grammar police is me

One of the Yahoo News headlines today is CHERNOBYL MATERIAL THOUGHT STOLEN FOUND. I figured it out on about the fourth reading.

I was at work for twelve hours yesterday. It will probably happen again either today or tomorrow. Don't ever let anybody tell you that salary is better than hourly pay. We have a mediation on Friday for a flaky nutjob of a client who fired her old lawyer about a month ago and showed up on our doorstep with two boxes of jumbled papers, each about the size of a bathtub. This file has owned my life since then, as I try to organize it into our file system and make some sense of it. My boss, the big-shot attorney, has not looked at this file, nor does he seem to intend to before Friday, so I'm going to the mediation with him where I will be expected to finish his sentences for him and have the appropriate piece of information at my fingertips within one or two seconds of him needing it. On the bright side, I get to wear the expensive suit that's been gathering dust since I interviewed for this stupid job.

So I haven't been blogging lately, because really, who wants to hear about that? I also haven't been riding my bike lately. Since Saturday, in fact, and before that it was last Monday. Last night I dreamed about my bike. I suspect it was due to a large amount of subconscious guilt. My bike sits in the living room (due to my landlady having crowded it out of the garage a while ago - she's dangerously close to crowding out my car as well, and that will definitely not fit in the living room) staring at me and making me feel like a cheating spouse. I'm not cheating on you, bikey, I want to say. Do you see any telltale carbon-fiber residue on my collar? Do you smell someone else's bar tape on my hands? I swear I'm just working late!

And on top of that I'm sick. I really don't understand why people bother making meth out of Sudafed when the original stuff is obviously just as good. Going downstairs to the restroom has become a treacherous task. I am dizzy, weak, light-headed. However, I am twice as productive as usual, in a dangerously insane kind of way. Think Requiem for a Dream, the mother hopped up on her diet pills. I cranked out a six-page mediation statement in eight and a half hours, half the time it would have otherwise taken me. I am invincible.

Now I'm scaring myself. I'd better go eat something.


because it's less rude than sending it as an email forward.

Walking down the street one day, George Dubya Bush is shot by a disgruntled NRA member. His soul arrives in Heaven and he is met by St. Peter at the Pearly Gates.

"Welcome to Heaven," says St. Peter. "Before you settle in, it seems there is a problem: We seldom see a Republican around these parts, so we're not sure what to do with you."

"No problem, just let me in; I'm a believer," says Dubya.

"I'd like to, but I have orders from the Man Himself," says St. Peter.

"He says you have to spend one day in Hell and one day in Heaven. Then you must choose where you'll live for eternity."

"But, I've already made up my mind; I want to be in Heaven," Dubya answers.

St. Peter shakes his head. "I'm sorry, but we have our rules."

And with that, St. Peter escorts him to an elevator and Dubya goes down, down, down, all the way to Hell. The doors open and he finds himself in the middle of a lush golf course; the sun is shining in a cloudless sky, the temperature a perfect 72 degrees. In the distance is a beautiful clubhouse.

Standing in front of the clubhouse are his dad and thousands of other Republicans who had helped him out over the years: Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, Jerry Falwell. The whole of the "Right" is here, everyone laughing, happy; casually but expensively dressed.

They run to greet him, hug him, and reminisce about the good times they had getting rich at the expense of the "suckers and peasants." They play a friendly game of golf, then dine on lobster and caviar.

The Devil himself comes up to Dubya with a frosty drink. "Have a margarita and relax, Dubya!" he grins.

"Uh, I can't drink no more, I took a pledge," says Dubya dejectedly.

"Aw, this is Hell, son! You can drink and eat all you want and not worry," says the Devil. "It just gets better from here!"

Dubya takes the drink and finds himself liking the Devil, who is a very friendly guy who tells funny jokes and pulls hilarious nasty pranks, kind of like a Yale Skull and Bones brother with real horns. They are having such a great time that, before he realizes it, it's time to go.

Everyone gives him a big hug and waves as Dubya steps on the elevator and heads upward. The elevator door reopens on Heaven and St. Peter is waiting for him.

"Now it's time to visit Heaven," the old man says, opening the gate. So for 24 hours Dubya is made to hang out with a bunch of honest, good-natured people who enjoy each other's company, talk about things other than money, and treat each other decently. Not a nasty prank or frat-boy joke among them; no fancy country clubs and, while the food tastes great, it's not caviar or lobster. And these people are all poor; he doesn't see anybody he knows, and he isn't even treated like someone special!

Worst of all, to Dubya, Jesus turns out to be some kind of Jewish hippie with his endless 'peace' and 'do unto others' jive. "Whoa," he says uncomfortably to himself, "Pat Robertson never prepared me for this!"

The day done, St. Peter returns. "Well, then," he says, "you've spent a day in Hell and a day in Heaven. Now choose where you want to live for eternity."

With the 'Jeopardy' theme playing softly in the background, Dubya reflects for a minute, then answers, "Well, I would never have thought I'd say this -- I mean, Heaven has been delightful and all -- but I really think I belong in Hell with my friends."

So Saint Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down, down, all the way to Hell. The doors of the elevator open, and Dubya finds himself in the middle of barren, scorched earth covered with garbage and toxic industrial waste...kind of like Houston. He is horrified to see all of his friends dressed in rags and chained together, picking up the trash and putting it in black bags. They are groaning and moaning in pain, faces and hands black with grime.

The Devil comes over to Dubya and puts an arm around his shoulder.

"I don't understand," stammers a shocked Dubya. "Yesterday I was here and there was a golf course and a clubhouse and we ate lobster and caviar and drank booze. We screwed around and had a great time. Now there's just a wasteland full of garbage and everybody looks miserable!"

The Devil looks at him and smiles slyly. "Yesterday we were campaigning. Today you voted for us."



Good, open-minded people such as President George "I think that part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought" Bush should all rally around this guy. After all, it is important to be exposed to different ideas. Screw Darwin.

credit to Nate for opening my mind. Ramen, brotha!

anybody looking for a new face?

Holy crap, you guys. That horrible movie Face/Off was only a little bit ahead of its time. They can actually do face transplants now.

You'll have to read the article, but because I know a lot of you won't, here are some highlights:

1. "worst-case scenario: a transplanted face being rejected and sloughing away, leaving the patient worse off than before"

2. "Surgeons will graft skin to cover the donor's wound, but a closed casket or cremation will be required." Donor's wound? Isn't that an understatement? THEIR FACE HAS BEEN REMOVED.

3. "However, Siemionow had been doing experimental groundwork. She already had creatures that resembled raccoons in reverse — white rats with masks of dark fur — from years of face transplant experiments." Although I'm not sure the reverse raccoon image works, because I've never seen a black raccoon with a white mask, but whatever....

4. "Matthew Teffeteller might seem an ideal candidate. Hair is driving him crazy. What used to be a beard can't grow through the skin-graft quilt that Vanderbilt University doctors stitched over parts of his face that were seared off in a car crash. Trapped under this crust, hair festers, leading to staph infections, pain and more surgeries."



uh, thanks

Tonight Nate and Bonny and I were riding in the western suburbs when some guy yelled out his car window: "TWENTY-THREE MILES PER HOUR!" That was nice of him, but we all agreed that we'd only been going 20.5 at the time. Thanks for the optimism, though, whoever you are.


where are we going, and why are we in this handbasket?

This morning as I was driving to work, I saw a guy standing on one of the bridges that goes over 94, holding up a cardboard sign for all the eastbound drivers to see. Problem: the sun was at his back. He was only a silhouette. Nobody could see what his sign said, and he had no idea. He's probably still there.

Before that, I went to the gym for the first time since March. I forgot my CD player, I forgot my towel, and while I remembered to turn my heart rate monitor on, I did not remember to tell it to start recording, so I didn't get any data. And since I haven't lifted weights in five and a half months, I will probably be unable to move by tomorrow morning.

While I was doing my hamster-in-a-wheel thing, the fire alarm went off. Flashing lights, blaring horn, the works. Now I know gym-goers have a reputation for being self-absorbed, but I had to laugh when the alarm first went off. Everyone in the room took off their headphones, looked around, then put their headphones back on and went right back to their workout. It was at least 45 seconds before the first person got off the treadmill and headed for the door.

Then we all stood around outside for about 15 minutes while the firefighters showed up, milled around in the lobby for a while in full firefighting gear, and eventually turned the alarm off. I spent my time edging closer and closer to the door in order to beat everybody else back upstairs, because I am at least as self-absorbed as any other gym-goer, and also laughing at the poor suckers who were shivering in their wet swimsuits. In the almost-appropriate words of Randal from Clerks: There's nothing more exhilarating than pointing out the shortcomings of others.

One of these days my life will be legitimately exciting. Really.


schmoozing with the famous

On Saturday, Nate and I went to the wedding of his cousin Rachel. He has a lot of cousins. There are a lot of weddings.

Apparently, everyone but us knows famous people. At the last wedding we attended, that of one of my friends, the chief justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court presided over the ceremony, and then Nate and I sat with her and her also-famous husband Wheelock Whitney at the reception and talked about bike racing, of all things. This time, at Rachel's wedding, the room was graced by Dan Wilson, the lead singer of Semisonic (remember Closing Time?) and producer of my current musical obsession, Mike Doughty's Haughty Melodic (the latter credential would have impressed me much more than the former, had I made the connection at the time. Mike Doughty earns heavy rotation in my CD player partly for his sound and partly for lyrics like You snooze you lose/Well, I have snost and lost. Snost!). Apparently the bride is Mr. Wilson's daughter's nanny.

So I was amused by this, especially since rumor had it that Mr. Wilson was going to sing a song at this wedding (he did, and no, it wasn't Closing Time), but I thought that Nate's sister Mary would be much more entertained by this. If she even knew who Semisonic was. I guess they're still around, but Closing Time came out when I was a senior in high school, at which time Mary would have been eleven, and don't eleven-year-olds listen to N'Sync and that sort of thing?

But on the off chance that she did know Semisonic, I passed this rumor on to her. Turns out that the bar Mary works at plays Closing Time every single night at, well, closing time. She was very excited and spent most of the rest of the evening stalking the guy, including a failed attempt to get the DJ to play Closing Time. Finally, Mr. Wilson was leaving, and Mary couldn't stand it any more. She chased him out to the door and told him about playing Closing Time at closing time. According to Mary, he replied:

"Oh, really? Cool! When we wrote that song we really hoped people would do that!"

Mary claims he was dead serious, no trace of irony. Personally, I suspect that this is a rehearsed line that he uses to stifle the natural response. I assume the natural response would be "God, I hate that fucking song."

What REALLY concerns me is what famous person I'm going to have at MY wedding. I don't think I know any famous people. I have an aunt who is the author of many editions of the Fodor's guide to France, which I think is pretty darn cool, but I can't picture any starry-eyed teenagers running after her gushing "Golly, ma'am, I have every single edition of Fodor's! Can I have your autograph?" I certainly do not know any rock stars. Not even minor ones.

Help me out here, folks. I am now taking donations of famous people. Somebody out there has one or two to spare, I know you do.



Things my gluttonous dog has eaten in the last two hours:

2 cups of dog food (one from Nate, one from me...whoops)

2 sandwiches worth of rather elderly tuna salad that was in the trash can

1 cup of Greek Pita filling (artichokes, feta cheese, etc.), also in the trash can

1 zucchini stem

the skin of 2 onions

Maybe I'll take that trash out now.... now that there's nothing in it. You might feel better, however, to know that my dog-vomit-cleaning skills were finely honed at both Dog Days and Uncle Dan's. I am nothing short of an expert.


annie scoops channel 5

.....but only if you read this before the morning news.

A little after 10 tonight, Nate and I had just gone to bed when we heard VRRROOOMMMM... CRASH!!

Nate: Did you hear that noise? What was that?

me: It sounded like somebody missed the road and hit a telephone pole.

Or the tree in our front yard, or my car which was parked in the alley instead of the garage because I couldn't find my garage door opener, or somebody's house -- I had no idea. I got out of bed to look around and see what had happened. Not the front yard, not the alley. I finally found it on the avenue that the alley opens onto, right at the end of the opposite alley (next block over from ours). By this time, suspiciously fast, at least three cop cars were there. I had heard sirens before I was even out of bed. I got back in bed, since I could more or less see the crash from the bedroom window. There was a car that seemed to be sideways in the alley, though I couldn't tell if it was up against the telephone pole or not. Nate said he saw smoke. A fire truck arrived, then two more cop cars, then an ambulance. A large group of people had gathered and was milling around the scene.

me: I bet it was a car chase. Why else would that many cops be here that fast?

Nate (bored): Well, the precinct headquarters is just down on Lake Street.

me: Yeah, but it took them less than 30 seconds to get here. I'm going to see what's going on.

So I put my shoes on and went down the alley to join the crowd of bystanders. The car hadn't hit the telephone pole; it was sideways across the alley with its front half smashed into someone's fence. The bystanders' tale is this: The guy driving the car was involved in a fender-bender on Lake Street somewhere. He fled the scene, stupidly, even though there were cops there who could see him. There are always dozens of cops on Lake Street, everybody knows that. Anyway, he sped off with the cops in hot pursuit, and decided to try and lose them in the narrow residential streets. He came barreling down our street (headed east), decided to turn right (south), accelerated into the turn (the VRROOOMM), completely biffed it, went through the backyard of the house on the southeast corner of the intersection and took out most of their nice white picket fence, WENT AIRBORNE, flew through the air over the alley and crashed nose-first into the backyard of the house on the south side of the alley.

The driver left the scene in an ambulance, on a board with a cervical collar. He did not lose consciousness, though -- Nate and I could hear him howling and swearing from inside our house as they put him on the board. I never saw him, as he disappeared into the ambulance while I was still looking for my shoes. But I spend all my days dealing with the consequences of people's car accidents, and people are often permanently disabled by much smaller crashes.

After a while the cops started to leave, and the bystanders began to wander back to their houses. The people whose yard the car had ended up in started picking up broken pieces of fence and throwing them into the open windows of the crashed car. The cops didn't stop them.

I left when a Channel 5 van showed up. Lots of us did, actually. Nobody wanted to be interviewed in their pajamas. If you are reading this before Thursday's morning news, turn it on, see what they've got. I'm sure the most exciting footage they could have is of the tow truck loading the wreckage of the car. The ambulance, the fire truck, and all but two cop cars were gone by the time Channel 5 arrived. I'd be interested to see what they have to say about the driver, though. Wonder what he was doing that made a fender-bender worth running from.


just because i can

Here are some random pictures from this weekend, which otherwise wouldn't be post-worthy except that Nate's parents have a digital camera and we don't. So look Ma, I can post pictures!

Me and Nate at Zorbaz

Nate, me, and Nate's sister Mary at Zorbaz

Mary is otherwise famous for tearing her ACL twice in the last year, meaning that after her second major knee surgery a couple weeks from now, she is going to lay off the soccer permanently and replace it with (drumroll please.....) CYCLING! Go Mary! She was already admiring our expensive helmets, so it's only a matter of time before she buys those carbon bottle cages (see "I obviously need these" link in my sidebar).

Another of Nate's sisters, the unfortunately-named Annie, works at a T-shirt printing place. Every Labor Day they have this ridiculous tent sale, with five-foot-tall heaps of shirts lying everywhere and people buried up to their asses trying to root out that particular pattern in that particular size. This is an even bigger free-for-all for me and Nate, since (sssshhh) we get pretty much all the free shirts we want. (Mom, I got one for you, watch for it in the mail.)

In a couple weeks Nate and I are going to the Renaissance Festival (RenFest to those with an 85% Geek rating) with some of his co-workers, and afterward they swear they are dragging Nate to the Saloon with them. (This is related to the tent sale, bear with me.) Now, I have this lovely pair of silver vinyl pants that used to fit in the bad old days but now fall right off me. They've been sitting in the basement for a long time. Luckily, they're actually men's pants, and the other day Nate tried them on and they looked simply smashing, dahling. They are no longer in the basement. However, Nate needs something to wear with them......




I just took a test to see if I'm a nerd, geek, or dork, which seemed like a perfectly reasonable thing to do at the time. Here are my results:

Pure Nerd
73 % Nerd, 4% Geek, 39% Dork
For The Record:

A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia.
A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one.
A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions.
You scored better than half in Nerd, earning you the title of: Pure Nerd.

The times, they are a-changing. It used to be that being exceptionally smart led to being unpopular, which would ultimately lead to picking up all of the traits and tendences associated with the "dork." No-longer. Being smart isn't as socially crippling as it once was, and even more so as you get older: eventually being a Pure Nerd will likely be replaced with the following label: Purely Successful.


Now, "cool" and "smooth" were not options here, and when the test asked me to guess what I was I did click "nerd," so I'm okay with being labeled a nerd. What disturbs me here is the 39% dork rating. Nerd is okay, dork is not. And I'm pretty sure it's because I said I didn't go to parties much and rated my fashion sense as "below average." Possibly also because when they asked me to pick between clumsy and graceful, no middle ground, I couldn't very well justify clicking "graceful." Stupid test. 39% dork, my ass.

You all suck at internet balderdash, but you have a chance to redeem yourselves by posting your Nerd, Geek, or Dork test results as comments. I'll be waiting.

a different kind of ride

Last night I have to admit I was feeling pretty lazy, probably because of the wind. What I really wanted to do was spend the entire evening in a lawn chair, reading, but Nate wanted to go to the library, and I wanted ice cream, so we decided to ride our bikes to the library and then to Izzy's. The Salsa isn't really a library bike. But you know what is? Oh yes, my friends, the Raleigh in the garage, the 45-pound monster with the reflectors and the rack and the trunk and the platform pedals, the bike with the flat tires and the cobwebs on the handlebars because I haven't ridden it in five years. Imagine the thing in this photo, except with a rack and trunk, and keep in mind that mine is from a year when they thought it was a good idea to paint bikes this fabulous 70s gold color that looks a lot like your grandma's refrigerator. It has a suspension seatpost AND springs in its foot-wide saddle. It is a La-Z-Boy on wheels.

In a past life, I used to ride this thing for 60 miles in one shot. It took a lot longer than 60 miles on the Salsa.

So I got on this, and Nate got on his singlespeed commuter, and we meandered down the sidewalk at about 7 mph, wearing jean shorts and flip-flops and no helmets, and it was great. My favorite part was seeing roadies and feeling like I was in disguise. When we got to Izzy's, I started to lean it up against a wall before I remembered I had a KICKSTAND! It was dark by the time we got home.

And you know what? When you're on the sidewalk, nobody yells "Get on the sidewalk!"