succumbing to peer pressure

Saturday, June 20, 2009


Finished The Eyre Affair - thoroughly, nerdly, satisfying - and Daughters of the North:
My name is Sister. I am second in council to the Carhullan Army. I do not recognise the jurisdiction of this government.
I honestly can't remember if I added this to my kindle collection because it was part of the free sci-fi novel promotional thing Amazon was doing or because it was recommended somewhere else. But however I stumbled upon it, I'm certainly glad I did. Hall deserves her comparisons to Margaret Atwood, and she is similarly prescient, terrifying, challenging, and upsetting. Well worth a read at any time, but especially worthwhile the way things are going these days. (note - I'm not suggesting we're inevitably headed down the road to apocalypse, rather that Hall, like all good writers of dystopian stories, carries events vaguely resembling present day to an extreme, but internally logical, conclusion.)

Now on to Without You, Anthony Rapp's memoir. Because I'm also geeky like that. This one, for a change of pace, a real book, not a kindle-ized one. Saving up the kindle reading for my upcoming trip to COLOMBIA! Yes, you read that correctly.

My City

Finally finding some time to get out and explore. Last weekend I spent a big Sunday afternoon walking through Golden Gate park, nearly end to end! Found the buffalos, then stopped by the Haight Street Fair and picked up the perfect Father's Day gift at Amoeba Records. Thursday, after my poor intern had a bit of a travel meltdown (she confused am and pm on her plane ticket) she and I and a friend of A's went for a long walk exploring Beuna Vista and Corona Heights parks, among other sites, via a walking tour from Stairway Walks in San Francisco. After a tasty dinner of salad and pizza at Chow we decided we'd had enough walking for the day and hailed cab home. Our driver shared his story - one brother killed in Algeria, fleeing to Mexico once his own life was threatened, getting caught crossing the border into the States, but that working out as he was finally granted asylum, and losing a sister to totally treatable infection back in Algeria a few years ago. It's entirely possible that this was a fabricated story to generate higher tips (in which case it worked) but I prefer to believe that it's true, and use it to remind me to be exceptionally good at my job.

Intern left before dawn the following morning for her newly modified flight, and I attempted to work (playing the waiting game since specific coworkers sharing this project with me are on vacation until Monday), joined a gym (though all the walking up hills and stairs seems to be doing the trick so far), grocery shopped, and managed to get a bit of work done at Blue Danube Coffee House (there's something entertaining about hearing my order for Vietnamese drip coffee passed down the line in Spanish).

Today was spent shopping in Hayes Valley. Although I now have the disposable income to not be intimidated shopping in trendy boutiques, I couldn't help thinking, Just because I have money doesn't mean I'm stupid. I'm content to drop some large chunks of change for genuinely higher quality articles of clothing, things I will wear over and over again, use to impress bosses and potential funders, clothing that will last for years. I'll even consider parting with a large-ish sum at places like Lemon Twist, where hubby runs the front of the house and wife designs and hand sews all the clothes and there's loose fabric and sewing machines in the back where they'll make alterations on the spot. But I'll be damned if I'm going to be hoodwinked into paying top dollar for mediocre t-shirts just because they're being hocked at a boutique.

It was while indulging in my second glass of wine that I crossed some threshold into feeling at home here. I was sitting in a cafe across the street from my bus stop, enjoying the fact that I could indulge in this second glass because I had a sober ride home, knowing that I knew which bus I needed, which stop I needed, etc. This is my new home. And it's pretty awesome.

That's not to say that this whole life change hasn't been throwing me into panic attacks. Because honestly, it has. All things considered, life may be pretty dreamy right now, but it's also overwhelming and a little agoraphobia-inducing (though there needs to be a more precise word for this). What's throwing me for a loop is that this is the first time, ever, in my life, that there isn't an end goal in sight. I may have spent several years in college and grad school, potentially even more years than I'll spend here (who knows what the future holds?) but school always had a finish line. It may have been far away, but there was structure to it. This...this is all there is. There's getting up every morning and going to work, ad infinitum. Sure, work contains projects with structure and endings, but work and life here doesn't. Sure, seeing the future stretch out in endless possibility is exhilarating (I know, oh woe is me) but it's also terrifying. So I'm just saying. Lot's of time spent meditating and trying to give myself permission to feel overwhelmed and scared. So far that's been working out pretty ok.

Friday, June 19, 2009

So. Awesome.
(via Ezra)

Dear company holding my health savings account,

Please update your acceptable occupations list. Forcing someone with a PhD in statistics to select 'data entry clerk' is seriously insulting. Also, why 'house husband' and not simply 'homemaker'? Are stay-at-home wives supposed to select house husband?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Whole World is Watching

It may have taken 40 years, but it does indeed seem like a large chunk of the world is paying attention. As Maddow said on her show tonight, the revolution will be digitized. Seems the ubiquity of bits of technology that can take photo or video and connect to the web has finally leveled the playing field that started to tilt with television. The question is, what will we do?

Monday, June 15, 2009

A series of tubes

I have been extremely hesitant to convert to online bill pay. I know all the cool kids are doing it, and I'm hardly anti-technology. But I just don't get warm fuzzies about putting my bank account information in multiple places on the web. And security aside, I'm also not crazy about giving utility companies and other bill collectors (a group not exactly known for accuracy or willingness to refund) a direct siphon into my checking account. But lately I've been getting dinged for being old fashioned - one credit card bill was lost in the mail getting to me, so I was penalized 300% the following month for being one month behind (this happened in the midst of defending/apartment hunting/moving so I wasn't exactly on top of my billing cycles enough to notice the missing bill). Then another check took 10 days to get from me to the credit card company, so now I've got two months of finance charges before I prove myself a prompt customer again.

So what do you think peanut gallery? Is the risk associated with the US postal service now greater than the risk of online security? Am I just being paranoid? Should I make the jump to the 21st century?

I've also considered converting most of my online payments to one credit card (one with pretty good fraud protections) and then paying that one bill via the mail. But it seems to be my credit cards (shocker) that are causing all the mail problems, not my utilities, so I'm not sure this alternative solution really gets me anywhere...