Posts Tagged ‘observations’


Posted: 2 August 2011 in other folks
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I work in one of those sorts of places where the toilets are automated.  I walk in, take a seat and, when I stand again, voila!  Magic happens.  That toilet flushes like that’s it’s job.

Wait a minute!  You mean you’re supposed to flush after use?  Why yes, gentlemen using this building, you ARE!

We are not of the if it’s yellow let it mellow crowd.  And in the unisex, you may find that you don’t trigger the auto-flush doing whatever it is you’re doing.  But why, WHY, don’t you go ahead and hit that spiffy black button that makes it go manually?  Let me tell you, I don’t need to see your business first hand.  And, while I appreciate your effort to save water, you’re failing since no person in their right mind would want to sit down there and risk encountering your splash back.

Really.  Just hit the button.



Posted: 15 July 2011 in the fantastic
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Today I taught a class of six Saudi women on a short exchange program to the university.  I had a glimpse of my old life, the one that remembers how to pronounce Riyadh, and though I missed it, I was delighted to be right where I was watching them peel back the edges of research.

We slipped into the stacks searching for a book on Princess Nora and when they found it their faces lit up.  They didn’t have the casual “that’s cool, whatever” attitude my regular groups of 18 years old have, which was a teensy reward in itself.  As I stood there, watching them search for books on the fly with shiny new ipads, I was struck at how far I was from every other place I’ve ever been.  From the six year old who swore she’d be an ambassador, from the college student who never used the library once in 4 years, from the foreign service officer who swore she’d never look back, from the grad student who was baffled that all of this information was online and yes, from the librarian who just wanted to spend the afternoon finishing her staff evaluations.

Today, I used an ipad to find a book on Princess Nora, watched a short video about her, found a biography and searched for a review about the book while I stood in the stacks, took a picture of a book I wanted to read later and cleared the holds from my account so I could check it out before I went upstairs.  My daughter has been born into a world of awesome.



The news is fun lately, isn’t it?  I mean, not that it was ever fun like woooo! but it’s definitely more fun like take shelter! and honestly, that’s not my favorite sort of fun.  Rather than continue on lamenting the lack of wooo! news, I’d just like to put in a plea for disclaimers.  Most people are pretty good at hollering SPOILER ALERT so that they , hopefully, don’t reveal the ending of a given book, situation, movie, plot for those that are planning to engage but haven’t yet.  I deeply appreciate this since I hardly ever get around to seeing or reading things as soon as they happen and I don’t like to have endings just tossed about.  But I need spoiler alerts on more things.

In particular, I need to be spoiled on graphic violence, cruelty to animals and people, heartbreaking, irreparable situations and so forth.  Just today, I read part of a terrible article about a terrible thing that happened to something helpless in a country where folks felt like they had no choice but to do that terrible thing.  It showed up in my feed, so I didn’t even get the chance of a headline (not that it would have helped) as a hint to rush past and I would not have read that article had I known I was going to get graphic detail about what happened.  Also, that video you posted about the loyal dog refusing to leave someone’s side after a tragic situation?  Please, take down the picture associated.  Last night I was reading a book whose jacket stated that it was a mystery tangentially related to a flood happening 60 years previous.  So when I encountered the detailed description of how a person drowns and what it looks like I was paralyzed.  I couldn’t unread it.  The author couldn’t know how I would feel about that, but I sure could have used some warning, rather than just words flung down on the page in the middle of what was a previously gentle paragraph.  SPOILER ALERT: I’m fragile.  No, seriously.

So it’s my own fault.  I don’t NEED to click on the article with a clear headline about abuse or disaster.  In fact, there is no way that’s going to enrich my life.  Unfortunately, in the very same places I get the news I want to see, I also find headlines that all but explain other tragic and terrible stories.  You certainly are thinking this is an ostrich in the sand sort of moment and you probably are also thinking that folks like me are the reason we can’t solve epidemics of abuse or haul nations back onto their feet.  I’m okay with that because I don’t function well when I’m mentally bruised.  I can’t make a difference in anyone’s life if I’m overwhelmed by terrible thoughts and memories.  I’d rather be a happy, productive, whole person than read about or see images of horror. Unless I’m prepared.  So please, CNN, spoiler alerts.

I’m not sure patience is one of my strong points.  In fact, if you could just take a second RIGHT NOW and tell me if you think it is, I’d appreciate it.  I’m waiting.  Seriously.  Do I have to do everything myself? Right then, patience.  We’ll just cross that off the list.

This translates in a lot of ways, but mostly it means I try to do everything the fastest way possible.  This route is better than that, this cooks faster than that, and so forth.  I’m always evaluating to see if someone knows a better way so that I can do things faster.  I’m also looking at the things I have to see if they are working well (you know what I mean – FAST) enough.

I have a dilemma with our new flat-screen tv.  I’m not sure what’s happening from the time I hit the on button to the time the screen lights up but by the time it does, I’m an old lady.  Changing the channel?  Come on, I’ve invented self-painting rooms by now.  You’re killing me. But I realize, this is a ridiculous expectation.  In fact, this clip will demonstrate that perfectly:

Right, I’ll quietly settle down now.


Posted: 3 January 2010 in observations
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It’s clear that the holidays are over.  We’re both anxious to get back into a work routine and plow forward to spring.  We don’t want to do any work, but that’s a side effect of going to work and getting paid for being there.  And really, it’s not bad at all, just rollover laziness from the winter break.

Now we start the slow slide into the next semester and we’ll accelerate through til June.  In the meantime, we have a lot of cleaning up to do.


Posted: 2 January 2010 in observations
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We welcomed the new year by buying a new TV.  This is something I’ve avoided for years.  I was suckered into…I mean convinced…by my wife to get a bigger TV a few years ago since ours was all green on one side and the football players were impossible to see on the field.  Our sole qualification was bigger and functional, so we upgraded. Unfortunately, we did not have the foresight to put our money toward a flat screen.

Look, HD was still new the last time I gave in to buying a TV.

Still, she played on my desire not to have a TV at all by pushing the ‘flat is less’ philosophy.  It’s true.  I am thrilled that the new TV is so much less noticable.  I’m beyond thrilled.  It is the best thing that’s happened to me this year! Well, and if you’re going to watch TV, you might as well watch something crisp and clear.  And wow is it beautiful.

So yes, I’m joining the 20th century.  Pretty.


Posted: 29 December 2009 in observations
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Last night I dreamed I was applying to rejoin the Foreign Service.  I took a multiple choice exam and wrote an essay (in longhand, no less) and Dana Carvey graded it on the spot.  He had several comments on my essay, including several word changes.  These are common in the Foreign Service, changing things like glad to happy and back again, sometimes simply to show your mark.  Dana Carvey handed back first my essay (on which I got the ambiguous 4) and I wasn’t sure if I’d passed or not.  Then he handed back the multiple choice test and I passed with flying colors.  In my dream, I was thrilled at the chance to try for the Foreign Service again, and fairly certain I would pass the next phases of interviews.  When I woke up, I was alarmed that I would even think such a thing, asleep or not.

Since I haven’t ever thought about returning, I let my mind run over the scenario in the shower.  There have been changes, perhaps my partner and child wouldn’t be shut out of so many things.  But also, there’s my irrational fear of the language testers.  The mistreatment of officers doing management work.  The overall poor supervisory skills and the age-old customs that make this a continuing problem.  I pictured myself greeting another Head of State and the glamorous bits and pieces of traveling the world, showing my child and wife new and fantastic things, and having a salary that defies logic (for me).  I wondered if the program continued that would let me back in at my former status.  I wondered if I would care if it didn’t.

And then I got soap in my eye.  At least, something made my eyes water.

I’ve made a choice – an excellent one – and I don’t regret it one bit.  But I’d never let my mind wander like that before, to consider the very possible what-ifs.  And as much as I’ll miss the chance to give my family the world, I’m so so happy to be able to give them me.  And they wouldn’t have gotten that otherwise.