Friday, August 17, 2007

The Stickiness

I was browsing the news and started reading this article on abstinence-only sex education. All pretty standard stuff, until I came across this bit:

“You have to look at why sex was created,” Eric Love, the director of the East Texas Abstinence Program, which runs Virginity Rules, said one day, the sounds of Christian contemporary music humming faintly in his Longview office. “Sex was designed to bond two people together.”
To make the point, Mr. Love grabbed a tape dispenser and snapped off two fresh pieces. He slapped them to his filing cabinet and the floor; they trapped dirt, lint, a small metal bolt. “Now when it comes time for them to get married, the marriage pulls apart so easily,” he said, trying to unite the grimy strips. “Why? Because they gave the stickiness away.”

So, the moral of the story: Don't give the stickiness away.


Saturday, August 11, 2007

Princeton, NJ

So, after work on Friday, I drove over to Princeton University to walk around a bit (and take pictures).

So, as I was walking around, I started to feel a bit down. Like, I wish I were smarter and could get into a school like this. I was actually feeling a bit glum about it all. Now, it was surprisingly chilly (considering that it was mid-August), and I was wearing a zippered sweater. I was walking kinda quickly, so I was starting to get a bit warm. In the middle of my pity-party, I unzipped my sweater just a bit and discovered that I hadn't taken my work badge off. At this point I chuckled a bit because I realized something: I might not have gone to Princeton, but I was helping write one of the tests that people who want to go there have to take. So there.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Brussels Sprouts (redux, I think)

I know I wrote a post a few months back entitled Brussels Sprouts. I never would have thought it, but the topic has come up again (maybe because I actually eat--and enjoy--Brussels Sprouts).

So. Today I brought in some Brussels Sprouts (frozen) and nuked them for lunch. I got the the lunch table, opened up my plastic container of fresh, hot Brussels Sprouts, and watched one of the other interns (the 18 year old) do a double take.

"What the heck is that?!" he exclaimed.

"You're joking." (Me).

Him: "Uhhhh, no."

Me: "You know what these are. There is no way you don't know."

Him: "No, I don't know. Honestly."

Me: "These are Brussels sprouts."

Him: "Oh yuck! I hate Brussels sprouts!"

(No, I'm creative, but I'm not creative enough to make something like that up out of thin air.)

Me: "How can you hate Brussels sprouts if you don't even know what they are?"

Him: "I know what they are. I try to avoid them."

Me: "How can you avoid them if you don't even know what they look like?"

Him: "Uhhhh.."

Yeah. And this was following my rather odd experience with Sally Sunshine at the microwave, who asked me if I wasn't afraid of microwaving plastic. I was like, well, it is microwave proof. It's pretty thick, I don't think it is going to melt. And she was like, well, aren't you worried about the carcinogens from the plastic? I was like, WTF? Like, thanks for trying to ruin my lunch of delicious Brussels sprouts (which probably have cancer-righting properties, so it all evens out in the end. So there!)

Monday, August 06, 2007

New Milkshake Diet

Here is a picture that someone took of me last Friday at the intern lunch. I've decided that I need to go on a milkshake diet.

This is how I spend my work day.

What follows is the e-mail conversation between four interns last Friday. We were hashing out carpool details. I have entered the world of superior academia, as you will soon see.

Each e-mail is preceeded by the initial of the person who sent it.

E: Shotgun!

Da: Everybody knows that shotgun can only be called upon visual confirmation of the craft. Please conform to the accepted rules.

E: I'll concede to that rule, so long as we also acknowledge the legitmacy of the "back-in-time shotgun" rule, which I will invoke in the event that, upon seeing said craft, someone else calls shoutgun first.

Da: Fine, but only if i can invoke the well known "lanky legs" clause which overrules all shotgun declarations, back-in-timed or not.

E: Ah yes, the "lanky legs" clause. My least favorite, especially since it goes hand-in-hand with the "stubby legs" clause which means I always have to sit bitch.

Z: I would also like to inroduce the shotgun challenge, which is accepted as legitimate in my car. While walking to the car, anyone who does not succesfully call shotgun has the right to "challenge" the shotgun caller. This challenge consists of 3 games of rock-paper-scissors. If the challenger defeats the shotgun caller in all 3 games, he or she gets shotgun for the ride. But if the challenger loses just one game, the originally shotgun caller retains shotgun privileges.

D (Me): I'm still waiting for someone to invoke the "I get violently carsick" shotgun clause, which, in my experience, trumps all other shotgun clauses.

Da: Violently carsick ALWAYS trumps all other shotguns. HOWEVER, it also earns the caller "sissy points." And trust me, you don't want those.

D (Me): I don't know about that. If you get enough sissy points you can redeem them for prizes, such as the "I have a flat tire and I don't know how to change it" assistance prize. You also have the added bonus of winning more sissy points every time you redeem them for a prize. And believe me, I know people who have built their entire existence on the collection and redemption of sissy points.

E: Agreed. I myself have accumulated an arsenal of "sissy points" which I've used to have 1) bugs killed; 2) heavy and not-so-heavy furniture moved; 3) ikea furniture assembled; 4) people come to my apartment instead of going to their's; 5) people go to bars/ restaurants that I prefer… the list goes on.

At this point, having wasted the entire morning, it was time to leave to go to lunch. We wound up taking two cars, so both E. and Da. got to ride shotgun.

But I still like my Dad's version of shotgun. This is where he calls shotgun, then sits in the back seat.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

NYC Pictures

NYC in the morning.

Atlas Shrugged. Or something like that.

Detail of the Chrysler Building. It is always difficult to take pictures of building in a city (big buildings and no way to back up). But I think this one worked.

This, on the other hand, was not so successful. Oh well. This is he Empire State Building--or the door of the Empire State Building.

Edit: PS, Anna, you need to click on this picture and read the sign on the taxi).

Down in Battery Park now.

City Hall.

The Statue of Liberty from Brooklyn Bridge. It was very hot and hazy, with a nice layer of pollution to add spice. So yeah, trust me, that fuzzy thing in the distance really is the Statue of Liberty.

Brooklyn Bridge. The pedestrian walkway is actually above the traffic, but you can still hear the cars (and smell the fumes).

Ahhh, Central Park.

Morning Tea Musings/NYC Recap

So, sucking down some black tea on a Sunday morning. Almost slept to 7am today--disgraceful! But it does set the stage for a lazy, lazy Sunday.

Yesterday I went to NYC--took the train up. It was my first time on an American train, I believe. Impressions: expensive and noisy. I mean, the train itself was fine, but the people on the train were so loud. Stepping onto the train was like being smacked with noise (I was going to say it was like walking into a wall of sound, but that is so cliched. Though, honestly, I can't really come up with anything too clever in the morning). The other thing is that I had that strange passing heart attack feeling when I realized that I didn't have my passport with me.

Anyway, the train ride took about an hour, and dumped us off at Penn Station, in the middle of Manhattan.

I really like NYC--I always have. I think that I could actually live there. It is different from other cities in the states because it... well, it just has everything. I think a person could live in NYC and never actually have to leave the city for anything. (Whereas in other cities my impression is that a person would still have to own a car to leave the city for some things they just couldn't get in the city). For me, NYC=No Car (and I love equations that =No Car).

Anyway, I'm pretty surprised that I can still walk today (I was a little stiff/sore when I got up, but nothing like Vienna). But yesterday I walked around Times Square, I visited NYC Public Library (I am a nerd, I know), I saw Rockefeller Center, the Chrysler Building, and the Empire State Building (the Art Deco tour--I've reached an age where I actually like Art Deco. It just seems very American to me. This might just be a reaction to the Art Nouveau in Prague--which I liked, but... Art Deco appeals to my sense of aesthetic just a bit more. And this will all change in a couple of years--or even months). I also saw the Flatiron building (quite by mistake--I was looking for a subway). I finally found the subway and took it down to Wall Street, where I went to Battery Park, meandered Wall Street some, saw Trinity Church and St Paul's Chapel, walked past the WTC hole in the ground, saw City Hall, walked across the Brooklyn Bridge (whew, I'm getting a little tired reliving my day), took the subway to Central Park, meandered through Central Park, walked back to Penn Station, came home (and managed to not fall asleep on the train--I have no idea how I managed to stay awake).

I had wanted to go to the Met and the Cloisters, but... well, as you can imagine, I ran out of time. I arrived in NYC just before 10am and I left at 7:15pm (and except for an hour total on the subway and about an hour sitting in Central Park, I was on my feet the entire time). I may try to go back (though the train ticket was $20 round trip, so I might try to drive a bit closer, park in Jersey, and take a subway or something in to the city). But I figure I just have one more weekend here--gotta do something great.

Friday, August 03, 2007

On TRUTH and BEAUTY (this will be a short post)

So, today we had an intern lunch. One of the mentors arranged a lunch at his place for all the writing interns (five plus a researcher) and the mentors (six total, including I., the host). We car-pooled out to his place and made and ate kabobs (yum).

The setting: older house, probably built in the 40s or 50s. Stacks and stacks of classical cds (Naxos included--I thought I was the only person who bought Naxos but evidently I was wrong), esoteric magazines littering the coffee table, books on philosophy and composers, and a giant wooden turtle in the bathtub.

The host: apparently I. has a PhD in (I want to say logic or logical reasoning or chess or something) from one of those famous Ivy League Universities (as opposed to one of the unknown Ivys, I suppose). I don't know. All I really know is that he is an avid tea drinker (loose leaf, no milk) and appears to prefer Baroque composers (though he did have some more modern composers... by which I mean Shostakovich). He also likes to use words that he thinks people won't know. He will use a word like offal or atoll, quit speaking, and wait to see how the listener responds.

The conversation: lunch ended, the dessert tray had been passed, and we (I., another intern and I) settled into our tea, and the conversation commenced. E., the other female intern, is currently working on a PhD in Critical Literary Theory and Gender Studies in a lesser-known (non-Ivy) University. She stated that she doesn't believe in truth. So I. and another mentor, J. (a PhD candidate--history of science--at a local Ivy) took issue with this and argued with her. And I (that is, me) could follow up to a point, but I got lost pretty quickly.

Anyway, I think the crux of the thing was that E. didn't believe in any truth, I. argued that you have to believe in SOME truth or you would be unable to even leave the house, and J. argued that you have to believe in truth because to not do so is to disrespect the people who have gone before and worked so hard to prove some truth. But I might be completely wrong. As I said, I wasn't following it (I was really enjoying the tea, though).

The conversation continues to the car and the ride back to work. At some point Beauty and Love enter the conversation, and right before we get to work, E. turns to me and says, "So, what do you think?"


I think I don't belong here, in this conversation, because I'm obviously not smart enough. I think I probably should have taken some philosophy classes at some point in my life--beyond Philo 101 at the local community college when I was 17. I wonder if I have allowed myself to be too intellectually lazy by not trying to puzzle through these things before because I always believed that philosophy wasn't practical and at the end of the day all that really matters is that the food is cooked and the clothes are clean. I think the trees are pretty but that the air-conditioning in the car is a little cold. I think I probably ate too much at lunch and should have stopped at the second--that's right, second--cannoli. I think, I think, I think...

"...Umm, I agree. Yeah."

My genius has been established. I now tower over the other interns with my subtle and nuanced depth of thought. I am an intellectual giant.

Post-script: actually, what I thought was that I., J., and E. were all making different arguments. E. was making a linguistic argument--about what the word truth represents and how it can be used to label anything and should therefore not be trusted. J. was making a scientific argument--using the argument that if two people have a design for a car and one design will obviously not work, then one person's truth is more valid that the other person's. And I. was making a logical/philosophical argument (which I more or less missed because I was noshing cannolis and drinking tea). So I think that the first part of the argument should have been to establish the relative meaning of the word truth (and beauty and love, when they entered the conversation) so that everyone wouldn't be stuck arguing circles in their own little hamster wheels with no way of making any connections with the other arguments.

But I'm probably wrong.

Chocoholic squirrel steals treats from shop

Thu Aug 2, 10:44 AM ET

A Finnish squirrel with a sweet tooth heads to a Finnish grocery shop at least twice a day to steal "Kinder Surprise" chocolate-shelled eggs.
"I named it the Kinder-squirrel, after the treats. It always goes after them, other sweets do not seem to interest it as much," the manager of the store in Jyvaskyla, central Finland, told Reuters.
The confectionary, which is intended for children, has a toy inside.
"It removes the foil carefully, eats the chocolate and leaves the store with the toy," Irene Lindroos said.
Unfortunately, the bushy-tailed thief does not clean up after itself, but leaves the wrappers behind, she added.
Squirrels have a well deserved reputation for being clever and adaptable animals. Many a home owner has seen the small rodents raiding their supposedly "squirrel-proof" bird feeders.