Tuesday, January 31, 2006

stranger with the doorkey explaining that I'm just visiting

Today, a Larkin poem popped into my head. The poem, combined with dark-themed 80s music, carried me through high school in EBF. Though I used to know it by heart, now only the precious parts come back to me:
Lonely in Ireland, since it was not home,
Strangeness made sense. The salt rebuff of speech,
Insisting so on difference, made me feel welcome:
Once that was recognised, we were in touch.

And of course, the final line, that I used to hold most dearly: Here no elsewhere underwrites my existence.

Strangeness does make sense when you are a stranger in a strange land. And even though D.C. is not really that strange or foreign, it is, for the moment. Though the work drudgery has been mostly mind-numbing, there was one chunk of gold in a pan filled with silt, a quote tacked onto the end of a presentation (though, notably, woefully paraphrased):
"If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could then better judge what to do, and how to do it."

Compliments of your favorite depressive and mine, Abraham Lincoln. As soon as I heard it, I seized upon it, since it was a one-way ticket to daydreaming away from the meaningless prattle that became a distant hum.

Removing myself from the familiarity and habit of home makes for a good opportunity to really question where I know where I am, and where I am headed. Sometimes, I am not sure where I am, in a state of suspended animation or somehow invisible, even to myself. Last night, my boss cheerfully dragged me to dinner with three family members of hers. As I sat at the table at dinner, smiling politely and making small talk, I really wondered if I had started to disintegrate. Maybe I was a carefully constructed shell, and when the shell cracked, it betrayed an empty center. That seemed possible last night, when so much time had passed without having time to myself.

I gingerly declined invitations for dinner tonight, and walked to Cosi. I knew none of the other corporate drones would be there. When there is a per diem at your disposal, it is apparently a moral imperative to go to overpriced, swanktastic restaurants. The wind whipped through my jacket in the two block walk; it was my first taste of the true east coast winter in the past five days. As I sat down, watching a group of techies chatting while typing away on their computers, I felt slightly less hollow. I started to remember who I am. But I still haven't worked out where I am headed.

As we were walking out of Zaytinya on Sunday evening, I mentioned to Anna that I have been in a bit of a funk of late. Later, it occurred to me that I had told my cousin M the same thing. Upon that realization, I got a little disgusted with myself. Maybe I was hoping that Cher would appear out of nowhere, slap me and bark, "Snap out of it!" But it is a bit like having a bleeding finger while holding a cannister of band-aids. Sooner of later, it is time to grow up, or at the very least, realize you have one healthy hand that can tend to the other. I see now that I have a good bit of sucking it up ahead of me, that it will involve shaking off pangs of guilt and summiting mountains of inertia. But that is not to say that it cannot be done. For, as many a wise man are wont to say, "Don't tell me what I can't do!"

Quite by accident, as I was correcting the lecturer's Lincoln misquote, I came across another one by the former president:
Those who write clearly have readers, those who write obscurely have commentators.

And those who blog like me sometimes have very little of either!

Monday, January 30, 2006

reflecting light

Here are twenty minutes to write, and twenty years worth of thoughts running through my brain at the moment. The last time I visited the east coast, it was a disaster of drama queen proportions. Last time, I made a complete blunder of things, and then had the nerve to whine about it. I can think of no such reasons to complain this time around, and it gives me comfort to believe that in some small way, I had anything to do with that outcome.

Sunday afternoon, it was raining in Newark. It should rain in Newark. Grey seems its natural state. I sat in the monorail alone, the Anheiser-Busch factory and Route 1 visible in the distance. But I don't find these views as hopeless as I once did. They are echoes now. Because nothing stays static. Because familiarity dulls over time.

Two hours later, the plane was careening towards Dulles. Apparently, Maverick and Goose were in the cockpit, because we totally did a fly-by without permission. Actually, there was a wind advisory of some sort, so the plane lowered, neared the runway, and then dramatically shot up in the air, leaving all the passengers exchanging anxious glances. Maverick got on the intercom a few moments later and talked us down.

The taxi ride from Dulles to my hotel started with the all-too-common question. "You Indian?" The cabbie was from Lahore. Within five minutes, he had boldly gone where no uncle had gone in at least three years- demanded my name, asked if I was single, inquired about my likelihood to be involved in an arranged marriage, asked me what I was waiting for, and then sighed "your parents must be so sad." I never have the right comebacks at such moments. I should have told them my parents disowned me after I had the first illegitimate child when I was hooked on crack, but such shock tactics are not in my blood. It's like, regardless of the actual relationship, I must always mind the uncles.

A half-hour later, I walked into Zaytinya, where A N N A yelped out "Brimful!" You see, for Anna, there really is no difference between the matrix and reality. From there, the night was a lovely, saffron-colored blur. Bloggers, and floggers, and commenters, oh my! There were toasts, tears, and laughter induced by hand-gestures. There were chemical engineers, and you all should know Anna has a thing for engineers. There were family members who couldn't exactly explain how they were related, and others that were soon-to-be-related. Let me just say that I would have been severely intimidated by the blinding beauty of these magnificent women, were it not for how beautiful they were on the inside. Oh yes, I did just write that. Send lactose intolerance pills now, b*tches!

Besides, how sweet is it to go to a birthday party where everyone walks out with presents? I walked out of the restaurant with glitter all over my sweater, and a reflecting glimmer in my eye.

And I haven't even written anything about Brooklyn yet. It makes today and the next two days of lousy work-related drudgery worth every moment of doledrum.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

pack bags, call cabs, and hurry

Though work often feels like a series of Office Space vignettes, the advantage of working with people who adore science is that an occasional crack in the facade emerges. This can be evidenced by someone with four degrees quoting Dodgeball today, by muttering, "F***in' Chuck Norris" during a meeting, which is exactly what happened this morning.

Then, I received the best news I've heard in some time. Let it be known that I am not exactly enthralled by anklebiters, and I actually find it a little annoying when single women get the wandering eye and the cooing babble whenever a baby is nearby. However, I am still happy for W, because he and his wife are heading for Baby #2. I spent an entire hour teasing him about Baby #1 & Baby #2's birthdates timed potentially only a day apart. It ended like this:
    W: on the romantic side, they would both be conceived around our anniversary.
    me: awww... I'm sure they'll appreciate you telling them that as consolation when they have a combined birthday party for the fifth year in a row.
I am a jerk. But I am happy for him, because he is nearly disgusting in his utter devotion to Baby #1. So I know he will be equally enthused and enamoured of Baby #2. W is that rare friend who lives a completely different life than mine, yet does not impose his way as the way.

Thank the sweet heavens that oodles allowed me to watch Lost last night at her lovely mansion. Otherwise, my blood pressure might have necessitated a trip to the ER. Or I might have thought I was light-headed and hallucinating. Heroin Hobbit in diapers? Baby cradles in the water? WTF?!? The best part of the episode? Yoda soundly clocking Heroin Hobbit. More of that, please.

oodles further rocked for three fantastically different reasons. First, she gave me a ride home, which was really sweet of her, after putting up with me for a full two hours of television zombification. Second, she asked in e-mails (sorry, oodles, but this is too good to keep to myself), in full earnest, Is having a Civic a typical Indian car? This was followed by: Does it help if I state that I was debating between a Honda and Toyota for months? I wonder if she knows how much she unintentionally cracks me up. Oh, there was a third. Third, she asked me to sum up my life during a commercial break. From this exercise, I learned that I have a rather dull history, except for the part where I get a MS in Organic Chemistry. For some reason, this was the source of endless amusement.

I grow weary thinking of the next twelve hours. They will involve last-minute everything, followed by waking up at an inappropriately early hour to drag myself to the airport. But I'm headed to Boerum Hill, b*tches. I feel hipper just typing that.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

wants more dinero just to stay at home

Not only did I tag oodles, but I am also harassing her this evening. She somewhat foolishly agreed to allow me to come over to watch Lost tonight. There is no doubt that she will regret it. I'm really the worst person to watch television with- I constantly yell at the television set. Once, when watching a show with the bro-seph, he turned to me and gravely asserted, "You do realize this isn't real, right?" If she's really feeling generous, I may take further advantage of her by forcing her to watch Project Runway. Time will tell.

I have been in training all day. This means I am annoyed, because I had to listen to such things as "nothing succeeds better than success" (true quote). I also had to listen to an absolutely absurd comparison of my job to Frodo Baggins. I'm surprised I managed to complete the day without engaging in any ultraviolence.

Last night, SP called me randomly, and the following exchange ensued:
    SP: Dude, turn on KQED. Someone with cerebral palsy is climbing Kilimanjaro. We can totally do it.
    me: You can totally do it.
    SP: He has cerebral palsy.
    me: Yeah, but he still appears to have better lung capacity than me.
    SP: I'm telling you...
    me: Is he doing the 9-day trek?
    SP: No, he's doing some other crazy version.
    me: He's on a vision quest.
    SP: Yeah. (pause) But, come on, doesn't this inspire you to do it?
    me: Nine days without a shower, SP.
    SP: We made it through four days. Remember how good the shower felt afterwards? You have to suffer to appreciate the small things.
    me: You know what? This seems as much a pipe dream as pretty much anything else right now.

I have created a monster. It was my dumbkopf idea to hike Macchu Picchu. SP came with me, and now she's like Grizzly Adams.

Though I said there would be little talk about football for the remainder of the season, I would like to state that I am conflicted. I like the romantic notion of a team like the Seahawks finally making it to the big show. But I think I like Bill Cowher more. Grumpy coaches are the best.

Even though it will likely be freezing, I am strangely enthused about my trip to the east coast. Perhaps not so strangely. I do get to see Anna, and potentially meet some other cool folks. I also get to spend time in Brooklyn. When I used to go to NYC every weekend, I rarely went to Brooklyn. But when I did, it was magical, and struck me as the part of New York that was most comfortable to inhabit. Of course, all of that said, the fact that I haven't even thought about packing for the trip yet, and that my flight is at the crack of dawn on Friday morning is currently causing my stomach to churn a bit. But stress kept me from falling asleep during training today, so I suppose it does come in handy at times.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

positively 4th street

In this particular case, I am glad to be tagged by maisnon, since I really am too drained today to come up with anything interesting to write.

Four jobs I have had:
  • Ice-cream scooper at Haagen-Dazs. I credit this job with three important realizations: 1) going to college is a good idea, 2) coming home with stale ice cream on your clothes will cure you of enjoying ice cream ever again, and 3) industrial aluminum foil dispensers have heavy-duty cutting capabilities (stitches were involved).
  • Receptionist at an OB/GYN office. At the tender of age of just under 14. I didn't even realize how inappropriate that was at the time. I'm still trying to figure out how I got around child labor laws.
  • Accounts payable temp. I did this one summer during college, and made enough money to pay for books and living expenses for the entire following year. I spent that summer living with a family friend, an aunty who worked in the same department. It was like bootcamp. Every morning at 5 am, she woke me up. We worked until 7 pm, then went home and cooked dinner together. At 8:30 pm, the entire family had a mandated twenty-five minute walk. After a brief viewing of an aunty-approved television show, everyone was sent to bed. Lather, rinse, repeat.
  • Chemist. Sometimes I still miss it, mostly because it often felt so very academic. Then again, I didn't start baking until I quit chemistry, so I guess I still have a little piece of it with me.

Four movies I could watch over and over:

Four places I've lived:
  • Allston, MA- apartment robbed one week after move-in. Yay!
  • Edison (!), NJ- seriously, a mile from Oak Tree Road. I never had so many family visitors.
  • Nausea, NH- massive points if you can guess the name of the city based on that.
  • Irvine, CA- might have been the worst year of my life.

Four TV shows I love to watch:
  • The Sopranos- I subscribe to what the critics often say about this show: the worst Sopranos episode is better than nearly everything on television.
  • Project Runway- I've already shamefully admitted my addiction to this show.
  • The Daily Show- because in these times of Alito nominations and wire-tapping, comedy keeps me from falling into a pit of endless despair.
  • Lost- although I'm not sure I can say I love to watch it. Sometimes I hate that I have a need to watch it.

Four places I've been on vacation:
  • Singapore
  • Vietnam
  • Peru, b*tches!
  • Durango

Four of my favorite foods:
  • Chocolate (do you know how close I was to putting this down for every single bullet?)
  • Khakra... no seriously, khakra, I mean it. My grandmother makes the best, of course.
  • Burritos from El Toro. I felt like I was committing adultery when I went with SJM and co. to Tacqueria Cancun.
  • The good kind of pizza. I'm particular about pizza, and it's the one thing I miss most from the east coast. My favorite pizza is the kind that comes with a technique: fold in half, allow excess grease to ooze from the crust side, blot on paper napkin, enjoy.

Four places I'd rather be right now:
  • Spain, b*tches. It doesn't even require an explanation.
  • Hawaii. Like maisnon, I've never been. And I have been living on the west coast for over 3 years now. It's a little pathetic. I see a long weekend jaunt to one of the islands in my future, assuming I have some endless supply of time. And you know what assuming will do.
  • Argentina. I hear Patagonia is nice this time of year.
  • Germany. Not because I'd particularly like to be in Germany, but because my homey W lives there at present. And I miss him at least once a day.

Four sites I visit daily:
  • Sepia Mutiny- sometimes all it does is give me heartburn, but I still can't stop checking it out.
  • Gmail
  • NYT
  • SFist- Because it's not enough to live in this city. One must be kept apprised of all the happenings.

Four bloggers I am tagging:
  • Oodles
  • ads
  • Abhi (he won't comply, but this is a friendly kick in the pants for him to update his blog in 2006)
  • SJM (see above paranthetical remark, and the need to balance out XX with XY).

p.s. A lot is suddenly being made about Soderbergh releasing this film, Bubble, on DVD at the same time as its theatrical release. Based on the preview maisnon, ads, Roops, SJM and I saw before Brokeback Mountain, I have only this to say- isn't this what they used to call straight to video? Just a thought.

Monday, January 23, 2006

dust yourself off and try again

meet me on the corner and we'll start again

Sometimes, you need people to keep you honest. Oodles, it seems, has kept me honest on more than one occasion. I made mention of maple sugar and then never bothered to follow through with tales of inadequacy and blunders in the kitchen, until she caught me. She strikes me as immensely sweet and good-natured, but also able to give you that b*tch, please look when necessary. I got just that look on Saturday night. I mentioned to her, as I have a million times in comments, that I was going to make her cheesecake soon. She gave me the look. I had to hang my head in shame, because I had no defense. She was right. I have been billowing a lot of hot air with little to show for it.
[This, incidentally, reminds me of my uncle, M mama, who one of my cousins used to call ATNA- all talk, no action. See, everyone in my family is a little silly.]

I have mentioned that kitchen experiments have been disastrous of late. Dabbling here and there, I have met with defeat over and over. I thought I needed a cooling off period. Step away from the kitchen, come back refreshed. It is true that occasionally you need a little distance from a problem before you tackle it again. But other times, you need to up the stakes.

So, that is what drove me to get it together and spend a couple of hours hanging out with cream cheese, sugar, and handmixers yesterday afternoon. That and a completely unwarranted purchase of a mini cheesecake pan from The Crate & Barrel Outlet in Berkeley the weekend before. I really think I ought to have my credit card confiscated before being allowed to walk into Crate & Barrel or Sur La Table.

Normally, I would have spent a day like yesterday hiking. However, that was not meant to be, since I did not get home until three o'clock on Sunday morning. So it goes when you are partying it up with maisnon on her birthday. Levende Lounge wound up very crowded that night, but we stayed the course. The Bro-seph, PG, maisnon & I all applauded ads for making a Mahky Mahk request. SJM bonded with the bro-seph and PG about motorcycles, while oodles, ads, and I looked on befuddled. I think SJM was a bit disappointed that they were not more advanced riders.

I find clubs like Levende to be a little difficult to bear, especially with a large group of people. I'm short-attention span theater in places like that, and that gives me stress for some inexplicable reason. So, I wound up being a little lame, since I retreated to chatting PG up about his latest conquest. It was a good reminder that I am better off in small groups. But, I think maisnon had a good time, and in classic maisnon fashion, there was an impressive turnout for her first birthday as a California resident.

In other news, it wasn't until this morning that I realized that I have three cousins living in NYC right now, and not one. Even worse- I am only going to see two of them. The third does not know I am coming, and it is going to stay that way. So now you know that I am a jerk to my family as well as to everyone else. Fair and balanced, indeed.

Friday, January 20, 2006

if I had some remedy, I'd take enough to please me

Since I will otherwise spend this time complaining about the last-minute cancellation of my dental appointment (and who in the world wants to read about that?), let me turn my attention to a real problem that seems difficult to solve. For a long time now, malaria has continued to plague the developing world, and, unsurprisingly, not much funding has been provided to search for better therapies. Sadly, like most parasitic diseases, this impacts the young the most, and leads to well over a million deaths a year in children. Saheli e-mailed me some time back about artemesinin, a new antimalarial that was isolated from sweet wormwood.

The problem with malaria, and many infectious diseases, is always resistance. Anyone who has had strep throat gets the lecture from their physician about taking all of their penicillin, amoxicillin, or whatever is now used to treat strep. This is because it is critical to wipe out the entire bug without a trace from your system. Bacteria, viruses, parasites- all seem to have an incredible sense of self-preservation. Would that we all had their sense of resilience. Most of their power is derived from their ability to evolve at a fast rate, in a sense. As they are rapidly multiplying, they have an increased opportunity to mutate into resistant strains. So, indeed, they do. There are now strains of Staph bacteria that are resistant to vancomycin, which was developed specifically for treating antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

It's daunting, because it is inevitable. In a fight of humans vs. bugs, the bugs are designed to win without the intervention of outside forces. Artemesinin is one such outside force, but treatment quickly gets complicated. In order for artemesinin to be most effective, the WHO and the medical community agree that the drug should be part of a cocktail of antimalarial drugs. Using cocktails on HIV and malaria and other infectious diseases all stem from the same war strategy of all-out assault, leaving little to no chance for survivors seeking revenge.

But here's where the problems really start to emerge. The NYT reports that 18 pharmaceutical companies have been warned by the WHO malaria chief that they should stop selling artemesinin in its solo (or monotherapy) form. These companies sell the pill by itself instead of in a cocktail, and these pills then find their way to markets where people can purchase and take the medication if they are worried about malaria. This is a huge problem, because it is a quick route to developing a resistant strain to artemesinin. Don't take my word for it. Check out how strongly the chief, Dr. Kochi, frames the situation:
“We can’t afford to lose artemisinin,” he said. “If we do, it will be at least 10 years before a drug that good is discovered. Basically, we’re dead.”

But how do you control the companies? Some of the companies, like Sanofi-Aventis, have reacted positively to the warning, and have indicated that they will phase out the monotherapy version of artemesinin. On the other hand, some of the companies are not being as cooperative. For example, Indian pharmaceutical giant, Cipla basically scoffed at the warning. As you can hear in the NPR piece, Cipla does not consider this problem their problem.

And that is the trouble. The WHO chief issued some strong threats, but is fairly powerless at really controlling the companies in this situation. And who should be responsible for making sure that these drugs are administered correctly? The pharmaceutical companies place the accountability on physicians. That is a little weak, in my opinion, because some of these companies are getting drugs into places where prescriptions won't be necessary, making physician involvement in administration pretty non-existent. But, on the other hand, I think it's silly to rely on companies to simply do the right thing, especially at a time when what is right is always considered a matter of opinion. It seems something that governments have to band together to tackle. The chances of that actually happening are slim.

Count on me to really liven things up on a Friday. I will make it up to you if you are in the Bay Area- come to a party to celebrate maisnon's birthday tomorrow.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

still coming up with lint

So as not to make this whole post about a deteriorating show that I can't stop watching, I restrained myself from naming the title- Hit the road, JACK. But seriously, I wasted an hour of my admittedly idle existence, and I am blaming the headache I have had all day today on a hangover from the garbage I subjected myself to last night. I have very little else to say about it. No Eko. Very little Yoda. Barely there Sayid. WTF?!? Give the people what they want, yo!

In other news, the bro-seph defines making dinner as ordering takeout, apparently. I am less than impressed.

I am convinced that a hex has been placed on my kitchen. I am really annoyed with my experiments of late. I think this is the source of a lot of displeasure right now. In a way, I have been on a vacation for the past month. I have not been juggling nearly as many things as I will have to in a few short weeks, and so, it has felt like a temporary calm. I thought this would mean I could spend my time making progress in mixing bowls. Instead, I have only successfully roasted a pepper over a gas flame. Everything else has been a fiasco. I think it's the knowledge that the end of this holiday is near; it is haunting me and stalling me. This does not bode well for my trip to the east coast, which is, after all, the official end of my vacation from reality. I may have to hand out promissory notes, committing to send baked goods at a later date. Grrr.

I have never been excited about a visit to the dentist. Until now. Getting a crown is a two-step procedure. Tomorrow is the second step. This means that I will be able to eat like a normal human being again, and there will no longer be a hole in my tooth. At least until another one of my wimpy teeth decides to give way.

Does anyone know what the rule of thumb is for how much rent one should spend compared to their salary? I am starting to think I might be unnecessarily living in the yuppie equivalent of a crack house.

Seriously, I will find something substantial to blog about soon. Bear with me while my brain impersonates a vacant lot. In the meantime, go to Party Ben, and by all means listen to his mashup of White Stripes and Eric B & Rakim (with a tiny James Brown thrown in for good measure). It's two great tastes that taste great together, promise.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

you think you know me well but anyone can tell

When it is raining, really pelting on 280, my car inevitably feels as though it will be swept off the road, tumbling off the ever present cliffs. Last night was no exception. It was coming down something fierce. Having grown up in EBF, I am not that concerned by less-than-ideal driving conditions. Driving in rain is nothing compared to doing a 180 in a station wagon at the bottom of your hill when you are sixteen and just got your license in time for the first sleet and snowstorm of the year. What stresses me out in inclement weather here is the other drivers.

This tendency reminds me that I have a suspicious mind. The other drivers can't be trusted; it's safe to expect the worst. Last weekend, my friend SP called me inscrutable, and it really irked me. I have been wondering why it crept under my skin, giving me hives like a violent allergic reaction.

maisnon mentioned some time back on her blog that she can't be anyone other than exactly who she is at any given moment. I will be the first to admit that I can't make such a claim. I have the Prufrock-ian habit of preparing a face to meet the faces that you meet. Who I am at work is someone different from who I am when I am taking classes. Who I am with some friends is different from who I am with other friends. Who I am alone is different from who I am around other people. It isn't something I do on purpose, but there are times and places for certain parts of me over others.

Many years back, when I embarked on dance lessons in Manhattan, my friends from graduate school would make relentless quips on the subject. "You're not going to get tossed in the air or anything, are you?" It was not mean-spirited really. It just did not compute in their heads. They had known me as a foul-mouthed tomboy, and the idea of that person now swing-dancing was understandably jarring.

Any time I have made a major move in my life, it has really tested how well friends get me. The friends who always knew there were other parts of me waiting to appear were supportive, were unphased. The friends who only knew me as the fragment to which they had become accustommed wrote me off as illogical, or making some kind of radical shift. I oscillate in my reaction to that. A part of me understands that it is my quirk, this shape-shifting behavior, and so it should not surprise me when friends are befuddled. But another part of me feels that it is a tad lazy, to only look at a person from the surface. One of my closest friends, W, has never been vaguely troubled by anything he has learned about me. Okay, except for the time I told him I was thinking about getting an arranged marriage at 22- but he was right to give me a tongue-lashing about that, considering I was clearly having a minor psychotic break at the time.

So, when a close friend tells me now that I'm inscrutable, more than anything, I feel disappointed, but resigned. It is more telling than cause for tragic ramblings. Which means that, once again, I am posting about nothing.

In other news, fear for me- bro-seph is cooking dinner tonight.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

so many times, it happens too fast

Um... where did that long weekend go, exactly?

Anyone who pays attention to these ramblings at all knows that I was out of commission on Saturday night, due to the unfortunate table-turning episode, also known as what the heck happened to Tom Brady. I was laughing at everyone that was either on a high or a low due to the Rose Bowl earlier this month, but there I was on Saturday night, eating three or four big helpings of humble pie. Even though I am a fan, I am not a fanatic. I knew, logically, that the Patriots were not going to win the Superbowl this year. Their play has been spotty this year. Yet on Saturday, I still felt suckerpunched by how truly humiliating their performance was. I suppose I was just expecting them to choke at the AFC championships. Either way, it's all over now baby blue. Before anyone feels any sympathy for me, it should be noted that I was mostly over the whole thing on Sunday, once the Steelers silenced the Colts. I think I would be much more depressed right now if there was a chance I was going to have to see Peyton Manning's mug at the Superbowl. For being delighted about another team's demise, I think I negate any condolescences that might have been on their way. So it is with football and b*tchy bloggers.

Can someone explain to me why, even though the machines claim I have expended the same number of calories, I feel so much more like I have exercised when I am running on the treadmill versus flailing about on the elliptical machine? And by the way, I am starting to feel like the Bay Area may have turned me into the Imelda Marcos of athletic footwear. I just bought new running shoes that have reinstated my proper place on the treadmill. I also swooned over these shoes acquired on Monday:

These are replacement shoes. I had a similar pair that were nearing their end because I would not stop wearing them. They were first put to the test in Peru, and served me so well that I could not bring myself to stop putting them on whenever I left the house. When I got the new ones yesterday, I sat down, took stock, and hyperventilated a little. Technically, I only have a few pair of shoes, if you define shoes as things you wear to work or social functions. But then we get to the athletic footwear, and it goes from modest to stupid pretty quickly:
  • Tevas pictured above, which I use as my casual walking shoes, even though they are technically supposed to be water shoes. Whatevs!
  • Saucony running shoes, recently purchased, causing me to brave the torture device treadmill again.
  • Merrell low cut hiking boots, currently covered in mud from a post-rain mild hike.
  • Salomon hard core hiking boots, which, to date, represent the most I have ever paid for any pair of shoes. And, they were worth. every. last. penny. These suckers saved my ankles and quite possibly my life in Peru.
  • Specialized mountain biking shoes. I really have no idea why I still have these. I haven't been on a real mountain biking trail for over three years.
  • Acorn polar scuffs- technically, I suppose this is not truly athletic footwear, but oh, are they ever warm. And they have treated me well on camping trips.
The scary part is that I still want more tennis shoes. The even scarier part is that I am not nearly as athletic as the outlined inventory would suggest. I have become that which I despise! I used to make fun of posers who bought all this different gear for their different hobbies, hobbies they only dabbled in as mere passers-by rather than as full-fledged aficianados. Now I see that I am a hypocrite. And I still want more shoes.

In other news, I had a fight with maple syrup this weekend. It's still not clear who won. What was supposed to be icing turned out a little more like taffy. I absolutely adore things with a maple slant to it, but all things maple are nevertheless quickly becoming my arch nemesis. I refuse to admit defeat, but the odds do not seem in my favor. This makes me sad.

On the other hand, you know it's going to be a good day when you hear Eye of the Tiger on your way to work in the morning. And when someone cool is celebrating their birthday. Good on ya, maisnon!

Friday, January 13, 2006

one thing leads to another

W ripped me a new one the other day about Nature and its scientific merits. As a basic researcher, he's entitled to his peeves about this sort of thing. Back when I was hard-core, I would have never read Nature, just as, to this day, I think it's ridiculous to read Scientific American. But it's foolish to be too stringent about such things. For example, if I had not majored in chemistry, Scientific American might have been the appropriate reading for a casual enthusiast. Similarly, for some of us who are not in the lab running gels, Nature is just the ticket. Its focus is on the frontier, where basic science meets relevance. That is a very thought-provoking area, even though it is exactly that focus that causes some to dislike the magazine.

I suppose I am getting defensive about this because I just read the latest issue and found two articles fascinating. The first is part of continuing meditations about how life originated- more specifically, how DNA came into existence. There is, apparently, general acceptance amongst evolutionists that DNA is a descendant of RNA. This, in and of itself, is a big bit of information to digest for me, considering that, in current living systems, DNA is considered the central, essential component, whereas RNA is considered DNA's, well, b*tch, in many ways.

But, how did DNA evolve from RNA, and why? DNA is quite uptight; it pairs up just so and tends to be found as a double-helix. RNA is much more free form. It is normally a single strand and can assume many structures. If we accept that the world is always tending to entropy, then freedom would reign supreme, and RNA should be preferred. So, how did the shift occur? Well, a paper in Biochemie suggests that viruses may have played a critical role in evolution.

All viruses have their own genetic information, one of the reasons that viruses really challenge the notion of what is alive and what is not. But, while all living cells now employ DNA to store genetic information, viruses come in flavors- some RNA, some DNA. The research paper in Biochemie advances the idea that cells started out with only RNA and no DNA. Then, the evolution of viruses resulted in DNA viruses that infected RNA-cells. This DNA infection is what triggered the evolution of cells to permanently adopt and depend upon DNA.

The second article is connected in some ways. Just like a minor viral infection may have had a major impact on the evolution of cells, a controversial paper in Nature claims that the downstream effects of global warming can already be seen in alarming ways in nature. Take, for example, this poor guy:

This is a Panamanian golden frog, among many harlequin frogs which are dying out. The death and near extinction of these harlequin frogs are linked to a rise in the transmission of a pathogen which affects frogs. And this increased pathogen transmission is tied to changes to the climate. Climatologists are at odds about how definitive these data are, but it certainly seems like cause for concern to me. The idea that these small changes to the climate are not actually small in terms of the impact of the overall health of living beings makes you realize how precious and delicate the world is.

In other news, I learned how to use evite today. Yes, today, for the first time. And yes, I am pathetic.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

I will always be telling this story

So I am all calm-like now, after spending an evening watching mindless entertainment like Lost and Project Runway (shut up, haters, I can stop any time I want). I know some people have not enjoyed the addition of all these additional characters on Lost, but allow me to suggest that I would be perfectly fine with replacing Jack with Mister Eko permanently. Permanently, b*tches. He's 10 times more interesting, 100 times more cool, and 1000 times more intense. Also, am I supposed to care if that hobbit is or is not mainlining heroin? I do not even care about the monster or whatever it is, which, I guess, was supposed to be the whole draw of the show originally. Anyway, to sum up: more Mister Eko= good television.

In all my ranting and raving the past few days, I forgot to write about the one thing that really intrigued me this past weekend. Well, okay, there was also the stupefying stomping of the Jacksonville Jaguars in the span of about fifteen minutes on Saturday. I did a good job of annoying the hell out of some of the innocent bystanders, by randomly bursting out with “Yes!” and “No!”s that interrupted conversation in progress.

But, NFL euphoria aside, a few of us went to the De Young on Saturday. I am not sure the others were particularly impressed with the place. I can’t blame them either, since it is rather disjointed in terms of the way exhibits are set up. Also, some of the art is, well, let’s say, challenging. I have to admit now what I did not say out loud on Saturday: I actually lurve the museum. I would not recommend it to everyone, which is why I didn’t loudly advocate it afterwards.

I think the De Young holds a special place for me for a couple of reasons. It was torn down around the time one of my closest friends, W, moved out of the city. Q and I visited it a year later, walking around the perimeter, observing its torsional structure, then just in its skeletal stages. And last year, when I heard it was re-opening, my heart ached for a moment, because I knew there was a chance I might not be here to see it. Being still in San Francisco is a precious thing, though bittersweet, and the De Young in its new glory feels more mine than anything else in San Francisco, as a result, weirdly enough.

I was sold due to two things. The first was the architecture, which befits new construction, and is wonky in all sorts of delightful ways. At one point, I had split from my companions, and stood at the top of a stairwell looking out; a number of things started to present themselves. On one side, two windows were close together. On the other side, the windows were spaced well apart. One beam that served as an awning for the first floor tilted upward, while on the other side, a beam tilted downward. The main piece in the stairwell was a photograph of strontium molecules, with no focal point. It was not comfortable, but it was beautiful. I think this is a sign of old age, perhaps. When I was young, I would have found this simply ugly, and now I find all the things that create dissonance as somewhat endearing.

The second aspect was the inaugural exhibition, a collection of statues and artifacts associated with Hatshepshut. It should be noted that I could give a rat’s behind about archeology. Looking at different stone statues, or pots from 1456, or jewelry commonly worn by Egyptian royalty does little for me. What is cool is the story, and it always strikes me as strange when so many of the items on display are peripheral to the story of the exhibit. And the story of Hatshepshut is something I had never known of, and, as I said to ads & maisnon, is so very Bay Area, in so many ways.

In short, Hatshepsut started her royal days as a Queen to her half-brother, King Tuthmosis II. Say it with me now- ewww. Now, get over it, because apparently, that was how they rolled back in the 1400s. At about the age of 20, when the King died, she assumed power as a Pharaoh. At first, she might have just been ruling as Pharaoh until her nephew, the heir to the throne, came of age. But at some point, she decided she was doing a good job of it herself. So, when the nephew came of age, Hatshepsut shared the throne with him, but with the understanding that she was the senior regent.

It’s all so very gender politics. As pharaoh, there are some statues where Hatshepsut is portrayed in very feminine form, and others where she is wearing a fake beard, and traditionally male garb. And even though she had a peaceful and successful reign, when she died, her nephew eventually ordered the destruction of objects bearing her name. He tried to erase her from the public consciousness in a sense. Views of why this was are conflicting. Some feel this was done to legitimize his role as rightful pharaoh. Others feel this was a conscious attempt to erase the notion that a female could rise to power in this way, so that the precedent would not be set for future upstart women. When I told this theory to one of my friends, she said, "Hmmm... I can't imagine that happening" all sarcastic-like.

Finally, just to wrap up the longest post ever, can I just mention that I am such a lucky person at times? Every time I am at the end of my rope and writing like a self-involved windbag, and just feeling generally annoyed, the blogosphere comes to my rescue. This time it was in the form of a hilarious little package from j. Like her blog isn't enough to cheer up anyone in and of itself.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

your feet don't touch the ground

Lack of sleep + traveling for work + obnoxious moron co-workers= stressed b*tch. At least, that is the excuse I am going with for now. I really should not be allowed to blog. Still, let me just say that yesterday, someone actually said out loud, in all gravity, "movement is momentum, people."

Q and I were once working in the same position, but in different fields. One night he said to me, "Well, you know as well as I do that this type of job sucks the substance right out of you after a year or two." And now I have been doing this for over three years. If it weren't for writing, taking classes, and trying to hatch a master plan to kick this habit altogether, I would feel like an empty shell of a human being.

Many people would take a different point of view on this. Many are who they are, and their work is not a defining attribute. I understand that; I even envy it. And who knows- maybe one day, it will be me. But not today. I have also given up on beating myself up for not finding more contentment in work and life- a little restlessness provides good fuel, and fuel gets harder to come by as time passes.

In other news, GCW will never sit next to me on a plane. I plopped down next to him. He looked at me dolefully and said, quietly, "You know, I really do not like flying." Without even pausing to give it any thought, I proceeded to tell him that I have always calmed myself down by rationalizing that I have had a good run. Let's call it the oh well! approach to flying. Without stopping to gauge his horror at this admission, I next relayed my brother's rationalization: life isn't all that great anyways. This is why I never understand it when people think I am cynical. Check out the misanthropy on the hermano!

When I finally did stop to take a glance at GCW, he was mortified, knuckles white as they gripped the arm rest. I paused and said, "Probably not the best time to tell you all of this, is it?" He nodded, clearly disturbed. "You're never flying anywhere with me again, are you?" I asked.

GCW, solemnly, gave it a moment's thought, staring straight in front of himself. Then he turned to me and said, "No." I couldn't help but laugh, which only made the situation worse.

Monday, January 09, 2006

you feel good until you feel wrong

The worst part about business travel is the requisite business dinner that accompanies it. Really, they ought to outlaw this practice- dinner should be free time, to be spent either on your own, or with whomever you voluntarily choose. Instead, it feels like working a fourteen-hour day. Tonight was a good example. Gay Co-Worker motioned for me to move over a seat to listen to the conversation between two people sitting next to him. I shall refer to person 1 as A$$hat, and you will see why, just as you will quickly understand why person 2 is Unsuspecting co-worker. Also of importance- they work with us, but have never spoken socially until tonight. And this is the nonsense I hear as soon as I sidle up by GCW dude:
    A$$hat: How long have you been dating?
    Unsuspecting co-worker: About four months.
    A$$hat: And has he told you that he loves you?
    Unsuspecting co-worker: No.
    A$$hat: And have you told him that you love him?
    Unsuspecting co-worker (growing more uncomfortable by the minute): No.
    A$$hat (leaning back as if he is about to hit us with some deep philosophy): I think if you are over 30, you should know very quickly. I mean, come on. Like in two months at the most.
    Me: Anyways.

Why UCW did not swiftly kick him where it counts still eludes me. Needless to say, I am wearing the extra-large Grumpy McBitchyPants. Really, I feel like some people need to go to Remedial How to Behave Like a Normal Human Being class. Oh, how I look forward to another twelve hours with some of these dumbkopfs tomorrow.

But really, I think this is part of a cumulative effect of spending one night this past weekend with a bunch of drunken morons. Seeing the desperate and, well, frankly, somewhat disgusting behavior of people who really should know better, but have decided, "oh, well, I'm drinking, so I'm allowed to act like a reprehensible human being"-- yeah, it is more than enough to make you give up on humanity. I am feeling cynical. Let us hope another day in the sunshine will clear the clouds from my eyes.

Friday, January 06, 2006

all around the barnyard

Finally had a little instant messaging chat with one of my favorite people on the globe:
    the Dub: so when you say "you" you actually mean "me"?
    me: dude, have you learned nothing in all these years?
    me: everything always comes back to me
    me: I'm the most self-absorbed person I know!
    the Dub: ha, no you're not
    the Dub: you're just more honest
    the Dub: with me anyway
    me: that's generous, imo

Then I got harassed for twenty minutes about making plans to travel to Europe. Here is the thing- I really do want to go to Europe, preferably soon, but this is what the first half of my year suddenly turned into:
  • January 9th-10th: crappy hop travel for work. I would tell you where, but then I would have to kill you. Also, it might put you to sleep.
  • January 27th- 29th: making lemonade from lemons by turning an east coast business travel requirement into an excuse to go to NYC. Brooklyn, specifically. This is going to be a stealth operation, because, if any of my friends in the greater tri-state area find out, I will get barraged with "You have to come see the baby." And that never ends well for anyone. Instead, I am crashing at my favorite cousin's new digs in Brooklyn, and will try not to turn into an icicle.
  • January 29th- Feb 2nd: lemonades from lemons, part two: electric boogalo. I have to be in DC for work, but that obligation is not so bad when it means I will get to belatedly celebrate Anna's birthday in person. And hopefully, I will also get to meet Chai and force baked goods upon her, if procrastination does not get the best of me.
  • June 2nd- 6th: because my company is in the habit of torturing me, they choose to send me to DC when it's freezing, and to Atlanta when it's so hot and humid, you have to take a shower after going out to get your morning paper.

I realized all of this today, because I had finally had enough, and admitted to myself that I needed a datebook. Yes, I have become one of those people. But between classes, work, travel, and trying to pretend I have some semblance of a life, I claim self-defense. Right now, if I could have any wish in the world, I would probably wish to not have to (cringe) multi-task. Not only do I hate that word, but I also loathe the lack of focus in my life at the moment. On the other hand, I am well aware that I am the eternal malcontent. And thus, as soon as my wish was granted, I am sure I would yearn for the exact opposite. Doesn't stop me from complaining about things, so, either way, you lose. I apologize in advance.

I know I always write this, but believe me when I say that, in another hour, I shall be driving to the first liquor store in sight, and buying a large bottle of Grey Goose. The co-workers are throwing a little get-together, and I immediately volunteered for vodka duty. Yes, that encompasses both purchasing and consumption.

Ah, I'm off on a tear, which is typical on a Friday afternoon, but I promise that I will try to think a little more about science and other far more important things that deserve more words than this nonsense. In the meanwhile, go read Amardeep's excellent ruminations on science and poetry. It makes me want to delete my whole blog and start from scratch.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

by saying there is no use changing

My friend R pointed out to me today that only losers pay to see cover bands. Well, in that case, Welcome to Loserville, Population: me. As soon as I heard the words Zoo Station and Violator, my wallet flew open. As far as I am concerned, I would rather listen to 2 hours of potentially crappy covers than 2 hours of potentially crappy unknown music. At least you get the camp factor with the cover bands. Occasionally when you go to see an unknown band, the music is well above crappy, but there's always a greater risk. I know this is the safe and boring path, but, whatever- I just hope the lead singer of Zoo Station wears really oversized sunglasses and acts like a pompous a$$.

One thing I love about San Francisco is that, although there are definitely a disproportionate amount of hipster foolios, there is also a sense that you can be whoever you are here, without getting an abundance of eyes askance. It's part of my friend SP's Anything is hip if you are ironic about it credo. I do not really know what that means, but I take it to mean that you can go watch a U2 cover band, and not feel asking, "Have you heard about the lonesome loser?" Blame that on this dumbkopf radio station in the city that insists on splashing cold water in my face by playing something like The Killers, followed by the fricking Little River Band. I've almost driven myself off the road a few times.

Anyway. This week has turned into a series of "Can I get home before 8 pm?" contests. And let me tell you, I am not on the winning side. And I'm not supposed to be here today!. Okay, that is not true, but it is fun to say when you get barraged with sh*t that you do not want to do. All I know is, I have to go home and do completely fake and laughable yoga to work out all the kinks in my shoulders and neck from all this stress, and who wants to feel like that after working a soul-sucking grind?

Of course, after all that b*tching and moaning, guess who I am going to the stupid cover band show with? Yep. My co-workers. I am a moron.

In other news, I love the way sports announcers are the biggest fairweather bastards ever. Before the Rose Bowl last night, it was "Reggie Bush! Reggie Bush! Reggie Bush!" Of course, as the game played out, that turned into "Vince Young! Vince Young! Vince Young!" It is still better than the days of watching Dennis Miller cover football, though.

p.s. There is so little that is girly about me, and I truly command one of the worst senses of fashion ever, but I cannot stop watching Project Runway. WTF has gone wrong with my brain?!?

(Updated to add: SH*T, now I've been lured by the possibility of awards show snarkage. With my luck, I will probably have an exam the next day. Damn you, Jon Stewart!)

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

there's far too many of you dying

In actually quite serious news from the NYT, a study recently found significant differences in the way African-American lung cancer patients are treated in comparison to Caucasian lung cancer patients. If you have access to the Journal of Clinical Oncology, there are two excellent articles published that demonstrate the problem at hand. In some ways, many of the confounders that are often associated with these types of studies are eliminated. If you read the first sentence of this paragraph, you might shoot holes in the results with the following:
  • African-American patients may not have access to the same level of healthcare due to socioeconomic factors. True, but this study was comparing apples to apples: African-American patients with treatable lung cancer and equivalent access to healthcare.

  • Even if African-Americans have access to healthcare, due to cultural differences, they may be more reticent to undergo treatment. Again, the study cleanly sought patients that showed a willingness to be treated upon initial presentation with lung cancer.

  • Due to cultural differences, African-Americans may wait until their cancer is too advanced to be properly treated. Once more, might be true, but a companion piece in JCO by the same author shows work that was done, demonstrating that African-American patients responded just as well as Caucasian patients did to chemotherapy. Even in cases where the patients were from lower socioeconomic backgrounds than the Caucasian patients, they still had a similar survival rate. And in cancer, the survival rate is really the gold standard by which effectiveness is measured.

And here are the conclusions to the main study (emphasis mine):
    Black patients obtain surgery for lung cancer less often than whites, even after access to care has been demonstrated. They are more likely not to have surgery recommended, and more likely to refuse surgery. Additional research should focus on the physician-patient encounter as a potential source of racial disparities.

That is truly disturbing to me. If this holds water, physicians are subconsciously or consciously treating African-American patients differently. Even the observation that African-American patients are more likely to refuse surgery can, in my opinion, be partially tied back to the physician-patient relationship. If a physician is treating patients differently, it is no wonder that African-American patients might feel a sense of distrust, and choose not to undergo surgery. Furthermore, the physician may have offered surgery as an option, but less than whole-heartedly, biasing the patients' decision. Either way, it is ten kinds of all wrong, and I am surprised there is not a bigger uproar about it.

Here's something that there should be a bigger uproar about, as well, but in a much happier sense: it is the birthday of the most suitable blogger I know. It is both Anna's example and her encouragement that have fueled many, many a blogger, including this one. In a nice bit of serendipity, it appears that I will be spending the end of the month in her neck of the woods. So, if any of you are in the DC area, and feel like listening to me whine about how the west coast has turned me into a total pansy when it comes to tolerating the cold, drop a line. In the meanwhile, go over to Anna's place and drop her a birthday wish and a big hug.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

sweet illusion coming down

Spending the morning in the dentist's office might not be an ideal way to start the day. But, on the other hand, my dentist is downtown in the city. Since I do not work in the city, it is actually a rare gift for me to have an excuse to wander in the bustle of the crowd. It is not the Times Square-like crowd, the kind of crowd that makes you yearn for some special dispensation to part the sea of people so that you can pass through, unobstructed. Instead, there are just enough people walking about to indicate activity, energy. There is nothing like a crowd to center yourself and think in a completely solitary, self-absorbed manner. Maybe not everyone feels that way. Maybe some people like large, open spaces to be truly alone with their thoughts. I need an ambient buzz, a flurry of activity around me, to really sort myself out.

During the holidays, I managed to break two teeth. Believe me, I would love to tell you a story now about a bar brawl at the corner lesbian bar in my neighborhood. The hermano claims a certain lesbian bar beats up anyone who is straight if they dare enter the bar. I do not believe him. I think that's the excuse he uses to keep me from forcing him to go in there some time, because they play some of the best music in the neighborhood.

Anyway, as much as I would like to tell you that an angry lesbian beat me up for claiming to be punk and straight, I am afraid my sexual orientation has no relation to the teeth breaking. I can't even tell you that some evil a$$hat from work bought me toffee as a Christmas present, knowing full well I would break my teeth trying to eat it. A co-worker did bring me toffee, but I ate it without any damage to my molars. Instead, a week later, I was flossing my teeth, and out popped half of one tooth. Continued flossing caused another tooth to chip away. And no, I was not flossing with the material they use to make brillo pads.

Now, as much as I would like to correlate flossing with teeth breaking, that would be bad science. When I recounted the story to my dentist, mostly because I was amused that my teeth had broken while doing something all dentists tell you to do, she gave me this b*tch, please look, and then said, "At that point, you could have broken your teeth eating yogurt."

She is right, of course. The teeth just sort of crumbled because what was inside them had deteriorated to such a point that the teeth were little more than shells. I worry about things like that. Decay you can't see, genetic mutations that are just waiting to turn into cancer, viruses that lie dormant. Or all those experiences that should be dealt with, but instead are pushed away into long-term storage. Things you keep telling yourself you will deal with when you have time, but you never do. And then, one day, you do something ordinary and you might fall to pieces. What if I am tied together by flimsy string?

Monday, January 02, 2006

can I at least get a raise on the minimum wage?

I know I'm supposed to be all Happy New Years, b*tches!, but I made a grave mistake two days before New Year's eve. That blunder was going to see Good Night, and Good Luck. This movie ruined me for several reasons:
  • My brain was comfortably shut down for the holidays, and this film single-handedly jolted it back into action.
  • I do not want to like George Clooney. I managed to resist really liking him after Out of Sight and Ocean's Eleven, by watching Solaris, and always remembering that he was once a handyman on the The Facts of Life. Now, I actually feel badly for him that he somehow got roped into starring in Batman & Robin.
  • I do not want to like movies where the consumption of cancer sticks are celebrated. Almost every frame of the film had cigarette smoke in it. Worse yet, if Edward Murrow had not been such a damned chain-smoker, he might have lived an extra decade or so instead of developing lung cancer. And let me tell you, even an additional year of Murrow lost is something to be mourned.
  • I do not want to like movies that are period pieces. Really, I feel too much of the time, period pieces are nostalgia for things I am not nostalgic about. I'm not nostalgic for the days of slavery. I'm not nostalgic for the days before women could vote or own land. I don't enjoy celebrating a time when rich white people got to throw posh parties and flounce about in nice ballroom gowns. Granted, the 1950's are not quite that period, but it still always strikes me with a tinge of "ah, so this is an excuse for why they don't have any sort of diversity in their cast." But still, I can't rant about this in Good Night, and Good Luck. It almost seemed the point of the movie. Yes, this is about a time where average white people were afraid of being branded reds, but the parallel to current day is plainly obvious.
  • There is no Murrow of our generation. When we walked out of the theater, SP and I could only come up with Jon Stewart, and he is a comedian, and also not above reproach. I do not mean that Stewart has obvious flaws. But Murrow had cred. He had rose to fame during his coverage of WW II, and that gave him the ability to take on someone as powerful as McCarthy. Moreover, the way the media was previously positioned was so vastly different than it is today. Now, as soon as someone comes out and takes a stand, a rival network comes out and brands that as biased journalism. Murrow could get away with putting his foot down and saying "I can't accept the idea that every issue has two equally reasonable sides to it." No one seems to be able to proclaim that about even the simplest of things (that was my obligatory Intelligent Design pot-shot for the day).
  • In the movie theater, a pair of aged hippies were whooping it up during the previews, and whispering excitedly during the beginning of the film, no doubt taking a walk down activist memory lane or something. Hey, it is San Francisco, and I have to admit that I was actually rather amused by it. But then, a current activist, Berkeley-froed punk turned and told them to keep it down. Dude, there was an age gap of at least 30 years between them. He shushed his elders?!?

Because I was all riled up by the movie, I was pleased to reconnect with my NPR morning routine on work days. And yes, for some bizarre reason, I am working today. The company gave us the entire week between Christmas and New Year's off, but today, when everyone else and their brother has off, they felt we should be plugging away. Fine with me. There is actually such a low turn-out that one of my co-workers wants to do a poll tomorrow to see how many people knew they were supposed to be in today.

On NPR this morning were two pieces that warmed me right up on this cold, rainy San Francisco day. I woke up to Alan Lightman detailing what he believes, but a guest blogger on Saheli's site has done a much better job of capturing that than I could. The other piece was also written up in the NYT- D.C. as a state (not as the nation's governing centre) increased minimum wage. Since California is currently governed by someone once termed the Terminator, a proposed minimum wage hike in this state was vetoed. Still, seventeen states have increased the minimum wage from the paltry $5.15 an hour set by the federal government. The reason this news warms me up is that people are getting tired of all the bullsh*t at the federal level. I know some economist could read this and give me a laundry list of reasons why raising the minimum wage is bad. But the fact that states are passing this legislation means that constituents support it. Constituents are not being adequately represented in Congress, and they are choosing to take it to the streets, in a manner of speaking. And if you want to know why that warms my cold, dead, black heart, it's because that is how the progressive movement started in the early part of the last century.

Another piece of news warmed me up after giving me an initial myocardial infarction. My friend B, the only non-blogging friend who knows I blog, left a ridiculously calm message on my answering machine last night that involved the bombshell news that she was proposed to on New Year's Eve. Note to future people delivering such news: sound unusually peppy, so that I have some warning, and don't do a doubletake that gives me whiplash at 11 pm at night. And yes, that is my way of saying congratulations, and I am immensely happy for you. In other news, I was also proposed to, but on Christmas, and by a drunken GBF. Not quite as bombshell news, but it did earn me a kiss when the clock struck twelve on New Year's.