Thursday, February 26, 2009

Old wrongs righted . . .

. . . or perseverance personified.

When I was in college (back just after dirt was invented,) we were required to attend convocations. You failed to attend on pain of a 1/10 grade point deduction.

I faithfully resignedly, and with only moderate malice, attended all of them my freshman year, but they lost my attendance card for one of them. I lost that tenth of a grade point. I went to the registrar with witnesses, but they blew me off. Just a kid trying to make excuses.

Many years later, when the university sent me their annual begging-for-a-donation letter, I sent it to the new registrar, telling her why I was not donating, and that I would appreciate a correction to my records. She curtly responded that "Of course, we cannot correct a record that old!"

Early this year, I was rummaging through some records and found my transcripts - with that 1/10th still staring me in the face. This time, I sent a letter to the new president of the university, explaining that it was a small thing - and long ago, but even small wrongs need to be righted.

Yesterday, I received a very nice letter from the provost stating that the registrar is correcting my transcript, and that a new one will be sent as soon as it is recomputed. After 47 years, my permanent record is clean.

Picky, I guess, but I truly believe that not even the smallest wrongs should be allowed to stand.

Monday, February 23, 2009

This . . .

. . . and that.

1. I've been reading Dooce for a long time, primarily for her monthly letters to Leta. If she keeps it up, that will be an amazing record to give Leta later on.

2. Afterthought: I've seen enough of Dooce's belly to last me for the rest of my life.

3. I'm about to finish the 3rd book in Stephanie Meyer's "Twilight" series. I need to see the movie when it comes out on DVD.

Based on 1. & 3., am I finally discovering my inner chick?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Adventures . . .

. . . with the Japanese language.

No, I don't speak Japanese, but 25 years in the martial arts and watching a LOT of Japanese movies gave me a few phrases that sometimes come in handy. I picked up most of it by watching Shogun about a dozen times.

A few years ago, I was meeting with three Japanese businessmen who were interested in qualifying their company as a supplier for the company I worked for. Anyone who has done business with the Japanese understands that it is impolite to proceed without some friendly chit-chat, reverent inspection of business cards, and general socializing.

We talked a little about families, a little about travel, a little about the city, then one of them noticed my Taekwondo 3rd-degree black belt certificate hanging behind my desk.

Him: I see you study martial arts. Do you hold a black belt?

Me: Yes, I am a Taekwondo sandan ( 3rd degree).

Him: Ah. In Japan, Karate is very difficult. Maybe there you would only be a shodan (1st degree.)

Me, rather pissed off, but very calm, and in (what I suspect was) rather firm, but imperfect Japanese: Nante itta-noyo? Nande sonna-koto iun-dayo?! Shodan? Iie! Watashiwa sandan desu. Wakarimasu ka? (Translation: What did you say? Why do you talk like that! First degree black belt? NO! I am a third degree black belt. Do you understand?)

Him: Dead silence.

His boss, Fixing him with a stare that would have drilled a hole in solid granite: Some Japanese words I did not understand.

Me: Now, how can I help you?

The only other time I had the right phrase was in a Japanese restaurant at a teppan yaki grill. One of the people at the table was wearing a hand guard from a samurai sword. He showed it to the Japanese chef, but the chef didn't know what it was.

Me: Kore wa nihonto tsuba desu. (This is a guard for a samurai sword).

Chef: Ah! Wakarimasu. Arigato Gozimasu. (Ah. I understand. Thanks.)

The downside was he now thought I spoke Japanese, and he asked me a few more questions - so I had to tell him: Watashi wa nihon-go ga hanase masen.

This seemed to confuse him, because I just told him in Japanese that I don't speak Japanese.

Friday, February 13, 2009

What I did today . . .

a. Juggled Excel spreadsheets all day at work until my eyes crossed. Why? Because the government funding for building maintenance and repair at the Naval base partially depends on my sharply honed analytical skills.

b. Tried to deal with our health insurance company because bills for routine tests run by our doctor are never properly coded. The lab then thinks we're not insured, and they bill us separately. Every time. They eventually fix it, but they still do it again. Every time.

c. Posted a recipe for sweet bread dough on Pinkjellybaby's blog because she's been jonesing for frosted buns.

d. Made four sleeves for a couple of reproduction shirts from the 1860's that I'm sewing from left-over fabric from my Civil War reenactment days. Why? Idle hands and all that. Really, though, I hated to see authentic loom-woven, hand dyed cloth go to waste, and I can probably sell them if I choose.

e. Rebuilt an AK-47 (the preferred weapon of your enemy, according to Clint Eastwood) with a new hammer, sear, trigger and gas piston. Why? Idle hands again, I guess. In any case it needed some work. Don't worry. It's not a machine gun. It's just a rifle that Mr. Clinton tried to ban because it looks nasty.
How about you?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

You just can't . . .

. . . make this stuff up.

Item the first: So, how do you aim the cow at that little bottle?
Does your Pepsi lack pep? Is your Coke not the real thing? India's Hindu nationalist movement apparently has the answer: a new soft drink made from cow urine.

The bovine brew is in the final stages of development by the Cow Protection Department of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), India's biggest and oldest Hindu nationalist group, according to the man who makes it.

Om Prakash, the head of the department, said the drink – called "gau jal", or "cow water" – in Sanskrit was undergoing laboratory tests and would be launched "very soon, maybe by the end of this year".

"Don't worry, it won't smell like urine and will be tasty too," he told The Times from his headquarters in Hardwar, one of four holy cities on the River Ganges. "Its USP will be that it's going to be very healthy. It won't be like carbonated drinks and would be devoid of any toxins."

Item the second: I wouldn't try that trick in Harlem.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals knows how to grab attention. And show off its laundry.

The animal rights group, which every year stages a protest at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, had two of its members dress in Ku Klux Klan garb outside Madison Square Garden on Monday.

Their goal, according to a post on the PETA website, was to draw a parallel between the KKK and the American Kennel Club. "Obviously it's an uncomfortable comparison," PETA spokesman Michael McGraw told the Associated Press.

But the AKC is trying to create a "master race" when it comes to pure-bred dogs, he added. "It's a very apt comparison."

The group passed out brochures implying the Klan and AKC have the goal of "pure bloodlines" in common.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Please explain . . .

. . . this sentence to me. Please?
Please review and update eProjects data by Thursday, Feb 5th. If delayed by 1 month or more, add SCHEDULE NOTE using proper format in eProjects guide. Do not use schedule not if milestone isn't delayed.

It came from our regional office.