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w July 30, 2008

In The News Of Duh

From CNN:

"Californians used to life with threat of "THE BIG ONE".

Dudes, please. Get some real news. That's like the first thing we tell visitors from out of town - "here's what you do in an earthquake, but don't stress about it".

by Heather Hoffman at 3:46 PM


Book Meme

I got this from my friend Julie; it's pretty cool, and I'm pleasantly surprised at how many of these I actually have read:

The Big Read reckons that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they've printed.

1) Bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Underline the books you LOVE. (I'm doing asterisks like Julie did.)
4) Reprint this list in your own blog.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen**
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee

6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell

9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott **

12 Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien

17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell**
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald

23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll **
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame**
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen**
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen**
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini

38 Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez **
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving

45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery**
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding

50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen**
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley

59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon

60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez**
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov

63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt

64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie

70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville - I have gotten almost halfway through this one a few times.

71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson**
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt**
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens

82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker **
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro

85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte's Web - EB White

88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole

96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

I realize there is nothing on this list that I haven't read that I intend to read. I'm not sure what that says about me or my ambitions, but I'm still pretty happy with my 'above average' score.

by Heather Hoffman at 3:08 PM

w July 28, 2008

Y'all Know What I'm Saying Here

Most people I know wear glasses, contacts, or a combination. I think we can all agree, this has happened to us on more than one occasion:


Thanks to ICHC

by Heather Hoffman at 10:00 AM

w July 26, 2008


It works, bitches.

I seem to be poaching a lot from XKCD recently. Ah well, it's all an homage, yes?

So anyhow...I had the weirdest serendipity moment yesterday. Bean and I were down in Palo Alto and I needed coffee for me and a snack for her - Starbucks on California Ave was jampacked and you know, Starbucks. It's for desperate times only, bitches. Anyway, I went next door to this independent bakery/coffee shop and was waiting in line when Bean dropped her stuffed cat on the floor. Someone behind me picked it up and gave it back to her before I could fully turn around to thank them, but out of the corner of my eye I thought "man, do you ever look familiar..." Turn fully around, and am pretty convinced I know who it is, but shyness prevails and so I ask diffidently "um, excuse me, but did you go to Chapel Hill?"


Me..."um...Caitlin? (nom de plume - we're all about privacy here)


So as it happens, this was the at the time sophomore roommate of my very dear friend freshman year, with whom I had lost contact somewhere around 1995, and it has always grated at me. Sadly, Caitlin did not have information for my friend, but at least we sat down and had a great chat, and I met her nice husband, and got to hear about their first baby being due on Sunday, and it was all just very lovely and small worldish. What it also did was re-energize my efforts to find my friend, and after some digging and false starts on Facebook, I actually found her sister (whose name is somewhat similar, but my friend had gone by her first name in school, so I didn't quite remember her correct middle name, anyway - stuff happens). Sister wrote a sweet email back and passed on my friend's email address and said "oh, she will be so excited to hear about this!". I sent off my email and huzzah! We are now friends on Facebook and have the for real email contacts and it's just amazing to me that after 15 years - we can pick up a friendship again.

When I left Carolina at the end of my freshman year, it was one of the hardest things I had ever had to do - to this day, it remains on the list. It was a year that still in many ways was my 'happiest' in the most global sense. Moving back home after living on your own for a year at the ambitious age of 18 is a bit of a setback, and though I eventually settled into a life at U of Toronto and made some wonderful friends, that freshman year hung heavy for a long time, not least because I had left three friends I missed sorely. I ended up marrying one of them, thank goodness, but the other two I thought I might have lost forever - now I've found one again and I think I might have found the other on the self same Facebook (thank goodness for pictures too because seriously, we're all like ADULTS now and it takes a minute to find the 18 year old girls in those faces, I think for all of us). I tend to not devote a lot of time to the applications on Facebook, and I apologize to people who send me umpteen requests and invitations that I don't pay attention to, but for nothing else, I am so grateful that I have been able to get back at least a little bit more of that one shining year.

Lest you think I'm devolving into maudlin sentimentality, I leave you with the thought that the three of us knowing each other (and to be fair, we were not so much friends collectively though we did hang out here and there) was a bit like the start of a bad joke: "So an Episcopalian from Canada, a Hindu from Texas, and a Jew from Tennessee go to the University of North Carolina..."

Update: I found my other friend and we have made contact. The bad joke, she is complete.

by Heather Hoffman at 3:56 PM

w July 24, 2008

Today's Maternal Round-Up

Things that get me through the day:

Yogurt tubes
Juice boxes (technically I only allow juice once a day, but if the entire house is having a hard day, I'm not too proud to cavil on that one)
The interblegs
XM Radio Kids
Graham crackers
"Music time" with the guitar "played" by Peabo
Nap time, if we're lucky
#1, 2 and 4 in the DVD player
Going to the bathroom - seriously, this is the time I can read a page of a magazine. Is that sad?

I also realized today that trying to get a busy toddler dressed is a little like one of those Family Circus cartoons that details the routes a child takes to do...well, whatever. I never particularly liked that comic strip, but they are pretty spot on in terms of the circuitous nature of trying to get a small child to do anything. The shortest point from A to B is usually to just give up. Peabo gets dressed in stages, but at least it's summer and clothing is minimal. I give you an artistic rendition:

by Heather Hoffman at 11:07 AM

w July 09, 2008

M*!*@#F*&!ng Ticks On A Plane

I mean, honestly, what else could you think of when you read this?

by Heather Hoffman at 2:05 PM

w July 07, 2008

The Gap

Proof positive that I am getting old, now that I have a child losing baby teeth. This is numero uno (19 more to go - whee!):


by Heather Hoffman at 5:36 PM

w July 06, 2008

Post Holiday Weekend Thoughts

I'm not going to be overtly political, but a couple of things got me thinking this morning, and while I know on first blush none of them seem particularly well connected, bear with me.

So number one, we started watching the DVD of "John Adams", the HBO miniseries based on David McCullough's biography of said. It is so.good. So Good. We're only 3 episodes into 7, but it reminded me anew of why I love miniseries of a dorkish historical nature. It also does an excellent job of pointing out that the American Revolution is not, as Gene said, a historical amusement park. We spend a lot of time waving flags and eating hot dogs and trying to burn things up with fireworks, and tend to ignore the fact that this was a hell of a choice for a lot of people, to basically just jump off the cliff and cut the familial apron strings knowing full well the penalty for treason. It also reminds us that many people did NOT choose to go the rebellion route, and it's important to remember that they were acting according to their consciences, just as much as the American side was. The underlying common denominator though is that sense of duty - of doing things 'against human inclination' to paraphrase a line from "John Adams".

It's well against human inclination to go INTO a fire but that's exactly what firefighters from far and yon are doing in Big Sur, and spent their holiday weekend doing. The pictures are just heartbreaking, but they do a good job of illustrating this principle of duty in a way I think John Adams would understand - you don't do it for yourself, necessarily, but often you do it on the behalf of people you'll never even meet. Then there is Jesse Helms dying. I have a hard time believing that anything he did that he felt was his 'duty' was on behalf of anything but his own twisted sense of righteousness, and yet, there have been plenty of accolades heaped on him for being a 'true American' or a 'true patriot'. I would have liked to see Abigail Adams take him on, I have to admit.

So what is being truly American? I dunno really - I think it's mutable and individual for the most part, and that's a good chunk of why this is a country still with appeal for a lot of people, regardless of how many editorials and opinion essays are written to the contrary. On the other hand, I might argue that some of it, at least some of the best part of it, is quiet ordinary people doing their jobs, their 'duty', knowing they may not really get any particular reward for it, and may in fact get quite the opposite, but doing it anyway, on behalf of people you will likely never meet.

And now I need more coffee, as my mommy brain has been taxed with the cerebral.

by Heather Hoffman at 9:52 AM

w July 01, 2008

Expat Ahoy!

I find my Canadian patriotism one day a year, as in, today, July 1st. Yup, it's Canada Day, Dominion Day, whatever you want to call it day, but I bid all of you north of the 49th a very happy one, and all fellow expats a note that flags can actually be hung relatively well, albeit vertically, from two plant hooks previously attached into the roof eaves.

Yes, I hang the Maple Leaf on July 1st, and let me assure you, it confuses the hell out of the neighbors what with the proximity to July 4th. Grand fun! Maybe I should create a flag for dual citizens so we only have to raise one between July 1st and 5th. That still leaves the issue of good beer, though....

by Heather Hoffman at 2:13 PM