Monday, March 31, 2008

Baseball on the brain

In addition to reading his Newsweek column about my friend Dan's baseball and science book, this afternoon I read George Will's baseball column from yesterday's Houston Chronicle. Will says "Today, baseball arrives in the nick of time to serve an urgent national need. It gives Americans something to think about other than superdelegates."

Agreed. And it's only fair that the blog focus on the topic at hand.

So, today, while simultaneously working and paying attention to the Nationals' win against the Phillies, I stumbled across this interesting article about the dimensions of the new ballpark and exactly which hitters it might benefit. I am struck by a couple of things: First, that the dimensions of the new ballpark really aren't all that much smaller than RFK (Left field at RFK 335 ft vs. 336 ft at Nats Park; Left-center 380 vs 377; Center field 410 vs 403; Right-center 380 vs 370; Right field 335 vs 335); and second, the frequency with which well-hit fly balls at RFK fell in for hits (100 of 187, or 55.2%). The park just seemed a lot worse than it was, I guess -- and perception became reality.

Oh, and everyone should buy Dan's book.

Opening Night at Nationals Park

While on line for hot dogs, I told Dan that I felt like a twelve-year-old. The stadium was so bright, so new, so . . . amazing. And that was before the game even started, let alone how it ended.

But words don't really do it justice. Here are my pictures:

And here's the video of the ceremonial first pitch:

Thursday, March 27, 2008

T-shirt Meme

I stumbled across this t-shirt meme on Casual Slack, and realized that not only was it apropos, but it has been quite some time since I blogged about t-shirts.

Here are the rules:
1. Link back to the original post.
2. Describe two t-shirts that you own.
3. If you design your own vanity t-shirt what would it say?
4. Where would you wear your vanity t-shirt?
5. Tag three of your best blogging buds.

So, without further adieu, here are three blue t-shirts:

1. This one's my favorite:

2. This one used to be my dad's, a long long time ago:

3. If I were going to design a vanity t-shirt, it would probably be dumb. I'm much better at expressing myself through other people's t-shirts. But I really like this one:

4. I would probably wind up wearing the Jordan Catalano t-shirt to the same places that I wear all of my silly t-shirts to. Which is pretty much everywhere that doesn't have a dress code. But I would definitely wear it while watching my My So-Called Life DVDs.

5. I will not tag anyone on this. People hate being tagged.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Do not try this at home

I managed to get my taxes filed on Monday. Thank god for TurboTax. And Wesley Snipes.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Last night, I had a pretty long telephone conversation with my dad. He's not much of a complainer -- or a talker -- but apparently, the quiet of being in the house by himself is starting to get to him. How do I know this? He actually said that he couldn't see spending the rest of his life in the house, by himself.

He also asked me if, theoretically, I would have a problem with him dating.

I didn't know how to respond to that. The whole idea of having a single parent is so foreign to me. Plus I don't think he's ready as much as he's just lonely and used to having someone there all the time, the way it had been for the prior 34 years. So I said "Dating is such a loaded word."

He didn't know what I meant. We then had a discourse about how, to his generation, pretty much any time you make plans to do something with someone, it's a date. I laughed when he said that, because if that were true, I date a lot more than I think I do.

I told him that's what his kids call "hanging out."

I then decided it would be fun to turn the tables on him: I asked him if he has a problem with me dating. He thought about the question for a second, and said, "Only when I think about it."

Ah, there's the rub. Anything is okay as long as you're not thinking about it.

And in that line, the more I think about the conversation, the more bothered I am by it. Why is it that my dad hasn't even been living by himself for two months and he is so bothered by it, where I've been living by myself for the better part of six years, and I find it so much more palatable than the alternative? I mean, I absolutely relish having my own space.

I guess maybe I should be lonelier.

Monday, March 24, 2008


With the revelation that it's not really true that watching basketball during March Madness decreases my productivity, I've been thinking about my work productivity and how it could be better.

Clearly, the answer to that is "take away my internet access." Forget about managing basketball brackets; it's the reading websites and email that suck away all my time.

But you know what I really learned today? I'm currently at the pinnacle of my productivity: It's scientifically proven that I'll be way less productive if I ever have kids. That is a scary, scary thought.

Still, what scares me more is how this is surprising enough to merit a study.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Precious things

My mother loved jewelry. She loved to go into shops, look in the glass cases, try things on. Once she said she was going to buy some stones and start designing her own pieces.

Her taste was so different from mine. I like very simple and small things, she liked things you could see from another zip code. But it didn't stop her from buying me (and my sister) all sorts of necklaces, bracelets, rings, and earrings. Most people would never know about this, because I tend to wear the same couple of pieces all the time.

For example, there's one necklace I wear more often than any of the others. It's a small gold chain with a small gold letter "D." The charm was something that someone got for me when I was a very little girl. I think it was because someone had bought my sister something with her name on it, and got me the "D" as a way of making it up to me that we could never, ever find anything in any store with my name on it. I was so young at the time that I don't really know who got it for me -- whether it was my mother or one of my grandmothers or even someone else. What I do know is that it's something I cherish.

I also have one bracelet that I wear pretty much every day -- a very thin gold bracelet with hearts. My mother bought me this bracelet when I was 20 or 21, for Hanukkah. It actually was the first bracelet she got in what became a series of birthday/holiday bracelets, one each year for five or six years. It got to the point that I would make jokes about the "annual bracelet."

Because of the link pattern and the fact that it's very small and dainty, the bracelet is one of my favorite things, and I've worn it pretty much every day since I got it. I pretty much don't take it off, and it's so small that I often forget it's there. I forgot to take it off when I made my mosaic tables that are now plant stands, so there was tile grout stuck in several of the links for years. More recently, one of the hearts snagged on something and bent. And then today, one of the links started to break.

So, I took the bracelet to get it fixed. They charged me $40. I'm not entirely sure that my mother even paid that much for the goddamn thing, but I paid it anyway. I guess it was worth that much.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Musings on the state of celebrity journalism

I don't remember how, but earlier today, I stumbled across this Salon article about celebrity gossip. It actually made reference to the Atlantic Monthly article about being a papparazzo on the trail of Britney that I read yesterday. Which was totally the point of last night's South Park.

But I digress.

I started reading the article at my desk while eating my lunch and I laughed out loud enough times that I decided that, in order to prevent choking, it would be best to put down my fork until I got to the end. Here are the most ridiculous morsels, with commentary:

  • ". . . all I could do was stare at my candy-colored cover choices, recognize in some dazed way that I didn't know what a Heidi or a Spencer was. . . ."
Man, I miss that feeling. I kept hearing those names, along with L.C. and Brody, and I had no idea who these people were. Alas, then I stumbled across an episode of The Hills and now I wish I could go back to the earlier, more innocent time.
  • "Perhaps the biggest shift in how we ingest our gossip, though, is the feeling of over-saturation and over-stimulation. We have gorged ourselves on nip-slips and sex tapes and divorce proceedings to the point of queasiness at the idea of consuming another morsel of celebrity meat. Or maybe that's just me."
It's just you, hon. How else can you explain the number of magazines that are being sold, the number of gossip websites and blogs, or the fact that Jennifer Lopez sold her babies' first pictures to People for god-knows-how-much. Just because two magazines folded doesn't mean the celebrity gossip industry is going down. My suspicion is that it has more to do with the nature of print journalism.
  • ". . . a slew of midlevel actors . . . were only likely to make really juicy national headlines if they did something incontrovertibly nutty, hopefully in front of a wandering photographer: Julia Roberts ditching Keifer Sutherland before their wedding, Rob Lowe bedding an underage chick at the Democratic convention, married Bruce Springsteen cavorting in his skivvies with the girl in his band on a Rome rooftop."
How is this any different than Britney marrying her childhood friend on a drunken whim in Vegas or Brad Pitt ditching Jennifer Aniston for Angelina Jolie and then adopting half of the world's population?
  • Picking up an US Weekly no longer guarantees a visit with a cast of familiar characters, but a roster of mysterious names: Minka Kelly, Benji Madden, Stacy Keibler -- who the hell are these people and what are they doing in my imagined celebrity neighborhood?
Just because you don't know or really care about them doesn't make them non-celebrities. And people have been famous for being famous for as long as there's been such things.
  • "And to read up on those names I do recognize, I no longer need to turn to the tabloids. Not when Wall Street Journal writer Asra Nomani is writing Op-Eds for the L.A. Times about Britney Spears, or the Atlantic is putting her on its cover. . . .When Heath Ledger died in his Manhattan apartment, it was the New York Times that led the coverage of the story, and by the time the celebrity weeklies hit stands after the death of Anna Nicole Smith, CNN had been covering the story for four days in a row, with more vigor than it might apply even to a tight primary contest."
So let me get this straight: Celebrity gossip is dead because the mainstream media is doing it? That so does not make sense.
  • ". . . I find myself longing for a return to some old-fashioned canned stories cooked up by publicists and pegged to movie releases. I'm over stars being just like me, or worse off than me. I would like them to be different, and more glamorous, and better . . . I would like to read about their attractive homes and perfect relationships and healthy but satisfying Zone diets and think to myself: "Well, easy for them! They're celebrities!""
Clearly, you're not reading the right magazines. Put down the US Weekly and try Vogue or Glamour or In Style or even Vanity Fair if you just want to see celebrities all dressed up and leading enviably perfect and interesting lives.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Interesting quizzes

Yesterday, Gene Weingarten's chat linked to two face recognition tests. I only missed one on the celebrity quiz, but I only scored an 86% on the regular test. Clearly this means that way too much of my brain is devoted to utter nonsense.

Then, today, my brother sent me this quiz where the complete lyrics for a well-known rock song placed in alphabetical order, with each word appearing no more than once (regardless of how many times it appears in the actual song) - and you're supposed to guess the song.

It's harder than it looks, but, as I just noted, I'm pretty good at nonsense. I spent about twenty minutes on it, and, on first glance, I was sure of 31 of the 50. When I spent a little time thinking about it, I came up with ideas about another 6 or 7, which as luck would have it, turned out to be mostly right.

Let me know how you do.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

It's not The Mall, it's just a mall

Most of the time, I really like where I live, generally speaking. I mean, I'd like a bigger apartment, and I'd like to own it rather than rent, but it's a pretty nice place, my commute is reasonable, and it's convenient to just about everything -- especially the mall.

Sometimes, however, the mall is more trouble than it's worth. And no, I'm not talking about Christmas -- because around Christmas, people are generally on a mission, and, as a result, move through the mall with some kind of logic and purpose. Nope. The real problem is this time of year, from about mid-March to mid-April where the mall is filled to capacity with teens (and pre-teens) on various school trips.

In the mall, teenagers mostly just hang out and talk and giggle. And they pay absolutely no attention to their surroundings, which often includes commuters trying to get around them in order to get home. So, every day, I have to carefully navigate my way through a bunch of kids in matching t-shirts standing in clusters between the escalator and either the video game store or the candy store.

I want to push them out of my way, but, sadly, most of them are bigger than me.

Today, I came to a realization, though: I should cut the kids some slack. I was probably just as annoying as a teenager, and I know with certainty that I spent a lot of my leisure time in malls. (Okay, most. Whatever.)

More importantly, the annoying blocking traffic thing? It's not really the kids' fault.

See, in the midst of being caught in a larger than usual traffic jam right in front of the escalator, I concluded that the blame really lies with the chaperones -- the adults that, under the guise of being responsible, let a large group of teenagers loose on the mall with instructions to meet back at a certain place and certain time. Generally, that place is either right in front of the escalator that leads to Metro or right by the front entrance.

Time after time, these adults do this without ever entertaining the notion that their large group might wind up impeding traffic. And once their group is assembled, the adults generally don't notice -- or don't care -- that they're in the way. And, in the very unusual circumstance when they do become aware that they're blocking the way, they don't/can't/won't do anything to fix the situation -- like perhaps moving their group closer to one side or the other.

These are the people that you send your kids on field trips with, America. They're not even smart enough to get out of the way.

Monday, March 17, 2008

To-do list

I know I said I wouldn't ignore this blog, but life has a way of interfering. I've been trying to get everything at home in order before the cleaning lady comes this week. Which means that I am finally going to put my pile of clean laundry away. And go through my mail from the past eight weeks, which is mostly catalogs and condolence cards. And then maybe, just maybe, I'll get to my taxes this weekend, before the fantasy baseball drafts.

I'm not faring as well with the getting organized at work. I meant to start going through my mail at lunch today, but instead, I made a fillable NIT bracket for the PH4H NIT Pick-'em. And I know I'll be doing it again tomorrow for the Women's bracket. But maybe I'll get to it on Wednesday.

Sunday, March 16, 2008


The end result of my being out of town for so long is that I still have piles of stuff to go through and put away. Mostly, now, in the apartment, it's piles of mail and piles of laundry. (In the office, it's just mail.)

I saw this article the other day, and I have to admit that I'm just a tad jealous. I wish I could have someone come in and reorganize my clutter. If I actually buy a place, I should probably incorporate these suggestions.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Game theory

At work, I'm taking this negotiation skills workshop that involves all sorts of little role-playing exercises. One involved a variation on game theory -- two teams are at war with each other, you both have 100 missiles, and can either try to annihilate each other or work something out.

My first instinct was total and complete annihilation. I think that's always my starting point.

My team was more open-minded. The majority decided that we should start destroying our own missiles as a sign of goodwill. In the back of my mind, the entire time, I was convinced that the other side was just lulling us into complacency. The prisoner's dilemma, yadda yadda yadda.

I was wrong. Surprisingly, my coworkers -- all lawyers -- are honorable people, people of their word, and both sides managed to negotiate a solution where there was no loss of life, and an almost complete destruction of both arsenals. Win-win.

I keep coming back to the same thought, though: If I had been allowed to follow my instincts, I would have caused World War III. Clearly this means that I need to work on some trust issues. For the greater good.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Remember when I said I was going to do Couch-to-10K? Well, check this out.

I promise I won't ignore this place, though.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Trial, day 21 -- a look back

So, we finally finished the trial today, and I got to drive back from Newark with a car full of boxes. But now the fun (read: briefing) begins.

But let's focus on other things for a minute. Like how different things are now, versus where they were on January 15:

  • When this trial began, it was the beginning of winter. Now it's almost Spring.
  • When this trial began, Mitt Romney looked like a viable candidate, and Hillary Clinton was the Democratic front-runner. Back then, the Republicans were playing attack ads, and the Democrats were playing nice. Now John McCain has the Republican nomination sewn up, and Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are fighting it out for the Democratic nomination.
  • Since this trial began, I have had two changes to my salary, and I got a new boss. (actually my boss's boss's boss, but who's counting?)
  • When this trial began, I hadn't stayed in a Hilton in the better part of a year. Now I have either gold or silver Hilton Honors status.
  • When this trial began, I only knew of two good restaurants in Newark. Now I could direct people to at least six. (Unfortunately, five of them have very similar Portuguese food.)
  • Since this trial began, I have eaten more M&M cookies than I could count -- more than any time since my childhood.
  • Since this trial began, I have been to the gym approximately four times.
  • When this trial began, I was eight pounds lighter, and one dress size smaller.
  • When this trial began, I had two parents and two grandmothers. Now I only have one of each.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Fun Facts

  1. While in Houston this weekend, I went to the Rodeo. (Well, to the livestock show and carnival part at least.) We rode the giant ferris wheel, which was named "La Grande Wheel." More importantly, baby cows and goats are cute.
  2. I wore the black and gold dress, option #1, to the wedding. It was not as cute as I would have liked, probably because I drank too many margaritas at the rehearsal dinner the night before. But the casual dress I wore to the rehearsal dinner was really cute and totally fit with the Tex-Mex theme.
  3. I am back in Newark, but only for a day. The hotel cookies seemed to be chocolate chunk, but I did not investigate closely, as I am trying to be good. Especially now that I've made a bet with my dad that if he could lose 20 pounds by Father's Day, so could I. So, to win, when I get back to D.C., I'm going to start the "Couch to 10K" running plan that everyone says is so great.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Four weeks

Four weeks ago my mother died. Four weeks. Sometimes, it seems like it was so much longer ago than that -- and other times it feels like it was just yesterday. And then there are the times when it just feels like she's away on a long vacation, somewhere where I can't reach her on the phone -- and then I remember.

I wish she was here. She'd tell me which dress to wear on Saturday.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The Sanitization of Wikipedia

I didn't mean to blog about Project Runway. I meant to blog about Wikipedia. Specifically, this article I read about, how, for some reason, Wikipedia seems to have a hair trigger on sanitizing entries about our Dear President, but how the same heavy hand is not being used to edit the entries about certain ex-Presidents.

Here's the main point of the article:

For example, Wikipedia's main Bill Clinton article manages to mention every single fringe right-wing nutcase allegation ever made against the 42nd president.

By contrast, the main Wikipedia article on George W. Bush has been carefully sanitized. It clearly aims to present Bush in the most favorable light possible. Frankly, the Bush article looks like a love letter from Karl Rove.

Now, don't get me wrong: I like Wikipedia. A lot. I've said as much before. But I also understand that the whole wiki- thing can be used (or perhaps abused) to specific advantages, as long as there's someone out there being vigilant enough. So I guess the moral of the story is that you need to check alternative sources -- or the footnotes to the Wikipedia article -- before you rely on Wikipedia as gospel.

But what I really got out of the article is this:

If Wikipedia was free of bias, one might think that the main Bush article would include at least a mention of the Margie Schoedinger sexual assault allegation against Bush.

And just who is Margie Schoedinger?

She was a 38-year-old Texas woman who filed a sexual assault lawsuit against George W. Bush in December 2002.

Oh, and there's one other interesting detail: the next year, Schoedinger was found dead of a gunshot wound.


But instead, the Schoedinger case was completely ignored by the U.S. media, with the sole exception of the small local Texas newspaper (The Fort Bend Star) that originally reported the story. Her case remains extremely obscure. To this day, very few people have ever heard of her.

Now that's something I never heard before. Why the heck do we have a free press in this country if they're not covering this kind of thing?

Thoughts on Project Runway

Okay, so I am totally not surprised that Christian (Annapolis's own!) won Project Runway. Watching his collection go down the runway was like watching a living, breathing work of art. It was, for lack of a better word, fierce.

But there was absolutely nothing wearable in it. So, ultimately, I think I would have voted for Rami. I mean, at least I could wear one of his dresses to the wedding this weekend.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

M&Ms and OCD

I've never been shy about my OCD. Admittedly, it's never been formally diagnosed, but it's one of those things where I know it, and pretty much everyone who knows me knows it -- and as long as it's not posing a risk to me or anyone else, what's the point of getting a doctor's confirmation?

Today, in his chat, Gene Weingarten had a poll asking people to choose their favorite candy from the following choices: Tootsie Rolls, Hershey's Kisses, Milk Duds, Raisinets, M&Ms.

I chose M&M's. (Raisinets would be my least favorite, but only slightly more so than Milk Duds.) I didn't even have to think about it. I love M&Ms. Particularly peanut M&Ms.

Then I read this:

Savannah, Ga. by way of Washington, D.C.: M&M's are clearly the superior candy. Not only are they delicious, but if you're even mildly OCD they can provide good entertainment. I like to eat the green ones first.

Gene Weingarten: You are the third OCD person who has expressed an affinity for m&ms in part because of their sortability.

I find this impossibly... odd.

Hmmm. Could it be that my love of M&Ms has something to do with how I love to put them into piles? So, I decided to do a little experiment. Here, in full color, is a slideshow of how I like to eat M&Ms:

I kid you not: This is what I do with every single package of M&Ms, every single time. (Well, to the extent that "every single time" means "whenever I have the opportunity to take them out of the package and inspect/organize them first.")

Still, I can't help but feeling that the craziest thing about this is that I took the time to take the pictures.