Archive for October, 2013

And you agree

Morning tasks complete, lunch devoured, and am ready to take Flat Stanley down to the Mall for his final DC photo junket before getting shipped off back to Georgia for my nephew’s presentation to his class. If I have time we’ll make a quick stop at the stadium even though there’s no game going on. Because 7 year olds are way more impressed by baseball than the White House. But we’ll have to see…

But first, I feel the need to clarify something. If I think you’re a terrible person it’s not because you screwed up once and I’m a big, bad meanie who can’t forgive. No, no, no, your pattern of poor behavior has to be protracted, usually over a few years, before I bestow the crown of “terrible in my estimation.” Then there’s the other little thing that pushes the “oops, I messed up” over the wall into the “I’m a raging sociopath.” There are people in my life that I’ve known quite literally my entire life and they’ve screwed up, and so have I, as regards our relationships. Sometimes quite dramatically and seemingly unforgivably, on both sides. But the difference is all in how you handle it and how you handle future interaction. One sincere apology — or dang, even just the slightest inkling that you feel bad for being such an incredible jerk — tends to go a long way. And then a sincere effort not to harm again, acknowledging of course that sometimes good people, people you love, hurt you. Only they really can after all. But you, my friend, have never let your mind wander to the idea that you have ever done anything wrong because you got what you wanted and so, in your version of morality, what you did was right. And you certainly never apologized if, in your quest to be King God Lord Selfish, people got hurt or abused. And you MOST certainly never stopped the abuse if it meant you couldn’t get whatever someone like you might be after. And those qualities, in my estimation, are terrible. And not just because they lack a human element, but because they require no thought and contain no nuance, and therefore no beauty. And you embody them. Deal with it.

Or, alternatively, you could apologize.

Okay moving on from that, my friend Colleen had this to say about the Marine Corps Marathon this weekend and I thought it was beautiful:

While I admire all the Achilles athletes, there’s something a little extra special about their Freedom Team Two members of which are featured here). Running a 10K or marathon is impressive, but running one after your limbs have been blown off by an IED adds a whole different level of mad respect. Spent last MCM with these guys so met up with some of them at the hotel yesterday & while they were stoked by their accomplishment, they were more concerned about making sure their teammate made it since she hadn’t really trained for the full. Awesome guys all the way around…

This is the opposite of that other nonsense I wrote about above.

This is the opposite of that other nonsense I wrote about above.

Good stuff here on the Buddha.
A more intriguing figure with each passing year.

A great piece from my friend Caleb as he negotiates the waters of entrepreneurship. I’m sure my dad had similar feelings. I know he did actually.

On the subject of This Town — which I have to reiterate is a really fun read. I just don’t want to be too harsh for some reason. — this is kind of how I feel about it as well. Death has a way of bringing things into focus.

I’ve written about the ghost in my Aunt Dorothy’s house here before but my Aunt Chong was uncomfortable in my grandparents house a few thousand feet down river. So I thought the part about Asian culture was pretty interesting.

Missouri’s looking really good, but anything can still happen. We have Florida Saturday. The world’s largest cocktail party. I swear the boys will have aneurisms if we lose and I won’t be able to save them all.

A friend posted some photos from his hike here this weekend. It’s now officially on my list of places to go as soon as possible. I actually love a good cold-weather hike.

Huh. A bracelet that essentially tells your whiny little butt to chill out (or warm up, as it were). Marvelous.

Compare these two quotes:

That deep emotional conviction of the presence of a superior reasoning power, which is revealed in the incomprehensible universe, forms my idea of God.
~ Albert Einstein

Faith: not wanting to know what is true.
~ Friedrich Nietzsche

A person’s affinity for one or the other is pretty useful in deciding who you want to be around.

I love my pink coat, too. Can’t wait to wear it this winter…

Now, random track. But I do still love her.

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This is for a friend of mine who seems to be all about the pin-ups. Vargas knew what you guys liked.

This is for a friend of mine who seems to be all about the pin-ups. Vargas knew what you guys liked.

Okay, I’m gonna say it but with major apologies to those I know who are into all this stuff: I don’t get the paleo diet thing. Or really any other diet thing. Seriously, just eat what your body wants you to eat (within reason of course, and assuming you don’t have some kind of control issue, or a fascination with fast food and an aversion to fresh fruits and vegetables, or aren’t using food for comfort to an alarming degree…). I mean I think people get into trouble when they start fretting over what fits a certain dietary requirement if we’re not talking extra carbs because you’re mountain climbing all day for your job or something. It seems borderline obsessive and — ironically — unhealthy to me. But then, I still like to smoke the occasional cigarette so what the hell do I know? Yeah, eat what you want. I know nothing.

I’m going to just post some links because I want to get out for a run at lunch. I’m finally feeling some better — that headache lingered for almost a week. The little jerk. — and then I have some work to focus on this afternoon. So, here are some things to read and consider:

Maybe I’m a mean girl, but Paul Krugman deserves to be jokingly slapped about the head and neck. So pompous, so arrogant, so wrong. And yet so convinced of his own superiority. He strikes me as the kind of guy who might stumble while walking and get pissed at the person walking with him for seeing it. I bet he’s never laughed at himself in his life. Terrible quality.

A legitimate and useful lifehack.

And on that note, from my friend Curt, a website that sneaks the funny up on you. At first, it seems rote. But then this happens:

f*ck your pressuring people into sex, trying to “life hack” your way around “I have a headache and don’t want to have sex right now” isn’t clever, it’s assault

Also, I hear Curt’s voice in my head saying all of them. That’s weird and disturbing.

This article annoys the ever-living bejeezus out of me. It’s just so obsequious. “The economics of the Affordable Care Act make bros matter a lot.” You hear that bros? You matter, babies. You’re loved. Now show some gratitude. Bleh.

I don’t really see the wisdom in this.

This seems like a good time.

Farrell posted this late last night and was rightly condemned for posting something this creepy right before bed. And it is super freaking creepy. My question remains: why wouldn’t the elevator doors just close? WHY?

New favorite Halloween movie. Norman is adorbs.:

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So I don’t know about y’all but every day for me lately is a battle where I must convince myself that things aren’t so bad and I really shouldn’t want to bless people out for just making mistakes and being flawed. And it takes a while. I have to find a physical outlet of some sort — and what that looks like varies — and then generally something has to be hilarious to put everything in perspective until the next morning when I’m reminded not to get too comfortable, and that every time something horrible has happened in the past things were looking really, really good and then *BOOM*, floor gone, freefall, “why are you so naive” self esteem abuse, and “never again” declarations of strength, etc etc.

I might be a little broken. No sense denying it. Which makes me perfect for this city.

Speaking of, as I make my way through “This Town,” I have some initial thoughts: 1) It’s funny. Dude’s a good writer. 2) His stories of vanity and cynicism are easy to believe given the size of the fish in the pool he swims in. Bigger jobs, bigger heads (or teeth, as it were). That said, 3) of all the people he writes about, he seems the most cynical. He sort of reminds me of a scene from a movie I saw as a teenager, Mystic Pizza (I know. Just bear with me) where Julia Roberts’ character is a poor Portuguese waitress who begins dating a rich boy who kind of hates his family. He takes her to a family dinner — look for a very young Matt Damon — and he acts like a complete ass because he thinks his family is pretentious and stuffy and insulting to his new, wrong-side-of-the-tracks girlfriend. Anyway, he makes a jerk of himself and poor girlfriend has to tell him in no uncertain terms that the only jerk in the room…wait for it…was him for apologizing for them when they were just being themselves. That’s what this guy reminds me of. His book is entertaining and insightful and really, really funny. But — and I’m sorry for my silly little opinion here — tremendously bitter. Turns out it is making me a little sad but not in the way I thought. There is some humanity in these people he believes have sold their souls to be interviewed on Meet the Press. Maybe not all of them — because trust me, I have already met the soulless and my God they’re a horror show — and maybe only in shockingly small quantities in those who still retain a spark of compassion. But isn’t the job of the writer to find and explore that humanity? It’s how we do good things in the world.

And while we’re on the subject of good things, I love this dress.


My sister sent this to me, and it’s a really good piece in as much as it’s not often people acknowledge that Vets have a kind of training that we lack in the average person attempting to better themselves through education. They are forced to look at the world in a — I’m not sure of the right word but “transcendent” comes to mind — way, because understanding subtext and the chess game of life when the stakes are as high as “people might die” sort of forces that kind of understanding. And I think we could use more of that as a society.

“I understand the pain and suffering some of these men and women have experienced,” university President Lloyd Jacobs said. “It’s huge. It’s heartrending. On the other hand, people who do have that experience bring strength to our culture, bring strength to our university that’s unparalleled.”

“It’s both a terrible thing and a great gift to have had that kind of experience,” he said.

All of this. Because the PR machine is in full swing and come on people…you don’t have to agree with them, and you can even think they’re racist or whatever other preconceived bigotry you need to sleep at night, but the histrionics are just…ahem…girly. Also, I totally dig that this writer is English.

If anyone doubts the frequency with which this slander is issued from on high, just look through the Congressional Record from the past few weeks. During this time, elected tea partiers were accused of “hostage-taking,” “arson,” “bomb-throwing,” “rebellion,” “nullification,” and even sedition — and all for having the temerity to use their constitutionally authorized control over the power of the purse as leverage in a related political fight. Indeed, the Democratic party has been so on-message with its melodramatic tales of zealotry and insurrection that I wouldn’t be surprised if more congressional speeches were made about the perils of the Defund Obamacare movement in the past fortnight than were delivered about the evils of the Japanese Empire in four long years.

My kitchen is sorely in need of a pressure cooker. But I’ll wing it on the stove.

Love her or hate her, she’s hilarious and doesn’t take any sh*t. Two things I respect a great deal.

YES. The moonwalk, people.

One of the saddest stories in a pantheon of sad stories. But he made pretty music.

Speaking of music, this is why the Vikings could win wars.

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This one's for my brother Daniel. He knows why.

This one’s for my brother Daniel. He knows why.

Здравствуйте, друзья мои. Waiting on some work to flow in, and trying to come up with an angle on the drama-trauma on the Hill. I’ll save my thoughts for that piece, but I will say that I’ve been reminded — once again — how much we hate those poopyhead GOP and tea-tard conservatives, y’all. I mean God. Everyone who’s anyone hates those losers. I had forgotten, so it was nice of the White House to remind me.

Anyway, I’ll save my other thoughts for the piece I’m writing this afternoon save two points: 1. Boehner played his role perfectly. and 2. All of this. Because I just can’t help but think, had the focus not been on Obamacare for the last several months, many of these problems would have been quietly accepted and forgiven, and the news cycle would be relatively free of chatter regarding the premiums and deductibles and coding problems and error reports and political intent and Sebelius’ oversight etc. and et al…

And here’s some other reading for fun (you big nerds):

I bet Bob Costas is a hoot at barbeques.

As my friend Nick said on Facebook:

“Did I miss something? Are we asking Condi to run a cone drill or call plays?
Because, you know, it’s one thing to graduate college cum laude, hold a Masters degree in political science from Notre Dame, serve a fellowship at Stanford and go on to such unskilled labor jobs as National Security Adviser and Secretary of State, and then expect that same person to ascend to such astronomic heights as … helping pick four teams for a college football playoff? Because it is going to be really difficult to watch football games, read stories and look at schedules and statistics and determine, “I think Team A is better than Team B.””

I knew about some of these but not all. And now I need to go back and find them. Any excuse to watch Han Solo/Indiana Jones is cool in my book.

I stole this from Facebook. It’s amazing.

-Would this make a good car for my daughter?
Hell. Yes. Not only a good car, a learning experience. Introduction to vehicular maintenance.
Additionally, there isn’t really enough room in the back for that little bastard she’s dating to try anything.

Here’s some morning music. I remember Isbell from the Drive-By Truckers days. He’s got some solid solo chops it seems…

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Go live

I wrote most of this yesterday and then got busy doing other things so here it is today for some light Tuesday reading. Heh.

My sister and I keep going back and forth on this strange idea that Obamacare was designed so abysmally poorly to get us to Medicaid as a single-payer option. I know, of course, that this is not an original thought, just that I try not to let my mind go toward the idea that a large number of people could be so sneaky in pursuit of what they undoubtedly justify as “good for the people,” knowing full well that there are a million other, way more selfish, reasons to ensure people are being registered with, and paying into, the system. But then you hear that they hired a contractor — without opening up the bid process — known for some rather large-scale and dramatic failures, and that they just ignored a known capacity gauge when determining what kind of registrant volume the site would be able to accommodate. I worked in IT at UGA for several years and I can say that no program this troubled would ever have been deployed. Never. It would be too much of a burden on available resources to field trouble reports to the help desk, not to mention the black eye on the department both internally and externally. Because the problems with the Obamacare site are elementary, not overly technical. The front-end HTML code doesn’t talk to the back-end database code properly. Whether it’s because of capacity problems or poor coding, or, as Forbes suggests, to hide some unpleasant information for political reasons, it’s a hot mess. And the reason for releasing something so busted — whether to test it out on the public and navigate everyone to a single portal or to just because they hired a crap firm with a bad record of service — is in doubt. Neither one of those options is good in any way. I don’t know about y’all, but I prefer my leaders be at least as precise about things as I tend to be, and that’s a fairly low bar. And they can’t meet it. So, expectation levels are lowered and where do we go from there? A little higher, to something that looks better but, in fact, is still subpar because we’re starting from a lower rung. Change the definition of excellence and you can make people think they’re getting a Jaguar when you’re really pimping a Ford Focus. Anyway, here’s why the whole effort was a bad idea to start with, and I dedicate it to the smarty pants who used to argue that it was the only noble thing to do for those poor slobs who, of course, he would never dare actually spend a minute talking to about anything. Dude, you’re not actually all that smart beyond knowing how to “get yours.” So stick to being selfish and egotistical and quit trying to act like you have some sort of holistic wisdom. You sound like a moron.

First, we should look at the uninsured as an untapped market with varying needs, preferences, and resources, instead of as unified block of helpless supplicants. Rather than treating them like criminals for not doing what we think they should, we should treat them like potential customers. If they don’t like what is currently available, perhaps that is more of a commentary on the products than on the people who don’t buy.

What this all means of course, is that we, the builders of the internet, look like pushers of the fax machine in an age of email and secure file transfers. No wonder China’s getting lippy.

To round it out, here’s an incredible piece from Ace on that weird thing people on the left side of politics do way more frequently in my experience than those on the right: they don’t simply address something from their own perspective without first checking to see what the official line is. I call that cowardice and a lack of confidence in their own abilities and that gets people killed on the battlefield, if you know what I mean.

Okay, other things now:

The sanctimony makes my head hurt.

We still have a chance, but we’re going to need some luck and almost flawless execution going forward.

Want to know why I am proudly Southern? Because we live by a code like this, no matter where we live. Numbers 5 and 6 are particularly great, but Numbers 1 and 2 are becoming my mantra lately.

What the leaders on the Hill can learn from baseball.

Oh, new twist on the apple pie…hmmm…

I really hate the way this piece starts — who says we shouldn’t care? Everything I’ve been taught says we should… — but it’s interesting:

The more time and attention they could devote to thinking empathically, the more sensitive they became. That’s good news for the rest of us. In an everyday world in which we are free to make such an extra interpersonal effort without a handful of slime or a screenful of maggots getting in the way, greater empathy should come more easily still.

Why is this news? I have a foot and migraines that proved this years ago. Science is so behind…

It’s going around, and that’s a good thing. There is something to be said for trying it all. My career has been a bit like that, too. Still waiting for the big success though. Sigh.

My man.

When Anthony Hopkins tells you you’re brilliant, you can really probably quit acting because you just won.

Bahaha! Old but awesome.

Finally, I really can’t hear that song anymore without a facial tic and a little bit of rage. (h/t George)


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Mr. Wilson

Hi guys. I’m pouring it out so forgive me. My family suffered a loss this weekend and, true to form, I have to put it here.

My next door neighbor growing up, my second father so very different from my own, had a heart attack late last week and passed away. His son Chris and I were inseparable for the first 10 years or so of life. Chris was my first and probably best friend, and still someone I love to see and catch up with when I can. Mom says she knew Friday that Mr. Wilson had passed away but didn’t want to tell me till I went to the Navy Ball with my cousin. She didn’t want me to be sad. She wanted me to have a good time. Mom’s good that way. So I found out Saturday morning that a family member was no longer with us. And Mr. Wilson was family. I spent a great deal of time at his house, having sleepovers with Chris before we were old enough to realize that boys and girls were different. And he was this gentle giant of a man. My father says he doesn’t believe he ever heard him say an unkind word to anyone, or about anyone. That’s my recollection as well. Mom tells the story that he was raised in the Baptist faith — although married in the Catholic church to Mrs. Wilson — but he told her he was never baptised because he was always too shy to stand when the pastor asked if anyone in the congregation wanted to come forward to be sanctified in the holy water. And that’s about the best story to describe the man — truly shy, truly retiring, a beautiful soul in the body of a man more than 6 feet tall. He spoke very rarely, but smiled a lot. And he and I had a special friendship because he always saw — even in later years when I was awkward and angry — that silly sassy face that hung around with his son when we were knee high to chickens. He was nice to me. He thought well of me. And I felt the same about him. I loved him. He was a calming presence and the reason I have Dale Murphy’s autograph and am a lifelong Braves fan. One of our other neighborhood friends commented on Facebook that her favorite memory was when he constructed meandering and endless bike trails out of fallen leaves in Chris’ backyard so we could learn to ride our dirt bikes. I had forgotten that, but was reminded immediately of the entire summers spent catching air over ramps and wiping out in piles of leaves. He’s also the reason that for 17 years I thought the world was a better place than it actually is. He was just one of those men. One of those great men. And I’ve spent a lot of time crying this weekend, and grumping at people for being less than kind and being cavalier about pain, without telling them why. Not out of sadness really, but out of something closer to joy that I had the secret of knowing the man, and a demand for respect for life, all life. Because when you’ve had the great, good fortune of knowing someone like him, it’s hard to tolerate the crassness and the meanness and easy apathy that people wear like shields so they don’t have to be vulnerable. But Mr. Wilson was always a vulnerable and open and beautiful soul and I just want to believe that the world, though grayer now he’s gone, can retain some of that fineness he carried with him and passed on to his children and his children’s friends. There’s a hole in my heart and it’s nearly unbearable to think of what his wife and my childhood friends Chris and Carrie are feeling right now. I mean to write them a letter because I’m better with the written word than with a phone call I won’t be able to get through without dissolving into a pool of tears. And I want to offer some solace, be of some help. The service is Tuesday and I think, as is their way, the Wilsons just want something shy and retiring — no fanfare — to remember their pater familias. That’s exactly as it should be. And I can’t do the man justice with anything I may be able to say — I’m trying to think of the perfect words — but they don’t exist. He simply was here, he was wonderful, he touched lives and raised marvelous people and was a light in the world. And then he was gone. And maybe that’s the best, greatest thing any of us can do.

I love you Mr. Wilson. And I’ll be sassy forever because I know you liked that about me. Rest in peace gentle man.


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Hey-oh. Quick break.

I don’t know about y’all but I can get real dark this time of year. When the sun starts to set around 5 pm, I can get the mean reds something fierce. And they started yesterday…Lately, I’ve been wondering what’s the point of being nice? I know…it’s a terrible thing to think, and is foreign to me to the point that I may actually be physically incapable of really just lashing out at someone with full knowledge aforethought that my attack was unprovoked and unjustified (unknowingly, totally different story. Often it feels like I’m protecting myself when all I’m doing is just being a jerk with a misunderstanding…). Or worse, really selfish. That was like being a demon in my family. I mean, there were only 800 of us in the same house so it makes a kind of sense that selfishness was useless and harmful in my family. Anyway, harming innocents isn’t all that appealing to me. And it’s never a good sign when you come across an article like this one and your first thought is: “So THAT’S what’s wrong with me…” (BA in English. Team Chaucer.) Because it sometimes just literally makes me fume that there are people who run around and don’t feel the need to abide by the rules of basic human kindness. Like, I would not be surprised if smoke actually came out of my ears when I’m feeling like that. And I’ll be honest — personal associations that are reinforced by professional associations make a girl feel like if it’s everyone, it’s you (also, this is past stuff I’m talking. Currently, I’m remarkably free of the soul-crushing tyrants who see everything as a competition. Well, for the most part…) Until I remember…

There are more jerks in the world than good people, so the chances of dealing with them over the really fine bright lights of humanity are greater every single day. But they don’t get to speak for the world, i.e. they don’t get to make the world a bad place just because they’re leaving their oily little spots all over the place.

And I feel better for a time.

And on that note, this made me feel hilariously better because the person who thought this up actually exists and WAS SUCCESSFUL IN GETTING OTHER PEOPLE TO FUND IT. And that’s just awesome. Thanks to Ali for the post.

Charles passed this along yesterday and, while I’m mostly distrustful of polls, I do find it interesting that Republicans are far more likely to be critical of their own party than Democrats are. The ability to self-reflect is an important and generally pleasing quality.

So, this language is fascinating (shout out to the cousins!) but the best is the han geul translator. Play with it. I couldn’t stop. (*word nerd*)

Cool. Stella used to crawl into bed with me and snuggle a day or two before I got a cold. Not sure if it was a self-fulfilling prophecy or not but when she did it, I started drinking orange juice like a crazy person.

Could someone accidentally design something this bad? I mean, have you ever heard of a testing environment? Weird…Not to be conspiratorial but the fee is easier to collect than the more expensive insurance purchase…Okay, sorry. Just a silly thought…

Posted for the dog’s name alone.

The new phishing.

Seriously, I’d buy one of these cameras immediately.

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