Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Article "Hooks" from US Airways Magazine

"The third time, it's said, is a charm. And in London's case, that would be true."

"Almost 100 years ago, a client left Philip Lance holding the bag--filled with 500 pounds of peanuts."

"It started here. Aviation, that is."

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Baby Island, and other Lamestream Media

I’ve always been careful to not set anyone’s expectations very high when it comes to producing children. When I was little, I remember seriously hoping that I would have a Down’s Syndrome baby, I think because Corky on Life Goes On was really coming into his own and I thought his parents were handling the situation with aplomb. When I was a little older, and getting my period, I resolved that I would be constantly pregnant as an adult, because anything was better than wearing pads for a week at a time. I’m pretty sure the adoption idea, though, came from one of my favorite books, which was, embarrassingly, called Baby Island, and now that I think of it, probably pretty strongly indicated that I wasn’t headed to a Ph.D.

From what I can recall, Baby Island is about a group of kids who survive a shipwreck with a bunch of babies. (On one hand, it seems like a bad idea to hand off your infants to a lifeboat full of kids, but I guess if you’re that sort of parent, you might as well take your chances.) Anyway, these kids grow to love the babies as their own, and feed them bananas or whatever, and everyone survives and then they’re rescued and it’s pretty much devastating for the kids to have to give the babies back.
This really struck a chord with me. To have a bunch of babies who really need you? That’s a really good idea.

But not as good of an idea as that of skipping the whole pregnancy bit. First there’s the issue that you have something growing inside of you for about ten months, and you know what? You can’t change your mind once it’s in there. It’s just parasitin’ around, scuba-ing in your uterus and kicking you whenever it feels like it. For every woman who tells me that it feel miraculous to carry a child, there’s another woman who tells me it’s hell. When my best friend from college got pregnant shortly before her wedding, I asked her if she was worried she’d feel sick on her wedding day. She said no, she was sure she’d love being pregnant. I laughed, but at the same time, I had a feeling she was right. I, on the other hand, know I’d be in a nervous sweat the entire time, just getting the heebie-jeebies and losing feeling in my legs every time I thought about it.

No one I talk to seems to understand this sentiment. (I also like to ask newly-pregnant women if, when they’re attempting to conceive a child, they panic at the last minute and jump out of bed before the deed is done. I have NEVER had anyone say yes to this, and I can’t imagine why.)

So all of this goes to say that I’m pretty iffy on the whole conception piece. Anyone who’s seen photos of Adam as a kid, or, better, read anything he wrote as a child, would think that I’m out of my mind, and that I should be gunning for a little tow-haired poet. But my DNA is the Taliban of modern genetics; you can shove it around all you want, throwing powerful weaponry  and money at it, but, ultimately, our child would, surely, emerge with dark, cowlicked hair, a few zits, 20/60 vision and a copy of Baby Island, all covered in embryonic fluid.

I’ve so far changed my mind twice, for a total of about eight hours, thankfully never when Adam was around to start the conception process. The first was during the birthing episode of Bethenny Getting Married? One day she’s just a beverage magnate and reality TV star, and the next thing you know, all of her dreams are coming true. AND I THINK IT’S ALL BECAUSE OF THAT BABY. The second was last week. I was in San Diego, hanging out with a bunch of my high school friends, and they almost all have kids now, and they were all complaining about how tired they were and that the never got to hang out with their friends anymore, and they were getting super-wasted off margaritas, and I wasn’t getting drunk at all, because my life still involves happy hour four nights a week, and maybe it was just the genius thinking that I’d be drunk if I didn’t get to drink so much, and so maybe something should force me to stop, but…I  thought maybe it was time for a change.

So we all go out to a bachelorette party, and one of the moms throws up and then falls face-first into her suitcase, and we all get barely any sleep, and the next day I go on a walk to my grandma’s house to get some hangover snacks, and on the way I call Adam to tell him that I’ve given it some serious thought, and it’s time to buy a house and have a baby.

And Adam, bless his heart, says, “I’m going to acknowledge that you said this, and file it away.”

Which is when I start crying. In my grandma’s driveway. With about five hours of sleep under my belt. Because my husband, who is 500 miles away, doesn’t want to knock up his hungover, sleep-deprived wife, who not four months earlier had announced that she refused to talk about having children until she was 32 years old…for her own mental health.

I told him that I felt like I’d asked him out and he’d said, “Maybe.”

So then I forced him to reassure me that he’d love to have a baby with me, any time.

Then I took a nap, and it was all over.

Your move, Bethenny.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

An invite to disaster

Adam and I are getting married in five weeks. I know this because our friends Dan and Abbey are getting married one month before us, and my justification for not planning anything has always been, "Dude, Dan and Abbey aren't even married yet."

So of course I knew I'd have a breakdown right after their ceremony. Others would be crying with elation for the happy couple; I'd be crying because I hadn't locked down anyone to do hair yet. (I also know, from "simultaneously" planning weddings with Abbey, that theirs is going to be kickass in all the ways ours is not. They have a THEME. They have COLORS. I've seen her to-do list. Their wedding is going to be like the Oscars, the time Bjork wore the swan costume. People are going to talk.)

I thought this weekend would be a good time to lock some stuff down, so that we could go away next weekend and actually enjoy the multiple choirs and performance art and dogs in tuxedos and custom-made cakes and all the other awesomeness I'm sure will appear. Also, this is the last weekend before our wedding that Adam and I are actually in town and have nothing to do. AND Paige is going on a walk-through for us on Tuesday, and asked for a timeline of the day in advance. I promised her I'd get it done, because if you're not answering to Paige, you're answering to no one.

I also thought it was relatively perfect timing because we FINALLY have everything we need to get our invitations out. The invitations have been a work in progress for over a month. I had this grandiose idea for them, one that involved me learning calligraphy. Obviously, that didn't pan out. The backup plan was using something called a "computer" to address the envelopes, and since I'm the one with all this administrative experience burning a hole in my ballgown, it was up to me to do the mail merge.

Well, I put it off. Adam designed the envelopes a week ago, but since 40 percent of my guest list has moved since the save-the-dates went out, it took me some time to come up with a decent list. I was frantically texting friends who were obviously out DOING SOMETHING with their Saturday nights, begging them to back away from that guy and text me back a new address, STAT! And then it was 8:45 pm. Time to print. Adam's sore throat meant that he would stay behind, and I'd venture to Kinko's on my own. And Kinko's, my friends, closes at 9 on Saturdays. The guy behind the counter's glare dared me to enter.

But whatever. There's always Sunday. I'd print them at 9 am, when Kinko's opened, and we'd have a restful day stuffing envelopes and drinking tea with honey. But of course I can't leave the house before noon on Sunday. And we get to Kinko's and I announce what we're there to do, and the two guys working there look TOTALLY BAFFLED and then tell me that they only print on 8.5 x 11. I'd really be better off with an ink-jet printer...like the kind people have at home.

Let me say this about this. That Kinko's was totally empty, and paying two adults a salary. MAYBE THAT'S BECAUSE THEY TELL PEOPLE TO GO HOME AND USE THEIR OWN PRINTER.

I have a mini-fit. All I want to do is kill. Or mail some invitations. SOMETHING has to move forward with this wedding, and Lord knows it's not going to be finding a bra that's appropriate for my dress. I want to accomplish something that I can TALK about. (At work, I mean.) (Also, 40 bucks says I never find that bra and just end up skipping it.)

Anyway, Adam and I split up and reunite at home. He arrives after I do, toting the most glorious, lucky find in the entire world: a printer.

He found it on the street. On top of a trash can. It was like God wanted people to receive our invitations on Tuesday.

We're only missing one thing at this point, and that's a cable to connect laptop to printer. Adam has one at work, but that's all the way in Berkeley, and we're COMMITTED to getting these things out this weekend. So we decide to rent a car and swing by the Office Depot on the way to Adam's appointment at Urgent Care.

All is going well. We have a printer, we're able to get a car for enough time to fit everything in, we traipse into Office Depot and immediately find what we need (including almost $60 in black ink) and I get Adam to Kaiser in time.

I'm super-giddy. And even though I know that I'm so so so bad at these things, and even though I'm sure Adam didn't expect I'd ever be able to do it....I tried to hook up that printer.

But you know those plastic cases that computer cables come in? The hard, bendy plastic that you have to cut open? I was JUST THINKING how dumb it was that they put paper over the contents, because who can tell where you're cutting? when...

I cut the damn cable.

I cut the cable in TWO places, because it was looped over.

I can't believe I did that.

And the Office Depot is over a mile away, and it's cold out today, and I already RENTED a car today, and Adam will be home any minute.

So I decide to try to splice it.

Luckily, he got home before I found any electrical tape. I mean, I would have just taped the two ends together. He almost fell on the floor laughing. (And I got out of ever being in charge of a project like this ever again.)

But then, this kid takes out a knife and starts peeling the rubber off the cords, and exposes, like, 100 wires, and then cuts THOSE open and then twists together five wires and came up with this totally hood connection that he swore wouldn't work, but it DID. That damn printer turned on! And it prints!

But it doesn't print envelopes as thick as the ones we have. It gets all the way to the return address, then it chokes and starts mangling it.

So there you have it. Maybe someday, some of you will be invited to our wedding. But it might not be this week. AND NONE OF THAT WAS OUR FAULT.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Blogging Sux

Here's the thing about blogging: One only feels like doing it in the heat of the moment. A gajillion blog post ideas run through my head when I'm stuck in line at the grocery store, or watching some moron at the gym, or, strangely, when I'm in the shower in the morning. But since I no longer have 8-10 totally free hours, alone, every day, those incidents are usually followed by going home and cooking dinner, or going home and taking a shower, or getting out of the shower and getting dressed and going to work. And while I certainly have blog post ideas at work during the day, I'm not so sure work-blogging is a very good idea. I feel guilty enough reading all of YOUR blog posts during the workday.

But the other thing that makes me feel guilty is all of you who have put me on your blogrolls, especially the ones that have the feature that note when the last update was. Four weeks ago. I was so proud of writing that. I wrote that before Adam got out of bed, and it made me feel like my entire weekend was accomplished. Because that was the point of the blog in the first place: to make me feel like I'd actually DONE something with my day, while all the rest of you were out being Productive Members of Society.

And now there's no escaping it. I used to track how many visitors a day I got (almost 300 the day after I posted that Adam and I got engaged!), and I just tried to go to that same tracking website to issue a comparison, but I can't even remember the name of it, so there goes that. What do I do? Take the blog down? I can't tell if that's more like cheating or giving up. What if one day I want to take on a multi-national corporation? Surely I should have a better platform than Facebook.

Also, I feel like I owe the people whose blogs I faithfully turn to daily, either at my 10:30 am snack break or my inevitable 3:45 pm slump. My days are better when you've posted an update. I really do want to know how your freak diet is going, or if you've passed the test you've secretly been studying for for months, or, best, what miracle your child has accomplished this week. My blog world is remarkably small, and I know everyone in it...except that Dooce woman. I love her, too.

So let's consider this a resurgence, because all the rest of you find time in your life to do things besides work and watch Must See TV.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Wicked thoughts

I think that as I get older, I get more and more frustrated with the people around me. It could just be that I'm in a bigger city and just spend more time every day being jostled around, but I'm now pretty intolerant, on the whole. Things like people swerving around on the sidewalk during the morning commute (especially if they're wearing headphones, which reduces the ability to sense someone trying to pass them) drive me up the wall. It's not a good way to go through life.

For Christmas, Adam got us great tickets to see Wicked. I was sitting next to two women with looooooooong French-tip manicures. Obviously, you all know the sort. And, despite the fact that they were in their 50s, one of them was toting a Bebe bag. I hope she had been shopping for her daughter, but her manicure indicates otherwise.

Their pre-show conversation mostly consisted of discussing where the odd-numbered seats were, since both of theirs were even. They also talked about turning off their phones--although they settled instead on just setting them to volume level 1. But the real kicker was when they started going through the Playbill. There was an ad for the movie release of The Lovely Bones, and one woman asked the other what it was about. She replied that it's about a girl who's murdered and tries to come back to help her family solve the crime. My neighbor asked her if it was a true story.

Friday, January 8, 2010

"I think they're telling us to call for help..."

I know it's been a long while since I've written anything, but when I received THIS over the New Year's weekend, I knew we were back in the game.

Many thanks to Abby Bridges, without whose decision to move to Brooklyn we may never have seen another set of Ikea instructions, and also to Liz "The Prototype" Peterson, whose diligence in chair assembly reminds us all to always, ALWAYS wear shoes when engaged in any sort of project that requires an Allen wrench.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Hopenhagen or Nopenhagen?

This was forwarded on to me from a co-worker, who says the author is a law student at the University of Oregon who's also working with the UN around the climate talks. A follow-up e mail indicated it was tough to get through on the White House line; try http://www.whitehouse.gov/CONTACT if you're interested in taking action.

Hopenhagen or Nopenhagen?


As I write this, we are down to three days here at the Copenhagen climate talks. And I am afraid to say that there is almost no reason to be encouraged. Everybody has card to put on the table but no one is playing.

Actually, not everybody has cards. The Least Developed Countries, the poorest of the poor, and the Association of Small Island States, also mostly poor, have little to offer beyond their presence. Their emissions are so small they can offer little in the way of mitigation. They come asking for help to adapt as weather patterns change, storms grow and seas rise. They are being offered a tiny fraction of what economists say they will need. The only card they have to play is to pack up and leave, refusing to sign on to a national suicide pact. Their presence here is now on a hair trigger.

To gain some influence in the talks, they are aligned with a large group of developing countries that goes by the name of the G77. Other than the poorest countries, this group includes what have become known as the BASIC countries. Those letters (kind of) stand for the names of the biggest of the emerging economies: Brazil, South Africa, India and China. These countries have emissions profiles that are distinctive for a combination of four factors. They represent a significant portion of current global emissions and a large portion of future emissions growth, but they do not represent a significant proportion of historic emissions and their per capita emissions levels are far below the developed world. Each of these countries has made significant pledges to slow the growth of their emissions, but refuse to set absolute limits on growth for economies that includes hundreds of millions of people that still live below income levels of two dollars per day.

Distinctive among this group is China, now the world’s largest emitter, right behind the U.S. China is the largest emitter and greatest source of emissions growth, but relatively small in terms of historic emissions and per capita emissions. Chinese emissions are still one-quarter of the U.S per person. The U.S. has made China the prime target of these talks. China has proposed to reduce its emissions intensity – the amount of carbon emitted per unit of economic activity -- by 40-45% by 2020. That is a significant contribution. If implemented and assuming the U.S. gets one of the bills now before Congress passed and implemented, China will still have emissions less than half per U.S. person in 2020. But the U.S. is pushing measurement, reporting and verification of that promise. China is resisting throwing its economy open to outside review. I hope China will move on this issue, but it is certain they will not move before others, especially the U.S. puts more on the table.

There is one last group of G77 countries. They are largely oil producers led by Saudi Arabia. For the most part they are here to stop anything from happening to the oil industry. They are not afraid to take undisguised action to slow or stop the process. In the end though, they don’t have enough power alone to sink these talks.

First among developed countries is the European Union. The EU is perhaps the most transparent group here. But their pledge of 20% reduction from 1990 levels is not what it seems. The EU moves as a bloc of countries and includes Eastern European countries that had high post-Soviet emissions in 1990. Many of those countries are significantly below those levels now, allowing other EU countries higher emissions while still claiming overall reductions. But the EU is likely to move to a 30% reduction if other developing countries move further.

Of course the meaning of 30% depends on how you count. The biggest factor on counting is international offsets. Those currently come in the form of financing projects in other countries for the benefit of emission reduction credits at home. A new deal could significantly expand these offsets while also including a bunch of new credits from forestry projects in developing countries. My biggest worry for the last month has been that some kind of weak forest deal will get done here and be sold to the public as saving the forest to save the climate. So far what is on the table on forests is largely a greenwash for covering up general inaction.

After the EU comes a group of developed countries called the Umbrella Group, including Japan, Russia, Canada, Australia. These countries are a mixed bag. Canada is horrible and claims it is horrible because the U.S. is horrible. Russia is sitting on a load of hot air. That is the term for the emissions credits based on those higher 1990 levels that I talked about earlier. Russia can claim to reduce emissions about 40% below 1990 levels while nonetheless actually increasing emissions and selling that hot air to polluting countries. Japan under its new government might have a reasonable plan on the table but has been obstructive in negotiations. Australia embraces the general lack of ambition.

So it is clear, given this lack of action on the part of the rich countries that caused the climate problem in the first place, why developing countries say they need to see the rich countries move before they do.

Which brings me to the U.S. We are now proposing to reduce emissions a miserable 3-4% below 1990 levels. We have put no solid financing numbers on the table to help developing countries mitigate their emissions or adapt to the climate problem we helped create. We generally advocate for the biggest loopholes in the rules. Sometimes we even block proposals that everyone except OPEC supports. And we seem to be saying that we won’t pledge anything more, especially without China doing more. It is embarrassing to be an American at talks like these. I am incapable of defending my country’s actions.

What is especially frustrating is that about half of the biggest, richest environmental groups from the U.S. continue to back the U.S. negotiating position. They are like a broken record that argues that we can’t take strong action in Copenhagen because then the Senate will be scared off from passing a climate bill in the U.S. Arrgh! People used to say we needed a strong bill in the Senate to get a strong deal in Copenhagen. Now we are hearing we need a weak agreement in Copenhagen to get any bill in the Senate at all.

So it is easy to see why I say there is almost no reason to be encouraged. Almost no reason. Let me point out the cracks of light. First, other than the elites that run the show here, the world largely supports strong action on an international climate deal. The hundred thousand or so in the streets here on Saturday were just one example. Next the people I work with everyday are tireless, fierce and refuse to take no for an answer. It is almost impossible of believe that this level of dedication can fail. And finally, a solution lies in the hands of one man who can change everything.

President Obama could come here and unlock a deal that is fair, ambitious and legally binding. He could instruct negotiators to stop creating loopholes and blocking honest progress. He could commit to go beyond the weak levels proposed in the current bills before Congress. He could pledge to raise funds to help the world’s most vulnerable adapt to a problem that was created by our American lifestyles of consumption. He could sign up to a deal that has real consequences for the failure to meet commitments.

The amount of goodwill that would be unlocked in the world from the result of such action would be like a flood. So many people are waiting for leadership. There is a vast ocean of positive action held back by a dam of fear and self-interest. The kind of deal the world needs is all on paper right now in brackets; it simply needs to be released from those brackets, to be agreed. The leaders of 110 countries are arriving already. Everybody necessary to tackle this greatest of all problems head on will be in the same city on the same day with the same purpose. This can still happen.

When so many people all want the same thing and their leaders fail to deliver, it rocks my faith in democracy to the core. But I am not a quitter. Let me try one more time. Let’s give this guy one more chance to really be different. We effectively have three more days there in the U.S. to ask for what we want. So I am going to ask you to help.

I know, it seems like such a weak response to such a big problem, but let’s at least try. Let’s try everything we can to get the message to Obama that we want real leadership on this issue. Many of you have been asking me if you can share my emails. I am not only giving you permission to share or publish this email anywhere you want, I am asking you to please do so. Please share this email with anyone you think might care.

Then I am asking you to make that one phone call a day until this deal is done – White House switchboard – 1-202-456-1111. “President Obama, please show real leadership on the climate issue, not just a greenwash deal. Deepen our cuts, put long-term funding on the table and stop waiting for other countries to go first. Prove that America is the world leader we always claim.”

Again, I know it is a small effort on such a big problem, a forwarded email and three one-minute phone calls. But don’t let its small nature stop you. The Earth needs people who care more than ever. Rare moments in history arise when the way forward appears as a fork in the road. We’ll never know what might have or failed to have tipped the balance.

Please give a little push with me.

Tim Ream


15 December, 2009