I'm so proud of my hubby! He had his annual review yesterday and not only had a very favorable review--he got a promotion!!!
I know those of us who know Kevin aren't surprised in the least, but it's thrilling to see his hard work be officially recognized. Good job, Honey!!
So on my way to work this morning I was stopped at the stoplight right before you would turn to go into the Disneyland parking garage and Downtown Disney parking. My lot is one light past that. Well there was a small car in front of me, and in front of him was a white pickup truck with no cab. The truck had two strollers in the bed. Both strollers were fully deployed--just waiting for a kid to sit in it--and both were upright on their wheels.
And, as it turned out, neither was strapped down.
When the light turned green, the pickup truck jumped ahead and a big gust of wind caught one of the strollers and blew it into the car in front of me.
The stroller was a cheap umbrella stroller, like this one (available at Toys R Us for $10.00):
These strollers FOLD UP to be very small. However, this was not folded up at all, nor was the other stroller in the bed of the truck. So the guy did not fold either stroller, nor did he place them on their sides, nor did he secure them in the bed of the truck.
I'm sorry, you're too stupid to go to Disneyland. Please go home and come back next month. Dumbass Day is on the 17th.
(The car that was hit by the stroller was unharmed, except for one extremely pissed off driver)
I just finished a fabulous book--World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks. Now I'm not particularly into zombies and probably never would have picked up this book if it weren't for the ringing endorsement of one of my all-time favorite writers, David Sedaris. Kevin and I went to see Sedaris at a reading in Riverside and at every tour he does, he recommends a book. An early book steered us wrong, so I didn't dive immediately into World War Z (that and I'm not so much into zombies), but did get it very recently on whim. Boy am I glad I did.
World War Z is, as the title says, an oral history of the Zombie war. Set in the near future, 10 years after the Zombie war (so probably 15 years from now or so), World War Z is a collection of short blurbs from different people involved in the Zombie war. And since the zombies rose from the dead (apparently due to a virus) and nearly took over the entire world, that would be just about everyone. Most of the interviews/oral histories in the book are from people in the military or the government (or both) but there are some civilian witnesses who themselves are quite fascinating.
World War Z was published after an important book, The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead, which was also highly recommended by David Sedaris. I have not read the Zombie Survival Guide yet (rest assured it's next on the list) but I did pick up some important tips from World War Z. And since I'm not into zombies, there were a lot of things I didn't know before. For example:
-The only way to kill a zombie is to destroy its brain
-Once you are bitten by a zombie, you are infected and can expect to reanimate following your death
-Zombies are not smart and cannot use tools
-Zombies want to eat you
-Zombies congregate to noise, much like sharks to blood
-Zombies freeze in the winter but reanimate upon thawing
-Zombies survive underwater, so swimming is not a good idea
And so on and so forth. I am sure the Survival Guide goes into all of these and more in great detail, so I expect to be fully prepared soon.
World War Z chronicles the advances of the military as they battled the zombies and spends a great deal of time on the psychological impact of the Zombie war. He also covers the aftermath and what happened to surviving coutries (some who very gently nuked eachother, some who became completely religious states, some who resorted to public stocks and whipping on town squares for discipline). And somewhere along the way, Brooks makes a statement about our current political and military situation.
It wasn't until further reading that I learned that Max Brooks is actually the son of filmmaker Mel Brooks, who has produced some of the funniest movies ever. It's clear where he got his sense of humor from.
World War Z is kind of a combination of Stephen King's The Stand and Christopher Moore's Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal. Much like David Sedaris, I highly recommend World War Z.
I opened a fortune cookie the other day and my fortune was, "The key to success is becoming Shelby's dentist."
After a wee mishap early Monday morning, I saw our dentist today. The news was not good. The news wasn't great last time either, but we were hoping for slightly better news, which we did not get. There are several things wrong with my teeth. On one side, I had a crown put in but the dentist did a poor job and now I get food and stuff stuck in between that and my other teeth, along with collecting a great deal of plaque at the gumline. That needs to go. I also have two very old fillings in the teeth on either side of my two top front teeth. They're falling apart and need to be replaced. And then there's the left side of my mouth.
On the bottom left I have a sensitive tooth. That particular tooth has been sensitive for a long time--probably more than a year. We started attempting to treat this sensitive tooth back in August. First I got a prescription paste to put on it. That didn't work, so they took a little mold of my teeth and made a little tray to hold the paste on. Still didn't work, so we upgraded to super-duper flouride gel. Guess what? Still not working.
Additionally, directly above that I have another sensitive tooth. This one is actively getting worse. No mysteries there, the dentist saw 3 small fractures. Yay. Now another part of my problem is that I grind my teeth at night. I had a night guard once but it fell out of my mouth and a then-puppy Scout used it as a very exciting chew toy. So I had to get a new one made. It's working well--my jaw doesn't hurt anymore--but there's at least one area where my a tooth has created a groove. I must really clench my teeth hard! Anyway, the hope was that by stopping the grinding, the fractured tooth would be okay.
That doesn't appear to have panned out. So now I have to go to the endodontist to see if either of these two teeth are viable. I've decided that viable is a very bad word to hear when you're discussing your teeth. If they're not, I get 2 root canals.
PLUS--I have a very big fear of the dentist and a great deal of anxiety over dental work in general, thanks to some brutality in my earlier career as a dental patient. For most people, it's the pain of the shots and then the sound of the drill. For me it's the fact that my mouth never stays numb and it's the feel of the drill--that grinding sensation that wearing my iPod isn't going to cover up. In fact, this feeling has spread to other areas of my life. I cannot file my nails--just thinking about it makes me want to throw up. I had one manicure and pedicure in my entire life and overall I have to say I really hated it. I also want to start crying when I hear sawing metal.
Due to the above problems and amount of dental work I'm going to need, my sainted dentist (whom I really like--he's very smart) suggested that I might want to consider IV sedation. No sooner were the letters "IV..." out of his mouth that I sprang up out of the chair, punched my fist in the air, and said, "HELL yeah! Sign me up!"
Okay, not really. I stayed seated.
So now it's a matter of sorting out what can be done and what can't be done, and what needs to be done, and when. Also, it's going to cost a lot of money. Yay.
Nick Jr. is premiering a new cartoon aimed at the preschool set called Ni Hao, Kai-lan. I can't tell you how excited I am!
As the name suggests, Ni Hao, Kai-lan's main character is Chinese American. Obviously this is fantastic for us and Baby H (hopefully the show will still be on!) but I think it's a great move for everyone in the country.
Kai-lan is similar to Dora the Explorer and Go, Diego, Go! If you've not been hanging with the under-kindergarten group, Dora is a show starring a 7-year-old Latina girl named, strangely enough, Dora. Dora has a new adventure in every episode and along the way, viewers are introduced to Spanish words and phrases as well as problem-solving skills and other helpful things like some math and music. Dora is insanely popular and has opened a window of bilingualism to thousands of children who otherwise consider Taco Bell to be authentic Mexican cuisine.
Following the success of Dora, Nick Jr. introduced Go, Diego, Go! Diego is Dora's 8-year-old cousin and his focus is more specific--he likes animals. I've never seen this particular show, but according to internet sources, each show features Diego helping to rescue an animal in trouble. Along the way he introduces viewers to different animals as well as a respect for the environment and the benefits of helping others (as opposed to being a selfish bastard, I suppose). Diego also features Spanish words and phrases and bilingualism plays a major role.
Kai-lan is very similar to Dora and Diego in that she has adventures and the show emphasizes bilingualism--this time in Mandarin. However, Kai-lan deviates from Dora and Diego in that an emphasis is placed on multiculturalism. Kai-lan lives with YeYe, her grandfather, who plays the role of mentor and caretaker. Naturally she's got 3 animal friends--a panda, a monkey, and a tiger. Monkeys are apparently very important to this age group, since Dora and Diego both have monkeys as well. Anyway, Kai-lan's focus is on multiculturalism, not just bilingualism.
Here are some quotes from Nick Jr.'s page on Kai-lan:
Ni Hao, Kai-lan is the next generation of preschool television programming that introduces the psychology of biculturalism. If Dora and Diego popularized bilingualism, Kai-lan will weave together being bilingual and bicultural. Ni Hao, Kai-lan reinforces the idea that being bicultural and bilingual is being American.Emphasis mine. I am so excited about the above part. So many American children bridge cultures--what an affirmation that this is to be celebrated! I am also very pleased to see an Asian character, and not just because our daughter will be Chinese. It's thrilling to see an Asian character outside of a stereotypical role (she's Asian and she's a doctor--because Asians are smart!) and while I think we have been making strides to be more inclusive of Latino/a children, I think our portrayal of Asians and other minorities still has a long way to go. I think this is definitely a step forward in normalizing the experiences of Americans who don't fit that "typical American" mold.
Again from Nick Jr.:
The show will familiarize the viewing audience with elements of Chinese and Chinese American cultures to promote multicultural understanding in the next generation and goes beyond featuring "culture" as only ethnic food and festivals. Instead, it celebrates growing up in an intergenerational family, having friends from diverse backgrounds, and "habits of the heart" that are Chinese American.Goes beyond featuring "culture" as only food and festivals? Now THERE'S a breath of fresh air!
Additionally, Kai-lan features "values" that are fundamental to Chinese and other East Asian cultures but are underemphasized in mainstream American culture these days. These values include (my comments in brackets):
Mind-body connection Typically, television portrays excitement as the good emotion to feel. In many Chinese-American communities, the good thing to feel is often calmness and contentment. Feeling excited and feeling calm can both be happy feelings, but they differ in how aroused the body is. [in a culture where everyone is diagnosed ADHD and is taking ritalin, it's so refreshing to see a focus on calmness and contentment instead of activating behavior]
Perspective-taking In many Chinese and other East Asian families, children are encouraged to take the perspective of others to maintain harmony in relationships with other people. [frankly a lot of adults could use this lesson too. Maybe they'll watch with their kids!]
Being a good member of the group Ni Hao, Kai-lan also emphasizes the Chinese and Chinese American value of being a good member of a group. [I also feel that selfishness has been rewarded in our culture and I think an emphasis on cooperation is an excellent idea]
I've been formulating some thoughts on movies based on books, primarily stirred by other comments about the movie version of The Golden Compass. I think that it is very hard to make a good movie from a good book (I have seen a couple of movies that greatly improved upon the books, however, but those books sucked). I can only think of a handful that I have been really happy with (strangely enough, two are Stephen King stories--Stand By Me and The Shawshank Redemption. Oh, The Green Mile was very good too).
But none, however, come even close to the atrocity that is The Postman. Not Il Postino, but The Postman. I'm not sure that I can say that The Postman is the worst movie ever made, but I can say with full confidence that it is the worst movie I ever spent money to see at the theater. The Postman is a 3-hour epic in the sense that a long, drawn-out, painful death would be an epic. I mean three hours, people. Three hours. Even a good movie is pushing it at three hours. I and two of my friends made the drastic mistake of going to see The Postman. This was Christmas 1997, and our choices were The Postman or Titanic. When I eventually saw Titanic, I really wasn't crazy about it, but in retrospect we realized that it would have been a much better choice than The Postman. And by "retrospect" I mean "one hour into The Postman." Halfway through we were like, "We should have seen Titanic. At least the boat would have sunk by now."
It was the only movie I've ever been to where I've actually seen people leave in the middle of the movie. And not just some people--a lot of people. And every single person who stayed to the end walked out saying, "That was the worst movie I've ever seen."
I bring this up because The Postman is based on a book of the same title by David Brin. My sci-fi loving hubby convinced me to give the book a try (after slipping me another Brin book that I liked). I was able to look past my agony of Xmas '97 and read the book. And I thought the book was decent. Not my style, but certainly not like the movie.
Here is a comprehensive list of what the movie and the book version of The Postman have in common:
1) It's the near-ish future, bad things have happened, and people aren't getting along with each other
2) There's this guy
3) There's some old mail that hasn't been delivered
That pretty much covers it.
So when I think of movies made from books, my benchmark is always The Postman.
As a side note, if you happened to like The Postman, please do not say so in my comments. I shall have to forever despise you and question all of your judgement, and I'd rather just live in ignorance, thankyouverymuch.
I'm not a huge "Fwd:" person but this one truly cracked me up. I didn't write the captions, though I'd love to claim some of them.
It's family picture time!
Those glasses came free with a purchase of Brut cologne.
Thoughtful Lance. Mirthful Lance. Two sides of a delightful coin.
Drake won Bitchin'est Senior Mullet by a landslide.
That dude wore a tie for nothing.
The Purvis family made several stops along the Oregon Trail to document their six-month journey. This photo was taken just two weeks before the dysentery took Momma to Jesus.
Olan Mills backdrop #4: Bucolic Meadow with Split Rail Fence. Is that an animal carcass behind her?
Oh, this is super. What better way to capture the charm and innocence of a child than to plunk him down amid the coarse trappings of a life lived in pursuit of wealth -- oversized bills, an adding machine and the Wall Street Journal -- and make him sit inside a briefcase?
Bobbi isn't the first waitress to fall for her manager, but she and Dale both got fired from Shoney's.
Just a typical afternoon down on the plantation. In a business suit. Y'know, for a budget meeting with the slaves.
This photo isn't discolored. The 70s really were that Orange.
Olan Mills Backdrop #11: The Library, one of their most popular themes, as seen in this photo of the young Unabomber and his wife.
The Library might be more believable if the shelves weren't sloping downhill.
Olan Mills is all about versatility. The simple addition of a column turns this generic plantation into Tara, where, apparently, someone opened a Hair Cuttery.
Patrick broke ranks and chose drag over the bow tie.
You'd think Pearle Vision would throw in another two pairs for free.
Kenneth and his prom date.
I got a 20 that says he drives a Camaro.
It's so cute when couples have matching hairdos.
Talk about a third wheel...
Nothing says 1973 quite like denim and helmet hair.
I'd hide my face, too, little girl.
B-52's, the early years.
She's looking for the speaker that's piping in "Muskrat Love" so she can blast it with her laser eyes.
Yesterday was both my mother's birthday and Elvis' birthday. Hooray!
I also have jury duty, where I am right now. I was originally scheduled for jury duty in September when we were in Alaska so I postponed it to today. And then completely forgot about it. Luckily I left the summons on the refrigerator and luckily I happened to be walking past it last night at about Midnight (thinking that I didn't have work the next day--I don't) and said, "Oh [expletive]! I have jury duty tomorrow!"
There are two ways to do jury duty around these parts. The first is you "serve" for a week and you call in every day to see if they want you to come in. The second--the one I got--is you show up for one day and if you don't get picked, you're done.
Luckily I'm at the Orange County Courthouse in Santa Ana, which is only about 15 minutes from our home. Also luckily is that the prospective juror room is quite comfy. There are nice tables and comfy chairs, and most importantly--free wifi!
They called 600 of us today and then throughout the morning they've been announcing different assignments and calling people up. Right before lunch I looked around to a mostly empty room, and they announced that there shouldn't be any jurors left in the pool and if you were still sitting there, come to the little check-in window. Hmmmm. At that point I had felt lucky to not be chosen. Then I started wishing I were chosen just to make this trip worthwhile. But after that announcement--I feel like some kind of rejected loser. Even the courts don't want me! Also, I was nervous that I wouldn't get credit for the day. I went back up there and they were like, "Did you check in?" Yes--that's why I'm wearing this really lame-looking badge. They scanned my number again and told me to have a seat until after lunch. I do hope I don't get penalized for being "late" or something (even though I wasn't).
As I mentioned earlier, Kevin and I spent New Year's Eve at his grandparents' cabin in Green Valley Lake. GVL was hit by the wildfires in the fall and in fact, on one very tense night, all emergency personnel had to pull out of GVL because the one paved road in and out was nearly blocked. It was very sad to hear that the town was left unprotected until the firefighters coud get back in--and believe me, nobody was sadder than the firefighters themselves. However, most of the homes in GVL survived, including the grandparents' cabin (which will hereby be referred to as "the cabin") which is in the middle of a residential neighborhood, so to speak. Mostly houses on the edges of town were the ones that were lost. Here are some pictures we took--click on any for a larger version.
This was a pretty typical site--piles of rubbish and a chimney:
This is the back part of what used to be the lumber yard:
This site kind of broke my heart. The spray painting reads: "Thank You Friends; Thank You Firefighters; Red Cross; Salvation Army; Tzu Chi Buddhist Group; Cal Fire; Staters; Home Depot; CDF [California Department of Forestry]; Family; HOPE"
Piles of burned, rusted junk were everywhere:
...as were sets of burned out stairs to nowhere:
Nature's capriciousness: there are two completely destroyed properties next to each other here. The grey house on the left had some broken windows--no other clear damage. The home directly behind both destroyed homes was completely untouched:
Only a small handful of people had started to rebuild. I imagine most are waiting until Spring, if they rebuild at all:
Driveway to nowhere:
This stretch was the worst we saw. Each damaged or destroyed house had a green numbered sign. Standing where this picture was taken, I counted 10 green signs:
A burned-out Jeep. People took what they could, but a lot of people were stranded--they'd been out of the town for work and weren't allowed back in:
Another angle of the street with 10 green signs:
Untouched stairs, nothing else on the lot:
Again, the most common site--rubble and a fireplace:
This sight was completely incongruous. With the blanket of snow, it looks like a random chimney on a hill. For some reason it reminded me of the lamppost in Narnia:
This is a small valley in the hillside. The fire swept right down the valley. There are two homes in this picture, and if you turned around and looked up the hill, there were two more in the same path:
Stairs, retaining wall, green sign:
There were also lots of insurance recovery signs. This one has a photograph of the cabin that used to stand there:
There were several more destroyed properties but at one point it felt ghoulish to take pictures (or even to take a car tour). Most people have wooden signs near their front doors with their names on them--ours has a squirrel and says "The Hogans." I found it a bit ironic that one of the homes which survived the fires surrounded by destroyed homes was owned by a family called the Feurerbergs. Which literally translated from German means "fire mountain."
So we're supposed to be in the midst of this ginormous Storm of the Century here, but it seems like whatever century it's the storm of doesn't really get a lot of rain, because this one has been kind of disappointing. Maybe it's like a century after massive global warming where the oceans have risen and Florida is under water and Iceland changes their name to Dirtland. Anyway, I know there was some power outages way up North and I guess the Sierras are getting a lot of snow, which is very, very good. In true form, Green Valley Lake is now under a blanket of snow, only a few short days after we left. It looks like my leaving someplace where I want it to snow causes it to snow once I'm gone.
Maybe Dirtland should hire me.
I just got back from seeing the movie The Golden Compass a second time. This time I went by myself. I do have a habit of seeing the same movie over and over again if I really like it. I think I saw The Lion King about 25 times.
What I like about The Golden Compass is that it's the first book in my favorite series ever--His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman. I love these books. It's a shame they're placed in the young adult section because they are very much adult books. Teens will enjoy them but grown-ups will find deeper understanding.
Much has been made about the movie (and the book's) anti-religious themes. Yes, it's anti-organized religion. Unlike many people, I have no problem reading books that challenge my way of thinking. In fact, my motto is pretty much, "Banned by a religious group? Hey--I'll read that!"
Anyway, just wanted to highly endorse the movie and the books.
I had posted last month (2 months ago?) abotu starting an ambitious writing project called National Novel Writing Month where you write a 50,000 word novel in a month. Well, I got a little over 1/5th of the way through it, and then it died. I just couldn't sustain the enthusiasm and got too distracted. Hopefully I'll be able to do it next year.
In the meantime, I've started a new novel, which is what I'm writing in the collage picture from New Year's. Also, my dear friend Anita commented that I look good in the grey pants in said picture. They're pajama bottoms from Old Navy, and I actually own two of the same pair--haha.
I'm back...this time with pictures! We spent a lovely, relaxing New Year's Eve at Kevin's Grandparents' cabin in Green Valley Lake (our local mountains). Green Valley Lake was hit hard by the wildfires earlier this year ("our" cabin was unharmed) so I expected the worst, but things looked better than I thought. Until you deliberately drove into some of the burn areas, but that's another entry.
Anyway, the 4 of us just kicked back, watched some movies (Superbad, which was super, super bad; Stardust which was super, super good, and some episodes of our current tv-on-dvd: Rome, Big Love, and Flight of the Conchords). I started a new novel, too!
Here are some collages--click for a larger version: