The Bean Blog (currently on hiatus)

Monday, January 31, 2005

You Are Asking Me for Money?

I have been quite annoyed with a fellow blogger. Many of you might remember Caliblog from a ways back when it was a "Blog of Note." It was/is a group blog, supposedly about four friends (now three--one left) who move from Michigan to California to "make it" in the movie industry. One of the bloggers, Mike, is trying to raise money to make an independent documentary about a bicycle trip across the USA. He has started a new blog, Project Pedal, to document this process. He's gotten three of his four necessary crewmen. But he's only gotten $189 of the $8000 that he needs to finance the film. Apparently, he expected his devoted readers to foot the bill for this film.

I was actually quite excited by his project. I'm not a film maker, of course, but like most, I am a film watcher and getting "an extensive and personal 'behind the scenes' look at the making of an independent film" sounded very cool to me. Mike made it clear right from the beginning that he was hoping to get his readership to donate money. And I thought about it. Seriously. I'm not rolling in cash. Not by any stretch of the imagination. But I have very seriously contemplated giving him about $100. Not a lot, I know, but something to show him that I support him and his goal. And if 80 people each gave him $100, well, that would be the $8000, wouldn't it?

At first, I showed my support of his blog and his idea by posting comments to his posts. He only responded to one of my comments. That sort of annoyed me. I mean, he wants me to give him money, but he doesn't have time to respond to me (and the others) who take time to comment on what he's doing? It was off-putting. And then, suddenly, the option to comment at all disappeared. Instead, if you have questions or comments, you were forced to post them on a "forum."

My first forum posting (now deleted, I noticed) was about this lack of the ability to comment. Mike says that he wants to share this experience with his readers. And I can't hammer this point home enough--he wants his readers to care enough about his project to give him some of their money--but he doesn't encourage us to ask questions? He doesn't respond to the questions and comments we do make? Huh? His response was that he hadn't intended that at all. He said that the comments link became an obsession to him as he kept checking back repeatedly to see how many comments there were. Okay, I can understand that. But if that's so, why the hell didn't he respond to these comments he was so "obsessed" about?

As time wore on, and he wasn't making any strides to get the needed $8000, I posted another question in his forum: What if you don't get the 8 grand? From his response, it seemed like he had no plan to get the money except for us readers to give it to him. However, he responded quickly and politely to my questions...until he didn't anymore. Again, I was left wondering, Do I want to give my money to someone who doesn't have time to answer my questions?

Mike has started getting a little desperate about getting this money. He wants to start his trip/documentary in May. That's about four and a half months from now. And he's got less than $200. Just last week (Jan 25,2005) he posted about "getting the word out." He noted that the web-stats "could be worse - but not by much" and formulated a plan to get the word out via stickers, since he can't afford anything more expensive. I ventured to the forum yet again and asked him if he had considered using cafe press, which could possibly raise awareness and generate money for him. I asked the question on Friday. Has he bothered to respond? No.

I guess I just have to stop reading this blog. It pisses me off too much. I keep feeling the urge to help him, but everytime I reach out to try to form a connection--you know, give myself a reason to hand over my money--he just ignores me. And then he seems so desperate and confused about why his readers aren't forking over the dollars. Maybe if you weren't such an inaccessable asshole, people would give you money. Oh, and the funny thing about the comments, which were "too much for him to handle," is that now he double posts his project:pedal posts on caliblog...which has comments. And then he doesn't even respond to the comments made there! I mean, what is with this guy? Does he really think he's just going to get this cash handed over to him while ignoring the very people who would give it to him?

Well, I'm done with project:pedal. And just to think, last week I almost went to get a money order to send to him. Forget it. I don't exactly hope that he doesn't get the money, but if he keeps going along this way, I would be shocked if he did. At least from his readership. Maybe some great-aunt will die and leave it to him.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Words That Describe Me

I don't often let my mind travel down this path, because it is a train of thought that bothers me. But sometimes I find myself thinking about these words anyway. I feel my irritation grow, and I shake my fist at the sky, and then I distract myself with something else because there is nothing I can do about it. I'm talking about the nouns that indicate who I am at my most basic. Namely, a human. A closer look at that word will reveal that the dominant part of it is man. Are men the only true representatives of our species? Another word, person. This word is broken down quite obviously to per son. Are men the only ones who count? And of course there is history. Are mens lives the only ones worth remembering? Worth telling?

When I move away from these basic indicators of life and to the subdivision that I belong to, I still find no relief. I am a woman. I am female. Even my identity as other only puts me squarely under the thumb as being part of what a man is. My words, woman, female, cannot exist independently of man and male.

I would like to pause here and let you all know not to be concerned. I am not a femi-nazi who pleads with the powers that be to change the spelling of woman to womyn or wommin. These thoughts do not consume me nor keep me up at night. And yes, yes, I know the arguments of social context and modern usage. But on the surface, for me, those arguments seem a little...defensive. A little, "Okay, you caught me, I am oppressing you. But come on. You know that I don't really mean it!"

As there's nothing I can really do about it, apart from the aforementioned petition for womyn (which just seems silly to me), I take what solace I can get in words like girl and lady. I am not a linguist, but these words do not seem to depend on a male-indentified words to me. We can exist outside of that sphere, although in a very imited capacity.

I am usually drawn down this path of thought when I am confronted not with the English words I have been writing about here, but rather when I am confronted with French. French is much, much worse than English. In French, the word for girl is fille. This is also the word for daughter. The word for woman is femme. This is also the word for wife. The implication here is staggering. Girls and women are only daughters and wives, both roles that implicitly connote a dependence and identity based on their relation to men. You cannot be a daughter without a father. You cannot be a wife without a husband. Even if these men are dead, they are still identifying who you are as a person.

On the other hand, the French word for boy is garçon and the word for son is fils. The word for man is homme and the word for husband is mari. Boys and men are not only sons and husbands. They have lives, identities, separate from those that tie them to women. If French men were in the same boat with French women, if they too were only boys/sons and men/husbands, I would think that the words reflected an archaic time, but at least there was parity. Alas no. The truth is that the French could not be bothered to come up with another word for girl, another word for woman. Who cares? You're some man's daughter; you're some man's wife. That is who you are. And why would you want more?

I guess what I'm getting at here is that French makes me think that English isn't so bad after all.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

I Really Do Hate School

It's only the second week and already I'm sinking into a depression. Ug. I have to write a composition in French every week. This is the first week, and I'm about ready to poke out my eyes with the hard plastic corner of my dictionary cover. If someone came up to me right now and said, "How about I just jam toothpicks underneath your fingernails, and then you can just forget about that whole composition thing?" I would offer my hands immediately.

This friggin' composition only needs to be 25 lines long! That's not much! Except when you need to up every other goddamn word. I've pretty much got the articles down. You know, words that translate to "the," "a," and "some." Those words I'm all set with. And pronouns. Got those as well. It's all those other words. Even words that I know, like the word for "clothes." I know what that word is. But how, exactly, does one spell it? Isn't there that weird hat shaped accent on one of those E's? Better look it up. AGHHHHHHH! Toothpicks, please.

And then there is the online board that is taking over education. That evil entity called, innocuously, Blackboard. Oh, how I've hated you from the beginning. But you won't go away. Instead, you spread. The most amazing thing about Blackboard is that teachers think that students love it. Uh, no. All it does is make it impossible to leave school at school, because now it has infilitrated my house via my innocent iBook G4! Bastard. I would describe the excrutiating pain I went through with Blackboard when I only had a dial-up connection, but there might be children reading this, and I won't subject them to such descriptions of violence.

In the year and a half since I've taken a class, I've gotten high speed access. I thought, "Maybe it won't be so bad this time." Foolish, foolish woman. Blackboard sensed that I was making advances and has decided, arbitrarily, to refuse to allow me to logon to it at all. When I saw the message, Could not login. The specified user name does not exist in the system, all I could think to ask was, "Is this because I'm a lesbian?" And of course, because Blackboard is so wonderful, my teacher for tonight's class has put three out of the four readings for tonight on Blackboard. I mean, why spend time reading from the textbook she made us buy? That's too convenient!

I took that long break from school because school was about to break me. I'm not ashamed to admit that I just couldn't take it anymore. I had to step away. Time has gone by and softened my memory. School wasn't that bad. I was just a little overwhelmed by a lot of things. School was just a small part of it. Right? WRONG! I really hate school. I just don't have the will to put up with all this crap anymore. Unfortunately, I've got two semesters left.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Is This Because I'm a Lesbian?

All of you Law & Order fans won't have any trouble picking up on this not-so-clever post title as a line stolen right out of last night's episode. It might be the most bizarre non-sequitur ever uttered on Law & Order, possibly on television in general.

I find it particularly amusing because, although many Law & Order fans hated Elizabeth Rohm, aka A.D.A. Serena Southerlyn, I actually came back to the show once I saw her on it because I thought she was hot.

She did it for me. I'd had a big crush on Jill Hennessy when she was the A.D.A., but the two women who followed didn't get my juices flowing. For whatever reason, Elizabeth Rohm did. So while I was displeased that Rohm was leaving the show--and getting fired at that--I was giddy with delight at her next to last line: "Is this because I'm a lesbian?"

Okay, first of all, it's completely unbelievable that "Serena Southerlyn" was a lesbian. Secondly, the timing of the line was a bit far fetched. I mean, if someone fires you, someone like an attorney general--you know, an elected official, a politician--do you really expect them to say, "Yeah, I did fire you because you're a lesbian." I'm not saying that's why she was fired. Not at all. I'm just commenting that her asking the question is a little silly. There's only one possible answer: No.

But like I said, although it was unbelievable, I was still happy to hear it. I've heard a rumor that Television Without Pity (a great fan sit of all things TV) might come out with Law & Order t-shirts with "Is this because I'm a lesbian?" emblazoned upon them. While browsing the Law & Order forum this morning (now renamed "Original Law & Order: Is this because I'm a lesbian?"), I picked up a great idea from a poster whose handle is "add_duck":

Those last 45 seconds almost made up for four crappy years, if for no other reason than I now have the greatest all-purpose line with which to stun unsuspecting bystanders.

Overworked Airline Employee: I'm sorry, there are no seats left on this flight.
add_duck: Is that because I'm a lesbian???!!!
Overworked Airline Employee: ...

Unless, of course, the OAE is also an L&O fan, in which case we'll share a mighty chuckle at [Elizabeth Rohm]'s expense. I predict that this will also be useful with waiters, teachers, and telemarketers. I also hope to con my father and/or male roommate into using this line.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

I Support the Little Guy...To a Point

As I mentioned before, I am returning to school this semester. Last night was my first night. It is weird being back. It's been almost two years since I've taken a class, and as I walked through the familiar hallways, I couldn't help but feel like I'd stepped back in time.

Two years isn't that long, so I was surprised at what I remembered and what I didn't. For instance, I am taking two classes, so I went to the Penn bookstore, which doubles as a standard Barnes & Noble on the first floor, university bookstore on the second floor. I got the books for my French class, which I've been dreading, but I couldn't find the course number for my other class, a sociology class. That was a bit strange considering that the class starts tonight. I was thinking, Maybe there's just a bullpack or something, and then I had one of those forehead slapping moments were I remembered the screwy bookstore situation at Penn. Some professors shun the nice, large, adequately staffed Barnes & Noble because they don't want to support a corporation. So instead of ordering the books from Penn's official bookstore, they order them from one of two other, independent bookstores.

They are both much smaller, but at least one of them, named Penn Book Center, has some room inside of it and during the crunch to get books at the beginning of the semester, they have three registers open and a staff person at each one. The other bookstore, A Room of One's Own (I think), is tiny. They've got two registers but only one credit card machine, and of course everyone is using a credit card. The average cost of books is $120 per class. Now, most kids, even Ivy League kids, aren't carrying $300 or more in cash (if you're buying for more than one class). And this place has these narrow aisles, and you end up being wrapped around the tiny store with 50 or more kids actually standing in line outside the store.

Now, I understand the desire to support the little guy. I really do. But I expect the little guy to make arrangements for the mass traffic descending upon him predictably at the beginning of each semester. How hard would it be, how much money would it cost, to at least up the credit card machines to two? Is that unreasonable? From what I can tell, professors have no idea what it is like at that place. I tell them, "Please, just order from Penn Book Center. It's also independent, but at least they can handle the crowds a little better than A Room of One's Own. Please! Do it for the kids!" When I tell my professors about it, how it's packed full of students, how we're climbing over bodies, pushing and shoving, just to find the damn books in the first place, and then there's the massive wait. Miserable!

I guess it makes sense that I would have forgotten all that. That's just the sort of thing that a girl likes to block from her memory. Tonight, I will go to the Penn Book Center and hope that the sociology book(s) is/are there, and that I will not have to make the dreaded trip to A Room of One's Own.

Monday, January 10, 2005

The Night the Lights Went Out... Halfway

The Bread Winner and I have been experiencing a bizarre electrical malfunction of late. It happened, as far as I can see, because of a Christmas present that my mother gave us--a present we had specifically asked for, I will add so that it does not seem as if I am laying the blame at her doorstep.

We have many pets, and we'd asked for two of those new-fangled air purifier thingis. You know, "ionic" this or that. They work silently, and you just wipe down the metal bar thing in the middle to clean it. Anyway, we'd asked for two, and lo and behold, this Christmas, what should be under the Christmas tree?

We plugged one in downstairs in our living room. All was fine. A few days later we got around to plugging one in upstairs in the bedroom. And that's when it happened. Some of the lights started to flicker, flicker, and then they went off. Not all of the lights, but about half of the lights in the house, more or less. Naturally, I assumed that the air purifier had blown a fuse. Knowing the (somewhat screwy) way the electrical lines run in this house, I mentally made a note to plug the purifier into another outlet in the bedroom that ran to a seperate fuse. Meanwhile, the Bread Winner went into the basement to flick the fuse back on. But it wasn't off.

Really? Really.

She came back upstairs, and we kind of stared up at the ceiling (we were in the kitchen, and the overhead light there had been affected). We were confused. And then, magically, a few minutes later, the lights came back on, as well as the power to various electronic devices plugged into the affected lines. We turned to each other, said, "That was weird," shrugged our shoulders, and went about our day.

The air purifier has been unplugged upstairs since then....but this weird power outtage keeps happening. It happens for hours at a time, and then voila! Let there be light! Let the telephone work! And the answering machine! (which, of course, are plugged into unhappy lines.)

What is particularly weird about all this that it's not just the line that the air purifier was plugged into that has been acting weird. It's four separate lines. They all go out simultaneously. And none of the fuses gets tripped. Weird. Really weird.

We were about to leave the house yesterday for a few hours, and I just started thinking about how dangerous whatever was happening might be. If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know that I do a lot of home improvements myself. One realm I've stayed out of is electrical. I started thinking about a fire being started by some sort of electric high jinks, so I decided that the best thing to do was to go down to the electrical box and actually turn off all the lines that seemed to be affected by whatever has happened.

Strangely enough, although this is somewhat inconvenient and annoying, it's prefectly manageable. The power still works to the heater and the water heater. The line that the refrigerator and microwave are plugged into is also fine. As is the line that the television is plugged into (thank god!). The phone is out, but we've got cell phones, so it's not a big deal.

Now I've got to call an electrician, and for the first time since we bought this house in May 2003, we will pay someone to fix it.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

The 2005 Bloggies

Hey kids. Through the comments section on this blog, I heard of the Bloggies. It's a little award thing-a-ma-gig where some people will feel special at the end of it by having their blog win in some category or another. So all of you blog affectionados out there, go ahead a nominate your favorite blogs! And I know this seems like a shameless plug for my blog, but it really isn't. There's a slew of categories: Best blog from various countries/regions of the world. Best food blog. Best political blog. Best writing. Best photography. Best topical blog. The list goes on and on. So if there's a blog or two out there that you know and love, give it a nod at the Bloggies. Why the hell not?

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Bathroom Procedure

The Bread Winner and I have been together for five and a half years now. Although it is true that I still learn new things about her all the time, those new things are rarely what you would call surprising. They are more of the, "I didn't know you like peanut butter on your apples," type of thing. But this past Sunday, I was confronted with something I had never contemplated from anyone before.

Let me start out this story by saying that the Bread Winner and I have a strict bathroom door closed policy for elimination purposes. I know that many couples forgo this social norm after they have been together for a little while. Not us. For me, when I am sitting on the toilet, that is personal, alone time. I still find myself shocked and slightly offended when I hear people talking on their cell phones while peeing in a public rest room. "Oh, I'm in the bathroom. I'm peeing! Heh heh heh." Really people, can't you wait two minutes to make that call? But that is neither here nor there. Back to the story.

Having a one bathroom house, on Sunday I saw that the door was open a crack and then heard the toilet flush, so I opened up the bathroom door the rest of the way so that I could get in to get something I needed. That's when I saw her. She was standing beside the toilet with her pants down around her ankles, her hand just leaving the lever that flushes the toilet. She looked at me with surprise, considering that I'd violated our mutual bathroom privacy policy, and then said, "You're lucky that I was done, missy."

But I couldn't feel chastised at that moment because I was confused. I had assumed that the toilet flush meant that, well, everything was done, including re-dressing. My bathroom procedure, and I had just assumed that this was universal, is that when I am done with the process of elimination and wiping, I put my hands on the waistline of my pants. As I stand up from the toilet, my pants are brought up simultaneously. Generally I zip up and button and then flush the toilet, although occassionally I'll flush first before zipping.

So as I stared at her, I asked, "Don't you pull your pants up before you flush?"

"What?" she asked, "And just leave stuff sitting there in the toilet? No!"

I didn't know what to do with this information. I had never considered that flushing would be the priority. Hours later, still mulling it over, I asked her if she did things differently in a public bathroom. There, did she also flush first and then re-dress? She thought about it for a minute and then said, "Usually, yes."

Are there other people out there who flush first? If you flush first, let me know. Then I won't think that the Bread Winner is such a freak.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Playing the Field