Thursday, January 31, 2008

Cute Little Pink Little Taser

In Steve & Jimmy's The Last Session, the character of Vicki sells Mary Kay products and thus carries a "cute little pink little gun" in her pink Mary Kay purse.

I thought about Vicki this morning when I watched The Today Show and caught the tail end of an interview with a woman who coordinates "taser parties," where women can go and check out tasers and order them, just like Tupperware.

(And I thought going to a bridal lingerie party [which turned out to be a lingerie / sex toy party] was a weird experience.)

My mouth dropped open as this woman continued to describe her product, in various colors (she couldn't show one on TV because they are illegal in New York). She displayed a taser holster which came with a built-in mp3 player.

Now isn't that just wonderful? You can play the appropriate music for sending electrical shocks through your victims would-be attackers.

I always thought life should come with sound effects anyway.

I remember when I was a little kid and we were coming home from church, driving past the little store on the corner near our house. On the door hung a black wreath, indicating that someone had died (the wife of the man who owned the store, as it turned out). I clearly heard a loud, somber, dark musical cord being played in my head. Ever since then I've felt that we really should have a musical score for our lives.

Right now Lizzie and Bissell are chasing each other through the house at top speed. Bissell recently learned how to go out the back door, so they will start in the living room, race through the house, into my office, out the dog door, around the yard, back in the dog door, through my office, and down to the living room again.

I can just hear the William Tell Overture playing as they run.

Leroy Anderson's "Typewriter Song" would, of course, be running pretty much non-stop in my office all day long.

But what would be the appropriate music to accompany "don't tase me, bro"? How about "Cell Block Tango" from Chicago:

He had it coming
He had it coming
He only had himself to blame
If you'd have been there
If you'd have seen it
I betcha you would have done the same!

I don't have to say "I don't know how I feel about tasers being sold at home parties for women." I think it's one of the worst ideas ever.

A bit accompanying the interview was an interview with a man (I came in too late to hear where he was from), who says that there have been deaths reported after people have been tased and that until we know how tasers contribute to their deaths, we should not let ordinary citizens carry tasers.

Well...duhhhhh. Talk about your understatement!

Yeah, I know that I live in a suburb so devoid of serious crime that the police will come out to tell you to move your legally parked car because it annoys the neighbor, or respond to a neighbor's complaint of noise violation and issue a citation to a woman snoring peacefully in her own bed.

I know I don't understand the dangers that lurk in the big city, the dangers that make women want to own tasers, but...jeez.



I don't want a cute little pink little gun either. I'm a real pacifist. And even if I weren't a pacifist, I'm such a klutz that I'd tase myself trying to get the damn thing out of the mp3 player attached holster.

Here it is 2008 and we're still living in the untamed wilderness. We have cell phones and wifi and chocolate croissants now, but basically we're still a lawless breed looking for the easiest, most effective way to incapacitate the bad guy.

I don't think I'll be inviting my friends to a taser party any time soon.

Thanks to everyone who wrote or called after yesterday's entry. I'm feeling much better about things, especially since I'll now have a mini vacation and a nice train trip to look forward to -- and after hearing how uncomfortable Express Jet is for normal size/shaped people, I think that I may be the winner in the long run!

Morning Stories

This lists who is transcribing which stories. I'm the grey lines.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Sainted Ronald Reagan

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I Hate Myself

Well, it's finally happened. I knew it would happen sooner or later, but it's happened just at the absolute worst time.

The first baby shower for Laurel is February 23. There is another shower, for couples, in March and Walt and I have been talking about flying down together for that. (That means I can split up all the things I already have for the baby into two different showers so it doesn't look so overwhelming! Or I could just go shopping again :) )

Express Jet has just started low-cost flights from Sacramento to Santa Barbara. It only costs $69 one way. That puts it on a par with the cost of driving the 8 hours to Sacramento and whatever it may cost over the cost of gas is more than made up by the ability to get there in only an hour, rather than 8 hours (each way!). (Some people make it in less time, but I generally drive the speed limit and it takes me a good 7-8 hrs to get there.)

Previously, we had to either pay an astronomical amount to fly on another airline to Santa Barbara (something over $300) or fly to Burbank, rent a car, and drive 1-2 hrs up the coast to Santa Barbara, then drive back to Burbank for our return flight. Or take the train, which costs as much as the cheap flight and takes longer than driving (11 hrs, if the train is running on time).

The great thing about having Express Jet available to us now is that it would allow me to fly to Santa Barbara more often after the baby comes, so that I have a chance of not being a stranger to our grandchild.

Walt suggested I get an Express Jet frequent flyer card, certain that we would definitely get use out of it, since we would be traveling so often.

I eagerly signed up for the frequent flyer card and then went to book my first flight on Express Jet.

I have to review a show on Friday, so I would hop the 9 a.m. flight on Saturday morning and be in Santa Barbara in time for the shower, then leave mid-afternoon on Sunday. The mid-afternoon flight was more expensive (but better than having to drag someone out to the airport at 8 a.m. to get on the cheaper flight).

I was very excited when I booked the flight. I'm all set. Baby Shower here I come.

Then I checked the luggage requirements. I don't need really more than toiletries for an overnight, but I do have these shower gifts to bring too and wondered what, on a small plane, would be the restrictions.

The link about baggage took me to their general FAQ page.

And there it was.

Rules for "people of size." It appears that because I am a "person of size" (i.e., fat), I may not be permitted on the plane unless I buy a second seat.

Southwest has had this policy for a long time but I have never been questioned about it, despite the fact that I am obviously a "person of size." I am always afraid that someone is going to stop me before I get on a plane and tell me I'm too fat to fly, but since the flights are generally all full up, they can't very well sell me a second seat.

Being fatalistic, I am already seeing the handwriting on the wall. If I am able to get on this plane...this time...without having to purchase a second seat, what will happen when I go to fly home again? What will happen the next time? and the time after that?

I'm already seeing the number of times I can see our grandchild diminish because of the whole damn 300+ mile distance thing and because the airline may feel I'm too damn fat to fit on their plane.

Even if I were to start dieting again now, it would be over a year before I could be considered a regular size person. I was a "person of size" when I flew to Australia -- and I had lost 85 lbs. (but Singapore Airlines had no size restrictions).

I called Express Jet and they could give me no information, but after being initially sympathetic, the woman's voice turned very cold and I was told I really should buy a second seat; when I pointed out I would be sitting in a single seat row, she said I could "try it" at the airport and see what happens. I am sick at heart, fearing that I will be turned away at the gate and suffer not only the disappointment of not being able to get to the baby shower, but the humiliation of being rejected in front of all the other passengers. And even if I get on the plane to Santa Barbara, will it be a fight every time I have to board an Express Jet plane?

I may have finally done it. I may have eaten myself out of an early relationship with my long-awaited, already much loved grandchild.

The whole thing makes me want to cry...and probably eat, dammit.

I've cancelled my flight, my boss has given me the weekend off, and I'm going to take the train to Santa Barbara. I called Express Jet to cancel the flight. There is a $50 cancellation fee, which they would not waive even though it was only because of their rules that I cannot fly. I explained that it had been my intent to use their plane at least once a month for the next couple of years and she said she was very sorry they could not do business with me.

Fuck 'em!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

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Turning 70 in Style

This was the decoration above the food table for our friend Jill's 70th birthday. The birthday was a few days ago, the party was yesterday in San Francisco, at the home of some friends of hers.

We didn't realize they had arranged for the guests to park at a nearby school, but my parking angel was on it anyway. In this impossible-to-park-in-neighborhood, we happened upon a couple moving their car just a few spots from the party house. (Thanks again, Gilbert!)

My recommendation to everyone about to celebrate a birthday is...make lots of friends among Lamplighters, or some other group of professional musicians!

For one thing, theatre parties have great food. Usually it's pot luck, but the food for this party was all catered and it was fabulous.

And then there is the music. You should always travel with your own musicians!

There was a wonderful song, a Gilbert & Sullivan song with lyrics re-written by Barbara Heroux, one of the Lamplighters fantastic lyricists, changing "Hail the bride of seventeen summers" from Ruddygore to "Hail the broad of seventy summers!"

Boy Scouts at pedestrian crossings
Suffer her imperious bossings.
Maidens greet her, kindly treat her,
You will all be old some day!....


Jill's brother had flown in from Minnesota to surprise her.

(His twin brother had flown in from England, where Jill was born and raised, 10 years ago for her 60th).

There was a slide show covering Jill's life from babyhood to today running continuously to a Gilbert & Sullivan background music in one of the upstairs rooms.

I do better at Lamplighters parties than most other parties, but still not really "well." But this time I found myself sitting next to a lovely gentleman in a wheelchair, who had worked with Jill. He reminded me a lot of my friend Steve and I ended up asking him questions about himself (my new trick about how to not feel like a dolt), Turns out he, too, had grown up in San Francisco, we had similar memories and he had also graduated from UC Davis, so he was familiar with this area as well. He was also a dog person, so we shared dog stories too. I thoroughly enjoyed talking with him.

After Jill cut the cake there was a roof-raising rendition of "Hail Poetry," de rigueur at gatherings like this, it seems.

Walt and I left around 5:30 or so and made it home without encountering bad rainstorms, so all things considered it was just an absolutely lovely day and a beautiful way to celebrate another milestone in the life of this really special person!

Monday, January 28, 2008

State of the Union

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Michele and Gautami

I visit Michele's site each day. It used to be more fun because she posed interesting, fun, provocative questions each day and then on Friday took the weekend off and set the site up for her readers to visit other people's blogs (you're supposed to leave a note on her guestbook and then leave a note on the guestbook of the person who signed right ahead of you).

Now Michele makes one post on Monday with a couple of questions (I suppose the fun of making up questions every day wore thin after several years, but I miss the old format), and on Thursday the meet-and-greet begins.

It seems that more often than not, I happen to be signing her guestbook right under a blogger named Gautami, who writes a book review blog.

Today Gautami had done a book-related meme, originated with Eva (A Striped Armchair). It was more interesting than most that I've done, so I thought I'd not only sign the guestbook, but do the meme as well....

Which book do you irrationally cringe away from reading, despite seeing only positive reviews?

So many people have told me that I would love "...And Ladies of the Club." I used to read sweeping sagas like that all the time and I don't know why I haven't gotten into this book, except, perhaps, that it's about a gazillion pages long and at the rate I read now, it would probably take me 2 years to finish. Also, I'm more into the suspense genre these days.

If you could bring three characters to life for a social event (afternoon tea, a night of clubbing, perhaps a world cruise), who would they be and what would the event be?

Kay Scarpetta, Alex Cross, and Kinsey Milhone. We'd have dinner at Kay's, because she's such a gourmet cook and maybe I'd pick up some cooking tips at the same time.

You are told you can't die until you read the most boring novel on the planet. While this immortality is great for awhile, eventually you realise it's past time to die. Which book would you expect to get you a nice grave?

Probably "Finnegan's Wake." I tried looking through it in a bookstore once and couldn't make heads nor tails of it. I've also been told that "Moby Dick" is deadly dull, though I've never attempted it.

Come on, we've all been there. Which book have you pretended, or at least hinted, that you've read, when in fact you've been nowhere near it?

Everyone assumes that when you get to "a certain age," everyone has read "Catcher in the Rye," but I never have. I'd like to, though. I do know that it's a coming of age book and the main character is Holden Caulfield. That's about it.

As an addition to the last question, has there been a book that you really thought you had read, only to realise when you read a review about it/go to 'reread' it that you haven't? Which book?

Well, I read a lot of James Patterson, but didn't read them in sequence, so when I pick up a "new" one to read, I'm never sure if I've read it or not. Same definitely goes for Dick Francis.

You've been appointed Book Advisor to a VIP (who's not a big reader). What's the first book you'd recommend and why?

"My Pet Goat" LOL. That seems to be such an engrossing book that the leader of the free world prefers to read it than deal with national emergencies. I have not yet had the pleasure of reading the book, however.

A good fairy comes and grants you one wish: you will have perfect reading comprehension in the foreign language of your choice. Which language do you go with?

French. It was my major in college and I actually have stumbled through a few articles and magazines in French. I'd love to have the fluency to actually read with comprehension in the language.

A mischievious fairy comes and says that you must choose one book that you will reread once a year for the rest of your life (you can read other books as well). Which book would you pick?

Oh so difficult. It is a tossup between Bill Bryson's "The Mother Tongue" and Steinbeck's "East of Eden." I've read both more than once and love them both. I wouldn't mind "having" to read either (or both) once a year.

I know that the book blogging community, and its various challenges, have pushed my reading borders. What's one bookish thing you 'discovered' from book blogging (maybe a new genre, or author, or new appreciation for cover art-anything)?

I can't think offhand of a book that I have read because of a blog, but I frequently check Alan's blog and often make mental notes to check out some of the books he reviews. I've also gotten some good referrals from Shelfari.

That good fairy is back for one final visit. Now, she's granting you your dream library! Describe it. Is everything leatherbound? Is it full of first edition hardcovers? Pristine trade paperbacks? Perhaps a few favourite authors have inscribed their works? Go ahead-let your imagination run free.

Oh my. To have my own library. It's a pristine room. A turret room. It is dark wood paneled with plush pile carpeting that never needs vacuuming. It has floor to ceiling bookcases filled with mostly hardback books which are all arranged in logical order, and meaningful artwork in the blank spots. There are plush chairs that envelop you, excellent lighting for reading, as well as a huge window with a fabulous view. There is a desk in case I need to work on something from a book, and a computer to look up things that come to mind while I'm reading. There's a small refrigerator perpetually stocked (by my special refrigerator-stocker) with water and snacks. It might also have a dog, but only if the dog does nothing but sleep at my side while I read!

As with most memes, you're supposed to "tag" people to do it as well. I don't tag people, but in this instance, it seems only logical that I at least tag Alan.

Sleeping Beauty

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Flip Flopper

I've been flip flopping all over the place with respect to the candidate I would like to support in the 2008 election.

The idea of a woman president is very exciting, but can Hillary really win, given what seems to be a bipartisan hatred of the Clintons?

The idea of an African-American president is very exciting, but is there so much overt and, more importantly, hidden bigotry in the country that could Obama really win?

I like Edwards, but he's still trailing significantly behind the other two, but I felt that when Super Tuesday comes around, I'd cast my vote for Edwards in the hope that maybe my tiny little vote would help. But I wasn't convinced.

But, I'll tell ya. This was the deciding week for me as far as my vote on Super Tuesday, in the very first presidential primary where California voters can actually have a voice and actually possibly make a difference.

I have not, in the past, been particularly politically knowledgeable. I often went to the polls with a vague idea of what I was voting for, and more importantly knowing why I was casting my vote a certain way. Sometimes it was the eeeny-meeny-miney-moe method of voting. I didn't feel like a very responsible citizen.

Too often, in recent elections, I ended up voting for the candidate(s) that I hated the least. I'm sure a lot of us did.

But as the war in Iraq has raged on, as the outrages against the constitution, the eroding of so many things that have made this country great, the loss of our standing in the world, the rising national debt and, more than anything else, the continuing ineptitude on the part of the president, and questionable ethics of the vice president, and who knows what all from the rest of the administration, I started Paying Attention.

I began watching MSNBC more often, listening to Keith Olbermann's statements, watching Meet the Press and Face the Nation; I began reading the Huffington Report and other internet news sites and actually, you know, starting to form my own opinions based on what I was hearing and reading.

I found I could actually have a conversation about politics with friends and know what I was talking about, and be able to back up my opinions with facts, rather than just sitting back lost, while others talked current events.

But still a strong feeling about a candidate has eluded me. One day I'm for Hillary, the next for Obama, the next for Edwards. Each day I have a logical, rational decision for my candidate du jour.

For the most part, the race has been better than previous years. Things didn't start getting ugly until this past week when Bill Clinton, a president I have long admired, took off the gloves and began hitting hard, began playing the game of innuendo and actual attack.

For the first time since the race began, I began to get a nagging anti-Hillary feeling. Maybe for all the wrong reasons, but I just didn't like what I was feeling about the Hillary machine.

Then came South Carolina. And Obama's incredible victory. I got a little lost in all the pundits' various polls and which groups supported which candidate and which crossed over to vote for which candidate. I swear Tim Russert and Chris Matthews get absolutely apoplectic with glee when they wallow about in these numbers.

When it became apparent that Hillary had lost handily to Obama, Bill gave the speech, since she was flying in and hadn't yet landed. As I listened to him, I found myself asking myself, "isn't this her race?" He spoke for about 10 minutes before he even mentioned Hillary, and he centered on what had happened when he ran for president and what he has been doing in his post-president years. For the first time, I found myself turned off.

I wondered what would happen if Hillary were elected...what would Bill do?

Then Obama came to give his victory speech and I felt something I hadn't felt in so long that I almost didn't recognize what I was feeling.

Then I identified it: I felt hope. I felt hope that something actually could change. I felt hope that the citizens of this country could be inspired to work together to restore the country that I once knew. I was inspired myself.

I became an Obama supporter.

I can comfortably support any of the three leading Democratic candidates when the convention is finally held and a decision is finally made. But until that time I am an Obama supporter and this time I don't intend to flip or flop again.

happy birthday, Paul

I make a decision

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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Australia Day

For all my Australian friends...

Not Goofing Off--Honest!

I'm sure there is going to be more of this stuff, the closer it comes to the release of Rob's book about Schuyler and then after its release. Today Rob links to an interview that a reporter for D Magazine did, over the telephone, with Schuyler, who answered the questions by herself, using her Big Box of Words.

Taken from Rob's Flickr site.

This is "media day" for me. Lord knows I spend my fair share and then some goofing off on the computer. But today I'm actually working and it's fun.

For one thing, my editor asked if I'd be interested in doing a story about an independent film (called Julie, Julie), that is being shot around here. I said sure.

Well, the information I had sent me to their blog, which contains daily video postings about the preparations for and beginning of shooting of the film.

So my job for today has been watching videos and reading blog entries and trying to contact the guy who is making this film so I can get started on putting some sort of feature article together about it.

I was kind of getting worried because I couldn't reach him and I was thinking I had to have a photographer arranged for this weekend, but fortunately there isn't that much rush, and my editor says to just call him next week. That's a relief.

I also had to update Dr. G's web site. He does what amounts to plastic surgery at the business end of a gynecologist's business and he has recently added even more and better procedures. Each time he adds something new, it comes with photographs which, were they not sent to me by a physician for a gynecology web site, might be suspect if someone should conduct a search of my hard drive.

I try to make them as "professional" as possible, with cropping, resizing, and adding copyright information directly onto the photo itself, which helps, at least in my own mind's eye, to reduce the effect of a wall of photos of various women's hoohoos in various states of repair! (While I usually have no qualms about using the proper names for body parts, the use of coy terminology here is to limit the number of hits from people who are searching for more prurient material and nothing purely "medical.")

But lemme tell you, I get the most interesting e-mail!

Finally, in addition to research on the movie and working on the web site, I am still working on the Morning Stories transcriptions. I have fallen behind this week, for one reason or another, but I'm trying to get back on track now, and that will take some more sitting at the computer.

So there you have it. I have hardly moved from the computer today (why should this day be any different?) but this time it's work-related.

Well, it wasn't all work. I received notification that there were comments on several of my blog posts (the mirror Blog, Airy Persiflage) by "Geo," who is one of the transcriptionists on the Morning Stories project. I then checked out (as bloggers do on such occasion) her blog and found a delightful writer who, back in June of 2007, wrote the following song parody, which I absolutely love:

Ha, ha, ha
Ho, ho, ho
And a couple of tra-la-logs
That's how we laugh the day away
In the merry old land of Blog

Chirp, chirp, chirp
And a couple of la-di-dogs.
That's how the peeps go on all day
In the merry old land of Blog

We stay up till twelve
And start to write at one
Have a late night snack
And then at two we're done
Jolly good fun!

Ha, ha, ha
Ho, ho, ho
And a couple of tra-la-logs
That's how we laugh the day away
In the merry old land of Blog

Ha, ha, ha
Ho, ho, ho
Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha
That's how we laugh the day away
In the merry old land of Blog

Comments here
Girls' lunch there
And a whole lotta kind applause
That's how we keep you young and fair
In the merry old land of Blog

Post, post here
Photos there
And whether you're clear or fogged
That's how we keep you in repair
In the merry old land of Blog

We can make a dimpled smile
Out of a frown

Can you really cheer me up
When I feel down?


Jolly old town!

Spell-check here
Edit there
We are the toughest broads
But wear an air of savoir faire
In the merry old land of Blog

Ha, ha, ha

Ho, ho, ho

Ha, ha, ha, ha


That's how we laugh the day away
In the merry old land of Blog
How we laugh the day away

Ho, ho, ho
Ha, ha, ha
Ha, ha, ha
Ha, ha, ha
Ha, ha, ha
Ha, ha, ha

In the merry old land of Blog

I was also asked to spread the word about this journal entry:
for-children-lost-an-appeal-to-mothers/, especially for anyone who has ever lost a child.

Friday, January 25, 2008

My job today

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The Magic of Photo Shop

Before it gets lost in all my brilliant prose, here's a great article on Al Gore that I recommend reading. I think it nicely points out why the former Vice President is not running for President. (Also check out his video on my "Look at these Videos" page!)

It's no secret that "house cleaning" is not high on my list of priorities.

A week or so ago, I reported on Bissell tearing up a magazine and making a bed for himself under my desk.

I don't often publish photos like this, showing the floor cluttered with junk but, you know what? It doesn't usually look this bad, but it rarely looks as clean as you usually see it.

Photoshop is a wonderful tool. A couple of years ago, I posted this photo:

This was the original photo:

Note the stuff on the floor, the dust up against the leg of the desk, the container under the desk and the chair in the way. All cleaned away with PhotoShop. I even brightened the look of the rug with PhotoShop.

I frequently use PhotoShop to make things look better than they really are. I've gotten pretty good at it and am almost more proud of the photos where you don't have a clue that I've "fixed it" than photos where I've made obvious corrections.

This morning I finally got around to sweeping up Bissell's magazine bed. Including getting the broom and the dustpan, sweeping up the mess, and taking it to the garbage, the task took roughly two minutes.

Fixing up the above photo took at least five minutes or more, to get it "just right." Sometimes fixing a photo to my satisfaction may take as long as 15 minutes.

Now if I had kept the floor clean to begin with, think how much time I would have saved and I could still have taken a photo that I wouldn't feel needed any "fixing."

But then I suppose I have to look not at how much time it would save to keep the house clean, but how much knowledge of PhotoShop I'm gaining by fixing all of these photos that need touch-ups.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

(and I suppose you'll never again look at my photos without wondering if they've been fixed, and if so, what I thought I had to fix. Heh heh heh. That will remain my little secret!)

Thursday, January 24, 2008


N*gger, Ch*nk, Wetb*ck.

Terms you've never seen before in this journal, even with an asterisk. I don't use terms like that and have been adamant at not allowing such terms or any derogatory term for any group of people. Sometimes adamant. I try to have enough courage to speak up and point out when someone uses an offensive term.

Yet, tonight I went to a show called "N*gger, Wetb*ck, Ch*nk," written and performed by (surprise, surprise), an African American man, a Filipino man, and a Latino from Honduras. The men were best friends while attending UCLA and, in the drama program, noticed that they were not getting cast for parts where directors saw only Caucasians in the roles, so they decided to write their own play about diversity and, by using the pejoratives used as negative labels for different ethnicities, take away the power that those words have to hurt them.

Despite the lofty description, this is a very funny play where you hear those three terms used so often that by the end of the play, they no longer shock. You have also taken the journey of "self" with the three men. You have seen how ludicrous stereotypes are (the African American man, for example, had to learn "how to be black" when he moved from Los Angeles to Georgia in high school. He had to learn how to "walk Black" and "talk Black" in order to fit in with the other African Americans in his school).

It's a very thought-provoking play that ultimately is all about "race" -- the human race.

Marilyn Mantay

It's always a shock to pick up the evening newspaper, open the front page and discover that someone you know died.

I didn't know Marilyn Mantay well, but she was the theatre critic when I was hired by the Davis Enterprise. We split the shows for a couple of years. She hated musical theatre and was happy to have me take over that task; I wasn't too comfortable doing straight plays or dance recitals, so she did that. It was a partnership which worked quite well.

I can't remember if it was before or after her daughter died that she retired for good and I took over as the only Enterprise critic. But with her daughter Michele's death, she joined that damn club that nobody wants to join and I felt we had a special bond that neither of us wanted.

We kept in touch, from time to time, via e-mail. But she wasn't a real Internet person so we didn't exchange much mail. We did meet for lunch a few times and she would quiz me about how I was enjoying doing her old job.

She started a group for writers a couple of years ago. I attended a few of the meetings, but it seemed to be more a group of would-be fiction writers and I was not interested in writing fiction, so I soon stopped going.

She called me a couple of months ago, just to chat. I wasn't home at the time and I returned her call. We chatted about what she was doing, what I was doing, and all that "catching up stuff." We agreed we needed to get together for lunch again some day.

Then this evening there was a notice about her death.

When someone you know casually dies and you read their obituary, you learn so much about them that you never knew. I didn't know, for example, that she was nearly as old as my mother. She seemed so much younger.

I didn't know that she had been a WAC in World War II and on her return had become a psychologist, working in VA hospitals. I didn't realize that she taught psychology at Oregon State before moving to Davis. I didn't know she was an accomplished pianist. I didn't realize how well traveled she was, or that her travel experiences allowed her to become a docent in the Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas at San Francisco's deYoung museum.

I only knew her as a passionate writer, a lover of classical music (who successfully convinced our editor to let her review operas in San Francisco--something he would never let me do, even if I enjoyed going to opera!), and a nice woman who always wore an air of resigned sadness about her.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Sad passing

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Oh, I'm in SUCH trouble!

I had lunch with my mother today. She suggested I drive down and said she'd take me to lunch but it was a rainy day and she called when I was halfway there and asked if I wanted to go out or eat at her place. I was very glad she suggested eating in because I really didn't want to go out, once I got there.

Eating in was a much better idea. Nice and warm and cozy (and dry). Time to chat without being interrupted.

After lunch, we tried to figure out what was wrong with her VCR, which had stopped letting her record things. After trying about a zillion things and reading the troubleshooting part of the manual, we changed the batteries and that solved the problem. Doh!

(Actually, my mother had changed the batteries herself, but I kinda think she must have mistakenly put the old batteries back in instead of the new batteries...or maybe the "new" batteries were just bad.)

I left my mother's early because I had a Big Mission to accomplish.

On Saturday, I had gone to a baby shower for an old friend (friend of our kids, and our occasional dog sitter). She will be having a little boy in a few weeks and she got some absolutely adorable (dare I say "soooo cuuuuute"?) things from the hostess of the party. I asked Lindsay where she had gotten them and she told me she had shopped at Gymboree.

I looked Gymboree up on line and found out that there was an outlet right where I have to drive to and from my mother's. So I was going to scout out Gymboree on my way home, since I'd be right there and all.

There is a baby shower scheduled for our granddaughter in February and I actually already have the gift, but it wouldn't hurt to just look, would it?

I had to drive around a lot before I found Gymboree. It turned out it was in the big outlet shop mall (even better). When I found it, I noticed with delight that there was a huge "SALE" sign on the window, and next door to it was a Carters baby store which had a sign that said "SUPER DUPER SALE!"

This was going to be fun.

I didn't go crazy at Gymboree, but I did have fun. I tried to only buy things which were on sale, but did succumb to a thing or two which was full outlet price. I had a nice bag when I left.

But then I thought it wouldn't hurt to go into Carters too. Oh dear... It was an incredible sale and the choice was astronomically larger than Gymboree had been. I could have spent $1,000 or more here (but I didn't). Still, it was another decent sized bag that I was carrying when I left Carters.

I didn't dare move to the next store, Osh Kosh, figuring I'd leave that for another day, maybe after the baby comes.

It's a whole new world, this being a grandmother. I can see already that the hardest part is going to be exercising restraint (because I know that this little girl has a whole army of relatives and friends who are going to be shopping for her!) But I hope I can be forgiven for one little "the hell with it" shopping spree!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Don't cry...

I can't remember where I first read it, but sometime within the past six months. An absolutely wonderful quote, which I add to my signature on the internet, whenever I add a signature (which I don't usually).

Don't cry because it's over; smile because it happened.

Isn't that a wonderful way to look at life?

It is a given that we won't make it out of this life without loss, disappointment, pain, etc. But somehow it brings such peace to look at it from this point of view.

I think about Paul and David and I try not to grieve their loss, but to celebrate the fact that we had them throughout their childhood and were able to watch them grow into men, and especially now to periodically get messages from people who knew them, telling me what a difference they made in their lives.

How can you not smile because they lived and made a difference in their part of the world?

How can I not smile, remembering the Lawsuit years, instead of grieving the ending of the band before they had their shot at stardom?

I think about the friendships I've lost, whether through death or "attrition," those people who leave your immediate circle and move on. There is a lot of temptation to grieve what is no more, but how much better to smile at the memories.

How can I not smile when I think about all the things that Gilbert and I did? How can I not smile when I remember "MQA" nights with Lynn and Rosemarie, when we would have dinner, and then sit around for hours trying to solve the problems of our worlds. How can I not smile when I remember the progressive dinners we had at The Secretariat and the closeness Melody and I had? How can I not smile when I remember all the fun Peggy and I had here and in Australia? How can I not smile when I think of the jobs that I loved and lost and the friendships that were part of those jobs, now gone as well?

So much better than crying or being bitter because those things are no longer part of my life.

How can I not smile when I think of all the puppies we've had, some of whom have grown to adults and now live with their own families, some of whom didn't make it, but who died in a loving environment.

How can I not smile when I think of all the years and all the foreigners who passed through our house, almost all of whom have now disappeared from contact. What fun we had with parties, and English lessons, and trips to see the sights of California. It would be easy to grieve the fact that we no longer have contact with most of them, but it's much more peaceful to smile, remembering all the high points, and forgetting the bad points.

How can I not smile when I look at our children -- at the adults they have become -- instead of feeling sad about our empty nest and how seldom we see them now that they have their own lives.

When good things end, even if they end badly, how much better to dwell on the good parts and tuck the bad parts away (after awhile...sometimes you have to deal with the bad stuff). Nothing is going to change the status quo, so why not revel in the good stuff?

The one problem with keeping mid-age puppies for a longer time is that they feel that this is home, they start to settle in and start getting into mischief.

Bissell is really feeling his oats, now that he's been here (is it only two?) weeks.

He loves clearing things off of the table between our chairs (which means I now have an excuse to have to clean the table).

He's a terrible beggar at the kitchen table. Sheila and Lizzie sit and watch me intently, hoping I'll feed them. Even Chunk learned to sit patient and watch. But not Bissell. Bissell is a whirling dervish leaping and leaping and leaping, trying to beg for food (we are having "discussions" about that!)

But the flip side of that is that he's getting the idea about going out on his own for purposes of elimination. He even went out in the rain today, which was very nice. I haven't really found any puddles since he's been here, though Walt did discover a hidden cache of poop in the living room. But we may have ended that. One can only hope.

He and Lizzie have become great friends and nighttime is their time to race back and forth from back door to living room and back again. It's such fun watching Bissell run, kind of like a gazelle.

Tonight I swept up a huge pile of styrofoam that he'd torn into bits all over the room, scattered with pieces of a magazine he'd torn up. I left it all in a big pile while I went to get a dustpan. All of a sudden I heard this "whoosh." Just like a little kid jumping into a pile of autumn leaves, Bissell had slid across the floor right through the pile of garbage I'd just swept up.

I was sorry to have missed seeing it. He's a funny little dog. I'm sure his new family will love him. Soon. Please.

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Monday, January 21, 2008


I mentioned watching the 60 Minutes report on the rapes in Congo a couple of days ago. The third story that evening was one I didn't actually watch until this morning. It's about the now-23 year old wunderkind who developed Facebook. This is the guy who rejected a $5 billion offer from (was it Google?) to buy the thing.

I didn't watch it closely, but got the idea that he (and apparently many others) think that Facebook is the wave of the future and that it will soon surpass Google as a search engine because instead of retrieving a host of generic responses to your query, you can get something personalized. Want to go to the Yucatan Peninsula, for example? Ask your Facebook community and get back messages from people who actually know you who can tell you about what you would like and not like about the location.

I don't remember exactly when I joined Facebook, but it's something like six months ago. Initially, it was fun. I met a few people, added some "applications" to my page, and joined a few groups.

But I've come to hate it. Applications are a variety of things that you can do on facebook, from games to play, to quizzes to take to polls to participate in to puzzles to solve, to interests to share. In short, it's anything that anybody with imagination cares to develop for Facebook.

One of the earliest ones I added is called "Super Wall." Everybody, when they join, has a "wall" where people can leave messages for you. "Super Wall" is a place where people can not only leave typed messages, but add graphics, photographs, or even videos. It used to be fun, but too long now it's been a series of sappy sparkling little sayings that one person will leave for me and then 10 other people will also leave for me. I don't do sappy. I especially don't do sappy from people who tell me that I'm the most wonderful person in the world, or how special I am in their life...when we've never met and barely exchanged as much as "hello" on Facebook! For all they know, I'm a cereal killer (your Corn Flakes are not safe around me) but yet they have granted me "best friend" status or "most trusted person."

I think this was the one that really got me--posted by someone I've never met, and have only had very passing interaction with:

What am I supposed to think when I get something like this from a total stranger? I'm her one true friend? We've never even exchanged so much as an e-mail!

But what is bugging the heck out of me now is that you can't do ANYTHING without annoying your friends. There is a woman who posts grammar quizzes on Facebook. I've taken them in the past. They're kind of fun. There are also movie quizzes that I've both created and taken. I enjoy them. But now it's rigged so that you can take the test, but the only way you can see your results is add the application to your already cluttered profile page, and to invite 20 of your "friends" to take the test too.

If I hate being inundated with crap, I'm certainly not going to inundate other people with the crap either. So now I'm ignoring all invitations, taking no quizzes, and the only thing I do on Facebook is play Scrabulous (their version of Scrabble). They say "new features are coming," which I assume means that when they are implemented, I will have to stop playing Scrabulous too.

Facebook may be the wave of the future that is going to overtake Google, but at least Google doesn't bug me many times a day or make me bug my friends before I can go to one of its sites.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Futile Protest

If you go to a restaurant and the food or the service is bad, you can write a letter to the manager threatening never to darken his door again.

If a product in the market is bad, you can write to the company and, if they are honorable, they might give you a freebee to replace the faulty item.

Or if you don't like the company's politics or political leanings, you can boycott their product and send them a note saying that until they stop contributing to global warming or supporting administration policies, or pushing formula on Third World mothers which is increasing disease and death of Third World babies, you refuse to buy their product.

If you hate your legislators or your president (not that any of us do, of course), you vote 'em out of office and state why you're going to campaign vigorously for the opponent.

Throughout our lives, we have had the power of the pen, or the purse, or the phone call, or the threat to boycott a product in order to keep the companies with which we must deal in line. Or at least feel good about trying.

But who in the hell do you complain to about the growing number of pop-up ads on television?

It used to be occasionally on cable TV channels. USA was particular egregious, I discovered when watching a Monk marathon. Sooner or later there would be some pop up of Monk down in a corner straightening something and a crawl line which reminded me to watch the next episode.

But now, my god, it's everywhere. You're in the middle of watching an emotional scene on Grey's Anatomy and suddenly there is a pop-up reminding you to watch some comedy or some shoot-em-up detective show.

What's worse, sometimes the pop ups actually cover up something that is important to the scene you are watching. Maybe it's a ploy to get us to watch bigger screen TVs, but my 36"-er is the largest that I can fit into my house, thankyewverymuch.

I don't want little people popping up to interrupt whatever mood I have been enjoying while watching the main show just so I know that there is an even better show coming up.

But how do I make my point? What am I going to do? Threaten to never watch Grey's Anatomy or Monk or House (three of my favorite shows) until the network agrees to remove its pop-up ads?

Not bloody likely.

I'm in a real quandary here and I hope all of you intelligent people can help me out.

To whom do we complain?

What action do we take that doesn't involve giving up television?

Now I know there are people out there who are not TV junkies, as I am. I don't want righteous suggestions about how I could go take a walk or read a book or do any of a number of more worthwhile things other than watch television.

I want it all, dammit (stomping my foot).

I don't want to give up my television, but I want my power back. I want to be able to tell executives that I will hold my breath until they remove those damn pop-up ads and have them pay attention.

I suppose we have to accept part of the blame for the pop-up advertising. Tivo and DVRs have given us the power to zip through commercials for an almost un-interrupted viewing experience and this is the only way networks can make certain that we actually know that there is another episode of Monk coming on or a monster car rally to be shown next week. There's no way you can zip past a commercial if it's part of the show you're watching.

But it doesn't mean I like it, or that I accept it.

In doing research for this entry (yes, I actually sometimes do "research"!) I found an article in the NY Daily News that reports there is an even worse threat looming on the horizon. Now we may start getting, not only the tiny network promos, but actual full blown ads on the bottom of our television screens for movies or actual products. (Can't you imagine a pop-up for Spaghetti-Os during a CSI autopsy of an abdominal cavity?)

We need to rise up and protest, people! You go first...there's a Monk marathon on this afternoon and I'm busy.

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Saturday, January 19, 2008

Baby Showers

(there should be a phoned-in utterz with this photo. If it doesn't show up, I'll record again)

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Congo on My Mind

I thought of Victor and Andre (whom we always called Ndangi) on Sunday when I watched Sixty Minutes and its report on how rape is being used as a tactic of war in Congo. It showed the faces of the women, victims of rape, taken to shelters. Story after story of tales of atrocities, of gang rapes, of being kidnapped and gang raped on a daily basis, of one woman whose brother refused to rape his sister and was killed before her eyes.

So much anguish. It's amazing to me how you go on after experiencing something so horrific. I also can't wrap my head around a culture where women are held to blame for their rapes and shunned by their villages.

As I watched the show, I wondered whatever happened to the families that our exchange students from the area had left behind when they came to the United States.

Ndangi was one of our first foreign students. Congo was then Zaire and he came on a 3-week homestay over Christmas. Chieko from Japan was here at the same time and they became like brother and sister and for the next two years, both came back from wherever in the world they were to be with us at Christmas. Ndangi, who lived a couple of hours away, continued to come back at Christmas and one year brought his fiancee and her cousin. We attended their wedding at City Hall in San Francisco. They continued to be with us at Christmas for the next couple of years until Rosalind was pregnant with their twins, who are now 13.

At one point Ndangi asked if we would give a home to his cousin, Victor. Victor spoke not a word of English, but lived with us for several months and began to become conversant, if not fluent, in English. He was a lovely man who worked hard around here to earn his keep, though we never demanded anything of him.

We got only brief glimpses of his life in Zaire. One night he and Walt were working on building a set in our carport. Davis has a strict noise ordinance law (remember, we are the town where a woman in her own bed sleeping was given a ticket for violating the noise ordinance when her neighbor called the cops about her snoring!)

According to the ordinance, you can't make noise after 10 p.m. This night Walt had one more piece of wood to saw and he cut it at about 10:05. At 10:10, a police car pulled into our driveway (showing: (a) how anal our neighbors are, (b) how rapid the response of the local police is, and (c) how little crime there must be in this town!)

Victor began running when he saw the police car. He was terrified. He later told us that if the police showed up at your home in Zaire, it was to kill you.

Another time he and Ndangi got together to make a videotape to mail back to Victor's family, explaining to them how to come to the country, what to expect, etc.

I was unaware at the time of the political situation in Zaire--and neither Ndangi nor Victor had enough English to tell us what was going on, and I suspect that because of their families still living there were hesitant to share a lot of what was going on with an outsider.

Victor hasn't lived with us in a very long time. The last time we saw him was when he showed up at the door, tears streaming down his face, to come to David's funeral. I had let Ndangi know of David's death and he passed the word on to Victor. Victor and David had a very special relationship when he lived here (see the video of the day, which is a rerun of something I posted a long time ago)

Well, yesterday morning the doorbell rang and there stood Victor, with a young man whom he introduced as his son's friend. Victor still lives in California, now as a citizen and he was able to get his family out of Congo before things got even worse than they were before, so his wife and four (or is it five?) children all live here. He had earned enough money here to buy his mother a house in Congo, where she lived comfortably until her death a few years ago.

Victor speaks English fluently now and we were able to share in a way that we could not when he lived here. Life has not been kind to him in this country, but he is an honorable man, a hard worker who now does in-home health care, after being hassled throughout his career with SBC.

It was so incredibly delightful to see Victor again. I always love it when one of our old foreign students shows up unexpectedly or when they somehow find me on the Internet and make contact again!

When I watch things such as the 60 Minutes report I feel so helpless to do anything, but when I see people like Victor again, I realize that maybe we had a tiny impact on at least one life. And that's not such a bad thing.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Russell Crowe is Hot

My friend Judy will be so disappointed, if she ever finds this entry, that she hasn't been following my journal daily. We have had discussions about Russell Crowe in the past, which have not always been pleasant. She likes him, I don't so much. So for me to write a journal entry called "Russell Crowe is hot" is quite a stretch!

I'm on a roll with Morning Stories and have transcribed several of them this past week. It's a fascinating project, not only because the stories are interesting -- some funny, some touching, some informative -- but because the stories themselves make me want to take a break, rush to Google and do some searching to follow up on a point that the story teller has made.

[ASIDE: You can hear some morning stories yourself, by going to the web page, and especially by searching through the Archives. The show has been running since 2003, so there are a lot of stories there, in wide variety. Something for everyone. The longest episode I've come across is 12 minutes, so it's not like it takes a great deal of time out of your day. New stories come out every Friday.]

But back to Russell Crowe.

The morning story I was transcribing last night was by a blogger named Betsy Divine (whose husband Frank Wilczek, is a Nobel prize winner in Physics), who writes a blog called "Betsy Devine: now with even more funny ha-ha and peculiar." (Now how can you not be intrigued with a title like that?) The title of the morning story was "Blogging in Boston," and I chose it to transcribe for obvious reasons: I'm a blogger and Jeri lives in Boston. Seemed logical to me.

As I typed, she was reminiscing about starting her own blog and how after a week, she noted that it was "quiet out there," and how disappointed she was that nobody had stumbled across her blog yet. She was excited when she got her first comment after three weeks of entries.

But then one day she checked her stats and discovered that she had somehow attracted "hundreds of visitors." What had attracted them, it seemed, was that she had written an entry about a company (SoundDogs) which sells sound effects. She had apparently been in the market for the "sound of happy, laughing children" when writing a computer game several years before.

She mentioned in passing that she discovered that this company sold about twenty-five different sound effects for dropping pieces of armor.

[In case you are interested, they are: Put Down Belt, Put Down Boot, Put Down Boot, Put Down Broken Armor, Put Down Broken Shield, Put Down Buckler Shield, Put Down Chainmail Armor, Put Down Chainmail Armor, Put Down Chainmail Armor, Put Down Cloak, Put Down Glove, Put Down Glove, Put Down Helmet, Put Down Helmet, Put Down Helmet, Put Down Large Shield, Put Down Leather Armor, Put Down Leather Armor, Put Down Leather Armor, Put Down Medium Shield, Put Down Plate Armor, Put Down Small Shield, Put Down Belt, Put Down Boot, Put Down Boot, Put Down Broken Armor, Put Down Broken Shield, Put Down Buckler Shield, Put Down Chainmail Armor, Put Down Chainmail Armor, Put Down Chainmail Armor, Put Down Cloak, Put Down Glove, Put Down Glove, Put Down Helmet, Put Down Helmet, Put Down Helmet, Put Down Large Shield, Put Down Leather Armor, Put Down Leather Armor, Put Down Leather Armor, Put Down Medium Shield, Put Down Plate Armor, Put Down Small Shield.

Apparently gladiators put down boots a lot, and, I guess, in a lot of different ways!]

She questioned why anybody would need twenty-five different sounds for armor and speculated, humorously, that the only reason she could figure out would be if Russell Crowe were to do a gladiator strip tease. Apparently all the crazed Russell Crowe fans flocked to her site and her reputation was made.

So I figured what the heck. If it can work for Betsy, maybe it can work for me. What kind of fans will I attract if they are able to find me by googling "Russell Crowe is hot" ?

Previously my most consistent search engine query is "urethral play" (from the days, I guess, when I was writing about working in a gynecology office and reviewing shows!). "Russell Crowe is Hot" has the potential of attracting quite a different class of internet voyeurs, don't you think?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

A Wonderful Surprise

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Round Babies vs. Pointy Babies

Walt came in last night holding Bissell in his arms. The puppy was cuddled up under his chin.

"You know," he started. "Bissell is very sweet, and he's cuddly and he's hardly any trouble at all...." he paused

"...but you miss Chunk," I easily finished his sentence because I was feeling the same way.

What's not to like about Bissell? He's the perfect puppy. He is quiet, affectionate, plays well with Lizzie. Other than tearing up a magazine (which I let him do), he hasn't gotten into any mischief. He is about half housebroken and his accidents in the house are minor and very easy to pick up (compared to Chunk's copious applesauce-textured piles!)

He cuddles in my lap when I sit in my recliner, just like Chunk used to and at night he curls up on my feet and sleeps all night, not waking until I wake up.

But I miss Chunk too.

What was there about that silly little girl? We both agree we have no desire to own the adult Chunk but, pain in the butt that she was, there was something special about that little puppy.

I was rubbing Bissell's head last night, as he buried his head in my armpit, the way Chunk used to and I thought about Kimba and wondered if the reason I can't warm up to Bissell is the same reason I never warmed up to Kimba.

It's something about the round softness of most babies of most species. I remember seeing a baby rhino in the Perth zoo and thinking how cute it was. Rhinos are not, by any stretch of the imagination, "cute" but something about this round little big-eyed baby who was just cute. She was so similar to her mother, who was not in the least cute, but the softened edge to the baby made her somehow...different.

There was that same round softness to Chunk.

See the difference? Chunk's eyes are round, her nose is round, her whole face is round, compared to the more elongated, pointed look of Bissell.

I guess it's the "roundness" that appeals to me.

It's not that I don't like Bissell. As I said, what's not to like? He's very endearing. It's just that there are some puppies who crawl into your heart and stay there. Bissell will stay his time here with and then move on and I won't feel any great loss.

But I do feel the loss of Chunk.

It's really funny how you just click with some dogs, just like you click with some people. It's like when Lizzie arrived here, with the name "Happy." I knew from the moment she bounded through the door and leaped up on me (which she hasn't stopped doing since) that we were going to keep this dog.

She must have known it, too, because within the first hour she ran away. She'd never been here before and I didn't have a prayer of her coming back. I drove all over the place, Walt rode his bike all over. We finally came back to the house to contact Ashley and let her know that we had lost the new dog.

That's about when Lizzie came running up the driveway. I guess she figured she knew a good thing when she saw it and, somehow, she found her way back.

Chunk won't find her way back. She is in a great home. And I don't want her back. But I miss that little thing around here. It's just not the same with Bissell.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


OK--let's have a show of hands here. How many of you red the title of this and immediately thought of either Dustin Hofman or The Graduate?

Congratulations. You are officially a "Boomer."

I had a meeting on Sunday with a woman I've met with before, about a year ago. We've kind of known each other peripherally for many, many years, back to when she was working in the early days of Davis Cable TV and Ned and his friend Greg made the first made-for-Davis-TV video, Ned & Greg Investigators.

Our paths crossed again when I attended Vloggercon in San Francisco in June of 2006. Shortly after, she contacted me about joining together to work on a project with the Davis Community Network. At the time she was thinking about a way to encourage people to contribute to a site that would kind of unite the town electronically.

She was going out of town and said she would contact me when she came back. She contacted me a year and a half later. Even then, our meeting was delayed because she forgot the original date. But it was worth it.

The objective has changed in the interim, but the possibilities are much more solid. She was asking me to join the Board of Directors for the Davis Community Network. They are working on a project I'm not totally clear on, but it will offer nonprofit organizations a way to use the facilities and expertise of people at DCN to publicize their organizations.

Or something like that. I know it's more complicated than that.

During our hour at good ol' Mishka's coffee (where I plugged in and logged on using their wi fi during the blackout), I learned a lot of the lingo of the networking biz.

We talked, for one thing, about the difference between the way the Boomer generation gets its entertainment and the way entertainment comes to kids of today--called "millenials," a term I had not heard before. Apparently "Millenials" are the next group up from "Gen-Xers." It's even more of an "instant gratification" generation, who can't be patient to sit through a whole television program, when they can get 5 minute YouTube videos on their iPhones while they're in the middle of doing three other things.

(It was also depressing to discover that I don't seem to have a "generation." Apparently the "Greatest Generation" ends in 1942 and Boomers start in 1947, which leaves us poor 1943-6 people as the "between the cracks generation.")

The upshot was that I agreed to come to a Board meeting the following Tuesday, last night.

What were these butterflies in my stomach as I drove to the meeting? I always get so tense when I go cold into situations with people I've never met before and worry that I won't live up to anybody's expectations, but my fears were laid to rest as soon as I walked in the door.

The meeting was held in the old room where, back in the early 1990s, I first learned how to get onto the Internet, in the days when it was all done in code.

There were about 12-15 people in attendance and some were people I hadn't seen in about 10-15 years, even though we live in the same town.

I will admit that my head was spinning by the end of the meeting. This seemed to be kind of a follow-up meeting reporting on things that had been discussed last month, so there were "codes" to learn (what's an "MOU" or an "OPC"?)

But when they started talking about the project we had discussed over coffee, building new web content in Internet 2 protocol (which I'd never heard of before Saturday, but which I kind of vaguely understand, having been using it for a long while and not aware of it), it all began to be a bit less dry and a lot more exciting.

So... Everybody seems to want me to join. It sounds like it's going to be interesting. They vote the two of us newcomers in at the next meeting, and then I'm committed for a new year term.

A new chapter begins!