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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Lynn's LiveJournal:

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Wednesday, May 30th, 2012
9:49 am
Yay formula
I intended to exclusively breastfeed with Pia, but I quickly learned that my supply was insufficient. She failed to gain weight in the first couple of days, and her weight dropped from the 11th percentile at birth to below the 2nd percentile. The low weight put her at a risk for jaundice, so the doctors monitored her carefully. Pia's pediatrician strongly recommended supplementing her diet with formula. I'd hoped to avoid using formula, since I knew it was inferior to breastmilk and was expensive.

My sister-in-law was generous enough to pump extra milk for Pia, so we started supplementing some with breastmilk. Pia gained weight, but she was still below 6 lb. Eventually I reconciled myself to the fact that formula would be necessary. Pia continued to receive some breastmilk from Amber and me, but she needed more than that.

Once she was finally getting enough to eat, Pia started to thrive. It took her three weeks to regain her birth weight (6 lb, 5 oz), but she reached 8 lb about 10 days after that. She slept a lot better once she wasn't hungry. Her skin lost its red hue.

Based on my experience, then, formula seemed to be some kind of miracle drug. Breastmilk alone left my baby red and sickly, while with formula she put on weight and gained strength. All for a mere 8 cents per ounce. I really don't understand how this is considered expensive, especially compared to purchased breastmilk, which retails for $2-$3/oz. We pay less than $2 a day for formula, and we're happy to pay it.
Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012
1:18 pm
I recently finished the John Grisham's "The Confession," which is less novel than "argument against the death penalty in novel form." In the book, days before a confessed killer's execution, another man shows up and confesses to the crime. There weren't many shades of gray, as the man on death row was (spoiler alert!) completely innocent and many of the lawyers were corrupt, etc.

Still, it was interested to ponder just how much weight an inmate's confession might have on proceedings. I don't trust confessions from tortured prisoners, but I'm increasingly realizing that very few confessions are given freely.

Last summer, Jacob and I watched a not-great reality TV show called "Take the Money and Run." Two contestants had 60 minutes to hide a briefcase filled with money before being taken to prison where the contestants were held captive for the next 48 hours. They had to answer any question posed to them by interrogators but were free to lie. If the money was not found within the 48 hours, the contestants won it.

To me, this was the lowest stakes form of captivity possible, as the interrogators had no power over the contestants. The contestants did not break any laws, so they couldn't be threatened with a longer or reduced jail sentence. The length of captivity was known. There were TV cameras, so there was no threat of violence.

Nevertheless, close to half of the episodes ended with the contestants breaking and telling the interrogators where to look. Clearly, just being in captivity wreaked havoc. Because of this show, I have an easier time understanding why an innocent man - having nothing else to say and being in a much higher stakes situation - could confess to a crime he didn't commit.
Sunday, February 12th, 2012
11:23 am
New domain name
FYI, I updated my personal webpage to www.lynn.garcowski.com.
Thursday, September 15th, 2011
3:20 pm
Pia's birth
I first started noticing some cramping on Sunday, July 18th, which developed into contractions every 20-30 minutes by that evening. They continued throughout the night but didn't get stronger or more frequent, so I assumed they were the famed Braxton Hicks contractions. (I spent much of the 19th googling the difference between BH and “real” contractions, but what I was experiencing was inconclusive, as they didn't get better when I changed position, but also didn't increase in frequency or intensity.)

By around 8:00 PM of the 19th, though, my contractions appeared to be getting stronger. Jacob encouraged me to call my doctor, but I knew he wouldn't send me to the hospital until the contractions were 5 minutes apart. The first time the contractions were separated by 5 minutes, I made the call and learned my favorite OB was on call. Dr. Placide told me to come in, so Jacob and I headed to the hospital.

We were sent to the triage center, where I had my vital signs checked and my dilation checked for the first time. (I'd not seen the point in checking my dilation at my previous OB appointments, as 1) I thought my due date was at least a week too early, so I had a while before I'd deliver, and 2) I didn't understand the point if the doctor wouldn't see me until my contractions were 5 minutes apart anyways. Once at the hospital, though, it may have been useful to have a better idea whether the 3-4 cm I was at was the work or a night or a week.) At any rate, our nurse Krista sent me to walk around until 1 AM to see whether I'd progress or not.

My contractions were worst when I was standing up, so I wanted to have a chair available when the next contraction came. I made my base at the waiting room and walked about 30 feet down the hall and back between contractions. By 1 AM, I'd progressed to a solid 4 cm, and I was admitted to a room.

At this point I was asked whether I wanted an epidural. The original original plan was to take an epidural the minute it was offered to me. After learning at birthing class that an epidural before 5 cm could slow down labor, I decided to wait until I was at 5 cm. Once I was actually experiencing contractions, I decided 4 cm was close to 5 cm, and I asked for my epidural. Also, I was told that I'd need to get hydrated with an IV, so it would be at least 45 minutes before the epidural would be given, so I could make progress in the meantime. Indeed, by the time I walked to my room, was hooked up the IV, was sufficiently hydrated, and had my water broken, it was 3 AM, and I was at 5 cm. So, I unwittingly met both of my birthing plans.

The baby initially responded poorly to the epidural, as her heart rate decreased. This was scary of course, but her heart rate improved quickly when they gave me some medication through the IV and changed my position. The doctors also decided to better monitor the baby's heart rate by sticking a probe into her head. I was glad we'd talked about this in childbirth class, as Jacob and I at least knew what was happening.

The epidural effectively blocked any feeling I had of the contractions, so I was able to get some sleep between 4 and 6 AM. Around 6, Krista told me I was at 10 cm and could push soon. She reconfigured the bed to get my legs in the right place and gave me a quick tutorial on how to push (Grab my legs below the knees, breathe in quickly, and hold the breath while pushing out. Repeat three times for each contraction.)

I expected to wait for Dr. Placide before pushing, but Krista had me start earlier. After only ~4 contractions, she saw the baby's head, and we then waited for the doctor. After about 3 more contractions with Dr. Placide, Pia was born at 6:47 AM. They placed a blanket on my chest, slightly cleaned her off, and placed her on the blanket. This was slightly awkward, as Pia was still somewhat bloody, and I wasn't sure whether I was supposed to touch her or not. I ended up just smiling at her and talking to her. Jacob declined to cut the cord, so Dr. Placide did that, and then handed Pia off to the nurses in the room for washing, weighing (6 lb, 5.4 oz), and measuring (19”).

Aunt Amber and Uncle Jason visited over lunchtime, and all four grandparents arrived by dinnertime.
Monday, June 27th, 2011
7:04 pm
National Anthems, continued.
I previously posted about my love of National Anthems.

Since then, I requested and received a big book of national anthem sheet music for Christmas. I've enjoyed the book quite a bit in the last six months, but it's been especially useful now that the Women's World Cup has started. Every match begins with two anthems, and I get to practice my sight-reading skills as I sing along.

If he were watching by himself, Jacob would prefer to skip over the anthems entirely. Now that I have the music, I'm tempted to watch each National Anthem twice. I like to see the starting lineup during the anthem, so ideally I'd sing along once, rewind, and watch the players once. Thus far we've compromised by watching the anthems just the once, and I try to split my vision between the sheet music and the TV. I figure with enough time I'll learn the most important anthems by heart and then I can sing while watching the players.
Sunday, March 6th, 2011
10:24 am
I just finished Gore Vidal's Burr, the book which Michelle Bachmann claims converted her from a Democrat to a Republican. My motivation to read the book was largely to understand this claim (and to have a better understanding of Aaron Burr beyond the milk commercial), but after reading it, I still don't get Bachmann. (I probably shouldn't be surprised by this point.)

I didn't understand how the politics of the book would convert her. After all, the issues discussed in the book (the Louisiana Purchase, political machinations to elect one man versus another, etc) seem far enough removed from the issues of today that I don't see a strong connection between political parties then and now.

It turns out, though, that Bachmann's issue was with the tone of the book. Since the author (a Democrat) "mocks" the Founding Fathers, Bachmann decided she must be a Republican. Personally, I agree that the tone is snarky, but I thought the book humanized the Fathers, or at least gave them human ambitions and foibles. So, no, there's no canonization in the book, but I didn't expect there to be. People - and perhaps especially politicians - look out for their own interests.

At any rate, her argument makes no sense to me. I'm a liberal because I think about the issues in a certain way. My choices, in turn, are dictated by my morality (equal rights for gay people!) and my personal self-interest (it's okay to tax the richest 2% of people at a higher rate!). Whether one party is considered more or less patriotic does not come into it. Even if I cared more about patriotism, how does that trump the actual bills and issues discussed in Congress? Would she really vote against her beliefs to be seen as more patriotic? Or did she not have very strong beliefs to begin with?
Sunday, December 26th, 2010
9:24 am
Sorry, Annabella
My two year old niece Annabella leaves her shoes all over my in-law's house, so it wasn't surprising when we couldn't find one of the shoes as we prepared to leave for Christmas Eve celebrations. What was odd was that the shoe was still missing after 30 minutes of searching. We finally punted, put Annabella into her too-small shoes, and headed out.

During the gift exchange, I pulled out the afghan I'm crocheting so I could make some progress. As I was putting it back into its bag, though, I noticed that it was a little extra heavy. In addition to the skein of yarn, the blanket was also supporting a six 6 Mary Jane shoe. The velcro had caught on the yarn earlier in the day, and I'd packed the shoe away into my crocheting bag.

I'm calling this a freak accident, as I'd like to think I'm not in the habit of stealing shoes from two year olds.
Thursday, November 18th, 2010
9:23 pm
Hang Up and Listen
Last night was the much-anticipated Hang Up and Listen live podcast in Raleigh. Much-anticipated by me, at least, as I’m a big fan of the online newsmagazine Slate.com and its podcasts. Other Slate podcasts had previously recorded their shows live, but only in large metropolitan areas like New York City, Philadelphia, and Chicago. When Hang Up and Listen announced their first live podcast about a month ago, then, I thought to myself, “There’s no chance they’ll say Raleigh.” But… Raleigh it was. I promptly added myself to the HUaL’s facebook page so I could register for tickets the moment they were available.

A bit later, HUaL posted on facebook that they were looking for Raleigh residents to help publicize the show. I offered to help, which resulted in a short email conversation with Josh Levin, Slate’s sports editor and the moderator of the podcast. That interaction made any publicity I’d do more than worthwhile, I thought. The posters arrived last Wednesday, and on Saturday Jacob and I drove around to local libraries, sports bars, and the NC State campus to hang them up.

To thank us for our contribution, Jacob and I were invited to the private post-podcast dinner at a local steakhouse. We were informed that TIAA-CREF, the sponsor of the evening, would be picking up the tab for the valet parking. Clearly, this was a much nicer restaurant than Jacob and I frequent.

Since I hadn’t had much luck talking up the podcast to my friends (it turns out a live podcast is less exciting if you aren’t familiar with the people involved), I had no idea how many people to expect last night. I’d feel really bad after “publicizing” the event to only have Jacob and myself there…Happily, the event was decently attended, with probably a little more than 120 people there. We were allowed to sit in the reserved section, so we ended up in the center with a clear view of the stage.

The podcast itself was quite entertaining, with discussions of college basketball and football. I’d never heard of guests Julius Hodge and Anson Dorrance until I learned they would be on the show (I then wikipediaed them), but both were interesting. I particularly liked Dorrance (crazy-successful coach of the UNC women’s soccer team) and his talk of the differences in coaching men and women. However, he missed one question is his lightning round. The best national anthem is clearly Uruguay’s.

After the show, we introduced ourselves to Josh, Mike, and Stefan. This was only Jacob’s second HUaL podcast, but he’d read Stefan’s book about kicking in the NFL, so he brought a football for Stefan to sign. We talked Strongsville HS mascots with Mike and ultimate with Josh.

A little after 8, we headed over to the restaurant. Slate had a private room at the back of the restaurant with capacity for ~30 people. I recognized some of the people from the podcast, but some others appeared to be TIAA CREF people who’d skipped the show. I have no idea what the requirements were to be invited to the event in general, as our table was composed of the hard core Slate fans who’d hung up flyers. (Or in the case of the Poli Sci prof, made one of his students do it.) Coincidentally, the other couple at our table were Case alumni who were on campus the same time as us. (I recognized the woman, but we never definitively figured out the reason.) As with me, the others seemed to be bigger fans of Slate in general than sports specifically, so the conversation was less sports-centric than I’d feared. Definitely interesting people and conversation.

As expected, the dinner was super-swank. In addition to the nice appetizers, there was an open bar (I stuck with my cabernet sauvignon, which kept on getting refilled for me… always dangerous) and for the sit down dinner we had options for soup/salad, entrée, and dessert. (I went with the spinach salad/Chilean sea bass/Bananas Foster bread pudding combo.)

The Slate guys worked their way around the room, and we had the opportunity to talk to the director of Slate V and the Sales and Marketing guy in addition to Mike, Josh, and Stefan. We ended up sticking around long enough that at one point we had the entire Hang Up and Listen panel at our table. It was 11:30, but I wasn’t going to argue against this. When we did leave, one of the Slate men mentioned that “there were still a couple of books left.” I’d noticed that there was a stack of Stefan’s books in the corner but didn’t realize that these were free copies. So, on the way out, I got Stefan to sign my new free copy of Word Freak. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any better…

So, thank you so much, Slate and TIAA CREF. I had a fantastic time, and – if it’s possible - I’m an even bigger fan of Slate and Hang Up and Listen now.
Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010
8:29 pm
Rally to Restore Sanity
This past weekend, Jacob and I went to The Rally to Restore Sanity (and/or Fear). I remember being a little confused by the concept when the rally was first announced on The Daily Show. (What exactly would happen at their rally? Does the Daily Show really want to restore sanity, given that they spend a good chunk of their show making fun of the extremists?) Nonetheless, Daily Show devotees that we are, Jacob and I made our plans to attend, inviting ourselves to our DC friends’ apartment and contacting other college friends.

We left our friends’ apartment at 9:05 AM on Saturday, anticipating that we’d arrive at the rally site between 10 and 10:30, with the rally starting at noon. Even at 9, though, the Metro was pretty busy, and between not fitting on the first train and the crowds aboveground, it was 11:15 by the time we reached the Mall. We crowded as far forward as we could (maybe 1/3 of the way from the front?) and waited. Much of our entertainment came from reading the signs and watching people attempt (and mostly succeed) to climb trees for a better view. My favorite signs:

- “Caps lock is not a persuasive argument.”
- “Let’s make a rally baby” (with a cartoon drawing of Colbert’s head on a baby’s body)
- “Racial profiling makes me feel safe” (held by a woman in a head scarf)
- “Type of American” with check boxes for “Real” and “Other, I guess?”

At noon, there was a countdown to the start of the rally. The Roots played, with John Legend joining, until 12:40. The Mythbusters guys did some “experiments” with the crowd by having us do the wave and all jump at the same time. I did appreciate when the wave was started simultaneously at the front and back of the crowd, as it helped us put our position into perspective. Around 1, we finally saw Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. I generally enjoyed any time they were talking but found the musical guests (Cat Stevens, Ozzy Osbourne, The O’Jays, Jeff Tweedy, Tony Bennet, Sheryl Crow, Kid Rock) a little beside the point. I may have just been grumpy after standing for four hours. At any rate, the Stewart/Colbert banter was good, with

- Medals for Sanity and Fear
o Sanity:
§ Tigers pitcher who was denied his perfect game
§ Woman who politely held Obama accountable at a Q and A session
§ Man who grabbed the Koran from the FL minister so he couldn’t burn it

o Fear:
§ News organizations who forbade reporters from attending the rally. This one was accepted by “someone with more courage” than the organizations: a 7 year old girl.
§ Mark Zuckerberg (ie Facebook) – I yelled “woo” but I appeared to be the only one
§ Anderson Cooper’s tight black shirt

- Sam Waterstone reading a poem by Stephen Colbert
- A duet/sing along with Colbert and Stewart
- Some interaction between the Daily Show correspondents and the crowd
- A final plea for sanity from Jon Stewart that was surprisingly touching.

My friends and I wished that the last talk from Jon Stewart had been earlier and longer. I do understand, though, that he’s working hard to balance the comedic and the political. Really, though, the main sentiment of this rally (Think for yourself and be respectful of others’ opinions, aka “Don’t be a douche”) isn’t that overtly political.

Given the size the crowd (estimates of 200,000+ people) I was actually quite impressed by the respect and support of the rally-goers. Indeed, my favorite moment of the rally had nothing to do with The Daily Show. During one of the slower musical acts, the crowd around me got a little bored and noticed this guy struggling to climb a tree. Someone started chanting “Yes you can! Yes you can!” and we got maybe 500 people to join in. The guy continued to struggle, but his friend essentially climbed up beneath him to push him up the tree. He knew his friend couldn’t fail with so many people watching and rooting for him. When the top guy finally reached the juncture, we gave him a big cheer.
Tuesday, October 26th, 2010
7:05 pm
Disc-usted with myself (oh yes I did)
I’m getting frustrated by my lack of contribution to my ultimate team. I’ve played four seasons now (three falls and one spring), but I don’t think I’m adding anything to the team that I didn't my first season. My throwing and catching skills are slowly improving, but I’ve realized that it’s kind of a moot point if I never use them. I’ve been playing too timidly in general and especially in important games. I don’t think I touched the disc at all in our finals yesterday, which is making me kind of sad today.

Ultimate is structured in such a way that I play a lot more timidly than I do in soccer or softball. The disc is thrown down the field, with each team trying to get it into their end zone. If the disc is dropped, the opposing side gets to take over. I do all right with the catching, but I get a little unnerved by the throwing, especially if a flick is forced. There’s still enough unpredictability in my flick that I don’t want to throw the disc if I know there’s a 25% chance I’ll cause a turnover. Consequently, I don’t make enough of an effort to catch the disc in the first place. What most frequently happens is that I’ll start a cut and then see another teammate also running toward the disc. I’ll drop back because – if it’s an option – I’d prefer to have my teammate catch and throw, since I have more confidence in him or her than I do in myself.

Soccer is less stressful because turnovers are so frequent that it’s less of an issue. If I kick the ball to the opposing team, one of my teammates can usually steal it back. In softball, our roles are regimented enough that I don’t need to worry about whether I’m playing smartly for the team. When it’s time to bat, I get up to bat, since no one else can do it for me.

Clearly, I need to work on my confidence in ultimate. If I want my skills to improve, I need to be more selfish and take the team down with me as I throw discs into the ground. I went to pickup twice over the weekend (where I still played too timidly…) but I think that playing more pickup is the only way I’m going to improve. Pickup should theoretically be as low-stakes as it comes, so it won’t be a problem if I cause turnovers. I just hope my teammates keep throwing to me…
Thursday, October 14th, 2010
5:44 pm
She's the one sold her hair
My hair has gotten rather long lately. I rarely have a strategy for my hair, beyond making sure it ends in a straight line so Jacob can cut it easily. It grows until it annoys me or I find some split ends. Then, I ask Jacob to cut it to some random length and begin again. I’ve been enjoying the ability to pull my hair back into a ponytail and bun lately, and it’s been in pretty good condition, so it’s gotten longer than normal.

However, it’s starting to get a bit too long. I’m defining this as the point when it can reach from my pillow onto Jacob’s pillow and he can accidentally trap it. Enough snags later, I made mental plans to chop a couple of inches off. A coworker mentioned I could donate it to Locks of Love. I did some research into the various hair donation places, and if I donate my hair, I think it will go to Pantene’s Beautiful Locks, as

- They require the least hair (8”)
- They are the only place that donates wigs to adults. (I hate children. Especially children with cancer.)
- They don’t sell donated hair (*cough*Locks of Love*cough*)

Still, I wasn’t really looking to lose 8” of my hair. That would essentially leave my hair at chin level, so ponytails would be out. Since reading about the hair donation, though, I feel guilty for thinking that. (How does my desire for a ponytail compare to helping out a cancer victim?) That said, I know donation or a lack of a donation is not going to make a huge difference. Each wig requires 6 ponytails, so if I keep my hair, I’ll just be keeping one woman from having 1/6 of a free real-hair wig. She can still buy a wig, including one made with real hair. So, I’m now in a weird hair limbo where I want to cut 2” off but may instead grow an extra 4”. I’m waiting it out while I make up mind.

Related: Whenever I think about donating my hair, I hear the song “Lovely Ladies” from Les Miserables in my head. Fantine, desperate for money, sells her hair en route to ultimately selling her body as a prostitute. By extension, if I donate my hair, does it mean I’m on the road to donating my body?
Saturday, October 2nd, 2010
7:53 am
Slate.com just ran a series on male/female platonic friends by Juliet Lapidos. I’ve had my share of male friends, so I’ve been finding the series pretty fascinating. In one entry, Lapidos profiles a selection of real life friends, and I found it interesting to see the differences in relationships. The friends covered included the following relationships:

- Never any sexual attraction
- Sexual attraction but the timing was off and eventually shifted to friends
- Sexual past but eventually shifted to friends
- One partner still holds a torch for the other but has accepted friendship
- One partner still holds a torch for the other and is actively trying to move beyond friendship

I hadn’t really thought about how many permutations exist. I’ve been a part of at least #1 and #3, but as long as both members are now on the same page, I don’t think it really matters what situation brought them to that point. Platonic friendship can exist wherever two people care about each other and look out for each other’s interests. I think it’s possible to meet that definition while admitting some attraction as long as the concern is genuine. The “nice guy” scenario doesn’t count (in which a guy listens to a girl’s problems not because he’s interested but because he’s hoping that she’ll eventually date him), as the “nice guy” is not really being a friend. (Nice guy – no quotes – scenarios of course count.)

Lapidos also points out that in the Hollywood model, platonic friendships are just romantic relationships waiting to happen. It makes sense that a romance would be more climactic than a friendship, so I understand why most movies conclude this way. However, I don’t like the sense that a friendship isn’t important in and of itself and that – if a romance develops later – the previous friendship was only important as a stepping stone.

Friendship is great, whenever and however it occurs.
Thursday, September 30th, 2010
8:35 pm
Weak Sauce, Tina
My soccer team, Tina Come Get Some Ham, recently played our rescheduled game against our nemesis, MLA. When there was a conflict between our softball and soccer game (the teams consist of many of the same players), we were forced to forfeit or reschedule. MLA was nice enough to allow us to reschedule a late (no referee) game against them on their bye week. At the scheduled time, though, only 5 MLA players had shown up. We theoretically could have forced MLA to forfeit, but both teams agreed to report a tie and just play for fun.

Tina sent two players over to MLA to even the numbers (myself and Mike, our best player, who wanted to test out our defense firsthand). MLA has a lot of good players, so even without Mike it would have been a struggle for Tina. At halftime, MLA was up by 4 or 5, and Tina decided to take our players back. I now feel bad for not telling MLA this, as we just didn’t show up to their huddle and left them to draw their own conclusions.

Apparently my team was also Very Offended by how the first half went down. One of Tina’s players left, saying he wasn’t having fun. There was no dirty play, but some players thought MLA was unnecessarily running up the score. Rather than scoring, they should have been practicing passing. I found this last bit a little funny, as MLA was doing well precisely because they were passing well. The players even passed to me, which rarely helps the team.

Personally, I didn’t see a problem with MLA playing to win. I don’t want any team to play down to us. It’s unfortunate if we can’t measure up, but there’s nothing inherently unfair or mean about it.

Questions for discussion:
- What goal differential constitutes “running up the score”?
- Am I being naïve in attributing MLA’s play to competitiveness rather than dickishness?
- How many players besides me actually had fun in our fun game?
Wednesday, September 15th, 2010
10:02 pm
Douche Hair
My two favorite players in the NFL are Pittsburgh Steelers’ Troy Polamalu and Jeff Reed. Hair played a role in my rooting for both of them. Polamalu is an amazing safety with a great read on the ball. With his long curly (and insured) hair, I have an easy time noticing when he comes out of nowhere to make the tackle. I traditionally find it harder to root for the defense, but I’m a lot more engaged in the game when Polamalu is playing.

Jeff Reed is the Steelers’ place kicker, and I get great enjoyment out of his smile in the official picture. I first noticed him in 2006, when his hair was quite big. At the time, I thought it was a white man fro, but it appears to have been gel. He later frosted the ends of his hair and spiked it. (As of last Sunday’s game, Reed had very short hair and a beard.) Regardless, I like kickers, and Reed’s hair and smile gave me a reason to separate him from the other ones. He generally performs well under pressure, and I like his passion. I get a lot of flak from my brother-in-law Jason for rooting for Jeff Reed, though: Beyond being a Steeler, he apparently has “douche hair.”

What is “douche hair”? As far as I can tell, it’s any styling of male hair, with the theory being that any man who styles his hair is a douche. (This is clearly wrong, as I’ve known some very nice guys who style their hair.) In Reed’s case, yes, he does appear to style his hair to get noticed. But Jason also told me that (Spanish footballer) Fernando Torres’ hair qualified. I think Torres is only guilty of being European. Polamalu’s hair is Jason-approved. According to Jason, I’m allowed to root for douches, but I must be aware of said douchery.

I still think that’s an awful lot to read into hair. Jeff Reed does have some unfortunate pictures on the internet – posing shirtless with some women at a bar during his frosted hair days – but that doesn’t make him a douche. It makes him drunk one night in 2008. I will grant that not all players have similar incidents in their past. When arguing the point that lots of players would have similar pictures, I did a google search on Jacob’s favorite player, Joshua Cribbs. The top google hit for “joshua cribbs drunk” gave me a message board in which some guy argued that Cribbs should make more money. “Jeff Reed makes more than Joshua Cribbs, and he’s a drunk!”

Beyond that, though, I don’t know anything about Reed’s true character. Neither does Jason.

Open questions:

- Is it possible for a woman to have douche hair?

- Is hair styling the cause or the effect of douchery?

- If a man loses his douche hair, is he no longer a douche?
Saturday, August 28th, 2010
10:15 am
Green book followup
A while back, I mocked my Page a Day calendar for suggesting I stop reading paper books and buy a Kindle instead. I thought it was pretty hypocritical of a disposable book to tell me to not buy other books, plus I wanted a full analysis of the tradeoffs involved. This week, Slate.com did that analysis for me.

As expected, e-books are more environmentally friendly than paper books. At the rate e-readers purchase books (3 books/month), they would have paid back the carbon footprint of the device within six months. The article notes that libraries spread the carbon footprint across an entire community, but does not provide actual numbers, besides noting how underutilized libraries are. Since I almost exclusively read books from the library, I feel okay about my environmental choices here.

Still, the underutilization of libraries was kind of shocking to me. Apparently, only one third of Americans visit the library once a month, and only one half went in the last year, checking out an average of 7.4 books per year. I average 7.4 books checked out at any given moment. My current library is crazy convenient so I’m there a couple of times a week, but I’ve rarely gone two weeks between trips in my life, even when the library was farther away.

I don’t really understand why people wouldn’t use the library. Potential reasons:

- They prefer browsing in bookstores. I do appreciate that bookstores generally present the books better than libraries do. I solve this problem by browsing in the bookstores to find a list of books to request from the library.

- They don’t want to wait for requests at the library. I’ve gotten myself accustomed to waiting 2-3 months for newer books at the library. On the rare occasion when I purchase a book and get it immediately, I feel like I’ve cheated the system. Still, it’s possible to avoid the long waits by being proactive and routinely checking for upcoming releases so your name will be at the top of the queue when it opens. I’d been impatiently awaiting the release of Suzanne Collins’ Mockingjay, but thanks to my obsessive checking of the library website, I was able to put my name high enough on the list to receive a copy on the day it was released.

- They want to share books with friends. It’s possible to share a book recommendation with a friend, but it is more effective (and intimate) to share the book itself.

- They like the look of books. This one I do understand. I love the look of full bookshelf, and it’s even better when it’s filled with books I love. I l have fond memories of Seth’s parents’ library, and I was entranced by my Aunt Sue’s built-in 14 foot high book wall (with rolling ladder!). Still, my natural aversion to buying things stops me from owning too many books. My partial solution to the issue: I of course own some books (my favorites which I reread every couple of years or so). To fill out our living room bookshelf, Jacob and I each bought a box full of books for $5 apiece at the library sale. If we want to fill additional bookshelves, Jason and Amber have offered to let us borrow their boxes of stored books.

- They don’t read. It occurs to me that I’d just assumed anyone who didn’t use the library was acquiring books elsewhere. Is it possible that (a significant portion of) 2/3 of Americans just don’t read for pleasure?
Friday, August 27th, 2010
7:27 am
Remember When the Music
[Posts tangentially related to] Busted week continues on Lynn’s livejournal…

After reinvigorating my Busted fandom last week, I’ve been listening to “Who’s David” and “Falling for You” pretty constantly on my iPod. My musical tastes are generally pretty obsessive – I almost always have a “Song of the Moment” that I can’t get enough of - but this is getting a little ridiculous.

About a month back, I took a car ride with my 22 month old niece Annabella. She constantly requested that we sing “Row Row Row Your Boat” to her (“Row row row?”), and we sang it ~25 times to her during the ride. As soon as one song would end, she’d say,“Row row row?” again.

I realized, though, that my Song of the Moment is very similar. If I had Busted in front of me, I’d be tempted to pull an Annabella and request they repeat the song as soon as it ended (“Falling for you?”). Happily, recorded music exists for me, so I don’t need to subject the band to my requests. Thanks to my iPod, I don’t even need to make my friends listen to my music. (Conclusion: Annabella needs her own iPod?)

In high school choir, one of our theme songs was Harry Chapin’s “Remember When the Music.” The song refers to the time before recorded music, when if you wanted harmony, you’d have to find a friend to sing with you. Having sung in choirs/quartets/groups, I can certainly appreciate the community that live music engenders. On the other hand, for obsessives like me, there’s something to be said for the ability to play music without inflicting it on anyone else.
Thursday, August 26th, 2010
7:24 am
Still a Commie
I recently (re)took the Political Compass test. I was curious where I fit in the British political spectrum, and I didn’t remember that I’d previously taken the test until I recognized my results. The political compass plots results along two axes: Left to Right (Horizonal left to right) and Authoritarian to Libertarian (Vertical top to bottom). I scored at (-6, -4) which puts me in the bottom left (Communist Libertarian) quadrant.

This puts me pretty far away from any of the British parties, save the Green party. On further examination, it puts me pretty far away from any political party, as the vast majority of (British and US) politicians are in the upper right quadrant. (Nelson Mandela is closest to my alignment. Also in my quadrant: the Dalai Lama and Dennis Kucinich.) I’d always argued against the “there’s no difference in the major parties” line, but there seems to be more to it than I’d realized.

The site also plots how different parties have changed their alignment over time. (Almost always up and right, so progressively farther away from me.) Interesting stuff, even if a bit depressing.
Wednesday, August 25th, 2010
7:31 am
Warning: This post contains explicit language.
I continue to be confused by clean and explicit songs. Are there set standards for which lyrics are allowed? Does context matter? Which version of the song is considered the real one?

Context must matter, since on a single Busted CD “bitch” is allowed in one clean song (You Said No) and not in another (Who’s David). I can only reconcile this if bitch is more offensive when referring to a woman? In You Said No, the line “my life’s such a bitch” is a-okay.

Culture also appears to matter. Wheatus’ Teenage Dirtbag came on the British radio once, and I was surprised when the word “gun” was blanked out. I’ve heard the song in the US, and guns are just fine, but occasionally the mild profanity is missing.

When the word is blanked out, I assume that the real version of the song includes the profanity. But what if multiple versions of the song are released? Which one is the real version? I’m sad that I couldn’t buy the explicit copy of Busted’s Who’s David (including the line “You’re just a whore who sleeps around the town”), but it appears that the default version is “Somebody saw you sleep around the town,” so I can’t be too upset. Plus, if radio standards necessitate that only the clean version of the song is ever played, at what point does the other cease to exist? For instance, I recall originally hearing James Blunt’s “You’re Beautiful” with a “She could see from my face that I was fucking high.” Somewhere along the line, that became “flying high,” and I doubt any of my US friends know another version exists.

Related: My new obsession (Busted) song Falling For You is a mostly sweet song about a guy trying to work up the nerve to invite a girl to spend the night. Until we get to this line:

She showed up at my door
Just like in a teen movie
I said, “Are you the whore
I paid to come and fuck me?”

Which is
a) Really horrible
b) Kind of hilarious

… or – as it’s really written – “Are you the (spring noise) I paid to come and (squeaky hammer noise) me?”I can’t find a version of the song without the cartoon noises. So, what are the real lyrics? Was the song ever intended to be heard without them? (These are the important questions I will ask James when I meet him.)

Given my own aversion to swearing, I am a little surprised by my strong preference for the explicit versions of songs. I justify it thusly:

- I’m rarely bothered by others swearing unless it’s directed at me personally.
- It's more fun to swear when you do it less often.
- Blanks in songs are dumb.
- I’m entertained by pure bitterness in lyrics.
Tuesday, August 24th, 2010
7:17 am
When Jacob's away...
Jacob was out of town this past weekend. I don’t feel that I’m very constrained by him, but it’s strangely freeing to have the house to myself. I decided the theme of the weekend would be to do everything that I can’t do when he’s home. With that in mind, I

- Took long walks (I hit 20,000 steps on Saturday)
- Wore my “Maybe if this shirt is witty enough someone will finally love me” shirt
- Sang songs he finds annoying (I Feel Pretty, The Saga Begins, and the Uruguay National Anthem)
- Watched a whole bunch of Busted videos
- Cooked with mushrooms

I also thought of (but failed to) let it mellow and watch a Pride and Prejudice marathon. I suppose there’s always his next trip.
Friday, August 20th, 2010
8:27 pm
Thoughts on Netflix?
Jacob and I are considering switching from Blockbuster to Netflix. We’ve generally enjoyed Blockbuster, but we don’t make use of its sole advantage over Netflix, since we rarely trade in our DVD’s at the bricks and mortar store. Indeed, I think my snobbishness makes it such that I actively avoid DVD’s that are available at the store. To me, the whole point of having an online rental system is that I can view DVD’s that I couldn’t find otherwise. (Bollywood movies and BBC series most recently).

Lately, though, I’ve been annoyed by the Blockbuster queue. The system is fine when the DVD in question is available. If the quantities are limited, however, the movie is labeled “Short Wait,” “Long Wait,” or (God forbid) “Very Long Wait.” If I request a book at the library, I may have to wait months, but I eventually move up to the top of the queue and read it. As far as I can tell, I will never receive a “Wait” movie from Blockbuster. Rather, Blockbuster ignores my “Wait” DVD’s and instead sends me an Available one.

This would be okay if Blockbuster acknowledged which DVD’s were rare and purchased additional ones. They don’t. Years pass, and the “Very Long Wait” DVD’s remain as “Very Long Wait.” And Lynn still doesn’t know how the cliffhanger from the first season of Felicity is resolved, since the second season is a “Very Long Wait.”

So, the Netflix system of instant viewing is sounding pretty appealing. With instant viewing, a lack of physical copies of a certain disc would not be an issue. The convenience of instant viewing would be nice, but more than anything I want access to the rare discs.

Have any of you used Netflix? How does the selection compare? How are the “Waits” resolved for physical discs? How many shows and movies are available via instant viewing?
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