Thursday, November 29, 2007

Crime spree!

Watch out, babies, because I am cast-free! For the last month I've been stumping around with a walking cast on my left leg, thanks to a tear in my Achilles. But not no mo': yesterday the doc sprung me on an unsuspecting world. With my new and improved mobility, I plan to knock over a series of 7-11s. Join me?

Friday, November 23, 2007

Looking good, Comcast!

Anyone who's ever struggled to put in wireless, go read this now.

How lucky do you feel?

Via Schmutzie.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Around again

I'm looking for reincarnation stories - either old, strange memories you have, or books you've read or movies you've seen that deal with the idea of reincarnation. Any suggestions?

On a whim last weekend, I picked up Old Souls by Tom Shroder, a journalist whose initial skepticism gives way to belief when he follows Dr. Ian Stevenson around Lebanon and India, investigating claims that very young children are remembering past lives. Recent past lives, separated by one generation, where young children (2, 3, 4) remember who they were in their last life, including the names of their spouse and children, the location of their homes in far-off villages, and the circumstances of their death.

In the Sikh and Druse communities, where many of these cases arise, reincarnation is accepted as a given - whereas in the West, reincarnation is largely rejected as a woo-woo concept. Reading this book makes me wonder if Western children might repress past-life memories because of pressure from our parents.

Also interesting: most of the children who reported remembering past lives were killed in some violent way. Some of them have birthmarks that correspond to the fatal injuries. And the more some of them remember, the harder their current lives are... which makes me think we're meant to forget. Otherwise life would be far too painful.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Gestalt! Mrrrrow!

So this afternoon I'm idly surfing around, killing time until I can go home, and I happen across a coworker's blog. Before I know it, I have an enormous crush on this guy - and why? Because he used the word gestalt.

This guy's a software architect and a total smarty-pants, of course. Most guys in his line of work don't seem to care too much about pansy shit like spelling, but he just devoted an entire post to the decline of spelling and language skills among the Millennial set.

In particular, he says, it's becoming hard to tell whether a word is misspelled because misspellings are now so prevalent. We (well, some of us) recognize words not by their individual letters, but by the letters' relationship to one another - a spatial relationship sort of thing. We know the word by its gestalt.

Sigh. Say it again, man. GESTALT. mmmmm.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


I've been firing away at people for two days now, which is always fun. (Do note the sarcasm.) Here's what happens: Someone makes a statement online that's ambiguous. If that someone is someone I don't trust - which includes everyone on the planet because I am the most suspicious person I know - I take it the wrong way, and then start firing salvos.

There's no excuse. It's just the glory of me. I do have a couple excuses, though, come to think of it: a torn Achilles tendon which has had me in a walking cast for a couple weeks; an incipient yeast infection; an unending stream of house-guestery. I am at my limit, peoples.

But you people -- you're all lovely, and you make my day. Yes, you, California, and you two, my London and Yorkshire girls, you gorgeous thing up in North Vancouver, and you, Illinois, Ohio, and Massachusetts. You too, Waynesboro, even though you never leave me any comments. GOD. Oh! And YOU, Smitten Kitchenites. Every time I see a referral from SK, I want to go hug Deb and give her little chocolates.

xoxo, B.

PS I fought the bitchy today by making meat pies. There's nothing like a bieroch to take the edge off. You limeys know it as Cornish pasties, I think; you Kansans as runzas. It's all good. Although I'd love to swap pasty recipies if you've got 'em.

I think the difference between the bieroch and the pasty is that pasties contain potatoes and bierochs don't. Also, you cook the ground beef, cabbage, and onion for the bieroch before you put it in the pastry shell and bake it. Also, pasties are fancier. Otherwise, it's all meat, all the time. Yumm!

This meat-pie diversion brought to you by lots of wine.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

tee hee

I made Jenny's blog.

Friday, November 09, 2007

"I don't take a piss without getting paid for it."

Harlan Ellison on the writer's strike (which I support):

Found via Unknown Screenwriter - thanks, Unk!

Knit on, little knitters!

Maggie's one of my favorite bloggers. If you knit, maybe consider knitting a cute, cheerful little cap for a baby in Afghanistan. Afghan babies in little knitted caps! Could anything be cuter? Bonus: karmically beneficial!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Graduation day

This last weekend, C and I flew down to San Diego to watch one of our favorite people graduate from Marine Boot Camp. His name's Mike, and he's 19.

He's very tall, much taller than he was when he was 7, when C met him. They were paired up in the Big Brothers program, and Mike came to count on C to be a steady, constant presence in his life, which could be chaotic. And then I married in, and I came to think of him as my Little Brother too.

It was easy to do; he was such a good kid. He was shy, but you could tell there was a lot going on behind his stoic little face. He had sharp eyes that missed nothing, much like C. But he hid it, he hid out from people, watching and waiting, sitting back, missing nothing, saying nothing. But always listening.

So we took care to tell him he was smart and we were proud. We told him how good he was, and that if he was ever in trouble, he could count on us to help.

We figured for Mike, trouble would mean a car crash, or maybe (and this was the worst thing we could imagine) getting a girl pregnant. So on his 16th birthday, we gave him the Condoms Condoms Condoms talk, with a side order of Don't Do Drugs, and for dessert, If You Want To Go To College, We'll Help.

Like I said, we always knew he was smart. We just didn't know how independent he was, or how much he wanted to succeed on his own. How motivated he was to make his own way in the world. You don't think of that, with a kid. You just think, he likes French fries; he blushes when he's the center of attention; he's such a good kid. And you ask the universe to keep him safe, because he's your good kid.

So when he called us several months back to tell us that, despite having a good job as a mechanic, he'd joined the Marines, I freaked out.

The Marines are the first guys sent out in battle. And as one of my friends said recently, they call it the infantry for a reason: because the guys they send out are kids, babies. They're 16, 17, 18, 19.


So I freaked, a little (cough a lot cough). I was proud as well, particularly when Mike told us that he chose the Marines because it's the hardest, because it's the most worthy of respect. OK, I thought, the kid's got something to prove, fine. He couldn't prove it in the Coast Guard?

C talked me down, told me he'd be OK, that most soldiers don't die. C himself struggled with it, but that's the Kabuki dance of marriage: we play out our worst fears together. I get to be the drama queen; he gets to tell me everything's going to be OK -- and in so doing, he convinces himself.

So we told Mike we were proud. We did not tell him we were afraid he would get his ass shot off within 20 minutes of arriving in Iraq. And when he arrived at Boot Camp, we sent him letters and he sent us letters and it was all about support, support, support.

And you know, the kid did good. He got an award - on the rifle range. Which is not the kind of award you want to get, since if the Marines finger you as a sharpshooter, you're going to be asked to go shoot people.

He ran the Crucible (56 miles over 3 days, with 1 meal a day and 4 hours of sleep a night -- and did I mention the 100-pound pack on his back?), and even though some of the guys in his platoon outweigh him by a good 20 pounds, when it came time for the final hand-to-hand combat drill, he was the last man standing. See? Smart. Capable. Someone you can count on.

Every single day of that 3 months was hell. That's the Marine drill instructor's job, to ensure that it's hell, so that these kids are ready when the shit hits the fan. And in San Diego, they do their job very well - so well that every time Mike saw a commercial jet fly by, he wished he was on it. Did I mention they were stationed right next to the airport? A lot of jets flew by.

But he stuck it out, and he made it through the hardest boot camp in America. A lot of guys didn't, but Mike did.

And so on Thursday, we got up at 4 a.m. - the hour Mike had been getting up for three months - and we flew to San Diego. And as his platoon marched up and down the parade deck, C and I turned to one another in shock. They really are babies. They're kids. Some of them had to get their parents' permission to join. That's how young they are.

But then they lined up to receive their Marines pin. Mike stood taller than we'd ever seen him stand before. His bearing is different, now; he does stand tall. He looks capable, and he carries himself with a confidence and a focus that's brand new, but so good. Gone is the shy 7-year-old, the 12-year-old who sat back and ate French fries and spoke so softly you had to lean down to hear what he was saying.

In their place is the 19-year-old man, the one newly acquainted with his own abilities, his strength, his will. And let me tell you, C and I could not be prouder.

And on Friday, when we saw the same platoon stand at attention and salute, we noticed something we hadn't the day before: some of them might still have baby faces, but their eyes are all sharp like Michael's. All focused, all ready. They know, now, what they can do--and that will go a long way toward protecting them when they need it most. We hope.

We're still afraid for him. We still fear the call we'll get some day, that he's being sent to Iraq. But one thing has changed: we're not sending the 12-year-old who mumbled and blushed and liked dogs better than people. We're sending the 19-year-old who knows what he can do, who knows how far he can go. Who, from years of staying quiet and listening to what's going on around him, will be able to keep his head in a war zone and stay safe, stay in one piece.

And that's good, because we're counting on him.