Archive for February, 2006

A Heart Warmer

Sunday, February 26th, 2006

Any fellow diehard NPR listeners out there may have heard a brief summary of the story about an autistic teenage basketball team manager whom the recently coach allowed to play with only four minutes to go, after the game was already won for the team.

I won’t spoil the ending, if you didn’t hear it. But I’ll say that the radio summary, sweet as it was, was nothing compared to this actual footage, sent later to Paul by a friend:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UBYPaNc57Ik&search=autistic%20basketball%20pl (this link is to a video segment)

Tribute to “Random Interesting Stuff”

Saturday, February 25th, 2006
I recently discovered that a high-school classmate, and former compatriot in various bands, orchestras, pep-, jazz-, and marching bands and other dramas, is a fellow blogger! At Random Interesting Stuff, he observes something of the true, orginal sense of the webblog – a log and reference to other interesting sites on the web. The following link intrigued me so much that I lifted it (added I picture, because I like to do that), and am posting it here. Thanks, K.F.
__________________________________________
Check out this neat site that lets you see how magazine
covers/models are ‘touched up,’ feature by feature.
(Click on picture)

MILESTONE ALERT!

Saturday, February 25th, 2006
Emma rolled over today!
Her Grandpa K. said that he saw her do this a few weeks ago, but we hadn’t seen it for ourselves, until today!
And she did it twice in a row from front to back!
Way to go, Baby!

Green Eggs and Clarence Thomas

Friday, February 24th, 2006


According to a recent report, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s biography is in the works and will be available in 2007. The gist of the reported story is that Thomas is delayed in producing the manuscript and that the book was supposed to have come out in 2005.

Still, Thomas’s agent, quoted in the story, displays the obligatory optimism about her charge, stating “‘there’s a lot of interes’t’ in the book and the justice. ‘He’s going to talk about everything, quite openly.'”

I wonder what “everything” means, to an agent.

I suppose it could mean his opinion on his Senate Confirmation hearings or the Anita Hill testimony, a response to that bizarre accusation involving something about a pubic hair and a coke can, or, more likely, a personal account of his life experience of growing up in poverty, only to end up with a life appointment on the highest court in the land. Who knows – maybe, if he’s feeling especially comfortable with himself, he’ll tackle the pop-culture portrayal of him as something of a judicial benchwarmer; an intellectual lightweight at best, and a Scalia-loving coat-tailer, at worst.

That’s all fine and good. I wish the agent, the publisher, and the alledgedly curious public all the best with that.

But I’ve got some real dish on Thomas that I’m sure won’t even make it into the first draft.

It’s not as sensational or headline grabbing as the ‘poor boy makes good’ or ‘judge abuses power’ narratives associated with his nomination.

But to me, it is perhaps more revealing and unsettling. I used to be horrified by the information that I am about to share. But more recently, I’ve found a way to find some amusement in it.

You see. I met Clarence Thomas one day, in 1997. And we had a little chat. But before I get to what we talked about, a little background is in order.

In the summer of 1997, I was a grad student trying to make a few extra bucks while simultaneously living out some ill-conceived bohemian adventure. Being a sucker for beautiful buildings (and workplaces near my then-boyfriend’s, Paul’s, apartment), I tried my hand at food service at “America Restuarant” in Washington DC’s beautiful Union Station on Capitol Hill. Here’s a great picture taken from inside the restaurant. It shows the location of some of the very tables I used to wait on.


There were also three four other levels of tables inside the sprawling place, plus dining areas outside. Located above a main metro line, and in a building that is, itself, a tourist detination, the clientele of the restaurant consisted primarily of tourists. Exhausted or anxious, with Wisconsin lilts or southern drawls, easy going eaters, uptight food refusers, people who walked out without paying, people who wouldn’t leave, people who thought I was a lovely young lady, and people who accused me of bigotry for not serving their food more promptly, spanish-speaking dishwashers and chinese speaking, malaysian busboys, an alcoholic waiter, a possible genius waiter, a crack-using waitress, and a young flirtatious waitress who kept flirting with me – I saw a little bit of it all in my five or so months at that place.

Oh, and the ties. I can’t forget the ties. The dress code for wait staff (I’m having vivid memories of folding cloth napkins as I write this) was: Black Pants, an apron for holding the money (and pens and credit card holders), White, button-down shirts, and a Tie. A necktie, to be more precise. The tie was the America Restaurant equivalent of the 37 pieces of flair in the movie office space. And if I, like the character in the movie, could have given someone the finger about having to wear it, believe me, I would have (if I hadn’t needed the job just then). But, anyway, as long as it was a requirement, I thought I’d have a little fun. So I selected a necktie that depicted a childrens’ story with which I had fond: Green Eggs and Ham. Here is the design that I chose:

Now, 1997 was an interesting summer to be a waiter (to use the non-gender-specific term) in D.C. You see, mayor Marion Barry had been spreading a bad vibe in the food industry just then.

It had been reported in the July issue of Washingtonian magazine that he had dined at an upscale seafood restaurant and left only a $5.00 tip on a bill of $100.00. The magazine had actually published a photo of the receipt documenting this dastardly deed, and reports of the incident were being widely repeated in the local press. In my restaurant and others, conversation about Mr. Barry turned to speculation about how the coverage of bad tipping would affect his, and other notables,’ reataurant behaviour.

It was during this time that, one day, a mananger told to me report to a table in the alcove. The alcove was an isolated part of the restaurant; a narrow, second-level galley of just a few tables – popular with those who preferred to dine in more privacy. The wife of the Maryland governor was a frequent visitor. And Steven Spielberg had dined there that summer, too. Diners in the alcove sat under the lofty spandrals of the side arches of Union Station’s grand hall. It’s architecture is just visible in the middle of the right edge of the photo, above.

By the time I arrived, the busboy and bartender were whispering “Clarence Thomas,” excitedly. I entered the alcove, and there was Justice Thomas at “my” table, all right. He was accompanied by a younger man, who seemed rather deferential. Could have been his law clerk?

I ran through the specials. But I remember that he ordered from the menu – a Shrimp Jambalaya dish. And yes, her ordered a Coke. But luckily, that pubic hair thing was not in my memory banks at the time. (Afterwards, that was all people wanted to ask about).

I hadn’t yet had the idea of applying to law school – in fact I was still waiting to hear about being hired at the National Gallery of Art. I know I would have had a different approach to him had it crossed my mind that I might ever practice law. (I did very quickly debate calling him “your honor” when I took his order, but fortunately, I settled on “Sir”). As it was, though, me being a starving art historian wannabe, and all, I was really just more interested in how in the heck this man was going to tip me, after the meal was finally over.

I can’t remember whether our little chat happened when I took the order, or sometime during the meal, or as I brought or collected the bill (he tipped at about 20%). But sometime while I was at the table, he addressed me about something other than the food, and the conversation went like this:

CT: “What is that on your tie?”

[Figures. Probably my one chance in life to have one on one conversation with a Supreme Court Justice, and the conversation is about a cartoon tie that I’m forced to wear]

Me: It’s a Green Eggs and Ham tie. From Dr. Seuss. [I may have done some filler explaining about the fact that we all had to wear ties, and that I had picked this one. I’m sure I had a “tie-spiel” down]

CT: Blank look.

Me: From the story of that name by Dr. Seuss.

CT: I must have missed that one.

Me: Theodor Geisel. The children’s author.

CT: [Shakes his head with a lack of recognition.]

At this point, I think he said something about the tie being nice or funny, and I have a vague memory of his dining guest jumping in with something at that point – probably trying to make the boss look good.

But I will never forget my shock – no, alarm! – at the realization that this man, this man who holds one of, arguably, the most powerful nine seats in our system of government, could be so out of touch with what I thought was a universal touchstone of our shared culture. I mean Dr. Seuss, for God’s sake! The man hadn’t heard of Dr. Seuss!!!

As I processed this knowledge in the next hours and days, I tried to give him some benefit of the doubt. OK, I knew that he had grown up in extreme poverty in the South. I wouldn’t expect that he had access to Dr. Seuss books then – heck, they probably weren’t even written then. I don’t know. But the man has had a child! A child who attended the Virginia Military Institute. How do you have a child born in anything near my generation and miss out on Dr. Seuss?!

The very idea of it disturbed me deeply. It hadn’t been so many years, at that time, since Bill Clinton endeared himself to the MTV crowd by indulging a question about boxers versus briefs. But here was a man who had the power to make decisions that could directly affect me, and had not the first clue about the Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, or Freaky Friday? I know it seems strange that one of the things I expect from government types is that they have heard of the same childrens’ stories I have, but the realization that he certainly hadn’t struck me as a form of benightedness that could only result in oblivious, insensitive, and – yes, even harmful, -out-of-touch judicial rulings.

My horror about his ignorance lingered with me for several years. Once I got to law school, I recounted the incident to any law professor or student who would listen. And I did the same once I finally started working as a new attorney.

But I’m an older, wiser woman now. My former co-art-historian-wanna-be, turned husband, turned part-time law student was talking in the car this morning about a judicial dissent authored by Thomas. And out of this conversation came today a whole new way of looking at the Justice’s Dr. Seuss obtuseness.

I get it now.

How did Clarence “miss out” on Dr. Seuss, do you think? Here’s how: by never being around when his son’s mother read the stuff to him.

Today, it occured to me that if his wife had been at that table and heard him say that Dr. Seuss didn’t register on the brain waves, she would have slapped her head or his arm while rolling her eyes and blurting out something along the lines of “Jesus, Clarence! There you go making us look stupid again!”

Have I grown that jaded, that cynical about what I expect people to know, in general?

Whatever the reason, I no longer really care if the CT knows about Dr. Seuss or not. I now get a lot more pleasure simply imagining what his wife must think of being married to such an apparently sheltered guy.

What if, every time he writes a legal opinion that leaves the legal community scratching its head, she’s like, “LOOK, DODO, STOP EMBARRASSING ME!”

When commentators recently pointed out that Thomas has never, in a single opinion, addressed the Equal Protection Clause, did she make him sleep on the couch for a week? When his jurisprudence is called “rigid,” does he have to take her turn at doing the litter box?

I guess I’ll never know. I’m sure that won’t be in the memoirs, either, no matter if he does have until 2007 to finish them.

But I guess I do know just a little more than “everything.”

Because I know that the guy was stumped by Green Eggs and Ham.

Penance Interrupted

Thursday, February 23rd, 2006

OK, I’ve been feeling like a Schlub. I think I took a minor Karma hit for posting my little poll, below. According to a definition available online, “political incorrectness” means:

the use of expressions or actions that can be perceived to exclude or marginalize or insult groups who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against

And if my poll was perceived (because anyone who knows me knows I wouldn’t mean it in this way) to insult socially disadvantaged groups, then, mea culpa. I apologize.

In order to restore my social-ethical standing in the community, I thought about what I could do to redeem myself for my possibly insensitive post.

I decided that it would be a nice gesture to make a small donation to an Ice Skating organization, so that young people of any persuasion can get support in pursuing their love of that unique form of art – the ice dance.

And so I started my search for a proper recipient of my charitable intention. I didn’t find many organizations that accepted donations. Several of the sites seemed to be linked to skating trade organizations or skating apparel sales companies.

I finally ended up at that U.S. Figure Skating website. And – Perfect! They not only accept donations, but also provide an online link permitting donations to the “Memorial Fund” intended to

provide qualified U.S. Figure Skating skaters in need of financial aid with monetary assistance to pursue their goals both inside and outside the competitive arena. The fund is committed to awarding skating and academic scholarships to those athletes who have demonstrated excellent competitive results and/or academic achievements and who have future potential in national and international competitions. . . . [and to] help fulfill the dreams of young figure skaters across the country.


Just what I had in mind to support! And just the perfect way to assuage any half-hearted and/or repressed guilt I may have had about possibly disparaging any particular former, current, or future Olympic skaters. So I filled out the donation form. I even entered my credit card information. And, feeling proud of myself, I clicked the submit button.

And for my efforts, I received the following message, in red text:

The minimum donation amount is $50!

Hmmm. . .

Well, I’m not that worried about my Karma. . .


So, uh, I’ll just get back to my regularly scheduled activities, then. Okey dokey.

 

I mean, I could have pursued the idea of the penance thing by sighing up for a $25 membership to the International Gay Figure Skating Union , but I have baby doctor bills to pay, yo! And what good would my little $25 do there, anyway. Sir Elton John is already supporting many of the athletes likely to participate in this group. And I understand that gentleman to be a generous spender. (A 1999 report cited his average $400,000 per month credit card bill).

So instead, I’ll keep my little money, and just enjoy this free (and fabulous) poster for the “Fabulous Cup 2005,” and hopefully, we can all leave it at that.

Politically Incorrect Poll

Friday, February 17th, 2006

Last week, U.S. Olympic Figure Skating Team Member, Johnny Weir, stated that he is “Princessy” as far as travel is concerned and that the “underdecorated” Olympic Village is not to his liking. With the exception of the inestimable Rudy Galindo, I haven’t given the topic of the sexual orientation of Male Figure Skaters much thought – until this year, that is. For some reason, it’s now all I can think about as I’m watching the performances. Well, OK, I also admire the performances and do my own home-judging about the skaters’ athleticism, skill, and program execution. But I’ve also just been wondering, this week, whether it’s true, or not, as skating judge Jon Jackson has said, that figure skating is the “gayest sport in America.” I know, I know. This is a terribly petty and reproachable curiosity. What can I say. I’m a perverse voyeur. I’ll take my chances with Karma. And now you can weigh in anonymously and TAKE MY POLL!!

(Although I update it when I visit, the poll box below doesn’t automatically sync with the current tally. So after you vote [or even if you don’t], click on the “Click here to view current results” to see them. OR, you can go straight to the poll’s page at this link.)

Kelly’s Politically Incorrect Winter Olympics Poll When Watching Male Figure Skaters Perform, Do You Find Yourself Wondering About Their Sexual Orientation?
¬† Of COURSE! I mean all the sequins and the glitter…?!

 
1
  Uh, NO РWhat kind of a weirdo question is this, anyway

 
0
¬† It may have crossed my mind in the past, but I don’t focus on it

 
1
  The solo male skaters, sure, but not the guys who dance in a pair with a woman

 
4
¬† Who Cares!? Can’t we just all get along?!

 
2
  This Poll by kskuglitsch
Click here to view current results

Good Things

Thursday, February 16th, 2006

Emma turned 6 months old yesterday, and is feeling much better, now that most of her winter coughs are behind her. Besides smiling at Mommy and Daddy when they come into the room or tickle or play with her, she has three favorite things these days:

  • CATS. She coos and stares when Jimmy or Minnie are anywhere around. She likes it when Mommy helps her to pet their fur nicely. And the cats like that too, because an unassisted baby pet is really just a strong little hand reaching into fur, making a fist, and pulling;
  • RASPBERRYS. The sound she makes with her mouth at the end of a squeal, not the fruit; and
  • SWEET POTATOS. The vegetable.

Top10 Things Jim, the Cat, Hates:

Sunday, February 12th, 2006


10. The neighbor’s Great Dane


9. Having to come inside after eating grass in the yard

8. Seeing Minnie, the cat, play with his catnip Trout toy


7. “The Claw” – a cruel little game Paul plays with him


6. Thunder


5. The spray bottle full of water


4. Empty blister packs


3. (newest fear) The dropper for the Baby Tylenol (he really hates this one now; not sure how that happened)


2. The smell of any citrus

And the number one thing hated by Jimmy the Cat, who will run out of the room if he even thinks he may encounter it, is…


1. The smell or sight of toothpaste, the toothpaste tube, or anything associated with these (including seeing any human swishing liquid in his or her mouth)

My Little Musician

Tuesday, February 7th, 2006


It was a long day today.

Work has been crazy.

I received and responded to the last office e-mail on my blackberry last night at 10:35, and my boss copied me on some more shortly after 6:00 a.m. I was up early to prepare to travel with him to a meeting with a client, at their offices. Still didn’t get to my office with as much time to spare as I had hoped, though, due to Emma needing extra comforting time this morning and traffic.

On the freeway, I was reading more e-mail and making a related phone call. Once at the office, I had just enough time to delegate a project to a first-year attorney (praying inside that what he would be able to produce would be useable to help me meet my Friday deadline).

We traveled to the client meeting, where I was assigned several additional tasks, and stayed for lunch and chit chat with several people from that company. Then back to the office, where we arrived at 2:00.

I tried to make some small steps of progress toward my many impending obligations, but while responding to e-mails from the morning away, I mostly occupied a zone of tiredness and feeling sorry for myself for having so much work to do, for having a cold of my own, and for having a baby who’s had one for five weeks and who hasn’t been her usual smiley self in recent days. (And feeling like a schmo for feeling sorry for myself.)

And then, at last, it was time for me to leave to pick her up.

And how do you think this tired, taxing day ended? In a way I would not have been able to predict.


As I placed Emma in the back of the car in her car seat, she was a little fussy. To distract her from her malaise, I handed her the little toy we’d packed to go to daycare today: a big blue “key” with a clear, raised section with little balls inside. When the raised section is pressed, the thing makes one of four, fairly loud sounds: excerpts from the songs “The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round,” “Camptown Ladies,” and the two-syllable sound effects of a doorbell and a car horn, respectively. If the button is pushed before a particular sound has completed its play, the new sound cuts short and replaces the previous sound. This results in the little toy being able to produce an infinite symphony of different combinations of tinkle-y tunes.

She likes to manipulate and turn the thing in her hands. And sometimes she pushes the music maker.

As I started driving down the road, I smiled when I heard a noise from the key. I knew then that she hadn’t dropped it yet, and – Yay! – that she had managed to push the “tummy” of the thing. And then the next sound emanated from the back of the car. And then the next. And the next. And on and on it went. My little musician had, for a few minutes, mastered her instrument, and serenaded me with a string of beeps and bells on the drive home. The plastic blue thing with a face was, briefly, a baby’s Stadivarius. The longer it lasted, the more my worries of the day faded and lost their grip on me. Finally, there was silence – followed sometime later by a brief but skillful reprise. And then silence, again, as we neared home.

It was must have been tiring to put on such a lovely concert. I discovered when I got her into the house not only that the final silence had resulted from the musician’s slumbers – but also that she was still holding the key.

Oh, by the way…

Monday, February 6th, 2006