If You Can't Say Something Nice...

If You Can't Say Something Nice...
Say Something Vague

Friday, January 30, 2004

Proof That I'm Not A Loser!
My contract is being renewed at work for another month!!! I actually know what happens after the renewal, too, but I can't really say because I promised I'd keep it confidential. Let's just say that in the forseeable future I am not going to have to go work for another evil, penny-pinching, mean-spirited company like the last one. Yippee!

I'm writing an article right now. It's very complex and technical. So you would all probably find it terribly boring (it's about an emerging technology for product identification in the warehouse), but I'm excited because I think it's very well written and my boss has given me some good feedback on it. :)

Other than that, I'm just so unbelievably glad it's Friday. I'm beat. I still have another 2-1/2 hours of the day left but I'm sort of at loose ends. I have some projects I could start, but I'm not terribly motivated (despite my good news; go figure). But, alas, I will start something. Today I've already edited the first draft of the article I wrote to include my boss' comments and changes (and when I say 'edited', I mean 'overhauled'). Now I guess I should go do some research for the company brochure that is next in the queu of things-for-Stephanie-to-do.

Have a lovely weekend, dahhhhlinks!

|| Stephanie 1:53 PM

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Mystical Connections

Speaking of profiling (see last post), I have apparently been pegged as a New Age-y, heal thyself kinda gal. When I opened my mailbox on Wednesday, I found a program guide for The Conscious-Life Expo, coming up next month. Well, I'm pretty certain that if Hotbar was on the fence about me before (after posting about paganism), I'm sure it thinks it knows me now.

Somehow or other I ended up on Deepak Chopra's mailing list (I have no idea), and assume that that's how I got on this list. Anyway, out of curiosity I flipped through the program. I should proably qualify all of this by saying that yes, I really enjoy yoga and have seen some of its benefits; yes, I think that positive thinking can help you; yes, I do believe that there's a lot in this world that we don't know and understand. Now, having included that caveat, can you expect me to take seriously the lecture on Star Kids and Star Seeds? Or Lost Secrets of the Sacred Ark (someone call Indiana Jones!)?

Here's a list of some of the topics up for discussion/lecture at The Conscious-Life Expo:

Celestial Prophecies Of Utopia

Extraterrestrials And The End Times

Hand Analysis: Discover Your Emotional Style For Better Relationships

Will The Europeans Finally Tell Us What's On Mars?

Magical Uses Of Plants

Discover Your Life Purpose In Your Fingerprints

Fingernail & Tongue Diagnosis For Estrogen And Heavy Metal Toxicity

And the list goes on. And on. I don't mean to be outright mean here (and I apologize if I offend anyone), but some of these presenters have to understand how this looks to the rest of us, right? I'm sure that there are things that will influence your life if you believe strongly enough in them. I know that there are people who really, truly believe that we are descended from aliens. I know that there are some healthful properties in plants that have not been explained scientifically. I'm not a completely pragmatic person. I recognize that there are a lot of unexplained phenomena in the universe. But some of these topics are such a stretch. And that leads me right to my favorite of all of the items discussed in the program: Reincarnation.

Apparently there is an MD who believes that he is the reincarnation of John Adams. And he talks to a guy who channels the same spirit guide that Shirley MacLaine has famously written about previously to determine who else is wondering around in new bodies. Did you know that the apparent #1 signifier that someone is a reincarnation of a famous figure is similar facial characteristics? Me neither. But the good doctor tells us that Oprah Winfrey, Halle Berry, Al Gore, Ralph Nader and John Edwards (the one that talks to the dead, not the democratic senator) are all reincarnations of famous Constitutional Convention-goers or, in Berry's case, an actress.

He has apparently written a book on the subject, and even has a website exhibiting 'proof' of his work. It's kind of fun to scroll through and check out his supporting information. And don't miss the advice on delving into your own past lives!

(BTW, Don't you think it's odd that so many people are apparently descended from the same enclave of famous people? I mean, how many Cleopatras were there? How come past life regression never reveals that someone was a disfigured hooker slaughtered by Jack the Ripper, or a penniless waif who picked pockets and was hanged at 18? Just askin'.)

|| Stephanie 9:41 AM

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

The Pagan Tour

Okay, that's weird. My work computer has Hotbar installed on it, so when you visit websites it dabbles in a little techno-profiling, putting up buttons linked to other sites that Hotbar thinks correspond with your search, giving you similar items you might be interested in (I guess in much the same way that TiVo decides when people are gay). Like right now, while on Blogger, it's suggesting hobbies and domain names.

Anyway, I went to the Episcopal Church website and Hotbar gave me a button saying Pagan. Huh? I don't get the connection. It gave me the following options: Anglican--great, Episcopal--natch, Christianity--gotcha, Christian music--sure, Zen--uh...okay, and pagan--??.

Paganism is all well and good for its proponents, I'm sure, but not so much for me. Can I counter-program this thing like those TiVo masterminds who so don't want to be pigeonholed by their TiVo that they try to outsmart it and end up being profiled as not only gay, but pregnant and neo-Nazi? Or are there just a lot of Episcopals out there with a penchant for the occult?

Whatever the answer, I suppose it will always be a comfort to me that should I need some spells cast, that I can count on Andreika the Witch to be there for me. Or if I decide to pursue my degree in Wicca, that there is a place for me on the 'net.

|| Stephanie 1:51 PM

Monday, January 26, 2004


1) "America is on the offensive against the terrorists who started this war...

We're tracking al Qaeda around the world, and nearly two-thirds of their known leaders have now been captured or killed...

For diplomacy to be effective, words must be credible, and no one can now doubt the word of America...

After the chaos and carnage of September the 11th, it is not enough to serve our enemies with legal papers. The terrorists and their supporters declared war on the United States, and war is what they got..."

~Excerpted from the State of the Union Address, George W. Bush, 1/20/04 (emphasis mine)

2) "...bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.

~Excerpted from the Bible, Luke 6:28-30 (emphasis mine)

--- --- --- --- --- --- ---

When will religion and God stop being used as excuses for the atrocities committed in the world? He most certainly does not condone this behavior. Not the God I know. I know Mr. Bush finds reading the newspaper and current events to be anathema, so perhaps the bible is more his speed? Judging by his outrageous abuse of the meaning of the Word, it sure ought to be.

"We can trust in that greater power who guides the unfolding of the years. And in all that is to come, we can know that His purposes are just and true." [SotU 2004] His purposes are just and true; yours, Mr. Bush, are not.

"May God continue to bless America." [SotU 2004] And every other country in this world that God created. Lest you forget, God created it ALL, not just the U.S.

|| Stephanie 11:33 AM

Friday, January 23, 2004

Tea Time!

Today I was reading a 'tea fact' in my box of Celestial Seasonings tea (hey, don't knock it--it's educational) and they talked about the samovar. Do you know about these? I have to admit, I've heard the word but I didn't know what a samovar was. Well, if you're like me and uneducated in the ways of tea, allow me to illuminate you:

According to this website, "The samovar is a a metal urn in which water is kept boiling for tea. Charcoal or wood is burned in a vertical pipe through the center of the samovar and this heats the water. On top of the samovar is a holder for a small teapot. In this pot, a strong tea concentrate is brewed. This tea essence is then diluted with hot water from the samovar."

How great is that? I want one!! Here and here and here are some more pictures and information. The last site, The Russian Shop, has absolutely gorgeous handpainted samovars. So there you go. Trivia fact of the day.

|| Stephanie 1:02 PM

Thursday, January 22, 2004

When Arrested Development Is A Good Thing

Have you seen the Fox TV show Arrested Development? It's the funniest thing I have seen in a loooong time. Structured sort of like The Royal Tenenbaums, AD is the story of a dysfunctional family and their weird lives, interspersed with voice-overs from an omniscient narrator (Ron Howard who also executive produces).

In short, it's the story of the wealthy Bluth family, land developers in Orange County. The story centers around Jason Bateman as one of the Bluth sons, Michael--the one and only responsible one. Through a series of incidents involving his father being arrested by the SEC for shifty accounting practices, Michael ends up running the Bluth empire. Quite a challenge with all of their funds tied up by the courts, and Dad's secretary hiding valuable information from Michael. With his dad in the clink, Michael reluctantly finds himself trying to teach his offbeat family how to live without an endless expense account.

Widower Michael and his teen son George Michael have been living in one of the company's model homes, and they end up inviting his twin sister Lindsay and her husband Tobias (a discredited doctor turned aspiring actor--he performed CPR on a man who was just taking a nap) and their teenage daughter Maeby (the rebel) to come live with them since they are left at loose ends when cut off from the business' money. Lindsay (the stunning Portia di Rossi) is incredibly shallow and lazy, much like her socialite mother, and somehow continues to siphon off whatever money she can from the company to shop endlessly. The greatest thing about Lindsay and Tobias is that they are renowned for their wine and cheese parties and fundraisers for unusual charities--any charity. Dolphins, fur, trees, anti-circumcision (they rallied in support of HOOP--Hands Off Our Penises).

There's also the mother, Lucille, who embodies every stereotype of a snooty, rich Orange County socialite (and I know from those!); Buster (a perpetual student), the youngest Bluth son, is weeeeeird and lives with Mom in her penthouse, alternately loving and hating her. GOB (pronounced like the biblical Job) is the oldest Bluth (and Mom's acknowledged least favorite). He's a magician whose been blackballed from the Magician's Association he helped found. And, of course, there's Dad, still controlling things from inside The Big House.

Just giving you this background information, though, does not tell you nearly enough about this show. It is too freakin' funny. Whether it's Dad's sudden conversion to Judaism while in solitary confinement (he fashioned his own yarmulka from the toe of his tennis shoe), Buster's strange love affair with Mom's best friend/worst enemy Lucille 2 (Liza Minelli), George Michael's confused and unrequited love for cousin Maeby, Tobias' ill-fated attempts to get close to his daughter (oh to see short, balding Tobias in head to toe leather!) or GOB's on-again, off-again relationship with girlfriend Marta, a renowned telenovela actress. Oh, or when they couldn't afford a new car so Michael bought one of those trucks with the staircase mounted on it for use when disembarking from planes at the airport. HA!

At any rate, don't judge it based on my rambling here. It is a quirky, funny, offbeat 30 minutes, and it deserves as much attention as it can get. I can't wait for the DVD, if that tells you anything about my feelings for the show. It's been picked up for the full season, and it was nominated for a Golden Globe, too. Sundays at 9:30 on Fox. Watch it! I really don't think you'll be sorry. And if you are, maybe you just don't have a sense of humor. How's that for deflecting any blame if you watch it and don't like it?

|| Stephanie 2:31 PM

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

A Fair And Balanced Look At The State Of The Union

Well, as fair and balanced as the speech itself anyway. Which is to acknowledge up front the complete and total lack of bipartisanship. At least I'm honest about it.

I could go on for pages and pages about my disgust with the SotU last night and my scorn for W (in general, and last night in particular), but I'll try to restrain myself. For the sake of my blood pressure, I'll attempt to limit myself to some key observations. Like the smug look on W's face throughout the speech; his preaching to his supporters; his mockery and obvious disdain for his detractors; his disregard for principled actions (did you catch that one?); his overwhelming belief that might makes right, and the ends justify any means whatsoever; his continued spread of fear to control the masses; 'hope is understandable, comforting - and false'; his commitment of 96% of the budget to military and the bogus war on terror, with only 4% allocated for domestic issues; how little time was dedicated to the troops still stationed in Iraq with very little likelihood of returning home in the foreseeable future; his use of comic book terminology (thugs and assassins?); referring to the anti-war movement as the objections of a few'; his dismissal of the wants or needs of other countries; his completely transparent claims of a commitment to internationalism; his arrogant assumption that his faith and his belief system is the only right one; his threat to constitutionally define marriage in a narrow and limited way suited to his personal religious beliefs without consideration for anyone else's; his equation of heterosexual marriage with dignity and value; taking credit for the dismantling of Libya's nuclear program when it's well-known that they've been trying to get into the good graces of the Western world for a long time....I could go on and on.

Rather than going into depth on this long and oddly mismatched list of topics (btw: steroids? is this really a bigger issue than Iraq, which got far less air time?), I would like to briefly look at what was not covered. Because the SotU was characterized by what was left out, far more than what was included.

*An honest look at the economy
*True unemployment statistics
*A broad view of 'the war on terror' and how it creates more antagonism and gives rise to new terrorist organizations
*An explanation of what new freedoms have been given to women in Afghanistan (he brought them up, but did not elucidate)
*A look at the U.S.' unwillingness to cooperate with the UN to turn over the Iraqi government to the Iraqi people
*Why it's okay to invade Iraq and threaten Iran, but N. Korean gets a free ticket
*A tribute to those who have died in Iraq--not rhetoric, but a willingness to recognize their humanity
*How exactly the world at large is safer now
*Where his proof is when he cites economic growth and job stability without actual numbers
*Israel's nuclear weapons program
*Pakistan's nuclear weapons program
*How, with only 4% of the budget dedicated to domestic issues, we are supposed to accomplish his many fanciful endeavors for education, social security and medicare
*An explanation of his definition of fairtrade
*A realistic look at the sexual behaviors of teens (studies have shown time and again that abstinence teaching alone is not effective)
*Is he offering incentives to companies to employ former prisoners? Didn't sound that way, and the program is grossly underfunded at $300M
*Revealing who is going to represent the 'Voice of America' in the Middle East (Fox News?)
*The repercussions on our civil rights if 'key provisions' of the so-called Patriot Act are renewed

And so, so, so many more things. I was grinding my teeth and twisting my hands. My fingernails are completely gone. For me the hero of the hour was Sen. Edward Kennedy who was bright red with frustration or anger and was shown a number of times shaking his head in disagreement with some of the more outrageous claims made by W. The democratic congressional representatives were conspicuous for their lack of enthusiasm. When they did manage to rouse themselves to clap it was clearly out of a sense of obligation as they rolled their eyes and half-heartedly clapped for a couple of seconds. And the Republicans were like freakin' jacks-in-the-boxes, jumping up at every pause to clap like he just recited the damned Gettysburg address. We get it. He's your candidate. You like him. Whatever.

I find it truly disheartening that to get American critical appraisal of the SotU that I had to go to the BBC site. The major US sites remain unanimously silent or fiercely supportive of W. That is not news. Where is the objectivity? Where is the representation of alternative viewpoints?

Noteworthy moment: scary allusion to the 'almighty' power of Congress by W, "What the Congress has given, the Congress should not take away." A little too biblical sounding to me.

And finally, I watched the SotU at my church, which I've explained a number of times is a very progressive Episcopal communion in Pasadena (All Saints). Following the speech there was a panel discussion of the ethics of the administration and the speech in particular by a diverse group of locals (mostly clerics): a rabbi, a minister from South Central LA, a retired Episcopal minister, an author and a Muslim doctor. The rabbi said something that I thought was very, very important to keep in mind: he pointed out that W likes to surround himself with people who think like he does. He said, this is a very comfortable way to live your life; it's very calm and unlikely to be very challenging. But, he added, it is a dangerous and immoral way to run a country.

And to end on a light note, I wish I'd known about this sooner, it would have made the whole thing more palatable--or, at least I woulddn't have minded so much!

|| Stephanie 1:32 PM

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Things That Make You Go Hmmmmm

What is a "free" gift? Aren't all gifts free?

What if there were no hypothetical questions?

How can there be self-help "groups"?

Is Marx's tomb a communist plot?

Is it my imagination, or do buffalo wings taste like chicken?

|| Stephanie 11:34 AM

It's Shocking That I've Made It To 28

Now, to those of you who know me well, this will not come as any great shock to you, but I'm a klutz. Not just sort of klutzy or the occasional 'oops'. I hurt myself with my klutziness. On Sunday The Boy and I were walking out of Starbuck's and I stepped into this barely noticeable, very slight dip in the sidewalk. Well, that was enough for me in my crazy 2" wedge-heels. My right ankle went down, down till it actually touched the ground. Man did that hurt! One of the baristas from Starbuck's came out to see if I needed ice. What I needed, though, was my dignity back. And, not surprisingly, I've done some kind of damage to my ankle with my antics. At home I've been keeping it elevated, and The Boy has forbidden me to wear heels this week so I've been forced to wear jeans and tennis shoes to work (darn!). Well, I guess I'm not forced to wear jeans, but my suits would sure look strange with tennis shoes, I must say.

And just now, walking to the printer, I managed to nearly take down a cube wall, or lose my left arm, or quite possibly both. I was walking by this guy's cubicle on the outside of which he has mickey-moused some metal bits to hold up a whiteboard. Well, my sweater caught on one of the metal bits. Being me, of course, this couldn't be a subtle, minor skirmish with the wall. Oh no. Instead I couldn't get disconnected, knocked the wall around a bit, and almost made the whiteboard fall down. When the guy turned around to see what was going on (because I was, after all, making his walls sway while he was working in there), I blithely disconnected myself, smiled and went on my merry way feeling like a complete moron.

How does she do it, folks??

|| Stephanie 11:02 AM

Monday, January 19, 2004

I fear that I'm going to quickly dissolve into a babbling mound of mush at work. Today I had a 1-1/2 hour conference call with my boss and a program manager to quickly educate me on a new upcoming technology and how we fit in with it. So that I can write a 1,000 word article. Like, yesterday. Eep!

The first three weeks or so that I was here was so quiet and slow that I thought I'd end up bored or something, but now it's like 'Okay, Stephanie, we'd like 3 case studies, 7 datasheets, 2 whitepapers and 5 articles by the end of the month. That's not a problem, right?' Uh...right....

If I had emoticons on my site, I would have the one with the eyes crossed and the tongue sticking out. And probably in green, for good measure.

|| Stephanie 12:37 PM

Friday, January 16, 2004

Wacko Jacko Goes To Court

Sounds like a very disturbing children's book, doesn't it?

ARGH, I'm so tired of Michael Jackson, his bizarre predilections and paranoid rants. Today, thousands of people turned out in support of the self-proclaimed king of pop as he was arraigned for alleged crimes against children. And thousands more (many of them in my office) are spending all freakin' day talking about it. P is glued to the internet, frequently announcing updates to the office at large (I'm so thrilled).

I know that there are many who want to just see him as a 'tortured soul' or unfortunate victim of childhood fame, but nothing excuses his behavior. And have any of these people seen him?? There is so clearly something wrong with this man, that I find it hard NOT to believe any charges brought against him. Here is a man who proudly admits that he sleeps with small children (boys) in his bed. Uh...hello? In what alternate universe is that acceptable behavior? He's not even talking about his own children when they have a nightmare, he's talking about children belonging to other people--people he doesn't even know!

And the only people invited to the Neverland Ranch (a whole other facet of his insanity) are boys. Young boys. Older boys are mysteriously not welcome. Women (except for the freaks who married him for whatever reason--cough, $$$, cough, publicity, cough) are also not welcome. So many people try to excuse his actions by saying that he was damaged by his family, by being a child star, by all of his money, etc. Whether or not none or all of that is true, he is dangerous and should not be allowed around children.

I have never seen a stronger candidate for intensive psychotherapy, and yet because he's loaded and famous, he's just eccentric and given a tremendous amount of leeway for his actions. The Western World has a lot to answer for in deifying celebrities and their actions. If some other middle class Joe Blow guy you or I knew were accused of even one of the many things that MJ has been, that guy would have been imprisoned, analyzed, dissected and thrown in jail as fast as humanly possible. But MJ can do whatever he wants, harm whomever he wants and it's just accepted.

Truly, it sickens me. No amount of childhood trauma gives this guy a blank check to hurt others. He's plain old crazy! Crazy people are supposed to be watched and prevented from causing harm--and not by people who he pays tons of money to turn the other way and keep their mouths shut. A quick look at the record: self-mutilation; lives in a children's paradise full of toys and dolls; accused multiple times of inappropriate behavior with children; 2 sham marriages--1 in which the ex-wife got a lot of money but had to give up all of the rights to her children; children named Prince and Prince II; a simpery, creepy voice; public ravings that Tommy Mattola is the devil....really, do we need to go any further, here?

|| Stephanie 11:29 AM

Thursday, January 15, 2004

He Ain't No Kennedy

So the U.S. will be going to the Moon (again) and then to Mars. Well, that's just a logical tactical decision when hundreds of thousands of troops are deployed in Iraq, our economic surplus is a distant memory, our deficit is at record high levels, and thousands upon thousands of Americans are out of work. Call me a cynic, but I can't help but see this as a very thinly veiled attempt to a) divert the attention of the American public from the Iraq debacle, economic disaster, corporate mismanagement, _______ (fill in the blank) and/or b) try to look like some kind of visionary.

The Moon? The heck you say! My goodness, that's so futuristic!

Well, if there's one thing that Bush has always represented, it's progress. Oh wait, no, he's actually the opposite of that! You've gotta appreciate the bravado, though. He's like our old friend Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf, Iraqi's Information Minister--no fear when making absolutely ludicrous claims. Dubya announces that we'll be on the Moon by 2020 and heading to Mars by 2030. Amid all his bluster and rhetoric ("We do not know where this journey will end, yet we know this -- human beings are headed into the cosmos."Oh puh-leeeze!), Bush proposed spending $12 billion over the next five years on the effort and yet "...the overall NASA budget would stay at about 1 percent of the federal budget, according to White House figures." Hmm, must be that goshdarned new math again. Well! After all, we know the commitment that most politicians show to election year promises. Especially when it involves copious amounts of money.

The secret to election year success: empty promises + vague statements + meaningless Marketing (did you see the giant screens of the astronauts behind Bush during his speech, clapping and cheering??) = a surefire win. Or at least something for liberals such as myself to poke fun at for the rest of the year.

|| Stephanie 2:10 PM

Wednesday, January 14, 2004


I think I've mentioned on my blog before that The Boy's best friend Matt is a Messianic Rabbi in Hungary. On New Year's The Boy and I were talking to his and Matt's (and now my) friend Brandy. Brandy is the speak-your-mind type, which always leads to great humor for the rest of us. Well, Brandy and Matt were driving back from a flea market or something one day, and she decided to ask him all the questions that she and The Boy and another of their friends have had since Matt's decision to become a rabbi (the four of them were a loyal clique throughout high school and have remained friends since).

Now, this might seem presumptuous or something for Brandy to ask, but you have to know that in all the time they'd been school chums, Matt had always been a Christian. Then his parents were doing some 'family tree' investigations and found that he was Jewish on his mother's side. Matt decided to embrace that tradition, without giving up on his belief in Jesus as the Messiah. That decision led to his eventual decision to become a rabbi. Which seemed like a bit of a jump from Jesus-believing Jew to his friends since he had exhibited no great pastoral urges before.

So Matt joined a movement and moved to Hungary a couple of years ago, and is now a rabbi to a small flock of his own. The primary question that Brandy wanted answered was, what made him a rabbi? Just by being there? What he studied? The money he raises? Inquiring minds wanted to know. As she related the story after the fact to The Boy and I, he pointed out that he'd always wondered what kind of formal education his friend had received. Because if he (The Boy) elected to become a minister, he would have to go to seminary. So his question was, did Matt have to go to rabbinary? We got quite a kick out of that one, let me tell you.

And one more thing. The Boy doesn't want me to call him The Boy With The Iron (from yesterday's post), he wants to be called Iron Man. Uh...yeah...sure...whatever you say, hon.

|| Stephanie 9:55 AM

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Fun With Ironing

First up with last night's entertainment is The Boy With The Iron. For Christmas, I/we got a new iron. Anybody who knows me, knows that I hate to iron, but this iron is different. It can do vertical steaming (meaning, no clumsy, creaky ironing board). So yesterday I got out the iron before work, thinking that I might actually have time to steam my shirt (I didn't).

Last night when The Boy got home he wanted to know why the iron was out. I explained about the steaming of the shirt. He asked if I would mind if he tried the iron. Mind?! I don't know a woman in the world who wouldn't swoon at the very suggestion. But it gets better. Not only did he steam iron my shirt, he was having so much fun that he asked me if he could iron some of my other things--because he's never ironed before (yeah, yeah--he is a guy, you know). Suffice it to say, this morning I had my choice of freshly pressed blouses for work. I think I'll keep him.

Why Flexibility Is Good

And the other entertainment for our Monday in was playing with Weight Watchers Points. I actually debated whether to blog about this or not because of the traditional habit of women keeping silent on their weight loss endeavors. But this Points thing is fun! I went to my first meeting last night and learned about the Points system. For anyone who's missed the commercials, the Points system allows you to eat the foods you like and would normally eat, but teaches you to eat in moderation by assigning you an allotment of points each day, and giving the foods you eat a points value based on their portion size, fiber, calorie and total fat content.

One of the things they give you is this little slide rule thing that you use to figure out the points of any foods you have that have a nutrition information label (as required by the govt.). I also bought the Starter Kit which includes a book that gives you the points values of foods you buy in the market, and a book that gives you the points values of foods that you eat in popular chain restaurants and fast food places. It's very cool and way easy to use. I also sprang for a little booklet (looks like a checkbook) that you use to track your points each day for a month. I have to say, this is the smartest 'diet' thing I've come across. There are no weird things to eat, no unhealthy restrictions. They tell you about and encourage the importance of eating from each of the food groups (including carbs--take that, Dr. Atkins!), drinking water and drinking/consuming milk or milk products. They encourage exercise and community (accountability). In short, they do/tell you all of the things that your doctor and most nutrition professionals do. But they make it kind of fun so that you won't cheat and find yourself doomed to failure. For someone like me who needs a good kick in the behind to get motivated, this is perfect.

Anyway, The Boy and I spent about an hour checking the Points values of every food in our house that had a label: juice, eggs, oatmeal, soup, etc. This activity actually raised a question for me, though. Why do they give you the dry and the prepared nutrition information for these foods? How many people are going to look at the label and think, "Whoa! This soup mix is 50 more calories when you prepare it. I'll just snack on the dry powder"?

|| Stephanie 1:37 PM

Monday, January 12, 2004

A Very Bad Idea

Well, I've discovered where the smokers hang out here at work. And I don't think it's such a brilliant idea: in the parking garage. You know, where the cars are. The cars that spew exhaust fumes and could potentially leak fuel. Fuel that is highly combustible. Did you know cigarettes involve fire? Fire and fuel....hmmm....why doesn't this seem like a good hangout to me?

|| Stephanie 3:02 PM

Friday, January 09, 2004

A Very Important Observation

Today I was thinking about my life and realized just how blessed I am. I have some really great friends. I may not see them often enough, but I know that if I needed anything, they'd be there. I love my friends; they are fantastic people. I also have a very loving family. They're crazy (more than some, less than others), but they're mine, lots of fun, and always want me to be happy. I have quite possibly the best boyfriend in the world whose sole life goal seems to be taking care of me and giving me anything I could ever want in this world. I have a church that is everything I have ever wanted and needed out of a worship community. I have a lovely apartment. A beautiful cat who has finally conquered his hygiene problems. A contracting job that I love, doing nothing but writing all day (and the hope that it could develop into more). I mean, I certainly have my share of troubles (uh...remember being laid off twice in one year?), but on the whole, my life is really, really good.

I don't believe in New Year's resolutions because they seldom last and are usually not very serious anyway. But my new LIFE's resolution is to remember these things when I feel down because I've put on some weight or had a disagreement with my sister or feel that my boyfriend is being unreasonable. Because, let's face it, these are the things that matter. Even if I can't wear the jeans I wore a year ago, I've broken out miserably, or I find myself out of work again, I know that I am loved and always will be. Sometimes, when I have trouble sleeping I remember something that Bing Crosby sings about in White Christmas (seriously, I know it sounds hokey, but I've done this a few times when I've had trouble sleeping and it's very soothing and comforting to think of the many things that you do have, instead of what you don't).

When I'm worried and I can't sleep
I count my blessings instead of sheep
And I fall asleep counting my blessings
When my bankroll is getting small
I think of when I had none at all
And I fall asleep counting my blessings

I think about a nursery and I picture curly heads
And one by one I count them as they slumber in their beds
If you're worried and you can't sleep
Just count your blessings instead of sheep
And you'll fall asleep counting your blessings

|| Stephanie 11:03 AM

When Typing Skills Pay Off

Where I sit at work, I can overhear virtually any conversation that goes on in Finance (the ladies there are quite nice for the most part, but not exactly quiet). Today I heard a rather unfortunate story from G. G is very nice, but seems to be frequently under attack by the dominant P--who is a bossy drama queen. As a result of that and the fact that we share a cube wall, I tend to hear most of G's conversations (as opposed to blocking them out as I do with most others). This morning she called her bank because she didn't see how it was possible that she had a $15 NSF charge when she knew that she had enough money to pay all of her bills in there. Also, they had not yet cleared a payment that she made online, which she found to be odd. Anyway, it turns out that because of some kind of decimal mishap of G's when making a payment online, the bank tried to pay Cox Communications $83,014.00 instead of $83.14! As, like most people, she doesn't carry $83k in her checking account, the amount was unable to go through and they charged her for NSF on any other payments after that one. Can you imagine being overdrawn by more than $80k??? Poor thing. She was trying to find out why nobody noticed that she was paying a utility such an outrageous amount and how to take care of it. Apparently she was quite lucky it bounced, because if it had gone through she would have had a heck of a time getting her money back from Cox--as R commented when she heard the story from G.

Apparently R has a friend who makes all of her bill payments online. One day she got a bill from the electric company showing her as having a $4,000 credit. She couldn't imagine why and then discovered that she had made a mistake online and paid them $4,005 dollars by accident. Because she did have that money in her account, it cleared. Yikes!

|| Stephanie 10:33 AM

Thursday, January 08, 2004

Ah, The Power Couple!

No! Not Brad and Jen. Not even Jen and Ben. Nope, the real power couple is Stephanie and Jason. That's right, following a discussion with The Boy last night I now know why we work together so well. We both draw celebrity to us.

Not only did he meet John de Lancie with me last Sunday (see previous post), but he has also directed Carol Burnett to the bathroom, been assaulted by Harry Connick, Jr. and met legendary composer John Williams. There were others that he told me about, but I can't remember who they were. Those were the biggies.

I guess it's true, powerful people really do draw other powerful people to them.


|| Stephanie 2:25 PM

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Another Brush With Celebrity

I know you all want to be me with my ability to mix and mingle with the stars. Standing in line for a movie behind Scott Baio. Seeing David Shwimmer (or at least some guy who looks EXACTLY like him) at AMC in Burbank. Seeing Tony Shaloub, Bradley Whitford and Jane Kaczmarek at church. And now this. I met Q.

I met John de Lancie, a.k.a. Eugene Bradford of Days of Our Lives, a.k.a. Q of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

You're jealous. I know what you're thinking: How does she do it? Well, The Boy and I were recruited to be Forum Greeters at our church. Basically we greet the speakers, see if they need coffee/tea/baked goods, arrange their handouts and pass around the microphones for the Q&A. Anyway, this past Sunday was our first official day on the job, and the guest speaker was John de Lancie. It turns out that one of our priests, David Jackson, is a bit of a Trekker (apparently there's a difference between a Trekker and a Trekkie). He was speaking about Star Trek Theology, and his special guest was John de Lancie, talking about his role as Q (as well as a bit of bio info on his career).

He was very nice and quite funny. He explained that when he started out on Days, for a five-day stint, he was brought in as the worst character you can imagine (he described him as a pedophiliac, kidnapping murderer). He decided that someone that bad should be a clown, and apparently he was instantly loved. So they hired him on for several years and spent about a month reforming his character (btw: only in that world does a pedophile/kidnapper/murderer get reformed in a month!). A little bit of trivia for y'all.

Okay, I know that most of my friends/readers will recognize him as Q, but have no idea who Eugene Bradford was. Well, that bit was for my MOM--a Days fan for longer than she would like me to tell you. Shout out to my Mom!!


|| Stephanie 9:41 AM

Monday, January 05, 2004

Mike Axeen Must Be Destroyed

I'm sorry to say it, partly because he's a nice guy, and partly because we share many of the same friends, but Mike Axeen must be destroyed. On New Year's Eve he sent out an email with about a million links on it to different sites and stories. Because it was NYE, and dead around work, I clicked on some of the links. One of them was www.addictinggames.com. Turns out their title is completely accurate.

Because I am a Word Smith (close cousin of Jenny Smith), I gravitated toward Bookworm Deluxe. Now I'm addicted to the stupid game. When you download Bookworm Deluxe for their trial period, you are given the option of playing the classic (i.e.: boring) game, or you can play the action game. The action game is far more challenging. I can't stop playing. Or, more accurately, I couldn't stop. Until the trial ran out. And now they want $24.95 to download the game for keeps. And I'm actually considering it!

I think that Mike should be obligated to buy me the game and support my addiction, seeing as he was the pusher who introduced me to such a lethal game. Last night, before my trial ran out at home (oh yes, I had it on both work and home computers--such is my need to play), I scored 220,340. My greatest score ever. But can I enter it on the web site? Oh no. Not without downloading the full version for $24.95!!!!

I see these stupid Scrabble tiles everywhere now. I see words and I find myself unconsciously rearranging letters to determine how many words I can make. In my sleep I am charting ways to make words, and thinking of possible letter combinations that I could use to form the most words. I have even determined that if there were ever some bizarre incident in my life that required me to choose only 7 letters from the alphabet in order to make as many words as possible and save my life, I could do it. Give me RSEBDAI. I can form an awful lot of words with those letters. Believe me, I've done it enough times while watching television, driving and 'talking' to others.

Last night--when I scored my all-time high of 220,340--I was only going to play one game. I can stop at anytime. I have some self control. 1-1/2 hours later, I had to pry the mouse out of my clenched hand and force myself to unplug the laptop. I am craving it right now, but I need to finish a case study. Maybe if I finish the case study, I can reward myself with one (free) classic game. It's not the same, but it's in my price range. Bwahahahahaha!

|| Stephanie 7:54 AM

Friday, January 02, 2004

Dear God! Not the Almanac!

I'm sure that by now you've heard of this, but I remain astounded. It sounds like some kind of a hybrid Kevin Smith/Farrelly brothers movie. I see this as indisputable proof that our national leaders have truly lost their minds. Sure it was founded by an authoritarian cross-dresser, but seriously, I expect at least a modicum of sensibility from the FBI--although, these are the same people that let Fox Mulder spend millions of taxpayer dollars hunting aliens for 9 years.

Quotes that resonate:

"If they are looking for a mean recipe for apple pie, how to simplify their lives, what to do if they get ink on their clothes, what the weather might be like on February 29, or how to beat and eat weeds, then yes, terrorists might be interested in our Farmers' Almanac," states Editor and Philom., Peter Geiger here.

"Outlaw almanacs and only outlaws will have almanacs. I honestly wonder who is running things at the head of Homeland Security these days -- Chicken Little?" from a blogger on this site.

"Much of the onus for the FBI alert, of course, fell directly into the folksy lap of "The Old Farmer's Almanac," long a publication known to be associated with overthrowing the government" (from here).

And these next two are from this blog: "They [the FBI, presumably] also want to hide info from the public about schools, such as their addresses. Yes that's right folks.. after hiding the addresses from phone books, publicly accessible databases, etc. terrorists will never figure out how to drive around until they find a school - a 45 second process in my neighborhood," and "While we're at it how about cell phones. terrorists use those as well and a lot of chatter is tracked by cell carriers. so If you see anyone driving down the road talking on a cell phone they could be terrorists too."

It appears that the only viable weapon-like use of the almanac is dropping it on someone from a great height--after all, it is 1,000 pages long. As if the U.S. didn't look foolish enough around the world!

|| Stephanie 2:44 PM