realized she needed help when her 5-year-old daughter complained of not having enough clothing even though she had a closet full of trendy dresses and shoes."

From the Washington Post.

Nye budt klizmoy

Eerily, I've had the opportunity to introduce my readers to the unusual role of the word klizma, or enema, in Russian discourse. I've been both accused of being a klizma, and asked not to be a klizma. The latter is akin to saying, "don't be a jerk," except that it's more specific... like "don't be a pain" or "don't be so OCD."

Loyal readers, then, would have been less shocked than the general public about this monument. While I don't imagine that it would shock any Russian or anyone familiar with Russian language, nor do I think that a raised eyebrow would be out of place (especially since Russians have eyebrow-raising tendencies to begin with). Those being my expectations, mom's reaction surprised me.

A.: Did you get the article about the klizma?
Mom: Yes, I saw that. You know, that's only one type of klizma--they come in all different forms. You don't see as much variety in the U.S.


A.: You don't think the monument is bizarre?
Mom: Maybe.

Perhaps this kind of explains why the following conversation took place in December in Istanbul:

A.: That's odd-- they're selling enemas in street bazaars?

[Puzzled looks from Kate and Ian]

Kate: That's a hot water bottle.
A.: Are you sure?
Kate: I'm not an expert on what enemas look like, but I think that's a hot water bottle.

By the way, I first came upon a photo of the monument in the Express, with the headline, "Please be a turnip."


In other news, mom has started her seasonal rub-it-in campaign about how there are no good swimming holes in DC, but I think I've already told you that. Last week, she reacted to news of my not being able to come up for the 4th with, "fine, your loss!" Last night, she reiterated that there was nowhere to swim down here.

Honestly, while I would like to have better access to outdoor activities, including beaches, and I certainly do want to see my friends and family, I have no desire to spend a lot of money to wait around the house while my mother takes hours to get her act together to leave the house. You don't have to look far in the blog-- there's an example or two or three practically every time I'm in Boston-- of mom dilly-dallying and wasting time, and making outings many times more complicated than they need to be. Over the holidays this past year, poor Anya couldn't wait to go outside while my mother found some other thing that needed doing inside the house. The night before leaving for China, mom had apparently packed and unpacked her suitcase until 3am.

This has bothered me since I was a small child-- my parents, being nature lovers, would go out to Maine, New Hampshire or Cape Cod practically every weekend-- and it would be this ordeal because they would bring much too much stuff and spend hours and hours packing and unpacking it. They still do it, but as I've grown older, I've become more efficient and less tolerant of clutter (this will surprise anyone who has been to my house, and particularly anyone I've lived with, but believe me-- I've come a long way). With every visit, or vacation together, I find my mother's inability to get up and go without becoming mired in logistics increasingly aggravating.

Which is not why I'm not going up to Boston for the Fourth; but it is why her strategy of appealing to "all the great hiking and swimming" is just not that appealing.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

welcome home

I'd have a welcome home party for my laptop, but the budget for such a party has been blown by the cost of the repair. So instead, I'll just blog a lot... once I remember what I've been meaning to blog about.

Well, first of all, gut reactions (pun intended) to Gracie cat have taken on a cosmopolitan dimension. Last week, she inspired, "Mon dieu, ce chat est gros!"

On an entirely different note, there is something I would like to say to parents with their heads up their asses: you not only nauseate people, you also hurt the economy. I won't rant again about parents who take up entire aisles of stores with their strollers; this is worse: I'm talking about parents who take their sweet time in the supermarket while their kid's dirty diaper revolts everyone who just wants to buy produce. Do you think the rest of us linger and take the time to buy as much produce as we could, given the circumstances? These parents are damaging industry. Head-up-the-ass parenting is unAmerican.

The other day I mentioned this to someone who happens to have kids. She agrees, but says her sister no longer has the ability to smell her kids' dirty diapers. Whatever.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

you have got to be f*ing kidding


quick blog from the library

I'll start by thanking my parents for getting me out of the house this morning. I was enjoying a sluggish morning, following a difficult week, and then I called them, and they inspired me to blog. Since my laptop is currently being repaired, because that fat, hairy little $hit dropped it on the power jack, I had to get off my @$$ and go to the library to do so.

Mom: So, are you coming over for the Fourth?
A.: No, I don't think I'll make it this time. I have to be at work on the third, and tickets on the fourth are exorbitant...
Mom: Can't you miss whatever it is at work?
A.: No. No, I have to be there.
Mom: Don't you have vacation time?
A.: That's not the point. I have an event I have to go to that day.

Mom: Did you get my e-mail?
A.: Not yet, my laptop's in the shop.
Mom: How much are they charging for it?
A.: About $200.
Mom: You can get another laptop for that much.
A.: No, you can't. At least not one like the one I have.


Mom: Have you been riding to work?
A.: Well, I was, but I got two flats on the way home this week, so I need to figure out what's happening.
Dad: The tire burst?
A.: No, seeped. The first time I was pretty close to home; the second, it wasn't flat until after I got home.
Dad: You need to get rid of that tube-- it's not good.
A.: Well, clearly, since it has a tear in it.

This wouldn't be extraordinary, but my dad's predeliction for this type of platitude is as strong as mom's for telling me I should work at Google.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

I was just going to say that

Frank Rich gender-based voting.
More on the gender issue in this campaign.
By the way, I have to come clean: I, myself, have succumbed to sexist language, but I wonder whether it's as bad when it's used ironically? If, in the midst of a snowball fight, while skillfully pummeling an opponent, I tell him he 'throws like a girl;' or, in considering how, when my priorities are work, family/friends, arts, exercise, and staying informed (not necessarily in that order), things like cleaning, (to a lesser extent) cooking, ironing, etc. are not accomplished as much as I would like, I think to myself, 'I need a wife;' is that irony or sexism?

On that note, I'm off to clean the kitchen; then to do yoga; and then to shop for green fruit roll-ups for rice-krispie treat sushi to cater the SeaWorld that we've made out of our vacationing officemate's cubicle.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Hello again

Hello, my friends. I know I've slacked on blogging over the lat couple of weeks. Apparently, I also slacked on calling home, and my mother let me know about it with an angry phone call on Tuesday night.

Mom: What's wrong with you? Why haven't you called?
A.: We talked on Sunday.
Mom: We did?
A.: Yes; is your computer issue resolved?
Mom: Yes, it was fine when I turned it on the next day.

Mom: Why haven't you called?
A.: I've had no time whatsoever. Wendy's here, I've been working a lot...
Mom: Why have you been working a lot?
A.: I just have.
Mom: Will you get to take that time off later?
A.: Not really...

[I really wish mom would stop concerning herself with my vacation time and work time in general. Sometimes I need to work late, sometimes I don't. The situation works itself out without her management.]

Mom: Is it hot where you are?
A.: It's getting better. It was awful over the last few days.

Mom goes on for about ten minutes about how they went to the lake and it was just wonderful. I felt vindicated because I was telling Wendy over the weekend about how one of the drawbacks of this area is that there are no natural swimming opportunities and how mom reminds me of this almost every time she calls over the summer.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

kind of sad but still annoying

My mother calls me at 10:25pm to ask me what happened to her computer. Why does she have Microsoft 8, why is it not free. I tell her I have no idea what she's talking about. We go through a few iterations, after which I come to understand that her browser is giving her problems. She asks me about mine, I tell her I don't use explorer. We have to go over this four times before she's convinced I don't use Microsoft. More. I try to help her, I try to get her to right-click on her toolbar, to hit alt-V, but nothing works. I can't over the phone, I don't really know what's going on. Shrug.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

It's an employer and a search engine-- who knew?

For someone who feels very strongly that her daughter should work at Google, mom doesn't appear to understand what Google can do.

A.: Hello?
Mom: Where are you?
A.: In the supermarket, about to check out.
Mom: How do you find telephone numbers on the internet?
A.: or...
Mom: Yahoo?
A.: Yahoo does have a people finder.
Mom: How do I get to it?

I tell her, she doesn't understand me. Which makes me wonder why she asks me for information over the phone that she won't understand. I say I'll e-mail it when I get home. Which I do, almost without getting caught in the rain. I would have made it if this bitch with a bad haircut didn't cut in front of me in line (well, technically she sneaked in just before I got a chance). She had a full cart. I had a red pepper, some strawberries, and a package of baby bellas. Anyway, I managed to bike to and from work, for the most part between the torrential downpours of the day and around a couple of fallen trees (very sad). Anyway, on the way home, I wondered why mom didn't just plug "find person" into Google. I over-thought it and it almost made my head hurt. Then I got over myself and e-mailed her the links.

counting our blessings

Please take a minute to appreciate living in a free country, unless you happen to be reading this from Venezuela , Russia or Zimbabwe, to name a few. I'm not saying we're perfect, or that there aren't those that have tried to take us in the direction of a couple of those. I'm saying, think about all the crap you don't have to deal with. While you're at it, take a moment to appreciate the abundance of food and water in your life. I'll spare you links on those, they're pretty self-explanatory to anyone whose head hasn't been up his or her @$$, especially over the last few months.

China doesn't quite fit with the two above, but this is a good article.

A few days ago, I posted a link on "what's at stake." Here's more on that.