Monday, July 28, 2008

"We're Not All Stick Figures..."

Now that I'm earning "real" money, I find myself absolutely delighted when I see something like this XKCD skirt. It would be perfect to wear to work and I can afford to buy it! (And, at $35, it's cheaper than what I might find in a department store.)

I was all ready to place my order and then realized I was missing several valuable pieces of information. Thus, the email I am sending to Randall Munroe (who, according to his website, manages his own online store):

Dear Mr. Munroe,

I really-really-really want to place an order for your new Regex Cheat Skirt, but I don't want to pick the wrong size. Would it be possible for you to post two pieces of information to the store description:

1. What kind of fabric the skirt is made out of,


2. A picture of just the skirt (not on a model), so I can see how the waistline is cut in proportion to the hip width?

I know this sounds like a huge dork request, but it's important to all the women out there who have a large hip-to-waist ratio. We never know whether we need to buy the next size up.

Many thanks,


I wonder if he'll respond?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Mamma Mia: I Love You. Let's Sleep With Other People.

WARNING: The following contains mild-to-major spoilers for the film Mamma Mia... but it's not like the movie's a real cliffhanger or anything.

I saw Mamma Mia tonight, mostly because I like movies which feature singing, dancing, and Colin Firth.

The movie has plenty of all the above. There are very few moments when someone is neither singing nor dancing -- which, when one considers the spoken dialogue, is a very good thing. And Firth, true to form, jumps into a body of water to save the woman he loves. (Do you suppose that's written into his rider?)

If you've read any other reviews, you've figured out that Meryl Streep is made of awesome and Pierce Brosnan can't sing to save his life. I'd argue that Brosnan can't act, either, and that given the choice most sensible women would prefer Mr. Darcy to James Bond, so I don't know why the filmmakers picked Pierce as "the one Meryl Streep ends up with at the end of the movie." (Told you there would be spoilers.)

One particular review I read, while stuck at a metro stop during a thunderstorm, condemned the movie for its "freewheeling morality." (Would post the link, but this isn't the kind of newspaper that is published online.) While one would be hard-pressed to call any of the characters "immoral" (even the theoretical promiscuity leading up to the film's central conceit is ridiculously tame; Meryl Streep's character goes through a breakup and, over the period of a month, tries to find love with two other men), there was one segment of the storyline that troubled me a little.

It happens during the movie's First Fake Ending, with the young couple (which takes place before the Second Fake Ending where Pierce pledges his love to Meryl and then the Real Ending where Julie Walters seduces That Third Actor You've Never Heard Of and everybody pogos... and then there's the Post-Ending and the Post-Post Ending, but never mind).

So the young couple is standing there at the altar, and it's been obvious from the very beginning of the film that they are too young to get married OMG because that's what the dialogue has been telling us. ("How old are you?" asks Third Actor. "Twenty!" chirps too-young-to-be-getting-married Amanda Seyfried.) I'd argue that back-in-the-day plenty of people got married at their age, but the world has changed, and now all of the adult characters in the movie stand around and whisper to one another that this couple is too young to be getting married because neither of them have "seen the world" or "found themselves."

Anyway. So there they are at the altar, and little Amanda Seyfried suddenly says "OMG! We really are too young to get married!" And the twenty-year-old groom says "Oh noes! But I love you!" And Amanda says "But I love you too! So let's travel the world together!"

So here's the question. Why is it more important for them to travel the world unmarried rather than married? Why can't a newly-married couple travel the world?

The answer has to be "well, if they aren't married, then they can sleep with other people." That, and go through a really tragic, painful breakup on the Alps or something.

So that's what bothered me about the movie. (That, and Pierce Brosnan's singing.) There can be few things worse than going to your own wedding and hearing your potential spouse say "Um... I don't think I can do this... but if you'd like, I'll demote you back to boyfriend again, and you can re-prove yourself to me in a foreign country although my entire family seems to be wishing I'll find myself by messing around with a bunch of local boys... which is what my mom did, and that's how I ended up with three potential fathers, but look, we're singing and dancing now, so we're all happy!"

But then they started singing and dancing, so I was all happy.

I Was A Dork In High School, Okay????

In "honor" of the completely unnecessary second X-Files movie, I'll share a little song parody I wrote back in high school.

It's meant to be a take on "Best of All Possible Worlds" from Candide, which you can hear here. (You should watch; it's got Kristin Chenoweth.)

Chris Carter is standing at the head of a classroom. His students are Mulder, Scully, Skinner, and Krycek.

Let us review
Chapter eleven!

Paragraph two,
Axiom... one???

Once one dismisses the rest of all possible shows
One finds that this is the best of all possible shows!

Once one dismisses the rest of all possible shows
One finds that this is the best of all possible shows!

Pray classify
Black oil and green goo:

Black oil clouds eyes.

Green goo eats through shoes!

There is a reason for everything under the sun

Is there a reason why we all said "Axiom one?"

What about bees?

Twas bees that led to Scully's fall
When she was there in Mulder's hall
Oh, happy bliss!
Potential kiss!
The shippers were excited!

Instead, love unrequited!

If bees had not been introduced
In season four first sighted
That kiss would no doubt have produced
A liaison which would reduce
This show to merely twaddle!

Now on to Aristotle!

Mankind is one,
All men are brothers.

Some hybrids come
From human mothers.

It's understood in this best of all possible shows
All's for the good in this best of all possible shows!

What about corn?

Though corn may seem a yummy treat
Our corn you wouldn't want to eat
Because when grown, it has been shown
To hold the black oil virus!

A threat that doth inspire us!

I know that you all want to go
And fight the black oil virus,
But really, if you all must know,
We haven't had corn on the show
Since X-Files: Fight The Future.

A broken mytharc suture.

Mulder, it's me
Sure, fine, whatever...

Mulder, it's me
Sure, fine, whatever...

Proving that this is the best of all possible shows!
Some love, no kisses, the best of all possible shows.

Believe: The truth is out there!
I made this!

The ensemble continues repeating "Believe: The truth is out there" and "I made this!" in various challenging harmonies until they reach the climax:

Believe the truth is out there in this
Best of all possible, possible, possible shows!

Chris Carter leaps onto a table.

I know the truth is out there!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Apartment Pls?

Now that I've got the job thing settled down, the next step is finding a permanent apartment for me (and my kitty).

It's a bit easier than the job search because, unlike my "not knowing the names of all the possible careers available to someone with my experience," I know exactly what I'm looking for in an apartment. (More specifically, I know exactly where I'm looking for. Am much more flexible on the "what.")

Unfortunately, it's back to a bit of that "but what if they don't LIKE me???" business.

Fortunately, I am overwhelmingly likeable. ^__^

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

What If I Don't Look Good In "August?"

I love Ann Taylor Loft. Mostly because, like Old Navy when I was in high school, everything in the store is sized to fit my body.

I went in last weekend specifically to buy this dress:

I also ended up buying this one, simply because it fit so well:

When I took the dresses up to the register, the person working the checkout told me that the purple on the second dress was "the color for August." She then added "so you'll be able to wear the brown dress for a few more weeks, and then everyone is going to switch over to purple and green -- you just watch!"

So my pretty brown dress is going to expire sooner than a gallon of milk???

The worst thing is that I don't think I actually look all that great in purple. I bought the purple-and-black dress because it fit perfectly and the price was right, but I -- for serious -- never wear purple. Why can't August's color be blue? I can totally rock blue!

Today I wore the purple-and-black dress into the office. I went into a meeting, and three other women were wearing the exact same shade of purple.

And it's still only July.

Smart = Social (And Other Fun Things About My Job)

Now that I have a job I like, with people I like, my social calendar has much improved. Have been invited to post-work fun three nights out of the possible five. So... yeah, haven't blogged so much lately. :P

I suppose I keep waiting for the "other shoe" to drop. The truth is, this job is completely 100% amazing. There are so many things that are great about it, including the fact that they're giving me time to expand and improve my mad skillz. I'm all about the learning.

So I'm a bit afraid that something's going to happen and it'll all get taken away from me. I've got a bit of the ol' impostor syndrome, and part of my brain gets thrown away every day on "what if the economy goes under and they can't afford to keep me?!" (Or worse: "What if I did something wrong that I didn't know was wrong and they fire me?!!!")

That kind of thinking usually happens at night, after I've gone home. At work itself, I don't worry about it because I'm too busy working and being awesome.

Seriously, though. Every day I go in and think "how did I get to be this lucky?" I go early and stay late and don't want to leave. I am surrounded by brilliant people and I get to work towards a really cool product. It could have turned out so differently.

I'm so glad it didn't.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


See, this is what I think of when I think of Batman. ^__^


Friday, July 18, 2008

The "Beyond" Was Disgusting. So Was The "Naan."

In the spirit of culinary adventure -- and a longish, untold story as to why I didn't have a lunch packed with me -- I wandered out of the office this afternoon to a little place called Naan and Beyond.

I was very interested to learn what said "beyond" might be; but I think I've decided that from now on I'm not going to trust any place that advertises using that particular word. (Sorry, Bed and Bath.)

In other words: worst food I've had in a long, long time.

To understand why, you have to realize what this cafe serves. It's theoretically a fusion place, if one considers adding coleslaw to be fusion. Naan and Beyond specializes in "sandwiches" made of meat (or paneer, if you're veg), grilled peppers, coleslaw, mayonnaise, mint chutney, mango chutney, and of course the titular naan.

Coleslaw, mayonnaise, and two kinds of chutney.

So now we get to talk about what happens when you eat it. I ordered mine without mayonnaise, considering (and rightly so) that the two chutneys and the oil in the coleslaw would be lubrication enough; since the whole mess is wrapped, tube-style, in naan, taking any kind of a bite results in giant blumps of drippy chutney goo falling out of the other end.

Not to mention that the naan itself was incredibly tough and had to be gnawed at and ripped apart. There is no grace involved in eating the Paneer Tikka Masala Coleslaw Mango Mint Chutney sandwich. Thank goodness no one in the office saw me eating it, because I'm pretty sure I looked feral.

The internet says it's a great place to eat, and the lines usually stretch down the block "even on cold days." This I find (wait for it...) hard to swallow.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Stealing from XKCD and the Discovery Channel

I love my mornings
I love my Metro ride
I love my building
And all of the stuff inside

I love the whole world
Because I love my job. ^__^

Boom de yada, etc.

I love my style sheet
I love my spreadsheets, too
I love Oxford commas
They make flags red, white, and blue

I love the whole world
'Cause my co-workers rock.

(For serious. We have an X-Files club.)

Boom de yada, etc.

I love Ann Taylor
I love Ann Taylor Loft
Though it's undeniably and ridiculously crappy
I even love Microsoft

I love the whole world
Especially because of that dude who said all the buildings can't be higher than the Capitol Building, so when I go outside, I can actually see the sky, and so it's like the world is right there!

Boom de yada, etc.

I love fake bento
I make in my Tupperware
I love my candy dish
'Cause I love having stuff to share

I love the whole world
This place is freakin' sweet!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Muppets are Awesome

The Smithsonian is having a Muppets exhibit.

I went on the very first day.

(Of course, it conveniently opened on a Saturday and I was coincidentally looking for something to do that was free. I'm not that big of a dork, okay???)

The Muppets exhibit was so freaking awesome. The Muppets themselves weren't the draw, unfortunately. Sure, a Kermit behind glass is pretty fun to look at, but thanks to toy stores and the like, we've all seen a Kermit before. The one at the Smithsonian doesn't even have the qualification of being the "real" Kermit, because there's, like, 600 of them.

Nope. The real draw is the multimedia. Old, unsanitized Muppet footage from back in the days when, as Jim Henson himself put it, "We always ended our skits with someone getting eaten or someone getting blown up." (Can't source the quote -- it was from the exhibit itself so there's no hyperlink.)

It almost makes me wish I had been around in the early 1960s, to see things like Henson's series of commercials featuring two Kermit-esque Muppets who talk about the various merits of Wilkins Coffee and then, true to form, blow each other up. (Youtube footage is here.)

It was also fascinating to see how the Muppets were animated. I knew, of course, that the puppeteer was hidden behind the brick wall or trash can or ship deck or windowsill or whatever filled the lower half of the television screen, but I always assumed that the brick wall started at floor level and the puppeteer was sitting or crouching.

Not at all. When Muppets are filmed, the puppeteers stand, and the entire Muppet world (brick wall, background, etc.) is mounted up in the air. The puppeteers hold the Muppets above their heads and manipulate them while staring down at video monitors. (Hard to explain, so the Youtube is here. It's about a minute in.)

The exhibit was, in truth, two exhibits: one for little kids and one for nostalgic Gen-Xers. (In other words, the "pre-Elmo and post-Elmo" years.) The gift shop was similarly divided, with the vintage metal lunchboxes, of course, intended for the adults.

And it was interesting to learn that, even though the Muppets I grew up with have now been determined to be "no longer appropriate for children," there was an even earlier generation of Muppets that were even more violent and creepy, and an even older generation of fans.

They're showing a (free) double-feature of Dark Crystal and Labyrinth next week. Labyrinth is a favorite movie from my very young days (it has puzzles! and logic! it's a movie for dorks!), but somehow I've grown up without ever seeing Dark Crystal. So... looks like I have plans for next weekend!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

I Have A Job! (And It's A Really Good One...)

I have a job.

At a think tank.

And it's really, really good...

It's almost unbelievable, and I feel more than a bit lucky, because I wasn't ever expecting to get a job this good. Perhaps a better way to phrase it would be "I was hoping I might find something this good, but was prepared to settle for far less."

The interview was the most amazing interview I'd ever had. Again, it's that idea of fit; it was probably the only interview I've ever had where I felt like I didn't have to hide who I was -- or my unusual background! (Turns out I'm not the only person at this organization with an "unusual" background.)

I'm not going to go into a lot of detail because I want to set a precedent early on of not actually blogging about my job. (I want to keep the job, after all!) But here's what's worth knowing:

1. The research this think tank does is perfectly aligned with my values/interests. This, for me, is huge. It makes such a difference to be working at a place where I'm really jazzed about the product.

2. The job itself will be challenging and interesting and exciting.

3. The job has the potential to start a career. This is also huge. I think I expected to get a "sort of okay" job at a "sort of okay" company and work there for a year or two before I could level up to a better job at a better company. But this job is the real deal. At the interview, the think tank people talked to me about what could happen in "the future," given my potential and the needs of the organization. I like their theoretical career path.

4. As soon as I get my first paycheck, I won't be poor anymore. ^__^

5. The people I'll be working with are so smart. ^__^

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Just Moved! (Not quite as exciting as "Just Married," but more true.)

I've just moved into a sublet where I'll be staying for the rest of the summer.

Posting will resume once I get settled in. ^__^

(Shouldn't be too long.)

Saturday, July 5, 2008

"Honey, Now You Have A Style!"

I haven't cut my hair in three years.

This is not exactly true. I trimmed it, twice, using hair scissors I bought at Walgreens; but I haven't been in any kind of hair salon since I started graduate school.

By the end of three years my hair was really long.

Sure, it was pretty, but it had started to become a hassle. It was impossible to dry, so I felt like I was spending half of every day going around with wet hair in a messy bun. When it was out of the bun, it kept catching on things, like the back of the office-supply chair I sit in while I temp.

Since I'm going in for a job interview on Monday, I thought it was about time to get a few inches chopped off.

Before I went, I did my research -- and there was plenty of information to be found. In the end, though, for every "I went to XYZ Salon and got the best haircut ever," there was one that read "Well, I went to XYZ Salon and asked for a Posh Bob and got a Katie Holmes Bob instead, and went home and cried."

In the end I wasn't able to make any kind of real comparisons between potential salon quality, and so ended up choosing my first-haircut-in-three-years salon based on how far I would have to walk to get there.

VSL Hair Design.

The next step was finding "the picture," since the salon reviews left the uncomfortable impression that unless you bring along a picture of your desired haircut, you're liable to end up with a Nicole Richie Bob, which is even worse than a Katie Holmes one.

Okay, fine. A picture of a woman with fine, straight hair, medium length, something that would look good on a square face... got it.

(The funny thing is that Cameron is, like, one of my least favorite characters on House. But Jennifer Morrison has baby-fine, super-straight hair. So there you go.)

The VSL experience was pretty awesome. Even though it's a "value" chain (okay, that was the other reason I picked it), it was a far step beyond the MasterCuts and SuperCuts I used to frequent. I got a consultation, during which my stylist took one look at my picture ("House is such a great show!") and then began to explain the components of the haircut and ask me if I was okay with all of them. He was appreciative that I had done my homework and not picked a style that wouldn't work with my hair, and told me the look was totally achievable.

When he started cutting, I mentioned that he was giving me my first haircut in three years. My stylist looked appalled. He spent a moment carefully studying my hair, and then said "Well, it's incredible that it isn't damaged, but it looks like it's in really good shape."

(I didn't respond to this, but I'm curious: wouldn't messing around with hair cause more damage than leaving it alone? I never flatironed or curled my hair, or razored it or anything like that. I just washed, brushed, and braided. So... um... yeah, it isn't damaged.)

In the end it's a little shorter than Dr. Cameron's, and my cowlick prevented the bangs from falling against my forehead like the picture. But... it still looks fantastic.

Or, as my stylist said,

"Honey, now you have a style!"

Friday, July 4, 2008

T-Shirts = Votes. Happy Fourth of July!

While waiting on the National Mall to see the official DC Fourth of July Fireworks Blowout (don't bother; highly overrated and overcrowded), I walked by dozens of small carts selling street meat, water bottles, glowsticks, etc.

Oh, and one thing more.

"O-bama, O-bama, get your O-bama t-shirts right here, change we can believe in, get your Barack Obama t-shirts..."

Every time I walked by a person selling Obama merch, I got all happy inside. Then I realized something that made me even happier.

No one, anywhere, was trying to sell a John McCain t-shirt.

A For-Real Interview!

I have an interview for a job on Monday.

At a think tank.


From this post:

So I called my sis to ask about life in DC, and what kind of opportunities would be available to me.

And she talked about what she was doing at work, and what her friends were doing, and then she said the sentence that clinched the deal: "... and with your skill set, we might be able to get you an entry-level job in a think tank."

Which she had to immediately follow up with "Hey! I said might!"

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Do, or Do Not. There Is No Consume.

So I was all set to write a angsty-sad post about how my world seems to get smaller every day without a job... how I used to dream that I would do XYZ with my life, and then I dreamed about having enough money to take a yoga class, and now I'm just hoping I get paid enough to get a subscription to Fitness Magazine. (Actually, at $17.95 for eleven issues, I could probably afford it on my temp salary... except I don't yet have a permanent address.)

The thesis of my post was going to be something horrifically dreary, along the lines of "I used to dream about doing things... now I dream about consuming things."

Except -- Gaurav, take note! 'cause this post's addressed to you -- I realized that I'm still dreaming about doing things. Everything I dream about is still a doing.

Example: I spent last Sunday afternoon walking through Dupont Circle and going into every single shop, just to see what was there. I saw a lot of cute stuff, and a lot of weird stuff, and a lot of expensive stuff.

The one thing I saw that sticks in my memory was a gravy bowl shaped like a gray cat with black stripes. (The gravy did, of course, come out through the cat's mouth.) It was on a random shelf filled with random kitschy kitchenware, and I looked at it for a moment, because I like kitchenware and I like kitties.

But even while I looked at the gravy bowl, and admired its cuteness, I never really wanted it. What would I do with a cat-shaped gravy bowl? I had no real interest in picking the thing up and taking it home with me; I was simply appreciating it as an objet d'art.

Compare it to the things I actually want. Yoga class. Fitness Magazine. A set of 5 lb weights so I can tone my upper arms. Madhur Jaffrey's World-of-the-East Vegetarian Cooking. An apartment with a decent kitchen. The chance to do open-mic night. The chance to volunteer for Barack Obama. The chance to meet people while volunteering or yoga-classing or open-micing.

About the only non-doing thing I want is clothing, which (I've already mentioned) is partially a tool to get me towards people, which will result in interactions/conversations/etc. which in itself is doing. (Also I want clothes because I want to look professional; which, right now, I don't.)

So, Gaurav. A month ago I argued that it was the desire for stimuli which prompts consumption. Now I'm arguing that it's the desire to do things that prompts us to buy products. Whether it's a Wii, a car, or a cat-shaped gravy bowl (which inspires us to host a dinner party), we buy because we need accessories to do.

Otherwise we're bound by what we can do for free, without accessories... which limits us to sitting in front of televisions (or sometimes laptops), or, as you and I both found out, taking long scenic walks to pass the time.

Am I right?

NYT = Kiddie Pr0n????

Please look at this picture and tell me I'm not seeing things.

The young girl in the forefront is naked, yes? Am I not imagining this?

It's from the article "Coming Home For Herbie."


Even if she isn't naked, she looks close enough to it... how did the editor miss that one?