ASK Musings

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Monthly Archive: November 2008



November 2008



Thanksgiving 2008

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I had such a great Thanksgiving yesterday. It started out with a bit of a challenge – the Turkey Trot! No, it is not an intestinal issue resulting from too much Thanksgiving goodness; it’s a five-mile run in Prospect Park on Thanksgiving morning. And, I’ve been running for three weeks, so OF COURSE I’m totally ready for five miles. I’ve never run more than two at a time, but hey, whatever. 

I had two goals – to finish in under an hour (I’ve been running just under a 10-minute-mile pace for my two-mile runs), and to not stop to walk. I’m quite happy to report I accomplished both goals! Even on the painful uphill during the third mile, I jogged. As I neared the finish line my legs actually felt a little like Jell-o. But Santa was there, ringing a bell and pushing us, so I made it. And my final time was 51:55. I came in 902 out of 1288. So, y’know, in the 25th percentile. Sweet!

In the afternoon I grabbed my desserts and headed over to Herman and Kathleen’s, where they were, for the third time, hosting us orphans. It’s always a fun evening – we’re even getting to the point where we look forward to each other’s side dishes. Instead of missing my mother’s potatoes, I look forward to Megan’s sweet potato cranberry marshmallow dish. Herman makes a WICKED turkey, and we have enough side dishes to feed us all for a few days.

Plus, there are a lot of laughs as we down mulled wine. Last night we played pit, which is a great game for a group of people with a few drinks in them.

This year I’m thankful for so much. I have a job I like that fits with my education and training. I’m jamming with some friends every week or so. I’ve started running and I’m really enjoying it. I get to live by myself, within walking distance from nearly all of my NYC friends. And, of course, the big ones – I’m generally healthy. I have a great family, and friends whose kindness, humor and general awesomeness I cannot begin to describe.

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving and were able to take some time to think about what really matters to you right now. 



November 2008



Huh. It Really Is Who You Know

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My dear friend Herman came into our staff meeting this morning and didn’t look like he was having a good day. I thought maybe it had a bit to do with preparing to host us orphans tomorrow, but Herman doesn’t really stress out about things like that. I was sort of right, and sort of wrong. He wasn’t so much stressed about having us over; he was stressed about not being able to have us over. Let me share the story (it has a happy ending).

Herman and Kathleen moved into their apartment over a year ago. They each moved from apartments where their respective landlords paid for the natural gas. When they moved into their current apartment, they were told only that they had to turn on the electric, not the gas. And the gas was on, so they didn’t think to double check that they didn’t have to put the gas in their name or anything like that. Given their past experience – and the fact that the landlord made a point to say it was the electric they needed to turn on (but NOT gas) – this makes sense to me.

So National Grid didn’t have their information. They claimed they sent notices over the last year, and maybe that’s true. My guess is the person who lived in the apartment before Herman and Kathleen had his or her mail forwarded, and when he or she saw letters from National Grid threw them out without opening them. National Grid ALSO claimed they sent letters addressed to “occupant.” Doubtful. Herman and Kathleen are two of the most conscientious people I’ve ever met – if they got even one notice, they would have addressed the issue immediately.

Want to know how they found out about the issue? National Grid decided to shut off their gas. 

The day before Thanksgiving. 


Seriously. EVEN IF National Grid sent the notices as often as they claim (which I doubt), how can they shut off someone’s gas without any REAL notice? I hold the landlord and the super mostly responsible – the landlord should have told Herman and Kathleen that they were responsible for setting up the gas, and the super could have been a decent person and called Herman and Kathleen and said hey – National Grid is shutting off your gas. But that didn’t happen.

Why was this such a big deal? Oh, because National Grid said that they wouldn’t come back to turn it on until December 5.

I find this to be an absurdly poor corporate practice. It’s Thanksgiving – it’s not even a religious holiday. It’s one of the three or four holidays damn near EVERYONE in this country celebrates. And, unlike, say New Year’s Eve, it completely and totally involves COOKING. Why would they have a policy of shutting off gas (without giving notice), and of doing it right before a holiday? I just don’t get it. If you must shut it off – do it the day AFTER the holiday.

I spent some time on the phone as Kathleen trying to see what could be done to get the gas back on. Nothing. No movement. It was kind of entertaining – I did keep letting the person know that I knew they weren’t responsible, but I also let them know how amazed I was at how poorly this was handled.

My apartment is too small to house the ten people, and my oven wouldn’t fit the turkey, so for awhile we were trying to figure out where we could celebrate. Ben and Bonnie did say they could open their home – but they are all the way out in Bushwick, which would have been a tough trek with food from Park Slope / Prospect Heights.

But then – someone we know knows someone at National Grid. So Herman called. And that person? Took it on. Was able to talk to someone else who talked to someone else. And guess what? As of 6:30 PM, the gas was back on. Thanksgiving is on.

Most everyone could have handled this better. Herman and Kathleen probably should have double checked on the gas when they moved in – but given their history, why would they? I’ve never had to pay for garbage collection, so it wouldn’t occur to me to make sure I was paying that bill or that it was in my name.

The landlord DEFINITELY should have told Herman and Kathleen that they needed to set up the gas in their name. That’s really the only way they would find that information out. And the Super should have given Herman and Kathleen a heads up that the gas was being turned off – the Super is well aware that people are living in that unit, and he’s even met them. Is it his responsibility legally? No. But as a compassionate person I would say yeah, he should have done something.

And finally, National Grid. You REALLY should re-evaluate your policy about shutting off gas. Waiting OVER A YEAR and THEN turning it off the day before Thanksgiving, and not having anyone available to turn the gas back on in case (as in this situation), it should not have been turned off in the first place? SO NOT COOL.

In the grand scheme of things – tonight as I type this I’m watching the horror going on in Mumbai – this is not a big deal. Not even a small deal. But it was a completely unnecessary stress, and I think we could all do without those this time of year.



November 2008




Written by , Posted in Adventures

Okay, so finally. What two of you have been waiting for. The reunion debrief.

I met up with Jen and Kelly (and their respective husbands) at Melissa’s house. It was really sweet – her parents opened up their home to a few of us for some pre-reunion drinking. Good times. But it did get awkward pretty quickly – a couple of other who Jen, Kelly and I didn’t really know well (but are friends of Melissa) showed up, and it was a little tense when Jen accidentally called one by the wrong name. Um, so that’s a good tone. Getting annoyed that someone doesn’t know your name ten years after they last thought of you? Yeah, dial it down ladies.

We made it out to the reunion and there was definitely a moment of panic when I walked into the (way too well-lit) room. It was just – ugh. Lots of people I hadn’t seen or thought of in a decade, plus, thankfully, a smattering of people I really, really wanted to see.

It seemed that almost everyone I talked to was doing well. People were nice, friendly, and didn’t seem to be trying hard.

And I say almost – because DAMN. There were two women there who were dressed SO hilariously inappropriately. Like, clothing that would make one say ‘oh ew’ at a club. I’m not going to lie and say I don’t ever judge people, but I do understand that people have different styles and that’s cool – much more interesting than if we all wore clothes from the Gap – but these outfits were just hilarious. And totally perfect for the girl who hasn’t grown up since high school.

There were definitely a few memorable moments. Coming out of a stall in the bathroom to find a group of girls taking swigs from a flask, being asked to join them, and doing it. Introducing myself to someone I apparently knew in high school (oops!). Being one of just three people living it up on the dance floor.

I’m really glad I went – I reconnected with a couple of people I had definitely missed over the years, and saw some people I’d wondered about (and no longer have to wonder about because, y’know, eh). If there’s a 20-year I’ll probably go.



November 2008



Proposition 8: What’s with the hate, California?

Written by , Posted in Feminism

There are a few things about this proposition that I just don’t get. 

1 – Is it just about gay? If so, why? Despite what some bigoted pastors and priests say, being gay (according to the Bible) is not any more of an abomination than, say, wearing a suit made from mixed cloths. It takes a special, completely ignorant reading of the Bible, stretching the understanding of what’s written in it (and of course putting aside the interests of those who wrote it in the first place), to find support for this hatred. For a much more eloquent take on the Biblical aspect of this, I highly recommend this great film: “For the Bible Tells Me So.” Clearly, using religion to support hatred happens all the time, but regardless, it’s unconstitutional for the state to endorse religion is such a way. So it can’t (legally, at least) be just about this.

2 – Is it about tradition? If so, how is that a reasonable argument? Tradition is what kept black people from being allowed to marry white people in 16 states as recently as 40 years ago. That’s creepy. Tradition is not always right, frankly, and while there may be some skinheads up in Idaho who still think the races shouldn’t mix, for most people it’s a given that it is well within a black person’s rights to marry a white person, and vice versa. So clearly tradition can change.

And, as Jon Stewart pointed out so hilariously on his show last week, ‘traditional’ marriage has been kind of a crock of s–t. It was about securing property and control – why do you think women traditionally changed their last name when they got married? I certainly don’t want to be forced into a marriage and required to provide a dowry. I don’t think the ‘traditional’ concept of marriage was all that good – why do the Mormon and Catholics who supported this measure seem to think that loveless marriages secured based on property decisions are the ones that should remain the model?

3 – Is it about family? I’ve heard some say marriage exists solely for the purpose of family, and by family, they mean at least a kid or two. If that’s the case – why haven’t the supporters of Prop 8 also introduced propositions to prevent women who have gone through menopause from marrying? I mean, they certainly won’t be having any kids. Or what about people who are naturally infertile? Should there be a fertility test? Should all couples, when applying for a marriage license, also sign their pledge to reproduce? No? Okay then. This argument is clearly ridiculous.

The point, for me, is this – it is not okay for the majority to deny civil rights to the minority. It’s not okay to prevent blacks from marrying whites, and it’s not okay to prevent gays from marrying each other. 


I believe marriage is a very precious thing. It’s pretty amazing to think that so many people find someone with whom they want to spend their entire life. That’s beautiful, and something that should be celebrated and supported, not denigrated with hatred and bigotry.

Keith Olbermann put it quite eloquently last night; I encourage you to read his message.



November 2008



A Beautiful Day

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I bought the New York Times for the first time in my life today. And apparently I’m not the only one – they had to do a second printing! 

I’m listening to the fabulous U2 track Beautiful Day, just enjoying it. I know that this isn’t the solution to the problems of the country – it’s just the first step that will allow us to try to implement the solutions we need. 

But man, it’s so, so good to have the chance to make a difference, you know? And I do work for the government, and even though it’s the city, we work with the federal government, which means I will have the opportunity to do some work with this administration. To see first hand how his implementation of his ideas really works in the policy sense.

And can I just say? I could not be happier with the small, wonderful group of friends I got the pleasure of being with last night as we jumped up and down, cried and cheered when the race was called at 11 PM Eastern. We had a time.

Finally – to any friends of mine who may have voted for McCain – please don’t worry. Seriously. The Apocalypse is not upon us. Our morals are not going to go down the tube. Money is not going to be pried from the rich and used to purchase Bentleys for people on welfare. And I don’t mean that sarcastically – I know of at least one person who liked Obama but was was ‘terrified’ of his economic policies.

But please, for once, trust us liberals. Let’s see what we can do with the country.



November 2008



Yes We Can

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And we did.

I feel like I can sleep tonight. I can’t believe it. I can’t believe it. He won. We won. The country won. I cried when it was called, and I cried when he spoke. And frankly, McCain’s graciousness even touched me.

I have hope. A lot of hope.



November 2008



A Busy End to the Fall

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That’s me as Sarah Palin on Halloween. I figured out how to do my hair like her’s (when she does the half-up thing with just bobby pins). I hope she loses for many reasons, but one is so that I can start doing my hair like that. Seriously, it’s so easy!

Monday night the Trouble Clef kids (name still pending) got together for an abbreviated jam session. It was really fun. We think we’ve got a set list, and now just need to really work on the songs.

Tuesday night I had an Alumni association meeting. Heh. Oh, so, so much better than when this guy who took himself WAY TOO SERIOUSLY was in charge. It’s almost – almost – fun.

Wednesday Herman and I saw “Saw V.” Still gory, but not as creepy as the past ones, I’d say. We’ll see how Saw VI is (they’re casting for it now, I believe in a reality show).

Thursday I attended a really interesting talk about ETA and the Basque country, and how they compare to the IRA and Northern Ireland. I’m not so familiar with that area of the world, but I loves me some northern Irish, so I plan to read the book eventually. I like these academic talks.

Finally, Halloween. I thoroughly enjoyed talking in Palin’s accent all night. There were two other Palins at the party, and all were a little different. Perfect.

But the best part? Ben is back from Africa! It was really great to see him. A surprise for his wife, for sure – he’s back almost a month early.

Happy November!