Friday, April 28, 2006

Dear Folks

Dear Lady in the Supermarket Parking Lot,

We didn't get a chance to talk since you were on your way in as I was heading out (and because we don't know each other), but I wanted to comment on your outfit. The gold, lycra, glitter pants you were wearing demonstrate a fashion sense that is unafraid of taking risks. And you are boldly, I imagine, not waiting until you have the body you desire before donning lycra. Which I applaud, since so many women these days are constantly waiting for those last however many pounds before wearing the clothes they really want. But your decision to pair it with a leopard print top, which was also lovely, is what took you from fashion do to fashion don't. I'm not going to tell you that you can't ever wear patterns with patterns, but when you do, they need to coordinate, and one of them needs to be subtle. And both leopard print and gold glitter are never subtle.

Fellow Shopper


Dear Hungry Co-Worker,

I know our group often puts food out in the combination kitchen/printing area. And of course, while we usually plan for the numbers in our division, we certainly don't want extra food to go to waste. But when one solitary bagel, still warm from its purchase, is not sitting on a tray or other serving platter, and is wrapped inside a paper bag is placed there while my co-worker runs to the bathroom, it is not up for grabs. I recognize that unattended food is always tempting. And perhaps you forgot your breakfast that morning. And had no money to utilize the vending machines or the grocery store that is across the street. But you knew that food wasn't really up for grabs. Which was why you took it and consumed it so quickly. And since it was 6:30 in the morning, we know who you are.

Prospective Food Nazi

Dear Dog Owner,

Yes your dog is cute and adorable. Which is I'm sure why you think you don't need to put it on a leash. But from my apartment, I hear on an almost daily basis how you dog growls and rushes at every other dog it encounters. Since the dogs it runs into are the same ones, clearly this behavior will not cease on its own. Just because your dog is too small to do real damage to these other pets, does not make the behavior acceptable. If your dog cannot behave around other dogs, then you need to take control.

Cat Owner

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Corporate Punishment

(Apologies for the title, but I couldn't resist). So, I came across this article on Wasted Blog today. It is one of those scenarios where I'm not quite sure which surprises me more. The gist of the story is that a woman is suing for sexual harassment because in the team meeting, employees were spanked for various infractions, be they arriving late to the meeting or interrupting people. In addition, the other employees would heckle the spankee with such comments as, "Bend over, Baby!" and "You've been a bad girl".

So, I will go in order of occurrence (or as close as I can tell).
In this day and age, it is not appropriate to spank co-workers. The fact that the spanking occurs in a group setting and is a theoretically standard practice does not make it okay. Even if everyone participating says they are okay with it - it is not okay.

As, I have mentioned I work with teenagers. And one of the things we have struggled to convey to them is that there are things you might be totally okay with doing that are going to make other people uncomfortable. And not everybody is comfortable expressing their discomfort. Yes, in a perfect world people would always speak up in these situations, and in return their peers would appreciate their honesty rather than shaming them for being a [insert the derogatory term of choice here]. But that is not the case.

And so sexual harassment laws exist not just to protect people from being coerced into having sex, but also to make sure that the work environment does its best to respect everyone's level of comfort - expressed and unexpressed.

Color me equally surprised about the comments made by other employees. They - while innocuous on the surface - didn't help the situation feel less sexually charged. I recognize there was probably those who were simply trying to lighten the mood, after all dead silence would have been creepy in a different way. And some probably heckled to cover their own discomfort.

But really, in a team meeting?

Now, it seems that the employee who has brought the suit did not vocalize her discomfort. It is unclear from the article whether the company had an HR for her to bring this issue to. Certainly the fact that her supervisor was the one doing the spanking made that a tougher conversation to start. And again, I must return to, should you have to tell your supervisor that spanking is not appropriate workplace behavior?

But, when reached for comment the company responded, in part, that the spanking were to increase morale and build camaraderie. Huh? By making the employees all hate the spanker? By encouraging them to find another company that doesn't condone spanking? By getting the employees to plot together how to get said spanker back?

The company also stated that they spanked both male and female employees. That drives me crazy. So the sexual harassment is okay, because is wasn't based on gender discrimination? What? Sexual harassment is sexual harassment, whether it involves one gender or two (or three). Encouraging inappropriate touching of all employees is not better than not doing it.

Friday, April 21, 2006


Reunions are funny things. The word reunion conveys meeting up with a person or people that you haven't seen in a while. There are the reunions of those in love (I always think of the moment in the Muppet movie with Kermit and Miss Piggy), reunions with family - whether official or just after being away for a while, and of course school reunions.

Reunions seem to spark this self evaluation. As if I feel I need to show I have made use of the time since I saw everyone last. Because goodness knows I've been doing lots of stuff in the last five years. And yet, I'm not quite where I imagined I'd be either. I realize that life is like that. This is not news, this is not a big revelation on my part for me to share with you that I have figured out that you so rarely end up exactly where you think you will in life. It is just that reunions and such present an opportunity for me to analyze myself in this light.

I wear glasses. But I only need them for distance. So, I don't wear them at work. And I don't usually wear them during the day. But I do wear them to sporting events and movies and for night driving. And I realized at one point, that there were people who I only ran into at hockey games, for example, who only knew me as a glasses wearing person. Which was - not a shock really - but a moment of some sort. This realization that there are people who only know me as this person.

Well, my high school reunion is in some ways antithetical to that. These are people who know who I was. But don't really know who I am now. I am in touch with people I went to school with, but the people I keep up with regularly tend not to be in my specific class. So these classmates who I graduated with - I keep up with more through the newsletter than through actual effort on my part. Except every five years I run into a bunch of them at these reunions. And just like at Thanksgiving when my aunt asks me what I've been up to - I try to figure out what to say. Well, I work. And I have friends who I hang out with. And I have a cat. And I volunteer. And, why doesn't that sound like enough? And why - when I'm mostly happy with my life the rest of the time - do I confront this checklist. No - I'm not married. Not living with anyone. No kids.

I went to an empowering school where they helped instill in me this idea that I can and will do what I want. And that the choices available to me are in many ways limitless. So, why do I still feel that people are judging what I haven't done. Because, since I haven't been there (yet) this is me doing the judging for them. And of course I would tell anyone else that whatever fabulousness they have been up to is great, whether or not it includes those partner and progeny benchmarks.

And I'm finding that writing this has ended up sounding as thought I am more worried or more depressed than I think I am. I really do know that I'm in an okay place. And I do know that even if I never achieve these benchmarks (that are only useful if they are actually what I want) that I'll be okay. That I enjoy what I do - at and outside of work. That I really have nothing to complain about. So tonight I get to catch up with some of the wonderful people I went to school with. And talk about all the things we love to do. And then return to our regularly scheduled lives.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The List

So, as many are doing right now, I feel the need to share with you my thoughts on the list. The Guardian list of the fifty best film adaptations that is.

So, I skimmed the list and then tried to think if I was doing this - what would be on my list(or definitely not on my list). And realized, I have a problem. I have read many books. I have seen many movies. I have read books that were made into movies and seen movies inspired by books but they don't always overlap. And in fact most of the ones where I have read the book and seen the movie - I didn't like one of them. (It isn't always the movie I dislike, sometimes the movie makes a better job of it, in my opinion.)

Bridget Jones Diary - Both - Again, well translated.
The Chamber - Book - The movie barely resembles the book. Clueless - Both - This is a great adaptation and update of Emma.
Emma - Book - I have only seen the Gwyneth Paltrow version, which - while lovely - whitewashes Emma's character a bit.
The Firm - Book - I didn't love the book, but the movie made me angry - they changed the best bits!
The Last Mohican - Neither - I have problems with both, but since the Daniel Day Lewis movie is actually based on another movie based on the book, the problem I have with each are fairly different.
Persuasion - Both - I only have one minor nitpick with the movie which I saw only two weeks after finishing the book so was prepared to be disappointed (and was not).
Pride and Prejudice - Both - I have only seen the BBC version, but it translated wonderfully.
Sense and Sensibility - Book - the Emma Thompson movie version has a number of issues, not the least of which is that the main characters are supposed to be both in their teens.
Shining Through - Book - The movie barely resembles the book.
A Time to Kill - Both - I cringe at some of the things they did in the movie, but overall it was a wonderful adaptation.

And these three - I have only seen the movie, but somehow feel sure that they are lovely adaptations.
Breakfast at Tiffany's
Stand By Me
The Shawshank Redemption
Out of Sight

So then I went back to their list.

Some I haven't seen or read. Some I have done one. I will try to comment only on those that I have experience with at least one of the mediums.

Alice in Wonderland - I'm not sure which version they are referring to here. I am only aware of the Disney version, which seems fine, but I'm not sure it belongs on this list.
Breakfast at Tiffany's - I agree!
Catch 22 - Read, not seen.
Devil in a Blue Dress - Seen, not read.
Different Seasons (inc The Shawshank Redemption) - I agree!
The English Patient - Ugh! I have neither read nor seen this. But ugh!
Jaws - I love Peter Benchley but am afraid of being made afraid of what is in the water so have neither seen nor read this one.
The Jungle Book - Oh yeah. Okay.
LA Confidential - Oooh. I haven't (yet) read this. But the movie is excellent. And I recall the author saying that while Russell Crowe was not who he imagined for the part, he now sees Russell in his head when he thinks of the character.
Lord of the Flies - Hated the book. Refused to see the movie.
Oliver Twist
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
The Outsiders - Right! Enjoyed the movie.
Pride and Prejudice - I agree! (depending on which version we are talking about).
Trainspotting - Oh, yes - that one too.
Watership Down - Again I don't know which version this refers to, but the one I have seen I thought did not live up to the book.

I don't

I don't own an electric mixer. This has become a point of interest for people. Which is my fault, I know. I shared a story involving someone coming to my apartment to make a pie and assuming that I had an electric mixer he could use for the meringue topping. I offered a whisk. Said person did not - on that night at least - have the skills to whisk the egg whites into the appropriate fluffiness which led to a less than expected meringue topping. Which still tasted awesome, by the way. But, I shared this story as more of a why do people assume you have stuff (like eggs, which I did have and did provide) and then it becomes a whole thing even though they didn't do anything to make sure they would have equipment that they need, etc. But instead people are fascinated by the fact that I don't have an electric mixer.

I know this is in part because I cook. Not to excess and not with any spectacular, you should open a restaurant type of skill. But I am able to follow a recipe well. And I do love kitchen tools - so it amazes people that this one has escaped my shopping list.

But really - what do you use a mixer for? (This is not to say that I don't own things I don't use frequently or that I judge others who do, because I don't). Egg whites for meringue. Well, I actually have made meringue - and I cheated and didn't use egg whites. What I'm trying to say here, is the lack of mixer has not impeded my cooking in any way - or I would have gotten one. But for my cooking purposes I don't need one. And sure, after I win the lottery and move into my house with a kitchen that doesn't also contain my washer and dryer, I will probably buy a Kitchenaid Mixer - or equivalent. But for something that will take up that much counter space (and with the microwave, the toaster oven, and the pod drink machine, there's not a lot of that) is not useful to me right now.

And people do seem to get that, when I explain it. I guess I don't understand why that's the part of the story that grabs people.

Guilt is not a good motivator.

If, like me, you have ever given money to any type of charitable foundation, (or even if you haven't) you have likely found yourself on a mailing list of various local and national charities. People mail you asking you to donate to all the wonderful and worthy (mostly) causes.

And many of these seemed premised on the idea if they can make you feel bad about not giving, this will make you want to give. (Instead of making you want to burn the mean envelope). Some I have received, have taken on a tone akin to that of a collection agency, along the lines of, "If you have still not sent in your donation..." Now mind you none of these are things I have in any way promised or indicated that I would be donating to. These are not follow ups to a campaign where I promised to send money at a later date. These are unsolicited calls for donations.

And I get that this is how these organizations survive. But now it is creeping into other areas of my life. It's one thing to fend off random folks through mail, email and by phone. But now co-workers apparently think these same guerilla tactics are acceptable to use with co-workers. If you are participating in a walk, race or other fundraiser, I have no problem with you putting the information out there for those who may be interested to let them know how they can donate and/or participate.

But do not tell me that I really need to participate. You don't have any idea what my financial or philanthropical situation is. You are not in a position to tell me what causes should be important to me. Certainly some such as the homeless or cancer may seem like no-brainers (and again, I'm not saying that these aren't wonderful causes). But as an adult, I get to decide if, how, when and to whom I make my donations. My decision to participate or not participate is completely up to me. And if I decide not to participate, that doesn't make me a heartless person who is contributing to the spread of cancer. For all you know, I have already donated thousands of dollars to cancer-related charities. I may dislike the charity you have chosen. I may have chosen a more direct donation, where a higher percentage goes to the cause. So, step back a bit. And remember, when this race, walk, fundraiser, etc, is over - we still have to work together.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

TV: Aborted Viewing

The people in charge of television marketing will be very happy to know that I can become interested in a television show I had no prior knowledge of, based solely on a well-crafted set of ads. They will perhaps be saddened to learn that this does not mean I will watch the right show. And by the right show, I mean a show I have interest in, have plans to watch again or even get a season pass on my DVR for. (Jennifer Crusie has a wonderful entry on her blog on the power of the right book cover - one that draws people that will actually want to read that book.)

So, having watched enough TLC two weekends ago to run into the "Honey We're Killing the Kids" ads, I started watching it last night. And then we ran into the problem. From the ads (and some of this is a expectation mismatch on my part, I get that), I had the impression that they would talk to the parents and kids in these families, review their behavioral and nutrition patterns, and suggest some changes. So I viewed this as being in the line of "Ten Years Younger" - review, quick changes, have a nice life.

Instead the show (and admittedly I watched only ten minutes of it) is really just "SuperNanny" with cooler graphics and an excessive title. So they show the parents a scary graphic of fat, droopy looking futures for their children and then swoop in and take over their daily lives for a while. Hey, there are already two nanny intervention shows I don't watch. Just because this one changes their diet and makes them exercise doesn't mean I want to watch it.

So, instead of some good viewing to brighten up my Monday (which is pretty lonely right now with just "How I Met Your Mother"), I have one more show to not watch.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Things People Should Know

I was scanning the headline and came across this story: Bus driver cautioned for sex in school grounds. And there are things people should just know.
For example, if you are a school bus driver (or a bus driver of any kind for that matter, but it seems this should be especially apparent when one is a school bus driver), that there is no situation in which it would be appropriate to have sex in the school bus. But especially (how many especially's is that now) when the bus is parked on school grounds. Of an elementary school.
Now, the driver in question has resigned. (And rightfully so). And apparently the bus in question (and let me digress for a moment and ask - a bus?) was not a traditional school bus. It was a double decker bus that had been used that day to transport children to school. And the incident occurred after the children had been safely dropped off. Which therefore meant there were many, many other places to park the bus should sex on the bus fulfill some burning desire.
Because parking it back in front of the school where children and teachers peering out the windows could see that something was going on. Not too bright.

Monday, April 03, 2006

TMI: I Have a Fat Lip

Sunday morning I wake up feeling groggy. Which in the newly pollenated spring is not unusual. I go to the bathroom, and what do I see? My lip looks weird (which also about the time I notice it feels weird - sometimes it works like that.) I stare at it until comprehension dawns (I am not a morning person, okay). The left side of my upper lip is swollen. Thereby giving me this lovely I got a bad Botox job but only on one half of one lip look. It's fabulous. It ruins what little symmetry my lips had. It also makes smiling a bit difficult. (But not talking, so there's at least that.)

Since I have not recently encountered and fists or doors, I am a bit stumped. I do have (as I look closer) a lovely bump underneath my nostril. So, my current working theory is that I have a bug bite that I have reacted strongly enough to that it caused my lip to swell. (Although a quick web search has revealed, in addition to the bug bit theory, a number of lovely conditions - both chronic and acute - that I could be suffering from). So I purchased a non-drowsy (HA!) antihistamine and iced it throughout Sunday.

And today it looks - pretty much the same. Fortunately it doesn't hurt unless I do things like lean over so that blood rushes to my head. And the occasional throbbing moments. But, I really hoped it would magically resolve itself overnight. Instead it looks like I have to wait at least a week to see if it resolves on its own. After that, if it's not, then its time for the big guns.

4/4/2006 - UPDATE - Cautiously optimistic. My lip has gone down to Gelfling size. So, hopefully another day or two and we will back to normal.