Free-Floating Hostility

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Two by Two

No, we are not yet underwater. But apparently lots of folks nearby have been pulled out of swirling floodwaters in the act of rescuing their cats by national guardsmen just returned from Iraq.

Rich and Jimmy are supposed to come visit us tomorrow. We had a pre-visit consulatation this morning, during which I was surprised to learn we were having the Storm of the Century. It wasn't even raining. Sure, it was pissing it down all yesterday, but I was utterly perplexed when Rich informed me of all the flood warnings. I poo-pooed his concerns and said I'd see him tomorrow. Then Mike and I drove to the gym, past the swimming pool that was the Dog Run three days ago. Half an hour ago Mike called to say "certain parts of the county are fucked." I don't understand this, seeing as how it's still not even raining, but it's true. The Sacramento River is being diverted into various unpopular areas, such as ours. Modesto is under threat of flash flooding, and I-80 is closed at Fairfield.

I learned all this by watching KCRA-3, our local news, which I haven't done since I blogged about the puppy poisonings. The regular newscasters are off for the holiday, so the skeleton crew is loving their moment in the sun (har). The meteorologist could hardly contain himself when he warned "It's going to clear up tonight in time to celebrate New Year's Eve, but then tomorrow we'll ring in the New Year with another Pacific Storm, so gear up for that." Then he looked dead serious while he cautioned, "It's important to remember, however, that no rainfall records have been broken."

I really have no idea what's going on, besides the fact that Napa is now Atlantis. I'm going to boil some eggs and pack a suitcase just in case.

But it's not even raining. ???

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Friday, December 30, 2005

Christmas is Over, the Guests are Getting Fat

Shortly before leaving for California, my mother happened to be in my father's clothes closet when she came upon something she couldn't quite explain. There were two pairs of sneakers, each identical to a third pair he was currently wearing, and each labeled with an index card. My dad, you see, was trying to figure out which pair of shoes was giving him corns. So the first pair was labeled, "suspect" and the second was labeled, "iffy." This is what my family is like on regular days, nevermind the holiday season.

My brother was very excited about the CDs he'd burned us all as Christmas presents. He's not much for the surprise element, and was bursting to tell us our playlists before he even got here. "For Mike," he told me on the phone, "I made a Playatastik mix. It's all songs about bitches and hos. I thought that would be funny since he's married to my sister. Then I made him a Honky mix to make up for it."

When the families arrived, however, as usual they all went off to do their own thing and left us in the apartment alone because they don't actually care for our company. Only by dint of extreme whining was I able to get them into the apartment and feed them. Because some of you care about this sort of thing, here is what we served:

Christmas Eve
Asparagus wrapped in prosciutto (a reprise from last year)
Fusilli with caramelized onions
green salad
ice cream (because the intended meringues came out Cajun style)

Christmas Day
baked brie w/ sundried tomatoes and classy chips
white bean and black olive soup
chicken kebabs
gingerbread with more ice cream

Our actual dinner conversation was less outrageous this year than last because we didn't have Scott. But we did have my boss Kathie on the 25th, who made herself instantly beloved. And Mojo (before Form pops a vein, Mojo is the child's given name, not a blog nickname). And everyone either liked the food or did a good job pretending. Also, for those of you who are keeping track, both meals were cooked in concert, with Mike heading up the pasta and the kebabs and me the other stuff. He's a very good cook now.

The day after christmas everyone was tired and feeling crapulous. I had developed a cold, but was revived by a shopping trip for David. It was the ultimate in paper dolls. David's taste and mine overlap nicely, and he's very cooperative, so all I had to do was find him stuff I liked and he would try it on, either pronounce it "fine" or "gangsta" or "too fruity", and we'd move on to the next item. He was extremely pleased with the haul, and since it was mostly on post-holiday clearance he saved a fortune, though he undoubtedly spent five.

In the afternoon the families all split up to see various movies. The women (not including me) went to see Rumor Has It, despite the obvious portents of suckage, all of which were fully realized. Mike, Fritz and Mojo attended Syriana, which they liked. Dad, David and I went to see King Kong, which is just a really great movie. I honestly think it's the best action movie I've ever seen. The three of us couldn't stop talking about it all through dinner, till Mojo snarked "Wow, it's like the three of you just saw Casablanca for the first time." Fritz' curiosity was sparked and he went to see it the day after. He felt it was racist, which just goes to show that Fritz has fallen for the ecologic fallacy. If 34 wants to fund a return trip to the theater I'll gladly write a review. At dinner that night I made the mistake of sharing my frustration at not having an occasion in which to break out the phrase "Sam Bowie Syndrome." The boys (Mike and David) loved it, loved it, and for the rest of the visit I had no peace because every change of topic led to a discussion if its appropriateness for Sam Bowie Syndrome. "James Madison was the Sam Bowie of presidents." "Chanukah is the Sam Bowie of Jewish holidays." "3 Montague Terrace is the Sam Bowie of Montague Terrace." Why? "Cause it ain't got no plaque." And just for good measure, at the end of the meal David told the waiter he was the Hakeem Olajuwon of waiters.

The next day it was pouring and I was even sicker, so while Mike went to work and everyone else went back to the movies, I read my book in bed and gargled. Mojo and David left for their California road trip, with my mother predicting doom and pestilence for every leg of the journey--"Oh, but you should really look up Cousin Lolly when you get to San Diego. If you make it that far." I emerged that evening to meet the group for dinner at a restaurant we never eat at when we're paying ourselves. The wait was long, but no one was very hungry yet so we stood around a tall table getting drunk. My mom, being a small person, became drunk rather quickly, so when Queenie offered me a chair and I said I didn't want one and Queenie got one anyway my mother turned to me and threatened, "If you don't sit in that chair now, I'm going to put that umbrella where the monkey put the nut." I sat.

Now, the folks who were occupying the table slated for us were in no hurry to leave. They had their doggie bags, they had paid the bill, but they simply weren't leaving. We know because after waiting an hour and a half we all had to pee and took turns staring them down on the way to the john. Our group was getting cranky, but didn't really gather up the steam to leave until we'd been there almost two hours. As we were getting up to leave, the hostess (who had been cordial throughout) explained that she had asked permission of her manager to boot the squatters, but that he had refused and that she was offering free appetizers if we would continue to wait. My mom saw this as a sign of weakness, and decided to take a stand. "I'm really sorry," the hostess said. "Well," my mother replied, "It's not okay to be sorry when you could have done something about it." She led the procession outside, pressing her moral advantage. "Free food?" said Mike and Fritz. "Why are we turning down free food?" We were halfway out the door when the squatters decided to stir themselves, so Queenie (who is a lawyer) eventually persuaded my mother (who is Sicilian and was drunk) to come back inside. As our group filed past their group we exchanged what Mike described as Prison Stares. It was quite chilly.

We had done nothing but bitch about people who dawdle at restaurants until we sat down ourselves. Then, unfortunately, Queenie had a little spate of tachycardia and we couldn't order for some time. She told us in no uncertain terms to leave her alone while the episode played itself out, but most of the table was unwilling to accommodate her request. "You're a doctor, do something!" Mike shouted at me. "How long has this been going on?" Peggy wanted to know. "I'm her mother and she never told me anything of this." "I asked," my mom replied, "And she says it's some congenital thing that she and Andy both have." "Andy has it too?," Peggy gasped. Queenie was, obviously, fine in a moment or two, and we had our meal and my parents caught their plane.

We had one final breakfast with Queenie, Peggy and Fritz the next morning, but I don't remember much of it because I was trapped behind a haze of mucus. Queenie had thoughtfully provided me with some drops she takes, but my mother wasn't there to threaten me with an umbrella enema this time so I declined on the grounds that the number one ingredient in the drops was a red dye and that it managed to contain both maltitol and trans fat. I have spent the last three days in near-stationary recuperation. I hope to be sufficiently repaired to ignore New Year's as I am accustomed to doing.

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Ricardo and Queenie Posted by Picasa

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A lovely picture of Trixie Posted by Picasa

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Fritz Posted by Picasa

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David was giving himself a trim when this happened, necessitating what he called a "G.I. Jane" twenty minutes before Christmas dinner. Posted by Picasa

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After Posted by Picasa

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Peggy, Mike and Ricardo prepare the chirstmas kebabs Posted by Picasa

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Ricardo, Mike, Fritz Posted by Picasa

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Peggy and Kathie Posted by Picasa

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Isn't he dreamy? Posted by Picasa

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Since taking this photo I have forgotten what Mojo was doing here. Posted by Picasa

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Ricardo, David, Anna Posted by Picasa

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Ricardo, Trixie, Queenie and Peggy out for a stroll through the arboretum Posted by Picasa

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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Gone A-Wassailing. Back soon.

The families have come to town for the holidays. So, in the likely event that we don't get to do any blogging while they're here, here are some old posts about said families. For good measure I'm throwing in the holiday roundup from last year.

Free-Floating Hostility is Utterly Contrite
In Which my Family Further Courts Excommunication
What have you Learned Recently?
Hostylefaxer [sic]: Party by Costco
The Dogs Take their Revenge on Brooklyn Dodger, the Rabbits Take their Revenge on the Dogs
Hooky for Sophisticates
Hostylefax: Manhattan, Westchester, Brooklyn, oh my

Be good, or Santa will put coal under the menorah. Or Mom and Dad will leave a guilt trip in your stocking. Peace on earth.

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The Next Big Thing in Wasted Time, Just in Time for the Holidays

I have a reputation as a boy's girl, insufficiently athletic to be a tomboy, but not really into the traditional trappings of feminity. I hereby plan to destroy that reputation by referring all of you to Paper Doll Heaven, a site that allows me to dress up my favorite actresses in pretty pretty clothes. I think the sites creators assume that we will want to mix and match, and put those celebrities in ridiculous outfits for the sheer perverse joy of it. But I only want to make them pretty. I want to put Audrey Hepburn in a polka-dotted poodle skirt and a demure head wrap. Then I want to dress Grace Kelly up in a pencil skirt, grey sweater and pearls. Then I want to put Catherine Zeta-Jones in a trendy pantsuit and Kate Winslet in a purple ballgown. Out of a sense of duty I tried putting some of my least favorite celebrities in really ugly outfits, but my heart wasn't in it. The site claims most of its users are girls between the ages of 5 and 20, but I have my doubts. Or perhaps, I'm just a pervert.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Don we Now our Gay Apparel

I hope you enjoy FFH's new holiday look. Personally, I especially like the violent color clashing going on in the top right quadrant. I'm a little concerned for our bare feet in the snow, too, but I lack the gifts required to paint on shoes.

The following are screen shots of some of FFH's earlier incarnations. This last has been the longest-lasting, I think. But since I'm on vacation now I'm likely to get restless and experiment with new ones.

This, you will have astutely noticed, is 34's layout. But it happens to be the same template we started off with. Posted by Picasa

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My first experiment with FFH's design. Posted by Picasa

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FFH's most recent look Posted by Picasa

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Monday, December 19, 2005

Look What I Found

Actually, that's just me taking credit for someone else's work. Again. So really Technorati found this.

One of our regular readers (we think), Alice, has a blog now too, not that she bothered to tell us. She's blogging with Ben Wheeler, who I remember from the Spec days and really liked. Of course, I'll say that about anyone who calls me a superstar. It seems to be about a week old. Anyway, go read it.

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Sunday, December 18, 2005

My Ten-Point Plan for Whiling Away my Vacation

Contrary to rumor, I am done with finals and have begun the labor of love known as Winter Break. I am not someone who takes easily to having a whole month off. In fact, my first reaction was to sit around the apartment staring listlessly at the floor and begging Mike to assign me a problem set. I moved on from there to the intense consumption of light fiction. That went well with my third project, intense bread baking, because when you're done with one chapter of your crime novel it's probably time to mist the bread again so that it will develop a french-type crust. My training in the scientific method has payed off, in that I finally figured out why my previous breads had failed to rise. I was following instructions to use water the temperature of my wrist, but as I have mentioned, my body temperature is several degrees lower than that of normal people and the yeast weren't getting warm enough to be gassy. I looked up the temperature at which yeast are killed and consulted the rubbishy thermometer we usually use for narrowing our body temperature to a range between 92 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit. The rubbishmeter seemed to suggest, with no precision whatsoever, that I could raise the temperature of the bread water by quite a bit without killing the yeast, so I decided to give it a shot. The result was a palpable loaf of part-wheat bread. I am currently at work on my fifth successful career loaf, and am moving on from such elementary questions as "why isn't the sonofabitch expanding?" to stumpers like "how can I get the middle to be fluffy without burning the outside?" and "how do I knead the dough for twenty minutes without getting carpal tunnel?" The fourth major vacation project is cleaning the apartment. I never finished unpacking from our move in September; in fact I never finished putting stuff up on the walls, not even when Jeff and Scott came to visit. My homemaking is the object of ridicule across the country, and let's not get started on Mike, who, in collaboration with Eugene, managed to ignore a spilled bottle of orange soda on his floor for three weeks back in 1999. I conjecture that since it was equidistant from their two beds each boy considered it to be No Man's Sticky Orange Puddle. My fifth project is to work from home on what I normally work on from under the leaky pipe in the Environmental Health Sciences Division. Sixth is that article I've been talking about writing since junior year of college. Seventh, I am supposed to be updating my resume and applying for internships for the summer, but as I can't seem to cope with asking for recommendations number seven should really be working on becoming a normal person. My eighth activity will expire tomorrow evening, when I "audition" to teach a Kaplan course. For my audition I have planned a lesson on How to Converse about Sports. Ninth is a steady regimen of Christmas Carols. I've been waging a Caroling war with the neighbors ever since our downstairs ones (of whom I'm really quite fond) put "Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas" on repeat for an hour. A couple of repetitions of "Mary's Boy Child Jesus Christ" from us put an end to that. I also sing. A lot. Especially the carols whose notes I never really hit, such as Gloo-o-o-o-o-o-oo-o-o-o-o-oo-o-o-o-o-o-ooria in Excelsis Deo, and the high note in "River." My tenth pursuit is Christmas shopping. Not actual shopping, yet, more imagining what gifts I would get for everyone if I were rich. This activity generally ends in my taking an excedrin for the tension headache I only get during Advent.

So, you see, I am just constructive as dammit.

5 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Blogger Jeff'y at December 19, 2005 8:20 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • I know a lot of people in grad school, Bananalazinger. But I'm glad that you specifically have finished up with your work, and are doing about what people should be doing on their vacations.

    Good luck on the Kaplaning.

  •   Posted by Blogger Anna at December 19, 2005 2:08 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • You said, Jeffrey, "everyone I know in graduate school seems to be knee-deep in finals right now, while I'm practically on vacation. Suckas." Why can't you just admit when you're wrong?

  •   Posted by Blogger Rich at December 19, 2005 3:19 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • In defense of Jeff'y, Jeff'y knows me and I am "knee-deep in finals right now." I could be considered "everyone" from a certain point of view -- mainly my own. I am pleased that Jeff'y shares my point of view.

  •   Posted by Blogger Jeff'y at December 19, 2005 11:01 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • I do appreciate you coming to my defense, Rich; at the cost of one billable hour it's a real bargain.

    But I have to admit: I posted something somewhat inaccurate on the Internet, and I am therefore wrong. It obviously proved confusing, and that was not my original intent.

  •   Posted by Blogger Unknown at December 21, 2005 8:24 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • 34 = wikipedia

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Saturday, December 17, 2005

I'll See Your Attack on the Media, and Raise You...

So there's this from the Associated Press:

Facing angry criticism and challenges to his authority in Congress, President Bush on Saturday unapologetically defended his administration's right to conduct secret post-Sept. 11 spying in the U.S. as "critical to saving American lives." ...

The president had harsh words for those who revealed the program to the media, saying they acted improperly and illegally. The surveillance, was first disclosed in Friday's New York Times.

"As a result, our enemies have learned information they should not have," Bush said. "The unauthorized disclosure of this effort damages our national security and puts our citizens at risk."

Just so that we're all clear: This is the president going on the offensive because he's just been beaten on a major piece of legislation, his approval ratings are down and his second term has been basically an unmitigated disaster. Beating up on the media is always a nice strategy, one that muddies the issue and scores points with his base. It was nice timing by the Times, to hold the story for a year and print it on the day the Senate was to vote on renewing the P.A.T.R.I.O.T Act. I'm not complaining, because I'm happy to see that odious piece of legislation defeated, at least for now. I really don't believe that it is dead.

So if we're going to start ramping up attacks, how about this one. I'll send $100 (okay, I probably won't) to the Democrat who starts working on the articles of Impeachment of President Bush. Now, authorizing warrant-less wiretaps clearly doesn't rise to the level of lying about blow jobs to a grand jury, but let me make a case here anyway.

Bush's oath-of-office requires him to uphold the Constitution, which includes provisions to protect us against unreasonable searches and seizures. Governments can confiscate papers and tap phones, sure, but they must first justify it to a court. This is our system. When it comes to national security surveillance, the government has a special structure in place to authorize things. So what we've seen is that Bush, even with a legal option for wiretapping at his disposal, chose the illegal option. Maybe he and his entire national security team are collectively too stupid to know they didn't need to break the law to do this. I don't think that's true. I believe Bush chose the illegal option to establish that he was allowed to circumvent legal structures. In doing that Bush, in effect, is insisting that the executive branch is not subject to the rule of law. And this an attack on the Constitution. The Framers (when did this become a law school blog?) wanted diffuse power. Unchecked executives (from King George to Saddam Hussein) generally abuse their powers. I'm a huge fan of irony, but this particular piece, the government elminating our freedoms in the name of preserving them in the face of terrorism, I could do without.

It behooves the legislative branch to put a big fucking bodycheck on the executive to bring things back into balance. That's all I'm saying.

2 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Blogger Form at December 18, 2005 6:07 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • You are not a law school blog. The sad part about this issue is that it should be a 5th grade civics issue, not one you need to go to law school to learn.

    Responsible politicians need to oppose this in a responsible way. This is not an oppurtunity to further hammer Bush. (Or compare him to any number of totalatarians.) People just need to politely say, "I understand you want to protect us from terrorism, but we do not act like this in America. Our leaders are bound by the rule of law, just as our citizens are."

  •   Posted by Blogger Blue Earth Notes at December 19, 2005 4:29 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Bush out! I thought about chanting that at the mall today, but I might have looked silly. How many laws does Bush have to break before he's impeached? Let's see, Clinton was sort of impeached for having a blow job. But Bush steals two elections, breaks international law, tortures people, spies on American citizens illegally, and ruins the economy.

    I'm tired of living under a dictatorship.

    Thank God you're not a law school blog.

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Friday, December 16, 2005

Good Night and Good Schtick

Mike was on the radio again tonight. When he came on the air, one of the sports guys thanked him for being the first reporter to attribute a quotation to him that he had actually said, and Mike answered, "Sure, I only make up quotes for people I've known for a long time." He also made a joke about the Kings leaving Sacramento but that sailed clear over my head. And he gave a very insightful answer explaining why Ron Artest is not going to be traded here. Talk City 1240 AM doesn't keep archives or podcasts or whatever the damn things are called, so you've missed your chance to hear the actual broadcast. Mike says, though, that next time he's going to be on the radio he'll post about it beforehand so you can listen in.

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  •   Posted by Blogger BrooklynDodger at December 17, 2005 2:12 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • In future, you can get free software which enables capture of streaming audio at

    for unknown reasons, Fritz is unable to email to FFH

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And Speaking of Wilkes

When one of us belches, says something non-sensical, or makes fun of someone else in a fairly withering way, the other will often say (loudly and directed into the air), "Did you hear that, NSA?" It's a joke. But maybe, it's not really a joke anymore.

The intelligence agencies have to fight terrorism. I get it. But without oversight, there's no telling what they're actually fighting. In the 60s and 70s, agencies spent their time spying on Vietnam protestors and the Democratic Party. Broad wire-tapping, which, incidentally is what Ricardo led his Wilkes piece with, is not okay. The courts need to be involved, otherwise I believe this particular administration will spy on its political enemies as much our nation's terrorist enemies. Once this group outed an apparantly covert CIA agent, I don't see how it's possible for them to ask for the benefit of the doubt on anything else.

3 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Blogger Rich at December 16, 2005 1:04 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • I am firmly opposed to the outing of CIA agents.

  •   Posted by Blogger BrooklynDodger at December 16, 2005 7:37 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • CIA agents are all bad guys. Who do you think is doing the torture and the renditions? It happens, with regard to Iraq, there are worse guys like Bush, Cheney and Rove.

  •   Posted by Blogger Anna at December 16, 2005 7:47 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Yo, Dodger, you're the one who always says not to ascribe malevolence where ignorance or incompetence would do just as well. More to the point, it's not that simple. The torturers etc. are actually doing their job; it's the job that needs to be changed. Are you in favor of abolishing the CIA? Cause I venture to say that without intelligence we'd all be fucked.

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Thursday, December 15, 2005

Breaking out the Blue Pencil

Ricardo's book hits shelves on Boxing Day, which is exciting news for everyone involved. In advance of publication, Yale University Press suggested he try to place an op-ed piece in the New York Times, explaining why John Wilkes, a funkadelic member of the British Parliament in the 18th century, is relevant to American readers in the 21st. It's an easy case to make, given that when the Framers wrote civil liberties into the Constitution, they were thinking specficially about Wilkes. He was jailed by the crown for saying snarky things about monarch, had his papers confiscated and his property impounded. Those who are interested in preserving civil liberties don't have to actually invent modern-day threats to individual rights.

Ricardo engaged his whelp of a son-in-law in tailoring his piece to newspaper style. I didn't do much, other than convince him to move Wilkes further up in the piece and try to inject Supreme Court politics into it. To his credit, Ricardo listened to the former suggestion and not the latter. Ricardo felt more comfortable sticking to civil liberties, which is his area of expertise. But since I have a blog, I'll make the argument here.

Wilkes' story, Ricardo writes, was the basis of the Fourth Amendment. But what interested me in our discussion was how he referred to it as the "right to privacy." Whether that right really exists is, with a Supreme Court justice about to face the Senate, up for debate. Ricardo is an 18th century historian, which opened the possibility in my mind that you could make a reasonable argument that privacy was on the collective mind of the Framers. They just expressed it through a law that codified the right to have freedom from having your house entered by government forces and your stuff taken by the just because the government wants to. So even if Roe v. Wade has some flaws, it still reflects something the Framers were thinking about. This was an 18th century understanding of privacy, in a time where the amount of privacy necessary to function in the 21st century couldn't be fathomed.

Of course, if you believe the law is just words on a page, maybe you'll never be convinced. And, as Anna points out, it's murky ground when we start talking about Framers' intent. After all, the syphilitic mofos who acutally wrote the Constitution would have certainly opposed abortion. She's probably right. But I believe in engaging an argument on all sides, even in trying to speak the language of people who will never possibly agree with me.

1 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Blogger Rich at December 16, 2005 12:39 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • I am not sure the founders were against abortion. Like Justice Blackmun says in his opinion in Roe v. Wade, abortion has been around since the beginning of time and has been legal (more or less). If the founders wanted to make it illegal all of sudden, they would have said something. Don't tell Justice Thomas I told you so. There does not seem to be a power for Congress to regulate in this matter.

    Now, the states could have made it illegal at some point with their police powers, but the 14th Amendment changed the Constitution giving the people rights to constrain the state government as well. In light of these facts, I don't think it is helpful to gauge the intention of the founders. It might be useful to gauge the intention of the Reconstruction era Congress who passed the 14th Amendment.

    Thanks for the Con Law Review.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

My New Mobile

The people at Radio Shack were very impressed yesterday when I turned up on the exact day my wireless contract expired to demand two more years of Verizon and a new phone. They, clearly, have not my been in my presence at any time in the last eight months (which makes sense of course, because why would I be hanging out with the Radio Shack people?). I have been peering longingly at people's cell phones for about that long. I've wanted ones with cameras, ones that flip, ones that are actually mini-computers, ones with wireless headsets.

I am, however, profoundly cheap. So face with the option to buy any mobile phone I wanted, I went with the free-est one. Some slate gray number from Samsung that flips and has a pretty impressive ear piece, important when you work at large stadiums. The transfer of my phone numbers, the most satisfying part of getting a new phone, took about 90 minutes. So now I'm off in search of something new to complain about.

1 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Blogger Rich at December 14, 2005 1:02 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • I just got a new phone, too. I didn't go to the store to pick it up, but the rumor is that the salesperson was incompetent. He/she was unable to transfer my numbers.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Request for Informed Debate: Tookie Williams

I'm curious to know what our readers, and I'm thinking in particular of our lawyers and lawlets, think of Tookie Williams' execution this morning. My understanding is that it was kind of an ambiguous situation, since Williams never actually admitted to the quadruple homicide of which he was convicted, but only actually claimed innocence (or his lawyers did anyway) right before the execution. On the other hand Williams famously reformed in prison, though I get the feeling it didn't get him as far as it might have as he remained personally obnoxious, and consorted with the likes of Louis Farrakhan. Let me be clear: I never even saw the movie. I would just like to solicit all of your opinions, including whether or not it makes sense to give the final decision over to he Governor, and why media representatives are among those allowed to witness the execution, producing unpleasant accounts like this one by a reporter from the Chronicle (his sixth).

5 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Blogger Rich at December 13, 2005 12:05 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Putting aside any feelings I have regarding the death penalty, I agree with the decision made by the courts and ultimately Arnie (using information that I gathered from TV while studying for finals and from this blog entry). We punish people for many reasons including retribution, deterrence, and rehabilitation, and it seems like these considerations overall favor the resolution the courts reached.

    One argument for Tookie not to be executed was that he was rehabilitated (he was nominated for the Noble Peace Prize, but, as I heard on TV, he didn't win it). However, our country doesn't really care that much about rehabilitation, otherwise why would the only available options be the death penalty or life imprisonment?

    The most persuasive argument I heard in favor of not executing Tookie was that he did so much public good while in prison, convincing kids to not join gangs, stay in school, don't do milk, and such. However, no one has statistically measured how much Tookie has affected the public good. This utilitarian argument sounds similar to the argument for the death penalty (that it deters criminals although the numbers have not proved this to be the case). In deciding whether to execute Tookie, the court had to weigh these two unmeasurable considerations against each other. How do you decide what to do in such an untenable position?

    Well, you turn to retribution. Tookie committed a quadruple homicide. That's pretty bad. He could counter this with evidence of his repetence, but if he didn't admit to the murders and he ended up at the end claiming he was innocent, he did not show adequate remorse to rebut the retribution values, even if that is possible.

    To brief address your other points, everyone loves a spectacle, why not allow the media to be there? Having the media disseminate information about the execution arguably serves deterrence. What's wrong with having Arnie have the last say? He's democratically elected, unlike the judges.

  •   Posted by Blogger Anna at December 13, 2005 2:34 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Thanks, Rich. That pretty much confirms my impression that given the continued existence of the death penalty it seems logical for this case to have proceeded as it did.

    What I meant about the Governor is the fact that he doesn't get to hear all the evidence; thank goodness he doesn't get to overturn acquittals.

    So I guess my next question is what if we don't put aside our feelings about the death penalty? How does his story add to the debate, given that he was not a simple guy and was probably guilty? At least one of the victim's mothers wanted him to be executed in her son's name, but it looks like Williams' supporters got the last word. It seems to me like the public memory of all this is focused less on the four dead than ever.

  •   Posted by Blogger BrooklynDodger at December 13, 2005 6:47 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • No capital punishment means no capital punishment. Morality aside, it's just too much effort to justify the state killing someone. The difference between the California death machine and the Texas death machine is that the Texas conveyor belt runs faster.

    PS: the word verification sequences are getting longer and longer. ynvumctm

  •   Posted by Blogger Unknown at December 14, 2005 5:51 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • State court judges are usually elected, although the final (and generally unsuccessful) appeals are usually made in federal court. That said, I agree with Rich, that it's hard to claim redemption when you don't admit to having committed the crime. Then you're just claiming to be a really good guy who lives in a really shitty neighborhood.

    I don't put much stock in the Nobel Prize nominations every year someone nominates the sport of soccer for a Nobel Peace Prize. The rationale is that it brings brings disparate and warring countries together, peacefully for a game. Of course, sometimes Angola will play its former imperialist power, Portugal, and the on-field and off-field violence will be such that the match will be stopped with 20 minutes left. What was I talking about?

    I opposed the execution because I oppose all executions. I believe the death penalty is applied selectively and politically because DAs and judges are elected at the state level, and the state of American political campaigns is such that there's little room for nuance, and therefore zero chance for a real debate. Tookie, specifically, means very little to me because I didn't see the movie.

  •   Posted by Anonymous Anonymous at December 15, 2005 3:56 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • I'm late to the party and I didn't see the movie either, but as someone who is completely opposed to the death penalty for the reasons Mike and brooklyndodger listed above, I found this case particularly disturbing. Tookie Williams was not exactly a sympathetic character, but legal fine points aside, Arnie's basic reasoning for denying clemency struck me as an odd kind of playground justice, especially in such a serious situation: if only you'd admitted your guilt, we wouldn't have had to kill you! MAYBE!

    Also, more to the point of the anti-DP argument, I listened to the NPR account of the execution, and if some nurse jabbing at a prisoner's arm for 15 minutes looking for a vein isn't cruel and unusual punishment, then I'm not sure what is. What a way to go.

    -KTA, who does not have a blog or a hospital in the Sahara

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Monday, December 12, 2005

The Methodology of Blogging

I don't really know what happened to Shakespeare's daughter. Faulkner supposedly pointed out to his own daughter the absolute irrelevance of Susanna Shakespeare to posterity as an explanation of why his writing mattered more than his parenting. My mom often recounts to us the story of how Gabriel Garcia Marquez got the idea for 100 Years of Solitude just as he was pulling the family car out of the driveway for their summer vacation, upon which he canceled said vacation and went to work. She used to tell these stories with an air at once defensive and whistful. I'm not as bad as those guys, she seemed to say, but just imagine how good I'd be if I were. It seems that the worst possible outcome for a writer's offspring to take up the pen in turn. That is how we got stuck with Frankenstein. I recognize that writer's children are seldom either happy or well-adjusted, and I won't profess to speak for them. But let me say that being a novelist's daughter has its distinct upsides, and one of them is training.

A writer can only write what she knows, which is why all the writers I know are inveterate gossips. As the children of a writer, my brother and I were farmed out at an early age to glean material for my mother--not, I think, for her to write about, but just because she liked it. Each day when we got home, the standard question was, "How was school? Did anyone behave badly?" This system had benefits, such as when I complained that one of my classmates had been mean to me and Mom knew the backstory in such detail that she immediately offered to nail my classmate's tongue to the floor. But it is seldom prudent to tell ones parents the whole truth about what goes on at school, and occasionally it was necessary to keep quiet--I only rarely lied to my mother as a child, preferring to store up my duplicity for really vital falsehoods. If the answer was "nothing" or "no one," I was likely to be told that I was useless, or in later years, that I sucked (the latter could never be used back at Mom after the time she retaliated with details about her and my father's sex life). It wasn't until very very recently that I realized most people are raised to consider gossip a vice, and talking about someone behind their back to be shameful. By then, of course, it was an ingrained habit and I could no more shun the narrative life than I could take up snuff, or start wearing a burka to work.

That's all well and good for you, cause you're the ones who get to hear my stories. But it's a little unsettling for the rest of creation if, as Joel would put it, you decontextualize it. I'm not one of those people who runs around writing down her observations for later use. Once, at Columbia, I found myself at a student poetry reading seated next to the late Kenneth Koch. I was there to support Dave A, who was one of the featured poets, and during Dave's reading, I noticed Koch make an approving grunt, as if to say "enchanting, just enchanting" and pull a little pocket-sized notebook out of his shirt, on which he made a note. What was he writing? Was he observing Dave's affect at the podium (distinctive as it was) or was the old guy just plagiarizing? I told Dave he'd better keep an eye on Koch's publications from now on, something I would never have advised under normal circumstances.

So I don't run around jotting, but I do always have an ear out. It's what I've been trained for. You wouldn't ask a Navy SEAL to leave a nice old lady stranded on a boat full of pirates, and you wouldn't ask me to turn a deaf ear to a conversation in which a bunch of anthropology students repeatedly refer to "stratosfied societies." You wouldn't ask me to leave Crotch-in-the-Popcorn Nick or Perpetually Experimenting Gay Chris to be identified by their surnames. You need me out there, butting into the lives of strangers in order to protect you from having to do it yourselves. To entertain my readership of 12, there's no quirk, no mishap, no public misconduct that I won't commit to this keyboard. So if you plan to be funny around me, remember to say it's off the record.

5 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Blogger Jeff'y at December 12, 2005 9:43 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • So we're left to guess what the offending post was? My browser's cache is worthless. Lame.

  •   Posted by Blogger Anna at December 13, 2005 8:12 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Don't be so hard on yoru browser's cache. This wasn't inspired by any particular post.

  •   Posted by Blogger Form at December 13, 2005 8:14 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • I like hearing about Mike and Anna. The people with the wierd names are of little interest to me, except the parents because they can be fascinating.

  •   Posted by Anonymous Anonymous at December 16, 2005 9:41 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • hmmmmm.

    I remember asking a certain professor for a recommendation and getting asked about bananas under my bed.

  •   Posted by Blogger Anna at December 16, 2005 2:18 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • See, it wouldn't occur to me that you'd want that kept from your ex-professor if you didn't tell me so. You shouldn't assume things like that about me, cause I would like to have that story told about me, cause it's endearing. Or, if I didn't want it shared, I'd broach the topic as, "Hey, can you keep a secret? The other day I was cleaning my room when I found an intact bunch of bananas under my bed.

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Sunday, December 11, 2005

Science Speak Goes For a Test Drive

Anna married into the life of a sportswriter well-prepared. She has SportsSpeak, a series of four sentences designed to project an understanding of sports without requiring much knowledge of them. She has used these to great effect on co-workers and sources of mine, which is always good for a private laugh since I recognize them immediately. When Trixie, whom Anna credits with the invention from SportsSpeak, tries to use them on me, my response is usually a swift "Fuck you."

But with Anna firmly entrenched on the science track, the pendulum is swinging. Last week, we attended a gathering for students in Anna's program at the School of Public Health. Being hopelessly socially awkward, I had been waiting for this moment with a mix of anticipation and dread. Anna's program is 6-to-1 women, so my initial plan was to seek out other husbands, let slip I was a sportswriter and then try to talk about that for the evening. I love to talk about myself. But there were no other husbands around. Plan B was ScienceSpeak, which I have been thinking about since Anna was accepted to school in March, but not yet perfected. So far I've derived two sentences
  • Well, so much depends on the funding
  • But, can those results be replicated?
Anna says those will work fine in a scientific setting. So in my first attempt to use ScienceSpeak, I ended up in a long discussion of open-wheel auto racing with a woman in Anna's program. This was a surprise, since she did not immediately give off the aura of gearhead.

I know exactly three things about open-wheel racing.
  1. Its fans believe that NASCAR people are same people who think that Guns'n'Roses' "November Rain" video qualifies as classical music.
  2. That there was some big squabble at the administrative end, so for some reason there are two circuits that are struggling to make money rather than one that might consolidate interest in the sport.
  3. Everyone who knows understands that Danica Patrick (link slightly unsafe for work) is just eye candy, and that if you want a real female driver, you should watch Katherine Legge.
So we ended up talking for half an hour. But I was the one doing the SportsSpeaking. I do plan to give the sport a chance at some point, just because it wouldn't hurt to be able to write knowledgeably about it in the future. So who knows, maybe I'll watch some auto racing at some point.

It was, however, a crushing defeat for ScienceSpeak. But Anna has plenty of years left in epidemiology. So at this point in the season, it could still go either way.

3 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Blogger BrooklynDodger at December 11, 2005 3:33 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • What about confounding?

    What did the power calculation say?

  •   Posted by Blogger Form at December 11, 2005 7:31 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • How do you think that will impact the Odds Ratio?


  •   Posted by Blogger Rich at December 12, 2005 7:28 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • I find that saying that something the other person said "sounds suspiciously like something Hitler would say" is a good closer.

    Also, you might want to work in "maximizing your utility curve" into the conversation. I know that is more economics, but I find it works in many different contexts.

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Saturday, December 10, 2005

Art isn't Queasy (but he Deserves to be)

For a few days there, my Dad was ready to change the way he eats. I had offered to give him a little nutritional counseling, fully expecting him to say no, but he surprised me. It was, apparently, seeing Mike in his pajamas that convinced him I was on to something. So today, we went over how dad eats. Breakfast was exemplary--bananas, milk and wheat bran. Lunch was a peanut butter sandwich--nothing inherently wrong with that. So I asked him what he had to go with the peanut butter, his usual is bananas? honey? jam? Not today. Today Dad was eating peanut butter and cream cheese. I made him repeat it three times. Nutrition is terribly complicated, but sometimes an area ripe for intervention just presents itself to you. By the end of our consultation, Dad was no longer interested in my advice.

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Thursday, December 08, 2005

Look at me Way Up High, Look at me in the Sky, I'm Spazzing!

Another piece of the story from last weekend: flying. I hate flying. I used to be fearless, but after a certain number of flights accompanied by my mother, who would clutch my hand till I squealed and force me to ask the flight attendants why the plane was moving the way it was moving, I developed my own flight anxiety. I've taken to bringing a rosary on board, which makes me feel better (totems are obviously the best Catholicism has to offer the educated religious consumer), but the problem is I don't actually want anybody to see me using it. I don't want to look like I'm prosletyzing, I don't want to wind up defending the Catholic church, and I also don't want anyone to know how scared I am. So I've taken to hiding my light under a bushel by hiding my rosary under a pile of papers in my lap. I purchased my rosary at St. Patrick's Cathedral for eight dollars, and it comes in a little plastic case. This last feature is key, because it allows me to pretend I am not praying during takeoff but merely helping myself to a mint.

So I dislike flying under any circumstances, though I think I put up a pretty good shop-front. Ones neighbors, however, make all the difference. On my flight into JFK I had an empty seat in between me and the guy at the window. We smiled at each other conspiratorially when the door was sealed and spread out all our papers. Window man warned me, however, that he was drinking lots of tea and would be getting up to pee repeatedly during the flight. "If it's easier for you we could switch," he innocently offered. I was on to him, though, and said I would prefer to get up than to have to disturb him, the real reason being that having to get up every time he got the urge was preferable to being trapped behind him in the event of an evacuation. An hour into the flight I very nearly reconsidered when the middle aged, pony-tailed guy across the aisle from me courteously requested a "barf bag." Shortly after, he retired with his bag to the men's room, which I hoped that would be the end of it. It was not. I guess the next time the situation arose there was a line for the bathroom or something, because the poor bastard sat in his seat the whole time, ralphing strenuously into his bag at 120 decibels. Afterwards I asked him if he was okay or feeling any better, and he gave me what I have repeatedly described since as the tightest smile I have ever seen. It was a tough call, because on a flight between Northern California and New York it's hard to know which cultural rules to follow. Cali rules would dictate a gesture of sympathy, but uppermost in the thoughts of a courteous New Yorker would be the memory of how hard it is to keep civil when you're nauseated. I left Pukey Pukerson alone after that, and turned my attention to VH1, which was showing a Behind the Music on the music of 1992. The very worst came during the landing--the flight attendant was legally forbidden to get up and come to the guy's aid, and I'm sure you can imagine how that went.

On my return flight I had Mike next to me, which was good because I was fairly sure he wouldn't shove me out of the way in his haste to beat a path to the exit. I also had with me a copy of Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris. I was going to get my standard Patricia Cornwell airplane reading, but I accidentally read the dedication on it: "To Senator Orrin Hatch, for his tireless fight against crime." I slammed it back onto the shelf and decided to patronize another southern writer, one who I'm pretty sure hangs left cause he lives in New York and France now. I'm not really sure whether I'm supposed to like Sedaris or not, but the book was so funny I had great trouble keeping within the space alotted to me on the plane. I'm one of those people who, when laughing really hard, tends to lean over and put her head on the shoulder of the nearest acquaintance. This is poor plane behavior, even when the shoulder in question is married to you, and I got the distinct impression that the guy on the other side of me was annoyed. When the plane took off, I noticed him staring intently at my rosary, and after that, I swear, he started elbowing me for the right to our shared armrest. He also produced a truly unique noise at intervals of about a half hour; I think it may have been a yawn, but it sounded like "HOOraughrr." Somehow I never got used to it, and was repeatedly startled by the sound, mistaking it for more vomiting.

At the baggage claim I saw a certain scene play out that I've witnessed time and again in airports. A young woman reached for a bag to check the ID tag and make sure it was hers, but before she could do so a gallant gentleman had hauled the enormous thing off the conveyer belt at great cost to his musculoskeletal health. Having thanked him for his gallantry, the woman awkwardly explained that it was not, in fact her bag, and the gentleman heaved it back onto the belt. When, a few minutes later, the woman's real bag came around, she turned to her rescuer to find him staring intently at his shoes, and she lifted it off the belt herself, without a lot of drama. When I looked up from this little scene I noticed--could it be?--Pukey Pukerson from my first flight. He had gotten a trendy haircut over the weekend, and looked an entirely different color. He was standing right next to Mr. Hooraughrr, making small-talk no doubt about the spastic busybodies they had ridden next to this weekend.

1 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Blogger BrooklynDodger at December 10, 2005 7:01 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Personally, I'd be happy that someone on the plane was doing the rosary thing. I'd derive the benefit, if there were any benefit, of prayer, without actually having to do it.

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Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Gettin Peggy Wit It

Okay that title was obviously an egregious pun but Mike has requested his wife back from the lands of the obsessive title-writers. The hated final exam is in, so I have a few hours before my next final in which to post about Peggy's party. A post is clearly indicated, since Boston Andy, the CEO of the party if you will, greeted us with the words "Hey, how are you? Love that blog!" The whole night was great fun for me on a number of levels, because in addition to enjoying the party on its own merits I got to sit next to Jesse at dinner and enjoy his commentary. Mike refers to me and Jesse collectively as the In-Laws Caucus since we're the most recently married(ish) into the clan and share a certain fascination with it.

I won a pocket-size watercolor set during the Peggy trivia hour. I apparently was the only one who remembered that the famous newlyweds whose party Peggy wound up at during her bachelorette days at Simon and Schuster were Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart. I thought it was an obvious one, but perhaps I was just the only guest so eager to demonstrate my knowledge that I raised my hand and shouted. My mom proudly reports that when it was my turn to take the microphone and introduce myself so that I could give hints as to what famous person was born on Peggy’s birthday (Bette Midler, and there was confused silence when I suggested Bathhouse Betty--et tu, Jesse?), a couple of bubbies from the table next table over called out, “Great legs!”

Anyway, I'm very excited about my watercolors. Clafoutis and Bombololo on the other hand each won one of those toys that's truly created with the child's pleasure in mind. It was called a Horriball, and I'd venture that Mssrs. Horriball conducted extensive market research before committing to their final product design.

Jerry Horriball: We believe the children are our future. So let me ask you, kids, what product would make you pester your parents to death for the privilege of owning? Let your imaginations run wild here.
Tyler: How about a ball that, when you squeeze it, this mucus bubble bulges out of it and for a second you think that's it, until a big pile of dead flies covered in blood falls out too. That'd be wicked!
Stanley Horriball: By gum, Jerry, I think the boy's onto something.
Spencer: Make sure you have an extra version where instead of flies, you squeeze out tiny dead rats.
Jerry and Stanley: You got it, kid!

Bombololo, who is an architect of giddying talent at the age of nine, immediately determined the best method for taking his Horriball apart. Marcia and her Andy had demonstrated impressive acumen in choosing the favors, which in addition to the ball and the paints included a pocket kaleidoscope and a flashlight key chain. Later that evening there was a bit of a scuffle, and not at the Actual Kids Table, over who had won the pink kaleidoscope. At the conclusion of the trivia, Jesse told us, “If anyone wants to plan something like this on my birthday,” he nodded significantly toward his Andy, “I want you to tell them that I specifically said no.” Then he paused and added to Marisa, “Unless your mother’s going to be there to run around handing out prizes like Carol Merrill.”

Peggy of course received gifts of her own. Some cousin gave Peggy what seemed to me to be a combination photo album and toaster oven, wherein certain buttons caused pictures to pop up and an electronic voice told you who was in the picture. Ellen brought it around to our table and showed us a picture of two adolescents in old-fashioned swimming gear. "That's my dad," she said, "With his cousin Ruth. They were born to sisters on the same day of the same year, and they were raised like siblings." I thought that was nice, though I found it hard to relax around the talking toaster album, but later I got a version of the same story from Peggy herself. "That's a picture of my husband," Peggy told me fondly, "With his cousin Ruth. They were born to sisters on the same day of the same year. They were raised like brother and sister, and he hated her."

There were so many Peggy stories shared at the party that I decided not to share my favorite, which relates to how Peggy planted the seeds of the idea that someday I should marry her grandson. She was much too savvy to pressure us outright, so you never heard her say anything so gauche as “when are you two lovebirds gonna tie the knot.” Instead, she mounted a subtle campaign of stories about other people in the family. “When Andy and Marcia were living together,” she would say, “I wasn’t so hip then. When they’d go to her parents’ house on Thanksgiving I’d say to him, ‘How can you take that girl there year after year with no ring on her finger, and eat their turkey, and play with their children!'” I reminded Peggy of that story later in private, and she responded by telling me she had to make it to her 90th Birthday because we were taking so long to give her great-grandkids.

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Sleep, Lola, Sleep

I have been battling illness this week, although I can't actually tell what I have. I am congested, my throat is dry and no amount of water seems to help, I'm nauseous and, despite a commitment to getting enough sleep, remain tired. I am something of a hypochondriac so I've confided to Anna my fear of having chronic fatigue syndrome. Anna, no doubt trying to top me, says it sounds more like rabies. Let's hope its neither.

Anna has already pointed out that FFH's recent Eastern swing doubled as a reader tour, ruling out one of our world-famous Hostylefax posts.

But there was this story: Our family now hits NYC and scatters. Fritz and Queenie stay in Brooklyn with the uncles, Clafloutis and Bombololo. Anna and I stay with Ricardo and Trixie. And Easy Lola stays with a friend whose full name sounds slightly like a sneeze (This is mean, but I'm looking for shorthand here) in the East Village.

So anyway, half an hour before my grandmother's 80th birthday party, Fritz calls to say they are outside Sneezy's apartment, but there is no sign of Lola. This was cause for concern. Apparently, Queenie got so worried, she roused the super of the building in which my parents thought Sneezy lived. They super had never heard of Sneezy, nor had anyone in the building above the Popeye's, after they had knocked on all the door. It turns out that the store was just a landmark, and that Lola, after waking up and dressing by the appointed hour, had fallen asleep. Her phone failed to wake her.

So instead she woke up around 12:30 with 37 missed calls. Luckily New York's public transit is developed enough to get someone from the East Village to Swankest Westchester without requiring a car. It also shows the evolution of Lola's relationship with Queenie and Fritz that there wasn't much yelling. Really, Lola just just had to put up with my teasing every time she yawned. A small price to pay, I think.

2 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Blogger Form at December 08, 2005 11:40 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Can we get a term sheet for posts like that? I have a hard time figuring out who is who. Or is that the whole point?

  •   Posted by Blogger Anna at December 08, 2005 1:33 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • I don't remember what the point is, other than to have fun. Jeff started it. Oh, and to protect Fritz's anonymity.

    Fritz and Queenie=Mike's parents
    Trixie and Ricardo=My parents
    Clafoutis and Bombololo=Mike's youngest cousins
    Lola=Mike's sister
    Sneezy=Mike's sister's friend.


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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

A Very Anna Story

Oh, and the other funny thing that happened to me today involved my group presentation on mental health among elderly prisoners. The presentation went well, but afterwards as we were having a heated discussion on American attitudes toward punishment, my screen saver kicked in and across the projector marched the words

don't forget to fart

which I made much better by screaming "Baaaa! I so forgot that was there!" in the most professional manner possible.

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Art isn't Easy

Right, so, we're back. It's hard to blog about your goings-on over the weekend when most of your readership already saw it all. I want to do our trip justice, but I have to hand in a final in a really small number of hours. So here's what you're getting for now: I attended a farewell dinner tonight for Mona, my old friend/boss from the clinic who has taken a new job in the Bay Area. But before she went, her coworkers exchanged fond reminiscences surrounding one particular study which involved filing skin off of the test subjects' scrota. A sample of some of the unfortunate remarks the clinic staff has made during these procedures (and yes, they all resulted in the subjects' discomfort and shame):

  • Wow, you're longer than the table!
  • Hang on a minute, I'm just looking for a magnifying glass.
  • Hey, Janet, I need some help with this dipstick.
  • Could you take your clothes off please? (the subject was there for a vaccination in his arm)
  • Hehehe, hee hee, heheheh, heee hee hehehehe! (the staff member who made this remark was subsequently barred from assisting these procedures)

Ok, it ain't much, but I'll be funnier when finals are over.

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