unrequited narcissism

Archives: personal
Archives: personal
August 28, 2006
August 28, 2006
also paging dr. freud personal

i can one up you: last night i dreamt that steve carell and i went to hawaii to steal a bunch of exotic, brightly-colored birds. we transported them back in a black velvet bag. when we got home, we opened the bag, and all except one was dead.

???

comments [2] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
August 23, 2006
August 23, 2006
there shall be a fourth personal

my coworker t. had to leave work a bit early, so i walked outside with him to warm up and get some fresh air and chat. as we strolled out into the atrium, a gangly and obviously british man darted in front of us, racing out the front door.

"OH MY GOD!" i whispered. loudly. "IT'S RI/CHARD QU/EST! OMFG!"

if you don't know who RQ is, he's one of the business anchors for cnn international, and he's totally and completely adorable and hilarious. he is, without a doubt, the most british person ever. and i kind of love him.

"hey, come on, i'll introduce you," t. said, starting to drag me over.

"HELL TO THE NO," i whispered again. loudly. because if you know me, you know i kind of worship famous-ish people, but am absolutely terrified of meeting them. i turn into Retardo Catherine - even more so than usual. all guffaws and flailing hands and incoherent sentences.

t. kept dragging, and i kept wiggling away, and i kicked and spat and eventually ran - gracefully i assure you - out the far door - but not before RQ turned around to see what the hell was going on. it was terrible.

and it reminded me very much of the ted leo encounter i had with kriston. short recap: kriston and i were drinking margaritas, ted leo was sitting next to us, i had an epileptic fit, and kriston eventually forced me to introduce myself and get a picture. which, admittedly, was fantastic, but it was one hell of a painful process.

which also reminds me of the fact that my coworker t. is KRISTON'S EVIL TWIN. you know there was that picture where everybody decided that yglesias, tommy and kriston were triplets? pyromaniac triplets? well, i present the suggestion that t. be added to their ranks, because, what the hell:

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comments [3] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
August 15, 2006
August 15, 2006
dear transit security goons personal

Before you make my upcoming flight to London miserable, please go read Yglesias and Bruce Schneier. Not because it will change anything. But because I'd like to see a tiny flicker of guilt in your eye as you tell me I'm not allowed to bring anything onto the plane besides a willingness to quietly sit still.

And speaking of the TSA, whatever happened to the alleged change in policy making shoe-removal optional? As far as I can tell, it's had absolutely no effect on screeners' insistence that you take off your shoes. I've tried every type of footwear I can think of, but it's never seems to make a difference. On the rare (and seemingly random) occasions when I'm allowed to go through the metal detector without pulling off my sneakers, all it buys me is a more thorough screening on the other side.

comments [3] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
August 13, 2006
August 13, 2006
help me atlanta  - personal

alright, i'll admiit it - atlanta has started to grow on me. it's got all these great neighborhoods, you see - the only problem is that you have to drive at least 15 minutes in between each of them. but contained within these adorable little neighborhoods like east atlanta village and little five points are great stores - good bars, restaurants, and boutiques.

and therein lies the problem. you see, i'm sick. i've got a fever. and apparently the only cure is more dresses.

I BOUGHT FOUR DRESSES THIS WEEKEND. what is wrong with me?!?! seriously. i hardly EVER wear dresses. skirts i'll wear on occasion to work, but i much prefer a pair of nicely-cut trousers or jeans. but i went on a freaking rampage this weekend. here's the damage:

a black cotton dress from american apparel. gah! i'm a hypocrite! i hate the owner of american apparel because he is a sexually assaulting public masturbating happy freak, but this dress was so cheap and so comfy. only turn off in the store is that the cashier was wear gold lame hotpants. well, what are you gonna do.

a blue print strapless dress from sugar britches in east atlanta village. it highlights my swimsuit tan nicely.

a red halter dress and a white dress (only $30!) from rene rene in little five points. my lord, i cannot recommend this boutique highly enough. it was the first time i'd been in there, and despite the fact that i was wearing what basically amounted to pajamas, was toting my laptop around and generally looked like a low-class shlub, the staff was gracious and helpful. they must have smelled my dress lust in the air. but seriously - the stuff in that store was GORGEOUS. great skirts, these beautiful wool sheath dresses for fall...sigh. it was like a dream. rene is an older, kind of kooky, flaming red haired lady, and she designs all the pieces by hand.

so, yeah. i'm a dress whore. what the fuck am i going to do with all these dresses? i don't really know. they're certainly not appropriate for work - unless i sling a cardigan over them, i guess - and it's not like i go to cocktail parties or similar events all that often. sigh. most likely i will just coo at them.

anyway, i recommend sugar britches, rene rene and pieces of adrene (the boutique where i got this dress) for your shopping needs. just beware. you might walk out in a daze carrying a dozen things you don't even remember buying.

comments [7] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
August 08, 2006
August 08, 2006
bruce banner was a nerd, too personal

When I was younger I had a terrible temper. It didn't really get me into fights or trouble — mostly it just produced figurative headaches for my parents and literal ones for myself. I think it's the Dutch blood in me: that sort of passionate disposition is what allowed their East India company to deliver such competitive pricing excellence to its customers, right? Right.

Well, puberty eventually wrapped up, I put a little more effort into controlling myself, and I generally started having fewer things to get upset about. These days I like to think I'm pretty good-natured guy. My ceaseless fury is mostly reserved for when I'm speaking to customer service representatives on the phone. Admittedly, if those poor souls were to get together and commiserate, I've got a feeling that the term "serial killer-like" might come up a lot. That's about right, I'm afraid ("it puts me on the phone with its manager, or else it gets the hose again"). It's nothing personal, guys — it's just that your discomfort will under no circumstances interfere with the satisfaction of my incomprehensibly inhuman desires (e.g. wanting my DSL connection to work).

So I mostly limit myself to a telephonic stress/voodoo doll these days. The primary exception is when I'm particularly tired and/or stressed out. Which brings me to this entry's inevitable apology: I'm sorry, tonight's left lane dwellers of I-66 and Rt. 29. Repeatedly tonight, as you and your right-lane coconspirators trundled along, collecting cars behind you like beads on some sort of furious charm bracelet, I was surprised to find myself projecting invisible beams of hatred in your direction with such intensity that I'm pretty sure I began to cook you from the inside out. So, uh, sorry about that.

comments [4] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
off to a great start bitching  - personal

Dr. Tom's prescription for Tuesday non-success:

  1. Sleep through your alarm.
  2. Post the morning roundup late. Immediately receive shit from commenters.
  3. Hustle to work. Discover that your sandbox site was defaced by hackers about a month ago, due to an unpatched flaw in some third party software. The site's not very important (hence the lax security), but some stuff for DCist runs on it (at your expense) because the Gothamist guys have never gotten around to giving you access to host it on the DCist server. So it needs to be uncompromised, cleaned and secured.
  4. Prepare to make tech support call to non-client marketing trade group that you find morally repugnant.
  5. Time for meetings! Two hours should do it.
  6. Drive to Charlottesville to see mom, who's been re-admitted to hospital (nothing too serious). Drive back.
  7. Collapse into bed.

Also anticipated: a ticket on 66 for violating HOV (Fox 5 ran a story about me and my nefarious HOV-violating buddies last night). When the fuck is Friday getting here, again?

Sorry for the whining. I promise I'll deliver a post about an electronics project involving a demonic glowing cow skull as soon as I can finish it.

comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
July 31, 2006
July 31, 2006
home again home again personal

I'm back from a weekend in Atlanta filled with fried food, delayed flights and filial guilt. I had a great time, although I was pretty surprised to find myself making the trip. I'd even tried to cancel my tickets on Thursday night, but, low on sleep and frustrated by cheaptickets.com's slow password recovery feature, let the situation fester until Friday. And by then my mom was feeling well enough that she and my sister told me to head to Atlanta after all. From the sound of things, it was the right decision — mom appears to be doing very well. I'll be heading back down to Charlottesville in about 45 minutes to confirm it with my own eyes.

But, like I said, Atlanta was great. I was pretty disappointed to learn that the Cyclorama is this rather than this. But there was plenty of stuff to make up for that. Catherine gave me a tour of her office (I peered into Sanjay Gupta's office! Exciting!), which was cool, although we did get yelled at by a guide who thought we'd wandered off the tour.

Liz, who was introduced to us by Scott, proved to be approximately the sweetest person ever and gave us an incredibly great tour of Williams Street, aka Adult Swim HQ (I peered into Dave Willis's and Matt Maiellaro's offices! Genuinely exciting!).

And we spent some quality time with my old friend Chris, gaining a keen and not entirely un-terrifying perspective on the Atlantean post-fraternity lifestyle. To be fair, an important part of this lifestyle seems to be sitting in a pool and drinking beer. So it's not all bad.

Other than that, we passed the time by eating a lot, dropping by a few bars, participating in an on-the-street podcast for the local McSweeney's farm team, and generally having a pleasant time. So thumbs up to Atlanta. Driving everywhere still sucks, though.

comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
July 28, 2006
July 28, 2006
bad news personal

Wah-wah pedals. Laser pointers. Firearms. These are the sorts of machines that are simply too much for fun humans to use objectively. You might have a considered, intelligent opinion about their proper use, but it'll melt away as soon as you get your hands on one. Motorcycles belong on this list, too.

So, I'll just get it out of the way, since people are asking, and this seems like as good an information-dissemination mechanism as any that are available to me. My mom got into a serious motorcycle accident Wednesday evening. According to the cops, some guy suddenly decided he really, really needed to make that right turn to get some gas — enough so that he was willing to do it from the left lane. I suppose my above list is unfair, since the accident wasn't her fault. But I'm still not feeling very fond of motorcycles at the moment.

The resulting breaks, as of the last round of CTs: clavicle, back, pelvis, ribs, right arm in twenty places. Amazingly, it appears that she'll be fine. The right arm is the worst of the lot, but today's surgery on it went well. It sounds like she'll probably be in the hospital for a week.

What comes after that, I don't know. I'm trying to prepare myself not to be surprised by whatever unpleasant surprises come up in the future. So far everything seems to be going great — but I suspect that when an ICU nurse tells you something is great, it really just means that it isn't horribly, horribly bad. So we'll see. She should be moving out of that unit tomorrow and back into the real world. I'm guessing that a sense of scope will arrive around the same time as her physical therapist.

Anyway, thanks for everyone's kind thoughts and sentiments (and balloons! no flowers in the ICU, so folks have been loading her up with mylar and helium). Honestly, everything is surprisingly fine. My sister has been incredibly great. My mom started off the afternoon groggy, but was pretty lucid and cheerful by the time I left this evening, all things considered. Things are going as well as can be expected. Her head is fine, her life doesn't appear to be in danger, and we basically know what has to happen next. That sort of clarity makes it possible to remain pretty even-keeled about all of this.

posted by tom - link
July 23, 2006
July 23, 2006
in brief atlanta  - personal  - weekend report

short version of the weekend: driving past a great, old-timey krispy kreme sign on the way to my coworker's house friday night. moderate amounts of booze at house (curse you, driving). donuts from said krispy kreme suddenly appearing at coworker's house. me proceeding to eat 2 3/4 of said donuts. pool party. moderate amounts of margaritas at said pool party (curse you, driving!). running, and the continued battle between me wanting to be able to run and keeping my toenail. i know, it's gross.

i may as well include monday night in the weekend roundup, because even though it hasn't happened yet, i think it'll be pretty great. i'm going to dinner with mrs. gray and bubba at joel here in atlanta. this requires some prefacing. mrs. gray is, as many of you know, charles' mother, and is pretty much (along with the rest of charles' family, as crazy and hillybillyish as he keeps telling us the extended portion of the family is) the icing on the cake of having charles as a friend. imagine how generous, fun and laid-back charles is already, and add three more to that, and you have his parents and his sister. (also imagine how much charles likes to drink, and add three more to that, and the equation is pure awesomeness.) they're going to tuscany? why don't you come along! it's sunday? come over for dinner! christmas time? of course you're heading to their renowned christmas party. johanna is graduating in chicago and you're not remotely blood relations? they'll get you a hotel room and take you out for dinner and drinks! so on and so forth. and, of course, if they're in your town for business, they'll obviously be taking you out for a super nice dinner.

then there's bubba. how to describe.

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comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
July 14, 2006
July 14, 2006
just so's we're clear personal
  • I've got nothing to do with this. (Removed due to signs of life — actual communication! It's great.).

    So consider this post my pathetic cry to current and future employers, peers, relations and acquaintances: I actually know what I'm doing, I swear.

  • This is astonishingly stupid. Like, almost audiophile stupid.
  • I've now accidentally caught Dashboard Confessional on both Leno and Letterman. That dude really can't sing, can he? His wha-oh-wha-ohs are okay, but the rest is pretty miserable.

comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
July 06, 2006
July 06, 2006
i almost forgot personal

The wheels have been in motion for some time now, so yesterday kind of slipped by without me noticing. But congratulations are in order for various friends in our corner of the aspiring DC media conspiracy: Kyle, Heather and Sommer are all stepping into new roles at DCist, and I'm pretty excited about it. I'm looking forward to reading more music stuff from Kyle; to Heather having a larger hand in the site's direction; and to Sommer finally having access to the budget necessary to pay down her not-inconsiderable debt in promised milkshakes.

But of course I'm also very sad to see Ryan step down. I imagine Catherine and I will write some more weepy posts closer to his departure date, but for now, suffice it to say that the guy is pretty amazing. I think DCist has had an unbelievable string of luck with its editors. Rob and Mike's encyclopedic knowledge of the city, organizational skills and affability helped attract and sustain readers and writers. Then Martin and Ryan stepped in with a level of talent and dedication that bordered on masochism. Martin's sticking around (the knots seemed pretty secure, anyway), but Ryan's off to pursue his boyhood dreams of a PhD in economic history.

I have no doubt that Sommer is going to be great as an EIC, but we're all sad that Ryan won't be around to occasionally save us. The level of dedication the guy has shown is more than a little ridiculous (and a testament to Lisa's overwhelming patience). If a writer said, "I had a post saved on my hard drive, but my computer broke and I can't afford to fix it," I have no doubt that Ryan would immediately start figuring out how much blood plasma he had to sell to raise the money. Not that Sommer wouldn't do the same — but Ryan's taller, and therefore probably has more blood. That's an important trait for an editor.

comments [5] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
July 03, 2006
July 03, 2006
noted with derision personal

Hmm. I just biked back from Matt & Kriston's, where I consumed burgers, beer and Deadwood. That's all pretty standard for a Sunday night. What was out of the ordinary was what happened as I turned off 11th onto O. There was a skinny white kid wearing overly large shorts and a baseball cap in a particularly ridiculous configuration. And he said something to me as I whizzed by. I'm not sure what, but it definitely sounded indignant, and contained the phrase "my territory".

It was just a little too much. There I was, bike helmet, cargo shorts, ironic internet-themed t-shirt and Gap sandals — and at least mostly not predisposed to picking fights with neighborhood thugs — and I still couldn't stifle the snorted laughter that erupted.

I heard a response. It contained "aw shit", but I'm not sure what else. And it sounded kind of sad.

Anyway, my apologies, aspiring pimps of Logan/Shaw. I realize that yours is a difficult industry in which to find a foothold. It's not like there are internships on Craigslist that you can email your resume to. And even now, after you've found a position, you probably don't know who to approach about filling out the forms necessary to translate threatening neighborhood bicyclists into course credit. I mean sure, it's great that they gave that song the Oscar, but it hasn't changed the facts on the ground, right? It's just lip service.

Well, I wish you the best of luck. But I've gotta say, if you can't even scare the neighborhood's drunken, cycling nerds, I don't know how you're going to intimidate its hookers and/or gang-bangers. I'm sure you'll think of something, though. Maybe a bigger hat? It might make you seem taller.

comments [2] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
June 28, 2006
June 28, 2006
just call me kim atlanta  - personal

a cool thing about work: generally, i feel like i'm working in the CTU offices on 24.

a few more cnn shots here.

comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
June 18, 2006
June 18, 2006
wah is me personal

let me give you all a little piece of sage advice: NEVER, EVER, IF YOU CAN EVER HELP IT, MOVE. ESPECIALLY NOT THREE TIMES IN UNDER A YEAR. IT'S A LITTLE BIT OF A BITCH.

take that as you will. as i sit amidst the ruins of carboard boxes and stacked ceramic bowls on my bed pillow, which is the only surface available on which to exist vaguely comfortably, i am still thankful - because i have the awesomest dad ever. on father's day itself he flew with me to chicago and is helping me with this total mess, not to mention driving back with me tomorrow morning. i am a lucky lady.

i'm also thankful that my week in d.c. was kinda great. dinner at palena, drinks all over the city, sporting events, family time, boyfriend time, friend time - it was wonderful to be back, even if it was for a shorter period than i would have liked. i still have a few more days there next week, but come friday, i'm off to the ATL till september (d.c. visits will dot that time, of course.) pictures forthcoming of the most recent activities as soon as i've puttied the shit out of my walls.

UPDATE: puttying is strangely satisfying. especially on zero hours of sleep and a few red bulls. anyway, the flickr stream has been updated with some random shots.

comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
June 16, 2006
June 16, 2006
congradulations! personal

my beeeyootiful, talented, incredibly smart and soon-to-be-wahoo (WAHOOWA) lil sister graduated from high school yesterday. excessive photos can be found here. the best part: tom davis gave the speech, which was actually pretty funny. even funnier: when my brother graduated from thomas jefferson in 2001, davis spoke there as well...and gave the exact same speech. canned speeches: a congressman's best friend.

comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
June 11, 2006
June 11, 2006
la festa D.C.  - personal  - photos

the party? was teh awesome. a smaller crowd than we were anticipating showed up, but that was actually good because a) more time to talk to wonderful people and b) lots of leftover beer that we'll need help killing the rest of the week. highlights of the evening included seeing all the great regular zuntaparty folks plus a few new faces, getting to know some of the lovely echoditto crowd that have made tommy so happy these past months and meeting the absolutely charming becks, one of my favorite bloggers. i mean, any night that ends around 4:30am with a bottle of whiskey being passed around and a rousing episode of karaoke revolution can't be a bad one, right?

emily was particularly gung ho with tommy's camera last night so you can expect some flickr action soon. thanks so much to everybody who came out!

UPDATE: drew comes through with the first photos.

UPDATE II: here's tommy's set.

comments [19] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
June 10, 2006
June 10, 2006
ryan and lisa's wedding D.C.  - personal  - photos

tommy and i had the pleasure of attending ryan and lisa's wedding last night at the arts club of washington, and it was looooovely. everything about the ceremony was wonderful, including the vows that each of them wrote, which i usually pshaw. but tommy pointed out that it helps vows if you happen to be excellent writers. anyway, they both looked gloriously happy, the arts club was a beautiful setting, lisa was beautiful, the dinner was incredibly delicious, the cake (which was actually artfully arranged cupcakes from cake love) was actually....really good. i guess when you do let them sit out long enough they are, in fact, yummy, contrary to my previous thinking. the open bar was very open, and the dancing was fun. and one of my favorite parts of the evening? ryan, on his wedding day, was kind enough to bring me a stack of dcist temporary tattoos. god bless the boy.

photos here. frankly, a lot of them are really terrible - some because i didn't want to blind everyone with flash, some because i went on to get kinda drunk. but peruse freely!

comments [2] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
June 09, 2006
June 09, 2006
party time! D.C.  - personal

don't forget: charles, tommy and i will be hosting a fine, fine party tomorrow night, starting around 10, and you're all invited. if i somehow neglected to get you the evite, just shoot me an email asking for details. my favorite "yes i'm coming" evite response thus far:

Michael (06/05)
if only to get to the bottom of this "tommy" craze, i'm there. plus i'm eager to discover that catherine is more than an alias that you created on your blog.

interesting theory. if tommy keeps popping in and out of the bathroom in a blond wig...well, just be prepared.

comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
June 08, 2006
June 08, 2006
oof personal

I can pretty well measure how rough a day it's been by how late it is when I open my RSS reader. It's 3:19 at the moment, and I'm only juuust thinking about hitting that BlogLines button. That means things have been busy.

It appears there was some sort of attack on our server farm at work; I was up late & early doing the roundup and launching a client site (and, uh, drinking, although not for the early part); and yesterday was so frantic that I still had two dozen or so emails left from it that actually needed answering.

On top of that, LastCall's Metro capabilities are broken. Given its relative stability thus far, the likelist suspect is a subtle change in RideGuide's HTML. The original HTML was a mess, resulting in some decidedly non-robust regexes involved in its parsing. It wouldn't take much to send them spinning off into oblivion — which is what I suspect happened. The smart money is on it being a real bitch to track down, too.

On the upside, Catherine gets into town tonight! Here's hoping absence has made her begin to consider Perl debugging a romantic way to spend an evening.

comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
June 07, 2006
June 07, 2006
oh dear personal  - tech

Between the LASIK and my generally geeky ways, my friends give me a lot of shit about my potential for becoming a post-human abomination. Digital-themed tattoo? I've thought about it, but probably not. RFID chip? Maybe in a few years. Intracranial bluetooth headset? Eh, I'll wait until I start seeing them in rap videos. I'm not actually all that anxious to modify my body in permanent ways.

But this... Oh man. I want this. The ability to feel electromagnetic fields, people. To tell when a wire is live, or a hard drive is being read, or a transmitter is on, or if a surface is ferrous. It's just a little too cool. Make it safe, then sign me up. Sorry, humanity.

comments [10] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
June 04, 2006
June 04, 2006
the circle of life personal

proof the universe doesn't hate me (or, at least, tolerates my presence): as i was starting the arduous process of, you know, moving, about four days before i have to get out of here, i packed up garbage bags full of crap like my entire fridge, and that stack of lucky magazines i'd kept for god knows what reason the entire year. i dragged them down to the dumpster where i noticed all of them were absolutely overflowing with crap. jesus, i thought, what a pain in the ass. i dumped my trash on the floor and surveyed the situation. and what should mine own eyes see but my own salvation: the reason the dumpsters were overflowing is that there were boxes. millions and millions of boxes in perfectly usable condition that someone who had obviously just moved into the complex had used. having spent $20 just that morning on four boxes from the fedex around the corner, i literally did a little jumping dance. and then i made five trips between the dumpster and my apartment, carrying those precious boxes under my arms like so much discovered treasure. yes, i spent my sunday morning rummaging through dumpsters for cardboard gold. it was good. and now back to the packing!

comments [5] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
June 03, 2006
June 03, 2006
also more photos personal  - photos

i also just uploaded a bunch of photos to my flickr stream - most of me looking like a drunk ass, as usual, and i can't imagine you really want to see those. but i was walking around downtown chicago this afternoon on my way to a dinner party, and took some shots of that. the location of the dinner party was, i also thought, photo-worthy, as it was the corner condo of a building next to the drake hotel on lake shore drive with the most amazing view. here's the set of the evening.

comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
beach media personal  - photos

I've finally got all of my photos from the beach uploaded — you can find them here, if you're so inclined.

And of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't link to DOG V. CRAB, the video sensation that's sweeping the internet. The two combatants both struggled for victory. The real winner? The viewing public.

The video portrays just a small part of the overall fight. Credit to Genevieve for capturing as much she did; Wreck had already cornered a ghost crab behind some fencing earlier in the day, but nobody expected him to find another one. He sniffed and jabbed for a while as the crab warily snapped at his nose — I thought it could go either way at that point. But one quick lunge from Wreck wrapped things up decisively.

comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
June 02, 2006
June 02, 2006
on a happy note personal

if i haven't killed myself, a classmate, or a small animal by the end of today, it will have been a success!

UPDATE: no animals or people were harmed in the process of this day. now i get beer and pool so am happy.

comments [2] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
pimping: actually fairly easy D.C.  - personal  - tech

echoditto adSome of you might remember me asking for career advice a while back. I ended up deciding to take the new job, then blogged the first day. Then everyone at work discovered this site (using their strange internet powers), and, aside from some generalities, I haven't mentioned it.

Well, let me fill you in. It's been about six months, I think. People use the phrase "it was the best decision I ever made" to describe getting a hair transplant, or buying a boat, or ordering a Cobb salad. So I'd like to avoid joining their idiomatic ranks, but I can't. It just seems so obvious. These are the smartest, coolest, funniest, most talented people I've ever worked with, and the job itself is interesting, varied and rewarding. I look forward to work every day. Okay, every non-hungover day.

The reason for my gushing: we're hiring. If you're geeky, really smart and interested in working in the non-evil sector, you should think about applying. You'd like it. Seriously.

comments [3] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
May 30, 2006
May 30, 2006
also! personal

I'm back from the beach, as you may have surmised. Photos and perhaps some recapping will come later, but at the moment I'm too exhausted. The short version is that it was a lot of fun. I showed up at work today around 1:30 saturated with sweat, dog hair and fatigue, but other than that the experience was uniformly great.

Oh, and for those interested: the EVDO worked wonderfully, but someone had an open access point very near our house, so it was unnecessary. It came in handy during the car ride back, though. The final stage of my EVDO catch & release strategy will come tomorrow.

comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
san diego here we come! personal

woohoo! big congrats to my little brother peter, who just got his navy assignment for the next four years. the details:

he will be assigned to San Diego, CA on the USS Jefferson City, a fast Attack submarine of the Los Angeles class.

i have no idea what any of that means, but i do know san diego was one of his top choices (and, um, mine too. i wasn't going to be so excited about the prospecting of visiting him in, say, guam or connecticut). anyway, i'm so proud of him! you can see him in all his fabulousness in some flickr shots.

comments [2] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
May 24, 2006
May 24, 2006
radio silence personal

clearly my blogging ability up to this point has been driven by my frenetic obsession with veronica mars and my impending move to atlanta, and now that those two topics have dried up, it has become apparent that i am a big empty vessel, devoid of any content. the media management project goes full churn for the next two weeks, stopping only for alcohol fuel along the way, so it's likely blog stuff from my end of the site will be pretty lacking. but still - random things for your discussion:

  • my nights have begun to look more and more like this one, yet, somehow, my pool skills just never get any better. my consumption of miller genuine draft, however, continues apace. thoughts?

  • passing a subway sandwich shop on my way home, they had a large sign outside that said, "try our cappuccino!" this concerns me.

  • wtf are otter pops? THEY'RE CALLED FREEZE POPS, PEOPLE!

  • odds seem likely that the lost season finale will be as sucktastic as the rest of the season. and if it is, odds are also good that i'll bitch about it.

  • is ANYONE ever able to hear the phrase "how cool is that?" and not break into full on singing "so i went to your room, and read your die-ahh-reeeee-ee"? i just heard it on an air conditioning commercial and busted into song.

  • did pinkerton really come out TEN YEARS AGO?!?

    UPDATE: my lost predictions are already coming true; the episode has already included the lines "we are nothing more than puppets!" and "i will win this race...for love."

  • comments [8] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    EVDOceanfront personal  - tech

    I'm heading to the beach this Memorial Day weekend, and I'm intent on bringing the internet along with me. Last year I still had a fly-by-night dialup ISP that only charged you in months when you used the service. That business model has since run its course, and I'm casting about for another way to ensure connectivity. Needless to say, the alternative is too horrible to contemplate.

    So I stopped by the Ver/iz/on store on my way home and signed up for EVDO service. By the numbers: $80/month, $150 for the PC5740 card and — most importantly — 14 days to return it all. I'll still get charged a prorated fee for the service I use, so it's not totally shady. Just mostly.

    There's one complication, though: the card doesn't work with Macs. Well, okay, it sort of does: I've already gone through these instructions, but they mean it when they say the account has to be activated on a PC. Sadly, Charles' laptop isn't up to the task (it's always been flaky about PCMCIA cards, and refuses to recognize this one). But we have one sort-of-working PC laptop at work, and a number of EVDO cardholders who've successfully gotten their Powerbooks working with the nominally PC-only technology. So spirits remain high.

    comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    May 21, 2006
    May 21, 2006
    why the internet is the best personal

    1. catherine finds out she'll be working out at cnn.com in atlanta this summer. promptly starts freaking out about housing on the blog.

    2. matt (who, incidentally, catherine knows through kyle) spends approximately two billion hours giving catherine neighborhood/general atlanta advice.

    3. catherine spends approximately two billion hours on craigslist, which yields absolutely nothing.

    4. matt is kind enough to post bulletins to friendster and myspace saying his clueless internet bud could sure use a decent place to live in atlanta.

    5. matt's kind friend jeanie says, hey! i just bought an enormous gorgeous house in east atlanta. i might be willing to sublet a furnished room or two for the low low price of $400 including utilities and internet for however long you need.

    6. catherine says hell yes!

    and that is the story of how the internet saved catherine from living in a box outside of the CNN center this summer. i never thought i'd owe anything to myspace, but turns out, you just never know!

    as for my dc stint, i'll be home from friday, june 9 until probably sunday the 18th, when i might head back to chicago for a few days to pack up all my worldly possessions. hopefully i'd drive back to dc by tuesday the 20th, then drive down to atlanta friday the 23rd. good lord, 26 hours of driving in one week, here i come!

    and thus hopefully ends the period of catherine posting a boring blue streak about her logistical plans for the summer. praise be!

    comments [2] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    May 17, 2006
    May 17, 2006
    i'm insane personal

    so i just registered for the 2006 marine corps marathon.

    *shrug*

    don't worry, this time around i won't be trying to bilk you all out of $2,000 for cancer.

    comments [6] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    May 15, 2006
    May 15, 2006
    thinking personal

    is it wrong of me to not to follow up with people who are interested in my craigslist listing for my apartment because they can't spell words like "fill" and, um "apartment"?

    comments [5] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    May 14, 2006
    May 14, 2006
    i've got laser eyes personal

    Yesterday I had my LASIK appointment. I'll go ahead and ruin the suspense: I'm not blind.

    The whole thing happened very quickly. I showed up, put my signature on a consent form and an uncomfortably large Amex receipt, and was whisked back in to the first of two staging areas. A woman named Zoya walked me through the contents of of my postoperative kit:

    postoperative lasik kit

    No rubbing your eyes, keep your eyes shut in the shower, don't wear eye makeup — "accidentally" saying this is apparently Zoya's little joke to the male patients, and when I didn't say anything she had to stop and point out how funny her gaffe was. Sorry for missing my cue, Zoya. I guess you don't get a lot of patients who're Cure fans.

    As you can see, the kit contains instructions, some Tylenol PM for the postoperative nap, a slightly nicer pair of shitty sunglasses than the last one, steroid & antibiotic eyedrops, some artificial tears, and a totally awesome transparent mask for sleeping. I like to imagine it makes me look like Richard Hamilton, but so far the only real feedback I have is Charles bursting into laughter when I stumbled to the kitchen without taking it off.

    Eventually I was whisked to a new antechamber. This one had all of the doctor's degrees in it, along with his various awards (which consisted exclusively of testaments to how many thousands of patients he had treated). The idea was clearly to set the patient at ease, if only by awing him with the facility's framing budget. But hey, the doc went to UVA for both undergrad and med school! Alright! It was good to know that any potential eye mutilation would come at the hands of a guy who's thrown up in the same places I have.

    But the most fascinating part of the room was this:

    muzak control

    Presumably setting 10 is only used for particularly severe medical emergencies.

    Eventually the doctor came in, brimming with self confidence. He prompted me for questions — I'd already asked his staff everything I really wanted to know, but after my first query he said "alright, that was a good one! C'mon, gimme another", I felt I ought to comply. Then he said, "Alright buddy, let's go knock this thing out." He was very Top Gun. In other contexts this kind of guy would've bugged the hell out of me, but here I found it weirdly comforting. I guess I want American Supermen to be the ones manning lasers of all sorts. Even if they're pointed at my eyeballs.

    So, the actual operation. At this point I'd been well-briefed, so there weren't many surprises. And the doctor narrated everything, which was also reassuring. They put in some drops, then some more. They taped one eye shut, then taped my other eye's lashes down to keep it open. Then some sort of wire device went in to really keep it open. It wasn't particularly uncomfortable, though, and everything happened too close to my eye for me to be able to see how evil-looking the tool was.

    Then something else went on there — I don't know if this was the keratome or just something to hold my eye in place. But the doctor said for the nurse to turn the suction on, and I started to feel pressure (strangely, it felt like much more pressure for the second eye — the doctor said this was common). Then everything went dim. It was a fairly unsettling effect, but the alternative would have been worse, because this was when they made the corneal flap. There was a whirring, then the suction was turned off. Vision returned, blurrily. Then the doctor moved the flap out of the way, making things much, much blurrier.

    At this point the blinking red light that I'd been told to train my sight on took up about half of my visual field, and it was hard to know whether to just keep my eye still, focusing on the part where I was looking, or to try to center on its middle. I settled for the former as the laser went off, and the doctor seemed satisfied enough.

    This was the critical part, I guess, because the doctor's narration sped up. "Focus on the light, focus on the light, ignore the smell, focus on the light..."

    Ignore the smell? What smell? Oh, right: the smell of BURNING EYEBALL. Note: scent analysis reveals that eyeballs are made out of hair.

    Then it was over. They put the flap back and told me to close my eye. A shield was taped over the eye. And then they did the same thing for the other one.

    A quick post-op check on the flaps' positions, and then Charles gave me a ride home. Needless to say, everything looked weird. The effect was like looking through lightly frosted glass. There were hints of new sharpness, but the halo effect coming off every light source made it hard to make anything out.

    Things are better today, but it'll be a while longer before my vision completely settles down. Right now I still see a fairly strong halo effect coming off of all illumination sources (and yeah, I know it may persist to some extent). It's kind of like living inside a Barbara Walters special.

    The worst part was waking up about 4 hours into an 8-hour dose of Tylenol PM when my neighbor decided to start lathing some metal (apparently). My eyes were hard to open, they hurt, and I felt like hell. Things were better once I got some more sleep, though.

    So, complications? Nothing too bad. My eyes started feeling a little itchy about an hour ago. I mentioned the halo thing. And I'm pretty sensitive to light. Oh, and there's this:

    cyclops!

    But they say if I just stick with the ruby quartz eyedrops everything will work out.

    comments [8] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    yup personal

    ain't nothing finer than spending a sunday on campus, mucking around with dreamweaver. though it's not as if my day would necessarily be better spent outside, since chicago has been in a kind of 40 days, 40 nights, 40 degrees scenario for the past week and a half.

    anyway, happy mother's day to mine and yours! with the help of my awesome mom today, i figured out a way i can get to the wedding, move my furniture, attend my little sister's high school graduation, and spend at least a couple of weeks in d.c. this summer.

    that said, if any of you all have any sort of atlanta expertise, especially in regards to where the cnn building actually is and what neighborhoods are near it that might be good to live in, and whether or not a car is necessary, i'd love to hear from you.

    back to the css! woo!

    comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    May 12, 2006
    May 12, 2006
    oh. mah. lord. personal

    the logistics of this summer are going to bite me in the ass, i can feel it. i write down the following not at all because i think it would make an entertaining blog post, but more for my mental sanity, which is slowly unravelling.

    so this is where the schedule stands thus far:

  • wednesday, june 7: in an ideal world, i would have sublet my apartment, shipped my furniture to dc, and found housing at atlanta at this point, but it's not looking real good, especially considering that's something like three weeks away. frick.
  • thursday, june 8, night: fly to minneapolis
  • friday, june 9, 10am: present finished project from this quarter to the star tribune.
  • friday, june 9, 7pm: somehow be on time for a wedding in d.c. that i am determined beyond all reason to attend. yeah, haven't figured out the whole minneapolis-->dc thing by 7pm, but i will. i have a fabulous dress. it must be worn. and i kind of like the folks getting married, too.
  • saturday, june 10-undetermined point: hang out in dc. maaaybe go back to chicago to take care of apartment stuff.
  • monday, june 19 or monday, june 26 (leaning towards the latter right now): start work at CNN.com in atlanta, ga. bust shit up all over the internet.
  • june, july, august, september: atlanta.
  • september 19: start my final quarter of medill back in dc. that's right, i have an option to do a dc quarter. i wasn't going to do it previous to this fellowship thing, but the whole moving from chicago to atlanta to dc back to chicago thing is, let's face it, enough for me to kill a man. just to watch him die. so whatever. the dc quarter is a political reporting one, which should be HILARIOUS for everyone involved, including whatever congressman i'll have to be stalking. god. it's going to be a total embarrassment. catherine andrews, political reporter, my ass.
  • sometime in december: finish graduate school! get job that pays me millions! etc!

    so all of this is without me even really considering the following: can i find somebody to sublet my apartment to (it's cute. you should rent it.)? will they want the walls painted back? will they want my magic futon, cause i sure as hell am not moving that thing anywhere? how will i get my furniture to dc? how will i find decent furnished three-month housing in atlanta? where should i even live in atlanta? how will i put my financial aid on hold? how do i suspend my scholarship for one quarter? how do i even take off a quarter? will people ever read zunta again after this poo of a post?!? this plus the twelve-hour days and weekends i have been and will be working for the next three weeks, and IT'S ENOUGH TO DRIVE A LADY CRAZY.

    which it clearly has! so, with that in mind, i'm off to drink booze and watch a movie with some folks. but, um, if you have any coherent thoughts about anything, feel free to share them with me. i obviously could use them.

  • comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    May 11, 2006
    May 11, 2006
    ahhh personal

    just fyi, there is a likelihood that i will be coming to you straight from hottlanta this summer, as i just got offered a fellowship with cnn.com there. this is both exciting and terrifying in many ways. more details to come! the one for-sure positive: the stress diet i've been running on since the beginning of the quarter just racheted itself up a few dozen notches. my goal of losing 10 pounds for a june wedding is now attainable! thank goodness for the little things.

    comments [12] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    May 09, 2006
    May 09, 2006
    do not rebroadcast without the express written consent of major league baseball personal

    Awesome:

    Dear Member:

    This is to notify you that we have removed or disabled access to the following material as a result of a third-party notification by Major League Baseball claiming that this material is infringing:

    Bird Getting Hit By Baseball: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YPgEpQNHJDw

    For the record, I believe that exploding birds are a part of our shared culture and should automatically fall under the fair use doctrine.

    Bonus punchline: the only other clip I've ever posted to YouTube is an excerpt from a copyrighted DVD. It remains happily un-C&Ded.

    comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    May 04, 2006
    May 04, 2006
    more asterisk nerdiness personal  - tech

    I expanded on my little science project, and now you can call 202-318-0196 and use an automatically-updated menu system to navigate & listen to the ten most recent podcasts from work. And hear my voice! Excitement, internet stalkers! And yeah, it sounds weird to me, too.

    If you're interested in hearing me hold forth on Asterisk and why it's sort of awesome, head on over to the EchoDitto blog — I've got some more voluminous ruminations over there.

    I think this setup is kind of neat (if somewhat pointless). But I am disappointed that, now that I've fixed the script to actually grab the ten most recent podcasts (instead of the ten most recent that have media enclosures in the RSS), our Chuck Brown podcast no longer shows up. Go go's not really my cup of tea (outside the context of DC Lotto commercials, anyway), but I'm still mind-bogglingly happy that such a podcast exists, even though it was recorded before my time with the company. I'll have to remember to ask Tim how the hell he pulled that one off. I sort of suspect that Mr. Brown was deeply confused by the experience.

    comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    May 01, 2006
    May 01, 2006
    everyone hates comic sans personal  - pop culture

    With Kriston in Chicago as well, the nerd contingent finally had numbers on Catherine, and the three of us ended up making a trip to the completely awesome Chicago Comics (conveniently located just a few blocks from Catherine's apt).

    Thanks to Tim I've been jumping back into comics recently — he set me up with some Sandman and Transmetropolitan torrents, and I'm slowly working my way through them.

    I have to say that I don't really get the appeal of Sandman. And it's not just that I'm tonedeaf to this stuff — I dig the mythical mystery, and I enjoyed American Gods. But so far the series just seems to be about a pale, skinny sliver of humorlessness who spends a lot of time on concerns related to faeries and the dreamscape. It's like some terrible, terrible Trent Reznor/Tori Amos collaboration. I'll stick with it, but so far it hasn't hooked me.

    Transmet's considerably more enjoyable, even if Ellis's writerly narcissism isn't actually dismissed by his constant winking in the way he seems to think it is. Also, it provides another excuse to link to a photo of Julian's awesome Spider Jerusalem Halloween costume. And I think it might provide a comprehensive alternate philosophy of journalism for Catherine, should this Medill thing fail to cover all the bases.

    I added to these at Chicago Comics. Kriston bought a bunch of incomprehensible but cool Marvel alternate universe thingamajigs, and a mixed bag of DC trade paperbacks. I stuck with my tried & true formula: volumes 7 and 8 of Powers (and 9's out already!? w00t) and a Hellboy spinoff that's not quite as awesome as solo Mignola, but still pretty satisfying in a "former Nazi scientists' hubris unleashing unspeakable supernatural horrors" kind of way. And that's one of my favorites ways.

    So yeah — dorking it up: recommended.

    comments [8] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    battle of midway personal

    I'm back from Chicago, barely. My redeye to DCA had powered up the engines for takeoff when a light went off. Apparently a warning system had registered a false positive, incorrectly indicating that the pilots had set the controls to some sort of wildly suicidal configuration. Back to the gate! Two hours later, the ground crew admitted defeat and I got bumped to the next flight, which was merely delayed, not cancelled. Also, ATA came through with a $50 discount card. I remain irked, but I'll get over it.

    Chicago was great — first and foremost because Catherine is there, of course, but also just because it's a great town (albeit a rainy one on this particular weekend). She, Kriston and I walked a lot, drank a little, and ate way, way too much. And, as mentioned, met a bunch of fine folks from unfogged and the charming Dan. All in all, I declare my time in Chicago a success, even if there was a little more of it than I intended. But now I'm dead, dead, dead tired.

    comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    April 28, 2006
    April 28, 2006
    d'oh personal

    I'm in Chicago for the weekend; it's beautiful, and great, etc. etc. GODDAMMIT I LEFT MY PHONE CHARGER AT HOME.

    I've now tried 3 different T-Mobile vendors, a Best Buy and a Radioshack — no dice. Nobody bothers to stock a Sidekick-compatible charger. Sigh. Well, I suppose I'll survive somehow. But consider this fair warning: my battery will inevitable decline; my responsiveness will slow as I leave the device off for longer and longer periods; and finally I will lapse into utter, terrible silence.

    All of which is to say you should call Catherine instead.

    comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    hooray! personal

    tommy got in last night! kriston will be here today! that is to say, blogging will be even lighter as i squire the two lads around town for the weekend.

    comments [2] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    April 26, 2006
    April 26, 2006
    lasik personal

    I just got back from my free LASIK evaluation at LASIKPlus. I chose them after a careful, two part evaluation:

    1. Who is my health insurance compatible with?
    2. Which laser center requires the least human contact to schedule an appointment?

    A personal-interaction-free webform won LASIKPlus my business, and I headed down to Old Town this morning to begin fulfilling a lifelong desire to have lasers shot at me.

    A tech named JT put me through the initial battery of tests. They flew by; the only other JT I've encountered was the simpleton cousin from Step By Step who turned out to be an alcoholic and domestic abuser in real life, and I was thinking too much about that to pay much attention to anything else.

    The first thing they start to tell you about is the doctor, who you never meet until your 15-minute procedure. He's done thousands of procedures! People fly from all over the east coast to have him do their operation! He can tear a phone book in half! He projects the excimer beam from his eyes!

    They're definitely ready and willing to put patients through a hard sell. The initial medical form contains stealth questions to aid them in this process. In between "what medications make you die?" and "has/have your eyeball(s) ever exploded?" they sneak in items like "what's the first thing you'll do after LASIK?" This is so that later, when the attractive female doctor has come in for final eyeball measurements and begun to discuss the $10,000/hr rate they earn for surgery, she can touch your arm and say, "Won't it be great to throw away your glasses/look at your grandchild/watch a beautiful sunset?"

    I was feeling weirdly adversarial, so I left those questions blank. When she got to that part in the form I decline to answer, and instead asked some more questions, pretending like I knew what a diopter is. Also, I didn't buy any of the lines they fed me about me being "one of the best candidates they'd seen in quite a while". I suspect their criteria are largely credit-score-based.

    But the one sweet nothing I do believe is this: I possess utter corneal dominance. "Monster corneas," JT said, and you could hear the quiet awe in his voice. The biggest he'd ever seen! That's right. If I accidentally fall through dimensions into a society with an ophthalmologically-based hierarchy, I'm going to be sitting pretty. Also, it's apparently good for LASIK, in case they fuck it up the first time.

    Then they dialated my pupils. I hadn't really been planning on this.

    star pupil

    Right now I look like an anime character with a serious coke problem. But even better were the sweet temporary shades they gave me for the ride home:

    pwesome

    Yes, this is how you're supposed to wear them. They're basically just a curly piece of plastic that clings to your face. My pride made me consider trying for the Metro sans-shades, but it was just so goddamn bright out. Besides, my Alexandria friends were at work-slash-Vegas. I think I made it to the Metro station in relative anonymity. Apologies to the children I scared along the way.

    Anyway, the upshot is that, after insurance, I'll be out $2500. I've got a very good shot at 20/20 and a reasonable expectation of better than that. My enormous pupils (which are apparently also bordering on the superhuman) make halo-effects at night a real possibility, but the doctor said that judging by my current incorrect and glare-free-free prescription, I was probably getting those already and just didn't notice or mind them. So I think I'll probably go through with it. I hate wearing glasses, and I've been talking about doing this for years. I'm pencilled in for May 13.

    This is probably the part where you should tell me your LASIK horror stories.

    comments [14] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    April 02, 2006
    April 02, 2006
    didn't even have to use my AK personal  - tech  - weekend report

    Sunday: it's an up-and-comer. Between the injustice that is daylight savings time and the freshly-painted hallway flooding the apartment with solvent fumes, things were not shaping up well. But then a little Drupal installation, a little Chipotle and some cherryblossom-viewing with Michael, Emily and Tim served to brighten things up. Despite this flurry of activity, I somehow still found time to not clean the bathroom.

    But, perhaps most exciting of all: the Radioshack cellphone cable recommended to me by this gentleman actually works with my Nokia 3100. I've been through two phones, a pair of Linux installations, and four $25 phone cables, but I can finally taste victory: I successfully sent and received SMSes from my miraculously un-lost Italian SIM. Score! Take note, Gammu googlers: the FutureDial cable (#22) is the one you should be investing in.

    Now I'm over at Kriston and Matt's (whose names it now feels weird to hyperlink for some reason) for some grilled Italian links and Sopranos watching. It's the good kind of sausage party.

    comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    March 29, 2006
    March 29, 2006
    q & a personal

    Q: Given that you're clearly much too old and mature for this sort of thing, will this ever stop being funny?

    A: Strangely, no.

    comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    March 28, 2006
    March 28, 2006
    perfect for cockpunching personal

    i have gotten some questions about these black leather strappy boots, and as a service to humanity, i'm letting you know they're made by seychelles. but, i cannot find them online anymore. i bought them last fall from olive & bettes when i saw them noted in, of all places, US weekly. as a result of that placement, they were pretty much sold out, and my order was placed on backorder for like two months. i almost forgot i had bought them until they showed up on my doorstep. like a present from the shoe god...anyway, i searched ebay and some other sources, but couldn't find them, so if you want to buy them, i think you might be outta luck. which might be okay, as people might be terrified of you if you wear them with a miniskirt.

    UPDATE: i found them! (in brown) yes, i know, expensive. so sue me.

    comments [2] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    yogahelp personal

    so here's the thing. i'm thinking about doing me some yoga.

    this is very out-of-character for me. i'm a hit-the-treadmill, lift-a-few-weights, leave-the-gym sort of gal. my normal workout routine consists of 4-5 miles, stretching, and some arm weights if i'm feeling enterprising. i avoid with a passion all other machines (except when i'm on a spinning streak). i think the elliptical is the pussiest machine alive and i've never had a good workout on it (though i do appreciate that it is a good alternative for people whose joints, knees, etc won't allow them to run).

    but i'm getting bored with the just running. spinning in the darkness just became too much for me, and there is no way in hell i am every taking anything resembling a step aerobic class, because i have witnessed the coordination needed for those things first-hand, and since i cannot so much do the laundry without tripping on my face, i am having none of it.

    and most of all: let's face, i'm getting old. i could use some release for my stiff joints and tight muscles, and i think yoga might be just the ticket, as well as being a good complement to my running routine.

    but it is scary. and foreign. and, like, omg, am i going to be a granola-eating pussy forever if i do it? i mean i can't even get a handle on the kinds of yoga out there. my gym offers ashtanga yoga? hatha yoga? forrest yoga? iyengar yoga, which "features use of props such as blocks and straps." PROPS? or heated yoga? heat? or the ever-popular offering of Yoga With Balls? do i need to buy a mat? do i need special clothes (the one part of the whole enterprise that i might not mind dealing with?) do i need to be super-bendy? yogabloggers, help!

    comments [17] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    March 24, 2006
    March 24, 2006
    so long, seattle personal

    I'm outta here in just a few short hours, and allegedly landing at National around 9:30. As you might guess from the whirlwind nature of this tour, I didn't get to see much of the city — and even skipped the salesforce.com-sponsored party at the space needle. But from what little I saw, I like Seattle. There's a monorail track outside my window, and although monorails never actually run on it, it seems like an important moral victory. Also, they've got what I'm told is called "liquid sunshine" going on outside, and it's not as horrifying as it sounds.

    But this is the real kicker: I woke up every morning with KEXP blaring over my shitty hotel clock radio. Mountain Goats! Elvis Costello! Arcade Fire rarities! Ted Leo just did a promo for the morning guy! And, most importantly, lots of good music that I hadn't heard before. Yeah, there's an internet stream. But there really is something to be said for FM ubiquity. Your life and my life would be better if this station was on the air in DC. Seriously.

    comments [3] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    March 22, 2006
    March 22, 2006
    pacific northwest! personal

    I'm safe and sound and in Seattle for the N-TEN conference. Trenchant observations about the city follow:

    • It's rainy

    • The coffee is good

    • The space needle seems, from a distance, pretty much like you'd expect

    • The SEATAC parking lot reminds me a LOT of the buildings in the movie Aliens. Perhaps that's just because it seems like dropping a nuke on it might be a good idea.

    I know, I know: I'm totally turning your Seattle preconceptions upside down. More to come! Possibly! But first: a shower and free booze.

    comments [8] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    March 16, 2006
    March 16, 2006
    how i spent my wednesday night personal

    preemptive warning: this shitznit was written at 3am by a very delirious catherine. it is long and graphic intensive and doesn't make much sense so i shall put it behind the cut.

    MORE...
    comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    March 15, 2006
    March 15, 2006
    death's door personal

    Apologies, Heineken Light. It turns out that you didn't try to poison me. I just got sick. I suppose it might just be that you did an unusually thorough job of poisoning me. But that seems unlikely. No, I now have no doubt that use of your fine product will lead to a robust physique and, based upon recent light beer commercials I've seen, improved performance at rollerblading, windsurfing, and other sports that were briefly cool in the eighties.

    It seems that everyone is getting sick. I guess winter hadn't planned on spring elbowing in on its action quite so soon. The season has flown by, and it barely has any more time to make our lives miserable. "Flowers? Pollen? WTF! Better infect some suckers while I still can."

    I would've used a sick day if not for a particularly exciting cell phone cable that, via the magic of Ebay, should be arriving at the office any day now. But now I'm starting to wonder whether any cable — regardless of the embedded microcontroller! — could be better than sitting at home in my pajamas watching TV all day. I know, it doesn't sound like me at all. I think I may be delirious with fever.

    comments [3] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    March 14, 2006
    March 14, 2006
    poison might be too strong a word personal

    One of the cool things about working on DCist is that occasionally it gets me free booze. There'll be some media event, and the PR person behind it will want to invite some bloggers so that she sounds innovative at her next annual review. That, or invitations will trickle into the greater DCist swag ecosystem via the various legitimate media outlets for which folks on staff work.

    the city museum

    Last night was one such instance. Heineken is debuting a light beer version of itself, and I managed to finagle an invitation to the premiere event thingy at the now-defunct City Museum. Free beer within five blocks of my house! It sounded pretty good.

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    comments [4] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    March 06, 2006
    March 06, 2006
    happy happy! D.C.  - personal

    now that it's public knowledge i can publicly congratulate them: cheers to the lovely and wonderful ryan and lisa, who got engaged this weekend! we couldn't be happier for them, and not just cause they do fun stuff like ply us with pomegranate martinis and wear DCist underwear on their heads (well, not lisa). congrats, guys.

    comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    March 04, 2006
    March 04, 2006
    gonna sip bacardi personal

    in other news, today is both the birthday of charles and my father! happy happy to them! may they both get incredibly drunk tonight. well, my dad, anyways.

    comments [8] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    famous friends! media  - personal

    my dear friend claire agre, who i met while working in milan and who is now a graduate landscape architecture student at harvard, is in the new york times today! woohoo! it's an article about the environmentally responsible redevelopment of a historic piece of former mining land in colorado. check it:

    Academics and experts on mine reclamation---one of the biggest environmental problems of the West, where there are perhaps 500,000 abandoned mines---say that Breckenridge's groundbreaking path could change how mine reclamation works. With ownership of the pollution and control of the land, they say, comes the power to shape the post-mining landscape in a way that goes far beyond just cleaning it up.

    "Breckenridge can lead the way," said Alan Berger, an associate professor of landscape architecture at Harvard and founder of the Project for Reclamation Excellence, a group at the design school that works on reclaiming land damaged by resource extraction. "The opportunities of what the town and county can do here are completely open-ended."

    And so are the burdens. The property is hatch-marked by miles of unmarked and unmapped trails carved by generations of backcountry users at a time when no owner was around to say boo. The new owners are bracing for what they expect will be contentious public meetings beginning this spring as managers decide which trails to keep open and who may use them. The town favors things like hiking and biking, while the county wants to make sure that motorized users have their say as well.

    Mining's legacy on the forest is another headache. In gold's heyday, lumber was needed for mills and tunnels, and by the late 1800's the Horseshoe was stripped. The result today is a narrow monoculture in which the oldest trees are about 120 years old---mostly lodgepole pines.

    Pine beetles, which have ravaged vast parts of the West, are just hitting this part of Colorado. Local officials warn that the bugs, which love mature lodgepoles, could kill 80 percent of Horseshoe's trees.

    But Breckenridge, which has carved a tourist niche around its mining history and historic buildings also wants to incorporate the story of the Horseshoe into the fabric of the local economy. That means thinking about mines and miners, and how they gave rise to Breckenridge.

    That is where Claire Agre, a Harvard graduate student in landscape architecture, enters the picture.

    you'll have to read the rest to find out what superhero claire agre is doing to save the world!

    you can see my world-renowned series of "claire, pensive" photos here, here and here.

    comments [2] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    March 02, 2006
    March 02, 2006
    new frontiers in nagging personal

    I love my mother, and I try to be a good and attentive son when she asks me for help with something. But helping her upload a photo for her match.com profile? I'm sorry, but no. The combination of a tech-support request, an uncomfortable window into a parent's romantic life, and guilt over not wanting to help is some kind of new maternal superweapon. If she could somehow integrate asking me to pick up my room and warning me not to smoke, she and her allies might finally be able to declare victory over filial forces everywhere.

    comments [6] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    February 28, 2006
    February 28, 2006
    an open letter to the toilets in the newsroom bathroom northwestern  - personal

    editor's note: anyone who prefers to think that girls do not actually urinate, and instead have their bladder transform the pee into golden fluff, which is then extracted by angels while they sleep and sent to line the beds of newborn pups, had better not read this post.

    dear medill newsroom bathroom,

    hi. first off, i just wanted to let you know that i'm a big fan. it must be said that you are nicer than any other office-environment bathroom that i have ever used. you have four roomy stalls; you are decorated simply but elegantly (i especially admire the marble sink counters and the shade of beige on your walls); your lighting is perfection - none of the blaring flourescent nastiness for you - the dim glow of your sophisticated lightbulbs always makes me look wonderful in the mirror; you've got nice touches, like a close-up mirror for applying make up in the mornings and a never-ending supply of aveeno hand lotion to moisturize after washing with your pleasant-scented soap.

    we have to talk.

    you need to know that your toilets are the bane of the existence every single female in the newsroom. your commodes, while equipped with fairly modern-looking automatic flushing devices, actually hail from the backwaters of azerbaijin. or possibly rural communist china. i know, i was surprised too. they're nice, and clean, and the first time i used them, i thought, "what nice, clean toilets." i should have noticed the 52 signs plastered inside each stall that implored you to "PLEASE FLUSH!!!! DON'T FORGET!!!!" in some grating, squiggly microsoft font. "why ever would we need to be reminded to flush when there are such lovely automatic motion-sensor devices equipped here?" i queried myself innocently. but i thought no more of it.

    until the toilet automatically flushed all its nasty toilet bowl water upwards with the force of a fire hose into my special area whilst i was in the middle of, well, you know. and it has continued to do so nearly every time i use the toilet. in fact, your motion sensor is an eager one. it flushes when i enter the stall; it flushes when i sit down; it flushes when i go. in fact, it flushes almost every time i so much blink an eye at it.

    EXCEPT WHEN I ACTUALLY FINISH. YOU KNOW, THE ONLY TIME IT SHOULD BE FLUSHING AT ALL, YOU MOFO.

    going to the bathroom has become a deadly game of mental tug-and-war between me and the toilets' sensors. i approach the entire act of peeing with dedicated stealth and thought-planning. i really shouldn't have to expand so much mental energy on peeing. i'm a journalist, people. i'm working here. except when i'm peeing. then i'm slipping in the door, closing it with the softness of patting a baby's head, attempting stuff like trying to sit down on the toilet from the side so the sensor doesn't, um, sense me, and holding so goddamn still while i pee that you could balance a freaking book on my head. it almost never works, but every once in a while it does, and then i go have a beer, because that is a serious accomplishemnt. every time the toilet doesn't flush on me is a victory for the entire goddamn gender.

    of course, after the beer i need to pee again, and we're back at the beginning.

    meanwhile, post-pee, i've tried everything in my right mind to get the sensor to work. i dodge. i weave. i do little up and down dances. i flick it with my thumb. but does the sensor see me? does it even ACKNOWLEDGE THAT I'M RIGHT THERE, trying to get it to flush? no. the sensor, it is a cold, unfeeling bastard. so on the rare occasions that i haven't already been flushed on, i must press the button on the sensor, therefore rendering the whole "automatic" thing moot.

    i was in the bathroom the other day and a friend walked in. we were chatting to each other through the stalls, when, you guessed, i got flushed on. normally i would retain some decorum and pretend like it didn't happen, but that was, like, the 8th time it'd gone on that day, and i just could not take it any more.

    "FUCK." i exclaimed. "this goddamn motherfucking toilet won't stop flushing on me."

    "oh i know," my friend, a lovely, demure southern belle replied. "that middle stall is the worst. i almost always try to avoid it if possible."

    we are now strategizing our toilet use. middle toilet? 88% chance you'll get flushed on. first stall? maaaaybe 70%, if you're lucky. and the handicapped stall. don't get me started on that dirty whore.

    do you see what you have reduced us to, medill toilets? instead of writing meaningful, educational and revealing articles, i am now wondering how many times i'm going to get toilet water sprayed on me that day. it's a near obsession. i feel twinges of hyperventilation whenever i enter the bathroom. so, you need to stop. if not for me, then for the sake of the entire profession of journalism.

    think it over.

    thanks,
    catherine

    comments [8] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    you're the birthday, you're the birthday, you're the birthday boy or girl personal

    It's been a few weeks, but I wouldn't be living up to this blog's titular mission statement if I didn't write something about the presents I got for my birthday. That's right: me me me.

    bingo!

    Charles got me some instant-win scratchoff tickets. Partly this is because he's a nice guy, and partly it's because he enjoys gambling vicariously. As you can see, he selected "Blackout Bingo". I don't think he paid much attention to which game he was buying, but it's an accidentally perfect reflection of his personality.

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    comments [19] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    February 27, 2006
    February 27, 2006
    weekend recommendations: d.c. style! (aka, why i get fatter every time i see tommy) D.C.  - food  - personal  - weekend report

    back and not really refreshed from a wonderful weekend in d.c. my flight left the district at 6:30 this morning, and as soon as i landed i headed to the newsroom for some fun and fabulous journalism work. as i'm sitting here brainstorming and tapping away, i had to take a blogging break to talk about what went on:

    thursday night: unbuckled. dc9. olivia mancini and the housemates; the hard tomorrows. you saw the pictures here.

    friday night: tommy and i decided kind of last minute to head to coppi's, a pizza and italian joint on U street. though dcist reviewed it back in november, we had never been there and in fact hadn't heard much about it otherwise. walking in at 7:30 on a friday night without a reservation, we weren't surprised at being sat at the bar, which turned out to be nice and cozy, with an excellent view of the wood-burning oven, and an attentive bartendress. we started off with some excellent calamari, a bottle of red and then two small pizzas - i forget what was on tommy's, but mine was prosciutto and funghi. though the crust was a little iffy, we both thought their pizza could easily place a very close 3rd in district pies, after two amy's and pizzeria paradiso. i can't believe we'd never dined there before. fairly reasonable, as well. (though that's always easy for me to say when tommy foots the bill, as he almost always insists on doing.) 1414 U street.

    saturday: i hit up the glorious, glorious tyson's mall with my family. we ate at brio, which, for a chain restaurant in a mall, was actually pretty decent. then my mom bought me a pair of editors pants at express. discuss: editors pants from express, best pants ever? i own like six pairs.

    for dinner that night, tommy and i went to queen of sheba, a recently-opened ethiopian restaurant. pluses: a block from the apartment; nice space; pretty great ethiopian food. minuses: no liquor license (though hardly their fault); about, oh, a FIVE HOUR WAIT for food. well, more like 40 minutes, which struck us as pretty ridiculous seeing that the restaurant wasn't even half full. maybe they're still just working out service kinks, but until they start getting their food out in a timely manner, i'd go to sodere or dukem.

    UPDATE: man, MT fucked up the rest of this entry. i talked about the rest of saturday night and EVEN sunday, too, but it somehow ate it. quick recap: ellington party, fries at the saloon, sunday lunch at saint-ex, and attempting to convert tommy and charles to grey's anatom. which i don't think worked.

    comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    February 18, 2006
    February 18, 2006
    pick up paper chicago  - personal

    an anecdote:

    i was out the other night with a friend of the male persuasion (who shall remain unnamed and unlinked for purposes of discussion, though many of you in DC in the LOOP will know him; ha ha, make note to remind self to pat self on back for being so clever) and we were grabbing a few drinks at a bar. this friend is an engaging conversationalist, so as we were sitting at our little table we were having a good time, laughing, chatting and drinking it up. the bar was fairly crowded, but we didn't really know anyone else there very well and weren't making an extroverted overtures towards anyone else or anything. partway through the evening, i excused myself to go to the bathroom.

    when i returned, said male friend was bemusedly holding a scrap of paper in his hand. he told me that while i had been in the bathroom, a woman had dashed over to the table as he was sipping at his beer, handed him this scrap of paper, said, "here, i think you dropped this," and dashed away so quickly that he almost wasn't even sure what she looked like.

    the scrap of paper? a name and a number. the next 15 minutes? we spent pondering whether someone else had actually dropped this scrap of paper, or whether this was a very roundabout way of picking up said male friend.

    emboldened by beer, and the fact that though we had been staring pointedly at the woman for several minutes while she studiously avoided even glancing our way, said male friend walked over and chatted the lady up.

    turns out, it was a pickup strategy. any results that might be forthcoming aside, my questions are thus: 1. is this a smart or stupid method? would everyone involved not have been better served if she had been a little more direct? 2. THE HELL? WE VERY WELL COULD HAVE BEEN ON A DATE. in fact, i think she thought we were. if i remember correctly she said something to said male friend along the lines of "....well, i wanted you to have my number just in case your date wasn't going well..." let's leave aside the fact that a) i am enormously cute and witty and no date with me could ever go badly b) uh, we weren't actually on a date so i have no right to be offended, am i wrong to, um, feel a little bit offended? that's an awfully ballsy move, considering a guy could be out with a date or girlfriend. i simply can't decide if it was good ballsy or bad ballsy. i guess if they get married and have little ballsy babies, it will have been a good one.

    comments [10] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    February 14, 2006
    February 14, 2006
    happy happy personal

    i promise, i never make a big deal out of valentine's day, but how can i not enjoy getting something like this?:

    what i DO make a big deal out of is tommy's 26th birthday, which is, of right now, tomorrow (ie wednesday the 15th). so make sure to wish him a happy one! he now joins my ancient ranks! mwahaha. you never stood a chance, young'un.

    comments [7] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    February 09, 2006
    February 09, 2006
    rewardingness personal

    So the G gets an HDTV in her office. We have an HDTV here in the temporary office space, too, but it's kind of a letdown — it's out by the "CyberCafe" (= barstools and a Flavia machine) and is always tuned to CNN. Aside from sipping coffee while pondering what psychological defect could make a normal-seeming woman like Daryn Kagan volunteer to see Rush Limbaugh naked, there's not much entertainment to be had.

    Still, the job is not without perks. Today we had to scan some user-submitted letters for objectionable content, which mean we had to make a list of stuff to flag. It's pretty great to be able to say "What about 'cocksucker'?" and have it be greeted as a valuable contribution to the meeting.

    comments [11] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    February 07, 2006
    February 07, 2006
    in which i realize i am perhaps not as badass as i would like to think music  - personal

    as noted in comments below, i stayed home sick today and have been using my ass-on-couch time to actually be productive and work on a number of assignments i have due for next week. unfortunately, my plan has been somewhat thwarted by, you guessed it, the Noisy Upstairs Neighbor. apparently he holds a job wherein he is required to a) stay at home all day b) do jumping jacks to a soundtrack of third eye blind for 7 hours straight.

    my retaliation plan, put in effect 15 minutes ago?

    playing belle and sebastian, really, really loud.

    that's right, don't fuck with the motherfucking stuart murdoch. he will blow your ears out with pure cuteness.

    comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    February 03, 2006
    February 03, 2006
    got root personal

    My HDTV hopes have, thus far, been foiled. I headed to Microcenter without calling to check availability — I've made the mistake of doing so in the past, and accidentally tipped off store employees to a great internet deal, prompting them to buy all the stock up before I can arrive. Sadly, it wouldn't have mattered this time: they were sold out. Even worse, there was a weird little guy there also looking for the deal who wanted to bond over our shared LCD lust. No thanks, guy. Don't you realize we're competitors?

    I'll try again on Saturday, but I'd say my odds aren't good. But that's alright; Matt's actual HDTV is nicer than my theoretical one, anyway. Besides, there's only one purchase I really want to make for the Superbowl:

    20050203_wingsoverwashingto.png

    Behold! A menu item so large and indulgent that it actually has to be cross-referenced with two other parts of the menu. It's meta-gluttony. I really, really hope this wing place is still in business. I'd say it's even money that a wrongful death suit forced them to close shop since I got this menu.

    But although my refreshment strategy is pretty well mapped, I'm still not sure who to root for in the actual game. As previously mentioned, Charles makes a compelling case for Seattle. On the other hand, I suddenly find myself a fan of Ben Roethlisblogger ("had to do media it sux lol"). I'm seriously considering betting some money with a yet-to-be-determined disreputable internet gambling operation, just so I know who I want to win. Fantasy football was enough to get me interested in non-Redskins football; wasting $50 on the Seahawks might be enough to make me actually pay attention to parts of the telecast that aren't commercials.

    comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    January 31, 2006
    January 31, 2006
    killer car personal

    The time has finally come: I'm getting rid of my car. Many of you probably don't even know I own one. That's intentional; like the deformed child you keep locked in the attic, I've hidden it from public view — despite a certain affection for it. It's best for everyone this way.

    I bought it during my last year of college, after it turned out that the transmission on the van I had inherited was made out of branches stuck together with mud. The UVA newsgroups had previously delivered unto me a spectacularly ugly freezer that was now successfully dispensing keg beer in a corner of my living room, so I decided to give them another shot. They came through.

    ugly-ass car

    This used to belong to the wife of a Chinese grad student. She didn't speak much English and he wasn't the talkative sort, so I didn't get the full story about how the front-end damage originally occurred. All I knew was that I was broke and needed a car that would last for six months. For $450, the price was right.

    Well, here we are — roughly four years later and the goddamn thing still runs. It's been sitting at my dad's house since I moved into the city, though, and suffering for the neglect. This year it failed its inspection (five months after it was due), convincing me that we should finally part ways. Besides, I had paid its purchase price twice over in insurance fees, its parking stickers were still coming from Charlottesville, and I had no idea where the DMV thought it was garaged. All in all, the process of renewing my registration seemed increasingly likely to result in jail time.

    Also, there was this:

    Some guy smashed my rear window in order to steal my bike about 15 months ago (note the safety glass in the backseat, which I have still not cleaned up). It turns out that windows — even small ones — are expensive. It would have cost about half the value of the car to replace this one — more than it cost when a rearview mirror epoxying-gone-awry forced me to replace the windshield.

    So I called up WAMU and arranged to donate the thing. I briefly considered giving it to a worthier organization than effete and increasingly incompetent public radio programmers — Melwood* came to mind, since they're always angling for auto donations. But the car's exhaust leak seemed likely to only make their jobs harder. Also, I like imagining that I'm somehow putting Michael Feldman in danger.

    So NPR it is. I'm just waiting for the call from the towing company that will arrange final pickup. But first I decided to strip everything of value from its interior — NPR shouldn't have to clean up my garbage, and I'd much rather give my stereo and speakers to a friend. I thought I was just going to find a bunch of rain-damaged papers in the trunk, but it turned out to be a treasure trove of college-era paraphernalia (not that kind). I was amazed at just how much awesome crap I had accumulated.

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    comments [11] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    January 30, 2006
    January 30, 2006
    weekend recommendations 2.0 chicago  - food  - personal  - weekend report

    last weekend's.

    this weekend was more low-key, but i can still recommend the following:

    the freaks and geeks dvd. tommy got me this for christmas, and i've been too busy to watch it until now but have spent a large chunk of saturday and sunday racing through. it's certainly charming, although i'm not sure why it inspired such cultlike devotion - it hasn't totally grabbed me in that way. but still very enjoyable, and i am now also in love with linda cardellini.

    el tapatio on ashland. you know the night's going right when a) your supposed 45-minute wait to eat at a restaurant turns into 15 minutes b) the restaurant lets you sneak in your beers from the bar across the street that you were waiting at c) along with your pitcher of margaritas the waiter scores you each an extra glass full and d) even though your "burrito grandioso" weighs approximately four pounds, it's so good that you eat the entire thing.

    guthries. we were supposed to hit up this bar on saturday night, but it turned out to be too crowded to stay there. but it looked adorable - small, cozy, with a fireplace and stacks of boardgames that people were playing at every table. perfect for a rainy night. if our group had been smaller, i would have been content to snag a table and hit up some monopoly. as it was, we headed to the first bar we came across on southport - cullen's, which was basically your typical faux-irish pub but was still fun. they actually had a decent cover band that played everything from radiohead to gin blossoms.

    fudgy chocolate-raspberry bars. though fresh raspberries obviously aren't in season, the bars were still delicious and elicited raves from a dinner i went to sunday night. i was glad, because only god in heaven knows what a trial it is to bake in my postage-sized kitchen. my kitchenaid mixer? has to go ON THE FLOOR IN MY BEDROOM BECAUSE THERE IS NO WHERE ELSE TO PUT IT/PLUG IT IN.

    not recommended: lazing out on your weekend run of 8 miles such that you have to do it monday morning before your 2 p.m. class, and now it's flurrying. sigh.

    comments [4] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    January 25, 2006
    January 25, 2006
    soft rock hard abs personal  - photos

    mix 107.3 logo projected onto a brick wallThis was projected on the outside of the YMCA tonight, as the radio station held an "open house" in the lobby. I really think I should get a discount on my membership dues for this. I go to the gym in an increasingly feeble attempt to feel like a badass. It's not going to help matters if my chosen location for manly endeavors starts trying to associate itself with John Mayer.

    comments [2] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    January 24, 2006
    January 24, 2006
    iso: iso personal  - tech

    Okay, not an ISO, really — I need the original disc. We're perilously close to successfully softmodding Kriston and Matt's Xbox. All we need is one of the flawed games that open the door to videogame mischief. Sadly, the local Blockbuster doesn't stock any of these (they're too old). So I thought I might as well ask here. If anyone in the DC area has a copy of MechAssault, 007: Agent Under Fire or the original Splinter Cell and wouldn't mind parting with it for an afternoon, let me know. It's got to be the original version, I'm afraid, not the edition released under the "Xbox Classics" brand. Thanks in advance.

    comments [7] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    January 16, 2006
    January 16, 2006
    lakeview eating chicago  - food  - personal

    sigh. well, tommy is back safe and sound in d.c., and i just went on an hour and a half cleaning spree to keep the bad sad feelings at bay. still, though, we had a pretty great weekend. it followed the trend of us being ENORMOUS GLUTTONS every time we spend any time together since i moved to chicago. we like to eat out a lot, so when we have the chance, i guess we just go on an enormous eating out binge to make up for all the other times i, as a poor graduate student and he, as a tired web programmer, end up eating lousy dinners at the end of the day. mmm, mac n cheese!

    luckily my neighborhood gives us a lot of delicious eating options. i imagine my following recommendations are old hat to anyone who's lived in chicago for a decent amount of time, but if you're new to the area, maybe they'll help you out. you can find addresses and more info at metromix.com.

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    comments [4] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    at least they have a consistent "robbery" theme D.C.  - bitching  - personal

    Via DCist I see that Butterstick now has his own wikipedia page. Neat! The only problem: the Bandit the Panda people have added their own editorializing. "Bandit is also a popular name for the panda"!? Please. You're going to make people think wikipedia isn't trustworthy!

    To be honest, I'm not incredibly keen on getting drawn into a juvenile wikipedia fracas, and probably wouldn't have responded if not for one thing that particularly galled me: the Bandit people constructed a sentence grouping the two t-shirt stores together, and listing an aggregate sum of money raised for the zoo. For the record, cafepress.com/bstick stands at just under $2k donated to FONZ. How much Bandit merchandise has been moved, I wonder? Well, I couldn't help myself, and adjusted the wikipedia sentence to break out the individual store totals. I'd encourage them to provide their own details.

    I'll happily admit that this is embarrassingly juvenile. But I can't help myself. As I said before, I don't begrudge anyone the right to conduct their own stupid internet fad — all I'd ask is that they refrain from stealing from mine.

    comments [3] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    January 11, 2006
    January 11, 2006
    capricornica personal

    i barely ever read the horoscopes, but i do like those once-a-year ones that say if blah-and-blah is your birthday (because they're always nice. what astrologist is going to say, if this is your birthday, you are doomed to sadness and despair and dead kitties?)...here's mine:

    TODAY'S BIRTHDAY (January 11). You dare to dream big, and therefore you break through your past limitations. Your birthday rockets you into an era of increased confidence and self-esteem. Love flows to you because you know you deserve it! A part-time enterprise makes a huge difference to your finances next month. Scorpio and Sagittarius people bring out your passion. Your lucky numbers are: 9, 3, 20, 25 and 35.

    a part-time enterprise? either i will a) start freelancing or b) start hookering, because the way things are going this quarter, i'm not going to have enough time to do my laundry, let alone enterprise in any other manner.

    comments [2] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    HAPpy birthday! personal

    And many happy returns (whatever those are) to my lovely girlfriend, who turns 26 today. Got any newfound words of wisdom for me and my callow peers?

    comments [27] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    January 07, 2006
    January 07, 2006
    confidential to the lady who's always watering her lawn at 11th and Q bitching  - personal

    It's January. STOP WATERING YOUR FUCKING LAWN, YOU STUPID BITCH. THANKS TO THE EVER-PRESENT PUDDLE OF STANDING WATER AT YOUR INTERSECTION, I WIPED OUT ON MY BIKE TONIGHT.

    Somebody headed in the opposite direction stopped to make sure I was okay, which was nice. Also nice: the helmet I was wearing, which I felt impact the pavement. But my knees are bloody, my bike is fucked up, and I am not happy. It's not getting any greener, dumbass. If there had been a car behind me, I wouldn't have the luxury of whining on the internet. How about we just knock off the perpetual water-wasting, mkay?

    comments [5] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    January 03, 2006
    January 03, 2006
    attn: my fellow fat white guys personal

    You really, really shouldn't wear that Under Armour shirt you bought yourself to the gym until you're sure you can pull it off. How will you know when that is? When you're selected in the NFL draft, fatass. Now quit using the squat rack as a towel rack.

    comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    January 02, 2006
    January 02, 2006
    failure! personal

    I haven't made any resolutions for the new year. For one thing, I think I'm perfectly delightful as-is. For another, I haven't been doing too well at tackling the items on this list. My gym-going has fallen off. I haven't been to a single Wizards or Caps game. And Kriston and I have temporarily shelved our plan to take a martial arts class while we investigate the legalities that will arise when we (inevitably) accidentally kill dudes with our bare hands.

    But on December 21*, I finally got started on one of my goals: I began growing a beard. It was the last day of work before days off and a week of telecommuting, and we were going to be spending it moving the office. I would have two solid weeks to cultivate a respectable beard before I'd be in front of anyone who I wasn't prepared to have laugh at me. "It's beard time," I thought. "Let's beard it up."

    By the weekend, things had taken a turn for the worse. It itched like a motherfucker, and I couldn't find an unguent or ointment that'd fix the problem. Also, I was unclear about how high up my neck I was supposed to shave — the line kept creeping upward, but I was terrified of ending up looking like that dope from Limp Bizkit (any of them). I voiced my misgivings to Kriston and Matt, my personal beard advisors. It was around midnight on Christmas Eve. We were in the Red Room, helping ourselves to some cheap domestic holiday cheer.

    "No, dude! You've gotta stick with it. You're doing great. It's coming in really well!"

    I knew they were lying, but I appreciated the sentiment. They seemed to view beard-growing as an important voyage of personal discovery. And, not having been through that looking glass myself, who was I to argue? I tried to take heart.

    "Well, I guess I'll stick with it. Catherine has been really supportive, after all."

    They fell silent, refusing to meet my gaze, their faces lit only by their cigarettes and the pinball machine's grim effulgence.

    "She'll turn on you," warned Matt, his eyes still locked on the beer in his hands. It was becoming clear that this beard business was more serious than I thought.

    But the itching passed, and I began to enjoy my new pseudo-beard. Bike rides were less cold, for one thing. And I was saving a fortune on shaving cream, presumably. The possibilities seemed limitless.

    But it's been almost two weeks, and it's time to face up to reality. Here's the current state of the beard:

    my pathetic attempt at a beard

    By way of comparison, here's what I had in mind. I've bearded as hard as I can, but I am still orders of beard magnitude away from my goal. I feel confident that, with enough time, most of the weak spots could be hidden with a skilled facial hair combover. But the area directly under my nose — yeesh. Still perfectly hairless. It looks like it'd take an entire second adolescence to get that patch going, and frankly I'm not prepared to resume spending that much time in Jeff's parents' basement.

    So that's it for me. Maybe I'll try again in a few years. But in a couple of hours the facial hair is coming off. Besides, according to my pre- and post-holiday weigh-ins, this damn thing weighs seven pounds. That's probably not good for my neck.

    * I didn't know it at the time, but this ScaryGoRound comic ran the same day. Grim portents, my friends. I should have known better.

    comments [8] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    December 30, 2005
    December 30, 2005
    a man, a plan, (a) banal personal

    A lot of folks seem to be glad to kick 2005 out the door and down the street. Not me. This has been a pretty good year for me. I moved into a new place, I met a lot of new people, I got a new job, and generally started to feel non-aimless. In fact, this year saw my life reach an all-time low on the Quiet Desperation scale.

    Sadly, this means that my days of being an interesting person have probably come to an end. I suppose I can continue to crank out technical curios (although even they will be hurt by a decline in personal Stick It To The Man-ism). But let's face it: basically happy people are basically fucking boring. I apologize in advance to those of you who I will meet at the cocktail parties occurring between now and my death. To help you prepare, here are my planned conversation topics, ordered by decade (approximately). I invite you to compose your respondent bon mots in advance.

    • Real Estate Prices

    • What Baby Pooped On

    • College Prices

    • Pointless Hobby

    • Quick, Let's Make Financial and/or Spiritual Plans!

    • Kids These Days, What's Wrong With

    • I Don't Think They Should Have Put Me In A Home

    • I Am Wandering Through The Neighborhood In My Bathrobe! I Think I Am Going To See Pearl Jam, Or Possibly Artie Shaw, Although They Are Both Are Dead!

    Another problem with contentedness: it's making me into a fatass. This is the time of year when I would normally start complaining about the looming onrush of New Year gymgoers, who will get in my way and then linger there, doing stupid things. But this year I'll be one of them. My 4-5 day/week regimen is long gone; three is a spectacularly good week for me now. And between sicknesses, visitors, projects and generally having better things to do, it's been months since I even hit that mark. But that's all going to change! Yes! I will radically alter my lifestyle. I will remain pleasantly slim. And, while I'm at it, perpetually youthful and vigorous.

    Or if that doesn't work out, I'll pick up a used copy of the Everybody Loves Raymond box sets, settle down in front of the TV with some Cool Ranch Doritos and wait for death. It's called a backup plan, people, and it's what responsible life strategies are all about.

    comments [3] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    December 23, 2005
    December 23, 2005
    shopping! personal  - photos

    Yesterday we went to Pentagon City Mall to do some Christmas shopping. I was a miserable failure. All I managed to buy was a bag of chocolates for Catherine, then a stack of DVD-R blanks and an SD card reader for myself. But I now have plans! Good plans — no, very good plans. In fact, I'd go so far as to characterize them as some of my best laid plans. Doubtless everything will go flawlessly.

    But on the off chance that it doesn't, it will be because I don't deserve for it to. Christmas shopping is a karmic investment, and yesterday — since we were shopping in the middle of a weekday — simply wasn't bad enough to earn me a happy holiday. Normally my yuletide mall experience transitions smoothly and rapidly from laserlike focus; to fatigued despair; to agoraphobic dread; to bottomless hatred for my fat fellow consumers as they amble mindlessly into my way, their meanderings every bit as slow and pointless as the path of a child's bowling ball as it slides down a lane with closed-off gutters. It's not that my own materialistic existence is any less existentially depressing, it's just that it involves walking quickly and in straight lines.

    But like I said: there wasn't as much mall-based misanthropy this year. I didn't get anything but pictures, though.

    Bougie
    Who else thinks L'Occitane changed the spelling just so they don't have to give Borf a cut?

    Dawson fit
    If someone told me that "Dawson Fit" means something unrelated to the television show, I would probably believe them. Still, surely there are other ways to express whatever it is that "Dawson Fit" expresses. But no — the sickness deeply rooted in the brainpans of the Banana Republic corporate office chose to go with "Dawson". Man, I hate that store. The clothes are fine, but the aesthetic is strange. J Crew: comfortably in the "look, my dad can fire your dad!" aesthetic, it can be safely ignored. Gap: expresses the "I wish I wished I was a rock star" ethos/hypocrisy that fits me so well. What is BR's driving theme? Clothes that won't make you look out of place in the hi-tech, totalitarian city-states of the not-too-distant future? That's the best I can come up with.

    boy meets boy meets world
    I desperately want someone to read this, head to Barnes & Noble, and make a terrible mistake.

    Today: Best Buy, aka "throwing money at the problem". Wish me luck.

    comments [5] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    December 19, 2005
    December 19, 2005
    the feast of a thousand hams personal  - weekend report

    Whew. That was quite a weekend. Thanks to everyone who came out on Friday, and apologies to those who stayed around until 3 or so. I thought I was doing pretty well considering the variety and quantity of booze I'd been consuming, but sometime in the early morning my liver decided it was going to bed, and didn't care whether I joined it. Hopefully I didn't scare any of you.

    But look, if there was one undeniable truth about that party, it was that it could have been slightly bloggier. One or two attendees may have somehow snuck in without having a valid URL. So on Saturday night I headed over to Kriston and Yglesias' place for a stupefyingly internety fete. Kevin Drum was there! I wanted to pose for a photo with him, as if he were a cardboard cutout, but chickened out.

    Instead, I mostly just drank beer, gossipped with Yglesias and took increasing pleasure in introducing myself as "a blogger of no consequence" (business cards?). I once made a fool of myself in front of Dave Winer without knowing who he was, so the evening was really just an exploration of an already established theme.

    But I did genuinely enjoy meeting Roxanne, her husband, and John and Belle. And there was the usual collection of Prospect/Reason/Cato people, who are always good to talk to. And the fellas bought caviar! And Sommer makes an awesome spinach dip thing! So all in all, pretty fun. Although when a couple of the Important Bloggers started telling me how much I should cherish my (relative) youth, I figured it was time to head home. Because duh: I think it's pretty obvious that I am. Did you not just hear me discussing federal wiretap laws with that guy over there?

    Sunday was Charles' folks' annual holiday open house, and, as always, it was great. There was no chicken liver pate this year, but the addition of several dozen pounds of unpronounceable cheeses more than made up for it. Also: Charles always gets the leftovers, and I conveniently share a fridge with him. That, combined with his stellar cleaning efforts, puts him solidly at the top of the Roommate of the Week ballotting. Good luck in the elimination round!

    In other news: we have a heat pump, but still have no heat. And a pipe has burst under the sink, we're told. Which doesn't really bother us, but is apparently a pretty big inconvenience for our downstairs neighbor. We're now racking up negative karma every time we run the faucet.

    comments [4] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    the rest of the weekend personal  - weekend report

    so, after the blogiday party on friday night, this is how i spent the rest of my weekend:

    saturday, around 10 a.m. thought about getting out of bed. thought very seriously about it. but realized it would do nobody any good. one or two more hours of sleep would surely help ease the hangover, right? right. very wise decision, catherine. proceeded to wake up at 2 p.m., aka the latest i have ever slept in at least the past 5 years, because ever since i became a GrownUp, i cannot sleep past 10 in the morning, even on the weekends i really, really try.

    spent three or four hours doing some serious couch sitting. it took a lot out of me. with some protest, i eventually hit up the sketchy giant with tommy to grab some dinner. apparently the major movement of getting up off of the couch and out of the apartment reinstated the dreaded delayed hangover. i was doing pretty good until i had to stand up. but the standing up set off the pounding headache from hell, which prevented me from attending a party at matt's and kriston's that was to be even bloggier than our own. instead i spent the evening in my sweatpants uniform, watching the sound of music, which luckily happened to be on tv. it was like ABC read my hungover mind. christopher plummer+do re mi+a slowly sipped beer=defeat of the hangover. i have always been wary of the hair of the dog thing, but it really seemed to work. is there a scientific explanation for that or what?

    this is the worst post ever, but i somehow cannot seem to stop typing.

    anyway, sunday was charles' parents' annual holiday party, which is always highly looked-forward to, because it is always lovely and filled with wine and great food and we usually end up taking home 5 billion pounds of ham, 72 bottles of wine and eleventy hundred cans of beer. this year was no exception. i mean, i had a piece of ham, a shrimp, and a petit four for breakfast today. post-grays christmas party is a life of shrimp luxury. if only i could get out of these sweatpants.

    comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    December 17, 2005
    December 17, 2005
    buon natale! D.C.  - personal  - weekend report

    so, our party, it was teh awesome. and you know what? it was FILLED WITH BLOGGERS and it was still totally awesome. in fact, it was made even more awesome by that fact. we have crossed some sort of bizarro line, my friends, when bloggers are advertised instead of shunned at a social gathering.

    i met many lovely people that i hadn't had the chance to before, and i don't want to list them here, because i will definitely leave somebody out and then feel terrible about it, but you know who you are all and you are all internet sugar and spice, like the governess writes (and no pirate eye, lady! you look lovely i promise especially your hair of which i was v. envious). i stopped being surprised a long time ago at how much i like people in person whose internet personalities i like. that sentence did not make sense but you know what i mean.

    the hot chocolate and the egg nog were big old hits (a ratio of one cup whole milk to 1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted in a big old pan, and doctored with as much amaretto or creme de menthe as your guests like, is especially yummy, and jeff swears by the joy of cooking egg nog recipe and it was delicious). unfortunately i didn't take as many photos as i would have hoped (if you took some please leave the link in the comments!), but those i did take are here, including some awesome pictures of kriston and charles dueting it up on some terribly maudlin love song. i would like to take this chance to say that tommy's and my rendition of "i've had the time of my life" was probably some of the most painful 5-6 minutes in the entire history of karaoke. my apologies, friends.

    today will be spent recovering, maybe making lemon bars, and then probably humiliating myself in front of kevin drum. onwards!

    UPDATE: Changed the Flickr link so Tommy's photos show up, too.

    comments [8] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    December 16, 2005
    December 16, 2005
    reasons why not personal

    alright, people. this TomCat business has got to stop, mostly for the fact that it is obviously based on the nickname for Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, aka the Two Freakiest People on earth. tommy and i are nothing like cruise and holmes - in fact, in nearly every way, we are the exact opposite. witness:

    1. tom cruise is the scientologistest of all scientologists. tom lee is on a crazed mission to end scientology.
    2. i am not a zombie child-bride-to-be.
    3. nor am i pregnant, but if i WERE to get pregnant, it would be done the old-fashioned way, and not with a turkey baster full of scientology love. plus, tommy is comfortable enough with his heterosexuality without having to go impregnate ladies all over the place to prove it. he has his sidekick phone, after all, and if that does not scream hetero, i do not know what does.
    4. when tommy helps me celebrate my birthday, he does not do with the creepiest-ever idea, a private FAO schwartz toy store visit, including giant cupcakes and a reenactment of the floor piano key scene from "big." the hell?!?!
    5. if i had costarred with christian bale, you can bet i a) would not have ended up w/ tom cruise b) would have hit that.
    6. we do not have 25 jamillion dollars.
    7. etc.

    we can discuss all other reasons this evening. see you tonight!

    comments [5] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    sweet nostalgia personal

    it's always fun to look back a year when you're in desperate need of blog content, isn't it? and so i look back to last december and see that around this time we were....

    doing exactly the same thing that we will be doing tonight! with pics! (and some from mssr nye.) we are nothing if not predictable.

    i also find it strange that i was sweating grad school applications this time last year. that seriously seems like about a billion eons ago. and has it really only been a year since dance dance revolution came into my life?

    comments [3] trackBack [1] posted by catherine - link
    they'll need a crane personal

    Okay, so perhaps — perhaps! — this is not the greatest photo ever, but it reveals a pretty great thing: there is a big fucking crane in our alley, and it's here to put a new heat pump on our roof. Rock. The age of constantly popping circuit breakers ("the space heater era") may be drawing to a close.

    big fucking crane

    TOTALLY UNRELATED WHINING: Who thought it was a good idea to make OS X Firefox not tab through non-text form fields? An idiot, that's who. Also: what's up with the unreliable home key? It's apple-left most of the time, but in Adium and other apps it's function-left. Interface genius my ass.

    comments [2] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    December 15, 2005
    December 15, 2005
    partynomics personal

    Tonight we buy the booze. This is tricky: how many people are too cool to use evite? How many will decide to come at the last minute? And how much will everyone drink? In the past we've budgeted around 4 drinks per person and done pretty well — everyone is generally pretty far over or under that number, but it averages out. But it's hard to say how much of that is owed to planning and how much is thanks to fortuitous booze delivered at the last minute by gifts of wine, roving gangs of Latvian friends, and lucky Budweiser truck accidents. It might be time to bump our allocation up.

    The restaurant where Charles works is donating a case of PBR, but at the moment that's all the serendipohol we're counting on. Good rules of thumb are welcome. Also, if anyone has developed a serious drinking problem over the past year, let us know in comments

    comments [20] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    December 14, 2005
    December 14, 2005
    a new hope personal

    Today was my first day at the new job. It was good — aside from learning that I won't get my first paycheck for a month, things couldn't have gone better. Everyone was smart, nice and extremely helpful. And hey: free lunch. Score.

    There's a lot of half-learned technology about which I need to firm up my understanding. But by far the biggest adjustment is the new Powerbook. Yup, it's time to learn how Macs work. I've been issued a 15" Powerbook, and it's pretty sweet. DVD burner, 1400xsomethingorother screen, 80 GB hard drive. It's a beautiful machine.

    But it doesn't feel like a real computer. I have a pretty deep understanding of the Window operating system. I can use it extremely quickly and efficiently. It sucks to give up that amount of skill. I'm sure I'll be able to become proficient in Mac-fu, but for now I feel oddly powerless.

    I'll no doubt have plenty more complaints coming which will be answered by people more familiar with Apple products than I am. So far, there are only two that I'm not prepared to chalk up to my own ignorance. First, the missing mouse button. I know, you can plug in a real mouse. I know, it's to force designers to make good UI decisions (although the UI seems much more cluttered and disorganized than I expected — Mac Excel's menus are godawful). But it's still a huge pain in the ass to not have a right menu button available when using the trackpad.

    My other complaint: the keyboard. It's not very well positioned and the action on the keys doesn't feel very good relative to the other laptops I've used. But most irritating is the absence of several keys. I like having insert available. And why have you taken away my pageup and pagedown? They're on the arrows keys, but this function key business just isn't going to fly. I can run a windows machine pretty well with one hand, leaving the other free to administer beverages, flip through channels or idly tap on the table until Charles goes crazy. These are expensive machines, Steve. You ought to be able to throw in a couple more keys.

    Anyway, if it weren't for the salary cut and delayed paycheck, I'd probably be ordering a thinkpad right now. I know I'll come to love this machine, but I'm not converted just yet.

    ALSO: I can't figure out the shortcut key combo that lets you switch between, say, the Firefox main window a comment popup. Hmm.

    comments [11] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    lapadaisacal personal

    as i have been rolling around on the couch all day in a cold medicine-induced drug haze in the same sweat pants and shirt i've been wearing for approximately 34 days straight (uva pants and a northwestern hoodie, and no, they don't like each other very much), i thought of yet another thing i am truly thankful for in life other than my arctic parka - the fact that, this year, i do not need to attend any company christmas parties. this thought was partly inspired by kathryn's post, and partly inspired by the fact that i spent half the hallucinatory day staring at the green ceramic monkey tommy won last year at his company xmas party, trying to communicate with its innermost thoughts. (the fact that i just wrote a sentence that included tommy winning a ceramic green monkey at an xmas party should be reason enough to prove why i am thankful about not attending any more company xmas parties.)

    now that i am a Graduate Student, and not working at blah blah company anymore, i can write about it without remorse, and what i will say for the most part is that it was a nice company with lovely people. except the one dreadful night i attended the xmas party at the president's house.

    the night went something like this: arrive with tommy at formalish affair, take off coat, realize suddenly, though this somehow did not strike me before, that the beaded tank top i am wearing is ENTIRELY too low cut and slutty for a work party. have 3-4 gin & tonics; stop caring about prostitutish tank top. chat with workers, eat food, make good friends with open bar bartender person. la la la. it was, at any given point up until then, no worse than any other typical company party: some strained conversations offset by the copious amounts of alcohol. everything was going more or less dandyish until this terrible moment: the president's 30-year-old son reappears in the living room, dressed as santa. tee hee, very funny, cheesy, but whatever, catherine goes to bar to get another drink when she hears the president's booming voice say, "we need some lovely ladies to SIT ON SANTA'S LAP....CATHERINE! GO!"

    i froze in my path, then kept on going, assured that the president was joking. but. he. was. not. above my most frenzied of protests, he insisted that i sit IN HIS SON'S LAP in front of the ENTIRE COMPANY wearing my prostitutish tank top while he TOOK PICTURES that would later in the week end up on the kitchen bulletin board. i tell you, i very nearly freaked out right there and puked up in santa's beard. i promise, i am generally game for many things, but sitting in freaky son-of-company-president's santa lap is not one of them. no doubt the entire spectacle, me sitting, plastic-smile-faced, on santa's lap, mentally picturing myself dunking the president's head in the punch bowl, did much to assure everyone of my professionalism and capability.

    sigh.

    now i am freshly humiliated by that entire creepy experience. i have half a mind to sic some elves on the guy.

    comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    December 13, 2005
    December 13, 2005
    la famiglia personal  - photos

    after tommy posted that enormous, terrifying, veiny-handed, panda-psychosis-induced photo of me below (thanks boyfriend!) i feel compelled to link to my flickr stream, where just this afternoon i uploaded a backlog of photos of me and my eminently photogenic family and fat doggie from thanksgiving. i can't believe my brother's in the navy and my sister will head to uva soon. lord, i'm old!

    comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    December 09, 2005
    December 09, 2005
    impending freedom bitching  - personal

    Today is my last day of work. I plan to celebrate by going to Chipotle and doing almost nothing productive.

    At the moment, I'm feeling very, very good about my decision. Particularly because the leader on this project — justifiably, if belatedly, terrified about the project's nonexistent chance of success — just came into my "office" and asked whether I thought I and the rest of the team ought to come into the office on Saturday and Sunday in order to meet our un-meetable Monday deadline. It was all I could do to keep from erupting into joyous laughter (I managed to constrain my reaction to "shit-eating grin").

    And that's another thing — the word "office" is in quotes for a reason. It's actually a conference room that I'm sharing with the other developers. They took away my cube last week. Maybe as punishment for leaving, maybe just because they're ludicrously short on space. That was fine, though. The only galling part was the pretense: that this would be good for the project, foster a "bullpen" environment, and that I had been spoiling for just such a change. In the days after having my desk moved (for the third time since August), a succession of not-future-references trundled past the conference room door, cheerfully asking how much I was enjoying this new getting-kicked-in-the-nuts arrangement that I had been asking for. Normally I would have politely mumbled a noncommital "fine". But with my days numbered, I was free to explain, politely but in detail, exactly how little I wanted or appreciated the new accomodations. It was extremely satisfying, in a completely childish and pathetic way. Where's my red stapler?

    Well, the last day of work is even more liberating. I'm in the contract prime's offices, as I have been for a while. There are no bridges to burn; these people are my boses' bosses, not mine. I don't want to get Actual Boss in trouble, but I'll never personally have to be involved with the people here again. I'm not peeing in the water fountain or anything, but I'm blissfully free to eschew workplace pretense. If it weren't for the loyalty I feel toward Actual Boss, I'd be wearing a sandwichboard reading THE END IS NIGH and wandering past the offices of everyone associated with this project. You have all been well and truly fucked from the day you signed this contract.

    Ah well. I'm in a good mood. Tomorrow morning I have to go to Mclean, where I will spend four hours teaching my coworkers some of what I know. That tempers my elation, but only a little.

    It's almost lunchtime — feels like a guacamole day.

    comments [2] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    December 08, 2005
    December 08, 2005
    i know what i want for christmas personal

    Thanks, Slashdot!

    And while I'm shamelessly stealing other people's links, check this out.

    comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    fyi personal

    i know what i'm getting tommy for christmas.

    comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    December 07, 2005
    December 07, 2005
    it's been a while since i've horrified catherine personal

    But you know, I have been thinking about buying a new jacket...

    (via bb)

    comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    December 05, 2005
    December 05, 2005
    also! personal

    On Friday Charles, Aaron and I headed out to Vienna to see Julie off to Denver. It was fun. How fun? This fun.

    Needless to say, we're all sorry to see Julie go. She's sweet, and funny, and pretty well guaranteed to brighten the day of everyone she runs into. But the duties of aunthood call! So good luck in the mile-high city, Julie. We all expect much better home run production next season.

    comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    wintry mix D.C.  - bitching  - personal

    It sounds like the winter storm currently bearing down on Washington (shotgun full of snow, etc.) isn't going to come through. Topper Shutt's Bread-O-Meter stands at a meager 4.5, and is likely to dip even lower. Normally I wouldn't put a lot of stock in a local weatherguy's opinion. But Topper has always been Catherine's and my favorite: he has the saddest eyes of any weatherman. The rough and tumble world of meteorological prognostication was never meant for a soul as gentle as he.

    But maybe it's for the best that the storm is dissipating, seeing as our furnace has been broken since Friday morning. For a while it was just freezing cold every morning. I was prepared to chalk this up to my inability to comprehend our stupefyingly complex digital thermostat, but our landlord had an HVAC guy come by on Friday to have a look anyway. I don't know what he did, but I know it was a bad idea. Prior to his visit the furnace had been deeply troubled but high-functioning. Afterward — well, on the plus side there was now a red LED illuminated on the thermostat. On the minus side, the system no longer produced actual heat. Hmm.

    Saturday morning brought a 52 degree wakeup — time to call the landlord, who came right over, accepted our mutual impotence in the face of a broken heat pump, and then went to buy us some space heaters. Charles and I can now be luxuriously toasty in up to one room at a time, provided we don't mind tripping the circuit breaker every time so much as the refrigerator light goes on.

    Being cold sucks, but it's at least conceptually pleasing to my cheapskate nerd side. Every power adapter, light bulb, computer and appliance around me, although cherished, is horribly inefficient. Entropy's inevitability doesn't just mean that you and I will die and that our universe will someday collapse into a cold, empty cloud of lifeless elementary particles (although its more practical upshot is just that I'm usually too existentially distraught to bother picking up my room). It also means that nearly everything in your house that takes electricity turns more than half of the energy it consumes into heat rather than useful work.

    But with the furnace broken, suddenly all of that waste heat is an asset. I'm glad of every wasted watt-second, every gently warm plug pack. Up yours, physics! I'm getting my money's worth at last, Pepco! It's true that the heat-pump's 100+% efficiency has a distinct perpetual-motion-machine allure, but for now I'm happy shooting heat out of every available appliance and into my frozen toes. Time to start Linux recompiling again for no particular reason.

    comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    December 02, 2005
    December 02, 2005
    wow personal

    I have accomplished absolutely nothing today, other than contributing thousands of words to a contentious email thread. I feel surprisingly good about that.

    comments [1] trackBack [1] posted by tom - link
    November 30, 2005
    November 30, 2005
    WAHOOWA personal

    let's all give a big round of applause to my lovely and talented little sister, marggie, who just found out tonight that she was accepted early decision to UVa! BOOYEAH. not that there was any doubt, but i know she had been stressing about it. but, hey, marggie, now you can spend the rest of senior year as you should: WITH MUCH SEX AND DRUGS AND BEER. haha, just kidding, mom and dad. that's what college is for!

    comments [2] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    November 29, 2005
    November 29, 2005
    oh happy day personal

    my cell phone has been lovingly fedexed into my grubby little hands, i have been instructed on how to hook up my dead monitor computer to the tv so that it's usable, and i just got back from a drugstore run to pick up hot chocolate and a healthy amount of bailey's irish cream (can i say HOW MUCH i love that the drugstores here sell alcohol? i love it a lot).

    even though it is 30 bajillion degrees below zero with the demon winds of hell, this truly is a joyous night.

    comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    here comes the fear again media  - northwestern  - personal

    if there's one thing the folks here at northwestern are very good at, it is instilling the ever-loving fear of god into you. mostly fear that you, despite attending a top-notch journalism school, will never obtain a job outside of licking the boots of some magazine editor or, barring that, serving up the delicious will-be-the-death-of-me pumpkin spice lattes at starbucks. i still have two weeks left in my very first quarter and i. am. already. terrified. so i do what i usually do when i am scurred: turn to the internets. internets, will you help me get a job or, at the very least, a prestigious summer internship? i feel like an idiot asking for a summer internship, since that is so very junior year of college circa 2001, but my advisor recommends it if possible and if i feel like taking a quarter off of school.

    ideally, internets, i would like a job/internship at an online news site. if i'm going to get all specific, i would like a job at washingtonpost.com or chicagotribune.com. a job that is queen of everything. or, whatever. i'm flexible. i'm also open to consulting positions for new media companies. my full resume is on my dead-monitor computer, but i will post some suckily-formatted basic qualifications behind the cut, and if my dead-monitor computer is ever fixed, i'll upload a real resume. if you have any contacts, or friends, or ideas, or alcohol, send me an email. thanks!

    zunta.org: asking for your job help since november 2005.

    MORE...
    comments [2] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    November 28, 2005
    November 28, 2005
    at least someone is going to be wildly successful D.C.  - blog  - personal

    The Smithsonian American Art Museum has launched a blog helmed by the one and only Kriston Capps! Nice job, buddy.

    You can congratulate Kriston here; you can write to your congressman about this horrifying waste of tax dollars here. Don't worry about sending mixed messages — it's all part of the stealth marketing campaign. If we can get Rush Limbaugh to declare a fatwa on Kriston, we'll know he's really made it.

    comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    decided personal

    On Saturday, I gave notice to my boss. Catherine and I were out by Tyson's to see the Harry Potter movie and eat dinner with her family. My boss lives nearby, so I went over to deliver the news. There was a knot in my stomach composed of equal parts dread and pre-movie TGIFriday's quesadilla. The two vile substances tore at me as they intermingled, reminding me that I had already made one serious mistake that day, and could be on the verge of another.

    Breaking the news went amazingly well. I was surprised. I've seen my boss's temper, although I've never been its target. But he said he understood and that I'd be welcomed back if I changed my mind. Work breakups don't go much more smoothly than that. I left; we went to dinner; everything seemed better. In fact, even today, back at this unending Navy project, things seem better. Which leads, of course, to second thoughts.

    But I've got no serious reservations about my decision. So in two weeks I'll be starting at Exciting New Media Consultancy, Inc., which I won't name because Technorati would then deliver this blog to their inboxes within minutes. Not that I think its existence will remain a secret for more than a few hours into my tenure there — It's just that I intend to savor those hours.

    Leaving this job is still still going to be a shock. I think I've got it figured out, financially speaking, but I'm not at ease about it. It's the only real job I've had since college; I've been here for three years and change. Sure, it was boring and getting boring-er, but I had a comfortable little rut dug for myself. The prospect of change is unsettling.

    Last night I dreamt that I was riding my bike down some unknown street, when suddenly I spied the stolen bike that it had replaced. It was locked to a signpost. I dismounted and walked over, and held onto both of them. I called the police but couldn't get through — and what would I do if I had? I couldn't prove my ownership of the old bike, although I knew it was mine. I woke up before I figured out what to do.

    I don't usually remember my dreams. When I do, their symbolism is usually completely incomprehensible, if it's there at all. If my subconscious is going to descend to analogies as prosaic as that one, it must really be worried.

    comments [8] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    November 25, 2005
    November 25, 2005
    what i'm thankful for personal

    Mostly I'm thankful that I didn't die on my trip to and from Brewster, NY. For a day involving 12 hours of travel on buses and trains, everything went pretty smoothly. Okay, the cab I had arranged for didn't show, and the path from the Port Authority to Grand Central was unexpectedly blocked by the Macy's parade. My sister and I still managed to catch our train, though, and had a nice dinner with the New York wing of our clan. Interested family members can find pics here, although my failure to change the camera's settings away "smoky bar" means that they're kind of lousy.

    Only other thing worth noting: I read Cold Skin on the trip, and it was pretty good. Plenty short and plenty unsettling. All in all a good book for teachers to get in trouble with the PTA over.

    comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    November 23, 2005
    November 23, 2005
    a day early, but thanks personal

    I really appreciate everyone's advice in the previous comment thread (keep it coming, if you've got more). Also thanks to ogged for directing his sage readership over to advise my callow self. As you all can probably tell from my responses in the thread, I'm still leaning toward taking the job. If I'm going to gamble with my career, now is the time to do it. Maybe the last time.

    But I'm going to be subjected to some high-intensity hectoring from my mother over the holiday, who is not a fan of this earn-less-money initiative. And I'll actually crunch the numbers, instead of estimating them in my head on the way to the metro. And I'll be talking to the guy who's leaving the position on Friday. Maybe he'll tell me all the bohemianism is a lie, and the place is actually run by Chets in sandals. We'll see whether my starry-eyed idealism emerges from the weekend unscathed.

    At any rate, happy Thanksgiving to everybody.

    comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    decisions personal

    Alright, internet. You're going to have to forgive me just a little bit more career navel-gazing. I could use some advice.

    The folks I interviewed with made me an offer yesterday. It wasn't what I was hoping for — it'd constitute a 10% cut from my last paycheck. If you count the raise I got between the interview and the offer, it's almost a 22% cut. They do 401k matching, bonuses and stock option stuff that my current employer doesn't, but it won't make up the difference.

    My current job kind of sucks. It revolves around getting Microsoft technology, which I don't like, to do boring things for military and government clients. Our standard contract involves working for a client who has been sold something expensive by Microsoft but has no idea what to do with it.

    The new job seems like it would be better. They use open source software. It sounds like clients typically approach them, say "we want people to think our website is cool," then let them run wild. Blogs, RSS, location-based services, AJAX — I'd probably get to play with all that good stuff. These are technologies I like messing around with in my spare time. And although I know there'd be drudge work like in any job, I think there would be much more room for doing interesting and innovative things.

    At my current job I'm top dog. This is, to some extent, because we're a technical house of cards — I can't make myself watch webcasts about ASP.NET 2.0 in my off time like a Microsoft shop's CTO should, and nobody else on staff knows anything about software development. But my boss loves me, and I can pretty much get away with whatever I want. Business is starting to take off (hence the raises). I used to be able to work from home more days than not, but I don't know if that will ever happen again.

    The new job would make me a developer working directly under the CTO. It's a slightly bigger company, but this move would still look like a step down on my resume. The place is filled with young people whose politics I admire, and from whom I could learn new things (instead of just treading water). The commute's slightly worse (although that will likely change in a few months), but although they only allow for one day/week of telecommuting, it looks like a more reliably pajama-friendly position than my current job. Also, I could wear jeans to work.

    I think that's it. And I think I have to take it. I need to write out my budget and make sure everything adds up. Fewer electronic toys and fancy dinners with Catherine should do it. Aside from those, I'm not very high-maintenance. But I do hate the thought of, years from now, little Tom Jr. and Tomasina leaving a shittier house in a shittier neighborhood to go to a shittier school than would have been possible, if only their pop didn't hate SharePoint so goddamned much.

    This is a young company; it could pay off down the road. Of course, we're on the brink of the "paying off" phase at my current job — it's just that now I can see that the payoff is a long career working in the government contracting ghetto. I meet people on this job who work for private companies but have navy.mil email addresses. That's how long they've worked on this goddamn project. I really, really don't want to end up like that.

    This would be a do-over, with better politics, technology and people. I don't know if this is a really stupid decision, but I think I'm still young enough to be a little stupid.

    Here's where you tell me what a dope I am. Trust me, I probably need to hear it.

    comments [53] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    November 22, 2005
    November 22, 2005
    bad news for people who like bad news personal

    Bah! Just when I'm wallowing in the crapitude of my job, daydreaming about leaving, my boss goes around and gives everyone a ridiculously generous annual raise. It's a nice surprise, but it doesn't change much except the level of guilt I'm experiencing — the nature of this project is such that for quite a while now I haven't been able to do my job as well as I would like. If I had to fill out a quarterly accomplishments form right now, "not jumping in front of the Metro" would be right at the top of the list. It doesn't really feel like I should be rewarded for that.

    In other news, Catherine got home safe & sound, so everything is pretty great.

    comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    November 21, 2005
    November 21, 2005
    just a boy with a new haircut personal

    I got a haircut last week. I didn't really need one yet, but Catherine's was getting into town soon and I thought I'd better get through those first few awkward post-haircut days before she arrived.

    So I headed into my favorite non-threatening haircut factory chain, gave them my name and waited to be randomly assigned to a stylist. This is a risk, I know. Most people develop a personal relationship with the person who cuts their hair. It's understandable — this person holds a lot of control over your life, and you have to trust in them completely. It's kind of like with Jesus, except the tipping mechanism is different.

    But I like a more stochastic approach. Usually I'll draw someone from the thick hump of the bell curve — a pleasant immigrant lady without much English who does a good but unremarkable job. Other times I'll luck out and get one of the women who dress like fortune tellers (quick rule of thumb: the more jangly bracelets, the better the haircut is going to be). Once or twice in Cherrydale I got a smokin' hot Asian girl with a fondness for sporting leather pants and bored expressions. She gave me terrible haircuts that I didn't mind a bit.

    Today was slightly different, though. I got a male stylist. Not so weird in itself, but he didn't fall into either of the male hairdresser stereotypes: he was neither grizzled nor effeminate. He was just some guy, about my age, with a goatee. If I ran into him in any other setting, I would address him as "dude". He was a dude.

    I'd been in this situation before, in a slightly more traditional barbershop setting. The barber and I got through it by talking a lot about how great it was when the Redskin Cheerleaders visited his mall. You know what else is great? Sports! Yeah man. Also, heterosexuality. Bitchin'!

    But this time there was a shampoo involved. That proved to be a problem. I'd like to jump to my own defense and say "it's not that I'm homophobic!", but I'm not sure that I'm the one who gets to make that call. You can, after all, get into a lot of trouble for declaring yourself "not sexist" (lousy bitches). Still, I don't think it was homophobia.

    I say that because, in a way, it was the complete lack of sexual tension that I found so disturbing. I find scalp massages, or anything approximating a scalp massage, to be just about the greatest thing ever. In Charlottesville I once got a haircut from a woman who was also a masseuse, and who tried to up-sell me on her services by administering a scalp massage more thorough than my $11 actually justified. I walked away utterly relaxed, feeling like my bones had been replaced with a pleasantly warm liquid filling. Also, I was keenly aware that I owed Catherine some flowers.

    It just isn't the same when a dude — not a professional male hair-cutter, but a dude — is handling the hair washing. All I could think was "I'm paying for this?" and "How did our lives lead us to this moment?"

    I need to be sold on the shampoo. I need to think the shampooer cares deeply about his job and, more importantly (of course!), my personal well-being; that this isn't just some horrible kabuki intended to symbolize clients' dominance over their groomers. This guy looked like he was just counting the hours until he had to go pick up his stripper girlfriend. Which is fine, but kind of diminishes the experience. Seriously, just give me a sink and a towel. I think I can figure it out.

    comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    excuses excuses personal

    Today's gonna be a good day — Catherine's landing at National around 10:30 tonight. But my lingering Puritan genes are pushing me to punish myself before that happens. The office where I'm working is close enough to National that, if I look out the window, I can read the signs on the airport's Metro platform. Heading home and then coming back out to meet her seems kind of silly, particularly given how far behind we are on this project. So it's gonna be a little bit of a late night.

    Still, it won't be nearly as bad as the Thanksgiving death march I've arranged for myself. That day will begin with a 6AM bus ride to New York, followed by a couple of hours on a commuter train. Then it's dinner, back on the train, then back on the bus. I'll be getting home around 2:30AM on Friday, having discharged my familial duties in the absolute minimum number of hours possible.

    I did the second half of this trip last year; it wasn't too bad, but I'll definitely need a good novel. I had my heart set on this (murderous antarctic amphibians? sold!), but nobody in the area seems to stock it. Suggestions for suitable replacements would be appreciated.

    comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    November 16, 2005
    November 16, 2005
    drama on O D.C.  - personal

    The interview went well. I like these guys, and I think they liked me. It really seems like an ideal workplace: more structure, but still with plenty of freedom. Projects for clients worth giving a damn about. And, most importantly, coworkers from whom I can actuall learn things. Anyway, I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

    Other news: when I got back to my block, I found it filled with MPD officers. I'd estimate six police cars (some of them unmarked), and ten or twelve cops swarming in and out of the run-down house on the street that always has folks hanging out in front of it. "Search warrant," said the cops, in a way that made it clear that this statement encompassed all of the information they were prepared to share.

    Judging from the variety of people who'd hang out in front of the house,, the cars that'd stop by, and the occasional stray whiff of pot smoke, it was pretty clear that those guys were dealing something. But they never really bothered me, or Charles, so far as I know. I got a "what the fuck do you think you're doing" one time when I dared to walk through a pre-deal crowd of their friends on the sidewalk, but I don't think that outburst came from anybody who actually lived in the house. The only other interaction I had with them was when two of the guys hanging out there stopped me and Charles as we walked by and asked us to settle a bet: which has the larger penis, a whale or an elephant? I said whale. And I stand by that, goddammit.

    Anyway, it looks like bad times for those folks. I can't say I feel too sorry, though. Sometimes on my way to the Metro on summer mornings I would see a little old lady sitting on a cushion on a folding chair outside that house. Maybe she was escaping the heat; maybe she was escaping something else. She doesn't deserve to have some deadbeat nephew or grandson selling drugs on her lawn, even if they were doing it with a minimum of ruckus. On the other hand, she doesn't deserve to have her relations thrown in jail, either. Here's hoping it all works out for her.

    comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    still kickin' personal

    Charles is soliciting help from the internet in naming his goldfish, which inexplicably made it through the weekend. So far my suggestions of "stinky", "wrinkles" and "superdude" have fallen on deaf ears. BONUS POINTS for anyone who can name additional dead classroom pets of the Simpson children.

    And with that, I'm off to the i/v.

    comments [5] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    request for comment personal

    I've got a job interview this afternoon. I feel pretty confident — I already know that my biggest failing is working too hard, that I am a self-starting team player, that I'm keen to leverage new synergies in a proactive manner, and that manhole covers are round so that they can't fall down the holes they cover. And really, what else could possibly be asked in an interview? But if you all have any tips, now's the time.

    comments [14] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    November 15, 2005
    November 15, 2005
    help personal

    i can tell, it's time for some serious intervention. chicago has apparently gotten to me in a deep, dark way.

    because i am SERIOUSLY CONSIDERING BUYING BOOTS WITH FUR ON THEM THAT I WOULD TUCK MY JEANS INTO AND I NEED YOU ALL TO STOP MEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

    comments [19] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    November 12, 2005
    November 12, 2005
    mission accomplished blog  - personal  - photos

    Alright — I think everything is working. Not only are we on MT 3.2, but I've upgraded from using the filesystem-based Berkeley DB to MySQL. What does this mean? Basically nothing. But backing stuff up will now be marginally easier. Also worth noting is that 3.2 is supposed to cost money, but I somehow downloaded it from Movable Type's website without them remembering to ask for a credit card. And the download shows up in my account "purchases" section and everything! So: shhh!

    In other news, Charles bought a fish. We're not naming him until he proves he can make it through the weekend without dying.

    fishy!
    comments [5] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    November 08, 2005
    November 08, 2005
    netpotism personal

    No time for blogging — an understudy has arrived at the job, and I've got to intermittently pay attention to him. I suggest that you go terrorize my sister's newly-revealed blog instead. I particularly like the smooth transition from pictures of a cat goiter to pictures of indistinct charred meats that's featured in this post.

    comments [2] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    November 07, 2005
    November 07, 2005
    football readiness: low. think national guard. personal

    What an unusually beautiful weekend. Also, an unusually football-oriented one. For some reason Kriston decided we should get out and enjoy nature on Saturday, and worse, to do so by engaging in an embarrassing athletic display. "Football!" he said. "It'll be great!"

    Photographic evidence was deliberately not collected. And just in case, we all shot dirty looks at the teenage girl who was photographing the nearby foliage. But despite there being a number of witnesses, we did play some football. Kriston, Yglesias, Charles, Jeff Dubner, Ezra and the tragically URL-less Jeremy all came to Meridian Hill Park expecting to toss the pigskin. Unfortunately, it quickly became apparent that none of us owned a football. Charles and I had brought a couple of frisbees, so we played a bit of Ultimate while we waited for the football-owning Katy to arrive and save us from our masculine failings.

    The Ultimate was not a pretty sight to behold (it's going to be back to two-a-days for a while, guys). Also, Charles' skills have not atrophied as much as I had hoped based on the substantial quantities of cigarettes and booze that he's consumed since we last played each other. Much to my surprise we all seemed to do a lot better with the football.

    I'd played football all of twice before, and only one of those times occurred even remotely close to the burly side of puberty. Yet for some reason I was chosen as one of the two quarterbacks. I like to think it's my "intangibles", or perhaps my "court awareness". Either way, the juggernaut comprised of Jeremy, Katy, Jeff and myself proved to be unstoppable, and good triumphed over evil. We mostly owe our glorious victory to Dubner's tenacious defense, although everyone had nice plays at one time or another. The precise clockwork of our mid-atlantic coast offense ("run that way!") also played a part.

    Really, I have only two important things to report. First, Ezra Klein can do that back-flip-to-standing thingy. You know, where you're lying down, and kick your legs, and then BANG!, you're back up. That seems pretty good for a member of the punditocracy, right? Do you think Krugman can do that shit? I'll tell you right now, he can't. And if you've got the choice between two authors writing intelligently about national healthcare, BUT one of them may also be able to do a spin-kick, which one are you going to read? It's obvious. Ezra brings the value-add.

    Second, I am a million years old. We played touch football for what, 45 minutes? My limbs were already stiffening up by the end. The next day my legs ached, my abs ached, and I was pretty sure I had turf toe, despite not actually knowing what that is. Apparently the elliptical trainer and the ruthless physicality of the software development game isn't keeping me in as tip-top shape as I had thought. Still, it was a lot of fun at the time.

    Sunday was appropriately sedentary. Apparently one of the folks in Charles' church has started giving away his Redskins season tickets as a form of protest against Daniel Snyder, and this week I was the beneficiary of the spare. Rock.

    at the redskins game

    I'd never been to an NFL game before. It was pretty great. The spectacle; the Skins' victory; the Eagles' loss — each sweeter than the last. Wow. Even the Philadelphia fans were great. Sure, they were detestable, just as Charles had promised, but they were detestable in exactly the right way. The ones near us were polite enough to be foreborn, the ones away from us were obnoxious enough to get kicked out, and all of them were pathetic enough to prompt truly outrageous post-game gloating from Skins fans on the Metro.

    All in all, the footballiest weekend in a while. Oh yeah: feeling obligated by a Microcenter splurge on SD memory earlier that day, I took a ton of mostly uninteresting pictures. They're here, if you're interested.

    comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    November 04, 2005
    November 04, 2005
    hi. personal

    so. where have i been? i don't know. i'll admit it - beat reporting and the constant writing about often-non-newsworthy events (we have to come up with three stories a week, whether or not there's actually, you know, A STORY happening in our area) has worn me down a bit. i did write a hysterical article yesterday, though, on a leather fetish museum in my beat. it was pretty awesome. did you know benjamin franklin might have been a sadist?! in a related note, the museum's guide, upon learning i was from d.c., reminded me that the Mr. DC Eagle contest will be held nov. 19! get your application at the bar now!

    anyway, hopefully i can take this weekend to recharge - rumor has it that ms. seeking irony is in town, so i'm looking forward to a d.c. blogger reunion with her and mr. loop. and in a couple of weeks, the brave kyle will be the first to take advantage of the magic futon, flying in for the grand total of something like 36 hours and taking the windy city (and a super furries concert) by storm. and, then, THEN, i'm home for a week for thanksgiving. HOOrah. hopefully i'll muster up the energy to write something semi-interesting before then.

    comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    October 30, 2005
    October 30, 2005
    we have a winner D.C.  - personal  - photos

    Last night was interesting. We made it to a good party, a great party, and a bar. More on the parties in a sec. First, the costumes. Adams Morgan turned out to have the best ones. We met all of the folks pictured on the street, and all in quick succession.


    I hope you'll all agree that this is the year's clear winner.

    MORE...
    comments [5] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    October 27, 2005
    October 27, 2005
    mainly about dude personal

    Sommer, Kanishka and Me

    So Kanishka's officially in the Foreign Service, and will be headed to Pakistan once the new year rolls around. Best of luck to him, of course. He was pretty excited when I saw him at Kriston and Matt's party on Sunday. Pakistan will be lucky to have someone with his talents and enthusiasm. And I'm not just saying that because he now knows how to shoot me.

    Also pictured: the lovely Sommer. And me. And, uh, some other guy. Don't get me started on that guy! He's crazy.

    comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    October 26, 2005
    October 26, 2005
    i'm kind of a dope personal

    Ah, mid-week happy hours. They always start out so promisingly, as we sip sherry and discuss the prospects for the coming yachting season. Then all of a sudden I've drunk an ocean of beer, it feels like it's 3AM freshman year, and I've resumed my habit of trying to put the "ass" in "iconoclast". Or at least "bombast".

    Last night's casualties of my ignorance:

    • Piet Mondrian, whose signature work still seems pretty tiresome to me by the light of day. But I forgot that he did stuff like this, which I find genuinely fascinating for reasons that involve torturing cats. Note to self: don't try to talk about art when everyone else at the table knows more about it than you ever will. Next time, try to gently steer the conversation toward TCP/IP networking instead.

    • Feminism, which I grossly insulted by suggesting that more men get arrested for sex crimes than women because the male sex drive is greater. A sane discussion of this question is here, but last night I wasn't very good at expressing reasonable reservations about the "rape is solely about power" conventional wisdom. The spectre of reactionary misogyny hangs over all of these chats — did Andrea Dworkin seem crazy because she was crazy or because I'm a sexist asshole? Tough to say. Deciding to table the question in favor of empanadas was probably the right call.

    • My friends. You guys are troopers. I promise to try not to be such a colossal jerk in the future.

    • Last and least, myself. Today is going to take a turn for the worse when sobriety finally sets in.

    Hurry back, Catherine. I'm not sure that your habit of punching me in the arm actually keeps me from embarassing myself. But when you throw water on Yglesias it really helps to distract folks' attention.

    comments [6] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    October 21, 2005
    October 21, 2005
    downtime personal

    The blog was down for a bit — in fact, it looks like much of the internet was. Everything seems to be better now, though.

    Personally, I'm looking forward to some downtime of my own. Yesterday was exhausting. Getting a haircut after work was enough to make me ready for bed, but I trudged over to City Bikes anyway and took a bunch of test rides before finally settling on this:

    Jamis Coda Sport

    The Jamis Coda Sport. It seems nice enough, and is maybe a little faster than my old bike... but I still miss that thing. It's not just the mountains of filial guilt associated with losing a present from my mom; I'd also gotten very used to it and its quirks. I realize the Jamis's fancy Shimano shifters are classier, but I liked being able to skip up several gears immediately with the old grip shifters. The saddle was a little more comfortable, even after I upgraded the godawful factory default on the Jamis. Most important, of course, is that the old bike was prettier.

    I'm sure I'll adjust. For the record, the City Bikes folks were extremely helpful. I paid a little bit of a premium for buying there, but a year's worth of free tuneups makes it seem worthwhile. Everybody there was very nice and knowledgeable. I guess it's easy to be nice when you know the person you're talking to is about to hand you several hundred dollars, but they actually seemed genuine — the salesgirl who helped me with the bike even walked down to their warehouse to check if they had a larger frame for me, then suggested we race back to the shop when I ran into her on my way back from a test ride. Hijinks! Surely that's worth an extra c-note.

    The whole experience was a pleasant contrast to Big Wheel in Lyon Village, where the customer service ranges from sunny apathy to confrontational recordstore-clerkism. Okay, I have once had a City Bikes mechanic answer an inquiry about a spoke wrench's price by saying, "For you, it'll end up costing a lot because you don't know how to use it." That was a little prickly. But from the looks of him, I'm pretty sure that the guy in question is Alan Moore, and I love his work, so I'll let it slide.

    After fulfilling my duty to consumer culture I headed to DC9 and joined Kriston, Jeremy and Heather to see The Black, of which Jeremy's sister's boyfriend is a member. They played a great set of what I can only characterize as Texas songs. Jeremy and Kriston were in heaven, and I left feeling strangely upbeat for a 25 year-old whose new tendency to get exhausted at 9pm hints strongly at impending lameness.

    And that's how I spent my summer vacation. Now it's time to plan for the weekend. Who wants to crash the Howard University Homecoming?

    comments [5] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    October 17, 2005
    October 17, 2005
    yup, i'm a deadbeat personal

    I really hate getting mail. Sure, when I'm expecting a new lithium-ion powered something or other it's sort of fun, but mostly the mail just brings bad news. Car decal renewal notices. Guilt-laden postcards from mom. And, most recently, collection notices.

    The creditor in question is CogniDial, and they and I have been through this before. I used their cheap phone service to call Catherine when she was in Italy, way back in 2002. They had some sort of automatic billing thing, for which I used a credit card that expired without my noticing. Much later some not-so-nice folks from a collection agency in San Luis Obispo informed me that I owed $45. After some tooth-gnashing, I ponied up the dough.

    It was my fault, but I still made a point of never using their service again. For one thing, I didn't have to make any international calls. For another, I'd hate to be denied a mortgage because of another misunderstanding with some fly-by-night internet telecom.

    Now it's much later, and I'm told I somehow owe them $40some dollars again. I'm starting to seriously consider whether they're just shaking me down. I've left an irked message with the collection people, and an irate one with CogniDial, but what can I do? It's hard to convince nameless functionaries that you don't owe their bosses money. The computer says so, even though I asked not-so-nicely to be removed from the computer after the last fiasco. I had a similar experience in college when my phone started reliably ringing every Saturday morning, then playing a recorded message telling me that I owed money and warning me not to attempt to deny that I was [name other than my own]. Reality eventually helped me win back the right to sleep it off. But this time the only reality is that some people are getting paid to believe that I owe $40, while my own conviction is funded solely by righteous indignation — which is plentiful, but likely to produce poorer results.

    comments [2] trackBack [1] posted by tom - link
    crapside prophet personal

    another day, another spinning class, another crappy musical playlist. highlight of the hour: hmm, it would have to be either that sappy corrs song or the five-minute out-of-the-saddle uphill climb set to jason mraz IN THE DARK. you don't know from inspiring.

    sigh. at least at this point i've gone through most of the instructors so i know which ones aren't likely to cause me to think homicidal spinning thoughts. and i know i bitch a lot about it, but it's such an addictive workout, even if the music is crap and i can't see my water bottle and send it skidding across the studio floor. to wit: i hadn't gone running in a long, long time, but this weekend, after spinning for nearly two weeks, i was able to run five miles in just over 40 minutes. them's results.

    one thing i don't think i'll be doing anytime soon, though: this, which i saw advertised in a poster at the gym. climbing two billion stairs? no thank you.

    comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    fabulous personal

    unrequited narcissism is now the #3 hit on google for "shrinking boobs."

    due to this post. for those who care, the shrinkage seems to have stabilized. if only it would start on the stomach.

    comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    October 16, 2005
    October 16, 2005
    where's my AARP card personal

    this is sure to rankle the cockles (i don't think that even makes sense) of anyone who is above the age of 25, but still: i felt superold tonight. and it is a weird, weird, sensation.

    i was hanging out with my neighbor, his girlfriend and their friend, before i went out to a bar with some friends from school. the neighbor and co are all lovely, lovely people. very nice, funny, etc., and graduated in 2004 from their respective schools. we're all drinking beers, catching the last half of the uva-fsu game (HELL YEAH), and i'm telling the neighbor's girlfriend (whom i had not previously met) about my grad program. she asks me if i went straight from undergrad into graduate school, and i explained that i was three years out of undergrad - spent a year in italy, then two years working in publishing, then came to northwestern. she looks at me and goes, "yeah, i was thinking that you did look a lot older."

    uhh.

    yes, ancient wrinkly catherine, who is rarely at a loss for words, was then at a loss for words. must be my failing 25-year-old memory. sorry, 22-year-old wunderkid. in ALL OF TWO TO THREE YEARS you will understand why i was a little put off.

    comments [5] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    October 12, 2005
    October 12, 2005
    i forgot to shave this morning personal

    Despite this, the farce that is my career has yet to come crashing down around me. But then, it's only 9:40. I'll keep you posted.

    comments [3] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    October 09, 2005
    October 09, 2005
    !@#^%$@!#^%@ personal

    Well, my bike just got stolen. Again. I had locked it up outside of Logan Hardware and gone in to buy some oil for the chain. My cable lock wasn't the most secure in the world, but I couldn't have been inside for more than ten minutes, it was a busy street in the middle of the day, and I locked it to a lamppost that didn't look like it was going anywhere.

    I stalked around the block for 30 minutes or so, literally shaking with anger. Ran into some cops who repeatedly scolded me for not having registered it, then took down my information for the hell of it. I don't particularly like my odds.

    Oh, and did I mention that yesterday my laptop broke? Yeah, one of the fans has died and it now spontaneously shuts down from overheating.

    This has turned into a very expensive weekend.

    UPDATE: Yup, no mercy from the insurance people. And they were jerks on the phone. On the upside, they called me back within 6 hours of my initial phone call. If you value speed over usefulness, Traveler's gets my thumbs-up.

    comments [13] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    October 07, 2005
    October 07, 2005
    a joke involving the word "butt" would be tasteless personal

    As many of you are no doubt aware, some of my so-called friends have recently invented a hurtful new nickname for me. It came about as an intolerant reaction to a personal preference I expressed at our last get-together. A preference which, I should emphasize, I did not choose, but which seems as perfectly natural to me as it seems apalling to others.

    But it's not the nickname that upsets me. If my friends can't accept me for who I am, so be it. I can take it. No, what really galls me is the hypocrisy displayed by my tormentors, as many quietly confided to me in private that they have the same feelings — and, on more than one occasion, indelicately asked me to help them pursue those feelings.

    I can only assume that the abuse being directed at me is born of a profound sense of self-loathing. What are you people afraid of? Being happy? Being yourself? Or can you just not stand the thought of telling dad?

    Well, I hope all you manage to work it out. I really do. But I refuse to be ashamed by the prejudices of your misguided Texan culture. Frankly, I feel sorry for you.

    comments [9] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    a decision has been made personal

    Well, almost. Dell home has the Canon SD400 for $263; they've also got the SD300 for $206. They're both very tiny and are supposed to take pretty good pictures. The difference seems to be a megapixel and perhaps some very slight image quality differences. I think that's enough of a reason for the splurge, although if anyone feels strongly that I'd be better off blowing that $60 on videogames, please let me know.

    UPDATE: I pulled the trigger, and an SD400 should be winging its way to me shortly. And yeah, I went with Dell, despite the warnings. It's true that I've been through lengthy waits getting my orders in the past, but that's the worst Dell-related headache that I've encountered. And I'm not in any hurry.

    comments [4] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    October 05, 2005
    October 05, 2005
    i need a camera personal

    I've coming looking for your wisdom, o great and powerful internet. Since I can no longer borrow Catherine's digital camera without involving Fedex, I think it's time to buy my own. I know that a lot of you are excellent photographers who are experts at this kind of stuff, so I'm hoping you can help cut down on how much of dpreview.com I need to wade through.

    So here's what I'm looking for (besides the obvious stuff like USB2). I'd be grateful for any suggestions you've got.

    • Something that can shoot in low light.

    • Something pocket-sized (I do have a somewhat liberal definition of this).

    • Something that can shoot photos in medium-to-quick succession.

    • Something that produces pretty good pictures without expert knowledge — but also something with enough options to keep a one-semester-of-high-school-photo wannabe like myself from blowing my savings on a digital SLR in two months.

    • Something that, ideally, costs less than $350. Cheaper is better, and if there's a last-gen camera that's worthwhile and can be had for $150, I'll opt for that.

    • Extra bonus point: something that can take a lithium ion OR AA/AAA batteries. This is pretty unimportant, though.

    • Extra extra bonus point: something with accessories that'll let it talk to my PDA, either via bluetooth or some other interface (in case I feel the need to blow additional money).

    Anybody have any suggestions? I'm guessing 3 or 4 megapixels are enough to keep me happy. But if someone can make a case for a higher-res camera that eschews optical zoom for decent digital (and is consequently smaller), I could be convinced.

    comments [10] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    September 21, 2005
    September 21, 2005
    throw money at the problem personal

    This would make for a pretty tidy Halloween costume solution. But buying it readymade seems like kind of a copout. Plus it's a little pricey, and likely to get pricier.

    comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    September 19, 2005
    September 19, 2005
    back home personal

    As you might have guessed, I'm back from Chicago. And for all the snark and bitching previous posts about the city have contained, I was really charmed by it. Apparently great things can happen when millions of people decide to huddle together for warmth. Everywhere we went seemed totally unpretentious and welcoming, and I came away much more excited by the town than I was after my previous weekend-long trip (during which I had just enough time to note the Chi-town cliches, then go home).

    Catherine's neighborhood seems like a great place to live, and I felt at home right away. I'm pretty much counting on a godawful winter to send her scurrying home to DC in a year's time.

    However, I still maintain that scripted comedy is innately superior to improv.

    comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    September 12, 2005
    September 12, 2005
    take that, you fucking swedes personal

    hemnes dresser

    This is how I spent Sunday morning after dropping Catherine off at her parents' house. I have conquered HEMNES. I'm like, a craftsman, or something.

    Seriously though, I'm starting to really enjoy putting this crap together. Last year's GOLIAT corner desk was... traumatizing. But now I'm thinking about sending my resume to these people. I think this must be what Thomas Friedman means when he says American workers should respond to globalism by learning new skills.

    comments [10] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    September 09, 2005
    September 09, 2005
    how i'll spend my bummer's duration personal

    Catherine is leaving for Chicago on Sunday, and as you might expect I'm pretty depressed about it. I'll be at her new digs Wednesday-Sunday to work by remote and help her get settled, but that's really just prolonging the emotional bandaid peeling. We've been together since October 2000, and although we've agreed that the coming year's vaguely-defined mutual independence will be good for us in vaguely-defined ways, it's still going to be a major shock. There's no getting around the fact that in less than 48 hours I will most likely begin transforming back into an antisocial weirdo.

    But don't worry about me. I've got three things working in my favor. First, lingering embarassment over how I conducted myself after my last mandatory girlfriend-evacuation, which occurred in high school and was truly and utterly pathetic. Second, Kriston's stoic example as he deals with a similar but worse situation — this will also hopefully keep a lid on my own expressions of self-pity. And third: a plan.

    MORE...
    comments [13] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    September 08, 2005
    September 08, 2005
    lawyers: always trying to brighten your day personal

    You know what I love? Getting email from lawyers. And people who work in law offices. Okay, when Charles was working for a PD's office they weren't all that amusing — just his regular "yes", or "ok i will take care of it" or, most often, icy silence.

    But folks who work for bigger firms put a little something extra beneath their happy hour RSVPs. Usually it's something like this:

    RECEIPT OF THIS COMMUNICATION IS INTENDED FOR ITS INTENDED RECIPIENT. PURSUANT TO SOME FEDERAL ACT OF LET'S SAY 1975, IF YOU HAVE RECEIVED THIS MESSAGE IN ERROR YOU ARE IN VIOLATION OF A NUMBER OF IMPORTANT STATUTES. BETTER LAWYER UP, SON. ALSO, PRINT OUT AS MANY COPIES AS POSSIBLE AND DESTROY THEM. EXCEPT, OOO, COME TO THINK OF IT YOU PROBABLY SHOULDN'T HAVE PRINTED THOSE. ACTUALLY THAT PROBABLY JUST MADE THINGS A LOT WORSE. BEFORE IT WAS JUST GONNA BE A FINE, BUT NOW THEY'RE GONNA TAKE YOUR HOUSE. YOUR FUCKING HOUSE, DUDE. SUCKS.

    The idea that I could have somehow entered into a binding contract by virtue of receiving an email is so ludicrous — so transparently composed of gilded bullshit — that I know the sender can't possibly mean it, and that it's just there to give me a chuckle.

    Also, the idea that someone has drafted a hundred-word footer to ensure their email's confidentiality rather than, you know, taking any technical steps at all to ensure that message's confidentiality... Well, it just makes me smile. Thanks, guys!

    comments [2] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    September 06, 2005
    September 06, 2005
    if you can't beat em, pwn em personal

    Catherine and I headed to the Nats game tonight. And though they lost to the dastardly Marlins, it was too nice a night for us to mind all that much. Plus we ran into Tom from DCMetblogs.

    20050906_natsgame.jpg

    And on that internet-related note, I'll mention that there was a wireless network in RFK tonight with the SSID of "Marlins" (yes, I am a huge dork). If I had to guess, I'd say that tonight's visiting team owns one of these, that a fan could scan the attached machines with this, then find an exploit within this (using this). All of which would allow for proper vengeance to be exacted upon the hated, hated Marlins. That'd teach them to be better than us at sports, right? Right.

    comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    August 15, 2005
    August 15, 2005
    vermont on my mind personal

    back from vermont, safe and sound! i'm trying to upload some pictures for your viewing pleasure, but goddamn photoshop keeps crashing my computer. i'll get them up later today.

    vermont was nice, to be sure. the wedding was gorgeous - a plain white church on a wooded hill overlooking an incredibly lush valley, a tent and tables set up for the reception in a bright green field. the ceremony was lovely (although the somewhat elderly lady playing the piano/harpsichord played half the notes in a stuttered minor key, unintentionally, so that i was halfway in a fit of giggles as the bride and groom walked down the aisle to this lady's own personal rendition of "here comes the bride, totally out of tune."), the reception food was good, and i got a nice buzz going off all the magic hat. unfortunately it rained, loads, all sunday, so we didn't get out to enjoy the countryside. we caught "me and you and everyone we know" and read books in the 300 year-old house that tommy's relatives live in now (they also make lots of yummy organic food there; their quesadillas are to die for). other highlights included a mad run on the burlington bars on saturday night, an excellent sushi dinner, and the requisite stop at ben & jerry's.

    there is one negative to vermont that i encountered, and it is this: approximately 75% of their cabbies are batshit insane. the hotel we were staying at was kind of out of the way, so tommy, his sister beth, her boyfriend adam and i had to take quite a few of them. the very first cabbie tommy and i encountered was an incredibly nice bostonian lady who picked us up at the airport and was meant to take us to the indian house, where we were meeting everybody for the rehearsal dinner. unfortunately, despite her being the friendliest lady in the world, she did not have an effing clue where she was going, the fact notwithstanding that downtown burlington is approximately 3 blocks large. highlights of the ride included stopping to ask for directions THREE TIMES (one of which she made me do because i was closer to the poor, unaware pedestrian) and arriving to the dinner an hour late. thanks, cab lady.

    the second crazy cabbie was a more serious and tragic case, and i hate to make light of it, because it was so sad, but at the same time, this dude was totally bonkers. tommy, beth, adam and i piled into a cab at the hotel with the intention of meeting a bunch of people at a downtown wine bar and getting saturday night, post-wedding, started. as soon as we all got in the car, the cabbie asked how we were all doing. oh, fine, fine, we said, how are you?

    him: well, i just found out i might have cancer. and i'm telling it to the world.

    us: shocked silence, manage to emit a few feeble murmurs of consolation.

    him: yup, my dad died of it, my mom died of it three months ago, and it looks like it's my turn now, doesn't it?

    tommy, who got stuck up front: nodding, mutters something about "you gotta be positive," all the while darting his head around, wild-eyed, so that he looks for all the world like he's trying to figure out if leaping out of a 50 mile an hour cab would be a good idea.

    him: well, i guess i'm goin' on to something better, ya know? *gets vaguely cut off by somebody on highway and suddenly transforms into cabbie of doom* "HEY, FUCK YOU, BUDDY. goddammit, i swear to god, nobody can FUCKING DRIVE. just the other day, this - and no offense to you ladies *gesturing to me and beth in the back seat* - but this DUMB BITCH cuts me off, and this bitch does NOT KNOW what she's doing. NOBODY can drive, these fuckers. MY GOD.

    us: nodding vigorously, yeah, you were totally cut off. dumb bitches sure can't drive. also, please don't kill us. we just want to drink us some fine vermont beer tonight.

    him (under breath, driving a little erratically): well, i'd rather die in a goddamn car crash than of cancer, that's for sure.

    us: uhhhhh. immediately we all simultaneously open our car doors and do tuck somersaults out of the cab so as to avoid dying in the obvious murder suicide car crash which is coming our way.

    just kidding. we make it alright to the bar, hurriedly wish the cabbie our best, and take off and drink copious amounts of alcohol to erase the entire terrifying event from our minds. sorry, cabbie dude. i hope you got good news instead of what you were expecting.

    comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    August 12, 2005
    August 12, 2005
    finito personal

    well, i'm done with work. i had lovely coworkers, and a nice office atmosphere, and i'll miss it, but i'm too excited about northwestern to be very sad.

    anyway, here's to a month full of debauchery! susan and i both realized last night that we'll have at least a week where we're both a) unemployed b) bored out of our minds and c) hankering for some alcohol. so we decided we'll be all "ladies who lunch" next week, except it's more like "bloggers who get drunk and fall over and terrorize the city." you know how it is.

    comments [3] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    August 08, 2005
    August 08, 2005
    i mean it in a good way personal

    When I read this I couldn't help wondering how Jon's doing.

    comments [6] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    August 03, 2005
    August 03, 2005
    things that suck about sanding the deck personal
    1. Uneven boards! The job is doomed to be half-assed, regardless of the proportion of ass devoted to it.

    2. A belt sander is just about the wussiest kind of power tool out there. It's not at all satisfying to use.

    3. The belt slides around the sander, requiring constant adjustment. If I stop paying attention the belt begins to shred in a shower of sparks. Which is, surprisingly, still not at all satisfying.

    4. I'm a renter, so hey: now I'm throwing money and sweat down the drain.

    5. The arsenic- and diesel-infused dust I accidentally inhaled has made my lymph nodes swell up and my throat sore.

    6. This is all just a prelude to staining the whole goddamn thing.

    7. Everything not listed above.
    comments [2] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    July 25, 2005
    July 25, 2005
    also personal

    Pennsylvania local news is great. A teaser featured an anchor asking, "gas prices got you using regular instead of the recommended premium?", thereby portraying a wildly inaccurate idea of what you're supposed to put in your car; their intro to a piece on the $100 cheesesteak actually referred to its purchasers as "suckers"; and an elderly woman being interviewed about a watermain break noted that during a surgery she had died on the table twice. "So how bad could it [the watermain break] be?"

    All of this within the first ten minutes. Awesome.

    comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    i'm a pennsylvaniac! personal

    Okay, not really. But things are fine here. The job is manageable, the food is cheap, and the clients are pretty nice. The guy I'm working with is particularly cool -- lots of tattoos, piercings, and pictures of his cute six year old daughter in various vaguely punk-rock poses.

    The hotel's not too bad, either, as these things go. The clerk seemed awfully upset at us for callously having forced his coworker to misbook our room, but they were ctually handing out free beer when we came in. That's a pretty good pace to set for yourself. Unfortunately, I eschewed the beer in favor of a trip to the hotel gym. Obviously this was a stupid, stupid mistake. The ancient rusty all-in-one machines in these places never work anything except my rotator cuffs. They, at least, got put through the paces.

    The only really noteworthy thing about this place, though, is the smell. Or smells. Okay, sometimes they're predictable -- the wing with the pool stinks overpoweringly of chlorine. And frequently they're variations on a theme -- the hallway smells like old people; the other hallway smells like another, different old person; and the bathroom smells like feet (possibly a pair belonging to an old person). But there are odd wildcards... was someone baking oatmeal cookies in the gym? And did Mr. Kool-Aid drink fruit punch wine coolers in my microwave until he got violently sick? It's all very mysterious. But seeing as I have to be at work by 7:30 tomorrow, I don't have much time to investigate.

    comments [7] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    July 19, 2005
    July 19, 2005
    roooooad triiiiiip! personal

    Next week I get to spend two days in lovely Bethlehem, Pa, for work (we'll be setting out around 4:30 on Monday). Anybody have any suggestions for how to best use my time there? Besides what I'll actually end up doing, I mean (surfing the internet in my hotel room).

    Fun facts:

    • Bethlehem is known as "The Christmas City"
    • It has two websites
    • That is all

    comments [4] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    July 14, 2005
    July 14, 2005
    mystery texter personal

    just received a mystery SMS from a phone number i don't recognize, saying i should go to a happy hour tomorrow at buffalo billiards, because this person is moving to boston in a month...who are you, mystery texter?

    comments [3] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    July 13, 2005
    July 13, 2005
    there's no 'i' in 'jesus' personal

    The Nabob spins a tale of arranged weddings, tumultuous religious instruction, and a little blacksmithing. You should go read it.

    But I mention this because I, too, had problems with Sunday School. I think my mistake was assuming that my newlywed teachers were somehow being forced to be there, the same way I was. Not so. Turns out they were just really really earnest.

    So we ended up having occasional personality conflicts. One that springs to mind started with a particularly weird exercise they had us perform involving a piece of sandpaper and a cube of balsa wood. "Sand it into a sphere!" they said. The unstated goal was to make everyone end up with a shitty, asymmetric orb-thing. This was somehow supposed to make a point about human fallibility.

    But, unfortunately for them, I am an awesome sander, and I ended up with a balsa ball that, as near as anyone in the class's imperfect human eyes could tell, was a perfect sphere.

    Then I ran around the classroom telling everyone that my wooden ball was Jesus. That didn't go over too well.

    The teachers eventually cornered my parents in the parking lot and, from what I managed to overhear, complained about my distinct lack of piousness. To their eternal credit, my parents never said a word about it to me.

    comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    July 07, 2005
    July 07, 2005
    for kanishka personal

    Er... they're fine. Thanks for asking.

    Related.

    actually related, because I feel guilty about being a sarcastic jackass.

    comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    boobie awareness day at unrequited narcissism personal

    first off, my thoughts are with all the people affected by the london terrorist attacks. it seems utterly insane and surreal for some reason.

    second off, it all may seem even more utterly insane and surreal than it would because i am rocking some pretty awesome painkillers. i had the boob cuttage surgery today, and everything appeared to go well. i was prepped at sibley hospital for a couple of hours, got an IV, hung out in a more-billowy-than-necessary hospital gown with totally sweet peagreen hospital-issued socks with rubber tracking on the bottom, then was promptly put into "twilight sleep" by the anasteialalaogogist, or however you spell that. woke up an hour later with a big old bandage under my right breast, feeling woozy but good.

    i feel very lucky to have had this matter nearly resolved in under a month. did you know that if my mom (who, for those of you who didn't know and were wondering why a 25 year old was freaking out about breast cancer, had premenopausal, extremely advanced breast cancer nearly 10 years ago that was misdiagnosed for several months) wasn't the most hooked up breast cancer lady in all of DC, that i wouldn't have even had a mammogram or ultrasound until THE END OF JULY (after dealing with the lump in mid-june)? but thanks to her and her wonderful, kind breast specialist doctor colette magnant, i had an exam, ultrasound, and surgery within two weeks or so. this is apparently not usually the case.

    really, it's kind of ridiculous. i was reading planned obsolescence a while back. she's a late-30s woman (i believe) with family history of the disease, and when she ran into some problems, it was SIX WEEKS until she could get a mammogram (everything turned out fine). i thought if you were any sort of woman with a family history of breast cancer, people were THROWING mammograms at you, and, like, running you down in the street with mammogram vans. wtf? i feel kind of idiotic and like the whole situation is unfair. i'm young and very likely there is nothing wrong with me, but because my mom is a warrior and knows how to work her way around the system and has a phonebook full of important contacts like oncologists and surgeons, i was lucky enough have attention paid to me and to not have to stress out for several months. whereas older women, who very may well have something wrong with them but who have never been in this situation before, have to wait weeks, even months, to even figure out if that lump they feel is benign or something that will change their lives forever.

    it is bullshit, frankly. i feel like much of the time, women who feel a lump or a change in their breasts want to believe that nothing is wrong, so when they get put off by doctors or scheduling problems, they'll merely go along with it and try to forget what is happening. well, you shouldn't. you should be the bitchiest, most persistent patient that you can be. ask for early morning or late evening appointments. emphasize any family history of breast or ovarian cancer (especially if it is premenopausal). seriously. be a huge bitch. KF from planned obsolence wrote this in the comments of her mammogram post:

    Thanks so much, all of you, for the good thoughts. I’m fairly sure everything’s fine, and that I just need to get the cystic thing under control, but the entire experience just reminds me (as Kari and I discussed here) how much I hate getting jacked around by the medical profession. There’s an arrogance in too many practitioners that insists that you, lowly patient, are in no place to ask questions or to demand more from your doctor than the five-minute listen-to-the-chest and blood draw every other year, because (a) you couldn’t possibly understand, and (b) I don’t have time for this. That’s bad enough in and of itself, but coupled with a too-frequent inability to actually diagnose what’s going on, and a total lack of concern about patient pain or anxiety, it just sends me up a tree. Grrrr.

    and it's something i totally agree with. i'm lucky enough to have had wonderful doctors, and in this case, a woman who has been seeing my mother for ten years, but i realize that is rarely the case. no matter how offputting or dismissive a doctor may be, if you feel like something is wrong or has changed, make sure they know it and deal with it.

    oh yeah, and also, you ladies out there: FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, do self-breast exams! once a month, 2-3 days after your cycle. even if you're young. you should get very familiar with how you feel so that if anything changes you will know immediately. and don't think because you haven't had family history that breast cancer won't be a possibility. no one on my mother's side of the family had breast cancer before she did. just, you know, be aware. lumps aren't the only indicator of cancer. sometimes, there aren't lumps at all. unusual breast pain, rashes, inverted nipples and discharge are all something that should be examined by your gynecologist asap.

    sorry for the stern, matronly attitude towards this, and sorry, boys, for how totally awkward and weird it must be to think about boobies in medical ways. especially on a blog that is either talking celebrity shit or is drunk. but this is important stuff, stuff i've been dealing with since i was 15 and stuff i will deal with for the rest of my life. only recently have i realized how uninformed young women can be about this topic, from talking to friends and reading stories on blogs. i mean, you love your boobs, right? as well you should. so take care of them!

    comments [12] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    June 30, 2005
    June 30, 2005
    some groundrules personal

    I saw Land of the Dead on Tuesday with Kriston, Matt, Eric, Jeremy and Sam. Pretty good flick -- it's always nice to see the proletariat demand justice, even if they are mainly comprised of ambling corpses. Also, it reminded me a lot of my favorite hyper-violent anime movie, Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust. Zombies, aristocrats and awesomeness are among the many shared themes. Somebody should make somebody else write an essay about it.

    But I have to ask -- if the apocalypse came and you were to find yourself struggling to survive in a wasted landscape teeming with ravenous undead, would you maybe ratchet down the personal affectations? I mean, eschewing an automatic weapon for a bolt-action rifle I can sort of understand. And the single-shot harpoon gun that has to be manually reloaded -- okay. Probably wouldn't be my choice, but whatever. But rolling around on a skateboard? Come on now. I know that self-expression is an important and wonderful thing, but we have to draw the line somewhere. Your rebellious anti-establishment aesthetic seems to be ignoring the fact that there's no longer any actual establishment to rebel against.

    So look people, if you and I ever happen to find ourselves in the same ragtag bunch of survivors, fighting to stay alive amidst an ocean of the walking dead, I am going to have to insist on a few things. No monocles. No unnecessary walking sticks. Please refrain from using tobacco products that require two hands or a lot of attention to light. And -- I cannot stress this enough -- please respect the buddy system.

    comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    June 29, 2005
    June 29, 2005
    decisions, decisions personal

    my dilemma on this particular day: to buy or not to buy these lovely black leather flat-heeled boots from bruno magli. internal debate follows:

    no: boots cost $200
    yes: boots are actually 50% off, and will revert back to even more cost-prohibitive state come friday.

    no: idiot, you own 1700 pairs of boots
    yes: but none of them are flat-heeled. you need a different heel for every occasion, you see. duh.

    no: you really can't afford these, you really don't need these, and you are just feeling sorry for yourself because you are going to have part of your boob cut out at a date yet to be determined.
    yes: you are going to have part of your boob cut out at a date yet to be determined. boob cuttage. good enough, i think. (don't worry, it's mostly likely nothing and is 90% being done just to reassure me that it is, indeed, likely nothing. but still. that other 10%, plus family history, plus my general anxiety levels=not fun. plus, BOOB CUTTING. and i have really lovely boobs. i mean, i like to think so. it doesn't help that they've been felt up and down by, like, sixteen women in the past two weeks. trust me, it's not hot.)

    anyway, will update you on forthcoming decision (and of course, later on on the boob cutting thing). i think self-pity and bootlust will win out on this one.

    UPDATE: aaaand, the boots are MINE. photos of them to come once they are delivered, along with photos of the awesome mixer that tommy bought me last week, because i am the most spoiled person on earth and he is the best boyfriend ever (except now he is able to demand that i bake cookies for him at the drop of a hat).

    comments [7] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    pity programming personal

    During my freshman summer I took a job as an intern at a family friend's DC-area dot-com company. I learned about web programming and databases, and with the motley crew of 7 or 8 fulltime employees, indulged the founder's dreams of internet glory. Alan, a prolific but messy programmer, shat out millions of lines of code that no one else tracked or read. The servers quickly became littered with half-finished auction, mass mail, spot market, survey, bulletin board and other applications. Various business associations were lined up -- look, bakers! You can buy flour from each other! Look, asphalt manufacturers! You can share your thoughts on asphalt production! It's only 1998, and it's ALREADY THE FUTURE.

    I came back the next summer, and the next. The staff swelled, then shrank, then shrank some more. Alan left. A room in the office was sublet to someone else, then all of the rooms but two. Then the office moved to the end of the metro. At no point did the underlying code change, except to be given a new coat of electronic paint. The same shitty technology -- now also hopelessly outdated -- was bundled together with tape and marketed to clueless and/or deeply corrupt foreign nationals passing through Washington with an eye toward blowing their country's economic development budget.

    Now, every 8 or 12 months, I get urgent, ego-stroking phone calls asking me to fix things. There hasn't been an actual programmer on staff in several years. It's always something incredibly urgent, with a short timeframe -- having tried to sell the client on not really needing, say site search for the last couple of months, they've grown anxious.

    I really hate being put in this position. He knows I'm grateful for being given a start, and that I know the systems, and that I'm available on the ad-hoc basis that lets him continue to limp along. I know I'm being taken advantage of, and it pisses me off. But how do you tell a family friend, kinda-smarmy though he may be, that it's long since time to flush his company down the toilet? That his technical assets are worthless, and he has no one on staff with knowledge of any technologies less than a decade old. They're still running Windows NT, for god's sake.

    Sigh. I guess it's time to write a stern "ok, but this is really the last time" email. I'm such a goddamn sucker. Maybe if I refuse to take any money for it he'll get the message.

    comments [4] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    June 28, 2005
    June 28, 2005
    wildman personal

    Hmm. Roommate at the baseball game. Girlfriend gone for the evening. Entertainment options that immediately present themselves:

    • Programming!
    • Drink beer. Learn humility from Halo, then quickly forget it and scream at 14 year olds.
    • Go see that new zombie movie.
    • Use my newly-arrived external hard drive to redo a Linux install.

    This is harder than you'd think.

    comments [8] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    June 27, 2005
    June 27, 2005
    buy me some peanuts and $6 beer personal

    this weekend, if you can believe it, i went to both (both!) nats games at RFK stadium and totally, thoroughly enjoyed myself, even though we lost on sunday. i think baseball game attending will be my new summer hobby. forget the fact that i know zero about the sport and couldn't name two players on the d.c. team - for $10 a ticket, it's better than an in-theater movie, *and* you can get drunk off of your face!

    my only question is this (and perhaps those more well-versed in stadium and baseball talk can provide me the answer): what's wrong with RFK, and why must we build a new stadium? RFK seems lovely. it's super easy to get to on the metro or by driving (from my three-game experience). replace some of the seats, move the outfield in a bit closer so not as to waste so much space back there, and maybe spruce up a bit of other stuff. put in more ATMs, for sure. anything else? i don't know. maybe i'm an idiot. but it seems like a nice place to me. which might be because i'm tipsy every time i go there.

    UPDATE: it has been proved, in an 18-point manifesto by scott in the comments, that i am indeed a drunk idiot when it comes to suggesting that RFK is a decent stadium. but then again, y'all already knew that.

    comments [11] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    June 24, 2005
    June 24, 2005
    wasp update personal

    Giant supplied a tetramethrin-based spray that claimed to go 22 feet. Also, the tetramethrin sprays weren't the ones labelled "environmentally friendly" -- the eco-conscious bug spray was made out of patchouli, or the sweat of yogis meditating on wasp removal, or something. With its cheerful green and brown cannister, it didn't make a very convincing case. I don't want the wasps to see it and think "what a beautifully cylindrical patch of ground!" No, I want them to think "the legends are true -- the doombringer has come". And I think the black and orange can of Raid I got accomplished that task nicely.

    And yes, I did deploy the poison prior to retrieving the tea, and yes, I am drinking my first glass of it right now. But c'mon -- the jar was loosely covered. It'll be fine.

    comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    June 23, 2005
    June 23, 2005
    stay calm personal

    I don't want to alarm anyone... but we have wasps. I want to stress that you should not panic. Stay in your homes and places of business, and go about your daily activities. But at this point I am going to have to elevate our wasp terror alert status to orange, or: "oh shit! wasps!"

    I wouldn't say we've got an infestation, but there's definitely a cloud of a few dozen of these flying jerks hanging around the end of our deck. They're up to something, and my bet is that they're thinking about building a nest.

    On the upside, mankind's anti-wasp arsenal has advanced much faster than our relatively sucky anti-ant technology. You've probably seen cans of wasp spray in the supermarket but never bought one. But did you know that these cans are regularly designed to shoot their poison in a twenty foot stream? If you did, I bet you would've bought more. Come on, that sounds like fun.

    Check this stuff out. I know what you're thinking: "Green Chem? How's that supposed to kill any wasps, much less make the environment uninhabitable for future wasp generations?" Fair enough. But it's made out of something called "tetramethrin". That sure doesn't sound environmentally friendly.

    Also, allow me to direct your attention to the fact that in addition to launching itself twenty feet at the slightest bidding (and sometimes without, to keep the wasps off-guard), this particular chemical has a dieletric breakdown voltage in excess of twenty-five thousand volts! That seems like a lot. Unless these wasps are unusually powerfully ionized (always possible), I don't like their chances.

    The trick is going to be rescuing the jar of sun tea I have brewing underneath Wasp Central prior to the deployment of poison. Or I could just aim extra carefully. And afterward, maybe try to drink the potentially-tainted tea extra fast, so as to minimize my exposure. Yeah. Something like that.

    Anyway, you can see that a plan is emerging. Don't worry about anything. Continue to shop and patronize restaurants. But if in the next few days you call us and the phone line is picked up, but all you hear is a strange buzzing... well, maybe drive by with your windows up before trying the door.

    comments [2] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    June 17, 2005
    June 17, 2005
    HELP personal

    is anybody out there who reads this blog an accountant? or a sorta-accountant?

    because i could use your help.

    it has to do with the D.C. government telling me i owe them $1500. and me drinking a lot of vodka in response. i don't need help with the vodka part, though.

    i turned to my mother, but this was her thought: "the D.C. government is a BUNCH OF IDIOTS. you CANNOT FATHOM THEM. you NEVER SHOULD HAVE MOVED TO THAT CITY! your credity history WILL BE RUUUUUINNNNNED OH MY SWEET CHILD."

    so, yeah. i could use a bit of advice.

    comments [7] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    June 16, 2005
    June 16, 2005
    i almost forgot! personal

    Charles has been adding to his impressive array of musical talents by learning the piano, and he has his first recital tonight. Coincidentally, Jeff's younger brother Henry goes to the same teacher; he'll be playing at the recital, too.

    Mercy is for the weak, Charles.

    comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    which is less comprehensible? personal

    This or this?

    comments [5] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    June 15, 2005
    June 15, 2005
    running is hard personal

    I'm not much of a runner. The first time I can remember going for a serious, self-motivated, coach-isn't-making-me run was my freshman year in college, when I decided to give the gym across from my dorm a try. After lurching a pathetically slow mile I staggered off the treadmill in a daze. Then my nose spontaneously started to bleed. That pretty much set the tone for my running career.

    MORE...
    comments [8] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    June 14, 2005
    June 14, 2005
    finally, a rigorous quantification of cuteness personal

    Catherine is sitting next to me looking at pictures of kittens, barely able to speak from the sheer cuteness of it all. I mean that literally: I've seen her catch a glance at a particularly adorable puppy and just stammer for a moment before finally squeezing out a complete English word.

    But with her it's not just conventional cute. Sure, the fat babies and kittens in ribbons will get a rise out of her, but it goes beyond that. And I think that examining the cuteness outliers provides a fascinating insight into the Catherinean mind.

    So, some examples:

    1. These kittens linked to from the Flickr blog. She thinks these things are cute as hell; I think they're missing a chromosome. I mean c'mon -- check out this shot. Something isn't right.
    2. Rusty the narcoleptic Daschund. Okay, I'll admit this is cute. I'm just building my case.
    3. Fainting Goats -- these pygmy goats' legs lock up when they get scared, making them fall over. It's pretty funny, but cute? I don't know.

    So, what have we got here? Personally, I think a clear pattern emerges: if it's tiny and infirm, Catherine will think it's adorable (also, if it's a musically talented British man weighing less than 130lbs, but that's not strictly relevant to this discussion).

    Tiny and infirm. I can only imagine the reaction that an infant on teeny tiny baby crutches would get out of her. Does anyone know if they make cards like that?

    comments [3] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    sgt. cole personal

    Thanks to Jeff sending it to me, I can now encourage you to go check out our buddy Scott's AnySoldier page. Don't be frightened by the gruff guy chomping on a cigar and flashing a US flag that greets you when you follow the link. Sure, you could accurately call Scott "Sarge". And yes, he could kill you with his bare hands. But he's a nice guy, and a medic besides, so he'd probably be willing to resuscitate you if you asked nicely.

    Although he's technically stationed in Italy, at the moment Scott's deployed to Afghanistan -- and writing about the experience whenever he can. It's fascinating reading, if occasionally unsettling.

    And hey, if you've got a yen to mend your liberal America-hating ways and send some stuff overseas, Scott's got a list of stuff that the locals and the guys in his unit would appreciate receiving. I'm going to try to get a package together in the next couple of weeks if anyone wants to piggy-back with that. The slurpee machine thing is a particularly tempting engineering challenge...

    comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    June 13, 2005
    June 13, 2005
    second city personal

    Well, like Catherine said, our weekend was great. Good friends, nice weather, and plenty of wine -- nothing to complain about there.

    I really liked Chicago, but I came away feeling that it's got a serious branding problem. You know that guy in college who suddenly decides he needs an "in", and tries a little too hard to manufacture a unique identity? Overnight, he becomes, let's say, "that juggling guy". And juggling is fine, and actually pretty great when performed at a very high level. But come on, is that really going to be your whole shtick? The rest of us just kind of wanted to hang out. And I was going to eat that orange you just took.

    Chicago, you're like that. You're really a great city, and you have a lot to offer. It's just that sometimes it seems like you try a little too hard. Improv comedy and deep dish pizza are both perfectly nice, but give it a rest already. It's okay to just be you. I know Seattle's got coffee and rain, and San Francisco's got the gays, and New York's got everything and being a jerk about it. But let's face facts: deep dish is basically just a lazy man's lasagna, bad improv ala the American Whose Line Is It Anyway makes people like me want to murder-suicide everyone on stage, and the whole Blues Brothers thing is too detestable for words.

    Also, what's up with this whole "second city" thing? Isn't that a bit defeatist? At least stop putting dual antennae on top of all your skyscrapers. It's like the whole skyline is proudly proclaiming "we're number two!" You've gotta dare to dream, Chicago.

    I suggest getting back to your strengths. You've got the whole wind thing -- that's nice and abstract (if a bit effete). How about a kite festival? And you should totally name your new WNBA team after it. Oh, and the Cubs! Let's not forget them. Now that the Red Sox are tragically successful, you've got America's #1 hapless baseball team. It's adorable.

    And of course there's the El. The soothing clacking; the infinitely painted-over ironwork in the stations; Charles is right: it's exactly like riding The Grizzly at King's Dominion. You should sell tickets! Oh. Right. Well, maybe getting some funnel cake stands and guys wandering around dressed up as Klingons would help draw the crowds.

    Finally, you've got Lake Michigan. I'll be honest with you: I think "great" is overselling it. Nonetheless, it's a pretty good lake, and you should run with it. You just need a good slogan to sell it -- something snappy and assertive. How about, "All the lake, none of the Mormons"?

    comments [6] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    ritornata personal

    back from a fun if whirlwind weekend in chicago, where tommy and i hung out with charles, his family (including his sister, who graduated from uchicago - congratulations johanna!) and mssr. nye. twas fun, if excruciatingly hot and humid - almost worse than normal d.c. summers. please lord tell me that isn't normally the case with chicago summers. if so i think i will melt and die, because it is just not fair that in addition to much more terrible winters, i will get summers that are the equivalent to those of d.c., which are so awful they make you want to wear clothing made out of ice cubes and electrical fans. anyway, the apartment search continues - it's just too early, i guess, for me to find a place for september 1. all the places i called and harassed told me to check back in late july, so i wouldn't be surprised if i have to make another trip back to the windy city to find a 400sq ft abode of joy. and a cat. did i tell you i'm getting a cat? i'm so going to do this to it all the time. (PS - to buddies who live in chicago that i did not contact to tell of my arrival, don't take it personally. we had a full schedule with graduation-related stuff, and, like, i'm moving there in a few months, so you can see me then all you ever wanted.)

    so. i obviously have nothing interesting to say, so here are some links!

    -gopnik hits the biennale in venice

    -an article on development in U street (courtesy of matt; be sure to read his commentary as well); article only serves to underscore the fact that I WILL NEVER EVER OWN REAL ESTATE IN THIS CITY UNLESS I BECOME A HIGH CLASS HOOKER

    -five things you didn't know you could track with RSS (some of them i did know, like packages and weather, but i didn't realize you could do tv listings and library info as well. soon you'll be able to track EVERYTHING with rss, including a) people who have crushes on you b) your mortal enemies and c) puppies

    -bob mould talks to billboard about his new album and tour

    -beep thrills - a city paper article from last week about a series of mysterious beeps in a man's falls church home and the internet cult that originated in order to find them.

    “You couldn’t tell where it was coming from,” said the 28-year-old Byrnes. “You’d go to one place and say, ‘It’s coming from across the room.’ Then you’d go over there and the sound would come from where you were just standing.”

    When the beeps first began, Byrnes stood under every smoke detector in the house to listen for the telltale screech of a dying battery. He also gathered a group of friends and positioned them in various strategic spots, hoping to triangulate the beeping. But everybody pointed in a different direction. His experimental side exhausted, Byrnes finally decided to try to ignore the new soundtrack to his life.

    “It’s really a testament to my apathy,” he says.

    When the power went off on his block in February and the neighborhood sat in silence, Byrnes was at home, blanketed with beeping.

    Byrnes’ beep-enriched existence might have continued ad infinitum if not for his impending wedding to Lindsay Moss. His betrothed was not a fan of the beeping. Moss issued a directive: Fix the beep by June 17, her prospective move-in date. “I told him I wasn’t going to move in if it was still beeping, but the reality is that I would have anyway,” she says. “I was going to be on his ass every day until he figured it out.”

    comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    June 10, 2005
    June 10, 2005
    southside outside westside let's ride personal  - photos

    That's right: the above lyric is from a mobile phone commercial. Which should tell you something about my knowledge of rap. My knowledge of Chicago is pretty similar -- I've been here once before, but I was what, twelve? I went to the top of a big building, I stayed in a nice hotel, and I ate a pizza that was thiiiiis big. Well, this time I plan to pretty much do the same thing. But I'll be drinking more.

    After Catherine and I got in and rendezvoused with the rest of the crowd we grabbed Charles and split off, then wandered around the city a bit. We had some authentic Chicagoan Potbelly sandwiches (the deep-dish comes tonight); bought the requisite spirit-crushing graduation card (we're here to see Charles' little sister Jo get her BA); and went to the top of the Hancock Building and had high-priced drinks in a high-class, high-positioned bar among our decidedly low-class tourist peers. Tank tops and hairy shoulders abounded; for maybe the third time in my life I counted as relatively well-dressed without there being an affianced or dead person nearby.

    But now our room is ready, so we've retreated into the AC. Also, there are beers and seats here. And after getting 4 hours of sleep the previous night, I'm ready to take it easy. There's drinking and eating to be done soon, after all. We need our rest.

    the river

    But we did see some sights, and here's one of them. It's a river of some sort, maybe? Let me know if I'm dishing out Chicago trivia too quickly. My cameraphone didn't seem to capture this, but it seemed pretty green already -- do you guys really need to dump thousands of gallons of dye into it every year just to make it marginally greener?

    comments [4] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    June 08, 2005
    June 08, 2005
    you might be a detestable yuppie phoney if...* personal

    You leave a good rock show at a cool bar because you can't wait to get home and shave.

    (See, I couldn't let Catherine claim all the lameness for herself.)

    In my defense, for some reason my face started itching like a motherfucker and I just couldn't take it. Weird, I know.

    * With apologies to Jeff Foxworthy. Just kidding. Actually he can go fuck himself.

    comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    June 05, 2005
    June 05, 2005
    naming bleg personal  - tech

    Today I started playing around with GreaseMonkey (which is amazing, and about which I'll write more later). Inspiration hit, and I've spent today working on a kind of cool (I think) GreaseMonkey script that'll provide a framework for automatically stripping ads out of webpages. I'll explain how all this works when I'm ready to release it.

    But because this script relies on a central server, I'm going to have to register a domain name, and that means I'll have to think of one. For development purposes I've been using the incredibly-imaginative "AdKiller", but of course that's already taken by some similarly creative folks.

    So I'm hoping you all can help. I'm looking for something witty and short that conveys the script's function. Suggestions?

    comments [3] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    June 02, 2005
    June 02, 2005
    more deadly than the male personal

    old-boxers.jpg Susan's got another predictably hilarious post up, this time about boxing, at which she's apparently a prodigy.

    Well, good luck to Kriston. I remember a brief fit of panic when Catherine went to a kickboxing class. Fortunately it didn't take; she still punches with mantislike limp wrists (presumably learned from watching Buffy) and usually accompanies each strike with a little explosion noise that she makes with her mouth. Oh yeah, and an evil, deliberate glower. Needless to say I find the whole thing pretty cute, which infuriates her and makes her punch my shoulder until it's okay maybe not so cute anymore.

    Anyway, yeah. Girlfriends punching: hilariously terrifying.

    (graphic blatantly stolen from this site, which seems amazingly germane given that its introductory blurb states that "THE SITE IS DEDICATED TO WOMEN. WE LOVE AND RESPECT ALL THE WOMEN, NO MATTER IF THEY ARE STRONG OR WEAK, COMBATIVE OR NOT, FEMINISTS OR NOT TOO MUCH" and much of its text appears to be in Cyrillic)

    comments [4] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    May 27, 2005
    May 27, 2005
    dear guy at the gym personal

    I am sorry to have to be writing this to you. Any online anecdote about something that happened at the gym always comes off as a thinly veiled excuse for the author to suggest what a rippling, broad-chested and, yes, sexually potent demigod he is. Normally this would not be a problem, but unfortunately I am also incredibly humble.

    Despite this, I feel I must say the following: you should really stop doing your bicep curls on the squat rack. I realize that you've paid a lot of money for the privilege of coming to the Y and lifting heavy things. Probably it seems like there ought to be more to it than there is, prompting you to want to stand next to a largeish piece of equipment while doing your exercises. I can understand where you're coming from. The squat rack is one of the largest pieces of equipment in the room, and would by far be the most effective defensive fortification available if we were to suddenly be attacked by, say, a pack of crazed orangutans. But let's be honest: that rarely happens.

    Besides, doesn't using that barbell hurt your wrists? The bar is straight. It's not really meant for what you're using it for. Plus it's heavy, so you only put the five pound plates on it. When you count the bar, this is a perfectly reasonable amount of weight. But the effect is still to make you look like kind of a weenie.

    Perhaps you could just be a little faster about the exercise. I think you'll find that if you make fewer "OHMYGODTHISISHARD" noises in the course of the exercise it will go by much more quickly. The pauses in between sets where you roll up your sleeves and lean down to examine your biceps (or "guns") could also probably be trimmed from your routine. To your credit, when you do this you never actually kiss the muscle you're scrutinizing. But I can tell you want to. Every time it happens I feel like I am watching a poorly written gay coming of age drama.

    But that's not really any of my business. Normally I am content to ignore my fellow gym-goers. Sure, one has to size up which men are physically stronger, which are weaker, and which women one would like to have sex with. But that's just in case the world ends while I'm in the shower, leaving the surviving YMCA patrons to mercilessly fight for survival in a savage postapocalyptic wasteland. By this point the sorting process is pretty much automatic. I usually do it while I'm stretching.

    No, the reason I bring all this up is that there's only one squat rack, and it is integral to my ongoing campaign to completely destroy my knees (they know what they've done). I would like to be able to get on with this process, thank you very much.

    I guess what I'm saying is that your disgusting indulgence of personal vanity is interfering with my own. Seeing as mine is clearly more important, please knock it off.

    comments [5] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    May 23, 2005
    May 23, 2005
    i swear this was not paid for by the NROTC personal

    well, charlottesville was wonderful, the graduation ceremonies were wonderful, and my brother is now officially an ensign of the U.S. navy, which is also wonderful. i have to warn you that my overwhelming pride and the fact that i was denied computer access for three days may result in this post being full of incredibly shitty prose, but anyways...

    MORE...
    comments [4] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    May 20, 2005
    May 20, 2005
    just give me back my braces and zits and i'll be all set personal

    to paraphrase an email i just wrote to tommy:

    just wanted to let you know that i got back from the doctor [i've had some breathing problems all week including what seemed like a minor, out of the blue asthma attack last friday night] and she thinks i have allergy-induced asthma. so i have to take claritin and GET AN INHALER WHICH I MUST USE FOUR TIMES A DAY. i saw star wars on its opening night and now i get to whip out the inhaler. all the time. it's like i'm regressing straight back to middle school.

    let nerdom reign! i'm off to charlottesville for the weekend to watch my brother don the cap and gown and get commissioned into the navy. woot. have a great one!

    comments [3] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    May 17, 2005
    May 17, 2005
    take me out... personal

    charles and his mother graced tommy and me with a pair of tickets to the nats-brewers game last night, and i have a revelation: i love baseball! the night couldn't have been nicer - the grays have great season ticket seats, the metro to the game was quick and easy, the weather was pleasant, beers were consumed, i had an excellent (albeit pricey, at $5.50(!)) hot dog, and best of all - i didn't have to pay a lick of attention to what was going on! whenever i've attended other sporting events (besides tennis matches, which i enjoy because i am a spoiled waspy girl), i've felt as if all my concentration needs to be honed in on what's happening on the floor/field/court or on the madass, crazy yelling fans around me who act as if their very life depended on the outcome of the game.

    not so in baseball! most of the time i zoned out, staring at the pretty green field or people-watching around me. everyone was relaxed, and the slow pace of the game ensured plenty of time for chatting. only drawback: the awesome-sounding open bar that mrs. gray had previously told me about had been closed after a man fell from the top level of the stadium and severely injured himself. so: because some (presumably) drunk guy fell, hard liquor and wine are banned, but they're happy to shove as much beer as possible down our throats?

    anyway, i imagine that on weekends and during more high-profile games (as charles said, the milkwaukee brewers are a team that you have to remind yourself once in a while actually exists) the atmosphere might not be so inviting, but for a spring weeknight, i haven't spent a nicer one in recent memory than at RFK.

    tonight: becca and i venture into the horrifying Cloud, to be repulsed by its all-whiteness and drink crappy flavored martinis. seeing as it's basically in my office building, i had to give it a shot. and the rest of the week is packed; i am an effin social butterfly! tomorrow is matt's birthday at local 16, then i'm meeting the delightful elana of the medill at polly's on thursday, and friday i'm headed off for what will NO DOUBT be a super-debacherous weekend in charlottesville with my hard-livin' parents and grandparents to celebrate my lil brother's graduation and eventual transformation into Real Live Navy Submarine Dude. i'm so proud of him! no doubt later this week, after stumbling home from one of the above-mentioned outings, i will write a weepy and overwrought entry on how awesome he is, and how much of that awesomeness is due to moi. (hint: almost ALL OF IT.)

    comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    May 10, 2005
    May 10, 2005
    entry numero due italy  - personal  - travel

    wherein i get a bit of the frances mayes disease. really - it's full blown later on. oh dear.

    MORE...
    comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    italia italy  - personal  - travel

    so, i started typing up my 4 or 5 entries on our trip to italy. this one is staggeringly boring; the only thing remotely italian about it is that i was flying on alitalia. mostly it's me bitching about the flight, the wine, the [fake] forgetting of the camera battery...so be warned.

    MORE...
    comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    sleepy personal

    what tommy and i act like 75% of the time.

    (taken at malpensa airport in milan by naomi. a few more italy videos here!)

    comments [3] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    i am too stupid to maintain homeostasis personal
    PROBLEM: The bedroom is slightly too warm on Sunday night.
    SOLUTION: I put a fan in the window.
     
    PROBLEM: The frigid room resulting from the fan has given me a persistent sore throat and the beginnings of a cold.
    SOLUTION: Some spicy food will chase away those symptoms! Hot and sour soup and Szechuan tofu are duly ordered from the bulletproof chinese joint around the corner.
     
    PROBLEM: The Chinese food was not very good, nor was it very spicy. I'm beginning to think that the soup was just mushrooms floating in canola oil. It's causing some, er, intestinal distress. Also, I'm now experiencing waves of sweating. Slow release peppers? Food poisoning? Malaria?
    SOLUTION: "A little beer should put out that fire!"
     
    PROBLEM: The phrase "a little beer" proves to be insufficiently specific.
    SOLUTION: Jon challenges our waitress to a pushup competition for a free round of shots, and wins. (It's unclear how this was supposed to resolve the stated problem, but at the time it definitely seemed like a step in the right direction.)
     
    PROBLEM: Eventual arrival of morning. I'm hungover, still sick, and my stomach is strongly on record as unhappy with how things have been going lately.
    SOLUTION: Go into work half an hour late. Whine about it on my blog.

    I think I'm finally on the mend, but this whole saga has been pretty discouraging. I can now easily imagine a chain of events wherein I start out trying to buy a pack of gum and end up losing most of my blood.

    comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    April 19, 2005
    April 19, 2005
    quillers personal

    this day did not start off too well. as you know through my unrelenting whining, i've been sick, and so after getting out of the shower this morning, i popped a couple of dayquil in my mouth. nothing like a dayquil to get the day started when you've got snot slobbering down your face, or so i've heard.

    but i made the fatal mistake of taking the dayquil on an empty stomach (i'm not a breakfast sort of gal). did you know you're not supposed to do this? i didn't, at least until i entered SuperSpecial DayQuil World sometime around 9:45 am. admission to SuperSpecial DayQuil World grants you a head that feels like a cork about to pop off a bottle of bubbly, and the supernatural power to hover two inches above your chair. or, at least the supernatural power to feel like you are hovering two inches above your chair. it was actually kind of cool until my eyes started to cross and i IM'd tommy, noting that i seemingly was floating on a drug-induced cushion of air and wondering what was up with that. he immediately ordered me to go buy a can of coke and some sort of food to get my blood sugar up, or something, i dunno. and it worked, because he is smart, and knows that you do not take chair-hovering drugs without first eating food.

    i'm a little concerned, though, that i am becoming some sort of -quil addict. while in chicago, i confessed to susan that i was a recreational nyquil abuser and was thrilled to find out that she was, too! i mean, i'm not downing the stuff on a regular basis. but i don't just take it when i'm sick. i take it sometimes when i'm healthy, having trouble sleeping and just need the sweet, sweet nyquil blanket to fall over me. is this normal? i'm a little concerned that i'm the kind of person who could become easily addicted to sleeping pills. i just love the sensation of getting so sleepy that your head lolls about and you say words but your mouth is too tired to form them, resulting in a sort of "imasolepybuhcahnatalsoshleeepeee..." (btw, tommy could probably put up some relatively funny footage of me, high on nyquil, right before i pass out and proceed to start drooling all over him, if he had a video camera, and was cruel).

    i dunno. i also found this super awesome tea that i used for a week while tommy was gone and i had trouble sleeping by myself. it was called sleepytime EXTRA tea. i loved that it was EXTRA sleep inducing, and hell, did that stuff knock you out. the first evening i tried it i brewed one large mug around 9:30 pm, because i'm an old lady, and was slurring by 10:15. it contains "folklore favorite" valerian, an herb "used most commonly for its sedative and hypnotic properties," though i certainly never was hypnotized while drinking it. or so i believe.

    anyway, i'm obviously rambling and don't know where i meant to go with this post, except to say: drugs are good, sleeping is nice, and i am apparently addicted to both.

    comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    April 18, 2005
    April 18, 2005
    priorities personal

    i bought a new pair of shoes.

    IMG_1953.jpg

    i had to. nevermind that i don't let myself spend more than $5 on lunch; nevermind that i own about 47 pairs of shoes; nevermind that i spent four hours at my parents' house this weekend, figuring out that i will owe $25,000 in student loans. nevermind! it's spring, and that means new shoes for my gigantic feet. praise be!

    (creepy foot fetishists need not comment)

    comments [8] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    blaaarghsniffle personal

    i have become increasingly sick over the past three days. i've been on a steady diet of nyquil, dayquil, pom juice and emergen-c. any other tried and true tricks for getting healthy? i'm leaving for italy on friday and I MUST NOT BE SICK FOR MY PERFECT TUSCAN VACATION!

    by the way, i love the way italians type. i've been emailing various restaurants in cortona to make sure they're open on april 25, a national holiday, and apparently when emailing/typing/etc, italians understand my need to constantly type in capital letters. from one restaurant:

    Buongiono Catherine sono Romano della Bucaccia di Cortona SiAMO SEMPRE APERTI SIA PRANZO CHE A CENA E BENE PERO' SEMPRE PRENOTARE

    CIAO GRAZIE A PRESTO

    ROMANO E AGOSTINA

    translated: "hello catherine, i'm Romano from Bucaccia in Cortona WE ARE ALWAYS OPEN WHETHER FOR LUNCH OR DINNER BUT YOU MUST ALWAYS MAKE RESERVATIONS

    BYE THANKS SEE YOU SOON"

    SEE? it's FUN!

    comments [3] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    April 14, 2005
    April 14, 2005
    i'm sorry... personal

    mom and dad, i know you tried real hard, and you raised me real good, but there ain't no denying - your firstborn child is a huge fucking lush.

    comments [2] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    April 13, 2005
    April 13, 2005
    discombobulated personal

    I can't write anything lately -- my snarky bioequilibirum is all screwed up. I'm still trudging (well, biking) down to Foggy Bottom every day to sit in a cubicle and wait for instructions. This wouldn't be all that terrible, except a) the desk/chair situation seems to be causing my spine to turn to rock candy, brittle and sharp (bad for me); and b) the inspiration presented to me by the enveloping beige walls and empty corkboards results in little more than warmed-over Office Space rehashes (bad for you).

    Yesterday was an exception, though! Thanks to our company's innovative LALALAICAN'THEARYOU approach to customer service, a set of lingering issues erupted into across-the-board programming crises and I got to take a one-day return to working from home. Admittedly, I had to put in 10 or 11 hours. But they were pajama-clad hours, dammit.

    Anyway, while at this client site I use a different windows account, and I found yesterday that my normal account's browser has started to forget the URLs of the blogs I like to visit. This is surprisingly disconcerting, like not being able to remember your friends' names. And the result is that I feel like I can't definitively eliminate the possibility that I'm actually in the thrall of an evil wizard of some sort, and my friends are screaming "YOU HAVE TO FIGHT" because I'm poised to plunge the ancient relic of X into the enchanted somethingorother of Y and open a portal to Z, all the while thinking I'm just reloading the paper tray.

    Fucking evil wizards. They're always pulling this kind of shit.

    comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    April 08, 2005
    April 08, 2005
    allez poisin! personal

    The Great Vodka Experiment commences around ten. Ish. I've got scorecards for twenty printed. Depending on how everyone feels and whether it's raining, I imagine we might go out after we finish collecting data.

    comments [3] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    April 07, 2005
    April 07, 2005
    experimental subjects wanted personal

    To conduct an investigative study into the effects of activated charcoal/ion exchange resin filters on very cheap vodka. Unaffiliated research groups have reported positive results, but the scientific method demands independent verification -- we don't want another cold fusion on our hands, people.

    Study Date: Friday evening.
    Compensation: Primarily headache-based.

    comments [5] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    April 01, 2005
    April 01, 2005
    say it with me: eww personal

    Last night Julie was nice enough to let me take her car on a refresher course at driving stick. And it was glorious. Allow me to rhapsodize.

    You see, my friends, driving a manual, like every other analogizable thing, is like making love to a woman. Yes, it's a matter of instinct, but mostly I mean that it's awkward and embarrassing, full of fits and starts and thrashing around. Going too fast will prompt unhappy yelps from underneath you; go too slow and the whole operation will grind to a halt, leaving you to frantically flail about, all the time keenly aware of the disapproving gaze of the owner of the equipment to which you have foolishly been granted access.

    But through persistence and experience things can eventually be made to click, and you'll have a few precious moments of clarity before the need to repeat the ordeal begins to mount anew, and someone starts screaming at you to get off the road.

    Anyway, after driving around Arlington for half an hour I felt pretty confident about my ability to get a stick-shift rental car off the lot without it bursting into flames. So I went to Microcenter and bought myself two wireless routers to celebrate, then went home and slept like a baby.

    comments [5] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    i guess they don't get a lot of foreigners around foggy bottom personal

    As I was locking my bike to a lamppost this morning around 20th and Penn, another biker came whizzing by and said "keep riding, goombah." Given his appearance and the location, I'd say he was probably a GW student. He didn't seem to say this with any malice. But what the hell does it mean? Was it an entreaty from a fellow cyclist to throw off the shackles of wage slavery and enjoy the beautiful day? A bizarre, xenophobic assault on my not-actually-Italian heritage? An NES non sequitur?

    Exhibit A: my bike's frame was made by an Italian company, so it does have some little Italian flag decals on it.

    bike_italian.jpg

    Exhibit B: I am wearing a ridiculously striped shirt today, a style that I think Catherine has told me got started in Italy. I'm pretty sure this shirt is from the Gap, though. So it's actually more of a Malaysian shirt, if you ask me.

    striped_shirt_small.jpg

    But I guess my appearance this morning probably was unusually eurotrashy. So was it actual xenophobia? From someone in their early twenties? Directed against Italians?! It seems unlikely.

    Which leads me to a dire and inescapable conclusion: I just don't understand the kids these days. Already.

    comments [2] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    March 25, 2005
    March 25, 2005
    sibling revelry personal

    Check out my sister's new gig! Let's all go demand free drinks.

    comments [3] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    crucial, clutch car-go gig italy  - personal

    Well, I've got a problem. It's time to draw from the vast collective wisdom of the internet -- I'm counting on you guys. But this is sort of one of those "I'm running out of space for all my gold doubloons" problems, and I'll understand if you all just bitch me out instead.

    So Catherine and I and several of you are all going to Italy at the end of April. It's gonna be great, and I'm going to eat thiiiiiis much gelato and ride the gondola twice. Or at least drink my bodyweight in wine.

    Well, it'll be a fun time, but while they were busy filling their country with picturesque locations and people the Italians frustratingly neglected to build an effective, pan-Tuscan mass transportation system. The trains are great for moving between cities and non-miniscule towns, but we're still going to need some rental cars.

    Italy boasts some of Europe's priciest rental cars. For an automatic transmission I'm having a hard time cracking the $700/week level. If I could drive stick, though... well, nearly $300 could be shaved off that figure.

    The problem is that I haven't driven stick since I was sixteen. My mom felt it was important that I learn -- she approached it like a survival skill, and wanted me to be prepared for the complete lack of automatic transmissions that would doubtless accompany the nuclear winter/viral epidemic/zombie attacks of the future. So we spent a few hours driving up and down my grandparents' street in their decrepit Volkswagen Rabbit. I didn't perform very well, but neither did the car, so for all I know I could be the world's greatest manual transmission driver, EVER.

    So what do you guys think? Is this fake-able? Is there a good way to learn before I go? The rental car's clutch only needs to last for seven days, after all.

    comments [9] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    March 20, 2005
    March 20, 2005
    don't eat the brown arabica personal

    Catherine's right: the wedding was great. The abstract concept of the ceremony still seems impossibly weird to me, a strange cross between commodifying women and playing feudal lord for a day. Most likely that's just my subconscious shrieking in terror, but it all still seems a little bizarre.

    But the reception made perfect sense: drink a bunch and eat a big meal. Even I can grasp that. Special thanks to Julie for entertaining my drunken crackpot theory about why bowing your head to pray is an evolutionary artifact. Or maybe I was just reflecting on how awesome it was when they all the evil monkeys got cut by lasers at the end of Congo. It's hard to keep it all straight.

    One word of warning to fellow attendees, though. You may have noticed that in addition to their already amazing levels of generousity, Jason, Corbin and their families succubed to the slowly growing tradition wherein every attendee at a wedding gives a present to every other one. So Corbin and Jason had a basket of golf tees and monogrammed packets of coffee for departing guests. The packets say "A Perfect Blend" under their names. Awww.

    Well, enjoy the sticker, but please -- don't actually brew and drink it. I had three cups when I woke up this morning, and suddenly I couldn't read. Seriously. I couldn't focus on words properly to string them together, and I had to try identifying objects to make sure I wasn't going blind -- and it wasn't just that I was jittery or overstimulated. I feel like I now have a vivid idea of what dyslexia might be like. Catherine had a bit less and just got a nasty headache, but for me the effect was unpleasant and really kind of frightening -- enough that, unsure the coffee was to blame, I went out and bought some aspirin to thin out my blood, just in case. Was I being a crybaby hypochondriac? Well, yes. But still.

    Fortunately I eventually went through the headache stage and now feel pretty much ok. But I won't be repeating the experiment with the other packet we picked up. Partially burned foods like coffee have an incredible array of weird molecules in them; probably this is just a slightly unusual coffee with extra theophylline or something, and I may be unusually sensitive to whatever it is. But yeah -- that was bad.

    The other working theory is that, spiritually infused with Jason and Corbin's virtuous and sanctified love, the coffee affected my twisted misanthropy like holy water sprayed on a vampire. For now we're sticking with the theophylline thing, though.

    comments [5] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    March 18, 2005
    March 18, 2005
    ncaa basketball programs that should be immediately disbanded personal
    • LSU
    • Creighton
    • Ohio
    • Iowa
    • UTEP
    That is all. For now.

    Fucking UTEP.

    comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    March 17, 2005
    March 17, 2005
    burning down the house personal

    stumbling around the kitchen this morning and attempting to make coffee, an odd, unrecognized scent wafted towards my nose. what the hell is that? i thought blearily, standing still in the kitchen with the coffee grinder in one hand and a filter in the other, sniffing in the air. i was also wearing uva sweatpants, tommy's old, ratty, gray robe, a green tank top and a headband to pull back my unwashed hair, so i can assure you that it was a lovely sight. then it hit me - i was smelling smoked ham. huh, i thought. weird. in my early-morning-retardation, i figured it had to do with the lamb that tommy and i had baked last night for dinner. because smoked ham smells exactly like lamb rubbed with garlic and rosemary, and the smell of course continues to permeate the kitchen well into the next morning, pungent enough to awaken the senses of someone who can barely see past her nose at 7:30 am. sure! made sense to me.

    thus i ignored the smoked ham smell and went on to do my regular morning routine - finishing up the coffee, showering, getting dressed, putting on make-up, sitting down with a mug of coffee and reading the morning news on my shiny new silver laptop that i love like a brand-new puppy. all the while the smoked ham smell lingered in the background, wafting up through the kitchen like a summer breeze. a ham-tinged summer breeze. and i paid no mind.

    finally, as i was getting ready to head out the door around 8:30, i did something i never do: i decided to step outside on the balcony to test the weather. normally i just throw on my black quilted jacket that serves me well throughout the winter months, but there'd been a taste of spring in the nighttime air the previous evening, and i thought that i could wear something a bit lighter.

    so i opened the door from the kitchen to the balcony. our lovely, wooden balcony, lined with lovely, wooden planters and a lovely, wooden railing. pieces of which now lay on the floor in ashes, smoldering, as heavy plumes of smoke rose up from a planter that was quite clearly on fire.

    i stood there for a second, contemplating, and finishing off my coffee. hmm, i thought. my brain began to slowly process facts. i see smoke. a large chunk of that part of the railing is no longer there and seems to be charred. the plant in that particular planter, formerly dead from the winter cold, is on fire. and it all smells like smoked ham. interesting.

    wait. not interesting, my brain thought. fire. burning. wooden balcony that could go up like kindling any moment and engulf all of O Street in a burning twisted mass of destruction OH MY GAWWWWWWD.

    you know when you get really scared about something, it's incredibly hard to articulate, well, anything? yeah. you should have seen me this morning. i stood there blankly, looking at the smoke, then said, blankly, "oh. my god. tommy. get here now."

    tommy: "why?"

    catherine: "get out here! it's - it's on - the thing, that thing is smokey!"

    tommy: "what?"

    catherine: "BALCONY FIRE DEATH!"

    i exaggerate, naturally. there were no leaping flames, and the mini-fire-smoldering-thing was contained quite easily by tommy and me running back and forth with bowls of water (god forbid that we remember there is a fire extinguisher right behind the door to the balcony). about half of a wooden planter was destroyed, and the top of a section of railing. as best as we can figure, unless spontaneous combustion exists in old soil, last evening charles, whom up until today i considered to be a very intelligent young man, put his cigarette out in the wooden planter instead of an ashtray and unwittingly left it to smolder THE ENTIRE NIGHT, thereby ensuring DEATH AND DESTRUCTION and endangering any prospects of MY SPRING BALCONY PLANS, which involve many glasses of wine and spitting contests.

    anyway, this seems like common sense, but please: if you come over to our place and have a smoke on the balcony, do not leave it to smolder on or near a wood-based product (ie the entire structure). put it in an ashtray. throw it out in the alley. for the love of god, don't destroy our balcony! otherwise, how are we going to bring our charcoal griller out there this summer? sheesh.

    comments [5] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    lousy smarch madness personal

    The first games have tipped and things are underway. I'm not a huge college basketball fan most of the year (thanks, suck-ass UVA), but today's a special day: nobody works very hard, instead crowding around breakroom TVs or listening to internet radio streams.

    Emboldened by an unlikely win in Jon's office pool last year, I'm nurturing naive dreams of bracketological glory. But how to best maniacally track my march toward victory? Yahoo offers realtime tracking, but you've got to refresh the page to see updates. Anyone know any free realtime java sites that'll still let you submit a bracket?

    comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    March 15, 2005
    March 15, 2005
    random questions personal

    taking advantage of the collective hivemind of the blogosphere...

  • where can i buy a laptop bag that doesn't make me look like i belong with the ranks of tecchies who wear their cellphones on their beltclips?

  • what's there, like, to do in chicago? susan and i are heading there in a couple of weeks. watch out, windy city!

  • when attending a formal wedding and wearing a dress with spaghetti straps, is it necessary to spend EVEN MORE MONEY THAN YOU ALREADY HAVE ON THIS GODDAMN EVENT on a wrap/shawl?

  • how drunk is too drunk to get at a wedding?

  • dear god, when will spring come to washington?

    UPDATED FOR TOMMY'S BENEFIT: where can a nice-looking young man find a tux to rent in the d.c. area?

  • comments [19] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    March 10, 2005
    March 10, 2005
    stalk zunta personal

    schedule of events for the next few days:

    thursday: ash/the bravery concert at the black cat. i am prepared to be overwhelmed at the number of hipsters.

    friday: DCist happy hour from 5-8 p.m. at biddy mulligan's. if it's anything like last time, it should be fun. a little too fun.

    saturday AM: i'm running, along with julie, naomi, and brian, the saint patrick's day 10k. yes, i'm looking forward to my first race since the marathon in october. i've done minimal training, and should be able to pull it off without my lungs collapsing.

    saturday PM: you tell me!

    comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    March 04, 2005
    March 04, 2005
    happy birthday charles! personal

    For those somehow unaware, Charles is Catherine and my roommate. And today's his twenty-fifth birthday! Wow. Sniff -- they grow up so fast. It's hard to believe it's been a whole year since the last time I bought Charles drinks until he threw up. I guess that'll make tonight a trip down memory lane.

    It's nice to have traditions.

    comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    March 03, 2005
    March 03, 2005
    FAQ personal

    many questions that nobody has yet asked me about grad school but which i am prepared to answer, especially because i am the Future of New Media Journalism and one day people will look back on on this blog and marvel at its humble beginnings and want to know how it all started before i pass away and have my ashes shot out of a cannon or fed to a wild african lion to complete the circle of life or what have you, and it is important to document your intents and purposes for the little people.

    so. where are you gonna go?
    good question! this fall, i only applied to three places: university of maryland, northwestern, and berkeley. some people urged me to apply to columbia or missouri, but i never really considered those because the idea of moving to NYC or missouri would make me want to dig out my own eyeballs and cook them for dinner. for the most part, i always secretly told myself that if got into northwestern, i'd go. problem is, i found out i got into berkeley before i found out about northwestern, and thus had many hours to imagine myself making napa valley my playground, sipping wine with michael chiarello, and generally communing with nature. i'm still holding on to that sunny dream. but probably northwestern.

    you know that chicago is kind of cold, right?
    i have heard vague rumors of this coldness, but one thing a good journalist is supposed to do is not believe anything unless presented with facts. so this whole "being frozen into a meat popsicle" thing will have to wait until i can see it for myself.

    so, like, are the facts that you are a lazy writer, a sloppy speller, and can't understand an issue more complex than your pinky finger of a concern to your journalistic future?
    not really!

    well, they worry me. a lot.
    don't worry too much. i'm not going to journalism school to be a political magazine writer or a daily newspaper reporter, as worthy and interesting as those jobs may be. yes, writing and reporting is a "big part" of my "education," but i'm in the new media program, baby! which really means I'M LEARNING HOW TO BE A BETTER BLOGGER! or, actually, what i'm really interested in is this crossroads that traditional print journalism and online technology seem to be at. for the past couple of years they've been like two awkward eighth-graders at a school dance, holding each other at arm's length and swaying back and forth to boyz II men while trying to hide their totally out-of-control-budding-sexual-hormone-freakiness. i want to be there to encourage that next step. note: this is not like me advocating that 13 year olds have sex.

    so are you freaked out?
    yeah, well, i've had that special throwup feeling in my stomach for over 24 hours now, so i guess so. leaving DC is not something that agrees that much with me, especially as i've felt i've just started to really know and enjoy the city in the past year. i feel like i'm just starting to make really important contacts and do better work with DCist and, like, GO OUT and be a normal 25 year old in what i realize is a rather remarkable place. plus, you know, all the people in the world that i love are here. but i've done it before. 2002, i packed up and moved to italy to do a job i knew nothing about and live with people i had never seen before. and it was fantastic. of course, italy didn't turn me into a frozen meat popsicle, so i might not be ready for that. but it's only a year, right?

    any other questions? bring em on! i'm gonna be A JOURNALIST, which means i now know the answers to everything!

    comments [11] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    March 02, 2005
    March 02, 2005
    sidekicked personal

    Sigh. The sidekick has died! No, not Charles. My phone. It must have been jealous of my ipod. Alas. I'll do my best to drag the ole Ericsson T39 out of its box in the garage tomorrow and start returning voicemail, but in the meantime you should call Catherine, not me. Not that I'm such a social butterfly -- I rarely use even half of my 200 monthly weekday minutes. But still: if you tried to call me and I didn't respond, it's not because I hate you. Probably.

    But now I'm faced with a dilemma: what new toy should replace it? As much as I want to buy a Treo 600 or 650, there doesn't seem to be a way to do so and get grandfathered into my very cheap $40/month plan -- and they're pricey gadgets to begin with. Oh well. The sidekick 2 looks pretty rad, too, so I'll probably pick up one of those in the next day or so. I hope you all like terrible-quality digital photos!

    comments [8] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    oh dear god personal

    i nearly just simultaneously peed my pants and threw up on my computer monitor upon receiving this email:

    Dear Catherine:

    Congratulations! The Admissions Committee has approved your application to Medill’s Graduate School of Journalism with a concentration in New Media.

    Your first quarter in the program will be the “Journalism Methods” package of courses, which is designed for students who have not had professional daily newspaper experience. This quarter consists of a media law and ethics seminar, and intensive work in news writing, beat reporting and copy editing. It is required for approximately 80 percent of our students.

    Blah dee blah dee blah blah, buncha other stuff that is probably important, but which i am too delirious to process.

    how to pick? the only thing i'm sure of right now is that i'm starting a new blog called "J-school days: the diary of a liberal propagandist-in-training."

    comments [14] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    March 01, 2005
    March 01, 2005
    they know not what they have done personal

    i have to apologize if you've been in my company the past 48 hours or so. you may have found me sullen, touchy and, well, bitchier than usual. (which really is kind of balls-out bitchy.) actually, this is really just a public apology to tommy, who's born the brunt of my two-day funk.

    you see, late sunday afternoon, i realized that the next day would be monday, march 1st. i don't particularly hate march, but this year it signified something different. something scary. something flat-out terrifying. march 2005 is, for me, the Month of Graduate J-School Applications.

    and...you know what? i was going to try to write some sort of funny, meaningful, supsenseful post with an interesting narrative and some good storytelling, but really. screw that.

    I FUCKING GOT INTO BERKELEY!!!!!

    woot. now excuse me while i go pour myself a glass of wine and peruse the pages of FAFSA's web site.

    comments [10] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    February 16, 2005
    February 16, 2005
    loot personal

    Well, with twenty-five of them under my belt, I think I'm starting to get a hang of this birthday thing. The existential crises are shorter, the familial obligations easier to fulfill, and the toys are better. So excuse the ugly, self-indulgent nature of this post. I assume you're used to it by now.

    Okay, so the 9AM conference call was not exactly an ideal start, but Catherine gave me some pretty sweet workout pants as soon as I woke up. Also given to me by my too-generous girlfriend: some Etymotic ER-6 headphones. etymotics.jpgI know, I know -- I hate audiophiles too, even though the tendency of disposable income to rise as I get older along with my gadgetlust seems likely to turn me into one. I'll restrain myself for as long as I can from buying any scientistically certified magical speaker paint or mystic jars of rocks, but I have to admit that the ER-6s sound pretty amazing. Did you know there's a track of Isaac Brock talking quietly under the pre-chorus lyrics on "Black Cadillacs"? I didn't. I hadn't noticed the weird pin-prick percussion on Kanye West's "Jesus Saves" either. Awesome. Another plus is that I can't hear anything else when I have the Etymotics in my ears. That's going to be great for the gym. What's that? Biking? Well, I've been hit by cars before. It's not so bad.

    Anyway, last night Catherine and I went and had dinner with my mom and her boyfriend Ray. She made me a cake and got me some balloons -- what a great mom. I half expected ponyrides to be announced after dinner. I'm just glad she didn't hire a clown: last Friday I caught a few minutes of an episode of CSI that revolved around a woman with a clown fetish whose husband ended up smothering some poor sucker named Doodles to death. Imagine creepy, atonal music playing over a low framerate shot of clown shoes jerking, then going still. Actually, come to think of it I was laughing hysterically throughout that sequence. So nevermind: best clown ever.

    My mom went overboard and gave me a combined xmas/birthday present in the form of a pretty sweet-lookin' used bike to replace the one that was stolen out of my car last fall. I won't bore you with its technical details, which I assure you I could recite without any difficulty at all, definitely. But I will say: it has a bell! Hurrah! Rest assured, I'll be pricing handlebar streamers on Amazon shortly.

    you know how I roll

    The one ingredient missing from the perfect birthday: booze, of course.

    comments [8] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    February 15, 2005
    February 15, 2005
    necessary post of the day personal

    tommy is one step further along in the march of death today: he's just turned 25! so leave him a big wet sloppy comment kiss to congratulate him on his official entrance to the mid-twenties club. welcome! really, it's not that bad, i promise.

    the post sez:

    TODAY'S BIRTHDAY (February 15). You are wealthy in love this year. The investment of quality time and affection that you put into friends and family yields the true gold, so don't bury yourself in work. Romance thrives when there are challenging shared goals at stake. Singles are infatuated and then get the prize in June. Some marry in July. Love signs are Scorpio and Aries. Your lucky numbers are: 20, 1, 12, 32 and 14.

    don't worry, though, tommy. i'm not going to spring a surprise wedding on you this july. (that's because i've always wanted a fall wedding!)

    celebrations, cake and liver disease are in the process of being arranged; we shall keep you informed.

    comments [7] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    February 05, 2005
    February 05, 2005
    halo emasculation update personal

    "I'm a thirteen year-old girl who just kicked your ass"

    halo.jpg

    comments [3] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    January 28, 2005
    January 28, 2005
    can't i just build you a blessing machine? personal

    This rings a bell. When Catherine and I started dating, one of the most confounding things I had to learn was that failing to say "bless you" after a sneeze is a clear indicator that you don't really care about the sneezer at all and wished they would die. Apparently the germ of this idea comes from a speech by a female character in Reality Bites. I've never seen that movie, but I can assure you I hate it.

    comments [9] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    January 27, 2005
    January 27, 2005
    shh personal

    fritz hahn of the wapo.com was nice enough to tip me off to a secret-ish event this sunday, which i in turn posted on DCist. go check it out. it sounds neat, but i doubt i'll go - i can imagine that it'll be absolutely flooded and i can't stay up much past midnight these days. nevertheless, much thanks to fritz for the heads up.

    sorry that i've been light on the blogging - our office is in the lovely, chaotic process of moving; i've started training for the cherry blossom 10 miler and am constantly out of it; and i'm trying to expand music coverage on DCist and make it a lot better. i've been able to work a couple of labels for ticket giveaways and band interviews, and i'm trying to do more concert listings and reviews. but i could use some fresh ideas - any input, dear readers?

    UPDATE: i see the secret arcade fire post is already igniting a discussion - but not about the band. people are arguing about saint-ex, how its patrons have changed, and different levels of gentrification. if the argument gets heated it could be interesting.

    comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    January 24, 2005
    January 24, 2005
    they've got crabs personal

    Rough start to a morning: waking up late and realizing you're going to be late for a meeting.

    Bad start to a morning: realizing that the meeting is in a different city. And you still have to go.

    Terrible start to a morning: realizing that the city in question is Baltimore.

    comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    January 19, 2005
    January 19, 2005
    me so strong personal

    in response to all the hubbub around the blogosphere the past couple of days regarding larry summers' remarks about women and science, and whether nor not women and men have different talents and inclinations due to genetics and gender, etc, i'm taking on a challenge that i've thought about doing for a good, long while. one that i was always told at which i would never succeed. one that i've never thought i'd be able to do, most likely because my mother dressed me in pink and the social constructs of my environments have been keeping me down. man.

    i am going to do a fucking pull up.

    i still remember clearly the last time i was able to do a pull up - three of them, in fact. i was a 4th grader at wolftrap elementary school, and we were going through the motions for the presidential physical fitness awards. i got up in front of a huge crowd of fellow nine year-olds, boys and girls, and gave it my best shot.

    i ended up getting more pull ups than any girl in my class, and more than many of the flabby, underdeveloped munchkin boys that were my friends. it was a triumphant moment. in fact, i performed well on all the other fitness challenges - the mile, that terrible back-and-forth-shuffle-run, sit ups, etc.

    but then as the years went on, probably because my series of lesbian gym teachers were misogynists, i lost interest in physical fitness. i couldn't run as fast, i couldn't throw balls as far, and i could never again do a single pull up. this might also have something to do with the fact that i gained like 120 pounds, but i'd rather blame it on the unconscious discriminations of society.

    anyway, in general i'd consider myself to be fairly in shape, but the arm strength thing has always eluded me. i mean, lately i'm even having trouble lifting bottles of wine to my lips. so i decided that something had to change.

    tommy and i joined the Y a couple of weeks ago, and i've made it my mission to a) start running again and b) be able to do at least one dead-hang pull up. so far i can do several sets on the assisted pull up machine-thingy, but i haven't yet attempted the holy grail. but soon, grasshopper, soon enough. i will be strong. i will have unholy shoulders a la jennifer garner's. and then i can go kick larry summers' ass.

    comments [10] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    January 14, 2005
    January 14, 2005
    phew. personal

    the long national nightmare is over: with any luck, in two hours i should have submitted my last graduate school application, sent off with many kisses and much arduous editing from tommy, kriston, and jessica. thanks to you all. you took statements and essays that were large steaming piles of rhetorical doo-doo and polished them up into smaller, not-so-smelly piles of somewhat coherent wording (hey, you did what you could).

    and so the Weekend of Birthday Fun can officially commence. having your birthday on a tuesday can kind of suck (despite many goodies from tommy, all i did that day was come home, change into my pajamas, bake a loaf of banana bread and proceeded to eat 2/3 of it), so i'm taking this weekend to celebrate. the itinerary:

  • friday: drinks and dalliances with many a friend at the helix lounge. i've never been there before, but i chose it because it looked like it had lots of good girly drinks and was within a reasonable distance of our house. anyway, i can only hope that the night doesn't grant me too many bombay sapphire martinis, but i'm betting by monday there'll be photographic evidence of me on the internets puking up olives all over the place.

  • saturday: if i can drag anyone out, i think i'll head to the monopoli show at dc9. i have yet to see a concert at that venue, and i hear monopoli is pretty good for d.c. "for d.c." being the operative words in that phrase, so we'll see.

  • sunday: tommy and i will head out to ceiba for some restaurant week action. kanishka has a full report of his experience at ceiba here.
  • and the best part of all? natania, the girl with whom i shared many a glass of wine on our balcony overlooking the alps in italy, is coming down this weekend to visit. so if you see two girls, out on a drunken red-wine bender, stumbling and muttering incoherently in italian - well, just stay the hell out of our way. for your own safety.

    comments [4] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    January 11, 2005
    January 11, 2005
    25 blog  - personal

    happy birthday to me! as several people have put it to me already this morning, "you're now a quarter of a century old!" or "you got a couple more toes in the grave, eh?" yes. well. thanks very much. anyway, the first day of 25 doesn't feel much different from the last day of 24, not surprisingly, so i have very little input about being "officially old" as my sister likes to say. but overall, 24 was a pretty good year, so i'm excited for 25.

    additionally, my 24th year was an excellent one for blogging. this site has been around since august 28, 2002, and my first "post" (actually just a gigantic shot of milanese streets from the roof of the duomo) was on september 2nd, 2002, but for the sixteen months or so, it was primarily a photo blog where i could share tales and shots of my year in italy. as it happens, unrequited narcissism only morphed into a "real" blog more or less around the time of my 24th birthday. reading through the archives last night, it was actually pretty interesting to see how amazed i was about the world of blogging, and totally naive about everything else as well. for example, from like, january to march, i am constantly Outraged! at all the Really Terrible Things conservatives were doing, and then i also proceed to get excited about sites like talkingpointsmemo.com and eschaton.

    but time went on, my writing style became less idiotic (i think), and whenever anything interesting or good or bad happened, i wrote about it here. so let's review some of the minutiae in catherine's 24th year, blog style:

  • we started attending trivia night at fado; came to expect crushing losses; questioned our worth as human beings
  • tommy and i went to obelisk for my birthday dinner, and it was excellent, except i ordered squab for my entree and didn't realize that it meant "tiny pigeon with feet still attached."
  • susan, kriston and i started our face-to-face friendships over three bottles of wine, some hookah and a half-smoke from ben's chili bowl.
  • i spent a lot of time being nostalgic for italy and writing rambling entries about strombolian sex, the cave people of matera, and the masturbating vespa boy.
  • the Great Debate commenced: no, not Clark or Dean - Shark or Alligator?
  • i started flipping the fuck out about cicadas.
  • tommy and i returned to italy for a bit o' a vacation, and it was wonderful. but this is embarrassing: almost a year later, i STILL haven't put all my photos up. what is up is viewable here. please ignore the assholes who have comment-spammed the site. the pictures are worth it, i promise.
  • beach weekend 2004 at the outer banks with a bunch o bloggers! pictures here.
  • i officially signed up for the marine corps marathon via the fundraising team at the lombardi cancer center and started turning the blog into money-whore central.
  • beer day 2004. need i say more?
  • i discovered how truly crazy michelle malkin and all the other "security moms" are.
  • tommy, charles and i moved in to an apt in dc. i learned how not to spread my 32 billion beauty products all over the bathroom, and how a shoe rack can be beneficial to a relationship.
  • i started writing for DCist.
  • i saw many adorable ponies while camping on ass island.
  • i ended up raising $5,000+ with my coworker for the lombardi cancer center and finished the marathon in 4:35.
  • tommy and i celebrated our 4th anniversary. aww. we went out to galileo to celebrate and were treated with a condi rice-spotting.
  • i passed out from linking to past posts because good god, that can get boring pretty quickly.

    anyway, it's been a good year. i have a great boyfriend, wonderful friends, a nice place to live and hopefully some decent future prospects. here's to 25!

  • comments [13] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    January 09, 2005
    January 09, 2005
    of tacos and mimosas personal  - photos

    one new year's resolution that i made to myself was that i would try to be better in my 25th year about documenting my life in photos. i mean, i lead such a fascinating existence that i feel i owe it to my readers to present it in more visual terms so they can be that much more jealous of the fabulousness of it all. so, behold behind the fold: the weekend in breakfast tacos and the black cat. unphotographed, fortunately for all involved: hours of dance dance and karaoke revolution.

    MORE...
    comments [5] trackBack [4] posted by catherine - link
    January 06, 2005
    January 06, 2005
    MIA blog  - personal

    Sorry for the light blogging this week. We've got the official corporate Intern/Child-Of-The-CEO's-Best-Friend in town during her holiday break from college, and somebody's got to begin the lengthy process of breaking her freewheeling collegiate spirit, in order that she might be better prepared for a lifetime of drudgery. So I'm teaching her some programming stuff. Also, laptop briefly dying, applications... hell. It's a mess. Next week I should be back in my PJs, on the couch, and in the mood to entertain.

    comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    January 03, 2005
    January 03, 2005
    you don't understand -- the problem is when everyone else does it personal

    Most of you have probably heard about how scandalously overmedicated we Americans are -- handing out antibiotics indiscriminately has produced superbugs that threaten to defy treatment. But less widely reported -- although, in my opinion, no less newsworthy -- is how direly undermedicated *I* am. Instead of superbugs, though, this injustice just produces gallons and gallons of snot.

    It's almost like clockwork: every year in late-ish January I get sick, then a little better, then back to my original level of sickness, then better still, then descend into zombielike state of near-death that feels like a giant boiled lasagna noodle has been draped over every hole in my head. By the fourth week or so, when I finally drag my sorry carcass to the doctor, it's started to clear up on its own.

    Now, I realize that antibiotics may not be the answer to all this -- it's a long but relatively mild illness without much fever or exotically-colored phlegm. Odds are that more often than not, my January illness-du-jour is viral. But I can't help but remember my dad telling me a story about suffering a similar problem, and having it resolved by a family friend administering a large injection of penicillin one year, in advance of his annual cold. He still gets sick from time to time, of course, but his particular yearly affliction never came back.

    I bring all this up because I'm sick. I started feeling tired and achy yesterday. I thought it was just the usual Sunday malaise -- thoughts about wasting a day watching football segue so easily into thoughts about wasting a life watching TV -- but around 5AM this morning it was clear that parts of my throat were significantly larger than I usually prefer. It also occurred to me that just this Saturday I had watched the Rose Bowl with, among others, the ever-charming but, it must be said, potentially disease-ridden SueAndNotU. So I'm on high alert, illness-wise, and immediately made an appointment with a doctor. Only thing is, I haven't been to the doctor since moving into the city, what with being a hale, hearty, health-insurance-underwriting twentysomething. So off to the Blue Cross website to find a new sawbones.

    I think I've found my guy. He's a little cold, and a little off-putting, but on the sole basis of a "very red looking" throat he immediately gave me a rubber-stamped prescription for some brandname amoxicillin named Augmentin XR. I mean that literally, by the way: he had a rubber stamp for it. Then, to my confusion, he gave me another prescription for the same thing. And this time he used a sticker! Oh, man.

    Between those two scripts and an extra two days' worth of free Augmentin samples, I am practically swimming in antibiotic horse-pills, Scrooge McDuck-style. Bring it on, my microscopic foes. I'm ready.

    comments [8] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    happy 05! personal

    buon capo d'anno, tutti. i hope your new years were not as painful as mine was. after not really having any concrete plans for our evening, and resigning ourselves to the fact that the night might involve hours of mario party + cheap champagne from the 8th street giant, we were rescued by two possible parties to which we could tag along. we first visited kriston and yglesias's house, where they were all dolled up in order to attend the libertarian party (which i will continue to refer to as such, even though yglesias informed me that the libertarianness of the party may have been overstated, seeing as the house throwing the party actually consisted of one libertarian and two liberals). after a few beers there with kriston, though, tommy, charles, julie, jon, paul and i decided to attend erik brolis's party near brookland, because he is latvian, and we all know what that means. actually, i don't know what it means, except latvians drink a hell of a lot, and erik's parties usually end up with his father taking shots with everybody.

    anyway, i told tommy i think i got roofied at the party, because there is NO WAY a healthy, responsible girl such as myself would drink so much that she became a rambling idiot who loved and hugged everybody and then proceeded to black out and not be able to move from the couch for the next 24 hours, only having enough brain cells left to watch 5 episodes in a row of the alias season 1 dvd she received for christmas (and by the way, HOW EXCITED AM I FOR TWO HOURS OF ALIAS ON WEDNESDAY; shall we make a party of it?). nope. that was not me. okay. it was me. it hurt, but i had a fabulous time (i think), so it was worth it.

    and now it's 2005. some things of note that are not at all related to one another:

    -the arcade fire show is already sold out. DCist has two extra tix (yay foresight), though, so we'll be doing a contest this week to give those away.
    -the wilco dates at the 9:30 club go on sale january 5th at 10am. here. i tell you because i love you and also i didn't get tickets to the sold-out show last year, so i don't want that to happen to any of my friends this year. i am so empathetic.
    -cocktails using italian digestivos are apparently going to be hot in 2005, which only proves, once again, how ahead of the curve tommy and i are. okay, we're never ahead of the curve, but just humor us. we (well, mostly tommy) have been into digestivos for YEARS now, especially the artichoke-flavored one, cynar! actually, that one is really disgusting. if you're going to try a digestivo, go for averna or braulio.
    -the NYT lets us know that " There is a growing fraternity in the American tourism industry: vacationers who plan their travels primarily — often solely — around food and wine. " and they're named tommy and catherine. i don't even give a shit about tourist sites anymore. bring on the bacchanalian times!
    -speaking of bacchanalian, my 25th birthday is in 8 days. i would like to maybe do something for it. tommy and i are already going to ceiba during restaurant week to celebrate avec food, but i think a bar night with some friends is in order. any suggestions as to where or when? this saturday is the blue state DJ night at the black cat, so i think i'd prefer the weekend after that, if people are amenable. let me know!

    comments [2] trackBack [0] posted by catherine - link
    January 01, 2005
    January 01, 2005
    happy new year personal

    Still no apocalypse -- but then, this year wasn't divisible by ten, so what were the odds, anyway? It did seem like the end of the world for a while there: I've now firmly established a New Year's tradition by getting food poisoning on Dec. 31st for two years running -- be sure to join me next December 20th for the preparation of the ceremonial New Year's Egg Salad Sandwich!

    Last year was quite bad -- I was out of action for days thanks to a new Indian restaurant in the neighborhood -- but this year's passe Christmas leftovers turned out to be nothing that some cheap champagne couldn't fix. Unfortunately, it broke a few other things in the process, but aside from a nasty welt produced by a falling bottle of Jagermeister, I think we'll be alright by sunset. Good time, all having it, etc. Thanks to Eric for providing the venue for the self-destruction.

    Most entertaining/horrifying moment of the night: driving to Eric's a couple of guys pulled up next to us and motioned for us to roll down our window, which we did. "Happy New Year, folks! Y'all be safe!" the driver said, then continued, "...and we won't be," holding up a pint glass of something frosty and fruity looking as the guy in the passenger seat proudly displayed a bottle of Tanqueray. They seemed awfully charming at the time -- hopefully they didn't end up killing anybody.

    comments [0] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    December 27, 2004
    December 27, 2004
    merry post-christmas wrapup personal

    Well, I hope everyone had a good Christmas and/or Channukah. Santa brought me just what I wanted: checks! Hurrah! I'm planning to wait until MacWorld and its inevitable surprise announcements pass by, then take the plunge and spring for an iPod. What'd you kids get?

    Aside from the crass materialism, there've been some other good bits: seeing old friends who're back in town; watching It's A Wonderful Life (moral: never trust the handicapped); getting smacked down at MarioKart by Jeff's ten year-old brother's irritating friends; and Jon starting a new Christmas Eve tradition, as we unscrewed a very festive bottle of Thunderbird, which, surprisingly, none of us had previously sampled (for the similarly uncultured: think rubbing alcohol and sugar).

    And then there was the family. Tending to the holiday emotional needs of divorced parents gets old pretty fast, but my sister and I managed to fulfill our filial duties without going completely crazy. Christmas Eve dinner with our Dad, his girlfriend Nancy and our Grandmother was particularly nice. Grandma's a retired English teacher and foreign service wife with a fiery intellect and a lovely Vermonter demeanor. I'm incredibly fond of her. And although it's a bit sad to see her decline progressing -- the 24th marked the first time I've seen her tell a story, and as she wrapped it up, begin telling the same story again -- she's still doing pretty well for a dame in her mid-nineties. And they're all good stories, anyway.

    Christmas Day was spent with my Mom and her boyfriend Ray, and they'd decorated a tree, put together a vast array of fun little wrapped things under it (all addressed from "Donner", "Mrs. Claus" and the like, just like when I was a kid), and generally let me regress as far back into my childhood as I could while simultaneously complaining about lower back pain. Plus, Mom's chestnut stuffing: oh man. It's one of those rare foods that takes more calories to prepare than it provides, but fortunately I wasn't the one doing the shelling. Between that and a bitchin' turkey, it was a tasty spread, and a great way to pass the day.

    So Christmas was good, although I'm still smack in the middle of the age range where I'm a kind of familial free agent, which makes things a little awkward and embarassingly wistful. But life is resuming back at the apartment, and we're all trying to figure out what to do with ourselves for New Year's -- a holiday that's clearly better-suited to dissolute twentysomethings.

    comments [1] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    December 23, 2004
    December 23, 2004
    oh man personal  - pop culture

    Things aren't exactly busy at work, so I just fired up a game of Halo. I got beat, badly, by virtually everyone in the last round. But that's not the problem. One of the competitors was twelve. And, when it was all over, the winner (not the twelve year old, although he beat me too) said, "You suck, old guys! You suck!"

    Hard to argue with that.

    comments [3] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    December 21, 2004
    December 21, 2004
    if you can't be smart, be clever; if you can't be clever, be mean personal

    Another Monday, another crushing loss at pub quiz. On the upside, we've once again confirmed that it's possible to cash hypothetical credit toward a non-fiery afterlife in exchange for cheap bar swag. Which is to say we won the team name competition with another horribly offensive entry: "Riding Metro Costs an Arm and a Leg". Subtract ten points for the cliche, but add a hundred for poor taste.

    A better entry: "You come to pub quiz with the team you have, not the team you want". Fortunately for us, the same joke was made by another team (except involving pencils); I think that's what gave us the win.

    And what was our prize? Another set of t-shirts and DC United tickets? Some money of our bar tab? An order of buffalo wings with a laughably sincere Irish backstory? Nope. Four candy canes. Man, that was totally worth sticking around for.

    comments [2] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    December 15, 2004
    December 15, 2004
    we're going to die personal

    Shit. Reading In Shaw, I just realized that this apartment is the first place I've lived in the DC area that doesn't use natural gas for heating its air and water. Given the progressively-longer blackouts the area has faced the past couple of years (thanks to snow, hurricane remnants, badly-timed storms, and utility repairmen turning into pillars of salt), what the hell is gonna happen? I'll tell you what: the District's frozen-corpse-removal budget is going to need to account for another 400lbs or so.

    In a flurry of panic, I just tried to put up the insulating plastic I bought for the windows months ago -- no dice. The windows are about an inch too big.

    Sigh. I guess I'd better start on those memoirs.

    comments [4] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
    November 29, 2004
    November 29, 2004
    king leopold's roast personal

    I hope everybody had a good Thanksgiving. Taking a cue from Speed Dating (a phenomenon at that perfect interesection of novelty and ubiquity where police dramas use it to kill people), I fulfilled my filial obligations in record time, making a trip from my doorstep to Brewster, NY and back in just under 31 hours. Props to Greyhound's Peter Pan service -- aside from an unavoidable conversation about cellphones with some weirdo who saw me reading Wired (human interaction? what kind of geek are you?) the trip was fast and pleasant.

    My grandfather's Dutch, and consequently we had an Indonesian rijsttafel for Thanksgiving. Once they colonized Indonesia, the Dutch figured out pretty quickly that their own cuisine -- which is inexplicably boring considering their proximity to France and Germany -- could use replacing (although their breakfast and dessert items are pleasantly interchangeable). So they kind of borrowed the Indonesians' cuisine. In exchange the Indonesians got... uh. Well, let's just say it wasn't a great deal for them.

    My grandfather loves Indonesian food -- partly because it's tasty, and, I suspect, partly because he's a bloody-minded old coot who gets a kick out of colonialism. After all, this is a guy who tells stories about fighting the Germans as if Hitler was a stepdad he was trying to piss off. Think Gordon Liddy with an aristocratic European veneer.

    He cooked most of the Thanksgiving meal: satay, eggs in pinda sauce, krupuk (like potato chips, except made out of shrimp), coconut rice and generous helpings of sambal (fiery red goo). Good stuff, although I am sorry to have missed the traditional turkey.

    It was an entirely unrelated culinary tidbit that fascinated me, though. My grandfather's live-in nurse/housekeeper is a wonderful lady named Jo, who's Jamaican. She joined us for dinner, and during it she said that Jamaican Heineken is an entirely different recipe from normal Heineken, and that the difference is sufficiently distinct and beloved that you can buy it in Jamaican groceries. I'm not a big fan of regular Heineken, but for some reason this fascinates me. Anybody else every heard of this?

    comments [3] trackBack [0] posted by tom - link
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