Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Reordering One's Priorities

Man, it's like 110 degrees in here. Remind me again why I don't have central air?

Monday, July 30, 2007

On Being Nice and Other Detriments to Career Advancement

I was having a conversation recently with a coworker, who had taken an undergrad photography class. In their final quiz, the instructor asked them to write down what grade they thought they had earned. My friend told me that he naturally wrote down “A” and was mystified why the woman next to him--who had done all of the work, well, from everything he could see--gave herself a “B.”

I understood what she was thinking. Women, I explained to him, tend to feel like they’re bragging or self-inflated if they overreach in rating their own performance. In addition to which, the instructor was basically asking the students to demand what they felt they deserved. It may have seemed straightforward to him that, of course, you ask for the “A.” But women are encouraged to be modest and accommodating. Men demanding what they want are assertive and admirable, and women who demand are difficult at best, bitchy at worst. And these assessments can have real-world implications in professional settings.

So it wasn’t surprising to me to see this article in the Washington Post. The traditional answer for men demanding and receiving more, in salary and promotions, is that men are more aggressive, as a result of some combination of socialization and genetics. However, according to this article, researchers found
[W]omen's reluctance was based on an entirely reasonable and accurate view of how they were likely to be treated if they did. Both men and women were more likely to subtly penalize women who asked for more -- the perception was that women who asked for more were "less nice."
Women, then, act according to real-world incentives. Which makes sense to many of us who have tried to walk the tightrope between being “nice” and getting what we want.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Oh, and Also

I've got this business model in my head, whereby I market pet cams, set up in a fixed location, say, pointing at Fido's chair or at FiFi's litterbox. People could check in and make sure their little darlings weren't seizing, shredding the furniture, eating the spider plants, etc.

As always, somebody else is way ahead.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Amusing? Appalling? You Be the Judge

Ladies: Single and currently suitorless? I give you the single woman's apartment/house/what have you. The comments, in particular, go beyond the stereotypes (pink? scented candles?) and may hit you right where you live (and drink wine, ahem).

Also, angel or brimstone beast?


The battlefield after the latest skirmish, the dead mixed in with the dying. It's a brutal, long-running conflict. I'll think they’re gone, sometimes seasons come and go. Then, I’ll be puttering around, minding my business, and there will be a swarm out of nowhere, infiltrating the basement windows. I’ve tried everything, but they keep coming back, terminator-like.

I’ve won, for now. But you just know they're regrouping.

Thursday, July 26, 2007


Our health system needs reform, I tell you. You know what we need? Medicare for cats. It’s a crime that preexisting conditions disqualify one from insurance. The roof fund is now the Cat Healthcare Act of 2007.

On another note, I went to an interview today, at Dunder Mifflin. It went well enough, the culture seemed good, but it's in the neighborhood of a 1 1/2 to 2-hour commute (estimates vary by route and by traffic) via car, one way. I'm not sure if I'm that desperate.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Crazy as Far as the Eye Can See

Have you ever been someplace (say, just to take a place at random, your work) where you start out and everyone’s normal-ish, pleasant enough. Okay, there are a couple of oddballs that everyone shakes their heads at and then works around. But then, you’re there for a while, and the crazy people start outnumbering the normal people? Then you start to wonder if maybe you’re crazier than you think, like the scale has been reset or that it’s contagious? You, maybe, find yourself chuckling to yourself on the bus or conversing with your internal voice, only not in your head? Or is it just me?

Monday, July 23, 2007

Laurels on Which I Rest

Cat privacy screen (aka, the modesty panel). Designed and created by yours truly (with carpentry assembly by my dad). It will soon be the rage among folks who wish to stylishly conceal their cat boxes.

Newly svelte, unfortunately hyperthyroidal cat, who uses and appreciates the above privacy screen.

Garage, on which I spent much blood, sweat, and tears. Note that it is not decrepit looking, and does not feature peeling paint.

Refinished original maple hardwood floor, on which I spent much blood, sweat, and tears. Marvel at its beauty, if you haven't already.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

More Farley Granger, Movie Miscellanea

Have I cornered you yet to see the movie Once? No? Then let me harangue you now; you totally should go see it. It’s a very understated musical, in that people don’t spontaneously break out dancing and singing, there’s actual context for the songs. And the songs are pretty fantastic. So go, see it, make a mental not to put in the netflix queue, what have you.

In a bit of weird coincidence, I just turned on the TV and found Alfred Hitchcock Presents on. Odd. Anyway, I went to see Strangers on a Train, followed by an intereview with its star, Farley Granger, who is 83 years old (that’s an unscientific conclusion based on the murmurings going on around us in the theater). He almost tripped on my bag! I kid, actually, I moved it before he came past my row. They made the poor man--who was very frail and thin but wore jeans, a track jacket, and jaunty keds--teeter in from the back of the theater. Then they hoisted him up on stage, where they had also lofted up chairs, and they did an Inside the Actor’s Studio type thing.

Anyway, the theater’s owner prefaced the discussion with a series of questions about the movie that he asked the audience to ponder. He asked us, for example, to mull over our impressions of Ruth Roman as the female lead (if you’ve seen the movie, she plays the tennis pro’s fiancee; the one he wants to divorce his wife for). She apparently was not Hitchcock’s first choice--he wanted Grace Kelly--but the studio insisted that he use an actress contractually obligated to them. Apparently there’s some sort of consensus opinion that Roman was miscast and that Hitchcock’s favored cool blonde, presumably Kelly, but possibly someone else, would have been more appropriate.

I found the whole question befuddling. The character is essentially the supportive love interest. That’s the sum total of her character development. I’m not sure how another actress would have added anything different to it (to contrast, imagine the crazy guy from the train played by someone different). In fact, what I noticed most about her performance was the costumes, shiny, metallic-like fabrics, absurdly detailed. And as a separate note, I have no idea where in nature women in 1950s films existed, with impossibly thin waists and gigantic cleavage.

Here’s the thing. If you’ve seen the movie, or pretty much any movie at the time, you’d note that the variety of female characters tended to fall into a narrow spectrum, mostly archetypes: the femme fatale, the good girl, the mother, the good wife, the elderly lady. What these dudes are arguing over is basically hair color.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Celebrity Sightings That Don’t Compare to Toby’s But Are Still Cool

Our building’s lobby is under construction, and as a result, we are left with only one and a half (there are two, but one is inevitably broken at any given time) coffin-sized elevators for the entire building. So one must fight through clouds of dust and climb around ladders and construction debris, then sprint to catch the working elevator or risk being stuck choking for the next ten minutes.

Coming back from lunch on Friday, my two friends and I scooted around a man wearing an odd suit (one of my friends thought he was German), who was getting directions from the security guard, who sits behind a Brigadoon-style portable table blocking the building entrance. By a miracle of fate, there was a waiting elevator, so we piled on. I was reaching for the button to close the door when my friend, taken over by helpful-retail-clerk mode, as she described it later, began calling to the man, “Sir? Sir? Did you need to go upstairs?” And we waited and waited while he decided. Meanwhile, I was thinking about my friend, who really is a much nicer person than I am: “this is the difference between you and me, I would let him get the next damn elevator.”

Finally, the man decided that, yes, he needed to go upstairs, and he crammed in with us (kind of close to me, I thought, but it was a small elevator). On the way up, my friend solicitously conversed with him about how elevators in our building are at a premium, hence we help each other.

Of course, the whole time, I didn’t bother to look at him, other than to note that he was tall, had a dorky suit, and stood too close to me. My friends, however, confirmed that it was this guy, who’s played bit parts in a lot of movies, most frequently, it seems, The Cop. Damn, I missed it again.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Who Knew Farley Granger Wasn't Dead?

For those not the sole members of the Gen X Farley Granger fan club (i.e., me), he was in Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train, kind of the poor man's Gregory Peck. It turns out that he's in town this weekend for a Hitchcock double feature and to plug his new (first?) book. Me and the elderly ladies in line! (And gay men; he's openly gay.) Although I'm thinking I'll cut out after the films. How can it not be depressing to see him looking a gazillion years old? I suspect that this makes me shallow.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Suburban sprawl?

It occurred to me, I haven’t had to commute to work via car since I was 23. That’s thirteen years of public transit and enforced daily exercise. For someone as lazy as me, this is an objective good. Plus, low mileage! Not to mention the fact that I can feel virtuous about my tiny carbon footprint. I realize that this experience isn’t the American norm, at least for those not living in large metropolitan areas, but since I do, I feel like it’s a perk I should embrace.

So, as I ponder the next step in my vaunted career path, I weigh the pluses and minuses of prospective jobs thusly: interesting subject matter (am I doomed to slog through medical treatises?), worthwhile mission (can I get jazzed about promoting the mission of craven capitalists?), workplace ambiance/potential coworkers (is it in industrial park purgatory, populated by people in tacky suits and eighties hairstyles?), and location location location.

On the last point, notwithstanding my inherent laziness and the fact that my criteria for driving days expand as time goes on (from subzero temperatures only to holidays where this is no traffic, days I can’t find my keys in a timely fashion, and days of “eh, an umbrella for this drizzle is too much bother”), the thought of having to hop into my car every day depresses me. In that universe, I see myself never walking for the hell of it again, sporting a Buddha belly, and turning into one of those people who buys a gym membership and never uses it.

But for every cool job in the city, there’s probably hundreds of applicants. Depressing. Do you aim for a boring place in an awesome location? Or do you embrace the exciting-sounding job in suburban hell? I’m finding myself, when presented with a job that otherwise looks good but is in nondescript suburb X, researching complex series of bus and train transfers that would no doubt take me three hours one way to navigate. Gah.

Such are my thought processes for today. Also, how dorky is it that I wore my glasses today and somehow chose the top that's the exact same color green. Why not just wear matching eye shadow and be done with it?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Because I am Bored and Need Something New

It's a Margaret Atwood poem, and no, I don't know anyone named Daphne. Remember how I always threatened to do something like this? No? Well, I did, then I procrastinated as I am wont to do. I figured this would give me impetus to write (without a class), hone some new skills of the electronic variety, and also justify the purchase of the new laptop, which arrived in week 7 of my 8-week fiction course. I also envision that this will allow all people of my acquaintance to be regaled with the latest, la vida Laura. Economy! It is not quite as exciting as I would hope, but whose is? Today's spate of drama was the kit cat, because you haven't experienced fun until you've experienced the seventh circle of hell known as the vet's. On this, the cat and I agree. We branched out from the usual drama, and she threw in some vomiting, wailing, and hyperventilating in the car on the way there. Her list of organs with problems has grown. I think we've covered all of them now, although I can't speak for the spleen. I'm starting to see the value of houseplants.