Contradiction in Terms
You say to-may-toe; I say toh-mah-tah. Deal with it.
Tuesday, April 27, 2004

the policy of honesty
One of my constant frustrations as Sage's mom is the fact that everyone seems to feel perfectly justified about lying to my daughter all the time. You know, the usual lies people tell children, like "It won't hurt," "Eat your food and we'll go to the playroom later," or "Don't go there; there's a monster!" The ironic thing is that Sage is a perfectly reasonable child who will listen and obey if you explain things in a way that she understands, such as "Don't go in there, there are a lot of heavy machines and sharp edges. You might get hurt."

Try as I might, I cannot seem to make her nanny or anyone else understand some of the simple rules Dean and I try to follow in raising Sage:
1. Don't promise anything you don't honestly intend to fulfill.
2. Rather than scaring her so that she'll obey, explain to her so that she'll comprehend.
3. Don't trivialize her fear or pain because things that may seem minor to an adult are monumental to a child.
Which, I guess, all boil down to: treat her with respect and don't lie to her. She's small, not stupid.

On the other hand, in the course of parenting, I've realized that the occasional lie is necessary, like when I have to explain why her friend's daddy is never home. "He must be very busy" seems an infinitely preferable explanation at this point to "Because he has go live with his legal wife." Likewise, I can't tell her we haven't seen Grandpa lately because he and Mommy are mad at each other; I have to tell her he's busy too.

Then there are those charming lies that are part of childhood mythology, like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. And I don't entirely disagree with the idea that a little pointless terror is useful for building an interestingly literary childhood. So the question is, is honesty the best policy? I guess not when it comes at the expense of wonder.

But the next person who says, "Parang kagat ng langgam lang iyan" is still gonna get it.
Nikki bit in at 11:32 PM :: ::

Today is BOOKS TO BRIGHTEN YOUNG MINDS DAY. Which someone ought to point out to Powerbooks, so they can improve their dreary collection.

I was looking at this piece of paper Sage brought home from Sunday school the other day. On it is an illustration of a wealthy family inside their nice home, with an obviously poorer family standing around just outside their door. Attached to the paper is an accompanying sticker of a basket of food, which the child is supposed to affix to the rich family's hands so that the illustration will then show the rich family giving food to the poor family. The lesson emblazoned across the top of the paper is, "Be kind to the poor."

Meanwhile, on one side of said paper, there is a notation in tiny, tiny print that reads: "Photocopying or reproduction of this material in any form is ILLEGAL without prior permission, and punishable by law." It's ironies like this that perfectly illustrate my problem with organized religion. Talk about yer contradiction in terms...

in the news today
Attorney Manuel Urbina of the Philippines has registered an unusual defense in the cocaine possession case against his client, Francisco Armando Rivera. Since the 67 kilograms of cocaine-- along with one gun-- were found inside a cage housing Rivera's rooster and pair of hens, Urbina argues that the drugs and weapon belong to the chickens, not Rivera. "The law is very clear that whoever is in possession of the drugs is the one who should be accused," Urbina insists, adding that the prosecution therefore has yet to prove that the drugs belonged to his client.
Nikki bit in at 8:30 PM :: ::
Monday, April 26, 2004

Today is HUG AN AUSTRALIAN DAY, but all the Australians I know are in Australia... or Hollywood. Hey, Russell, come and get it!

Just when you think you've gotten all your work done...
... more comes along, from sort-of-new clients with wholly unreasonable deadlines. I'm actually the fastest copywriter I personally know, but even for me, restyling seven interlinked websites in fourteen days is pushing it. I spent most of this afternoon discussing said websites, which is something I hate, because I have trouble mentally mapping things out in web format. The 'pages' don't really act like pages as I understand them, because they can go in several different directions, instead of just from one page to the next, as in printed form. (This is probably a sign that my thinking is becoming obsolete.) Anyway, I managed to bargain down from seven sites to five. I will still have to do the other two, but not necessarily by the stated deadline. I'm not Superman, after all-- that's Sage.

hoist on my own petard
My other looming deadline is for the comic book anthology I'm editing on behalf of Mango Comics. It's a project that involves four different writers doing stories in four different genres. Being the editor, I figured I'd be magnanimous and offer to take on whichever genre everyone else didn't want to do... which is how I got stuck with the romance title while the others get to do supernatural/martial arts, high fantasy, and science/adventure. So now I'm always feeling like so much is happening in everyone else's scripts while my characters are just perennially angsting over their family relationships or mooning over one another. Teen romance, gah.

On the topic, however, we are on the lookout for female comics artists to work on the anthology. It's an ongoing paying gig slated for monthly release starting late this year. If you or someone you know might be interested, check it out at the Mango Comics website. And know that I'm not really that much of a bitch when it comes to editing. Really. Honest. (You shut up, Vin!)
Nikki bit in at 10:26 PM :: ::

Today is INDUSTRY DAY, which apparently has nothing to do with the ill-fated 80's band.

unreal estate
Along San Miguel Avenue, less than a spit away from where I live, there used to be a triangular island of concrete at the intersection of two streets, an artificial delta that separated the potential flood of traffic into three orderly streams. Sometime within the last year, the delta was removed, yet the traffic has not significantly worsened as a result. This is because, as I've noticed, nearly everyone acts as if the island were still there. The cars drive around it, and pedestrians braving the intersection actually halt in the space where the island used to be, as if it still acted as some sort of safe haven from the surrounding flow of vehicles. So the delta, it would seem, may be gone from our neighborhood, but not from our collective consciousness.

This got me thinking about consensual reality-- the idea that aspects of existence are contingent upon collective recognition. While it may seem absurd to think that reality is dependent upon everyone's conscious or subconscious agreement, the concept is actually more prevalent in our daily lives than we realize. Take money, for instance-- it doesn't exist. Seriously. The bills and coins we use do exist, obviously, but they, like stocks and bonds and securities, only serve to represent money, which is only a concept. There's no such thing. When you deposit cash into the ATM, your deposit effectively ceases to exist. The bank uses the funds for other purposes, so in fact, the only reason you continue to have funds is that you and the bank tacitly agree that this is the case. Strictly speaking, there's no such animal. Sure, a country's currency is considered to represent national reserves of gold and silver, but again, it's only because everyone accepts that this is so. When you get right down to it, the worldwide monetary system is really nothing more than a huge, long-established consensual reality.

Which is fairly freaky to think about, but also kind of cool. Consensual reality could also be the culprit behind the sudden discovery of a supposed tenth planet in our solar system. Who knows? Maybe it just popped into existence because a large enough number of people wanted it badly enough. Let's all test the concept out by deciding that chocolate makes you slim; what do you say?
Nikki bit in at 12:28 AM :: ::
Saturday, April 24, 2004

Today is ASTRONOMY DAY. Do you know where your stars are?

Sage online
I created a blog just for Sage, because it seems to me that she leads a life that's actually more interesting than most. After all, she literally learns something new nearly every day! Besides, it's a nice way to keep a record of her ongoing childhood, which is very important, not just for the obvious reasons, but if anything should ever happen to me, she'll have to depend on her father for stories of her youth. And as anyone well-acquainted with Dean knows, he's a brilliant man unfortunately cursed with the memory retention of a goldfish.

trivia offline
With apologies to its many devotees, my regular trivia quiz is temporarily going on hiatus. I realized it was actually making me reluctant to update, since that would entail bludgeoning my brain once again for a little-known topic of interest. I have kept it up mostly daily for over two months, so perhaps it's not surprising that my noggin is all wrung out. Never fear; it will be back once I've recovered, and sporadically till then whenever an item of intriguing trivia happens to occur to me.

answer to Thursday's question
The first known fictional detective was Auguste C. Dupin, featured by Edgar Allan Poe in his 1841 The Murders in the Rue Morgue. Mystery fiction's most famous sleuth, Sherlock Holmes, did not appear until 46 years later, in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's A Study in Scarlet.

super snoopers: Alex and Ron
Nikki bit in at 6:33 PM :: ::
Thursday, April 22, 2004

Today is TAKE OUR DAUGHTERS & SONS TO WORK DAY. Again, working at home, I do this all the time! Which is why my work is occasionally interrupted by showings of Winnie-the-Pooh...

Some people deserve to die in bed.
So there I was, wishing that the latest episode of Alias had not just ended (It's never quite enough.), when the emergency alarm on our floor sounded. I quickly opened the door and stuck my head into the corridor to check if it was time to evacuate with husband, daughter, and CPU, but it turned out to be a false alarm. The thing that irked was that one of my neighbors, who'd also done the foolish headfirst safety check, complained, "Ang ingay naman ng alarm." (The alarm is so loud.)

I'm sorry, but this strikes me as a criminally stupid thing to say. What, should the alarm be subdued and subtle so we can all fry in our beds if there's a fire or something? Rested but roasted, talk about your screwed-up priorities. Honestly, there are days when I could make a case for the eradication of the entire human race. Leave the planet for some specie with more brains, like the orangutans.

in the news today
A Nigerian landlord claims not to remember biting off his tenant's nose during a brawl at the landlord's house. Businessman Chukwu Christian said he only defended himself against the 24-year-old tenant's physical attacks. "People begged him to stop the fight, but he refused," Chukwu relates. "I didn't bite him; he wounded me. I don't know how he managed to get his own injury."

Not the kind of thing you forget, one would think.

Who was the first fictional detective?

answer to yesterday's question
A typical lightning bolt is two to four inches wide and two miles long. How anyone actually measures this, I really don't know, but I do know that lightning occurs when areas of positively-charged energy come close to areas of negatively-charged energy. This happens often during thunderstorms, when electrical discharges pass from negatively-charged cloud bottoms to the positively charged ground below.

I have no idea if Marc got this right, because I'm too lazy to convert from metric to English. But Alex made me laugh, the fool.
Nikki bit in at 12:29 AM :: ::
Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Today is THANK YOU SCHOOL LIBRARIAN DAY. I don't remember her name, but it was thanks to her I got to read those two or three last Hardy Boys books I didn't actually own, so she deserves it. Thanks, Miss Whoever!

And the girliness goes on...
I finally gave in to a long-resisted impulse and bought one of those uber-cute and absurdly expensive Sylvanian Families dollhouses. Ostensibly this was for Sage, but contrariwise, it's staying in my room. Everyone in our condo building is always saying that our unit is filled with toys, which it is; what they don't realize is that this is partly because Sage's parents are nothing more than big kids themselves!

Anyway, the 'house' I got is actually a windmill, populated by three little fuzzy toy rabbits who are naturally named Daddy Bunny, Mommy Bunny, and Sagey Bunny. (Yes, she does get to play with it-- I'm not that selfish!) Dean and I went a little bit nuts buying miniature furniture for the house, so much so that we actually ended up with more stuff than the windmill will hold. But Sage adores it, so all is cool. As long as I can resist buying a larger house to hold all the furniture... then more furniture to fill the larger house... then...

in the news today
U.S. doctors are now offering a different kind of cosmetic surgery-- the 'voice-lift'. Since the vocal chords grow weaker with age, thus producing less sound, researchers have developed two methods for rejuvenating a person's voice by reconnecting separated vocal chords. By inserting implants through a neck incision, or injecting fat, collagen, or hydroxyl appetite through the mouth, potential patients can now sound as well as look young through the miracle of modern medicine.

Or they can simply revisit their childhoods by playing with dollies... No, wait, that's me.

What is the size of a lightning bolt?

answer to yesterday's question
From highest to lowest, the nine choirs of angels in Christian theology are: seraphim, cherubim, thrones, dominions, virtues, powers, principalities, archangels, and angels. Theologians actually tend to differ as to the exact order. (See Alex's and Ariel's answers in yesterday's comments.)

Heavenly creatures: Alex and Ariel
Nikki bit in at 1:43 AM :: ::
Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Today is SAINT GEORGE'S DAY. Dragons, beware...

"sweet sorrow", my ass
No doubt all you mushy people out there will find this too totally cute, but I personally think it's vaguely pathetic that I have been married for going on nine years, and still get the quivering heebie-jeebies when my husband has to be away from me for an extended period of time. And by 'extended', by the way, I mean just four days or so, which is about the duration that he may have to spend in Singapore talking business.

The last time this happened was when he worked in Hong Kong. We were apart for several months, by the end of which I was missing him so much that I was hurling cushions and potato chips at the television. (Which depicts far too many incidences of people in the throes of love and/or incipient sexual frenzy; you notice this when you're terminally frustrated.) I did attempt an extramarital liaison with my favorite pillow, Mr. Fiberfill, but unfortunately, he was not much of a conversationalist, so it ended precipitously. I also spent the whole time with insomnia, because (a) I couldn't get used to having a whole bed all to myself, and (b) I have apparently physically and psychologically adapted to the point where I cannot sleep without the sound of someone snoring in my ear. Dean apparently suffered too, because when we finally saw each other again, we fell into bed and promptly created Sage.

See? Separation is dangerous. There aren't even any good bookstores I know of in Singapore (because the anticipation of getting some yummy hard-to-find books would go a long way toward alleviating my sense of melancholy at his absence). Plus, I'll have to deal with Sagey constantly asking "Where Daddy?", and well-meaning friends like Vin will treat me like I'm all fragile and helpless, when in fact I'll just be annoyed at the absence of my best friend, partner in general snottiness, and hapless object of lust.

Gah. Love makes you wussy.

Name the nine choirs of angels in Christian theology.

answer to Friday's question
'Lorem ipsum...' was the first pangram, although it orginally contained only 23 letters, since the Latin alphabet does not use the letters J, V, or W. It was created for the same purpose it serves today, as dummy text to display the look of a typeface or font. While it may seem nonsensical, however, it is actually composed of fragments from a passage in Cicero's De Finibus Bonorum et Malorum: "Neque porro quisquam est qui dolorem ipsum quia dolor sit amet, consectetur, adipisci velit...", which means "There is no one who loves pain itself, who seeks after it, and wants to have it, simply because it is pain."

And you thought it was just blah-blah...

Amie, Angela, Jason, and Dean all knew about the dummy copy thing, but only Ariel and Ron were able to cite the phrase's provenance. Also, Ron gets an extra point for info I didn't know (especially the term 'greeking'); and although I don't give out the Smartypants award anymore, I gotta say Jayce's response was pretty damned funny.
Nikki bit in at 1:04 AM :: ::
Friday, April 16, 2004

Today is WEAR YOUR PAJAMAS TO WORK DAY. Which I do nearly every day, since I work at home, so big whoop.

the winter of your discontent
Okay, having received snarling complaints to the effect that it's been Armenian Appreciation Day for, like, years, I'm posting a new entry. Would it help if I said I was sorry? I've been trying to wrestle this recalcitrant short story into submission, but it refuses to cooperate. That, and I've had a new onslaught of corporate projects, I'm learning to kickbox and belly-dance at the same time, I've been obssessed with building perfect amusement parks in Railroad Tycoon 2, and my daughter has just been getting cuter and more distracting by the day.

Enough rationalization. On with the show.

Yesterday, Dean picked up no less than four trade paperbacks at Comic Quest: Runaways, Human Target, Queen and Country: Operation Storm Front, and the latest Noble Causes. For a change, everything was actually terrific (Usually any multiple buy of reading material results in at least one scum-sucking, soul-devouring loser.), with Runaways and Queen and Country leading the pack in terms of sheer enjoyment and brilliantly developed comic book writing, respectively. Brian K. Vaughan and Greg Rucka inspire my awe, devotion, and mean-spirited envy.

in the news today
Spectra-txt is the first SMS-interactive sculpture, a 33-foot-tall beacon of light now on display in Middlesbrough, England. A mirror-finished tower made of stainless steel, Spectra-txt is studded with lights that change color when anyone within range sends it any of the following text commands: blue, starvibe, xxx, pearl, boro, and chromapop. It was created by artist Peter Freeman for the Middlesbrough Borough Council.

It's strange to note that Jason has been writing about books and I am reporting on something (however vaguely) tech-y. Invasion of the Blog Snatchers!

What does "lorem ipsum..." mean?

answer to last last Saturday's question
A pangram (derived from the Greek pan grammata, meaning 'all letter') is a sentence using every letter of the alphabet, such as the well-known "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog." Ideally, however, a pangram not only uses all the letters, it should be as short as possible while still making some sort of sense. A 'perfect pangram' is one that contains only 26 letters, using each letter of the alphabet exactly once in the sentence. The best example I've been able to find is "Blowzy night-frumps vex'd Jack Q."

Of course, for Grant Morrison, a perfect pangram would contain 64 letters. Heh.

Pangramists (Yes, it is a word!): Marc, Ron, Amie, Gabby, and Angela
Nikki bit in at 1:47 PM :: ::
Saturday, April 03, 2004

Today is ARMENIAN APPRECIATION DAY. So go out and appreciate.

Trivia Quiz point totals
It's a brand new month, with brand new standings!
Alex = 2
Amie = 1
Angela = 2
Ariel = 1
Dean = 1
Kate = 1
Katrina = 1

What is a pangram?

answer to yesterday's question
According to Inuit legend, Sedna was a beautiful girl who was carried off by a raven to be its bride. When Sedna's father came to rescue her in his kayak, the raven stirred up the sea in a terrible storm to prevent father and daughter from escaping. Terrified of the raging waters, Sedna's dad dumped his daughter overboard in an effort to placate the angry raven. Sedna tried to hold on to the side of the boat, but her treacherous father pounded at her fingers with his paddle to make her let go. Her fingers, frozen by the icy waters, soon cracked off; and the blood that spilled from them turned into seals, whales, walruses, and other arctic sea mammals. Sedna became the goddess of the sea, benevolent and terrible-- although her fury against men brings violent waters, she also provides a bounty of food for tribes whose shamans dare the ocean to swim down and comb her long, tangled hair. A so-called 'tenth planet' far beyond Pluto was recently named for the Inuit sea goddess.

In(t)uitive: Ariel and Angela

Nikki bit in at 12:44 PM :: ::
Friday, April 02, 2004

Today is INTERNATIONAL CHILDREN'S BOOK DAY. Can't help noticing my two-year-old has a larger library than most adults!

You may have noticed...
I messed around with my template somewhat, because I felt my blogroll was just getting too damn long; you had to scroll down into eternity to find anything other than blog links. The only other alternative was picking fights with all my friends so I could take them off the list! Plus, I realize that I've never actually met some of you lovely readers in person, so I thought I would reassure you that I do have a nose and a mouth, not just eyes. Courtesy of my husband, the budding photog (who will probably bug me to change the picture once he sees it).

in the news today
The mermaid featured in the coat of arms of the Polish town of Ustka is getting a makeover, because town councillors have agreed that her breasts are too small and she's too fat. They are hoping that her sexy new figure will attract more tourists to the Baltic coast port.

Honestly, first Marge Simpson, now Ariel. It's a sad day when even objects can be objectified.

Who is Sedna?

answer to yesterday's question
The phrase 'he's bought the farm', meaning that the person under discussion has died, originated among Irish immigrants in the U.S. Many of these poverty-stricken workers traveled to the States with the intention of saving enough money to purchase the farms their families worked in Ireland, only to end up spending their earnings on alcohol to alleviate their homesickness. So when an Irish-American passed away without being able to return to 'the auld sod', his countrymen would shake their heads and say, "Well, he's bought the farm now..."

Close enough: Jason and Ariel

Jason says that Tim Berners-Lee, whom I identified as the inventor of the World Wide Web, only invented the web language HTML; the other relevant technologies-- such as TCP/IP, hypertexting, and browsing-- were already in existence at the time. I actually have no idea what he's talking about, but I'll take his word for it.
Nikki bit in at 4:21 PM :: ::
Thursday, April 01, 2004

Today is ANTI-CIRCUMCISION DAY, a day that ought to live on in infamy. Yeesh!

from the mouths of babes
If I don't do anything to my cropped hair, it tends to stand up in spikes on top of my head. So it was doing exactly that the other night, when Dean laughingly told me, "You look like a punk bitch." (And please don't think there's anything derogatory about this; it's just the way that we talk to each other.) I laughed too; and Sage, who was sitting on the bed with us, joined in and proudly echoed her father: "Punt bitch!"

Honestly, I thought it'd be another ten years at least before she started calling me things like that...

Picked up a couple of thirty-buck novels at the National Bookstore bargain bin, both of them by authors whose work I'd enjoyed in the past. Welcome to the World, Baby Girl! is by Fannie Flagg, who previously wrote Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, a lovely, lovely book about women in the American South, a region particularly dear to me since I spent a couple of formative years in Alabama. So I was prepared to cozy up with this other book, creating a nice nest in the living room sofa with chips and cola conveniently at hand. Unfortunately, Baby Girl turned out to be so wretched that I actually fell asleep somewhere in the midst of chapter five. It was trite, unamusing, and the lead character was so pathetic that even my mental rendition of a Southern-fried drawl failed to salvage the experience. The chips were good, though.

'Tis, Frank McCourt's sequel to his Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir Angela's Ashes was infinitely better. I don't usually understand the Pulitzer choices (Lonesome Dove, for example, seemed spectacularly undeserving to me), but McCourt's idiosyncratic style and language just charm the daylights out of me. (I also have a soft spot for the Irish, even though the wee drop of Celtic blood in my heritage has no doubt been pretty much bred out by now.) His portrayal of an Irish boy's struggles with poverty and guilt-ridden Catholicism are as empathic, thought-provoking, and immersive as ever; and if you encounter me spouting a brogue in the next few days, you'll know the reason why.

Where did the phrase 'bought the farm' come from?

answer to yesterday's question
The World Wide Web was invented by a British scientist named Tim Berners-Lee, who came up with the hypertext program in order to facilitate research sharing among scientists across a computer network. He created the system to organize, link, and browse net pages in 1991, and in 2003 was named a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire in honor of his achievement.

Webmasters: Alex and Katrina
Nikki bit in at 3:22 PM :: ::
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