Friday, December 31, 2004

Board Abort

(Unfortunately, that was the most clever pun I could come up with. It's not very good.)

Okay, I'm making a premature return to the internet. I'm not terribly happy about it, but hey, it's all good. I'll live.

So I had vacation plans for New Year's Eve. Note the past tense on that verb. Not happy. I was to leave the area on Dec. 29 and spend five nights out west at a ski resort. I was going to try my hand at snowboarding. (All those past tense verbs are killing me!) There were literally eight of us on this trip. We had booked through a travel agency that specialized in ski getaways.

There's a whole long and involved story involved in this, but I know it won't translate well to this medium, or any other, frankly. So let's just say by the end of my "will I make it out of here or won't I?" ordeal, I found myself annoyed at Elizabeth, Ann Marie, and Linda, at various points. And I had to cancel my flight plans.

My only saving grace is (1) I'll get most of my money back; and (2) I have a lead on a New Year's party that shouldn't be that difficult to get into without having purchased an advance ticket.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Generic Away Message

I was going to put something cute in here, like that stupid generic AOL message that just says, "I am away from my computer right now," but I thought that would be too boring.

Unfortunately, after sitting here for, oh, 2.5 hours, I haven't been able to come up with anything more creative.

So, Gentle Reader, let me just say that I will be away from my computer for a while. Less than the actual process of writing out my thoughts on this blog, I will miss surfing around and reading your blogs, and you know who you are.

Here's to a safe and happy new year's celebration, and the joys and challenges of the year to come.

Happy New Year!

Tutti è Bene

In reverse chronological order, these occurrences happened over the last two days:

13. I breathe a sigh of relief, which is all that keeps me from collapsing in a pile of nervous tears.
12. My mom reassures me that Aunt C. is in Los Angeles, staying with another uncle of mine, and that her house is actually fairly far removed from the high-impact areas.
11. I jump on the phone to my mom: "Where does Aunt C. live?"
10. I check my address book and, sure enough, my aunt had sent us her new address several months ago. In Sri Lanka.
9. I return home from work.
8. Nagged by my gut feelings that my aunt has moved away from Jakarta, I make a mental note to check my address book at home.
7. I open up my address book on my work computer, which lists my aunt's address as being in Jakarta. Not helpful.
6. In the back of my mind, I have a vague memory that my aunt and her family may have moved to Sri Lanka in recent memory.
5. I go about my day, somewhat numbed by sheer majesty of this natural disaster.
4. Firing up my web browser, I noted a death count of somewhere between 10,000 and 12,000 from the tsunamis. I am saddened, yet still somewhat detached from the tragedy.
3. I go to work.
2. I shake the sleep out of my eyes.
1. I hear for the first time the news about the devastating tsunami hitting Sri Lanka and other parts of southern Asia on NPR, which is what my clock radio is set to.

For all my bitching about my family (regular readers of this blog have mostly been spared the worst of my horrible opinions about my kin), blood is still thicker than water, and it's experiences like this that confirm that for me. Aunt C. and I aren't really that close -- she and her family literally live a world away from the U.S., and when she does come to the U.S., it's to visit my relatives on the West Coast. Even so, the thought that family members of mine, whom I love presumptively, could actually be victims of such a terrible experience struck fear into my heart. Thankfully, my loved ones are safe. It's sad that it takes a near-death experience to jolt Aunt C., her husband, and her daughter back into my consciousness.

I really must make more of an effort to see those relatives I can more often. Because you never know if the last time you saw them was the last time you'll ever see them.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Holla at Me!

If you scroll down the right margin of this page, you'll see I've just managed to add a new feature: A "shoutbox" for those comments that don't necessarily go with a particular post. Kinda nifty, if you ask me. Feel free to drop a note in there!

Random Play

I'm blatantly stealing this idea from Terrance. It also answers one of the questions I left unanswered earlier.

The idea, for those of you who did not follow the Terrance link, is as follows:

1. Start up your iPod, or jukie, or, in my case, your computer's music jukebox. Whatever has access to your music files.

2. Put the whole collection on random play.

3. List the first 10 songs that come up.

Here are my songs:

Gloria Gaynor, "I Am What I Am"
Sarah McLachlan, "I Love You (BT Mix)"
Tina Turner, "A Fool in Love"
Dusty Springfield, "I Will Follow Him"*
Indigo Girls, "Go"
Outkast, "Behold a Lady"
Mitch & Mickey, "A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow" (from A Mighty Wind)
Janis Ian, "The Come On"
Brad Paisley, "Me Neither"
Bob Dylan, "Mr. Tambourine Man"

( * - I am not absolutely sure it's Dusty Springfield singing this song. It's a ... um ... "questionable" download. How about "a download of dubious authenticity"?)

I told you I have strange and varied taste in music.

I plan on posting a list like this from time to time, just to capture a glimpse of my soul. But generally when I run out of things to blog about.

Friday, December 24, 2004


Which Desperate Housewife am I?.....

Congratulations! You are Susan Mayer, the divorcee
and single mom who will go to extraordinary
lengths for love.

Which Desperate Housewife are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

I guess it's better than being told I'm that Eva Longoria chick.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Happy Holidays

So I finally sent of my Christmas holiday cards last night. Okay, so I'm delinquent. One of them actually read, "Happy holidays, even though by the time I finish writing this and sending it off the holiday season will be over!" (It's the thought that counts, after all.)

This time of year tends to lead to the whole introspection thing. Basically, though, my feelings haven't changed since my last post on my life, circa Thanksgiving. I'm still content with my life. Though less than perfect, it's pretty damn good.

So for those of you who will be taking a break from reading this blog over the solstice weekend, have a safe and happy holiday. (I still think counting the number of actual readers of this blog doesn't require one to take their shoes off, if you know what I mean.)

Merry Christmas!

Trois Choses

I've been requested to add to the "Three Things" postings by Melissa, so here goes:

Three names you go by: Dennis and, on occasion, Sparky. There are no others.

Three screen names you have: On Messenger, it's my email address.

(So far this "Three Things" trend isn't living up to its name with me, is it?)

Three things you like about yourself: My ability to laugh (mostly at myself), my compassion for (most) others, and my ambitions

Three things you dislike about yourself: I can be too hard on myself. I can hold a killer grudge. And I think I might have ADD or something, because my concentration skills suck.

Three parts of your heritage: Chinese and American. (There goes the "three" thing again.)

Three things that scare you: Overdependence or overreliance on others (see my previous post on this topic). Unexpected loud noises. And you know when you open a door at the exact time someone on the other side of it is getting ready to do the same? That always makes me jump. And then laugh.

Three of your everyday essentials: A good book at all times. My jukie. And a man-bag. (No, dammit, it's not a purse!)

Three things you are wearing right now: A dress shirt, black corduroy pants, and high top shoes.

Three of your favorite bands/artists (at the moment): Martina McBride, Olivia Newton-John (and this link too), Eminem. I know, I know, I have a wide variety of musical tastes.

Three of your favorite songs at present: I have way too many. Tell you what, I'm starting a project that I picked up from Republic of T. which should answer this question within the next few posts.

Three new things you want to try in the next 12 months: Learn another language (I'm thinking either Japanese, Korean, or German). Learn to play either the guitar or a keyboard. Rock climbing, perhaps?

Three things you want in a relationship (love is a given): Chemistry, comfort with each other, that sense of contentment.

Two truths and a lie: I skipped a grade in school, I once ran a marathon (back in the day), and the muscle structure under my face is strangely fucked up.

Three physical things about the opposite sex (or same) that appeal to you: Eyes, smile, hair.

Three things you just can’t do: Throw out my two favorite childhood stuffed animals. Vote for a right-wing Republican. Flirt (properly).

Three of your favorite hobbies: Reading, writing and wasting time on the internet.

Three things you want to do really badly right now: Have some lunch, get out of here (I'm in the office on Dec. 23!), veg out.

Three careers you’re considering: I assume this means other than one I already have. Teacher, jury consultant, carefree man about the world. Okay, I know the last one isn't a career at all, but as long as we're dreaming....

Three places you want to go on vacation: Europe, Mexico and South America

Three kids’ names: Girls – Aimee (possibly the most beautiful name I can come up with for a child), Olivia (tee hee), and Lynda (as in Carter); Boys – Dylan, Trevor, and Jason.

Three things you want to do before you die: Drive across the United States. See more of the world. And yes, jump out of a perfectly good airplane.

Three people you want to take this quiz: I honestly don't think I know that many people who read this blog who haven't already done this. Hahaha.

This project was much harder than I thought it was going to be.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Obvious, or Headless?

Just under a year ago, the lease for our old office space expired and we were sent off looking desperately for new space. We now have our new digs, and we had additional space to boot, so we set out subletting two of our offices to a small firm willing to share space with us. S.W., a solo practitioner, eventually came to occupy the space with his assitant.

S.W. frequently makes comments and jokes about the fact that I'm at my computer all the time; he sometimes jokes that he doesn't actually see me move from the identical position in front of my machine. One evening, he and T. were talking outside my door, possibly probably intending for me to overhear:

S.W.: See, there he is again, staring at that screen!
T.: Yeah, he tends to do that. Don't let him fool you. He's not working as hard as he might appear to be.
S.W.: What, are you saying he's looking at naked ladies or something?
T.: .... You don't know Dennis very well, do you?

It's at this point that I burst out laughing. To his credit, S.W. picked up the hint quickly.

S.W.: Oh, does he play for the other team?
T.: Uh, yeah.

I have the luxury of being out at work and it doesn't matter a whit to anyone here. But it's times like this I have to laugh, if for no other reason than sometimes I feel like I'm just so freaking obviously gay that it's a wonder that people actually don't notice.

But apparently some people don't pick up on my subtle homo-vibes. Which is also cool.

Is That What They Said?

At this fun site is a list of "misheard" song lyrics. Some are truly hilarious. Some are truly retarded (how can you mishear the lyrics to a song when the lyrics are the same as the song's title?). But generally, it's pretty fun.

My personal best: On the soundtrack to Rent, there's one part (sung by a lesbian character to her girlfriend) that says "Your every wish I will obey!" I heard "You're everything and Willow Bay!" I'm not sure how I came up with that. It makes me chuckle.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Classical Literature

What classic work of literature am I?

The picture of dorian gray
Oscar Wilde: The Portrait of Dorian Gray. You are a
horror novel from the world of dandies, rich
pretty boys, art and aesthetics, and
intellectual debates between ethical people and
decadent pleasure-seekers. You value beauty and
pleasure but realize their dangers, as well.

Which literature classic are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Strange, I haven't even read this book.

Friday, December 17, 2004 Irony

I came across a personals ad on recently which made me chuckle. The headline reads: "RENASSIANCE MAN SEEKS THE SAME".

Me, I prefer my Renaissance men to be able to spell "Renaissance."

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Foot(notes) in Mouth

As Melissa would say, People are stupid. I had no idea how incredibly stupid until this evening.

A client, for whom I worked pretty hard on a pretty tight deadline, had some complaints about my work. Apparently, there was some glaring errors in my document -- the final version of which was already submitted to the Powers That Be -- which she was "not pleased" with. I offered to edit the document to her satisfaction and send in a "corrected" copy to the PTB if the changes were that material and significant, but she never did talk to me about the errors. They were so horrendous, she needed an appointment with my boss.

Now keep in mind, I take great pride in my work product. I worked hard to create this document on her behalf. I put together a good, logical argument for her, delicately balancing passionate advocacy for the client with calling out her supervisor as an idiot (without explicitly doing so). It was a nine-page single-spaced document. It wasn't an easy job. But I was proud of it. Once she complained that there were problems with it, I read and re-read it, more times than I can count. If there are errors in it, I want to know, dammit! Well, for some strange reason, I could find no significant errors.

The Client was lucky enough to wrangle an appointment with my boss tonight. I sat in my office -- still annoyed with her though not knowing exactly what her damage was -- and waited.

Eventually, my boss emerged from the conference room. He beckoned to me: "Want to know what was wrong with your document?" I walked over to him as he fished the document out of the file.

He flipped open my document and turned to page three. "This," my boss explained, "is one example of where you inexplicably insert text in the middle of a section where it makes no sense whatsoever."

He read out loud the nonsensical portion of my argument: "The quick brown fox jumped one the car was a rental. Two the light was red at the time. [flips the page] over the lazy dogs."

"What?" I asked.

"That made no fuckin' sense whatsoever, did it?" my boss asked. He was starting to grin.

"I have got to believe that I did not write that," I protested.

"Of course you did." He turns the paper around to show me. And indeed, that is exactly what was on the page.

The "one" and "two" were footnotes, with their antecedents somewhere higher up on the page. Somehow, The Client -- who holds herself out to be an "educated, professional" type -- had no idea how to read footnotes. She was trying to read straight down the page, and the footnote text was running headlong into the middle of other sentences.

The entire document contained a total of twelve footnotes. Imagine how completely confused she was every single time one popped up. I can't imagine what she thought those pesky little superscript numbers were scattered throughout the text.

I didn't really like her much for a whole lot of other reasons. This just put the icing on the beeyotch cake.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Doody Duty

(I just finished typing this and realized it's an exceptionally long post. Sorry.)

I don't own a car. I live in a great neighborhood where, frankly, I don't need one. Everything I need -- including public transportation -- is within walking distance. It's a good thing. I walk a lot.

Walking around a lot means that I become somewhat aware of the sidewalk around me.

This is where I start to get disgusting. If you're drinking hot cocoa, or eating something chocolate-y, you may want to read this some other time.

A few months ago, I noticed something disturbing as I walked from my apartment to meet a friend of mine for dinner. On the sidewalk not 20 yards from the front door of my apartment was -- how to put this delicately -- several piles of shit. (Oops. That was not delicate.) They weren't terribly large piles of shit, but let's just say that they were clearly left by something larger than a toy poodle.

Now I have had very limited experience with walking dogs. The most experience I have comes from one time when my friend Jen asked me to dog-sit while she went away for the Fourth of July weekend. It was a great excuse to crash a cool pad and hang with the dogs for a while -- plus, I got to invite friends over for a Fourth party -- so I wanted to do it. While picking up dog poop is not fun, it's a necessary unpleasantry.

But the part of what I learned that's relevant to this blog entry is that when dogs feel they have to go, they go. They dig in, and it's at this point that a 20-pound dog can generate enough strength that tying its leash to a truck wouldn't get him to budge. (I learned this because Jen's dog was ready to go, and I wanted to lead him to a grassy patch rather than the sidewalk itself. He would have none of that, and I ended up just letting him go on the sidewalk.)

So, it is with that background information that I submit that whatever dog succeeded in leaving multiple piles along my sidewalk either (a) had an intestinal problem that desperately needed attention, or (b) was being rather cruelly dragged along as he tried to do his business.

Of course, it also goes without saying that someone should have been picking up this stuff too.

The first time I saw it, I was really grossed out. (Think about that sentence. "The first time I saw it." How wrong is that? There shouldn't be a "second" or "third" time. But alas, there was.) I mean, really, these piles remained for days. I think someone finally cleaned it off, rather than allow the forces of nature to slowly remove the offending mounds in its own due course.

But it resurfaced about a week later, in a different stretch of the street, in a similar pattern: several piles spaced out over about half the block. This time I kinda felt bad for the dog. I know I like to take my time when I'm in the bathroom; I can't imagine this poor dog being dragged along while he's trying to let go of some extra baggage.

But at the same time, of course, I was growing increasingly annoyed at my neighbor, who clearly had no intentions of cleaning up after his dog. Twice now, he had allowed his dog to mess in people's walkways without picking it up. There's a problem here. These things carry diseases and stuff! (At least, that's what it says on those "Please curb your dog" signs.)

So I decided I should start trying to be proactive about it. I started hatching a plan about what I would do to catch this cunning dogowner. I considered calling the police, but I think that the MPD has better things to do than monitor my neighborhood for a serial dog-poop-violator. I thought that I could set up a video camera stealth mission; I discarded that suggestion once I realized that there would be little consistency to where the dog did his thing. I even thought maybe I could take a set of toothpicks, attach nasty notes to them, then stick them into the offending mounds of poop as a signal to the asshole who was leaving them around my neighborhood. But then I decided "ew" and got rid of that idea.

I found myself without reasonable options at this point, so I figured I'd just keep my eyes peeled. Like some junior Hardy Boy, I decided I would note every time I saw a dog being walked in the neighborhood, following them if I had to, just to ensure that they were being properly cleaned up after. I even started carrying plastic bags around with me, so that I could offer one to the offending dogowner if he or she tried to give me some shit crap stupid line about having run out of bags or something.

I was not prepared for what I actually did find out about my mysterious dog-offender.

As I was on my way to do some grocery shopping one brisk evening, I saw a dog ahead of me, and it all came together. The dog ahead of me was a guide dog. His owner was blind. The mystery of the dog poop had been solved all in one sudden blinding flash of realization. I felt like a cast member of one of those CSI shows. My superior powers of observation and logic had put it all together in one bold stroke.

That and the fact that the dog confirmed that he was the doggy-doo culprit right in front of me, as I watched, horrified into speechlessness.

Yes, as I watched, right in front of me, the dog, saddled with his "DOG AT WORK" harness, attempted to go into squat mode. And yes, its owner basically kept right on walking. Poor Doggie pinched whatever loaf he could, then took a few steps -- half-squatted, mind you! -- as his owner trudged along, only to pinch off more when he could. At this point, yes, I truly felt awful for the poor dog.

(Friends to whom I have told this story raise a good point: Why is a blind man pulling his dog along when the dog stops? Doesn't that defeat the purpose of a guide dog if you're not going to stop when it stops? What if the dog is stopping because you're at an intersection and you don't have the light? Unfortunately, I do not have the answer to this question.)

As awful as I felt for poor Poochie, I didn't know what to say to the blind man. There's that strange delicate line you draw between saying what you have to say, and offending someone, especially when it relates to someone with a disability. I mean, depending on how you approach it, you could come across as rude, insensitive, condescending, or ignorant. You could also cause extreme embarassment. So I said nothing. But I now knew the source of doggy doo problem in my neighborhood.

Undaunted, however, I swore that if I ever saw that again, I would speak up. But I would be prepared for that showdown. For guidance, I called a seeing-eye dog training company for assistance on how to -- politely -- approach a blind man who doesn't realize that his dog is taking a dump over the course of several yards. I also wanted some background. I learned that, indeed, dogs aren't supposed to be taking dumps when they're wearing their harness. Also, dogs must be given "free" or "off duty work" time when they can answer the call of nature freely. I'm not sure this poor pooch was being given that time. I was advised as to a polite way to tell the man, so off I went, waiting to see this man again so I could now politely tell him of his problem -- or, to the point, his dog's problem.

Alas, I never saw the man again, so I was unable to use my newfound information.

But thankfully, I also have not seen the distinctive Trail of Shit in my neighborhood either. I can only presume that someone with more presence of mind than I finally told this guy about his dog's problem.

Either that or the guy's taking different routes, so I don't see the tracks as often.


EPILOGUE: I believe I saw this man and his dog the other day. I saw them coming out of the church around the corner from my apartment. Thankfully, Poochie did not have to take a dump. However, he did frequently try to divert the man from the straight path along the sidewalk, veering toward various planters placed on the street. He stopped for no reason on many occasions, even though there were no people around us nor was there any imminent danger to either of them. I'm not sure if Poochie was just curious about the local flora, which would make him an exceptionally poorly trained guide dog, or if he wanted to mark his territory, which would also make him an exceptionally poorly trained guide dog. Of maybe he just needed to empty his bladder, in which case we return to the original problem with the owner, not the dog.

At least now I know where I can find the guy, or at least talk to someone who might know him.

Monday, December 13, 2004

They Laugh at Age

For a time now, I've been keeping a small list of celebrities whom I can only describe as "Sexy Old Men." That is to say, celebrities I find hot who aren't the 20-something "it" boys of the moment -- men who are easily over 40, but still, well, hot.

So far, my list consists of:

1. Sting: Sexy voice, smooth or raspy as mandated by the work, with the body to match.
2. Anderson Cooper: Love his silver hair, gorgeous eyes, intelligence, and sense of humor. Loved him in The Mole. I wish that were on regular tv. The last season was only on the Game Show network. WTF?
3. Pierce Brosnan: The eyes. Oh, and the accent. Great chest, hairy or shaved.
4. Mark Harmon: Again, the eyes. And the roles he's played over the years....
5. Dennis Quaid: Just plain sexy. Okay, so the man has very little by way of actual acting talent. Still, he's fun to look at.
6. George Clooney: I rented the most godawful movie just to see his butt. It was only somewhat worth it.
7. David James Elliott: JAG doesn't feature nearly enough shirtless scenes. I'm insanely jealous of the woman he's married to.
8. Jeff Probst: Just for fun.
9. Chris Potter: I'm a sucker for the eyes and the self-deprecating smile and sense of humor. I sense a trend here.
10. Kevin Costner: Yeah.

Sean Connery has never been on my list. Frankly, I never found him that sexy when he was young. When People magazine voted him "Sexist Man Alive" back in... well, whenever they did, I totally couldn't agree.

And lest anyone accuses me of being sexist even though I'm gay, I do have a (smaller) list of no-spring-chicken women who are gorgeous:

1. Olivia Newton-John (of course!)
2. Sela Ward: I fell in love with her in Sisters, which is woefully late in her career. Once and Again was also a fantastic show. Her co-star in that show, Billy Campbell, just barely missed my list, though I suppose I could kick out Jeff Probst in favor of him.
3. Susan Sarandon: Sexy mama, and I love her politics and her refusal to stand idly by.
4 & 5. Heather Locklear and Kim Catrall: Hot damn these women defy age. Those bodies do not quit!
6. Michelle Yeoh: In some shots of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon her age was more clearly visible on her face, but the fact that she still kicked ass! makes her soooo sexy. And in that Bond flick too.
7. Isabella Rossellini: Just the face and the accent. Fantastic. Italian chicks. Yeah.

Okay, I'll admit it, I just made this list (the women) up on the spur of the moment, but these are definitely some fine women-over-40. Heck, I think they're all over 50. But I haven't given it anywhere near as much thought as I have to the men. Hahaha.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

My Pet Peeves (Installment I)

I have a huge set of pet peeves. Frankly, the fact that I have these peeves annoys me too, because I wish I weren't so easily peeved. But I am.

Today's peeves:

1. People on the Metro escalators who disobey the "stand the right; walk on the left" rule.

2. For that matter, people on the Metro who laze across more than one seat, or put their feet up on the seat in front of them, even though others could want the seat. I'm generally not opposed to this if there are other seats the standing passengers could take. Once, on a shuttle bus from the airport back to the city, some kid's luggage took the seat next to him while the rest of us were crowded into the aisles. I spent the entire 20-minute ride into town annoyed by him.

3. People on the bus who insist on ringing the "stop requested" bell immediately after the bus pulls away from the stop before, so much so that their hand is already hovering by the cord even when the passengers are getting on at the aforementioned previous stop.

4. People who hit elevator buttons that are already lit. In the opening elevator sequence of Speed, someone comments: "Glad you hit that button there. It was already lit, but you never know; it may be broken." Amen!

5. By the same token, people who hit the "close door" button reflexively when the enter an elevator. As if they can't wait the, what, two seconds between their arrival and the closing of the doors.

6. People who ride the elevator less than two flights. Of course, this only applies if they're able-bodied and the stairs aren't, for some retarded reason, locked or otherwise inaccessible.

7. Drivers who don't do a courtesy wave if you allow them ahead of you in traffic.

8. Drivers who honk incessantly in stuck traffic. You know what? Your honking doesn't do squat to get traffic moving. Let it go. Wait.

9. Cab drivers who refuse to take single fares.

10. Cab drivers who have insufficient change for a $20, at any point in their shift.

11. That stupid scene in any movie involving a hostage situation where the bad guy points a gun to someone's head and says, "Tell me what I want to know," and when the hostage professes not to know what the bad guy means, the bad guy just clicks the gun. First, it's cliched. Second, it's stupid. If the guy really doesn't know anything, further threats won't help. Moreover, killing a guy who's not going to give up information just solidifies that he will never give you that information. Same peeve applies to when a bad guy points the gun at a loved one's head to pressure the good guy to do something the good guy is uniquely capable of doing.

12. Telemarketers.

13. Anyone who gets my name wrong. Is it so hard to distinguish between "Dennis" and "Denise," especially when the context makes my sex infuriatingly obvious?

14. People with caller ID who, for whatever reason, pick up the phone and say "Hi Dennis." I don't actually know why this bothers me to the extent it does, but it does. Actually I disagree with Miss Manners on this point; I believe she doesn't find this to be rude.

15. People who still are unable to get down certain grammar/punctuation rules: its/it's; your/you're; to/too. Also people who use "apostrophe-s" to denote the plural of regular words, like "the dog's are back." I also am not a fan of the rampant deliberate misspellings so popular on the internet nowadays. Also, the improper use of "I" where "me" is correct, like "Thank you for talking to Jon and I this week" or "Between you and I, he's an idiot." (Though I'll forgive "He's taller than me" because even though it technically should be "He's taller than I," that just sounds goofy.)

My list is much longer than this. I'm sure there will be further installments to come.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Sushi, Wings, Catty Comments and Ruminations on Youth

I had a fun time last night with my friend Jessica. We have a ritual of getting together for dinner once in a while just to catch up and chat about things. She's fun to talk to and listen to -- basically, because she tolerates my neuroses well. I think that happens when you're a psychologist's daughter.

So we met for sushi. Not at our usual sushi place -- we decided we'd try a different place, the subject of rave reviews. I was excited to try it out despite the fact that it was probably going to be a little pricier than our usual. I'm all for good sushi.

We walked through the door and were greeted and seated. I gotta say, there's something a little strange about being greeted at the door of a sushi restaurant by a white guy. I hope that doesn't sound racist. But it's a sushi place! With a white guy as the host! Not that this was enough to make us run, of course. We noted that the sushi chefs were Japanese, then looked over the menu.

The sushi was decent, but not great. Nothing terribly exotic, or overwhelmingly tasty. What's up with labelling something a "crunchy salmon roll" when really what you're doing is taking regular salmon and rolling it up with a piece of radish? I was expecting some exotic preparation of the salmon to make it crunchy; I wasn't expecting the crunch to come from some external vegetable source. By the time we finished our sushi (a reasonably priced $40 or so for the both of us), Jessica and I realized we were still hungry. And yet we were unwilling to order more sushi.

So we wandered off to a neighborhood bar in search of buffalo wings.

Okay, there is definitely something wrong with following a delightful (though not filling) meal of sushi with buffalo wings, but Jessica loves wings, and I could easily have eaten more, so off we went. We made the mistake of hitting a bar on M Street which -- how to put this delicately -- skews a little younger than Jessica and I are.

We took a table and ordered our wings (and some sliders to boot, which the waitress unfortunately took to mean potato skins, although she didn't think to ask me to define "sliders") and some beer. Very near us was a table populated by about ten people who clearly were in their early twenties. And by "clearly in their early twenties," I mean clearly in their early twenties. It was amusing talking about them outside of their earshot. Well, almost everything Jessica and I said was outside their earshot, because, well, they were just so loud.

The table consisted of about seven women and three men. The one male facing out (toward Jessica and me), it soon became obvious, was gay gay gay. Funny gay. I'm so fabulous gay. But then at the same time, not terribly fabulous. "If you're gonna be a gay guy who surrounds himself with women -- that is, the kind of gay guy I'm rapidly becoming -- you owe it to yourself to surround yourself with attractive women at the very least!" I said to Jessica. We busted out laughing.

"Would I be considered part of your group then?" she asked.

"Of course," I told her. I have a lot of female friends. Many times when we go out, I'm the only male in the bunch. And other men get jealous of me, because I'm surrounded by attractive, smart women. I once got a high-five from a waiter in Vegas because I was in the company of 7 hot women -- even though we were all pretty sure the waiter in question was gay, and, truth be told, he was cute enough that I should have hit on him myself.

The only running thought through my head, watching these kids who were either juniors or seniors in college, or fresh out of college in their first semester of graduate study (I would have guessed law school), was "I was never that young." I told Jessica so repeatedly through the night. Every time the kids did something loud, or obnoxious, or embarassing, I would tell Jessica how I had never, ever been that young. Yes, that's right folks, I was born 30 years old. Maybe that's why my mom resents me so much.

The kids did shots, the kids talked obnoxiously, the kids talked loudly. At some point, one Drunk Girl (and by calling her Drunk Girl I do not mean to imply that anyone else in that group was in any way sober) announces, "Yeah, that's right! I'm hot, I'm loaded, I have a killer apartment, and my husband's a fuckin' awesome lover! I got it made!" Jessica couldn't help wondering out loud how this woman -- could not have been older than 23 -- could possibly have ever found herself a man to settle down with. Later, Drunk Girl was observed sitting on a man's lap in the bar. We presumed it was her husband, and I was sorely tempted to tell him that I understood that he was fantastic in the sack. I didn't say anything to him, which is good, because we later found out that the man was in fact not her husband, but just a random friend on whose lap Drunk Girl decided to sit.

As they were getting ready to settle up, someone (I think a woman) suggested they hit the "gentlemen's club" next door. (Aside -- I don't get this. Do women actually enjoy going to clubs featuring naked women? Why? I thought only guys indulged such silly prurient interests.) Fabulous Gay Boy (who actually looked a lot cuter, if a lot shorter than I would have imagined, once he stood up) was trying to talk the group into going to a gay bar in the gay ghetto instead. (That's what every gay boy wants: his gay bar invaded by a slew of straight girls. Okay, I admit, I did this once too, but at least it was my birthday.)

Jessica and I settled up and took off. As I walked Jessica to the metro stop, we crossed paths with The Drunken Posse again. All was not pretty. One girl managed to dart into moving traffic at Dupont Circle right in front of us and her friends. It was so sudden her friends could only manage a scream, not a grab. Thankfully, the car was going slow enough that it could stop. "Are you HIGH?" Fabulous Gay Boy shrieked at her, though he was still laughing as if the contemplation of the near-death experience hadn't quite taken hold yet. The other girlfriends were busy alternating between hysterical giggles and "Oh my god"s. It was quite the spectacle. As for Drunk Girl Who Launched Herself In Front of the Car (yes, the married, loaded, sexually satisfied one), she was definitely doing nothing but laughing, and announcing something or another far too loudly, and doing a strange-looking "dance," now having made it to the other side of the street.

"No, really, Jessica -- I was NEVER that young."

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Conservative Community Service?

I'm a life member of Alpha Phi Omega, a national co-educational service fraternity. (I know, I know, if it's "co-ed" why is it a "fraternity"? It's a long and involved discussion that's irrelevant here.) What drew me to it in college was its huge focus on community service, an emphasis the traditional Greek fraternities didn't seem to have. I'm big on the whole community service thing. I try to do volunteer work when I can, even though I'm usually pretty busy with work and other general "life" stuff. When I have free time, I like to give of my time.

Recently, a fellow APO alumnus has taken it upon himself to create an alumni group here in the area, for purposes of organizing APO alums for community service events from time to time. Frankly, I think it's a great idea, seeing as at my age I feel like it would be strange to be hanging out with 18- to 21-year olds doing volunteer work. I'd really feel like an outsider. So a group of adult alums might be perfect for me to get back into the swing of being involved, and through my fraternity, no less.

There's a slight hitch.

The guy who's forming the club took it upon himself one day to post a message to the yahoogroup he formed complaining about the fact that Target stores have decided not to permit the Salvation Army from soliciting donations in front of its stores this year. You know what I'm talking about: those people in Santa suits ringing a bell all day long in front of a can where they ask for money. Those people will no longer be in front of Target stores anymore.

APO guy thinks this is a terrible idea. He thinks that it's horrible to deny the Salvation Army, which provides such a great public service, the opportunity to solicit money outside Targets, for no good reason. He even provided a link to his blog entry about this travesty.

And from this link I was able to read the rest of his blog, from which I am able to discern that the man is a conservative Republican.

Not that there's anything per se wrong with that.

But in my mindset, it's so difficult for me to embrace the thought that a person who could be committed to community service, to helping others less fortunate, to chipping in with global efforts, could be Republican. I mean, let's face it, George W. Bush hasn't met a billionaire he hasn't wanted to help to become richer, while welfare mothers don't get a very welcome reception from the administration.

So I posted a comment on this guy's blog entry. (Anonymously, becuase I'm a chicken that way.) I told him that I was upset with the Salvation Army's active attempts to subvert anti-discrimination laws by trying to negotiate with the Bush (II) White House for a special exception to any local anti-discrimination laws the protect gays and lesbians. I told him that any veneer that they had of being a "charitable" institution evaporated in my eyes when they decided that they could not associate with gays or lesbians and wanted assistance from above to allow them to fire people just on that basis. I told him I wouldn't miss the bigots if I walked into a Target.

The guy not only deleted my comment, he eliminated any trace that the comment ever existed.

I'm torn now. I do want to do some service work, through this organization, but if I did show up to any particular function, I know I'd spend much of my time seething at him, hating him before I had even met him.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

"Outing" Update

This post is a follow up to my previous post about the "outing" of my friend Mark to another of my high school friends, Kathy.

Okay, so I just talked to my friend Bert who was also at the happy hour where the unfortunate reveal took place. Turns out things aren't quite as bad as my conversation with Debra would have led me to believe. According to Bert, someone (for reasons still unknown) mentioned that Mark lives with his boyfriend in Seattle. Eventually, Bert turned to look at Kathy, and the look on her face made clear that she was confused. After clarifying that they were talking about Mark with whom both she and I went to high school, she put the pieces together, and Mark was officially outed...

... and at this point, Bert and Debra each said words to the effect of, "Yeah... uh... I guess you weren't supposed to know that."

So I guess things are just as well now. Kathy's decent at keeping a secret if she knows it's supposed to be a secret.

But I'm still annoyed that Debra was as flippant as she was....

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Our God-Like Opposing Counsel

Still more funny from my office-mates.

Some background information:

1. This office is very small. Frankly, most of the non-lawyer staff doesn't have great professional qualifications. They can do stuff, but have never been trained. Also, although we all have at least college degrees... let's just say not all college degrees are created equal.

2. My boss, who is fairly computer-non-functional, can't really type up work product on his own. Most of his work product makes it to paper the old-fashioned way: He dictates onto a tape, and the tape is then transcribed by a secretarial-type person.

3. My boss often dictates tiny little memos regarding the progress of cases so that there's a paper trail regarding the last contact he makes with opposing counsel, and the substance of those conversations.

4. The secretarial-type person who transcribes my boss's tapes -- T., oh she of the infamous endless-telephone-loop incident -- can make some really silly mistakes when transcribing.

Today, as I was reviewing a file, I noticed the following comment in a memo by my boss:

I explained to counsel that we have a window of opportunity that the client was prepared to resolve her claims if it can be done by August 31. [Counsel] wanted reciprocal terms in the settlement agreement relating to liquidated damages and deification.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, opposing counsel wanted both our client and theirs to be elevated to the ranks of the gods in order to settle this case.

Friday, December 03, 2004

"Outing," Personal Politics, and My Rather Clueless Friends

This story is just so bizarre I had to share it. Please share any insights because I'm not sure my reactions are justified.


Mark: My best friend from high school. Currently lives in Seattle. Came out to me after we left college. Is very guarded about his sexuality. One of the friends I visited for Thanksgiving. I talk about him from time to time, just because he's my friend.

Kathy: Another friend I knew in high school who happens to live in DC now. We don't keep in touch much anymore. She hasn't kept in touch with Mark for probably seven years now. Mark never came out to Kathy. Kathy somehow got a job at a small firm which shared space with my firm, so she wound up getting somewhat pulled into a group of people I hang out with.

Debra: A friend of mine here in DC, who worked in the same space as Kathy and me, and one of the "group of people I hang out with" as mentioned above. Hereainafter, the "group of people I hang out with" will be identified as "Debra et al."

Me: Me.


So I went to visit Mark (among others) over the Thanksgiving holiday in Seattle. A fine time was had by all.

Debra et al. decide to get together for a happy hour last night. I decline to attend, for various reasons. I did not know Kathy was going to attend.

At some point in the evening, someone mentions me and my trip to Seattle over the Thanksgiving holiday. It is, after all, no secret. Somewhere, though, someone manages to mention Mark's sexuality. Out loud. In front of Kathy.

"Oh, now it all makes sense," she says. Mark has now been "outed" to Kathy.

Keep in mind, Mark is very sensitive about the whole "coming out" thing. He's been keeping the whole issue on a "need to know" basis.

And Kathy still keeps in touch with people from high school who know him.

See the dilemma here?

Frankly, I don't know what I could possibly do. I mean, I suppose I could call Kathy and ask her to keep this information to herself. I think that's really the best I could do. (Actually, I just tried it, and I don't think I even have an accurate number for Kathy anymore.) So I could just say "That's just too bad," and let the world go about its course, even if it includes Kathy leaking to all our high school friends that Mark is gay.


Okay, the real reason for this post: What bugs me more is Debra's reaction to the whole thing. She's the one who related the "oops we outed your friend Mark" story to me, and I just about lost it. My recollection of the conversation:

Me: Oh my god, that is sooo uncool.
Debra: Whatever. It's not like it's a big deal. It was so funny.
Me: It's not funny!
Debra: Oh, but it is.
Me: No, it's really not.
Debra: Oh, but it really is.
Me: Uh, NO, it's REALLY NOT.
Debra: No, really, it is.
Me: Mark's not the most "out and proud" homosexual. Kathy still keeps in touch with people! You don't think the first thing she's going to do is call Lance, or Tim, or Loren -- none of whom Mark has come out to -- and say, "Hey, remember Mark? Did you know he's gay?"
Debra: You know, we just never gave it a second thought. It's just not a big deal.
Me: Uh, it is a big deal! Did you at least ask her not to tell anyone else?
Debra: Again, we just didn't think we needed to. It's just not that important.
Me: Aaaagh!
Debra: Look, I just don't think sexuality is something to be ashamed of, so it's just not a big deal.
Me: Easy for you to say when you're heterosexual and your sexuality is correctly assumed by most of the world. You don't get to choose whether someone else should or shouldn't be outed. And when you out someone, you need to realize that the outed person may not appreciate it, and work from there.
Debra: Whatever. It's just not a big deal. I don't see why you're making such a big issue out of it.

So I'm taking some issue with the flippancy with which Debra is taking this. She doesn't think it's a big deal, and she's the master arbiter of whether someone else's sexuality should be the topic of discussion or not? Does this mean that she can go about broadcasting the names of all the people she knows who have had abortions, because she doesn't find anything particularly shameful about exercising one's right to choose?

Sure, it was an honest (if idiotic) slip to talk about Mark in front of Kathy when I wasn't even there. (Frankly, I don't even know how Mark's sexuality could possibly have come up in their conversation. They could have discussed me and my trip to Seattle. They could even have talked about the fact that I was visiting my friend Mark. But why did his sexuality even enter into the discussion? My sexuality, fine, fair game. But Mark's?) But then to brush the whole event off as "funny" and "not a big deal" when, for some people, it is a big deal... well, that just kinda burns me.

Am I wrong?

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Home for the Holidays?

I haven't been home for the holidays in literally years now. Heck, I haven't been home for years now. Last time I was back in Hawai'i was for a friend's wedding, back in Labor Day weekend of 2002. But the fact of the matter is, it hasn't been home since well before 2002.

There was a time in my life when I would get homesick over the holidays. When I first got to college I obviously couldn't afford to trek between Honolulu and Philadelphia over Thanksgiving (and expect to get back in time to study for finals). I remember being jealous of my friends who lived close enough to their families that they could drive home for Thanksgiving, stay a day or two, and return in time to cram for finals. Being with my family for Thanksgiving was never a realistic option.

But at some point during college I came to realize that, while I miss my childhood and the memories of frolicking around Hawai'i -- including the trials and tribuluations of high school -- I don't really miss my family all that much. I sound evil when I say that, and I certainly feel awful for thinking it, but it's true.

The fact is, my parents haven't been the happiest, most loving people to be around for quite a while now. It was, in fact one of the reasons I started deciding not to go home for Christmas -- then even for the summer -- was because home stopped being home. When you go from college back to the family that raised you, you kind of look for a return to the nest, surrounded by the comforts that you were used to as a kid. Lately my parents can't stop sniping at each other. At times, the silence in this house is deafening; it sits heavy in the air and stifles the room. You know that uncomfortable silence. Well, it's worse when it's created by your parents.

Somehow I still enjoy Christmas carols extolling the virtues of the loving family and the happy holiday spirit. Songs like No Place Like Home for the Holidays and I'll Be Home For Christmas still make me happy, even if I know that I don't really want to be "home."

Because I've done a pretty good job of establishing my current life -- my current city, my current condo, and, most importantly, my current friends -- as my "home."

Of course, most of my friends here have better families -- "homes" -- to return to during the holidays if they so choose, and many of them do. Which oftentimes can leave me alone with my thoughts at the most magical time of the year.