Barbara's Random Thoughts

Friday, February 20, 2004

And it continues

I'm never going to get any work done at this rate! This is so great. All of the EAs in the humanities wing are taking the quizzes, and we're yelling random things like "I'm China!" and "How in the heck did I get Turkey?!"

You're Madagascar!

Lots of people don't really know anything about you, making you buried treasure of the rarest kind. You love nature, and could get lost in it whenever possible. You're remote and exotic, and the few people who know you value whatever they share with you a great deal. For some reason, you really like the word "lemur."

Take the Country Quiz at the Blue Pyramid

I like this description. But on second thought, Ireland is quite nice as well.
| posted by Barbara | 2:21 AM |

The Book Quiz!

This is far too much fun. One of my co-workers just emailed me this quiz and after taking the quiz enough times, I figured out how to come out as this:

You're The Fellowship of the Ring!
by J.R.R. Tolkien

Facing great adversity, you have decided that your only choice is to unite with your friends and neighbors. You have been subject to a ton of squabbling and ultimately decided that someone humble is your best candidate for a dangerous mission. You're quite good with languages and convinced that not all who wander are lost. If you see anyone in black robes on horseback, just run. That's just common sense.

Take the Book Quiz at the Blue Pyramid.

Early results were: The Guns of August, A Prayer for Owen Meany, and Roots. But I like this one best, so there!

| posted by Barbara | 12:31 AM |

Thursday, February 19, 2004


Yesterday I got overwhelmed with new people, new everything. I left work longing for a familiar face and wanting to just go home and hide from the world. Actually—and I told Heather this last night—what I really wanted to do was to go home and curl up on the couch I don't own with the boyfriend I don't have. I just wanted to hang on to the comfort of someone who knows me so well.

Friendship is the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words.
-George Eliot

That’s what I needed last night.

This past week has been really emotional for me. I don't know if it's homesickness or what; I don't think I've ever been homesick before. I'm just longing for familiarity and I'm tired of meeting new people and trying to build new relationships. This is not exactly a good feeling to have the day before I go on a church retreat with the goal of meeting new people and building new relationships. Sigh.
| posted by Barbara | 10:18 PM |

Weekend stuff.

On Saturday I had planned on going to the Presidio and wandering around. I was in the mood to be outside, and I've wanted to get up to the Presidio. But it was cloudy and a bit gloomy when I woke up, and I was depressed because the weather wasn't cooperating! It got to be 11:45 or so, and I couldn't take being stuck inside anymore, especially with the neighbors playing their loud mariachi music as they always seem to do at about 11:30am every single Saturday. Grrr.

I left to run some errands, and realized that the sun had come out. So instead of taking the 101 south, I headed north to the City, with no directions in hand, determined to find the Presidio. Miraculously, I found it, but I then diverged from my intended pathway once I got into the park. I saw a sign that said "East Beach parking," and turned into the parking lot. From the parking lot, I could see the Golden Gate bridge on one side, and Alcatraz out ahead. So I parked.

I spent about 2 ½ hours there, just walking along the beach. The Bay was out in front of me, the Golden Gate Bridge on one side and the City spread out on the hill to the other side. The sun was out, people were flying kites, there were dogs chasing sticks thrown out into the water…and there was this guy balancing rocks. It sounds bizarre, but it was SO cool. I don't even know how to explain it; I wish I'd had my camera to take some pictures of these towers of rocks he'd balanced on top of each other. It looked absolutely impossible, but there they stood, these towers of impossibly balanced rocks, and this guy in the middle, working to balance the next set, with a crowd standing around watching. Everybody clapped when he finished a tower.

Yeah, Saturday was a good day.
| posted by Barbara | 1:15 AM |

Kinda scary.

So I found this personality disorder test. Big surprise, I scored way high on the "avoidant" category. Oooh, and look, I'm really obsessive-compulsive, too!

Avoidant:Very High

-- Personality Disorder Test - Take It! --

Here's what I think of the descriptions of these two disorders: stuff in italics is definitely not me. The other stuff is pretty much true.

Avoidant personality disorder is characterized by extreme social anxiety. People with this disorder often feel inadequate, avoid social situations, and seek out jobs with little contact with others. They are fearful of being rejected and worry about embarrassing themselves in front of others. They exaggerate the potential difficulties of new situations to rationalize avoiding them. Often, they will create fantasy worlds to substitute for the real one. Unlike schizoid personality disorder, avoidant people yearn for social relations yet feel they are unable to obtain them. They are frequently depressed and have low self-confidence.

Obsessive-Compulsive personality disorder is similar to obsessive-compulsive anxiety disorder. People with this disorder are overly focused on orderliness and perfection. Their need to do everything "right" often interferes with their productivity. They tend to get caught up in the details and miss the bigger picture. They set unreasonably high standards for themselves and others, and tend to be very critical of others when they do not live up to these high standards. They avoid working in teams, believing others to be too careless or incompetent. They avoid making decisions because they fear making mistakes and are rarely generous with their time or money. They often have difficulty expressing emotion.

Wow. So I agree, I really am obsessive-compulsive. Eeek.
| posted by Barbara | 12:18 AM |

Saturday, February 14, 2004

Third Places

I came across this quote this morning in one of those publisher’s emails that I get:

"Third Place Books derived its name from the theory that your first place is home, your second place is work, and your third place is where you come for everything else. My third place was every bookstore in the city."
--Amanda Tobier, former book buyer at Seattle's Third Place Books, now marketing manager of the Perennial paperback imprint

I first encountered this concept a couple months ago while watching an interview with Nora Ephron, where she talked about everyone’s need for a "third place." Ephron talked about how Starbucks has become a third place for a lot of people, and actually attributed the decrease of crime in New York City partly to the advent of more Starbucks. (Starbuckses? What’s the plural of Starbucks?) It’s an interesting idea--that people sitting in coffee shops with large windows could be a deterrent to crime--but I find the third place theory far more intriguing.

I haven’t found a third place since moving here. For a long time, La Mirada Park was my third place. Here, I’m still looking.
| posted by Barbara | 12:59 AM |

Friday, February 13, 2004


We all know that today is the ominous Friday the Thirteenth. But, did you know that today also marks the celebration of Get a Different Name Day? This is the day designed to encourage those who hate their birth names to change them. So, what new name would you choose?

And, tomorrow is not just Valentine's Day. For those of you without a Valentine, go out and celebrate Ferris Wheel Day! I suppose you could go on a Ferris Wheel with your Valentine (should you have one), and fulfil both of the day's celebratory activities. I'll have to settle for just the Ferris Wheel.
| posted by Barbara | 10:16 PM |

Thursday, February 12, 2004

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle

Yet another children's book. I really am reading some big people books...I just haven't felt like talking about them. Kids' books are more fun. =)

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle is set in 1832 and is narrated by the 13-year-old Charlotte. She's traveling to America from Britain, where she's been at boarding school. Her father has made arrangements for her to travel home on a specific ship owned by his company. There are two families booked as passengers on the same ship who can watch out for her and keep her company.

When she arrives at the dock, the other families have backed out, and she ends up being the only passenger traveling on the ship. She's surrounded by a bunch of rough sailors, and so she's immediately inclined to trust the captain, who's refined and gentlemanly. But a few of the sailors befriend her, and she's torn between wanting to believe their stories about the captain's cruelty, and wanting to believe the captain's stories about how the crew's all a bunch of lazy liars. Turns out the captain really is evil, cruel, and ruthless, and Charlotte is caught in the middle of a mutiny. At first, the captain turns her against the crew, then she realizes how cruel the guy is, and tries to stick up for the crew. When she does this, the captain turns against her, and she ends up signing on as one of the crew.

There are all kinds of other intrigues that go on...plotting, murder, betrayal...and overall the story was really exciting and a lot of fun. Hey, it's a Newbery Honor Book. Good stuff. It was a pretty quick read...yeah, well, it’s a kids’ book, what do you expect? When I finished it, I went and watched my new Pirates of the Caribbean DVD since I was in a seafaring mood. Arrrr.
| posted by Barbara | 9:07 PM |

The Golden Compass

I wrote briefly about this book before, and said I'd write more when I finished it. Well, I finished it a good while ago...and should have written something when it was still fresh in my mind, but oh well! Here goes.

The Golden Compass is the first book in Philip Pullman’s "His Dark Materials" trilogy. The main character, Lyra, has spent her childhood running wild around Jordan College, Oxford. Events conspire to take her away from Jordan, and she seeks protection from the gyptians (kinda like gypsies), some witches, an armored polar bear, and an aeronaut as she journeys North. Her goal is to find her Uncle Asriel and deliver a mysterious golden compass to him, as well as to find her friend Roger, one of many children who've been stolen away by the "Gobblers."

An interesting aspect of this particular fantasy world: Everyone has animal "daemon," described as a physical manifestation of a person's soul. Daemons can change form until their human reaches puberty, at which point the daemon fixes on just one animal shape. There is an invisible physical connection between human and daemon, which keeps them always together.

The anti-religious agenda I've heard so much talk about is not overtly present in this first book of the trilogy. But I can guess at where things are headed, from little hints at the end of the book.

A bunch of the adults in the book are obsessed with studying something they call "Dust." It's only visible in certain types of photographs, and the theory is that Dust is actually original sin. Very little Dust is seen around children until they reach puberty. There’s a bunch of bad people experimenting on children to try and discover how to get rid of Dust completely. At the end of the first book (and I don't think this is giving away the ending), Lyra and her daemon conclude that Dust must be good, since the people trying to get rid of Dust are bad.

"We've heard them all talk about Dust, and they're so afraid of it, and you know what? We believed them, even though we could see that what they were doing was wicked and evil and wrong...We thought Dust must be bad too, because
they were grown up and they said so. But what if it isn't?"
"Yeah! What if it's really good..."
If Dust were a good thing...If it were to be sought and welcomed and cherished...

So I can see where Pullman might take this...he’s already set up original sin as potentially a good thing, and everyone against it as evil, child-torturing fanatics.

That said, I really liked the fantasy world Pullman created. I loved the idea of the daemons, and the armored polar bears are really cool. There were some parts of the book that surprised me with their intensity, and a few times, with pretty graphic violence. I'd definitely have to classify this as young adult, not children's fiction.

Though I really liked the book, I was uneasy with the ending, and not just because of the "Dust is good" thing. The book gets you to really care about the children, and I became quite horrified at what was happening to them. And I felt that Lyra’s response to the event at the very end of the book really diminished the importance of that. Something that should have cut her very deeply was brushed off far too quickly for me.

I'm curious to read the next two books, but hesitant to actually shell out money for them. Gotta get me a library card for San Mateo County.
| posted by Barbara | 5:54 AM |

Another Quiz!!

Muppets this time, just for Heather.

You are Kermit the Frog.
You are reliable, responsible and caring. And you have a habit of waving your arms about maniacally.

FAVORITE EXPRESSIONS: "Hi ho!" "Yaaay!" and "Sheesh!"
FAVORITE MOVIE: "How Green Was My Mother"
LAST BOOK READ: "Surfin' the Webfoot: A Frog's Guide to the Internet"
HOBBIES: Sitting in the swamp playing banjo.
QUOTE: "Hmm, my banjo is wet."

What Muppet are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

It really makes me laugh that I'm Kermit. Now I know why Heather is friends with me! And I have a prediction to make: I think Heather will be Fozzie.
| posted by Barbara | 1:53 AM |

International Flirting Week

I meant to post this yesterday, but supposedly Tuesday, February 10th signaled the beginning of International Flirting Week! Or so said my Publisher's Lunch email last week. What's funny is the site they linked to in their article. Hmmm. Take charge of your social life with the Love Coach! Apparently endorsed by Cader Books.

Also yesterday: Celebration of the date when the Utah legislature made Jell-O the "official state snack of Utah." Sometimes you just don't want to know.

But, TODAY, Wednesday, February 11, is Satisfied Staying Single Day! I guess that's to help the single people feel good about themselves before Valentine's Day.
| posted by Barbara | 1:38 AM |

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Forbidden Library

I came across this article today about objections to Shel Silverstein's A Light in the Attic. Favorite quote: "The three judges hearing the case found that 'Silverstein...was apparently intending to be funny.'" No, really?

Anyway, the article mentioned The Forbidden Library, a site I'd forgotten about. Read about a bunch of other books that people have tried to ban, for often silly reasons. My favorite tidbit for today: "Four members of the Alabama State Textbook Committee (1983) called for the rejection of this book [The Diary of Anne Frank] because it is a 'real downer.'" This stuff really makes me laugh.
| posted by Barbara | 12:24 AM |

Saturday, February 07, 2004

What's in a name?

I had an interesting conversation a few weeks ago with some locals about what to call San Francisco. They advocated "the City" as the preferred term. Pretty much everyone in the Bay area calls it "the City," and I've picked up on that since moving here.

Personally, I've had long-term contempt for the name "Frisco." I just think it sounds stupid. So, Yoori and I always called it "S.F." I kinda thought it was unique to us until I heard a local entertainment reporter use "S.F." on TV this week.

Then today, I ran across this article on how the term "Frisco" is making a comeback. Heaven help us all.

Another note on pronunciation: I love this quote from above referenced article: "don't say San-Fran-Cis-Co. That's the way Easterners, like Larry King, pronounce it. It's more like SanfrnSISco." I couldn't agree more. Look at me becoming a local. :-)
| posted by Barbara | 3:04 AM |

Friday, February 06, 2004


While driving to work this morning, I noticed a new billboard along the freeway. It has this big picture of Scott Peterson in ugly orange prison garb, and next to that, in huge letters: "Man or monster?" It's an ad for a local radio talk show, and there's a phone number at the bottom for you to call in and vote. Apparently this isn't the first billboard like this. It'll be interesting to see how much more media obsession is headed our way in Redwood City...
| posted by Barbara | 10:10 PM |

Thursday, February 05, 2004


Thank you for the books you sent which connect
quite specifically to everything I have been thinking of
for the last 12 years.

How did you know this?

from Naomi Shihab Nye's "Sincerely"

Over the weekend I bought the new Dido CD that I've been wanting for a while. You know how every once in a while, the lyrics of a song exactly mirror something you've been thinking about? Well, this was one of those times. Track #3, Life for Rent. It's got me written all over it.

I haven't ever really found a place that I call home
I never stick around quite long enough to make it...

if my life is for rent and I don't learn to buy
well I deserve nothing more than I get
'cos nothing I have is truly mine

while my heart is a shield and I won't let it down
while I am so afraid to fail so I won't even try
well how can I say I'm alive

This exactly connects with something that's been kicking around in the back of my head for a while—I can't shake the habit of feeling like where I am is temporary. I realized this a few months ago, and it's been bothering me.

Now that I have a job in publishing, now that I've relocated and am pursuing a career in the field I've chosen—I am puzzled by the fact that I still have this transitional, temporary mindset. I look at my apartment, and decide against silly, small things like buying a new curtain for the window in my front door. Because maybe I won't be in this apartment very long—after all, it's only a 6-month lease I'm committed to, maybe I'll find something better. I'm not thinking long term as far as my position at work, because maybe I'll decide that textbook publishing is not where I want to stay. And, I haven't yet committed to a church up here. Mainly because I haven't yet found one that's what I'm really looking for (that's another topic for another day), but I also wonder if it's because, sub-consciously, I have a phobia about making permanent plans.

I don't know what it is that's holding me back from feeling settled where I am. I'm still wondering.
| posted by Barbara | 3:07 AM |

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Quiz of the Week

I've really become obsessed with these online quiz things. Or so it would seem. This week: Veggie Tales!

Which Veggie Tales character are you?

this quiz was made by Karen
| posted by Barbara | 1:59 AM |

Tuesday, February 03, 2004


Check this out: one of the highest-profile cases of the year is being held in none other than the city in which I live. Go Redwood City! It's kind of bizarre to think that this trial is taking place literally up the street from me.

My nieces always watch for me on the news whenever San Francisco is mentioned. And now, who knows, maybe I'll pop up in the background as the news discusses the Scott Peterson case...
| posted by Barbara | 2:02 AM |

Monday, February 02, 2004

Happy Groundhog Day!

So it seems that there are conflicting reports as to whether the groundhog saw his shadow today. Apparently the official groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil of Groundhog Day fame, saw his shadow and thus predicted six more weeks of winter. But a rival Staten Island Zoo groundhog (more sensibly named Chuck), failed to see his shadow, predicting an early end to winter. That's what comes of having too many groundhogs, I guess.

There would be no groundhog-shadow-observing possible in the Bay area today, if people here were inclined to such things. It's pouring outside.
| posted by Barbara | 6:59 PM |