Friday, July 30, 2004

Ten Pieces of Advice for the New Democratic Presidential Candidate and His Sidekick

I watched the final evening of the Democratic National Convention last night, and by and large, I had a good time.  Of course, I have a good time whenever the Heinz boys are on T.V.

Anyway, I had a few...suggestions, I guess, for John and John. I will share them after I get a cookie.

Mmm, cookie. Okay, here we go.
  1. John Edwards, you have to stop doing whatever it is you're doing with your tongue when you talk. M2 observed that it makes you look like a hungry frog about to snap up a fly. I thought it looked like your tongue was sentient and rebelling against its toothy masters, trying to climb over your lips and escape. Either way, get that thing under control or learn ventriloquism.
  2. Kerry, you need to smile more. It broadens your face, which makes you look less like a horse. This can only be a good thing.
  3. Keep saying the word "nuclear." It reminds us who can pronounce stuff and who can't. In fact, if you wanted to just stop every once in a while in front of the cameras and say that word over and over for thirty seconds, I think it might be a good idea.
  4. Somebody needs to tell Teresa Heinz-Kerry to stop wearing red. Unless you want Jon Stewart and the rest of America to keep it up with the ketchup jokes.
  5. More Heinz boys. Because damn.
  6. More Alex Kerry. She's a good storyteller. And evidently the boys think she looks okay, too.
  7. This one is for John Edwards: You can't use the word "myself" like that. There are only two ways you can use it: reflexively or emphatically. You cannot use it as the subject of a sentence. No, you can't. Knock it off. John and yourself aren't doing anything.
  8. Put a leash on Teresa. I'm all for powerful women (have you met me?), but do you really want another Hillary on your hands? Give her something important to talk about (because Laura Bush isn't really cutting it as far as role models go), but keep her from alienating the more easily intimidated swing voters. You can turn her loose after you win.
  9. Ditch the slogan "Hope is on the way." Because if you think about it, that's not actually all that promising. It just means we're going to be in a better mood about our problems, not that they're actually going be fixed. Stick with "help is on the way." 
  10. Blue shirts. M! made a point last night: he could never be a politician because he hates white dress shirts. (Well, that and because his chief rebuttal in debates would be "Eat a dick.") Is there any reason we can't have some less serious shirts? Perhaps a nice light blue? Still dignified, but not quite so boring. Would look super snazzy with a blue blazer. Try it, see what you think.

So there are my ten bits of advice for the new nominees. If you see any of them go into practice, you know who to thank.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

I also can't recite the Pledge of Allegiance or cut paper in a straight line 

I have a confession: I'm 23 years old and I don't know right from left.

I mean, I know conceptually what is right and what is left. I realize that if I hold up both my hands flat with the thumbs sticking out, one of them will make an L, and that's the left one. But doesn't work out that smoothly.

Today at work I've been paginating, which involves a lot of telling the computer if a page is a right-hand page or a left-hand page, so the footer and tab can go on the correct side and not get sucked into the gutter of the book. It should be relatively easy to remember: even-numbered pages are left, odd are right. Page 467? Click on "SoloArtRight." Cake.

Yeah, no.

EVERY TIME I change a page, I have to mentally refer to my hands to remember which way is left and which is right. When I tried to make an example of page 467 above, I had to correct what I'd orignally typed: "SoloArtLeft." That's what I get for not referring to my fingers.

This whole phenomenon gets even worse when I have to give or take directions. I finally told my friends that they had to pay attention to the gestures I make with my hands while giving directions, because it's a damn good bet that if I say, "Turn left here," I'll actually jerk my thumb to the right and give you a confused look when you get into the left turn lane. I use the phrase "Your other left" frequently. I've nearly wrecked my own car more than a few times making abrupt lane changes after somebody says, "No, I said right, dumbass."

I'm not sure if there's some disconnect between my brain and my mouth that is impeding the comprehension process, or if I didn't watch enough Sesame Street as a toddler, or what.  I think it might be a function of my larger problems with spatial thinking—the problem being that I can't do it. I know a half-mile is the distance from my house to my mailbox, but if you asked me to look down a random street in Houston and estimate what half a mile is, I'm likely to give you a location that's 500 feet away, if I don't offer one that's three miles down the road. I can't tell you how much water a container holds, I can't figure out my route on a map without turning the map so it is going in the same direction I am, i.e., if I am going west, I have to turn the map so west is at the top. And even then, I'm likely to make a right left right turn when I want to go south.  

Yes, I'm dumb. I know.

Friday, July 23, 2004

I don't think that's really how this is supposed to work

My grandfather does not have a computer, which is unfortunate, because I have a sneaking suspicion that, should he ever learn to use a computer, he would love it. Denizens of eBay: fear the day my grandfather figures out Windows.

Anyway, my grandfather has no computer, but he enjoys reading what I've written. My mother prints out any particularly good blog entries—the lastest being the tooth drama—and mails them to him, and then sometimes they talk about them on the phone. The last time I called him, he told me that my "stories were real cute." That was the same conversation in which he demanded that I write a story about one of the dates I was presumably going to go on. I informed him that nobody had asked me on a date in the last aeon, to which he replied, "Well, you've got a voice, same as them boys." So, anybody want to go on a date with me for blog purposes?

Anyway, my mother called on Tuesday and said, "Your grandfather liked your tooth story. He took it down to the store and showed Rob." I don't know who Rob is or what he sells in his store (probably coins—Grandpa has 10 rolls of each of the state quarters that have come out so far, and he's trying to get 10 rolls from each mint of each quarter), but evidently Rob also enjoyed my tooth story, and will probably be a regular reader of my (abridged) blog from now on.

The thing is, Rob is not the only random friend my grandfather has. For a man with no legs, he gets around. He makes trips to see his friends at the car dealerships down the street, at Bi-Mart up on the hill, at the granary downtown, and more than a few other places that I can't think of off the top of my head. He lives in a town of 16,000 people in Eastern Orgeon, and I'm pretty sure he knows most of those 16,000 on a first-name basis.

By the end of the year I could have a solid senior-citizen readership. Is this blog suited for senior
citizens? I have to wonder. If nothing else, my mother has become the de facto editor of my collected blog works, so I guess I'll leave that decision up to her.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Stupid things I have done this week:
In the spirit of "Thank God this week is almost over."
1. Melted five Gladware containers to a burner on my stove.
2. Burned left forefinger getting melted plastic off burner with butter knife.
3. Burned left forearm draining hamburger for dinner fifteen minutes thereafter.
4. Lost mail key immediately after my roommate gave it to me.
5. Announced (loudly) "There is no good reason to be in college for six years," forgetting that kid who took 6+ sits on the other side of the (open) wall from me. 
6. Stayed up until after midnight for no good reason the day I got my tooth pulled.
7. Decided to take the GRE literature subject test after all.
8. Accidentally dumped drawer full of cosmetics into toilet.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Items of interest

My jaw is still sore as all get out. I can open my mouth this wide: ------, which is one to two hyphens wider than yesterday.

My brother set a date for his wedding: May 27, 2005. Not the date I was hoping for, frankly, but it is Memorial Day Weekend, so you can bet that after the wedding, I'm going to go back to Wayne and sit on the porch drinking wine and exchanging gossip with my parents.

Astros manager Jimy Williams got fired yesterday, and it's about damn time. Not that every problem they're having is his fault (they've got a fair number of geezers, and geezers get hurt, Jeff Kent), but they certainly have the talent to be better than .500. However, I'm not holding out a lot of hope for Phil Garner, Jimy's replacement. The man got fired by the Tigers. Yeah, those Tigers.

Finally, I cannot stop watching T.V. It's bad news bears (WM), seriously, but I love T.V. I only have about six channels, but it's more than enough. I watch That 70s Show and Dharma & Greg or Everybody Loves Raymond in the evening, and Good Morning America in the morning. Please note, Diane Sawyer is clearly superior to Katie Couric in every aspect.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Street Value, One Molar: $154

I love my dentist, but she is a little bit of the crazy. I went in today because I had been having some pain in my upper left molar. She decided she couldn't be bothered to fill the cavity in that tooth; instead she wanted to pull the one next to it.

Of course, you can't really argue with your dentist and be like, I'd really rather not, you crazy weirdo. Cheerio!

So she snapped on her gloves and I leaned back in the chair with my eyes closed and my mouth open. Actually, the scariest part of the whole extraction was reading the release form they make you sign beforehand. Basically it says, "The dentist is going to rip your tooth out of your head and you can't ever sue her, even if the following things happen:
1. You get dry socket.
2. Other teeth are crushed in the process.
3. She takes the wrong tooth. (She's evidently entitled to one tooth per
form, and she gets to pick.)
4. She breaks your jaw, accidentally or deliberately.
5. Your sinuses are opened and dripping into your mouth.
6. The nerves in your mouth are severed and your face is numb forever.
7. You are beheaded."

I literally wanted to look at my dentist and beg, "Please don't break my jaw. I'll floss from now on, I promise!" The words were on the tip of my tongue, but instead I asked if I was going to be able to drive myself home. This was a complete bullshit question, because regardless of what happened, I fully intended to drive myself back to work.

So she lays out her sadistic little instruments on the tray: four of Satan's screwdrivers (heavy, metal, and pointed or slightly hooked on the end; actually called "elevators"), a silver syringe big enough to take down Koko and her kitten, and a gleaming set of forceps. She gave me two shots of Novocaine (bless) and set to work.

She started off using Satan's screwdrivers, and for about the first five minutes, it felt like she was actually trying to push the tooth up through my jaw in order to pierce my brain. The unnumbed side of my face was pushed up against her breast, her eyes are looming over my forehead as if she's a monkey being held up by the tail, and she's prying with all her might against this tooth. Meanwhile, I'm gripping the arms of the chair so hard that my fingers are still tired two hours later.

It took a full fifteen minutes to pry the tooth out. Evidently God hates me, because he gave my wisdom teeth curvy roots. Think about how hard it is to pry a screw straight out of wood. Same principle applies. There was crunching and grunting, and she finally had to STAND UP and YANK BACK AND FORTH with the forceps.

Of course, the first thing she says when she gets the tooth out is, "Wanna see your tooth?" I just looked at her and said, "No," in a tone of voice that implied she was 1) sadistic and 2) high on laughing gas. She said, "Oh, come on. God worked hard to make that tooth," which pretty much confirmed my opinion that God does, in fact, dislike me immensely.

Anyway, I had to look at the tooth, which was bloody and amazingly intact for the amount of crunching I heard. Now I'm worried that the crunching was something that's still in my mouth and is going to start to hurt as soon as the Novocaine wears off, a fear that is aided by the fact that I keep spitting out white shards. Fortunately, I won't have to deal with the pain for, oh, about six or eight hours, because the tip of my nose is still numb.

I escaped from the dental office after paying $154 for a tooth I no longer had and making an appointment for four weeks hence to do what I'd actually come in for in the first place. And when you think about it, that's actually about as good as a dental visit can get. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go spit out this bloody gauze because as fun as talking like the Godfather is...gross.

Friday, July 09, 2004

Get an accurate read on the situation

There was an article in the Globe and Mail yesterday that I found particuarly interesting.

Evidently only 57 percent of Americans read any sort of book in 2002.

Frankly, I have to say that I'm surprised that the number was that high. But that's actually not what I'm interested in. What I'm interested in is what the article doesn't say: how National Endowment for the Arts did the counting, and more specifically, what qualified as a "book."

Did they count eBooks? It's not in book form, but it has the same content. Does that count? Did they think to ask about electronic reading material? And what about magazine content? The New Yorker publishes dozens of short fiction pieces every year. Do they only count once they've been bound in a trade paperback and sold for $15.95 at the local Borders? What about the internet? I'm not saying that blogs, conspiracy sites, and porn should count toward the reading quotient (especially not porn), but I know there is valid reading going on out there. Some of it is even literary. Should spending an hour a day reading the newspaper be less valid than reading a bound collection of Far Side comics?

I'm absolutely unshocked that 43 percent of Americans aren't Barnes & Noble Advantage Card holders, but I have to guess that these people aren't illiterate, functionally or otherwise. They're reading. They're reading box scores and stock reports, news feeds and film critiques and a thousand other things that the NEA has deemed beneath its notice. And while I'm the first one to advocate for the importance of literature, it's really the most important that people read anything they can, whenever they can. These stats are too simple for the NEA to cry "read 'em and weep."

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Well, I don't know why I don't have a boyfriend. You tell me.

My brother is getting engaged this week. Or at least, that's the buzz—he has the ring, the reservations, and the (borrowed) Mustang. He's been dating his girlfriend for at least a year and half, and he told my dad that he feels like this is the right thing to do.

My brother is 21.

I suppose that's not a totally unreasonable age; he'll be 22 by the time he gets married, which is a solid year older than my parents were. And it's not like he should wait until he gets out of school—he's got a good six or seven years of school still left (pharmacology, thanks for asking). He's a fairly mature kid, and I suppose he's as ready to be a husband as anybody really can be.

Actually, he's probably readier than the average guy for two reasons. First, he's got three sisters. Three. And we're all extremely different, so he's seen the female psyche in various states of disarray. Second, the kid's had a girlfriend almost constantly since he was 15. I don't mean he's been dating since then, I mean he's had a girlfriend. Most of his relationships lasted well over a year (against the better judgment of the rest of his family). He's just a dateable guy, I guess.

My youngest sister is the exact same way, although she seems to be a little less willing to be tied to one guy for any length of time. On the other hand, Elysia and I are more...sporadic daters (to put it euphamistically).

I'm 23 and chronically single. My brother is 21 and getting married in a year. I'm not really jealous, except in a general sort of "I want a boyfriend" way. It comes and goes. I don't wish it was me instead of him. I just think it's weird. That's all.

One of us is clearly adopted, that's all I can figure.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Dear Lawyers of the World:

If you don't stop starting every single sentence you write with "also," "however," or a coordinating conjunction, I am going to sue you for abuse of language.


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