Saturday, August 31, 2013

Identity and the postmen

Mr. RK and I had some interesting discussions today about family members and identity. We both have family with whom we are convinced, as my dad says, we cannot possibly share any DNA. There are people who I consider family in name only, as I'm sure I have more in common, genetically and tempermentally, with a banana.

My family comes from six different places. In literally each place we hail from, we've 1) had to flee for our lives (Switzerland, Germany, Poland), 2) we've been kicked out (Ireland, Scotland), or 3) we decided is was a great idea in our homeland here to declare guerilla war on the white man (that would be the Apache line.)

Mr. RK said, "If you lived in the 1800s, I can see you being kicked out of places, absolutely!"

I've often wondered how to define myself, having lived in so many places that I'm not really "from" anywhere, and being of mixed lineage so that I'm not really this or that. Mr. RK has never had that problem; he hasn't bothered to think about it much. But me, I fixate.

My dad pointed out a few years ago that each of his siblings seems to have inherited a different look. My aunt C looks Swiss; my late uncle B looked German; uncle G looks like a leprechaun. 

Again, Mr. RK had a simple solution.

"Or it's possible that it's not what genes they inherited," he suggested today. "It's possible that the postman just changed every couple of years."

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Senior Cat

I just had a birthday that a lot of people forgot, and perhaps that's a good thing. I celebrated in Minnesota with family - oddly enough, I had my first several birthdays there - and the day after, my 17-year-old brother B came out with this line out of nowhere:

"Now you're Senior Cat." Pause. COOKIE MONSTER GIGGLES.

Me: "What?"
B: "You know. You had a birthday...your nickname was Kitty..." More Cookie Monster giggles.
Me: "Senior?! As in old?" Yet more Cookie Monster giggles. 

I repeated this story to my friend's son, who is also 17, and he said, "KITTY?! That's not your nickname now, right?  Just tell're SeƱor Kitay!"

I am so out of touch. But we'll see who gets to ride around (or doesn't) in my red Mustang next time he visits! (Yeah, I know he's reading this.) Seriously, he did give me his room, so I suppose I can forgive him (maybe.)

It was really funny when B was little because I'd take him on outings and guys would look at me, then him, then walk the other way. Seriously, they thought I was a really young mom. For awhile, he also called all men "dada." My stepmom had some fun times with him in the grocery store when that happened.

My siblings all gave me books for my birthday, and we went to an Indian restaurant for lunch. If I lived closer to that place, I wouldn't be able to fit into my pants.

I also got to meet my friend Gigi, who I met from blogging, in person - and we realized we've been corresponding for several years longer than we thought! She is a doll and a hoot at the same time.

Incidentally, today is the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. No matter how much terrible shit is going on in this country, take a moment to look how far the civil rights movement has come. I am grateful for the people who came before us and don't plan to stop agitating anytime soon.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Two hours of my life I will NEVER get back

Thank you, Woody Allen. I usually like your movies and with the past run of good flicks, I thought you'd not stoop lower than Shadows and Fog in terms of terribly depressing dramas. But I was wrong! Blue Jasmine dashed my faith.

Great acting. I was even impressed by Andrew Dice Clay, who was oddly the one reason I had reservations about seeing the movie - he turned out to be one of the best characters. Alec Baldwin's bad hair dye did nothing for him. Cate Blanchette is great but thoroughly depressing.

In short, save yourself $10 unless you want to shell out money to watch someone else's existential crisis on screen.

Anyhow, hello to all of you blog friends and please pardon my absence from blogland for a few days. I'm in Minnesota visiting my family. I have managed to outrun the mosquitoes so far, but not the amazing amount of plaid.

Meanwhile my dad is convinced that paying $6 a month for encryption services will somehow protect his privacy. I in turn wonder how many people from ANONYMOUS and the Black Hat convention the NSA has tried to recruit, and think he's going to be wasting his money.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A smorgasboard of funny

Somehow the subject of internet rules and the lack of them at work came up at work with a couple of volunteers yesterday. Out of the blue, one of my longtime volunteers (who is going to be 70 this winter) - serious, organized, doesn't ever swear - says, "Sometimes I visit light porn sites just to confuse Google. Because I hate it that they track everything I visit! So I like to throw them off a bit."

The volunteer sitting next to her is a guy right out of high school. Both of our jaws drop. Then he says, "Oh, I do that too for the same reason sometimes!"

And I blurt out, "Right! You must hate having to do that."

Then we were talking about how sometimes websites get hijacked and we've been there by mistake. The first volunteer said she went to the Better Homes & Gardens website one day and it had been hacked by some serious porn.

After he left, she came up to me and said, "You know, I'm open with you, and I forget that I don't know if I should be open with him! (The other volunteer.) So I didn't say what the site was. Their site was, and it came up "Big Hung Guys!" So now I type out 'Better Homes and Gardens" just in case!"

Yes, this really happened. The guy volunteer assured me this is like common talk around his family's dinner table. Supposedly his dad is a pathologist, but maybe he's really Ron Jeremy.

Anyhow. I am doing the happy dance (see below) because after 2 1/2 years of wrangling, I finally got the title I was after. It's a small change but it was important to me. My boss slipped it casually into a conversation we were having about a program we're launching that I'm going to be managing, along with two people.

"And your title will change. And so..."

And I said, "I could kiss you! But I won't." He looked vaguely alarmed and kept going.
Still in shock from the casual promotion (no more money, but we're a nonprofit and I am so happy that I don't care) and the casual mention of light porn (what is considered "light," I wonder?) I came home and emailed my family. (After I excitedly called my brother and told him I had good news to tell my dad RIGHT FUCKING NOW, and he said to go out to dinner, his treat. Thanks Dad!)

My dad adds to the end of his email:

PS  I accidentally signed my emails to your brother N Poo instead of Pop so many times it's my new name. Then trying to send Poo I send Pii so I guess I'm now just the Pii and Poo

I have been called worse.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

You don't happen to like seafood, do you?

This is yet another story that I am not creative enough to make up. It sprung to mind the other day because our intern at work was waxing poetic about the pet fish she bought. (Yes, really.)

Anyhow. I have limited experience with fish, other than having had fish and chips (mostly chips) as a kid a couple of times.

I don't like fish. They creep me out. Even when I ate meat, I didn't eat them, and they are the main reason I don't swim in rivers or oceans, but prefer pools.

I also don't understand why people have pet fish. The terms "pet fish" are, in fact, an oxymoron. No offense if you have a pet fish;  I just don't covet it.

My brother N briefly (very briefly) had pet fish. He bought a bag of goldfish on a whim at the grocery store. I kid you not. Along with the gum, bandaids, and tabloids, the store had a bag of goldfish for sale, and he bought them.

He named them Pedro, Gunther, and Sebastian (I think. Memory fades, but I know Gunther for sure.) He took them back to his dorm and promptly forgot that they needed to eat every once in awhile.

One afternoon he got back from class and couldn't find Pedro. He wasn't floating dead in the bowl; he hadn't hopped out onto the desk. N came to the awful conclusion that he was such a bad fish parent that Gunther and Sebastian had, out of their minds with hunger, ganged up on Pedro and eaten him.

He felt terrible (or so he said - I'm not sure how terrible you can feel if you have basically caused goldfish cannibalism), and remembered to feed them for a little while... and then...

Yes, you guessed it. Gunther bit the dust. Or rather, Sebastian ate him.

N felt terrible again (or so he said. You'd think that someone who knows he's forgetful wouldn't charge himself with feeding a pet that couldn't vocally remind him, but I guess he forgot.)

And sure enough, after awhile, he forgot to feed Sebastian. And one day, he came home from class and Sebastian was an ex-Sebastian, floating in the bowl.

Since then, his experience with fish has been limited to the times that they encounter his plate.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Words of wisdom

I'm under the weather, and tired of being under the weather, and still feel the need to post. So! Here are some words of wisdom.

Here's my new favorite quote:

Why be difficult, when with a bit of effort, you can be impossible?

Mr. RK said, "I think that was written about me!"
No comment.

Mr. RK did a charity bike ride Sunday with his boss. Other people from their company were supposed to show up, but flaked. Afterwards, he said, "So I'm going to tell people that I went on an outing with my boss, and afterwards my butt hurt."

Yes, that is the level of maturity in their department.

I went through a training this week that was full of acronyms. After telling us there was a sheet of commonly used phrases that explained acronyms and what they stood for, the trainer said she was part of an IGA.

I put my hand up and said, "What's an IGA?"

And she got embarrassed because she didn't know!

Tip for the uninitiated: if you're going to use an acronym in relation to your own job, know what it means.

Mr. RK came up with some more, but they're probably too much even for this blog.

Driving home yesterday, I saw a car with a Romney sticker and an NRA sticker. Instantly, I thought, "You've just told me way too much about your penis!"

How about you? Anything pithy?

Friday, August 09, 2013

Even my first real job was perverse

Nothing illegal. I promised my friend Grannie Annie that I would write about this, and I shall do so.

I had babysitting jobs off and on in junior high and early high school, but I was super excited to get a "real" (e.g. requiring your own transportation) job my junior year. I participated in my school's work experience program, which gave you a free period (e.g. get out of school early) if you had a part-time job and came to one meeting a month. Cheers for me!

This program manager was told by our town's university that the job I was interviewing for involved contacting patients post-surgery to follow up and see how they were doing, as part of a study.

Little did I know - and I promise you I would not, could not make this up (I am not that creative) - it was in the urology department.

Calling guys who had penile implant surgery.

Yes. Really.

I only lasted a couple of weeks but I'll never forget some of the responses. They mainly fell into the category of, "Yeseverything'sfinebye!", but a few...varied.

One guy denied he had ever had the surgery.
Me: "Do I have the wrong number? Are you Mr. XYZ who lives at ABC address?"
Guy: "Yes. But I didn't - ahem! - have anything like that done."

Then there were the TMI guys...I'll leave you to figure that one out on your own.

My favorite, though, was an 82-year-old guy who said, "It's been just great! No problems at all! The only problem is that I have too many girlfriends now, HAHA!"

I only lasted a couple of weeks and told the doctors at the university that I was just too embarrassed to continue. They understood and there were no hard feelings (no pun intended.)

Monday, August 05, 2013

Dr. What?

OK, I am stunned. Shocked. Amazed. (And yes, a geek.)
I had no idea this was coming.

And here is a ninja lunch break edit:  Mike D waxes poetic on this, along with some awesome movie reviews, today.

We've been texting about it. It was THE topic getting coffee today. It would have come up at work with my volunteer, but I was super busy and it slipped my mind.

No, we're not geeks or anything...

Mr. RK thinks he'll be a good one. I'm on the fence, because...

1. OK, I have a marketing background. In the new (since 2005) series BBC has had some serious success, in part because they are marketing Dr. Who as Dr. Hot. I'm not agist - not saying a middle-aged man can't be hot - but he's not David Tennant. Or Matt Smith. You get the picture. And I CANNOT FATHOM him with a 20-something companion swooning up at him, because, well, yuck, that's Daddy.

I'm not the only girl in America (or the universe) who is now convinced that to be a good Dr. Who, I have to be able to picture getting into his...mind. Sorry, Christopher Ecceleston ruined it for me. I didn't feel this way watching reruns back in the day. But you bring in Mr. Sexy Alien, you should stick with it.

2. The only roles I have seen him (we will only refer to him as "this new guy" in this post) in, except for one, he has played a bit of an obsessed weirdo. This, says Mr. RK, is why he'll be a good #12.

3. Do I have to have a third reason? My blog, my rules.

For those of you who follow this, what's your take? 
And in completely different geeky news, I'm sure that Sanrio has NO CLUE how awesome this is:
Hello Kitty can has cheezburger!

Thursday, August 01, 2013

If you had to give advice to yourself right out of college...

We have an intern at work who is just starting out in the world of work. (So she is, shall we say, younger than I am.) I was thinking about things I wish I had known about work, life, and the world when I was 22 (geez, I sound old) as we've chatted about career stuff.

I told her not to let anyone blow her off or doubt her because she is young. At my first "real" newspaper job, I was first assigned (as the newbie) what was supposed to be a mundane and boring beat. The managing editor hated my guts from day one (to give you an idea of the compatibility of his personality with humans, he left the paper to become an editor at a computer magazine, and I believe he's still there.) He even made a joke that if anyone had "any nanny stories" to pass them on to me. The towns I was assigned to cover were pretty wealthy, home to high-tech founders and retired football players, and they were considered "sleepy."

Fast forward a year and a half from the start of the job. I have a good nose for bullshit and I dug and dug even when that prick doubted me. Two DA's investigations later, half of the top administration in one of the towns had resigned because of alleged financial mismanagement and other mischief. The investigations, the DA told me, were because of my digging. One even went to trial and made national headlines.

The point isn't that I was the world's greatest cub reporter, but that I didn't doubt myself, and didn't let anyone else set limits on what I knew I could do. Not because of my ego, but because I worked hard and didn't quit when other people thought I should have.

Years later, working in advocacy, I see people who have years of experience in the nonprofit sector and other places we work with who have lost their passion, given up, checked out.

What is the good of experience without passion? Sometimes it's hard to remind ourselves not to quit or, on bad days, to keep caring, whatever our cause or passion may be, because of the naysayers.

How many of the naysayers have gone out and shaken things up? Changed the world, or the system, for one person or for many? Not many.

This doesn't only apply to people who lead movements. To paraphrase Greg Louganis, never underestimate the difference you can make in one person's life, even if you're not aware of it.

If you had to give advice to your younger self, what would it be?