Dec 2, 2008

And I'm Back!

Hello, friends! I have returned from far off Egypt - battered and bruised, but undefeated by the brutal desert winds. And I brought chotchkies!

A few updates, before I commit myself entirely to travel blogging. The anniversary of my blessed natal event fast approaches, and as is my wont I am making a few Birthday Resolutions. This gives me a running start on abandoning said resolutions in the New Year. Beyond the usual promises (get something published, exercise more, cut back on sweets ... *wibble*), I have decided that 2009 is going to be my year. Something is going to change, and it's going to be big. A modicum of self-preservation (didn't think I had one, did you?) prevents me from going into detail ... but keep your eyes open.

On a more somber note, I am following the unfolding story of the Mumbai attacks with a great deal of sadness. My thoughts are with all of my friends with relatives in Mumbai, as well as with the strangers who have had a loved one killed or injured in this senseless violence. I wish I could say something comforting, but everything I type comes out as the usual, useless platitudes. So I'll leave you all with this quote from the Gita, which gives me strength when I am grieving.

"[The soul] is never born nor does it die,
Nor once it is will it ever not be.
Unborn, unending, eternal, and ancient,
It is not killed when the body is killed."

Nov 23, 2008

I'm Off!

My mother and I are about to leave for Dulles, where we will catch a flight to Frankfurt and then on to Cairo! Once there, we will be met by a couple of my father's former students who will take us to another airport, from whence we will fly to Luxor. My father will take a train up from Asuit, and then the three of us are going to take a cruise down the Nile River. I'm so excited! Think good thoughts of me, my little chickadees.

Nov 21, 2008

Millicent, I hardly knew ye

Millicent and I met four years ago, when I started graduate school. She was an almost-top-of-the-line Gateway, and I loved her to bits. She was my very first laptop, with built-in wireless and great processing speed.


This month, she finally gave up the ghost. I took her to Best Buy and had all my data transferred to an external hard drive my brother had gotten for me previously. This sad experience was made marginally tolerable by the Geek Squad guy I met. He was a little scruffy, a little overweight, and more than a little socially awkward. In other words, My Type.

GQG: Here, write down all the files you want transferred.
Me: *batting eyelashes* Can I just put down "all of them?"
GQG: Ha ha ha - oh my god, you're serious.
Me: Yeah... Sorry.

When I went back to collect Millicent's remains, I wandered over to the Apple display. My brother has been talking to me about getting a Mac for several reasons. Mostly, I think, because he wants to play with one. So after much deliberating and discussion with family, I took the plunge and bought a 13-inch MacBook.


While Babs (short for Barbara MacClintock ... and now all my science nerd homies are snickering) will never replace old Millie in my heart, she's one hell of a machine. My family's very first computer was a Mac, so learning how to use her is like riding a bike. Although, given my experience with bikes, I probably shouldn't jinx it.

Nov 18, 2008

Long Time No Sri

The eternal conundrum - when nothing is going on in my life I have plenty of time to blog, but when I've got things to blog about there's no time. Anyway.

Work has been more hellish than usual, but I probably shouldn't get into details here. Needless to say, I have decided to start exploring other options in earnest. I'm thinking that I eventually need to get out of Virginia - I love it here, but I want to broaden my horizons. And if I'm ever going to live somewhere else, now is the time of my life to do it. Onward and upward.

Speaking of getting out of this jerkwater 'burg, I'm headed to Egypt with my parents next week! Monster is staying behind for work. I've enlisted him to take care of my bunny while I'm gone. Instructions will include: "Gilda is super cute, but not super social. Do not confuse your desire to cuddle her with a desire on her part to be cuddled. Luckily, she hasn't bitten anyone ... in a while."

In local news, my friend MK is moving in with me! It will be nice to have a roommate, so I'm not just talking to Gilda all night. Plus, she reads this blog (a sure sign of good character). The extra income in the form of rent is nothing to sneeze at, either. The major benefit for me, though, is the incentive to keep my house clean. Left to my own devices, I will quickly allow my living space to degenerate to the level between "pigsty" and "toxic waste dump." It's not that I don't like a clean house - I love it! I just hate to actually clean. But when there's someone around to judge help, it gets much easier.

Finally, I got a new computer! My faithful Gateway, Millicent, finally kicked the bucket. I blame myself, and the universal AC adapter I bought her (when the original started to spark and smoke). More about Millicent's demise and my new MacBook, Babs, in my next post.

Nov 6, 2008

Bush's Legacy

"You have to give him credit. For eight years, he kept us safe. We have not been attacked since 9/11. And that troop surge of his was so effective that just five years later, we're almost done in Iraq."

It was all I could do not to jump across the table and choke a bitch. Which probably would not have gone over well at the business dinner with my bosses I had last night. I consoled myself with the thought that this was all just sour grapes from Bush Doc, bemoaning Obama's (HISTORIC) victory on Tuesday. But I couldn't help thinking of that Simpson's episode where a bear gets into town and Major Quimby creates a Bear Patrol...

Homer: Well, there's not a bear in sight. The Bear Patrol is sure doing its job.
Lisa: That's specious reasoning, Dad.
Homer: Thank you, sweetie.
Lisa: Dad, what if I were to tell you that this rock keeps away tigers.
Homer: Uh-huh, and how does it work?
Lisa: It doesn't work. It's just a stupid rock.
Homer: I see.
Lisa: But you don't see any tigers around, do you?
Homer: ... Lisa, I want to buy your rock.

And maybe everything Bush has done has kept us safe. Maybe we need to be in the dark about those measures, because if he publicizes his plans the terrorists will strike again. Maybe I don't have the whole picture.

But Bush took away our rights with his Patriot Act. He started a war against a concept with no clear exit strategy, in a country that didn't attack us. He dehumanized "the enemy," leading to increased discrimination and violence against Arab Americans. Beyond that, he tried to amend the constitution to limit rights of same-sex couples to marry. He used his very first veto to hamstring stem cell research in this country.

Let me tell you what I do give Bush credit for - last Tuesday, we had the highest voter turnout in a century. And if each president is a response to the one before, electing Obama sends a clear message. We see what you did there. And we don't like it.

Nov 4, 2008

My bunny rabbit, Gilda, has been acting up lately. Seriously. When I try to pick her up, she's grunts and lays her ears flat (the universal sign for "go away!"). When I was cleaning her litter pan, she tried to knock the scoop out of my hand. I had to cut her nails the other day, and she scratched me! Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night, certain that she's watching me sleep. And then I hear chewing.

I'm not telling you this so you'll feel pity. Far from it. I'm telling you all this so you'll feel fear.

Today is election day. If I find out that you didn't get off your lazy ass to vote, I'm going to bring my bunny to your house. I'm going to toss her inside with you and shut the door. And no matter how you scream, I will not open the door until you promise to be a better citizen. The choice is yours.

Nov 2, 2008

Hollywood, baby!

I'm back from my conference, and I had a wonderful time. I spent my days shopping on Rodeo drive, eating at fine restaurants, and hobnobbing with fabulous people. Well, window shopping. And I ate a couple of meals at Baja Fresh. But my companions, grad school classmates and friends from undergrad, were truly fabulous. Of course, none of this could prevent me from embarrassing myself.

My freshman roommate Erin just moved out to California, and made the trip to LA to visit with me. We were trying to catch an elevator to go down two flights (yes, we are lazy), but accidentally got on an elevator going all the way to the Penthouse.

Me: *peeking out* Hmmm, the Penthouse doesn't look any different from the other floors.
Erin (as the doors are closing): Just around the corner, there are men in underwear who will feed you fruit.
Me: *scrabbling at the closed doors*

It was then that the elevator stopped at the next floor and a handful of women tried to get on. God, I hope they were not genetic counselors. If they are, I will forever be known to them as that crazy woman on the elevator, poised to attack.

I also got to see my graduate school classmates, including a quite pregnant Alli. The baby's name is Abigail, but I like to call her Peanut Hamster (she used to be the size of a peanut, and she moves around, per her mom, like a little hamster in a wheel). Our conversation turned to how strange it was that Alli was growing a human being inside of her. Which led to hilarious impressions of the developing fetus in utero. I hope Peanut Hamster wasn't offended.

Amidst all this, I did find time to actually do conference-y things. I even attended a meeting of the Public Policy Committee. I showed up right on time with my lunch, only to find an empty meeting room. Figuring that other people would start filtering in eventually, I made myself comfortable and dug into my turkey sandwich. Two bites in I was joined by Diane Baker, author of A Guide to Genetic Counseling, the first textbook of genetic counseling and chair of the committee. Then came Barbara Harrison, the other committee chair. Then one of the judges for the poster presentations. Then the past president of the National Society of Genetic Counselors. Then the current president. Then the incoming president. Then the incoming president elect. All of them had the appropriate labels hanging from their name badges. What did my name badge say? I had gotten a fake label from the exhibitor suite that read, Kid At Heart. And I probably had mayo on my face the entire time. *head desk*

The best part of the entire conference was that I got to commiserate. I love my family and my non-genetic counselor friends, but when I complain about work to the I feel like I'm speaking a different language. It's such a relief to be amongst people who get it, you know? Many many thanks to Kara, Laura, Emily, Erin G. and Erin E. for listening to my tales of woe. Your support and faith in me gives me strength to keep going.

Nov 1, 2008

October at TV Sluts

Taking Sanctuary - 10/3/08
I guess I'm just a Knight Rider purist... - 10/6/08
R.I.P. The Riches - 10/8/08
No Bones About It - 10/11/08
Chick Lit for the Small Screen (The Starter Wife)- 10/17/08
DAG, yo (Chocolate News) - 10/19/08
Move over Tila Tequila... (Paris Hilton's My New BFF) 10/24/08

Oct 22, 2008

I must away!

This Friday I will be flying out to Los Angeles for a conference. I am super excited - I'll get to visit with my grad school classmates, say hello to my friend Alli's pregnant belly, and hang with my freshman roommate. Plus, work pays for everything and I don't have to use up my precious, precious leave. Wistar has kindly agreed to bunny-sit Gilda, my flight was booked ages ago and my hotel accommodations are finally settled. But I can't shake the feeling that I'm forgetting something...

Oh, right. I haven't packed.

Packing/unpacking are not my strong suits. When my parents came to pick me up after graduation (from both college and grad school), they found that I had packed a box and half before giving up. I still had unwashed laundry and hadn't even unplugged my computer. I moved into my current residence over two years ago and I still have unpacked boxes. After the first few months I figured that if I hadn't used what was in there by now I'd never really need it. Also, I'm extremely lazy.

My family has sent me a couple none-too-subtle hints to get my packing act together. I received a lovely suitcase set from my mother on my last birthday. My father enjoys giving me ugly purses with thousands of pockets. For the winter holidays, my brother made me a toiletry kit that could be taken in a carry-on (clear plastic, with less than 4 oz bottles for shampoo and whatnot). I appreciate their efforts ... but the suitcases are full of clothes from their last trip, the purses get tossed to the back of the closet, and the carefully-assembled toiletry kit has been scattered to the wind.

When I am fabulously rich and an international jet-setter, I will need fully-furnished houses on every continent. That way I can toss some cookies in my purse and fly out at a moment's notice. I'd never own a suitcase again.

Oct 15, 2008

Even More Lessons from the Family Sri

Lesson Six: Generosity

Mom: How many bags of spicy popcorn can I give you? Five?
Me: Sure.
Mom: If you say five, I will give you six.
Me: Uh, okay. "Five."
Mom: Okay.

When I got home, I had eight bags of popcorn.

This is part of Indian hospitality, to give more than is asked. The Tamil word for "enough," pothum, actually means, "I have to tell you to stop serving me now, so you'll only give me a little bit more." And if your hostess thinks you're not eating enough, be prepared for a sneak attack.

But I wonder if there isn't a deeper meaning for my mother. In our house, food has become the physical representation for her love. She demonstrates real anxiety when we're not stuffed after a hot, homemade meal. She bemoans my cooking skills (read: lack thereof) - if I can't make dinner, how can I show my (hypothetical) husband and children that I care?

When my mother was growing up and her family didn't have enough food for all ten children, the older siblings would give back their portions. "I'm not hungry," they would shout over the growling of their empty stomachs. "Give my portion to someone else." I cannot imagine the sadness and pride my grandmother must have felt, redistributing those meager meals. And all the while the girl who would become my mother was thinking,

Never again
.

Oct 7, 2008

An Open Letter to the Republican Ticket

Dear Senator McCain and Governor Palin,

I see what you're doing. You trying to introduce the words "Obama" and "terrorist" into the same news cycle. You're hoping Fox News will start showing pictures of al-Qaeda and "accidentally" saying that Senator Obama is Muslim. You're trying to label him as "angry" and "dangerous." And you're counting on the fact that, in the privacy of our own voting booths, we Americans are quietly racist.

We're better than that. Stop it.

No Love,
Sri

--

Last night my friend Melissa and I went to see David Sedaris in Richmond. Ever the contemporary commentator, he peppered his usual slice-of-hilarious-life stories with bits of political humor. Beyond speculating whether each of the candidates was circumcised (I made sure to thank him for those disturbing images), he reported what fans had discussed with him at numerous book-signings. "America will never elect a black president," one midwesterner told him. "Maybe," he replied. "But half of America will elect a half-black president." Thunderous applause.

Is it weird that I want to be a tiny gay man when I grow up?

The thing is, I don't see Senator Obama as black. I see him as a level-headed, comparatively young Senator with a gift for oratory, who happens to be black (or half-black, as the case may be). Just as I see McCain as a hot-tempered, comparatively old Senator who doesn't share my values, and who happens to be white. I won't say that race isn't an issue for me in this election. It just comes at the bottom of my list, after the wars, health care, global warming, the economy, choice of running mate, fashion sense, favorite color, and soup vs salad preference. And I don't think I'm alone.

--

P.S. It's not OK to try to capitalize on prejudice, even - no, especially to win an election. Shame on you.

Oct 6, 2008

I heart my doctor

I was feeling a little under the weather the other day, so I went to my internist. He's a young guy who peppers his exam questions with chit chat (obviously meant to build a rapport, but to hilarious effect). "Any coughing? Are you coughing up anything? Are you still working in that ultrasound clinic? How do you like it? Any nausea?" Also, he handed me a prescription with someone else's name at the top.

Me: Who's Jane Doe?
Him: Oops, that's someone I was writing a prescription of {medication} for, and then didn't.
Me: Um... HIPPA violation, much?
Him: Oh. *nervous chuckle*

These gaffes might turn other people off, but I just find them endearing. I know how hard it is to talk to patients, so I can really relate to my doctor when he mucks it up. Plus, it's easier for me to like a doctor who's not also my boss.

--

In unrelated news, REGISTER TO VOTE! Today's the last day!

Oct 2, 2008

No, you may not call me "Joe."

Palin held her own tonight. Biden was better, but Palin did not live up to her train wreck of a reputation. After the VP debates tonight, I'm sure the questions about her credibility will subside ... somewhat. She's still not ready to hold national office.

My major problem is that she talks like a girl from my high school. Not any specific person, she just sounds like someone sitting in College Prep Government, talking to us "straight up" and telling us that John McCain is "right on!" When using present participles, she drops the 'g.' She throws around terms like Second Holocaust with no sense of gravitas, and she actually thinks that the war in Iraq is about Defending Democracy. She doesn't stumble over the names of foreign (and domestic) leaders - she tramples them. When she doesn't like or understand a question, she retreats to her happy place - Alaska. And the more flustered she becomes, the more folksy her speech patterns - "Doggone it, say it ain't so! *wink*"


It's not fair. She's a political light-weight, a decorative bit of fluff on John McCain's sleeve. But she gets to meet Gwen Ifill and Joe Biden, Henry Kissinger and Manmohan Singh. She may come closer to leading this country than I ever will. Just like all those other girls from high school, she'll get ahead by being pretty.

Bridesmaid Bootcamp

By popular demand, my latest Toastmasters speech. This was speech #4, "How to Say It."

--

Your best friend comes to you with stars in her eyes and a spring in her step. She flashes you a bright smile and a brand new diamond ring. “I’m getting married,” she squeals. “And I want you to be my maid of honor!” Don’t answer just yet! Take a moment to think. Being a bridesmaid is more than buying a dress and standing up during the “I Dos.” Your friend (or sister, or cousin, or college roommate) is charging you with a sacred duty. If you accept, it will be your job to make sure her Special Day stays “special.” Are you up for the challenge?

First, you’ll need a uniform. If you’re lucky, you’ll end up with a reasonably attractive dress. “You can totally wear this again,” your friend the bride will say. You will never wear this dress again. If you’re unlucky, or your so-called friend is particularly cruel, you’ll end up with an organza monstrosity that makes you look like you’re colorblind and on the way to the prom … in 1984. Regardless, you will also need a regulation haircut, make-up and accessories. And while it may seem like wearing flip flops beneath your floor-length gown could not possibly ruin your friend’s marriage, trust me on this one. It can, and it does.

Now, you’re all outfitted and the wedding is still months away. It’s time to kick back, relax, and wait for the nuptials, right? Wrong! It’s time to plan your friend’s bridal shower. The bridal shower is an exciting opportunity for female friends and family to shower the bride with even more gifts. You, as the bridesmaid, will be in charge of keeping track of who sent which gift so that the bride can (eventually) write thank-you notes. You will also be forced to play inane party games, like Tissue Bride – an excuse for the bride’s younger sisters to wrap you in toilet paper. This humiliation is nothing compared to the dangers you face if the bride should also demand a bachelorette party. You will drink. You will dance. You will make sure the bride doesn’t do anything that will lead to an annulment.

Let’s assume you survive the shower and the bachelorette party, and make it to the Big Day. It's time to rally the troops. You'll have ushers and groomsmen, who often have been given no further direction than "show up." You'll also have junior bridesmaids, flower girls and ring bearers; a passel of children who may or may not decide to behave. It's important to realize that everyone in the wedding party - including the groom - is merely window dressing for the bride. Once everyone accepts their role as scenery, things will go a lot smoother. The bride and her groom will come together before family and friends and declare their undying love for one another. The music swells, the couple kisses, everyone cries. The end? Not hardly.

The reception. In many ways this is the most arduous task of the bridesmaid. It is a new tradition for bridesmaids to "get the dance floor going." You will be expected to step into a big open space in front of a group of strangers and begin dancing like a fool. Typically the bride will have selected songs out of nostalgia, music that was popular when she was growing up. This will cause you to flashback to every awkward middle school social you ever attended. You will begin to sweat appropriately. The point is not, as you might think, to look good. Good dancing intimidates people. The point is to look like you're having fun - even if inside, a part of you is dying. This will encourage other wedding guests to brave the floor with you. Only when you are surrounding by a dozen aunts and uncles doing a colorful rendition of the Macarena will you be allowed to duck away for a piece of cake.

Halfway through the reception, you will be tempted to call it a night. You've done your part, and your friends seems happy. But there is one odious tradition left ... the bouquet toss. You'll have to herd all the single women onto the dance floor, and suffer in silence as overeager cousins jostle you for position. You may end up catching the darn thing, at which point you hope against hope that your friend the bride has not scheduled a garter toss. If she has, you may have to endure being pawed at by a drunk uncle who caught the garter, as he slips the used lingerie onto your leg. But all of these trials - the dress, the shower, the wedding and reception - pale in comparison to what you'll face if you try to leave with the bouquet in hand. Inevitably, you will be stopped by an older relative, who will pinch your cheek and say,

"You'll be next!"

Oct 1, 2008

September at TV Sluts

This past month I've intentionally posted nothing but politics. But let me remind you I also write for a TV blog, which has so far remained free of campaign coverage. This may change after the Vice Presidential debate, which has the potential to be hi-larious. Anyway, here are my most recent entries:
Asian Persuasion (Samurai Girl, 9/22/08)
The real villain is Sendhil's hairstylist (Heroes, 9/23/08)
Appointment TV - can I get a rain check? (9/25/08)
The Mentalist - it's like deja vu all over again (9/26/08)
Number one in the 'hood, G. (Aqua Teen Hunger Force, 9/29/08)
Pushing Daisies: Back for Seconds (9/30/08)

Sep 29, 2008

Electoral Vote Tracker

Either this is really cool, or I'm really nerdy. Probably both.

http://www.electoral-vote.com

This site features an interactive map of electoral votes by state. Hovering over any given state gives you the percentages for each candidate, as well as the results from the last four presidential elections. There are several other features, including my favorite: "This Day in 2004." I could watch Virginia going from dark red (Strong GOP) to outlined in blue (Barely Dem) all day long. You can see a map of the Senate races and get details on top-priority House races. There's even some information regarding issues we've been paying attention to - like the bailout bill - and issues we haven't - like the fact that there are three liberal(ish) Supreme Court Justices who may want to retire soon.

Justice John Paul Stevens was appointed in 1975
by President Gerald Ford.
Homie can also rock a bow-tie.

Sep 23, 2008

The World Is My Canvass

The Obama campaign HQ here in C'ville is located in the remains of a department store on the Downtown Mall, now barely furnished with card tables and folding chairs. There is not air conditioning to speak of, but it seemed like I was the only one who noticed. Two or three dogs were lounging about the place, completely at home in the hustle and bustle of thirty-odd volunteers trying to change the world. I noticed the abundance of female workers and wondered what that says about the power of charisma in American politics. I'm not what you'd call a Barak Obama supporter ... I'm more of the Any Dem Will Do school of thought. I dared not mention this to those bright-eyed women, with their "Obama Mama" t-shirts and their special language of Barak-isms. But I envy their conviction.

When I gave my address to the woman training me, she looked thrilled. No one else wanted to canvass my neighborhood because, in the sense that there is a remote-controlled structure that lowers across one entrance into the complex, we are technically a gated community. The packet of addresses I was given has this helpful handwritten note: "You're not supposed to be there, but stay until you're asked to leave." I imagined trying to explain to an irate home owner's association that yes, I live here and no, I'm not just a tenant and please, don't hurt me.

My neighbors turned out to be pretty nice overall. Some take one look at my Obama/Biden button and turned me away immediately. Several twenty-somethings came to the door in their pyjamas at 5:30pm - it's gratifying to know I'm not the only person who changes as soon as she gets home. I had a nice conversation with a very cute law student, who broke my heart a little by informing me that he is a "lifelong Republican." The Best Canvassing Moment, however, goes to a woman in one of the basement apartments on my street...

Me: *ringing doorbell*
Boy: *opens door* AUGH!
Mother: AUGH!
Me: AUGH! Wait, why are we screaming?
Mother: Well, my daughter saw a snake earlier!
Me: And you thought it came back? And rang the bell?

Unfortunately, Obama HQ forgot to give me brochures to leave behind when no one was home. I suppose I'll have to go and do those houses again...? Honestly, I would have benefited from a little more structure in this whole process. Still, I had fun. For anyone considering canvassing, I say do it.

Sep 11, 2008

VOTE: Stories, Links, Offers and a Threat

The founding fathers of our nation believed that human beings have certain inalienable rights, including (but not limited to) life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. However, they did not consider suffrage to be one of those rights. First non-whites could not vote, then women. Today, my mother - who has lived in this country for the majority of her life and has thoughtful and heartfelt opinions about how it should be run - does not have the right to vote. She is not a citizen (yet - her paperwork is currently floating around the ephemera at USCIS). And that's as it should be. No offense, mom, but we can't just let anybody (like non-citizens and children) vote.

My point is, voting is not a right. It is the privilege and duty of every citizen. The summer after I turned eighteen, my father took me to the county seat to get registered to vote. He was cheerful, filled as he was with a sense of civic virtue. I, on the other hand, had been woken up early and driven forty-five minutes in order to wait another hour and a half in an uncomfortable plastic chair. I was sulky and sarcastic, and I completely missed the point. I still regret not thanking my father that day for the gift he gave me - the right to decide my country's (and by extent, my own) future.

Now hear this, Virginia residents - if you have time to read this blog, you have time to register and to vote. It's easy. Here are the necessary links:

VA Board of Elections website - all you ever need to know about the voting process.
Registration form (PDF) - if you've never registered or have moved since the last election. The deadline for registration is October 6th.
Absentee Ballot application (PDF) - the deadline for the application is 5pm on October 28th, and the ballot must be received by the time polls close on Election Day (November 4th).

Furthermore, I will help you. Comment with your address and what you need, and I will mail you the appropriate forms (along with a stamped envelope, if necessary). I screen comments, so your personal information will not be available to all and sundry. And just in case making things simple isn't enough, how about this ... ETERNAL GLORY. Send me a picture of your voting process (submitting your registration, dropping your absentee ballot in the mail, or even your "I Voted" sticker on election day). I will post it on this blog and say something nice about you. And possibly send you cookies.

Finally, a word of advice. If you don't vote, you will forfeit your right to complain to me about the government for the next four to eight years. Unless you have a really good excuse, like you were kidnapped by crazed Canadians and smuggled across the border. But I'll want to see the beaver claw-marks.

Sep 9, 2008

Democratic Loyalty Quiz

Link.

My results:
Your score is 10 on a scale of 1 to 10. You are a pure, unabashed, die-hard Democratic loyalist. You are appalled by the way Republicans are turning America into a theocratic, corpo-fascist police state, and you'd gladly walk through a furnace in a gasoline suit to elect a Democratic president. In your view, there is no higher form of patriotism than defending America against the Republican Party and every intolerant, puritanical, imperialistic, greed-mongering, Constitution-shredding ideal for which it stands.

Sounds about right.

Aug 22, 2008

"She's like a little gremlin."

Mike: She doesn't seem to respond to pain.
Me (looking over) : Don't pinch her!
Mike (whispering): Maybe she's deaf and blind.
Me: If she was, you wouldn't have to whisper.
Mike: Maybe she's brain damaged.
Me: Why are you saying these horrible things?
Mike : I just don't understand her. TALK TO ME! DO SOMETHING! WRITE ME A RESEARCH PAPER!
Me: I'm going to have to take the bunny away, now.

Aug 19, 2008

Is anybody hiring?

Work, as usual, has been stressful. Some of the people I work with... anyway. I've been considering my career options lately, and trying to come up with other jobs I'm qualified to do.

With my parents both being college professors, naturally I first turned my sights on teaching. You don't need a Ph.D. to teach at a community college. I think I would make a good professor - harsh, but fair. The kids would take to calling me "Miss S," resulting in hours of hilarity each time a new student would be forced to ask, "Mrs. What?" Nyuk nyuk nyuk. On the other hand, how many community colleges offer courses in Genetics?

I could try to write the next great American novel. But I've come to the sad realization that while my writing is good it will probably never be "great." What happens to a dream deferred? *sniffle* Besides, that would require not having a job at all, in order to focus on my writing. I want to be a contributing member of society - I don't want to throw away the opportunity to make a small difference every day over the next twenty years on the slim chance that my book will get published and change the course of history. And I didn't spend two years busting my rump in grad school for nothing.

That's the problem with getting an education - the more specialized your degree, the less employable you actually become. If I just had a bachelor's, I would be free to take whatever job came my way, without feeling like I was wasting my time. So remember kids, don't stay in school.

Aug 12, 2008

Algorithmic information theory is random, and so am I

There will be no further mathematical content and/or humor in the post. See? Random.

During my morning commute, I decided to rehearse my speech for Toastmasters. Because, while talking to yourself at work on the street = weird, talking to yourself in the car or home = OK. I had almost reached the end of my speech when I pulled into the parking lot at work, so I stopped my car and finished up. When I got out, I realized that the vehicle next to mine was occupied, and the driver was pointedly Not Looking at me.

"My god, I must look like a crazy person," I said, out loud, to no one in particular.

In other random news - based on the pictures I recently posted, some of you may be worried about Gilda. Apparently, even though the box said it was the "perfect habitat for all kinds of rabbits," wire-bottomed cages don't properly support a rabbit's hocks. Please be assured that her cage now contains a box for her to sleep in, newspaper to provide a more solid bottom, some toys, and a litter pan in addition to her food and water. She's been very rambunctious lately, nibbling on everything and bounding about her cage. This either means she's more comfortable in her environment, or that she has been possessed by the devil. Further updates as events warrant!

I went to the local Goodwill to find a play pen for Gilda, and ended up checking out the CD rack.

Me: Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? Sweet! *opens case* Um, are these supposed to be empty?
Cashier: No. Someone's gone and stole it.
Me: I would be depressed, except your delightfully colloquial turn of phrase has put a smile on my face.
Cashier: Huh?

The random moral of the story: I need to download a Rockapella CD from iTunes.

Aug 6, 2008

Bunny Pics! And Video!

The beginning of Gilda's apple addiction.

video

Nom nom nom.

Gilda with her food dish.

video

Proof that she eats.

Gilda with her water bottle.

video

So darn cute!


Aug 5, 2008

July was a slow month for me at TV Sluts

Olympics (7/8/08)
The House, M.D. Formula (7/29/08)

I will do better this month, I promise!

Aug 1, 2008

Sri, you got some 'splainin' to do

It really wasn't my fault - I mean, sure, it was my idea. But Mike was the one who convinced me to move my lard ass and actually go to the Albemarle County Fair. If he had just let me chicken out as I had intended, this never would have happened.

So we get to the fair, and already we're pretty pleased with ourselves. We pig out of fair food - including my brilliant concept of combining ice cream and funnel cake - and happily manage to not yak all over each other on the rides. Though it was a close thing, especially on the Rok N Rol.

You spend two minutes shouting with delight
and ten minutes screaming in agony.


We skipped right past the arcade games and hit the exhibits - learned all about beekeeping, checked out the arts and crafts, marveled at the enormous pumpkins, that sort of thing. Then we saw it ... the petting zoo. There were ducklings and chicks, baby goats and calves. The little piggies were having a nap together in a big piggy pile. So you will understand that my resistance to cuteness had already been severely depleted by the time we made it over to the bunny cages.

There were bunnies of all sizes, including "giant bunnies" that were about 18 inches long and must've weighed ten pounds if they weighed an ounce. There were cute strawberry blonde bunnies and long-haired bunnies. Bunches and bunches of bunnies, all snuggled up against each other or nibbling adorably on their little pellets.

And they were all for sale.

Yes, I was weak! But when I saw that little black bunny, a Netherlands dwarf breed on sale for $13, how could I resist? When I went to pet her she shied away, playing coy. And in that moment I knew - I had to make her mine.

How much is that bunny in the ... oh, who cares, I'll take her!

Outside The Tent -
Me: Did I just ... buy a bunny?
Mike: You be hilarious.

And now comes the hard part - picking a name. Bridget, after my favorite playboy bunny? Kendra, after Mike's (oh hell no)? Then there are other famous rabbits from literature - Peter, Velveteen, Bunnicula. Maybe I should wait until I actually pick her up on Sunday (when her life as a showgirl comes to an official end) before deciding. Until then, suggestions are most welcome!

Jul 23, 2008

Genetics Alliance Conference

A few weekends ago, I was up at the Bethesda North (read: Rockville) Marriott and Conference Center, attending the annual Genetics Alliance conference. Here was my chance to hob-nob with some of the biggest names in genetics advocacy, including Francis Collins (*swoon*). Did I conduct myself dignity, as is befitting a young woman of my intelligence and training? Lord, no.

On the first night, there was a dinner to celebrate the passage of GINA (the Genetics Information Nondiscrimination Act), complete with appreciation awards to all the participating congresspeople. I walked in right before the staffer accepting the award on behalf of Senator Kennedy broke into tears. It was all very touching and heartfelt. Afterwards, we were forced to sing along as the band played "G.I.N.A.," sung to the tune of (you guessed it) Y.M.C.A. It was painfully awkward, so of course I was having a great time. And then Christie and I recruited a few members of the younger crowd to dance like maniacs to the cover band, which composed entirely of genetics professionals. It was like Nerd Heaven.

But I did more than shake my money maker - I shook my connections maker. Or... something. Which is the whole point of these conferences, anyway. Hey, peeps in DC - who wants to let me sleep on their couch if I get an unpaid internship with the Genetics Alliance next year? Don't all talk at once.

The most interesting part of the conference was that Dr. Bod(1), the clinical director of my graduate school program, was there to accept an award. For those of you not in the know, Dr. Bod is a five-foot tall, white-haired, clog-wearing dynamo of genetics. She's so smart that her brain waves beam out in all directions, interfering with the navigation systems of low-flying aircraft and causing grad students to wet themselves. In other words, intimidating as all get-out. She doesn't mean to be - she actually has a quite friendly demeanor, which I noticed for the first time at this conference. It was weird to see her and not have the instant fear response that colored the majority of our interactions when I was a student. We acted almost like ... colleagues, as unbelievable as that was to me. Even though I feel like I'm spinning my wheels in this job, seems like I've made some progress. Go me.

--

(1) Name changed to protect the not-so-innocent blogger.

Jul 11, 2008

DIY schadenfreude

I was stopped at a light by the skate park yesterday when this little boy in roller blades skated past. He was so tiny that his helmet, knee- and elbow-pads looked about a size too big for him - the "ankles" of his blades were almost to his knees. In a word, adorable. He was trying to get going by skating down a small ramp and rolling up a big ramp. The physicists in the audience can see what's coming. He basically got enough momentum to get half-way up the big ramp before he wiped out. Every. Single. Time. He did this at least three times before the light changed. All the while, he was watching the other skaters, cruising blithely by, with ill-disguised jealousy.

I could not stop laughing.

Happily, I am not alone in deriving pleasure from the misfortune of others. I went to a interesting seminar not too long ago about what makes things 'funny.' The lecturer claimed that the key to most humor is distance (as Mel Brooks said, "Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you walk into an open sewer and die.") He went on to say that we can be amused at our own 'tragedies' once time has given us the proper distance - the We'll Look Back On This And Laugh effect. And then he asked a good question ... why wait? Why wait for time and tide, when we can give ourselves mental distance now?

In other words, don't be the kid in the blades. Be the woman sitting in her car, laughing her fool head off. And when the light turns green and you can just drive away.

Jul 9, 2008

This doesn't violate HIPPA, does it?

Awesome Things Patients Have Said To Me (Volume One)

Me (to the patient's husband): Do you have any children with a previous partner?
Husband #1: Ha! Not that I know of.

Me: Is there any chance the two of you could be related by blood, as in cousins?
Patient #2: God, no. Though, we are from West Virginia...

Me: Any questions?
Husband #3: No, you explained that very well.
Patient #3: We are so proud of you!
Me: Um ... thanks?

Me (in my End of the Day monotone): So- those- are- your- screening- options- in- a- nutshell. Does- that- all- make- sense?
Patient and partner #4: *laugh in my face*
Me: Heh. Sorry.

Jun 26, 2008

Not that you noticed. Or cared.

FV went on vacation. Sri was left alone with the work of two counselors. Some of Sri and FV's coworkers ... well. It's enough to drive an oftentimes sane young woman to refer to herself in the third person.

But the ones who are really suffering are the children blogs. I have fallen into a funk and am unable to summon my usual comedic genius. For that, I am truly sorry. The few witticisms left at my disposal is being poured into emails and face-to-face communication. While this is not an efficient method for the dispersal of quips, I find that it is necessary to maintain my reputation as a well-respected socialite and philanthropist (please, someone, get the Bruce Wayne reference and realize that I'm comparing myself to Batman).

But you know what they say - misery loves company. And so I bring you...

Disturbing Things I Know

If you were born at the end of October, your parents were probably doing it on Valentine's. If you were due to be a Christmas baby, like me, you were conceived around April Fool's Day.

10% of paternity is "other than reported." Think of your nine closest friend - if they look like their dads, it might be you.

Not only do we share 99% of our genes with chimps - we also share the majority of our genes with bananas.

There really is such a thing as a mouse genetically engineered to grow a human ear on its back:

Behold!

What's that? You're going to be sick? Funny, I feel much better.

*whistles*

Jun 23, 2008

Inexplicable Bruising

Well, not completely inexplicable. But for the interests of time and hilarity, I will restrict my comments to the events in question. I was at Busch Gardens on Saturday when someone had the genius idea of going on the Log Flume ride. I didn't want to get soaked, so I scooted all the way up and tucked my legs into the front of the log. This seemed to work swimmingly until I made to exit the ride.

Me: *struggling* I can't get out. My legs are stuck.
Ride Operator: I dunno? Try pulling a little harder?
Me: *struggling harder* It's not working.
Rider Operator: Um... this has never happened before? Maybe I should get my manager?
Me: *struggling even harder, beginning to panic*
My "friends": HAHAHAHA! Look, logs are piling up behind her! HAHAHAHA!
Me: If I ever get out of this, I will kill you all in your sleep.
Ride Operator: I'm sorry? Do you mean me?
Me: Especially you.

Not to spoil the ending, but I did manage to get out with the majority of my kneecaps intact. Never again, Log Flume. Never again.

On Sunday I went tandem skydiving - I was petrified, until I discovered that my instructor was a graduate of William and Mary, my old alma mater.

Me: What was your major?
Instructor: History.
Me: Huh. I was hoping you'd to say Physics, with an emphasis in the Aerodynamics of Plump Indian Women.
Instructor: I usually skipped class, anyway, so I could go fishing on Lake Matoaka.
Me: I didn't realize that was allowed.
Instructor: It isn't. Ready to jump out of a plane?

Luckily, he was much more diligent in his studies of skydiving. He was conscientious about checking the equipment, especially the harness attaching me to him (and, by extension, the parachute). But when he pulled the rip cord, the jerk of the harness around my thighs hurt like a mother trucker. Of course, I was hardly complaining at the time. And once I had stopped my terrified screaming, it was quite exhilarating. He even let me pretend to steer the parachute, which was very kind of him. Once we were on the ground, he complimented me on my skydiving form.

Instructor: You should consider getting certified - you fell just like a bowling ball!
Me: Thanks, I think.

After all that, not a single coworker has asked me what I did this weekend. Which is a pity, because I was so looking forward to saying, "skydiving and roller coasters!" And then limping away on my poor, abused legs.

Jun 18, 2008

Jokemaster... the master of jokes

So I was walking down the street the other day, and who should I see but a real, live pirate! He had a peg leg, a hook hand, and an eye patch. He was even dressed in full swashbuckling regalia. So I went up to him and said,

"Sorry, you must get this all the time, but ... are you really a pirate?"

He replied, "Yarr, lass, that I be. That I be."

"Wow," I said. "Your life must have been rife with adventure! Do you mind if I ask, how did you loose your leg?"

"I was swimmin' off the coast o' Madagascarrr, and a great white shark leaped out o' the water and chomped me leg clean off!" He stomped his peg for emphasis.

"God, that's terrifying! Did something similar happen to your hand?"

"This?" He brandished his hook. "I was in a mighty sword fight with the Admiral o' the Royal Navy, and with a mighty blow he struck me hand from me wrist!"

"Incredible! One last question, if you don't mind. How did you lose your eye?"

"Yarr," he muttered. "Seagull pooped in me eye."

I frowned, perplexed. "That's pretty disgusting, but how do you lose an eye from bird poo?"

"It was me first day ... with the hook."

Jun 12, 2008

Is it Friday, yet?

I used to wonder what unemployed people did all day. No school, no work, with nothing but daytime TV to keep you company? The horror. It reminded me of summer vacation, how long and boring it was. You remember that nerdy little weirdo on your street who could not wait for September? Yeah, I was that kid.

Now, I think someone could do without a job easily. First of all, there's Facebook - cyberstalk all your old boyfriends/ girlfriends/ crushes, there goes your morning. Of course, not leaving the house would make coming up with amusing status updates difficult, so you'd have to find something to do after lunch. You could go for a walk, all the way to your nearest coffee shop. Think Jared and Subway, only with less weight loss and more caffeine. Taking a book or laptop along purely for camouflage, you can people-watch for a while. Depending on how bizarre your neighbors are, this could take up several hours. By then, some of your friends would be getting off of work - all you have to do is con one of them into buying you dinner. Once you're done listening sympathetically to their work-related stresses, it would be time to go home and watch Netflix movies. Fall asleep right there on the couch, and you're done - you've just had the perfect day.

And maybe it would get old - but then you can always take a Yoga class or try macramé (or, if you're a dude ... I dunno, fix a car). These activities have the benefit of being easy to set aside if something more important comes along - like a Buffy The Vampire Slayer marathon on TV. If you're feeling especially ambitious, you can start a blog and publish your feverish ramblings two to three times a week.

Of course, there's one teensy weensy flaw in this plan. No one is going to pay you to do any of it. Which is a pity, really, because I would kick ass at unemployment.

Jun 9, 2008

Go ahead and cry for me, Argentina

I must have had Fox & Friends for breakfast on Friday, because something I ate just did not agree with me. Ba dum chh!

Seriously, I was miserable. And because misery loves company coddling, my parents drove up to nurse me back to health. We spent the weekend fixing things (my dad), doing laundry (my mom), and sleeping (me). Good times had by all!

But I didn't force them to work all weekend - some of the time was spent on the couch, watching TV movies. We sat through My Big Fat Greek Wedding and The Princess Bride in rapid succession, to hilarious effect.


Gus Portokalos: I come to this country with just eight dollars!
Dad: I came to the country with only eight dollars! Though ... I did spend one dollar on the plane, to listen to music.
Me: Dad! That's 1/8 of my inheritance you threw away!

Wesley: *climbs Cliffs of Insanity*
Mom: Is that ... Zorba The Greek?
Me: Do you mean Zorro?
Mom: Yes!
Me: Um... Zorro is Mexican.


Laughter being the best medicine (take that penicillin!), I am sure I will be all better in no time.

--

Update: My expert in all things Mediterranean, FV, informs me that there really is a movie called Zorba the Greek. Who knew?

Jun 4, 2008

Words Have Power

My first speech at Toastmasters International ...

Good evening Madame Toastmaster, fellow toastmasters, and guests.

At a small departmental reception during my college graduation, I was happily introducing my mother to all of my favorite teachers. Over crackers and veggie dip my zoology professor, Dr. Heidemann, praised my scholastic dedication and complimented my mother on having such a studious young woman for a daughter. My mother replied:

“You know, we raised her just like a little boy.”

There I was, half-chewed baby carrot hanging out of my open mouth, mortified beyond belief. Dr. Heidemann stammered out a polite response and, with one last sympathetic look in my direction, excused himself back to the cheese cube tray. My mother simply smiled.

The thing is … I knew exactly what she meant. My mother was born in a small village in India. It was common for girls to marry young and never finish their formal education. My mother herself narrowly escaped betrothal to a man she didn’t love, only by excelling in her studies. Her education landed her a successful career and carried her across the ocean, to build a life in America entirely different from the one she was raised to expect. That her daughter was not only allowed to pursue the field of her choosing, but encouraged to do so, was remarkable to her. Of course, I wish she had found a better way of phrasing it.

These little misunderstandings are common in the Sri household, and are in no way unique to my mother. English is not my father’s first language – it’s his third. Whenever he goes to use a proper noun, I can almost see the Kannada and Tamil versions running through his head as he struggles to find the one that I will understand. He and my mother agreed not to teach these languages to my brother and me. I suspect it is because they wanted us to think in English, to succeed in the American school system before bilingualism was so highly regarded. English will forever be a foreign language to my parents – they never wanted that for their children.

But nothing could have prepared them for having a child who fell in love with the English language. Growing up, I would spend all day during my summer vacations in the library, soaking up the air conditioning and the written word. One year I developed spontaneous nosebleeds and my pediatrician blamed the constant exposure to cold, dry air. My mother was terribly concerned, but I could care less. Once I’d worked out a way to press a tissue to my nose, tilt my head back and read out of the corner of my eye, I was happy. My father developed a habit of searching me out a sunset, just to remind me to turn on a reading light. He warned me I would ruin my eyes and, sure enough, by sixteen I could hardly see without my glasses.

Even then, I was not content to merely absorb the English language – ever since I was a child, I have dreamed of being a poet or novelist. And my two biggest fans are my mother and my father. Often, one of them will read something I've written and shake their heads in wonder. “Where this is coming from?” They constantly underestimate their influence.

Words are what set my mother free from the constraints of traditional Indian society. Words are my father’s gift to me, that I may achieve even more than he did. Words are what I use to honor their dedication, their struggle. Words have power.

Thank you.

Jun 3, 2008

TV Blog Updates

MSCR: Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law (5/10/08)
Summer Lovin' - Law & Order: Criminal Intent (5/15/08)
Public Enemy No.1 - the many crimes of Flava Flav (5/29/08)

May 19, 2008

"I haven't gotten to wear a poncho since marching band!"

Having a GC student rotating with us means I have zero opportunity to "home from work." This means updating in the evenings, which takes precious time away from vegging on the couch. But I told myself very sternly that I either had to blog or do chores tonight. And so, while my dishes grow mold (and eventually, sentient life), I give you Highlights in the Life of Sri.

Friday before last Maggie and I met up in Richmond for Friday Cheers on Brown's Island featuring one of our favorite bands, Carbon Leaf. Maggie was disappointed that it didn't rain, because she had her inclement weather gear all ready. I was amused that she was such a dork. We made a weekend of it - caught a movie (Prince Caspian, Edmund = love), went to Chris' birthday party on Saturday. I didn't know many people at the party, but I used my mad social skillz to make friends and influence people. Hahahahahaha, yeah right. I spent the first half of the party on the balcony trying to feed my soy dogs to Glen and Pheobe, the actual-dog dogs. I spent the second half of the party watching Golden Girls in bed with Chris' boyfriend, Kent. Actually ... I had a wonderful time.

That Sunday, Chris, his friend Stephanie, and I did the Washington Post Hunt. Basically, it's a game that combines all the physical activity of a scavenger hunt with all the mental activity of solving a Rubik's cube. Some of you are thinking, "that sounds like fun!" More rational individuals are wondering, "why the hell did you get out of bed before noon on a Sunday for that?!?" First of all, the top three prizes were trips to Florida (oddly enough, several teams drove up from Florida to participate). Secondly, one of the organizers was my writing idol, columnist Dave Barry. I imagined myself strolling up to Dave, making chitchat about slice-of-life humor and how it can change the world. Our actual interaction boiled down to this:

Me, Chris and Stephanie: OMG, WE SOLVED IT!
Dave Barry: If you're coming to me, you actually haven't.
Me: {expletive}

I'll get you next time, Gadget Barry! Next time!

Next Time:
So... I joined Toastmasters International. Don't judge me.

May 14, 2008

More Lessons from the Family Sri

When dealing with household chores...

Lesson Four - Persistence Pays
Mom: Call Dad and tell him to bring green chili on his way home.
Me: You know, I asked you if you needed anything before I went out earlier. Specifically green chilies.
Mom: Really? You should have asked me again!

Lesson Five - Necessity is the Mother of Invention

Dad,
Thanks for taking out my recycling when you visited last weekend. But what did you do with the box marked 'shred'?
Sri

***

Dear Sri -
We put the papers in the garbage disposal at your place. It does an excellent job of compressing the stuff into unreadable pellet.
Love, Daddy

***

Dad,
?!?
Sri

May 12, 2008

This is not the counselor you're looking for

Yesterday I was having lunch with two of my graduate school classmates and the conversation turned, inevitably, to the crazy things our patients say and do. No to worry, HIPPA activists, names were changed to protect the insane innocent. One common theme was that patients can't seem to remember which counselor they met with during their appointment. This makes the receptionists' task of fielding follow-up calls to the appropriate person difficult. Confusion arises, work is duplicated, and counselors get frustrated. It feels like a slap in the face - the counselor thinks, I spent and hour answering her questions, and she doesn't even know my name?

One might expect this in my friend Laura's office, as she is one of two blonde counselors of average height with a name beginning with the letter 'L.' More surprising is that the same situation arises for petite (also blonde) Kara, who works with a tall brunette. In our graduate program Laura and Kara were often confused for each other and for Emily, our other blonde classmate. I was fortunate enough to be a unique snowflake of a girl - almost six foot tall, Indian, loud and clumsy. Once I started work, however, I was shocked to find many patients couldn't recall whether they saw me or my colleague FV, a short Mediterranean woman with an accent. The mind boggles.

In actuality, this is a desired outcome of our training. During our clinical rotations, one of the evaluation criteria was 'professional dress and appearance.' We were encouraged to look nice, but not to stand out in any way. It may be depressing to be so easily forgotten, but at the end of the day the patient should be paying attention to the message, rather than the messenger.

I'm sure it's this way in any profession (the Oldest Profession being a notable exception). I'm just being my usual contrary self - wanting to stand out when I should blend in and vice versa. You can go about your business. Move along ... move along.

May 8, 2008

Dr. Hadrosaur is nothing but a quack

Recently, a couple atheist friends and I have been kicking around the old Evolution vs. Creationism debate, just for shits and giggles. As a health care professional, my world is filled with scientists. It comes as a great shock to me when I am confronted by someone who doesn't subscribe to evolutionary theory.

Ultrasound Tech: You believe in evolution?
Me: Well, yeah.
UT: So you believe we came from monkeys?
Me: Actually, I think that we have a common ancestor with -
UT: If we came from monkeys, why are there still monkeys in the world? Wouldn't they have become something else by now?
Me: But they did become something else. They became monkeys.

And at that point we just stared at each other in confusion. In my mind, this is the main sticking point of this debate. The two sides just aren't speaking the same language.

Science is all about empiricism - Charles Darwin didn't study finches because he had this great idea called "evolution." He studied finches and got a great idea. It took him twenty years to prepare his theory for publication. This was not something he took lightly, nor did he set out to disprove the Christian faith. As a young man he was deeply religious and had considered taking orders in the Anglican church. However, he gradually came to believe that "the Old Testament, from its manifestly false history of the world, with the Tower of Babel, the rainbow at sign, etc., etc., and from its attributing to God the feelings of a revengeful tyrant, was no more to be trusted than the sacred books of the Hindoos*, or the beliefs of any barbarian."

Creationists, on the other hand, come at things from a different direction. They know how the Earth was created, and they go looking for evidence to prove it. Anything that doesn't fit their theory is disregarded as false. For the Bible (read: God) tells them so. If there was no other reason, that right there is an argument not to teach creationism in the science classroom. Teach it at church, at home or in Bible study. Teach it as part of World Literature, for all I care. I think 'Dr. Dino' Kent Hovind said it best: "You're welcome to believe that. But it's not science and I resent that being taught in science classes at taxpayer expense ... The fact that you believe it doesn't make it true." Ironically, he was arguing to take evolutionary theory out of the classrooms, as he is one of the most famous proponents of creationism.

Check out the video that sparked this blog entry. Warning: it's almost three hours long and you probably won't get too far past Hovind's first product-placement for his Creation Science Evangelism company. I wish I was kidding about that.

--

*
Ouch, Charlie. What did Hindus ever do to you? In his defense ... our creation myths include sleeping gods using cobras as beds, churning seas of milk, and metaphorical human sacrifice. If you're going to teach my kids Genesis 1-3, I get to teach your kids that god took the form of a boar to dig the Earth out of the bottom of the celestial ocean. How do you like them forbidden apples?

May 1, 2008

Apr 26, 2008

Should've said...

By even the most conservative calculations, it is estimated that 75% of the world's population are jerks. And if you are thinking, 'this cannot be true, for I am not a jerk,' let me assure you - it is and you are. Maybe not all the time, maybe not every day. But we all have a mean-spirited side that must, occasionally, be given voice.

Sometimes, your inner jerk is someone who stands up for you. Several months ago I was in the Barnes&Noble coffee shop with a big group of friends, laughing boisterously (as one does). Our good time was interrupted by an angry German woman, brandishing a rolled-up newspaper.
Angry German: Be quiet! You are disturbing everyone!
At the time, I was so shocked that I meekly sat down. Looking back, I wish I'd allowed my inner jerk out to play.
Inner Jerk: Listen, hag - if you and your frigid husband want to share an awkward silence over coffee and separate newspapers, do it somewhere else. This isn't a library, I don't have to keep my voice down. Also, that is the ugliest sweater I have ever seen.
Other times, the inner jerk is not so justified. But that is what makes it an inner jerk, and not an inner Good Samaritan. For example, take this encounter I had on a Richmond bus...
Sequined-Handbag Lady: (apropos nothing) – the thing is, right up there on Waterford, some guy in a beige truck – can you believe it?
Inner Jerk: That you’re talking to me? No.
SHL: Freakin’ beige trunk, this guy threw a beer bottle right at my head!
IJ: Someone you know?
SHL: No! He thought he had some balls, but I tell ya he didn’t have no balls.
IJ: At least you had time for a physical exam.
SHL: He wasn’t even cute!
IJ: After he hit you with litter, you wanted his number?
In reality, I just kind of sat there. Which is no fun at all. Hilarious retorts always come to me a good five hours after a conversation is finished, and I writhe in agony over what I should have said. That's the beauty of blogging - my Inner Jerk gets free reign.

Apr 24, 2008

This week, in Cookie News

Top Story:
On Monday evening, Wistar and I went out for pan-Asian cuisine at Saigon Cafe. The service was bad, but the food was good (and you can't beat the prices at Saigon - you just can't). At the end of our meal, we were provided with the obligatory fortune cookies.

Wistar: Mine says, "Hard work is necessary to attain your heart's desire" - in bed, ha ha ha! How about you?
Me: Um... "Everyone agrees that you are the best."
Both: *awkward silence*

Human Interest:
After a long day at work, there's nothing I enjoy more than relaxing at home. And by 'relaxing at home,' I mean 'spending a couple of hours baking.' I don't know why I'm so obsessed with my oven - it's not like I eat all the cookies myself, either. I take them in for those ungrateful wretches at work. Anyhoo, I tried out (and inevitably modified) a new recipe last night. Here's a link to the original recipe.

Monkey Sri's Bananas for Cookies

3 mashed bananas
1 stick of butter (room temperature)
1 cup brown sugar, packed
3 eggs
3 cups of oats
2 tbsp flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Chocolate chips and/or nuts
(optional, but c'mon - of course I'm going to add them)

1. Mix together the bananas, butter, and brown sugar. Unless you're like me and your brown sugar is all hard and un-mixable - then toss the whole mess in the blender and hit "grind."
2. The real recipe calls for four egg whites, but I almost never just add the whites. For one, it means you have to have scrambled egg yokes for dinner. For two, it's just a hassle. So just add the whole damn egg (x3) and blend again.
3. Dump the dry ingredients in a bowl - if you've used salted butter in your wet mix, you can cut down the salt to just a pinch. Pour the wet mix from the blender into the bowl and stir. Pour the milk into the blender and hit "frappe" to get the bits of wet mix that are stuck to the blades, then add to the bowl.
4. The real recipe calls for "vanilla or banana flavoring," which I did not have. So I just tossed in some vanilla extract - the cookies didn't explode, so I'm pretty sure this doesn't make a difference.
5. My walnuts were in large chunks, so I put them in a sandwich bag and bludgeoned them to death with a scented candle jar*. I added the crumbled nuts, as well as half a bag of chocolate chips, to the cookie dough. I usually prefer mini-chips, because you can achieve a more even distribution.

The resulting dough will seem very gooey, but don't worry. Drop it in large spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes (often I have to put my cookies back in for another few minutes in the oven, but this time 15 minutes was just right). The result will be soft, delicious cookies which are banana-licious without being overwhelming. Huzzah!

*The candle in question was a housewarming gift - thanks, Kara!

Personal Ads:
Single brown female looking to reconnect with a lost love - the tall, dark and handsome cookie sheet who's been out of my life for some months now. Where did you go? Please come back to me.

Apr 22, 2008

Happy Earth Day!

Last Sunday I attended the Green Apple Music Festival. While I love a free concert as much as the next girl, I'm not sure it was the best medium to increase awareness about global warming. For one, almost none of my friends in DC knew it was going on. The show was located on the National Mall. Earth Day needs to fire its agent. For two, bands like O.A.R. and Umphrey's McGee tend to attract a certain type of environmental activist ... *cough*college hippies*cough* ... who already know all about global warming. In fact, they knew about global warming before it was big, and they have the t-shirts to prove it. This is the kind of activist that may show up for a protest if it's scheduled for the afternoon, but will "totally space" on actually going to vote. They made for hilarious people-watching. Doug and I were having a great time, even when it started to drizzle.

Me: Would you like to share my umbrella?
Doug: No, thanks.
Me: Good, cause it's only big enough for one and I don't know what I would've done if you said 'yes.' Possibly I would've kicked you in the knee and run away.
Doug: Well ... good.

Soon, it started to rain in earnest. The sound of jackets being zipped almost drowned out Dean O'Dell's Ed Begley Jr.'s sales pitch for energy-efficient light bulbs. We watched a short documentary on deforestation and tried to ignore the looming cloud cover. Then, just as Chevy Chase took the stage, the sky opened up and a deluge of water was unleashed. It was like a monsoon, only less pleasant (monsoons being, in my admittedly limited experience, quite warm).

Girl on Cell Phone: Maria says she's not coming. Let's leave.
Guy with Her: No way. I drove two and a half hours to get here!
Me: Heh, me too. Wait a sec ... if a bunch of us all drove in from out of town, how exactly is this good for the environment?

Then the cops showed up to break up the party, citing a noise complaint or a high risk of lightning strikes or something. Blah blah blah. Regardless of its brevity, my awareness was raised by the festival. I've resolved to be a little eco-friendlier every month. Today, I took the bus to work! Of course, due to the limited bus service in my area, I walked for twenty minutes, waited for fifteen, rode the bus for about seven and walked for another three. My five-minute commute turned into three-quarters of an hour of travel time. *sigh* The things I do for Mother Nature.

Apr 17, 2008

Poor form, WNRN. Poor form.

My favorite station in C'ville (and possibly of all time) is WNRN. It's a great source for music from artists so indie that no one has ever heard of them. It's alternative in every sense of the word, right down to commercials for natural food stores and Vespa dealerships. WNRN is what I wake up to, what I have on in my car, what I listen to at work on the sly. I donate in every fund drive and I wear station t-shirts with pride.

When I tuned in this morning for the news headlines I was looking forward to having my liberal guilt assuaged by the fifteen-second blurb of world events. I nodded along as the news reader started a story about the Olympic torch traveling through New Delhi, and the ensuing protests from the largest community of displaced Tibetans. And then, the reader mentioned that the torch route was traveling through 'formerly British colonial streets.'

Try this experiment: go up to your closest South Asian friend and imply that the most interesting thing about their country of origin is that it was once occupied by England. See how well that goes over. For those of you without a South Asian friend (or a modicum of common sense), let me tell you how that would go - not well.

Also, come on! It was a story about angry Tibetans, and they chose to highlight a history of imperialism? So ... I called the station to complain. Yes, it was an overreaction. But I'm kind of O.K. with that.

Me: I was just curious why you couldn't find any better description for New Delhi, a cultural hub and the capital of India, than a 'former British colony.'
News Guy: Well, we actually said 'colonial streets.'
Me: Riiight. Listen buddy, unless these streets were paved with Union Jacks, I'm not buying it.

In the end, we agreed that it would've been best to leave the Brits out of it altogether. Still, the whole situation leaves a bad taste in my mouth. This won't stop me from listening to WNRN ... but it definitely tempered my passion for the station. My love for Vespas, on the other hand, will never die.

Apr 16, 2008

Loganathan Uncle

G.V. Loganathan was an earnest man and, like many such men, easy to take for granted. There was no need to examine him or doubt his word. He was something you knew you could depend upon, like the cross-beam of your ceiling or the fourth table leg. His body was all angles - his square glasses, the precise partition in his hair, and his clean, straight jaw. When he laughed, he would place both hands on the back of his hips so that his elbows jutted out at ninety degrees. Load-bearing, you might say. Reliable.

Then he was gone, and the world fell down around our heads. A year later we're still picking up pieces, shifting through debris... trying not to crumble beneath the weight of our loss. The community we've rebuilt is stronger in some ways, but weaker in others. We've lost part of our framework, our very foundation.

We will never be the same.

Apr 14, 2008

Younge Guarde Weekende

As many of you know, I am actively stalking my alma mater, The College of William and Mary in Virginia. She and I have a special relationship. No one understands her like I do. *presses lock of hair to nose, inhales deeply* I will take any excuse to go back to campus - up to an including the glorified timeshare sales-pitch that was Young Guarde weekend.

I went into the weekend ready to be sold. There has been a lot of controversy surrounding The College recently - cross debates, sex worker fights, and questions about diversity programs - all culminating in the resignation of President Gene Nichol. Nichol was never president while I was a student, but I liked the cut of his jib - I wanted to be reassured that his progressive ideas hadn't been ousted with him. I was pleased that YGW started up with a Q&A with the interim president, W. Taylor Reveley, III .

Reveley: We want ... mo-ah mon-eh!
Me: More money? We're grad students and young professionals, dude. We haven't got any money!
Reveley: Other schools have lots of money! We want, we want some of that money. How about hedge funds? Hedge funds make lots of money.
Me: Er ... maybe you could outline how you plan to continue where President Nichol left off? You know, increasing diversity, tolerance and equality?
Reveley: Are you gonna give us mo-ah mon-eh, or what?


Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating just a bit.

Still, I can't imagine what Int. Pres. Reveley was hoping to achieve by informing us that W&M needs $2-5 million extra in the operating budget, and then waiting expectantly. Did he expect a few Young Guardes to pull out their wallets and mutter, 'well, I've got about half a million here...'? He even dropped the b-word (1) at one point, and half of us soiled ourselves.

But here's the thing ... the only way we can ensure that W&M stays on the right track is to give them the money. For all that W&M is a public school, it only gets about 20% of it's funding from the state - it really depends on donations from alumni. The older alums are so influential because they can threaten to pull their donations. It's the sad truth, children, that money makes the world go 'round.

What we need to do is to pool our efforts, donate in a block. If we have a lot of people giving a little bit we may have a shot of out-performing the older alumni. I have visions of the Young Guarde storming the Board of Visitors meeting to present them with a list of demands and a big, fat check.


Who's with me?


(1) B is for billion, and that's good enough for Reveley ... barely.