April 27, 2011

April 27, 2011

The State of the Admins

It’s Administrative Professionals Day. Since I work in administration and try my darnedest to be professional,* I’d like to reflect on the state of the admins.

My fellow admins, I saw a woman carrying three purses on my way into the office this morning. I can understand one (lunch) or two (lunch and shoes) bags. But three purses? Really? Here’s an idea: get a larger bag and consolidate.

As you know, the Internet has revolutionized our time in the office. I spent a good 11 minutes or so watching this video of Super Mario Bros. 3 with an acoustic soundtrack. Yes, I watched the entire thing. And since I’ve always preferred to enjoy videogames passively (translation: I like to watch), this was 11 minutes of heaven. I’d totally forgotten about the little fireballs.

Admins, I must confess that may have abused my power. One of my coworkers is leaving this week, and his neighbors are already scouting out his cube. It’s got a window view, so it’s highly-coveted. As an office dweller, I am fortunately above the fray. However, I have managed to convince the person moving into said cube to get some of those doorway beads from the ‘70s. I promised to spend a good amount of time next Monday spinning around in the beads. Everybody wins.

Though I can report no new developments in the battle of admins vs. functionals, rest easy. Our eventual victory is assured. Remember the three-step nuclear: hide, lock, and erase. As in, hide the office supplies, lock the accounts, and erase the calendar appointments. Note that this is a worst-case scenario, to be used when the only thing standing between you and death by zombie is a functional. I think we can all agree that the functionals are amusing (if helpless) the rest of the time, right?

So, my fellow admins, as we open another year of support services, let us hope that it is only a matter of time until the functionals start remembering their passwords, stop losing paperwork, and figure out how to use the copier already.

Admins help those who help themselves.


* With an assist from my Tide pen.

April 26, 2011

April 26, 2011

Jean Grey Had It Right

Self-control is a virtue I greatly admire yet totally lack. Today’s technology is not helping me out, either. You can now check up on your high school friends, shop for edible arrangements, and obsessively research the upcoming royal wedding, all without leaving your couch.


So, anyway, while considering things to blog about, I am reminded of a recent question in Date Lab that made TheBoy and I simultaneously laugh and cringe.

[Note: Date Lab is a weekly blind date column that runs in the Washington Post magazine. People complete surveys online and get matched up for one dinner compliments of WaPo. The resultant date is almost always horrifying. For those of us with a strong sense of schadenfreude, it is the best part of the paper.]

The question, which is regularly cited in DL, was thus: “Desired superpower.”

His answer: “To heal people.” Totally legit, if a bit wussy. (I admire that this guy would use his power for the greater good but also assume that he’s a Communist because COME ON.)

Her answer, which is completely and utterly real: “It’d be nice to have countries like Canada and Norway that have powerful (and legitimate) moral authority, but they have no actual power to implement their moral authority. Oy, I must be left with the U.S. then. It has the most moral authority out of all the superpowers (compared at least to China and Russia) and has the ability to make the world a better place.”

Perhaps you are making a WTF face right now. As you would if, for example, you asked your dining companion to pass the salt and he bit you instead. A response so completely non-sensical, one is left to wonder if the universe is having a laugh. This was me initial reaction, as well. I thought they printed her answer to another question or something.

Then I realized that this poor girl read the question as referring to countries. As in, which superpower country would you most desire. Now normally, I would feel bad for her, and even worse for the idiot WaPo editor who let this run.

But them I notice that the chick named Canada first. Then linked it to the phrase “legitimate moral authority.”


Look, I love Canadians. They’re like Wisconsin’s even whiter cousins. Clean, quiet, friendly. Keep to themselves. Ideal people to have living above you, really. I’m not asking Mexico to check my mail when I go out of town, if you know what I’m saying.

But a superpower? No. I believe they are technically ruled by the Queen, are they not?

So the point of all this is first, to encourage you to apply for Date Lab. You deserve a free meal more than almost all of these people, believe me.

Second, to tell you that “telekinesis” is a damn good superpower, as it both facilitates laziness and serves a defensive purpose. Attack me, and I will knock you unconscious with a can of Diet Coke. I will then proceed to drink the Diet Coke and laugh as your face turns funny colors.

Third, to remind the world at large that Canada is a lovely country of regular-sized power. Verdant, bilingual, and possessing the sort of social welfare Democrats can only dream of. I daresay that even the boldest Canadian would shy away from that super- prefix. It wouldn’t be polite.

April 25, 2011

April 25, 2011

Things I’ve Read: The Bradbury Report

For fans of: Never Let Me Go, science, Canada.

The year is 2071. Cloning is legal in the United States (but nowhere else). By donating a simple single vial of blood, citizens can opt to have a clone created. Those who do have the assurance of cheap health care for life—psh, if anything DOES ever go seriously wrong, you can just take a part from your spare! Those who don’t, well…who cares about them, anyway? They’re obviously out of their minds.

Originals and their clones never meet, of course. Can you imagine? Nah, they keep the copies segregated in the Dakotas, behind lock and key (and door and fence and guard). Out of sight and out of mind until needed, that’s what the government thinks is best.

The events of The Bradbury Report kick off when Ray Bradbury (not his real name) is contacted by an old college friend, Anna (not her real name, either). Anna is rather vague at first, insisting on talking to Ray in person. Despite having zero contact with him over the last 40 years. Ray, who’s been widowed for quite some time and slowly looking down the horizon to death, agrees. It’s not like his calendar was booked, anyway.

Anna brings Very Interesting News: a clone has escaped. Anna thinks Ray should meet this clone. No, he should definitely meet this clone. He must meet this clone. Why?

The clone is Ray’s.

*dun dun DUN*

Anna reveals that she and her husband (now deceased) were part of the anti-cloning underground. A movement that now hopes to train this clone into a spokesman against the entire practice. They’d like Ray to document how it feels to come face-to-face with one’s copy. A perfect copy, mind you, of yourself, just younger. Ideally, the clone would also record how it feels to meet one’s original. Not totally sure the clone (who they dub Alan) will be up for that, though.

Ray decides to go for it, since it’s not like his calendar was booked, anyway.

Enter the clone. Though physically aged 21, his mental age is more, um, infant-ish. Learns quick, though. Language, mannerisms, the whole bit. As the three of them (Ray, Anna, and Alan) flee through Canada (just go with it), he even develops an affinity for hockey. It’s as if…he is human after all.


Throughout the book, the main conflict involves fleeing the evil government powers that be who would prefer that clone locked back up where it belongs. Secondary conflict arises from the crazily zealous ringleaders of the anti-cloning movement, who care little about Alan except for his use as a puppet for the movement. What, ask Anna and Ray, and Alan’s feelings? Shouldn’t he get to decide what happens to him? If you prick him, does he not bleed? Where will it all end?

The ending is fantastic and grim, exactly as I like my dystopian books to conclude. I mean, maybe the future holds all kinds of amazing technology and entertainment and awesomeness. But I’m a pessimist. The best among us see potential for a world in 5D Technicolor. I expect nothing but shades of grey.

April 22, 2011

April 21, 2011

April 21, 2011

RIP Froggie

My African dwarf frog died this week. He lived with me for about 18 months.

Since he was the closest thing I have to a child, a moment please.

RIP Froggie. You will be missed. I hope you enjoy the songs I would adapt and sing while I fed you ("Someone's in the Kitchen with Froggie," "Crocodile Frog," "Here Comes to Frog," "I Want to Swim Like a Froggie," etc.), and that they did not ultimately lead to your untimely demise.

April 19, 2011

April 18, 2011

April 18, 2011

In My Opinion: Tron

Though my review of Tron Legacy was rather shortish, it was probably one of my favorite movies in 2010. Now that I’ve seen it twice, I appreciate the visual effects even more. And now that I’ve seen the original Tron film, I applaud the sequel’s attempt at a cogent plot.

Because the plot of Tron? Hoo boy.

If you’re anything like me, your parents watched Tron with you in the late 80s and the only thing you remember is that light cycle scene. Because zomg light cycles, right? Then you watch the sequel 20-odd years later and you’re all, “Wow, I AM OLD that was such a spectacular delight that the original was probably mind-blowing in its own way!” Hahahahaha, no.

So, for the purposes of this review, I am going to treat Tron Legacy as if it came first. Because when considered on the macro level, I find film 2 impossibly more complete a package than film 1.

The first film retains a few elements from the second: Flynn’s arcade, that funky transmogrifying laser, and the characters of Kevin Flynn and Alan Bradley. After getting over your shock of seeing The Dude in his 30s, you realize that Kevin Flynn is a disgruntled computer programmer whose corporate overlords stole his work and fired him some time ago. Thus Encom (oh, hey, another element in both films) is making money hand-over-fist for video games created by Flynn, and HE’S NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE.

Now here’s where it gets tricky.

Flynn gets his buddy Bradley (another programmer) and a blonde lady scientist (who may or may have doinked both of them at some point) to smuggle him back into Encom so he can prove that he created Mega Space Blasters 4000 or what-have-you. Unfortunately, while Flynn is trying to hack the system and prove his case, he gets quantumly transmogrified by that frickin’ laser and suddenly HE IZ IN THE TRON, RUNNIN’ UR CODE.

Seriously, though, Flynn finds himself inside the computer, sent to the gaming grid at the behest of the Master Control Program (a chess simulation with a big ego problem).

Did I mention that each of the real-world main characters has a digital alter ego? Movie 2 handled this somewhat with Clu (Flynn’s e-version). Tron is Bradley’s counterpart, and the blonde has one, too. Clu doesn’t play much of a part in the first film, but Flynn, Tron, and e-blonde decide to take down the Master Control Program.

I feel that this is where film 1 really fails. The villain is abstract, the harm it is doing/intends to do is unclear (it makes the li’l programs, um, feel bad?), and the method of beating it makes no sense (throw a Frisbee at it?). I mean, in Tron Legacy, the good guys needed to stop Clu from getting off the grid and bringing chaos to the real world. No Frisbees involved.

April 13, 2011

April 13, 2011

Remember This? Volume 21: Jelly Shoes

Unless I have vastly miscalculated my readership, the males among you can probably skip this entry altogether (possible exception for those of you with daughters or a RuPaul fetish).

Kids are weird. I mean, even the best parents among us have to admit that. Though may like kids less than the next person (see: sticky, loud, etc.), I was one once and remember somewhat the heady nonsense that filled those days. 8 hours under the backyard picnic table digging for worms? Why not!

I think this goes a long way towards explaining a fad that consumed me as a girl but that I can no longer defend: jelly shoes.

Honestly, these may still be a thing. Even for adult women. (I am certainly not a harbinger of shoes; I wore Mary Janes to the DMZ and I’m considering Hello Kitty rainboots.) Regardless, I’m not seeing how thin strips of cheap plastic did me any favors. Don’t give me the whole “But it was for style” excuse, either. When I was a kid, I was more concerned with navigating a world built for people twice my height than with my footwear. (The difference today: I am concerned with navigating a world built for people 1.25 times my height. An oh-so-subtle difference.)

Did you have a favorite item of clothing or accessory as a kid that you can’t explain now? I have the jelly shoes, of course, but also a pair of pink Oshgosh B’Gosh overalls that certainly didn’t do me any favors.

And, of course, the blazer:

I blame my mother for that one.

April 12, 2011

April 12, 2011

Walk Down Memory Lane

When I have trouble falling asleep at night, I often take to mentally wandering the halls of a building I used to know well. Sometimes it’s my elementary school. Other times, my childhood library, church, etc. Scott Adams, Dilbert creator, once blogged that he falls asleep almost instantly every night by focusing on images instead of words. You know what? It works.

While dream-walking past my fifth-grade classroom the other night, I realized that we hung our stuff (coats, backpacks, etc.) on pegs in the hallway. My adult self was aghast at the lack of security. What about my cash? My credit cards? My keys? My driver’s license?

I then realized that as a child, you have none of these things, leaving you FREE, GLORIOUSLY FREE. I tell you, we did not know how good we had it back then. To rephrase: being an adult whomps.

You know what you needed to remember when leaving the house as a kid? Nothing.

You know what you need to remember when leaving the house as an adult? Keys, wallet, cellphone, umbrella, library books to be returned, bills to be mailed, dry cleaning, Walmart return, and that pair of shoes with the clicky heel that needs to be replaced.

Head. Explode.

I didn’t even have to take a lunch to school because Milwaukee Public Schools provided an excellent midday meal. (A sound education or safe environment, less so.)

Anyway, though I have wandered off-topic to the land of mock chicken legs and turkey subs, please keep my original thesis in mind. When the burden of adulthood keeps your eyes open, try envisioning a place that was once familiar to you (college dorm, office of first job) but is not anymore. Though you may be saddened by what you’ve forgotten (I can no longer connect all the offices at the Milwaukee Fire Department, and it’s only been 3 years), you’ll be impressed by what you still recall.

April 11, 2011

April 7, 2011

April 6, 2011

April 6, 2011

Kate is Enough

These are the times that try men’s souls, amiright? Our system of government is about to collapse, I haven’t yet found a shiny new job, and The Borgias is nowhere near as titillating as The Tudors. Stella ain’t getting her groove back these days. Stella’s groove is somewhere between Libya and $4 gas.

Then, this travesty lands in my mailbox:

Because, in case you forgot, That Woman is getting married in less than a month. I’m telling you, Ben and Jerry cannot come up with flavors fast enough to combat this stress.

Oddly, the Newsweek article seems to posit the royal nuptials as a distraction from the serious shiznit our society is in. I…don’t understand. This is like giving a blind woman free Netflix for life. All the Reese Witherspoon in the world won’t bring back her sight. (Ironically, it may eventually lead her to cut her ears off.)

Just don’t tell me they’re going to start charging for Hulu. It would be too much.

April 5, 2011

April 5, 2011

Thanks, Japan

Despite a looming government shutdown, it’s one of the most wonderful times of the year in DC: cherry blossom time. Though the ensuing hordes of allergens and tourists (WHICH IS WORSE???) can be unpleasant, those pink buds really are quite lovely.

TheBoy and I went to have a look this past weekend. So did 185 million other people.

We walked over, though some unfortunate souls thought driving would be feasible.

It was not.

Paddle boating is a popular activity, as it allows you to a) avoid the crowds and b) wear a pretty stellar orange lifejacket.

When some dude loudly uncorked a bottle, I wished to the almighty that I possessed a Federal Employee Bat Signal to get a park ranger on it.

Note to that dude: it’s super crowded, and the tidal basin has no guard rails. Is alcohol really the best addition to that equation?

Other than that, though, it was a pretty good time. I’ve seen them at night, I’ve seen them during the day, and I’ve managed to knock over zero children while doing so.

April 4, 2011

April 4, 2011

WTF Product of the Day, Volume 12: The Half Keyboard

(Let me state from the beginning that I mean in no way to belittle those who have only one functioning hand due to disease, accident, or other issue. If the product mocked below has actually helped you instead, I applaud it. In the meantime, though, I’m going to consider its possible applications for the rest of us and wind up thoroughly confused.)

Let’s face it: office jobs can be tough. The paper cuts, the cubicle bickering, the carpal tunnel. I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen more than a few people braced up to their elbows from carpal tunnel. It is serious stuff, and gave birth (it seems) to the entire industry of ergonomics.*

One product that may help: the half keyboard.

You know that saying, “A penny saved is a penny earned”?

You know that other saying, “I wish I had three hands”?

Well earn yourself another hand with this puppy!

The short version is that this keyboard’s space bar acts like a universal shift, changing the key function from left half (e.g. d) to right half (e.g. k).

According to the website, it’s quite easy for your brain to interpret “fourth finger, right hand,” as “fourth finger, left hand, plus space bar.” As a pianist, I have my doubts.

Yet perhaps I’m being too skeptical, and half appliances are on their way in. What next, I ask you?

* Latin for “the science of changing shape and charging double”

April 1, 2011