Chattering Magpie Past Web Log
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August 2003
Aug 30 2003
It seemed like a good idea at the time.
I got stupid last night. I got stupid and I'm paying for it now.

E took me out for a nice dinner, the occasion being pay day, as if he needs a reason. I had a smoky martini before dinner. With dinner we had a nice bottle of red wine. When we got home I had a short shot of vodka. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

I didn't feel too bad this morning, slight headache, a tad queasy, nothing to keep me from going to kung fu school. I started out with a little "wax on, wax off" training - sweeping out the studio and cleaning the mirrors. My hangover got progressively worse. I practiced backward rolls on the mat. I managed to pull something or pinch something over my left scapula, I don't know what. But it hurt. My head hurt. My stomach hurt. I couldn't train and I certainly couldn't go spar. I was afraid I'd throw up on someone. So I came home and slept. I'm a little better now.

Ow.

Aug 29 2003
No voucher left behind.
According to my sifu, who is a 4th grade teacher at one of the lesser-funded schools in the metro area, schools are facing a new federal (unfunded, naturally) mandate under Dubya's "No Child Left Behind" initiative. Schools employing teachers licensed in other states, not licensed in the school's state (often just a matter of pushing through the paperwork) must send letters to all the parents declaring that teacher as "unqualified." Schools are under no obligation to subsequently inform parents said teacher is now "qualified" once they are licensed in the school's state.

I can see no good purpose to this. It will just scare the crap out of parents. What's the real motivation? To undermine confidence in the public school system. To increase public acceptance of and desire for school vouchers. School vouchers to help pay for private schools. Private schools that are not required to hire teachers licensed by any state.

Irony. It's what's for dinner.

Aug 26 2003
It's working.
I'm down 5lbs. That's good. This diet thing is working out okay. My diet secret? Weird Japanese snacks: dried squid, toasted seaweed, dried salty plums. I actually like this stuff. I'm counting on it being lo-cal.

Aug 24 2003
The kids are alright.
E, the niece & nephew, and a couple of their college friends are back from a road trip up the Gorge to see Ben Harper and Jack Johnson. I guess E was supposed to be the "responsible adult" on the trip. I could have gone, but I don't much like road trips. Instead I stayed home, ate Thai food and watched another Johnny Depp movie. *sigh* He's the only man I've seen who can get away with that hideous little "soul patch" bit of facial hair under the lip. Everyone else should just shave theirs off. Especially if they're over 36 and grey hairs are starting to come in.

Aug 22 2003
Ravages of old age.
The cats must be getting senile. What is with peeing half in, half outside the box? And cat poo on the carpet? Not acceptable.

I've been thinking, lately, about the proper business of government. I 've been pondering this topic in light of Bush administration actions: attempting to undermine the postal service, cutting hardship and family separation payments for military families, etc. etc.

The proper business of government is infrastructure. The proper business of government is the development and maintenance of that which is necessary for private business to operate, which is not practical for private business to manage itself, that which allows a civilized nation and its citizens to thrive. Roads, bridges, railways, ports, schools, an energy grid, a free and independent judiciary, law makers and law enforcers, firefighters, jails and prisons, a postal service. These are not profit-making enterprises, yet are essential for private business to make a profit. Can you imagine what life would be like if all this were privatized? Neal Stephenson has.

Aug 19 2003
odometer
My trusty 1993 Saturn SL1 has just passed the 100,000 mile mark. It took some doing to time the turnover to occur on a safe side street so I could watch it.

As the worm turns. I've been bombarded this morning by e-mails from people I do not know, people who in all likelihood have no idea their computers have been hijacked for nefarious purposes. The e-mails are coming two, three, seven at a time, all with attachments. My Norton AntiVirus alerts me as to their lethal payload.

The particular worm is W32.Sobig.F@mm. Details here. It is a mass-mailing worm that makes copies of itself to send out. It also sets up your computer as a spam relay, so that you look like a purveyor of off-prescription Viagara, hot & horny housewives and various get-rich-quick-with-no-money-down-by-convincing-other-suckers-to-join-our-Ponzi-scheme opportunities.

One thing is making me nervous though. I am also receiving returned undeliverable e-mails from mail daemons, which suggests that my address is being spoofed. I can find no evidence of the actual worm on my system.

Aug 14 2003
Preparations are under way.
Just as we are back from PAWMA camp, it is time to get ready for Mo Duk Pai camp, a month and a half away. My part, as webmaster of the MDP web site, is to put up all the pertinent information - registration, schedule, directions, etc. There's also a contest for this year's camp t-shirt. The only reward is glory, but that's good enough for me. I've been spending the better part of my afternoon working up a design. Luckily, as webmaster, I have access to originals of all the great photos we've taken in the course of testing and other events. I'm sure a certain black belt will be happy to know I filled in his bald spot.

Aug 11 2003
Who wants a Biscuit?
This weekend we saw Seabiscuit, the over-hyped feel-good movie of the year. No really, I liked it, very much. It's just that the airwaves were saturated with ads for what seems like months. That sort of thing can ruin a movie as much as help it.

Seabiscuit was very well crafted, but they got one detail wrong. Watching the scene where the doctor refers to the x-ray of Red Pollard's broken leg, several weeks after the fateful accident, E mutters: that's the wrong x-ray. It didn't show expected calcification of bone healing and it didn't show nearly enough fractures as Pollard's injury was described earlier. As if anyone other than someone in Radiology would even notice.

I have been kvetching and moaning so much lately about my weight and shape, I've finally settled down to do something about it. I'm back on the Nordic Track; thankfully it doesn't stress my knees. I'm also putting into practice the principles outlined in Dr Shapiro's Picture Perfect Weight Loss. This book is aimed at educating the "dieter" about her food choices through pictures, so she can make lower calorie choices and not feel deprived. It's often quite surprising, how many calories are really in the foods we eat. Already I'm down a few pounds from my high point. If this goes well, I might reinstitute the weight thermometer that I gave up over a year ago.

The thing about me and weight loss is I have to get myself into the right mental space. I have to be "good and ready". Unfortunately, that means the people around me have to endure my whining for months beforehand.

PAWMA pictures are up. See my blobby body. (See what I mean about the whining?)

Aug 06 2003
Post-PAWMA blues.
After four days of martial arts training with the women of Pacific Association of Women Martial Artists, coming back to normal life is a bit of a let down. Now I'm all hyped up about my training.

One thing I really looked forward to, and was not disappointed, was open sparring. In previous years open sparring was for advanced ranks only, but now that I've finally gotten there, it's opened up to all levels. Luckily, it was mostly upper ranks fighting. I got to match my skills against Tae kwan do black belts in a friendly forum. A couple people complimented my timing. Did you hear that, Sifu?

A definite highlight came for me on the last day, at the last class. I participated in a Tai chi class given by Madame Gao, an 87-year old Tai chi master who only began her training when she retired at age 55. She instructed us on harmonizing our external movements with internal ch'i. We practiced moving our arms and focused on moving our internal energy as she walked around the class observing. Madam Gao stood in front of me for a moment, nodded her head and said, "Good."

This year's PAWMA injury? I cut my finger trying to open a beer bottle of the non-twist top variety by using my key chain caribiner. All I succeeded in doing was breaking the seal.

This year's PAWMA discovery? I like Mexican food! We arrived too late Friday for dinner, so we drove to a nearby tacqueria. We walked in and it hit me. This smells good! I had tongue taco, much to the revulsion of my vegetarian compatriots.