Friday, September 11, 2009

What 9/11 was like for me

I've seen a lot of this on twitter and I don't think 140 characters is enough. I'm doing this, mostly, for my daughter. One day soon she's going to ask us to explain...

The morning of Sept. 11, 2001 - we were late for work. I first heard the news from a central Illinois radio station that a plane hit one of the World Trade Center towers. The initial report was a cessna. By the time I got my office, the 2nd plane had hit and everyone's relatives had already called to say "did you hear..."

In our office, we didn't have access to live tv, and trying to get or to load was damn near impossible. We were able to find an internet radio station where the DJ was watching CNN and giving his audience the play-by-play. I saw only a fraction of the images that day. But very quickly, the rumors started. I remember, vividly, one of our faculty walking into the office to say, very matter-0f-fact, the mall in Washington was on fire. While this provide to be untrue, it was hours before we had a confirmation that the Pentagon, indeed, was hit. Compounding all of this: we had a faculty member flying home that morning from Maine. Which meant he was going through Logan. And we had no clue what flight he was on and no way of getting a hold of him. He was on a flight that ended up diverted and it took him several days to get back to us. For some, that made it personal, for others, it was distraction to stop from thinking about all the other strangers that we knew to be dead.

Shortly before 11am I remember thinking about my family in Chicago. My mom worked downtown and my father-in-law worked in the Sears Tower. In fact, before he retired from WTTW, that big white antenna on the left, that was his. Knowing that he had health problems and would feel it his duty to stay in the tower to make sure they kept broadcasting, the news that they were evacuating downtown Chicago didn't help my anxiety. Again, all rumors that later proved untrue, but at the time, we didn't know how to separate what was true and what was not.

And that's how my day went. By the end, we were fatigued from trying to gather the news. My husband and I attended a class that night, which proved to be a blessed distraction. When we finally got home around 9:30pm, we looked up in the sky. It was eerie knowing nothing was up there; positively chilling not knowing what the state of the world would be when we woke up the next morning.

The next morning - well, we headed for the hospital and I gave birth to my daughter by 4:26 that afternoon. 2 1/2 weeks early, but hey, we were thankful she was healthy. The TV was never turned on when we got home on 9/11 and stayed off for about 2 weeks. In the hospital that night, we watched a movie (Wrath of Khan), because there was no way we were turning on the news. We didn't think anything else could happen that would be worse than what occurred the day before. I never saw the images of that day played over and over again and to this day, never have. I've seen a few still pictures, but that's all. The descriptions I've read from people in NY that gorgeous Tuesday morning paint a vivid picture. My daughter does not have a scrapbook from the day she was born. The headline from the day I was born was about bombing in Vietnam and peace talks. I couldn't bring myself to cut out a headline that said "Towers fall, 3,000 dead."

To this day, when people realize not just that her birthday is 9/12, but the year of which she was born, they get a sad smile on their face and shake their heads. I don't know how to handle that because of the despair I feel. In the childbirth class the night before my daughter was born, you could not only feel the tension, but feel the anger and sadness. 9/11 was a demarcation of the world before and the world after. Our children, who were about to be born, would never live in a world where 19 men didn't use commercial airlines filled with people to make such a horrifying statement.

Now, 8 years later with her birthday a day away, she's in 2nd grade and probably about to learn, at least the basics of why the day before her birthday is called Patriot Day. And her father and I have some explaining to do.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

How to best pay for TV...

So, I posted a question on twitter via #lazyweb - if anyone had experience with Apple TV and what their thoughts were on paying for tv shows? After I sent it, I thought I'd probably should clarify the reasons behind the question.

We've recently moved into an apartment from a house. Our tv service at the house is through a satellite company. We've been happy with the service, good picture, we get all the channels we want and we don't pay enormous amounts of money each month for the "privilege."

Our apartment landlord gave us a blanket "no we don't allow dishes" when we asked about tv service (more on that later), so I tried to deal with the local cable company for internet and tv. Bad idea. As for as internet goes, I'm not paying a company $100 to attach two jumpers together and not even bother to call me to tell me it's done (especially, since I've sat at home ALL DAY, and waited for them to show up). And since the CSA couldn't even explain to me what the "installation" fee was for beyond "they install what they need to," I decided to look elsewhere for internet. That left tv.

Granted - my household doesn't watch much "live" tv. While my 8 year old as seen every Spongebob episode and is now getting into iCarly, we don't need tv service just for those shows. The local news (and by extension, local weather), football and the Oscars. That's about what I really can't get in another tv form (dvd sets, hulu, downloads, etc.). BUT there are two stations that I really really REALLY don't want to be without - SciFi and BBCAmerica. Yes, I know SciFi changed their name - but I refuse to call my favorite channel something that rhymes with a venereal disease. Getting back to my point. The package that I picked out - you know, that "introductory" priced type package - didn't have those two channels in it. And because the upgraded package wasn't "on sale," I would pay over $100 a month for tv. AFTER installation fees. That is beyond my point of reason.

In the meantime, hubby discovered the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and subsequent ruling of 1999. Which states, in it's most simplistic form, a landlord cannot deny you a dish if you follow some simple rules. For apartment dwellers, you cannot connect a dish to their structure (or roof), you can't place it in a common area, you can't put it out on the fire escape. Our new place - well, we're on the 4th floor and have a private balcony that faces west. PERFECT! We can pop that puppy on a pole stuck in a cement filled flowerpot, place it on our balcony and off we go. Except that we still have to deal with a satellite company that isn't really interested in just letting us do all the work. In subsequent communications with them, they've shown a distinct lack of understanding that no, we don't want to call you to schedule an appointment for your installers to come out. We're trying to avoid that. We just want to get the correct dish (1 meter or less across) and install it ourselves. Hubby, he was 1st in Navy A-school, this would not be a problem for him.

So - that leads me to my twitter question. If I'm going to be paying for tv, doing it in as stress-free a way as possible holds quite an appeal to me. I don't like dealing with companies who sole purpose seems to charging me so they can put up as many roadblocks as possible. Having been a CSA, I understand that many of these corporations give their first line of customer service employees the least amount of power to deviate from the script sitting in front of them. And really, me, I'm ALWAYS the exception to the rule. Believe me, I don't try to be, but those already prepared flow charts NEVER EVER work for my situation. And for once, I'd like to deal with a company that acknowledges that without having to spend 8 hours talking to 4 different 1st level reps. But that's a personal issue. Back on point - ordering an Apple TV appliance and using iTunes (which I do already for my Nano), might not get me my Bears games, but hey - I get the play by play on my radio and that just might be good enough.

Monday, August 24, 2009

What every girl wants for her birthday

princessbooboo - what do you want for your birthday?

I don't know mom, maybe some Barbie stuff, yes, I need some more boy Barbies. The girls are fighting over the 3 boys I have.

Can't argue with logic

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

[FS] 1990 Toyota Camry, Great Gas Mileage

[FS] - 1990 Toyota Camry, 4 dr, blue.

Rusty but trusty - averages 32 to 34 mpg per tank


Monday, July 6, 2009

Movies to See Before You Die

I read an article in Entertainment Weekly that talked about a blog post from Will Ferrell and Adam McKay about the 14 movies you must watch before you die. The list was good, eclectic - but not radically so. And since all it takes is for one (or in this case, two) opinionated blogger to start a list war, I thought I'd through in my 1/2 a cent.

2zen2's 14 movies you must see before you die:

1. Spirited Away
2. John Carpenter's The Thing
3. Cinema Paradiso
4. Star Wars, Episode IV - A New Hope
5. Star Trek II, Wrath of Khan
6. Serenity
7. Bull Durham
8. The Godfather
9. The Bicycle Thief
10. A Christmas Story
11. Red Sorgum
12. The Matrix
13. Finding Nemo
14. Auntie Mame

And the runner's up are: Cabaret, Across the Universe, How to Marry a Millionaire, Apocalypse Now, Nosferatu, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Princess Mononoke, Casino, and History of the World, Part I.

Friday, June 26, 2009

decided to try this thing, so how it works. :)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Answers for my Daughter

Since Mother's Day is upon us, there's all sorts of "appreciate your mom" articles in the press. One interesting article is this one: "Ten questions to ask your mother." The article, which I found on CNN, really got me thinking about what how I approach being a mom. So, I thought I'd answer the questions for boo, since she isn't really old enough to ask - or even care - about the answers. I also recognize that my answers today, when she's 7, will be different in a few years, when she's 17. But that's OK - this is a point in time reference that I don't have from my mom, but wish I did.

1. What's the one thing you would have done differently as a mom?

2 things - not hover as much and trusted my instincts more during those first few weeks. I was so paranoid when we first brought you home that I didn't even want to take you outside. As far as hovering goes, we went to the park this past weekend with your cousins. I sat on the bench while you, Haley and Jacob played on the equipment. I watched Jacob climb and slide and have a great time. He also made some great choices about not doing things because he realized he couldn't do it. Sitting there, I also observed all these other parents hovering over the kids who were Jacob's age and older. The parents were making the decisions for the kids, telling them what to do and what not to do. This is what I did for you when you were younger. I hope and pray that it doesn't negatively effect your decision making skills. You need to trust yourself.

2. Why did you choose to be with my father?

Because he's smart and funny and larger than life and really really good looking. Plus, he's a great kisser. TMI? May be - but you''ll discover there's a LOT of people out there. And the one you want to spend the rest of your life with should be as smart as you, have the ability to make you laugh when you don't want to, should make your heart flutter when you see him down the hall, and make other things flutter when he kisses you. Love is important, but trust is what allows the long haul. You'll make plenty of mistakes, think you've found "the one" before you actually do. I'll let you in on a little secret. The difference between the guys I was serious about before your dad and your dad: I thought too hard about those other guys, I THOUGHT they were the one; I didn't have to think that about your dad, I just knew.

3. In what ways do you think I'm like you?

The way you accept everyone at face value, how you get indignant when confronted with a rule breaker, your mood swings, how you want to help everyone you meet, how you think nothing of giving your friend half your sandwich because she didn't have anything, no matter what the reason is for her not having any food. I hope you don't ever change these things. Well, the mood swings are probably only going to get worse - but we'll deal.

4. Which one of us kids did you like the best?

This is one of the reasons you're an only child. :)

5. Is there anything you have always wanted to tell me but never have?

Not yet. There will be plenty of things for me to tell you when you get older. Right now - be a kid and enjoy it.

6. Do you think it's easier or harder to be a mother now than when you were raising our family?

I'm going to change this question around - do I think it's easier or harder to be a mother than when my mother was raising me.

I have a different set of problems and issues to worry about. I long for the Saturday when you say, "bye mom, see you tonight," and off you go on your bike for an adventure. I was doing that at your age. You won't be able to do that until your mid-teens. Our society as made it impossible to leave kids alone to wander around on their own. I'm sad that you won't be able to experience some of things I or your dad did when we were on our own, exploring our community.

7. Is there anything you regret not having asked your parents?

Loaded question, this one is. I guess I would like to know what they thought I would be like as an adult. Not sure they could answer that. Then again, I might not like the answer.

8. What's the best thing I can do for you right now?

You can just be a kid and learn as much as possible. NEVER, EVER let anyone tell you 1. you can't do that or 2. being smart isn't cool. There's a world I will never know because a number of the adults in my life were negative as opposed to positive about my abilities. You're smart and you know what your limits are. Believe in yourself and you'll do just fine.

9. Is there anything that you wish had been different between us -- or that you would still like to change?

Not really - you're the best kid we could ever have hoped to have.

10. When did you realize you were no longer a child?

When I realized I could run the household as well as anyone. I think I was about 9. But that's a conversation for another time.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Chris Cornell Rocked the Riv! #Chris Cornell Review

Live Review
The what: Chris Cornell
At the where: Rivera Theater, Chicago
How about a when: Sunday, April 19, 7:30pm
But did they rock?: I'll remember this for a good long time*

Chris Cornell and company took the stage at the very unrockstarish hour of 8:45pm. With the band playing teaser, he sauntered out and blasted "Part of Me," complete with video game intro, from his latest release Scream. I have a mini-review of the album below because that's just a different subject altogether; but let's just say he couldn't have picked a better freakin' song to start the show with. Live, the song turns into a rockin' anthem for anyone who's been dissed. And the crowd, screaming, singing, and cheering, felt Cornell's pain and responded with their own. If you expected the synth/keyboard-heavy atmosphere of the album, nope, sorry, not on the menu that rainy Sunday night. There wasn't a keyboard nor a drum machine in sight. What we were assaulted with were two fabulous guitarists (each with their own style - heavy metal and blues-based), a bass player who's rhythm was as beautiful as technical, and a drummer with a smallish kit, some bells and whistles, who propelled the group forward and didn't let them look back. Not that this group wanted to. They formed a cohesive wall, the safe place, around the singer and let Cornell do what he's best at. For any musician, this is their job - what they do for a living, but this crew had a blast on stage in Chicago and it showed.

Cornell and band played for over an hour and 45 minutes. The show was a great mix of new stuff (surprise - the band rocked these songs), Audioslave and a Soundgarden gem or two (missing "Black Hole Sun" because of curfew?). "Watch Out" and "Scream" were added to the aforementioned "Part of Me." While you could recognize the songs from "Scream," the band rocked them up so the live versions only slightly resembled their digital conterparts. His standard cover song - Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" - is almost unrecognizable when Cornell turned it into a smokey, blues-infused number that languished around his vocals. Cornell did a solo acoustic set that consisted of a mix of songs from the 3 stages of his career. It was just the right break needed - him and his guitar. His voice, so distinct and pitch perfect kept the crowd energized through the quiet set. And using his phone to film us, the audience, singing Temple of the Dog's "Hunger Strike" - Brilliant! *I don't have to remember what a great show this was - Chris was kind enough to upload his little bit to YouTube. I'm with the big guy in the center.

Cornell and the band worked hard at providing us with a great show and the payoff was blast to experience. I look forward to seeing him again.

Album Review
The what: Scream
The who: Chris Cornell, produced by Timbaland

So - the jokes on us. The album, while not a stunning masterpiece, brings together painful emotion, restrained musicianship, and hypnotic beats. I will admit, I was exposed to the negative comments before I even downloaded the album (which, came free with my purchase of tickets to the show - can I say, great idea. Thanks Chris!). A cursory listen (cycled through the first few seconds of each song) just soured in my ears. But I added the whole album to my nano and promptly forgot about it. That is, until the songs started shuffling in to my playlist. I could recognize a Scream song the minute it came on. "Well, OK," I mumbled to myself after a few listens, "not as bad as everyone says. Deserves proper sit-down," I ask? The answer came back a resounding yes, because the more I listened, the more layers I heard, the more emotions exposed, and the more I appreciated the non-traditional/experimental instrumentation of Scream. Realization of loss is the theme that resonates throughout the album. While the music is heavily produced, synthesized, unified, glorified, it doesn't overpower the lyrics - the emotional baggage is front and center throughout the whole album. A few days after the show (when my ears stopped bleeding), I just played the whole album, front to back. Here are my impressions:

"Part of Me" - such a difference, digital to live, but the raw emotion is there, laid bare, wrapped up in pretty electronic beats.
"Time" - thicker beat, more lyrical pain, guitar-laced undercurrent.
"Sweet Revenge" - again - a song you can feel Timbaland's influence on. Interesting effects on the vocals.
"Get Up" - the complete marriage of all that is experimental on this album - music, vocals, lyrics, and style.
"Ground Zero" - danceable, a track you'd expect to hear on a Friday night out to the clubs.
"Never Far Away" - more of a rocker, but you can still feel the over production on the instruments. Cornell often experiments with different styles (vocal and musical) within the same song. It provides interesting results like the last few seconds of NFA.
"Take Me Alive" - starts with a soft beat, accentuated with a middle eastern-flavored rhythm. Again, the personal lyrics help create the atmosphere, but you still expect that burst of energy that is never allowed to be unleashed.
"Long Gone" - layered vocals and more of the restrained, 2-dimensional instrumentation. Cornell's voice is the focal point here.
"Scream" - restrained, focused, an accumulation of emotion and sound. You sit there and wait for the release, the in your face, but it never comes. There's just melody and longing and regret.
"Enemy" - more of Timbaland's electronic drums and hypnotic beats.
"Other Side of Town" - a bit funkier then the rest, a fabulous beat, and great live. Another case of a rocker in person, the digital version just hinting at the songs personality.
"Climbing Up the Walls" - about as close to a straight ahead rocker as you're going to get on this album. Which is to say, about left of center.
"Watch Out" -One of the songs that had the Riv crowd pumpin'. You feel this one down in your gut and you just can't help but jump.
"Two Drink Minimum" - and with a switch of the song we've gone from the urban to the country. From the dance halls of NY to bars of Tennessee. Cornell's voice is the showcase of the smoky classic - a bonus track for those who downloaded the album from Cornell's site.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Things I Really Hate

I really hate when you get an email from a "free" social network site that says "someone left you a note, find out who!" When you get to the site, they give you 23 characters from the note - but never EVER who sent it to you. Cuz you have to upgrade to the "gold package" to find out who the hell decided to say "remember me from 8th grade?"

As much as I don't like things about Facebook or Myspace - I can't help but hope those sites bury

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Twitstale, a short short story in 140 bites

Here's a twitstory that was but together, quite by accident, through Twitter. Well, on second thought, not really by accident, but without any pre-planning on the participants part. Thanks to @mrflippy, @chux0r, @akraut, @pjiutzi, and @dfjkl for inspiring the whole thing...

@mrflippy: nom, nom, nom
@2zen2: @mrflippy i see your nom nom nom and raise you an additional nom of cumin curry veggies and tofu.
@2zen2 I have an extra ginger honey biscuit here if you want
@mrflippy @2zen2 basil port egg rice here NOM NOM NOM
@2zen2 I seem to be missing the first part of all your convos before mr. Flippy as all seem interesting but are missing vital info.

*editor's note - here's where we go off roading for a bit...*

@dfjkl And then she said, "But where are we going to find a cattle prod at this hour?"
because @akraut would never forgive us if we let it wonder off into the lake...
and I said if it gets too rough in there, just take the chill water feed off the AC unit and hose everyone down
well a good hose down like that would definitely mark an end to the festivities.
And all he said was, "Remember the purple one."

Friday, March 6, 2009

Why do I live here?

This recent front page story in the Pantagraph sums up my feeling about the community I currently live in and am desperately trying to escape.

Let's look at the issues shall we.

1. It's front page news what people name their dogs.
2. The local newspaper can throw resources into creating a database of local pet names.
3. The newspaper, in subsequent issues, encouraged residents to check out the database and "see how your pet's name stacks up." Keeping up with the Jonesy, indeed.

*shakes head* So sad...