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Saturday January 29, 2005

The Vegas countdown

Four months and sixteen more days until Steph, Angie and I head on west to Las Vegas for a few days of seeing shows, taking pictures, and gambling (on their part, not mine). I've never been to Vegas, and am interested in any tips that you guys might have to offer. Anyone?


Wednesday January 26, 2005

...but more sorrow

To be orphaned in Iraq...


Tuesday January 25, 2005

A little tsunami miracle

An Indonesian man was reunited with his 5 year-old daughter weeks after the tsunami washed away his brother, wife and two other children. From an article:
Post-tsunami reunion

His dream became reality Monday, when Rina Augustina squealed and raced into his arms.

"By the grace of God! I knew you were alive! I knew it!" Kamal screamed at a reunion organized by the aid group Save the Children. "My precious little one. I did not give up. I kept looking."

Now, how amazing is that, people?


Sarah's whiteboard wisdom part I

My friends are geniuses. Sometimes they leave genius droppings around the house when they stop over. This little shot of wisdom was found on my kitchen whiteboard (okay, so it's not white...) after a late night of Turtle Sundaes and Two Brothers DVD. Enjoy.

Whiteboard message


Sunday January 23, 2005

A lesson in what not to do

This didn't take long. Note to self: don't ever cold-heartedly bribe anyone into conversion, especially victims of a horrific tragedy.


The price of right

Dave over at post on the way we obsess about not looking weak or foolish, and why defending ourselves in the pursuit of being understood should not be our first priority.

"It's about having the attitude of Christ. He didn't rush to defend himself every time. At the most crucial (pun intended) moment in his entire mission, he refused point-blank to prove himself to the world. It takes real guts -- a God-kind of power that the world sees only as weakness -- to stand there dumb as a sheep before his shearers and say nothing in the face of accusation. How hard I find that."

Holy crap. So, Dave, are you saying I'm not supposed to shout back when someone labels my pacifism "cowardly?" What? WHAT? Should I really go about my life without explaining myself to death or busting any heads? Must I refrain from drilling my manifesto into the impressionable minds of my friends?

I guess so. The older I get (damn that evil phrase) the more I learn that obsessively defending oneself doesn't take much strength or character. And it doesn't change any minds, either. But boy, show a little grace and people are fundamentally changed. There really is a lot of strength in "weakness."


Friday January 21, 2005

Friday rat blogging

Rats are very social and curious animals. They like to explore. They wrestle and box. And they most especially like to eat damn near everything. I'm starting them on Weight Watchers soon.

"Not exactly Juicy Fruit, but it'll do."

"Please, no more jokes. I'm sensitive about my size!"



Thursday January 20, 2005

Armitage for President

I'm kind of sad the guy is leaving as Deputy Secretary of State. This kind of brutal honesty is really hard to come by these days:

"The biggest regret is that we didn't stop 9/11. And then in the wake of 9/11, instead of redoubling what is our traditional export of hope and optimism, we exported our fear and our anger. And presented a very intense and angry face to the world. I regret that a lot." (Link courtesy of Swami Uptown).

I do, too, Richard. And godspeed.


Blogathon for Tsunami Appeal

Forget about the extravagant inauguration festivities (which prove, unequivocally, that nice guys do, indeed, finish last). Don't even bother watching television at all. Go outside, take a breath of fresh air (if it's still available), marvel at the wonder that is creation, then come back inside and check out Darren's Tsunami Appeal. You know you want to.


Wednesday January 19, 2005

The payoff of persistence

And so it happened, after months (well, years, really) of churning out one resume after the next and experiencing a seemingly infinite string of tactful rejection letters, I, Drina Vurbic, have landed a full-time job. And this time, there's no contracted end-date.

Today I finally got the phone call that I've been waiting for, and I swear I heard angels sing as the human resources rep offered me the position. As of January 31st, I'll be fully employed at one of the world's greatest medical research institutions. And there will be, finally, a pay check. Imagine that!

I just hope this new milestone doesn't jeopardize my status as a professional Twixter. Wouldn't want anyone expecting a wedding!


Monday January 17, 2005

Dude, I feel famous

I guess I should be honored. Time magazine deemed my life worthy of a cover story. This is my fifteen minutes. I can feel it.


Sunday January 16, 2005

A better use of dimes?

I posted a few days ago about my support for Darren Rowse. (Visit his blog!)

With the death toll in Southeast Asia well above 150,000 and many more people threatened by disease, there are few causes more urgent than this one. This idea is phenomenal, and it's something that I'm sure the most fervent anti-NODDDers could get behind. Even God likes the idea:

You lack one thing; go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.
Mark 10:21


The babe that ignoreth me

For the last few weeks, I've been listening to my brother and sister-in-law yap about how active my future neice has become, kicking inside her mom's belly like she's trying out for the World Cup. "You can even see my belly move with each kick."

My brother tells me tales of being kicked in the head when he dared to listen for a heartbeat. From what I've gathered, this is a pretty active child... when I'm not there. She loves to move around back and forth... when I'm not there. But she stays absolutely motionless... when I am there. I lay my hand on that tummy and feel absolutely nothing.

I'm starting to think this kid doesn't like me.

How ungrateful! You know, I planned on being this really cool aunt, kind of like the ones I have. I was going to take her shopping, maybe pay for her first tattoo. Seriously, I was gonna totally rule. And the thanks I get is a big fat nothing.

Bro, all I have to say is your dauthter better be cute. She's going to need something to make up for this attitude problem. Kids today...


Friday January 14, 2005

Steph reads my blog too much

'Nuff said.


Wednesday January 12, 2005

More truth from America's best

By today's standards, these men may be counted as traitors among contemporary patriots. But they knew something that has been lost on modern flag-wavers; that free inquiry and criticism are essential for a healthy democracy to survive. From our greatest leaders:

The history of liberty is the history of resistance.
-President Woodrow Wilson

The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become the instruments of tyranny at home.
-President James Madison

Secrecy and a free, democratic government don't mix.
-President Harry S. Truman

Reason and free inquiry are the only effectual agents against error.
-President Thomas Jefferson

Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the President.
-President Theodore Roosevelt

Here in America we are descended in blood and in spirit from revolutionist and rebel men and women who dare to disssent from accepted doctrine. As their heirs, may we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion.
-President Dwight Eisenhower

We need not fear the expression of ideas; we do need to fear their suppression.
-President Harry Truman

Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind.
-President John F. Kennedy

When the people fear the government, tyranny has found victory. The federal government is our servant, not our master.
-President Thomas Jefferson

The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government.
-President George Washington

All men having power ought to be distrusted to a certain degree.
-President James Madison

To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.
-President Theodore Roosevelt

Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.
-President Thomas Jefferson

To add another item to last month's Christmas list, I wish these men's ideas were no longer obsolete in post-9/11 America. I wish the President today recognized that free inquiry, dissent, and criticism are tools of a free socity, as did presidents past.

I'll leave you with the above patriotic quotes as I continue to look for the remnants of my horribly battered optimism.


Tuesday January 11, 2005

Not one damn dime day

Several days ago as I made my usual round of blog reading, I happened upon Not One Damn Dime Day, and the details are as follows:

Since our religious leaders will not speak out against the war in Iraq, since our political leaders don't have the moral courage to oppose it. Inauguration Day, Thursday, January 20th, 2005 is "Not One Damn Dime Day" in America. On "Not One Damn Dime Day" those who oppose what is happening in our name in Iraq can speak up with a 24-hour national boycott of all forms of consumer spending.

Those who read me regularly could easily guess that I'm opposed to the war in Iraq for many reasons, and am angered by the government corruption that lead to its inception. But pacifist citizens like myself are largely ignored by our representatives and sometimes treated like traitors by others. But as some of the greatest leaders in our nation's history have made clear, dissent is an act of patriotism. And, for the sake of the United States and the rest of the world, now is the time to dissent, nonviolently.

So, in support of NODDD I'm going to keep my wallet shut on the 20th of January. Of course, delaying a purchase for 24 hours will likely do little to get public officials to notice, so I've decided to keep my wallet shut indefinitely when tempted with impulse buys at Target or late-night Wendy's runs. And hopefully, others who feel the same sense of moral and patriotic obligation will join in. In the meantime, let's ask ourselves how we got from this:

When the people fear the government you have tyranny. When the government fears the people you have liberty.
-President Thomas Jefferson

to this:

If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator.
-President George W. Bush

...and wonder how we let it happen.


Sunday January 09, 2005

My new desktop

Don't be jealous. Nothing more to say today.


Saturday January 08, 2005

I shouldn't care, but I do.

I really hoped Brad & Jen would tough it out, but like many of their homelier and less famous fellow Americans, they've decided to end their marriage. Being famous sucks sometimes, I guess.


Thursday January 06, 2005

Shame on the lawsuit happy

The ever more endearing From Yahoo! News:

Watching contestants eat dead rats on NBC's gross-out stunt show "Fear Factor" so disgusted a Cleveland man that he has sued NBC for $2.5 million, saying he could not stomach what he saw.

Despite what the Nileson ratings suggest, I'd like to believe that most reasonable people agree gross-out reality shows represent the worst of television programming (with the possible exception of the O'Reilly Factor). Even those who indulge in the occasional Surreal Life episode or Apprentice finale probably won't dispute the lowbrow nature of worm eating contests. And as a rat owner myself, I take issue with the Fear Factor's dispicable use of rats.

The plaintiff in this case has more in common with me than my hometown. I share his digust with Fear Factor in particular, and would like to see these shows off the air. But this is where our similarities end. When I discover a television show or radio personality I hate, a lawsuit is the furthest thing from my mind. Unlike this Cleveland man, I've chosen to take responsibility of my viewing habits.

(Religious Righters might want to stop reading now... I wouldn't want to cause a stroke, or anything).

My remote control has many buttons, and I use them regularly. When I stumble upon shows like Fear Factor, Jerry Springer, Who Wants to Marry My Three-Headed She-Male Uncle/Cousin (or whatever FOX is throwing out there these days) I switch to Discovery. Or even Animal Planet. It's really that simple.

I don't feel the need to force every television channel and radio station to cater to my personal tastes. When I find vulgarity, I turn it off. There's always good programming opposite Rush Limbaugh, anyway. And when I can't find anything that complies with my standards of decency, I look for a different activity altogether. I read, or paint, or play with my rats. I don't give people like Limbaugh, Trump, O'Reilly, or Hilton the attention they so don't deserve. Even in court.

Suing over a TV show suggest both a lack of common sense and a frighteningly authoritarian approach to citizenship. Reasonable, freedom-loving people don't say to themselves, "Even though nobody is forcing me to watch it, I demand the network removes this horrible show so nobody else can watch it either!"

With lawsuits like these, it's not hard to imagine why the rest of the world thinks Americans are idiots. Some of us really are.

I sincerely hope that such lawsuit-happy Americans (or is it censor-happy Americans?) adopt a truly conservative approach to the media in the future. (WTF? Did she just say conservative?!) Yes, as a matter of fact, I did. We should be more conservative, according to the proper definition of the word (and not the modern version adopted by today's neocons), and take responsibility for ourselves. Don't like Fear Factor? Turn it off. Bothered by Pat Robertson? Stop watching. Offended by Janet Jackson's nipple? Find a hobby.

Just don't pretend you have the right to decide for anyone else what they are, or are not allowed, to watch. To each his own. And if that means some other people get to watch Temptation Mania, so be it. I'll be learning about the chemisty of yogurt from the Food Network while those losers' brains evaporate, neuron by neuron. And when we finally adopt a more reasonable approach to media censorship, we'll all be much happier.

The legislative branch most especially, I'm sure.


Tuesday January 04, 2005

New year rat blogging

I'm not so sure what fascination Weezie and Nicodemus have with my computer mouse, but it's not wholesome. I can tell you that much. And I think they got fatter over the holidays, too...

Weezie and Nicodemus


Sunday January 02, 2005

A sigh of relief: 2004 is over.

Last night I got home about a quarter past three, after spending New Year's Eve getting my butt whipped at billiards by a teenager. I'm convinced that pool table had something against me. It would only let me sink the cue ball. Damn pool table.

I also watched some episodes from the first season of Carnivale with my old roomie. It was a pretty unexceptional evening, which is exactly the way I wanted it to be. A wild party wouldn't have suited me this time around. (Of course, does it ever?)

My wish was to let 2004 just fade away. Although there were some highlights (the news of my impending aunthood, getting a brand new Dell, Brad Pitt's muscles in Troy) the year was largely a bust.

It was the year my job got downgraded from semi-important individual to utterly replaceable pee-on. On the road I got flicked off daily by motorists unimpressed with my War is Not the Answer bumper sticker, who then called my morality into question for not supporting their politician of choice. I also watched my beloved Fat Bastard succumb to cancer, and my bank account dwindle for his x-rays and medicines. Damn, I loved that animal.

Everything just sucked for me.

Of course, 2004 was a much greater bust for folks living outside my personal bubble. Asians experienced a horrifying tragedy, Iraq continued its descent into a hellish vortex of misery, and the French collected ill will from Toby Keith fans all across America. I'm sure Canadians, though, are feeling better than ever to be living north of the border.

The cheesy Times Square countdown gave me some closure this time around. I feel relieved that the year is officially over. And I'm feeling more optimistic now that 2005 is here. There's a lot I want to get done in these next twelve months.

Among my ambitions for this year includes my final resolution. Over the years I've made promises to myself that I usually broke by January 3rd. Last year I had three: eat more greens, stick to the South Beach Diet, and stop smoking. The only one I kept was the last. I smoked the second cigarette of my life December 31st just so I'd have a resolution I knew I could stick to. How's that for pathetic?

This time around I've decided to skip the fad diet and focus on something I believe to be far more important. I've lived my life the way many others (now in therapy) live theirs. There isn't a time that I could remember not being afraid of all that life has to offer. I've passed on precious opportunities more than once (and ended up kicking myself for it more than once). I've been afraid of the big hill, afraid to talk to that guy, afraid to say no, afraid of looking stupid, afraid of failing, afraid of everything.

In other words, I'm chicken shit. And it's time to deal with that.

I vow to make 2005 the year of the fearless Drina. And no, that doesn't mean I'm going to start using ecstacy and jump off bridges. It means I'm going to do the things I've always been afraid to do. I'm going to ski down the big hill, talk to that guy, say no, look stupid, fail, and do everything else that may cause my rear end (or my ego) to get bruised.

So that's my last resolution for 2005: fearlessness. It's a change I feel is long overdue, and one that will probably do me more good than that South Beach recipe book I rented last January.

I hope everyone else is as excited about their new year as I am. Let's make this a good one. We definitely deserve it.