The Bean Blog (currently on hiatus)

Monday, November 29, 2004

Modern Hebrew

I read something recently that I haven't been able to get out of my mind. It was about the history of Israel. For instance, did you know that Jews started buying land in Palestine in 1897 and they also started settling there from that point on? I didn't think the Jews returned to Israel until 1947 when the United Nations voted Israel into existence. Au contraire.

But that wasn't what I wanted to blog about. As you might know. Hebrew is the official language of Israel. However, you might not know that "modern" Hebrew was virtually created by one man, Eliezer Ben-Yehuda (1858-1922). When he and his wife moved to what was then Brittish controlled Paslestine, they made a vow only to speak Hebrew. One problem. No one spoke Hebrew anymore. It was a holy language and primarily only read although prayers were spoken. In other words, there were no words for anything that didn't exist in Biblical times. For conversation, Ashkenazi Jews spoke Yiddish, while Sephardic Jews spoke Ladino. They created these other languages because of the belief that one should not talk to God with the same words that one would talk to their dog.

For whatever reason, Ben-Yehuda decided that a return to the holy land mandated a return to the holy language, so he took it upon himself to create new words for items not named in the Bible. He didn't just make them up out of thin air, but rather he used the roots of existing Hebrew words so that the new words would be based on linguistic principles. And then he compiled a dictionary that combined the new and old words--and modern Hebrew was born.

I always think of language as an organically grown system. I can't get my mind around the idea that one man said to himself, "I'm going create thousands of new words and revive a dead language"...and then that language and his words became the official language of a country! It's amazing.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Say It Isn't So

My grandma got me hooked on Days of Our Lives when I was just a tyke and I would spend my summers with my grandparents. I actually wanted to watch The Young and the Restless. At the age of about 10, I'd got it into my head that watching soap operas was "adult," so I endeavored to do so. I picked The Young and the Restless because I liked the name. Only, it's hard to start watching a soap cold. My grandma indulged me in just about everything, but she put her foot down on this matter. The Young and the Restless was on from 12:30pm to 1:30pm (at the time), and Days of Our Lives ran from 1pm to 2pm (at the time). Once the clock struck 1pm, the big TV in the living room switched to Days and I was forced into the kitchen if I wanted to watch the rest of The Young and the Restless on the little TV there.

For a while, I did just that. I watched YR until 1:30pm, not really understanding what was happening, and then re-joined my grandmother in the living room and watched the end of Days of Our Lives. With Days, I could ask questions and get answers: Why was Kim sleeping with Shane? What was up with Bo and Hope? She explained everything to me, and soon I forgot all about The Young and the Restless and just watched Days.

I watched Days of Our Lives for another 15 years. I expanded my soap opera watching schedule to include all of the NBC soaps, which at the time were Days of Our Lives, Another World, and Santa Barbara. As I got older, I swung in and out of watching soaps, but with such a solid foundation in these characters' lives (and nothing much really happens anyway), I was able to step away from the NBC soaps for as much as a year or two at a time and come back without missing a beat.

Once, while I was away from soaps, Santa Barbara disappeared from the scene to be replaced by Passions. I never bothered picking that soap up. Days got pretty ridiculous, but I found myself really enjoying Another World, which previously had been the soap I was least interested in. When NBC cancelled Another World in favor of Sunset Beach, I made a vow never to watch an NBC soap again. Sunset Beach was horrible and Another World was wonderful. And it had been on for over 20 years! How could they do that? They did, and it was a mistake. Sunset Beach was so bad that it didn't last long.

Some of the characters from Another World actually went across network lines and appeared on another soap (I can't remember which one now). I tried to watch it, but again found myself in the same predicament I had been in 15 years before--watching a soap cold. The Another World characters didn't feature prominently in the new soap, and I quickly lost interest. I found myself without a soap to watch.

I didn't miss it much, really. I had no intention of going back, and I wouldn't have except....for Daytime's first girl-on-girl kiss. It happened on All My Children in April 2003. The media was all over it, and the Bread Winner instructed me to tape the episode for her (as it turns out, All My Children had been the soap opera of her youth).




The kiss happened between Erica Kane's daughter Bianca, who had "come out" years before but had never had much of an on-screen dating life, and the character of Lena, a hot sexy Polish woman who was supposed to seduce Bianca to get information, but then of course she falls in love with her.

I was hooked. I started watching All My Children. I didn't know what the hell was going on except that two women had kissed and maybe, maybe they would kiss again. At first, I just fast-forwarded to the scenes that involved either Bianca (the least lesbian name of all time) and/or Lena. But gradually, I started watching more of it. Again, it was hard watching it cold, but luckily for me, the neighborhood housewives watched All My Children, and I found myself knocking on my neighbors' doors with questions like, What is Kendall so mad about? and What's the deal with Aidan?

Eventually, I filled in all the holes, and now I claim All My Children as my own. I was devastated when Lena left the show on April 28th, 2004. The actress who played her, Olga Sosnovska, got another job on a BBC drama and left for greener pastures. Honestly, Lena/Ogla was the hot one of the two women. And the better actress. Although I believe that A&E shows her new series, called MI-5, I haven't bothered to watch it. I still have her last scenes with Bianca (which featured another kiss) in my mind.

Imagine my surprise to see Ms. Sosnovska appear last night on a commercial. One of those "A Diamond is Forever" deals. In it, some guy is chasing her around a fountain, and he catches her and says, "You know, I think I'd marry you again." And then he whips out a diamond ring, and the people sitting around turn out to be the woman's parents, etc. A diamond is forever. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

The happiness of seeing "Lena" again quickly faded as I thought, How could she do this to Bianca! That thought was directly followed by, How could she do this to me! I mean, I know the actress is straight and everything, but couldn't she at least play gay for the rest of her life just to make me happy? Is that too much to ask? Must she parade her heterosexuality in front of me? Oh, Lena, say it isn't so.....

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Shoot the Messenger

The mind is a weird thing. Or maybe just mine is. I remember the turning points in my life almost in a revolving circle. One such turnng point involved my (then) best friend Jake.

We met in 1995. I was 20 and just foraying into the same sex dating scene. I'd been on my first date, then my second, and then--inexplicably--I was dumped. I couldn't understand why this had happened, because it didn't make any sense (it wasn't until years later that I got the whole story). I was just becoming good friends with a guy named Ned, and when I was complaining about my girl troubles, he suggested that I spend some time with Jake, who was also going through girl trouble.

And that's how our friendship started. I remember the first time I hung out with Jake. He lived in Delaware, as did I, just a few blocks up from my mother's house (where I lived at the time). Jake knew that Ned had orchestrated our meeting to discuss our mutual problems, so he asked me to tell him what was going on with me and this girl. I told him about the two wonderful dates followed by the inexplicable dumping. Then I asked him to tell me about his girl trouble. He launched into this long, tortured story about the love of his life, who he'd been with for over a year, and how every day Jake wondered why he was getting out of bed now that "she" was gone. Needless to say, our situations were far, far apart. I don't know what Jake got out of it, but I firmly put my predicament in perspective.

What brought us together was filmsy, but in each other, we found a good friend, someone to verbally spar with, an intelligent conversationalist, a person with the same sense of humor, a kindred spirit, and, yes, a confidant. I told Jake everything, and he did the same with me. He knew things about me that I didn't tell anyone else, and I knew the same things about him. For years, our friendship was strong and one of the most wonderful things in my life.

When Jake moved to Philadelphia in 1997, we didn't miss a beat. We saw each other less frequently, but we talked on the phone for hours every week. He saw me through two break-ups (from real, substantial relationships), and I was there for him as he slowly put his life back together--that girl had really rocked his world. Jake found a circle of friends in Philadelphia, and as I visited him every week or so, I too became a member of this tight-knit group.

Jake didn't date seriously, even though a wonderful girl in our circle of friends, Kate, clearly had a crush on him. Well, it was clear to everyone but him. He claimed that they were just good friends, and that's all they felt for one another. It was all he felt for Kate, certainly, but it was not all she felt for him. Meanwhile, Jake had several casual affairs. He still wasn't ready for another serious relationship.

A girl named Kathy Green joined our little group in 1998. I don't know why, but no one ever just called her Kathy. She was always Kathy Green. Kathy Green moved to Philadelphia from Texas. She was a friend of a Kate's (Kate was also from Texas), and she had a boyfriend, Alan.

During one of our phone calls one night, Jake confided in me that he thought Kathy Green was really hot, and he thought that she was attracted to him, too. I wasn't certain, but he was, and he was right. Soon, the two of them were sleeping together, and I was the only one who knew about it.

Kathy Green kept it a secret because she didn't want it to get back to her boyfriend. Jake said he was keeping it a secret for the same reason. Of course, there was another person who they were both keeping it from--Kate. Kathy Green certainly knew how Kate felt about Jake, and although Jake wouldn't admit it, he knew it too. Kate had been carrying a torch for him for well over a year now, and if she found out that Kathy Green and he were sleeping together, she would have felt betrayed by them both.

I, on the otherhand, knew all about Jake's sexcapades with Kathy Green. He told me the details of her giving him head in a parking garage, of how she had multiple orgasms, and they had sex in every room of his house. It was great, juicy gossip. The very best kind, and it went on for months. Kathy Green and her boyfriend split up almost as soon as they moved here, but neither Kathy nor Jake made their relationship more serious nor moved it into the light of day. No, it was still on the down-low in order to spare Kate's feelings.

Kathy Green ended up moving to New York, and that put an end to her affair with Jake. Meanwhile, I moved from Delaware to Philadelphia, and I never told a soul about their relationship...until I did.

It was 2000, and the affair had been over between Jake and Kathy Green for over two years. I was talking to a member of the aforementioned group of friends, a girl named Susan. Just so happened that Susan was now dating Alan, Kathy Green's old boyfriend! As we were re-hashing our memories of Kathy Green and Alan and their move to Philadelphia, I of course remembered that Kathy Green and Jake were having an affair during that entire time. As all of the dirty little secrets and sexual positions flitted through my mind, Susan read me like a book. It wasn't long before I spilled the beans and told her about Jake and Kathy's little "relationship."

Oh, it was wrong. I was wrong. It was a secret, and I should have taken it to my grave with me. Granted. Now that I'd told the thing I'd been instructed never to tell--being a person of integrity, rather than pretending that it hadn't happened--I called Jake immediately and told him that Susan knew about him and Kathy Green.

He was a little mad at me...at first. I apologized profusely and admitted that I was wrong, wrong, wrong. Which I was. I had some hope that Susan would keep the secret--as she'd also sworn to do--but before long, Susan told everybody. Only Jake didn't know that the secret was well and truly out, and again I was the one to let him know that everyone knew...and by everyone, I really meant Kate. She knew, and she wasn't happy. She was hurt. All these years, and she was still carrying that torch for Jake.

His friendship with Kate--an important one for him--fell apart. My relationship with him also faded further and further into the background of his life. He never got steaming, yelling at me mad. It simmered there, under the surface. I tried to keep the friendship going, to get it back on track. I tried to prove myself to him, but it was impossible. He felt betrayed by me--and he was--and it was something that he could never get over.

I'm not a part of that circle of friends anymore. Actually, the circle is more or less defunct. Two things happened around the same time which lead to my leaving the group. First was the growing distance between myself and Jake. Secondly, my relationship with the Bread Winner was going fast and furious, and I found myself spending most of my time with her. I wasn't really eager to spend time with my other friends going out to see a movie or some such thing when I could be at home having great sex all night.

But I still think about my relationship with Jake. He moved to California for a few years, but now he's back in Philadelphia. We hardly speak although we're still casual friends. I miss our old friendship, although I know now that we can never go back to it. I've tried for years and years. It's hopeless. I know he still blames me for the loss of his friendships with both Kate and Kathy Green. I know that Kathy Green blames me for the loss of her friendship with Kate as well.

For a long time, I beat myself up about that. Heck, I still do to some extent. It's still my default reaction when I think about those people: It's my fault. But then I think that's only the surface reason. Yeah, there's a good chance Kate would never have found out if I hadn't told Susan. Then maybe she'd still be friends with Jake and Kathy Green. Maybe the group would still be together. The truth is that there are many reasons the group fell apart. The secret I revealed, while definitely a major reason, was not the only one. But it might have been the one that left a bad taste in everyone's mouth.

Now I'm just beginning to see beneath the surface. Yes, I should have kept Jake's secret. But the truth is that Kate was (is?) mad because she was betrayed by two of her best friends--Kathy Green and Jake. They slept together, and they knew it was wrong. They knew it would hurt Kate. And if they hadn't done it, there would have been no dirty little secret to tell. Or if they'd been honest about it at the time it was happening, Kate would have been upset, but she would have gotten over it.

So when I feel guilty about it all now, I remind myself that while I was wrong, I was covering up someone else's bad deed. It was a bad deed, and the bad deed is what got Jake into trouble. In my life, I try to live by a code: If I can't stand the consequences of people knowing what I did, I shouldn't do it. Sure, there are some things I don't go out of my way to publicize, like my feelings of envy over my friend's pregnancy (now her baby) and my sister-in-law's pregnancy. I don't tell them about my feelings of envy and jealousy, and I ask that the Bread Winner not tell them either. But if they did confront me about it, I would say, "Yep, it's true. And if you can't be friends with me anymore, I accept that. I'm doing the best I can, and that's all I can do. If it's not enough for you, then it's not enough."

That's what it comes down to for me. Would I feel angry at someone for revealing my "secret," whatever that would be? Yeah, I would...a little. But the truth is that I did it. I have to accept the consequences of my actions. And I don't know that Jake has done that. So, after about four years, I'm trying to let myself off of the hook for this one.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Oddly Familiar

I've been seeing a lot of ads lately for the Schick Quattro. For those of you who live under a rock, this is a razor blade, designed for men, and it's big selling point is....it's got four blades! I remember the first ads. They went something like this, "First there was one blade, then two, then three....but four blades? That's overkill....right? Wrong. Introducing the Power of Four: the Schick Quattro."

Anyone else suspect that a Schick executive caught a re-run of There's Something About Mary before he came up with this idea?

Hitchhiker: I'm going to start my own company.
Ted: Really?
Hitchhiker: You want in?
Ted: Nah...I'm not...I don't....I don't really have any money....or....
Hitchhiker: You heard of this thing, the 8 Minute Abs?
Ted: Yeah, sure, 8 Minute Abs. Yeah, the exercise video.
Hitchhiker: This is going to blow that right out of the water. Listen to this: 7 Minute Abs.
Ted: Right. Yes. Okay, alright. I see where you're going.
Hitchhiker: Think about it. You walk into a video store. You see 8 Minute Abs sitting there. There's 7 Minute Abs right beside it. Which one are you going to pick?
Ted: I would go for the 7....yeah....
Hitchhiker: Bingo, man! Bingo! 7 Minute Abs! And we guarantee just as good a workout as the 8 Minute folk.
Ted: You guarantee it? How do you do that?
Hitchhiker: If you're not happy with the first seven minutes, we're going to send you the extra minute...free! See, that's it! That's our motto. That's where we're coming from. That's from A to B!
Ted: That's right. That's good, that's good. Unless, of course, somebody comes up with 6 Minute Abs. Then you're in trouble, huh?
Hitchhiker: No, not six. I said seven! Nobody's coming up with six! Who works out in six minutes? You won't even get your heart going! Not even a mouse on a wheel.
Ted: Good point. Yeah...
Hitchhiker: Seven's the key number here, think about it. Seven elevens. Seven doors. Seven, man, that's the number.

Actually, now that I think about it, maybe this was the conversation between the guys who came up with the three blade system. Surely no one would come out with four blades! How ridiculous would that be?

Thursday, November 18, 2004

How Bad Do You Want It?

When I started this blog, I didn't know what I was getting myself into. I didn't know what I would write about. I didn't know if I would like blogging. I just sort of flopped around for a while until I found the groove I'm in right now. I like this groove. I like what I'm doing. I like the idea of writing every week and having something that I can look back on later in life. I like the idea of my kids maybe reading this stuff 15 years from now, and maybe through reading this blog they'll realize that I'm more than the lady who makes them do their homework or sets their curfew. Yes, I've started to see my blog as a sort of legacy I can leave behind.

But that means I have to be able to leave it behind. Since this blog is online in the care of the blogger system, I just assumed that it was protected. I wouldn't have to worry about printing it out or backing it up or any of that stuff. Blogger was taking care of it. Then I read this post from Wheelson. In it, Wheelson says, "Does Blogger maintain backups of everyone's Blogger data? Doubtful, and even if they did they sure as hell aren't going to restore just your blog for you." That's a good point. What if something did happen to just my blog? Or maybe to just 10 or 15 blogs? How far out of their way would blogger go to restore such a tiny amount of data?

Wheelson wrote that post last week, and I still haven't been able to get it out of my mind. Wheelson advised, "Take the time soon to take stock of your data, and determine its worth to you." I've done just that. It is worth something to me. Wheelson also linked to blogger's backup process and commented that blogger "does not make it easy for you to back up." I checked the link out, and he's right. Blogger does not make it easy. I'm probably going to go through all ten steps anyway. I've grown attached to this blog. I've grown attached to what I've said. I don't want to lose it.

It's occured to me that there's an easier way to back-up, and I'm going to try this method, too. The only problem here is that you lose the comments. But here goes. This is easiest for those who do monthly archiving as opposed to weekly. Open up a month's worth of your blog by clicking on the link in your sidebar. From your view menu, select "view source" or "page source" or whatever it is that will allow you to see the source code. Voila, there's everything in html code. Copy it. Paste it into a document and save it. Repeat for each month's worth of your blog. There's a back-up. It ain't pretty, but it's there, and it's quick, and it's easy.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Are You Ready for a Naked Lady? I Sure Am

Monday Night Football featured none other than my Philadelphia Eagles playing the hapless Dallas Cowboys. But not many people are talking about the game--except a few well-deserved mentions of Donovan McNabb's incredible 14.1 second scramble which ended with a 60 yard throw down the field for a completion (Go Eagles!). No, people are talking about the intro bit before the game.

The intro bit this past Monday featured Eagles wide receiver Terrell Owens and Nicollette Sheridan, one of the stars of ABC's new drama, Desperate Housewives. In the intro, Sheridan's character "Edie" appears wearing only a towel and she tries to entice T.O. to skip the game and, uh, well, I think you know what she'd rather do with him. He says no and starts to walk away, but then "Edie" drops the towel. The television viewing audience sees her naked back exposed and T.O.'s smile of appreciation. He decides to skip the game, and "Edie" jumps--naked--into his arms.

Apparently, all the red state people are up in arms about this. Naked ladies! On a wholesome sports show! After all, this occurred at 7pm mountain time! During the dinner hour when little Timmy was innocently eating mashed potatoes! How could they do this to THE CHILDREN?!

ABC and the NFL promptly issued apologies all around.

What I love about this whole thing is that I have seen that scene between Terrell Owens and Nicollette Sheridan replayed at least ten times since Monday night. I've seen it replayed at 9 o'clock in the morning. I've seen it re-played at 5 o'clock in the evening. I've seen it in the afternoon, and I've even seen it re-played just about the same exact time it was played in the first place. Yes, I do watch a lot of ESPN. But that's not the point.

I think you know the point, and I really and truly don't understand it. If it is too shocking and violating of children to be shown at 9pm EST, then how come it's okay to show it every hour of the day since then? Obviously, this isn't the first time this has happened. Yesterday on a sports talk show I watch, they re-played some football player saying the word fuck on what had been live TV. Of course, they bleeped the word fuck, but they'd already told you what he said, "the f word," and then re-played the scene. Alrighty, I don't watch college football, and I would never, ever have known about this...except it's getting re-played so that I can be sure not to miss it. And while you're at it, can you explain the difference between hearing someone say the word fuck vs. being told that someone said the "f word" and then re-playing him saying it while bleeping the word fuck? Is it just me, or is there really no difference at all between these two occurrences?

I know, I know, they have to report something. It just seems like there wouldn't really be an uproar about much at all if it wasn't for news people intentionally stirring the pot.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

There, She's Gone

I think about my grandmother every day. Most days, I come close to tears, and some days, I actually cry. Memories of her are all around me, in the most unlikeliest of places. A few days ago, I was burning CDs to give to my clients, and I noticed I was running low on my 50 pack. I was mentally making plans to buy more CDs when I realized that my grandmother had bought me these CDs. We were at a store, probably six months ago or so, and I wanted to get these blank CDs. I was going to pay for them, but she added them to her purchases and said, "I'll get them for you." I think these remaining CDs are the last thing she bought for me, the last present from her.

Sometimes it's an item, like the CDs, or the large serving bowl on top of our kitchen cabinets that my partner pointed to yesterday and said, "We can use that for Thanksgiving." My grandmother gave that to me as a Christmas present six or seven years ago. Other times, it's an action, like a month ago when I was making raman noodles. I open the package, and then I break the hard square of noodles in half, and then each half in half so that I have four pieces the same size (more or less). I started doing that 10 or 15 years ago when I saw my grandma do it, and I asked her, and she said that she did it because it made the noodles easier to eat because they weren't so long. And I was breaking up the square of noodles a month ago, without thinking anything at all, until that memory came back to me.

It's times like these, when I think about my grandma, that I can usually keep myself from crying. It's another type of thinking about my grandmother that almost always gets me. When something that I've never experienced makes me think about her.

I was watching the episode of Crossing Jordan from Sunday night. It was about a plane crash. At the end of the show, one of the characters is standing at the crash site, and he reads from a book. I don't know if it was a poem or a paragraph, but he was reading it, and I couldn't stop the tears.

As I stand on a mountain top, as the great bird approaches, she is small in my sight but grows larger on approach until I am blessed with the full sight of her graceful wings, proud countenance and good company. All too quickly, she grows small again on the horizon and disappears from view, and I call out, “There, she’s gone.” But there are other mountain tops, beyond me, and at the precise moment when I note the great bird’s departure from my view, I know there are new eyes, taking up the sight of her, and fresh voices calling out, “Here she comes.”




Monday, November 15, 2004

The Impractical Nature of Candles

I saw Bridget Jones: Edge of Reason yesterday. Please, I implore you, DO NOT SEE THIS MOVIE. For those of you who are in the process of buying/starting movie theaters, DO NOT SHOW THIS MOVIE. It is truly horrible in every way. There's even a girl-on-girl kiss towards the end, which normally I would love, but it was so ridiculous and so obviously put in there just to give guys something to be excited about, that I almost didn't want to watch it. And one of those chicks was hot!

But that is neither here nor there. No, the purpose of this post is to write about hotel rooms in movies and television. In Bridget Jones, at one point in the plot, she decides to go to a man's hotel room with him. There are literally about 100 candles lit in this room. Tea lights and candles everywhere. Yes, it looks very romantic. But hello, who lit all the frickin' candles? Did they get to the room, and then the guy said, "Hold on a second while I light ONE THOUSAND CANDLES. Actually, it'll be more like 20 minutes. You don't mind, do you?"

Maybe, maybe if you had enough money, you could arrange to have the hotel prepare the room for your arrival beforehand. I read a blog entry once where the woman enters the hotel room and there are candles, etc., everywhere. But if you wanted to pull this off, you'd need A) a lot of money, and B) a plan. In other words, you'd have to know when you were arriving so that the candles wouldn't be all burned down, etc. And you'd also have to know that you would have a sex partner when you arrived. Yes? Yes.

Back in my courting days with the Bread Winner, when she would come over, I would light some candles, etc. Of course, she was already there when I did this. And I think my maximum candle lighting topped out somewhere around five. Hey, candles aren't cheap (although tea lights are). And candles get dusty. And you need some place for them to be where they won't light anything else on fire. Having a hundred candles lit is just not practical--let alone the time-consuming part of it I already mentioned.

It's funny that I love watching television, but the more I see of it, the more critical I get of it. Or maybe it's not more television that is making me critical. Maybe it is more life.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Propaganda

I started working with a wedding pro a couple of weeks ago. He's a very nice man and a very religious Christian. I don't have a problem with that--or any very religious person--as long as they keep it to themselves, by and large. Sure, it's a part of his life, so it will come up from time to time, and that's fine. I sort of expect the same respect I give to people--especially people I don't know particularly well--about my sexual orientation. I do not avoid the topic. I will answer questions honestly. And I don't mean sex questions (although I'll answer them honestly, too). I mean questions like, "What did you do last weekend?" My weekends include my partner, so I'll say, "My partner and I did X, and then we did Y." You asked. I told. And in that same exact situation, if I asked the wedding pro what he did last weekend, I imagine he'd say something about going to church on Sunday and maybe other activities surrounding his church involvement. No problem.

But today he sent me a forwarded email with the subject line, "The Interview with God." I draw the line there. What is it with people?

Here's another example: One morning I was out shooting some hoops nearby my house. A man approached me and asked if he could join me. I said, "Yes, I'll shoot with you, but I don't play basketball." This has happened to me a number of times, and it's normally fine. The guy shoots hoops with me until either he or I am ready to go, and that's it. So this one guy was shooting hoops with me, and we were having a fine time--talking about the basketball play-offs that were going on at the time. And then he says he has to leave. But wait. He wants to ask me something: "Have you accepted Jesus as your personal savior?"

And they can't just ask you, and when you say no (like I do), then just say, "Too bad. Bye." No, then they launch into this big long thing about Jesus blah blah blah. I mean, give me a break. You found Jesus! Good for you! I couldn't be happier for you! Now leave me the fuck alone! Do I run around trying to get people not to believe in Jesus? Of course not!

And they just don't seem to understand. As you try to extricate yourself from the situation, a glazed look comes over their face, and they talk on and on and on about Jesus. And the whole time, I'm rolling my eyes. Right, right, he died on the cross to save me, I get it, can you leave now?

Now that I think about it, it's very similar to people who forward email. I hate that too. When people start forwarding me stuff, I write back and say nicely, "Please don't forward email to me. I love hearing from YOU when YOU have something to say to ME, but I'm not interested in forwards." You'd think that would be fine with people...BUT IT'S NOT. I've practically had knock down, drag out fights with people about sending me (what I call) personal spam. "No, no," they say, "but this one is really funny!" Not to me, you dim wit! Especially since I read that goddamn email 20 times over five years ago!

So here I am confronted with this guy that I work with who wants to spread the word of Jesus via forwarded email. Yikes! I'm not looking forward to the conversation I'll have with him tomorrow, I can tell you that.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Beer? No. Lambic? Oh yeah.

One of the good things about not being pregnant is that I can drink alcohol guilt-free. Giving up alcohol is not a big deal for me, as there is actually very little alcohol that I like. The reason for this twofold. First of all, my father was an alcoholic (I would say is an alcoholic, but he's dead, so he was one). Because of that, I've always been wary of alcohol. From a young age, I was of the opinion that alcohol was bad, and that it could possibly lead you down a destructive and dangerous road. And that leads to the second reason: I just don't like the taste of much of it.

So while kids generally feel excitement at their first taste of beer, I felt cynical and apprehensive. Most will agree with me on this point: When you first tasted beer, it tasted nasty. I've asked many people why they seem to enjoy it when it tastes so bad, and they all answer the same thing: "Drink enough of it, and it starts to taste good." That logic never worked for me. In my mind, alcohol was a bad thing. So if it tastes bad anyway, why would you want to keep drinking it and drinking it until it tasted good if it was inherently bad? Didn't make any sense.

Other versions of alcohol didn't do anything for me either. I don't like the taste of bitter beverages or foods, and alcohol is rather bitter...except for mixed drinks, etc., which basically hide the taste of the alcohol. By far, however, beer is the worst tasting of them all. It smells like urine, so I always imagined that it must taste like urine as well. Then a professor of mine told me that urine is composed of almost the exact same things as sweat. He pointed out that armpit sweat stains in white shirts are...the same color as urine. He then asked me if I'd ever tasted sweat on my lip. Yes, of course. And it wasn't bad. Mostly salty. That's when I realized that BEER ACTUALLY TASTES WORSE THAN URINE.

This was the same professor who, when I confided in him that I was quite depressed about school, told me I should start drinking. A serving of alcohol has been reported to be good for your health, after all. He recommended beer. Eck. When he found out that I'd only had cheap beer like Budweiser, Coors and the like, he said, "No, no, no. You must try a good beer." And he then proceeded to recommend Samuel Smith beer to me--in particular, the Oatmeal Stout and the Nut Brown Ale.

Here's my review of these beverages: like beer, only thicker and nastier. Oh, and let's not forget that Sam Smith beer is about 20 times more expensive than the aforementioned Budweiser and Coors.

I felt despondent. Clearly, the answer to my troubles laid with consuming more alcohol--preferably beer. And yet, I couldn't stand it.

And then the Bread Winner introduced another "beer" into my life. A wonderful beverage classified as Lambic. This "beer" (it is so much better than any other beer that I have a hard time labeling it with such a degrading term, but I guess I must) comes from the tiny country of Belgium. I won't go into all the details of what makes Lambic better than other beer, but if you're curious, you can check it out yourself. Basically, two things set it aside. First of all, lambic is made using "aged hops" (three years aged) so it is not as bitter as other beer (which is usually made using "young hops"). Secondly, it is fermented twice: once traditionally, and a second time with a fruit.

Many people have not heard of lambic. I can't recommend it enough. It is pricey, and therefore not something you are likely to consume every day. Yesterday, I picked up six 750ml bottles of it for our Thanksgiving meal. Actually, five are for Thanksgiving, and the other one was enjoyed by the Bread Winner and I last night. It was a flavor I hadn't tried before: Kriek (or black cherry). It was quite tasty, but I'd have to say that I still prefer the framboise (raspberry), and there certainly isn't anything wrong with the cassis (black currant) either. We've got two bottles of each of these (one more of the Kriek), so Thanksgiving this year should be a fun affair indeed.

(As an aside, I also got two 12oz bottles of beer from Dogfish Head, a local Delaware brewery. I got their fall season beer, Punkin' Ale. Have to see if we get any takers on that around dessert time. I'm all set with the lambic.)

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Hotmail Feels the Heat

Just about everyone I know that had a hotmail email account has made the switch to gmail, myself included. My main reason--heck, my only reason--was because of hotmail's pitiful 2mb storage limit. Gmail offers 1000mb. So I made the switch and I haven't look back.

Okay, that's a big lie. I have trouble letting go, especially of things I've had for 8 years or so, like my hotmail email account. So I do look back. I've got a lot of stuff stored there, and I still get a random email there from someone I forgot to tell about my gmail account, so I check in every day or so to clear out the junk mail and see if I've got any new email.

I logged in yesterday, and the status bar that shows how much storage space you've used is all white. With a 2mb limit, it usually has a green line indicating that I'm using 70% of my storage space. I open up the inbox, and what do I see? They've upped the limit from 2mb to 250mb! I guess they were losing too many customers to gmail now that gmail invites are flooding the market (I've got six myself, if anyone wants one).

I'm in a little of a quandry now. I've basically made the switch all the way over to gmail. But I feel some loyalty to hotmail, since I've been with them for so long. I was with hotmail before it was owned by MSN, even before there were such things as spam filters. I actually have an account name with no numbers in it!

But I guess I should put it behind. I have made the switch, and gmail is still offering four times the storage. Plus, I do like the whole "conversation" thing that gmail has, as well as the stripped down text advertisements and overall easy to load minimal graphics. It's still hard to let an old relationship go, especially when the other entity has changed the things that made you leave them in the first place....

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

A Little Confused About Two Things

First

I was editing some photos yesterday, and I had the tv on in the background. I heard the music of a commercial--it sounded nice--and I looked up occasionally, not consciously taking note. But eventually, through my disinterest, it registered: The commercial was for the United States Postal Service.

Does the Post Office need to advertise? Are there other options? Sure, maybe for mailing packages, or sending stuff "express" or "priority" or whatever. Then, yes, you've got a bunch of choices, and I've seen Post Office commercials for that sort of thing, and that makes sense. But this ad had people getting Christmas cards and letters. Now, if you're sending a letter, is there another realistic option? Is this why they keep raising the price of stamps? To run stupid, unnecessary ads?

Secondly

A couple of weeks ago, I went out to have lunch with a friend. It was a rather large restuarant that has the internal stylings of a diner. (I can't actually call it a diner, because to me, a diner is small, and this place is huge.) When our waitress came up to take our order, I could not help but notice that she had a rather large mole--about a quarter inch or so in diameter--on her right cheek. Growing from the mole were three long hairs.

And I mean long. They were like an inch long. They grew out of the mole and then curled back in a long arc until the tips touched the woman's cheek.

Why on earth had the woman not plucked these hairs? I just don't understand that. Is there a cultural or religious prohibition against plucking mole hairs?

I grow a hair or two on my chin. As soon as I can even feel it there with my finger--when it's maybe a couple of milimeters long and not even distinguishable from the peach fuzz type hairs that are normally found on anyone's face--as soon as I sense it there, I get the tweezers and pull the hair out. Sure, from time to time, it sneaks up on me and it might be a little longer than that. Luckily, its location beneath my chin does a good job of hiding it anyway, and it's not black either.

I cannot imagine having a long ass, black hair growing out of a huge mole on my cheek, and not relentless plucking it. I just don't get it.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Inconceivable Joy in the Open Field

He jumped out of the house and down the two stairs into the cool fall morning. He felt the air, brisk and strange, on the patches of his skin that had been made bare by a vet tech, preparing the areas for surgery. He blocked the cold air on his skin from his mind. He was very capable of blocking discomfort and pain from his mind.

There was a place where, months ago, he had gone every other day. It was two blocks from the house, and he pulled the woman behind him eagerly in that direction. Flashes of memories entered his mind. He remembered chasing the ball endlessly. He remembered hoping that it would never end, that the ball would keep going and going, and he would keep chasing it through soft grassy fields. Vaguely, he also remembered experiencing incredible pain in his right knee one time and another time in his left knee. Those events had not dampened his desire to chase the ball, and he remembered bringing it back to the woman, running on three legs. He remembered putting the ball at her feet and getting ready to chase it again. He remembered that she'd taken the ball, put on his leash, and said, "This can't be good."

After that, he'd been taken on walks, past the beautiful open field where his dream had been realized so often. He'd pulled on the leash, trying to go to the open field. He hadn't seen the woman pick up the ball, but surely there must be a ball there in his dream field. What was the point of the field without the ball? "No," the woman had said, resisting his pull. "We can't go there for a long time." And he had whined in his confusion and sadness.

As he got closer to the field this morning, the woman said, "I hope they're not really ticketing people for having their dogs off the leash now." He didn't understand her words, but he understood the slight anxiety in her voice. He felt anxious too. He felt anxious to start the game, and at the same time, he felt anxious that they would walk by the field as they had so many times in the past months and the game would not start at all.

As they turned up the driveway towards the field, the anxiety that they might not play the game faded away. He started raising his front legs up off the ground, nosing towards the little canvas bag on the woman's waist. That little bag held happiness in the shape of a yellow tennis ball.

And then they were there. They were at the field. It was open and wide and long. Its sole destiny was to have a ball sail over it, to have a ball bounce along its surface, to have a dog run on its soft grass and the leaves that had fallen from the trees.

The woman opened up the little canvas bag and pulled the yellow ball out of it. "You want this, do you?" she asked. He sat and quivered, his eyes locked on the ball. Trees could have fallen down around him. The earth could have opened up beneath him. Anything could have happened, but nothing could have shaken his focus on the ball.

She took the plastic thing and put the ball in it. His eyes raised 18 inches from her hand to where the ball now resided, yellow contained in purple. Then it was pulled back, and he turned and ran as fast as he could away from the woman. Seconds later, his eyes turned heavenward, he saw the ball descending in a beautiful arc 20 feet in front of him. The ball landed on the ground--bounce--and then it was up in the air again, and he was there, jumping, grabbing it in mid-air, and pleasure filled his body as he held the ball in his mouth.

His entire body relaxed, basking the in the joy that emanated from his heart. He turned around and headed back towards the woman. He still went at a good pace, but now that he had the ball safely in his mouth, he was not so frantic as before. When he arrived at the woman's location, he ran around her in a victory lap, sharing his profound happiness at having the ball again, before doing what he must do.

After a few seconds of thought, he put the ball down. He always looked up at the woman after that. He wanted the ball so much. He loved to chase it and get it and have it. But the only way to chase it and get it was to let someone else have it for a short time, and that was hard. After he placed the ball on the ground, he always looked the woman straight in the eye and he asked for her promise that she would throw the ball again. The game would go on forever, as long as she kept her promise. Experience had taught him that eventually, the woman--just like every ball-thrower he'd ever known--would break her promise and take the ball without throwing it.

He exacted the promise from her and then backed up a few steps, in the ready position. He watched her pick the ball up with that plastic thing, and then he felt anxiety overcome him as he waited to find out if she would, in fact, keep her promise this time.

Her arm went back, and his heart rejoiced as he turned to start running towards the ball. When he saw it again in front of him, descending from heaven, his tongue rolled out of his mouth, and he was thankful to be alive.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Inconceivable Tragedy in the Backyard

Chester had not gotten to play fetch in several days, so last night, he spent a lot of time looking pointedly at me and then standing in front of the refrigerator and looking pointedly at the ball, which lives on top of the fridge, out of his grasp. Finally, around 7:30pm, I relented, and we headed out to the backyard for a little game of fetch.

Chester and I used to play fetch every other day or so at an open field nearby our house where dogs were often seen off leash. We haven't been able to go there in quite some time because of Chester's injuries. Now, he's ready, but I'd heard that in our six month absence, they started ticketing for dogs off the leash, so I haven't ventured back there.

So our meager backyard has become the location of recent games of fetch. It is small--only about 20 feet deep by about 12 feet wide. The backyards of my neighbors run the length of our backyard in our row home neighborhood.

We had not been playing long--maybe 10 or 15 minutes--when it happened. Chester jumped up to catch the ball, but in the darkness of the new time change, he misjudged the grab. Rather than securing the ball in his mouth, he snapped his jaws shut too quickly, and the ball was shot upwards and outwards with force. It sailed high into the night sky, 15 feet or more, and it landed in my next door neighbor's yard.

This was not the first time this had happened. I have climbed the fence between my yard and my neighbor's yard on many occassions. But not tonight. I was not in the mood. Instead, I told Chester, "Too bad," and I went into the house, holding the back door open for him to follow.

But he could not. He could only stand at the fence, at the exact location where the ball had sailed over, and stare at its resting place. It wasn't so much that he didn't want to come inside. It was more that every part of his body was refusing to allow him to. He was a retreiver, and the ball was not retrieved. He could no sooner abandon it there than a mother could abandon her child.

Whining, he urgently tried to enlist me to help him get the ball. No game of fetch between us had ever ended this way, with his failure to return the ball to me. I must do something, but somehow I didn't. My heart was hardened, and eventually, he had to do the unthinkable. He had to leave the ball behind.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Are You Ready for Some Football...and Political Predictions?

For those of you who love sports, love football, or love Sportscenter like I do, you've probably already heard this curious little stat: For the past 15 presidential elections the performance of an NFL football team has accurately predicted the outcome of the election. That team is the Washington Redskins. If the Redskins lose on the Sunday before the election, the incumbant party loses the presidential election. If the Redskins win, the incumbant party wins the election. Four years ago, the Redskins lost to the Tennessee Titans two days before the election, and Al Gore lost as well...sort of. This year, the Redskins lost again, this time to the Green Bay Packers. I guess we'll find out tomorrow if this trend holds true.