Friday, March 31, 2006

Friday Poetry Blogging: Crossing Over Edition

My life has been topsy-turvy lately. If I'm supposed to be doing something, it's a safe bet it isn't getting done. So I’ve been utterly lax in paying attention to my blog...or anyone else’s...lately.

But I’m checking in long enough to sneak in a poetry post. Until further notice, as previously implied, the official poet of Bitty's Back Porch is the progressive Carl Sandburg.

When my grandmother was in the last stages of dying in January and February, I had this vague hope that I would somehow know when she was about to, as some say, cross over. Too durn much television fueled that particular wish, I fear. Still, after she died, I hoped she’d somehow come to a dream (something I rarely have, or at least remember when and if I do), in the kind of sign that people swear they get, something. We spent three nights in her apartment when we traveled to Illinois for her funeral, and I slept in her bed. I thought if anything would stir up a visit from beyond the grave, that might. However, the closest I came to any kind of sign is that I slept deeply and soundly in her (not particularly comfortable) bed, as if I were being cradled. I don’t have a habit of sleeping deeply and soundly. So.

A few weeks ago, she did eventually appear in a rare dream, although not in a starring role. She was just there, as she always was, and alive, which itself was a bit reassuring. As the weeks have passed, I’ve given up my foolishness. Although I might have it otherwise, the dead are dead.

So today when I opened my big, fat Collected Poems of Carl Sandburg, this was the first poem I saw (from Chicago Poems ):

To a Dead Man

Over the dead line we have called to you
To come across with a word to us,
Some beaten whisper of what happens
Where you are over the dead line
Deaf to our calls and voiceless.

The flickering shadows have not answered
Nor your lips sent a signal
Whether love talks and roses grow
And the sun breaks at morning
Splattering the sea with crimson.

Make of that what you will.

O Happy Day!

Not because I refinanced.

Not because I sold.

Just because I lived long enough to pay off a 30-year mortgage.

Here is a heavily edited copy of the check I sent to my mortgage company today. The very last check I will ever send these people.

Happy day indeed!

Monday, March 27, 2006

Back from Chicago

For now, two photos. This first picture just makes me smile. We rented a car on the last day of the trip and tootled around Chicago. I hung out the window and snapped this building on Michigan Avenue.

The second picture, this sign, which we saw on nearly all CTA trains, gave Colleague Friend and me pause. I don't want to go to the website; imagining why all of Chicago should follow a brown finger is much more fun.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Arrivederci, Baby!

Leavin' on a jet plane tomorrow, going to the 4C's conference, headed for Chi-Town, birthplace of the world-famous Bitty.

Back late Saturday. Have a blogalicious time while I'm gone!

Bitty: Officially Old

That's the bad news and the good news.

I'm 52 and almost a half, if that "almost half" matters. I only mention it because I've been "50 or older" for nearly a quarter of a decade now. AARP has been sending me solicitation material for more than a decade.

However, today, for the first time, I was called a "senior" in the not-high-school-not-college way.

That's the bad news part.

The good news part is that it saved me some unspecified amount of money.

I bought some Traveler's Cheques today and my credit union didn't charge me for them because, as the dewy-faced cashier who helped me said, "Seniors (50 and older) get Traveler's Cheques at no charge." I think I did an actual, physical double-take at the word "seniors."

I'm still a little stunned.

Oh, man. I'm old. Officially.

(And about those "cheques." I really didn't go to the credit union to get the cheques. I wanted the card, but my CU doesn't offer it. Bummer.)

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Shopping, Dammit

I hate to shop.

If this gets my second X chromosome revoked, so be it.

Shopping, Part One: How to Prevent a Bad Case of Nakedness

I’m going Traveling next week. In two days, actually. And I have the world’s most pitiful wardrobe.

Friend Alanna and I landed in a WalMart today and in about 10 minutes pulled four perfectly serviceable tops off the rack for me. We were quite proud of ourselves.

Shopping, Part Two: Pushing the Envelope

After Alanna and I parted ways, however, I went to four more stores and made purchases in three of them.

I came home and tried everything on and now must make returns to all four stores. However, I’m keeping quite a bit. I now officially have enough clothes to wear something different each of the five days of the trip, including the trip to a blues club, with only minimal use of the hotel’s laundry facilities being necessary.

Shopping, Part Three: The Perfect Cut

My hair officially lost its shape about two weeks ago, and I am desperate. While at the mall, a place I visit less often than I do the local zoo, I walked past a hair salon. I stared at the door for some time, debating whether to go in.

It’ll be too expensive, Bitty.

Ah, but Bitty, it’s right here and then you’ll have it done.

Ok, Bitty, but we’re paying no more than $20, agreed?

Agreed, Bitty.

I stepped inside and was greeted by a personable young woman. I asked how much.

Cuts start at $30, she told me.

(I immediately wondered what the difference was. At what point does your $30 cut cross the line into the $40 cut, and what do you do then, if you only want a $30 cut? Ask the stylist to stop cutting?)

I can be bit of a wuss. At that point, I should have spoken the truth (I don’t want to pay that much) or a semi-lie (I don’t have that much…fingers crossed: on me, but I do on my debit card). But no. I didn’t want to sound cheap in front of a stranger, so I asked how long the wait was. The young woman (They’re always young; what happens to aging stylists?) told me, in detail, what she had to do for her current customer, and then pronounced she could take me in 15 minutes. A perfectly reasonable wait, so now what? I stared at the clock behind her for an unreasonable time, probably chewed my lip as I am wont to do, and then thanked her and said I really needed to get going.

How lame was that? I should have just said I didn’t have thirty bucks.

I should have just said I didn’t have thirty bucks.

And now I still have to make the time to get a haircut tomorrow.

Shopping, Part Four: Searching Throughout the Kingdom for the Shoe that Fits This Foot

I am a shoe whore.

That’s not what you think it might be. You might think the Sex and the City women were shoe whores. You would be wrong.

I will buy any shoe, any time, no questions asked, as long as it fits.

Paradoxically, I don’t buy a lot of shoes.

This is how I shop for shoes: I run my eyes up and down the rows of boxes looking for my unholy size, 10 WIDE (which is not that much of an oddball size). While other people are shopping by style and color and asking sweetly does this come in my size?, I’m asking, does anything come in my size???

After having visited six stores over the past two weeks and having found NO shoes (and don’t send me to Payless; most of their shoes are synthetic and make my feet STINK), I came home from today's aforementioned shopping trip and turned to my second best friend, The Internet.

Even that turned out to be a challenge. Ten WIDE is apparently beyond the pale (at least in terms of actually being in stock; many claim to have them...until you try to put the shoes in the shopping cart) for most shoe vendors throughout the Whole Wide World.

My best results were at, where shipping on orders over $40 is FREE because they’re celebrating some anniversary or another. I ordered SIX pairs of shoes, and even that was a challenge because most of what I wanted did not come in my size or preferred color, but I persevered.

When I finished with the order, and after inserting the special code for free shipping, the site charged me just under six bucks for shipping.

The woman who would not pay $30 for a haircut was not about to pay $6 for free shipping.

I backed out of the order and sent an e-mail to Penney’s, in more polite words than these, ssking What the hell?

I await their answer.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

I keep forgetting...

Especially on the weekends.

The thought lasts the tiniest fraction of a second, not long enough to form a complete sentence in my head (as if I think in complete sentences):

Oh, I need to call Grammie.

Except of course, she's been dead for over a month, so, of course, I can't.

Tomorrow is her birthday.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

No one even brought Tostitos

No serial killer and no instantaneous soul mate on board with me. No one even brought Tostitos.

One office hour from Spring break, I left my last class and stepped into the empty elevator, headed down.

At least I thought I was headed down.

It seemed to be taking a long time to get from the second floor to the first floor, so I pushed the 1 button again, wondering if I had actually forgotten to push it. I probably only waited a minute, but it seemed like a Really Long Time. Still no arrival, no open doors. I pushed the 1 button again. It glowed briefly, then turned off. I pushed the Open Door button. No response. I pushed the 2 button, and the Close Door button, just for variety. Nothing happened.

I then noticed for the first time that there IS a "help" button in the elevator. So I pushed that.

A staticky female voice informed me that I'd reached the campus police, and what was my emergency?

It didn't take long for help to arrive. But it wasn't reassuring help, not at first. The lights and air went off, then on. A few more moments and the lights and air went off, then on again. They were trying the old turn it off, then turn it back on trick that we use when our TVs and computers won't work. After the third time didn't seem to get the desired results, they quit messing with the electricity and started messing with something metallic. It sounded like a gigantic key was being wiggled in a gargantuan lock.

After some time, a lot of metallic scraping and scratching.

Then tools clacking against metal.


I decided to amuse myself by looking for a camera. Not the candid kind; just the security type. I'd heard that there were hidden cameras in the elevators, but I never found one. Perhaps it's hidden well. I know there are other hidden cameras on campus; one of my students' pockets was picked, and she didn't know it. She thought she'd lost her wallet until the campus police called her and told her that they'd arrested the thief after seeing him on camera taking her wallet.

Forty-five minutes later my legs and feet -- even before the elevator I'd been standing for hours -- were truly aching, so I was grateful, grateful, grateful when three men -- clearly with great effort -- were able to push the doors open. I stepped down (the elevator had stopped about a foot short of its destination) and out.

Instinct must have kicked in because only later did I realize that the first thing I did when I got out was walk about 15 feet away from the elevator and then look back on the scene. A few curious folks, the poor patient student who was going to meet me downstairs (had he not run into a friend, he'd have been stuck with me), a maintenance man, and nine or ten firemen were all congregated around the elevator shaft. Someone shoved a rod into the door to hold it open.

I thanked my rescuers and then student J and I headed for my office to talk about his grades.

Next week I'm going to Chicago, to the 4C's conference. My colleague and I planned to take the elevator to the top of the Sears Tower.

I might be rethinking that plan, though.

A Fool and Her Money are Soon Parted

Instead of giving up her failing campaign for the U.S. Senate from Florida, Katherine Harris has announced that, hell, no, not only is she not pulling out, but she's spending TEN MILLION DOLLARS of her own recently inherited money.

A defiant Katherine Harris took to the cable airwaves Wednesday to declare she's staying in the U.S. Senate race, pledging to boost her beleaguered campaign with $10 million left to her by her late father.

It was a nationally televised gesture meant to quash nearly two weeks of rampant speculation over her campaign, which has struggled to gain traction and campaign dollars since it began last summer.

''Let me answer the burning questions,'' the Sarasota Republican congresswoman said in a largely sympathetic interview with Fox News Channel talk-show host Sean Hannity. ``I'm in this race and I'm going to win.''

Harris vowed to put ''everything on the line'' for the race in which she remains an underdog to unseat U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson -- the only Democrat to hold statewide office in Florida.

''Not just my future and my reputation, my father's name,'' Harris said. ``I'm going to take his legacy he gave to me, everything that I have and I'm going to put it into this race.

''When I lost him,'' she said of her father, George Harris, who died in January, ``I said I would win this for my father.''


[P]olls suggest that Harris lags at least 20 points behind Nelson.

Democrats are doing the happy dance because ain't no one wants KHarr, not the Republican party, and not the voters.

Nobody loves you, everybody hates you, and ten million dollars would buy you a lot of worms to eat.

But it's your money to part with, Katherine.

Update: I got an e-mail "from" John Kerry -- I get those from time to time -- pointing out that Nelson no longer has a financial advantage over Harris. I hadn't looked at it that way. So, of course, they're raising money.

Let me think about that for a few days, John, and see how it plays out. If it looks like Bill really needs my bucks to beat daddy's girl, I'll write a check.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Swimming upstream feet first with my hands tied behind my back

A few weeks ago, jo(e) wrote a post titled, “And this is the way I grade the papers,” a list of twenty things that simply must be done as prelude to actual grading. This post certainly resonated with the teaching contingent of the blogosphere. A sample:

Yesterday, I devoted my whole morning to grading papers. And I am still puzzled as to why I did not get them done. I did not procrastinate at all. I did nothing but grade papers all morning. Well, nothing except:

1. Took a photo of my son walking out to the school bus. But that does not count as procrastination because I took it before I even got dressed. I snapped it from the bedroom window.
2. Wrote a blog post. But that hardly counts because it was short.
3. Sent a few emails. But some were to students, which means that they count as work. See, that was me being productive.

And it gets better from there.

I do not know a single teacher whose workload includes assigning and evaluating papers and who actually enjoys – or is even neutral about – grading papers. I’m sure the world harbors a few grading masochists, but truly most of us would rather have our nails done, as in ripped from the fingers with wicked instruments and without anesthetic. That this attitude pervades teaching and is embraced even by the best of teachers says something. I’ve spent the past two weeks wondering just what that is.

From my bloggy corner, it isn’t really dread of awful writing, awful thinking, although I see an overly generous share of that. It’s the feeling of futility that “evaluating” papers from afar brings. If my true goal is to help students improve their writing, my scribbling on their page on Sunday morning just won’t do that.

I had extended office hours today and invited students working on poetry explications due tomorrow to stop by for feedback. About a half dozen took me up on it, yet only one of the half dozen needed a lot of help. (This is usually the way.) However, everyone benefited, including me. It’s easier, more expeditious, and far more fun to discuss with someone why X is a better choice or why Y is confusing than to write it all out. And if I go the other way and write nothing on the page, the student gets no message, except, perhaps, B minus. And what does THAT mean?

That’s the number one cause of my allergy to evaluating student papers. Why the low-grade dread of grading (pun intended) appears so universally among teachers and is not just my little personality quirk probably also springs from the nature of the teachers themselves. First, many – though not all – of us are people-people. We like interacting with people. “Too many comma splices” is not interacting – nor does it really deliver much of a message. Yet it takes literal days to do this kind of "interacting" with 105 papers. Secondly, most – if not all -- of us are quite bright and creative and enjoy intellectual and aesthetic challenges. Student papers can be intellectually and aesthetically challenging, all right. Just not our preferred form of challenge.

In two and a half weeks I begin conferences with my students, all 105 of them. We’ll talk about these incoming papers and I’ll look at drafts of the next, and this, in my opinion, will be the only truly effective one-on-one teaching that I do all semester.

Anything else is swimming upstream feet first with my hands tied behind my back. And I can’t swim.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Can't Get Enough of George, or, George Clooney's Filthy, Filthy Mouth

Reading an AP story on George Clooney's blog entry on Huffington Post, I find his comments characterized by this particular segment of the "liberal media" as "profanity laced."

I had to scurry back to the blog to check that out.

Unless I missed something, here's the sum total of the "lace":

Hell, I'm proud of [being a liberal].


We knew [the purported connections between Hussein and bin Ladin, between Iraq and 9/11] was bullshit.


It makes me want to shout, "Fuck you, you weren't misled. You were afraid of being called unpatriotic."
Clooney's language is no stronger than that sometimes used by Richard "Fuck yourself" Cheney or George "Asshole" Bush.
Furthermore, Clooney's words were rhetorically appropriate both for his purpose (a strongly worded call to action by liberals) and his audience (liberal GROWNUPS, most of whom have heard these words before, reading a liberal blog). (And notice, if you will, how the intensity of the obscenities escalates as the essay develops. Nice job, George. A few extra check marks in the margin for you.)

Anyway, there are those of us who think that most media stories on Iraq, the Bush Administration, etc. are "profanity laced" based on content.

But what do we know?

(By the way, is it coincidence that the accompanying photo is the most unflattering one of Clooney that I've ever seen?)

David Mamet AND television?

Sounds as incongruous as "Kathy Smith and couch potato."

But I heard a promo for Fresh Air this morning that said that Mamet is indeed one of the creators of CBS's new show The Unit.

So maybe I will tune in. Maybe.

If I get home in time.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Heart, courage, AND a brain. Looks good, too.

Uhn, uhn, uhn...

George Clooney has a few things to say over at Huffington Post.
I am a liberal. And I make no apologies for it. Hell, I'm proud of it.
And it just gets better from there. Go read.

(I'm posting this 'specially for YOU, Alanna.)

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Household Maintenance Hassles #18,193, 18,194, and 18,195, or, Please Don't Tell the Appliances Some Money is on the Way

Household Maintenance Hassle #18,193:

For some time, the dishwasher has leaked and its soap dispenser has failed to dispense. Having been of modest means -- or worse -- my entire life, I've learned how to work around and make do. In this case, when I wash dishes, I shove a gently used towel under the bottom of the dishwasher to catch the water, and I run a timer to tell me when to dispense soap. Now, I'm about to get some back pay (long story), and I thought I'd get these problems fixed once and for all.

However, other fixtures around the house apparently heard me say that the dishwasher was going to get a little attention.

Household Maintenance Hassle #18,194:

The other morning, I flipped on the switch that controls the ceiling fan/light fixture in the living room, and the light flickered, then brightened, then flickered, then faded to black. Not the usual bulb-burning-out scenario. So I pulled the fan chain to make sure the problem was only the bulb...and of course it wasn't. The fan appears to have taken its last whirl.

This is Florida and I'm already working around my central air problem by using window units, so having a fan in that room is essential. Add new ceiling fan to the shopping list.

Household Maintenance Hassle #18,195:

Yesterday I did something I try to avoid doing: I left the dryer running when I left the house. However, I thought Tall Son would need a clean towel when he came home, so I took the chance. That was about 2:00 p.m.

I went to work, went to my meeting, did some work in my office, had some dinner, ran some other errands, and got home about 11:00 p.m., just in time to watch House on USA.

About 11:30, Tall Son steps into the kitchen and says, "Did you start that dryer again?" (Dryer cannot be heard from anywhere in the house except the storage room and laundry room.)

We compared notes and discovered that when Tall Son came home at 6:00, the dryer was running. Since no one ever knows what my goofy schedule is, he assumed that at 6:00 I had recently left the house. Eventually, we realized that the dryer had been running from 2:00 until we stopped it at 11:30. Yikes! Fortunately, only towels were in the dryer, and even more fortunately the dryer didn't catch on fire.

Close inspection of the dryer seems to reveal that, while we can move the knob around, the dryer control will no longer advance on its own. Wherever we set it, there it stays.

So, dryer control repair is now added to the list of things to be done with the modest back pay check, and this is the most urgent because Tall Son is most clueless when it comes to his surroundings. What did he do this morning before he went to work? Started drying a load of clothes, which I found running three or four hours later. (He hadn't forgotten about the problem; he just forgot to stop the dryer manually.)

The back pay check just isn't that much, so please don't let the 21-year-old fridge hear about any of this.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Friday poetry blogging: All Sandburg, All the Time

Some weeks back, I waxed, um, poetic about Carl Sandburg, favorite son of our mutual natal state, Illinois. At the time, I bemoaned the cost of the used Complete Poems of Carl Sandburg as out of my reach.


I found a less expensive copy.

Over the past five years -- and only AFTER finishing my formal education, I might add -- I've come to appreciate poetry. For years it intimidated me, but once I realized the obvious, that it is ok not to like or understand it all, just as it is ok not to like or understand all prose, poetry and I became good friends.

Poetry must be read slowly, carefully. If not, one might as well be reading the back of a Tylenol bottle.

And so, a week or so ago, slowly grazing in my new/old Sandburg book, I confirmed two things:

(1) Lefties, Carl is for sure one of us.
(2) I can get overstimulated quickly by poetry. Reading too much Sandburg produces the same dazed mental state in me as eating too much canned icing.

I offer two Sandburg poems today because one just isn't enough. The first is a prose poem that shows us two things: although he worked mostly in traditional forms, Sandburg wasn't a slave to tradition. Secondly, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

From Good Morning, America (originally copyrighted in 1928):


When the charge of election bribery was brought against an Illinois senator, he replied, "I read the Bible and believe it from cover to cover."

When his accusers specified five hundred dollars of corruption money was paid in a St. Louis hotel bathroom, his friends answered, "He is faithful to his wife and always kind to his children."

When he was ousted from the national senate and the doors of his bank were closed by government receivers and a grand jury indicted him, he took the vows of an old established church.

When a jury acquitted him of guilt as a bank wrecker, following the testimony of prominent citizens that he was an honest man, he issued a statement to the public for the newspapers, proclaiming he knew beforehand no jury would darken the future of an honest man with an unjust verdict.

The second poem, also from Good Morning, America, I'm rather certain I've read before, long ago:

Money, Politics, Love and Glory

Who put up that cage?
Who hung it up with bars, doors?
Why do those on the inside want to get out?
Why do those outside want to get in?
What is this crying inside and out all the time?
What is this endless, useless beating of baffled wings at these bars, doors, this cage?

(And along with Sarah, I bemoan the fact that I can't indent (last line should be indented), not even if I try to do it by spacing. Why, Blogger? Why?)

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

How Sexism Has Hurt Me

(Blog against sexism day entry)

My grandmother, who died last month, lived a humble life. She was born a farm girl, raised a farm girl. She did farm girl chores, and while that included the overwhelming kind of early 1900’s housework that women did, it also included some of the really tough farm labor. At an early age, my grandmother knew all about hard work.

But she was born into a patriarchal system.

She married young. I don’t know why, but probably for the same reasons those of us who marry young do such a thing: an immature belief that joining ourselves to another will fill our grand canyons of yearning -- psychological, emotional, sexual yearning – along with our failure to see other options. Yet in 1930-something, what might those options have been? She didn’t talk about the marriage much because my pitiful alcoholic grandfather left her when she was still relatively young, left her with three kids to care for during the depression. He came back sometimes, then left again. The final break came, I think, post WWII, maybe in the Korean War era, shortly before I was born. As a young adult, my grandmother knew all about hardship.

She came into adulthood and married into a patriarchal system.

This meant that when the husband, who was supposed to be the breadwinner, left, and she was left to provide for her family of four, she had to figure out a way to make that living. She had graduated high school. (And only recently do I realize how extraordinary that was considering that she would have done so during the depression, and in an era when many people, never mind a farm girl, didn’t graduate high school. This says something about my great-grandparents and/or their little community. In contrast, my pitiful alcoholic grandfather from a few towns over didn’t graduate.) But her high school diploma, it turns out, didn’t seem to qualify her for employment beyond low-paying food services chores and the like. She had a relatively interesting (at least to hear about) job at the Rock Island Arsenal during WWII, but it too was “unskilled” and relatively low-paying.

Although I knew her for 52 years, in some ways my grandmother was a cipher. For instance, she was a killer Scrabble player. Trust me, this takes a level of intelligence that many don’t have. She could beat me, the official family brain, on a regular basis. And the killer Scrabble player must know how to, um, spell. Even though her writing skills were serviceable rather than publishable, they still would put many a college freshman to shame. In other words, she wasn’t stupid. So why did she live her life at the bottom of the economic food chain?

She grew old in a patriarchal system.

She didn’t expect much for women: a “good” marriage would be a desirable thing, but she knew far too few women got that. Having a “good” job, then, would be the best thing that could happen to a woman, but she seemed to think a “good” job was something in an office (remember, office workers, that this was not her experience), and especially if that office job was a government job that included a retirement plan.* Ironically, then, the alpha and omega of all conflict between us was my itch, after my husband left, to get an education.** She wanted me not to push myself so hard. She didn’t understand my ambition, as relatively modest as it was. I was smart; why wasn’t I satisfied to type in a clean, air-conditioned office? It took me 16 years to get from high school graduate to Master of Arts, and we tussled about this for 14 of those years. (I think the fight just left her when I received my bachelor’s degree in early December 1995 and instead of “retiring” from school began my master’s work in January 1996.)

There were a lot of things she thought women shouldn’t do. One was become President. Anything managerial ought to be in the hands of men.

Here’s the big irony: she didn’t trust men and didn’t like most of them, although when she did approve, she approved enthusiastically. But despite her distrust and dislike, she thought men should be running the world.

This, then, is how sexism hurt me: it hurt the most influential person in my life (and my mother’s). This person was a woman who fully expected that women should be second-class citizens. And even though this was her belief, she never would have articulated it that way. She was so fully a part of the world that said her place was running the dishwasher in the hospital kitchen, that her belief in it was invisible to her.

Thanks to social programs and her own careful way with money, she very modestly got by in her retirement.

But she shouldn’t have been suckered into believing that that’s how it ought to be.

*I now have a government job with a retirement plan.
**I had the itch before, but hubby literally check-mated (pun intended) any attempts I made to go to school while married.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Who Knew?

I thought I’d blog on the Oscars, but I really don’t have much to say, except that Reese Witherspoon was quite eloquent in her acceptance speech, Jon Stewart was funny enough but is funnier in his own context, the music playing throughout the speeches was anxiety-producing,

…and who knew that all those years Dan Futterman was playing tortured writer Vincent Gray on Judging Amy he really was a writer, now the Academy Award-nominated writer of Capote?

Saturday, March 04, 2006

A Passage to India

My DSL has been out since Monday, and the short sarcastic posts that I did earlier this week were written at work.

There's nothing like having our technology taken away from us to make us appreciate it. I use the internet all day long; like the toilet, the trash can, or the remote, it's something I use so automatically that I don't think about using it--until I don't have it.

One one-hour conversation with Nice Man in India and two repairmen later, the lines are restored (at no charge to me since it wasn't MY equipment that failed) and I am back with you all.

I wonder just how much BellSouth is saving by outsourcing the customer service work to Nice Man in India and his colleagues? Part of the hour was dedicated to his waiting while I moved furniture and crawled under desks to unhook the phones so they could test the lines. And we had to wait -- not exaggerating -- about 15 minutes before Nice Man could give me my repair appointment because his equipment was so slow. On the other hand, if Nice Man's salary is low enough, I suppose BellSouth really doesn't care that it took him an hour to finish with me.

As both a customer of and a (very minor) stockholder in BellSouth, I suppose I should be happy that the corporation keeps costs low. As a citizen, however, I'm troubled by that giant sucking sound of jobs moving to Mexico, India, anywhere where people will work for much less than Americans more or less must have both to maintain a basic American life and pay the taxes that keep our war machine moving.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

TV Guide says that the New York Post says...

SHOWTIME FOR THE BLUTHS?: Hmm, maybe the fat lady should shut her mouth and take a seat. The New York Post hears brand-new buzz that Showtime has not only picked up Fox's canceled Arrested Development but has ordered a full 26 episodes.
Showtime has nothing on its page yet; time will tell. However, considering that Showtime offers its shows on iTunes, this could mean that I was sorta right before when I said AD should "embrace its divorce" and produce the show direct-to-consumer.

This would be close enough for me, one who doesn't have Showtime but who does use iTunes.

If it's true, way to go, Showtime.

Sex Tape Rules for a New Millenium

Sex tape rule #1: If you don't want your sex tape released on the web, don't make a sex tape.

Sex tape rule #2: If you fail to adhere to sex tape rule #1, destroy said sex tape.

Sex tape rule #3, at least according to has-been Scott Stapp: If you fail to adhere to sex tape rules #1 and #2, blame everyone but yourself:
"Obviously someone wants to hurt me and doesn't want me to be successful in my solo career," Stapp told AP Radio in a recent interview.


"You think it's part of your rock 'n' roll memories," Stapp said. "I should have burned that tape."

The tape was not the only thing causing Stapp headaches. A day after his wedding, Stapp was arrested for investigation of being drunk at Los Angeles International Airport. He is set for arraignment on March 8.

"You don't want to say it's laughable, but it's just like, my God, there's so much stuff," he said. "Somebody does not like you and somebody wants you to fail."

I'm thinking "Someone" and "Somebody" are close relatives of the "Not Me" who used to come to my house and make messes and break things when my kids were little.

Grow up, Scott.

(In contrast, George Michael, arrested on drug charges, has the stones to call his troubles "my own stupid fault, as usual.")