Dear Google

Thank you for offering to translate websites for me.  But you might want to know that your Toolbar has gone insane.  It keeps offering to translate pages for me that are already in English… not in the French or Swedish or Spanish or German the Toolbar thinks they are.

I hope Toolbar feels better soon!

Another Reason I Don’t Fly

I read recently that the federal government has told the airline industry that they can’t keep people on planes anymore if the flight has been delayed more than three hours.  In the world in which I live, I would need massive amounts of Valium to survive even one hour out on the tarmac waiting for takeoff.

Really, people?  Planes sit out on the runway for hours and hours and hours before taking off?  No, no… I’m sure it’s true.  I read the statistics, I see that it happens.  But what I’m really wondering is how many of those people stuck on airplanes for hours and hours and hours, just sitting on the runway and not even flying in the air, totally lose their shit.  Because I’d be having a major meltdown.

I used to fly semi-regularly between Denver and New York.  That’s a relatively short flight, but I’d be starting to bug out just about the time we started making our approach into Newark or La Guardia or Kennedy.  Maybe I have a bit of claustrophobia.  Maybe I’m a wee bit anti-social.  Maybe I have some hypochondria that makes me dislike (in the extreme) breathing in other people’s germs.  Maybe I just don’t like being jammed into a teensy space until every part of my body hurts.  Whatever the reason, I really don’t like to fly.

I could get a direct flight from Albany to Chicago (both O’Hare and Midway), but I’d rather drive the 13 hours out there.  Yeah, it helps that I really like to drive.  My mother-in-law wants us to come visit them in Florida… but my Spousal Unit can’t get me on a plane and I can’t get him to sit still in my car for 20 hours.  It’s sad, really.  I’m really lucky that all the places I’ve had to travel for work have been in Pennsylvania… in and around Philadelphia.  That’s a nice little drive.  Driving out to Boston isn’t bad.  Actually, driving anywhere in New England is pretty nice.  (Not in winter.  Let’s not talk about winter.  Although, I did drive back from Chicago in a snow storm that last time.)

So the fact that domestic airlines (apparently there are no rules for international flights) can keep people locked in their planes on the runways for up to three hours is not exactly encouraging me to get on a plane any time soon.  I just wonder… if I can’t get someplace by driving, is it someplace I really want to be anyway?

Happy Birthday, Mackenzie

You would have been nine years old today.  We still miss you.  We always will.


Here Is What Christmastime Means To Me

I should just start singing now, right?  “Silver bells, silvers bells!  It’s Christmastime in the city.”

I like Christmas songs… almost all of them.  I don’t necessarily like all the people out there who try to sing Christmas songs, though.  (I’m talking to you, Mariah Carey.  Some of us practice long and hard to hit and hold the notes that are actually written on our sheet music, and then you just go out there and make millions of dollars not getting anywhere close to the notes written.  I don’t like you, girlfriend.)

When I’m driving around in the car, any Christmas song is good enough for singing (except if that Carey woman is singing… that’s just plain annoying).  But when I’m singing with my peeps from Capital Pride Singers, there are a few sacred songs that are just so beautiful for a full chorus that I’d sing them every year.  (My fellow singers, however, do not generally agree with me.  And I can’t blame them.  Singing Ain’t No Mountain High Enough drove me insane after the tenth time I sang it with the Artemis Singers.)  But Festival Sanctus and Angel’s Carol are so outstandingly beautiful that they’re almost breathtaking (which is not a good idea when you’re trying sing, by the way).

Two other songs I absolutely adore — as solos — are O Holy Night and Silent Night.  I’m especially fond of “my” version of Silent Night, wherein I sing the first verse in Irish Gaelic, the second verse in German and the third verse in English.  O Holy Night was my audition song when I auditioned for the Denver Women Chorus.  I’m thinking of learning the Irish Gaelic words for next year’s Christmas show with CPS.

Christmastime isn’t the happiest time of year for me.  Singing has always been something that lifts my spirits.  So what Christmastime means to me is a chance to sing a whole lot of songs that I know really well and it’s a chance to learn some new ones.  When I’m singing, I’m breathing deeply… and when I’m breathing deeply, I’m not falling into that dark pit of depression.  And for just a few weeks, I’ll even put up with singing along with Mariah Carey.  (But girlfriend, you are so out of here on New Years.  The radio it going off, and I’ll be back to my CDs.  That don’t involve your warbling.)

Dear Realtors

You guys (and gals) aren’t very good at picking up on subtle hints, are you?  The fact that I’m not calling you back should give you some sort of clue.  I’d like to think it would give you the idea that I might not be interested in talking to you.  But I guess not.

Ok, so I’ll spell it out.  Yes, I know that the MLS listing on my house expired.  Not that it’s any of your business, but I’m not interested in selling my house in the winter.  I just don’t want to, and that’s my decision.  I will reconsider my options in the spring.

It’s not likely that I’m going to call any of you.  I might email some of you, but I won’t call.  And I’m not going to contact the one of you (and you know who you are) who leaves nasty messages implying that I really should call you back.  No.  I don’t need to call you back.  I did not invite your call, so I’m under no obligation to return an unwanted phone call.

Also… don’t just show up at my house.  Don’t be peeking into windows.  If I see you doing that again, I’m going to call the police.  That’s just plain rude.  And illegal.

Actually, what I’ll probably do in the spring is get names of realtors from all my friends, and then contact (via email) the ones who haven’t been harassing me for the past month.  If you stop bothering me now, I might just take your names off the “naughty” list.  No promises, though.


The hardest thing about being a vegan is pizza.  I love pizza.  I have always loved pizza.  Pizza is food of the gods.  A plain cheese pizza is good enough for me, but if you want to throw some green peppers or onions or black olives or pineapple (or all of them) on there, I’m ok with that, too.

Living in New York, I’ve had the opportunity to experience “New York style” pizza.  Not bad.  In this area, Paesan’s has the best pizza.  Their sauce is tasty, the cheese is plentiful, and the requisite fold-over is not hard to attain.  Oh, how I miss eating it!

Before living in New York, I lived in Colorado where they have “Colorado style” mountain pies at Beau Jo’s.  The crust is a treat…  drizzled with the accompanying honey, it makes a fine dessert to any of their many ingredient combinations.  If you are ever out that way, do check it out!  It’s definitely worth a visit.  And I really miss it.

However, I grew up in Chicago, which has the best pizza in the known universe at Giordano’s.  The pie is wonderfully thick, the crust is light and flakey and buttery, the sauce is outstanding, the filling ingredients plentiful and the cheese a delight.  I miss Giordano’s pizza most of all.  If there is any pizza that could lure me away from this vegan diet, it would be Giordano’s pizza.

Nowadays, I make my own pizza at home using Berkshire Mountain Bakery‘s spelt pizza crust and Soya Kaas mozzarella-style soy cheese (both available at the Honest Weight Food Co-op, by the way).  It’s pretty good pizza, if I do say so myself… but it’s not Giordano’s or Beau Jo’s or Paesan’s.

Dear Firefox

Thank you for updating yourself.  Thank you, also, for totally screwing up how stuff on new tabs is displayed.  And by “stuff,” I mean the “absolutely nothing” that I expect.  Yes, yes.  I read your blog.  And read how you think that while everyone might want to see something different in the new tab they just opened, nobody wants to see absolutely nothing.

That’s a lie, Firefox!  I want to see absolutely nothing.  It’s very soothing and very Zen-like.  You’re killin’ the buzz, Firefox.  True, this is the first time you’ve seriously annoyed me, but it’s not easy to forgive something this egregious.  Is it time to go back to Opera?

Give Me a Call!

And by “give me a call” I mean “really… don’t bother.”

I hate talking on the phone.  There are maybe two exceptions to this hard and fast rule, but as the saying goes, the exceptions prove the rule.  I tell everyone the best way to contact me is via email.  A lot of people ignore my request and call anyway.  People I’ve never heard of try to call me.  And — get this — expect me to call them back!  So I’m thinking about changing the message on the voice mail again:

Hello there.  Stating the obvious, but you’ve reached voice mail.  Silly person.  If you’re looking for Offspring, ring her cell.  If you’re looking for Spousal Unit, log into World of Warcraft.  If you’re calling for Aerten… why?  If you know me, you know I want you to email me.  If you don’t know me, now you know I want you to email me.  I know you think you want to talk to me, but it’s really more efficient for you to email me.  I’ll actually get an email much sooner than I’ll get any voice mail message you leave, because I generally forget to check for messages for weeks at a time.  Oh, and stop calling for Laura Smith.  She doesn’t live here, and to my knowledge never has.

It’s just a thought.  But it’s getting more and more appealing.

Dear Verizon

I passed by one of your billboard advertisements the other night.  I suggest you fire your ad agency for this one.

“A bare-knuckled bucket of does”?  Seriously?  That’s the dumbest billboard being displayed in the Capital District right now.  First of all, I don’t think you’ll be able to find a bucket big enough to hold a single doe, never mind multiple does.  Deer may not be as big as moose and elk, but they’re not as small as chihuahuas either.  Plus, I’ve never seen a bucket with knuckles, bare or not.  What does this nonsense even mean?  I couldn’t even tell what you’re trying to sell, but when I do, I’ll be sure not to buy it.

In more succinct billboard news, the Mega Million lottery  is up to $83 million.

What Gives You the Right?

What gives you the right to tell me who I can and can’t marry?  What gives you the right to tell anyone who they can and can’t marry?

Fifty years ago, people would have been up in arms (or worse) if I had voiced the notion that I wanted to marry an African American man.  Seventy-five years ago, people (certainly people in my family) would have been appalled if I’d wanted to marry a Jewish man.  Today, people get crazy if I say I’d be happy to marry a woman.

What gives you people the right to dictate who can get that piece of paper that legalizes a marriage?  It’s a piece of paper that’s provided by a government agency.  I know this because I have one of those pieces of paper, and it was the County of Jefferson in the State of Colorado that gave it to me.  That makes marriage a civil right.  Don’t you be bringing the argument of religion into it, either, bub.  As much as certain people in this country seem to think otherwise, we do not have a single, sanctioned, state-supported religion in this country.  We have this thing called “separation of church and state,” and I know there are people out there who just hate that.  Well, grow up.  Do you know how many religions the various people in this country adhere to?  Neither do I, but here’s a hint: religionsInUSA <> 1.  So you can’t have religion mixed in with politics without pissing off all the people that don’t adhere to the religion that gets picked.

And don’t start that bullshit about voting about who gets to be married.  You’re just trying to inflict your particular brand of religious idiosyncrasy on me, and I won’t have it.  Nobody gets to tell me who I’m going to love and spend the rest of my life with except me and the person I’m spending the rest of my life with.  You know what?  If marriage between a man and a woman got voted into nothingness, I’d be ok with that.  Not because I don’t want to be married (because I wouldn’t have gotten married in the first place if I didn’t want to be married), but because then it would be fair for everyone.

You’re the same people who voted so that my mother couldn’t marry an African American man.  It’s irrelevant that the thought never crossed her mind.  At least it was just peer pressure that kept my grandmothers from marrying Jewish men.  I sure as hell don’t want you telling my daughter who she can and can’t marry, because it’s none of your damn business.  I’m her mother, and even I wouldn’t have the audacity to tell her who to love.

If you don’t want to marry someone of the same gender, then don’t.  It’s really that simple.  Leave the rest of us alone.  Leave me alone, leave my daughter alone, leave my friends alone.

And don’t bother with your hateful comments, either, because I’m just going to delete them.  I had enough of you back when I was on Prodigy and Delphi and CompuServe.  Just go away.