News and stuff.

-Are we sure that this is a good idea?

-We went young and Republican, and still Roberts gets bitten by the Chief Justice curse.

-I like me some lobster tail now and then, but I'll stick to steak on this one.

-Residency seems to be a problem on both sides of the bay.

-Nicole Richie is a fat cow who likes pickles in her ice cream.


Gray Dawn

This blog was originally premised on the idea that I, the blog's creator, behave and feel like the old ladies I will soon bemoan. But there remains one significant difference between us that justifies whatever hypocrisy may seem evident-- where we retire.

I do solemnly swear that I will never willingly live in the state of Arizona, Nevada, or Utah, or in the deserts of Southern California. I'm hot enough without adding menopause to desert heat.

Still, there are tendencies, behaviors- quirks, if you will, that have slowly worked their way into a part of my heart that is cold and patronizing and completely unsympathetic. Let's discuss a few:


Not only is it terrifying to walk anywhere in town, both because of the wide roads that make it apparently impossible drive properly and because of the old people driving on those roads (ten points for correctly identifying the South Park references), I can't even turn a corner in a building without seeing someone over 65.

The not-being-able-to-walk-anywhere point really grates me, because I don't have an air-conditioned Buick to drive, thank you, and I don't need any more grief walking my 1.5 miles to and from a job I don't especially love in a town I don't especially like at all. It's 105 degrees, I'm sweating like an obese man, and I've either just woken up or am ready to be home ten hours earlier. Today, I narrowly avoided being hit by two cars, in two blocks, in a town of 42,000 people, the non-residential area of which is only four blocks long.


For a 7:30 show, ushers arrive at about 6 to get suited up and meet with the House Manager. Problem is, patrons arrive about this time, too, because there's not a whole lot to do in this town between the earlybird special and the show.

We keep early patrons at bay by putting stanchions across the end of the hallway to the lobby with a "Please wait to be seated" sign. One problem with this is the tendency toward blindness many patrons have that makes it difficult to read that sign or see the blockade. The other problem is that most patrons who are coming this early have allowed plenty of time to get to their seats because they are frail and incapable of standing longer than two minutes.

I congratulate the people in this situation who have made a point to get out while they're still conscious, but please recognize that I can't just open the house because you need to sit. We have about six chairs in the lobby for just such purposes, but when 200 of you arrive at the same time, we cannot accommodate so easily. Old people in large numbers are, frankly, quite daunting. You expect to be individually welcomed and assisted to a handrail or a chair. You want to be coddled, but you outnumber us greatly. Wait in the car, come later, I don't care. Just don't barrel through the stanchions with your canes and walkers and enter en masse.

Along the same planning lines, please remember when you've purchased tickets. Our refund policy is explicitly non-existent, so if you forgot to come, it's not our fault or our responsibility to replace those tickets.


You have purchased tickets for about a third of what you might pay at a metropolitan area opera company. You are seeing a comparable quality performance with performers who often come from those metropolitan opera houses.

Three dollars is not an extravagant processing fee, particularly for a non-profit company with a box office that has no budget. For your complaining, it should be ten.

No, you don't get a discount just because you come here every year, or you've met one of the principal artists once. Unless you subscribe, which, if you've been coming for so many years and really care about that sort of thing, you should know is a great deal.

No, if you found this $5 coupon two days later, you don't get a refund.

No, if that voucher letter you won from a silent auction says your tickets are only good on certain dates, they're only good on certain dates. I don't care how much you paid for them.

No, I really do not care whether you don't think it's fair that the rear balcony is all you can afford but not very comfortable. It's $17 because it's uncomfortable, not because that's the value of the show. You're retired, anyway; do you really want to die with money in the bank?

And finally, if you die, your children cannot claim a refund for tickets for which you paid.


You still know you want to.

The Cuddly Grim Reaper

Has no one considered that it might be the cat's fault? After all, pregnant women aren't supposed to clean the litter box, right?


I wish I could use the Cartman method for Hippie repellant

A woman buying tickets almost two weeks ago reminded me of the self-righteous hippies who guilt me out of buying ketchup at Berkeley Bowl [Don't buy that! You're being heartless to the tomatoes, and what about the workers? They're treated so poorly because they're undocumented! There should be laws about that (what, undocumented status? That's already illegal), but this country just wants to exploit them for cheap labor (well, yes, but there's also this tiny fact of, uh, illegality, that makes it harder to get dental with their HMO)].

I have had this sneaking suspicion that California was not the only place I'd encounter a Self-Righteous Hippie, but after two solid months of Self-Righteous Mormon, I figured I was in the clear. Yet I should have remembered, as my father often unabashedly exclaims, that close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and government work.

Today, this woman, Utah's Self-Righteous Hippie, is dramatically upset over the phone because she forgot to attend the show that afternoon and can't exchange it for another date, since A) we don't do exchanges within 48 hours of the originally ticketed show and B) we don't issue refunds. These two facts are made abundantly clear in our brochure, on the credit card receipt, on the tickets, and in person, just in case you didn't get it the first three times.

She has chewed my assistant manager's ear off about having attended for so many years without this kind of treatment, and blah blah blah what kind of customer service is this, blah blah blah, and after I hear Stacy calmly repeat for the fifth and last time, "I'm sorry that you forgot to attend the opera, but our policies are explicit, there's no way for me to verify your attendance, and there's no way for me to make any exchanges once the performance has begun," she puts the woman on hold and walks off to shake off what happens when you remain patient with Self-Righteous Hippies for too long.

My other manager asks if she can call her back in a few minutes, after which we all vent about just how evil this woman is, not to mention that she lied to us about having attended for "so many years." All our records indicate she has attended one concert.

In any case, the manager calls her back--the opera in question would have just been getting out by this time, but the woman is at work (funny, then, that she would have forgotten to attend. Do you often get Wednesday afternoons off of work?). Manager explains there's nothing she can do now that the performance is over- no refunds, no exchanges. Self-Righteous Hippie announces that if the opera company won't refund her money, she will file a fraud claim with her credit card company for the tickets.

Turns out, we have her credit card slip, which Self-Righteous Hippie herself signed, which explicitly states "No Refunds/Exchanges." She will undoubtedly claim it was forged, but I imagine that if she tries to get our director involved, he won't be too keen to give $100 to the woman who accused a non-profit opera company of stealing her credit card.


Zuckerbergs and Narendas and Winklevosses, oh my!

If Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss and Divya Narenda have their way, Mark Zuckerberg's ever-so-popular boring lecture procrastination station will soon be shut down.

The Winklevosses plus Narenda were Zuckerberg's classmates back at Harvard, and though their previous case against Facebook in 2004 was dismissed on a technicality, they are suing Zuckerberg, claiming he stole their ideas for social networking site, ConnectU, and made Facebook instead.

That's right. Winklevoss wants Zuckerberg out of the picture. The Facebook picture, that is.

Funny names aside, I wonder what the implications are for us students of the digital age...mass mutiny? Better grades? More sleep? Less stalking? More phone calls?

Goodness. This could mean... physically talking to one another. Without a computer!?

I know this news comes as a shock, particularly after the Daily Clog comments on The Economist's article about Zuckerberg's classy and resounding success, but I'm confident everyone will keep themselves (and their Facebook profiles) updated.

The audience chimes in

The box office and I have been tallying the anonymous audience surveys that I wrote for my boss here at the opera company, and let me tell you, some of the "feel free to write comments" have been worth writing something as tacky as an audience survey (or tallying the results- very poorly, I might add).

From a 44 year-old Richmond, UT woman:

Do you anticipate returning next year?
No! We're moving out of Utah- yay!

Feel free to write any additional comments on the back of this sheet.
We're seeing Porgy & Bess tonight, which got rave reviews, but you've inserted this bizarre disclaimer in the program. Just what do you mean by saying 'people in that era could be truly ugly'? Isn't it also ugly to make yourself look superior? Or to censor the supertitles? Yuk- these productions are so juvenile sometimes. SO UTAH!

That was by far my favorite, though this 57 year-old man had this to say about next year's season:

Do you anticipate returning next year?
No. Michael [Ballam, the head hauncho] is not getting any younger. I am not coming again until he realizes this and no longer places himself in leading roles he is too old for.

Of course, that won't happen, as long as these 84 ish year-old ladies keep writing things like:

Please have more Michael Ballam concerts and put him in more operas, please.


Sometimes I want to stuff my money under my mattress

Because then evil banks wouldn't charge me fees for fishy behavior.

It's no news that banks are evil, but I've been under the impression that as long as you read everything you signed on to, you only incur fees if you're being a dumbass.

As it turns out, Bank of America changes its policies like, every six months. I have had an account with Bank of America for two years, about a month after I won a scholarship from them, and I'm not about to read ten pages of size eight font legalese every six months-- not until law school, at least.

So, in my "customer service" backs and forths, the ten lines that I am allowed to reply to their initial response has mostly been civil cursing of BofA's exploitative practices, to which they keep responding with at least thirty lines of "I'm sorry you're upset about your monthly maintenance fee" and then blah blah blah about all of BofA's services that I might be better off using (but, of course, Jamie doesn't know that Steven and Bob, who responded the first two times, were incorrect in thinking this was about a maintenance fee or about another type of account. If she had read the first email herself, she might have known that.).

This was my most recent, of which the last paragraph had to be omitted in final submission because the message was too long for their lame interface:
I was not inquiring about a monthly maintenance fee.

Your bank charges me for every transfer I make after three, despite the explicitly stated "you may make up to six preauthorized transfers" which misleadingly does not mean "free."

Wells Fargo goes to great lengths to warn you when you are about to complete a transaction that will incur a fee. Since the State of California legally allows banks to authorize six transfers, Wells Fargo charges a fee for the seventh, not the third.

Your interests seem to be only to take advantage of those who do not complain about your abysmal service, and to serve the customers who are willing to read your complicated policies, which I believe have changed at least four times in the two years I have been banking here. I shouldn't have to reread my account policies that often, unless I am signing up for new accounts that frequently.


Maybe she's trying to sue us

Not that she has a case or anything, but my landlord emailed me and my roommates that, considering our calls, voicemails, and emails that she "has news" for us and would like to meet with us today.

I don't plan to fly home for the occasion, but here are my predictions:

-She thinks we're harassing her. Which is of course false, because we can't very well be harassing her when we're calling again because she won't call us back.

-She would like to illustrate the legality of her choices, namely because the content of our phone messages and emails was eking out of her an exact explanation of her actions, hopefully to have some kind of paper trail, however digital, in the event that she does actually do something else illegal.

-She wants to defend her decision (not carried out, though, because we objected strongly) to throw away our food when she replaced our refrigerator. Which is illegal.

Whatever it is, she has no reason to be upset with us. I only emailed once because I'm not exactly within walking distance of The Beanery and I work 70-90 hours a week, which makes it virtually impossible to call. I'm not sure exactly what my roommates have been doing, but they've told me they're just calling to get an explanation, but she refuses to call back.

She is really grating my nerves. Will update when roommates report back.

New fridge! She "heard us" and wants to be on better terms. Maybe she should have tried this in, say, 2006, but better late than never.

Making Logan look cooler, one not-felt earthquake at a time

The local newspaper here in Logan, Utah, which I don't even believe has an online edition (and probably shouldn't), wrote an article Saturday about Berkeley's July 20th earthquake.

I'm not sure whether it was a slow day at the newsdesk (gee, only two well-known locals spotted at the bookstore buying new bibles?), or whether Logan just wants to redeem itself for being home to the invention of the seismograph without actually having earthquakes to measure.

In either case, the paper totally sensationalized (gasp!) the 4.2 jolt, noting that a Berkeley resident's cat "left town" after something fell on it, and Elmwood's Dream Stuff Donut shop's front window "shattered to pieces." Just like the shattered dreams of anything exciting ever happening in Utah.

Though I guess it was neat that the donut shop a block from my Berkeley apartment was mentioned in a podunk Utah newspaper. I've never set foot inside, and I thought it was closing (guess not?), but when I get back I'm bringing the newspaper clipping in to the owners. They oughta know what national coverage their establishment is getting, right?

Feeling old

Bay Area TV anchor Pete Wilson has died, and in a strange way, I feel like a subconscious subsection of my childhood has died, too. Not of a massive heart attack brought on by years of undetected, severely clogged arteries compromised during surgery, mind you, but still. He should have had surgery at my mom's hospital. Their mortality rate is probably much lower than Stanfurd's, especially since rich medical students aren't at the helm. Anyway.

For many years, I confused the TV anchor with California's former Governor Pete Wilson, an error I'm embarassed to say was only corrected during recent Wikipedia surfing. This misconception made me okay with the fact that The Terminator is California's current governor, because Bonzo Reagan happened, too, and hey- Pete Wilson retired from politics to television. Sort of.

Is this weird?

I guess it's no weirder than SF Gate headlining his obituary over Tammy Faye Messner's, who also died recently. As it happens, her death also makes me feel old. It is mostly because of her that I so rarely wear makeup. Also the effort. And money. And coordination.



I am so mad that they keep charging me fees for things I'm not doing.

"This fee was charged because of excessive transfers from your account."

Except that the rules define "excessive" as six or more transfers per statement period, and I have distinctly only done four. Unless they mean ever, or the time-space continuum is so off in Utah that one statement period is entirely different from California's statement periods.

This might explain why there isn't a Bank of America in Logan. I guess the City Council can make a good decision or two around here. Either that, or the people are too cheap for BofA's tastes.


Because trimming trees is very different from replacing them with large sports facilities

At least that's the case, according to the logic behind whoever cut the tops off of several Berkeley trees that effectively makes the tree sitters' home a little more comfortable. And by according, I mean, it-would-make-sense-in-a-funny-way-but-probably-isn't.

Even if The Cutter had nothing to do with the Berkeley Treewoks, it certainly is suspiciously convenient that the very same trees some random vandal lopped off were the very same that some self-righteous hippies were squatting in.

Then again, maybe it's a vast conspiracy inspired by University sports fans who are slowly chopping the trees down while the Treewoks are busy fertilizing the soil (er, using the restroom?). Which is illegal now, by the way, because that's not part of the Commons Initiative, now is it?

Those trees must be proud: chopped off while their protectors are out breaking the law.


Numbers, schmumbers

You may have read much, much earlier (February, March-ish?) about how the hospital my mom has worked in for over 30 years announced last January that it was closing. This fact was also the subject of a successful but tersely-worded essay to that hospital's scholarship program.

And the SF Chronicle, in all its undeserved glory, reported this weekend that many Bay Area hospitals and surgeons are, despite their fabulous reputations, getting failing grades in, uh, keeping patients alive after bypass surgery. The article does rightly point out that many of the "surprisingly deadly" hospitals in the government's report have patients who were much, much sicker than some of the other hospitals-- probably because of their fabulous reputations. If UCSF can't fix 'em, no one can, and no one else gets to try because they're already dead.

The 2003-2004 report on California hospital post-bypass surgery mortality rates is available on California's government website, and it reveals that my mom's hospital-- you know, the one that's closing-- has one of the lowest post-surgery mortality rates in California. They aren't doing as many surgeries per annum as some hospitals, but they had one person die that year (.41 percent observed, 1.72 expected), which is far below the state expected average of 3.08%.

This is much, much better than the hospital that Sutter said, "eh, pick up the load we leave behind" to. Memorial's observed mortality is 8.25% (expected 4.37). That's with fewer cardiac patients than Sutter and a larger facility with more doctors.

My mom chocks it up to a hot-shot, Doogie Howser-esque doctor that Sutter brought on to lead its cardiac surgical team. No doubt, though, that Mom's awesomeness didn't hurt.

So it sucks that Sutter still wants to close, both for my mom and for anyone in need of some cardiac surgery, but at least they gave me scholarship money?


Happy Bastille Day!

Or, more importantly:

Happy birthday, Becca!

(see, I'm getting better, even if I did forget Skyler on July 5, and Robert yesterday.)

Obviously I'm not as bored as Alameda County officials,

because they have time enough on their hands to lose election data!

This fascinating article reveals that a judge has issued a rather damning judgment in favor of a marijuana rights group whose request to review election results following November's Measure R failure was rejected because Alameda County "lost" the information.


See, potheads can get off their couches and win court cases, too! Sadly, that's more than I can say for Alameda County, who just kind of announced that Measure R failed by a hundred ish votes.

"Sorry to report, you lost."
"Okay, can I see the results, please?"
"Uh, we lost those."


The Parents are coming!

Normally, I would be sounding the alarms-- you know, those campuswide emergency tests every first Wednesday of the month that warn of the Russian invasion-- but I actually am looking forward to my parents' week-long visit to Utah (starting this evening). It's probably because I'm bored and exhausted from walking everywhere and look forward to having a personal chauffeur to drive me to work and buy me dinner and remind me that I come from a more civilized place.

Basically, they have a car and will buy me stuff.

I wouldn't wish it upon any metropolitan friend to brave Cache Valley, but my parents are old enough that they can surely find something to do. After all, this place is essentially a retiree vacation spot.


Signs I hate biographical genres

1. Severe procrastination writing one-page biographies for work.

2. Close-reading other biographies; finding it more interesting to deconstruct and proofread than to actually follow time line.

Ennui getting to me

I didn't used to hate bugs, and now they're in places I never expected to see them, and it kind of freaks me out. In the couch, on the wall next to my bed, in the windowsill... just, hanging out, like they were paying rent or something.

This anxiety could also have contributed to the dream I had last night in which I was so bored in Utah that I forgot to leave. I jogged from Logan to Salt Lake City airport, trekking all my bags, and paid an exorbitant amount of money for a flight to Amsterdam that I had forgotten to book earlier. I arrived in Amsterdam so late in the night that I fell asleep on my bags in the airport and woke up to find them all gone.

Please, please, don't let this happen to me.


God kills kittens to spare them from bored girls



Still annoyed at the landlord

It has become more evident that, now that the original lease has expired, the only law our landlord broke was violating our lease by not replacing our fridge as per our estoppel agreement (the thing she and we signed that said she's the new owner but our lease is the same and she has to do anything the old landlord left behind, like replacing our fridge).

The new offer/new lease is shakier because our documentation isn't that great, because our landlord evades the "can we get that in writing?" question, a lot.

So basically, except that one big contractual obligation, which she technically isn't obliged to fulfill anymore since she evaded her responsibility to it, she isn't breaking any fair housing laws anymore.

I've emailed the Rent Board anyway. Maybe there's a hidden Socialist State of Berkeley clause I don't know about, like Section 14, Subclause 2: Being Professional; or Section 12, Subclause 13: Taking Responsibility; or Section 8, Subclause 85: Doing the Right Thing in a Timely Manner, Like, Last Year.


Calling all Utahns!

Or just the ones who know a thing or two about police protocol. Maybe the Berkeley CopWatch could do an on-location in Logan, Utah?

The local cops were taking pictures just before they belligerently broke up a birthday party for our company manager Saturday night, and witnesses I've spoken to said the cops wouldn't even explain why, shouting "Do you really have to ask?" As for noise, it wasn't nearly as loud as some previous parties at The Pines, and those that were louder have been broken up much more civilly (or not at all) than this one.

Some suspect the cops weren't taking too kindly to the theme of the party-- drag kings and queens. After the party was broken up, four company members on their way to their off-premises apartments were followed and pulled over, though none were drunk and only one was dressed in drag, and told "we don't like your kind here."

At first, veteran company members thought the cops were taking pictures because the scene was absolutely hilarious-- according to them, sheriffs have been known to come by merely for the entertainment of watching entertainers have fun. After all, it's not like they have any fun of their own. But after this year's sheriff came, posed for pictures with well-dressed partygoers, and left, several city police officers parked on the side of the building, started taking pictures "for evidence," waited for the Drag King walk-off to be over and then one shut off the power as the other began screaming for the person in charge to come forward. Then screamer-cop ordered everyone to disperse, and warned that if there's a party next weekend, "everyone in the apartment complex will be arrested." I'd like to see the Mormon tenants explain that one to Mom, Dad, and their ward president.

I am not especially comfortable with the idea of a police department retaining photos of me people-watching, whether or not my name is attached. They were taken while officers had not announced themselves on private property (and I wouldn't have been visible from the street), and the officers had parked out of sight without their lights on. They were there for at least five minutes taking pictures before I noticed they were even on our property.

I know there are city noise ordinances about music playing after 10 pm, though the police aren't required to enforce those until someone complains. No noise complaint was mentioned. It was almost (but definitely not past) midnight on a Saturday night, in a suburban parking lot of an apartment complex that's located on a highway. It's a loud neighborhood, with or without our contribution.

I guess the parts of the police's behavior that bother me are this: unannounced arrival, taking pictures, excessive cussing and yelling, threatening arrest without explaining why, and expressing clear disdain for those dressed for the occasion.

Not to mention, someone tells me that there is actually a law against cross-dressing in either the City of Logan or State of Utah, which could be the reason for the cops breaking up the party. I am a little busy this week. Does this sound familiar to anyone?

Who loves me?

Google Analytics tells me that the Pleasanton, CA readership is stronger than that of Berkeley or San Francisco. Also, that despite I've emailed my mother the link to this blog, which was not the easiest thing to reveal to her, she has not visited it (nor has anyone in my hometown, for that matter. Hmph.), which means she missed my awesome and super-personal ode to her. Lame. Mom- if you're arriving late in the game and are looking for your ode, scroll down and find your picture.

Anyway, I've never spent more than ten minutes in Pleasanton, and to my knowledge I have no friends there. Fascinating.

Of course, Google might not actually mean Pleasanton, just like all of my Utah readership can't be from Salt Lake City. After all, I'm almost two hours north of there, and I read myself all the time. Not like there's anything else to do.

You know you want to


Why can't people keep promises?

At a meeting held in November of 2006, when a roommate had moved out and we were discussing logistics of securing and signing a replacement, my landlord and remaining roommates also mentioned maintenance requests that had fallen through the cracks.

You see, this was our new landlord, who purchased the building (mid-lease) the month before and who was obligated to take care of problems that our old landlord left behind and that we had written into our estoppel agreement to be repaired or replaced. Like our fridge, which is dilapidated and has been a health hazard since well before I ever moved a little over a year ago.

We informed her that, although it occasionally sustained a reasonable temperature, our fridge did not pass California health inspection standards for temperature or efficiency-- sometimes the milk freezes, other times it spoils. The insulation is cracked and mold hangs out on the ceiling; if we bleach it and clean the fridge out, the mold returns by the end of the week. I'm glad we don't eat like pigs, because if we had any more weight on the shelves, it would surely break the brittle plastic protruberances that hide the deteriorating insulation and collapse the whole damn thing in a cloud of 1980s dust.

She told us, at that meeting in November (at which she inspected the fridge for herself) that we would have a new refrigerator soon, but that since ours was clearly in the worst condition of the other units, she didn't want us "bragging to the other tenants about it." To retain diplomacy in this budding relationship, we foolishly agreed to tell no one. We also foolishly didn't think we needed to get this in writing, because up until this point she had been perfectly amicable and true to her word.

The meeting itself seemed strange, because we had been previously conversing via email, until she explained that we needed to meet in person "because nothing in email is legally viable." She didn't say much of substance, except the part about getting a new fridge, so I wasn't terribly concerned until toward the end of our June-June lease that it was March and nothing had happened-- no repair guy, no replacement, no nothing.

She really, really wanted us to renew our lease, because we're pretty darned awesome. We told her that we love the place, but that for now we'd keep looking for apartments that were more in our price range and had fewer bedrooms. A month passed and we were having no luck finding anything cheaper or better or available. Our landlord called again and offered to lower our rent if we renewed. We had asked for a much more significant reduction in rent than she offered, but her conditions and intentions seemed to be good. She offered two options: pay $3025 per month without a new fridge, or $3050 with a new fridge. Although she had promised us this fridge during the last lease, I was willing to let bygones be bygones since it was our mistake not to get the original agreement in writing. I had reminded my roommates that we should go with the lower rent option since the fridge is bound to break any day anyway, but they wanted the guaranteed new fridge on June 1 and were willing to pay more to get it.

June 1 came and went.

It is now 07/07/07, and our luck hasn't changed.

My roommates are emailing her on my behalf, reminding her of the very original estoppel agreement she signed that said she'd investigate and repair or replace the fridge in question, not to mention the agreement to pay a higher rent for a fridge that never came. Now, I hear she is planning to move a refrigerator from another unit into ours, which I think hardly counts as "new." I think this also means she wants to give that other unit a brand new refrigerator, which shows direct favoritism to them because they pay more for their apartment, despite that we have discussed this issue since well before these people even moved in. We are proposing that she buy a new fridge as originally agreed, or replace the fridge with the one from the other apartment but lower our rent to the non-new-fridge option retroactively and for the remainder of the lease.

Any smarty pants have advice?


Witness this

33 years. That's how long Sybil Lovelace has been knocking on doors to spread the word about Jehovah, because clearly if everyone knew, there would be no shootings or poverty.

She spends 70 hours a month braving drive-bys and serving in soup kitchens (such havens of vice!). 8 hours a day for 8 days out of every month. For 33 years. She's saved 5 lives from certain Jehovah-less death.

I admire her persistence, but even the Mormons think the Jehovah's Witnesses need to tone it down with the Armageddon talk.

Here's the article, if you're so inclined:


If you're in the Bay Area and want to go see my roommate's show, his band is headlining tonight at 9pm at Blake's on Telegraph (in Berkeley, like the name suggests, on Telegraph between Durant and Channing). Admission is $12 for minors, less for drinkers. Cry all you want, but the money doesn't go to them.

Kyle just joined as the bassist for the band Superthief, and seems super-excited for his debut performance. So. Go support him! I'd go if I could, but I'm in Utah.

Their website, if you're interested, is: http://www.superthiefrocks.com/

Apparently very attractive people are in the band. I have not inquired about their relationship status. Yet.


I save the best for last

[edited from an earlier publishing at the Alter Ego's blog, entitled "My mother's daughter"]

There are a lot of things I keep secret from my mom, and I still don't know why. But maybe talking through it can shed some light on things.

In many cases it was my early signs of my independence, a drive to take care of myself without letting her oversee everything. Mom never seemed especially comfortable talking with me about certain things, and I never became especially comfortable talking about those things with her or anyone else.

I started shaving my legs in the summer of seventh grade, after I borrowed Mom's razor in the shower and the same year I started my first job. I figured if I was responsible enough to be earning taxable income, I was responsible enough to use sharp objects unsupervised. I read in the books Mom casually left in my path that girls my age were supposed to ask their mother's permission to shave, or to wear a bra, or about boys or any number of pubescent and early adolescent things. But I had spent a good time of my life annoying my sisters while they grew up, and I guess I learned enough through osmosis that it became a lot easier for me to skip the whole Mom-talk thing and do it all myself. She was always (and still is) so busy, I just assumed it was just as well. We had an open line of passive communication-- girly books left conspicuously on my dresser, bras in shopping bags with clearance t-shirts-- the verbal part just seemed to interrupt our otherwise seamless understanding.

"Did you see what I left you?"
"Yeah, Mom. I think so. Thanks."
"Oh, well, I just thought it might help with, you know..."
"Right. Okay, well, thanks."

As I got older, it became more about my genuine concern for both her and our status quo. She worked all the time to put my sisters through college while I was barely in middle school-- it became clear to me that as the youngest by nine years, she felt more comfortable raising me without needing to spend as much time with me. And I'm fine with that. In fact, I loved it. We had a system going where I would say as little as possible, she would pry answers out of me with yes or no questions, and then we'd both give up and go back to work. Body language said all we needed; the yes' and nos just worked out the particulars.

Which is why it's hard to comprehend the turnaround now that I'm in college. We speak more regularly than I think we ever did while living together, I see her more often than most classmates see their parents, and the things I omit from our conversations aren't necessarily embarassing, but are often so irrelevant that I forget them, or I feel like I don't want to tell her yet.

Like my writing habits.

I've been blogging since January, and it's been a sisterly/Internet secret that I write more to the World Wide Web at large than I do emails to my mom. This is the woman who has saved in her house a good part of my entire academic history, from kindergarten finger paintings to college admission essays. I fear that if I tell her about things in my life, like this blog, or how many boyfriends I don't have, that they will become part of a permanent record in her mind, documented by miscellaneous letters and a comprehensive, printed anthology of every blog post or comment I have submitted here or elsewhere. And if I later become ashamed of or disappointed in that part, no amount of guilting or pretending it never existed will erase it from her memory.

Part of why I haven't told her is that I fear I would censor myself more; that I would write less or more conservatively out of fear of not being good enough in front of her, despite that I know she loves me. Maybe I should take advice from those whose lives are in the public domain. What do famous people talk to their mothers about? What does Lindsay Lohan's mom think of her party life? How does Marshall Mathers' mom introduce herself? Paris? Britney?

The inspiration for this confessional-- my passive way to calm what can only be a storm called Mom when I tell her about this blog-- was that scholarship contest I entered over at the Prog Blog (you know, the one I bugged you guys relentlessly to go read for the last couple weeks?). I feel like I might have a spitting chance, and if I win, Mom will eventually find out that I owe less in student debt. It would be awfully convenient to explain if I win. And if I don't, it's just another thing she didn't have to worry about and I don't have to worry about her remembering.

So, Mom, please understand how much we understand each other-- enough that, however deep down, you know that I'll get around to telling you the important things. I hope you aren't too mad that sometimes you're one of the last to know.

Love you!

You know you want to


My day

A dying breed

Part of what makes me feel like an old lady is the utter incompetence I feel when trying to do anything with the Internet.

On my list of super-cool things to teach myself (or others to volunteer to explain to me like they would a 4-year old) this summer:

-hyperlinking, so I don't have to copy and paste entire web addresses. I know I should know this, and that at one point I did, but promptly forgot while I was busy shooting ducks in Oregon Trail in 6th grade computer class.

-creating and installing my own masthead (because, let's face it, this one's kind of boring, and pink is so not my color).