Saturday, October 27, 2007

You've been nominated for Who's Who in America

Anyone ever get an email with that title? I've gotten one once or twice. The email looks like this.

Dear ,

It is my pleasure to inform you that you are being considered for inclusion in the upcoming 2009 Edition of Who's Who in America®, which is scheduled for publication in October 2008.

Since 1899, when A.N. Marquis published the First Edition of Who's Who in America, business people, researchers, educators, students and others have relied upon its accuracy and currency of information. As we look forward to the publication of our 63rd Edition BLA BLA BLA BORING BORING BLA BLA

To be considered for inclusion in this prestigious publication, you need only provide the requested information by completing our secure and easy-to-use online BLA BLA BORING BLA

The information you provide will be evaluated according to the selection standards Marquis Who's Who has developed over 100 years as the world's premier biographical publisher. If your data passes our initial screening, we will prepare your biography in Marquis Who's Who format and send you a pre-publication proof for your verification and approval.

I congratulate you on the achievements that have brought your name to the attention of our editorial committee. We look forward to hearing from you.


Yadda Yadda.

(I did edit it a little bit, I bet you couldn't tell). When you get it, you get this little hiccup inside. It's like "They like me, they really like me!" Until you realize that they don't even know who you are.

In my case, it's like this. I'm not a somebody, and I'm not a Who's who. I'm a Who's That. As in "who's that over there at our exclusive party and how did he get in here and how do we get him out." Or something. So you get this email and you figure, how much are they going to charge you. And it says they don't (in a post script I didn't bother to paste here). So then you figure, do I have some old high school buddy working for WW that would put my name in as a joke? And then you realize, you only have one old high school buddy, and she writes a brilliant blog and works in a different industry and would tell you if she was working for WW (right, Katy, right???).

So what I figure they do is go through and pick out everyone, say, who has a PhD, or everyone who has published anything just about anywhere. And if they do that, they'd come up with me, just barely. I mean if someone from WW read something I published that pushes the numbers of people who have read my work up to, oh, about one reader. I am definitely among those who is "published" but not at all "read." Even a little. So I should probably be thankful some poor bastard at WW is paid to see if I've published anything. But that doesn't make me a Who's Who. Still pretty much a Who's That.

Not that there's anything wrong with being a Who's That, mind you. Most of us are, right? Let's hear a big rousing cheer from all the Who's Thats out there reading this (thank you both, loyal readers). The tricky thing is sometimes you get this feeling like you're a Who's Who, and that's a dangerous feeling. You start to feel like you're joining the elite club of people who have Made It. Don't ask me where they've Made It to. I really don't know, cause I haven't Made It there. I mean I've made it, if you know what I mean (nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more) but not in the capitalized sense. It feels a little bit like being invited to sit at the cool kids table in mid school. I imagine. And when you think of it that way, there's really only one thing for someone like me to do with an email like this.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Isn't It Supposed to Be Fall?

What the heck is up with this weather forecast? 79 today? 83 tomorrow? Where is this "fall" that I was promised? Are the trees even going to know to change their leaves?

Not that I'm complaining about it today. I woke up at 8 this morning, which was Wrong. It was Wrong because first, I've been having some trouble sleeping again (no surprise there--I have fallen off of every wagon I was on, including taking fish oil, which I suppose proves that we would still have obese people if they invented a real "fat pill"). And second, 8 is Too Late to get the washing machine downstairs. I am drowning in piles of dirty laundry.

Still, fall I was promised, and fall I shall have. This is just a slightly schizophrenic Indian summer--kids are going to be all hot and sweaty in their Halloween costumes.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Life in the Big City

Tonight I had my hair cut by a Russian woman named Svetlana who did all kinds of astonishing things with it (razor cutting and then that thing they do where they pull it in apparently random directions and cut it all straight so that when you run your hands through it it miraculously makes you look like Jane Russell straight from the hayloft). She cut very fast to the beat of dated pop music on the radio and confided to me that she hasn't liked anything since they stopped making disco. She told me 8 million times that I was beautiful, and when she was ready to dry my hair she looked at me and said words that no hairdresser has ever said to me before: "No product, right?" Oh my god. I don't know if she stole my other hairdresser's notes or what (I practically had to threaten him with a gun to restrain him from spraying me with smelly Aveda aquanet), I could have kissed her.

She also did the impossible. She tamed my hair's tendency toward the librarian. I tuck my hair behind my ears a lot. It tends to make me look like I'm auditioning for Marian the Librarian in "The Music Man." Except that the casting director would sniff at me like Michael Kors judging Project Runway and say "There's librarian, and then there's dowdy." I know that the right hairdresser can sabotage my unfortunate habit, but it's almost impossible for most of them to believe that anyone would deliberately engage in compulsive behavior that makes them less attractive. There is almost no way I can tuck my hair behind my ears. First of all it's so fluffy that it just won't stay anywhere. And secondly these windblown-looking little tendrils escape and fall over my face. It's very exciting.

And then I came home and ordered a monstrous amount of Thai food, which came to my doorstep. There are at least four meals here, and it was $20. I want to cry, I'm so happy.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

It's Cold!

I know that this is sick, and anyone who's actually reading this can feel free to remind me that I'm crazy when the dead of winter comes, but it's finally cold here!!!! First of all, that means I can put my air conditioner in the basement, which gives me like two extra square feet in my living room. That may not seem like much, but since the whole apartment is 380 square feet, two extra ones in the room you spend the most time in is a HUGE asset. HUGE, people.

Also, I am so excited about the cold weather. This is ridiculous, I know. I hate being cold. I hate it a lot. But ironically, that's why I enjoy cold weather. Allow me to explain:
  1. You can add more clothes when you are cold. There is a limit to what you can take off when it's hot. Even if you're an exhibitionist, you can be butt-naked and still feel like you're in the pit of hell.
  2. Other people think it should be warm when it's cold out. In other words, for once they agree with me!!!! No more office at 60 degrees! No more wearing a wool sweater when it's dripping hot outside!
  3. I look more attractive when it's cold. I can wear tights to hide my cellulite! I don't need to have my cleavage properly ventilated (although I do enjoy that). I can wear attractive scarves without looking like a librarian!
  4. I get to wear boots!
  5. Wool socks! Hooray!
I'm really excited. The down side is that I can't put any of my summer clothes away. I will pretty much have to wear tank tops when I'm in my home, because the baseboard heat makes it about 80 in my house. Not that I mind 80, but you can't exactly wear your wool sweater in there.

Small price to pay. Just like the obscenely expensive long underwear I just bought...

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Tivo Fakeout

Today I got my cable hooked up, which means that I can finally enjoy the glory of my new TV and my new Tivo. I had read horrible things about the cable card installation process, and the lady on the phone at Time Warner really had no idea what I was talking about. But the dude on the truck really did know what he was up to, and once he was here he got everything squared away in record time.

This is the first time I've had a Tivo with two tuners in it, though, so tonight at 7:00 I decided to check and see whether it was recording Ugly Betty as it was supposed to. I looked and saw the little red light on, and I was thinking, "ohboyohboyohboy," but when I turned the TV on, it was Iron Chef. Confused Tivo, I thought, and went back to do what it told me to, which was to complete guided setup.

Turns out I was confused. My Tivo was saying, "I'm busy recording Ugly Betty, but maybe you'd like to watch Iron Chef while I finish." D'oh. So now I have 18 minutes of Ugly Betty, which was supposed to be my inaugural program on the new Tivo. Oh well. I'm sure I'll come to terms with the luxury given time.

Kitchen Duds

I love watching Gordon Ramsay on television, and I'm even willing to watch "Hell's Kitchen," even though it's not nearly as good as any of his UK programs. But I'm not sure the American version of "Kitchen Nightmares" is going to make its way onto my regular viewing schedule. The first couple of shows were pretty good, but now that I've seen the third one they all seem...a bit samey.

There's a lot wrong with it. The voiceover narration ("we are all out of footage, so let us show you the canopy outside and tell you what happened next..."), the sheer profusion of cameras (they shouldn't ever have to resort to voiceover, with all those cameras around), the overnight makeovers. I have a lot of quibbles, but I think the last straw is the hugging. Of all the adjectives I'd use to describe Gordon Ramsay, not one of them is "huggable." But hugging him seems to be a tradition. He's going to think we're a bunch of wackadoo huggers over here in the states. Which we are, compared to most English people with a camera all up in their personal business, but still. I guess it's nice that these folks are overcome with gratitude. It just seems staged.

So disappointing! Thank goodness for BBCAmerica.

The Sound of Brooklyn

Sometimes, late at night, as I'm drifting off to sleep, I just lie in the dark and listen to the noise of the city. Or, as luck would have it, the noise of the other folks in my building, which is infinitely more entertaining.

My super and I have discovered that both of our upstairs neighbors are obsessed with cleaning at odd hours. His neighbor vacuums at midnight. Midnight! Last night I was finishing a book, and at 2 a.m. my upstairs neighbor started scrubbing something. Something hollow and resonant and on the floor. I wanted to be outraged, but I was just too tired.

But that's nothing. More puzzling is the fact that somewhere in my building, the AFLAC duck has swallowed an angora sweater. It's been hacking away all summer trying to cough it up. Someone needs to feed that duck some ipecac. I mean, it's a duck, not a billy goat. At least, I think it is. It's certainly not human...

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

3000 Hours Painlessly Donated

This article is amazing. It has to do with the effort to scan books so that they can be accessed electronically, and the issues that optical character readers (OCR's) have deciphering distorted or poor-quality texts. You know those words that you have to type in to comment at websites or to search for tickets at Ticketmaster? This program feeds words that the OCR fails to recognize into those sites, so that humans logging into websites effectively correct the OCR's mangled version of the text. So people are painlessly donating 3000 hours a day to the effort of digitizing books. How awesome is that?

My only issue with the article is this. How on earth do you get CAPTCHA out of Completely Automated Turing Test To Tell Computers and Humans Apart? I get CATTTTCHA. Does the P somehow mean that there are four T's?