Sunday, November 30, 2008

Pet Peeves

Our dog Sparky hates the sound of a ringing phone. If a phone rings and you go to pick it up, Sparky will jump up and try to bite you. Got me on the leg once. We had to buy tons of stations and install them all over the house.

He doesn't mind cell phones though. It's just the landline with that old-fashioned ring that sets him off.

If you sneeze around Sparky, he gets just as agitated. He also becomes jumpy and barky when you try to close a laptop. Recent experiments have shown that Sparky doesn't like it when you shake your ass at him. He will bark ferociously at said ass.

When you're leaving the house, Sparky will come to see you off. But don't be fooled by the big, sad puppy-dog eyes. When you go, "Bye, doggy" and pet him good-bye, the doggy will attempt to bite your hand off. I got really angry at him today when stupid mutt almost ripped my fave new fingerless gloves.

We wish Sparky could talk, because we honestly have no idea what's so evil about a phone. Why must the laptop stay open? Why can't I sneeze?! Doggy logic is such a mystery. Any guesses?

The Goldie has spoken at 9:44 PM

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Black Friday and School Projects

Our family doesn't do Black Friday. Truth be told, this year, for the first time in my life, I feel somewhat of an urge. Our furniture, that we bought in '98 at a cheapo store, is getting old. And we're the only family that I know without a flat-screen TV. And the kids' computers, that we got them five years or so ago, both are about to crash. Naturally we don't have much in savings, so, short of a miracle, or a Black Friday sale, we don't have a way to replace all these things that need replacing.

That said, we still won't go. After 30 years in soviet/post-soviet Russia, I have an aversion to cold, all-nighters, and, most of all, standing in lines. I just cannot force myself.

Reading through my blogroll today, I saw a post about school projects, and realized: I have the same problem with my children's school projects that I do with Black Fridays. School projects are, in essence, homework for parents. It just so happens that, in ten years of school and five years of college, I've done enough homework and don't want any more. Same old burnout. This is probably why I cannot remember the last time I helped any of the kids with their school projects. CB was lucky(?) because sometimes, his helicopter grandparents would do the project for/with him. LP, not so fortunate. He did everything himself; it came out looking like crap; he got D's and E's; and I commended him for his effort.

If I could see the educational value in any of my kids' school projects, maybe I'd have gotten off my ass and lent a hand. But I couldn't. To me they all looked like an endless succession of busywork. Like scrubbing toilets with a toothbrush in the Army. Fuck that, I'm not going to be an accomplice to this douchebaggery.

Until LP's GPA came into play, I seriously didn't care about his grades. If his report grade went down because he failed to paste some cut-out crap together, so be it. The only thing his grades could affect that I cared about was his advanced/honor placement. To this I say - one, LP never had a teacher so insane as to deny him an honor class recommendation because of sloppy cut-and-paste work. And two, parent overrride.

I have to say though, that in our school system, school projects as a class shriveled up and died soon after elementary school. The last big one that my kids had, was in fifth grade. LP got an E, and in CB's year the project was canceled for the whole fifth grade. I love my school district.

The Goldie has spoken at 10:15 AM

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Just found a post on That's My Answer, and realized I'd rather make it a post on my own blog than answer there, because I'll just ramble on and on. So, what do you think? Are manners important, and have they deteriorated lately in our society as a whole? I've seen this question asked a number of times around the blogosphere, and everyone's knee-jerk reaction is to proclaim: yes, and oh my God yes!!

I have a different opinion (as I often do). My two cents are that manners is not something carved in stone, handed down to us from some nineteenth-century Moses; but that they are instead a changing set of rules, which adjusts to modern-day realities.

I also believe that the Golden Rule alone summarizes all the good manners one would expect from a person. Anything beyond that is, at least, artificial and unnecessary, if not worse.

What irks me the most is the whole gentleman-lady set of rules - you should hold a door, extend a hand, pull out a chair and so on, but only if you're a man, and only for a woman. My take on it is, either do it for everyone, or do it for everyone that needs it at the moment; or don't do it for anyone. But for the love of God, do not single women out, because the underlying concept is that women are helpless creatures that will fall to pieces is Man is not there to pick them up. I'm from Eastern Europe. I've seen the reverse side of this coin. When you apply for a job, only to hear: "Sorry, we don't hire women"; when your friend comes to you complaining that her husband would not do "woman's work" - read, any work - around the house - that's our door-holding chickens coming home to roost!

Don't get me wrong; these rules made sense when a proper woman was a housewife managing a bevy of maids, therefore uncapable of physical exercise (carrying parasols, opening doors) and, instead of jeans and t-shirts, had to wear crinolin dresses (extending hands, pulling out chairs). In other words, two hundred years ago. But now? Demeaning as hell. Don't get me wrong; if a guy does any of these things for me, I'll smile and say thank you, the polite and superficial bitch that I am. I would not, however, be surprised if later, that same guy treats me as his inferior.

I do, however, hear that many women actually enjoy being treated this way, so, to be honest, I don't know what to teach my sons in this regard. I just keep my mouth shut and hope they will figure the right thing out for themselves by observing their peers, whatever that right thing is.

Back to our manners. So, dynamic or static? Webster happens to agree with me:

"Main Entry:
Middle English manere, from Anglo-French, from Vulgar Latin *manuaria, from Latin, feminine of manuarius of the hand, from manus hand — more at manual
12th century
... plural : social conduct or rules of conduct as shown in the prevalent customs (Victorian manners)..."

I would opine that, since our lifestyles change constantly, then so should our prevalent customs, and rules of social conduct. If you don't do unto others what you do not wish on yourself, you will be fine in any day and age. Basically, if you don't want to see another person's half-processed food, along with their dental fillings, then don't chew with your mouth open. And so on. And that is what we should teach to our children.

And that's my answer.

The Goldie has spoken at 2:17 PM

Friday, November 21, 2008

Silent, But Deadly!

Just saw this at a local pharmacy. What marketing genius comes up with this shit? Yeah, sure, that's what every mother wants - a thermometer that would make her baby never wake. Check out how she's aiming it precisely at the baby's temple. Finally looking forward to that uninterrupted sleep, right, mommy, you killer bitch?!

The Goldie has spoken at 4:01 PM

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


An entertaining discussion is unfolding on PAN right now about taking your shoes off when in somebody's house. This reminded me. Can't go into detail, but I am expecting up to 70 people over at my house in a few weeks. This is December in the snow belt, which means the street is full of all kinds of mud and sleet and various ice-melting salts. Since my guests will be parking along the street, they'll be bringing all that cool stuff into my house. Hence my dilemma. I'm going to say up front I don't believe in forcing your guests to take their shoes off. Not only is it IMO rude to the guests, it also requires me, the host, to crank up the heat as my guests are now barefoot. Furthermore, 70 pairs of shoes in a neat pile on the floor is not a sight I'm looking forward to. So that is definitely out. My question to you is, Is there any polite way to offer my guests an option to kinda-sorta wipe their shoes on something when they come into the house? In our group of friends, we wipe 'em with paper towels when we come in. But that's close friends, not a large group of relative strangers. Any ideas?
Two suggestions that I got so far are 1)get a huge rug or a huge piece of carpet and spread it on (& possibly also next to) the porch. And, 2)get a bunch of old towels and have them use those as they come in; replacing the towels as they get dirty. Any other thots? Please share in the comments, I need input badly, the more the better.
Oh yeah, worst case scenario, our carpet is crappy and at least ten years old, so no big deal if it gets a lil dirty. Luckily we never got around to putting in hardwood. I'm just thinking that messy, salty carpet will be a turnoff to the guests themselves.

The Goldie has spoken at 11:38 AM

Friday, November 14, 2008

NaNoReMo and Other Links

This month, I'm participating in Matt Baldwin's answer to NaNoWriMo, National Novel Reading Month. Feel free to join in. We are reading "Lolita".

I am, actually, re-reading it, as I read Lolita for the first time about 20 years ago, and in Russian. Things I noticed so far:

1) The English version is far better written than the Russian. I remember that in the Russian one, some words and phrases were really awkward and unnatural-sounding. It appears that they are carbon-copy translations of equivalent English phrases.

2) I was in my early 20s last time I read it, so I've been used to imagining Humbert Humbert as an older, wrinklish guy. I realized when I opened Lolita this week, that HH had to be in his mid-to-late thirties when the story took place - younger than I am now. That gave me a pause.

3) Before I had a family and life experience, I used to think of HH as a refined European gemtleman, very well-mannered, but most importantly, really polished inside and out. Reading the first few chapters, I saw with a start that HH is, instead, a pompous asshole, full of himself, with no regard for others. Then again, aren't we all? Aren't we all.

In other news, I discovered a lot of good blogs during my recent Internet travels. I finally have a spare minute now, so I'm going to update my links. Enjoy.

PS. Updated. You know lolcats, right? This girl has LOLHOUSE!! As in lolcats+House, MD. Awesome. Go check it out.

The Goldie has spoken at 5:37 PM

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Memories Of On-Call Support

Blogging is like the opposite of sex. You miss a few days, and suddenly you don't feel like doing it anymore. Anyway.

As you may know, in my old job, I did Tier 2 on-call support for six years. I thought I'd never forget this harrowing experience. But I'm starting to. So I'm going to write down at least the parts that I remember.

First, I will hook you guys with a story.


One time, four of us went on a business trip to Toronto. Because the company was strapped for cash, it was required that each two people share a rental car. My teammate Scott and I came in car #1. Anna and Matt were in car #2.

Now, I didn't like Matt, but I didn't know why. Matt was weird. Matt smelled, though this is rather a minor offense in IT. Matt went around telling on people behind their backs, then returned saying: "I just told so-and-so on you". Matt was a nice guy, yet he creeped me out, for reasons yet unknown.

Let me also tell you about Anna. Anna was a very nice woman in her sixties. Sleepless nights and job stress were even harder on her than they were on us.

So, I wasn't really surprised when, on her way to work from our hotel the first morning, Anna made a turn in front of a MAC truck and it hit Anna's rental. It was in a parking lot, so the truck merely made a dent in Anna's passenger door. Matt, however, was in the passenger seat when it happened, and he was not happy.

That evening, Scott, Anna and I went to Chinatown for dinner. If you haven't been to Toronto's Chinatown, go visit there now. It was very different and exciting. We walked around for a while, then ducked into a restaurant that didn't have English menus. Anna and Scott translated the menu for me. The food was delicious, nothing like the greasy, MSG-laden Chinese-American food we had at home. It was very cool.

Over dinner, Anna said:

"Guess what Matt told me today. He said: 'when we're going back home, I won't be riding with you. I'm going to ride with Scott.'"

She paused.

"And then he said: 'Goldie will be riding with you'".

Scott and I just stared. I had been measured, weighed, and found worthless. Matt put a price on my life, and it turned out to be lower than his own. Of course, I didn't for a minute believe that riding with Anna would get one killed, but Matt did. And he did not hesitate to hide behind my back from this perceived death.

"I'll ride with ya," I agreed at once, but Scott didn't like the idea.

"I don't want to ride with Matt. He scares me."

In the end, I went home with Scott, Anna drove alone, and Matt hitched a ride from someone who hadn't heard that monologue of his.

What am I trying to tell you here?

Being on call is a lot like riding in a rental car with an aging, tired woman who is operating on three hours of sleep.

To be efficient at on-call support, you should know your stuff. You should be able to think fast and make split-second decisions. You should be able, on occasion, to hack your data and your file system without breaking everything.

But there is more. You have to work with people.

You get your call from a Tier 1 guy, also known as helpdesk. You talk to the user, who placed the call. You may need to page your teammates, or people on other teams like your database admins and your network admins, to help you fix the problem.

More often than not, it's three in the morning, and the user says they cannot have the machines down for longer than ten minutes. The pressure is incredible. You are all on the front line, together.

This is when you stick for each other and cover each other's back. Or you can be like Matt, but then, you won't last.

More on-call stories to follow, as soon as I dig them out of my memory.

The Goldie has spoken at 2:54 PM

Sunday, November 09, 2008

This Only Applies to DOGS! Sheesh.

So yesterday, we visited a family that also has a dog. Naturally, we played with the pooch all evening. When we came home, Sparky ran out to greet us, as usual. I knew what was coming. He stopped in his tracks, and started sniffing me with a solemn look on his face. He smelled the other dog on me. How can I forgive you for this? his face said.

I tried to reason with him:

"Ahhh, Spoo! So I played with another dog. So what? I still love you more!"

Spoo keeps on sniffing.

"Can't I play with another dog?"

*sniff sniff*

"It's no big deal, Sparky."

*sniff sniff* This dog sure knows how to send us on guilt trips.

"Aw, come on, Sparky, it's just a one-night stand! It doesn't count!"

And right away, I found out these are the wrong words to say to your dog in front of your husband.

*** *** ***

I'm going to go all political on your ass now. So I'm in my Sunday school class today, right? If you remember, I teach Sunday school, fourth grade. Well, assistant-teach, anyway. My partner does most of the work. He's a guy that's relatively new to this church I'm guessing, because I only met him two months ago, when we were paired up. This is an Orthodox church, so you can guess most people there are conservative as heck. I was hoping to avoid talking politics with anyone in church today, but no. It came up in class.

"Kids, we have a new President."

"Yah, really!" one of the kids says. "Who wanted him, anyway?"

The smallest girl in class raised her hand. Nobody else does. She just sits there alone with her hand up.

Now, how can I let a small kid in my class take all the heat, right? I've got to back her up. I raise my hand.

So does my partner. Wow.

Unreal. You guys in the blue states will never understand how it felt.

And then we continued with the lesson.

The Goldie has spoken at 7:18 PM

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Ahhh, finally!

Let us all say goodbye to the nasty ads, political convos in the office, and subtle campaigning from our own elderly parents! No matter what the outcome, this crazy season is over.

Don't forget your free Starbucks today! Sorry, early voters, it seems you're screwed on that one.

The Goldie has spoken at 8:47 AM

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