Saturday, March 05, 2005

How's Your Clack-Dish Today?

Now playing on my refrigerator. Shakespearean curses:

You tell 'em, Willy!

Oh yeah, and by the way, it's damn good to be home again, where my full-acorn'd husband can enjoy my clack-dish in the privacy of our own four walls.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Musik Polis

I might be the only person in the world who associates Radiohead with Stockholm in the winter.

But from now on, when I listen to this album, I will remember huge snowflakes silently drifting outside the window of my sleek minimalist hotel room. And steamy cafe lattes. And words with oomlauts and strange symbols. And lots of cigarette smoke.

As mentioned in my main site (, I lost about 10 years of music when I had my kids. I just stopped listening, although some decent bands did seep in. Sometimes I heard stuff in passing and thought "Wow, I like that..." never to hear it again, the music eclipsed by diaper changes, nap times, and the need for sleep or an orderly house. Anyway, for the past year I've been trying to catch up with the 10 years of music I overlooked. And Radiohead falls into that category.

The band first came to my attention recently via Wil Wheaton's blog. I put it on my list of "music I want to check out," but never got around to it until the OK Computer album waited serendipitously in my room here at the Hotel Rival in Stockholm earlier this week.

I've come across several now-favorite bands/albums in this way; in reading blogs or articles. For instance, I'd never heard of Fugazi until Keanu Reeves mentioned the band in an article. He mentioned all the groups I loved in the late 80s and early 90s (Joy Division, Violent Femmes, The Clash, blah blah blah) and Fugazi. Fugazi, who the hell is that? And then I discovered -- oh yeah, the group that did Waiting Room (a song I loved at the time but had no reference for). Not to mention The Pixies (damn, that's who did that Monkey Gone to Heaven song, sheeeeiiit). It has been so great filling in that gap in my musical knowledge, because the last thing I want to be is a dinosaur.

Anyway, I can't even begin to tell you how well Radiohead goes with a snowy afternoon in Stockholm.

So well, in fact, that I went into a sort of trance and wrote a new poem.

OK, it's rough. I usually don't publish my rough work. But what the hell. First of all, this has nothing to do with me personally. People often think that poems are always personal. Well yeah, some are, but then some are fiction -- just based on an idea or an image. And that's what this one is. I'll polish it up and probably even change it to some extent when I get home. But for now, here it is:

Stockholm, February, 5:15

It got too loud
so I made it snow
soft white flakes
to cushion the blows
to silence our steps
and make us sleep
among the frozen
poppies, so when
we open our eyes
to a world in
you would be
the warm yellow
light bathed in
reds and blues, so
you would be
the great crackling
fire in the
warm cushioned

room, the only thing
I saw, the

only one my
could not

Shakespeare on Ice

Away from home almost two weeks and it seems like a lifetime. Funny how that happens, isn't it?

Spent several wonderful days in the Cotswold region of Sourthern England and had the good fortune to get a ticket to the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of Julius Caeser at the Swan Theater in Stratford-Upon-Avon. This wasn't your run-of-the-mill production -- it was a modernized production. Think "Rent" meets The Bard. The set was minimalist (one large square of black pipe rigging), complete with synthesized sound effects, dramatic lighting effects, and modern costumes (suits and street wear, not a toga or grape leaf in sight). The script was pure classic Shakespeare, so nothing was lost in that respect. Just when I expected Brutus to break out in song, there actually was one short song and dance number. Don't turn your nose up; it worked -- it was terrific!

At first the modern dress was distracting, but the performances were so supurb that soon it all melded together into an incredible experience. IMO, this was a ground-breaking "important" treatment of a classic play. Unlike other directors who have tried (and to some extent failed) to put a modern spin on Shakespeare (Gus Van Sant's "My Own Private Idaho" being one example), this actually worked. I plan to write an extensive review when I return home. No doubt, Shakespearean purists would hate this production. However, this open-minded theatergoer (who was just thrilled to be at the Swan witnessing the RSC) thought it was "brillant," as the English say.

The kids and I spent a couple of days in London while Hubby had his business meetings. As I may have mentioned in a previous post, we were in London two years ago, so this time we were hitting the sites we'd missed last time: The London Eye, Westminster Abbey, and Harrods (where they have a Hot Chocolate Bar that would satisfy the most intense chocolate jones -- with at least a dozen different types of hot chocolate including one which is just molten and eaten with a spoon -- oh, be still my ultra-caffeinated sugar-high heart).

Now we are in Stockholm where it is dämn cöld. Snow on the ground, hats on our heads, scarves pulled up around our faces. We are staying at the uber hip Hotel Rival. Click on the link and check this place out. The place is built on a theater, and each room has a film or theater theme. It has been designed by some hot Swedish artists. It's Ikea with shades of MOMA -- sleek, colorful, and minimalist. You should see the crowd -- the most bohemian bunch to ever step away from a bar -- surely some European rock stars I don't recognize; they're just too beautiful and hip to be regular tourists. Makes me wish I had spikey hair and had packed my goth garb.

They have flat screen TVs in every room of this hotel and music CDs for your listening pleasure. So what was in our room upon checkin? Radiohead's OK Computer and Red Hot Chili Peppers' Californication.

Oh. Yes.

And speakers in the bathroom. This morning I showered while grooving on Flea's bass. How much better can it get, I ask you?

The hotel is owed by two men who are the Bs in the Swedish group ABBA. So of course, ABBA CDs abound in every room.

Yesterday the family and I made our way to the Ice Bar at the Nordic Light Hotel. It's a bar made entirely of blocks of ice from a northern sea. The Ice Hotel (yes, a hotel made entirely of blocks of ice) is about 100 miles north of here in the middle of snow drifts -- next to the Ice Globe Theater -- (yes, a model of Shakespeare's Globe made entirely of ice, where they recently performed Romeo and Juliet-- what light through younder ice cube breaks?)

Anyway, we stopped into the Ice Bar, donned silver ponchos and felt like we had stepped into a scene from the first Star Trek film -- everything was very silver and pastel. And cold. Below freezing. It's the hippest meat locker on the planet to embibe some Absolut. Drinks are served in glasses made from small rectangular ice blocks. The kids had juice, of course. We kept admonishing them NOT to lick the ice tables for fear their tongues would get stuck.

Despite all this fun, I'm looking forward to going home next week. All the warm sweaters, down comforters, radiant-heated tile bathroom floors, and cups and cups of hot tea do not compare to the milder climes of my beloved left coast. When all is said and done, I really really really hate being cold.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Jolly Good, Sven

I'm a dinosaur because I do not own a laptop. I work from home, so I have no real need for one. I could borrow my husband's laptop (and often do....oooh baby, is that your hard drive or are you just happy to see me? Here, let me mount your local network....) OK, OK, enough of that....

This poses a problem when trying to blog on the road. And I'm going on the road. Actually, first I'll be in the air and then on the road -- to London and Stockholm. We're all accompanying my husband on a business trip. Yes, I know that these are first-world countries with WiFi, but I have two kids to contend with and WhineFi up the wazoo. So you see, I may be able to log in and blog while I'm away, but I wouldn't count on it. So much technology, so little downtime.

Anyway, it's not like the world will be waiting with bated breath because NOBODY EVER COMMENTS ON MY POSTS (hint hint) unlike those other wildly popular blogs (sniff, sniff).

We were in London two years ago, but this is our first time in Sweden. I'm gleefully awaiting the looks on my daughters' faces when they see the variety of smoked fish at the breakfast buffet. My husband and I placed bets on which one says, "Eeeeewww, that's disgusting" first. I have my money on the younger one. Ah, yes....herring -- it's not just for breakfast anymore...

OK, I've got to get back to my enormous checklists and yell at my kids yet again to pick up the Valentine chocolate wrappers scattered throughout the living room. I take comfort in one thing: my kids are now too old for car seats, diapers, strollers, and coloring books. They are content to sit and read, quietly, by themselves. Which means I will be able to sit next to my husband on the flight and actually have adult conversation! Damn, what a concept!

See you bloggers in March, when I've had my fill of tea, scones, and herring.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Lord of the Sims

Feel like playing God? Plunk down fifty bucks and get The Sims 2. In minutes, you'll be creating communities of virtual people. You decide everything about them, from their facial features to their social standing and their ultimate destiny. They have no self-determination: they are puppet people and you are their puppetmaster. It's better than finding a doorway to John Malkovich's brain.

But be warned: this seemingly innocent game can bring out the sadistic streak in the nicest person.

Take my girls for example-- they are your typical sweet kids. They fawn and coo over puppies and babies and they'd never hurt a fly. Yet, they quickly discovered that you can delete the doors and windows in a Sim house so the Sim inside can't escape. Slowly the Sim starves and loses income because he can't go to work.

"Hey, what happened to your Sim?" I asked my daughter.

"Oh," she gleefully chirped, "he became a pot."

Yeah, that's right: cremation. Seems rather Nazi, if you ask me.

You can make two Sims share a house and hate each other's guts. Or you can make them fall madly in love, make "woo hoo" in the hot tub, get married, and have a baby. But if your Sims neglect their baby, Agent Smith comes from The Matrix and takes the baby to a better family. Apparently even the virtual world has no tolerance for deadbeat parents.

You can have Sim lesbians and Sim gay men, but clearly Gavin Newsom isn't the mayor of SimTown, because they can't get married. A right-wing Christian Nazi computer game, who'da thought? Oh, but intermarriage between Sims of different colors is OK. I guess that's been around long enough to be considered acceptable. As long as they're not queer.

The Sims is a PG-13 sorta game. The characters can kiss and hug, and even grope, but you never see them naked, and all procreation takes place out of view. Damn. They seriously need to make an x-rated version of this game, because I want to create a Sim Heidi Fliess and a Sim Dirk Diggler and turn them loose in SimTown.

If you're having a bad day at work, create a Sim that looks like your boss. You can fine-tune the guy right down to the length of his eyebrows. Give him an IQ of 50 and make him live in a slum and eat garbage. When he comes to your office and begs for a job, your security guards can bounce him on his ear. Yeah, you feel better now, don't you?

At first I was a little worried when so many of my daughter's Sims turned into pots.

"Didn't you want to take care of him?"

"No, he was boring and stupid. I wanted him to die."

"But you killed him!" (Images of The Bad Seed begin to root in my imagination...)

"Jeez Mom, it's just a game!"

"Yeah, I know, but..."

But...she's right. It's just a game. And I know my daughter well enough to be assured that she knows the difference between games and reality, right and wrong. And in reality she is a very good seed; really she is. I'm sure she'd never turn me into a pot or a jack-n-the-box or wish me into the cornfield.

But then I got to thinking: when you are young and have so little control over your life, maybe it's OK to play virtual God a little bit . Maybe if more kids played Sims, less of them would come to school with AK47s. Maybe. I suppose for truly unbalanced people, only psychoactive drugs make a difference.

But for the rest of us, there is Sims2. No matter your religion, you can be God and Satan all rolled into one tidy package. Don't delude yourself into thinking this is just a harmless game; y
ou can learn a lot about yourself playing Sims. But proceed with caution: you may think this is just a fun way to pass the time, but believe me, you'll get a lot more than you bargained for.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Dumb Fu

If this story was the plot for a film, you'd say it was too stupid to believe.

Recently, a 33-year-old guy thought it was a good day to pull a carjack. He found his victim, alone in his car at an empty intersection. He forced the man out of the car at knifepoint. Unfortunately for the carjacker, the victim was a Karate instructor. He threw the guy to the ground and disarmed him. In the process, he found the guy's gun. He took that away, too, after emptying all the bullets.

Now stop and tell me, what would you have done next? Called the police? Shot the guy in the foot so he couldn't get away? Called for help, so some other strong men could subdue the guy?

I wholeheartedly advocate non-violence, but this Karate instructor took his peaceful teachings a bit too literally. He lectured the carjacker about making the wrong choices in life. And then he did something really really stupid. He gave the guy back his knife and his empty gun, and sent him on his way.

The Karate instructor didn't get hurt. But here's what happened next. The carjacker became a bank robber. That's right -- he headed straight downtown with his knife and his empty gun, and held up a bank. He threatened numerous innocent people and held a woman at knifepoint before escaping with a brown paper bag full of cash.

He was caught, later that day, relaxing in his house. The brown bag was sitting on the kitchen table.

This all happened in the same area where David Carradine went to school. But somehow, I don't think our protagonist will feel like watching any Kung Fu reruns in the slammer.

Wait, I could write a better story. How about this: after the carjacker becomes a bank robber, a good-hearted security guard does the same thing: takes away the cash, gives the guy back his gun and knife, and shoos him away. He then stumbles to a convenience store and tries to pull a holdup. A customer disarms him and gives him another lecture. Everywhere he goes, the stupid bastard just can't pull off the job. It's like Groundhog Day for a thief. The world conspires against him and keeps giving him another chance.

What is his motivation? How about this: he was a brilliant programmer whose job was outsourced to India. Which is ironic, since he loves Indian food and makes it all the time for himself and his friends. But he hasn't worked in two years, and after stooping to a sleezy telemarketing gig that makes his head buzz, he cracks.

In the final scene, he takes an entire Indian restaurant hostage. He hasn't had anything to eat all day and he's starving. The food is awful. At gunpoint, he forces the chef to prepare Chicken Makhani from his own recipe. It's the best Chicken Makhani that the restaurant owner has tasted in years. He gives the guy a job. Five years later, the stupid bastard owns the fastest growing chain of Indian restaurants in California: Bombay Thieves Palace.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Long May You Stream, Old Friend

I was happy to surf around and discover that my alma mater, WMSC-FM is finally streaming its audio onto the web. Like rival station WFMU, Montclair's radio station went with Live365. I'm just tickled that I can listen to the station any time of the day or night, and that it can be heard around the world. After all these years, taking a listen confirmed my hopes: that WMSC is still incredibly cool and has not sold out.

For those of you who don't know (probably almost everyone reading this blog), Montclair State University is one of the premiere institutions in the New York area to study Broadcasting. The school has high-tech TV facilities that rival many professional stations. It was pathetic that the radio station didn't stream live. Considering its reputation, it should have been the first one.

When you listen to this station, please remember that the DJs are college students, not professionals. They might screw up from time to time or sound boring. But that's how you learn. Oh yeah, and they still take requests. So use your free cell minutes and give them a ring. Just don't request anything lame, OK?

Welcome to cyberspace, my old friend. Long may you stream.

There But For the Grace of God...

A guy I never met lived a couple of towns over. He was 31 years old and was employed by Intel, which sent him to work at their offices in Germany. From what I heard about him, he lived a relatively happy and active life.

During the winter holidays, he had planned to vacation in Phuket, Thailand. But his girlfriend wanted him to stay in Europe to be with her family. So he didn't go. So he didn't perish in the Tsunami. I bet he was relieved about that.

But a couple of weeks later, he went skiing in the Alps. That's when he was killed in an avalanche.

This is a true story. His obituary was in the San Francisco Chronicle last week.

When your number is up, it's up. There's really nothing you can do about it. So make each day count. Make each moment count. Because really -- you just never know, do you?

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Bamboozled by eBay?

There was an article in yesterday's San Francisco Chronicle about the alarming growth in internet fraud. Of course, much of this fraud surfaces as identity theft. But some of it takes place on eBay. Apparently hundreds of thousands of people worldwide haven't heard the phrase "if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is."

The story went on to quote people who lost thousands of dollars attempting to buy large screen TVs, computers, alleged collector's items, and other expensive merchandise on eBay for outrageously low prices.

Excuse me, but are these people all a few fries short of a Happy Meal? Who in their right mind buys an expensive piece of equipment on eBay? A few CDs or DVDs, some jeans, a toy, maybe a book or two - yeah. But a $5,000 TV for only $200? George Harrison's first guitar from a guy in Iowa with a feedback rating of 2? A diamond tiara worn by the Queen of Nigeria?

I am happy to say that in the three years I've used eBay (to both buy and sell stuff), I have never been ripped off. And that's because I don't use eBay as a recreational drug.

I believe that most people in the world are honest. But when it comes to eBay, you might have better luck talking to that guy on the corner selling Gucci handbags out of the trunk of his car. At least you could figure out where your big brother should go later to beat him.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

That's MRS. Cranky Pants To You!

No, I didn't paint this. Image from MS Clip Art.Educators take note: some busy mothers get really cranky when you push them at certain times of the month. Yes, I'm talking about me.

Earlier this week, I spent two hours schlepping my daughter to a special elementary school dance performance. It wasn't even at her own school. It was at a community center, two towns away. Seems that her third grade class had been invited to participate in some sort of county-sponsored show. Ordinarily I would enjoy something like this. After all, what's cuter than your little angel attempting to jitterbug? How about a bunch of other little angels from other towns, that you don't know or care about, attempting to jitterbug? Badly. For two hours. When you have a pounding headache and feel like barfing. How cute is that, huh?

On this particular night, I had The Mother of All Menstrual Cramps and I was in a BAD MOOD. My husband was out of town on a business trip, so I couldn't bale out. My daughter said she had to go: she had been practicing for weeks and her classmates were counting on her! Kids can sure dish out the guilt, eh? So even though I felt dizzy and nauseous, I went.

Behind me sat The Whistler. He had a compulsion to stick his boney fingers in his mouth and produce an eardrum-shattering shriek after every single dance group. There were at least a dozen dance groups before my daughter's class came on. Woo hoo, kids, that was great! SHRIEK! SHRIEK!

Next to me was The Fat Slob Leg Shaker, producing enough seismic waves in the bleachers to churn butter. Dammit man, did you do 12 lines of coke before you came in here? Didn't your mother ever teach you how to SIT STILL!?

Shriek, Shriek! Shake, shake, shake, shake! Shriek, Shriek! Shake, shake, shake,shake. I needed to barf. Halfway through this excruciating attempt at entertainment, I considered taking center stage and blowing my brains out.

Oh, but aren't the kids CUTE?

I sat there and smiled. Ok, that's a lie. I grimaced.

When my little angel finally came out with her class, I dutifully videotaped her adorable performance for posterity. And then I clapped. Never mind that my insides were rapidly hermorrhaging and all I wanted was a warm bed with a soft pillow and darkness and total silence. I had to fulfill my parental duty. And I didn't want to hurt my daughter's feelings.

Eventually The Evening From Hell ended and I got my wish: a warm bed with a soft pillow and darkness and total silence. I spent most of the next day in bed, feeling like the big Monty Python foot had descended from the sky and squashed me flat.

Oh, how I enjoy being a girl.

Friday, January 28, 2005

I Bathe in Hot Brownie Batter

Napa Valley, California. Ever been there? It's about 2 hours north of my house. Lucky stiff that I am.

All those spas. And restaurants. And vineyards. And wineries. And little shops. And idyllic verdant rolling hills shrouded in fog. It's the west coast's answer to Vermont.

Most people go to Napa Valley for the wine. I go there for the mud.

North of Napa, there's a little town called
Calistoga. The town is built on volcanic ash, and hot spring water courses below the surface. Some of the springs are tapped and bottled (Calistoga Water, duh). And some are capped and controlled for the spas. Imagine -- swimming pools brimming with hot mineral water, straight from the source. You can't get much better than that.
But, like I said, I go there for the mud. I pay about $130 to bathe in it.

My favorite spa,
Indian Springs, has existed since the late 1800s. The spa's facilities date from the 1920s and are kept in impeccable condition, complete with white walls and white gauze curtains. When you veer your car from Highway 29 onto the Indian Springs property, you enter a time warp. You are on spa time. You enter the reception area and get a contact high from the scented oils and New Age music. And suddenly, nothing else matters.

Like so many spas in Calistoga, Indian Springs specializes in mud baths. A mud bath is like licorice: either you love it or you hate it. Imagine floating in an oNo, that's not me. Image courtesy of Indian Springs Spa.versized tub of heavy hot brownie batter (which smells more like wet earth than chocolate). That's what an Indian Springs mud bath feels like. You are the Creature of the Black Lagoon. Other spas mix their mud with peet, and their mud baths feel like hot black oatmeal. I should know; I've tried them all over the years. I prefer the brownie batter.

Indian Springs keeps it simple: just volcanic ash and hot mineral water. It's the most penetrating relaxing heat you've ever felt. Within five minutes, every single muscle in your body releases. By the time your 15 minutes are up, there isn't a tense bone in your body. Then you proceed to the hot mineral water bath. And then the eucalyptus steam room. And then the massage, where you drool copiously and tend to forget your own name. Eventually you stagger back to the locker room, where you change into your swimsuit and while away the afternoon floating on styrofoam noodles in an olympic-sized swimming pool of 101-degree natural mineral water. At this point, your mind is a total blank. It's like that machine in that early Star Trek episode that empties your brain -- but in a good way. What, me worry? That's what I call getting away for the weekend.

Of course, doing this means parading around naked a lot. (Men and women are segregated, sorry to dash your hopes -- unless you're gay, in which case...) If being naked and muddy in front of others isn't your thing, you may be uncomfortable. After popping out two kids, nothing bothers me anymore. That, and the fact that I'm not fat. But then again, I haven't been modest since I was 15 and virginal.

When you have regained your senses and finally leave Indian Springs, you can drop wads of cash at any number of overpriced renowned restaurants, or have a cheap killer burger in St. Helena at
Taylor's Refresher. If you're really feeling indulgent, inhale a very large home-made Ding Dong from Palisades Market in Calistoga. They're $5 each, but wow, that's one hellafva rama lama ding dong filled with fluffy freshly whipped cream. It's worth all those calories. That ding dong will really ring your bell. I think I've used up all the puns for that bit, so I'll move on now.

If you're into exercise, there are several nice gyms between Napa and Calistoga. Some are attached to the spas and offer free workouts with any spa service. My favorite venue in this category is the
Health Spa Napa Valley in St. Helena. It's a fairly new upscale facility with a nice gym featuring all the requisite equipment: elliptical steppers, regular and recumbent bikes, exercise balls and resistance bands, free weights, and weight machines. Call me a glutton for punishment: I like to plan an entire morning there. I spend a couple of hours working out, and then get rewarded with a hot stone massage and an herbal blanket wrap. Then when I drop $50 on an indulgent late lunch at Tra Vigne, I don't feel so guilty. After all, I earned it, dammit.

Does bathing in mud sound icky to you? OK, well it is icky. They wash the mud with 140-degree mineral water between customers. Which, they assure me, kills all the germs. Uh-huh. Well, in 10 years of going to mud baths in Calistoga, I've never developed a flesh-eating disease or even a curious infection. So maybe they're right. Truthfully, I'd rather not think about it; it spoils the experience.

Can't get to Napa Valley any time soon? Here's the home version: just whip up 50 boxes of brownie batter, nuke it, and slide it into your tub. It'll smell wrong, but believe me, it'll feel so damn good.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Or Half a Page of Scribbled Lines

It's a rainy, cold, miserable day in Northern California. Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon was made for days like this.

Put on your kick-ass headphones. Turn the bass up. Way up. Adjust the volume just below eardrum shatter. The kids are in school and your annoying errands are done, and you can kick back and let the wave wash over you and carry you out to sea. The music penetrates your brain, resulting in a soul-cleansing multi-orgasmic tonal fuck. Those amazing guitar riffs vibrating every cell, massaging you from the insides out.

Well, at least that's how it feels to me. I always experience music on a very deep level.

I've never listened Dark Side of the Moon while I was high, although I'm told that is the classic Floyd experience. Maybe one day I'll try it. If I ever get high again, which is doubtful. I never smoked pot when I was a teenager. I was a late bloomer. Remind me later to tell you what a boring goody-goody I used to be.

This album used to scare me; depress me. Those lyrics about being shorter of breath and one day closer to death -- when you're 14, that's heavy shit. But it doesn't really phase me anymore, because now I'm 30 years older and I've dug my share of holes. And I've seen the dark side of the moon. I decided long ago not to live there.

But every so often I enjoy a brief visit. Especially on bleek days like this, when I'm PMS and it's cold and I'm in a pissy mood. Thank you, Roger Waters and David Gilmore; thank you for sharing your softly spoken magic spell.

Friday, January 21, 2005

A Little RnR

This weekend I'm getting a little RnR.

No, not Rock-n-Roll. The other RnR.

I'm heading to the Napa area. Home of vineyards, spas, great restaurants, spas, outlet shopping, spas, wine cellars, and -- did I mention -- spas.

It's that time of year when yours truly soaks in mud baths and revels in restaurants that do creative things with little bits of pastry dough and goat cheese so fresh it baaahs.

When my brain recovers from its vegetative state, I will blog again. In the mean time, I leave you with a reason to truly hate me:

Thursday, January 20, 2005

My Stupidity, In Binary Perpetuity

The internet is an unforgiving place.

Before the WWW, there was merely Usenet. Those of you who remember Usenet will recall hundreds of specialty groups where you could connect with likeminded geeks. My favorite places were,,, rec.arts.startrek, alt.folklore.urban, and Or something like that. It was so long ago -- BC (Before Children). It has all become a distant blur.

I do, however, recall several occasions when I made a complete ass of myself online. I was an internet novice at the time; that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it. I'd prefer that all those instances fade into obscurity. But no such luck. My ignorance and ignominy live on in perpetuity as
Google Groups, which adopted all those Usenet forums. And I mean all of them, past and present.

One day I surfed into Google Groups and -- strictly out of curiosity -- searched on my own name. That was a big mistake.

Every. Single. Post. I. EVER. Made.

Every single one of them is there. Every single fucking one.

Oh holy shit.

Fifteen years later, a whole new generation of people can read my asinine comments about exploding seagulls or witness my obsession with Twin Peaks and Star Trek. It's like discovering a secret sex tape of yourself on the web. This was mental masturbation at its worst. And it will live on forever. And there's nothing I can do about it.

"But that's not all. Tell them what else she won, Don Pardo!"

"Well Bob, she also won Every Single New Web Forum Post She Ever Made!"

If I'd had any idea that those forum posts would wind up in the Google search engine, I would have used an assumed name. Damn, hindsight is 20/20. Let that be a lesson to you. Nothing is ever forgotten on the Web. And nothing is ever, ever private.

Usenet lives on forever in its new form, Google Groups -- Much like VeegerThe Web is a wondrous place, but it is heartless. The Web is not concerned with my mortal embarrassment. The fact that I obsessively analyzed Beatles lyrics or posted an awful recipe for Chicken Curry is information. And we live in a society where freedom of information is paramount. Unfortunately, so is freedom of stupidity. Forever and ever. Until a nuke destroys our civilization. Unless it is all preserved in some massive underground CPU farm. Where some alien will discover my stupid posts a million years from now. And beings on other planets, in other dimensions, will chuckle and shake their heads.
Boy, that human woman sure was a piece of work; good thing they all fried themselves!

I wish I was a Vulcan. I would carefully place my slim fingers on my CPU and do a mind meld with the Great Brain of The World Wide Web. My client to your server. My mind to your minds. My thoughts to your thoughts. Delete! Delete! Delete! For-get! For-get! For-get! 01000110 - 01001111 - 01010010 - 01000111 - 0100010 - 01010100!

Bones would exclaim, "It's dead, Lynn. You killed it." And I would slump to the floor with an exhausted gasp. Kinda like Wesley Crusher did after he merged with The Traveler.

Well kiddo, no such luck.

I am Veeger. I will fulfill my destiny and create a new race of binary stupidity.

Oh well, at least I'm not bald.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Blogs in Other Languages

I don't know what this woman is saying, but some of the photos on her blog are wonderful....

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

You Paid Too Much For Your Lolex

The watch I usually wear is a steadfast analog Citizen, which I bought for about a hundred bucks. It tells me the day, the date, and the time down to the second. It has a pretty gold face and a simple brown leather strap. When I wear my Citizen, I feel grounded and sensible.

But I also have a Lolex.

Not a Rolex. A Lolex.

I bought it in Thailand at the Night Market in Chiang Mai four years ago.

My Fake Rolex, otherwise known as My Lolex "Hey Lady! You my first lucky customer today! I have nice Lolex for you, look!" He was one of about a hundred fake watch hawkers at the Night Market, which is bigger than any flea market you've ever seen or imagined. The thing spills out into the streets and goes on for blocks and blocks. If you like to stay up all night and shop, this is where you die and go to heaven.

Among the Thai silks, the Buddhist carvings, the obligatory t-shirts, and the countless utensils made from bamboo and coconut husk are fake Rolex watches. And fake Patek Phillip watches. And fake Choppard watches. In fact, you name the high end watch, there is a knock-off at the Chiang Mai Night Market.

And they are cheap. I paid $11 for mine. And that was the upgraded model. Jeez, that's only a dollar more than the unimpressive no-name watches they sell at Miami Airport!

It looks just like the real thing, down to the mechanical movement with the sweeping second hand, the heavy clunky weight, and the official green Rolex sticker on back . I know what a real Rolex looks like because my husband has one -- the stainless steel model. He bought it to celebrate a swanky promotion 10 years ago. He eventually got laid off from that job. Good thing he bought the Rolex while we could still afford it.

I have no desire to spend thousands of dollars on a Rolex, because I have my Lolex, and it keeps good time. When I remember to wear it, that is. That pesky mechanical movement keeps screwing me up. I forget to wear it for a couple of days and it stops ticking. And because it's a fake, it's a pain in the ass to re-set; virtually impossible. Which is why I usually slink back to my battery-operated Citizen. I could pay a hundred bucks for a watch-winder gadget from The Sharper Image, but somehow spending a hundred bucks on an $11 watch seems -- I dunno -- stupid.

Around Christmastime my email overflowed with spam. I bet yours did, too. Many of those annoying spams touted a great deal on a fake Rolex. Perfect replica, only $500. Makes a Great Gift! Some even said that the fakes were made in Italy. Yeah, sure.

Now imagine this. Some schlub goes to Thailand or Indonesia and buys a trunkload of Lolexs for -- say -- $7 each. And then he sells them on the internet for $500. That's one great profit for one enterprising bastard. And if you paid $500 for an $11 Lolex, you are one stupid bastard. Sorry to break it to you that way. Somehow, I doubt that any of the Spamming Lolex Peddlers are donating a penny of their obscene profits to the Tsunami Relief Fund. But it would restore my faith in humanity if they did. If you hear of any, let me know.

So the next time you get one of those Fake Rolex spams, remember their first stupid bastard -- I mean their first lucky customer -- today.

Monday, January 17, 2005

The Diorama That Ate My Knuckle

I maimed my hand building this thing.My daughter just finished one of the two big projects she is doing in third grade: The Indian Diorama. The students are given an American Indian tribe to study. Then, with copious help from their parents, they construct a miniature lifelike scene depicting said tribe.

Enter the Evil Hot Glue Gun.

Before I had kids, I had never heard of the hot glue gun. I'm not an artsy-craftsy person by nature. I remember the quizzical look one of those Scrapbooking Quiltmaking PTA Moms gave me several years ago when my older daughter was in third grade. I remarked, "How the hell are you supposed to make this stuff stick to the cardboard?" Aghast, she answered, "With a hot glue gun, of course!"

Of course.

So I went to the craft store and bought a hot glue gun. And I quickly learned why they call it a hot glue gun. It took two weeks for the skin on a couple of my fingertips to regenerate. I didn't play guitar for a while after that.

Fast forward to last weekend. Another third grade diorama awaited me and the evil hot glue gun. Oh, but this time I was going to be extra careful. Or so I thought.

My daughter and I worked on this project for three evenings -- constructing little huts, painting the cardboard, spreading the stuff that melts and looks like water, etc. And then it was time to glue. And just when I thought I was out of the woods -- when we finished everything -- it happened. I stupidly pulled the glue stick out of the glue gun before it had completely cooled. A big glob of molten glue landed on my knuckle. Instinctively I tried to quickly rub it off. And then I realized I had rubbed off the top layer of knuckle skin.

Ow. It hurt. A lot. It smarted for days. It still looks like hell. It still hurts. I'm trying really hard to keep it from getting infected. I was going to post a photo, but then I realized it was just too gruesome -- some things are better left to the imagination.

Damn stupid evil glue gun.

My daughter's diorama looks pretty good, and she is happy. We got to spend some quality mother-daughter time building it. Next year, the big project will be constructing a Spanish Mission. You guessed it -- Return of the Evil Glue Gun, Part Two. But this time I think I'll take all my craft materials directly to the hospital waiting room. A little planning will save everybody a lot of trouble.