12.15.2006

Cure for Diabetes?

So the article in the National Post is tentative, and the news is coming from Canada :), but a basic paradigm shift in the etymology of diabetes could lead to something HUGE.

Apparently, in mice with Type 1 diabetes, the cause seems to be malfunctioning pain neurons in the pancreas. When researchers eliminated the pain neuron issue, the mice were cured of their diabetes overnight.

They still have to do tests on humans, and it probably won't work on all types of diabetes, but still...this is massive.

Read the whole thing here.

12.11.2006

Celebrity Friends

Oh, Meeshy Meesh!

I bow to you and your expertise on international travel trends!

"We have seen a noticeable decline in traveller numbers in the past five years," says Michelle Grant, a research manager for Euromonitor International, a business research group that monitors trends in domestic and international travel.


Read the whole article here.

12.10.2006

Soundtrack of my Soul Track #3

Polyester Bride
Liz Phair


I was talking, not two days ago
To a certain bartender I'm lucky to know
And I asked Henry, my bartending friend
If I should bother dating unfamous men

And Henry said,
"You're lucky to even know me,
You're lucky to be alive.
You're lucky to be drinking here for free,
'cause I'm a sucker for your lucky, pretty eyes."

And then he said,
"Do you wanna be a polyester bride?
Or do you want to hang your head and die?
Do you want to find alligator cowboy boots they just put on sale?
Do you want to flap your wings and fly away from here?"

And I was sitting, not two days ago
Feeling lonely, 'cause I'm just feeling low
And I asked Henry, my bartending friend
Why it is that there are those kind of men

And Henry said,
"You're lucky to even know me,
You're lucky to be alive.
You're lucky to be drinking here for free,
'cause I'm a sucker for your lucky, pretty eyes."

And then he said,
"Do you wanna be a polyester bride?
Or do you want to hang your head and die?
Do you want to find alligator cowboy boots they just put on sale?
Do you want to flap your wings and fly away from here?"

"Princess, do you really want to flap your wings and fly?
Because you've got time."
He keeps telling me, "You've got time."
But I don't believe him
"You've got time."

I keep on pushing harder
I keep on pushing farther away
But he keeps telling me, "Baby",
He says, "Baby, yeah

Do you want to be a polyester bride?
Or do you want to hang your head and die?
Do you want to find alligator cowboy boots they just put on sale?
Do you want to flap your wings and fly away from here?"

"Do you want to be a polyester bride?"
Away from here
"Do you want to be a polyester bride?"
Away from here
"Do you want to be a polyester bride?"
"Princess, do you really want to flap your wings and fly away from here?"

12.09.2006

Soundtrack of my Soul Track #2

This one came out when I was 8th grade, and it still resonates:


Dog's Eye View - Everything Falls Apart


Don't look now,
things just got worse
I'm drunk again,
I swear this crescent--is just a curse

I got here by killing all my friends
I think I figured it out - my life begins when the fun ends

I've got my wings,
I'm free to go as I please
Yeah, I got my wings,
now nothing really pleases me 'til

Everything falls apart,
then I get to try to put it back together
Everything falls apart,
and you can count on that like you can count on bad,
bad weather again

Was it good?
I don't remember much about it
When things start to feel right,
you can count on me to start to doubt it

The devil's not in the details,
the devil is in my hands
It's shoot first, apologize later,
another quick end to a short shod romance

I got what I wanted,
now I don't want anything
I got what I wanted,
now my life is just boring 'til

Everything falls apart,
then I get to put it back together
Everything falls apart
and you can count on that like you can count on bad,
bad weather this year

I met God this afternoon
Riding on an uptown train
I said "Don't you have better things to do?"
He said, "If I do my job, what would you complain about?"
So I let it go to Hell,
now I'll have something to do
I let it go to Hell,
does that sound familiar to you?

Everything falls apart,
then I get to try to put it back together
Everything falls apart
and you can count on that like you can count on bad,
bad weather

Everything that falls apart,
sooner or later gonna come back together
Everything that comes together,
sooner or later falls apart

12.08.2006

Sountrack of My Soul -- Track #1

dSo I like to make soundtracks in my head, and I decided this morning to make one that pertained to me--as in, who I am, not a situation I'm going through at any given time. This is not the soundtrack of my life, it is the soundtrack of ME--of my soul. It will come in bits and pieces.

The order of the tracks is subject to change. The opening track, though, is pretty certain. Enjoy.

The Long Way Around (Dixie Chicks)

My friends from high school
Married their high school boyfriends
Moved into houses in the same ZIP codes
Where their parents live

But I, I could never follow
No I, I could never follow

I hit the highway in a pink RV with stars on the ceiling
Lived like a gypsy
Six strong hands on the steering wheel

I've been a long time gone now
Maybe someday, someday I'm gonna settle down
But I've always found my way somehow

By taking the long way
Taking the long way around
Taking the long way
Taking the long way around

I met the queen of whatever
Drank with the Irish and smoked with the hippies
Moved with the shakers
Wouldn't kiss all the asses that they told me to

No I, I could never follow
No I, I could never follow

It's been two long years now
Since the top of the world came crashing down
And I'm getting' it back on the road now

But I'm taking the long way
Taking the long way around
I'm taking the long way
Taking the long way around
The long
The long way around

Well, I fought with a stranger and I met myself
I opened my mouth and I heard myself
It can get pretty lonely when you show yourself
Guess I could have made it easier on myself

But I, I could never follow
No I, I could never follow

Well, I never seem to do it like anybody else
Maybe someday, someday I'm gonna settle down
If you ever want to find me I can still be found

Taking the long way
Taking the long way around
Taking the long way
Taking the long way around

12.07.2006

Sliding Scale of Virginity

But local groom Plamen Baldescu, 27, said: 'The priest heard that sometimes I was allowed to stay over at my girlfriend's parents' house and suddenly he is demanding large amounts of money from us as my fiancee supposedly “does not deserve to wear white”. Weddings are so expensive already - this is just too much.'


What on earth could he be talking about? Check out this article about fines for women who are not virgins on their wedding day at Metro UK.

C'mon, Priesty-Priest...if you're going to uphold Christian values with ridiculous fines, shouldn't you make the men pay, too?

12.05.2006

Men Watching Women

What a shock.

Two Swedish border control officers risk disciplinary action for keeping a photo collection of "exceptionally beautiful" women that passed through their checkpoint, police officials said Tuesday.

The binder contained instructions on how to compile the collection, and orders to make backup copies in case the binder would go missing or be confiscated by "evil-minded bores," police said.


Is this really news? Back in college we had a list of boys. Hat boy. Skater Boy. BSchool Boy. Over the years we added points based on interactions, looks, and personality. Should we be charged with "sketchiness"?

Hmmm...if only sketchiness had been a crime when were in school. All the boys would have been arrested.

12.01.2006

A Christmas Blessing

F****R Frist has decided to do something valuable with his time. He plans now to go back to doing medical missionary trips instead of screwing up America.

According to today's Reuter's Article:

He said he would take a sabbatical from private life and "return to my professional roots as a healer."

"In the short term, I will resume my regular medical mission trips as a doctor around the world to serve those in poverty, in famine, and in civil war," he said. "I will continue to be a strong voice to fix what is broken in our health care system and to address the issues of clean water and public health globally."


Joy Abounds!

11.29.2006

Why I am Tired, Irritable, and Frustrated

Sun 11/19
We wake up to find a large bulge in our bedroom ceiling. Paint is falling and my nightstand is damp. I go to the office and talk to Leasing Agent, who tells me that this is considered a big deal and I should call the emergency number if it gets worse. Nothing is addressed at the time.

That evening the bulge has gotten bigger, producing a small hole. The floor is moist. We call the emergency number. Leasing Agent comes over to take a look. He tells us that it is condensation from the steam from the boiler and there is nothing to worry about. He assures us there is no asbestos, and they will take all measures to fight mold and mildew. He tells me a plumber will look at it, but offers no details. He tells me this is "not really an emergency."

Mon 11/20
Mr. Fix It takes a look. To do so he opens up a cookie sheet sized portion of the

At 4pm, Mr. Fix It arrives with Boiler Man #1 to finish. They are in the apartment for no more than 30 minutes. They leave a board over the hole. They tell me the leak is fixed.

At 6pm, we notice the carpet is soaked and we can see the water coming out of the hole. The paint on the wall is so wet that it is moving down the wall. We call the emergency number. At 8:30pm, Boiler Man #2 comes over and verbalizes his frustration with the people who worked on the leak previously. He tells us the caulking that was used makes it impossible for him to repair it correctly. Leasing Agent and Mr. Fix It both show up to discuss. Boiler Man #2 says he will not be able to fix it without going into the apartment above us, and all agree that is not possible given the holiday. They put foil over the hole to collect the water and let it drip down a rope into a large trash can. They place a pump into the trash can and put a hose out our window, which must remain open. Boiler Man #2 tells me they can fix it on Friday. We are now unable to sleep in the bedroom and move our mattress to the living room.

Friday 11/24
Mr. Fix It comes in to check the hole. Nothing is done.

Saturday-Sunday - no word
I email Apartment Manager to assure she is apprised of the situation.

Monday 11/27
Manager comes back from vacation. She calls me in the morning to tell me she will do what she can to get everything fixed. She assures me that my apartment and cat are safe with the maintenance people and that I need not worry. She tells me that this is an old building and these problems are to be expected to happen sometimes.

She calls me in the afternoon to tell me the leak has been fixed by Boiler Man #3, but the room needs to be dried out now before the hole is closed.

I arrive home to find the lights in my apartment on again. I speak with her in person to express my frustration. I tell her I am willing to be patient but I would appreciate that all get completed soon and efficiently. She tells me there were differing opinions on how to fix the leak and that she went with Boiler Man #3's opinion that the repairs did not need to extend into the upstairs apartment. I express concerns over my electric bill, as well as the fact that nothing was completed over the weekend. She tells me the Boiler Co. was closed on Friday.

Wednesday, 11/29
I walk into the bedroom this morning to find a large wet spot on the floor. I can visibly see the leak and feel the water dripping through the board. I tell Apartment Manager, who calls me to say that Boiler Co will be back today to fix it.

Side Note: We do not even use the radiator/boiler system. We are a new apartment in an old building with an electric heating system.

We have now been sleeping in our living room for 7 nights. We have been without heat (because the window has to remain open) and with an open window letting cold air in for 7 days.

I gave her opportunity to offer some sort of compensation, and the push back I got was that these things happen and she will fix it.

I am frustrated, tired, and cold. I want to demand that we pay lessened rent and they pay our electric bill (fan, lights left on, and water pump), but I don't want to cause a bad relationship. I love this place and don't want to move.

Anyone have any suggestions?

11.27.2006

Philanthropy = Economy

This is soooo a longer post I need to write eventually detailing my move from socialist leanings to fiscal conservatism, but for now I'll offer up the current trends. Not that I'm a big fan of the Christian Science point of view, but the Christian Science Monitor had a great article recently:

The Christian Science Monitor
By Mark Trumbull

11/27/2006

Everybody knows Americans are big givers. But their charitable impulses keep generating surprises.

Consider just a few conclusions from recent research:

* Charitable giving plays an even larger role in the economy than is suggested by some $260 billion in annual contributions. Each dollar of giving appears to create $19 of extra national income, according to a book released this past weekend.

* Demand for nonprofit services gets proportionately bigger, not smaller, as a locality's income rises, a Federal Reserve economist finds.

* The philanthropy of the wealthy may not hinge on tax incentives to the degree many believe. In one new survey, a majority of wealthy givers say they would contribute the same amount if the estate tax were abolished. Ditto, they said, if they could no longer deduct the value of gifts from their taxable income.

These disparate studies are shedding light not just on who gives but also on why they give and what their actions mean to society. Often, the conclusions run counter to expectations.

"This is supposed to be the start of a conversation. It's the first word, not the last word," says Arthur Brooks, referring to his new book on charity, called "Who Really Cares." "We need more people thinking about [the study of charitable giving] in a serious way."

See Full Text and Diagrams Here

11.15.2006

San Francisco Values

Over the course of the past month there has been a great deal of talk about what it means to have San Francisco Values. The midterm elections brought up a lot of issues that demonstrate just how liberal San Francisco as a city is. The biggest impact to me, though, didn't happen during the election. It just happened in the public schools. They are getting rid of JROTC programs across the city because they want to promote a culture of peace.

Having grown up in an area where the military is the only option for many, and this program keeps many kids out of trouble, I'm a bit baffled. Let's trade in our organized actions of protection for what...kids who don't have anything better to do and act out against the schools?

Ridic.

11.14.2006

Microloans

Mohammed Yunus is my hero!

SuperCoolMan

He even LOOKS like a good guy!



What do I have to do to work for you, oh Mr. Yunus!

8.19.2006

Christening

We brought home our adorable new kitty today!

We waited forever for the cleaning people to finish in the kitten room, and in the process Pete spied an orange one. He's the youngest smallest cutest kitten in the room. He curled up in my lap and passed out. His name was Target, but we've dubbed him Sebastien (french spelling). So, without further delay, meet Sebastien Target Dirksen.

7.24.2006

A map of all the states through which I've travelled:





And if I break that down to places in which I've spent at least a day:



create your own visited states map
or check out these Google Hacks.


Outside of the US, though, I'm a big homebody, apparently:



create your own visited countries map

I'm ashamed.

Mondays

I am sitting at my desk at work feeling like there is no point in even being here. The micromanaging from my board has gotten to the point where I can't accept a phone call into the office without receiving instruction from trustees first. Even my ED hesitates to make mundane daily decisions. This is not contributing to me being more motivated to accomplish great things at work. At this point, it's so difficult to actually complete a project (because I have to wait for input/approval from so many other people) that I feel proud for simply getting the paperclips cleaned up off my desk.

And it's Monday.

I can't wait for Germany. 11 days.

7.05.2006

I Think I'm Spoiled

I watched the fireworks over San Francisco bay last night.

But all I could think was, "this is it?"

In comparison, this is what I grew up attending on 4th of July:

I Love America Celebration


6.27.2006

another post...can't resist the tigers

Snopes posted an article about a .http://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gif



The best part of this is that the piglets are dressed in tiger costumes! Ha!



The tiger pictures were taken at a zoo in Thailand, known for their great breeding programs. The problem is that they are also known for shady behavior involving the use of animals to entertain humans without consideration for the animals' natural tendencies.




art as social commentary

I recognize that it has been exactly forever.2 days since I last wrote, and that I'm going to get a lot of shit for just posting a link to another website, but this was too cool not to share.

So this kid makes art that comments on things like bioengineering and sweatshops, but it does it in a way that is really cool and fun.

To start, check out the Urban Legends about his stuff.

Then check out the store front that's causing such a ruckus.

And keep in mind he has other pretty dern cool stuff, too!

5.19.2006

Quarterlife Turning Point

I realized today that I have just reached a new period of my life.

From this point forward, when I admire an actress on a show, or find an actor attractive, it will not be unusual for me to find out they are my age or *gasp* younger than me. This happened in music long ago, but it seemed at the time to be more about the the youngin's like Britney and Christina, who were my age at the time anyway, and less about me getting older.

The fact that a big chunk of the cast on any given show I watch is younger than me, is a bit hard to swallow.

Part of me looks at how accomplished they are this age already. The other part just doesn't want to be older than the "young pretty girl" on the show.

Also, the men and women who seem to be about the same ages on shows, are more likely portrayals of older men and younger women. On Lost, for example, while Kate is just 27, Sawyer and Sayid are both 37, and Jack is 40. Libby's only 38.

40?!?!?!?!?

Dude.

My disheartening list:

From Lost:
Claire - 9 mos younger than me
Kate - only 2 yrs older
Ana Lucia - just 3 yrs older
Shannon - 2.5 yrs YOUNGER

From House:
Cameron - only 2 years older, and she's supposed to have gone to med school and become this super specialized doctor genius

I'm getting old :(

5.18.2006

My New SF Discovery

So today I was walking down Pine Street to class and I noticed these adorable old ladies walking arm in arm. They were identical twins, dressed identically in leopard print coats and yellow hats, purses, and accessories. Little girls coming out of their elementary school were excited to get to say hi to them. It was quite amusing.

So I mention this to Pete and he tells me they're pretty popular. Apparently so. I googled "san francisco twins" and got it immediately. In fact, they are so popiular that they are in Wikipedia!

I love this city.

4.26.2006

Things That Are Hard To Do #1

Back in high school one of the people closest to me in my life was diagnosed with ALS. My basketball coach/hero/perfect family man role model started experiencing some problems controlling his arms and later found out he had Lou Gehrig's disease. In the years since, he has been confined to a bed and lost all but blinking motions and sharpness of mind. This amazing man gave everything to everyone in his community, and for awhile, everyone gave back. The school sponsored a trip to Disney, others helped him go hang out with his kids at a ranch in Texas, he got to meet his baseball heroes and Micheal Jordan. The last time I saw him I had a very difficult time sitting on the bed next to him talking and watching him not be able to respond or ask me questions. I tried really hard to forget, I think, and waited uneasily for the phone call that would tell me that the 5 year life sentence he'd been handed had finally expired. Well, it's been at least 2 years now since I last visited him, and 8 since he was diagnosed, and I read somewhere on the internet that his full time nursing staff would accept phone calls and relay a message to him. So today I called.

I was completely unprepared to talk to him. I updated him on everything I could before I got stupid and awkward and he signaled to the nurse I was finished. It was ridiculous. I couldn't even be strong for 10 minutes. The biggest part of me was just fighting my anger at his wife for moving out of his home and taking her children with her. Part of me understands, but another part of me is irate that she could give up on him. Perhaps she made the best choice for her children. I won't understand unless I'm in that situation, but it kills me that anyone could abandon this incredible person. Maybe that's not the case at all. Maybe I'm jumping to conclusions...but all I wanted to do during that conversation was cry and hug him as hard as I could.

I feel that I'm a horrible person for allowing myself to feel any pain in this. Like, what's actually affecting me life? I feel guilty for not talking longer. I feel guilty for not being there. Back in college I wrote papers on ALS and thought maybe I'd even go into research on it. Now it rarely crosses my mind.

So perhaps this is my little bit of outreach. Please, please, please take a moment to read a little about ALS. Take a moment to think about how lucky you are to be able to move around and get out of bed. Take a moment to imagine what it would be like to be trapped in a dying body you couldn't use, but still be able to think as clearly as you do today. And take a moment to spread a little bit of love...with a smile, a touch, a nice word....

Be thankful.

4.18.2006

Tonight's Crappy Drama

So today is a beautiful day, and Pete and I decide to go out for a nice relaxing dinner after what has been an incredibly difficult and stressful past three weeks. Dealing with issues—including my compensation, my job altogether, Pete’s work, my finances, our apartment hunt, friends going through big bad breakups, and my boss’ family dynamics (of which I get thrown into the middle)—has really taken it’s toll on us.

We’re sitting at dinner when I get a call from my boss saying the car I used is parked in front of a driveway. I’m shocked because neither of us noticed that last night when we parked it, and I can’t imagine that I would have missed it. She hangs up to go move the car (the cops are there telling her to move it), and calls me back a few minutes later. This time, though, she’s screaming at me that the ticket was $75, the car’s a pig sty, and the driveway was obvious. I immediately apologize and offer to go speak to the neighbor, pay the ticket, and clean out the car. She continues to yell at me and revokes my car priviledge.

So, obviously upset, we finish our “relaxing” dinner quickly and silently so that we can hurry home to fix it. We stop to buy an orchid for the neighbor whose driveway we blocked, and I add one of my nice flowerpots to make it look nice. I ask Pete to stay home and I go to my boss to get the info of the neighbor and to find out where the car is. She’s had time to calm down, and her fiancĂ© is present, so she’s a bit calmer. She even tells me she isn’t mad at me. She shows me the note from the neighbor which says that the woman missed work because of this, and tells me how bad it was walking with the cops and having the woman stare her down while she moved the car. She keeps telling me how horrible it was and goes back and forth on what she wants from me. First she tells me that she just wants me to own up to it. When I remind her that I did right away, she says I should have explained it. When I tell her I offered an apology and a solution rather than an excuse, she says I have been using the car too casually. When I point out that she’s the one who told me to stop asking her every time I wanted to use it and that I could use it when I needed, she says that was probably her error. She keeps going on and on about how irresponsible this was, how messy the car was (“it’s a pig sty!) and that she can’t believe I couldn’t see it. I point out that most of the mess in the car is the stuff she had in the car, and she goes off about tons of papers and coke cans. Apparently I’m being irresponsible by only throwing my trash away once a week or so when I’m close enough to the house to use our recycling bin (when it’s not already full). I tell her that I do clean it out regularly and that it has never been messy when the kids are in the car. She finds something else to pick at. She makes it very clear that she assumes I was drinking, and that’s why I didn’t notice the driveway. I am livid at this point because I’ve been working for her and using the car for ten months…does she really think I’d do this now? I get really upset and basically finish trying to talk with her. I tell her I’m going to fix this and walk out.

First, I walk to the residence where we were parked. I meet the husband of the woman who was so upset. The guy is extremely nice and not mad at all. He was actually happy that we got the car and it didn’t get towed, and stated that while it was a big inconvenience, his wife overreacted. He appreciated my apology and the orchid, and said he would pass it on to his wife. She had actually gotten another ride to work and hadn’t come home yet. (So it wasn’t her staring my boss down.) The guy was totally sympathetic because it was quite obvious I was stressed, and said that he appreciated the gesture. Very nice man.

A bit about the garage: It’s a dark grey house with a dark grey garage. The door has no windows, no handles, and no easily defined lines that make it look like a garage door. It does, in fact, look like the side of a house. Next to the NARROW driveway, there is a big tree that makes it seem like it would be impossible to have a driveway there. I can totally see how I would have missed that at night. It was definitely not an obvious driveway. YES, I should have seen it. YES, I made a big bad mistake. I’m paying $75 for that mistake. Maybe that’s not enough…but still, it is just an honest mistake.

Next I go to clean out the car. I would like to make it very clear exactly what I pulled out of the car. First, I moved all of her shit into the back of the car. By that I mean half the mess that was in bags and snacks and whatnot that are hanging out back there. Then, I pull 2 cans of Fresca, 3 Diet Coke bottles, and 1 juice drink bottle (all empty and closed tight) out of the car. I throw away one napkin, take a plastic bowl out, and remove a small pile of about 5 sheets of paper (all documents I actually use). THIS was what was causing her anger. It took me about 2 seconds to clean up. Yes, this means I should have done it before…but honestly, was it worth that anger? Was it worth all of this?

I move out next month. That’s what I keep telling myself. The problem is, she’s my landlord, my boss here, and my boss in my full time job. This is gonna kill me. Moving out next month will help.

In the meantime, though, am I to be responsible for moving a car every few days for street cleaning when I’m not allowed to drive it? How do I approach that issue with her without fucking myself over? Any suggestions?

Long Time No Blog

And so much happened in that long long time.

Compensation is settled, apartment search is going well, blah blah...

Crappy stuff is going on tonight, so I'm just gonna share a bit of fun....

Wikipedia actually has a listing for Marina Girl! Rock on.

3.31.2006

My New Roommate

Just also happens to be the most amazing boyfriend ever. Ack, we did it :)

almost...now we just have to get our OWN apartment that's big enough for all our stuff (or his stuff, I should say...I don't have nearly that much :))

3.14.2006

Natural Disasters

Most of you have probably heard about the storms that ripped through the midwest this past weekend. The Chronicle even covered it in yesterday's paper.

Hundreds of homes and businesses were destroyed or damaged in Missouri alone by the tornadoes, high wind and hail as big as softballs. There were no immediate damage estimates across the Midwest.


These are a couple of the hailstones my nephew grabbed out of the bed of his truck when he got home Sunday.



And they all asked if I was scared of getting hit by earthquakes out here.

3.05.2006

The Nobby Trees of San Francisco

Lining many of the residential streets of San Francisco, particularly in the Richmond and Pac Heights, are these cool looking trees that all look the same. Some of them have branches and leaves, but most of them are cut back in the winter to reveal nothing but a trunk and a bunch of nobs. A few weeks after I moved here I started asking what kind of trees those were, thinkin they MUST be the city tree or something. Nobody knew. I've told myself countless times that I'd google the nobby trees and finally did so.

They are...

the London Plane Tree (Platanus x acerifolia)



My quest is over.

3.03.2006

Still a Bibiliophile

My favorite quote from Candy Freak:

Every now and again, I'll run into someone who claims not to liek chocolate or other sweets, and while we live in a country where everyone has the right to eat what they want, I want to say for the record that I don't trust these people, that I think something is wrong with them, and that they're probably--this must be said--total duds in bed.

This book also taught me that yankees don't know about Valomilks, Goo Goo Clusters, or Cherry Mash. How sad for you.

Now I'm on a mission to find Five Star candy bars, because we sure as heck don't have those in southern Missouri.

I Love Books

I've read a lot of great books recently. I really should dedicate an entire blog to each one, but it's just not going to happen. Devil in the White City was a suspenseful account of the rise of Chicago with the World's Fair (which included the invention of the ferris wheel), and one of the most prolific serial killers in the world. Them was a fascinating look into extreme groups from Ruby Ridge militia men to Ku Klux Klan members to radical muslims. Candy Freak was a yummy read about the candy bars that are being pushed out by Hersheys and Mars. You'll notice a trend here in that I haven't been reading fiction lately. I've been a bit bored by the novels I've begun, and decided to stick to more educational pieces. One book, though, recently changed my mind.

Kite Runner is by far one of the best novels I've ever read. It is the story of an Afghan boy/man and his values juxtapositioned against American values and those of the fundamentalists around him in his home country. READ IT! This book should be required reading for our time.

One of the smaller themes of the book, but one I found particularly beautiful, is summed up by something the father of the boy tells him early in the story:

Now, no matter what the mullah teaches, there is only one sin, only one. And that is theft. Every other sin is a variation of theft.

When you kill a man, you steal a life. You steal his wife's right to a husband, rob his children of a father. When you tell a lie, you steal someone's right to the truth. When you cheat, you steal the right to fairness.

There is no act more wrteched than stealing. A man who takes what's not his to take, be it a life or a loaf of bread...I spit on such a man.

If there's a God out there, then I would hope he has more important things to attend to than my drinking scotch or eating pork.


One of the larger themes is forgiveness, especially that of one's self:

I wondered if that was how forgiveness budded, not with the fanfare of epiphany, but with pain gathering its things, packing up, and slipping away unannounced in the middle of the night.


And I'm not the only one who thinks this is the best book I've read in a long while:

Amazon says:

In his debut novel, The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini accomplishes what very few contemporary novelists are able to do. He manages to provide an educational and eye-opening account of a country's political turmoil--in this case, Afghanistan--while also developing characters whose heartbreaking struggles and emotional triumphs resonate with readers long after the last page has been turned over. And he does this on his first try.

...Hosseini has created characters that seem so real that one almost forgets that The Kite Runner is a novel and not a memoir. At a time when Afghanistan has been thrust into the forefront of America's collective consciousness ("people sipping lattes at Starbucks were talking about the battle for Kunduz"), Hosseini offers an honest, sometimes tragic, sometimes funny, but always heartfelt view of a fascinating land. Perhaps the only true flaw in this extraordinary novel is that it ends all too soon. --Gisele Toueg


Publishers Weekly offers the following review:

Hosseini's stunning debut novel starts as an eloquent Afghan version of the American immigrant experience in the late 20th century, but betrayal and redemption come to the forefront when the narrator, a writer, returns to his ravaged homeland.... The price Amir must pay...is just one of several brilliant, startling plot twists that make this book memorable both as a political chronicle and a deeply personal tale about how childhood choices affect our adult lives. The character studies alone would make this a noteworthy debut.... Add an incisive, perceptive examination of recent Afghan history and its ramifications in both America and the Middle East, and the result is a complete work of literature that succeeds in exploring the culture of a previously obscure nation that has become a pivot point in the global politics of the new millennium.


READ THIS BOOK!

I am a rockstar

I just came in 4th on a freeroll.

Granted, the payouts only went to the 3rd, but there were 403 people in the tournament and that means I hit 99th percentile.

Rockstar.

3.01.2006

Improvements

So in my second big poker tournament, I placed 17th out of 575. That's 97th percentile, whereas the last one was 95th percentile. I'm pretty darn proud of my 2% improvement.

Although I can only dream of being as good as Pete.

2.27.2006

Poker Goddess

Okay, so maybe not, but I did get interviewed for a chick poker website. Wanna see?

You'd think I'd been around for years, right?

Well, actually, I played in my first big online tournament yesterday. 1188 people to start. My goal was to come in top 400.
Guess what? I placed 63rd. Rockstar.

Rainy Days & Mondays

On this now nice but previously disgusting rainy day in SF, I am reminded how lucky I am to have a nice, understanding boyfriend.

My first driving experience in San Francisco, back in June, was horrific. I was not used to city driving, I was in a new car, AND it was raining. SF drivers aren't so great to begin with...partly because they are not everyday drivers, partly because of all the pedestrians, and partly just because of the urban impatience factor. But on rainy days, they rival first-time Mario-Karters.

That, and my intense fear of hitting some poor sap whose shoes couldn't stick to the sidewalk in all this water, led me to stay in this morning, after telling Pete I'd drive him to work. I made my tired boyfriend walk to the bus in the rain and deal with the motion sickness that evil muni drivers like to spread because I'm scared of the combination of this city, a motored vehicle, and wet roads.

I'm amazed he didn't break up with me on the spot.

2.15.2006

My New Hero

Willie Nelson is no stranger to scandal. In the past couple of years, though, he has come back out of the hole he dug with his tax evasion issues to claim the spot he rightly owns on the short list of true country legends. With the death of Johnny Cash, Nelson is one of the few greats still recording music. He secured his spot by releasing duets performed with modern country stars, and then tested his stamina by offering a recording for the soundtrack to "Brokeback Mountain".

Well, Willie just couldn't restrain himself. He has now pushed the limit, and in my book, that makes him a hero.

Nelson just released a song about cowboys and homosexuality.


Too bad the Nelson fans out there are all gonna freak.

Part of me wants to send the article to my father, but I don't think I want to be responsible for his next heart attack.

2.07.2006

F Words

Things the "F" could stand for:

Flu:
As Pete said in his comment, this seems most likely. I've got a weird bug that leaves me absolutely exhausted, sore like I worked out too hard, and a slight bit nauseous. it seems to be going around the house, so I'm going to assume it's a bit of a flu. Blah. Almost beter, though.

Fantastic Boyfriend:
My boyfriend is amazing. He takes such great care of me when I'm sick and makes my jaw lock in constant "awwww"s at how sweet he really is.

Fat/Flab/Fit:
Huge effort (perhaps a bettter one after the flu is gone) to get fit and make my fat go away. And it's gonna work, dammit.

Frenzy:
Cleaning frenzy, that is. Pete and I cleaned his kitchen Sunday. It's such a cute little kitchen when it's not messy! :)

Foolish:
Corey is foolish for using "Frisco" in his alliteration. Watch out, babe. Emperor Norton's ghost will find you and fine you!

First Place:
In my first ever poker tournament (online and with play money :)), I won first place. Yay for me!

or, it could just mean FUCK.

:)

2.01.2006

I'm not a superstitious person




but I just lifted my bag and on the floor underneath was a big capital F made out of paper. Granted, when I picked it up and turned it over it was the remaining portion of the cardboard tape container, but it's still a big giant F, right side up and everything, just for me.

Should I be wondering what this means?

1.30.2006

Why Tall Chicks Rock Reason #1

I'm starting with 1 because I think I'm actually going to keep this list. :)

We provide shade in sunny places.

1.29.2006

Happy Monday

This has been the most lovely weekend.

I dogsat a friend's toy yorkie. Not my favorite dog, but it's fun for a couple of days when it's not my own. It was a nice little glimpse into how Pete and I will deal with having a pet together, and it was definitely fun having people constantly coming up to us to pet the dog.

My 3rd grade boys team did amazingly well at their game on Saturday, showing that they actually do listen to me occasionally. I was sooooo proud of them. I've got some great players when they want to play ball.

That night we hung out with the kiddos' dad and Carrie and played Katamari and chilled. It was so nice just to get to hang out with the kids and have a chill evening but still be having a great time.

Today we got up and made crepes. It was the first time I made anything other than dessert crepes, and they were fabulous. Then we took the yorkie to the park and played/read/kept her from trying to attack dogs that could swallow her without chewing. Tonight we made a nice dinner and Pete is currently making creme brulee for us. I have a fabulous boyfriend in a fabulous city. It's actually quite the fabulous weekend. Monday will be nice and floaty.

Yay.

My boss told me she wants to let me move out of the cottage whenever Pete and I are ready to get a place, even if that happens sooner than we thought. (The flip side is the she may want me out before Pete's lease is up, and that would be a bit of a problem.)

1.28.2006

Ode to Bolivia

The Bolivian president just cut his salary in half, also mandating that all cabinet members' salaries would be capped at the same amount. Why? So the funds would be available to hire more public school teachers.

Not that Bolivia is a shining example of all that is great and advanced in the western world, but they certainly hold role models for our own politicians.

This is how it's done, boys.

1.22.2006

Things you don't do until you're married #72

Tonight I cut Pete's hair. Wait...let me go back and say that I've never before cut a man's hair. I intended to do just a bit of a trim to get him away from the mullet look he was starting. Apparently he was under the impression that I was planning to do the whole thing. He got upset because he didn't want to go into the barber with "half a haircut" and have the barber mess it up because they hadn't seen the original. When I finally figured out that what he wanted me to do the layers and all, I finished it up and he went on his way. He's wonderfully sweet and is telling me that he thinks it's fine, but I'm not so sure he's not just being nice. I think it turned out rather well, myself. Ahh, well. Guess I'll have to wait until I have kids to torture them with my scissors.

As a child, my mother cut 8 inches off my hair in an attempt to even up the trim she started. I should have learned my lesson then.

I suppose I was trying to make up for the fact that I got Pete an appointment with a $70/cut stylist who didn't give him anything different than what he'd always had. I think I'll cut my losses now and just fork over the cash for him to get a nice one next time. :)

1.20.2006

Attack of the Giant Woman


Someone once told me that anytime you see a giant woman stomping through a city on tv, you know someone with a giantess fetish is behind it. It was supposedly a fact in that strange little community that one of the guys who created the Suddenly Susan intro was part of the group. So now I've gotta wonder about the guys out here who are having a giant carpet sale somewhere in the city. I just saw a commercial that began with a news flash of a giant woman walking around SF. A tip of my hat to the giantess guys out there (the few that didn't freak me out anyway :)). Credits to Tim Stotz for the pic.

Ack!

I found more great big shoes!

1.19.2006

locker posters

Sometimes I wish I was in high school just so I could cut pics out of magazines and tape them to the inside of my locker.

I think I've just developed a bit of a new celebrity crush. Josh Lucas, of Glory Road (and known for Sweet Home Alabama, although he's been in many great movies), was on Daily Show tonight, and is adorable.


He's from Arkansas and grew up with the same accent I had. He worked hard to get rid of it, and now regrets losing it. He has a difficult time playing a southern guy, he says (although he always seems to get those roles), because it's difficult to force the accent.

He also, as a southerner would, once laid out a man for disrespecting a lady.

Rock the fuck on.




I love my amazing boyfriend, but if I find myself using a locker anytime soon, next to the pic of he and I (around which I'll draw a heart and write M+P 4-Ever) I'll put up a pic of Josh Lucas.

1.18.2006

Genetics of Autism

Researchers at the University of Utah have been exploring the genetics of autism, and recently confirmed that Chromosome 3 probably holds a gene that "causes" autism. I use the quotes because I think it's ridiculous to say that a gene causes the disease when researchers have shown again and again that autism is not entirely genetic. Autism cannot, in fact, be entirely genetic because over the past decade the disease has spread in epidemic proportions. While the cause of the rise in cases is unknown, it most certainly cannot be genetic. This leaves environmental factors. The most popular theory is mercury, in the form of thimerosal, in childhood vaccines. This is a hotly debated topic that I have addressed before, so I will not go into my rant on the bumbling idiocy and corruptness of our government in regards to the health of these children. Instead I'll point you to Evidence of Harm and Safe Minds to catch you up on the topic. I will add, however, that if the cause of autism was mercury in the vaccines, the rate of autism would go down when the mercury was removed. We now have proof in California that the rates have done just that. While the cause of the drop has not been confirmed, it is exactly what supporters of the mercury theory predicted.

I mention this because with the confirmation of a genetic link to autism, adversaries of the mercury theory are going to come out in droves stating we now have proof that it's not about vaccines. This is soooo not the case.

What the genetic link confirms is that some children have a biological propensity to get autism. One of the theories in the mercury explanation is that some children have a defect that leaves them unable to process the mercury as normal children do. This causes mercury to build up in the brain and leads to autism. IF that's true, this genetic link might cause the defect that causes mercury to accumulate. Regardless, the genetic link does NOT make autism a genetic disease. It simply leads us to the area that might make a child more susceptible to something in the environment that does cause autism.

Visitors

I'm so excited! I just booked Corey's ticket to come see me in March! I finally get to show this beautiful city to him. If you're out here, you can help me work on getting him to make the permanent move. :)

I'm so proud

my boyfriend is a rockstar

1.17.2006

slippin' around

I lost interest in hockey when the NHL went on strike. Honestly, I just went without seeing a game for so long that I threw my interest into my other sports passion, baseball, and forgot all about the puck. With hockey back in play this year, you'd think the thought would have at least crossed my mind.

But what do you do when your team just stepped down from its pedestal?

sadness

1.09.2006

Shoe Fetish

Someone FINALLY did it!

How many times have you walked into a shoe store, picked up a gorgeous pair of shoes, asked for a size 10 or higher just to have the salesperson say:
"Sorry we don't have your size"?
Well ladies, Taceri has your size and more.


This beautiful shoe

is in my size!

And so is this one


And this one!


Thank you, Taceri!
Taceri is a designer shoe line dedicated exclusively to women who wear sizes 10-14 medium. Our line is crafted in Brazil and is made of quality leathers and fine fabrics. We have something for everyone. These shoes will make any woman feel vibrant, sassy and confident. We think you will agree...

Now's the time to indulge, go ahead fulfill your passion, you are worth it.

Now, I've just got to keep myself from going broke. :) I could go broke on shoes. What a great problem to have!

1.05.2006

waiting for the other shoe to drop

I'm in one of those moods that nobody really understands. It's making it difficult to do anything, much less make decisions about fun or productive things I could do with my evening.

This morning I was faced with the fact that my employer doesn't realize just how much I bring to my position. Most likely, I haven't shown her; and that, of course, is entirely my fault. I was a little stressed out over it, knowing that I would have to prove myself, but it wasn't a huge deal. Somehow, though, it grew as it festered in my mind today.

I loved my job at Happy Camper. I worked tons of overtime and still barely made it financially. I gained 40 pounds because of the stress and the laziness of sitting at a desk all day. I had no social life. But I loved it enough to consider sticking around.

Then I found out what my employers thought I was worth--or better, wasn't worth. It hurt like hell to have something I put so much of my heart into be devalued like that. I'm terrified of that happening again.

Spending the few days surrounding New Year's with Pete really brought out how happy I am. I've never been this happy for this long. I have a great job that pays enough for me to be financially responsible. I have an amazing boyfriend and (for the first time ever) no questions about when it's going to end. I'm closer to my family than I've ever been and they all seem to be getting along. I have great close friends who show me how much I mean to them. I'm even making friends here. This is absolutely incredible.

And that scares the bejeezus out of me.

My life doesn't go well. This doesn't happen. Parts of it go well while everything is falling to shit (sometimes--other times it just all falls to shit at once). Occasionally it looks like something might go well and then it blows up in my face, too. This happy/calm/stable thing just doesn't fit.

Tonight I had planned to stay home and clean and what not, but this evening I knew I needed to spend it with my boyfriend. At the same time, though, I was in a rotten mood and didn't really want to expose him to it. I wasn't quite sure, so I sent him a text telling him I'd like to hang out. When he wrote back that it wouldn't be bad for us to do our own thing tonight, I swear I got teary. It didn't have anything to do with him, just with the day and the fears and the big scary world out there or something. I let him know that I was in a weird mood and would like to spend some time with him, but I wasn't sure how fun I'd be. Being the great guy he is, he assured me that my mood wouldn't last for long once I was with him. He's right, and I knew that, so I hesitated again. Maybe I want to wallow in my misery. Maybe I just want to sit on my couch and watch something dumb that makes me cry and feel sorry for myself before waking up and realizing how great my life is and how fucked up I am for not shouting with joy instead of sitting here feeling sorry for myself.

Ultimately, the cute little kiddos I watch cheered me up enough at dinner to realize that I need to be out having fun and taking advantage of however long I've got left on this crazy happy streak. So off I am to see the best man I know. He'll make it better for awhile.

Listening for the thud.

1.04.2006

Plagarist

So I haven't had anything original to say in a while. I really do believe I might catch up soon, but for now I have to admit that I could not possibly describe the transition from year to year as beautiful as Kendall:

Looking Back...

And so 2005 is gone. There's a certain danger in looking back over the last year. Do I regret anything? Did I learn anything? Am I better or worse off today than I was a year ago? And so the questions spill forth. I'm masterful at asking way too many questions and analyzing every little choice.

The cost of such a review, however, causes me to miss the moment. To make decisions on what was or what might have been instead of what is. Today was full of uncertainty, and I suppose at some level I should be grateful because with uncertainty comes opportunity to enjoy the moment.

flat on your back