Friday, November 24, 2006
My uploading addiction was curbed this week by holiday preparations and other household chores that needed done. By the way, my attempt at Kris Kringle cookies was stunted by my inability to find the rolling mat. D'oh! I made Cox Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting instead. Nobody complained.
Song count has increased, but not at the same clip as previously. As of this morning, 13231.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
This time last year, I'd started a day-long blogging spree interspersed with simultaneous Thanksgiving and Christmas preparation and other chores. This year, there will only be one blog entry -- this one. There will still be chores, although they will be largely centered on today's holiday only.
As he has done in previous years, Ted is working. So I am left to my own devices. I'm going to endeavor another traditional family recipe -- Kris Kringle cookies. It's been years since I've made them, but I do remember that they're a ton of work. So, I should wrap up the miscellaneous internet chatter and get cracking.
In the spirit of both the holiday and my recent spate of counting, I'd like to share this New York Times editorial. It's written by comedian/actor/musician Rick Moranis. Happy Thanksgiving.
My Days Are Numbered
By RICK MORANIS
The average American home now has more television sets than people ... according to Nielsen Media Research. There are 2.73 TV sets in the typical home and 2.55 people, the researchers said. — The Associated Press, Sept. 21.
I HAVE two kids. Both are away at college.
I have five television sets. (I like to think of them as a set of five televisions.) I have two DVR boxes, three DVD players, two VHS machines and four stereos.
I have nineteen remote controls, mostly in one drawer.
I have three computers, four printers and two non-working faxes.
I have three phone lines, three cell phones and two answering machines.
I have no messages.
I have forty-six cookbooks.
I have sixty-eight takeout menus from four restaurants.
I have one hundred and sixteen soy sauce packets.
I have three hundred and eighty-two dishes, bowls, cups, saucers, mugs and glasses.
I eat over the sink.
I have five sinks, two with a view.
I try to keep a positive view.
I have two refrigerators.
It’s very hard to count ice cubes.
I have thirty-nine pairs of golf, tennis, squash, running, walking, hiking, casual and formal shoes, ice skates and rollerblades.
I’m wearing slippers.
I have forty-one 37-cent stamps.
I have no 2-cent stamps.
I read three dailies, four weeklies, five monthlies and no annual reports.
I have five hundred and six CD, cassette, vinyl and eight-track recordings.
I listen to the same radio station all day.
I have twenty-six sets of linen for four regular, three foldout and two inflatable beds.
I don’t like having houseguests.
I have one hundred and eighty-four thousand frequent flier miles on six airlines, three of which no longer exist.
I have “101 Dalmatians” on tape.
I have fourteen digital clocks flashing relatively similar times.
I have twenty-two minutes to listen to the news.
I have nine armchairs from which I can be critical.
I have a laundry list of things that need cleaning.
I have lost more than one thousand golf balls.
I am missing thirty-seven umbrellas.
I have over four hundred yards of dental floss.
I have a lot of time on my hands.
I have two kids coming home for Thanksgiving.
Sunday, November 19, 2006
Bought an outfit for the holiday party. It's black. ::sigh:: The top does have a design "burnt" into the velvet and a little sparkle up around the neckline. Still, it would have been nice to have some green or maroon or gold or something. Oh well.
Uploaded some more music, although iTunes was being very temperamental as to the speed with which it uploaded. Some songs went at 20x or better, but more than a few went at 5x, 3x, 1.2x. So, between doing other stuff (football, shopping) and the speed issue, I didn't get as much done today as I would have liked. Oh well.
The cats always make me happy. When I work at the computer, there are three designated cat areas in the immediate vicinity. An afghan-covered kitty hammock on the floor to the left of my desk. A folded afghan on the desktop, at my right hand. A folded lamb's wool blanket on the floor by the bookcase, to my right. The hammock is exclusively Sadie's, and the lamb's wool is exclusively Schmoo's. The desktop spot can easily accommodate two cats, and does on a fairly regular basis. Milo probably spends the most time there, sometimes solo, but oftentimes he's joined by any of the other three cats. Milo is the ambassador of the house -- everyone loves Milo. Woodle will occasionally hang out there, but usually he abandons the room altogether and sleeps on an afghan-covered gliding rocker in the living room.
Tonight, Woodle spent a little time on the desktop afghan with Milo, but then decided he wanted his own spot. Sick of being the odd cat out, he moved over to the other side of the desk and proceeded to settle right down on a Walgreens flyer, at the top of my keyboard, under the banker's lamp. Didn't seem to me that it would be comfortable, but he was very happy there for a good hour or so. Then, he decided that the afghan would probably be softer.
So, I guess I'll have to clean off the newspaper flyers permanently and find another afghan to fold up and put in this spot for Woodle. You'd think they'd find any of the approximately one thousand other soft, comfortable spots in the 1600 square feet of space we occupy. But I like having them close, so I can't complain.
Here's a picture I took of Woodle on the desktop afghan this summer. It took me a good 15 minutes to get one of him with his eyes closed, because every time I turned the camera on to take a picture, he popped his head right up to inspect. What a funny boy. We love having them around.
Song count: 12092
"Miniature Disasters" by KT Tunstall
Saturday, November 18, 2006
in honor of sufjan stevens, a musician known for both music and very long song titles, i crown this "the shortest blog entry with the longest title"
"Sex Without Bodies" by Dave's True Story
The uploading has begun again, although it will stop shortly when I go tackle more Christmas gifts. I won't actually be able to work on that for long, because I want to get to Catherine's when it opens, and it's about 45 minutes from here. I just went to their website and am a bit concerned that all my choices for holiday attire will be black. I hope the selection in-store will be a bit more expansive (and colorful).
Song count: 10274
"Are You Serious" by 'Til Tuesday
Friday, November 17, 2006
In between chores and continued song uploading, I'll also need to squeeze in a trip to Orange in an attempt to procure a sparkly dress (and probably some sparkly shoes) for the company's holiday party, which is coming up very quickly. And Sunday will have us driving to our Seahawks' friends' house for game-watching. That is, presuming any/all of the four of us are up to it (all of us have some variation of a cold at the moment).
For now, sleep, dream, recuperate. TTYL.
Song count: 10152
"Butterfly" by Corinne Bailey Rae
[A] participate in viewings with friends (although only of the Seahawks and the Superbowl),
[B] recognize key players (even on teams other than the Seahawks) and sometimes even know what makes them especially good (Josh Brown rules!),
[C] fully understand the most important plays (touchdowns, field goals, etc.) and partly get other stuff, and
[D] occasionally read articles and listen to new stories about football.
OK, so it's not much more than before, but it's more. The other day, I happened upon Ted's Sports Illustrated and found an article by Rick Reilly. Actually, I read a lot of Mr. Reilly's articles. This one is called "A Barber Who Won't Cut It Close." It's about Tiki Barber (one of a pair of twins who both play professional football... see? I know this stuff). And it makes me believe that he is one of the smartest men in football. Read for yourself.
In America, you do not quit at the top. You do not quit when you're the leading rusher in the NFL. You do not quit when there's millions left on the table. But Tiki Barber, a 31-year-old Giants running back, is retiring at the end of this season, his 10th in pro football -- and the country wants to sue.A very smart man, indeed.
"To me, [he's] quitting. That's not retiring." -- MICHAEL IRVIN, ESPN
Meet Earl Campbell. Heisman-winning running back at Texas and 1979 NFL MVP with the Oilers. His back is shot. Two months ago, at his old college stadium, a statue depicting a strong and virile Campbell from his playing days was unveiled. The man himself, though, had to be helped out of a golf cart and to the podium so he could speak to the crowd. He is 51.
Meet Jim Plunkett. Played quarterback for 15 NFL seasons. Yesterday was a very bad day for Plunkett. What happened? "I woke up," he says. Plunkett doesn't seize the day. It seizes him. He has constant throbbing in his back and neck. He's got arthritis in one hip and both knees. He can't raise his left arm past his shoulder. His spine is so curved, he tilts like a sinking oil tanker. The pain wakes him up at night. He's 58.
"I tell my kids, 'Pretty soon, you're going to be wheeling me around,'" says Plunkett. He's not laughing when he says it.
"I don't quite know why Tiki is quitting. Maybe being a Super Bowl champion isn't that important to him." -- JIM OTTO, HALL OF FAME CENTER
It meant a helluva lot to Otto, who never won a Super Bowl in 15 seasons with the Raiders but nearly destroyed his body trying. He's had nearly 60 operations -- 48 on his knees, three on his nose, three on his shoulders, three on his back and one on each elbow. His ankle looks like a science project. He's got rods up and down his spine. Arthritis in his feet and neck tortures him. He is 68.
"He could be leaving 3,000 yards on the field, which could put him on the wrong side of the Hall of Fame bubble." -- GARY MYERS, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
At the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony every year, we see the price of greatness. It gouges. Anvil-jawed heroes teeter across the stage as if it's their first time on stilts. It takes them longer to sit down than many drive-through transactions take.
Meet Paul Krause. He was enshrined in Canton after spending 16 seasons as an NFL free safety, 12 of them with the Vikings. Pain forces him to change positions every five minutes.
Meet Hall of Famer Jim Langer, 12 seasons, including 10 on the Dolphins' offensive line. He walks like a man with nails in his shoes, but he'll never use a walker. "If it gets to that point, I'll move on," he says. What's that mean? "That's my business."
Meet Dan Dierdorf. Lineman, Cardinals, 13 seasons, also in the Hall. Uses a cane when he walks, if you can call what he does walking. Blocking with his head first has left him two inches shorter than he was in college. He's already got two artificial hips, and he's planning to have a second knee replacement. His ankle needs fusing. "I've got more titanium in my body than in my golf bag," Dierdorf says.
Once, Dierdorf happened to be walking down a Canton hallway next to Dick Butkus. They looked like a pair of Iwo Jima survivors. Butkus's legs are so bad, he lumbers along as though he's about to tip forward on his nose. Dierdorf walks like a Maryland crab, from side to side. "If we could've found a guy who walked tipping over backwards," Dierdorf says, "we'd have had every direction covered."
"Honestly, I don't want Tiki around anyway if his heart isn't in it." -- DKATZ0, BBI CORNER FORUM
Tiki Barber has his money, his memories and most of his cartilage. What he doesn't seem to have is the right to live his own life.
"When I get home from work," says Barber, "my [two- and four-year-old] kids come running at me. They make me get on my knees, and we play tackle football. On replacement knees, that's not happening. I saw this video of O.J. Simpson once, and his kids came running at him and he couldn't even pick them up. So I can see that if I play three or four more years, like everybody wants me to, that could be me. But when I'm 50 years old, and I'm having trouble just getting down the stairs, will they be cheering for me then?"
Meet Tiki Barber.
He walked, while he still could.
That is, until a better technology comes along that will allow you to put 20,000 songs onto a device the size of a deck of cards and pack away all those Compact Discs you spent too much money on for the last 15 years.
The Compact Disc Digital Audio System offers the best possible sound reproduction -- on a small, convenient disc.
Its remarkable performance is the result of a unique combination of digital storage and laser optics. For the best results, you should apply the same care in storing and handling the Compact Disc as you would with conventional records. No cleaning is necessary if the Compact Disc is always held by its edges and is replaced in its case directly after playing. If the Compact Disc becomes soiled by fingerprints, dust or dirt, it can be wiped (always in a straight line from center to edge) with a clean and lint-free, soft, dry cloth. Never use a solvent or abrasive cleaner to clean disc. If you follow these suggestions, the Compact Disc will provide a lifetime of listening enjoyment.
Song count: 9429
"Dare to Fall in Love" by Brent Bourgeois (a solo effort from half of Bourgeois Tagg. Remember them? Yeah, not many people do. I loved them.).
As the CDs are uploaded, I've been placing them into large storage bins, rather than putting them back on my huge CD shelving unit. The truth is that my collection outgrew that rack a couple years ago, which explains why everything relatively new is completely out of order: there was no space for me to integrate them alphabetically or by genre, so I ended up with stacks on top of it, next to it, and on the bookshelves in our office.
Now that everything's going into containers, the shelves are slowly emptying, and I'm faced with the reality of trying to reorganize my collection. Logic tells me to start doing this now, but fear tells me to wait until everything is done. It's going to be a massive project. I've been through it once before, when I outgrew my old rack (which held about 500 CDs) and had to blend the subsequent stacks into the group. It took a day and all the table, chair, and floor space in the living room and dining room. Ted has told me that he's going to make himself scarce this time, so frightened is he at the prospect of watching the spectacle again.
For now, I'm holding off. I have a few other higher priority projects (like Christmas wrapping) that need to be done first. We'll just have to live with the now-growing stack of 40 quart storage containers filled to the brim with CDs.
I may blog more today. I'm not going anywhere (except to nap), and I'll be uploading par usual, so it's a distinct possibility.
"It Can't Be Forever" by Ephraim Lewis
Thursday, November 16, 2006
We slept in until 8:00am, which was amazingly decadent! Had breakfast, enjoyed a little leisurely time, showered and dressed, and took a train into New York City. At Zaro's Bread Basket, we shared a delicious (and huge) salad with warm sunflower seed bread. As Rachael Ray would say, yum-o.
We took a cab to Arrojo Studio, where Ted got his hair cut. I thought this was quite adventurous of him, given his historical preference for coiffures of the SuperCuts variety. Nick was there, sporting a light pink button-down shirt and the tiniest of tiny ponytails. But Ted wasn't quite prepared to pay Nick rates for a haircut, so he simply watched him bop around the salon. I was a sideline spectator, alternating between watching Ted's proceedings, general people-watching, chatting with the staff (who are starting to know who I am now), and exchanging stories with a nice couple who traveled from Montreal so Nick could cut the woman's extremely long (hadn't been cut in years) hair.
We cabbed back to Grand Central, arriving just in time to immediately board the train home. We've since had dinner, caught up on some more TiVo, and spent time on our computers. Three guesses what I've been doing on mine. Yep. Uploading music. But now I must go to bed.
Oh! One more thing. I understand from Stacy that today is Half-Nekkid Thursday, when you're supposed to post pictures of your partially bare self.
For anyone who knows me (and even those who don't), fear not! I'm not going to get graphic. In fact, the guidelines suggest not to get too graphic. So my pendulum swings in the other direction. Here's my forearm! It doesn't get much more innocuous than that. You can see part of my dress and its sleeve, as well as the costume of the Polynesian Culture Center employee who was standing next to me at the time.
This was from my trip to Hawaii almost two years ago. I'd never really had a burning desire to go to Hawaii. I mean, it always sounded nice: I just didn't feel the inexplicable lure that so many others seemed to feel about it. But I had the opportunity to attend a conference in Honolulu, so off I went. Luckily, I had enough foresight to add a few vacation days to the end of the trip, because I basically fell in love with Hawaii as soon as I got off the plane. I mean, even the airport is partially open to the elements and has the distinct aroma of tropical flowers (once you get past the jet smell that co-mingles with it).
Honolulu is a big city, so there was noise and smog and traffic congestion. I stayed in a hotel that was one block away from Waikiki Beach, which was packed with people every time I went anywhere near it. Despite these things that sound very anti-paradise, I loved it. The flowers everywhere. The people were so nice (the spirit of Aloha). Even the dense humidity -- something I hate in New England -- was perfect on Oahu. The only things I didn't like about Hawaii were (A) the short amount of time I was there, (B) the fact that I really only saw a couple parts of one island, and (C) the length of time it takes to get there. Oh, some "basics" are pretty amazingly expensive. The two things that stand out in my memory are gas (more than $4 a gallon -- well before it was above $2.25 on the mainland) and milk (more than $6 a gallon).
I want to go back to Hawaii. Now, I understand the lure.
OK, I was going to make it to bed at a reasonable time, until I started talking about paradise. Oh well. 'Night, 'night.
Song count: 8854.
"Fragile" by Sting
Well, my children, sometimes life intervenes. Two signs came to me today to convince me to temper my furious import mania. First was the overwhelming need to sleep for more than four or five hours. After about a week of late night bedtimes and very early morning alarms, the deprivation has caught up with me. So, this morning, I woke up, got ready for work, and went to work. That's it. No squeezing just another 100 songs in while blow-drying my hair.
Then, something happened in my office that could either be interpreted as Sign #2 or could just be an indicator that Sign #1 has long-reaching consequences. In the 20 seconds I was bent over to get some promotional bags out of a box on the floor of my office, I completely forgot that there are large, steel storage bins mounted overhead. Can you see this coming? I didn't. I stood straight up and ***WHAM*** smacked the back of my skull right into the edge of the bin. That was almost nine hours ago. My head still hurts. My husband finally convinced me to take some Aleve. Maybe I'll sleep.
So, anyway, I did actually do some uploading tonight. I'll put the count in at the bottom. Instead of just listing the song that's playing as I publish, I'm going to put in the last 30 songs I've heard on shuffle. These combinations are getting downright amazing, now that there's so much more music in my iTunes library. But, as I mentioned about the paradox the other day, I still have a long way to go. The first 5000 or so songs were from CDs that I listened to most frequently or used for a specific purpose (like having my entire holiday catalog online or making mix "tapes"), plus song purchases. After about 5000, I started going through my rack in alphabetical order. Right now, I'm up to Counting Crows. So, there's still a lot to go. Plus, after Z, there are a couple of sections by genre (soundtracks, compilations, and classical). Yep, lots left to do.
Man, I must have banged around my brain, because I feel like I'm just rambling and making little sense. So, I'll get back to business. The list of songs I've listened to tonight while uploading music. Here goes:
The Child Is Gone
Men In My Life
I Like You
The Uncertainty Of The Poet
The Working Hour
Tears For Fears
Can't Get Enough
Let's Get Away From It All
Astrud Gilberto, Antõnio Carlos Jobim & Marty Paich's Orchestra
4 Leaf Clover
Don't Let It Get To You
Lullaby Of Broadway
That Petrol Emotion
Muzzle Of Bees
Mary J. Blige
Less Is More
O Morro Nao Tem Vez (Favela)
Stan Getz, Luiz Bonfá w/Antõnio Carlos Jobim
You've got to admit, that's getting crazy eclectic. Love it!
OK before the song count, I must redirect your attention to my blogging friend, Billy. He is very committed to producing new art on a regular basis, and I love his use of color. He starts with one or more of several media (paint, photography, etc.), but his hallmark is the digitization he employs. There are two pieces here. The one at top is a new one (although I don't know why Blogger's putting a big block of white space under it). The one here is a Christmas flashback from last year. Nice work, as always, Billy!
OK, super duper time for my brusied head to rest on soft pillows. Song count: 8046.
Blogger has way freaked out on me. Pictures gone screwy, spellcheck telling me entire paragraphs are wrong. Maybe it bumped its skull on something hard, too. Good night.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Anyway, we sat in the car and chatted about our day at work. We heard a fender bender occur just out of sight, and we chuckled as car after car drove up to the restaurant door, read the sign, and left. Once in, we chatted with Trish for a bit and settled in for a rare three course dinner. We both had New England clam chowder. Always a fine choice, although I had been hoping for Bob's amazing butternut squash and apple soup. Then for appetizers, I had a crab cake with grilled shrimp and ginger sauce, and Ted had unbreaded calamari sauteed in marinara sauce. For the entree, I had manicotti that really needs to have a more inventive name because it's the best manicotti I've ever had anywhere, hands down. The home made red sauce alone is worth writing home about. Ted went simpler and had a Caprese salad (mozzarella and tomato slices with balsamic vinegar and giant leaves of fresh basil). I even had a nice glass of Merlot, which complemented the dinner wonderfully.
See? I just spent an entire paragraph talking about a lovely evening out with my husband, where we chatted and enjoyed dinner. I'm not obsessed.
When we got home, we did a little TiVo catch-up, and now I'm back to the computer. OK, so I'm back to uploading, but I can multi-task. I've also been writing this blog entry and chatting with Caitlin online. Now that I've said all that, it is -- in fact -- time to go to bed. When this last disc of the evening is done, my current song count will be 7586.
Last one out, turn off the lights.
"Over the Moon" by Luka Bloom
Monday, November 13, 2006
So obsessed am I with transferring songs that I decided to forgo my extra half hour of sleep this morning, and I got up at 5:00am to move more music. I should have left for work at 6:30am: that still would have been a reasonable amount of progress for so freakin' early in the morning. But I couldn't stop. I left at 7:15am. And as soon as I got home tonight, I hastily gave my husband a kiss and the cats some ear scratches on the path to my desk for more uploading.
Thankfully, the lure of baked salmon with pesto, rice pilaf, and fresh broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and green beans was strong enough to take me away from it for a while. Ted and I chatted while enjoying our repast, and then we caught up on TiVo. As soon as Prison Break was done, guess where I went? Um, to where I came? That is, where I am now?
Yeah. I'm here. At my computer. Uploading more discs. I can't write any more tonight. I have to get some sleep, in order to be able to wake up at 5:00am and start all over again. Maybe I could just sleep at the desk, in three minute increments.
Song count (at this moment, but constantly increasing): 6935. In case you were wondering, that's 882 songs... today alone. And 2852 since I started counting one week ago yesterday. Yep. I'm addicted.
"Mr. Solitaire" by Animal Nightlife (an alternative 80s flashback of epic proportion)
Sunday, November 12, 2006
More songs uploaded (I'll put a count at the end, along with the song playing at the time), more email, news, and blogs read, a podcast listened to (This American Life), more TiVo caught up on (Flip That House), some napping (covered with an afghan and surrounded by sleeping cats) immensely enjoyed, three meals made. Good stuff.
There are always topics I'd like to discuss. And as is usually the case when I attempt to talk about size acceptance, I always think of other aspects I'd wished I'd included. But I'm not going into any of that tonight. Don't want to risk saturation.
OK, so I'm just being lazy.
On that note, I would like to suggest a couple places on the web to visit where you can lighten your emotional load. If you're not already reading Dave Barry's blog, you're missing out. But even if you don't go there, you must at least check out this interview. I was laughing so hard, I couldn't speak to explain to my perplexed husband what was so funny. And Cute Overload reflexively puts all the smile muscles to immediate use. Like this.
Song count: 6053
"The Goon Drag" by Don Byron
Photo by Russ Dillingham of the Lewiston (Maine) Sun Journal.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
I managed to maintain my energy level all day long. I don't know from whence it came -- especially considering I started at 5:30am. I made astonishing progress on my to-do list. Ted assisted with the final stretch of the stocking assembly line. Thanks, Honey! All 12 of the kids' stockings are done, and bonus, so are most of their presents. I even made progress on non-kids gifts.
Yee-haw, it's only November 11th, and we're nearly done with all of our Christmas preparation! The stash will sit quietly, happily, steeping in good cheer, until we pack everything up in large storage containers and drive North for the holiday. I love Christmas!
Speaking of today's date, it's also my brother's 50th birthday and Veterans' Day. When I was growing up, the running joke in our family was that Gerry thought school was closed because it was his birthday. He's still climbing ice walls, camping in the desert, geocaching, and eagerly seeking out new things to learn. He's the youngest half-centenarian I know. Happy birthday, Gere!
Veterans' Day makes me think about a whole bunch of things. First is for the people who are future veterans -- the ones out there today. A woman from my office was called up last summer, and is in Iraq now. A group of us are putting together a care package for her and her troops. Travel-sized shampoo bottles, pocket-sized tissue packs, bug spray. Merry Christmas, eh? Then I think about the veterans from conflicts past, the sacrifices they made, and the memorials in the park of my home town.
The New York Times had a feature today where they showcased the designs of several artists who each proposed a new way honor veterans. Most of them were interesting. There was a large window in the shape of the United States. A "USA OK" t-shirt. The official American uniform (Levi's jeans, white t-shirt, Rayban sunglasses, and optional Chuck Taylor sneakers).
I found this one of the buttons (above) particularly striking. In fact, it makes me cry. It makes me think of my friend, Hildi, and my nephew's graduation where several of his classmates stood up to be recognized before leaving to join the armed services.
And so now I need to talk about something else. Speaking of my nephew (the same, Andrew, who helped me earlier today), niece Caitlin also provided vital information to assist with my massive music project. They are two smart cookies! I haven't uploaded any more songs since the last time I mentioned song count in an earlier entry, but would like to note that I uploaded a total of 1001 songs today. Isn't that a great number? And I was worried that I'd be averaging 32.5 songs per day. Peeshaw!
One last note, then I must go. Despite my never-ending energy flow, my throat is starting to get sore -- a sign that my body's tired, even if I don't feel it. It was only a matter of time before I caught the gunk that my poor husband's been battling all week.
When talking about size acceptance, I'm usually venting my frustration as the world tries to cram a bunch of wrong-headed information down everyone's throats and claim that it's only because they care about our health. This is a load of hooey for a zillion reasons, although the big, simple one is this: not everyone who is fat is unhealthy, in the same way that not everyone who is thin is healthy. Obviously, it's more complicated than that (which is also one of the zillion reasons), but let's just go with this one.
One of my favorite television shows (House) recently centered an episode on the mysterious health travails of George Hagel -- a 600 pound man. Upon watching the show, I am extremely satisfied by it. That happens so rarely when it comes to fat in entertainment that I feel it warrants mention.
The crux of the issue is that George knows with equal certainty that he is both fat and free of the elevated health hazards (glucose, cholesterol, blood pressure, etc.) that are so routinely associated with it. The doctors' tests repeatedly prove that, but in an effort to understand the cause of his recent unexplained coma, they continue down the fat path.
He demands that their tests include any possible cause other than his weight. Still they persist, to the point where House is trying to force him to drink the sugar solution for a glucose tolerance test. It is only then, when George flails his arms to fight the onslaught of liquid and House grabs his hand to force him, that House realizes from George's clubbed fingers that he has lung cancer. A sad story of inoperable illness that will lead to the character's demise. When told, George says, "I never smoked." The episode is title "Que Sera Sera."
There were plenty of fat jokes, insults, and assumptions flying around during the show (insults are a staple of the series, so this is right in line with the norm). And they couldn't resist the emphasis on his eating habits (a gourmet chef with an industrial size refrigerator in his kitchen). But what differentiates it from all the other shows/movies that include fat in the plot line is that those assumptions are called into question and ultimately debunked. George is intelligent, informed, well-spoken, and rational. And his illness is not caused by his weight. His frustration was palpable, and his fight to convince people hit extremely close to home for me.
The whole show was a cleansing breath of fresh air. I can only hope that enough people who saw the show got the right message out of it. It saddens me a bit to know that there were undoubtedly many viewers who saw it without actually getting the points that I got.
Big, fat (and I mean that in a really good way) kudos to the Fox network, and the writers and producers who created this (and every) episode of House.
"Kiss on My List" by Daryl Hall and John Oates.
Santa painting by Richard Lithgow.
Let's skip over that second bit, and focus on what's important. The concept of Challenge Day engaged me immediately. Early into the show, it made me think of my company's Diversity Council (of which I am currently Vice Chair and will become Chair shortly). The lessons that can be learned through this type of exercise could have huge implications not only on employee relations but to the success of the business. The program wasn't designed for a corporate environment. Jane Elliott's exercise, though not originally created specifically for the corporate world, is probably more suited to that. But the idea of having a cross section of employees participate in Challenge Day is infinitely appealing to me.
Irrespective of that notion, I do think the program should be utilized by every high school in America. Every year. Forever. Oprah was right -- this is the kind of thing that changes the world one person at a time.
Did some music importing while writing this entry and folding laundry (I can multi-task). Song count is now 5658. Back to stocking assembly for me.
"Let's Call the Whole Thing Off" by Harry Connick, Jr. (could be called a cover song, but is more one of many interpretations of a classic)
I must now head to a project that will keep me in another room (i.e. away from both iTunes and Blogger) for a little while. But I'm determined to finish putting together the kids' stockings this weekend! And so I must away.
But before I go, the song that's playing right now on shuffle (which I'll list below) connects nicely with an activity and a quote from this past week. On Tuesday, we all headed to the polls for mid-term elections. I indeed voted (see sticker payment for civic responsibility, above). Shortly thereafter, I heard a quote from W.C. Fields that made me chuckle. It is "I never vote for anybody. I always vote against." Sad, but true. Never one to stick to party lines, even I was astonished by the fact that I voted for candidates from four different political parties. Craziness.
"Election Day" by Lyle Lovett
Anyway, I'm not going to address in this entry any of the more thoughtful topics about which I'd hoped to blog. That would require too much distraction from the joy of housework! I'm certain my energy will wane later today, and contemplating deep thoughts will be a nice respite.
Instead for now, I'll just make this observation. As I listen to the shuffled songs of my iTunes library, I am struck by two simultaneous thoughts.
Thought 1A. It's great to hear the songs that, to this point, have not been on iTunes/my iPod (which I use at work). It makes the random combination that much more interesting, and I get to listen to music I like that I just haven't listened to much.
Thought 1B. The new additions to the shuffle seem to intensify my awareness of all the music that hasn't been added yet. I hear a recently imported track, and it makes me think about another album by the artist or a different artist.
It's a paradox. But I'll survive. Thought 1A is strong enough to get me through. Current song count: 5138.
"Holding Out for a Hero" by Frou Frou (interestingly, another cover song... this one a Bonnie Tyler song)
My list of weekend tasks is long and exceedingly optimistic. I shall attack it with zeal! And report here occasionally. I have several topics I want to cover, and will attempt to squeeze them in here between chores. The unique feature of this weekend's entries will be ending with the song playing as I hit the "publish" button.
"Old Man" by Lizz Wright (a cover of the Neil Young song)
Friday, November 10, 2006
So, the song count has increased dramatically since my 32.5 songs per day average. Today's count is 4657! That's right, more than 500 songs additional since Tuesday night. I'm going to get so much done this weekend, I'm giddy with anticipation.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
She embodies contradiction. And she should know better.
Building schools for girls in Africa improves lives. Rebuilding homes in the Gulf Coast improves lives. Allowing audience members to help their communities with the aid of $1000 debit cards improves lives. Increasing the literacy of millions of otherwise bookless TV zombies improves lives. She knows these things: she's done them all and more.
So, when she spends a ridiculous amount of time over a couple years glorifying Kirstie Alley's weight loss extravaganza, I have to wonder a couple things. First, how is she able to conveniently forget her own experience with years of yo-yo dieting? Second, how much money is Jenny Craig, Inc. paying to have their name sprinkled so liberally on one of daytime TV's most watched television shows? Third, in the year 2012, what will the Oprah show episode be like when Kirstie comes back to wage her next inevitable battle of the bulge?
Oprah is guilty of perpetuating the false hope that weight loss is possible (when 95% of the time, it's not), and that it solves all of life's problems (when 100% of the time, it does not). So when I started to watch yesterday's TiVo'd Oprah show -- the one highlighting Ms. Alley's bikini entrance -- I deleted it after only watching the first few minutes. Thinking I'd done my duty for Size Acceptance by rejecting the show outright, I moved on to the computer to check email and read some news.
But there she was again. I might have let the whole thing slide were it not for this article. In it, Ms. Alley simultaneously flaunts her newly-svelte body and claims she's not defined by it.
"I think women -- I don't think we ever feel like we're good enough. We don't feel like we're thin enough or pretty enough or smart enough or work hard enough. And we are good enough... . The bikini thing is neither here nor there, other than the fact, you know, I am 55 years old. So I thought -- come on, we are all good enough. And we look good enough. And we are not our bodies." - Kirstie Alley
Hogwash. Poppycock. Balderdash.
How is it possible to say you're good enough after spending two years chastising yourself in a veritable media blitz? It's not. It's all horseshit. Bullshit. Publicity. And the happy "look, I lost weight and look fabulous and YOU SHOULD TOO!" routine is just one more hammer banging away in a universe of hammers that pound the message that thin=happy+healthy and fat=unhappy+unhealthy and there's nothing in the middle. It doesn't matter that nothing in life is that straightforward.
And I again dissolve into the continuation I don't have the time or energy to follow-through on. So, I'll end tonight's rant on a note mentioned before in this space. John Tierney of the New York Times wrote a nice piece called "Fat and Happy" that mentioned this great concept identified by George Armelagos, an anthropologist at Emory University. Speaking of popular preference for body types, he calls the relatively recent desire for thinness the "King Henry VIII and Oprah Winfrey Effect." This is how it's explained:
"In Tudor England, it took hundreds of gardeners, farmers, hunters and butchers to keep Henry VIII fat. In America today, anyone can bulk up without help, but it takes a new set of vassals - personal trainer, nutritionist, private chef - to keep Oprah from looking like Henry VIII."
I have two problems hindering my speed. Whenever iTunes is importing a CD, it slows everything else down. Really badly. Very frustrating and it reduces my productivity on all projects. Also, every now and then when I insert a disc, iTunes asks me to choose which disc it should reference. Unfortunately, the options are often identical with no way for me to tell what differentiates them or -- more importantly -- which one reflects the correct information for my specific CD.
Tonight's touble child was Jack Johnson's "In Between Dreams." The prompt showed me the same three choices, but when I picked one, the track list was completely wrong. I removed and re-inserted the disc hoping to get the prompt again to choose a different one, but it now automatically associates this disc with my incorrect choice. So, either I do some research and find out how to fix this problem (which requires far more work than I want to do), or I let the stupid thing upload with the wrong track list and manually fix everything afterwards (which is even stupider). ACK!
Someday, probably three CDs away from having everything transferred to the computer (November 15, 2009), I'll figure it out. Tonight's additions are as follows (in absolutely no order and with no reasons):
- Wilco "Yankee Foxtrot Hotel"
- Sting "The Dream of the Blue Turtles"
- Cheap Trick "Authorized Greatest Hits"
- Montell Jordan "This is How We Do It"
- Robert Downey Jr. "The Futurist"
- Pete Belasco "Get It Together"
Sunday, November 05, 2006
We've also made a slight change in the manner in which we'll be giving gifts this year, which will ultimately allow us to finish our preparation even earlier than normal. This will allow us even more time to fully enjoy the holidays without any of the gift-related stress. It is indeed the most wonderful time of the year (favorite version, Andy Williams, though I love the warbly happiness of Johnny Mathis's interpretation).
This year's addition to my holiday music collection started early with the purchase of three albums -- a reissued/remastered classic that I never got the first time around, a new release from a seasoned veteran, and the ethereal sweetness of a newer artist (well, "newer" relative to the first two artists).
Although Bette and Herb are on CD, I procured Sarah through iTunes. It was daring and bold and unconventional for me to go virtual on that one, because for some inexplicable reason, it just feels like my holiday music collection should be tangible. Obviously, I got over it by about a third, so perhaps by 2008, I'll have kicked the CD habit altogether.
These newest additions have all been added to my iTunes library, but I've only listened briefly to bits of the songs. For as much as I love holiday music, I'd still like to have a little time to savor autumn (my favorite season). I'll have plenty of time to saturate the air around me with Christmas tunes in the weeks before December 25th. That said, I did listen to the entirety of Sarah McLachlan's "Christmas Time is Here." It is stunningly beautiful and a respectable tribute to the Vince Guaraldi classic.
Adding these new purchases to the collection was the simple part. And I can rest easy knowing that -- when I'm ready to delve head-first into the Holiday genre shuffle -- I'll be prepared. Considerably more challenging is converting the rest of my music collection to digital form. I'd delayed doing this in the past because of an inadequate computer system. That has been resolved, and now the time must be spent importing CDs.
As of today, when I was only able to import six CDs (other chores and a nap induced by an oncoming cold beckoned), my iTunes library numbers 4083 songs (note: approximately 1000 of those are Christmas songs). By my no-doubt-inaccurate guesstimate, if I am able to get everything from all my CDs and records onto the computer (sometime before I die of old age), that number should rise to about 40,000. I'm curious to see how close I come to being correct on that estimate. But it's going to take a very long time (and the addition of a new piece of equipment) before I'll know. Drops in a bucket. Watch for updates to see the number grow.
Post-script: I went heavy on parenthetical phrases this entry. What gives?