Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
This here's a religious establishment. Act respectable.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Totally inappropriate for a Buddhist blog: The Omnivore's 100

Hi. Joan here again, barging in on Jen's blog for some food chat.

But first, a brief digression. I'm a blog junkie. I have over fifty blogs on one of my Google logins. So when I say I have no idea where I first heard of something, believe me. I don't.

Now that that's out of the way, I saw a blog post regarding an interesting list called The Omnivore's 100 (you can see the original O1 here ). Being a total sucker for surveys, tests, and questionnaires, I copied the list and instructions, and, not having a blog of my own up with which to clutter, decided to post it here. Mayhap Jen will post her answers, too. Or not.

I'm proud to be an omnivore. There isn't much I won't eat, or at least give a Fair Try. (A "Fair Try" in my family meant two decent-sized bites of a new food. If I really didn't like it, I didn't have to finish my portion, nor was I required to eat it again. Not a bad way to introduce new foods to kids, I don't think. Worked with me, anyway.) So, let's see how I do with the list.

Oh, one caveat: it's from a UK blog. That may have an effect on my score. Or it may not. Here goes.

Below is a list of 100 things that I think every good omnivore should have tried at least once in their life. The list includes fine food, strange food, everyday food and even some pretty bad food - but a good omnivore should really try it all. Don’t worry if you haven’t, mind you; neither have I, though I’ll be sure to work on it. Don’t worry if you don’t recognise everything in the hundred, either; Wikipedia has the answers.

Here’s what I want you to do:

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at linking to your results.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea (hunh?)
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile (I've had alligator, so I'm counting this one. Tasted like fishy-tasting chicken. Really.)
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue (And lots of other kinds, too)
8. Carp (Don't think I've tried this)
9. Borscht (Almost crossed this out. Beets are one of my dislikes unless they're pickled, but I'd give borscht a Fair Try.)
10. Baba ghanoush (Yes, yes, yes! Best. Baba. Ghanoush. Ever.)
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich (Is this so weird to the Brits that it should be on a list like this?)
14. Aloo gobi (I had to look this up. Turns out I've had it, in an Indian takeout place in the food court at Union Station in Washington, DC.)
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses (Wikipedia tells me this is a French cheese, aged for 6 weeks. I'm lactose intolerant, so I'm a bit wary. I could give it a try since aged/hard cheeses don't make me sick. I might luck out.)
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes (What drinker has not had plum wine at a Chinese restaurant?)
19. Steamed pork buns (Or these, if they've ever had dim sum? I've even made these at home!)
20. Pistachio ice cream (Before I became lactose intolerant)
21. Heirloom tomatoes (Only because I haven't encountered one. I can has tomatoes? Plz??)
22. Fresh wild berries (Again, only because of lack of opportunity)
23. Foie gras (See above)
24. Rice and beans (One of my favorite comfort foods: black beans & rice topped with olive oil, vinegar & raw onion.)
25. Brawn, or head cheese (Often, when I was a kid. Not so fond of it now.)
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper (First strike on #26. I'm sorry. I do not eat food that causes pain. And I am a pepper wimp, finding even jalapenos too spicy for me.)
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters (Only fried. Raw ones are just too ooogy.)
29. Baklava (Afrah again.)
30. Bagna cauda (Wasn't this signed in 1066? No. My mistake. Wikipedia makes it sound pretty good, actually.)
31. Wasabi peas (Tried 'em. Hated 'em. Just too damned hot for me.)
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi (Made from yogurt? I could try that.)
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float (I have to make these with vanilla frozen yogurt nowadays.)
36. Cognac with a fat cigar (Do I get half credit for this? I'll try any booze, even though I don't like much of it, but a cigar is Right Out. I'd rather take a hit off a burning tire, thanks.)
37. Clotted cream tea (I've had the clotted cream, but not as part of a Tea.)
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail (Not unless this counts.)
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects (No way. I kill bugs. I do not eat them.)
43. Phaal (Wikipedia says this is a curry hotter than Vindaloo. See above comments re: painful food)
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more (I doubt I'd like it, but I'd still try it)
46. Fugu (Eat a fish that can kill you if improperly prepared? Nope. Too many weird and wonderful and not potentially lethal foods out there to try.)
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel (Eel rolls. Yum.)
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut (Ask any of my cow-orkers, present or past about my devotion to KK donuts.....)
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer (Again with cheese. This one would be more likely to make me sick, so I regretfully turn it down.)
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle (As part of this lovely frozen veggie, anyway)
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine (The cheese curds might give me problems, but man this sounds good!!)
60. Carob chips (Carob chips? When Nestle semi-sweet or Ghirardelli exist? I'd try them, but really, why bother making them in the first place?)
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads (I'll be honest. If you promise me I never have to try brains, I'll try sweetbreads.)
63. Kaolin (Clay. An omnivore has to have eaten clay. Nope. I ain't eatin' dirt.)
64. Currywurst (If I can control the heat level, sure.)
65. Durian (This was a tough one. I'd try to try it, but I'm not sure I could get it past my nose.)
66. Frogs’ legs (All you can eat at the Lighthouse Fish Camp, Inman, SC.)
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake (WHOO-HOO! I'm four for four on this one thanks to the Cafe du Monde, the Pinellas County fair, and the State Fair of Texas.)
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain (With garlic mojo of course! Visiting San Diego? Don't miss this place.)
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost (If it's made with goat's milk, I'm in.)
75. Roadkill (I'd have to put too many conditions on this one to count it legitimately. That being said, I'd readily try any animal that often becomes roadkill -- squirrel, possum, even armadillo.)
76. Baijiu (Hmmm. Wikipedia makes it sound like the Japanese equivalent of PGA, aka Everclear. Can I have it mixed with something? Anything? Please?)
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-star restaurant. (Someone else is paying, right?)
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash (I found a killer recipe for authentic goulash in one of my mother's cookbooks. Yum!)
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano (I've had a couple of different mole dishes; not sure if either was poblano.)
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee (Would probably be wasted on me because I add so much sweetener and lightener to my coffee.)
100. Snake (Tastes just like -- well, you know.)

Comments? Your take on the list? Anybody want to try some variations? A True Midwestern Omnivore 100 would have to include tuna hot dish and lutefisk for starters. A Tex-Mex Omnivore 100: frozen margaritas, menudo, pineapple tamales. The possibilities are endless.....

Monday, August 25, 2008

My writers group is awesome.

Playing on the iPod: I know it's David Arkenstone, but I can't even tell ya what album.
Meters swum today: 1750

So the gang and I met over at Aunt Sally's yesterday to discuss mental illness, "Lifetime" Movies of the Week, British comedy, the foolishness of suing massage therapists for damages, and of course all things literary. I'm reminded again how totally outclassed I am. Kellum brought part of the index to his dictionary of mythical beings (yes, folks, we read the index to a dictionary). It was fascinating. I kid you not, it really was cool. He's indexing concepts, such as "tree of life" (26 entries) and "pocket full of sand" (okay, I made that up, but it should be in there) as well as groups of people (the Fore tribe of Papua New Guinea, just by way of example) and the various deities and folklorish permutations that tend to hang around with them. This is the 4th edition, by the way, and will be available through Lulu Press shortly. Details here as soon as I have 'em.

Jackie, on the other hand, is morphing into the female Gordon Lightfoot I wanted to be in high school. She brought her guitar and sang a couple of new songs for us. One of 'em was about lonely college girls who go looking for studly Renaissance men who can quote Shakespeare while skinning freshly killed grouse. There was another one about "this game I play in my head until I get over you" which I'm not going to quote because it's sad. She's got an amazing voice, she can actually play that thing with the six strings, and now she's composing on top of it. Good God, people, after all this I gotta drag out the latest chapter of Spellbinder and leave everybody, uh, spellbound. I say it again, I am totally outclassed.

I never thought I'd be saying this, but thank God the Olympics are over. I don't think I've worked on the book in three weeks. It's a good thing I already had a chapter mostly finished or I'd have been Spellbinderless. Or it fell out of my binder. Or something. Anyway, looking forward to things going somewhat back to normal, or as normal as they ever get around here anyway.

Just one more thing about the Olympics though: Whose idea was it to sing "Whole Lotta Love" at the closing ceremonies? I mean, okay, the next Olympics is in London, Led Zeppelin is a classic British band, at least one member (Jimmy Page, who's not aging well) is still alive to show up and play the guitar, the title is nice, but did anybody on the committee actually look at the lyrics?! Or does "Way, way down inside, I'm gonna give you my love/I'm gonna give you every inch of my love/I gotta whole lotta love" translate into Chinese as, "Peace, love and understanding"?

Seriously, if you were the city of London, and Beijing was singing to you, "Shake it for me girl, I wanna be your backdoor man," wouldn't you be a little worried? I'm thinking as long as they're trying to present the new host city in such a good light, why not sing "London Calling" by the Clash? Or "London You're A Lady" by the Pogues? Okay, the Pogues are Irish, but there's always "No Place Like London" from the Sweeney Todd soundtrack (the feel-good movie of the Christmas season, make no mistake). In fact I can't think of too many songs by great London acts that would be less appopriate, except maybe "God Save the Queen." Or "Hungry Like the Wolf". Or, hey, how about "Honky Tonk Woman"?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Knee update, straight from the horse's um, patella

Hi. Joan here. I thought I'd butt in to give an update on my knee.

To quote my favorite singer/songwriter (who I hope actually wrote this lyric), "Some days are diamond, some days are stone." In other words, some days are not so bad, some days my best friend's name is Vicodin, and some days are kind of in between. The lovely and talented Stephani at Texstar Physical Therapy has me on a regimen of some truly evil exercises that will really help my knee. Some day. If they don't kill me first.

Except for one other exercise ("Heel raise, unilateral (standing)"), my least favorite time is the four minutes - the four very long minutes - I spend lying on my stomach on one of the beds, with my legs hanging over the end, supported by the bed just above my knees.

"Lying around? What kind of exercise is that? And it hurts? You some kinda wimp, or something?"

Taking your questions in order:
1) Yes.
2) Knee extension mobilization hang (prone).
3) Like a mofo. Especially with a one-pound weight around my ankle.
4) Yes.

But once I've finished with the Quadriceps set, the exercise bike, the walking-sideways-with-a-stretchy-band-around-both-legs-just-below-the-knee, and all of the other goodies Stephani has dreamed up for my torture, I get dessert: electrical stimulation with a TENS unit and a circulating cold wrap. AAAHHhhhhhhhh.............. I bound up from the chair, skip merrily out to the car, and drive home, arriving just in time for the zapping and chilling to wear off so I can drag myself into the house, gulp down a Vicodin, and collapse on my bed. Fun, fun, fun. And I pay $45, twice a week for this privilege.

Mind you, that $45 is just the co-pay. (And the fine folks at TexStar tell me it's the highest they've ever seen.) I don't know how much my tight-fisted health insurer is forking out, but it must be considerable bucks, or I wouldn't have gotten a missive from "Unonymous Subrogation Services" in Wisconsin trying to pin the blame for my injury on somebody else so they could sue them. Let me get this straight: I'm a clumsy person. I strain the living bejeezus out of my knee trying not to fall over stepping up on a curb, I tear my meniscus, need surgery, and somebody, somebody by God!! must be sued?? What the heck am I paying premiums for?

I could understand if I were the injured party in a car accident that was not my fault, or I got squashed by a falling Oxford English Dictionary at work, or had my eye poked out by an exploding soda bottle cap, but c'mon! Clumsy happens. Get over it. Pony up, Untied Health Care. Pry open the ol' corporate wallet and let some of those extortionate premiums fly and be free.

Jen reminds me that if it weren't for insurance companies running around suing everybody else (or trying to) that she'd be out of a job. Okay. Fine. I don't have to like it when I'm the one under scrutiny for subrogation, though.

So, that's the news from Knee Central. Keep those cards and letters coming in. We now return you to your regularly-scheduled all-blogging, all-swimming paralegal goddess, Jen. Take it away, Jen!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I just gotta ask...

Meters swum today: None. Day off.
Playing in the background: Olympic gymnastics. Over and over and over.

As coverage of sporting events goes, this Olympics rocks. Three thousand hours of coverage. Six channels. Online video feeds. Featurettes, "meet the athlete" flashbacks, cool graphics that explain exactly why Michael Phelps is God's gift to the 50-meter pool. But they forgot one feature. So this is my open letter to NBC:


Look, sometimes it's halfway entertaining to have these idiots nattering in the foreground. Sometimes they even have decent information, like, "What is curling and where did it get started?" But, once the event starts, could they please just shut the hell up? Please? Pretty please? There'll be plenty of time to yammer on about the finer points of knee action and double half pikes (whatever those are) during the lengthy series of instant replays that somehow end up taking three times as long as the actual event.

The gymnastics commentators are the worst. Dear God, don't get me started. Oops, I already did. Here are five statements that need to be immediately banned from competition commentary, upon pain of a severe wedgie:

"That was huge!"
"That's a mandatory .8 deduction under the new scoring system."
"She just can't stick the landing here."
"He's left the door wide open for (insert third world nation that's never won a medal)."
"Oh, that's too bad."

Thank you. NOT. Enough!

Seriously, I want a commentator mute button. Since these has-been psuedo-experts can't shut up about the stuff they were wrong about ten years ago, NBC needs to provide each of us with a specialized remote. One tap of the blue button and Tim Daggett falls silent. I'd pay good money for this. I think most people would.

There's only one proviso. The commentator mute button would not work on Bela Karolyi. Frankly, I'm not sure anything would, short of a sledgehammer.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Fundamental Interconnectedness of Everything

Playing on the iPod: David Blonski and Synchestra: "Wind Dance" (their best ever)
Meters swum today: 1600

I had another spooky moment at the pool today. Luckily I didn't gasp in delight and swallow a great big ol' mouthful of water. In fact I was already out of the pool and putting stuff away in my cute little red mesh baggie thing that conveniently holds two fins, two hand paddles, goggles, ear plugs, shampoo and soap, and can be yours for only $11.95 at SwimOutlet.

But I digress. I was standing there, right, and this guy came up to me and said, "You inspired me today, doing butterfly on that stroke swim. So I did some too." "Oh good," I said, having no clue what to say. "I'm glad." Blink. Blink. I mean, this guy, I've seen him swim before, he's very good, and I wouldn't have thought he would need li'l ol' me to inspire him to do anything. Plus, I wasn't exactly trying to inspire anybody. I just like butterfly. It's violent and noisy. I've always had a soft spot for stuff that meets that description.

This just goes to show something or other. You never know who might be watchin'. You also never know, do you, how your actions might affect other people. Like the butterfly that flaps his wings in Thailand and causes Hurricane Katrina. Or the butterfly that Jen does at the pool which causes...seriously, do you know who you might have affected today? That lady you held the train door for? Maybe if she hadn't caught that train she would have, I dunno, been late for work, lost her job, her house, turned to drugs and ended up shooting six people in a robbery. One of whom was your cousin Bob, whom, if he hadn't died in the hypothetical robbery, might have perfected his technique at making slow-burning smoke-free fossil fuel substitutes out of falling leaves, thereby solving the world's energy crisis and making billions of yard apes delerious with joy. Douglas Adams pondered these possibilities quite a bit in his masterpieces, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency (solve the whole crime, find the whole person, etc.) Dirk, in particular, maintained that any time you have a problem, anyone you encounter will say something that will bear in some way upon the problem, so that simply by talking to enough people, you will arrive at your solution. He also held that the best way to handle getting lost was to find a car that looked like it knew where it was going and follow it. You might not end up where you wanted to go, but you might end up somewhere you need to be.

All of which is particularly relevant because I killed a cat yesterday. Well, caused it to be killed. Volunteer for a cat related charity long enough and you'll meet dozens of little old ladies with more cats than sense. One of them called to say that one of the feral cats she's been feeding had been hit by a car and was limping around on three legs. Right away, I'm positive that the right thing to do here would be to put the cat to sleep. Feral cats cannot survive with three legs, or with three good legs and one in a cast. And they're wild animals. They're not gonna put up with being caught and hauled in for follow up appointments to have stitches removed. She said she'd talked to the SPCA and that they'd come and get it but she was afraid they'd put it to sleep. I told her I didn't really have any other options for her but I'd come take a look.

Well, that was a mistake. This cat hadn't just been hit by a car, he'd been run over. He was hopping around with the mangled back leg pulled up against his body. He smelled bad, was scrawny and wasn't taking care of his fur. She got all teary-eyed when I mentioned putting him to sleep ("Look, he's hopping around! He wants to live!") and so I finally said I'd take him to our clinic. The clinic only spays and neuters; it doesn't really treat. It does, however, have a vet who will see the cat for free, or the next thing to free. So I went to the clinic and wheedled them into seeing the cat, and they told me to come back that evening and pick him up. Or his empty carrier, whichever was left.

Guess what, it was the empty carrier. I wasn't surprised at all. Not only did the cat have a "shattered" back leg, he had internal damage to his intestines and liver (hence the smell) and wasn't digesting any food (hence the scrawny) even though he'd been eating. Also, he was FIV positive - not a big deal for a house cat but a certain death sentence for a feral. If he had it, some of the other cats in that nabe probably did, too. Anybody who wasn't already vaccinated needed to be, and sooner, not later.

So I had to take the empty carrier back and tell the old lady this. She was not happy, as I suppose you can imagine, but she took it pretty well, I guess. She made me take ten dollars cash for gas money and said she'd tell her neighbors about the FIV thing. Will she ? I dunno. But, if I hadn't gone over there MUCH against my better judgment, if I hadn't taken this cat to the clinic, if it hadn't been see what I mean? You just never know who might be watchin'.

Sucked losing the cat, though. I never get used to that.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

He made it 11 later.

In case you didn't hear the yell.

Ten Golds

Honestly, I don't think there's anything else to be said. Unless it's eleven later.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Retreat!! Retreat!!

Playing on the iPod: "While We Sleep" by Jeffrey Koepper
Meters swum today: 1800 (bonus!)

Sorry for lack of blogitude lately, but between Joan's knee surgery (and she's recovering nicely, thank you, though she's still limping around and making bad cane jokes) and the Olympics (faster! higher! farther! bring on the dancing electric drummers!) it's been a little hectic around here. Oh, and I discovered just how serious my Thing With Food really is. The whole time they were prepping Joan for pre-op I kept wishing they'd hurry up so I could go back to the waiting room and snarf down my peanut butter sandwich. That, plus job stress that's not getting any better, plus Michael Phelps and Dara Torres (did I mention Dara Torres?) and I'm about climbing the walls. Luckily for me, it's almost time once again for the Awakening Heart Sangha's quarterly Day of Mindfulness Retreat.

What is a retreat, you ask. Well, I'll tell you. A retreat is where you go sit in a room with a bunch of total strangers, do very little of anything and stare at the floor. Okay, there's some walking around that goes on, and some "mindful eating" toward midday (that's my favorite part -- see, there's the thing with food again.) And we do some journal writing and stuff and, well, anyway, it's a quiet and peaceful kind of day. I've heard some folks do this all weekend or even for an entire week, without a single news break to announce the Olympic medal counts. And, like going to the gym, I always have a great time once I get there. It's just going that's difficult. If you haven't been showing up for the regular service, and, uh, I kind of haven't, you feel vaguely guilty showing up for the special events. Kind of like being a Christmas and Easter Christian, I suppose.

Anyway, the second I mentioned that there was a retreat coming up Joan said, "YES. GO. I INSIST." Or other words to the effect that I might possibly be driving her nuts. Again, job stress, etc. Plus, last night I had a bad nightmare. I pretty much finished my bad nightmare phase in college and if I get one now, it's because there's Something. In. My. Life. That. Needs. Attention. This was a verybad nightmare. Just briefly it was like something from one of those "Saw" movies (I hate those movies, though I was rather taken with "Hostel," which was suspenseful, clever and honestly scary, I have to admit). People were being buried alive and I could hear them pounding and yelling, "I'm not dead! Let me out!" but I was more concerned with getting away from these freaky people whose idea of a good time was to hurt other people.

Okay, I get the symbolism: Something's getting buried and I'd rather run away than deal with it. Yes, but WHAT IS GETTING BURIED?! Really, my subconscious could trouble itself to be more specific. Couple nights ago I had a dream that this guy was showing me the various ways one could shave a cat. Yes, the symbolism was apparent there, too: "There's more than one way to skin a cat." But, again, MORE THAN ONE WAY TO DO WHAT?!! And, again, nothing specific. How irritating.

You can tell it's time to go on a retreat when I start TYPING IN CAPITAL LETTERS. Yeah. Like that.

Go Michael go! Go Michael go!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Buddha's Cube Farm Warriors

Playing in the background: Audio Visions on DirecTV
Meters swum today: None. I took the weekend off. I was tired.

Before I start this post, I ended up with a cool 21 1/2 miles for the month of July. That's pretty darned good considering I missed most of the first week when I, uh, got married.

Okay, back to CNN and Christiane Amanpour. I watched her "Buddha's warriors" special (I still think that title is kind of antithetical) last night and it was pretty interesting. It wasn't really about Buddhist beliefs, though they came up, but more about the Buddhist monks who are, or were, leading protests in Myanmar and Tibet. She interviewed the Dalai Lama, who has pretty much stated that Tibet needs to be a self-governing republic within the Chinese empire versus a flat-out independent nation (probably because the second thing is impossible without bloodshed, and the first thing might actually happen, if not any time soon). Then she interviewed some guys who disagree with the Dalai Lama and are pushing for flat-out independence, as well as violence, if need be. (Couple hundred unarmed monks versus the entire Chinese army--pardon me if I don't watch, okay?)

Christiane interviewed monks in Thailand who fled Burma after the failed pro-democracy protests last summer. They're scared. For guys who believe very deeply that no assembled matter (such as a human body) is permanent, they're still scared. I don't think they're afraid of getting killed so much as they're afraid of being arrested, tortured, and killed, and all their friends having to mourn them, and all for naught because nothing will have changed. What's more, they were all so young. The oldest one was maybe 30. And they had on sneakers. This gave me a chuckle. Somehow I was under the impression that monks always wore sandals, and here's this one in Nikes. Well, I guess if you gotta do a lot of walking (some of them walked 900 miles from Dharmsala to the Tibetan border before being turned back by the Indian police) it makes more sense to wear Nikes.

Anyway, it was pretty interesting and I'm not sure how I feel about the whole deal. I think these guys are doing The Right Thing by their people, but if I were one of them I'd question how much good it's doing. The Chinese government has thrown foreign journalists out of Tibet, the military junta is still in charge of Myanmar, food and fuel prices are still twice as high as they were a year ago, children are still starving, 70,000 odd are dead, homeless or some combination after the big cyclone, and well, anyway, things kind of still generally suck. Which, I guess, means I haven't let go of the whole Process vs. Results thing. Or as they say in OA, "I'm in charge of the planning committee, not the results committee." Besides, one thing is different now. The whole world is watching. The whole world is watching. The whole world is watching.

The program was followed by Larry King Live, where he interviewed a bunch of folks that are working on various aspects of the human brain's role in health, development, and particle physics (well, that last thing came in at the very end). Seems that a lot of human emotional response actually has nothing to do with the situation at hand but is instead about some other situation that resembles this one from years in the past, to which one reacts with the same emotional power one felt then, even if the circumstances are vastly different. One of the docs thought that people could become addicted to their own emotions, which I for one agree with. Years ago I broke up with a boyfriend (yes, an actual male) and for weeks afterward I was this walking talking bundle of nerves. A shrink pointed out to me later that I'd been pouring so much energy into this extremely sick person that having broken it off with him, my brain was looking for a new source of anxiety. It was so used to being anxious all the time that it couldn't cope with the lack of same. Which dovetails nicely with the book Joan got me at the library, "What Makes You Not A Buddhist," that explains, among other things, how being attached to your emotions is a fine way to cause yourself endless anxiety.

Before any of this stuff came on TV, ie, on Friday, I had a dustup at work with one of my seven dwarves. He had a fit because I did something he told me to do. Well, he claims now he really didn't tell me to do it (as he said to Dwarf No. 2), or maybe that he told me to do it but he didn't think I really would (as he said to the manager), or something like that. He didn't talk to me himself about this. He went to one of the other dwarves (Dwarf No. 2) and that dwarf came into my office and says, "I almost fired you this morning because of that stunt you pulled yesterday." To which I said, "Uh, what?" or something equally intelligent. Dwarf No. 2 related what I'd allegedly done that was so horrible, I said, "Uh, he told me to do that." "Well, he says he didn't." "I'll talk to him," I said, "but we had this discussion, and he said X, and I said Y, and he said, 'Okay, go ahead and present both of those options,' which is exactly what I did." (Having a photographic memory rocks once in a while.) Dwarf #2 said he was not going to get in the middle of this, but first of all, I was not to ever again do Z without express instructions (which I had, see above re photographic memory) and second, I had better go talk to Dwarf No. 1 and straighten this out.

So, I plodded down to Dwarf No. 1's office who reiterated most of what Dwarf No. 2 said, and when I said, "Okay, you said X, and I said Y," he basically said, "Well, that's not what I meant." Are things straightened out? I have no idea. I spent much of the rest of the day in a state of mild bewilderment. I mean, it's hard to explain this without telling y'all what actually was said, which I can't for confidentiality and all that, but what I took away from this was, just because somebody tells you to do Z, doesn't mean they really want you to do Z. You sort of have to guess if they mean it or not. I dunno about you, but this, to me, is a recipe for insanity.

Anyway, what's odd about that whole occurrence is that I don't think I was ever really worried about getting fired. I'm old and cynical and all that but I've pretty much figured out that they can fire you if they don't like your face, your head, your hair, your nose piercing, your high-pitched laugh, or even for no reason at all. And have. And do. Don't get me wrong, getting fired sucks, but I've been laid off and fired and variations on a theme so many times it's almost old hat anymore. It's the economy, it's politics, it's this, it's that, It's never been the end of the world and it wouldn't be now. But, I've been chewing on this all weekend anyway, and yeah, there's a lot of anxiety attached. So the shows about attachments to emotions and Buddhist monks and the book about what makes you not a Buddhist couldn't have been more timely.

The thing is, I haven't been able to put a label on where this anxiety comes from. It's not about getting fired. I think it has more to do with the admittedly bizarre set of instructions I got in the situation described above. I've been over the whole thing in my head many times and I honestly can't tell you where I could have done anything different. Or where the clue would have been that just because I was told to do Z doesn't really mean I should go do Z. Which, according to the slew of commentators on Larry King Live, was probably about something that happened before I was 20, to which I reacted in a certain emotional way that's now coming back up a second time and being applied to a situation that really isn't analogous. Which is, I guess, why it doesn't make any sense.

Confused? Me, too. Maybe that's why one of Mr. King's commentators had so much Botox that she couldn't make any facial expressions.