Tuesday, July 29, 2003

In Which Our Heroine Wonders Even More About US Privacy Laws
I have a handy little thing over in the corner that keeps track of who is logging on to my website. Sort of. It gives me the IP adress, so I know if you're coming from a particular domain. It also tells me if you've linked to me from a search engine (I am popular under "rubber duck 1992" and "cotimundi" searches, along with the occasional "tall leggy spandex woman" search, but I really try not to think about those so much.) or from another web page. This is occasionally amusing to see what people find me listed as, and sometimes interesting, but today it is a bit scary, because someone has twice in the last week been reading me from the Department of Justice - the DOJ. Now, this could be a perfectly innocent reader who happens to find me amusing or interesting or whatever, or it could be something far more malevolent. Given the current state of play of the privacy laws and Patriot II, I'm not desperately inclined to give the benefit of the doubt to our government. I think John Ashcroft is one of the scariest Attorneys General we have ever had in this country, and I'm not afraid to say it. Much. There is fear there. My country is violating basic rights on a level that I have never seen before, and not many people seem terribly concerned about it. But I am. And, just maybe, someone in the DOJ is interested in my being concerned about it. Patriot Act my fat scarred butt, is what i have to say about it. The only patriotic thing about it is the name. It reflects nothing of what this country stands for. The government should fix its own house first before coming after the likes of me, but it won't. As Bill Cosby once said "The government comes for the ordinary people first." Mind you, it is a bit like the Catholic Church, who are burning my buttons today because of their renewed vigor in making sure there is no such thing as legalized gay marriage. Now, I'm neither gay, nor am I married, and actually I'm not Catholic, but I have to say that this is one of the most hypocritical things going round at the moment. Two people who love each other and want to commit to each other is wrong in the church's eyes, but ordained clergy molesting scores of people is something to be covered up for years? There is a substantial credibility gap there, and I'm not buying it. I suppose it isn't hypocritical in that opposition to same sex relations has always been part of church teaching. But then so is a priest not being celibate, abusing his office, not being honest with his flock, premarital sex, and again same sex relations. But priests who did these things were not dismissed from the clergy or even ex-communicated from the church. Most of them are still there. In many cases, they were promoted through the ranks. And the church has continued to stay rather quiet about that whole issue. But same sex marriages, even of non-Catholics? That topic the church is going to town on. The shame of it all is what I notice.

Of course, credibility gaps abound these days. Starting with George W. Shrub and the whole Yellowcake fiasco. "I gave the speech but it is everyone else's fault but mine." And what has such a gaffe cost us? American lives, a billion dollars a week, and confirmation that America is a big old USSR style bully and a half. Heck, as if this wasn't enough, we're threatening to withdraw military support to countries that don't agree not to prosecute us in the International Criminal Tribunal! Latvia now can't afford to send the troops to Iraq to replace ours. Way to go, USA!

Yours Canadianly,

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Today's conundrum, courtesy of McSweeney's. Joanie loves Chachi. But did Chachi love Joanie? Do we really care?
In Which Our Heroine Responds to her Fans
I'm feeling terribly praised of late. First, my friend Rita told me that my blog titles always remind her that she is the heroine of her own life and that she finds that inspiring. Since Rita is one of the cooler people I know, I found that very nice. And I'm getting lots of other compliments as well, but none so much as this first draft of a recommendation for a job, which was sent to me for my review. You know, to get the tone right, make sure it hits the points of what the job description says they're looking for. I figured a Professor at MIT would be a good credit. At least he was honest:

"Anne Wolfe has asked me to write to you on her behalf, and I do so with an
unusually strong sense of purpose. I can see why a glance at her CV might
leave you highly impressed -- impeccable academic credentials (on both
sides of the Atlantic), long dedication to athletics: she would, it seems,
have much to offer. When you meet her, you will realize how physically
imposing she is, as well.
But what all this leaves hidden is the fact that she is (and even by the
standards of the legal profession), she is an unusually, perhaps even
uniquely amoral being. It is safe to say that she has not one whit of
ethical standards. But she does have a fine, lucid prose style, at least."

If that doesn't get me the legal shark job of my dreams, well, nothing ever will. Everyone wants to hire an attorney with a fine, lucid prose style.

This recommendation is sitting there in my in-box of e-mail with two other great quotes of the day. The first, from my ever dear friend Neil that "While all political careers end in failure, all lives wind up in suburbia." The other is a direction, regarding the rubber duckies, but really just good life directions as well that I should "Look where seaweed, driftwood and all things afloat piles up along the shore. Then root around in the piles with a stick." Now that is a career plan and a half.

Speaking of duckies, I noticed as I strolled through the Boston Gardens this evening that there are some quite new (a few days old) ducklings in the pond. It seems terribly late in the season, but with their Mrs. Mallard were indeed a Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack and Nack. Another Mrs. Mallard (they are related you see) had a Pack with her, who seemed to be about three weeks old. I think the bad weather this spring led to late clutches. I think I am also spending far too high a percentage of my brain power on ducks these past few months.

Even scarier, my friend Joe (known to all in the Royal Navy as "Neil" or just plain "Grandad" is now a career advertisement for joining up: You can see it here.. He claims the photo was taken after a tough night of liberating a pub in West Devon. Join the Royal Navy! Learn Signaling and Radar! And you too......can be a fireman.

Speaking of career plans, I have a presentation to give tomorrow and I want to review it. If you know anything about trade secrets, e-mail me!

Sunday, July 20, 2003

In Which Our Heroine Maybe Goes a Bit Too Far
After a bit of research on line, and a comment from my current employer that he thought he'd read that the rubber ducks were supposed to wash up on Crane's Beach, just north of here, and reading on the man's website that the guy who is tracking the rubber ducks loves to receive e-mail, I have actually e-mailed that man and asked for a slightly better prediction of the whens and the wheres of the rubber duck wash up. (It was only a couple of minutes ago. I haven't heard back yet.) And if I have the chance, I am going. Just to sit on the beach and walk up and down and look for the duckies. Why? Because it is a great opportunity to sit on a beach *and* advance the scientific cause. Just how often in a life do you get the opportunity to do that? Next to never, and now there's a chance. How excellent!

Or maybe I just need to knuckle down a bit further. I think I am getting a bit delusional since I still don't live in my own home. My living situation isn't bad. I spent last night at my friend Jim's, both to give the kids a break from me, and me a break from the kids. It was very odd this morning to not wake up to hyper children who want to play with you while you're still a bit bleary eyed, but rather to hear gentle knocking at the door, a "Good morning, Anne! Would you like a banana smoothie?" and then get started with a good solid breakfast of toast, bacon, coffee, and mangos. Then, since it was Saturday morning, Jim noticed the time and said (I suppose I should preface this by pointing out he does have a PhD in Molecular Biology at MIT, and so is one of the brighter people I know.) "Hey! Wanna go watch SpongeBob Squarepants? We've missed the first one, but there's another hour of it on!" Ah, Sunday. How I love Sundays when they're done right. Except now I'm back in the library, working on my presentation.

Saturday, July 19, 2003

In Which Our Heroine Goes all Aflutter
I don't know about you, but I'm incredibly excited. After all, I live in New England. And after many years, and important scientific contributions, the rubber ducks are going to land, and they're landing here in New England! For those of you unfamiliar with the story, first of all click here to confirm I am not actually insane. (Well, ok, so I'm insane, but on this topic I remain lucid.) and then read on about how a crate of rubber ducks was washed off a cargo ship in 1992 and have been floating on the waves ever since, tracking ocean currents, and are now nearing their journey's end. I am so excited I am tempted to go to the beach and wait for them. One of my favorite parts of the story is the statement that "some of the ducks broke away and headed for Europe - and Hawaii." These were obviously the elite of the group, in search of vast cultural experiences in the cathedrals and museums of Europe, and some others just fancied a tropical beach holiday following their trip to the Arctic Ocean, where it took them five years to get through. Some ducks, in faster currents, swam (swam?) twice as fast as expected, and became known as "hyper-ducks." What it takes to stand out in one's floatilla these days is apparently quite a bit, I see.

My mind has snapped a bit of late, as I have been spending so much time looking after my friend's kids. There are two boys, aged 3 and 6 1/2. It requires use of a different skill set than what I'm used to. For starters, it requires the repeated ability to count to three. As in, "If you don't stop screaming by the time I count to three, there will be no story tonight." This is now a statement so frought with peril that I just have to say it, and don't actually have to count to three. Also required: must be conversant with the ins and outs of Bob the Builder (but know not to give Bob a funny voice when you read the story), the ability to gracefully "lose" races to answer the front door, and the ability to cook food kids will actually eat, versus the food adults will want to eat. There's a knack to this, and I haven't quite got it yet. I live on curry, tabouleh and
elaborate dishes of wild rice, broccoli, chicken and incredible sauces. They want Tofu pups and the youngest can't have any dairy products. And they're vegetarian. Challenges to me to cook things they want to eat. But they're getting more adventurous. They have to - they're starving! No, they're eating fine.

We have had our pins sent to us. Team Milhouse rides again!

Monday, July 14, 2003

In Which Our Heroine Moves Out
For those of you not in the greater Boston area, let me give you some brief insights into our weather this year. It sucketh. In fact, it sucketh rocks. Big, bad rocks. We skipped spring and went straight to summer, but summer was never warm, and it rained 70% of weekend days since March. But not last weekend, oh no. Last weekend it was in the high 90s to 100F, and humid to the nth degree. Of course it was, because I was moving out of my apartment. Now, this is a good thing. My apartment, while lovely, was very expensive and after two years of unemployment, there was just no way to afford $1300 a month in rent. So I moved out. I have no where to live until September 1, but it isn't as bad as it sounds. I know where I'm living then, and in fact most of my stuff is already there in the cellar. I (and the other roommates) are just waiting for one roommate to move out. In the meantime, I'm free and easy, and living on other people's sofas. This seems to have worked out well, as my friend needs someone to look after her kids, and I need something to do. Excellent all round.

The moving itself was traumatic. Determined to do it on my own, I just took bags and boxes and went down the stairs. All four flights. And then I went up the stairs to get more stuff. 98F outside, I don't even want to think what it was inside. I was dripping and covered in sweat. I did not look good, I certainly did not smell good, and frankly I was slightly cranky. There is always that part of moving where you've moved a bunch of stuff out, and suddenly you don't even know how you did it, but you have even more stuff than before anything left the apartment. The normal laws of physics do not apply to moving. And neither do weather patterns.

I'm very excited about moving into my new place, when it finally happens. Lots of room, kitty space, the whole nine yards. And good roommates. This is key. I have had bad roommates before. I have been known to dine out on the spectacular weirdness of my previous roommates. So even though I knew Liz before agreeing to this, and met Julia, I think there was just as much checking out of each other, which reassures me. Or as my friend Martyn says "at that cheap a rent, who cares if you hate each other?" He has a point, but I need home to be a place I am happy to come to at the end of the day. Julia claims that if I cook the way I did for my party, she will do all my dishes. Hee hee. I don't think it will come to that, but still I'm happy about the move.

For a homeless chick, I have to say I'm really not doing too badly. Five stories and a jacuzzi. That jacuzzi felt incredibly good after two straight days of schelpping up and downstairs in such heat. I suppose I shouldn't kvetch so much about it. As I pointed out at the time, it could have been worse. It is far easier to move everything down the stairs than up the stairs. But yes, the jacuzzi did feel good. And the kids I'm looking after, while I have had my run ins with them before, are really behaving quite well. We've gone out on the river to see turtles and talk to scullers, and play and pretend like any young ones.


Wednesday, July 09, 2003

In Which Our Heroine Goes on a Road Trip
As previously noted, Liz and I broke some oars. Through the joy of the internet, we managed to locate new oars. But they were in Chattanooga, Tennessee, which is no where near here. Hartmut could bring them to Princeton, NJ, which is closer to here than Chattanooga, but still not that near here. The answer was obvious: it was time for a road trip. So leaving at the crack of dawn on a Saturday morning, we headed off. Seventeen hours later, we returned. Sounds onerous, but really it wasn't that bad until the last hour. We stopped along the way a bunch of times, ate great food, ate bad food which tasted great, managed to hit four states (most of them twice), and arrived in Princeton on all but a whim and a prayer. The rowing community is an amazing place. We don't know Hartmut, and Hartmut doesn't know us. But before even receiving a cheque from us, he brought the oars to Princeton, and left them with Sean. Sean, in turn, wasn't in Princeton when we were there, but gave us directions via cell phone and said "you'll find them lying under a Filippi double." The oars were indeed there, $750 oars lying under a $7000 boat, not locked, not anything, just out to public view. And we walked off with them. Alarms did go off, but they were less about stealing the oars, than they were about the fact that Liz and her brother had swapped Volkswagens as her car was a little too small to fit long oars inside. Turns out if you open the boot and then subsequently open a side door, the alarm goes off. This fact being slightly obscure, we didn't know about it, until we had to figure out what happened and how to turn it off. Amidst visions of hauling back up I-287 for hours with the alarm going, we did manage to stop the noise. Total errand time in Princeton: 7.38 minutes. So we made a further stop for ice cream, and headed back north. Calls to Julia helped us listen to the Sox game on the radio (Julia knowing how to do this in every major city on the eastern seaboard.) and we hit Massachusetts in good time and in a good mood. Until we got to the Newton tolls and waited over an hour for no reason just to get through the tollbooth. Crankiness and petulance soon ensued. But once through that, it was home safe and sound, and very very very very tired.

Next post: how to bring about good weather by deciding to move out of your fourth floor walk up apartment.