Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wednesday morning roundup

Wonderful things happen when people pay high, or actual, energy prices. People innovate and improve their towns.

I really enjoy Kathleen Parker's writing, which is why it's a pity when she so oversimplifies things. For example, city dwellers often understand a preference for the company of trees. While you're in New York, check out Central Park, or live dangerously and find some of your fellow New Yorkers outside the city limits. I'm as fake-America as they get, and I won't live under the iron fist of a homeowners' association because I resent just the kind of thing she accuses people like me of embracing without scrutiny.

Meanwhile, really, Ruth Marcus?? Since when is drawing attention to an issue inappropriate?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Phone call

I wrote a week or two ago that mom often calls at the worst possible moments. While it wouldn't be fair to hold that against her, the fact that she does it is still a reality. Don't get between a woman on her fourth round of poison ivy and her zertec. I had it in one hand when the phone rang, had just broken through the child-proof packaging when it rang the fourth time. I was about to pour myself a glass of water but I thought I'd better answer.

Mom: Why didn't you return my call?
A.: I didn't know you'd called.
Mom: Yesterday.
A.: I didn't get the message.
Mom: I didn't leave a message. But I called. How are things?
A.: Fine. How are you?
Mom: Better. The doctor figured out why I was so tired--it was that same infection.
A.: You're on antibiotics now?
Mom: Eye drops.
A.: I'm glad you're feeling better. How's dad? How's dad's car?

I think I was too tired to blog about this after it happened, but I happened to call my parents the day my dad was in a car accident. The front of his car was sideswiped by a truck coming down a hill, not far from his office. I should have blogged it at the time, because I no longer remember in excruciating detail, but I do remember that my mother proceeded to provide a lot of irrelevant information when I was pretty much interested in whether or not dad was okay and whether they were good with dealing with the insurance, the other driver's insurance, etc. It's almost funny--when I tell a story, I get flustered, because mom interrupts to ask for details that are completely irrelevant; when she tells a story, she gets flustered because I interrupt to ask her to spare me the completely irrelevant details.

Mom: It's in the shop. The appraiser should come look at it any day now.
A.: You've been in contact with the other driver's insurance?
Mom: It's funny--Thursday, or maybe Friday, or maybe Thursday... actually, I think it was Friday, or...
A.: Mom, it doesn't matter...
Mom: It does matter! Don't interrupt! I'm not going to talk to you if you keep interrupting.
A., unwrapped Zertec pill in hand: Could. you. just. tell. me. who. called?
Mom: The truck company's lawyer called, acknowledged it was their fault.
A.: Well, that's good.
Mom: I told him it's a wonder it doesn't happen more often, that road being what it is.

Mom always talks too much. By which I'm not talking about volume; I'm talking about providing superfluous information that may or may not be used against her. She does it when she writes complaint letters (read: when she demands that I write complaint letters); she does it when she's trying to ward off an aggressive sales pitch; and she does it in various negotiations and other interactions where less is more. The best response to an aggressive sales pitch is, "no, I'm not interested," not, "no, see, I already have one in a different color." But I digress.

Mom: Anyway, I told our insurance company.
A.: Good, let them deal with it.

Monday evening roundup

I invite my fellow adherents to free market economics to challenge the Farm Bureau on its logic. Farm Bureau: check out those graphs: those industrial farms are polluting a public resource, and the cost of their product should reflect that pollution. If you're saying you don't know why a farmer would continue farming if those costs--of his or her own pollution--were incurred directly by him or her, rather than society at large, then maybe the farmer shouldn't continue. Why should I subsidize meat farmers' pollution? It's my Bay, too.

I have mixed feelings about this victory for truth in (food) advertising. As unnatural foods go, you can do a lot worse than Dutch-processed cacao, and even corn syrup. And since the term "natural" doesn't mean anything on nutritional labels anyway, why does it matter?

Remember that episode of 30 Rock when Liz (thought she) sat next to Oprah on a flight.

The Onion on Sesame Street.

Monday morning roundup

Unemployment in South Africa is really bad.

Fareed Zakaria on Turkey and Brazil.

Here's the other thing about segway tours: do we not have an obesity crisis in this country? Can people not get off the motorized vehicles and walk? What a concept. Similarly, all you jackasses who misuse handicapped parking placards: we live in a city with decent public transportation. If you don't want to deal with the parking clusterf*, take the metro or bus.

Those of you who still haven't checked out Remy's metro song (posted a week or two ago), should. And let me tell you: just in the last few days, numerous people have pulled that idiotic thing where they barely walk into the train and then stop and think about which whey they're going to go, while a line of people behind them hopes to get on the same train.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sunday roundup and ramble

A sliver of transparency and accountability shines through in Iraq.

Sibling rivalry, Shanghai and Hong Kong edition. Meanwhile, Robert Kaplan urges us to pay more attention to China.

What special interests? What backwardness? Political infighting can make cannibalism look good.

Speaking of modern-day horrors: what will our our grandchildren hold us accountable for?

A mostly intelligent parsing of the town hall meeting. See also Working America: Part II. Michelle Singletary has more as well.

Interesting... I'm not a believer in foreign pronunciation of place names. When you're speaking English, just say the word in English.

The Times revisits its Op-Ed pages of yore.

Why do I even subscribe to the Post when they neglected to let me know about Isabel Allende's appearance at the National Book Festival (or about the Festival, altogether)? I would have loved to have heard her presentation.

Apparently, I also missed national singles' week... but I won't miss the opportunity to blog about single issues. I've been meaning to for a while, at least since a few weeks ago, when I was talking to my parents.

A.: Gracie says hi.
Dad: What's she doing?
A.: Sunning in the yard. Now she's talking.
Mom: Well, at least you have someone to talk to.

You'd think that I've heard enough variations on this misconception that I'd let it go, and I did. Until I read about some guy complaining that he doesn't get why he can't find a girlfriend--for one thing, he writes, he's more fun than a cat.

I'm not sure how to say this so that it sticks. I'm also not sure why the Times is obsessed with the the issue. And I wonder whether Kate Zernike will revisit it in her new book. But I digress. I want to clear up some confusion, if I may speak for (many) single women: we don't get cats as a substitute for human companionship. We get cats because we like cats. The two--our singlehood, and our adoption of furry friends--lack a causal relationship. Think about it for a minute: if I could be satisfied with a human companion incapable of intelligent conversation, whose communication skills were limited to "meow=I'm hungry," "meow=I want to go outside," "meow=pay attention to me," I doubt I'd be single. And no, grilling skill is not one of my criteria, but a more varied vocabulary than the above--preferably not vocalized in a high-pitched whine--would be great. Speaking of the settling issue, see Andy Borowitz's "The Good Enough Baby" piece in the New Yorker.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Saturday morning roundup

There's a toilet museum in New Delhi? I wonder whether it showcases the latest Japanese models. But I digress. Sanitation in India appears to be quite the clusterf*.

Did someone say clusterf*? See Afghanistan, where the police beat children with kites. At an event meant to promote warm fuzzies about good governance. Meanwhile, stateside, an ecumenical field trip brings out the worst in some parents.

Whereas our government always functions smoothly. And when it doesn't, elected officials can take it out on the federal workforce.

No amount of marketing is getting Americans to eat our vegetables. Speaking of which, Colbert testified yesterday. I'll post the videos later.

Prepare for an invasion of the stinkbugs.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Thursday evening ramble

We issued a product on Tuesday... and promptly started working on our next project. This morning, we (P. and I) met with our new assistant director, who, at the end of the meeting, said that management was recently advised to "talk about diversity" when starting work with new people.

A.: I'm Jewish, which translates into the following: (1) I talk a lot; (2) I'm obsessed with food; and (3) I have mom issues. Oh, and while we're on demographics, I'm also "single woman with cat," and I have a gay husband.

Speaking of demographics, I was thinking of Petula Dvorak's column, and how out of touch she is with the whole "one of your cars is a hybrid and the other is an SUV" business. How about, one of my cars is a Corolla (purchased used) and the other is a bicycle, but I don't judge people with SUVs, particularly because my friends who have them are kind enough to help me move furniture?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wednesday evening roundup

It's a good week for the Onion. See here and the third item here.

The explanation here just cracks me up:
Dr. Nick Neave who led the study as part of a larger project about attraction and movement. Neave said, "Women are spending money on high heels, which can be dangerous, presumably to make themselves look good and add to what nature has given the..."
Um, women don't wear heels to impress men; women don't generally dress based on what men would think. We are aware that the vast majority of straight men couldn't care less.

Wednesday morning roundup

I can't believe some people's sense of entitlement. You deserve to park in a handicapped spot sometimes because you're your handicapped husband's sole caregiver? It's not about merit; it's about preserving those spots for the people who need them most. I'll defer to Dennis Leary's inimitable words on the topic:
I'm an asshole (He's an asshole, what an asshole)
I'm an asshole (He's the world's biggest asshole)

Sometimes I park in handicapped spaces,
While handicapped people make handicapped faces.
I'm an asshole (He's an asshole, what an asshole)
I'm an asshole (He's a real fucking asshole)

Pearlstein checks in on the private sector and finds a healthy pulse.

This worm-in-the-eye story is so creepy that I dreamed about it. Speaking of worms--apparently, they're what's for dinner.

The swiffer turns out to be quite versatile. I'll sure use it next time I need to beat someone.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tuesday morning roundup

One option in Afghanistan--not an uncommon one, if you want more opportunities for her--is to raise a daughter as a boy.

And then there's Iraq.

Maybe instead of red herring threats to our justice system, we could get enraged about what's actually happening.

Petula Dvorak always kind of annoys me, but she gets the spirit of the Rally to Restore Sanity 90 percent right in her characterization of "the rest of us":
The ones with an SUV and a hybrid in the garage; a meatless dinner on the table and leather shoes on the feet; loving fiscal responsibility but totally into equal rights. The hipster parents rolling in their Swagger Wagon minivan. Practical and realistic, but chill and not righteous.

In the Washington area, a lot of us fall into this category. And when we turn on the television or read the blogs -- especially the ALL CAPS comments -- we're not seeing ourselves.

We see perennially tanned and coiffed women from out of town, spangled in red-white-and-blue sequins, gathering on our nation's Mall to "restore" an America no one is really sure ever existed.

Or we see the protesters in gas masks and distressed Mad Max costumes, beating drums, not showering, burning incense and unsure what, exactly, the International Monetary Fund does. But it's seriously evil, dude.

We watch as our nation's front lawn, airwaves and frequencies become the showcase and playground for extremists.

And we're fed up. Not all of us want to burn the Koran or trample the honor of those killed on Sept. 11. We get that our politicians aren't saints but don't believe all of them are crooks. We don't believe that political and moral beliefs only come in pre-packaged sets. And we understand that everyone who doesn't think like us isn't automatically suspect.

On his show, Stewart suggested the perfect sign to bring to the protest: "I am not afraid of Muslims/Tea Partiers/Socialists/Immigrants/Gun Owners/Gays . . . but I am scared of Spiders."

Monday, September 20, 2010

Monday evening roundup

Your guide to sustainable and safe seafood.

Does a diminutive nickname make you a more terrifying drug lord?

So ironic:
In a public opinion poll conducted for the 200th anniversary of the U.S. Constitution, nearly half the respondents believed that the Constitution contains Karl Marx’s phrase “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”

Monday morning roundup

Frustrated, homeless Haitians are availing themselves of refugee camp suggestion boxes.

The UN questions its continued relevance.

Human rights in Russia are not incidental to any other aspect of that country's future, or to U.S.-Russia relations.

As the chasm grows between China's rich and poor citizens, the former are availing themselves of bodyguards.

It takes a village to help your neighbors. Or you can just deport them, if you're interested in whatever's easier.

The main point of this article is spot on--parents (and everyone else) are bad at risk assessment. But buying organics is a bad example of the silly things people do for the cause of longevity. There are lots of reasons (environmental ones, for example) to buy organic. Oh, and the article neglected to mention that eating can be up there, along with driving or riding in a car, in the list of risky things to do.

Apparently, if you don't want your car towed in DC, park it next to a fire hydrant, within a tow zone.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Saturday morning roundup

If the poor want more political clout, they're going to need to stop being poor.

Okay, but not every family whose loan modification application gets botched will benefit from a profile in the Post. Maybe Chase could f* up less before it comes to that point?

Who'd have thought that a mother's education level impacts the health of her child?

A f*ed up fashion show from FP.

I hope everyone turns out for the Rally to Restore Sanity. I know I'll be there.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Thursday morning roundup

Remy's new rap takes on the Metro. Welcome to my life. I know you're interested in more toilet pictures.

Brooks on American history.

The chocolate genome is well behaved.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Wednesday morning roundup

Tigers are endangered. So is krill, with implications for the food chain.

A symbol of agricultural policy gone wrong by any other name is just as disgusting.

Political (and other) cybersquatters are making mischief with their opposition's domain names.

Marcus, Milbank, Dowd, and Parker on tea and conspiracy theories.

Someone tell my mom, and cue Sir Mixalot: big butts are in. And you won't find this in the article, but if you're not up for padded underwear or plastic surgery, I have your way forward: squats, people. You think I was born with a butt that could dent a moving SUV? Do some squats.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tuesday morning roundup

Why bother with the peace process when Baywatch is on.

The FDA looks back on its glory days of standing up to industry and defending the public interest.

Anne Applebaum makes the case for austerity.

Really, Newt G.?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Monday evening roundup

Check out Kurtz's very misleading use of statistics. First, he talks about percentages by political affiliation; then, percentage of people who get their news from various sources (by news source). Then--what the heck does "twice as liberal as the general public" even mean?

Let's ruin OPEC's birthday.

Many employers prefer hiring from big, less expensive schools.

Monday morning roundup

Italy's "weak institutions and tolerance for rule bending" contribute to its brand dilution as the source of high quality textiles:
But what seems to gall some Italians most is that the Chinese are beating them at their own game — tax evasion and brilliant ways of navigating Italy’s notoriously complex bureaucracy — and have created a thriving, if largely underground, new sector while many Prato businesses have gone under.
I'm not a political strategist, but cowering doesn't seem like a good campaign strategy.

Some people have no sense of irony:
"...others reflected anger about illegal immigration — “Uncle Sam wants you to speak English,” read one — and the planned Islamic cultural center near ground zero, which many Tea Party supporters have rallied against. “Obama Creates Jobs at Ground Zero,” read one sign, over a picture of a mosque.

Speaker after speaker complained about portrayals of the Tea Party movement as extremist.

But signs in the crowd did not shy away from outright anger. “By ballot or bullet, restoration is coming,” read one, held over a yellow “Don’t Tread on Me” flag....

“Undocumented worker” read one, over a picture of the president. “We don’t want a Kenyan reject,” read another."

If only I lived near a river...

Thank you for the kind feedback on the photos I posted earlier.

Here's another picture of gargantuan me, this time standing by the river that I don't have four blocks from my house. I'll add more later.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

I could have been more patient

It's not mom's fault that Sunday night is the worst possible time to call me.

My goal every Sunday--one rarely achieved--is to get my laundry in at a reasonable hour, so I can dry and put it away at a reasonable hour. And then go to bed at a reasonable hour. But I won't put my laundry in until I've done everything else--cook, garden, clean, etc.--note, I am not pretending that I am working on the cure for cancer as well. But I am engaging in a variety of necessary, even if not beneficial to society, activities, and ones that result in dirty clothes and dishcloths. So by around 7pm, I'm usually failing miserably in terms of getting everything done. And the failure is stressing me out, and I need to get busy with my chores rather than talk to someone.

I didn't mind that mom called, per se. It was when she started to waste my time that I got testy.

Mom initially relayed the entire Verizon saga. Then we talked about something else (and I managed not to say, "I thought about getting you something at the Art Walk, but you probably would have just complained, so I didn't.") Then she started complaining about Verizon again.

A.: Mom, why are you telling me how evil they are? Until you call them and figure out what the bill is about, there's nothing else to be done.
Mom: I was hoping you'd call, but fine. I'll call first.
A.: I can call them. That's not a problem. [This may be the craziest week ever, work and otherwise, but I'll find time].
Mom: I just can't believe them! They didn't even...
A.: Mom, I understand.
Mom: Listen! Have patience!
A.: But I've already heard this. Several times.
Mom: Be patient!
A.: Sigh.
Mom: I could just pay them and be done with it. That would be easier.
A.: But you don't have to. Start by calling them. Telling me isn't going to help.

Now, by the time I've done all these things, and also, hopefully, done something fun, I want to sit on my butt and read or watch 30 Rock or something. At that point, I'd be somewhat more patient with regard to a call from mom. But not with a talkative roommate.

Sunday morning roundup

As Russian authorities crack down on activism--under the auspices of protecting intellectual property--Microsoft is forced to pick a side. But I have another question: has the Russian government learned nothing from the recent fires? How short-sighted is it to invest in pollution, without considering the long-term political (as well as environmental) consequences?

And then there's Egypt.

Anti-corruption efforts in India slowly gain ground, or at least become less deadly.

A sting operation reveals a crazy cross-border smuggling arrangement.

The changing nature of prostitution. (No, I didn't follow the Economist's discussion on the topic).

Frank Rich finds cause for hope in the political environment. His assessment is insightful; Maureen Dowd's is annoying. On a local level, sales of political merchandise in DC only tell part of the story.

Nicholas Kristof on the interfaith mood. Ted Koppel says stop abetting the enemy.

Debunking the science of neurosexism.

The Times is remiss not to talk about Jordan Marsh, which was demolished years before. One of my favorite memories as a kid had nothing to do with shopping--even though my mom certainly loved her Filenes Basement--and the ones in DC don't come close. Filenes and Jordan Marsh used to put on amazing, animated window displays for the holidays, and there would be lines out the door. Now mom loves her Christmas Tree Shops and Ocean State Job Lots (and Building 19s and whatever dollar store).

Rhymes with Orange on Gracie's home gym.

As someone whose last three vacations were partly funded by frequent flier miles, I can't agree with this call to arms against loyalty programs. I agree that the segmentation is over the top and pointless; still, it's not like it costs anything to join. Just shut up and collect the points.

Toilet signs from around the world.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Yoga in the park

Some of you have suggested that I post pictures of myself on this blog in order to provide a frame of reference for mom's nagging me about my weight. I've long resisted these suggestions out of the belief that my weight wasn't the point; mom's commentary was the point, regardless of my actual shape. However, as I've come to believe that mom's commentary is more amusing in light of my actual shape, I am posting some pictures that P. kindly took. You can see for yourself the gut so enormous that stops all conversation, and the butt so massive it's a wonder it fits through doorways.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Friday evening roundup

Ernessa, I really wish I could make it to your book signing, but I'm busy all next week but Thursday. Hope it goes well!

Latin America's doing okay.

Big food really is energy intensive.

The luxury market in Japan is changing.

Fortune stops short of exposing Trader Joe's business model.

Curves are in this season.

I deliberately left my house a bit later this morning to stick around work less, because I'd be going to a friend's happy hour... and then I felt like crap and opted to go home. The saddest part about that is, I'm really in the mood for a glass of wine, and it's just kind of pathetic to drink at home.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Thursday evening roundup and ramble

Had you ever heard of Cel-Ray?? I had not.

I find this sanctimonious call-out of part-time foodies unhelpful. Could each side please take the smugness out of food politics?

I found myself telling a few people at work mom stories. Not intentionally. It just kept coming up in conversation. I told my supervisor, who’d seen the name of my blog on my picasa page when I showed him some Istanbul pictures (he's thinking of going). His response: “um, you’re fairly tiny.” I also told a friend I’d run into in the hallway, who, upon hearing the stories, asked me whether my mom was first generation. When I told her she was Russian-Jewish, she said it all made sense. She then told me of a (Russian-Jewish family’s) baby shower she’d attended, where the parents would, perhaps every thirty minutes, interrupt whatever else they were talking about to point out that their daughter was fat.

Later in the day, I nearly tripped over myself getting up from a chair in my supervisor's office, as one of my four-inch heels was caught under the bottom of the chair.

A.: Why can I not stand up?
P., smirking: Because of your stomach fat?

Thursday morning roundup

Although hatemongering may be much more fun, and easy, a 9/11 widow opts for a more constructive way forward.

Contentious successions in Egypt and North Korea.

This is one of those days when I'm too tired to bike to work, but the alternative is washing my hair here, and biking to work (and washing my hair there) is the path of least resistance.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

those who don't learn from history...

A.: I told you this would happen.
Mom: On what grounds! How dare they?!
A.: They count on the fact that most people would sooner pay them than fight the bill, either because they're busy or confused or intimidated.
Mom: We need to take this to Call for Action! I will not let go of the whole history...
A.: Okay, first, call them and get them to drop the charges. Then go on your crusade for consumer justice.
Mom: Never have I encountered a company as shameless as Verizon!
A.: Every time you change utilities, something like this happens. They see it as an opportunity to screw you over.
Mom: We'll write letters.
A.: Call. them.
Mom: Tomorrow. I'm too tired now.
A.: Of course tomorrow.

Wednesday evening roundup

The Post would do well to point out that while the FDA is close to deeming genetically altered salmon as safe as all farmed salmon, all farmed salmon is nasty.

An insightful look at the burning of religious symbols.

Don't tell mom, but apparently, having a fat girl is a failure.

L'Shanah Tovah

As a nation, we can't compete on price on compact fluorescents.

China's globalized economic growth encounters hostility.

Daylight Savings Time and Yom Kippur aren't mixing well in Israel.

I really like the last line of this article on interfaith families. In many ways, to be Jewish mirrors the "we're not confused; we're complicated" statement.

Are we on the verge of a revolution in less frustrating (and more environmentally friendly) packaging?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

On settling

Yesterday's letter to Carolyn showcased some pretty twisted logic, but
the same writer got even crazier today. And made me think, "I guess that's what happens when you settle."

I thought Paul Rudnick's column was funny, but that it was kind-of unfair to people without legs, who deserve better than being grouped with those other losers.

Reflections on the weekend

In case you were wondering, the Google translator defines "плотная" as:

* dense
* thick
* massive
* solid
* stout
* gross
* impermeable
* burly

A friend this morning wrote me with the following:
"I was telling my mom and my aunt yesterday about your mom's obsession with your weight after reading your post and my aunt said "That girl who came over the other day? She's so skinny!"

Tuesday evening roundup

Japanese men are taking e-dating to a whole new level.

Where not to stay in Rome.

How not to alienate your customers and infuriate the general public. That refers to a railway company, but mortgage lenders and such might also take note.

River cleanups can succeed. But it's harder when the culprit is farm waste... so eat responsibly.

And I hadn't even read this piece about maximizing one's search hits when I blogged about Lady Gaga the other day.

Tuesday morning roundup

US-China relations update: relations between our respective film industries are warmer than those between governments and billionaires.

Anne Applebaum on Europe's new regional divide. Meanwhile, Russians are freaking out over the buckwheat shortage.

I'm sure BP wishes it had spent less on lobbying to avoid safety measures and such, and more to implement them. Well, the egg industry isn't learning from that experience.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Is mom right on both counts??

(1) Most people are ineffective at gauging their own weight.

(2) In the course of our hike the other day, Jay said to me--I don't remember in what context--"OMG, you are Liz Lemon!" Well, I just heard Jenna tell Liz that she had to stop telling other people how to live their lives.

Emphasis where it's due

We need to remember that there are two themes to this weekend: I am not just fat; I'm also cold. As such, I wanted to share the story of another woman whose mother branded her 'cold'.

Has mom found that I've put on weight?

Last night, when I said/hugged mom 'goodnight':

Mom: You've gotten very... solid.

This morning, when mom insisted that I try on a blazer (again)

Mom: You've certainly put on weight.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Sunday, continued

Dad: Why is Lady Gaga called Lady Gaga?
A.: How do you know about Lady Gaga? I barely know about Lady Gaga.
Dad: Bill O'Reilly talks about her. He says she's a genius.


A.: Jay likes her, too. I don't know much about her--only that she doesn't like pants. I've heard her music at the gym, and I knew it was her because the instructor named her when the song came out. I guess she's okay.
Dad: He says she could be the next Madonna.
A.: [Shrug]

Mom: Where are you going?
A.: JP.
Mom: As long as I don't have to drive there.
A.: R.'s picking me up. I'll take the T back, you'll just have to drive to NH.
Mom: They both live in JP?
A.: M. lives in JP; R. lives in Brookline.
Mom: I won't live in Brookline. Too many Russians.

M.: How's your mom?
A.: She's very concerned about my belly fat. Says it's the worst kind of fat.
R.: Did you have to get an extra seat on the plane?
A.: It's a wonder I fit in your car.


A.: You're a doctor; need I be concerned about my belly fat?
R.: I don't see any belly fat.
M.: You need to put a picture up on your blog; otherwise, people are not going to appreciate the absurdity, given that you're not actually overweight.

A.: Mom, I'm waiting for the train now. I'll call you when I get to Reservoir, should be at NH just before you if you leave the house around then.

I called from Reservoir maybe fifteen minutes later.

I waited a while at NH, started to wonder whether mom might be confused about where to get me. I was about to call when I saw the car.

Mom: Hi.
A.: Hi.
Mom: Waiting long?
A.: A bit. Did you leave when I called?
Mom: We finished having our tea. Is that okay?
A.: I'm not in a position to argue. [Not out loud: it's okay on a beautiful day like this; when it's five degrees out, I'm not taking the T; you're coming to get me whereever I am--and you'll have brought that on yourself, because you're neither willing to loan me the car, nor to leave the house in time to keep my extremities from freezing off]. Did you already have dinner?
Mom: Yep. We thought you wouldn't be back for dinner.
A.: Um, you specifically asked me, and I specifically told you I would. More than once. But whatever, it doesn't matter. I mean, it does, from the perspective of your not listening, but not from the perspective of dinner.
Mom: We'll find something for you to eat.
A.: I'm not worried about that.

Can we let it go for ten minutes?

Mom: That shirt was loose on me. Look how tight the straps are on your shoulders.
Dad: Your shoulders have grown. You've been lifting weights, and your shoulders are more toned.
Mom: Her belly! Her belly has grown!
Dad: Whatever. The point is, you've gotten more toned.
Mom: Her belly!
Dad: Whatever. She's active...
Mom: No! A belly's the unhealthiest thing to have!

Mom, in contrast, is the paragon of warmth

Mom: I understood--it was confirmed with the dog [that came up to me]--dogs love me. Dogs find that I'm full of positivity and warmth. This has always been the case. Bees, too. They don't sting me. They accept me as one with nature.

[Birds chirping]

Mom: Do you hear the birds? Are there birds where you are? Do they chirp?

Who knew

Mom: Did you know that Ella's leg got crushed?
A.: No! What happened??!
Mom: Well, you know, she has two girls--you know, she absolutely adores those two girls--and did you know that the girls...
A.: Mom, what happened to her leg?
Mom: I'm getting there!

She eventually gets there, and then goes on about a friend of hers--an old family friend--and eventually arrives to the following:

Mom: She keeps suggesting that I hook you up with her son, but I keep telling her that I wish him better than that. You would destroy him in an instant.
A.: ??
Mom: You're cold, you're harsh, you're rude, and you're entirely without warmth. Given the opportunity to 'choke off one's neck,' you'd do it. You think you know everything, and that you do everything best, and every time someone doesn't do that thing the way you do, you judge them. You deem them inferior.

This is especially fascinating to me because I'm not really good at most things. I'm not sure what things I'd judge people on. I have no musical/artistic/creative talents, nor am I good at anything practical (computer/home/car repair). What am I going to judge people on? What, exactly, are people going to fall short on, as far as I'm concerned? Sure, I can write, and believe that being able to string two sentences together is a basic skill, but I don't go around skewering people for their writing skills (or lack thereof). Is mom projecting again? Where does she get this $hit?

Mom takes a stab at subtlety

I'm sitting here, minding my own business, reading the paper, when mom pops in.

Mom: A., I have a question for you... you've clearly put on weight since the spring. Why do you think that is.
A.: ??
Mom: Is it because it's been hot out, so you've been moving less?

Moving less? I bike, on average, fifty miles a week over three days; I lift weights, with cardio drills in between, another three days; my "rest" day normally entails yoga and/or yardwork. So, no, I have not been moving less.

A.: I've been moving plenty.
Mom: I mean, your physical appearance has clearly changed and you're bulkier.
A.: [shrug]
Mom: Maybe because it's the summer?
A.: I doubt it.
Mom: You've changed. Your stomach has gotten really big.
A.: [shrug]

In case you've forgotten, my stomach was already enormous in the spring.

last night

Jay: There's nothing wrong with your stomach. Really. I keep looking at it just in case I missed something, but nothing turns up. You do have a bedonkeydonk.
A.: Then WTF?
Jay: Do you have to ask?

earlier yesterday

Jay: Well, I was looking at our Panama pictures the other day, and you were emaciated. Twinkie thin.
A.: Yes but that ship has sailed. A while ago.

I was twenty-four when we went to Panama.

Jay: I'm just saying. Not suggesting emaciated is good.
A.: For better or for worse, this is what I look like. This is my body shape. If I were going to shed pounds, I would have shed them this summer without even trying. But I didn't, which means this is the body I am going to have to live with.
Jay: You're. Not. Fat.

Saturday, September 4, 2010


Mom's friend: So, what are you working on now?
A.: [Explain what I'm working on]
Mom's other friend: She's all grown up.
A., not out loud: [Ya think?]
Mom: Yes, she's always done her own thing and come out okay... except...
A., to Jay: I know what's coming: she can't talk about my career without talking about how my degree in psychology was a complete waste and big mistake.
Mom: What?
A.: Psychology.
Mom: Yes! Exactly! And do you know how much that degree cost??
Dad: [Says a few things in defense of the field of psychology]
Mom's friend: Do you think it's helpful to what you're doing now?
A.: Absolutely.
Mom's other friend: Really?
A.: Absolutely.

Earlier, when mom has me try on various thing she bought at an estate sale

A.: Eh.
Mom: You need to go on a fast.
Jay: You need to get this taken in here. [Pause] Could I be more your gay husband?

One of mom's friends is really, really annoying.

Mom's annoying friend, indicating a New Yorker cartoon: When you have a minute, would you explain this drawing to me?
A.: It's a NYer cartoon; you're kind of supposed to not get it.


Mom's annoying friend's wife: I still remember, many years ago, you were packing for college, and your mom tried to convince you that one box of something would be enough...
A.: Now it's so the other way around. She's constantly trying to stick me with crap.
Mom: You make me want to vomit.
A.: [Shrug]
Mom's annoying friend: What's changed?
A.: I've learned that less is more. I don't want to fill my house with crap.
Mom's annoying friend: You should have bought a bigger house.
A.: [Shrug]


I opened the door to the hall closet area, in search of some cookies to put on the table for tea.

Jay: What the shit?? Every door in this house opens to more storage! There was a hallway but they turned it into storage.
A.: C'm'ere, you have to see this...
Jay: I'm afraid...

[A. opens another door]

Jay: What the f*???
A.: I know, right? Did I show you the dog food? Follow me into the kitchen.
Jay: [Shrug] At least she only spent seventy cents on it.
A.: Let's take a trip to the basement...

Jay: Is this the Seige of Leningrad all over again?
A.: I know they lived it, but it's time to move on.

I don't mean that meanly. I know it sucked. But it really is time to move on.

anyone else want to add their two cents?

Mom insists that I try on a blazer.

Mom: You're fat! You should fast!
A.: [Shrug]
Mom: I fit into that not ten years ago.
A.: [Shrug]


Mom's friend: You know what it is? Your face is rounder. There's more stuff around your face.
Mom: Not just around her face!
Mom's friend: Yeah. You've gotten more solid. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Cold, unfeeling...

Mom: I'm calling the ___s.
A.: [Sigh].
Mom: They're wonderful people.
A.: I'm not disputing that. I'm just tired.
Mom: They love you.
A.: Mom, it's not personal; I'm just not up for a big social gathering. I actually thought we were in agreement on that.

Five minutes later

Mom: Oh, we have so much food. I'm calling the ___s too.
A.: [Sigh.]
Mom: They care about you.
A.: Mom. I have nothing against your friends. I care about them, too. I'm just tired.
Mom: I'm more tired.
A.: It's not a contest.
Mom: They're wonderful. All our friends love you, for some reason.
A.: They're entitled to their feelings.
Mom: You're such a jerk. I would be grateful.
A.: I am. I just don't need to see them all tonight.
Mom: You're so cold, unfeeling, [word I don't know], [other word I don't know].
A.: What does that mean?
Mom: It means... you think you know everything better than everyone else.
A.: What does that have to do with anything?
Mom: I know you'll fight me on this, but you're just so harsh and without warmth.
A.: Why would I fight you on this? When have I fought you on any accusationsagainst my character? It's not worth my breath.
Mom: Fine! Be that way.
A.: I am.

I got a 'Hagrid Hair'

Mom: Your hairstyle... it's like that guy in Harry Potter.
A.: What guy in Harry Potter?
Mom: The one with all the hair.

Saturday morning

Mom: What time are you getting back?
A.: I don't know. Do you need me back at a certain time, before [family friends] get here [at 5ish]?
Mom: No. But what time are you getting back?
A.: I. don't. know.
Mom: Why the tone?
A.: Because you've asked me already, and I've answered the question.
Mom: Why don't you know?
A.: Mom!
Mom: I don't understand why you can't decide right now what time you'll get back.
A.: Because I don't want to operate my weekend hike on a schedule.

Mom: I don't understand how he knew.
A.: ??
Dad: She's talking about the movie.

We watched "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" last night. The only way I was going to watch it and get it back to Netflix was to bring it here. And I thought my parents might enjoy it.

Mom: The father. How'd he know the baby was going to age backwards?
A.: He didn't.
Mom: He knew something.
A.: He knew the baby was ugly/funny-looking.
Mom: All babies are ugly/funny-looking.

At least she's consistent. She has told me that I was hideous as a newborn.

A.: Most don't make you recoil. There was clearly something not right about this one.
Mom: I think he knew.
A.: Okay.
Mom: And how did he know where to take him?
A.: He didn't.
Mom: I think he did.
A.: I'm not going to argue with you about your interpretation, but I also can't explain it to you.

I'd somehow forgotten the realities of watching a movie with my mother. There were lots of "why" questions during and after.

Mom: I got some great dishwashing liquid at the dollar store. I bought several bottles--I can give you some to take home. Oh, wait--you can't carry them on.
A.: Thanks, but I'm not going to travel with dishwashing liquid in any case, mom.
Mom: I don't know what you do without all these great stores.
A.: [shrug]

I did not say:
(1) pay thirty cents more for less watered down dish liquid;
(2) buy dish liquid on sale at one of the many stores within walking distance;
(3) get in my car to drive to the dollar store to pay a dollar for dish liquid.

Early yesterday

Mom, extending a slice of peach: Here, try this.
A.: No, thank you.
Mom: Just try it.
A.: I don't want it, mom.
Mom: What's the harm, just try it!
A.: (1) I'm stuffed; and (2) I just brushed my teeth.
Mom: Big deal! Brush them again.
A.: I don't want to eat anything right now, much less something that's going to taste like toothpaste.

Last night, after dinner

Mom: Have a peach!
A.: No, thanks, mom.
Mom: What's wrong with peaches?
A.: I'm just really full. I might have one later.
Mom: They're good.
A.: I believe you.

Friday, September 3, 2010

heard ya the first few times

Dad: You look less tired than you did last night.
Mom: But she has gotten very solid.
Dad: ??
Mom: You know--she used to be very thin, and now she's solid.


Mom: What is with your stomach?
A.: I had a meal. My stomach expands when I eat.
Mom: [Shakes head in disbelief]

still solid after all these years

Mom: Have you... put on weight?
A.: [Shrug]
Mom: You've gotten... solid.
A.: Solid?
Mom: You know... solid. ["plotniya" was her exact word. The literal translation is something between "solid" and "dense"]. I mean, you used to be thin. And now you're solid/dense.
A.: [shrug]

Friday afternoon roundup

More on what some language have to express. I don't know whether y'all checked out Ian Frazier's article about Siberian prison camps, but he talks about the animism he sees in the Russian language. I don't know if it's that, but he has a point: it's a very active language. Nothing's over "done," really; a more common construction is that a pro-dropped 'they' do whatever it is. But animals do get genders, usually, and you would say, about an insect, that "someone" rather than "something" bit you.

Alas, as suspected, Christwire is satire. That only makes it slightly less hilarious.

Crisis: a gallon of milk

I got some milk this morning--we stopped at the market after our walk--and I'm still hearing about it.

We were in the checkout line when she first noticed it. I mean, she knew I was getting milk, but she balked at the size.

Mom: That won't even fit in the fridge!
A.: Sure it will.
Mom: It will put too much pressure on the shelves!
A.: What??
Mom: It's too heavy.
A.: Your year-old, state-of-the-art fridge can't handle a gallon of milk?
Mom: What are you going to do with so much milk?
A.: Make oatmeal. Besides, I'm not the only one in the house who drinks milk.

We got home. I put it in the fridge.

Mom: You're going to break the shelves!
A.: No, I'm not.

Periodically, every time she opened the fridge, mom would say, "I can't believe you got that much milk! Why get so much milk??"

Then, mom noticed that it was 1 percent milk, and all hell broke loose.

Mom: What? I'm going to spill it down the drain!
A.: Could you let it go, mom?
Dad: You were going to take a nap, T.
Mom: Can you imagine the level of derangement that one must attain to be drinking reduced-fat milk??
Dad: Would you stop slamming other people's taste? If she likes it, let her drink it.
Mom: She doesn't like it! She drinks it because it's politically correct! [continues to rant as she walks away]

there's more

me (on IM): so be on the lookout for gargantua when you pick me up tomorrow
have to go in a minute, volunteered to sweep the yard

mom: is he picking u up?
a.: yeah
mom: how are things with his boyfriends?
a: boyfriends?
mom: I mean boyfriend, whatever
mom: I meant boyfriends in general
a.: I don't think he has one right now
mom: oh, well. lots of people don't have a boyfriend.
mom: do you?
a.: no
mom: do you know why? you're very business-like. you emit no warmth.
you're all seriousness.
Jason: You are very serious.
mom: you're not warm, and you think you know everything better than everyone else, which is very intimidating.
a.: did you find me the broom, mom?

early afternoon madness

We're having coffee. Mom asks whether we should go for a walk, asks whether it's going to rain. She turns on the weather channel, and then continues to try to talk about something else.

A.: Mom, I can't hear you over the TV.

Mom takes a few minutes, trying two different remotes, to turn it down. It's still kind of screaming. The commercial ends, weather comes on, but I still have no idea what the weather is going to be. I get up and check accuweather, and see that Jay has IM'd me about plans for tomorrow. I tell mom that the rain is supposed to start at 5pm, and write back to Jay. The phone rings.

A.: Mom, it's [your timeshare]. Do you want me to get it?
Mom: A., would you get the phone?

Meanwhile, the TV is screaming. I get the phone. I ask mom to mute the TV. It's still screaming.

A.: Hello? Hello?

Mom finally manages to mute the TV.

Mom: That phone doesn't work.
A.: How was I supposed to know? [and why is it still there??]
Mom: Check the caller ID.
A.: It's [your timeshare].
Mom: A.! I needed to talk to them!
A.: Well, I didn't know the phone didn't work!
Mom: I guess I'll call them back. Here, hold the coffee.
A.: Um? Could we put it down?
Mom: It's hot.
A.: ??
Mom: Just hold it.

Mom: Okay, it's fine.


Jason: You there?
me: hey
Jason: What are you thinking? Hike? Ice cream?
me: sounds good
blue hills?
Jason: Sure. Prolly in the afternoon so the storm passes?

me: sorry. coffee making crisis
blue hills or did u have something more exotic in mind?
Jason: Well I had thought Monadnock but I think it'll be too wet and too much bother. Blue Hills is good--we can choose our duration there.
me: Monadnock's cool too. whatev.
see, you're a bad influence on me
Jason: Why??
me: "whatev"
Jason: Oh, please. Whatev.
me: anyway, if Monadnock is the hotness...
Jason: I think it'll be the muddy wetness
Jason: Moisture is the essence of wetness
me: LOL
altho lately it's been all about TBL
i.e., to Gracie, "That rug really holds the room together!"
or, "...if you're not into the whole brevity thing." (that one came up at work)
I don't love the Coen brothers
excellent writing but something about the characters just doesn't quite hold it together
altho--have u seen Burn After Reading?
it's always fun to watch something that takes place in DC
but I was ROTFLMAO when BP's character called JM's character in the middle of the night and said, "we have your $hit. we have your secret $hit."
and so on
Jason: Ah. Lol
I really did just chortle out loud
me: btw, my mom's confusion about how you could possibly be single--because you're such a nice guy, with the newly added 'don't you have clubs and stuff'--had me chuckling for days.
Jason: That is funny. I was telling my one gay, jewish quasi-friend about how your mom's more interested in my love life than I am.
me: lol
Jason: He was like, you know how Russian Jews are...
me: well, you do.
I could use a yenta about now.
Jason: Oy vey.


Shortly before leaving for our walk

A.: Mom, why do you have dog food?
Mom: Where? Oh, that's dog food? It says "lamb stew."
A.: For dogs. See this silhouette of a dog on the label?
Mom: I don't know where it came from.
A.: It came from... Building 19.
Mom: Oh. [Shrug]. I didn't know it was dog food.

Friday morning

Mom finally sits down to breakfast.

Mom: You haven't even showered! Don't most people shower before eating?
A.: I don't know what most people do. I don't shower and get dressed until I'm ready to leave the house. Why shower only to get sweatier, or get dressed just to get food stains or cat hair on your clothes? I stretch, have breakfast, read the paper...
Mom: New York Times? That's the worst paper there is.
A.: ...
Mom: If you lived in Russia for a minute, you would understand.

Mom launches into a really long story about how she took a computer class, which led her to this job, which led her to another job, in which she really understood how government has no role in the economy. The market functions best when left alone.

A.: Most of the time. Have I not been railing against farm subsidies for over a decade? But when the economy needs jolt...
Mom: No. This is socialism! The unions! The corrupt local governments!
A.: The latter two are not unique to the last couple of years.

Anyway, this goes on.

Later, we're getting ready to go for a walk. We come in from outside.

Mom: [Ranting about something...] You know, you've gotten... quite... solid. [...continues the rant].

Uncontrolled chaos

My parents don't have air conditioning. Even 2002, the year I moved away from Boston, it wasn't unusual for people not to have air conditioning. When we got back from the airport, they had a lot of fans going.

A.: You know that fans don't actually chill the air? Just one's skin.
Mom: Well, it circulates air.
A.: Hot air. All I'm saying is, it makes sense to turn them off when you're not home, or even not in that room.

They set up a fan in my guest room, which was hot as Hades. The fan was helpful a third of the time, when it faced me. The button to get it to not rotate was broken. I tried to fall asleep anyway, but half an hour later, around midnight, I came downstairs and asked for another fan.

My parents came upstairs. Mom pointed out the button. I pointed out that it was broken. She started messing with it. I begged her not to. She did anyway. Upon ascertaining for herself that it really was broken, she agreed to another fan. Dad brought one. I said I'd set it up myself, they could go back to whatever they were doing. They insisted on plugging it into various outlets in the room from which the fan wouldn't reach me. Finally, I plugged it into the closest outlet and went back to sleep.

The effect--the prolonged process, which results in a delayed return to sleep--is only partly the issue. It's the disorganization that really gets me. In addition to the disorganized behavior, the disorganized, cluttered house sets off a wariness in me. It's not that my house is spotless--but it's an organized chaos. My parents just don't manage their stuff well, and, yet, they're constantly buying more of it.

A couple of days ago, over the phone, mom asked what I'd eat for breakfast. I asked whether she had oatmeal. She did, she said, but the moths had gotten to it.

Then why does she still *have it*? That would be when you put the oatmeal with the moth larvae in the compost, and say that you don't have oatmeal.

I offered to bring some--I had a ton, since I'd bought some at Costco--and told her she should store it in glass containers. Last night, as I was blogging, she demanded that I come into the kitchen to see how perfectly the oatmeal I'd brought fit into two containers. Then, this morning, she couldn't find the containers. Out of disorganization, not age-related memory loss. She has so much crap--so many cake mixes that she never makes, etc.--that she has no idea where anything is. I asked if she wanted oatmeal, too. She said, of course, it's her favorite grain.

Then breakfast became a saga.

A.: Do you have milk?
Mom: No, I have cream. Do you want that?
A.: No, thanks.
Mom: Just use less of it.
A.: It's not that, I don't like cream (much less in my oatmeal). Flax seeds?
Mom: Somewhere...

This launches a search through various cabinets. I decide to stop asking for things. The oatmeal is ready. Mom's not.

Mom: I'm busy with the flowers! They're most important.
A.: Okay. Well, I'm going to have my oatmeal while it's hot.

I would have waited, but I had no idea when she might be ready. She was still dealing with the flowers when I went to blog. I felt bad, until the weekend, when Dad--a huge proponent of the Whole Family Dining Together--insisted that we don't wait for mom, or we'd never sit down to eat. She'll keep finding other things to do, more plants to water, etc.

Mom: You disrupt my whole routine whenever you're here!
A.: For three days, I think you can handle it.
Mom: We could have had breakfast together!
A.: I thought you were ready for breakfast.
Mom: I thought I would be.

It's just a clash in styles--one that transpires when they visit, as well. I'm an efficiency machine (at least when I need to be, which is usually). I don't f* around. I mean, I do, but even the f*ing around (reading the paper, watching the Daily Show) is scheduled. But I know what needs to get done and I know where everything is. I have to--I work full time and maintain a house and two yards, on my own. I can't afford to dilly-dally.

Mom: You might step outside to the fresh air, rather then going to the computer!
A.: Get off my back, mom.
Mom: Don't tell me to get off your back!
A.: Then stop nagging me. I'm busy. I'll step outside if you let me finish reading the paper.

Mom: Here's why it won't work for you to have a garden: your father and I, the first thing we do is see how our flowers are. The first thing you do is go to the computer.

Again with the computer. Am I one of those people who sleeps with a smart phone by my side? I do a number of things in the morning before waking up my computer. And when I get home from work--before waking it up again--I water my plants.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Have you gained weight?

As always, I called my parents when I landed. Half an hour later, they showed up.

We need a new system.

I understand that my mother doesn't want to loop around the airport, but this is ridiculous, even in good weather. I mean, you tell me: am I just an entitled, spoiled brat? Is it too much to ask to request that she leave the house without waiting for me to call her from the tarmac? Could she at least get ready to go, since she knows I'll be calling? I didn't ask how many plants she opted to water before getting in the car. But I did tell her we needed a new system, and that it was one thing to wait half an hour now, but I wasn't going to do it (again) in the freezing cold. Her reply was something like, 'please! then I have to get here and wait for you.' Not really; she just has to get here so I have to wait less.

Besides, she can say what I will about the inconveniences of where I live--how I'm not close to anything (specifically: a river)--but earlier this evening, I left my house at 6:35 for a 7:45 flight. None of this waiting for a ride.

But I digress.

I hopped in the car. Dad turned around.

Dad: Have you put on weight?
A.: So it begins.
Dad: I mean, you look fine... but your face has gotten round.

I figured I wouldn't have to answer--in a few seconds, my parents would be arguing about directions for getting out of the airport (gotta love Boston area signage).

I'm really not interested in discussing my weight this weekend. Just. Not. Interested. And, another thing: I don't understand why my parents continue to be intrigued by my allegedly increasing weight. I can't be so heavy that I've grown in mass between every visit. When I weighed in at the doctor's office, it wasn't at two hundred pounds.

Don't get the impression that I'm sensitive with regard to my body shape--it's much more that I'm sick of it. Let's move on.

Thursday evening roundup

Timothy Egan points out that we all have a summer home in the National Parks.

Holy crap! Cue the "Jaws" music (as did the Post).

Ernessa's right: no article neglects to remind us that Jon Hamm is hot. It's funny to read about the audition process for that role, because I can't imagine anyone else actualizing it. Don Draper is Jon Hamm.

Thursday morning roundup

Somalia continues to spiral to new levels of clusterf*.

Of all the things in Gail Collins' column that make me want to gag, moose chili takes the cake.

The imputed rent from homeownership is not actually tax free. I pay in property taxes more than half (even more than two-thirds) of what I previously paid in rent.

I appreciate the overall point in this article about the region's mixed feelings about its trees, but one part smacks of faulty analysis: hating your neighbor's ginkgo because its (smelly) leaves and berries fall into your yard is not similar, at all, to cutting down half an acre of trees.

Miss Manners reminds her readers why it's best to keep one's observations about other people's appearance to oneself.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Wednesday evening roundup

What can be linked to inequality?

Young, single women are outearning their male counterparts.

Tracking the dumb-@$$ things people say to/about female candidates.

Something for everyone in Miss Manners' column. I can't believe the first letter writer has the audacity to criticize a friend for being invisible on chat; I bet that if that writer had a roommate, she'd drive her/him insane. And let's all agree with the second writer on other people's GPS: if you're not driving, shut the f* up.

Wednesday morning roundup

Kyrgyzstan is going to hell in a handbasket.

It's an interesting question: does one have the right to burn whatever kind of light bulb one wants? I say all this as someone who has plenty of soft white light bulbs in the house. Do people have a responsibility to the planet? Is considering the envoronmental impact of one's actions and purchases merely optional?

Amid the crow's feet and additional gray hairs, we can take comfort in the perks of getting older. Specifically: we can't hear a certain "high-pitched, headache-inducing sound" that Gallery Place is emitting to repel teenagers.

The Times encourages the Oxford English Dictionary to keep up the print edition.