19 November 2012

Seriously you guys I just can't even

I haven't been blogging lately. I haven't been writing anything at all lately. There are all the usual excuses about how busy I am, and how difficult it is to find time to write when one is a single mom who works full-time and all that. But tonight I decided that I need to face the fact of what I realized earlier today: I don't write because I don't want to deal with it. It's not the writing itself that I can't handle; it's the fact that there are some things that have been inside of me for a long time and need to be written and I don't want to face the thoughts and feelings that will result from processing and writing. And once I realized that, I then recognized that coming to that realization might be part of the healing process, and readiness to record thoughts and feelings might be the next step of healing.

I have a lot of healing to do, you guys.

Probably no one even checks this blog anymore, and that is fine (not just fine, but fantastic) because I can write it all here and nobody on the internet will even bother to read it. I hope I have the courage and fortitude to really write it.

05 July 2012


Perhaps my persistent failure to blog has led to a decrease in readership. I have only myself to blame.

Over this past week, I've actually been hampered by the fact that my home has had no electricity for six days. If you're in, say, Southern California, and you heard on the news that millions of people lost power in the Eastern US, perhaps you thought, ”Oh, those poor people!” Thank you for your concern. My household was one of those affected, and after nearly a week, it still has not been restored. The daily temperatures have been 90-100 F, with unrelenting humidity. With no air conditioning, the situation has meant misery for many. In addition, we have no way to store or prepare food, and the elevated heat and humidity have meant that food stored at room temperature spoils even more rapidly than usual. Everything in my freezer and nearly everything in my fridge just had to be thrown away. The outage also meant no laundry, no internet, no lights... To add insult to injury, everyone else in town has had their power restored. Just my street and a few adjoining streets seem to be left.

My family are uniquely qualified, as it were, to endure life in sweltering weather sans electricity, but that doesn't mean we enjoy it. I don't even like camping. We hope that power will soon be restored to our neighborhood.

04 July 2012

This Land

I am not overly inclined to be sentimental about most things, and indulgence in any sort of fervor is really not my style. My friends and family are quite aware of my tendencies, and would be startled indeed should I suddenly begin professing deep and passionate feelings related to most anything not related to God or my loved ones. My tendency toward patriotism is such that it might seem as though I haven't any at all. In truth, however, I hold much devotion to the nation of my citizenship, though my journey has been one very different from most people's. I was born in the United States of America, but did not really grow up in that country. I was an adolescent before I lived in the US permanently. There is still, and always will be, a part of me that belongs to the home of my youth, and that is the way of human nature. We are capable of such complexity.

How did I come by my slow-growing patriotism? Imagine, if you will, a story such as this: Suppose I was a child born to a woman who may have been lovely, good and gracious. For reasons not relevant to the story, I was removed from my birth mother and raised by a foster mother. We were happy together and lived in harmony for many years. Others may have looked at us and not understood how we belonged together, but we just knew. I thought we would be together forever. Then one day, I was suddenly taken from my foster mother and returned to my birth mother. Though she was frightening in her unfamiliarity, she was kind in her own way and hoped I could learn to accept her. I remained with her out of duty, as it was the correct and proper thing to do, even though I grieved every day for the lost mother of my youth. Year after year, I worked hard to feel as if I belonged with my birth mother, though we had many differences and even angry disagreements. "You don't understand me. You're not my real mother!" Gradually, I came to accept much of what my birth mother had to offer, not least because still, I knew my duty and would work hard for her. (I'm still a good Asian.) Finally, after two decades, I suddenly realized that I had come to love my birth mother, and I can still love my foster mother without conflict, because they each have a place in my life and in my heart. There is always a right time to belong to each of them. My birth mother needs me right now, as she needs all her children. We need to do the right thing by her. She's been having a rough time of it recently, but she still has plenty of fight left in her and looks good for her age.

Happy birthday, Mom Country!

28 May 2012

Buyer's Remorse

Okay, I'm not really an impulsive person, and I very seldom make impulse purchases. However, I was at TJ Maxx the other night looking for something else entirely when I happened upon this outfit and really liked it.
Cobalt blue is one of my favorite colors and tends to flatter my complexion, plus both the dress and the shoes were marked down to a great price! Cha-ching!

Now, though, I'm wondering if I should return them. I don't NEED them. I never have a reason to dress up. I kind of want to keep them, though, because what if I DO need to dress up and a little black dress isn't right for the occasion? Also, it's difficult for me to find clothes, especially dresses, that fit nicely and flatter my shape. I've griped about this topic on my blog before, but really, "tall, slim, and curvy" is one of the most challenging body types to dress. Tops and dresses that are extensive enough to hang properly on a long torso and limbs tend to be so large as to be baggy and swallow up the wearer, making one look drab and dumpy. (See: A lot of what I wore during my college years.) However, moving in the opposite direction can veer dangerously close to Jessica Rabbit territory. No bueno!

This dress keeps everything covered but is short enough to look summery and fun enough to look as if it doesn't belong in the "mother of the bride" section of the shop.

What do you think, dear readers? Thumbs up or thumbs down?

24 May 2012

Late nights

Hi, internet! Have I mentioned recently that I have chronic insomnia? It's pretty much the bane of my life since it is not advisable for me to take prescription meds for the condition.

I talked to my doctor about it at my last physical, and she asked if I had tried natural remedies such as chamomile tea, valerian, and warm milk. Answer: Yes, yes, and (blech) yes. So she just shrugged and suggested trying some relaxation techniques. Sure, doc, I'd love to do those techniques, and if you would come over to watch my child, cook some meals, clean my house, wash some dishes and laundry, etc, I'm certain I could finally find some time for it. And even with relaxation, I'm a remarkably tense person.

Oy vey. All I know is, work will really suck tomorrow.

22 May 2012

More Workplace Shenanigans

Received this message from my coworker:

For a brief moment this morning, I knew exactly what it was like to be you. Or at least pretty close. I asked Travis* if his girlfriend was okay with him going to Hookahville** without her. He said she gave him a look and kind of stared at him like Cyclops. So I said, "What, she only had one eye?" He's like "No, Cyclops, like she had a laser beam coming from her eyes at me." Turns out, it was not the Greek mythology Cyclops he was referring to. It was the X-Men version.

Yes, dear readers, it's nice to be understood once in a while.

*our coworker
**small hippie music festival taking place in Thornville this weekend

16 May 2012

In the News

Stupidest headline I've seen so far today : "Is China’s crackdown on foreigners about crime or illegal immigration?" (from msnbc.com)

If this particular immigration is illegal, i.e. against the law, isn't that in itself a crime? Unbelievable. I believe our noble fourth estate is about to enter foreclosure, people.

06 May 2012

How Things Happen

Question: What is Beatrice's role toward Dante?
9 pm
Me: Beatrice is Dante's teacher.
Everyone else: No, no, that can't be it.
12:00 am
Everyone else: Beatrice is portrayed as Dante's teacher.
Me: *facepalm*

Oh, well.

05 May 2012


I'm in a session of a weekend-long seminar on Dante's Divine Comedy. It reminds me of how much I need to read and study more. I can't believe how many layers there are to unwrap: symbolism of colors, numbers, etc.; classical allusions; philosophical references.

Life is too short to read everything worthwhile.

18 April 2012

Stuff We Talk About At Work

From my work IM buddy:

Him: I'm thinking you should be on a reality show...
Me: Porque? I doubt anybody would want to watch me dig up worms and read Plato.
Him: Like you should be on a dating show, where guys go on a first date with you, and you just be yourself, and watch their reaction as you say things.

Ridiculous, yet at the same time, no worse than most of the reality TV shows that populate the airwaves.

28 March 2012

Read the Jar, Evelyn Wood

I am a fond reader of the Wall Street Journal. Or rather, I read WSJ Online. It's not just the often interesting and informative articles--although the WSJ has its fair share of lame fluff articles as does any major publication. No, as I've mentioned before, the real beauty of the WSJ site is in the comment section. Any news site has trolls, but the Wall Street Journal usually has a higher class of troll. Marxists and libertarians battle it out with sharply worded and often correctly punctuated retorts. I've started to recognize many of the names of regular posters, and some of them are so prolific that I can only assume they spend at least 8 hours daily commenting on WSJ articles. Of course, some commenters are just the regular kind of troll, so it's not all vaunted wit and wisdom.

But I also have found that some of the WSJ writers have a deft turn with a sarcastic phrase or two. In this article, decrying the tendency of liberalia to idealize the European socialist state model, conveniently ignoring the ever-rising tide of financial and political catastrophe flowing through these very supposedly ideal nations. Helprin throws a snarky bone to the Euro-lovers and bestows a backhanded compliment upon Europe's obviously superior cultural offerings:
Europeans make better movies; their cuisine is better (except in Eastern Europe, Central Europe, Scandinavia, England, Ireland, the Low Countries, Germany and Switzerland); and they do a better job of suppressing modern architecture, for which they are to be commended.

Well, if you don't see the humor, I just don't know how to explain it. For my part, I love Europe and see a lot of value in their culture, but at the same time, who doesn't enjoy the puncturing of overblown ego here and there?

27 March 2012

Conversations from Work

I haven't posted much at all, and it's been a long time since I offered any "conversations from work" material. My coworker here is pretty shrewd in his ability to take the wind out of my sails, plus he has suspicions about who or what exactly I am. Even I wonder about me sometimes...

Me: People get so easily distracted. Individual freedoms are at stake. People are stupid. It makes me angry that I have to be one.

Coworker: Are you certain you are?
Me: I reproduced effectively with another human being. Biologically speaking, that defines me as a member of the species... Although basing my definition of my own humanity on my reproductive viability seems like something an alien would do, right?

03 March 2012

On holiday

I'm having a bit of a much-deserved holiday in California. Yes, I'm in the land of Starbucks, Jamba Juice, and sunshine. I'm having trouble coming up with something to blog about, as I'm focused on alternating between sleeping and eating and imbibing caffeine.

29 February 2012

The OC

I'm back in Orange County for a few days. As always, it's weird to be here. In my heart, I'll always be a California girl, but it doesn't feel like home anymore.

24 February 2012

Snark Bait

Apparently this is what I do on my lunch break when I'm feeling particularly irritated.

Last year I saw this full-page ad in a Christian e-newsletter I receive regularly. It rubbed me the wrong way, in so many different ways, that I put it in Paint and scrawled snark all over it. I have no recollection of what was going on in my mind at the time or why I decided to vent in this particular way; I just found this picture file on my work computer.

It's safe to say that I am not the target market for movies like "Courageous".

22 February 2012

New Found Glory

Listening to New Found Glory's "Coming Home" album always takes me back to the fall of 2007, when I was living alone in Visalia, pregnant, working at a small company that did architecture and construction engineering. Professionally speaking, it was one of the happier times, but everything else about my life then was very dark and difficult. You'd think that New Found Glory would thus have negative associations for me, but actually, I still really like their music and especially this particular set of recordings. "Familiar Landscapes" and "Boulders" are both songs that I can listen to again and again.

I listened to the album today, and I can hardly believe that it was all more than four years ago. On the other hand, I'm not even the same person that I was back then, so it's almost like experiencing the memories of some other individual, though one whom I know slightly and with whom I empathize. Also, more than ever, I feel as if I floated through the second wave of the pop-punk renaissance (2002-2006ish) without realizing that it would pass all too soon.

20 February 2012

Hot Tip for Cat Owners

Cross-posted from over at Simple Pleasures.

This post relates to two of the simplest of pleasures: owning (and caring for) pets and saving money. I enjoy both of those activities! As a cat owner and cat lover, I've spent a fair amount of money over the years buying the kitty cat necessities: food, litter, litter boxes and scoops, catnip and toys... I started out with the standard clay-based litter, and while it was functional, it didn't neutralize odors, it scattered and spread dust everywhere, and it created a lot of trash. I know that clay is a natural material, but it didn't seem useful to put a bunch of dirty clay in the landfill. I switched to silicon crystal litter, and while it was quite expensive by comparison, it absorbed odors much better than clay, it didn't have much dust, and it produced less waste because less of it was required to be effective and it lasted twice as long per unit as clay litter. Still, I didn't like sending all those bags of tiny rocks into the landfill to fester in nitrogenous waste. And even more than that, I didn't like spending top dollar on something for my cats to poop on.

One day, while shopping at the local grocery mart, I decided to take the plunge and try something completely new and different: plant-based litter. While more expensive than clay, it is far cheaper (~$5 for 10 lbs) than crystal litter. The pine pellets are resource-efficient: in addition to being 100% natural and biodegradable, they are formed from the waste product (sawdust) of another industry (lumber). Perfect!

I bought a few bags and found that I loved the effect: pellets absorb odors as well as the crystal (I don't have quantitative data, as I don't own a smell-o-scope; I'm just judging from my own olfactory experiences) and when stirred to activate or increase absorbency, they emit a pleasant "pine fresh" odor. I was happy with my choice and worked on switching over completely to the new litter system. And then... while researching pine litter on the internet, I read that the "pine pellet cat litter" is actually sold very cheaply in bulk at feed stores because it has been used as horse stall bedding for ages, and has just recently been adapted, remarketed and sold (with significant price increase, of course) as cat litter.

I live in a small town in a rural area, so at the next opportunity, I took myself off to the local farm supply superstore and picked up two bags of pine pellets, each bag $5 for 40 lbs. While not everyone would find it practical to stock up on 80 lbs of pine-scented cat litter (I know, for example, that there are apartment-dwellers who wouldn't have a place to put it), there are probably feed and farm supply stores that carry smaller denominations that still provide the benefit of bulk pricing.

I'm happy with my purchase. And I'm thinking about putting the post-usage sawdust in my compost, where it is likely to not only biodegrade (nature has microbiotic organisms who exist to break down nitrogenous waste) but also to keep away critters who have been messing up my bin but may be dissuaded by the scent of feline urine. I'll keep you posted.

17 February 2012

Friday Five: Five Things I'm Good At

Over at The Collective, the topic of the week is "Five Things I'm Good At", although being uncomfortable with phrases ending in a manner prepositional, I would probably restate it as "Five Things At Which I Am Good". And since I haven't done a Friday Five in a while, I thought I'd steal the theme to prompt for a blog post.

At first, this topic sounded pretty easy. I generally remark that one of the curses of being me is that I'm actually pretty good at a lot of stuff, but I'm not great at anything. So surely I could find five things wherein my performance could be described as "good". Right? But then I remembered that many of the things I do well are actually things I used to do well and haven't done for a while. Example: Dance. I was no Anna Pavlova, but I was at least good enough at ballet that my ballet teacher asked me to work as her teaching aide for some of her younger classes. But unfortunately, the summer before I was to start doing that, she had emergency surgery on her foot and couldn't dance or teach anymore, so not only was I not helping teach ballet but I didn't even have a ballet teacher myself, and I never found another instructor that I liked, and so I stopped dancing in my senior year of high school. I haven't done ballet for 15+ years and while I'd like to start dancing seriously again, my lifestyle (single parent who works fulltime) doesn't support that kind of effort. Life is about trade-offs. Oh! But I'm kind of good at trade-offs, then, right?
  1. Trade-offs - I still have a lot to learn and gain in this area, but I'm pretty good at maximizing what I can do within the restrictions of what I can't. Does that make sense? Case in point: graduate school. Now, I'm as dedicated as anyone to wanting to get straight A grades, and I have for most of my life. But during the majority of my time in grad school, I was working fulltime and married. I could have done nothing but work and schoolwork the whole time, and come away with a perfect 4.0 GPA, but I decided that I wanted to spend time with my husband and family and friends, go to Disneyland, read fun books, watch movies and TV... Basically, I opted for having a life while also working and in school, and so I was willing to take a GPA between 3.8 and 3.9. I graduated with high honors and managed to do most of what I wanted. Not bad, all told. [Note: This is an engineering trait. We are essentially lazy; we devise ways to get maximum return for minimum investment and then use terms like "efficiency" and "earned value" to paint ourselves as virtuous and disguise our inherent lack of interest in putting forth any more effort than is absolutely necessary.]
  2. Being a dedicated mother - I've had to accept that nobody can be a perfect parent 100% of the time, but I really do care about being a good mother and try hard at it every day. I'm going to count myself a success, because after more than 4 years, my child is still alive, relatively healthy and well-adjusted. He solves puzzles far above his age level and can do addition and subtraction in his head.
  3. Traveling - My style may not be to everyone's taste, but all things considered, I'm very very good at traveling, especially internationally. I make good packing lists. I can include everything that might be needed but travel light and pack everything into an impossibly small piece of luggage. [My primary fault is packing too much reading material--books and magazines are heavy, you know--but to be stuck in an airport or airplane without something to read would be a travesty.] I try to know everything I can about my destination(s). If I'm traveling with companions, I might even put together little travel-sized pamphlets for everybody, containing useful things like maps, our itinerary and schedule (even though we don't usually stick to our schedule), phone numbers to the American embassy and our hotel/airline, even (if necessary) key phrases in languages spoken where we'll be traveling. I probably already know a lot about the history and geography of our destination(s) (see #4, below) but I'll research everything that I don't already know and then bore you to tears by telling you about it. When in country, I'll spend way too much time in museums, staring in awe at some particular artifact that is very important to me, even though it looks like just a dusty old piece of rock to everyone else. Despite my US passport, I am invariably mistaken to be German, even by flight attendants on Lufthansa, so it makes for some fun and funny confusion at times. If we get stranded anywhere, miss a flight, lose luggage, whatever, I'll be loads of fun in the airport while we wait, and I'll make sure that everything turns out all right in the end (okay, I don't have any control over most of what happens in airports, but I will always maintain a positive attitude and take care of my friends). Lets save up several thousand dollars and go to Europe together--you won't regret it, I promise!
  4. Retaining obscure knowledge - I remember all kinds of generally useless facts on any and all subjects. I read a lot and have good recollection for things that I've read. This makes me a force with which to be reckoned at Trivial Pursuit. Sadly, unless I go on Jeopardy, this mastery of trivia is unlikely to be beneficial in a monetary sense.
  5. Old movies - I have spent many hours of my life watching classic old movies, from silents (veritable antiques) to 1960s epics (not so old). I really enjoy films from a bygone era, and as with general trivia, I remember pretty much everything about my old movies. I can recognize even obscure character actors. I know all about German expressionism, film noir, new wave, and other cinematic trends. I have strong opinions about a lot of things related to film in general. Good times, good times.

08 February 2012

Best Quote of the Day

...and it's only 8:15.

From Michelle Malkin: "Romney gets Rick-Rolled". =D

Being a libertarian (more or less), I don't have unreserved love for Santorum, but I'm impressed that he's soldiered on while being cast consistently as the underdog in the current Republic presidential primary.

I'm not particularly political on this blog very often, so there's your nugget for the week.

31 January 2012

Tropical diseases finally get attention

Drug companies are teaming up to tackle hitherto-neglected tropical diseases, from leprosy to tropanosomiasis and many in-between. Thank you to the Gates Foundation for ponying up enough money to get the attention of Big Pharm firms, which usually (and understandably) prefer to focus on developing drugs aimed at rich westerners with first world problems.

18 January 2012

Film Review: Alexander the Great

This 1956 epic has some promise but ultimately fails as both a historical saga and an entertaining epic. Some top-notch actors head the cast, but the production itself is uneven. The sets look cheap at times but other times sumptious and solidly real. The costumes are mostly attractive and fairly period-appropriate, though the men's mini-skirts and short-shorts are at times distracting and odd, especially on the battlefield. On the plus side, the scenery is lovely, with Spain as a shooting location standing in nicely for both Greece and Asia. The editing is perplexing, at best. And sadly, the battle scenes, which should be the highlight of any epic based around a military leader, seem to be poorly planned and executed.
Fredric March comports himself well as Philip of Macedonia, in that he is virtually unrecognizable behind his beard and appropriately brutish, as would befit a barbaric tribal warlord of 4th century BC. Yes, he's a trifle overblown and hammy, but that's the only logical way to play Philip. French actress Danielle Darrieux is lovely and distantly regal as Olympia, Alexander's mother, but (like Angelina Jolie in a 2004 film about Alexander) she is still far too young to be believable.

Unfortunately, Richard Burton wears an unlikely and unflattering blond wig throughout the whole thing, and Burton himself seems far too old for the eager and impatient teenaged Alexander of the first part of the movie. He fares better as the story moves along, but is strangely subdued when he should be seething with charisma portraying a man who conquered the entire known world by the age of 33. It's stranger still when one considers that this was Richard Burton, a man who didn't lack for charisma in any sense. It must have been a directorial decision, but it was misguided, as it makes the entire film flat.

Claire Bloom glows as Barsine, half-Persian/half-Greek who sees that the Western Greek is the new order of the world, as the corrupt Eastern Persian order will pass away before such vigorous young energy and philosophy. Bloom, of course, has the ability to elevate any scene in any film in which she is present, and so she does here, but her presence in the film (token attractive babe AND voice of wisdom and morality) is odd. It was as if the writers and director tried to pack too much into a sadly underwritten role.
The character of Darius, the emperor of Persia, is particularly disappointing as a counterpoint to Alexander, as he is portrayed with all the royal majesty of a bored bank manager.

Final judgment: Alexander the Great is worth seeing if you have some time to kill, but it falls far short of classic status, all the more sad because of all the wasted potential.

Dear Blog

How I have neglected thee (as usual)! It's not that I haven't been blogging. I've written at least half a dozen blogs on a variety of topics, including a few reviews of books and movies. However, I haven't completed any of them. I'm also trying to pull together my simplicity work and writing over on Simple Pleasures, and I haven't even started any posts there! I've actually been doing a lot of work around my house: decluttering, moving furniture, reorganizing pretty much everything... Fortunately, I've gotten some help with the heavier stuff, since I'm not physically capable of, for example, moving a bed by myself.

We just keep on keeping on.

11 January 2012

January 2012 - Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month

FYI: President Obama and the US Congress have designated January as Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Today is Human Trafficking Awareness Day.

I hope we can take a moment to lift up in prayer those who suffer from injustice and beseech the Lord to bring justice soon.

10 January 2012

Family Fun

So the Little Bug and I enjoyed some fun-filled Christmas holidays with family in Southern California. The weather was excellent, particularly in contrast to the weather we'd left behind in the midwest. It was special to spend time with my sister Mia, who has two children (ages 2 and 5), and her friend Charlotte, who has one child (20 months); we did things like go to Starbucks and the park, like regular old middle-class stay-at-home moms (a milieu I can enjoy only very seldom, being a single mom who works full-time when I'm not on holiday).

On one park visit, I noticed that another parent at the park (there with his own children) was giving us funny looks. At first, I thought he was just rude, but then I realized that he was trying to figure out how we all fit together! In terms of appearance, my sister's children are black, and her friend's child is Asian. The Little Bug has very Anglo looks, as do all of the moms involved. Furthermore, Mia and Charlotte actually look more like sisters than Mia and I do. To complicate things even more, we were all running around looking after each other's little ones, so it would not have been readily apparent which mother belonged with which child(ren). We don't think anything of it, because this is just how our family is, but to an outsider, perhaps it might elicit a double-take.

04 January 2012

The latest horridly talentless pop sensation?

The Onion skewers the current pop music industry with its seemingly endless line of over-produced, over-sexualized, under-talented young female performers. It's funny because (1) the (fake) interviewers deadpan all the things that we actual human beings wish we could say to the K'ronikkas of our world and (2) this song, while produced as a satire, is uncomfortably close to being what really travels the airwaves. *shudder*

Warning: I would rate the music video portion as PG-13, though it's definitely not any worse than one would see in an actual music video.