Celebrating non-diversity

Here’s something I’ve always wished for: a gathering of all the David Smiths. It’s just for a small town in Vermont, but maybe this will lead to a US-wide (or even world-wide!) convention someday. I’d go.

I’ve always felt cursed by having the dullest name in the universe. (My close friends know that my middle name is equally dull, so no hope there.) It’s caused any number of logistical problems, from getting the wrong mail to having to wait an extra 10 minutes while the support rep on the phone scrolls through 10 pages of names just to find mine. It even caused a minor problem with the house-buying process — in the title search some other David Smiths turned up with judgements against them, and I had to prove I wasn’t them. On the other hand, it does help to become anonymous when you need it.

On a more serious note, the one-to-many mapping of names to people has caused problams for several people as a result of the current War on Terror. There is now a “passenger watch list” which the airlines are meant to scritinize, and if your name matches one on the list you get searched. In detail. Every time. Problem is, there’s no way to get your name off the list if it’s added mistakenly, and because the list only has first and last names (and sometimes just initials!) many innocent travellers are being inconvenienced. For example “J Adams” is on the list, and if your are John or Jenny or James Adams you will be stopped. The WSJ covered the issue. Let’s hope “D Smith” never gets added to the list — not just for my sake, but to prevent the 4-hour security lines it would cause.

I love people who make me seem well-adjusted in comparison

And apparently this guy even managed to get a book deal out of his site Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About.

To be honest, I’m not sure if this is entertaining, or very, very unnerving. Like, I could almost see me writing a blog like this some day, though probably not about things my girlfriend and I have argued about. I’m guessing it will be more like things my mother and I have argued about. Or things my mother and grandmother have argued about. Or things my brother and mother have argued about. Or things my mom and my aunt have…

Hang on. I’m going to register a domain name. I think I smell a book deal.

Ceci n’est pas un homme

If there is one thing that pisses me off, it’s being stood up. Well, ok, who are we kidding? There are probably a lot of things that piss me off. Because, as has recently been pointed out to me, I’m no longer irritable but in a “constant state of maximum irritation, and therefore incapable of becoming more irritated.” It would appear, ladies and gentlemen (and pooch, should you be reading this, Dozer), that I have a disposition.

Fortunately, outside of work, I think I do an admirable job of hiding this well. I mingle. I giggle. I tell funny stories. (At least, I think they’re funny.) And, you know, I can seem downright effusive at times. Like when Jay called to tell me about David’s acceptance of the proposal, and I managed to scare at least half a dozen folks hanging out in front of the Coffee Messiah with my screamsqueal of delight. So, you know, I’m not all grousing and cursing. I have my perky moments too.

Except, when you push one of those buttons that just really irks me. Like standing me up. Because here’s the thing. If you don’t want to meet me, DON’T SUGGEST IT. Don’t say, oh, hey, how’s about we do X, and then just not do X. If you can’t make it, change your mind, whatever, just call or email and say, “Hey, I don’t think I’m going to be able to do X afterall.” Because really, that’s just low.

Right. And it might not take a huge stretch of logic to get that I had a bit of an experience with that sort of…ahem…behavior recently. And so, being the neurotic little freak that I am, thought I might turn to trusty old Google to find out what an appropriate next course of action might be, mostly because the no-show in question has a copy of a particularly favored book of mine, as well as a CD that I’d really like back.

Yeah, and it should probably come as no surprise that there is a fair amount of advice out there on just what to do in said situations, most of it fairly consistent, as in this tip sheet on www.getgirls.com which I chose as my link because, well, I am amused by the URL. So, apparently, I could call today to find out what’s up, thus giving me an opportunity to suggest various methods of returning the above mentioned literature and music, and perhaps I shall. Although I admit that I am quite partial to Jay’s much more pointed suggestion of sending a FedEx package with a prefilled-in shipping label to effect the desired recovery of these items.

Jay will note, however, that nowhere on this tip sheet does it mention as an appropriate step, “Have your best friend call the offending stander upper from your cell phone during the appointed event in order to threaten him with bodily harm.” Nor does it give any indication that graduates from any particular institute of higher education are more likely to engage in such behaviors than are, say, Yalies (who, we know would never have so little consideration for a fellow human being), thus disproving Jay’s theory that this sort of behavior is well-documented among, as he so charmingly dubbed them, “Harvard fucks.”

At least I had a lovely evening with my dear Jay, who was, as always, enormously satisfying company in any context, and we did have the opportunity to feel quite old while chatting with some fellow Elis whose existence on this planet never overlapped with that of John Lennon. So I’m not actually in a state of maximum irritation at the moment. Just close to it. Which is to say, in warning to those I might encounter today, I’m feeling irritable.

Jumping on my bandwagon

Why is it that every time I get some idea in my head, it seems like before I can spit out the word “copycat”, everyone else has suddenly made a mad dash to beat me to the punch? Well, not that it will stop me, but still, this is frustrating.

Ok, the last time it happened they didn’t exactly make a mad dash, but it was still frustrating to see a movie about Porn ‘n Chicken, the Yale club that nearly got themselves booted out of Old Blue for making a porno flick in the stacks at Sterling Library called Staxx, an idea I first floated back in my days with University Pictures, and which, for some reason, I never managed to get any Sudler Fund sponsorship for.

So now, it was probably about two weeks ago I started making plans to spend a week working on the Jubilee, a salmon boat out of Kodiak, Alaska that belongs to someone I know. Now, suddenly Slate’s copy chief Laurie Snyder is sending her dispatches from a southern Alaskan salmon boat?

What gives? Well, I’m still planning on doing this next summer, since it looks like the timing won’t likely work out for me going this August, but trust me, the other idea I’ve been cooking up lately, I’m not breathing a word of, lest some member of Salon’s editorial staff take it upon herself to do it first.

My Xterra thinks I’m a lesbian

I just discovered that I drive seventh most lesbian car ever. Not the gayest car, mind you — that honour is reserved for the VW Jetta, closely followed by the rest of VW’s product line — my car is for chicks, it seems. And here I was, thinking I bought an Xterra to get me to the out-of-the-way camping and climbing spots and cart around rugby gear. Apparently I’m just barely repressing desires to wear overalls and shop at Home Depot.

An accidental author

So it turns out (to my considerable surprise) that I’m a published author. And not just dusty-thesis-in-a-university-library published, or dull-article-in-a-refereed-journal published, or even letter-to-the-editor published, but a real author of a real book with a cover and spine and the whole nine yards. You can even buy my book from amazon.com and Barnes and Noble. I’m sure I’ll be hearing from the publisher soon about the international book tour and signing events.
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Attack On Bourgeois Turns Out To Be Nothing

After a community viewing of Jay’s losing—but smart and refined—competition on Jeopardy, I drove home and stopped by the ProClub for some cycling that I really should have done outside (I even had my road bike on the back of my car).

Later, driving down Broadway, just after passing the south end of Broadway Market and before the Vivace outpost, across from Bill & Ted’s Excellent Cafe Adventure, or whatever that Baskin-Robbins became, I heard a loud, sharp noise on my right. Had someone thrown something at my car? It was so loud, I wondered how it could have been a human-powered shot. Was it my shiny car with the gold “L” logo that had elicited the attack?

I turned the corner and pulled into the parking lot at WaMu to inspect the car, wondering how, if I found damage, I could do anything useful about catching the culprit. I scanned the right side of the car… no visible holes in the body… one dimple I already know about… tires are fine… no cracked glass. Huh. I got back in the car, and then I saw my attacker. The parking garage at the health club was quite warm, and an hour of sitting there had caused quite a bit of pressure to build up in the re-corked bottle of Duvel lying on the passenger seat. The cork was no longer in the bottle.

I held up the bottle while I wiped up the ale with my canvas bag from Trader Joe’s, and then realized how that might be perceived around here (the open container of alcohol in the hand of the driver). Canvas isn’t too absorbent, so I’ll be referring now to the car’s “ale skin” interior.

Still waiting for Gaultier…

…but this stylish tie is a great start! I’m going to start wearing my “Freedom to Breath Safe Clothing” silk necktie with medical filtration fabric every day!!! I know all my ladyfriends will want the silk scarf variety for their own fashionalbe protection.

As the website says:

These products are unique because they are worn as fashionable clothing accessories such as scarves, ties, and other items until such time as the wearer finds themselves in an unusual situation where they fear for their safety. The clothing item can then be placed on their airway as a filtration device. The lingering image of people covering their airways with their clothing as they fled the World Trade Center is etched in all of our memories. The concern exists that bioterrorism or “dirty bombs” will spread radioactive dust and bacteria which will put our breathing and health at risk.

The ties and scarves are just $40 and available in red, blue, gold, and black. And my, aren’t those models attractive people– secure in the purity of their respiration!

“Les masques SRAS”

“I want the one by Gaultier, in patent leather!”

Yes, the ticket agents at Charles de Gaulle have donned masks to ward off SARS, according to this report by the BBC. I have to say, probably not a bad idea, especially if you are a French wuss. No, seriously. Let’s stop this thing. But wouldn’t it make more sense for all the passengers to wear masks? They already give out eye masks for long flights… why don’t we just go the full balaclava route. Oh, wait, those are for highjackers.

Le Figaro has an even more interesting story about the growing panic in Canada, which we’re hearing almost nothing about thanks to the war. Of course that article is in French. Here’s one from the Toronto Star that makes the Canadians sound (predictably) less panicked than the French make them out to be.

You will be assimilated…or, you know, maybe not

For years my friends have been telling me I’m the perfect person for TiVo. “Join us, join us,” they say in deadened tones, holding out remotes as they walk towards me like extras in Night of the Living Dead. I watch a lot of TV, have shows I like to keep up with regularly, and about a billion actors I keep my eyes open for. Plus I can spend a whole day reminding myself to set the vcrs for something, and then promptly forget when it comes time to set them. But a lot of things made me not want one — high cost, the size of the machines (the previous boxes were big enough to fit a small child into), the fact that it recorded stuff for you without asking, which freaked me out profoundly. But once I started my Buy Electronics Before Being Laid Off program, I figured I might as well break down and get one. The new series 2 versions were considerably smaller, recorded more TV, and seemed, while still high priced, a better value (although I didn’t at the time know about the monthly $13 for service, which kinda changed my perspective to a little more sour).

And last weekend I went shopping with the two best people you could shop for a TiVo with. M has been evangelizing them for what feels like forever, and L had been working there designing the UI until recently. So I got it all figured out, went to purchase one, and they were completely out of stock. They said they’d have a truck in the next day, so I dutifully went back to a store farther away with M, and they only had two left of the more expensive, higher-capacity one, so I bought it. Best Buy could not have made it more difficult. M patted my shoulder and told me we could go have a drink afterwards — by the time they had asked me for the name of my mother’s first boyfriend, I thought my head was going to explode. And now BB has pretty much every piece of information on me that it can have, including my underwear size and bra cup, because apparently they refuse to sell you a “service” without you providing all that and your blood type and then signing in said blood. I’m sure the incompetent woman at the counter went home and complained to her family about the two screaming bitches who came through her line that day, but when it comes to privacy, screaming bitch doesn’t even begin to describe me. Hera on a tear would probably do it.

So I buy the thing and M helps me set it up, probably deciding at that point that she has no respect for me because I can’t figure anything out at all (the technically competent must be so frustrated by people like me, who look at diagrams and go “duh?”), and then we go off and have dinner and take her electronic toys to her place, and I come back and it says it’s processing and whatnot, but that I can watch live TV. So I play around, start reading my manual, and suddenly during Alias I realize that even though I have to pee really bad, I don’t have to wait for the commercial because — voila! I can pause it or rewind it! Terribly exciting. I come back and watch Marshall giving Syd flowers and think, well, maybe it’s not so bad. I watch Boomtown and go to bed and it’s still processing.

Then I come home on Monday and turn it on to see what I can do with it. With the manual and a plate of Mongolian tofu in front of me, I start doing the guided tours. Fun stuff. I don’t like the fact that it’s taken over my system completely, and now I can’t do anything except watch live TV without at least two, usually three remotes in my hand, which I hate, but I’ve moved past anger and denial into acceptance. And I find it’s recorded things for me that I didn’t ask it to.
Continue reading “You will be assimilated…or, you know, maybe not”