Nina's Stillwater Calendar

Monday, October 29

The More Things Change...

In 2000 I got married, moved to a new town and started college. That's a lot of action in one summer. There's family drama and moving about and embarking on a fresh start. Seven years later I live in the same town, 2 mi from my first apartment. I attend the same school and I am married to the same man working at the same job. What happened to the action? It's somehow odd to look at constancy of the basic facts of my life: family make-up, employment, education, residency. It annoys me. I know I've grown and changed but when I meet someone I haven't seen for awhile and they ask "What's new?" I can't say "My inner self." or something. So I say "Oh nothing." or "Same old thing." which sounds pretty lame after seven years.

This is my blog, not the real world, so I get to ruminate on what really has changed. I have two dogs that I didn't have seven years ago. I have a few college degrees. I have a car that starts whenever I turn the key. I have...I have lots of things that I didn't have before. But I could lose most of them any moment so they aren't really mine. What really is mine now, that wasn't before? And I come to the real problem. When I am asked "What's new?" on the street or in the hallway I can say "Oh nothing." and go on my way smugly knowledgeable that I have grown and changed. But when I ask this question on my blog, where I am free to answer it anyway I choose, I realize that I don't actually know the answer. One more thing that hasn't changed.

Saturday, October 27

Seen on the blade of a Halloween "Ninja Sword"

Japanese characters saying "Your milk and your mom and you're honest."
- Reported by Toshi, another grad student

Thursday, October 25

Guilty by Association

I like to class things together. This is perfectly reasonable. I can't go read every blog out there in the 'sphere. So I rely on the recommendations of other bloggers out there with a proven track record of good taste. This classification system is riddled with false negatives however. Some example classes:

1. Every Batman movie since 1990 (Batman Forever, Batman Return, Batman & Robin) was really awful. Therefore any new Batman movie will be awful.
2. My high school roommate stays up late giggling annoyingly at a children's book. Therefore, the book must be annoying too.
3. This guy I lived with in Maryland for a summer a few years ago watched competitions. This is okay when its basketball. When those games are over and we're left watching competitive bass fishing and bowling, I get bored. He loved watching Ken Jennings win at Jeopardy. Therefore, Ken Jennings is boring.

The false negatives:

1. Batman Begins was a good movie. And Christian Bale is hot.
2. That book was Harry Potter. A really good book.
3. Ken Jennings is actually hilarious. He even has his own blog where he posts puzzles. If you are looking to waste a few minutes (and if you aren't, why are you here?), go check it out.

Wednesday, October 24

16 Very Stupid Oklahoma Lawmakers

A Baptist group in Oklahoma distributed Bibles to each lawmaker as a State Centennial gift. A Mulsim group did the same with Qurans. Sixteen very stupid Oklahoma lawmakers kept the Bibles and returned the Qurans because "Most Oklahomans do not endorse the idea of killing innocent women and children in the name of ideology." (Note: What about men? I guess we're cool with killing men?) Considering the level of support Oklahomans have shown for current activities of the U.S. military in Iraq, I'd say that statement is debatable. And what about the 30,000-50,000 Oklahoma Muslims these lawmakers are supposed to be representing? "We never hear those 30,000 to 50,000 Muslims oppose the practice of violence on innocent people." Because it is the responsibility of Oklahoma Muslims to stop al-Qaeda. Just like it is the responsibility of Japanese Christians to oppose religiously based neo-Nazis in Spokane. Makes sense. To them anyway. But moving back to that Bible. Why was it appropriate to accept the Bible? "I don't think I've ever read a part of [the Bible] that condones the killing of women and children in furtherance of God's word." Oh no. I just got it. Our Oklahoma lawmakers are illiterate.

Tuesday, October 23

Nerd Romance

Scott and I walked to the lake near our house this evening near sunset. It sounds romantic, doesn't it? A loving couple strolling by the lake, watching the sunset...Wait. There's a problem. We weren't watching the sunset. We both had our phones out and were surfing the web while walking along beside the lake. So I guess it was romantic. In a twisted, nerdy sort of way. But there is a perfectly good explanation which I hope will lift me out of nerdy mire I have entered by first surfing the web during a sunset stroll and then blogging about it afterwards. So here goes. I was trying to view a campus map on my phone earlier today as part of a treasure hunt. This particular treasure hunt posts simple clues that you take online to get the complete clue. So a mobile internet connection is pretty handy during all of this. So that makes a phone with Internet cool, right? Anyway, one of the online clues was a map which my phone shrunk down so it would fit on my phone screen. No good. I need it big so I can read it. So, while we were walking, Scott showed me how to make the map show up big. Also, part of today's clues required me to get onto Facebook. So I now have a Facebook profile and picture and friends and groups and everything. And while I was at it, I made a MySpace profile too. It doesn't say much, but it's there. And I even have friends. At least on Facebook. So that is cool too, right? ...Right?

California Fires

My grandmother, aunt and two cousins live in Chula Vista, CA. They haven't had to evacuate yet, but they are packing. They mentioned lots of locations when describing where the fire is relative to them, none of which I understood. So I looked up a map. These maps are really very cool. If you have Google Earth there are even cooler maps (with time lapse animations, etc.) you can download, but for those of us without admin rights on our school-issued 'puter, these'll have to do:

Map of fire and evac center locations

Sat photo of fire and smoke

Some favorite pictures of the fires from Flickr:

Sun seen through fire smoke.

Fire seen from San Diego

Sunday, October 21

Post Overcompensation

I started this blog to help me practice writing and stay in touch with friends. I had like 4 readers, all of whom know what a total dork I am and are friends with me anyway. It made posting a risk-free situation. Now I am learning that I have readers (Hey KC!) who don't know me, or don't know me very well , or don't know me well anymore. Posting is no longer risk-free. Sound paranoid? Maybe. But we all want to put our best foot forward and impress new people right? Since I didn't have anything cool to write about yesterday, I wrote one not-so-impressive post. It wasn't all that funny or insightful or anything, but I wanted to post something since I realized someone reads this blog. Then I compensated for the not-so-impressive post by posting something cool. Unfortunately, it was someone else's cool stuff. Other people's house decs and other people's photos (Scott's photos, in fact). I didn't actually produce anything cool. I think I am overcompensating here. If people were lurking around here before, why worry about driving them off by looking like a dork now? If they're gonna run away, they've already done it. Anyone left must not mind too much. Summary: Sorry for drowning you all in posts the last few days. I promise to behave better in the future. I hope you enjoy them anyway.

Saturday, October 20

South Dakota

As promised, photos of South Dakota. Specifically, Mount Rushmore and the Badlands. You can click on the photos to see a larger version. I didn't go to the Badlands, since I was in DC, but the guys went. And they weren't really all that excited. And Mount Rushmore sounded cool, but in a "I wanna be able to say I've been there" kinda way. As it turns out, South Dakota is just cooler than we realized. I thought Mount Rushmore was awesome to see and the guys kept telling me the Badlands were even better. So enjoy a look:


There's no doubt the Cowboys won tonight. The scoreboard says so.
-Radio announcer on the outcome of the Homecoming game

The Homecoming game turned into a nail biter. The Kansas State Wildcats scored a touchdown and 2-pt conversion to bring them ahead by 1 pt with a 1:10 left in the game. Then OSU ran down the field and got a field goal which put them 2 pts ahead with 0:02 left in the game. Kansas State was out of timeouts and the clock ran down before they could pull off a field goal of their own. (Note: I don't watch football. I don't actually know what a 2-pt conversion is. Scott told me what was going on.)

Walkaround also rocked. I thought four of the decs were pretty cool. Here are a few photos.

From the Price is Right dec:

From the Rock n Roll dec, where my mom saw a long, thin, brown cylinder that was tapered at one end and lying in front of a tie-dyed panel and wondered why there was a roll of carpet:

From the Charlie Brown dec, a classic comic:

From the Everday dec, my favorite for design:

Trust in Marriage

We have some cash leftover from the Fall Break road trip that Scott was planning to put back into our credit union account. Since I was planning to be right by the campus branch yesterday, I offered to take the money by for him. He declined the offer, "I don't mind doing it.". I insisted, "I'll be in the Student Union anyway, it's no trouble." He declined again. It turns out he doesn't trust me to get the cash from the house to credit union. He's afraid the money will wind up a crumpled wad of cash at the bottom of my backpack where it will rot for the next year until I clean my bag. Or maybe it will wind up going through the wash in my jeans pocket. Or it'll get stuck in a pile of "I'll get to that next week" paperwork where it will remain until the pile gets too unwieldy to contemplate and I throw the whole thing out. His worry isn't without foundation. Random bills have not infrequently been found at all those locations. So it appears we have a legitimate trust issue in our marriage. In the grand scale of marriage issues I don't think it's a big deal. I mentioned before that I am going as Wilhelmina Harker for Halloween. I left out that Scott is going as Dracula. Now what kind of marriage issues does that imply?

Friday, October 19

Homecoming (Presented by Freshmen Peons)

It's America's Greatest Homecoming and it's in full force. There are orange lights around Theta Pond. The library fountain is dyed orange. The street is painted. The houses on Greek Row are even now receiving the finishing touches before the crowds start coming. In front of each house is a massive steel structure covered in pomped chicken wire depicting some conception of the theme "An Orange State of Mind". Soon the stereos and dance areas, the food vendors and traffic blockades will be out and the carnival known as "Walkaround" will start. Tomorrow morning more pomped chicken wire, this time on floats, will parade down Main Street. I think there's even a football game sometime tomorrow. You get the picture, it's a party. And while enjoying the party, we don't want to forget the people that made it happen. There are a lot of Greek freshmen out there who stayed up many nights the past few weeks building house decs by sticking little bits of colored tissue paper through holes in chicken wire and welding together those steel structures. And many Greek freshmen put together the Harvest Carnival games earlier this week and then spent the entire evening with a bunch of kids who had just eaten too much sugar. And many of those same Greek freshmen are going to spend tonight finishing floats for tomorrow's parade. Yes, there are a lot of Greek freshmen out there failing their courses. But who am I to care? Let's start the party!

Thursday, October 18

Birthday Week

Birthday Week has officially begun. This is the week that my brothers and I were born, though in different years. When we were children this week brought a birthday party complete with costumes and a ghost shaped cake with flaming eyes. It also signaled the start of the holidays. We knew that right after our birthdays came Halloween then Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Year's. What's more, this week is the start of the best harvest has to offer: pumpkins, pomegranates, pecans...It's no wonder that fall is my favorite time of year. This week still brings birthday gifts: my mom gave me a box of teas for my office, my mother-in-law gave me earrings, and my husband found a game I've been wanting that was out of production. And it still heralds the beginning of the holiday season. In fact, as an OSU student I get to add one more holiday to the list: Homecoming. Around here, it's a pretty major holiday with a carnival, parade, street painting, house decorations, lights, the works. As an added bonus, the colors conveniently coordinate with Halloween. And this week still brings a bounty of pumpkins, pomegranates, and pecans. Despite all the similarities, Birthday Week feels different than it used to. When my brothers died, they left a bittersweet taste on my favorite week. I still love autumn. And I still love kicking off the holiday season. Just not in the carefree way I once did. Today is Zac's birthday. One week from today is Robbie's. So I'll celebrate my birthday one day in the middle like I always have with cake and music and fun and games. But I'll celebrate my brothers' birthdays all week in a quieter way. And somehow, despite the pain of remembering them, I love Birthday Week even more today than I did as a child.

Dreams & Growing Up

Jill asked everyone to write about their dreams. I started thinking of that time I was fighting sword-wielding rebels...oh wait. She's talking about what we dream about doing when we grow up. I have many dreams of things I'd like to do someday. In fact, I listed them here pretty recently. It's growing up that's the sticking point. I've been resisting it for years. There is a popular belief that people get PhD's to gain additional education and expertise in their chosen field. Actually, it's a sort of Neverland where 20- and 30- somethings go to escape growing up and getting jobs. Grad student discussions that begin "someday when I graduate" are always comfortingly vague with no set dates. All this is very natural for someone who has never planned to grow up. When I was engaged someone told me I should wait until I grow up to get married. I asked if they had met my mother. If I'm anything like her, and I am a lot like her, if I wait until I grow up I'll never get married. So I'm sorry I have no grown-up dreams to share with you Jill. If you ever want to hear about other kinds of dreams, I still have the sword-wielding rebels to tell you about.

Wednesday, October 17

Layout Changes

I am working on updating this blog's look so over the next day or too it'll be tweaked and rearranged on a pretty continual basis. Feel free to leave input on the new design. Hope you like it!

Tuesday, October 16

Halloween Costumes

Every year I wait until the last minute to get a Halloween costume and every year I wind up perusing the contents of the costume aisle at the party store:

- Naughty Red Riding Hood: She's a little girl!!! Not sexy.
- Vixen Pirate Wench: Captain, maybe. Wench? No.
- Corrupt Cop: I'm guessing she takes bribes, but who wants some drunk guy's idea of a bribe?
- Dirty Martini: Olives over breasts with pimientos over nipples. I couldn't show my face the next day.
- Deviant Housewife: I thought Halloween was where women dressed up as something different than they really are...
- Sexy Asian Schoolgirl: Dress up as a sexy Asian schoolgirl if you must. Just do it in the privacy of your own home.
- 1st Place MILF: How do you explain the acronym on the sash to your kids?

In case you wondered, I didn't make any of those up. And lest you think I cherry-picked the worst, Playboy has its own line of Halloween costumes. It gets worse. Anyway, for those of us looking for costumes that cover the entire butt cheek (and really, how many of us have butt cheeks we ought to be showing off?), the party store provides "Pumpkin" and "Ghost". Which leaves those of us who want to cover our butt cheeks with a cool costume out of luck. So this year I started thinking about Halloween two full weeks in advance. Now I can go online and look at costumes. I am going as Wilhelmina. That is actually my name, but I am going as Wilhelmina Harker from Brahm Stoker's Dracula. Seems like an obvious choice for a woman named Wilhelmina, but I've never dressed up as her. So I am hunting for an appropriate period gown. How do you other women out there handle Halloween costumes?


I was sitting in the Denver airport waiting with the other, I don't know, maybe 10 passengers for my flight to South Dakota and enjoying a pomegranate when a man who was sitting idly nearby began to question me on my fruit selection. For those who have never before eaten a pomegranate (and this guy hadn't), you individually pick out each fruit coated seed and eat it. If you notice the picture, you will see why this takes some patience. I explained the process. Then this man, who was planning to sit in the airport doing nothing for the next thirty minutes anyway, pompously declared that he simply didn't have the time to eat a pomegranate. I was unimpressed by his busy and important life but he kept talking to me and I kept responding and I eventually found myself in a conversation with someone who is too busy to eat a pomegranate. And what does such a busy and important person do? He buys and sells real estate. That's it. He doesn't improve them, he doesn't add value. He buys and he sells. Not only that, but he is remarkably proud of what he does, perhaps even cocky. One of those "How to make a million dollars in one year and get on this commercial with no skills, no money, and no apparent taste in clothing" commercials kept popping into my head while he was talking. All this I could have overlooked. Except that when he asked what I did and I told him I was a PhD student in math, he responded "Well, I think pocketing $20,000 on real estate deal sounds like more fun." I suppose I'd take $20,000 over my next Algebra homework too. But he was summing up my entire planned career and all my effort in grad school as somehow less interesting than a real estate deal. I was a insulted and it occurred to me that I am a snob. Why should my sense of self-worth require that everyone I meet have to find me impressive? Really, I thought, I need to grow up.

I attempted to ameliorate the situation by reflecting that at least this guy was a bigger snob than me. Obviously, this just made the situation worse. I capped off the downhill spiral by comparing myself to Benjamin Franklin who said:

In reality, there is, perhaps, no one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as pride. Disguise it, struggle with it, beat it down, stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases, it is still alive, and will every now and then peep out and show itself; you will see it, perhaps, often in this history; for, even if I could conceive that I had compleatly overcome it, I should probably be proud of my humility.

p.s. Jill, thanks for the new word. And I haven't forgotten to put up pictures of South Dakota. I just don't have them ready yet.

Pictures of Spain

My friend Megan went to Spain last summer and finally got around to posting some pictures. If you are interested in statues and parks, take a look:

Saturday, October 13


I adore words. All of them. Even the dirty ones. I like to know their roots and pedigrees, their connotations and pronunciations. And I like to show them off by using them in front of people who don't know them. Not really, but my husband sometimes thinks so when I throw out words like recalcitrant during dinner conversation and then make him look it up instead of just telling him what it means. I am always in search of new words. Some new ones I learned this semester are daedal and panjandrum. Yeah, I bet you didn't know daedal was a word. Even worse, it's pronounced "deed'l". I put new words I learn on my office door with their usage and definition. Sort of a cross between a reminder on the bathroom mirror and public service announcement for the international grad students. At least, I thought of it as a way to share new English words with my friends until I thought about what would happen if Zhenyi, a Chinese grad student, correctly used panjandrum in a sentence. Every American in earshot would roll their eyes at Chinese girl who can't speak English. If they were nice Americans they would at least try to figure out what English word she was trying to say. No red-blooded American would say "Panjandrum. I don't know that word. What does it mean?" So now I stick to words that sound like real English.

Anyway, why the obsession with words? Words are important. Just look at Turkey and the U.S. Senate. Everyone agrees a lot of Armenians were killed. All they are fighting over is the word genocide (from the Latin genus meaning race or kind and cide meaning cut or kill, in case you had a burning desire to know). And word disputes don't just occur at the international level. For example, when Scott gets mad he gets all petulant so I'll notice and then the conversation goes something like this:

Me: Baby, are you mad at me?
Scott: No.
Me: Are you angry?
Scott: No.
Me: Are you upset?
Scott: No.
Me: Oka-ay. Fine.
Scott: I'm frustrated.

I began to consider combing through a dictionary and creating a checklist: Angry? Chaffed? Affronted? Resentful? Indignant? Irate? Vexed? Fortunately, Scott began answering the meaning of the question instead of insisting on particular words, thus narrowly averting the deaths of many trees. There are hundreds of words that mean some shade of upset.

People also get picky about their acronyms. I attended the Oklahoma School of S&M for my last two years of high school. You read that right. S&M baby. As in Science & Math. Obviously, the administration of the school didn't want anyone calling it "the Oklahoma School of S&M". They preferred OSSM, read "awesome". Like any 16-yr-old would actually refer to their high school as "awesome". Sometimes the drive for a good acronym leads to somewhat ridiculous results. Like the USA PATRIOT Act. It stands for "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act". How would you like to have been in on the meeting where they came up with that acronym? "Okay, now what about O? What words start with O? Anyone? What about obtuse?"

Since I love words, it seems fated that I should have married someone who uses them so creatively. Scott thinks phonetically and so conversations become a continuous game of "sounds like":

Let's get a quirky keyboard.
It's my consultation prize.
They were forging the river.

For anyone who cares, such a mistake is called a malapropism, which is from the Latin mal, meaning bad or ill-suited, and apropos, meaning appropriate for the task. Scott also has some unique pronunciations. My personal favorite is robotics. Seven years of marriage and I still giggle every time he says "robuttocks". If you didn't laugh when you read that, try saying it out loud. Better yet, try pronouncing it that way in front of other people. Bet somebody snickers.

In an attempt to spread a love of words, I am closing this post by sharing my current favorite word: coruscate which refers to light glinting of a surface (e.g. water, metal) or twinkling. Now doesn't light glinting off water seem a little prettier just by having such a pretty word to describe it?

A Jew and a Muslim walk onto a stage...

No seriously. That wasn't the joke. That's what happened. Tonight we went to a stand-up comedy show tonight that featured a Muslim and a Jew (a Rabbi in fact). The Rabbi was funny, but his stories all revolved around kids and teenagers (e.g. Abraham was commanded to sacrifice Isaac when he was 12 because when he was 13 it wouldn't have been a sacrifice.) and other stuff that I just don't have as much experience with. The Muslim comedian on the other hand was roll on the floor funny. A Canadian TV station did a story on their show complete with part of their show. So take a look: If you are interested in more of the same, there is a comedy tour "Allah Made Me Funny" that you should check out.

Wednesday, October 10

Driving (or Not)

I've blogged DC. Well, a bit of duPont Circle at least. Time for something new. Sunday night I left DC and headed to South Dakota to meet Scott, Chris, and Brad. Which was so much nicer. There were pine trees and quaking aspen trees and Black Hills and wildlife and art. Previously the only thought I had ever given to South Dakota was "It's south of North Dakota." Clearly, I still have a lot to learn about the world.

After all the fun we had to drive home and I don't like to drive. Which is why I cultivate a reputation as a very poor driver even though I think I'm actually a pretty safe driver. I used to ride a motorcycle so I have a strong appreciation for the value of defensive driving: Never assume another driver is going to do the reasonable, rational thing. I know I am ccasionally 'that driver' that everyone curses. And I take certain roadsigns (e.g. No U-Turn, Speed Limit 60, Stop) as suggestions. And I have a little trouble with distances in parking lots and have inflicted a few dings or broken taillights. But I've never had an accident and I've never done any serious damage to any car (i.e. damage it cost me money to repair). But when I describe this history, I don't put into persepective and emphasize my good driving record. Instead, it goes more like this:

I've only hit one car in the last year.
I'm doing better with stop signs. I noticed that one last week.
It's not like I pulled that U-Turn on the toll road during rush hour.

In each case I manage to point out something dangerous I've done while pretending I am trying to defend mayself against bad driving allegations and look ditzy at the same time. I always try to giggle a bit during the conversation too. I mean, giggling about running into parked cars can only help my cause. Making my job even easier, Scott always leads into these for me with partial lists of my driving exploits that I can elaborate on as much as necessary. I am still not sure if he is doing it because he knows I don't want to drive or because he loves the novelty being better than me at something. Either way, I wasn't asked to drive once during the 13 hours from South Dakota to Oklahoma. (Scott: Did you notice I managed to thank you and get in a dig at the same time? I just thought you'd appreciate the artistry.)

Monday, October 8

One last quote from the DHS Conference:

So do they actually carry gear and fight fires and stuff?
- Another student discussing the role of women in a Colorado fire department

Sunday, October 7

Food Safety

Saturday morning we sat through a gauntlet of panels discussing the role of DHS "Centers of Excellence", which are collections of research groups at various universities tasked with doing research on a particular security issue. In one particular case, food safety. It turns out that the government has found documentation indicating that certain terrorists groups are considering how to poison or disrupt the US food supply. We watched a FOX News story that discussed this threat. And what video did they play while they discussed the food supply? Masked men, presumably al-Qaeda, shooting and blowing things up. It doesn't really connect, but it looks scary, so they ran with it. Considering the topic, I don't think scare tactics were really necessary. It turns out there are lots of easy ways to poison people using food and tracing the contamination is really difficult. As the speaker said "Urine, blood, and water are really cool to work with. Try lettuce." I have a renewed dedication to developing my food storage.

duPont Circle

After settling into the hotel Friday night I went out for dinner on duPont Circle with some friends from my summer internship. On the way we walked past lots of shops and ducked in to a few to take a look. There was the art gallery with paintings of irises and some metal sculptures vaguely resembling distraught naked men. Then there was "The Pleasure Palace" with various plastic objects not-so-vaguely resembling not-so-distraught parts of naked men. There were also stores we didn't duck into. For example, there was the leather store I was interested in checking out since I'm looking for a leather jacket. That is, I was interested until I noticed that the pictures in the storefront all featured muscular male torsos positioned close together and wearing absolutely no leather. Finally it dawned on me that this was not the sort of leather store where one bought a jacket.

Eventually we wandered over to a casual French restaurant where I tried Escargot for the first time. I would comment on the flavor of snail, but it was drenched in herb garlic butter and I really have no idea how snail tastes. In religion class last week we learned we shouldn't take killing animals for meat for granted, that we should always be sure to use as much of the animal as possible. The French, who eat all sorts of bodyparts I get squeamish just thinking about, were presented as an example. Eating the snail swimming in strongly flavored garlic butter, it occurred to me that perhaps the French get squeamish too and compensate by overpowering any possible flavor the odd bodyparts might contribute.

Saturday, October 6

Airline Turf War

Warning: I'll be blogging on my phone the next few days. Grammar, punctuation, and spelling will suffer accordingly.

I got to the airport yesterday on time and ready to depart for Reagan Intl Airport in DC. Unfortunately, so did a lot of other people. Seven people too many. And Northwest Airlines had one incompetent woman start trying to redirect customers to other flights about 20 minutes before scheduled take-off. So I was losing confidence in my Memphis connection. Across the hallway, United was offering a nonstop flight to Dulles. I asked for a transfer. The Northwest counter called United and made the switch then sent me across the hall to the United counter which said they needed a reservation number and sent me across the hall to the Northwest counter which said "huh?" and sent me back to the United counter which repeated the request and sent me back to the Northwest counter which had mislocated my original boarding pass and finally found it and sent me back to the United counter which then asked for a ticket for the United flight and sent me back (pause here to take a breath and rehydrate) to the Northwest counter which said United was responsible for printing the ticket and sent me back to the United counter which disagreed and sent me back to the Northwest counter where the woman who had been screwing me over...I mean helping me...had been replaced by someone who knew what they were doing and I was seated on the plane to Dulles a full eight minutes before departure.

Of course, the woman who couldn't even transfer me across the hall couldn't be relied upon to tranfer my luggage. But it was still bound for DC so no big deal right? As I soon learned, there is a phone version of the across the hall pingpong game I just played.

I filled out a lost luggage claim at Dulles around 5 pm and then didn't worry much about it until I got back to the hotel about midnight and called United to check on progress. Let's pause to get hydrated before we start this time. Okay, ready? United said that my bag was at Reagan Airport at the Northwest counter and then faxed Northwest to request they send the bag over to United at Dulles. I did ask why the bag had to go to Dulles instead of getting on the delivery van at Reagan and the woman at United explained in her very best patronizing voice, the kind I use when dealing with whiney 2 yr olds, that she simply couldn't do it that way. Anyway, we were faxing something to Northwest. Northwest decided it wasn't their responsibility to take the bag over and so didn't do anything. United had already faxed them so they didn't do anything. So no one did anything for seven hours that night until I woke up and called to check on the status of my bag. The guy at United who answered my call worked an airline miracle (while oddly enough using exactly the same patronizing voice as the woman I had spoken with the night before). He called the United counter at Reagan and had someone walk from the United counter to the Northwest counter and got my bag and stuck it on the delivery van which delivered my bag in a mere 45 minutes during DC morning traffic. Which was miraculous all by itself.

All of this might have been frustrating instead of amusing, except that I didn't have to lug a piece of luggage behind me last night on the DC subway and I got to go down to breakfast this morning ultra casual and I got to skip out of the welcoming remarks because I was busy pressing my shirt and getting dressed.

Monday, October 1

Women and "You should've known I was angry."

On the drive home from wakeboarding last Thursday, Brad did an incredibly funny impression of a woman pouting for five days over something petty and then getting mad at her significant other for not figuring it out:

Man: Honey, here's the cucumber you asked for.
Woman: Thanks.
...five days later....
Man: Honey, you've seemed upset the last few days. Is something wrong?
Woman: You know perfectly well what's wrong. Last Saturday you brought home an American cucumber when I asked for an English cucumber. And you didn't even apologize. You just handed it to me and went to watch TV!

And as Brad pointed out, nothing is funny without a kernel of truth. While he was doing the impression, I was thinking of all the times I've done the exact same thing. Only I never waited five days to blow up, five hours was more like my limit. Brad's solution: Women should tell men when they're upset so that men can handle the problem before it escalates. It sounds like a great solution:

Man: Honey, here's the cucumber you asked for.
Woman: I asked for an English cucumber.
Man: Oh. I didn't realize there was a difference. I'm sorry. Do you have time for me to run back to the store?

But it never seems to work like that:

Man: Honey, here's the cucumber you asked for.
Woman: I asked for an English cucumber.
Man: What's the big deal? It's just a cucumber. Can't you use this one?
Woman: If I could use that one I wouldn't have asked for something else, would I? And the big deal is the two hours I have spent fixing a special dinner tonight that is now wasted because I don't have an English cucumber to finish it with.


Man: Honey, here's the cucumber you asked for.
Woman: I asked for an English cucumber.
Man: How was I supposed to know there was a difference?
Woman: I assumed you were smart enough to realize I wouldn't bother specifying "English" cucumber unless there was a reason. My bad.

The problem with Brad's solution is that men just don't like to admit they're wrong. And sometimes the problem isn't as small as a wrong cucumber:

Man: Honey, I hit your new car backing out of the driveway. Don't worry. I'll take it to the bodyshop later today.


Woman: Have you seen my purple sweater?
Man: Oh, I threw that in the wash and apparently it was dry-clean only. I had to throw it away.

What woman wants to ask for an apology for something her man already knows he screwed up on and apparently just hasn't cared enough to apologize for? Begging for an apology feels like nagging since you are bringing it up again and when you get the apology it feels insincere anyway:

Woman: Have you seen my purple sweater?
Man: Oh, I threw that in the wash and apparently it was dry-clean only. I had to throw it away.
Woman: And you didn't think to mention this to me?
Man: It just happened two days ago and we've been really busy and I just forgot. Sorry.

So in theory perhaps Brad's solution is great. It's just that the men mess it all up.