Coming Out of Left Field

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Political parody

Hat tip to Eris Esoteric on Easily Addictive for this funny and oh-so-disturbing image:



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Friday, December 30, 2005

Holiday happs

When I think about the past several days, one word comes to mind: "Whew!" For a vacation week, it was remarkably busy:

Saturday - Go over to wife's parents' house. Go shopping with wife and wife's twin for groceries and little presents for various nieces and nephews. Have dinner (8 people). Help with dishes. Sleep over.

Sunday - Exchange gifts (12 people, including brother-in-law who comes over to house with his wife and two kids). Go over to other brother-in-law's house. Have dinner (21 people). Help with dishes. Adults exchange gifts, accompanied by original doggerel. The wife's poems (both acknowledged and ghostwritten) are a big hit. Light first Hanukkah candle, sing "Rock of Ages". Go back to wife's parents' house, go to sleep.

Monday - Wake up with a cold. Alternate hanging out with relatives and hiding in bedroom with box of tissues and a book. Have dinner (21 people). Light second Hanukkah candle, sing. Drive back to own house, go to sleep.

Tuesday - Wake up, find cold has gotten much worse. Have breakfast. Drive to wife's parents' house, crawl into bed, stay there for three hours. Wake up, sneak upstairs to check e-mail, spend an hour deleting spam. Have dinner (13 people). Drive back to own house, light third Hanukkah candle, sing, go to sleep.

Wednesday - Wake up early, get dropped off at subway. Go to place where I might be doing some contract work, get trained for three hours. Take subway to Newton, get picked up and brought to wife's parents' house. Go over to brother-in-law's house. Have dinner (19 people). Light fourth Hanukkah candle, sing. Drive back to own house, go to sleep.

Thursday - Sleep in (yay!). Wake up, meet folks at Sanders Theatre. Watch Xmas Revels, which was quite good as spectacle but lacking in the story department. Go back to brother-in-law's house, have leftovers for dinner (14 people). Bring kids back to wife's parents' house, quickly light fifth Hannukah candle, sing. Drive back to own house, go to sleep.

Friday - Wake up, get dropped off at subway, do more training. Come back home, order pizza for dinner, enjoy a nice quiet night at home.

The other word that comes to mind after such a fun but tiring week: TGIF!

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Thursday, December 22, 2005

Has your signature been stolen?

The signatures on the ballot initiative to ban gay marriage in Massachusetts have been certified by the state, but that's no guarantee they are all valid. If you think you were tricked into signing, you can now search for your name via MassEquality's site. And even if your name does not appear, you can let your legislators know you are concerned about the fraudulent tactics of the paid signature-gatherers.

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Great. Just frickin' great.

Just got an e-mail from school informing me that due to low enrollment, the Digital Editing class for next semester has been cancelled. Also, when I logged into my student account to double-check something, and found a late fee had been added to my balance. A late fee? When I only registered last week? When I haven't even received an invoice yet?!

I was briefly tempted to chuck the whole thing, but I decided to sign up for Sound Design instead. At least it meets on the same day and time, so I won't have to adjust my schedule. And since I want to editing for my thesis, I would probably have to take it at some point anyway. Naturally I've already ordered the textbook for the other class, and since it qualified for fast and free shipping, it's already en route.

Hear that noise? That's my bank account, saying, "Ouch!"

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Cowboy cartoon

A joke for Brokeback fans:



Credit: William Haefeli, appearing in this week's New Yorker.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Damon departing

Well, we didn't have to wait long to answer the question WWJD? (What Will Johnny Do?):

Yankees add Damon to potent lineup

I'd hoped that Damon's contract demands (for both years and money) would keep other teams from stealing him away, but I forgot about Steinbrenner's checkbook. It's going to be weird to see him next season -- in pinstripes, and without facial hair.

As for the Sox, I have to trust that the co-GMs will find somebody to fill the gap in center field and at leadoff. And shortstop. And first base. And spots in the bullpen ...

Sigh. Football, anyone?

Update: Call of the Green Monster has its own tongue-in-cheek take on the Damon debacle.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Congrats, Pats!

There's hope for Boston sports yet:

New England 28, Tampa Bay 0

With the Red Sox in flux, the Celtics struggling and the Bruins mired in last place, this is welcome news. I hope the Patriots kick butt in the playoffs; otherwise, it's going to be a long, long winter.

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Sunday, December 18, 2005

Let's read the want ads

The wife and I get the Sunday Boston Globe, so we spent a little time this morning with the Help Wanted section. This seems to be a slow time of year for print listings in my field, but we had fun anyway imagining the possibilities in some different areas:

Dental Billing Supervisor
"Requires '5+ years in a clinical/dental office setting.' You've been going to the dentist for more than five years, does that count?"

Analytical Chemist
"That's where you blow things up, and figure out why they blew up."

Quote Center Specialist
"Someone would call up and say, 'There's this saying I can't remember, I know it comes from such-and-such book and sounds something like this ...', and I'd say, "Give me a moment, and I'll look it up for you.' Of course the ad doesn't say anything about that, but they probably don't want anyone to know how cool the job is."

High School Principal
"If you were the principal, I'd want to go to your school."

Respiratory Therapist
"Breathe in --"
"Breathe out --"
"Breathe in --"
"Breathe out. And if that didn't do the trick, I'd say, 'OK, put the lungs on,' and they'd tell me all their problems, and then I'd say, 'So, how did you feel about that?'"

No leads, but a few laughs, and that's worth something.

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Saturday, December 17, 2005

Geeky mysteries

The other day I was chatting with a friend about the job situation, and she mentioned that one of her brothers works in the computer industry. She added that she has no idea what he does at his job, only that it has something to do with computers. We talked about this for a few moments, since I feel the same way about my brother. I can tell you he has a doctorate in computer science and works in computers, but when pressed on what exactly he does, I usually mumble, "Er ... some kind of programming, I think. One of these days, I'll have to get him to explain it to me." (Of course, the last time I asked him to clarify what he was working on, he sent me a one-paragraph synopsis of his thesis, which to this liberal-artsy, non-technical person did not bear more than a slight resemblance to English.)

My friend and I got a few chuckles out of this before returning to the topic of job-hunting. She said she would keep her eyes open for any likely positions -- and then said, "Maybe at some point, you can tell me what exactly it is you do ..."

I may not be a hard-core geek like my brother, but it's nice to be mistaken for one every once in a while.

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Friday, December 16, 2005

RIP, John Spencer

Sometimes life imitates art, though in this case I really wish it didn't:

"West Wing" actor dies at 58

It's going to be weird watching the show from now on. Whatever happens with the election, Leo McGarry won't be back next season, and Spencer will never be back, period. Hopefully he's gone on to the Big Studio in the Sky, and has his pick of scripts, co-stars and directors to work with.

Update: the West Wing group on Tribe.net has a thread sharing people's favorite Leo quotes/moments.

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Thursday, December 15, 2005

Baby steps

The academic limbo got cleared up yesterday, and after some discussion with the wife, I decided to go ahead and register for Digital Editing next semester. We agreed that no matter what happened with work, the pregnancy thing, etc. it would be stupid for me to leave school without taking a class in the one subject I'm really interested in. The class that still had seats meets just once a week from 6 to 9 p.m., so it wouldn't interfere with interviews or a job. The only sad thing is that it means a little less time with the wife, but she told me we'd manage. (My getting to telecommute has really spoiled us in that department.)

I also got the resume in shape, and have started looking for positions. I applied at a website I worked for five years ago, but haven't heard anything yet. The agent at my contracting agency is also looking, though at this point I would prefer something permanent (or as close to that as jobs get nowadays). The manager at my current assignment did tell me that if work picked up again, they'd be happy to have me back. I'll leave it to the agent to inform him that the feeling isn't mutual.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Sox quote of the day

"Who would pay that much money to have lunch with Theo? He's not that good company."

Paul Epstein, poking fun at his twin (and former Red Sox GM), as quoted in the Boston Globe. The Home for Little Wanderers, which is supported by the Epsteins through their charity, A Foundation to be Named Later, is currently running a holiday fundraising auction; bidding for the highest-drawing item, "Lunch with Theo Epstein), has reached $15,300.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Fuck. Fuckity fuck fuck.

Well, I may not have to worry about my job conflicting with a possible class next semester, seeing as at the moment I won't have one -- a job, that is. Just got the news that with the New Year, one of the freelance positions is being eliminated, and it was a business decision (naturally) to make it my position that went bye-bye.

I'm not totally surprised, since work has been slow lately. But this is going to make a lot of things more complicated, and I was stressed out enough as it was. So much for a merry Xmas.

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Speechless

Thanks to rmthunter on Easily Addictive, I was able to read Annie Proulx's short story "Brokeback Mountain", the basis for the movie of the same name:

Brokeback Mountain

Having just finished it the story, I'm too stunned to say anything beyond "Oh, my God" over and over. Rmthunter, however, has some much more coherent thoughts at one of his blogs, Hunter's Eye.

Update (12/18): the New Yorker must've moved the story, as the above link no longer works. If I find another one, I'll post it.

Update (12/19): link should work now -- I found the cached version on Google.

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Monday, December 12, 2005

Job-sharing

Finally, the Red Sox have filled Theo's shoes -- one guy for the left, one guy for the right:

Two to share Red Sox GM job

Seriously, while this is not an ideal situation, it's better than nothing at all. It should be easier to negotiate, set up trades, and so forth when there's someone (or someones) clearly in charge. I can't help wondering, though, how it'll change the front office dynamics. Will Hoyer and Cherington present an united front against Lucchino when the GMs and president/CEO disagree? Or will Lucchino use his experience and position to divide and conquer? Only time will tell -- and, given the number of decisions to be made, probably sooner rather than later.

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The West Wing: "The Wedding"

Aaaah. That's more like it.

This was what I think of as the consummate West Wing episode: fast, funny, dramatic, and unpredictable. Kudos to writer Josh Singer and director Max Mayer for smoothly mixing together all the different storylines, and for ratcheting up the tension while staying true to the characters. I thought the question of Josh was handled particularly well; up to the very end I wasn't sure whether he would still have a job or not.

I thought the other plots were handled very well too. I was glad to see that even though it's front and central in the title, the wedding didn't dominate the entire episode, but was one of many things Bartlet had to juggle. (I wasn't particularly looking forward to a West Wing wedding special.) The idea of Kate asking Will out still doesn't ring true to me, but since Singer and Mayer didn't come up with that idea, I can't blame them for lack of believability. (Plus, it was kind of funny.)

The only bad thing about such an excellent episode? It makes it hard to wait for a new one -- especially when the next three episodes are repeats. Grrrrrrrrrrr ...

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Sunday, December 11, 2005

Academic aggravations

Still working on figuring out the school vs. no school decision. I was hoping to be able to take Digital Editing next semester, which would be much less intense than Film Production II (one class a week, vs. two) and probably more interesting. And if it were up to me, I'd already be registered for it. However, this is not in my control, because of two things:

-- The advisor took so long to grade my final project (three weeks) that there is only one spot left in the class time I want.
-- Student Services has yet to update my grade from Incomplete, so I can't even register for that one spot.

The advisor probably is very busy with holiday shopping and sabbatical preparation, so it's not entirely surprising that when I e-mailed him about this, he told me to take it up with Student Services. Doesn't make it any less annoying, though.

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Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Baseball quote of the day

"The fact of the matter is Roger's 43 years old ... we're not talking about somebody in the middle of a great career. We're talking about somebody who's at the end of a great career."

Houston Astros general manager Tim Purpura, discussing the team's decision not to offer salary arbitration to Roger Clemens. The seven-time Cy Young Winner, who is still deciding whether to retire (for the second time), now cannot resign with the team until May 1.

The last time someone mentioned that the pitcher was approaching the "twilight of his career" was in 1996. Since then, Clemens has won three Cy Young Awards and has been part of two World Series teams. Meanwhile, the man who made that quote, Dan Duquette, was fired by the Red Sox in 2002, and is now running a sports academy. Maybe he should make room for Purpura on the staff.

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Decisions, decisions

Just heard back (finally) from my Film Production I professor with his evaluation. Short version is, he liked the editing and lighting, but found the sound and focus lacking. However, my overall grade in the class is still good enough for me to proceed to Film Production II should I wish.

Naturally, life has gotten more complicated in the three weeks since I submitted the film. Since the big issue will probably involve lots of time and money in the near future (and most certainly in the 18-odd years after that, too, assuming what we try works), the question is whether I should jump right back into a program that also involves lots of time and money.

At least the spring semester doesn't start for five weeks. That leaves a little time before making any decisions, and knowing me I will need every last bit of it.

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Monday, December 05, 2005

The West Wing: "Undecideds"

I'm very happy that, after nearly a month off, WW is back with new episodes.

That being said, this was probably one of the least satisfying episodes of the season.

It wasn't for lack of trying. Last night's show was chock-full with conflicts, from the global (China and Kazakhstan having a showdown over oil) to the racial (black kid shot by Hispanic cop) to the personal (Ellie's wedding planning). And the shooting/editing was fairly solid and didn't call attention to itself.

But for some reason much of the drama seemed a bit predictable. Santos going to the family's house ... check. Santos getting yelled at by angry parent ... check. Santos coming up with another speech to save the day and his presidential chances ... check, cue slow-motion shot of Santos taking his wife's hand as they stride out of the church. (OK, so that one did call attention to itself.)

I also felt that the episode title was the only thing holding these separate plotlines together. It's almost as if the writers, knowing that they would have a month between episodes, decided, "OK, here are the plots we've got for the rest of the year. We can't have anything big happen just yet, so we'll just get the ball rolling again on this, this and this." Which is fine, as long as that leads to something better.

Other comments:
-- The shooting happened in California, Vinick's home state. Where the hell was he?
-- The wedding planning bits were welcome comic relief. If I were the fruit-fly guy, I'd be thinking about eloping.
-- It's going to be weird if something does happen between Will and Harper (aka Secret CIA Lady). Speaking of Harper, why do we see so much of her, and hardly anything of her boss? Apart from the fact that Harper's only the deputy National Security Advisor, it'd be cool to see more of Anna Deavere Smith.
-- Toby is a bitter, bitter man. Maybe he's right about Santos not having the fire in his belly, but that still doesn't excuse him being such a jerk to Josh.
-- For all my nitpicking, I still love this show. Bartlett's back next week -- should be fun.

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Saturday, December 03, 2005

December dance

A public service announcement on behalf of Swingtime Boston:

~snip~

Hello Everyone,

This Saturday's December 3rd Swingtime Dance will feature an appearance by The Mood Swings.  So come on out and dance the night away to some cool swing music performed by this hot live band.

Our evening starts at 8:00 pm with a beginner swing dance lesson by Ms. Liz Nania.  The dance begins officially at 9:00 and runs until 11:00 pm.  In between the music sets performed by The Mood Swings, our DJ Leandra Maclennon will be on hand to spin all your favorite swing, latin. ballroom and two-step tunes.  

Cover charge at the door is $12.00.  Refreshments are free and there is free parking both in the lot and on the street.  Swingtime dances are located at The Brookline Academy of Dance, 136 Westbourne Terrace, corner of Corey Rd and Westbourne Terrace Brookline MA. 

For more info call 617 364-7207 and don't forget to check out our new webstite at http://www.swingtimeboston.com/.
 
See you all there and don't forget to bring a friend!!!

~snip~

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Thursday, December 01, 2005

Dreaming and blogging

I used to call this weblog "A Geeky Goof", a self-description that seems to hold true even when I'm asleep. Last night I dreamed that I worked the morning from home, and was planning to go to the Boston office in the afternoon. (Never mind that the office isn't in Boston anymore.) For some unknown reason, I took my own sweet time about it, not getting downtown until 4:15. Also for some unknown reason, I was wearing shoes but no socks, even though I was holding a pair of socks in one hand.

So I wandered into one store that looked like it might have socks for sale. There was one guy right at the front of the store, who told me to come back to this one register for a quick checkout, even though it was really supposed to be only for tobacco sales between 4 and 8 p.m. I then went a little further into the store, and approached a saleswoman who was shelving stock. She turned, took one look at me, and immediately directed me to the socks.

As I went over to that section, I wondered how she knew exactly what I was looking for. Then I realized, and had a good laugh. I started imagining -- still in the dream -- how I would blog the conversation. Would I try to reproduce the dialogue? Would I link to a previous entry about a HP-related "Duh" moment"?

Then I woke up and laughed for real (and cracked up my wife when I told her). It wasn't quite as hilarious as Rogue Slayer's heart transplant dream, but totally in character for me.

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AIDS-related action alert

Two months ago, the Ryan White CARE Act, which provides crucial services to people living with HIV and AIDS, expired. In honor of World AIDS Day, please sign HRC's petition urging Congress to reauthorize the act -- and, while they're at it, to fund it properly. (If they need to get the money from somewhere else, I'd suggest checking the promotional budget for the Marriage Protection Amendment.)

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