Category Archives: Musings

Moments of Blinding Brilliance Part 1 – “Express Bus”

At this point, Moments of Blinding Brilliance is a 3 Part “Saga in Stupidity.”  Just random little stories from my life that really seem to capture those fleeting junctures in time where I (and maybe you) just want to look around me (at all of those who are bearing witness to my daft behavior) and say “I’m really not an idiot.  I promise.”  If I were a betting woman (and I’m not at all… it makes my stomach hurt), I would wager that Moments posts become something of a regular occurrence here on DireMirth.  Most of you who know me would agree.  I’m about 9 parts “on top of it,” and 1 part… well I’ll just let the posts speak for themselves, shall we?

“Express Bus”

About a month ago my journeys led me to Portland, Oregon.  It’s a beautiful place full of recycle bins, pine trees, amazing brunch restaurants, a plethora of trust fund hippies, and more Chaco wearing groovy people than you can count.  Needless to say I love it.  What I also loved about Portland (and Europe) was all of the great public transport.  If I didn’t have to drive, I totally wouldn’t.  I mean, I love my new little old Volvo.  It’s just rad.  But if I could hop on a bus or a train to bumble around my city the old Volvo wouldn’t get out much at all.  I digress.

Picture this: I’m chilling on a park bench in lovely, sunny Portland.  It’s beautiful.  I ran on the waterfront, had a yummy lunch, drank french pressed “Stump Town” coffee, and wandered the streets of downtown.  I was happy.  It was 5:00 on Friday and I sat down to finish my book in the park until my Sushi Date got off work.

Pay close attention here, because the timing is just so perfectly insane.

*Ring. *Ring.

Sushi date: “Where are you?”

Me: “Reading downtown.”

Sushi date: “Cool. I’m at home, so just catch the 14 or 15 bus at…..”

(I begin walking here towards the directional streets indicated.  I was only a block away you see.)

Me: “Got it.  Well there’s a bus pulling up so I’m gonna hop on it. See you in a few…”  (if I only knew…)

I glanced at Mr. Buses numbers.  There was a 1 and a 5.  15 right?  Bought the ticket.  Sat down.  Read the last few paragraphs of my book.  Ah, done.  *Sigh.  We cross over the Hawthorne Bridge and instead of going straight, Mr. Bus turns left.  Hmmm.

Me: (to Mr. Buses driver) “Excuse me.  Does this bus go up to 30th Street?”

Driver: “30th?  In Portland?”

Me: (stares blankly while simultaneously beginning to freak out a little) “Can I get off here?”

Drive: “Oh no!  Why we’re on the interstate.  This bus doesn’t make any stops between Downtown Portland and Vancouver.”

Me: “Vancouver?”

Kindly, Apathetic Gent Listening in: “Washington.”

MOMENT OF BLINDING BRILLIANCE.

Me: (commences with the panicking)

*Ring.

Sushi date: “You here?”

Me: “I’m on the wrong bus.”

Sushi date: “Just get off at the next stop.”

Me: “Oh I will.  But I accidentally got on the 105.”

Sushi date: “I don’t know the 105.”

Me:  “Well why would you.  It’s the express bus (sheepishly) to Vancouver.”

That’s right folks.  I got on the one-way, no-stops, express bus to Vancouver, WA.  On Friday evening.  In rush-hour traffic.  The stars and planets that had to align for that mess of cosmic insanity to happen must have been impressive.  

How did I get back?  I hear you ask.  Well I took another bus to the Max (that’s the metro) Station where I proceeded through 11 stops until Sushi Date picked my sad self up on the corner of “You’re an Idiot Street” and “How did you do that? Drive.”

We missed sushi that night.  

You see my little jaunt up to “the ‘Couve” took about an hour and forty-five minutes.  I am, as you might have guessed, really super smart.

And so Part 1 ends.  But the Saga, oh it continues.

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IntoSalsa – Lesson 1

Tonight has marked the end of my second Salsa lesson.  That’s Salsa dancing, not salsa the yummy Mexican side dish.

In my short tenure with the Salsa folks I have learned a few things.  They are not particularly important things, but let’s face it, not all the things we learn from day to day are all that crucial.

5. Salsa lessons NEVER start on time.  I don’t mind this at all, I just think it’s worth noting.  My 6 p.m. lesson tonight started at 6:25.  It feels very cool.  Very Latin.

4. Apparently practicing Salsa in ones living room is funny to observe.  My sister actually asked me if I was aware that I was doing the same three moves over and over again.  I said, “Yes.  That’s all we learned this week.”  She replied, “Well, you look silly.”  Thanks, Julie.  Thanks a lot.

3. Dancing Salsa employs new muscles in my calves.  In fact, the muscles are so infrequently used it has actually effected my running.  Every 1/4 mile or so I have to stop and stretch my right leg due to severe cramping.  Salsa I think you are fun, but I’ve had a long, long relationship with running.  You can’t break us up.  Stop trying.

2. The folks that take Salsa lessons are super cute.  Most of them are couples.  You can just tell that this is one of those “couple” things they are doing together.  The old couples are cute.  The young ones are cute.  Oh, bless.  Some of the older fellas who are there with their wives are priceless.  You can actually imagine how much prodding the wife had to do over their 30+ year marriage.  I get to see them in the place where he finally caved.  I love it.  Me, I’m there with Becky.  She did not have to be prodded over 30 years – one random email and she was in.  It’s a good couple activity and a good friend activity too.

1. Dancing by yourself is great.  Throw someone else in the mix and it gets all kinds of insane.  You can be fine –  on beat and everything.  Then the other person, a kindly gent I’m sure, is trying to lead you.  He may or may not be on beat.  You may or may not understand his signals to do various moves.  It’s complicated and frustrating.  But, Salsa is a partner dance.  Picture me getting used to it.

So far Salsa has been delightful.  I look forward to my further Latin music inspired adventures.  They have been interesting so far.  Not to mention that I’m sure there will be some happy South American boys over at the Red Room.  I stepped on a lot of feet last month, pre-lessons of course.  Most of them just smiled and said, “you should take lessons.”  To which I thought, why yes that’s a great idea.  But you see this is my first time at Latin Night, which I told you.  Plus, you’re the one who keeps asking me to dance.  I don’t mind looking like a fool so long as you don’t mind a few bruises on your feet.

Maybe now fewer feet will be bruised.  I know three steps and I can turn to the right.  All while moving my arms and hips.

I bet I still look silly when I practice in the living room…

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Of Lemons and Life…

Things in my little corner of the world have been topsy-turvy as of late.  I was quite happy bumbling around in the course I felt quite confident I had plotted for myself.  Come to find, I was wrong.  One little hiccup and everything changed.

A lemon if you will.

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed initially at the circumstances tossed my way.  Who isn’t thrown off balance when the plans they’ve been counting on suddenly vanish?  Life looks a bit more scary, a tad more unpredictable, and slightly less friendly than it normally does.  But as I was reminded time and time again over the past few week by some wonderful folks, it’s really not that bad.  They were so very, very right.

I’m pleased to say that I have re-learned a few valuable lessons recently.  They include, but are not limited to…

  1. There is nothing in this world finer than friends you can call any time.  Folks who’s opinion you value and people who only want what’s best for you.  (family counts too of course)
  2. You may think you know what’s best/right/intended for you, but you can be wrong.  And not the type of wrong that’s mean or spiteful, but the comforting sort of wrong that seems to say, “No.  No.  This way silly.  It’s better.  I promise.”
  3. Not only do I love to run, but I need to run as well.  It is my therapy.  In those few precious moments each day I am able to recenter myself.  I crave the balance provided by running through the miles.  It’s so much more than exercise.
  4. Waking up each day and knowing you made the best decision for yourself is a great feeling.
  5. Finally, falling back into something you love is amazing.  It’s like coming home.   Back to a place where you know you do good things, and people appreciate you simply because they like having you around.  🙂

The moral of this post (as I’m not certain that it’s particularly clear), be true to yourself.  I learned that I could respond in a negative way to unexpected changes, but I choose not to do so.  I would much rather be surprised.  Take a look around and say, “Huh.  I never thought that this is precisely where I would be, but I’m glad I came all the same.”

In summation, make lemonade.  It is summer after all.  🙂

Lemon

10 Best Sci-Fi Films…According to Me

Today is Monday and I felt like making a list.  I’ve managed to stumble across some various “Top Sci-Fi Movie” lists recently and it got me thinking.  What are my favorites?  I mean this is my favorite genre and all…how could I not have a list?  To end this internal debate with myself I am making one such list.  All of these films (which are in order of preference) are my favorites.  I have not seen every sci-fi movie…  Bearing this in mind, see what I came up with…  Concurrence?  Dissent?  I love feedback!

10.  Men in Black  – The movies are hysterical!  “Edgar, your skin is hanging off your bones.”  nuf said.

9.  The Matrix  –  W-O-W.  I love the trilogy, start to finish.

8.  Minority Report – Retinal scanning.  Cars on auto-pilot.  Pre-cogs.  Cool.

7.  Aliens – All of them.  My favorite is the second film, but they all are just generally superb.

6.  Independence Day – Great sci-fi all around.  Oh, the speech Bill Pullman gives at the end to rally the troops is probably my favorite patriotic-movie speech of all time.

5.  Stargate – The film from which one of my favorite TV series is based.  *sigh.  And, there are folks who really believe the Pyramids are landing pads for spaceships.  Go to Egypt and ask a tour guide.  They will laugh at you…a lot.

4.  Serenity – Because I wish Mal was my captain, Jane was my bodyguard, and Reevers are crazy  freaky.

3.  The Fifth Element –  Mull-Tee-Pass and orange hair.  Yeah.

2.  Starship Troopers –  Almost #1 in my book.  Loved this film from the first viewing.  Made me want to join the gender equal military and kill some bugs.   Which is no easy feat.

…and the winner is….

1.  Galaxy Quest – Because it makes fun of me and all that I love in the most witty and hilarious way.  “Never give up.  Never surrender.”  🙂

GalaxyQuest

Honorable Mentions:  Star Wars, Contact, Terminator 2: Judgement Day, Waterworld, Tank Girl,  The HitchHikers Guide to the Galaxy, Gattaca, Blade, A.I., Red Planet, Sphere, Event Horizon, Resident Evil

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The Funniest Call…Ever

So, I am driving home from class this morning and my phone rings.  I look to see who is calling and my phone registers “no caller ID.”  Hmmm.  It’s interesting because I have noticed a missed call each day this week from a “no caller ID” number.  Apparently I was in class, or running, or engaged in some other nonsense when they phoned before.  I don’t think I have ever had a “no caller ID” call before…I totally wondered what it was about.

I had no idea what I was in store for…

Supplemental aside: I collect/own several seasons of various TV series on DVD.  It makes me happy…totally my vice.  Some folks buy clothes, I buy DVD’s.  Last time I counted I think I have about 35 various seasons of shows on DVD and over 130 movies.  It’s my thing.

Back to the phone call.

It was a very nice woman from a company called “Highlander” who wanted to know which TV shows I watched out of this list: Xena, Hercules, and Highlander.  Having profound appreciation for all things Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert, I naturally said Xena and Hercules.  Which is absolutely true.  I love those shows, but why is it important to this phone call?

The woman thinks this is wonderful and proceeds to attempt to sell me prop replicas and swords from the shows.  W-O-W.  She was super excited about it all… Went on and on about how the replica of Xena’s second chakram actually came apart and became two weapons…just like in the series.  That’s just wonderful…especially considering that the chakram, though very cool on Xena, is about as real to an actual weapon as Bullwinkle is to a real moose.

Chakram1  Quite a versatile, albeit fictional weapon…Chakram2

I tried to let her down gently.  “I’m just not into props and swords.  I mean I have the series on DVD and that’s great, but I am SO not into expanding…”

She did not want to let me go.  She fought for me.  But in the end, I claimed a late lunch meeting and cut her off.  Mostly so I could proceed to laugh hysterically and come to my computer so I could blog about it for all of you.

In conclusion, be open to “no caller ID” calls.  They have the potential to be very entertaining.   I cannot imagine where they got my number???  Weird.  Funny, but weird.

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Falconcity of Wonders

fc1

While reading the New York Times Magazine two Sunday’s ago I found an advertisement for a place called Falconcity.  In the shape of the falcon crest of the United Arab Emirates the city will contain ancient and modern wonders of the world.  Just outside of Dubai, Falcon City will boast replicas of the hanging gardens of Babylon, the pyramids at Giza, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Eiffel Tower, the Taj Mahal, and the Great Wall of China to name only a few.  Falconcity of Wonders, as the project has been named, will also be a place of business (with office space currently for sale), a resort, and small part of the recreational park called Dubailand.  What a neat idea!  I look forward to the progress of this project over the next several years.

fc2

fc3

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Wired Magazine, TheFunded.com, and Ax’s to Grind

 

Wired

This month’s Wired Magazine (yes, I read and subscribe) had this great article on a fella and a site I knew nothing about. As usual, thanks to the great writing, I closed my magazine learning something new, useful, and interesting.

The story details the mastermind behind TheFunded.com, a guy who, until the publishing of this months article, was anonymous. An entrepreneur for many years, this man, unveiled as NYC resident Adeo Ressi (see photo below), faced many difficulties with the Venture Capitalists (henceforth VC’s) who funded his businesses. Taking his frustration, the Christmas holiday last year, and probably some egg-nog Ressi created the website/forum/blog TheFunded.com.

Initially to provide a way for himself and his close entrepreneurial friends to vent their frustrations with VC’s, TheFunded soon began booming into the 4,000+ member strong internet force it is today. Note that those 4000 members are the ones who passed the application process whereby only seasoned, serious, and legitimate entrepreneurs are accepted.

I think Ressi’s site is a great idea. It provides an anonymous platform for entrepreneurs, who work with VC’s all of the time, to voice their frustrations or extol the virtues of various VC’s groups.

“TheFunded is (not) exactly beloved by the venture capital community, which is more accustomed to CEOs kissing its butt than kicking its ass. …It may seem odd that venture capitalists should care what a gaggle of lowly entrepreneurs have to say about them. After all, for the past couple of decades VCs have been the kingmakers of Silicon Valley, rendering judgment on an endless stream of CEOs who beg and scrape for their approval. But in recent years, that dynamic has begun to shift.”

funded

Apparently, but not surprisingly, the VC community is very angry at this website and its creator, because, in my opinion, it keeps them honest. Some VC’s were angry because the contributors to TheFunded said they were conceited or hard to work with and that it was a way for the peasants to revolt because they had ax’s to grind. It’s actually these inane responses that inspired me to write this post.

The VC community seems to be upset that there is finally a checks and balances system in the entrepreneurial world. CEO’s of emerging companies used to beg at the feet of their investors, grappling for whatever they were given. TheFunded has allowed a place for these CEO’s to go and share their experiences working with various VC’s. I’m sure some of them are conceited and hard to work with, but I’m equally sure that some are great as well. TheFunded is not limited to negative criticism, in fact, many folks go there to give positive reviews. Often times CEO’s shop for investors. It is important that they find and work with groups that they know are honest. TheFunded provides a lens from which VC firms can be evaluated by those who have worked with them before. It’s like an online list of references and reviews.

As far as ax’s to grind, which is what many VC firms feel the members of TheFunded are doing, I have to respectfully disagree. If someone does indeed have an “ax to grind” perhaps there is a very good reason for it. Rather than chocking off their issues as the unimportant rantings of an angry co-worker, why not listen to their words, find truth where it exists, and make any according changes.

I think that every industry would benefit from a resource like TheFunded. We all should be held accountable for our actions. If we want people to work with us then we need to have honest intentions and follow through on our word. Reviews by those who worked with us would provide an excellent tool for examining how others perceive our work and the experiences they had. Like a good film, one bad review is not going to kill it in the box office if that lone reviewer was wrong. So to here. Plus, how are we ever going to improve ourselves and our work unless we get honest feedback?

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Geeky Bumper Stickers for Mom

On my drive downtown to school this morning I happened upon a car with a bumper sticker that contained so much awesomeness I had to snap a photo.

bumpersticker

*This photo was taken with my new Palm One Treo. 🙂

The less important sticker on the left made some grand statement about how we should not give up on New Orleans and build more levees. Sure, will do. It is the black one on the right that is superb.

MY GAMER JUST FRAGGED YOUR HONOR STUDENT.

Now that’s a proud mom! Not only does she accept and embrace the fact that her child is a gamer, she even took the time to learn some l33t speak to proclaim it to the world! For those of you who don’t know…

Frag – 1. Kill. E.g. “I fragged his face,” “I had like 30 frags.” 2. Fragmentation, as in “frag grenade.”

If I were her child I might have to say, “thx mom. it rawks that u let ppl no i pwn n00bs on mp pvp servers. rofl! ftw, mom, ftw.”

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Garden Hose + Mailbox Slot = Friday Night Criminal Activity

*The story you are about to read is based on actual events. Names have been altered to protect the innocent.

Friday, October 26, 2007 – 11:50 p.m.
Somewhere in Downtown Indianapolis…

After an enjoyable evening supporting a local movie producer/friend’s movie premier and throwing back a few beers at the local Scottish pub, my two friends, Josephine and Edna, and I decided to call it a night. We all piled in my car and made our way to Edna’s house, as she was the first one to be dropped off. Almost as an afterthought Edna asks if Josephine and I might be able to stick around for a few minutes while she walks her dog, Rufus. We naturally agree. Edna lives downtown, and since it is nearly midnight we are happy to escort her in the interest of friendship and safety.

Edna walks up to the front door of her very trendy tri-plex and inserts the key. She goes to push the door open but is stopped by the “burglar latch” (you know those latches infamous on the interior of hotel room doors?). Immediately thereafter, Edna’s security alarm, since it could not be turned off as we were not in the house, began to sing a sirens song loudly into the night. Josephine and I look to one another in an understood “uh, oh” while Edna, in her infinite cool-headed-ness, says “well, that’s not good.” Meanwhile, Rufus, a very cute dog that Edna recently rescued from the humane society, begins to freak out a little.

Josephine and I commence a perimeter check. As Edna’s house is a tri-plex (new term I invented to describe a HUGE downtown home that is divided into three houses) there is only one entrance (which is currently out of commission with the burglar latch). The porch offers a window option but it is a really, really big picture window. The only way to open it is to break it, and that is just no good. Around the side of the house the kitchen window is a possible option except it is locked (way to go on the security Edna) and it is about 10 feet off the ground…so it’s also a no go.

Edna is now on the phone with the security company, who have called to see if there is a problem. She goes through the chain of command (repeating the same information like name, security password, date of birth, blood type, etc.) not less than three times. Finally, after telling them her rescue dog very well may die from a heart attack if they do not turn the alarm off straight away the company complies and we are afforded some silence to consider our situation.

After the perimeter check, and while Edna was still on the phone repeating information to the security people, Josephine and I decide we should call a locksmith. Whipping out our respective Palm One Treo’s Josephine consults Google and I dial 411. I win and get a very enthusiastic man (*drips sarcasm) at the AAA Locksmith who is “ready to help.”

I convey our predicament to Mr. Locksmith receptionist to which he replies, “when do you want someone to come?” I repeat the story again. “We have a burglar latch that has been flipped over. You know, a really thick metal bar the dog must have moved in his excitement. No other entries into the home.” Again, he says “when do you want someone to come?” This is where I begin to think, to myself of course, “Sir, I realize your job stinks a little. It’s Friday night, well Saturday now, and you are answering phones at a locksmith. But I don’t think you understand the issue. Do your technicians come equipped with laser vision whereby they can simply melt the lock away? And, more importantly, what I want from you is some advice. If your people are just going to come and break the glass on the front door to open the lock, maybe we will save the $75 fee you charge, break the window ourselves, and then apply the money we saved tomorrow at Lowes when we buy a new pane of glass.” All of this was lost on him. I gave up and handed the phone to Edna…she’s good with this sort of a thing.

Meanwhile, I noticed at some point during my conversation with Mr. Exciting that Josephine had picked up the garden hose on the porch and she was now pressed up really tightly against the front door. Hmmm. With Edna now handling the locksmith situation I went up to see what Josephine was doing.

Taking the garden hose and sticking it in the mailbox slot on the front door, Josephine was attempting to flip over the latch with the hose. Just in case you are wondering, this does look as hysterical as it sounds. By the time I get up near her she turns and says, “I think I got it but I can’t see to make sure.” There is a window on the front door. It’s a high window and Edna has some venetian blinds covering it so I couldn’t see to confirm Josephine’s suspicion. I then had an idea. “Josephine, could you maybe stick the hose up and then push back the blinds so I can see?” She complies (again, just imagine a garden hose seemingly moving itself inside your good friends front door window and holding back some blinds). Alas, I am too short to see the lock…so is Josephine.

At this point Edna has tired of the locksmith and hangs up on him. She came over to the front door (so now we are all pressed up against it) and looked to see if Josephine and the garden hose was indeed successful. Sadly, her 2-3 inches in height did not add enough because she couldn’t see the lock either. Our only option was to tempt fate and try to open the door again – accepting the fact that the alarm may go off again causing Rufus to flip out for the second time in 15 min.

Deep breath. Doorknob turned. Pushing in slowly. And, WE WERE IN!! Well done Josephine. The dog is happy to see us and he did not die from a heart attack. Edna is relieved to be in her house. Josephine’s wrist is a little sore after having been in a mailbox slot for about 5 min. I amused by the entire situation and can’t wait to blog about it.

Moral of the story: Burgling your best friends house can be wildly entertaining and a fun weekend activity. Mailbox slots are uber useful and should be on all front doors. Burglar latches are excellent at preventing entry into homes. Always ask your friends to wait around until you are in the house (imagine if Josephine and I had left Edna to deal with this on her own-some). Lastly, garden hoses are useful in more ways than one imagine.

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Lucy Lawless Mention = Record Day for Dire Mirth

The title says it all. Normally my teeny blog gets 2-6 hits a day. Mostly my close friends who bumble about the Internet. I think a big day would maybe afford 15 visitors. Well, with my last post (regarding Lucy and her Chicago concert), that all changed.

LL = OfftheChart

Over 1,000% increase!

Wow. Now, I used to work as a data analyst (before I began the law school thing), so I know a bit about numbers and trends. It does not, however, take an analyst to notice this is a HUGE deal. The Lucy Lawless/Xena fan-base is an Internet force!

This leads me to what I believe is the next logical question: (ahem. *clears throat)

Can we have a Xena movie now please? Pretty please?

If this random law student in Indiana can have the BIGGEST day in her blog’s history simply by mentioning Lucy’s name in the title (as you’ll notice I did again in a feeble attempt to garner the attention of those with the power) is it not obvious that a movie would do well? I’ll buy a movie ticket. I’ll buy a DVD. I would even tune into the appropriate channel on the debut night to bump up those ole’ Nielsen Ratings (foregoing my DVR, which I love). I reckon the heaps of folks who read my blog over the past few days would do the same.

Just a thought. Hint, hint. Nudge, nudge. 🙂

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