Friday, February 29, 2008

The miracle of science

According to BusinessWeek, researchers at the University of Washington "are developing a contact lens that projects images in front of the wearer's eyes."

The smart lenses are designed to notify you of incoming calls or e-mails.

The best part? Apparently these amazing new lenses are currently being tested on rabbits.

Who knew bunnies had cell phones, let alone e-mail?

Truly a miracle of science.

And as they say at my favorite news site Fark, "still no cure for cancer."
I am listening to: Tasmin Little - The Naked Violin
I am reading: BusinessWeek
And I am: Bunnylicious

Thursday, February 28, 2008

It's a good day when

You discover you have yet another thing in common with someone you already really like.
Someone you haven't heard from in months sends you an e-mail outta the blue.
Your hair cooperates.
The lights are green.
No one yells.
You laugh and cry in the same conversation.
Your smiling dog licks your face.
The sun is out for the first time in weeks.
I am listening to: Good Day Sunshine - The Beatles
I am reading: Wired magazine
And I am: Grateful

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

In the vernacular of the peasantry

She’s sitting down below. But her voice is cutting a powerful, destructive swath through the entire train car. She’s a Category 3 Yapper.

And her mouth is goin’ like a Whip-poor-will’s ass.

A Whip-poor-will’s ass, Hedy?


This is a lovely, colorful colloquila…colloquilia…coloquilias…eh, fuck it, expression that us Michiganders use for when someone is talking way too much.

I’ve always wondered if Whip-poor-wills tend to poop a lot. Or maybe they’re just really really fast. No clue.
Bonus points if you know from whence came the title of today’s blog.

Jesus. It took me 15 minutes to figure out how to write that sentence and I still ain't sure it's right.
Shit-ass is another Michigan phrase. Shit-ass is what Da called us kids when we were being punks. Punks. Another oft-used Michigan word. Occasionally combined with ass. For punk-ass. Not to be confused with shit-ass.

So, to review. Hedy still doesn’t know how to spell colloquilia…whatever. We have lots of quaint ass-related phrases from whence I came.

And that'll be enough yapping for today.
I am listening to: Deeper Than the Holler by Randy Travis
I am reading: Jigging in the afterlife
And I am: Getting a dictionary

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The fars are all about fear

“It’ll be me, my daughter and her friend who writes for _____ magazine,” says a co-worker. “Will you join us for dinner Saturday night?”

Seriously? Dinner with a professional journalist? In New York?


I haven’t read his particular publication all that much, so I take 10 minutes before booth duty to Google the writer and learn more about him.

I’m from the Midwest. While we do our best to avoid generalizations, we tend to believe that people living on the far right (New York) and far left (Los Angeles) coasts are more liberal.

So I was shocked to discover that I’d traveled all the way to New York to dine with one of the most hard-core conservative journalists on the planet.

And me, an Obama girl. Yikes.
We’re through appetizers and the first of two ridiculously delicious bottles of wine when it starts.

“And tell me, what the hell has Obama DONE?” says the journalist.

“And his middle name is HUSSEIN!” says the daughter.

“And he has no international experience!” says the journalist.

“And his middle name is HUSSEIN!” says the daughter again just in case we didn’t hear it.

This goes on for about 15 minutes until my co-worker glances over and says “Looks like you’re outnumbered, Heather.”

Shocked silence. Then feigned embarrassment followed by pseudo-sincere apologies.

“OH, we didn’t KNOW…we’re so SORRY…my mom actually likes Obama.”

It was rather odd, honestly. Because I wasn’t offended.

I actually ENJOY hearing opinions different from my own – I’m comfortable enough supporting my views and love love love it when people are informed and confident enough to do the same.

I explained how Obama appeals to people like me because he talks about what we can do, rather than what we can’t do. He talks about personal responsibility and education and working together to make a difference rather than fear, negativity and politics as usual. I said Obama - more than any candidate in my lifetime - stands to unite our country. I said Obama’s popularity is an indictment of the Bush administration’s reckless disregard for the electorate and that the Republican party and McCain will suffer for it for years to come. I told them my only concern was that Obama seems to be peaking early.

It's obvious I've scored a few points when out of the clear blue the daughter mentions the fact that the journalist was a Rhodes Scholar.


It was the educational equivalent of whipping out your wiener.

As if something like that would impress someone like me, a college dropout from suburban Detroit who finally finished her undergrad at the ripe ol’ age of 36.
“So who do you like to read?” I ask, curious how this brainiac high-dollar scholar spends his down time.

“Well, I like this writer from one of the Chicago papers,” says the journalist. “Mark Steyn. And I like Ann Coulter.”

I don’t care if you’re on the extreme right or left, the language seems to be the same: It’s all us vs. them, hate vs. love and fear vs. hope.

These are people who are all about freedom of speech until you disagree with them.

These are people who believe it’s harmless entertainment when Ann Coulter says it’s a good idea to invade Muslim countries, kill their leaders and convert all of them to Christianity.

These are people who will tell you that the government has the solution to all of your problems.

People who seriously ought to know better but enjoy the power that comes with playing on the fears and prejudices of the ignorant.
Aren’t you being elitist yourself by calling certain people ignorant, Hedy?

Not really. Now more than ever, knowledge is free. It takes nothing but time.

Here’s how I define ignorance: People who willfully avoid educating themselves to improve their lives. People who willfully avoid educating themselves about other cultures; people who are content condemning others rather than trying to understand them.

And that, my friends, is the trouble with the fars.

Far right. Far left. They’re all about fear.

The far right wants to control the ignorant by playing on their fears that the world is nothing but One Big Threat and the government will protect People Like Us and Our Way of Life from Them and Their Dangerous and Different Ideas.

The far left wants to control the ignorant by playing to their fears that they’re not good enough or capable enough to do anything without government assistance, intervention, and supervision.

It’s elitist on both sides. But it's the worst when it is sitting across the dinner table from you, wearing its education like a star and pretending to be enlightened.
I am listening to: Another incomprehensible episode of Lost
I am reading: Anything but a certain journalist
And I am: A little tired of all of it

Monday, February 25, 2008

Saying no to CFLs

This could spark controversy, but I am taking a stand against the new eco-friendly compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs.

For shame, Hedy. Don't you care about the environment?

Hell yes, I care about the environment.

But I care more about MY environment.

Have you heard? These new-fangled fluorescents last up to 15 times longer than regular bulbs.

Terrible. TERRIBLE news for domestically challenged chicks like me, who clean light fixtures only when forced into it by burnt bulbs.

You know what I’m talking about. Admit it.

You flip the switch and hear that unmistakable metallic POP! You piss and moan about it for at least two weeks, coming up with creative ways to cope. You play Sock Surprise every morning, hoping that the two dark strangers you yank from the drawer are at least in the same region of the rainbow. The flashlight becomes your best friend; you spend so much time together that you name him Pablo and thank him every day for keeping you from peeing in the dark.

Wait. Maybe not that last part. Who names a flashlight Pablo?


Finally, after you’ve clipped your toe nails, cleaned the dryer lint thingy, and organized the dog toys by color, texture and spit saturation, there’s just no more avoiding the light bulb change. The lowliest of chores.

So you bust out the stepladder. You contemplate the wattage, doing your very best Jedi mind trick (thesearethebulbsI'mlookingfor), willing the burnt bulb above to be whatever random replacement you scrounged from the cupboard. 25? 60? 150? You curse that sonovabitch Thomas Edison and his whore of a mother just because it feels so good.

You loosen the screws holding the fixture in place, careful not to spill.

Careful not to spill, Hed?

Yes. Careful not to spill the bug carcasses on your head.

And THAT’S WHY we’ll NEVER screw a CFL bulb into a socket in our house.

SCREW CFLs, I say. Screw 'em. And their whore mothers, too.

Just think of the bug carcass carnage after 15,000 hours of light. A crunchy crust of corpses would block the light long before the bulb ever blew.

So I am saying a hearty NO THANK YOU to CFLs. And if you really care about my environment, you will…oh, never mind.
I am listening to: NBC Sunday Night News
I am reading: With Pablo
And I am: Dirty silly

Saturday, February 23, 2008

To your right

You'll notice a few fresh links to your right. Please check them out.

They're all so good I don't know where to begin but it seems right to start with my stellar friend Susan from Susan's Sidewalk Snippets. She was the first in my ever-expanding train posse -- a veteran commuter -- and is always smart, funny and insightful. Her concept is simple and brilliant: Walking the streets of Chicago every day, we can't help but hear snippets of conversations. Susan uses these snippets as a starting point and PRESTO! A fun and funny blog you should be reading every day.

Life in Amreeka is a brand new blog from the newest addition to my train crew -- he's a Pakistani expat -- with a unique perspective on life here in the U.S. And you know how passionate I am about understanding the people and culture from that part of the world. We can expect great things from the blogger at Amreeka -- not the least of which is a humorous look at how we silly Americans treat 'foreigners' in this post 9/11 world.

Speaking of expatriates (and last but certainly not least), my lifelong friend Nelson has a blog called Enjoy Life. Enjoy life. We don't do that nearly enough, do we? All of us could take a little lesson from Nelson, who has lived all over the world -- most recently Tokyo and now Bangkok -- but still has a huge appreciation for this place we call home.
Other links you should be visiting on a semi-regular basis: Basic Instructions, Fark, The Happiness Project, Take a Report, and Deus Ex Malcontent.

Finally, big thanks to my original band o'bloggers: Dave, Pos, Molly, and Crusty.

Thanks to all of you for making my life on- and off-line so enjoyable.
I am listening to: Cobrastyle - Teddybears featuring Mad Cobra
I am reading: You know, the new blogs
And I am: Relaxed

Friday, February 22, 2008


“It’s gonna be a day tomorrow,” says trader #1 in the elevator yesterday morning.

“Why?” says trader #2. “Is it a number?”

Four months ago I would’ve had no clue what those two guys were talking about.

And amidst all the unbelievable bullshit I’ve dealt with in this new job, learning a new language has definitely been the bright spot.

Every business has WorkSpeak – a special language used by employees comprised of buzzwords, jargon, and cryptic phrases built from years of doing the same thing over and over and over again.

I love it.

People figuring out better and easier ways to communicate with each other to get things done.

“6 and 12 down, 6 cheese please!” yells the Crew Chief from up front between the warming bin and the registers.

“6 and 12, 6 cheese!” the Grill person replies.

6 Big Macs. 12 hamburgers. Make 6 of them with cheese.

That was the first language I learned at the first job I ever worked.

At McDonald’s.

Six Big Macs actually meant 12 patties so you had to do a tinybit of thinking to add up the total frozen solid burgers to smack down on the grill.

“Four quarters, two cheese!”

That was four Quarter Pounders, two with cheese.

Quarter Pounders (obviously) used different patties from the burgers so they had to be called out separately.

With those fancy schmancy computer screens relaying orders to the kitchen now, I'm guessing the language of McDonald's is dead. Sad.
Trader #1: It’s gonna be a day tomorrow.
Translation: It will be an extremely busy day on the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade tomorrow.

Trader #2: Why, is it a number?
Translation: Will there be an economic announcement that could affect the markets like unemployment or interest rates or housing starts or retail stats?
The information technology business is without question the worst when it comes to WorkSpeak.

Every year or two the geeks get together and develop a whole new language so they can charge clients more per hour explaining it to them.

First it was client/server. Then it was middleware. Then it was e-Business or E-Business or eBusiness, depending on if you worked for IBM or Microsoft or Oracle. Then it was business intelligence – an oxymoron if ever one existed – and data warehousing, which sounds vaguely cool but is poke-your-eyes-out-with-a-pencil boring. Then it was portals and dashboards and who knows what the fuck they’ve invented in the four months since I left that infernal industry.

You wanna know the first really nice thing my future husband ever did for me? Back in 1990, he created a cheat sheet of acronyms to make it easier for me to update resumes for the IT consulting firm where we met.

He helped me understand the language of our industry. And if that ain't romantic, I don't know what the hell is.
So. Tell us about the language where you work. Tell us about the first day you heard it. Tell us how it’s changed over the years.

And put it on a rail.
I am listening to: Gromit snoring
I am reading: Neil at the Sun-Times
And I am: Sleepy

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Bubblegum whiplash


That’s me, grabbing at the Baggie of bubblegum co-worker Josh brought to the booth.


Justlikethat I am six years old.

I peel back the paper flap like an expert, careful to avoid tearing the comic tucked inside.

I take that first, fresh expectant sniff.

I pop the small powdery pink piece into my face and chew chew chew chew chew chew chew, working up to that Magical Miraculous Bubble.

Meanwhile, I fold open the comic, anticipating the final bit of silly nostalgia that caps the Bazooka Experience.

Wait. Heh?

I squint, holding the scrap closer to my nose. What the hell? Nothing.

I can’t READ the FUCKING comic.

The type font is so small I can only guess what’s happening based on the tiny, poorly drawn characters.


I am 60 years old and blind as a sad bat.


I spit the blob into the wastebasket.

Bubble Yum was better anyway. Bigger bubbles.

And no perennially disappointing comic.
I am listening to: Brand New Key - Deana Carter
I am reading: Deus Ex Malcontent
And I am: Old

Next time we're handing out soap, goddammit

"Did you hear him?" says co-worker Josh standing in our booth. "He doesn't even trade."

"Yeah, and did you smell him? Apparently he doesn't shower either."
That's the absolute worst thing about trade shows: Germs.

I'm not necessarily the Queen of Clean.

Okay wait. I am. Sorta.

Not house cleaning clean. Hand cleaning clean.

We're talking incessant, maniacal hand washing 697 times a day combined with anxiety attacks if I'm ever too far from my favorite disinfectant hand wipes.

So a trade show where I'm shaking hands with hundreds of filthy strangers who have either a) just peed all over their hands in the bathroom, b) picked their nose, c) pulled something gross outta their ear, or d) ALL OF THE ABOVE just scares the LIVING CRAP OUTTA ME.
The Purell hand wipes have alcohol in them so if it's winter time and your hands are cracked and bleeding due to - I don't know - a rather serious Lady MacBeth complex, they're gonna sting like a motherfucker.

Wet Ones are generally good but they have that funky baby wipe smell to them, like they're just waiting for a big smelly yellow splotch of kid shit to truly fulfill their life's purpose.

What about liquid hand sanitizer? No, no, no. It just feels...wrong. Vaguely sticky and not entirely clean. If I'm putting gook on my hands and then rubbing them together, well, now all I'm left with are some semi-clean germs on my paws and that's no good, is it? It's all about the wipe for me.

That's why I've found the Kleenex brand Splash 'n Go wipes are best. They smell nice and don't have alcohol so no burning/drying, leaving you with good clean hands.

So where were we? Ah, right. Trade shows.

Filled with nothing but filthy little dirty-fingered freaks. Stay away if at all possible.

And don't forget to wash your hands.
I am listening to: Songbird - Fleetwood Mac
I am reading: This article by Chez Pazienza - read it
And I am: Dry and rather cracked

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

New York via Ashid

"This is my last night here and my first time in New York and I want to see something, can you help?"

"Yes ma'am," says Ashid the cab driver. "Where do you want to start?"

It was Monday night and I was restless.

If you've ever worked a trade show, you know it's a whole lotta yap yap yap yap yap yap yap and then you crash in your hotel room. Three nights in a row it's been dinners with vendors and clients and competitors and all I want to do is something that doesn't involve Everyone for a little while.

So I catch a ride with Ashid to see bits of the city.

He is kind enough to wait while I walk to the edge of Battery Park for a distant glimpse of the Statue of Liberty. He says it isn't a good idea walking through the park this late because I am alone -- fascinating since I've never once felt afraid like that in Chicago.

The statue is just a glowing green ghost across the bay, although it's interesting how her base makes her seem so much taller than she really is. I wonder if the French planned it that way - a subtle symbol of how we silly Americans think we're so much bigger and more important than we really are to the rest of the world.

Ashid came to the United States from Bangalore 15 years ago.

"I move here first, then my wife five years later," he explains. "She waits. She waits five years. For me."

I ask him what was most surprising about the United States when he first moved here and he says the order of things.

"The streets are straight," he said. "Someone planned this."

Ashid waits near the site of the World Trade Center while I wander around a bit, finding my way over to one lonely guy sketching it through industrial fence. He explains where everything was and all I can think is this is without question the biggest, saddest gravesite I've ever visited.

"Where were you on 9/11?" I ask Ashid, back in the cab.

"I was visiting family in India," he says. "It was like a movie, watching this happen to my city from there."

We wiz by Wall Street and Chinatown then TriBeCa and SoHo and the Villages.

At this point I'm feeling nothing but an odd mix of excitement and sadness at the fact that I'm this old and just now visiting a place that I've been to a hundred times in my favorite movies.

Back out front of the Marriott at Times Square, I thank Ashid for showing me around.

"My whole life, I never forget this night," he says, smiling from the front after I hand him way way more than the meter needs.

Me neither, Ashid. Me neither.
I am listening to: Everywhere - Fleetwood Mac
I am reading: Nothing
And I am: Sad to be leaving here

Monday, February 18, 2008

The bad headline

"He was off his medication."

"What's a dude off medication doing with guns?"

"Just because you're on anti-depressants shouldn't keep you from buying a gun."

"Hello? It was obviously medication that kept him from killing people. How did he get the guns?"

"He had a FOID card."

"How the hell did he get a FOID card?"

"Well they gave you one, didn't they?"

"Right. Good point."
I am listening to: Over My Head - Fleetwood Mac
I am reading: Trade show leads
And I am: Armed and dangerous

Friday, February 15, 2008

Off to elsewhere

I'm off to New York in about an hour to spend five days away from everyone I love to tell strangers about a company I do not believe in.


Still, it's good to be going elsewhere again.
I am listening to: When You Say Nothing at All - Alison Krauss
I am reading: Neither Wolf Nor Dog
And I am: Off

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Great Turd Explosion of 2008

[Editor’s note: I wrote this a few weeks ago and have hesitated publishing it for reasons that will be obvious. Yesterday the person you will come to know as The Turd screamed at me again. So here it is.]
“So has he yelled at you again?” says Mom.

“No, but I’m waiting,” says me.

“You’re waiting?”

“Yes. Waiting. There’s no rational explanation for why he yells, so it’s not as if I can do anything to prevent it.”
How’s work going, Hedy?

To use my friend Molly’s phrase: “It sucks balls.”

I work for an irrational tyrant with the personality and visage of an angry turd. With a Napoleon complex.

Three weeks ago he screamed at me. For something a co-worker did.

He didn’t know this, of course, because he’s one of these brilliant Yell First, Ask Questions Later types.

Yes. Screamed.

Everyone in the office heard it. More on that later.
Last month I convinced them we needed a receptionist/office admin person to answer the phones and to provide back up to the software support team. This person also would do some minor accounting projects (one person on our support team helps out with accounting on occasion.) We’re talking about a highly motivated general office assistant with three to five years’ experience.

I write up a job description. There’s already one referral ready to interview.

Then, somehow, the accounting dude gets involved through his boss, who is co-partner at the firm with the Napoleonic Turd.

“Hire someone. You two agree on a job description and send it to me. Figure out who the new hire will report to, I don’t care.”

That was a missive to me and the accounting dude from the Napoleonic Turd.

Before you can say “I’m not trying to be power hungry or anything”, the accounting dude is in my office saying “I’m not trying to be power hungry or anything, but I think this person should report to me.”

Red flag #1. I ignore it.

“That’s fine,” I say. “It doesn’t matter who they report to so long as this person is answering phones and helping out support.”

We agree that we’ll work together to combine my job description with his and then send it over as demanded.

I’ll say it again because it’s important: We agree. That we’ll work together. To combine job descriptions. Then send it over. As demanded.

I send the accounting dude my version of the job description (“Administrative Support Assistant”) because I know he hasn’t started his yet.

Red flag #2: The next morning, I am copied on an e-mail to the Napoleonic Turd from the now blatantly power hungry accounting dude:

“Here is the job description. The new person will report to me.”

You know what’s coming next, don’t you?

I open the attached ACCOUNTING ASSISTANT job description and it is, as you might expect ALL ACCOUNTING. There’s nothing from my original job description save one sentence at the very bottom: “And will assist with answering phones as needed.”


“I thought we were going to agree on a job description before sending it to D___?”

That was me, after my forehead exploded all over the desk, in an e-mail to the accounting fucker.

“I did. Your stuff is in there.”

Right. Fucker.
I sit at my desk for a good 10 minutes trying to figure out how to handle this.

Remember the missive?

We were supposed to iron out all the details before floating it up to the Napoleonic Turd. But the accounting fucker circumvented that. So now what?

I need help for my support people or they will leave.

So I hit Reply All with some trepidation and write:

“One suggestion: Change the job title from accounting assistant to office assistant. It needs to be made very clear to candidates that answering the phones and helping out with basic support questions is a primary function of the role and equally important as the accounting tasks assigned.”

I wanted to say that it will be much easier finding a general office assistant willing to answer the phones than an accounting person willing to serve as a receptionist. But I didn’t.

I hit send. I cringe.

Less than a minute later, me and the accounting fucker get this from the Napoleonic Turd:

“I changed my mind. This person will report to Heather.”
In the mean time, the Turd and I are copied on an e-mail thread started between the accounting fucker and his boss regarding a candidate they want to interview later that day. The candidate has a finance degree and has been working in accounting roles since 1995.

This was probably a mistake, but I hit Reply All (again) and said:

“Perhaps we should all get on the same page prior to bringing anyone in.”
Next, a lot of stuff happened between the Turd and his partner, and his partner and the accounting fucker that I wasn’t part of.

Then the Turd is in my office screaming at me.


I didn’t get to say much except that I was very angry at how things had turned out, too. Then he left.

He came back a half hour later to yell some more but I stood up and cut him off.

“Before you start screaming at me again, you should hear what happened.”

And then I threw the accounting fucker under the bus. Right where he belongs.
Accounting fucker stops by my office later, completely oblivious to the carnage he’s created in his Power Hungry Struggle to Rule the Office, One Admin at a Time (Suggestion: say that last part in a movie trailer voice. Seriously, try it. It sounds better.)

It would’ve been too easy for me to unload on him. But I don’t.

“I actually interviewed someone last night who could be good,” he says.

Red Flag #3: That’s right. He interviewed someone before we even agreed on the job description.

Did I mention this guy’s a fucker? I did, didn’t I?
“Now you know what we have to deal with,” that was the office manager.

And the two people in support. And the risk manager. And the operations manager. And the IT manager.

In fact, I received a steady stream of sympathetic visitors all afternoon, after The Great Turd Explosion of 2008.

Apparently getting yelled at by the Turd is some sort of twisted badge of honor within the office and I am now officially part of The Club.

Yay, me.
Lesson #1: Don’t assume that your co-workers are doing what’s best for the company because quite often they’re only doing what’s best for them.

Lesson #2: If someone is power hungry, steps on you, and doesn’t follow the rules, throw them under the bus.

Lesson #3: If possible, try not to work for a tiny ignorant screaming turd.
Two weeks ago we hired someone. The admin person we so desperately need.

Is it immature to say that I took Great Pleasure in introducing him to the accounting fucker?

It is. And I did. Fucker.
I am listening to: Shitlist - L7
I am reading: Neither Wolf Nor Dog
And I am: Looking for a job again

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Best in show

Based on what can only be described as a Giant Sigh of Disgust just now, I'm guessing Gromit hates the Westminster dog show about as much as I hate the Miss America pageant.

And for the same reasons: "How in the hell did that no-talent bitch make the cut?"
I am listening to: People screaming for dogs
I am reading: Neither Wolf Nor Dog
And I am: Best in show, dammit

Somebody's gonna end up crying

First, if you haven't seen The Charlie Bit Me video, please watch it now.

For the cable modem-impaired (Mom): It's a short clip featuring two cute little brothers sitting all snug and cozy in a La-Z-Boy. Charlie, the baby, chomps on his older brother's finger. Tears and laughter ensue.

I've watched this thing about 20 times and it still cracks me up completely.

But it's also rather confounding.

Having had a smiling, toad-like baby brother myself, I'm trying to figure out how cute little Charlie didn't get smacked up side the head after pulling a stunt like that.


Baby Eric bites my finger? At the very least he's getting a bigger bite back.

But no.

The injured kid just yells a little and looks at baby Charlie with Much Consternation before mildly bitching him out.

Of course anytime anyone anywhere gets bitched out by someone with a British accent, it's gonna be mild. And rather cute. Anyhoo.

Clearly, these children are growing up in a family without Fight Nights.

I don't remember when they started exactly.

I'm guessing 1972. Eric was 2 or 3. I was 5 or 6.

Here's how it went: Da would stuff our tiny arms into his ginormous puffy snowmobile gloves.

Mom would coach Eric in one corner of the living room, Da was with me in the other.

"Keep your fists up and your elbows in. Protect your gut. Wait for him to lower his guard."

I'm sure we heard the requisite admonishments regarding hits below the belt and whatnot, but I don't remember them. I'm also quite certain that Eric and me were the only kids at Atwood Elementary School who could discuss the relative strengths and weaknesses of perpetrating the classic rope-a-dope.

With the coaching over, Da would walk over to the light hanging above the dining room table, flick it with his thick forefinger, and DING! Round one began.

"Somebody's gonna end up crying."

That was Mom. And she was always right. Plus Eric was prone to nose bleeds so the fights never lasted more than a few precious rounds.

But we learned to be tough. To not cry even when we really really felt like it. And of course, how to give (and take) a good punch.
Please don't get the idea that we used violence to solve our many childhood disputes. No.

Fight Nights existed purely for the amusement of our parents.

On the rare (ahem) occasion that Eric and I would actually argue, Mom made us sit next to each other on the couch and hold hands. When we got older and holding hands with your little brother was just Gross, we were made to stand in separate corners of the living room. Ironic, since I think we both would've preferred putting on the gloves to resolve our disputes rather than staring at a wall for what seemed like forever.

I don't actually remember any spankings, only the threat of them. Which resulted in me, standing in the corner with my butt cheeks all squinched up on the off chance that a spanking might be administered at this, the most vulnerable of moments.
One magical boxing-themed Christmas, Santa brought us 'real' boxing gloves. And Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots.

I remember thinking why the hell did they bother with that silly game when we could duke it out for real? Plus toys don't bleed. What fun is that?
I am listening to: Heartache Tonight - The Eagles
I am reading: Neither Wolf Nor Dog by Kent Nerburn
And I am: Sniffly

Monday, February 11, 2008


This is how I've felt since Thursday night.

Hoping to be back on track (or in the bun, as it were) soon.
I am listening to: Real Time with Bill Maher
I am reading: Neither Wolf Nor Dog by Kent Nerburn
And I am: Off

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The hopeful vote

Last night I voted for Barack Obama.

No surprise there. I said I’d do it.

But here’s something I didn’t anticipate: For the first time in 20+ years of primaries and general elections, voting finally felt good.

In fact, it felt GREAT.

None of that icky better-of-two-evils after taste. No futility. No remorse.

I was finally voting for something and for someone rather than against something and against someone.

It was refreshing. I actually smiled.
“But Obama is inexperienced.”

Stop. Just stop. Please. You’re embarrassing yourself.

Bill Clinton and George Bush. Seasoned politicians.

This is what experience does:

It stains our global reputation and credibility. It leaves us vulnerable to the most devastating terrorist attack in U.S. history. It rapes our economy. Sodomizes our Constitution. And kills our soldiers in a war based on a lie.

This is what experience does to us.

But if that’s what you want – more of the same – then by all means, vote for the more experienced candidate.

Good luck with that.
I am listening to: Hopelessly Devoted to You – Olivia Newton-John
I am reading: Neither Wolf Nor Dog by Kent Nerburn
And I am: A hopeful voter

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The struggle coming down

The 8:02 train pulls into Aurora and I’m with a crowd of commuters waiting to board.

Certain folks who seriously ought to know better stand right outside the doors so there’s no room for the handful of people exiting the train.

A smallish, fashionable man jumps down the steps followed by a few construction worker types.

The last woman to come down is struggling with a small yet completely stuffed wire cart that refuses to budge.

Even if the cart suddenly changed its mind and decided to move, it’s got nowhere to go because there’s an older man in a gray wool coat blocking the entrance and waiting to board.

“Dude, c’mon. Help her out.”

That’s me, thinking if this fuck-nut is gonna stand in the way he should at least make himself useful and help the poor woman down.


He gives her that disgusted Get-Out-of-My-Way look then cuts in front of the rest of us waiting patiently at the other side of the entrance.
Why do people insist on standing in the way of others getting off elevators and trains and planes?

They know know know people are in there. And they need to come out. Yet the idiots crowd up.

Is it bad that I fantasize about giving these people the Mr. Gower Treatment -- punching them in the ears until they cry and (better still) bleed?
Why didn’t YOU help her down, Hedy?

Because I was off to the side and out of the way and couldn’t have reached her through the throng of fuck-nuts if I tried.
When did that man stop seeing people struggling and only see them in his way?

Did he ever see them?
The fact is, it would’ve taken less than two seconds to help that woman get off the train. If that dude had helped her out he actually would’ve been able to board the train more quickly. And more importantly, without pissing off the rest of us more patient types.

I bet in a lot of ways that guy's life is more of a struggle than it has to be.

Because he's always getting in the way. Of himself.
I am listening to: Howie Day - Collide
I am reading: Neither Wolf Nor Dog by Kent Nerburn
And I am: Out of the way

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Why I love Jim reason #3891

On Route 47 heading to Lake Geneva Friday night:

"Look, the Swanky Spa. I hate that word."

I am listening to: Super Bowl pre-game hoo-ha
I am reading: Water for Elephants
And I am: Tired

Friday, February 01, 2008

Argue with me, I dare ya

The only reason to watch Lost is Sawyer
The only way to celebrate a birthday is with cake and ice cream
The only way to make things better is to apologize, and mean it
The only cookie is Oreo, and none of that double stuff crap, either
The only running back is Walter Payton
The only Star Wars movie is Episode IV
The only island is Maui
The only dog is your dog
The only cake is chocolate
The only mayonnaise is Hellman’s
The only motorcycle is a Harley
The only columnist is Neil Steinberg
The only bar is the Bristol Tap
The only city is Chicago
The only computer is Mac
The only lake is Michigan
The only 007 is Sean Connery
The only Stooge is Curly
The only guy is Jim
The only play is MacBeth
The only pajamas are flannel
The only truck is Ford
The only toilet paper is Charmin Ultra
The only hat is baseball
The only vegetable is asparagus
The only foreign country is Scotland
The only bear is Pooh
The only basketball team is The Pistons
The only witch is Wicked, and not the one in that silly-ass play
The only convertible is the 1967 GTO ragtop
The only astronaut is Neil Armstrong
The only restaurant is Mama’s Fish House
The only Queen is Elizabeth
The only C U Next Tuesday is Hillary Clinton
The only storm is thunder
The only playground equipment is a swing
The only King is Henry VIII
The only news anchor is Walter Cronkite
The only pizza is Chicago deep dish
The only Muppet is Kermit
The only Wizard is Harry
The only statue is Liberty
The only boxer is Muhammad Ali
The only ending is happy
I am listening to: I’m the Only One – Melissa Etheridge
I am reading: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
And I am: The One and Only