Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self. - Cyril Connolly
Thursday, August 31, 2006
Sleep deprivation causes me to see stupid people
Warning. Due to unusual work related circumstances that thankfully occur but once a year, I am operating on less than 8 total hours of sleep since 6:00 AM - TUESDAY. Crashing is imminent.
Of course, I cannot blame the work related gig for having to moderate the MD Delegates Legislative Forum this evening. I was the only control freak they could find on short notice apparently. Without going into details here (far too tired), let's just say: Be afraid, be very afraid Baltimore. There are more than a few imbeciles running for office this year that can't debate, let alone speak coherently in public.
One guy was so pathetic (how pathetic was he?), he answered Every. Single. Question. With the exactly the same Pavlovian response "It's a whole new game Baltimore. There's a two party system coming." That's IT. After a while, he sounded like Ron Popeil in a bad infomercial: "Just set it. And Forget It!"
I mean, WTF does that even MEAN??? People were laughing at him towards the end. Poor little lone Republican candidate that he was....
Oh, and then yours truly was so exhausted and harried, that she committed a MAJOR cardinal sin and forgot to turn off her cell phone during the debates (I know, I know - bad, bad, bad). Therefore, when Catherine Pugh was trying to make one of the few cogent responses of the evening, it went off, causing me to dive under the dais and silence it as quickly as possible. I flipped it open to shut it off, but not before I heard this guy mumbling, "Broadsheet - are you there? Hello? Helllooooo? Anybody Home?" He sounded like Cindy Lu Who calling from the bottom of my purse.
Ok, that's all folks. "To sleep, perchance to dream- ay, there's the rub."
They've been using men's names for tropical cyclones since 1979, and they're just now getting around to using the name JOHN??
Sounds like he might be annoyed with the lack of attention he's been getting compared to Ernesto, which, had it not been for Katrina, and the fact that the Eastern seaboard has slightly more people and property on it than the Baja peninsula, would be a literal blip on the radar screen.
My neighborhood has been host to kings, presidents, ambassadors, captains of industry, and even Nicole Kidman, but yesterday, we had the the king of birds pay us a visit. Just one block from my house! My neighbor, Elwin, is quoted in the article.
I thought it was pretty exciting to see a bald eagle on a previously undiscovered lake near my parent's house two weeks ago, but in downtown Baltimore?
I don't usually do memes, but since Charissa was kind enough to include me with all the cool kids - I'll take a stab at it. Cutting and pasting her post helps too!
1) You have been selected as the next super hero in your city. What power will you choose to have? - Invisibility. It's the sneakiest one.
2) Lemon or Lime? - Lime, most definitely.
3) How many speeding tickets have you received? - Three, but I've been driving for 25 some years.
4) It's last call for alcohol what will you order? - Glass of wine or bottle of water.
5) Which video game character would you want to be? - Buffy the Vampire Slayer in XBox.
6) What event do you think has had the most effect on this country? a) 9-11 - Check b) Iraq War c) 2000 election of Bush
7) What was the street name you lived on the majority of your childhood? - Highland Rd.. It later became Jarret Ave.. My sister still lives on it, and my parents moved one street down.
8) The name of your first pet? - Technically, Blackie, a small Scotty terrier, but he was really my Dad's dog. My first pet was a tabby cat named Tiger. Hmmm, we had a parakeet too, but I can't for the life of me remember its name just now.
9) Your first grade teacher's last name? - Mrs. Guthrie. She looked like Bette Davis - in her later years, and smelled like vanilla cookies and powder.
And the final one...
10) What color are your current undergarments? - Sadly, if you saw "Bridget Jones Diary", you know the answer to this one.
I think the locals have all been tagged at this point, so I'll leave everyone alone. We can compare lists at Happy Hour tomorrow. It's been ages, people. Hope to see a lot of you there!
My dear friend E. quit her high stress, high paying, life sucking, corporate job in London back in February to take a little detour through life and smell the roses along the way.
Well, after looking down a few paths, and weighing them against some other considerations and realities, she has chosen to move to Phnom Penh, Cambodia to work as a Volunteer for up to a year at The Cambodian Children's Fund and to act as the right hand person to it's Executive Director and founder.
I'm not sure saving children from a life of poverty, disease, exploitation, and slavery will be a bed of roses, but I sure bet it will smell like one......
Looks like I have a working vacation in Cambodia in my future.
Oh, that, and the fact that my best friend from college is still breast feeding, and her youngest is nearly three years old. AND she has four kids. AND (God willing according to her) she may have more.
I'm over FORTY people. You do the biological math.
I don't speculate on the "God Willing" bit, and honestly, she is one of my best, dearest, and oldest friends DESPITE the fact that, at our current places in life, we have completely different lifestyles, outlook's, religions, etc....
In fact, if we hadn't met in college/sorority and become such good friends, I would never have chosen her as a friend today because we are so different. Hell, we would never even have MET. That would have been a major loss to me, and I often wonder about people I SHOULD have met. Leave it to Chance and Karma I guess.
Anyway, she, her husband, and her family, would be an immeasurable loss to me if I didn't have them in my life.
I think about that every day, with every new person I meet.
Don't prejudge people. Even opposites attract.
And don't have kids past the age of 45 - whether you're the mother, OR the father.
So....turns out that sad, attention starved, psycho stalker John Mark Karr didn't kill Jonbenet Ramsey after all, and the citizens of Boulder are now mighty upset with their District Attorney for spending ALL that time and money to drag him back here from Thailand (flying - gasp - BUSINESS class no less!) based on "overwhelming evidence" without a firm DNA sample or proof that he was actually in Boulder on the night in question.
Hmmmmm.....And three years after we entered a WAR with Iraq based on arguably LESS "hard" evidence than the Boulder District Attorney had, we've spent 2,700 LIVES and more than $310 BILLION dollars. No one seems to be crying for Bush's resignation over THAT, now are we?
I truly sympathize with the plight of these refugees, really, I do. But WHAT, pray tell, makes them any worse off than the millions of refugees displaced in Darfur or the Sudanese Civil War?? Why isn't the UNHRC working to relocate them??
And Assistant Secretrary of State Sauerbry - when was the last time you went to Darfur?
I've been asked to be the moderator for the 40th Distric Legislative Forum this Thursday evening. It's a pretty cool gig! If you live in the 40th District, and want a chance to meet your candidates and hear their views - this is it. Lovel Lane Methodist Church, 2200 St. Paul Street. 7:00 PM.
For a handy dandy copy of the Voter's Guide provided by your firends at the League of Women Voters, you can go here.
Basically, moderating these things is like moderating the Presidential Debates, and the rules of engagement are:
* Each candidate will be allowed 3 minutes for his or her opening statements. The timekeeper will hold up a yellow card when 15 seconds remain and a red card when time has expired. The moderator will enforce the time limits. * Candidates who arrive during the question and answer period will forfeit their opening statements. * Candidate responses to questions from the floor cannot exceed 2 minutes. * Questions from the audience should be concise and not exceed one minute. * Each candidate will have one minute for closing remarks.
There are several interesting features about the race in the 40th District. Incumbent Democratic Sen. Ralph M. Hughes is retiring, and six Democratic candidates are running in the primary to replace him. One Republican, Stephen George, is the presumptive GOP nominee, and it will be interesting to see if he bothers to attend the Forum.
In Maryland, there are three delegates in the same district as every state senator. In the 40th District, two incumbent delegates have chosen not to run for re-election and instead seek Hughes' seat. They are Democrats Salima Siler Marriott, the head of the city House delegation; and Catherine Pugh, a former city councilwoman appointed to the delegate seat after the death of Tony Fulton. Both are proven vote-getters, and visible in the community.
Former city council president and mayoral candidate Lawrence Bell is also running, attempting a political comeback. The other candidates are city councilwoman Belinda K. Conaway, Tara Andrews and Timothy Mercer.
If everyone shows up - it will be an interesting evening!
Like the swallows returning to their nests in Capistrano every spring, the MICA students descended on Bolton Hill late last week. Driving to work on Thursday, I was suprised to see a cop at my intersection directing traffic before 8:00 AM. Then, I noticed the girl on the corner with a cardboard sign directing people to one of the various dorms, and quickly followed that with all the SUVs loaded to bursting with car top carriers, and little UHaul trailers double parked everywhere.
Perhaps the most distrubing thing about the whole event, is that the parents all looked like people I would hang out with since they were mostly my age.......
The rest of the weekend, the students roamed their new nieghborhood in little packs, attending orientation meetings and parties. One girl in particular seemed to be everywhere, but then again, she was kinda hard to miss. Tall, blond and plump, she wore army fatigue t-shirts and big heavy boots, but she also insisted on wearing a grey knit cap with kitten ears on it that tied under her chin, which just gave her the weirdest little girl lost look. She was annoying.
I'm not entering the fray on the idiotic article regarding career women that disgraced Forbes.com the other day. It was neanderthalic and beneath contempt, and doesn't deserve the attention it has generated in the media, the blogosphere, or any attention at all for that matter.
A mere four days at my Mom and Dad's house doing absolutely NOTHING was better than a week at the beach or buying new shoes. Seriously. Total and utter relaxation. Read 2 books and a bunch of magazines, hung out with the nieces, nephews, and some good friends from college (and her four perfectly behaved, adorable children), indulged in a lot of floating in the pool, ate yummy food, the weather was spectacularly cooperative, and I SLEPT. A LOT.
Oh well. Summer is officially over for me. Back to the real world, work, and a continued procrastination of things I have avoided for a while now. Taking a cue from Bitch Ph.D., I realized that despite being a busy Mom and academic, her "to do put off" list is surprisingly similar to mine, so I decided to procrastinate further by writing about it!!
* Taking the car for an oil change ($0) and putting in a new windshield ($$).
* Paying some bills.
* Purging unloved clothes from my wardrobe and donating them to Good Will.
* Painting the window frames and rehanging the blinds. Did I mention the new windows went in a year ago in March??
* Buying new blinds for the living room before all the leaves fall off the tree and the entire world can see into my living room all winter long. Again.
* Clearing up a crapload of clutter and papers.
* Organizing my photos and music.
* Reading a zillion books, and finish the five half finished NYT crossword puzzles laying on the coffee table.
* Running errands: Post office (I have a Xmas package that never got mailed!), recycling center, and Tailor.
* Making a dentist appointment (and a GYN appt., a Vet appt. for the monsters, etc...)
* Submitting the outline of a talk I need to give at a conference in Vegas in October.
* Sending thank-you notes.
* Sending out photos of my kid , family, and friends.
* Returning a movie.
* Doing laundry, sorting clean laundry, and the worst: part - putting everything away.
* Cooking frozen vegetables before they shrivel up in the freezer, and eating things in the fridge before they get slimy.
* Homeowner Association Treasurer chores and correspondence.
* The. Yard. So small, yet so avoidable. The garden was a relative disaster this year because of the Wall $$$ Project, but I need to do some serious landscaping, which requires some research, plant selection, and most of all COMMITTMENT.
In response to my one and only loyal reader - I WAS ON VACATION!!!
I will catch up with posting later this evening, once I slog through 150 emails at work, return phone calls, and go to three or four meetings.
The only good thing that happened upon my return, was that I thought I had to face the day with letting a problem employee go first thing this morning, but they used their good common sense while I was away to come to the realization that the S---t was about to hit the proverbial wind generator, took the rather large hint that I wanted to see them at 7:30 this morning on my first day back, and resigned while I was gone. Problem solved.
I pulled into the driveway last night with the gas light blinking and telling me I had 5 miles to go before I ran out of gas. I was too tired, and it was too late, to run out and fill it up, so I knew I had to go first thing this morning.
Since the tank was hot last night, and most of those 5 gallons were based on vapors and the fact that I had been going 60+ mph for the last 300 miles, when I started the car this morning, it told me I had only 1 mile to go before the car quit. I managed to coast into the gas station on fumes, just as the indicator went to ZERO.
The tank holds 16 gallons. I filled it with 15.999 gallons of gas. Yep - that's as close to empty as I've ever gotten with this car.
More later: bald eagles, herons, wild turkeys, covered bridges, Amish buggies, etc....
To the Baltimore City Road crew blocking all but the shoulder lane to the on-ramp of the northbound JFX expressway at North Avenue this morning, while you diligently worked to remove a dead tree from the side of the road. A tree that's been a lingering eyesore for more than a year.....
Could you POSSIBLY pick a better time than F#$%$^%^&G RUSH HOUR to do this???
I got to thinking about this post after the last one - obviously. I was gonna post it as an addendum, but decided it needed its own post.
I had the great, enormous, extreme, valuable, and otherwise fateful experience of growing up in a household that loved music of all kinds. It wasn't a talent that we actively cultivated, collected, or otherwise projected on each other. We are a family of singers, performers, and exhibitionists (for better or worse - trust me) going back generations on my Dad's side.
Mom played a mean violin in her day, but her side of the family is simply overwhelmed with truly great and well known artists in the media realm: paint, sculpture, drawing, etc....
Ultimately, for the music side in our immediate family, we have one truly professional musician, a truly academic Ph.D. artist, a couple of wannabees, and some damn fine talented amateurs among us.
So.....What TF***** does all this have to do with a post about people losing their lives in a tragic toilet accident you may ask???
Well, these are the kind of songs I heard hanging around family campfires after all the adults thought we had gone to bed.
OK, so Friday was pretty much one of the coolest, and most memorable experiences I've ever had. Fifteen family members, neighbors, and friends, were invited to Washington to see my good friend, Bob Ford, invested as the next Ambassador to Algeria. His mother in law arranged the whole thing, and told us to be at the house bright and early to board a bus she had rented for the day, so we could all arrive together, and celebrate on the way home.
Walking up the street to their house, I came upon the bus, and thought to myself, what a great symbol for today's event!
Then I got a view of the interior, and knew we were in for a great day! The only thing missing was a stripper pole. It was VERY posh. Full bar, 3 flat screen TVs, the works. I apologize for the picture quality, but I took this on my cell phone and it was dark.
And I'm afraid those are the only photos I can share, because once we arrived at the White House, our cameras, cell phones, etc., were absolutely verbotten. Security was VERY tight. Even after the Secret Service background check that each of us went through, we went through metal detectors, had our photos taken, our purses opened and thoroughly searched (not just glanced through), and were asked to present our ID upon entering every hallway, elevator and room.
But it was SO cool to be there in person! It really does give you the chills to be where so many important and historical events take place. The weather certainly brightened the mood too - it was just lovely for an August day in Washington, DC! There was a festive, but very reverent mood, very much like a wedding in certain respects. Everyone dressed in their summer formal finery, standing around chatting in hushed tones, waiting for the ceremony to begin. Condoleeza Rice was slated to do the honors up until that very morning, but had to go to the UN at literally the last minute to work on the Middle East peace deal. Undersecretary of State, Nicholas Burns stood in for her, and I think it was even more fitting since he knows Bob personally and was able to offer some very personal comments to the ceremony. Secretary of State Rice had left some personal comments to be read in her absence which were very nice and reflected just how highly Bob is regarded in the US Foreign Service. I was very touched by the enormous outpouring of affection for Robert by his colleagues at the State Dept. They turned out in droves, and represented all the areas he's worked in for so many years, from his days in the Peace Corps in Morocco, to Algeria, Cameroon, Cairo, Bahrain and Baghdad. We were also introduced to the Algerian Ambassador to the US Amine Kherbi. When Robert gave his remarks, he made a point of thanking his wife Alison, who is a remarkably accomplished diplomat in her own right, and choked up a bit. When he took the oath of office, I will admit to reaching for a tissue myself.
The official signing of the mission papers took place at the State Department in the Treaty Room located on the top floor of the State Dept. Building. These rooms are stunningly appointed, with ionic columns topped with gold State Dept. seals, marquet floors, and contain period furnishings and antiques highlighted by the oil portraits of previous Secretaries of State: Jim Baker, Henry Kissinger, Howard Schultz, Warren Christopher, etc., all viewing the proceeds from their gilded frames. It's an awe inspiring place. With a few strokes of a pen, seated at one of the tables used to sign the Treaty of Paris, and Bob officially became Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria. A State Dept. Photographer captured the event, so perhaps there will be photos at a later date.
After a brief reception, we were herded back out onto our happy little bus, and with the arrival of the Ambassador, we opened the champagne, made many toasts, and celebrated with fresh strawberries and biscuits all the way back to Bolton Hill, where we continued the celebration with a luncheon. For good measure, we celebrated yet again yesterday with a larger party for the friends and neighbors who weren't able to attend the ceremony. Robert leaves for Algeria on Thursday. The photos of the residency look spectacular: 6 Bedrooms, a household staff of eight, pool, gardens....Very posh.
I was extremely honored and touched to have been part of such a special occasion, and am already making plans to head to North Africa for a visit.
Given today's panic level at airports, and the resulting security crack down, I can hardly wait to see what kind of drill they put us through when we arrive at the White House tomorrow morning for Bob's investiture ceremony as Ambassador to Algeria.
We all went through a Secret Service screening process, but I'm guessing they aren't taking anything for granted. I want to take a camera, but I'm guessing that's the first thing they'll confiscate.
Stay tuned tomorrow. Blogging from the Rose Garden! OK, not live blogging, but, you know....
Officials at Baghdad mortuary say they received 1,855 bodies in July,.... The figure - the highest yet - is a rise of more than 350 on June. Officials say about 90% of the deaths were as a result of violence.
Death tole for the month long Isreal / Lebanon "skirmish"?
Isreal = 98 (as of Tuesday) Lebanon = 781 (as of Tuesday)
Again - more than TWICE the number of people are being killed in Baghdad alone - not to mention the rest of Iraq - compared the the numbers killed in Isreal/Lebanon and yet, the media coverage focuses on their fight, instead of the war and devastation we caused for the last 4 years.
I bought my house 7 years ago in the middle of the serious slide in interest rates. Since then, my home has more than tripled in value, and I refinanced my 30 yr. fixed mortgage to a 15 year fixed at 4.25%, and still pay $100 less per month (adjusting for the increase in property taxes!), and I'll own the place in 11 years.
Ahhh...the good 'ol days. On Sunday night, 60 Minutes did a piece called Living Large on the ever increasing size of American homes. It described the how the average size of new homes built in the US have grown by 50% over the last 30 years, while the average household size has shrunk to only 3.6 people.
I'll say. From the time I bought my home in Bolton Hill, until just very recently, the number of listings in Homes Database.com for houses worth more > $300K, have gone from a handful, to more than 50. We have three homes on the market on my street, and they never lasted more than a week or so until this past spring. For now, they are sitting.
The times, they are a changin.....
Fortunately for me, like a mild downturn in the stock market, I am in a very comfortable, stable, long term position with no intention of selling anytime soon.
If there is a better way to fall totally head over heels in love AGAIN with your adopted home town, than a beautiful evening sail with coworkers on a catered yacht, I don't know about it.
Last night was perhaps the single most glorious evening of the summer weather wise. A light breeze, low humidity, a little on the warm side, but not hot, and the light was just amazing. Sailing out along the skyline and looking at all the new growth in the East Harbor and Tide Point, and then going out by the ports that still provide Baltimore with its place of importance on the Eastern Seaboard, watching the herons and cormorants fishing along the shoreline...just beautiful.
I think everyone on the boat stopped and caught their breath as a group on two occasions: (1) sailing back towards the Inner Harbor just as the sun was setting in a glorious fireball, and seeing it literally glow behind Fort McHenry, you could almost hear the Star Bangled Banner playing in the background; and (2) as we were pulling into dock just before 9:00, everyone suddenly turned around, and off the back of the boat, rising up on the water, was the biggest, fullest, deep orange moon I think I have ever seen. It was HUGE.
I really, really regret not having my camera with me last night.
The Blogfather turns five years old today, and points to the first week's archive of his blog. Strangely, little has changed: Bioethics, the broo-ha on Bush's policy on stem cell research, The FBI overstepping its bounds, a link to a Will Saletan article at Slate, and the question that still reigns supreme today....
Night, after night, after night, we are forced to watch the litany of civilians killed, children burned, and homes destroyed in horrifying detail as the war between Israel and Lebanon intensifies.
And yet, there has not been a SINGLE DAY in the last 3 weeks that their conflagration has been going on, that MORE people are not being killed in Iraq. EVERY. DAY.
And on most days now for - oh, the nearly last four years or so.
The American Military restricted the movements of the media and prevented them from reporting much of the initial carnage of the war in Iraq, and now it's so dangerous, that most media outlets are reluctant to send their reporters into any but the "safest" (relatively speaking) areas of Baghdad and other cities, so we can't see the daily carnage first hand. Nonetheless, I cannot understand why the media continues to focus on the comparably low death toll and destruction between Israel and Hezbollah, when the fact remains that we have wiped out an entire country, more than 50,000 civilians have been killed (and we'll never know the real number), and we have inflicted loss and change on an entire region and a generation or more of their people that will forever alter their course in history.
There was an NPR commentary yesterday morning lamenting the environmental damage being done to the Lebanese coastline due to the oil spills from the bombing of Lebanon, but no mention is made of the priceless artifacts lost for all time in the museums of Iraq. Artwork and archeology dating back to the dawn of civilization. Destroyed for all time.
Not to mention the people....
America's attitude towards peace in the Middle East smacks of hypocrisy given our unapologetic bias towards Israel and our current involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. Who are we to offer or demand peace accords?
Blogging was noticeably light last week since I had another killer week at work. On Friday, I had to spend the afternoon giving a dog and pony presentation to eight members of our Board of Trustees. So, not only did the entire 40,000 square feet of building have to be clean, and everyone on their best behavior, I had to put together a slide show, gather marketing materials, orchestrate tours and meetings, herd doctors and prep them for conversation, and make sure the caterer showed up on time among other things.
As always with these type of presentations anymore, the most stressful part of the day is the multimedia presentation: making sure the slides are synched, that the internet connection to the projector is working, that the Flash video clips load quickly, that the sound is good, etc....
I can never understand how a program can run so flawlessly on the laptop in rehearsal, and yet when the laptop then gets connected to an overhead LCD projector - all hell breaks loose. Not to mention the last minute changes that people want to give me on USB jump sticks ("Here! Stick in these slides!"). Thanks - I could have used these FOUR DAYS AGO when I asked for them!
Anyway, the tour went well. I hope they were impressed. I hope they go forth and either give, or raise, a lot of money for us, and such is the cost of doing business.
All is not lost, as our CEO has hired a boat to take the Sr. Exec staff on a dinner sail on the Chesapeake this evening as a thank you. Not for Friday, but to celebrate the successful end of our fiscal year in June. It's supposed to be a beautiful, cool (for Bawlmore), summer evening, and I can't think of a better way to relax with colleagues. So if you see a large, tall masted schooner with overdressed, middle aged exec types sipping white wine on deck, sailing around the harbor this evening - that would be us.
Comedian Rob Schneider, the son of a Jewish father and Philippine-American mother and star of the "Deuce Bigalow" films, took out an ad on trade publication Variety's Web site pledging that he would never work with Gibson.
Ummm... Rob, buddy? I REALLY don't think you were ever in immediate danger of working with Mel Gibson anytime.
How is it that the average cost of gas in Baltimore right now is about $3.15 - $3.19 a gallon, and yet in places we went to on the Eastern Shore and Shore this weekend, it was routinely as low as $2.75, and even $2.72 in some places?