Monday, April 27, 2009

Things That Take a Piece of Your Heart

(Phoebe Langley, age 13, December 2008)
The pup that chose you nearly 14 long years ago, who must have been in pain, but never let on. The pup whose tail never stopped up until the very end, who never growled, or snapped or ever entertained a bad mood. The dog who followed you from room to room for so many years that you stopped noticing it until today ... when you no longer heard the click, click, plunk that you had grown so dependent on. The smart and intuitive dog whose soft brown eyes were the first waking thing you've seen every day except when you were away. The dog your friends said was uncanny in her similarity to you. The dog you named Phoebe after the songwriter Phoebe Snow, and the Greek word for "bright" or "radiant," and who honored the name with every silvery hair on her body.

Good-bye my little love. There won't be a day that passes when I won't remember the way you made me feel so unconditionally loved.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Also in the past year ...

The Portland Zoo got a new baby elephant, it's a boy, and he's absolutely charming.


Damn, one minute you think blogging is Miss Thang, and the next thing you know Facebook is the new girl in school, and even that is being superseded by Twittering. During that time, friends have had babies, and the earth turned on its axis and the US elected a stellar President for the first time in 8 years, and many of your friends are in fear of being laid off from their jobs, and entire industries, as well as Wall Street in general, look like ghost towns. It's been over a year, folks.

Still, you’re sort of into, and what is there new to say really? Then you wake up on a rainy Sunday morning and read this headline which for obvious reasons raises your blood pressure way up high when you consider the depth of the injustice: "AIG says it will try to restrain future bonuses: CEO says despite $170 billion bailout, ‘hands are tied’ and can’t cut them."—and suddenly you know exactly what you want to say! And to make matters worse you're linked to an older headlines,“$619 Million Paid to Keep A.I.G. Staff”—this one didn’t get nearly as much press back in January when it headlined right around the time of the inauguration.

Here’s more: “The American International Group, the insurance company, is giving executives and employees at least $619 million in retention pay, $150 million more than previously disclosed.

A.I.G. is spending the money to prevent about 4,200 employees from quitting, the insurer said in a document given to Representative Elijah Cummings. New York-based A.I.G. disclosed in a November regulatory filing that it was paying $469 million for at least 2,231 employees. Edward Liddy, the chief executive, is trying to dissuade employees from leaving. “ (source:

The gem in that paragraph above, AIG used OUR money, the money your children and grandchildren (I’m childless) will be paying off, to KEEP the very idiots who led them down a path of financial ruin and inexplicably stupid speculation (see the experts—I’m not one, but I have been doing my homework and trying to understand). They not only “enticed” these same rotten employees to stay with taxpayer money, but now they are paying them bonuses. Un-freakin-believable. Yeah, you've got PLENTY to say.

Who here has ever been paid a bonus that exceeds $115K for royally screwing up their jobs? Who here defaulted on all their creditors, then asked the neighborhood to put their children into hawk so that you can be sure to maintain a lifestyle that NONE of those neighbors enjoys!?!?! This CANNOT be America, can we be so apathetic as to allow this?

Here’s what I wrote to AIG by using their “contact us” module on their website.: “I read this morning that you are going forward with paying outrageous, incomprehensible bonuses to the top brass in your floundering company. YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELVES! How on earth do you sleep at night, knowing that the taxes of folks throughout this country who have endured pay cuts, lost jobs, soaring prices, plunging values of their homes, and a host of other difficulties, are PAYING FOR BONUSES which you categorically do not deserve.

The assertion that your "hands are tied" is ludicrous, you really must take most of us for fools. I certainly feel foolish for providing bailouts to you, when each day working for a non-profit I see families struggling to keep their children clothed and fed, all too often as a direct result of AIG, and other unethical financial institutions' failures.

I will always, through the rest of the days of my life, avoid any AIG product. I will encourage anyone I know to do the same, it seems likely they'll share my disgust. You surely know that the word gets out through the reproductive channels of the internet. The utter arrogance of your company executives paying themselves for not only FAILING IN AN ABJECT WAY, but BRINGING A COUNTRY OF TAXPAYERS DOWN WITH YOU, is impressive-and not in a good way!

I can only hope that there truly is such a thing as karma, and that each of you who accepts your unconscionable bonuses, will experience your comeuppance. You are a shameful lot, and will surely go down in history with a big, black blot by your contribution to the financial disaster this country is in.

Shame on you, each of you! You exemplify the utter worst of unbridled greed and absence of ethics.”

Did I mention that AIG just posted the largest one-quarter corporate LOSS IN HISTORY! I’m aware that it is not just AIG abusing this bailout, but they specifically hit a nerve.

Has anyone felt any relief? I worry about my job security every day. There is a system that is very broken when people are culpable and without recourse, but people operating under the umbrella of corporate welfare are given breaks the rest of us would never get.

I’m thinking that no one comes here anymore and I’m just preaching to the universe, but that’s OK. I had to vent. Any of you have any thoughts? Are you as incredulous as I am? Do you want your freakin’ money back? I wrote Nancy Pelosi as well.

As they say over at Margaret and Helen’s blog, thanks for playing in the garden. REALLY.

Sunday, February 24, 2008


(photo courtesy of Stephanie Williamson ... I'd call it "Tangled in Chill")

Simple and direct today. I watched two intense, interesting films this weekend: Michael Clayton and A Mighty Heart (unfortunate title). It's good to see American, mainstream filmmaking tackling the crises of our individual and collective souls in such sublimely-crafted projects.

Roger Ebert had this to say in reference to the tragedy of the Daniel Pearl murder, and I copy it here with a touch of defiance, because I do think it can be a serious mistake to "avoid news" and the "political."

Ebert notes: "The Americans who complain about "negative" news are the ideological cousins of those who shoot at CNN crews. The news is the news, good or bad, and those who resent being informed of it are pitiful."

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Not Big in Japan, But Banned in China

(The beauty above is Tino--my pal Randine's new love)
I know, it’s been a long time. The garden feels strewn with dead weeds – parched invaders. It’s deceitful to call oneself a blogger and disappear, but I justify my silence by considering my presence as that of a teeny, ordinary pill-bug in the vast universe of definitive blogging insects.

During my time off, I’ve thought about the Paper Garden. One of my goals is to really institute a graphic face-lift here at the garden, and to define a more particular trajectory for this blog. I need a makeover … Emily, help!

The musing blog isn’t one that gets much loyalty, so if you’re still here and reading, my deepest appreciation to you.

On a somewhat regular basis (usually after re-reading one of my so-called creative pieces and cringing) I wonder if I’m marginally interesting to anyone but me and my mother? I consider motivational, creative, entrepreneurial and inspirational bloggers such as Andrea over at Superhero Journal, or provocative whatshisname at the ever-popular waiterrant, or the exquisite cynicism and hip sensibilities of the Go Fug Yourself girls (all smart-assy and connected as they are), or the savvy and sophistication of the sartorialist, and I wonder what I’m still doing in the blogosphere.

And then I get an e-mail from a friend teaching over in China and I hear from him that THIS BLOG IS BLOCKED IN CHINA!!! And hot-damn, I’m pumped! Somewhere, in some bureaucratic cubicle or basement, some pencil-chewing tool decided that I’m controversial enough to ban, and that only serves to validate my project here (that’s right, this is all very intentional and influential)! I’m not sure what aspect of this blog prompted the banishment, but I imagine I may have ranted about the dog-fur as “faux fur” fiasco, or perhaps I complained about lead-based paint in children’s toys or something (if you think you know, clue me in). At any rate, I’m apparently subversive! Do you think they would deny me a VISA into the country?

Wow, it’s now official—I’m a radical!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Why the Hell did I Buy a Dell?

Historically I was a big fan of Dell Corporation. I'd heard a number of rumblings out there, but when I ordered my first set of Dell's for the Design-Build architecture company where I worked for 8-9 years ago, the transaction was seamless. Just under 5 years ago I ordered my first personal Dell, a Dimension 4550, and it was really a solid PC--although there were some initial issues with Roxio and the CD RW drive. After a few phone calls with no results, Dell sent over a tech who replaced the drive. I've recommended Dell to hesitant friends, in short--I've been a fan.

So when my Dell sadly pooped out at the end of October, I went back to Dell--although HPs were cheaper for similar equipment.

What a difference a few years make. I sensed that the salesperson was a bit of a scheister, and worse yet, I didn't feel confident that he knew his product the way the salesperson 5 years ago did. Back then the salesman talked me through the whole order, this time I had to present the goods and he really just wrote the order.

The number of issues I have had exceed anyone's patience to read them, but suffice it to say that from the initial order there were problems. Once you give Dell payment, the engine has been ignited. You CANNOT change anything. Despite the fact that I began to learn how complicated Vista was in terms of software and peripheral compatibility prior to the unit shipping, I could not get Dell to respond to my own research that indicated the tower would only present me with a plethora of problems. They are absolute, one the order is made, that is the unit you get, NO CHANGES. When the unit arrived, my wireless keyboard and mouse were incompatible. I ordered an expensive MICROSOFT keyboard from them. This keyboard did not work properly. I phoned for tech support. They decided to send me a different keyboard. No one bothered to check if the new keyboard was compatible with Windows Vista--it is not.

Meanwhile the tower was troubled. Lots of error messages occurred, ultimately the tower CRASHED (after 6 days of miserly use). I was told I would have to send the tower back on my dime (to the tune of almost $50). I was also told I could order another one, but I would have to pay in full. I was now out just under $2,000 to Dell, and I had no usable PC.
The issues went on and on. Software incompatibilities for which Dell would offer no solution. Dell's suggestion: pay full retail price to purchase it from them (normally when you buy a new PC with Office loaded, it is quite a bit cheaper than buying it after the fact--a reality which was never conveyed to me by my Dell "expert"), or purchase it elsewhere.

One month later, after at least 25 phone calls and as many case numbers, at an average of about 1 hour/call ... I am trying to find a wireless, ergonomic keyboard that is Windows Vista compatible. Dell can't help me. Everyone I have spoken to outside of the initial salespeople have been non-American, and many of them clearly do not have a clue as to what I am asking. The keyboard issue was complicated by my unearthing that the Customer Service rep has never even SEEN a wireless keyboard. The software sent with my new monitor which I did not need, but was sold as a "package" only to realize when I got the acknowledgement that the monitor was indeed sold separately, was not Vista compatible. All my onscreen images are stretched as in a funhouse mirror. Have not even received a response to that concern.

At the moment Dell has +/- $2,200 of my money. They recently told me they are "processing" a $200 credit. I have 18+ e-mails from them in my current in-box, which doesn't include the massive e-mailing I did with them on the first new tower which CRASHED.

Let's just say I'm in Dell Hell. Lots of folks I know have not had this problem. I wonder what would have happened to someone who didn't have enough credit on their cards to buy two PCs at once?

I plan to be back in the saddle here very soon. The blog remodel is still being discussed, but now that I'm a working woman I have less time for the aesthetics of life. The Garden needs an overhaul for sure, though.

Things I've been enjoying:

Goodreads - check it out and let me know if you'd like to be my reading buddy.

Yelp - for general feedback

Project Runway - I've been obsessed with this show from day one!

Andrea over at Superhero - her baby, jewelry and joyful heart inspire me.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Body-Crushing Worlds

Image from OMSI publicity webpage

I need to come clean here and now, before I start in—this is going to be a bit of a bitch-fest.

You know, I don’t get out much. First of all, it’s football season. Peeling Aaron away from one of the two constantly-running televisions any weekend between the end of August until the Superbowl is a feat in and of itself! But with a little guilt and manipulation I convinced him that he owed me a date night, which consisted of dinner at Giorgio’s in the Pearl, and a somewhat pricey but much-anticipated viewing of BodyWorlds III.

The dinner was this side of sublime, flavors straight out of Top Chef. We had a grilled walla-walla onion “tart” salad which was a taste sensation, and my homemade spaghetti with fresh Manilla clams was lovely, paired with a by-the-glass Barolo and Aaron’s tasty wild boar, the night started out well.

But BodyWorlds III was a colossal dud—not because the exhibit was lacking in some way (from what I could see the plasticized bodies were riveting), but because OMSI oversold and under-organized this event to such a degree that moving within the confines of the space would render a claustrophic catatonic! My irritability mounted when considering the $50 spent for a view of artistically-presented cadavers, did not include the extra $4 for a pretty-much mandatory audio tour. The night plummeted downhill as I was swarmed by unruly children, wayward strollers, teenagers gabbing on cell phones, and generally was only be able to view the displays from about three rows back, on tip toe, while desperately attempting to see the number that corresponded with the audio. Because of the overcrowding and lack of directionals, people were bumping into others, and everyone was looking annoyed and generally unhappy.

In short, I was able to comfortably view about 20% of the exhibit. It was insane. It was like a rock concert, only less organized (and with less intimacy). There was a line about ½ mile long to view the neo-natal display, which we ultimately abandoned. The glass cases were filthy with fingerprints. Children were running all over, there were screaming infants, and toddlers complaining that they needed to go to the bathroom (which one couldn’t do because once one left the exhibit—one could not return). It was a nightmare and a huge disappointment. All the publicity featured a magnificent man on a rearing horse display, which I was informed was in BodyWorlds I. The progression of displays and accompanying text was pretty haphazard. I felt like I was in some sort of surreal, manic morgue.

So in the end I’m left wondering why a well-funded organization such as OMSI would allow strollers and infants into an event after 8PM, an event that was already excessively over-crowded? If we can’t insist on an adult-only timeslot, whatever happened to babysitters? This bodes another examination of the touchy topic of how much adults with the inclination to do so should be able to attend events that seem to be adult-oriented without the experience being ruined by the natural behavior of children (hate mail is going to come). Further, why wouldn’t OMSI include the audio tour in the price of admission, thereby organizing the event by somewhat by guiding people through the displays (and keeping the children occupied by audio)?

On a positive note, the elements of the exhibit that I could really engage with were utterly fascinating, leaving one with a distinct respect for the functions and complexity of our bodies. Additionally, one gets several intimate views of a variety of sphincters, and men can duly demonstrate the principles of shrinkage! ;-)