html xmlns="" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: March 2007

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

My friends. If you answer a personal ad I've posted, I will google you. I will google you by your first and last name. I will google you by name and city. I will also google your email address. You might not expect that, but I will. I will google your complete email address and I will google just your login, which you might use more widely as a handle. By the time I answer your email, I will have found everything obvious. I will know what you buy on eBay. I will know about your organizations. I will know what questions you've asked on tech threads. I will know about the races you run. I will know this very quickly.

Some people might not expect about the email address. I understand that. But I did not expect that when I googled the guy by moderately distinctive first and last name, the top hit for him would be on a furry bulletin board. (If you don't know what furries are, I will not be the person to tell you.) Consulting adults and all that, but:

1. Why would you use your full first and last name to introduce yourself as a wolf?
2. Why is my dating life a farce?

I've not challenged Dizzy's troll, either. That's crap.

I’ve been thinking about Kathy Sierra’s situation and the anonymous graphic death threats she got. I’ve been thinking about my comment policy, and being a woman on the internets. I’ve been thinking about what a zero-tolerance policy means. But mostly I’ve been thinking about what I’d’ve done if I’d seen the situation happening. And what I would want people to do if it were happening to me.

My understanding is that Ms. Sierra’s writings on technology earned her a lot of attention; some small part of that from what is likely to be one man who has made sexually violent threats against her. I’ve seen the threats, they are far beyond the pale. That is very clear. It is also helpful that her writings are technical; nice not to have this clouded up with allegations that she has presented a sexualized version of herself and what can you expect of men who encounter a sexualized persona? (Which I object to as a bullshit assessment of men.) But that’s about all I am clear on.

So. Occasionally I write things that provoke reactions. Sometimes, people reprint them to strangers who don’t give me the benefit of the doubt. Those strangers then write things about me, the person, rather than whatever I wrote about. I mostly don’t mind; ‘fact, I mostly think their conclusions are funny. But last week, when Peter reposted my TSA rant, I was glad he didn’t post my gender. People assumed I’m a man, and I got responses like “What a fucking idiot.” But when I get negative responses from people who know I’m a woman, I get two more things. I get ‘she must be physically unattractive’, and I get this nasty descriptive scare-stuff. So far, no threats directed at me, but definitely stuff intended to keep me scared of an unidentified but menacing man (‘you won’t be so proud of your tkd as you feel his thick fingers rip your larynx out of your neck’ type-writing). In small doses, I can dismiss that stuff easy. It doesn’t conform to my perceptions of the world. In large doses, it would change my perception of the world.

I don’t expect to have large doses of that vileness turned on me for my usually benign dorkiness. (But, I imagine, neither did Ms. Sierra, for her tech writings.) If I run into it, it’ll likely be as a spectator. In that case, what would I do? Well, if I had run across the site with the threats against her, I probably would have backed the hell out of there. It was foul and mean and I guard against exposing myself to foul meanness. Would I have dropped a line to Ms. Sierra, expressing sympathy? No. I don’t know her or of her. Would I have posted something, saying this is unacceptable? No. I wouldn’t have wanted to alert them to my existence. Would I have written to the site administrator, saying ‘what are you doing, allowing this on your site?’ No. Well, just barely maybe (10% chance) if I’d seen a very large email address next to something about how they want feedback on what should be allowed in the comments. Yep. I would have done nothing and clicked back to my people.

What would I want people to do, if pictures of me mutilated were posted with sexually violent text? Well, I would want them to speak up. I’d want them to write to me, post comments, write to the administrator, saying that is unacceptable and they will not tolerate it. I would want them to make noisy withdrawals, explaining why they are shunning a site and then truly shun that site. No even-handed links for bad people. Let them wither in proportion to their vileness. Or become concentrated and isolated.

So, what’s the deal with me not acting the way I would want people to act? Well, like any protest, it would take some (minimal) effort, and alone it wouldn’t accomplish much, and there is some (slight) fear it will re-direct the nastiness to me. Strangely, I’m over that in the real world. In the last month I’ve gotten out of bed to call the cops and intervene in violence on my street. I think of Kitty Genovese and I act. I could do that much on the internets. I will do that much on the internets.

Still no compliments.

I also want to say that this controversy has made me even more pleased with my affirmative kindness comment policy. I don’t police it as thoroughly as I should, allowing some of y’all to be merely neutral toward your co-commenters. But I am proud that I’ve scolded friends for bashing women here, even unpopular women, even people who are mean to me. It isn’t OK.

People have emailed to say that the affirmative kindness atmosphere is what draws them to my site. I hope so. That would make it worth the trouble. If it fosters an interesting comment section, that makes it worth way more than my enforcement effort. Lovingkindness isn’t a cop-out and it doesn’t have to be saccharine. When the target is ripe and the temptation is to pile on, respect and compassion require real effort.

The part I’m struggling with now are old comments by CharleyCarp and Amanda, where they objected to my excepting myself from affirmative kindness, because allowing even one woman to be bashed on my site is one too many. I think they are right. I’d excepted myself because I have nearly all the voice here and all the power. And because I think people reveal more in insults than in compliments. But I don’t know if those are good enough reasons.

So friends, an announcement, for me and for Kathy Sierra. Affirmative kindness applies to everyone here, you and me and all the friends who come by. Comment here in a respectful and friendly tone, on all occasions. That doesn’t mean no disagreement or critiquing what I write. It doesn’t mean no funny digressions. It means writing as you would to your beloved friends, friends who may disagree with you. Practice here for a while, and then take it with you as you go out into the internets.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Most things could happen.

I’ve long thought that what college teaches you is critical thinking. I think that because it is the difference I see in my friends who go to college and my friends who don’t go to college. I’ve seen smarts and work ethic vary on either side of the college divide, but critical thinking, that instant on hearing something where you tilt your head and think 'does that sound right to me?', I see that in people who go to college and don’t see it in people who don’t*.

I’m usually to the far end of the critical thinkers, but I got one-upped this weekend. A new friend was talking about finding a job in math when he graduates. “But that’s three years from now,” I said, “anything could happen**.” “Well,” he paused “not anything anything. I mean, you only need one thing that couldn’t happen…” We laughed and agreed on “most things could happen”, which is what I’m going to say from now on.

*With the marked exception of anyone in the town of Santa Cruz, where they have abdicated critical thinking altogether. Far as I can tell, critical thinking, or indeed, any assertion of fact, might cause someone somewhere in the world to be hurt, so they no longer include those in their conversation. Instead, their sole topic is how events made them feel, which in addition to being an “I” statement and not a reflection on anyone else, is incontrovertible. I sit watching them, hoping my face is still pleasant and neutral but fearing that people so attuned to feeling can read every bit of my scorn for their utter lack of thought. They are pretty, though.

**I decided anything could happen the night I met my Uncle Akbar. I went to the wedding dinner for my Mom and her new husband and he introduced me to his brother, my new Uncle Akbar. I wasn’t opposed or anything, but I do remember thinking “I never thought I would have an Uncle Akbar.” I decided that if one could get an Uncle Akbar at age 26, there was just no use having expectations for the world. Anything could happen. I also went from having one first cousin to having thirty-five first cousins in a couple years, but it looks like I am back down to one first cousin. She was my favorite anyway.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Segues and everything.

I have the little iPod, without the screen. My favorite is when I hand it to friends and tell them to fill it for me. I hear all sorts of great stuff that way, although without the privilege of knowing the musicians or the song name. It turns out my friends are, like, hip, so I know the cool songs when they later become popular (only to sing along with, not their names, so I don’t realize I can play when people do obscure band one-upmanship). I’m also realizing that my roommate Ali and my old friend Teddy have the same tastes. I wouldn’t have called it, deceived by the fact that they are nothing alike. But this is excellent news!

Teddy informed me on my last visit that now that I have a laptop, I owe him “media”. When I asked him what “media” meant, he told me it meant a jewel case with cover art, liner notes and a playlist on the back. He warned me that the thin strips for the edges take some time to get perfect. Inside the jewel case, I should send him, um, a list of songs for him to legally buy and burn onto his own CD as a back-up copy. I am closing in on his “media”. This weekend my friend took the picture that’ll be on the front. Ali’s new mix on my iPod has some stuff I’ve never heard that I think he’ll like. I’m starting to get a sense of songs that should lead into each other; after that comes assembling those blocks. My old playlists were well received, but it has been years since I’ve been able to make them. I’m excited to be back at it.

How did I miss that in seven years of grad school?

Did you guys know about wicked problems and not tell me? That is an interesting framing and I can think of ways to apply it. But I can only use conceptualizations like that if y'all bother to let me know about them. Are you holding out on me? Are there other interesting frameworks I should know? Pony up, internets.

Monday, March 26, 2007

I'd feel bad about naming names, but I knew, like, four Sungs.

My flight is completely full, so I took a middle seat between two of my people. By “my people”, I mean, of course, two shaven-head, buffed out, wristcuff and dogtag wearing, cut-off camouflage and flipflopped southeast Asian boys. They probably want to look all urban and hardd, but to me they look adorable, like every boy I went to high school with. I took out my knitting, the better to patronize them, and reminisced.

The boys we went to high school with were mostly car thieves (Korean) or ran gambling rings (Vietnamese). That didn’t interrupt their schooling much; I think they’re mostly surgeons or lawyers now. One guy, Sung, was in loooOOOOoooove with my sister and wanted to prove his devotion by stealing a car for her. I remember thinking that was the most useless gift ever. Did he think my parents wouldn’t notice if a slammed Honda Civic just appeared at the house? That they wouldn’t make my sister account for a surprise new car? Where would she keep it? What if she got caught driving it? I was of the opinion that Sung had not thought this gift through. Sung didn’t get caught stealing cars until our first year of college, when he was busted for GTA. It was a bummer, ‘cause his folks were in Korea at the time, so mutual friends had to bail him out. I never heard how his court case came out, but I do know he was sent to live with his uncle in Bakersfield, which seems unduly harsh. Still, I can imagine him bragging that he could drive to LA in an hour and a half, listening to the VTEC symphony of his engine as he drove the Grapevine.

My sister hung out with a harder crew than I did. My friends just sold SAT scores, but I totally heard from my friend who went to school with those guys that her friend saw my sister’s friends carrying guns that time. She spent a lot of time with Nam, whose guy-code included the rule that you can’t make a U-turn with a girl in the car (lest you look like you didn’t know where you were going). She called him on it the second time she noticed that they’d made three right turns in a row, but he still wouldn’t make a U-turn in her presence. If they did carry guns, I made the rudest gesture of my life to an armed teenage boy at one of our parties. My sister was standing around talking to three of her friends when I went over to yell at her for something (in fact, I may have been pissed to hear that they’d brought guns to our party). I was super angry, so I went over and yanked her arm or something. One guy got fired up to defend her, so he got in my face to tell me to back off. I put my hand on the side of his face (not hard or anything), said “I’m talking to her” and spun him 120 degrees away (because if you aren’t braced you have to follow your head and neck.). It was incredibly dismissive. I hate confrontation and I was always intimidated by those guys, so I can’t imagine how I did that. But picking on my little sister is my fundamental right. It would take more than a few pseudo-gangster National Merit Scholars to stop me.

A great weekend in Austin

Austin is a great place. I can see why people like it so. My weekend was lots of hanging out in Christy’s house with friends everywhere I looked. I didn’t get to see much of Austin, but I liked what I saw a lot. Great trees, lots of good food, cute houses and good cafés. I liked those black birds that are all over Austin; the guy birds would swoop down near the brown and black lady birds, strut around and flex. Then my guy friends did it too, saying "I am so strong. Pick me. My nest is best." I saw cardinals for the first time! They look like the cartoons!

My favorite purely Austin experience was swimming at the spring fed pools. No chlorine! Real cold! Oh man. I would love to get used to that. I liked Barton Springs, but I liked Deep Eddy pool even better. Barton Springs is a gorgeous, long, natural-bottom, enclosed and backwatered stretch of spring-fed creek. My friends all frolicked, but I wanted to swim laps. It was my first time swimming since the Sacramento park pools closed in September, so perhaps eighth-mile laps were a little much. And I’m always just a little scared in natural water bodies. In the ocean there's the shark fear (Dan asked me if the shark fear was the fear that I would die if I didn’t keep swimming or a deepseated insecurity that I’m secretly made of cartilage instead of bone. Dan is a smart aleck.) and in the American River it is the sturgeon fear. In lakes, the fear is that you have no idea what lives in those forests at the bottom, but nature is not always kind. So four laps was plenty for me. But I went to the spring-fed lap conventional pool the next day and that was awesome in every respect.

I had to get another bathing suit, and the benevolent universe sent me another athletic suit without a racer back. It worked great. I will not have a racerback tan line this summer, which is the type of accomplishment that makes me think progress is possible. Consistent steps like this mean that I will one day look put together. I also quite liked the square bodice line. I should wear more box-necked tops.

The highlight of the weekend:

Pure and consistent as people may be about their personal food ethics, every one has a chink in their armor. Even vegans have fantasies, about the exceptions, the times when you can eat your ice cream with no guilt. In Anand's case, you can eat ice cream guilt-free if you catch it from across six lanes of traffic.

He's handsome, isn't he?

Friday, March 23, 2007

They're fast and they look like they're going to tip but they lean way back and they don't.

I spent yesterday with Sherry and watched her coach her kids. She teaches them to go fast in little tiny sailboats and man, I don’t know any piece of that world. It’s a good world, though, with lots and lots of jargon. She’s all confident too. She does things like steer our boat with her knees or her hips while watching the telltales and telling her kids things like “more vang”. She doesn’t notice that is an impressive thing to do. She knows things, like how the wind moves between the sails on your own boat and how you can create still spots that will stall out a boat from another team. She can feel the difference in turbulence through the bottom of the boat when you switch from point to speed mode. She also thinks it is normal and comfortable to do things like stand with a leg on two separate boats while talking to someone else about something, or throw a granola bar to students in their little boat, who can scoot around like waterbugs and be in place to catch it. That was neat to watch, although I can’t even imagine how it would feel*.

So in lots of ways it was completely foreign. But some of it was wholly familiar. Those loose-limbed kids, joking around, hungry all the time, beautiful in any old mismatched gear, hoping for a workout where their moves come easy and they use every last muscle. I’ve seen those kids before. I’ve seen big ol’ bruises before, and I took pictures of mine too. I know what it is like to walk out at the beginning of a day, knowing that it will be long, long hours of all-you-got, and that you chose to do it and you would choose it again. The listening to your coach and trying to fix that thing. The love for that space, your gym, your field, your boat. The cheating when you’re worked and you stop reaching all the way out or making the hard push and your hands get sloppy. The winddown, when you gather your crap and think about food and the whether you’re gonna get that technique and the way your thighs and belly feel empty, no spring at all, but you have no other worries, nothing to think about but what you’re gonna eat and when you have to be back in the morning. Those were are all the same.

*I also realized I can’t imagine what it would be like to do an equipment sport. TKD was just me, one other person and a lot of ritual. Ultimate was a huge stretch. Me and lots of other people to keep track of and one fairly simple moving object was baffling for about a year. I had no real field sense for a couple years, and even after several years I can tell that lots of people see plays developing faster. Adding in very complicated equipment? I’m impressed.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Fairly mild Wall of Shame

From a re-post of my rant. They didn't get real interesting:
Wow. Someone needs professional help.


Whoever he/she is needs to get help. Soon, or someone is going to be on the receiving end of his/her bad day gone really bad.

He/she shouldn't travel, either.


Well all I can say is this person is nearer to departing this world from a stress induced Heart Attack than any TSA agent is my guess.
There is wound up and there is over the top big style.


This person needs to be put on a no fly list. They seem to me a possible securuty risk.. Screening can be a pain but it is for our good to some degree, and will live with it.. but this fellow whoa


What an idiot, its people like him that then complain when they miss the flight or their luggage doesnt make it!

I also liked this one from Ezra's (although he apologized when he realized he'd mistaken me for a different Megan.):

I think what I come away from this little anecdote thinking is what a fucking wuss megan is. ... They don't give a flying fuck about people lining up to leave las vegas. They're just not that into you.

the screaming narcissism of the right wing never ceases to amaze me.

Two things. First, how come every time I get mad, people accuse me of being filled with hate? You know, I'm as descriptive and articulate when I'm angry as I am when I'm writing about playing catch. Why aren't people willing to let me be mad without coming to conclusions about my inner nature?

Second. I never missed my flights.

However, I did find this a while back, on my old post about ex-pats. Now this person knows how to write an intro:
What a sanctamonious cow! I found this entry on google...why it was there im not sure...but expats who like other countries and wait for it... like evil!!... I think you need to get off the pc and get out more...if your friend hates the country and the people yes..he should leave ...but loads do like other countries and YES may even like to have consenting sex perhaps you should stay in some right wing theocracy like Iran or the deep south and limit the judgements!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


I despise airport security screening. I hate every demeaning moment of it. I fucking hate removing my shoes and my belt; I hate dismantling my backpack. Right now I hate two stickler personnel in particular for confiscating my Nalgene. I forgot and brought it at the last minute, pleased to be prepared for a long flight. But they took it and there was no way for me to keep it. I would have been happy to empty it. If they have this problem repeatedly they should have a fucking drain handy for me to pour out the water. I hate a system that treats us like criminals for traveling. I hate that the default assumption is that I have murderous intentions. I hate that it is so fucking pointless, that it averts risks that are vanishingly small. I hate that it means I can't arrive at the airport with three minutes before my plane leaves, which was my old record at Oakland Airport (nine minutes at SFO). I hate the poor suckers who have to enforce it. I hate them more if they believe in it, think they are doing me a favor.

I hate them. I hope the accumulated hate of thousands of passengers eats at their nervous system, raises their stress until they are slightly adrenalized all the time. I want it to make them always anxious and irritable, cost them their relationships with their families. I want them to carry weight from all that internalized stress, have constant headaches and heart attacks at fifty. I want their hands to shake from the anger they receive and the anger they have to repress. I hate those sincere smug fuckers. I hope their lives are full of frustrated errands, identity theft, expensive bureaucratic fuck-ups and soulless clerks who cheat them on their warranties and charge them extra to fix it. And mysterious broken things on their cars. And mildew in their new houses that causes respiratory diseases. Hate.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Austin! There is a PLAN!

Austin! Please join me and Sherry and ANAND! for dinner at Jovita's, where Sherry says the bartender is nice.

How 'bout 8:00pm, Thursday the 22nd. I'd say earlier, but Anand takes forever to get ready -- won't leave the house unless he looks just so.

Can't wait to meet you!

Clutter is my enemy.

Amy and I were talking at lunch yesterday. Our branch is raffling off baskets to raise money for the holiday party. That would be the winter holiday party, and I am dreading a whole year of this. The baskets are huge, three or four feet tall, wrapped in cellophane and full of things. The kind secretaries have stopped asking me if I want to buy a ticket. I do not want to buy a ticket. I would, in fact, pay money to make sure I never get a basket. I don't think they understand my lifestyle. How would I get a four foot basket home? What would I do with the crap in the basket? How would it leave my house again? What would I do with the basket, after I'd lifted out each piece of crap and made an incredulous face? My house is little and I value empty space in it.

Amy and I got to wondering what would go in the perfect basket of crap we don't want. First and foremost has to be a cheap scented candle. I like some expensive scents, subtle citrus or cucumber. Amy thought the scented candle for the basket would be "chocolate chip cookie" flavor, but I say it has got to be "rose" or "jasmine" floral. Then probably cloth flowers of some sort. I love plants and I look at them really hard. Cloth flowers are invariably wrong in big or small ways; they would be a small, constant dose of wrongness. Surely a figurine comes next, perhaps with a child and an animal. Perhaps something I almost like... a flowerpot that is almost painted right, but is in the wrong shades and will only hang around the house reminding me that I don't have the discipline to throw it out. A New Age CD of monotonous tinkly music. OH! Pieces of sugary, grainy milk chocolate. And a sampler pack of flavored coffees. The list can go on and on, but would have to include something that requires constant maintenance, like a hamster. All of this is wrapped in a ton of packaging, of course. With kitch-y pictures on it.

Fun! Love! Adventure! Nookie!

My little cards for today were Synthesis and Patience. Yesterday I got Purification and Clarity. Man, those cards aren't scared to kill a girl from boredom.

3/21: Trust and Simplicity. What a radical departure for me. Fortunately, Ali had me pull one more card, for the Austin trip. Delight! Yay! That's more like it.

Monday, March 19, 2007

On playing catch.

With the long evenings, I want to play catch more than ever. Playing catch is so pure, such a complete activity. Everything about it is right. It brings you to a park where lots of people are doing lots of things. You can adjust it to fit your mood and your energy. You and your friend play catch together, with some attention to each other and some attention on the disc and some leftover attention on the light and the clouds.

Catch usually starts out the same, walking together to your field, flipping a disc. Then someone goes out and the first throw is up. You send it back, maybe off-target for a few throws, until your arm and your body loosen up and you find the motion. After a while your breath comes easy and you reach out for the disc without thinking about it so much. Maybe you start to take a couple steps to catch something overhead and maybe you want to stretch it out even more. So you back up and overthrow your friend, making him jog for a throw. Maybe you point and start to jog before the throw, telling your friend where you want the disc. Some throwers will send it to you and take off running; you catch, turn, send it ahead of him and take off, ‘til you’re both running the whole time.

It is so basic, but there’s so much potential in every throw. You might make an overhead snag that spins you around. Or look all casual when you send a cool, chest height backhand the length of the field to drop into his hands. Maybe you’ve been working on a big arcing throw and he only barely has to step to catch it. Or, maybe, you got to talking and completely miss a catch that bounces off your hands. But it is just catch! Pick it up, say that you’d have caught that in a game situation, and send him a hammer.

After a while you shorten the range, walking closer between the throws until you’re easy talking distance. Then you chat about your day, while you’re throwing in rhythm. Catch with a clapping sound, flip the disc over for a forehand, step and throw it. Talk and laugh while your body takes care of the catching and throwing. Vary the throws if the conversation lags, so you still have something to do. You can play games, too. Chris’ll play catch, but he’d rather play three-flies, so as soon as we can find a third he comes over to post me up and try to take my discs. He’s got hops, but that isn’t always enough. You can play flutterguts and laugh at your goofy tries to catch one-handed. Or you can decide you’d rather check out the volleyball players and set a golf hole all the way over there. There’s so much evening and the sky is so high and you have a friend and a disc and nothing better to do.

Friday, March 16, 2007

This is why I don't watch local news.

Amy and I were eating lunch on the Capitol grounds when this guy went by. He used to pass by my house all the time. He's missing a leg and in a wheelchair; six or seven years ago he had a sheltie that went with him everywhere. It looked like a bright little dog and they moved together really well. One day I noticed that the sheltie wasn't with him. Maybe a year later I saw the guy out somewhere and asked about his dog. He got tears in his eyes when he told me his dog had died.

So I pointed him out to Amy and Amy said "Oh. Hey. He was on the news. His puppy got stolen." What?! Yeah. He was in a parking lot with his new puppy on his lap. Some people came over, admired his puppy, picked it up and ran away. Who would do that?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Greener than thou.

I suppose it is possible that the Bush administration and far-right Republican Representative Dan Lungren are tapping into their party's environmental heritage from Teddy Roosevelt. But I think it is much more likely they are acting purely out of personal vindictive spitefulness towards Senator Diane Feinstein. Either way, I am greatly entertained to read that they have come out in favor of draining Hetch Hetchy.

Commenter Jon asks:
Couple of questions....where would he propose the Bay Area get its water from? And how long would it take for the valley to return to any sort of nonlake bottom condition? Also, have there been any reservoir removals on this scale?

Why do I get the feeling this is really more about the SacBee v Chron?

I wrote about Hetch Hetchy before. So, briefly, there is enough downstream capacity in New Don Pedro that San Francisco could store all the water that is now caught behind Hetch Hetchy in New Don Pedro. They wouldn't lose any water holding capacity, but they might have some decrease in water quality and they would have ask Modesto Irrigation District and Turlock Irrigation District real nice if they can share the reservoir. They would also lose some hydropower. Draining Hetch Hetchy is about money, not water.

How long would it take for the valley to return? It would look pretty to a non-botanist layperson within our lifetimes. Mount St. Helens already looks nice again, and that was 1980. To someone who knew what she was looking at, it might take a couple centuries before Hetch Hetchy Valley looked natural again. The water bleaching on the granite will take millenia to weather.

I don't know of other reservoir removals on this scale, but it would be good practice for Glen Canyon. Also, the Chron is the only paper in the state that downplays removing Hetch Hetchy. It isn't just Bee vs. Chron; the LA Times and other papers tweak SF for Hetch Hetchy too.

I don't know that Hetch Hetchy will be drained in my lifetime and I don't even know if it is a priority for me. But the politics of it are very funny. Bush and Lungren have no interest in Hetch Hetchy (and, for the record, I believe that Schwarzenegger probably does. He wants to do dramatic legacy-type projects, and Hetch Hetchy certainly qualifies.). But they loooove making Feinstein and Pelosi come out against the most glamorous environmental project in the state.

Feinstein and Pelosi are from the Bay Area, and San Francisco politicians and civil servants Do Not Want to take down Hetch Hetchy. They have arranged their practices around Hetch Hetchy and they have complete juridiction over that water and power source. They could switch, but it would be expensive and they would have to share storage authority with two San Joaquin Valley irrigation districts. They do not want to negotiate that, pay for it, switch how they operate, introduce any change into what is a sweet system for them. BUT! Even San Francisco politicians and Feinstein and Pelosi have to be a little careful. I have heard rumors from people who know things that polls taken in San Francisco show that the people of San Francisco are very strongly environmental and support Hetch Hetchy removal even at noticeable cost to themselves. SF politicians and the Senators have good reasons for opposing Hetch Hetchy removal, but they almost certainly do not have the support of their own constituents. They are in a perilous place, and I enjoy watching Lungren and Bush put them on the spot for hypocrisy. It would also please me if the groundwork Bush and Lungren are doing simply out of spite becomes the basis for one of the largest environmental restorations in the world.

Austin, Texas! One week from now!

Hey Austin!

Next Thursday evening, come meet your THREE FAVORITE BLOGGERS! That's right! ANAND and Sherry and and I will be in Austin and we'd love to hang out with you.

I'm thinking of a cantina type place, with chips and good salsa and pitchers of margaritas. Someplace where we could pull tables together. I've heard you guys have decent Mexican food, for not being in California. Recommend a place? Come hang out with us?

Hey folks. Sherry and I need to decide on a place and time. It is looking like 7:30ish. I promise I will post a place as soon as we know, but that might not be until Thursday morning. Either way, we're still on and looking forward to a fun gathering.

Final plan!

Jovita's, 8:00pm. See you there!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Longbody, DO NOT LOOK.

Next time I go for a walk with Margie I will NOT agree to walk her to the far entrance. She will only start an argument over which is more disgusting, cockroaches or POTATO BUGS, which is the stupidest argument a person could have. Because, yeah sure, cockroaches are unpleasant, but they are basically built on the beetle platform which is not inherently aversive, since very cute and helpful bugs like ladybugs also look like beetles. If cockroaches were green and gold and iridescent we wouldn't mind them. But POTATO BUGS. Oh god. There aren't enough horrific words for potato bugs. They may be the only creech that gives me the shaking heebie-geebies. The worst part is that they are equally awful dead or alive. Alive they move too slow and are translucent so you can see their innards and dead they just sink to the bottom of your pool, contaminating the whole water until your Dad fishes them out and chases you with them.

These people understand. The linked page is safe, but after that you'll be sorry.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The karma bus drives in short circles.

Like reasonable people, I am dismayed that Senate President Pro Tem Perata locked three Democratic Senators out of their offices for attending a caucus for Senate moderates.
Over the weekend, Senate leader Don Perata had ordered the locks changed on the offices of newly elected Sens. Ron Calderon, Lou Correa and Gloria Negrete-McLeod as punishment for attending a fundraising dinner Thursday, hosted by the Assembly moderate caucus.
I happen to believe those three Senators are my employees, and I am not pleased that Perata prevented them for working for me for several hours on Monday. I also can’t understand how Perata calculated that he would look good after throwing a temper tantrum because his colleagues attended a function for political moderates. People don’t rush to take your side against The Moderates.

The gesture itself is interesting. I like displays of power that are more involved than chest-thumping and I like it when people remember a physical solution, use the physical environment as a tool. I am puzzled about how he actually got the locks changed in a weekend. I’m guessing the Senate offices are in a state building; those are maintained by the Department of General Services. In a state building, no one but DGS is allowed to touch the structure. Seriously. We can’t change a light bulb, hang a whiteboard, anything. But I cannot imagine that he got someone from DGS to change locks in a weekend. Never. I mean, if he managed that, he can make anything happen and he deserves to be President of the whole world and King of everything. DGS fixing something in one weekend. No way. So he must have gotten a locksmith in there on his personal authority. Did he pay for that? Himself? Who did? Did Perata snap at an aide to “make it happen”? How did the aide get the nerve? Was the locksmith shaking his head the whole time? Would Perata be personally liable for vandalizing a state building?

I think Perata’s fit of pique was a terrible idea for him. Political fallout, sure, yeah. But more important is that whether or not those three senators adhere to his discipline, they will always remember the feeling of wandering the halls that morning, stunned they couldn’t get into their own offices and awkward in front of their colleagues. They may decide to work with Perata, but they will never have good will towards him again. Perata may not think he needs that now, but life is long and circumstances twist and the world is small, small, small. I’m still young, but I’ve already seen it enough that I nearly always take the high road. When people do hurtful things, I act gracious with a fake smile on my face and bitter gall in my heart, but I do it. And I can think of half a dozen times when I’ve been grateful I did. I needed a favor from them later, or found out they had enough grief without me piling on, or they turned out to be the person who could connect me to something valuable. I very rarely regret the times when I didn’t spite someone in return (with the big exception that I still wish I had vandalized the ex’s cars before they left town. Everyone would have known it was me, though.). Perata will need something from one of those senators one day and then he’ll have to grovel enough to fix the way they felt that morning. That’s an awful lot of groveling for a stupid stunt. When the day comes, locking them out will not have been worth it.

I've wanted this for seven years.

I told you guys before how I want my clawfoot tub to have flames on it (fast, not cauldron) and a steering wheel instead of hot and cold faucets and a throttle for volume control. I'm thinking a deep red, with classic yellow/orange flames on the outside and silver ghost flames on the inside. Or maybe a deep blue background. I'm not thinking eagle or wolf head fade to flames. Well, I just called the powdercoat place for a quote. He was surprisingly chill about it. Flames on my tub? No problem. At this point, I think I am more likely to do this than not.

The prospect of having my tub gone for two to four weeks raises a bunch of questions. Obviously, that's when I should replace the toilet, which needs it. And... I might as well replace the neutral linoleum. Neutral just doesn't carry its weight at my house. My sister's valuable suggestion was that I should make the new linoleum look like a road - all deep grey with an intermittant line of yellow dividers. Shit. I wonder if I could score some Botts' Dots. The CalTrans building is only a block away. Surely for something so important, they would help a fellow state employee.

My sister also raised the point that I should take this opportunity to get rid of the shower curtain. I agreed it is getting skanky and I should replace it. She said "No, no." She is over shower curtains and shower doors entirely; she thinks the answer is a force field of some kind. I can almost picture a pressure system, that blows all shower water back into the tub from all directions, but I can't think of another curtainless/doorless option. Suggestions?

Anyway, I'm a little surprised that I am contemplating ripping out my bathroom just to get flames on my tub. But, FLAMES on my TUB!! It would be so worth it. I would be happy every single day that I took a shower in my fast, fast clawfoot tub. And my nephews would love it. It would postpone the "why don't you have a tv" conversation for several years. And if my guests came over and were bored, they could take a shower in a FLAMES TUB. Or we could just sit and look at it and sigh from pure happiness.

Thanks, Teddy.

If God didn't want me to play my music really loud and dance around my living room, then why did God give me such good speakers?

Monday, March 12, 2007

'Cuz basketball courts in the summer got girls there.

I didn't think you could improve on turning corners on your bike with no hands, but you can! Even better than turning corners on your bike with no hands is turning corners on your bike with no hands in front of two cute boys. I should just start thanking the judges and being gracious to the losers, 'cause this day is done and won.

Poor friendless Meg.

My eleven year old brother pulled me aside for a talk this weekend. “Meggie,” he said, concerned and serious, “I think that if you want to have friends, you should get a TV.” “I should?” “Yes,” he said. “Then, when you meet people, you can say things like ‘Did you see CSI last night?” I was a trifle taken aback, since:

1. he knows and keeps current on many of my friends, and
2. I thought I had made significant progress, since I can now say things like “Ooh. We’re gonna need Artest to hold it together if we’re gonna have any hope at the playoffs.”, and
3. I’m a little overwhelmed at the thought of attending to all the new friends having a television would bring me. I’m already not as good to my friends as I would like to be, since I am not sending them mixed CD’s or writing them clever letters or even returning phone calls promptly. If I got a TV, how could I both watch it and spend time talking about it with new friends? There aren’t enough hours.

When my brother and I repeated our conversation to my old friend Teddy, who overlooks my television-less state out of the bigness of his heart, Teddy suggested that I didn’t want any old television-friends. No, I would want quality television friends, which requires TiVo, DTV and premium cable channels. Having friends is starting to sound expensive.

I’m not sure what my brother was thinking. I mostly think he was sincerely pointing out an option for me. It is possible though, that he was scheming to improve Camp Meggie this summer. He and my sister come up for a week or two at Camp Meggie some summers. It is something of a shock for them, since they go from a house with all the mod cons to my little, media-less, walking-everywhere house. So far I’ve appeased them with frequent trips to the ice cream parlor, Chris’ trampoline and the train museum. They’re getting too old for that (although I bet you aren’t). It’s good to know that if I get a TV, they’ll stay my friends.

For the record, because I know I sound sanctimonious about not having a TV, I don’t not-have a TV because I don’t like it (although when I see mediocre TV I don’t understand why anyone would invite morons into their house to shout at them), but because if I had a TV, I would watch it all the fucking time. I understand that good TV is now very good and I am severely backlogged. I would watch until I sank into catatonic filth and snap at anyone who interrupted me. I don’t have the self-discipline to live with a TV.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Reason enough to visit.

It isn't for everyone, but if watching two smoking hott blues musicians who have huge voices play the hell out of their guitar and harmonicas and also spoons and washtub and washboard is the sort of thing you would enjoy, then you should go see Nathan James and Ben Hernandez. They've been down on their luck; their ladies are treatin' them rough; they're far from home. I would treat them right if they came by here, is all I'm saying. San Diego, check 'em out.

Fellas, you might want to leave your ladies home.
Ladies, you definitely want to leave your fellas home.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

One does what one must.

I can't believe I am still licking my food to protect it.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Hypothetical question.

If you were packing for a quick weekend home and you were cleaning your kitchen, and if you stepped outside to take kitchen scraps to the compost, and if the freakin' loud cat that had been hanging out in your side yard were there, and if, this time, the tom did not run away when you stood there and instead stretched his neck for a scratch, and if you happened to notice that he really did have a lovely silver undercoat and white paws, and if you also noticed that he was bones under mangy skin and if you saw that he wasn't neutered and had no collar, and if you knew by his presence that he could survive cars on your busy street, and if you had coaxed a purr out of him, would you then put out a bowl of food so that he had the strength to return to his owners?

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Oooh, yeah baby. Like that - ooooh.

Right now, water from the American and Feather Rivers feed into the Sacramento, which exits to the Pacific Ocean through the Bay-Delta. The Bay-Delta used to be a continuous salt-marsh estuary, with variable salinity contours throughout the year. (There are historical stories of saltwater all the way up to Stockton in severe droughts and sweetwater out to the Farallon Islands in extreme floods.) Growers "reclaimed" the Delta by creating levees, often no more than dirt bulldozed into a pile to exclude brackish water. Those levees now surround privately owned Delta islands; all the water from the Sacramento River travels through sloughs between those islands. There is farming, real pretty asparagus and pears, on those Delta islands and a couple towns.

Freshwater from the Sacramento enters the Delta from the north and is pulled by giant pumps south to the Harvey Banks pumping plant, near Tracy California. My friend Sean and I once showed up there uninvited, and my badge was enough to get us a long tour from the bored operators. They have thirteen giant pumps there, that provide the first lift that sends water south to Bakersfield. At Bakersfield, the Edmonston pumping plant sends LA's water 2,000 feet up over the Tehachapis. I've heard that Edmonston uses about a third of the energy of the state of California, although they get a lot of that back coming down the other side. The operators at the Harvey Banks pumping plant did tell me that only a few of their pumps are running at one time, and they work closely with the California electrical grid operators. Power surge on the grid? They get a pump going to buffer that and convert it into moved water. Threat of brown outs? They shut down a couple pumps.

There is a ton of discussion about the Delta right now. Fish populations in the Delta have crashed and no one knows why. It is not unreasonable to think that the pumps are a big factor, sucking in baby fish or the microorganisms the fish eat. Or maybe fish in the Delta didn't evolve to live in constant freshwater. The center of the islands are sinking; the former marsh soils are peat, which oxidizes and blows away when it isn't saturated with water. The interior of the islands are now twenty feet or so below the water level in the sloughs. A levee break would create a giant (hundreds of acres) bowl of fresh and salt water, drawing saltwater into the Delta from the Pacific. LA's source of freshwater would be cut off. So fish are crashing and the levees are unstable.

The obvious solution to that is to allow significant housing development in the Delta. No, just kidding. Hahhahhah. Obscure water jokes are funny. To me. One solution is the Peripheral Canal - a canal that takes water upstream of the Delta and moves it directly to the pumping plant in the south Delta. The Peripheral Canal was proposed and defeated at the ballot in the early 80's and no one has wanted to talk about it since. Northern Californians tend to be opposed, thinking that without the physical constraints imposed by running water through Delta sloughs, nothing could stop LA from sucking Northern California dry. Delta growers are opposed to the Peripheral Canal, because they think that if we don't have to keep the Delta intact to provide water to LA, no one will care if it returns to saltmarsh. No one trusts LA to say how much water can move safely through the Delta, or environmentalists to diagnose the cause of the fish collapse, or local growers to maintain levees, or Valley farmers to use only what they need and treat the drainage, or Northern Californians to not be dirtyhippies.

With the Delta in near collapse, talk of a Peripheral Canal has returned. I think it deserves a serious look, especially a new version which would use the bed of the San Joaquin River for some length of the canal. When I asked my supersmart boss about the Peripheral Canal, he said the objections are a governance problem; the design and construction wouldn't be harder than any other big infrastructure. But Northern California and in-Delta growers believe that with the capacity to move more water, nothing could stop Southern California from taking it. So the Peripheral Canal is a governance problem, and through-Delta conveyance is a huge technical problem AND a governance problem. Maybe we should trade up.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Not impressed.

I was looking through Slate’s slide show for Women’s History Month. I didn’t like it. They’re all so still, just sitting or standing or posed. The only dynamic picture of the bunch was of novelist Han Suyin, who looks vivid and engaged with the wind and the pier and photographer; they somehow made Martha Graham look still. A full four pictures had women with their heads thrown back, and I can just barely hold back a nasty comment accusing us of only wanting to see women in orgasm-like abandon. I do get that many of these women were extraordinary in the only way they could be in their times and that piercing thought is hard to photograph. But the only person who looks to have a useful skill is Amanpour. She is certainly the only woman portrayed with an actual tool. From the rest of the pictures, you would think Uncommon Women sit all day, pouting, smoking and looking directly at the camera (although a couple of them seem to entertain people). Fuck that.

And then today Slate had a bullshit slide show about women athletes. They managed to take one of the most dynamic possible subjects for photography and still show mostly women standing around. The fuck? Where is the flying layout contest for a disc? Where is a huge arcing spinkick about to descend on someone? The wheelchair racer and the diver have a sense of motion in their pictures and the wushu practioner shows some nice extension, but why all the pictures of pansy-ass flexibility? There was some teamwork, but only a bare nod to real competition, and certainly no sweaty, all-out, face-distorting aggressiveness, which is what athletes do. I've no doubt that those women trained ferociously, and are capable of feats that would make me gasp, and I want to see pictures of them going all out. No fucking portraits of their faces. I don't care what their muscular bodies look like in repose. I say bullshit.


So, for Women’s History Month, I would like to show you pictures of the most inspiring women and athletes I know. What they can do on the field is astounding, but that is the least of it. This is Home Brood.

Home Brood is my sister’s Ultimate team, and I have never seen anything like it. I watch Home Brood from the outside, so you’re gonna hear my interpretations of what they’re like and not actual Brood doctrine. But from what I saw, Home Brood is a group of athletes who learned on the field that together they could do whatever they decided to, and most of what they decide to do is have fun and support each other. They do things. They do all sorts of amazing things. They are lawyers and teachers and doctors and artists and engineers and philanthropists and mothers and builders and more of anything. A couple of them married each other and some of them married men and some are coupled and not married and some are single and lots have children now. They run marathons and spontaneous triathlons and play on world champion co-ed teams. They throw parties, big and small, and they always wear a dress to the party. They are a party, wherever they are. They decide to build or sew things, and when it is made it will also have glitter and sparkly decorations for structural support. Some years they have Girl Band weekend, where they all learn one song on some instrument and play it together.

They are kind to each other, profoundly kind. Many of them live within a few blocks of each other in Oakland; when a Brood baby is born they bring dinners for a week. The pediatrician shows new moms how she nursed. There is a constant flow of cards and notes and clothes; when Arly and Matt won nationals with a different team, they came home to a front door that said CHAMPS. When they noticed that one Broodie had been doing too much caretaking for her family to take care of herself, they scheduled shifts to watch her family and take her shopping and to a salon. They step in to share sad news and to help move and to advise decisions and to make fun times much funner. They chose very interwoven lives. They are and they let each other be a million different ways. But they never let each other be lonely. They count on the strength of all those women and lift together.

My sister just sent me those pictures. Her email said:

i think one of the things i like best about those pictures is that i know where every single one of those women is at today, and i could (and do) call them up at any time.

if i can i'll send you a picture from our 10 yr reunion. it's a cool picture because i don't think one single person is standing next to her S.O. or holding her own baby.

This is what Title IX means to me.

Home Brood may be able to do what they have done because they chose each other and tested themselves in an athletic venue where they had great success. They’ve self-selected for attitude; they all believe in doing everything all out, that they can do great things when they rely on each other, that fun should be part of everything they do, that their best approach to each other is loving acceptance. I don’t know how much it can be duplicated. It can be extended, though. They reach out to me, a sister of a Broodie with affection and care.

Here in Sac, the women of Ultimate are kind to each other as well. We aren’t as close as Brood and I don’t think we could be. But I can say without hesitation that we only support each other. I know that if I tell a female Ultimate player that I want to run a half-marathon or write a book, the only thing I’ll ever hear from her is: “Of course you are. It’ll be awesome. I can’t wait to cheer for you.” When Debi and I were sorting teams for summer league, she asked me who Cara is. I said, “You know, Cara. Sweet girl, smart, pretty face.” At which Debi sighed in exasperation and said “Megan, that’s all of them.” It is true. That's how we think of us. We simply don’t trash each other. There aren’t enough women on the field for us to trash each other. It isn’t universally true that we all like each other, but if a new girl comes to Women’s Clinic, we start by thinking that she is awesome for showing up, and has the potential to be great at some part of Ultimate, and that we are only a few games away from being friends. We’ll cheer for her until we’re sure, and if it doesn’t click, we still won’t bash her. We’ll just say nothing or make a vague comment about how she has good Spirit. Most of our care for each other is a reflection of the culture of Ultimate. But some of that culture of Ultimate was created by Home Brood, and some of us saw an amazing example and decided to live like that when we could. Either way, it is how you get socialized into women’s Ultimate here in Sac. It doesn’t run as deep as Home Brood, but it is still a warm and kind and constant support. I am so lucky to be a part of it.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Perhaps a nice widower?

Four times in a row. What is that about? How is it that I keep finding myself wooed by boys (who I really think are being genuine), who a short while later (after kissing, and daydreaming on my part) let me know about this other girl? Four times seems like more than coincidence. I’m starting to think it is because of the kind of guys I like.

The problem with being attracted to emotionally open men is that they will have emotional attachments. The problem with liking very decent men is that when they split with their girlfriends, they probably did so amiably and afterwards they don’t demonize her. And if they are the kind of guys who can form deep attachments, which they should absolutely do once they meet me, well, maybe those attachments stick around for a long time, longer than they intend. This wasn’t a problem in college, because the guys I dated didn’t have serious girlfriends before me. But I’m in my thirties now. Good men will have loved people before and those women still exist.

If I can think those things, then I can think that my filters are working, that I am almost getting results from exactly the kind of guy I want to be with. The next problem, of course, is why the hell do the ex-girlfriends come back right after I show up? A few weeks earlier and there would have been no problem, ‘cause I wouldn’t have met the guy. A few weeks later, and I might have enough contact to compete. My data points don’t help on this one; circumstances for the four guys were pretty different (to the extent I know them). Why does the universe alert those women then that, you know, he really was such a great guy and treated her right and maybe she was wrong last time? I don’t know for sure, but I have an idea that flatters me a little. Maybe I wasn’t completely wrong about all the cues I thought I saw and maybe they really did like me, could have liked me a lot. And looking at something that could become serious made them aware that they weren’t ready, that they were not quite so over their last person as they thought. Maybe he reached out to her or she felt a difference when they talked like usual. I don’t know. I’m only guessing and trying to find a way that accounts for such a strange streak and includes my perception that these are good guys who are trying their best.

All heard, and none believ'd the prophecy.

Also, I feel like fucking Cassandra in all this. I get the phone call and the news about the ex and can’t believe I have to watch this show again. I so want to tell them the ending and spare them a miserable year. I can’t though. There’s no way they can hear it, intoxicated as they are by another chance with her. Coming from me, it sounds bitter and self-serving and like I’m trying to persuade them to stick with me. And, it turns out people don’t like hearing that their Unique and Beautiful Relationship, the Which is so Deep and Poignant that No Outsider Could Possibly Understand, looks exactly like the other ones from here. They use the same words when they tell me.

I was thinking of a spreadsheet in the shower this morning, with the major milestones counted from Date Informed Megan. It would be simple to set up something where the guy enters the date of our phone call and gets a range of dates for how long it will be all wonderful and shimmery, and when familiar trouble shows up again, and the weeks of worried denial and then the break-up. In fact, I’m putting up. If we stay in touch, which I kinda doubt since I’m being unusually bitchy on the Internets, I expect to get asked whether I want to hang out with him and the other girl the first or second week of July. It’ll be awesome.

Pretty good.

No headache. You know, a big part of why I've never gotten drunk before this is that I didn't know what I would be like. But I think I'm just like me when I'm drunk. I made us a tray of nachos, with avocado, onions, lemon and salt. And I handsqueezed orange juice for round 4. Giggly and all about food seems pretty true to form. Ali had the excellent sense to make us document the late stages, so I'll scan those letters in when I get to work.


After all this time, it is only fair you be part of this moment, this spinning moment. This moment after 4 - four - drinks. Where are you? MOVE HERE!



I might be at the spins. So I need to send you a letter. This was fun, but now I want to lie down. Why didn't I do this sooner? I don't know?!


Also, I don't remember anything happening after Ali put me to bed, but her two cards for today are Tenderness and Expectancy and my two cards are Birth and Openness. Looks like we're pregnant.

Monday, March 05, 2007

It is a lot to ask.

The thing that really sucks about dating is that you don’t get to stop until it goes right. Until then, you have to keep being willing to try, despite getting hurt last time and the time before. Normally if an activity knocks you around, you can decide that you aren’t suited for it and you can stop doing the things that led to a fall the last time. But not dating. The rewards for dating are so great, and so exactly what I’m starved for, that I have to keep doing the very things that make it so risky. It is very counterintuitive to willingly do the things that let you get hurt time and again.

I didn’t ask for this. I didn’t want to be single so long. I feel like all of you who found your person early are so much more whole than I am, simply from skipping all these doses of rejection. I don’t want to have to be brave next time, and try to be sweet and open, and know that whether he talks to his ex is completely out of my hands. At one point, I even sat and looked at this guy and thought of asking him if he has an ex I should be worried about. I decided against it, ‘cause I’m not looking to introduce old drama and maybe that’s too dark. I’m going to have to try again, when I’m lucky enough to find someone I want to try with, even though I know full well how it feels when it goes wrong and only barely remember what it feels like when it goes right.

I should start an email group for them.

Aw holy crap. Four.

My secret superpower sucks.

Guy #3 is single again, in case you were wondering.

La la la la la la la. I can't hear you.

I am so ready for summer. I know I shouldn’t be living in the future and missing all of the precious moments that make up each day. I know the months already fly by and I’ll be asking where the hell August went in, like, a week. But all the things I want to do these days are summer things, and now is evenings that get dark before you can find someone to go to the park with, and the end of citrus with no new fruit ‘til apricots, and not really quite warm enough to take your book and a drink out to the porch. Asparagus is here, tasting like god’s own rainbow of hope after a forty day deluge of roasted root vegetables, so I suppose that’s something.

I’m especially looking forward to this summer, because the hard yoga teacher is moving to a studio even closer to my house* and the pool right next to work will open at the end of May. The hard yoga teacher will have early morning classes; if I could get into a routine of hard yoga most mornings and swimming most lunches, I would be the most serene person ever. I love lunchtime swimming, especially because they keep this pool good and cold. But more importantly, a combination of hard yoga and swimming would thoroughly address the only two things I admit to being vain about. I try not to care much about looks, but the truth is that I feel a million times prettier when I am tan and I want tricep ridges more than anything.

The tricep ridges are developing, since freakin’ every other move in hard yoga is chaturanga and I can get halfway through class before I have to drop to my knees to finish the push-up. Swimming'll reinforce the triceps, and I can borrow Ali’s swim paddles to make it harder. But the really important part is the tan. When I first started lap swimming, I would do the front crawl for forty minutes and call it a day. Couple weeks of that went by and I noticed that my back was getting tanner than my front. An uneven tan is purely unacceptable, and I switched to backstroke every third lap, which solves the problem. I also used to only breathe on my right, but when I began to develop a goggle tan on my right eye, I changed twenty-five years of swimming habits and learned to breathe on my left. I’m sure you are as relieved as I am that I no longer have a lopsided goggle tan.

I was going to take another solemn oath** that as god is my witness I will not have a racerback tan this year but before I could get all melodramatic and raise my fist to the sky, I happened on an athletic suit without a racerback. I am very excited. It makes me want summer even more.

*It is very silly that I am excited for the move. She’s moving from about a mile away to half a mile away.

**It is a big year for oaths. The one I declared earlier, that I’ll get a cell phone when Anand moves to California, looks like it might actually come due. I’ll let him tell you all about that.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

I've pulled the card "Light" more often than I'd expect. A new lamp for the dining room, maybe?

Ali has a set of little cards that we keep in a bowl in the living room. Every day we pick two to tell us what the day will bring. I really like that all the cards are positive. That's the kind of bias I want to introduce into my life. Even so, some cards are better than others. Some days you get, like, Education and Responsibility. Fantastic. That's what I need in my life -- education and responsibility. But the practice started well. My first draw ever was Love, which I believe means nookie, and abundance, which means I can plant even more tomato plants this year. Today my cards were Delight and Forgiveness. Since I live a glamorous exciting life, I am especially delighted that my utility sink is clear and I can do all the loads of laundry I want. Forgiveness? I'm sure I'll do something that I'll need forgiveness for. Impure thoughts, if nothing better comes along.

Ali also has a daily horoscope on the fridge, for her birthsign. I was all "Dude, where's the one for Aquarius?" But she didn't get me one, so instead I read hers, knowing that it is guaranteed not to be mine. Today, I shouldn't conclude that a chapter has drawn to its logical conclusion and waste no time beginning another one. I can do that. Chapters! Continue!

Friday, March 02, 2007

100% Thermonuclear Protection.

I was late today. I had to wait for the plumber at home and then set things up with him. I left him there; he said he would close up when he was done. Chris recommended him, I liked the looks of him, and I want to trust him.

I want to trust people and I don’t want to be scared or suspicious. Being low level scared would be a constant drain. It would cost me some slight mental processing to be assessing risk. It would take energy to feed the nervousness. It would be weigh slightly on the don’t-do-things side of the scale, where sloth and inertia are already plenty heavy. Years ago I decided that I am not scared. I believe in probabilities, I decided, and scary people are rare.

Living without fear requires that I choose my information. For one, I never watch the news or tv. I only read the politics and sports sections in the paper. I skip any story about crime, and I am not pleased that all the papers can talk about this week is the new Zodiac killer movie. I once made a horrible mistake; I looked up my zip code on the Megan’s Law website. I felt sicker and weaker for two or three days after that and I won’t do it again. I hang out with people who have the same attitude. When Ali and I talk about going running at night, we might not because of cold or because I worry that I’ll turn my ankle if I can’t see uneven sidewalk. But fear of strangers has never once been a mention.

I think part of not being scared is that Ali and I aren’t little. She is tall and gorgeous and a natural athlete. I’m about an inch shorter than the average American man. I had a little roommate one time and she was scared all the time. She wanted all our doors locked all the time and didn’t go out at night. Ali noticed last week that the back door was standing open and neither of us could say how long it had been ajar. I love that. In the summer my front door is wide open if I’m home, welcoming my neighbors and sharing my music with the world. I once had a very drunk man wander in, but he left when I told him he was in the wrong place. The rest of the time we enjoy the breeze through the house.

I bet some of you are right now composing letters to tell me that my careless ways put me in DANGER of being RAPED. I’ve gotten those every time I’ve written that my tkd experience gives me confidence. I have a couple questions for you. First, why do you think your risk assessment is more accurate than mine? Yours is likely biased by disproportionate news coverage of crime. Second, why is it important to you that I be scared? The ostensible reason is your concern for my wellbeing, but the way that conversation devolves to descriptions of the things that could happen to me feels more like bullying. Like somewhere below the level of your mind, you need me to be scared and you’ll remind me of the details until I am. What do you get out of that? I know what I get out of being not scared. I get to walk on dark streets and look up at Orion and sometimes see owls. I get to leave my home with a nice plumber, so I can go to work. I get to talk with strangers and tell you their stories. I get to ride my bike out when the cars have gone home and the streets are wide and open.