30 April 2008

Sucking up

How to congratuate the person who will directing a show you'd like to be in. Send the followng e-mail. Try to use a sincere-looking font.

My, don't you look handsome. Nice haircut. Have you been working out?

But isn't this against everything they stand for?

Well, yes. But sometimes ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

- So first there was Google - clean white page with a catchy logo;
- Then there was Google with the special logos for special days;
- Then there was iGoogle where you could crap up the clean white page with widgets and gadgets and stuff. (Mine has the weather and my reader and a few other things. I am weak.)
- Then there was iGoogle with "artist themes" where you could add a picture to the top of the formerly clean white page. I largely ignored that option because Google is supposed to be different. It's the clean white page! Or the clean white page with some stuff on it! But not a lot! Just some! Some useful stuff! But not a lot!

But. Today while trolling through the artist themes just for fun and thinking the title of this post, I found that one of the themes is by Dale Chihuly.

I like art. Art is nice. I love glass art. I love it more than chocolate. And Dale Chihuly was the first "glass artist" with whose work I became familiar. I usually have to be pried away from exhibits of his work.*

And so, / although / I wish to go, / and greatly pine / to brightly shine.... (oops, sorry, G&S distraction.) Ahem. And so, although I do believe it's against all that the clean white page stands for, I have added the Chihuly theme to my iGoogle page. It makes me shiver with pleasure to look at it. And it'll update during the day showing me new and different pictures of Chihuly pieces. It's too much happiness!

And - in the back - behind the widgets and the gadgets and the artist's theme - somewhere back there - is the Clean White Page.

*And, yes, of course other glass artists have told me that the man in person is - how shall I put this? - a butthead. Suffers from severe cranial-rectal inversion.** I don't care. It's not like I spend any time with him. I just love his work.

**Unless Dale Chihuly reads this blog***, in which case, no one ever said that to me and are you free for coffee or drinks or something sometime?

*** Yeah, like that happens. Whatever.

24 April 2008

The upside to insomnia

I get lots of reading done in the middle of the night.

Other than that, it's not so great. Today is Thursday and the fact that I can tell you that is kind of surprising as my sleep schedule for the week has looked like this:

Monday night - Got to sleep by midnight. Awake from 4:30 to 6:30.

Tuesday nght - Got to sleep by about 12:20. Awake from 3:30 to 6:30.

Wednesday night - Got to sleep by about 11:30. Awake from 1:30 to 6:00

So that's pretty much it. 13 hours of sleep in the last three nights. And this during a week when I read an article in a back issue of Time telling me that being sleep deprived will make me fat, diabetic, and heart disease prone.


One I'd definitely take

Back when Bill and Emily were engaged, Ceirdwyn did her valiant, feminist best to convince Emily to keep "own" name rather than take a "man's" name.* At one point, as the discussion was starting to repeat itself (and was heading downhill a bit), I said that I had already given great thought to whether I would change my name if I got married and that I had a two-point list of criteria:

1. Whether or not my husband's name would sound weird with mine, and a surprisingly large number of surnames do sound weird when combined with Leta; and
2. Whether or not my future mother-in-law would have daily conniptions if I didn't take my husband's name.

"Leta," quoth Ceirdwyn repressively, "those are very silly reasons."

Well, yes, but who cares?

I actually rather like my name as it stands because, among other things, it's balanced and symetry is the way things have to be.** My first name is four letters, my middle name - Madeline - is eight, and my last name is four.

But when I saw this article, and specifically this sentence Assistant United States Attorney David Leta is prosecuting the case I saw my destiny. I will marry that man, take his name, and be Leta Leta.*** Look at all the good reasons for doing so:

1. His first name is David, so the transition will be very easy for my friends and family;
2. He's a lawyer and I like most of the lawyers I know. And I have lawyers on both sides of my family;
3. As a couple we would be introduced as Leta and David Leta; and
4. On official paperwork I'd be listed as Leta, Leta Madeline which sounds very poetic.

The downside is that people who have trouble remembering that my name is pronounced Lee-tah, not Let-uh will have the opportunity to mispronounce both my first and last names instead of just my first. Ditto for those who insist on misspelling it.

And true, David Leta and I have never met, he seems to live in Georgia, and for all I know he's aready married or loves reality tv or has some other impediment to our union, but following the example of the Duchess of Plaza-Toro, I should not allow such minor considerations to stand in my way.

And if he won't have me, then perhaps Frank Leta has an eligible son.

*One can - especially if one wishes to wind up Ceirdwyn, which is always fun - point out that Emily's "own" name was also a man's name and that if she changed her name when she married than she was taking the name of a man she had chosen rather than one who was more or less assigned to her.

**You can't chop down the symetry.

*** Or rather Leta Madeline Leta.

23 April 2008

By the Birthday Boy

And for Sallie, the birthday girl.

Sonnet 104

To me, fair friend, you never can be old,
For as you were when first your eye I eyed,
Such seems your beauty still. Three winters cold
Have from the forests shook three summers' pride,
Three beauteous springs to yellow autumn turned
In process of the seasons have I seen,
Three April pérfumes in three hot Junes burned,
Since first I saw you fresh, which yet are green.
Ah yet doth beauty, like a dial hand,
Steal from his figure, and no pace perceived;
So your sweet hue, which methinks still doth stand,
Hath motion, and mine eye may be deceived:
For fear of which, hear this, thou age unbred,
Ere you were born was beauty's summer dead

21 April 2008

I've been targeted

And like the heroes in all those action movies, I'm saying "Bring. It. On." Because I can take it.

General Mills cereal goes gluten-free

Global food manufacturer General Mills last week said its US Rice Chex cereal will from now on be gluten-free, as part of the firm's plans to target the ever expanding free-from market.

16 April 2008


My Boss: Which industry would you say has made the greatest innovations in the last century?

Me: Porn.

I think that perhaps his question was a hypothetical so my answer took the discussion in rather a different direction.

I wonder why I own this book

Over the years I have acquired all sort of books, I know not when or how. And sometimes I know not why, except that I've always been prone to reading whatever I could get my hands on.* The books can sit on my shelves for decades and be dutifully packed up and moved every few years until I get around to them, which for some of them is looking to be well after I retire. Sometimes I read one only because I think that I'll end up getting rid of it and thus freeing up that bookshelf space. Imagine my chagrin when I end up loving it and having to keep it forever.

So I am currently reading Herbert O. Yardley's** The Education of a Poker Player, a book Yardley clearly assumed would only be read by people already conversant with the language of the game. I am not. I haven't played poker in years (and years) *** and even then I think that I only knew the poker terms that were commonly used on epiosodes of The Odd Couple.

On page 27 I have finally come to a poker-related sentence that I understand with no explanations needed:

A card player should learn that once the money is in the pot it isn't his any longer.

*Including somthing I found in Mom's bookcase when I was around eleven or twelve called, iirc, The Jane Castle Manuscript which was .... very educational. More benignly, I found my first Dick Francis book in Dad's bookcase a few years later.

**Yardley is best known as a World War I-era cryptologist and the author of The American Black Chamber, a book that made Philip Agee and Peter Wright the modern-day Herbert Yardleys. Or at least allows me to make that comparison.

***I think I last played at a BaltiCon and I remember being a little disturbed at how much money I won off of my lawyer - who should be smarter and a better strategist than me if I'm paying him to do stuff - until I realized that dilettantes such as myself have no discernable strategy and thus cannot be out-thought because we are not thinking we are just reacting.

15 April 2008

Mine, too

The reader of [my] Memoirs will discover that I never had any fixed aim before my eyes and that my system, if it can be called a system,has been to glide away unconcernedly on the stream of life, trusting to the wind wherever it led.

Giacomo Casanova

Introverts and Extroverts

An observation I keep making over and over to myself. And to others. Because a) I'm an extrovert; and b) apparently I really don't believe in having an unexpressed thought.

Statistics indicate that most Americans are extroverts.* The problem for many introverts is that introverts treat extroverts the way that extroverts treat people that they don't like. And that extroverts bond by hanging out and talking about how rude and unfriendly those introverts are.

Thanks and a big, smoochy extrovert kiss to Andy for his recent post that reminded me of this really deep thought of mine.

*Americans, the Golden Retrievers of planet Earth.

No, really, it's my *badge* photo

And possibly one of the more flattering pictures taken of me recently.

Well, except maybe for this one taken by Brett on our recent clamber around the Billy Goat Trail. After getting over one particularly interesting boulder we were considering calling it "Last Known Photo of Leta."

And it would surprise no one that in the last known photo of me before I fell off of a cliff or was eaten by bears or whatever that I am smiling my "camera smile."

10 April 2008

Shock of recognition

I saw this show last night and as Alma's father was ranting to her about how weird she was, I realized that Dad could have given the same speech to me when I was a teenager. Or even more recently. Probably did, come to think of it.

The thing for you to give up is your affectations, Alma, your little put-on mannerisms that make you seem – well – slightly peculiar to people. It isn’t just your singing I’m talking about. In ordinary conversation you get carried away by your emotions or something, I don’t know what and neither does anyone else. You, you, you – gild the lily! – You express yourself in – fantastic highflown – phrases! Your hands fly about you like a pair of wild birds. You, you get out of breath , you – stammer you – laugh hysterically and clutch at your throat! Now please remember. I wouldn’t mention these things if I didn’t know that they were just mannerisms, things that you could control, that you can correct! Otherwise I wouldn’t mention them to you. Because I can see that you are upset, but you can correct them. All you have to do is concentrate. When you’re talking, just watch yourself, keep an eye on your hands, and when you’re singing put them in one position and keep them there. ………Alma, little mannerisms, little — peculiarities of behavior — they are what get people known, eventually, as — eccentrics! And eccentric people are not happy, they are not happy people, Alma.

Rev. Winemiller, The Eccentricities of a Nightingale by Tennessee Williams

07 April 2008

Sorry. I'll try to keep it down

Sally and I went to see Last of the Killone Players on Friday night. It was a small audience* and we were in the second row. While we were waiting for curtain, I was telling Sally about an e-mail I sent recently that contained the plea "ohplease, ohplease, ohplease"** and as I was quoting that bit the woman in front of me turned to me with one of those "would you please not be so loud" glares. I didn't think I was all that loud, but made a mental note that maybe I could be quieter.

Of course, I thought that only applied to my own anecdotes. Turns out that I was wrong.

The show opens with a very funny monologue and one that is especially funny if you've spent any time in community theater, so I was, you know, laughing. Not laughing hugely as if I were the Rich Councillor in the story about the Poor Wit and the Rich Councillor, but laughing.

And I got the glare again.

I actually considered not laughing any more for a second or two there. I really did. And how crazy is that? Then I considered how much actors like having people laugh at the funny bits and decided that I'd rather annoy this woman than disappoint this actor, especially as I am more likely to see him in the future than her. And, besides, there were enough empty seats that she could have moved had she chosen. Looking back on it, I sort of wish that I'd spent the second act lightly kicking the leg of her seat, but that would have been childish.

And, anyway, after the show the actors asked me and Sally and Jim if we were the good laughers and we were proud to say Yep! So I clearly made the right decision.

* Which was a pity as it was a very good show. Room shoulda been packed. I hope it was for the other performances.

**The person I was e-mailing said "yes." Thank heavens.

Perhaps we should send a card

NPR tells us that DARPA is turning 50 this week.

My company has a contract or two with DARPA, so we're considering a tasteful bouquet. And maybe some chocolates.

Of course, as one of the tech staff pointed out: We would only want to do that if there was a low probability of success for getting the card out the door, and a high payoff if we did happen to succeed in getting the card to them.

06 April 2008

How to win at chess and poker

And why I don't often.

I found out the way your mind works and the kind of man you are. I know your plans and expectations - you've burbled every bit of strategy you've got. I know exactly what you will do, and exactly what you won't, and I've told you exactly nothing. To these aged eyes, boy, that's what winning looks like!

Henry II in The Lion in Winter by James Goldman

Precious Lord

Take My Hand, Precious Lord, usually the version recorded by Mahalia Jackson, is often the music playing as a button for public radio pieces on the death of Martin Luther King, Jr. Written by a man who had just lost his wife and child, the song asks for strength and comfort in a time of loss and despair.

I first encountered Precious Lord while singing with The Metropolitan Chorus, which performs a beautiful arrangement for solo and chorus composed by music director Barry Hemphill.

It's a lovely, lovely piece and hearing those tiny snippets on the radio made me want to hear the whole thing, even if only in my head. For those of you not as familiar with the tune, there's a midi on Cyberhymnal.

Take My Hand, Precious Lord
Lyrics by Thomas A. Dorsey
Music, Maitland by George N. Allen

Precious Lord, take my hand,
Lead me on, let me stand,
I am tired, I am weak, I am worn;
Through the storm, through the night,
Lead me on to the light:


Take my hand, precious Lord,
Lead me home.

When my way grows drear,
Precious Lord, linger near,
When my life is almost gone,
Hear my cry, hear my call,
Hold my hand lest I fall:


When the darkness appears
And the night draws near,
And the day is past and gone,
At the river I stand,
Guide my feet, hold my hand:


04 April 2008


".....remembering so many things as he waited, and wishing he had always been as good as he had intended to be."

Tender is the Night, F. Scott Fitzgerald

02 April 2008


I wasn't too excited about the new Doctor Who series. More of a "oh, that's nice." I saw one episode because I happened to be home and didn't worry about the ones I was missing otherwise.

But now I am motivated to watch. Felicity Kendal will be guesting. And, you know, - along with her talent and my nostalgia for long-gone television shows - the thinking man's crumpet is still pretty dishy.

"...last month, we came across a moon shaped like Felicity Kendal's bottom. We flew around that one a couple of times". Holly on Red Dwarf

Fingers crossed

I sent the e-mail below to the person in our company who can make this decision. I am moderately green myself* and do a lot of in-office recycling, so this choice seems pretty obvious to me but what's obvious to me isn't always to everyone else.

Wish me luck. I could get the two-letter answer or the six-letter answer ("no" or "hell, no") but am hoping for the three-, four- or seven-letter ones ("yes," "sure," or "go ahead").

Dear [VIP] ~

I was prepping this month's newsletter and appreciated [location's] article about greening their offices. I was thinking that if you'd like to get [company] a bit greener, we could distribute the newsletter electronically.

Instead of sending paper copies to be handed out, I could forward the pdf to all [company] staffers directly, thus saving the printing costs (paper, toner, copier use), the mailing costs (usually FedEx), and reducing the paper that goes into the recycle bin or (worse) the trash can. The average newsletter uses two reams of paper. And after all, costs associated with the newsletter are overhead expenses.

This would also allow us to get the newsletter into our staffers' hands in a more timely way.

I would still print paper copies for [other VIPs], of course, and could print paper copies as needed for any other purpose. And if anyone would prefer to receive a paper copy, I'd be happy to send them.

The pdf is posted on the [internet] site once it's ready, so staffers already have the option of viewing it there and/or printing it out.

In these days of rising costs and with the national push to be more environmentally aware, I think that is a solution that can both save us money and reduce our "footprint." Or, as Tom Lehrer put it, doing well by doing good.


Update: He agreed! The newsletter is going green!

* Any savings I generate by turning off the lights, adjusting the thermostat, driving a small car, etc are wiped out or equalized by the number of miles that I drive for theater and by having a boyfriend across a state line. Some weekends all I do is shuttle back and forth between Maryland and Virginia.

01 April 2008

Coming with me, even if I have to run back into the burning building

Behold - Erasable highlighters.

That's right. Erasable.

Highlight. Unlight.

When I told the guy at the Office Depot what I was looking for he said he was getting all shivery just thinking about it. As I already was.

I've shown my Erasable Highlighters to people who were instantly convinced of the amazingness of the Erasable Highlighter.

O brave new world that has such markers in it.

The Silver Lining

Gas prices are up. Food prices are up, especially grain prices. So here - at last - is an article about the benefits of using rice flour* instead of wheat flour to cut calories, fat, sodium, and cost. I have hopes that if wheat prices climbed high enough it will lose its universal ingredient status.

And I'm sure that the "please stop putting high-fructose corn syrup in every damn thing" lobby will be following this with great interest. Of course, if the nation's supply of corn ends up in gas tanks, then there will be less of it in our food.

Go Rice flour! Go Rice bran!

*Yes, I noticed who paid for the study.