Sunday, July 13, 2008

Help Juniper Lane open for COLDPLAY in DC!

Step one: Go here:

Step 2: Scroll down to 11th video down (5th up from the bottom). You can see Viv in a white shirt with a microphone. The vote button is UNDER the video.

Step 3: Vote for JUNIPER LANE.

Step 4: Tell me, so I can express my undying gratitude.

You can only vote once from each IP address, so TELL YOUR FRIENDS. AND YOUR ENEMIES. AND EVERYONE YOU HAVE EVER EVER MET. And while you're at it, maybe you'd like to vote from work, home, and your iPhone too.....

Monday, June 30, 2008

The Average American

Now, all one has to do is look at modern country musicians (I use those terms lightly) like Toby Keith or pundits like Nancy Grace and see that there must be a large demographic of very dumb Americans. After all, someone has to buy Toby Keith's records and enjoy his sixteen Number 1 hits. Someone is keeping Nancy's ratings up and her contract renewed for additional seasons. I'm going to guess it's not the Harvard grads, or philosophy majors from Berkley. More Americans watch Fox news than PBS. I realize this. Seriously. I do. But, sometimes I forget the extent of the average American's pure ignorance.

Will the Obama educators be successful? I sure hope so, but I'm not holding my breath.


Monday, June 23, 2008

iTunes Drama

After having to reformat my laptop several times, I've finally gotten around to loading all my old mp3s back onto the computer from my external hard drive. Thankfully, I was a good girl and backed up my files. Unfortunately, I never backed up iTunes. That means that I'm starting back from square one on making playlists, deleting duplicate songs, and fixing the tags. My iTunes is currently a hellish jumble of songs with the artists mispelled, album art that I painstakingly added is gone, and the artist AND title all in the title line of the song. I blame my Napster and WinMX days, where there was no iTunes, and I didn't care what the tags looked like in Winamp. My OCD has kicked in, and I want everything to look pretty again. I can't even begin to remake my playlists until I can actually search for an artist or title.

I was an idiot and purchased FIXTunes for the low price of $29.95. Bad idea. It took prefectly tagged songs and completely screwed them up. Metallica's "Enter Sandman" is now suddenly "Mr. Sandman - Bring Me A Dream" by the Chordettes. Snow Patrol's "Chasing Cars" is now "Chasing Cars" by freaking KIDZ Bop!

Suggestions? There has to be some program out there that does this for me. I'm lazy. And, cheap. Help me out here.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Feel Me Flow

My old roommate, Gum Rapper, always enjoyed rapping his newly written rhymes while we cooked dinner. He was kind enough to share a new one with me on Friday. It's about one of my (and his) favorite subjects: international trade.

Countervailing duties/
antidumping self-gratuities/
subsidies to agri-biz/
prevailing incontinuities/
no wonder China cheats among da global trade communities.

Someday, Gum Rapper will be all over MTV. Just wait.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Friday the 13th

Friday the 13th is in full force today. Took the metro from VA to DC around 8:45am, blissfully unaware that anything was wrong. I chose to watch Designing Women and Cheers on TVLand this AM, instead of getting my local news fix on News Channel 8. Started noticing that the stations were quite dark. Got off at McPhereson Square in the pitch dark, actually had to WALK up the escalator. You wouldn't believe the able-bodied people mad about this. Was greeted by no traffic lights, and incredibly cranky traffic police directing traffic. Walk up 13th to my office, to find that the power is out, and it's impossible to get past the lobby. HR and our facilities manager tell us to go home. Whee! Turned around, went back to VA, and I'm now waiting for my pool to open at noon. HAPPY FRIDAY THE 13TH! W00t!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Orange Line Fun

What, oh what, is up with the metro this week? Monday morning, the bus was about 15 minutes late. I called the "next bus" phone line to see what was up. I assumed I'd get an automated service. Nope, I was placed on hold for 10 minutes to speak with an actual person. He phone the bus driver, and learned the bus was "at least 30 minutes behind". I braved the heat and walked to the metro. By Monday afternoon, an orange line train had derailed between Rosslyn and Courthouse. The commute home was clearly chaos due to the single tracking of the trains from DC to VA. At least I wasn't stuck on the derailed train! Tuesday morning, bus about only 10 minutes late. Trains were still backed up at Rosslyn in the morning. Despite leaving my house 45 minutes early, I made it to work just in time for my 9:30 start. Evening time - trains still backed up due to several trains breaking down and unloading passengers. This morning, I made it to work in record time. Was looking forward to a breezy trip home, when guess what??.... there is a "kink in the line" between Ballston and East Falls Church. Despite not needing to pass through either of those stops - single tracking AGAIN. argh. Metro webpage is currently warning that delays will continue throughout this evening. Let's hope it's cleared by morning. Of course, this all has to happen during the hottest week ever, when all the tourists, interns, and recently gas conscious locals are jamming the system for the first time. Serenity now.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Akihabara Stabbings

News of the stabbing spree in Japan on June 8th has really left me disturbed and I can't seem to get it out of my head. Part of it is just the sheer horror of it - imagine having a car drive into a crowd where you're shopping, and the driver get out and just start stabbing people at random. I think what bothers me more though, is this is not an isolated incident in Japan.

Now, I'm not remotely an expert on Japan, their psychology or culture. I lived and worked there as an English teacher right after college, and my opinions on this matter are drawn off of that. I remember my first week teaching in a public Japanese middle school. Instead of a fire drill or tornado drill, they had what I called the "Knife Wielding Psycho Drill." It was shocking. We teachers were instructed to lock down the kids in their classrooms. We had to block to the door and windows with desks, bookcases - anything we could find to keep someone from coming in. The kids were supposed to get creative in their hiding places - in coat closets, under desks. Then, the school principal ran down the hallways, brandishing a ruler, trying to get into the classrooms. At the time, I actually thought it was pretty funny. I mean, who does that? It's one things to usher American high school students into the gym over a phony bomb threat. It's another to see the principal pretending to be a crazed slasher.

Turns out, those drills exist for a reason. In 2001, a former janitor entered an Osaka, Japan elementary school and started stabbing. He killed 8 students and wounded many more students and teachers. In 1997, a 14 year old boy beat to death a 10 year old girl, as well as killed and decapitated an 11 year old boy (he placed the 11 year old's head on the top of the school gate with a note stuffed inside the mouth warning of more attacks to come). While I was living and teaching in Japan in 2004, an 11 year old girl murdered a female classmate during school hours over some messages posted on the internet

I don't have a solution. It blows my mind that such a low-crime country have produce crimes like this. They don't tend to have your run-of-the-mill American crimes like carjacking, rob a liquor store to support your drug habit, etc. They detonate serin gas on subways and slash elementary school kids to death. Until their society as a whole comes up with a better way to deal with those facing despair, mental illness, rejection by society, conflict...whatever you'd like to call it (one of my former colleagues in Japan called people like that "sad at heart"), events like this are going to become more and more common place. Actually, I think by the time these problems come to a head, it's too late. It's something in the culture that produces this kind of crime - is it the pressure to conform, pressure to internalize the pain and never show it, or the pressure to succeed? Are movies like Battle Royale (バトル・ロワイアル Batoru Rowaiaru) and violent cartoon "Ero guro" (エログロ) desensitizing some Japanese to the utter horror of these acts?

I should have been a psychology or sociology major - this would have made for a very interesting senior thesis. It all makes me so sad. Japan is such a beautiful country with a fascinating culture - it's usually very safe. Crimes are so rare there, I think they seem all the more shocking, especially when viewed by the West. Just so sad.