Butter, the Natural Disaster

Back in June, Butter went off to NM because he’d snagged at internship with the LANL.  He stayed with some family who work there (that was, I suspect, how the idea was planted in Mother’s head in the first place).

So Mother packed his bags with food (because if there is no food easily available, Butter’s default state is ‘starvation’) and he flew off.  I think he got about a week’s work in before the area got evacuated due to the largest wild fire in New Mexican history.  I worried about Butter until I learned that Aunt, Uncle, and Jennifer had already had plans to pack the camper and drive over to Oklahoma City for a dog show (Jennifer’s a junior handler).

So I teased Butter mercilessly for his misfortune.  After all, being packed in a camper for a week with Uncle, Aunt, a 12-year-old, two adult English Setters, and a puppy sounds like quite the ordeal.

Once his internship was over, he tried to fly home.  One of his flights was delayed due to rain storms and he had to be put up in a hotel overnight (but that’s harld unusual because we’ve been having the soggiest August since like forever–wait…).

He was back in PA for only a few days before the first East Coast earthquake since before my parents were born (I believe.  Maybe it’s just the strongest).

Now Mother and Father are driving him up to MA to install him in his University over the weekend.  I think they’re getting to Massachusetts about a day ahead of Hurricane Irene.

I think you can see where I am going with this.  Butter rarely leaves this state, and suddenly natural disasters are following him around the country.

He’s obviously earned the wrath of Kali.  Wait, it’s been a while since I saw that episode.  I think Kali could do the earthquake and the hurricane (maybe?) but not the forest fire.  Maybe she’s got the other two in on it.

All I know is that I want to be there when he starts dancing.



I am aware that gender inequality still exists.  Intellectually, that is.  Most of the time, I don’t feel like it applies to me, and it doesn’t—until it does.

Still with me?

Ever since I graduated from college and moved into my own apartment, I’ve been doing a lot of cooking and baking.  Cooking, because Shu believes she is bad at cooking, or at least bad at cooking many of the things I am willing to eat (her repertoire seems to consist mostly of spicy dishes and chicken hearts).  Therefore, I cook dinner (and about half the time the recipe turns out to be something I’d be willing to eat again).

Baking, because I’m not really interested in eating most of the snacks available at the supermarket and I need to eat something other than baked kale and watermelon between meals.

Though those two are very good options.

If I bake extra of whatever I’ve made (and it’s easy to transport), I’ll bring it into work to share.  The other day, one of my male coworkers said something to the effect that I’ll make some man very happy one day.  I rejoined with a sour, “Yeah, as long as he likes the things I make”, because hell if I am changing my cooking or eating habits for a steak n’ potatoes guy.  Fuck no.  I am making whatever I damn well please and he can have some if he wants.


And today, Father visited and saw me pounding down some chicken breasts and called me “Susie Homemaker.”  I didn’t say anything sarcastic in reply because a) I like him and b) he’d nicely come over to do something manly involving power tools to my bed frame.  Don’t worry; he’d injured his back so I got to man up and wrestle my full-sized mattress and box frame across the room and back.

But I hate the idea of being a housewife.  I don’t even want to have kids.  If I ever happen to marry a guy who does, he’s going to be the one staying at home and dealing with the buggers.  I don’t want to be the one responsible for doing all the laundry, cooking, cleaning, and child rearing of the house.

No way.

And I’m not doing these things to, I dunno, prepare for marriage.  I’m cooking and baking because it’s a challenge, it’s something new, and I get an incredible amount of satisfaction out of doing these things myself.  It’s the same reason I like knitting; I get a boost every time I wear this pair of gloves I made, or that Doctor Who scarf.  I think, I made this and I am happy.

The one other stereotype which annoyed me to no end was one which followed me all through college.  The conversation typically went like this:


PERSON: What’s your major?

ME: Math.

PERSON: Oh, so you’re going to be a teacher?

ME (in my head): Hell no screw the future let those buggers rot I frelling hated grade school the first time around you couldn’t pay me enough to repeat it.

ME (out loud): Um, no.  Actuary, actually.



And sometimes they would get a kind of good-for-you tone to their voice and I’d want to scream.  Going into math-but-not-teaching had seemed the obvious choice to me.  If I had to think of all the types of classes I could take for four years, math was the only one I could imagine myself going through with.

I know quite a lot of people who breathed a sigh of relief when they entered college, happy with the knowledge that no one would ever again ask them to factor a polynomial or graph a line.

I couldn’t imagine not doing those things, and more.

I don’t feel like these expectations are holding me back, exactly, but I do get very annoyed when people seem to think that they apply to me.


I’m sure this all has been said before, in much greater detail and many funnier anecdotes, but…

Dude, I knew in the back of my mind that quakes do, occasionally, hit the East Coast, but quakes are, largely, something that happens to other people in other, more exotic locales.

Like California.

So exotic.

So earthquakes might have hit the East Coast before I was born, and they might hit after I have died and/or moved away, but they weren’t the sort of thing that would happen while I was here.  Until today, at least.

Yes, it was a 5.9 magnitude quake with its epicenter in Virginia.  Yes, I felt it in Philly, but Shu (who was less than five miles away at the apartment) did not.  I listened to KYW on the way home, and apparently lots of people evacuated their office buildings then took it as an excuse to go home early.  Which was rather futile if they were depending on the public transportation system, because that was what suffered the largest disruption.  We didn’t bother evacuating, but some of us did scoff at the email sent around assuring us that the building had been built to withstand earthquakes originating hundreds of miles away.

(I was not a scoffer.  As far as I’m concerned, it was nothing more dramatic than a prolonged rumbling which might be generated by an extremely heavy cart being trundled down the aisle.  Right next to me.  A really heavy cart with a lame wheel.  Anyway, I was not one of the people hanging around doorways muttering about aftershocks.  Which is really all you need to know.)

Some areas of the White House and Pentagon were evacuated, which prompted Eric the Intern to remark that, has this happened in the 50s, people would have probably looked toward DC expecting to see a mushroom cloud.

We are in 2011, however, and it took mere minutes for the KYW site to have “EAST COAST ROCKED BY QUAKE” emblazoned across its front page.

I love the internet.


The Chihuahua’s Rule of Synopses

This has probably been said somewhere else, with greater clarity and more corollaries, than it is here.  Oh well, you’ll just have to live.

A friend (Becca) and I were lamenting about how it’s very difficult to explain to an outsider what Doctor Who is about without triggering some sort of flight mechanism.

Even if you get past the 900-year-old-alien-who-flys-around-in-a-combination-spaceship/time-machine bit, and the section with the he-regenerate-whenever-he-dies-so-he-gets-a-new-body-and-personality, they’ll be sure to run screaming once you get to the and-he-invites-young-women-he’s-just-met-to-take-a-ride-in-his-Police-Box part.

And I realized that pretty much any synopsis of a popular entertainment series requires a little (or a lot) of belief to be suspended.

House?  A brilliant, sadistic, bastard of a doctor solves medical cases which no one else can with the help of three or four underlings, all of whom have at least one quirky quirk which the Lord Doctor is sure to find out and then bug them mercilessly about.  He has the hots for his boss who shows improbable amounts of cleavage and puts up with his harmful and unprofessional shenanigans because he is frelling brilliant and/or she returns his twisted affections.

Ok, ok, I didn’t take that one seriously.

Bones?  A brilliant but socially challenged doctor of forensic anthropology is retained by the Jeffersonian Museum to solve crimes by looking at bones.  Wait, that’s probably not why she’s at the museum.  Then again, the museum gave her a gigantic lab made completely out of stainless steel and potted plants which is filled with other brilliant (and pulchritudinous) minds who also help solve crimes using their own areas of expertise, so maybe that is all they’re there for.

Also, she’s named Temperance and her FBI partner is named Seely Booth and if you didn’t know the meaning of UST before watching this series, you sure do now.

Damn.  I’m not even trying, am I?

Farscape?  Astronaut John Crichton is doing some experiment in a shuttle above Earth when he runs into a wormhole which transports him to a completely different part of the universe which is filled to the brim with ALIENS (and not just the Star Trek kind).  He runs afoul of the Peacekeepers (which, surprise, surprise, have a rather euphemistic bent to their name) who look like humans but are actually Sebaceans and ends up helping to hijack a prison ship with some former prisoners (who, if I haven’t mentioned this before, are ALIENS).  There’s a blue woman who’s actually a plant and toad-guy with eyebrows and a hover chair who’s actually a Muppet and did I mention that the ship’s ALIVE?

And also, UST.  Though Aryn and one of the Johns (there’s two of them for a while) do resolve the UST briefly before that version dies from radiation poisoning and then it just goes back to being UST between Aryn and the surviving John.

Erm.  Spoilers!

Which brings me to The Chihuahua’s Rule of Synopses:

There exists an inverse relationship between a synopses’ similarity to our concept Real Life and its apparent ridiculousness.


The less similar a text is to Real Life, the more awesome it actually is.  (Where “text” refers to any forms of entertainment, whether it is a book, TV show, movie, or something else.)

I think I’m on to something, here.

My Left Arm Wishes to Secede

I’m pale.

I mean, really pale.  Like, luminescent, I-never-see-the-sun pale, even the parts of me that do see the sun on a semi-regular basis.

Except for my left arm.  That thing’s tan.  Like, so tan that it might be able to pass as a normal person’s arm.  So tan that, if it were put in a line-up, no one would ID it as mine.

It’s so tan that people regularly assume it’s adopted.

So anyway, I’m more of one of those I-don’t-tan-I-freckle-and-burn-not-necessarily-in-that-order people, except for my left arm, which tans and freckles, but for the rest of this post you’ll know that it’s the exception to my otherwise sweeping generalizations.

Friday last week I took off from work and accompanied Mother and Shu to the beach.

Yes, the beach was located in New Jersey.  No, I did not see any guidos, but then again I’d left my spotter’s guide at home, and please just be happy that I had a good time.

We pitched two umbrellas, one hailing from Mother’s childhood.  Aside from the rust stains, it was in remarkably good condition.

We walked along the beach.  We walked along the board walk.  We marinated ourselves in the salt bath known as the ocean.

We tried to get Shu to jump waves while holding onto a boogie board, but she wasn’t too happy about it.  Maybe it has something to do with the alchemy which happens when salt water comes in contact with contacts.

We bought delicious candy from Shriver’s and ate delicious pizza at some restaurant with a predictably Italian name which I was unsure how to pronounce because, well, I’ve never taken Italian.  When you see “cc” in a word, it’s a unvoiced, postalveolar affricate, right?  Or is that when a “c” is followed by an “i”?

I’ve gotten off track.

The point is, I didn’t get burnt except along my hair line which sucked.  That’ll teach me to forget to slather my hair in sun screen.  On the plus side, it wasn’t as bad as that time I went to Dorney Park and got burnt along where my hair was parted.

That was a disaster.

And my left arm is still mocking me.


My Car

In my opinion, my car is awesome.  It’s a 17-year-old, bright red Civic with peeling paint and a black mirror on the passenger’s side.  It’s got zip.  With my car, it’s possible to accelerate from stop signs and lights in ways which are simply impossible in other vehicles.

It's called CHARACTER.
(It’s called character)

Ask anyone who’s been my passenger.  They’ll tell you.  If they aren’t a fan of roller coasters, they might also follow it up with a warning to never set foot in my car.  Whatever.  Their lives are grey and desolate.

It’s also got some bumper stickers.  One says “Gadzooks” in support of a local radio morning show.  One says “Eve was framed”.  The last one says “My other car is a TARDIS.”

Occasionally people comment on these.  One memorable time a guy in a convertible pulled up beside me at a stop light and asked whether “TARDIS” is a Greek car manufacturer.

But today I realized that I might just have to start paying more attention to what’s going on my rear-view mirror.

I was stopped at a red light.  I glanced at the mirror, and noticed that the people in the red SUV behind me were unusually…animated.  I did a double-take and, yes, the teenager and her mother both had their cell phones out and were taking a picture of something in front of their car.

Something…like my bumper.

The impression was borne out through multiple corner-of-eye glances (because making eye contact with bumper ogleers would be such a faux pas) as they waved their hands, pointed, and laughed at something in the vicinity of the back of my car.

I really hope I made their day.

I want to like you, I really do

            You know how there are some books that you want to like, you really want to like, but you just don’t?  I’m not even talking about I-wanted-to-like-but-couldn’t-finish.  This is its more extreme cousin; I-read-it-and-can’t-remember-what-happened.

            This has only happened to me with a couple books.  The two most notable ones I’ve reread at least once (on the off chance that I was doing it wrong the first time), and yet I can barely remember the main characters and basic plot structure.

            One is Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.  Yes, yes, just shoot me now.  It’s the love child of two authors I adore, and I just can’t do it.  I’ve read every Discworld novel (yes, even the crap ones like Moving Pictures).  I’ve read the entire Sandman series plus many of Gaiman’s other books.  These guys are seriously awesome.

            And yet, I couldn’t tell you how Good Omens ends.  Or begins, even.  Or most of the middle bits, though I do recall something about a hellhound (named “dog”?) and Famine leading people to starve themselves because it has become trendy.

            The second book is The Eyre Affaire by Jasper Fforde.  I’ve read it a number of times.  Hell, the first time around I chased it down with whatever other books in the series were out at the time.  Obviously, these did not make painful reads.

            And yet.  I remember something about the Crimean war (because I still don’t know what the hell that is).  I have an image of Thursday shaking a glass jar filled with equal parts beans and rice (or something like that) and having them separate perfectly.  And I know Wales comes into it somewhere.

            That’s it.  Oh, there was some nonsense about her having a pet dodo, but half the time I think it was a penguin.  And she fed it pez?

            The only notable effect this book had on my life was to ruin the ending of Jane Eyre (which I had to read for 11th grade English).  I knew that a crazy lady and a burning roof came into it, in the very least, which is more than I would have known had I not read it.

            I can’t say that this is the fault of those books.  By many accounts, they are appreciated by quite a large percentage of their readers.  Somewhat recently, I have realized that my first impression was true: I wasn’t doing it right.

            I’m still not.

            But this is not my fault, either.  Obviously, there is something about these characters or these situations which does not at all appeal to me.   My continuous-onset amnesia is caused by my focus always being on what happens next, as opposed to the scene that is unfolding in front of me.

            I’m guessing, at least.  Does anyone else experience this?