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6th January 2003

1:46am: Okay - I'm lazy
Obviously, I've not been doing anything since the start of last semester.

Yeah, right.

In my fit of insomnia for tonight, I will probably make the poster for this semester's season of idiosynchronic. Unfortunately, I had something last month, but now I've forgotten it. I thought of something about a farewell tour, but that'll likely get my time slot yanked - the administration here is annoyed about Medea leaving at the end of the school year, and it would annoy students who are already upset that my wife is moving on.

Oh, time for the show moved - it's now 8 to 10 Wednesday nights. That way while M's at worship, I'm subverting the rest of campus. Hmmm, maybe i should do a pre-game show for student worship . . Of course, that would be supposing that the student chaplains could come up with a theme or topic that has some depth that I could work with for more than 5 minutes. But I'll get to that later.

Unfortunately, i still have no way to air it online for all 5 people that would listen to it. The student station is barely surviving as it is - getting them to set up a streaming server and getting a portion of the college's bandwidth to distribute would be a herculean task for even a full-time station advisior, much less an unpaid and inexperianced pastor's wife-cum-student mentor. The maximum amount of storage that I have is 10 MB from my ISP. I suppose i could get some hosting, but then i still have to get a domain names, pay for it all, record it, maybe digitize it later depeneding on recording method, then upload, but compressed at decent qaulity it'll be about 120MB for 120 minutes. And I really don't have the attention span or time to do that. Anyone with ideas about what I can do, email me with suggestions.

I mentioned that student services are vacous. This month's Christanity Today summed it real well - these kids, well-intentioned, are making worship sound lot like their Christian Pop, "Artists . . have been marketed as though they were low-fat cheese: 'almost as tasty as the real thing - and better for you!' . . Still many [contemporary christan music] artists perform songs that are neither profund nor subtle, some of which are dismissed by critics as "happy-in-Jesus" songs. . . Individualistic piety and crass sentimentalism can be innocent enough in small doses, but some fans and performers seem to think that faith consists of little else." (http://www.christiancentury.org/) If anyone is wondering why I choose not to go, there's the reason.

Just got a brainstorm. Better go write it down. Results will be posted here later.

31st August 2002

4:48pm: radio radio

28th August 2002

9:35am: Up to Trouble
My wife made the mistake of sending me her college bio for a read check. Never send me something professionally serious and expect it to live.

Medea is the Lead Coffee Barrista for the College. While an important job, we'd like to point out that she's actually our Assistant Chaplain, and has other powers that mere mortal college administrators fear.

Mudd, as she likes to be called, played with lizards and twisted her mouth into odd shapes when she was an undergraduate; for this the University of Nebraska gave her a BS degree in Biology and Russian in 1993. She was so good at it, she was working to go pro with a Master's degree in Evolutionary Biology until her phone rang with The Call in 1997. Rev. Mudd received her Master of Divinity degree from Candler School of Theology at Emory in 2000 . . obviously those theologians thought her odd mouth contortions were a sign of God's grace and gifts to her.

Rev. Mudd has served under appointment in the United Methodist Church since 1999, in both Iowa and Georgia. Prior to her appointment at The College, she served as a Pastor at Between, GA, and also as an Associate Pastor in Fort Dodge, IA. Both towns have successfully rebuilt after a long recovery.

Medea is married to Scott, a computer geek, and is the proud stepmother of Benjamin. Her hobbies include gardening, post-modern utopic thought, music, raising Felis catusi, world travel, drinking fermented goat's milk, reading and getting up on cold mornings and falling into rivers.

20th August 2002

8:35am: What a long strange trip
I woke up this morning at 5:30am. This has been happening more and more lately- my wife says I'm slowly turning into my Dad, the man who sleeps only 6 hours a night. She's probably right, of course. It's a long family tradition, getting up at the crack-ass of dawn without an alarm clock. I thought it was culturally-based, but apparently its genetic.

When I do get up, I usually boot Milo and check email. Waiting for me was something I had been expecting and not expecting for years. A friend of mine, Roger Hughes, passed away sometime over the last weekend.

Roger was one of those people that was completely unexplainable. He had to be experienced. He was a tall, strongly built man, yet probably one of the gentlest people I knew. He was breathtakingly intelligent, but completely was at a loss concerning human nature. He would share portions of his life and personality that for most people would be too emotionally or intellectually intimate, but was a complete mystery to us otherwise. Roger was never centered on the here-and-now, but in the realms of the possibile and impossibile; but his body's demands almost required him to excercise continual care. He was a joy to write material in conjunction with and utterly maddening to script for.

Roger was special partially because of his physical ailments. If he had been as healthy as the rest of us, he would have been just another Geek who liked to do role-playing games. But during the day he would have been Uber-Lawyer, performing pro-bono litigation concerning the enforcement of the ADA and defending ultra-conservative tax protesters.

(And I'm the one using the name idiosynchronic?)

Roger unfortunately was involved in severe car accident as teenager. He did recover, but suffered from type I diabetes, bi-polar depression, and few other consequences. He always had a brown newspaper clipping concerning a white-haired man wearing an eyepatch and holding a cane prominently posted wherever his residence was, but none of us ever could find out what his significance was to Roger and to Roger's condition.

It was a rare thing for Roger to not be in the hospital less than once a month, usually in conjunction with either a sugar or insulin shock. We usually never heard of these times; Roger didn't want us to bother with some event that was fairly common to him but emotionally exhaustive to those who cared. Somehow he had gotten a Bachelor's degree. We still don't know in what, where, or how he did it. Previously to this year, he had been interning at law offices & studying in grad school. Again, we don't know how he did it while his health was unstable.

Above all, he had a wildly creative imagination that made gaming with him like dining at a 4 star French resturant. Roger was blessed with an imagination that normally would have craved drugs in order for it to transcend normal writing. His body, unfortunately, provided him with the hallucinatory and life-traumatic materials to fuel that imagination without external chemical stimuli.

I think I knew the end was coming soon. The gaming group hadn't played for over a year due to various personality strifes and the simple passage of time in all of our lives. I had met and married my wife, settled into family life, and become more or less too busy for most things related to Worlds of Fantasy. Roger had moved back home to Lacona, where he admitted he despised most of the poeple, and abandoned study. Last June, I took my large stash of RPG source books to the Half-Price Bookstore, painstakingly copying what I needed to preserve our stories beforehand.

Luckily, a sales guy found some of my remaining storyteller notes and handed them back to me before I left the store. A wave of deja vu made think about the increasing holes in Roger's memory that led him to call himself Tatters online.

I almost asked for all the books back.

I would sooner have chopped off my right hand than to have not had the chance at knowing such a creative genius. Like most of his fellows, Roger was destined to have short but highly intense life.

16th August 2002

4:13pm: State of The Public Schools
From something I wrote my sister today.

She's in need of her immunization records from school so VCU in Richmond will admit her this year as a full-time student. Our parents are currently out of town, so I'm trying to get it faxed to her.

DMPS [Des Moines Public Schools] moved it's administration offices away from Central Campus on Grand?(1) They're now on the edge of the 'hood south of Broadlawns(2)and abutting against the Chataqua neighborhood. People in Chataqua have been here since the 60's, stubbornly refusing to leave their 1920-era small homes as the urban decay set in. I drove all the way up 16th street, past ML King elementary, through the Gatchel neigborhood(3), jogging over to 19th, and then back over again. I try not to be nervous. I grew up in these neighborhoods with their children 20 years ago while attending King-Perkins because of desegregation.(4) Nothing bad ever happened then, and back then the neighborhood was even more of a burned out shell. My friends who lived a block from me in Beaverdale assaulted me more.

One guy I see does make me nervous. A black man comes out of a wreck of a house while I stop at a sign. Shirtless, he's ripped, and his face is hard while he's looking in my direction. I automatically associate it with the look on a ex-con, recently released, as I accelerate away from the stop sign.

The administration took over what used to be an elementary school, Cassady, about the size and layout of my own elementary school, Perkins. Perkins, in my memory, never looked like this. This version of Perkins has security cameras all over the place, only one door open for visitors to go in & out, and modern cubicles inside rooms, gyms, and some of the larger hallways. Everything's been painted and well maintained, but there's huge amounts of steel and aluminum conduit running all over. The parking lot is a fricking mess. The place must be stifling in full summer; today we're lucky in that it was only 82 outside. Every room I look into is packed with equipment in boxes or piles of stuff.

I finally found my way up to records, which was pushed into a corner of the social worker's office, which was a hallway at one time in one corner of the building. 2 black women are in the reception area complaining that they can't get their kids enrolled at King, near where they live because people (white folk?) keep telling them different things about open enrollment.(5) They're both frustrated and at the same time beligerent, like as if they were on a sleazy talk show. The woman talking to them is listening but the posture is doubtful, like she sees their explanation as partially dubious- like the guests are blaming others when they're really at fault. I admit I wonder how much who all is at what degree of fault, and wether or not the 2 women will get the problem fixed.

This poor elderly lady comes out for me and explains that she was sorry, but they don't do it that way (for immunizations). She gets so much paperwork, especially this time of year, that they'll lose something like that. Oy. She wants to know whom I spoke to- I wish I could tell her, but she never told me her name. She's tired. And my pager says 11:30.

So I wander back down the hallways and stairs, back to the security station, and sign out. While walking through, I look at the security camera monitors and the computers that the guard is using. In a different time, this was a recpetionist's desk. I see one IBM notebook that's 7 years old, 2 more pc's that are 5. I walk though the parking lot and look hard again. All of the cars here are older, some in terribile condition, and all are most likely people employed here. Somehow I get the distinct feeling that working in a school for these people would be like Nirvanna. This is not a school. This is a recycling project masquerading as an office, undertaken because because budget cuts made it look attractive compared to urban abandonment and a shiny new building.

(1) Central Campus is a 6 story building at the edge of downtown. At one time it was a factory. In the 50's, it was sold to the schools as the population boomed and converted to a technical high school. In the 80's, it was converted again to a Talented and Gifted school for the district and administration space.
(2) Broadlawns was the only hospital for the previous 20 years to accept patients on public assistance in DSM.
(3) Gatchel United Methodist is considered one of the poorest UM churches in the state of Iowa.
(4) King was built in 1972 in the middle of the ghettos on a new "open-plan" design, classrooms without walls. Movable partitions 5 andc freestanding closets 5 foot high would form classroom walls. If there was any disturbance in any classroom, and the whole school knew it. 50% of King's district was black.
Perkins was built in 192_ in the Beaverdale neighborhood, a middle class community 3 miles away. 97% of Perkins district was white.
Desegregation was ordered in 1975. To make it work, the school system partnered middle class K-6 schools with poorer elementary schools into one school, although each would have a seperate principal. Students in the district would attend K-3 at King, 4-6th at Perkins.
(5) Like most school systems in urban America, DMPS's desegregation orders have been cancelled or have expired. To maintain working ethnic balances in schools, Des Moines has adopted charter & magnet school concepts. King was remade into a Sciences magnet school in 1998. Some of the surrounding neighborhood has been forced into attending other elementaries furhter away because of the open enrollment demand.

6th August 2002

8:19am: Machines For Living
A few days ago, I posted a commentary about why I got out of architecture in college on on WWDN's forums:
"I might try applying to Master's programs in Architecture. When I was young, I had no real driving reason to do architecture after getting into the school. That lack of focus just really wiped me out, and I quit after 3 years. (I did get a BA in Art though . .) Now I'm a big fan of alternative and ecological energy technologies & techniques in residential and commercial design. Call it the function that would drive my forms. I'd like to give it a shot, at least find out if this is a dream, or just something I like to play with."

Slashdot today posted a new article on living off the power grid, which continues to fuel my mental fire. The original article can be read on Home Power magazine's website. (I'm thinking I should get me a copy out of curiosity) Some of the more interesting Slashdot user comments:

"Not that payback is currently the best reason to go with solar. If someone hits a baseball into your panels, there goes your chance of payback for awhile ;) But it does frequently exist, and a net zero or close to it for energy manufactured from a clean and renewable resource, for many, is maybe worth forgoing marble countertops. . .
Interesting that I routinely deal with homes that will think nothing of spending thousands upon thousands of dollars to use Antique Jerusalem Stone on the floors, but mention Solar and the first question is, "what's the payback"."

"You mention 150 watts [the average desktop's power draw] as if it's a large number.
Some rough figures:

Room with 3 incandescent lightbulbs: ~180 watts
32" television: ~250 watts
Microwave: 1000-1500 watts
Stove: ~2000 watts
Oven: ~3000+ watts
Window A/C unit: 750-1250 watts
Central A/C for a 2000 sq. foot house: ~5000 watts
Central A/C for a 4000 sq. foot house: ~9000 watts"

"Linksys PCMCIA 10/100 ethernet card
5V 260mA, 60mA sleep mode
3V 180mA, 30mA sleep mode

Linksys PCMCIA 802.11b wireless card
5V or 3.3V
275mA TX, 225mA RX, 20mA standby"

I look at this stuff and I wonder if its architecture or the dynamics of building energy efficent buildings with alternative power systems that intrests me more. The HVAC/thermal dynamics class I took was fun, one of the better classes I experienced . . coupled with the residential solar design class, I think I play with those materials more than any other college stuff I have.

Of course doing the GRE's, paying for school and child support at the same time, resisting the urge to skip class, putting up with the pretentious snobs in either my own studio or the classes I would T/A, working insanely long hours, and wanting to practice Architecture in a narrow application, and just trying to remain sane kinda sounds little much right now.

5th August 2002

11:06am: Yeah, I knew that 50 year old froy had to be a terrorist

From Excite's AP News Headlines this morning

2nd August 2002

12:39am: Linux Plunge
Thanks to a friend, I now have two copies of Linux to play around with. I had picked up a 3rd hard drive cage to stuff another boot drive into on a lark, and now have a reason to use it. And now, I'm up past 1 am again, so I might as well play with my toys. Coincidence - you got to love it.

Having now installed Red Hat 7.3 I have to say its a weird experience. I first compared it to the first dive into a lake during a polar bear meeting. The water's cold yet comforting. You're disoriented but you know where you are. And then there's this other lake some of the other people are using, called KDE. Its all too much. I haven't been this disoriented since I installed Win95 for the first time. Duh.

The first thing that threw me was the computer had to use a floppy to boot. Yeesh! I don't have a clue as to why yet. I'll put it on my list of things to do, after finding whatever passes in Gnome for a hardware manager and solving where my firewire card is. And why I don't have the second monitor going when the OS sees both video cards. And I could also use a way to access the storage drive off of the psuedo-server running W2K workstation.

I did find an autoupdate service, which is good considering the 470 patches that have been issued by Red Hat. I was in no shape to track down & figure out what the heck each one was for. From other people's prior experiances, I didn't want to find out what being some little whacker's hack job was like. Then the patches refused to install because my drive wasn't partitioned large enough - oops. I suppose I should have used a drive bigger than 3 gig, but its all I had sitting around. I suppose I could use the drive XP is loaded on, since I just play with that as well. And no, I wasn't going to go spring for another hard disk; that's $80 I don't have at the moment. It's all more effort than I care to expend at the moment.

I also got a pre-release version of Lindows; it'll be interesting to see how that is considering the positive review I read from another complete neo who is also diving in for the first time. Plus, I recieved a copy of Calera's server version as well, and copied a disc of StarOffice 6 from the test lab at work.

15th July 2002

11:54am: The 4 Horsemen: Apathy, Cynicism, Stagnation, & [Selfishness]
Reprinted from Common Dreams:

Is the First World Turning Soft?
Third World Here We Come
by Barbara Crossette

NEW YORK -- A Thai government planner once tried to explain to me why people all over Bangkok were getting away with drilling illegal wells, pulling the city ever deeper into the bog on which it rests. "We are a soft state," he said with a wry smile.

It was a nod to the Swedish social economist Gunnar Myrdal and his seminal 1968 book "Asian Drama." Almost everywhere in what was then proudly called the Third World, what grabbed attention was Myrdal's cautionary take on what happens in countries where breaking rules and flouting laws is a cultural norm. He focused particularly on South Asia.

Too bad that Myrdal, who died in 1987, is not with us today. A "soft state," he wrote, is one where "governments require extraordinarily little of their citizens" and "even those obligations that do exist are enforced inadequately, if at all." He thought that a low level of what he called "social discipline" divided emerging South Asian countries from Western nations at a similar, earlier stage of industrialization.

What would Myrdal have made of reports that have been piling up in recent years about Americans' failures to police themselves? Would he have detected a "Third Worlding" of America? Do Indian and American democracies have more in common than we think? This all has little or nothing to do with morality or religion; put that red herring to rest. The epidemic feels more like some kind of civic exhaustion.

In small American towns, it means nobody volunteering for the volunteer fire department, or going to crucial community meetings, not to mention bothering to vote or fighting to strengthen public schools.

In developing countries, a fatal gap in the social and political order is often the lack of grassroots self-government. Traveling with a Pakistani candidate for Parliament a decade ago, I saw people plead at campaign stops for help with health problems, land disputes, personal feuds and consumer complaints. "They have no one else to go to," she said. "There is no local authority here to help them." In the poorest countries, a huge percentage of privileged children who get a good education go to private or religious schools, because public education has atrophied if it ever really existed. Would Myrdal fault the U.S. Supreme Court and the voucher lobby for steering America in the same direction?

Americans build bigger houses and higher walls. Almost any Third World city has, arguably, more gated communities than the suburbs of New York, and many more walls keeping out the poor. Is that America's model?

In the wake of terrorist attacks on the United States, a portrait of inattention, small-minded squabbling and downright slovenliness in law enforcement and intelligence agencies has been emerging. Anyone in law or journalism who has tried to pursue a criminal investigation in most developing nations knows that there is almost never a resolution, or even enough evidence to make a judgment, usually because of shoddy police work.

Most recently, we learned that American banks, eager for profits and not too fussy about checking identities, have been allowing suspected terrorists to move money around at will. Anything-goes banking helped deliver the Southeast Asian economic crises five years ago.

And then there is crony capitalism. That and the now all too familiar laxity of regulators are primarily what sabotaged the economic progress of Asian tigers like Thailand and Indonesia, long before governments got bad advice, if it was bad advice, from the International Monetary Fund.

Just after Myrdal dissected the soft state, the late Bernard D. Nossiter, a New York Times correspondent in India, was coming to some of the same conclusions. He noted that by the 1960s Indians were sounding alarms, as Americans are doing now. While writing his 1970 book "Soft State: A Newspaperman's Chronicle of India," Nossiter found this now timeless and perhaps universally applicable passage in the Economic Times of Bombay:

"Indian democracy seems to be entering dangerous waters. The real danger is not military dictatorship or even chaos - India fortunately is too big for either - but apathy, cynicism, stagnation, shameless self-seeking."

(c)2002 the International Herald Tribune

14th July 2002

5:13am: Apply wit here
Something I wrote the other night for a UNIX class demo:

"Scott was born in 1972 after a long lunch. At one time, he was an artist, architect, and designer of theater sets. After finding out that no one wanted to hire such an individual for more than sub-poverty wages, he switched careers to computer systems, where he has been dramatically more successful.

"He has a son, Benjamin, aged 3.5 years - although Ben will tell you he's 15, going on 30. Scott attributes this odd behaviour to the other side of Ben's family, and continues to refuse to let Ben drive.

"Last year, Scott got married to his unknown long-lost high school sweetheart, Medea. He had the crush; she was barely aware of him. Obviously he did better at the reunion."

Silly me.
4:53am: Insomnia again
Usually, my insomnia is related to things that are negative or neutral of nature. Most times when my brain won't shut down, the subject matter is usually related to lists of things to do, annoyances, aggravations, concerns, or the fact that I'm laying in bed like cold fish, unable to just turn the lights out.

This morning it has been positive, although I'm at a loss to explain why. My wife and I left Ben with Grandpa yesterday while we went to a rubber-chicken wedding. (Well, the wedding was quite good, and the chicken was by no means rubbery - its just the people who attended with us are usually at the rubber-chicken dinners for the college.) Amazingly, we got back and found ol' Sleepless snoring away for his afternoon nap on his grandparent's couch. That Never happens- its usually like pulling teeth to get Ben to nap if Medea and I aren't doing it at home.

Ben woke up groggy though, even though he slept enough, which is unusual. Eithter he doesn't sleep enough and spends the next hour waking up and is whiny, or he sleeps enough and is his usual self. After a half hour he still wasn't up & going yet, so we knew something was up. Poor kid started runing hot, wouldn't eat, and was sick for the rest of the night. As I type this, he's slept all night, but has been semi-restless and a little sweaty.

What's been keeping me up has been the feeling of love I have for this child and my wife. Wow. Its one of those things where when you were child and were told that giving is better than receiving, you didn't belive it. While being loved is good and wonderful, loving another person or your child is 10x what their love could do for you in a deep blue funk. You wouldn't think you would experience that love in direct joy after spending the evening caring for the person, but that's where I am.

11th July 2002

7:33pm: New word alert
<a href="http://www.shift.com/content/web/385/1.html>From a Shift.Com article about archives and how our times may be a digital dark age</a>, comes a new Word: " . .tangenvy: the jaw-dropping jealous reaction of techies when the system goes down and they have lost all their base, while the analoggies over in accounting are doing fine with their paper and pencils." Thanks to the guy named lo_fye for the good laugh.
10:48am: Revolt against the fashion industry!

New York Times Article, "The Tyranny of Skinny, Fashion's Insider Secret"


I owe Rene Zellweger an apology. Over a year ago, as the editor of a fashion magazine, I pulled her picture off the cover of an issue at the last minute, swapping it for a photo of a lanky swan in a whiff of Dior chiffon. The problem wasn't the usual one that kills covers. The lighting was impeccable. Her dress was a glamorous Galliano, and there was a lot of talk about her new movie, "Bridget Jones's Diary" and a starring performance that would be hailed with an Oscar nomination. No, the problem was much more primal, born of one of the not-so-secret obsessions of the fashion world: she was too fat.

The debacle started with one of those typical negotiations that take place between magazine editors and that elite cadre of longshoremen who do the heavy lifting of celebrity publicity. The actress's team had been negotiating with the magazine's celebrity wrangler for weeks, hoping to snag a cover.

We were leery because the word was that Ms. Zellweger, like Robert De Niro in "Raging Bull," had put on weight to play Bridget Jones. The rumor on the street was 30 pounds. One of her publicists swore she had gained just 8. Then the tally was revised down to 2. Just a measly 2 pounds. We went back and forth like a couple of short-weighting wholesalers haggling over a shipment of turkeys.

Finally the photographs came back. It wasn't as if she was wearing Gwyneth Paltrow's fat suit from "Shallow Hal." But that girl-next-door charisma was nowhere to be seen. Even after several thousand dollars' worth of airbrushing, there was no hiding the truth. "It's not in anyone's best interest to publish these," I said delicately. The cover was killed, and I thought that was the end of it. But then the whole imbroglio came out in the tabloid gossip columns, as if a fashion magazine's opting not to publish a picture of an overweight actress was startling and outrageous.

Well, I did feel bad about it. We wanted to put an actress on the cover because of her performance and her talent, and yet ultimately the decision had only to do with the way she looked. It seemed wrong - or maybe regrettable - to judge somebody by such trivially narrow criteria.

These days, fashion's antifat bias and obsession with thinness, so ingrained among those who make careers in the business, is looking increasingly like a blind spot, one that could ultimately shortchange designers, retailers and even magazine publishers. While sales of sizes 0 to 12 have been flat or have grown modestly in the last two years, what is called the "plus size" market has surged as much as 18 percent. It has happened at a time when Americans are aging and growing heavier. Yet, if you want to wear Gucci and Prada - and people who love fashion would feel badly dressed if they couldn't - you'll have a hard time finding anything above a size 12.

"Some of the most powerful women in the world have had four kids, they're a size 12, and you have to apologize to them for 10 minutes because they're really upset that you don't carry their size," said an experienced Madison Avenue salesman, who requested anonymity to save his store from embarrassment. He said that most designers want to serve only a clientele that represents a skinny ideal. "I always believed if they did a size 46 or a size 48, they'd do a lot more business, but they don't think that's their market."

Simon Doonan, the creative director of Barneys New York, has watched well-off middle-aged women walk through his store morosely, unable to fit into the chic little nothings on the rack, only to console themselves with jewelry from the ground floor.

"It's the last unexplored opportunity in the fashion business," he said. "If I were Tom Ford or Miuccia Prada, I would make upscale, groovy, hip clothes for plus sizes." The problem is a prejudice against large sizes in the fashion business, he said.

Everyone who works in fashion has heard the stories that point to the tyranny of the skinny archetype. There's the American design house where the byword is you needn't apply for a job if you are bigger than size 8. When the look of the moment was more anorexic than usual, there was supposedly a sign in the bathroom of one of the major American fashion magazines that said, "Don't vomit in here."

And then there was the story of the fashion assistant who worked around the clock one night to organize a magazine party, only to be told the following day that her help was no longer needed. She was too "big" for the uniform that staff members would be wearing to the party.

At the same time that I was rejecting Rene Zellweger for a cover, I was struggling with my own weight.

For my entire two-year tenure at the head of the magazine, I was trying to get back to what I weighed before my son was born. On a good day, the readout on the bathroom scale said 150, which, for a 5-foot-9 woman's frame is about average in America. But by the unforgiving standards of the fashion business, I was a butterball.

"You're not fat," colleagues would say consolingly. "You just had a 10-pound baby." Less sentimental friends would slip me the phone numbers of diet doctors, often just after we finished discussing which of the new models needed "to lose her puppy fat." Once at a fashion show, a childless woman I used to work with remarked loudly enough for me and half the front row to hear, "How hard can it be to lose the baby weight?"

A dermatologist went so far as to suggest liposuction. "Everyone does it now," she said one day in the examining room. "You can't compete with women your age these days just by dieting. You've got to get lipo if you want to look like them."

Why didn't I lose the weight? I jumped halfheartedly through the usual hoops: personal trainer, the Zone diet, cappuccinos for lunch. But I didn't really make a concerted effort. Looking back, I wonder if the weight didn't reflect some fundamental ambivalence toward the values of the industry I was in. I wonder if I didn't feel intimidated by the images I myself was perpetuating.

In ancient times, fat was royal, and being thin denoted poverty. Over the last century, _ types have gone in and out of style like hemlines and haircuts. These shifts respond mostly to fashion's changing mores. The stick-straight 1920's flapper silhouette was a reaction to the constricting corset. By the 50's, curves were back, and so were corsets.

In the 60's, Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton were ushering in a decade of revolutionary miniskirts and minisize models. Brooke Shields and Christie Brinkley became symbols of a new kind of all-American broad-shouldered sexiness in the 80's. Kate Moss hit the scene in 1992, and waifs in tight sleeves and tiny bias-cut dresses came to define the 90's look.

All of these permutations occurred against a backdrop of larger questions about the role of women and the power of images. Fashion, which can make people feel beautiful and glamorous, can also make people feel worse about themselves if they're not as beautiful, or as thin, or as fabulous as the swans in the pictures.

For the last decade, the images in fashion magazines have been increasingly divorced from the reality of their readers. Models get skinnier and skinnier - the average model in 1985 was a size 8, while today the average model is a size 0 or 2. Yet the average American gets bigger and bigger. (Maybe too big: the Centers for Disease Control says 61 percent of adult Americans are obese and run an increased risk of health problems.) It's almost a perverse relationship: the fatter the country gets, the thinner its icons must be.

The disconnect is widening at the very moment an alternative to the high-fashion combine is gaining momementum - namely, the plus-size market. Once plus sizes were a fashion ghetto. Now they have their own runway show, CurveStyle, which was introduced in February in New York and will continue on the same semiannual schedule as the designer ready-to-wear collections.

"Ten years ago, so many department stores wouldn't even consider carrying larger sizes because they didn't want larger-size women in their stores," said Kurt Barnard, the president of Barnard Retail Trend Report. "Now I think you'd have to look very hard to find someone who does not carry plus-size clothing. If they don't, they are doing themselves an injustice."

At Saks, the plus-size business in the Salon Z department - a whole floor of Saks Fifth Avenue devoted to women's sizes 16 to 24 - has increased more than 20 percent since its expansion in 1999. Many American designers like Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Anne Klein, Oscar de la Renta, Dana Buchman and DKNY have spotted a plus-size opportunity to attract a new customer.

European companies like Gianfranco Ferre and Krizia have also entered the market. Chanel has always provided customers with sizes up to 20, but that is not common knowledge. Marina Rinaldi, the Italian-based company, is even thinking about renting a hotel suite in Los Angeles around this time next year to cater to plus-size Oscar nominees and partygoers.

And Mode, a defunct plus-size fashion magazine, will be reincarnated come May as Grace, to be edited by a former Mode editor, Ceslie Armstrong. Even Vogue's fat-free fashion pages are bulking up with pictures in the April issue of Kate Dillon, a plus-size model, who tells of her battle with anorexia as a "skinny model" and her eventual decision to return to fashion at her natural size. The subject is euphemistically embraced in the current issue as a "celebration of shape."

"The idea was to show women of all shapes and sizes," said Anna Wintour, Vogue's editor in chief. "You can look good whatever shape you are. It's something Vogue and other fashion magazines don't address."

She added that although she was impressed with how much clothing in larger sizes her editors had been able to call in from the designer market, she was unsure whether designers would depart from the thin silhouette, the ultimate symbol of youth and cool.

"Honestly, I don't think you're going to see this trend on the runway," Ms. Wintour said. The only plus-size model that designers really embrace, she noted, is Sophie Dahl, and even Ms. Dahl is not so plus anymore: she recently lost 30 pounds and, as one observer puts it, "she's now as skinny as the rest of them."

Maybe the attention to the plus-size market will inspire designers to start a trend - not just creating larger sizes, but, more important, adapting a more ecumenical approach to beauty and fashion. As the Ford model Katy Hansz points out, weight is not as marginal a subject as the fashion establishment thinks. "Every single woman I have ever met in my entire life has an issue with their body, whether they're a size 2 or 22," she says in "Curves," a new documentary on the plus-size modeling industry.

Since my Rene Zellweger debacle, I've lost some weight, but also the sense of being enslaved by size 0 expectations. As for Ms. Zellweger, well, she might not have won the Oscar for best actress, but in her black Carolina Herrera ball gown, she definitely took home the proverbial gold statuette for most glamorous star on the red carpet. By gaining weight for "Bridget Jones," she defied the cultural archetype and presented an image of herself that permeated the surface. In the theater world they call that bravura. Is that a pose for a cover? You tell me.

Was it me, or did anyone else who saw Bridget Jones' Diary think that all that talk about Zellweger’s weight gain was utter BULL? She was still skinnier than most people I know.</p>

</font>The current Thread comments from WWDN:

Thanks for posting this. I'm a guy, but I have a pretty strong hate towards the "thin" pressure placed on women. One has to question the integrity of any industry (the weight loss, cosmetics, and fashion industry particularly) that requires that people feel uncomfortable with themselves in order to make money. Women are pressured to look like other women by the advertisements run in magazines. And self worth is tied into waist size, or taking a step back from that, from the ability to attract a mate. Of course, there are more moderate applications of all of those things: some women put on cosmetics because it's fun, and not because they are embarrased to be outside without them. Some people lose weight to be healthy, not to fit into a ridiculously sized dress.
I'd like to focus on the "make people feel uncomfortable with themselves to make money" for a moment as well. I've read a bit on techniques of coercion, brainwashing, and interrogation. (I started on a horrified fascination with this subject after reading 1984.) Analyzing advertisments, especially advertisments in this particular industry, is incredibly enlightening.
In any sort of overt brainwashing and interrogation, the first step is to destroy the person mentally and emotionally. Various techniques are used.. speeding up and slowing down time, drugs, torture, humiliation. The end result of the tactic is to leave a person feeling terrified and alone, worthless, and desperately looking for somone to help them. This is known as inducing regression: you knock the person down to a childlike state.
When someone is in a childlike state, and terrfied, they will do what it is natural for any child to do: look for a parent. The brainwasher/interrogator then steps in, offering both authority and faux-compassion, and will very frequently be taken on as a psychological parent figure. From there, the faux-parent can essentially reprogram a person, rewarding "good" behavior and punishing "bad" behavior. This is textbook interrogation/brainwashing theory.
How does this apply to fashion ads? Well, consider how fashion ads operate. I want to start out by saying that overt brainwashing is far more extreme than fashion advertising, the goal is less ambitious, and there is much more time, and corroberating support of the "brianwasher" than a typical brainwasher would have.
1) Break down self-esteem - Can it really be contested that fashion ads don't make many women feel like crap? I dont know any women iin my life that dont either hate the ads, or else feel inadequate next to them. Only the elite can shop at these absurd stores where they don't sell middle to plus sizes. And if you arent among those people, it is a stigma of shame. Can't go to the beach, cant go to the party because the uniforms only go up to size 6 or whatever. This is an attack, though not as blatant, on self esteem and self image.
2) Step in as the Parent Figure - Fashion magazines will offer advice on how to trim down for swimsuit season. Dieting advice, makeup advice. "We want to help you find that true beautiful you." Sure, just shell out cash for a drawer full of cosmetics, crackpot diet plans and pills, liposuction, etc. Magazine racks are full of advice for women why are die(t)ing to become the elite. More money gets spent.
And of course you'll gladly plunk down an absurd amount of money to fit into that dress you "earned" by losing all that weight, if you manage to accomplish that frequently dangerous proposition. But such body types cannot frequently be sustained in people whom it is not natural for, and so the cycle begins again.
Of course, the fashion technique is not as extreme as the torture technique, but I think that both rely on exactly the same psychological mechanics, of break-down/offer-help. The way to resist it, of course, is to not let people break you down, but unfortionately this industry gets tremendous media support. It's hard to be OK with your body if a million voices are screaming at you that it's wrong. To my eyes, the one of the only ways people can prevent this is through a rather difficult feat of character; saying "I don't care what the world thinks, I'm OK with who I am" It's one of those things that becomes a bit more true, the more often it is said and believed in, I think (but its also an easy place to start lying to yourself.) But when somone is comfortable with their body, and it doesnt fit the fashion industry's absurd mold, it starts to undermine the coercion, it becomes inspirational. The other, is to try and always make other people feel good about their bodies, and be sincere about it. That also undermines the coercion.
Sorry for the stupidly long post.



You know what upsets me? All of these beautiful women like Kate Winslet, Rene Zellweger, and Drew Berrymore are seen as big or fat. They are not. If Marylin Monroe were alive today, she'd be a plus sizes model! This obsession with skinny is rediculous. My guy-friends and I went to the mall the other day, and they spent a lot of the time laughing at the girls in the adds in the windows. They would point and say, "she's got no boobs!" and "Somebody give her a burger, quick!". When we passed a store known for it's plus sizes (most of which, in my opinion, shouldn't be classified as "plus") the girl in the Ad in the window was beautiful. She was curvy and had that old fashioned look. One of my guy-friends stopped and said, "if I buy those pants, would they come with her?"
This idea of beauty that has been plaguing us since Twiggy is warped and twisted in my mind. I guess I'm just gealous because, despite the fact that I am not overweight, I would be a plus-size model.

The Winlsow:

Ok, just so we all know where this is coming from;
I am a guy
I am one really fat son of a gun
I've been married for ten years.
Basically, I am in no companies desired demographics. No company wants me to be seen wearing their clothes, eating their food, whatever.
I hate the concept of beauty in this country. Hate it. We seem to feel the ideal of beauty is, to quote Spider Robinson, 'a fourteen year old boy with plums in his shirt pockets'. I said this when I talked about MIBII, [talking about Laura Flynn Boyle] women should look like women, with curves and soft lines and all. Now, I am not a 'chubby chaser', I just like human looking women. I don't mind fit looking, I love a woman where you can see a curve of nice bicep and a little musculature, it's sexy as hell. But this uberskinny look, where the collar bone is jutting out like some example of modern architecture or where the thickest part of a woman's arm is her elbow, this is just goddamn wrong.
My two cents.

10th July 2002

5:16pm: New look
I had time and burned it playing with styles. I like the blue background and disjointed layout, although what I'd love to have is the text in large and small caps, like my handwriting.

While I'm on it- jeez, livejournal's slow. Pages take about 15 seconds to download via cable or direct T1 at work. That's where most of the "burned time" went to.

8th July 2002

9:55am: The Demise of Dualboot.net
I was bored the day before and typed in the url to Dualboot.net and was surprised at what I got: The index page seems to be a HTML rendering of the forum's birth. After 3 seconds, the page takes you to a login screen. If you try to register, you're informed that the admin has disabled registration. So either the forum/service is down, permanently, or its been closed to spying interlopers when they switched to an updated version of PHP.

Nothing lasts, eh, Fender?
Current Mood: cynical

5th July 2002

10:06am: Misc 2 weeks late
If you feel motivated, visit David Leppik. David Leppik is a software creator, a husband, and a Unitarian Universalist.

Last week, when suffering from the same insomnia that got me to start a blog, I ran across David's website while doing bleary-eyed google searches of people I knew from high school out of boredom. Interesting guy.

3rd July 2002

10:35am: Blue Ribbon, Gold Stars
Bringing up WilWheaton.Net's Message Board reminded me of something going on there that I'm not too sure I like. (Warning: only registered users can use Uncle Willy's Bulletin Board System) (Thanks for pointing that out, Amy!) Blue Ribbons are being handed out by various people to others they admire or want to thank. See the other threads

Well, I'm not against positive reinforcement, it's just that it makes me think that stuff like this is more about a popularity contest, and that makes me distrust it. I know that it's unlikely that I'll get one. I don't hang with the right cliques and spend enough time online; also, I sometimes am prone to using a little temper when ripping poor reasoning to pieces. But at the same time, I know I'm a good positive person. Where's my reward? Why am I not surrounded with the close friendships that others have discovered? It's amazing how online life and real life mirrior one another.

The Blue Ribbioning that they're trying to emlulate is that in these public forums, the teachers and business leaders were giving the awards to everyone. Well, understandably everyone can't get everyone an award. At least check there was 250 some users who regularly posted. Its just that through restriction, the award becomes a mark of favoritism, and divisive.

I remember a sunday school teacher I had in High School, Bruce, who did a similar exercise with us at graduation. We, all 10 of us in that church class, piled into a van & drove out to a nearby park and Bruce taught the class under the May sun. To each one of us, he called us before our peers and told us of our great strengths & traits. Not surprisingly, he pointed out, among many, many things, that I was the removed listener- even my physical position placed me away from my collegues that morning, because I was perched on top of the wall that formed the backrests on the benches we sat on.

It's just upsetting to be always on the periphery, always the audience, never the player.
Current Mood: annoyed
10:12am: I guess everyone's got an opinion
Probably everyone in the web is arguing in their little communities right now about the California Appeals Court that struck down the Pledge of Alligence because of its mention of the phrase, "under God". Raging debates have sprung up just about everywhere.

No, I'm not throwing in my 2 cents. Just observing how worked up we're all getting about it. As someone said, (paraphrased) "We could only get more pissed off about it if the court demanded that all public schools have their students recite the pledge without God in mandatory sex ed classes."

I even found a small party of goths arguing with one another about what "under God" meant and if it was offensive. Check it out here Just goes to show you that holding stereotypes only makes your brain good for keeping your skullbones apart.

And for good measure, some links to the discussion on WWDN: Pledge of Allgiance Un-Constitutional?

2nd July 2002

8:57am: Happy Birthday
to Gabriel Richard Day, born July 2, 1996.

Hopefully you and all your relatives are having a wonderful birthday. :)

24th June 2002

8:28am: Moby
For those of you unaware, Moby got slashdotted yesterday about his statements concerning record sales and the perception of popularity. Since Slashdot is full of open software/information advocates (read: fundamentalists), he apparenty poked someone's soft spot when we said that he, and other bands like Pearl Jam, and WWDN favorite Weezer, are not going to sell so many CD's because they all have a tecnologically adept fan base that will burn and rip music readily.

What amazes me is the virtol directed at Moby and his music. Read through what I thought was surprising number of comments in the Slashdot thread and see what I mean.
[Error: Irreparable invalid markup ('<a [...] http://www.moby.com/albums/html/d-play.htm">') in entry. Owner must fix manually. Raw contents below.]

For those of you unaware, <a href="http://slashdot.org/articles/02/06/23/2248236.shtml?tid=141">Moby got slashdotted yesterday</a> about his statements concerning record sales and the perception of popularity. Since <a href="http://www.slashdot.org">Slashdot</a> is full of open software/information advocates (read: fundamentalists), he apparenty poked someone's soft spot when we said that he, and other bands like Pearl Jam, and <a href="http://www.wilwheaton.net/phpBB2">WWDN</a> favorite Weezer, are not going to sell so many CD's because they all have a tecnologically adept fan base that will burn and rip music readily.

What amazes me is the virtol directed at Moby and his music. Read through what I thought was surprising number of comments in the Slashdot thread and see what I mean. <a href="http://www.moby.com/albums/html/d-18.htm'>18</a>, as most people could have guessed, is not selling nearly as well as his previous effort, <a href="http://www.moby.com/albums/html/d-play.htm">Play</a>.

<b>18</b> isn't quite as strong, it's hitting the market at a much less favorable time, and the expectations are so high because of his previous effort. Anyone remember Hootie? :) <b>Play</b> did a lot of the same things as <b>Cracked Rear View</b> - only there was much more depth to the material if you were willing to dig beneath its layers. It's a Pilgrim's Prgress effect- a combination of fantastic creativity and public sentiment at the right time made these sales phenomena. Every creative person can tell you there are up and downs in the catalog of your creative works, all your pieces are just simply not going to be equal to your best seller. Part of that is public conscience, an item you can only have limited ability to control. (See Madonna)

Alot of the negative energy being thrown Moby's way reminds me alot of how people turned on Hootie and The Blowfish one morning and dissed them because they wrote a CD's worth of good musical hooks, coupled them with mediocre lyrics, and sold 18 million copies and recieved an obscene amount of airplay and attention. (IMO, much of that airplay was because the radio stations had just embarked on the Great ClearChannel Consolidation and the generic hooks fit well into a generalized plain vanilla market formula.) Moby's tracks were not as well broadcast on radio; the real source of <b>Play's</b> popularity was that his psuedo-electronica/dance tracks made good background noise to television commercials. The "F*ck Hootie" bumper stickers that appeared prior to <b>Fairweather Johnson</b> remind me alot of the knee-jerk letters I see floating around the Internet from the crayon-wielding members of Slim Shady's crew telling Moby that he sucks. (Notice I'm not including all of Eminem's fans here, just the idiots) Add in all of the pundits and public consumers pushing for electronica to be "dead" as a pop music trend, and it'd enough to make you want to quit making music for the public.

As you might guess, I'm a Moby fan. I like his stuff, and I admire him for his convictions to say what's on his mind, particularly since he's a vocal advocate of non-violence, veganism (super vegitarianism), and a critic of fundamentalism in religion, while calling himself a Christian at the same time.

If I haven't touched on it, what is it with people???? Give the poor guy a break.

23rd June 2002

5:17am: I'm not fixated!
Don't look at the friends section. It makes me look like I'm obsessed with an old friend who introduced me to LJ.

I need more friends. Send me a typed resume and a 300 word essay on why you'd like to be referenced on my LJ page, a bloodtype, and a shubbery. You'll automatically get added if you send me a foolproof way to get the ugly yucca plant out of my front yard without wounding my mother-in-law. (The woman planted it there while watching the cats during our honeymoon last year.)
4:33am: Insomnia is a .....
Well, you know the word. I can't figure out where this came from; up until a few years ago, I never had problems sleeping through the night. That all changed when I started remembering my dreams again, just after my son was born. Weird how that happened. Maybe it was because I was the one getting up for the 2-3 am feeding for those first few months. I always thought that I quit dreaming in college because of artistic burnout. Maybe it was and something else has allowed me to remember the few fragments of dreams that we all tend to wake up with. I wish my artistic creativity would wake back up again too. I miss not doing something, wether it was the pen and ink I did so much of during high school or the painting & photography I had so much fun with in college. Of course, even when i was doing well, my output never matched my sister's, but that's another topic.

Of course, it might be my dirty little nicotine habit. (Note to self- it's not long before you're 30, you should clean that up) It started about that time too. But that doesn't seem to make sense to me since I smoke so little and then it always makes me quite sleepy. Addiction to sleep aids anyone?

Change of subject-
I have to relearn HTML tags again. The last few years of posting to UBB-based bulletin board systems has spoiled me so I automatically think in brackets, not tag arrows. The code changes slightly too, and then nesting tags is different from nesting brackets, just enough to cause havoc. I suppose I should be happy my little foray into C++ coding hasn't really spoiled me. After all, I've only got so much room in that left-portion of my brain.
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