In the Storm: The More Serious-er Sharknado

Guest Post from our Loyal Reader, Mary reviewing the summer action flick Into The Storm which opened last weekend:

Yes. I spent money on this movie.  Yes. I spent money on this movie the weekend that it opened.  Yes. I spent money on this movie the weekend that it opened and pulled Cammy and a local friend into the funnel cloud of summer blockbuster cheese 1) Cammy note: That should be c-h-e-e-Z-e.  We’re talkin’ Velveeta, not Gouda or Brie or anything classy. .  Yes. I admit all of these things. I’m not proud.

I justify my actions by stating upfront that this oh-so-very-unserious bit of film showcased (not well) the talents of my Object of Cinematic Lust, one Richard Armitage.  There. I said it.  I had a moment of fangirling.  Like I said, I ain’t proud.

As you may have gathered by now, big summer let’s-blow-shit-up blockbusters are not my thing. And for a variety of reasons this is true; I dislike watching bad acting, I hate most connect-the-dots storylines, schlocky romances leave me cold, and after a while the special effects just bore me (another thing blew up. Woo.) 2) Cammy note:  And the hokey dialog as writers schill for idiot producers hoping to spawn new catchphrases for marketing to use. .  So there’s all that and the fact that I’m cheap so I’m not going to pay real money for something I know is not going to entertain me.
But, dear reader, allow me this moment of fangirl ecstasy:  Richard Armitage!  In a SUIT!  IN THE RAIN!  And then there’s the comic relief:  Richard Armitage! Trying (and failing) to be AMERICAN!  Cammy, good sport and Tornado Alley metropolitan that she is, came along for the ride. And the wet shirt 3) Cammy note: Richard Armitage’s wet shirt, not mine. .

About two minutes into this flick Local Friend and I pegged it as the more serious-er Sharknado 4) Cammy note:  I have to say, that out of complete morbid curiosity, I would actually pay to see anything billed as “a less serious Sharknado.” .  More serious-er because you could see the cast really wanted their characters to be taken seriously…too seriously 5) Cammy note:  Just not serious enough to actually make them act like real Tornado Alley residents would. .  And, while there were no sharks flying out of storm drains, there was everything else.  Lots of family drama. Teeny bopper romance. Lessons learned moments from a time capsule. The potential for adult romance. The trials and tribulations of single parenthood.  Stupid American stereotyped characters 6) Cammy note: Although, in their defense–SPOILER ALERT–they did avoid the American movie stereotype where the black guy in the film bites it.  Somewhere in the land where Psych lives on, Burton Guster is turning to Shawn Spencer and singing “Suck iiiiiiiit.” .  Unbridled avarice and ambition.  The consequences of not following your gut when it says to get the hell out of the damn tornado’s path when it sets itself on fire. Exposition on bits of machinery that will become pivotal plot points later. Oh, and lots and lots and lots of destruction, to include multiple 747s getting sucked into the tornado’s gullet. Oh yes, there was something for everybody in this movie.  The one thing it could’ve used more of was Richard Armitage in a wet shirt.  Just sayin’…

Say what you will about Sharknado, at least you could see that Ian Ziering was having fun while earning his paycheck.  Dear Dicky-Boy the Pseudo-Yank, on the other hand, had obviously done some serious method acting-y research and deep digging to find his character, Gary, the widowed-divorced-single dad-put upon-overlooked Vice Principal of a high school in, ahem, “Oklahoma.” 7) Cammy note:  Those quotation marks are NOT optional  We’ll neatly sidestep the visual fact that this ordinary Joe is supremely easy on the eyes and has yet undiscovered depths of inner fortitude…which he desperately needs to hang onto his American accent 8) Cammy note:  That’s right, we have another winner of the Cary Elwes Award for Worst American Accent in a Feature Film, however, in Mr. Armitage’s defense, his accent was way better than Cary Elwes’ was in that other shitty tornado flick.  Though, let this be a lesson to the next British actor who wants to play an American:  don’t do it in a shitty tornado flick–unless you really want this venerable award. .

Local Friend and I couldn’t quite figure out why he signed on to make this movie.  Maybe he had a contract obligation to fulfill? Maybe this was supposed to be the vehicle by which he’d be introduced to a wider American audience? Outside the hairy realm of Tolkien and Peter Jackson’s imaginings?  Or did he just sign up to make this movie because he likes cheesy flicks and wanted the experience as a way to pass the time while waiting for the Hobbit pick-up schedule?  A combination of all? 9) Cammy Note:  Or maybe he just figured it couldn’t be as hokey and awful as Robin Hood, so, eh, why not?

My  money is on the intro to the wider American movie-goer as the rest of the cast are un/little-knowns.  One son is played by a Brit, his teenaged romantic interest is an Aussie, and the actress who plays the weather tracker with a PhD, a guilt ray loaded 5 year old daughter, uncanny storm instincts and a suspiciously unlined forehead is completely new to me. Will we know these people later?  Only time and blockbuster cash will tell.

And now for the Suspension of Disbelief Files…

Cammy has a better lock on the midwest as she currently resides in Tornado Alley 10) Cammy Note:  And by better lock, Mary means, “is regularly scared shitless by tornadoes and likes to give out unsolicited tornado safety advice to everyone” , but I have family claims to the midwest.  Mom is from Ohio, Dad is from a nice little family farm in a nice little town in Iowa.  I have seen the rolling plains, I’ve heard the first-hand tornado stories and now I know which corner of the cellar to dive into should the gray-green cloud suddenly sprout a funnel. I remember Grandpa talking about the weather and the sound of the driving rain on the south-facing windows of the farm house. Knowing how closely the midwesterners watch the weather for basic survival, tell me how the heck you’re gonna have a high school graduation outside…in the spring…without a back up plan 11) Cammy Note:  In my experience, you’re not going to see this happen.  And even if a school around makes an attempt at an outdoor graduation, there’s always an alternate location–and the big apocalyptic cloud on the horizon generally sends people running inside well before the tornado sirens ever do. ?  How did Principal AllState not watch the weather 12) Cammy Note:  Or have a weather radio.  Or Weatherbug.  Or his cell phone… ?  It’s spring in “Oklahoma” for crying out loud!  Also, who had actual school stuff on graduation day?  Why were there buses dropping off kids with books?  Were there classes?  Why were there classes?  Does not graduation imply that the school year has met its end? Whyfor does older teenaged son’s love interest not yet have her internship application complete? Why, after a big spinning cloud comes through town, does everyone check their cell phone 13) Cammy Note:  The phones that,–if “Oklahoma” has implemented what we have the KC area–would have been buzzing and dinging and going bat-shit crazy with automated alert texts about severe weather and tornadoes on the ground.  Apparently “Silverton” was having cell tower issues even before the tornadoes screwed them over. ? For that matter, why bother to check your cell phone when you’re trapped in a slowly filling rain basin at an abandoned paper mill/industrial waste site? Does water amplify the signal? Does the camera work well enough for you to record your teary end-of-life testimonial? Why are you going to barricade yourselves in a STORM DRAIN for shelter 14) Cammy Note: Most of this movie was a PSA on what not to do in severe weather.  Don’t hide in storm drains–people have drowned doing that. And for the love of all that is holy, do NOT get into a school bus or a car and try to outrun the thing. Seriously. Indoors, lowest, most interior room–preferably a basement. ?

As a side note, I had to work awful hard to place this little town with a major airport in “Oklahoma.” 15) Cammy Note:  Yeah, that was about as “Oklahoma” as Iceland.  As far as I know there is no airport in OK that’s serviced by 747s. There were too many coniferous trees to make that believable.  “Oklahoma” looked a bit too green to be that close to Texas and a bit too much like a verdant Michigan, a mythical place where they have tax incentives for film production 16) Cammy Note:  And where they don’t have enough tornado warnings that people working on location would chime in and go, “No, seriously.  That’s bullshit.  No one would react like that around here!” .

Was this $6 well spent?  Meh, it was a Saturday morning in August with not much else going on.  Would I have paid money had my Object of Cinematic Lust not been showcased in a key role?  No.  Would this movie be better with booze in hand and a plate of drippy nachos? 17) Cammy Note:  Though, really, isn’t EVERY movie made better with booze and drippy nachos? Hell yes.  If the spirit moves me and the company is right, I might give it another go on $2 Monday at the Drafthouse.  If you want to see this movie, repeat this mantra to yourself: Shark factor low, Snark factor high.  Believe that and all will be well.

P.S. Along with more wet dress shirt moments, I kinda wish the nerdy kid in the time capsule video had a parting shot and not just the storm-reformed jock.

Footnotes

1.
  Cammy note: That should be c-h-e-e-Z-e.  We’re talkin’ Velveeta, not Gouda or Brie or anything classy.
2.
  Cammy note:  And the hokey dialog as writers schill for idiot producers hoping to spawn new catchphrases for marketing to use.
3.
  Cammy note: Richard Armitage’s wet shirt, not mine.
4.
  Cammy note:  I have to say, that out of complete morbid curiosity, I would actually pay to see anything billed as “a less serious Sharknado.”
5.
  Cammy note:  Just not serious enough to actually make them act like real Tornado Alley residents would.
6.
  Cammy note: Although, in their defense–SPOILER ALERT–they did avoid the American movie stereotype where the black guy in the film bites it.  Somewhere in the land where Psych lives on, Burton Guster is turning to Shawn Spencer and singing “Suck iiiiiiiit.”
7.
  Cammy note:  Those quotation marks are NOT optional
8.
  Cammy note:  That’s right, we have another winner of the Cary Elwes Award for Worst American Accent in a Feature Film, however, in Mr. Armitage’s defense, his accent was way better than Cary Elwes’ was in that other shitty tornado flick.  Though, let this be a lesson to the next British actor who wants to play an American:  don’t do it in a shitty tornado flick–unless you really want this venerable award.
9.
  Cammy Note:  Or maybe he just figured it couldn’t be as hokey and awful as Robin Hood, so, eh, why not?
10.
  Cammy Note:  And by better lock, Mary means, “is regularly scared shitless by tornadoes and likes to give out unsolicited tornado safety advice to everyone”
11.
  Cammy Note:  In my experience, you’re not going to see this happen.  And even if a school around makes an attempt at an outdoor graduation, there’s always an alternate location–and the big apocalyptic cloud on the horizon generally sends people running inside well before the tornado sirens ever do.
12.
  Cammy Note:  Or have a weather radio.  Or Weatherbug.  Or his cell phone…
13.
  Cammy Note:  The phones that,–if “Oklahoma” has implemented what we have the KC area–would have been buzzing and dinging and going bat-shit crazy with automated alert texts about severe weather and tornadoes on the ground.  Apparently “Silverton” was having cell tower issues even before the tornadoes screwed them over.
14.
  Cammy Note: Most of this movie was a PSA on what not to do in severe weather.  Don’t hide in storm drains–people have drowned doing that. And for the love of all that is holy, do NOT get into a school bus or a car and try to outrun the thing. Seriously. Indoors, lowest, most interior room–preferably a basement.
15.
  Cammy Note:  Yeah, that was about as “Oklahoma” as Iceland.  As far as I know there is no airport in OK that’s serviced by 747s.
16.
  Cammy Note:  And where they don’t have enough tornado warnings that people working on location would chime in and go, “No, seriously.  That’s bullshit.  No one would react like that around here!”
17.
  Cammy Note:  Though, really, isn’t EVERY movie made better with booze and drippy nachos?

Gedeck-Fest!

I declared this weekend Gedeck-Fest! I wound up having an impromptu marathon of Martina Gedeck movies the other day.  Who is Martina Gedeck?  She’s the first German actor or actress I could name (truth be told, the total number has grown to a whopping two–I can also name Sibylle Canonica*.  I’d have 3 if I could ever remember the name of the chick from Run Lola Run–she’s been in plenty of other stuff, including The Bourne Identity, but I can never remember her name for more than about 5 minutes.  No commentary on her skill, only on my crappy memory).

Out of the 5 of you here, I’m sure at least 3 of you have seen Mostly Martha.  This means you’ve seen Martina Gedeck.  She’s Martha.

Gedeck-fest did not actually start with Mostly Martha.  It began by accident when I finally decided to watch Night Train to Lisbon.  It looked interesting, and I recognized her name on the summary of the cast.  At this point, other than Mostly Martha, I’ve only seen her in one other film, The Baader Meinhof Complex, which was disturbing, but good.  Still, two movies with good performances was enough to give her street cred with me.  The scales were tipped and I opted to give it a shot.

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Quitting the Contract: Phone Update

So, we are now about 3 and a half months into my “Great Cell Phone Experiment” and all is going well.  In fact, I can’t figure out why I didn’t do this long ago.

The Hardware:

I bought a Google Nexus 5, 16GB ($349–for $399 I could have had 32GB, but I don’t store much on the phone itself and I don’t want to tempt myself to change that after what I lost on the old one).  As with their computer hardware, the price point for a bare Apple product, un-subsidized through a major carrier was just too much for me to contemplate (the newest iPhones were around the $600 mark).  Besides, I’d had good luck with Android, and Google more or less owns my soul already anyhow (if Gmail ever goes away, I think I will cease to exist).  The Nexus (ordered directly from the Google Play store), comes naturally unbranded.  No unlocking necessary.  It was also blissfully free of the b.s. bloatware put on by a lot of carriers (seriously Verizon, I didn’t need a fucking NFL game.  I don’t watch pro football.  At all).  And the compu-geek in me loves that as soon as there is an upgrade to Android (as there should be here in a matter of a week or two) I will be among the first to get it.  There was also a certain sweetness to getting a phone that my idiot old carrier Verizon literally won’t let on its network.

I am sort of a little in love with this phone.  I’m not going to lie.

The Carrier:

My initial plan was to jump around and experiment with different pre-paid carriers.  The reality is, I’ve been happy with the one I started with and too busy with work to spend the time to change.

I opted for StraightTalk through Wal-Mart.  The initial start-up kit ran me about $50.  I got a packet of SIM cards in various sizes for the two network options–I could choose to run off of the AT&T network or the T-Mobile network.  Knowing there were plenty of other T-Mobile network options left for me to explore later (Wal Mart’s Family plan, and direct T-Mobile pre-paid)–and a first month’s service (unlimited talk, text and data). I chose to start with AT&T.

The initial set up kind of sucked ass.  If I were the type of person who regularly needed tech support and customer service, the relationship would have ceased on night one.  Straight Talk has very obviously outsourced customer service, and when I logged on their live-chat with a problem (the cards in my packet appeared to be mis-marked and I wanted to verify I was using the right card) the service agent was less than useless (actually kind of insulting, and he ended the service chat abruptly without even asking if he had answered my question).  It was really clear English was NOT his first language.  If you opt to try this and you are at all confused, please feel free to contact me and I can try to walk you through it.  My biggest problem was the incorrect packaging.  After that, the online set up of the account and registration of the card/phone was easy.

Once I got it up and running, I’ve had no real problems.  It’s nice to have unlimited talk and text.  Verizon still had me paying for a certain number of messages.  The unlimited data is only unlimited in that you can’t really go over.  That said, if you use over 2.5GB during the month, they will throttle your speed from 4G back to 2G.  Verizon was going to charge me some unreal figure for 4GB to be shared between my phone and my brother’s.  Thank you, no.

The only quirks I’ve had with the service are once I got a text saying I’d hit my 2.5GB @ 4G speed limit and would be throttled the rest of the month when I knew there was NO WAY I was even a little close.  The phone lets me track my data usage and set alarms.  I was only 3 days into the month and I hadn’t streamed anything.  But….my speed never slowed.  I think it was a fluke.  Another time I did get “not connected” error when I opened the web browser, but I hit reload and the page came right up, so it was a non-issue.  Calls have been clear.  I’ve not lost signal–but I’ve not really ventured out of urban areas to test it.

The carrier texts you a few days before the end of your month of service.  I could sign up for auto-renew (which saves a few bucks), or I could pre-pay for a longer period (6 months or a year), but for the moment I’m keeping my options open month to month.  I can re-up online, saving me from actually having to go into a Wal Mart if I don’t want to.  Right now, the monthly bill, with taxes is around $49.

Porting My Number:

I knew at the outset that I really wanted to keep my cell number.  I’ve got it on everything and changing would be a pain in the ass.  You can port the number directly to StraightTalk if you want.  When you go through the initial set up on-line, you can choose to port your old number in.  You’ll need information from your current carrier bill/account to get it done and the change over can take a day or two to happen–don’t wait until a time when you really need the phone to work.

Because of my master plan to experiment with other carriers, I opted to do something a little different.  For $25 you can port your cell number to Google Voice, and then from Google Voice (for free) you can forward that number to whatever numbers you choose.  So I ported my cell number to Google Voice where I could “park” it without having to change over and over.  I set up my new phone on Straight Talk and allowed it to assign a new phone number.  Then I logged into Google Voice and forwarded to that new number.  The downside of this is that outgoing calls and messages from your new phone will appear to come from your new number, rather than your old one.  It may cause initial confusion with friends/family/coworkers.  I warned people it may happen and so far it hasn’t been a problem.

Tentative Conclusion:

Even with the porting cost, and the initial phone outlay, I’m still on to be on the winning side money-wise in 12 months.  If I’d chosen a lower cost phone (and I could have–I splurged a bit on the Nexus), I’d make up the difference sooner.  Still need more strenuous testing on current coverage and more testing on different services/carriers, but I think we’ve got a winner.

 

Computer Drama Part 2: Chrome Shiny Chrome

I had resisted the idea of the Chromebook when I originally heard of it.  I applaud any alternative operating system just on principle–competition is healthy–but the idea that the thing would be largely useless unless connected to the internet was kind of a deal breaker.  I was going–or planning to go–enough places that didn’t have reliable wireless internet so, yeah. Notsomuch.

But that was a while ago.  My situation–and Chrome’s–has changed.  It was time to revisit this.  So why was I willing to shuck out for what amounts to a low-end laptop that is limited on program choices?

1) I’m not traveling to as many un-wired areas these days.  The original deal-breaker for me has, realistically, become less of an issue.  Unless my parents move someplace more remote than their current location (possible, but not probable at least not if my Mom has any say in it).

2) Chrome has increased what you can do while you are disconnected.  So even if I am someplace where I don’t have wifi, the system isn’t a paperweight.  I can transfer files off my camera and work on text documents.  On assessing my usage these days, that pretty much covers what I need when I’m offline and on the road.

3) I want to play with the new toy.  I’ve never been a bleeding edge adopter, and I’m rarely even in a position to be on the early side of the technology adoption bell curve (I’ve been there once in a blue moon on a software tool, but never a whole system).  Chrome, however, I wanted in on because I held the opinion way back in college that the browser was the great equalizer of systems.  Why were we fucking with porting shit everywhere when you could write so much to run browser-based and then it didn’t matter?  This is the realization of that:  The OS is essentially, just a browser.  How delightfully simple that is.  And how delightfully prophetic I am.

4) I’ve already sold my soul to Google.  I’ve got a Google Nexus cell phone.  I use Gmail for everything.  All my searching goes through Google.  I use Google Docs for 90% of my writing (all the Coffee With’s?  Saved into Google Docs so Kristy and I can share to add our respective contributions).  I schedule my non-work stuff in Google Calendar.  Might as well stay consistent.  Maybe I ought to feel bad about this.  After all, I know they’re building weird data center that’re probably part of some kind of alien cyborg foothold set up, and they are totally responsible for hooking me up with my own personal NSA Analyst (everyone, wave to Olaf), but then I look at the glassy-eyed, slavish fuckers lining up for the latest device from Apple, and realize that if I ought to be ashamed, I’m not alone.

5) If I hate the operating system?  I now known there’s an easy way to run Linux via Crouton, side by side.  If I can run Linux, I can run the Universe (except for the part controlled by Olaf and our new alien cyborg overlords)

6) The price is right.  I can’t get a Windows-based netbook for under $300 like I wanted, but Chromebooks fell right into the price is right range.

So, the general decision made, I shopped around and wound up with a Dell version.  While my opinion of Dell hardware has diminished in recent years, I heard rave reviews from multiple sources on their Chromebook 11.  So, with Ros the desktop continuing to fail a piece at a time, I went for it.  Decision made.  It was time to buy my Chromebook…

Computer Drama: Part 1

My Asus EeePC Netbook (named Inara–all my computers get a name) had a pesky power problem.  For over a year, she has had to be plugged in to operate.  You unplug her and just like unplugging a desktop PC from the wall–she dies.  Even a new battery didn’t help.  This would have been a much bigger deal if I’d been traveling with her more, but those days are over.  She could stay plugged into the wall and still be useful for paying bills while I watched TV in the living room.

But, the problem grew.  Probably owing in part to the multiple uncontrolled shutdowns from accidentally disconnecting the power, her hard drive finally bit the dust.  After 4 years, it was time to let her go.  I’d gotten more than the couple of hundred dollars I spent on her (she was like $250), and she’d literally traveled the world with me, plus I still had the desktop, Rosilyn (yes, I name all my computers–though not always for sci fi characters….)

Rosilyn is even older.  She cost me $400 in 2005 when I had an emergency situation in law school.  Much like President Laura Rosilyn in Battlestar Galactica, she wasn’t really what I ever would have chosen, but she was what I got in a pinch and she’s done a damn fine job.  Unfortunately, Ros has been making funny noises, her DVD burner was acting up and the SD card reader wouldn’t detect cards anymore.  All small enough fixes.  While I’ve wanted to build a PC since college, constraints on time and money have always gotten in the way.  Right now isn’t much different.  So, I picked up $37 in parts (a new CPU fan, a DVD drive and a card reader that plugs into the USB port) to keep her going.

Before I could replace anything, I was going to back up a few documents to a thumb drive.  No big deal.  The thumb drive was a relatively new SanDisk I’d used at least half a dozen times before.  This time, Rosilyn didn’t acknowledge anything had been plugged into her USB.  I reached down after a moment of clicking and trying to get her to make the sound associated with detection of a USB device (because I am a nerd, she plays a .wav from Top Gun “I feel the need, the need for speed!”) and….OUCH!

The thumb drive burned my fingers and I left imprints in the plastic.  Yes.  My computer had, literally, melted my drive. Great.

With XP support going the way of Atlantis, I had planned to change Rosilyn over to Linux (Yay! Ubuntu!) rather than shell out for Windows 8 on old-ass hardware (also new company restrictions mean I can’t use my home machine to log in anymore anyhow so my reason for keeping Windows is gone).  Luckily I got Ubuntu booted from an old CD before Ros totally stopped acknowledging she even has an optical drive (even after I replaced the old drive with the new one, she still denies it–won’t show up in the BIOS or anything).  Once she is booted into Ubutunu, other than the lack of a DVD drive, she runs well enough–but getting her to boot is painful.  I have to trick her into a recovery mode first and then on into the operating system or she’ll just sit there and eventually error out of booting at all (found this out after I shut her down to replace the DVD drive…and then again after I shut her down to replace the CPU fan).  And I’m not risking any more USB plug ins, so I’m leaving my SD card reader aside for now.  I think if I have to shut her down again I’ll never get her re-started.

The Kindle and my cell phone can help to a degree, but, I need a keyboard.  And a browser that doesn’t flake out on forms.

I made the decision to look for another Inara.  It wasn’t ideal.  I really wanted my next machine to be that dream PC I built, but now is not the time.  Surely for under $300, I could get something even better than Inara.  After all, at 4 years old, she was ancient by notebook computer standards, right?

Only I couldn’t.  The netbook form factor was apparently only popular with my family.  There were far fewer choices, and those were higher than what I’d planned to pay.

Except for….

To Be Continued.

My Sacrifice for Lent

So, it’s Lent.

I’m Lutheran, which means Lenten sacrifice is not required (those of you who have survived the gauntlet that is Lutheran Confirmation are probably mumbling some variation of “sola gratia, sola fide” right now, <cough>ThisIsMostCertainlyTrue<cough>).  It is–at best–an interesting relic of our Catholic roots maintained as a cultural practice, not an integral part of our theology, and–at worst (to those really hard-core right-wing-y type Lutherans)–a papist heresy in which no good Lutheran would partake.

I like cultural relics and being heretical to crazy right-wing-y anti-Catholic Lutherans (seriously y’all?  You’re going to alienate our fellow sprinkle-not-dunk people?  You may as well put your beer down and go hang out with the boring t-totaling set), so I usually make some wacky attempt to give something up for the season.

This year I picked something half seriously….and I am failing like mad.

I am trying to give up swearing.

Yeah, my co-workers laughed hysterically, too.

Once upon a time–before I went off to college and became exposed to an awful lot of people who had entire conversations delimited not by punctuation, but by the f-bomb–I didn’t swear.  At least not often, and not loudly or with gusto.  Until my first year at college, even the three basic swear words of my family (sh*t, h*ll, d*mn) while in no way verboten, still had the tang of something my mother would scold me for (despite the fact that I mastered the art of “damnit” by observing her).  The wheels came off that first year at W&M and they’ve never gone back on.  I embraced the f-bomb and it has become a handy tool in my linguistic arsenal.  By my third year, I openly expressed to others that I really wasn’t sure I fully trusted anyone who didn’t cuss now and then (except for Kristy’s Mom.  She is the exception).  The inability to let out a good, “Well, shit!” when something went awry struck me as somehow less than sincere.  Someone was hiding something if they said they never cursed.

But sometime about a year ago I found that I was probably getting too liberal with the spice in my language.  The particular words hadn’t changed (I’m still pretty much stuck with sh*t, d*mn, h*ll and f*ck, I’ve also been predisposed to say “sonofab*tch” but there are some rather complex pronunciation rules honed from regional Texas roots that are necessary to discern whether or not that term should actually be categorized as cussing or just as a word–that’s another topic completely), but frequency has gone up.  And with the increased stress in the Meat Space Bill Paying Job, I have actually come dangerously close to speaking my native swearing language freely in a professional setting in which I would previously have never dreamed of uttering anything other than clean language.

Controlling my language for month seemed prudent.  A way to get things back under control.  And this would be a fun lark!  Ha!  As Catholic friends declared their sacrifice of coffee or chocolate, I grinned and said, “I’m givin’ up swearing!”

I put little sticky notes at eye level over my desk phone and on my work monitors with “DO NOT SWEAR!” written in big, black marker.  My co-workers come into my office and find these awesome and amusing.

But they have been little help.  Day one of Lent, I came in to work at 7am, and at 9:01am*, I dropped the f-bomb right in front of my Catholic buddy who knew exactly what I’d sworn off for the season.  He pointed and laughed at me as I hung my head and declared, “I guess I’m going to hell.  I MEANT THE PLACE, THAT DOESN’T COUNT!”  I slunk back to my desk and took out another sticky note, labeled it “Lent Swear!FAIL” and added a tic mark.

It would not be my last.  One of my co-workers told me I would have been better off giving up alcohol with the way things are at work right now.

As of today, I have 40 tic marks on that sticky note (I’ll have to start another one soon).  I’ve definitely improved, but it doesn’t feel quite natural.  It’s not that I don’t have other expressive words I can use, it’s just that for some reason my brain comes up with alternatives that my co-workers are going to ask me to define either because they are long and obscure, or they are foreign (foreign swearing doesn’t count in my current exercise–I consider it an accomplishment if I can tell someone to f-off in German).  I think this has probably helped me get back on track to avoid career suicide by potty mouth, but I am looking forward to being able to utter “Bull&hit!” guilt free the same way I’ve looked forward to eating chocolate, or watching a certain TV show in past Lent exercises.

I’m sticking it out as best I can until 20 April.  But on 21 April, I have something major due at work, and I promise you, there will be a litany of color erupting from my vocal chords.

*That is about two hours longer than even I thought I might last given the things going on that day

Ukraine

In theory I should leave it to Kristy, who actually took Russian, to offer commentary on the Ukraine but A) she’s busy dissertat-ing and B) This commentary is going to be far from scholarly and well informed.

Mostly this is just me wanting to express the fact that someone needs to make me a Yulia Tymoshenko action figure.

 I believe that, in the market for world leader action-figures, this would be a must-have for anyone’s collection.  Her Heidi Braids of Doom intrigued the hell outta me even before she was tossed into the hoosegow for alleged misuse of power.  It absolutely did my heart good to see that hair-do emerge again from what I am sure had to be a prison exactly like that used to hold Magneto in the X-Men films (those braids are not to be underestimated).  I will grant you, that even with the braids she is still a semi-rouge, minor side-kick in the pantheon of world-leader super-heroes and heroines.  I mean, she couldn’t take on like, Angela Merkel and the Mom Look of Great Disdain (really, this is the action figure I want most of all–even more than Yulia and her Heidi Braids) or Steven Harper and the Eternally Un-Muss-able Molded Ken Hair of Unshakeability or Mario Monti, the Not So Secretly Argentinian (yes, being an Argentinian is a super power. Just ask one).  Still, that doesn’t mean she couldn’t get a great story arc in the comic.

Of course, then you have to have your counter-part “bad-guy” action figures.  Putin being, clearly, the Cobra to our G-7*  Joes comes without a shirt, but with minions, including several disgruntled Georgians (yeah, remember the part where this has happened before?  I keep picturing Georgia trying to float messages across the  Black Sea to Ukraine that read “Welcome to the club, Bitches.”–except the Russian Navy keeps intercepting them and re-placing them message with “We don’t Miss South Ossetia at all!”).  Oh, and the completely rogue element of a Kim Jong-un who comes with tacky outfits and his mini basketball signed by Dennis Rodman.

Seriously, I did have an minor crisis as I’ve watched this unfold because I saw a few parallels to the Texas Revolution and I was suddenly left wondering if I was supposed to be siting with Putin in this game.  Thankfully, I walked through the details and realized that it was possible for me to continue to Remember the Alamo without having to support Russian Imperialism.  I briefly thought about sharing that entire comparison and contrast here, but then I realized that for the most part, only Texans would care and to the best of my knowledge, none of the five of you reading this are Texans….

So, in the event that we are about to get our Cold War back again, I’m gonna go watch The Hunt for Red October and maybe some of those  old episodes of MacGyver where he had to build a blow-torch out of a bicycle to save the environment and escape the Eastern Bloc at the same time….

 

 

Behold, the Power of the Keyboard

I’m not about to claim this as a reason for my continued lapse in posts, but I will admit that it has probably impacted something about my posting, if only certain typos.

I had a really rotten keyboard.

At some point in the past 5 years (yeah, that long), I wound up with an old, very basic, very non-responsive keyboard attached to the computer from which 75% of my posts came (now 100% because the tiny tiny laptop known on my network as “Inara” shuffled loose the electro-magnetic coil about a month ago and because Asus no longer makes netbooks exactly like her, I am in ponder mode on her eventual replacement….but that’s a topic for another post).  Honestly, the thing had keys that you had to pound to get a letter to appear (even after I cleaned the dust out).  The keys themselves were very shallow and had a poor feel–when you hit a key, you didn’t always have the feeling you’d really hit much more than the surface of the desk.  I lived with it, because, well, my work keyboard was only marginally better and I spend a lot more hours of the day with that machine than this one.

But, last week I carried a box down to the basement (yet another topic for yet another post) and as I made room on the shelf, I stumbled on a half empty box….half empty but for some very serviceable keyboards that I remember having liked (if you are looking shocked at my having a lot of random keyboards in a box in my basement, clearly we’ve never met in real life…I also have boxes of hard drives, video cards, network cards.  If you’re picturing me with horn rimmed glasses you’d be wrong…but if you’re wondering if my Slashdot number is lower than yours, there’s a good chance of that).

So, I brought the old keyboard upstairs, and swapped it for the brick that had been masquerading as an input device.

Cue the chorus of angels.

I’m half tempted to carry this thing back and forth to work.  It’s not that it’s the best keyboard ever, but it’s been this highlight of how sucky my old one was and how much nicer it is to work with an input device that responds appropriately.  I actually want to spend more time working on the computer than I used to.  All of the posts I’ve been scribbling in notebooks for the past months I’m actually willing to type.  I had no idea the amount of reluctance that old thing was causing in my getting things that final step from analog to digital.

It’s not going to cure my posting problems (one day there will be a post about that.  One day),  and it sure won’t cure all my typos (or my grammar and spelling issues) but it sure as heck isn’t going to make it any worse.

Identifying Those Early Memories

While  I muddled through trying to find a topic on which to post tonight (since, for once, I’m not either working or sleeping), I wandered all the way through old posts, back to 2011 and our post on the anniversary of the Challenger explosion.  I was re-reading an exchange in the comment between reader, Teapot, and Kristy about how Teapot, as a kid born in 1981, really didn’t remember Challenger like those of us born in 1980 (or earlier).  Kristy’s comment pointed out that in her research, so far, anyone post 1980 really did not remember Challenger the same way, and that the next really big world event was the fall of the Berlin Wall.  I thought, “I should have replied back and asked Teapot if the fall of the wall in Berlin was her first “global event” memory”  and that was followed by the thought that, Challenger was not really mine.

Prior to Challenger,  I have a very vivid, scary memory of a hostage crisis on a plane.  But I still don’t know what it really was.

What I remember is a large passenger plain on a tarmac, and people hanging out the cockpit window/door and men in fatigues.  The fatigues I remember clearly, in part because I remember that they were part of the confusion with my mother.

You  see, in my pre-kindergarten mind, camouflage fatigues equated to “Army Men.”  Color and race and flags on shoulder patches didn’t mean a thing in my world for a lot of years.  If I saw olive drab outfits, they were all “Army men.”  Hell,  I’m pretty sure the concept of “countries” and “nations” had not yet entered my head.  My entire World Map until I was somewhere over 6 or 7 years was the maps decoupaged on the chest that served as our coffee table (that consisted of a LARGE map of Texas, a smaller map that included Canada, Alaska and the lower 48 with a strangely large cut in of Hawaii and a medium sized map of Mexico–I could find Regina and Monterrey LONG before I could find Paris or London on a map).

Huge Texas, Medium Mexico, drastically reduced USA.  This was my view of the world for my formative years.  Not sure exactly when I figured out Canada and Mexico were somehow not the same place as "my" country.

The box that served as our coffee table–now in my brother’s old room as a night stand.  Huge Texas, Medium Mexico.  Drastically reduced USA. Disproportionately large Hawaii.  This was my view of the world for my formative years. Not sure exactly when I figured out Canada and Mexico were somehow not the same place as “my” country.

The image was disturbing–still is–and I remember it keeping me awake.  I was sure the “Army Men” were coming to get me.  No offense to the many men and women who serve the United States today, but my earliest memory involved me lumping all people in olive drab and camo into one bucket –and that bucket in the case of the plane situation was “Bad Guys.”  I was terrified and I kept getting out of bed at night and waking up my parents because I was scared.

I still remember the morning in the kitchen when my mom–frustrated and sleep deprived–demanded an answer about what was waking me up.  I told her about being scared of the “Army Men and the plane.”  I still recall the look of exhausted confusion on my mother’s face and my own frustration–the first time I really remember feeling frustrated–in not knowing what else to tell her about them.  I don’t think she ever understood.  She, and then Dad, who wandered into this dialog of misunderstanding, explained that the Army was to protect me.  I even remember words about my Grandpa and Papa being in the Army.  To be perfectly candid (and yes, this is a confession I’ve never made before right now), even with their explanation, I still feel a jolt of primal fear when I see a person in green camo.  It was something of a relief for me when much of the US Armed Forces went to the Mid-East taupe/beige/brown camouflage because I was spared that weird clutch of fear from the olive-green colors.

I do not remember when I finally managed to understand the difference between someone in uniform serving the USA and a bad guy in fatigues.  It sure wasn’t that day.

And it’s only now that I’m finally trying to narrow down that memory.  I’m 99.99% certain that the incident was the 1985 hijacking of a TWA flight.  The image of the man with the hood over his head in the door of the plane I found while Googling tonight hit me like a metric tonne of bricks–but, notice, he’s not in fatigues.

130623205830-twa-flight-847-hijacker-1985-horizontal-gallery

This is ALMOST exactly what I remember, except he’s not in fatigues. I get chills looking at this even at my ripe old age. No wonder I couldn’t sleep as a kid. (Credit per watermark to Getty Images/Joel Robine – found at CNN’s website)

Did my child mind combine other images of people in fatigues with this image to create the boogey men of my past?  Or is this memory a different hostage situation and a different plane?

Not matter which way you cut it, I have a pretty shitty first-global memory (my first memory period is visiting the hospital when my brother was born–WAY happier because it starts with Momma giving me a piece of Brach’s candy and ends with pleasant confusion as Daddy holds me up to this window on a room full of babies and says “Look!  There’s your baby brother!”  All I remember from that sub-moment was not knowing which one I should look at –proud Daddy forgot that I was 27 months old and couldn’t really read the bassinet labels…and all those little bastards look identical).

It seems sad that my earliest global memory is terrorism (hey, folks in kindergarten circa Sept. 2001, I got your back).  Even if it were Challenger like most of my 1980s cohort, there’s tragedy.  How awesome and positive if your first memory is the fall of the Berlin Wall instead?  Unless you are a Soviet fan, that is such a positive memory.  It’s like someone I work with whose first global-type memory is of–lucky her–Katarina Witt skating in the Olympics.  How excellent is THAT?

Any other early international memories out there?  Positive? Negative?  Beautiful?  Confusing?  Undateable?

 

Going Braless: A Query

It’s been a long time since we’ve talked about my underwear on this blog, so it seems like it must be about time. Actually, this post is only sort of about my underwear, it’s mostly about my boobs. But probably not in the exciting way you’re picturing. (No, there will not be pictures.)

I think I’ve mentioned before (and if I haven’t, most of you know anyway) that I didn’t have boobs to speak of until I hit my late 20s. I went through most of my life as a perky little B-cup. (Before you ask, no, I was not one of that majority of women wearing the wrong bra size. I was not a busty F-cup deluded into thinking she was a B-cup.) Now, if you knew me then, you might not have realized how small my boobs were because I’ve long had an affection for padded bras—part of my attempt to make myself look like I had a waistline. Then suddenly, and perhaps not coincidentally, around the time I started aerial work I went from a 34B to a 36E/36DD in about six months without gaining any significant amount of weight elsewhere. I am the story that gives all other members of the IBTC (that’s Itty Bitty Titty Committee for the uninitiated) hope.

The point here is that I’m still not quite used to these things on my chest. So I have an honest question for my fellow busty girls—isn’t it really uncomfortable to go without a bra?

Okay, obviously running or other vigorous physical activity is uncomfortable without support, that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about just sitting around.

I’ve noticed several of my female friends when they are free of male company and want to get comfortable take off their bras. I used to be one of those girls. Now I can’t stand that! I’ve started seeking out pajamas with some semblance of a shelf bra just to avoid it. When I take off my bra my now not-so-perky boobs hang down onto my ribcage. And there’s this weird skin-on-skin contact thing that happens—I wouldn’t call it chaffing exactly, but it’s uncomfortable. I would rather wear a bra, even if it’s cutting into my shoulders and poking me in the ribs.

Am I the only one who has this problem? Is it because I carry a lot of my weight around my middle? Or is it just because I’m not used to these things?

Guide me oh experienced busty ladies. What am I missing here?