Sunday, November 30, 2008

Got Some 'Splainin'

I'm about to break one of the cardinal rules of blogging. So cover your delicate lil' eyes right now. I'm about to explain my whereabouts.

Lessee if I can catch y'all up on my comings and goings these last few weeks since I dropped off the blogging map. Hmmm...first off, work has been kicking my sweet dimpled ass more than usual, in a manner most typical and yet most aggravating. Y'know when you see someone do something stupid, something so full of ego, something so one-hunnered-percent going to not work out well? Did you ever see "Jackass"? Well, yeah, that's what our managers have been doing these last few weeks. And guess who gets to clean up their stinking piles of putrid marketing detritis? Oh yeah, good ol' Mona. If it wasn't for the fact that I love the place otherwise, I woulda shoulda coulda yelled my fool hed clean offt.

What else? I've been on every field trip both kids' schools have undertaken, accidentally headed up a fundraising effort, and am in the process of writing one school's student directory. While Sergei whiles away his "spare" time heading up Important City Committees and Directing Important Community Events, I am counting tubs of cookie dough and wondering if "Kim Sung Yung" is the same person as "Yung Kim Sang". (They're not.)

Also...we had a sudden grave illness in the extended family which turned into a sudden death. A thankful death, as she was suffering near the end, but still...very sad.

I headed up the company Thanksgiving shindig a week before T-giving. I hosted Thanksgiving for Sergei's family. I played hostess at Boy-child's school's Tgiving Feast (bringing in the only food donations of stuffing and cranberry sauce, and boy am I glad I lost sleep over that).

And now I'm stressing over Boy-child's birthday, which is this Friday, which I don't have presents for yet, and which we're trying to set up an impromptu party for this Saturday at Interesting Game Place. I'm playing email tag with the Head Guy.

I did manage to eat only two slices of pumpkin pie over the 5-day Thanksgiving weekend, so I got that going for me. Which is nice. My jeans still fit. But now it's snowing like something out of a Weather Channel Exclusive with Jim Cantore, which does nothing but impede my progress and generally piss me off.

I hope you all had a good Thanksgiving. I hope to be more verbal in the future. Tell me...did anyone do NaNoWriMo? Pfffffttt....

Friday, November 14, 2008

Poetry Friday: The Word is FIGHT

I used to fight with my brother in the dirtiest way possible…fisticuffs. We’d scratch, bite, and hit each other until our parents separated us with a belt swat on our behinds. Thankfully, as we grew up, we lost our will to fight. We joke now about the fights we had, the welts and bruises that we left, and the amazement that our parents didn’t ship us off to military school. Of course, given that my immediate and extended families live in some bizarro-world epicenter of Spankings and Yelling, it’s kind of a wonder we turned out as normal as we did.

Normal. Heh.

The Poetry Friday Word for Today is FIGHT. Feel free to throw a sucker-punch at your blog post today and reveal the nasty bruise left by a life experience of yours…or someone else. Entertain us with song, story, a sweet chocolate cake, or a lovely lilting poem that sends us sniffling for the Kleenex.

Have a good weekend, y’all!

I Fought The Law. He Won. For Now.

Living near Local University, I’m used to seeing cops everywhere. Low speed limits, reveling sports fans, the occasional protest or house party, all send the coppers out in their Easy To Spot Vehicles and Bikes. There’s a calming effect for us residents when we see our Men In Blue pulling over a speeder that nearly just ran us down, or checking out the loud music coming from across the street, or coming to our rescue when we find a lost child.

Sometimes, though, even when we feel law-abiding, we’re hit with the realization that we’re just like everyone else. Scofflaws. Outlaws. Rebels.

Several weeks ago I was driving through downtown during busy traffic time. I encountered the Usual Idiots of Traffic Flow, those bastards who decide at the last second that they reeeeally need to turn right…when they’re in the far left lane…cutting you off. There are those who drive too fast. There are those who don’t understand pedestrians have the right of way. There are those who have a drivers license only through some fluke of the Secretary of State’s office, and really should be using Local Bus Service. And then there’s me. A. Good. Driver. So I thought.

I had just earned a bonus at work, and had the check beside me on the front seat, itching to be deposited and used for Christmas presents for the kids. Practical, right? I’m driving the speed limit…25 mph…watching cars weave and bob in front of and behind me, gasping when an SUV pulls from the left lane to my middle lane, directly behind me, so close I can’t see the front of his vehicle…only his shitty grin. I kept normal speed, watching the lights, and was relieved when Mr. TooClose popped over to the right lane, then made a turn. The light ahead had just turned yellow, and there was no way with traffic flow that I could stop in time. As I passed underneath the light, I could see it turn red.

Then I saw the spinning lights.

A motorcycle cop magically appeared behind me, motioning me to pull over. Which I did. Stunned. According to Michigan Law regarding yellow lights, “If you cannot stop safely, do not speed up but drive cautiously through the intersection.” Which was what I did. And what I lamely stated to the cop when he walked up to my car. (He was total Hollywood…high leather boots, mirrored sunglasses, chiseled cheekbones. I wanted to ask him which acting studio he worked for, but thought that was presumptuous.)

“Do you know why I pulled you over?”, he said, knowing I knew.

“Uh, the light? It was yellow when I passed under it.” I stammered.

“License and registration.”

In my decades of driving, I have only had one ticket. I generally drive like a grandma. So I was hoping beyond hope that the cop would see my stellar record and let me off with a warning. Instead, he came back with a pad of forms, a pen, and a line upon which to sign. There was no excuse he wanted to hear. Stupidly I blurted out, as he handed me my copy, “I just got a bonus today. Guess I know where that’s going.” He fingered his helmet, went back to his ride, and was off.

I had to sit there for a minute, processing what just happened. I drove the 6 blocks to the bank, deposited the check, pulled over in a parking lot, and bawled my eyes out. The ticket was for more money than I received in my paltry bonus. All that work…gone…for legally passing through a yellow light.

I had 10 days to pay it or fight it. Being an analyst, and feeling “right”, I decided to fight it. I went into the restaurant at the corner of the intersection where the cop pulled me over, sat in the front booth with a perfect view, and timed the lights and traffic. Over half the cars that passed the crosswalk on yellow passed through the light on red. The light itself is not in the middle of the intersection, but at the crosswalk past the intersection, and it takes 4 to 5 seconds for a car to haul ass at 25 mph through the space. The yellow light presented to traffic is 3.5 seconds long. See the math? Not enough time, not unless you’re speeding. I timed other intersections in the blocks before that light…they had the yellow light for 4.5 to 5.5 seconds. More time. Not fair.

I wrote up a 3-page explanation with detail of the light patterns, the number of cars that passed through on yellow/red, the amount of yellow light time at other intersections, which had the same speed limit and traffic flow. On the ticket I could Admit fault, Admit with Explanation, or Deny. I took the middle. I presented the papers to the local district court, sure that my brilliant observations would get me a lower fine.

5 days later, I received a letter. We have decided you are Denying the charge. You have 7 days to pay the ticket as is, or we will set a court date.

Fack. Was I too brilliant? Did they want to examine my fantastic analytic skills in person? I knew that to fight this further, I’d need to videotape the lights. Videotape 51 percent of cars at the intersection going through on red. Make cases and explanations and do the job of the city planners. In days.

I couldn’t do it. I had not the will nor the time to take on this second job.

I paid the damn ticket.

I told Sergei, when I have the time, I’ll do all that stuff…the videotape, the brilliant observations, expert opinions, and present them at a City Council meeting. Hopefully get the light timed better. It won’t take away the fine I’ve paid, or take the points off my driving record, but at least in that fight, I might feel vindicated. Lose the battle, win the war. Totally Punk Rock.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Poetry Friday WORD for Tomorrow...and pumpkin bread, dammmmmit

I recently had an opportunity to fight. To prove myself, my innocence. In the end, however, it was just too much for me, and I conceeded defeat. I will blog upon't tomorrow, but it set me thinking...we all have times when we get up off our asses and fight for something, large or small, personal or for The Common Good. And I don't mean mere fisticuffs, either, I mean morally, ethically, monetarily, spiritually. Let's not forget sexually.

The Poetry Friday Word for tomorrow is FIGHT. Tell us in your own creative way about when you fought for something, or witnessed someone else raising their fist in the air and yelling "Hell No!" Give us your best short story, limerick, reggae song-styling, photo, R-rated video, boob-tube speech. Extra points if it involves ponies or pancakes. (Who doesn't like ponies and pancakes?)

A few weeks ago I tried out a sweet potato recipe that included pumpkin and coconut milk (hosting the inlaws this year for Thanksgiving), and with the leftover pumpkin and coconut milk I made THE most delicious pumpkin bread I've ever tasted or created. Now that I'm gathering my recipes together, can I find the pumpkin bread recipe? Can I? Hell! No! I've tried googling it a thousand ways, went to all my usual suspect sites (FoodNetwork, Epicurious, AllRecipes, etc.) and still can't find the thing. Does anyone have ideas where I can look now, or have a similar recipe? It had pumpkin puree (canned, natch), coconut milk, and I believe no eggs. It also had no nuts or coconut in it. I've been drooling an entire day thinking of that bread, and I'm a bit obsessed. More than obsessed. I'm stalking that recipe. With a fork.

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Musical Interlude

I love a good visual.

Weezer, "Troublemaker" (but better link here)

Gnarls Barkley, "Who's Gonna Save My Soul?"

Friday, November 07, 2008

Poetry Friday: Winning...Losing

I'm tending away from the hard-and-fast sole and lonely WORD for Poetry Friday, instead focusing more on concepts...ideas...situations. Today's Poetry about Winning and Losing. We've all been on top of the mountain with the loving cup and a thousand naked adorers screaming and throwing little pickles at us. We've also been a loser, an outcast, crawling among the muck and slime of our own self-pity, wishing for the hole to crawl into and cry until we perish.

That's life, kids.

Tell us about Winning and Losing. Write a song, speak a speech, spout your favourite platitude, show us a little happy dance complete with hand movements and creative hip-shakin'.

Have a good weekend, y'all!

Quotations Page

Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to build bigger and better idiot-proof programs, and the Universe trying to produce bigger and better idiots. So far, the Universe is winning. (Rick Cook, The Wizardry Compiled)

If winning isn't everything, why do they keep score? (Vince Lombardi)

Nothing can so alienate a voter from the political system as backing a winning candidate. (Mark B. Cohen)

One should always play fairly when one has the winning cards. (Oscar Wilde)

I've done the calculation and your chances of winning the lottery are identical whether you play or not. (Fran Lebowitz)

It's never just a game when you're winning. (George Carlin)

Winning may not be everything, but losing has little to recommend it. (Senator Dianne Feinstein)

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Poetry Friday WORD for surprises

Given the events of this week, it's fitting that the Poetry Friday Word for tomorrow be about Winning and Losing. Tell us a story of when you won that contest, lost that best friend, won the battle but lost the war. Write a poem, lament in an angst-filled song, paint us a pretty picture of you with a medal around your neck and nothing on but socks.