Saturday, December 31, 2005

What the hell does "meme" mean anyways?

According to Google:

As defined by Richard Dawkins in The Selfish Gene (1976): "a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation." "Examples of memes are tunes, ideas, catch-phrases, clothes fashions, ways of making pots or of building arches. Just as genes propagate themselves in the gene pool by leaping from body to body via sperms or eggs, so memes propagate themselves in the meme pool by leaping from brain to brain via a process which, in the broad sense, can be called imitation.

So in the great Blogosphere, a meme is a format of writing something that is imitated, I guess. Here are a few...

Here's a fun one via Sharon:

Sum up 2005 in 24 words:

1. Separation
2. Reunion
3. Transition
4. Again
5. Broke
6. Heartache
7. Missing
8. Found
9. Together
10. Decisions
11. Goals
12. Jobs
13. School
14. House
15. New
16. Old
17. Pain
18. Health
19. Intellect
20. Prosperity?
21. Contentment
22. Where
23. Am
24. I?

Next I don't know if this qualifies as a meme, exactly, but it was interesting. (Also from Sharon.)

This site will allow you to upload a picture of yourself, and then it searches a database for celebrities that look like you.

Here are my results:

In case you couldn't tell, that mug on the left is me. According to this site (and what a great ego-booster it is!), I look most like Scarlett Johansson(???) and Judy Garland (awww!). But I also look like Gustav Stressemann (It must be my mustache). I think my huge teeth resemble Katherine Hepburn's (only when she's old). And, c'mon, who wouldn't wanna look like Frodo?

The last picture on the right is Sania Mizra, tennis player from Hyderabad, the first Indian woman to win a "grand slam" (I don't know what that means.) Personally, I think I look most like her - sans athletic prowess, of course.

And, last but not least, this meme from Bitch PhD.

The "Seven" Meme

A. Seven things to do before I die
1. Travel around India for three months.
2. Stop binging on twizzlers.
3. Learn Spanish.
4. Visit New York. (That place scares me. I must conquer the fear.)
5. Finish my PhD.
6. Have a savings account - with money in it.
7. Meditate daily.

B. Seven things I cannot do
1. Watch "Anne of Green Gables" without crying.
2. Live without seeing my family for too long.
3. Be worry-free.
4. Clean up vomit.
5. Keep plants alive.
6. Read one book at a time.
7. Grow my hair long.

C. Seven things that attract me to ...
1. My husband: his generosity.
2. My kid: his scatalogical humor.
3. My sister: her taste in music.
4. My friend Debi: the "different drummer" to whose beat she marches.
5. TKP: her spot-on impersonations.
6. Twizzlers: their chewey goodness.
7. People in general: humor, insightfulness, and good conversations.

D. Seven things I say most often
1. Shite
2. C'mon!
3. Whassup?
4. Rad
5. Somebody please shoot me in the head.
6. Why, God?
7. Isaac, you're the bestest.

E. Seven books (or series or genres or topics) that I love
1. The Temple of My Familiar (Alice Walker)
2. Kingsolver
3. Amy Tan
4. Harry Potter (I know, lame. But hey, I have a kid. That's my excuse.)
5. Anne Rice
6. Nerdy non-fiction stuff.
7. This one's too hard. There are too many. I didn't even think about Isaac's kid's books!

F. Seven movies I watch over and over again (or would if I had time)
1. Anne of Green Gables
2. Moulin Rouge
3. The Bourne movies
4. Hindi movies: Kisna, Devdas, Swades
5. Barbra Streisand - Funny Girl
6. Pokemon and YuGiOh (This is not out of choice)
7. Sex and the City and Friends

G. Seven people Two people I want to join in, too.

TKP - you're it! Do this quick before you get stuck in Worcester again.

Wendy - You, too dude!

Friday, December 30, 2005

It wasn't meant to be.

Since I worked a grueling 10 hours on Wednesday, I had yesterday off. With a whole day of household-work-procrastination on my hands, I thought I'd try something fancy with my blog, so I found some great templates and spent quite a chuck o' time trying to figure out how to use them. Sadly, I realized that my html/snazzy web knowledge has become obsolete. I thought about moving the whole blog over to my 10 MB of webspace that my ISP has so generously given for "free", but since I'm fed up with the company (the terrible, terrible corporation that rhymes with "horizon"), I have the feeling I'll be switching to whatever provider finally decides that this area deserves a CHOICE of phone/internet companies. Rural living, ain't it grand?

Check out some of these cool blogs that do not rely on the standard blogger templates...
Bitch PhD
Twisty Faster

When I grow up, I wanna be cool like them.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Random Stuff

Here's my current reading list. I rotate according to mood. Although Amy Tan has the ability to make me give up sleep to finish her books, and I think she'll take precedence for a while.

Today's Catastrophe:
At 6:00 a.m. the phone rang. It was my gramma who lives three doors down from us. She said my grandpa fell and can't get up. Masud and I ran down the slippery sidewalk - he was wearing a lungi (google it) and I was sans-spectacles/spike-haired since I was too freaked out to care. Grandpa was outside - where I think he had been struggling for over half an hour, kneeling in a snowbank, and my 90 lb. gramma was trying to help him up. He was freezing and hurt. Masud and I helped him up, took him inside, and then realized that we left Isaac alone at home.

Grandpa fell because their dog, Chips, wrapped his leash around grandpa's legs and pulled hard. Plus, it was slippery outside. This is the second fall that Chips has caused - last week it was my gramma who fell in the street, and crawled over to where the garbage cans were set on the curb and pulled herself up. Her pride was hurt more than anything else.

So far, nobody's broken anything, but this has gotta stop. I told Masud that I think we need to adopt Chips, but Masud is adamantly opposed. Sigh. My gramma hates that frickin' dog, but grandpa is very attached to him. Perhaps we could take the dog at night...I don't know. The thought of poop-picking is not intriguing to me.

Isaac Quote:

I asked Isaac why he did not enjoy the company of a four-year-old girl who came to visit today. He said, "Her silliness gave me a headache."

Medical Mystery Solved:

My sister-in-law Maya (the doctor that I worked with in Bangladesh) has been really sick for the past month or so. She has been in the hospital with terrible abdominal pain, and was finally diagnosed with pancreatitis. Her pancreas was actually digesting itself. Ouch.

A few days back, she and Masud-bhai (her hubby) flew to Singapore for some expert medical attention. They inserted a drainage tube in her pancreas that would help the digestive juices to drain. After the surgery, Maya started having extreme pain. They decided to go back in and remove the tube. Everyone was disappointed because a cause could not be determined.

While the surgeons were removing the tube, they saw something moving. They looked closer and discovered...a worm. And then they found another worm. She had worms in her pancreas.


And with that happy thought, I leave you.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Finally Home For Christmas!

It's been two years since I spent Christmas at home, so I really really enjoyed it this year. I had a few white russians, too, which really made it fun. We played some games, ate lots of good food, and opened presents on Christmas Eve, and then today we had lunch at my Gramma's house. That was great. She got some fried chicken and oven fries from Kwik Trip. I made green bean casserole, and Rob made meatballs. I brought some good guacamole and salsa, too, cuz meat is gross.

This afternoon, we're going to visit my gramma who is in a nursing home. Then I'm gonna hunker down with one of the three books I got for gifts...the Beatles biography, Amy Tan's new book, and Pathologies of Power by Paul Farmer. Great reading material for the next month at least.

Isaac is suffering from toy overdose.

But he just said, "I can't wait until next Christmas."


Enjoy the pics and merry Christmas everyone.

more los fotos

los fotos

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Another Nari Jibon Picture

It was Kathy's 50th birthday yesterday so she was treated to a glitzy, cake filled celebration, Bangladeshi style.

Awwww, I miss those folks!


There has been lots of hullabaloo lately about the separation of Church and State and using the word "Christmas" in public settings. Isaac's teachers have wished me "Happy Holidays", and I know they have to be careful not to let the X-word slip. As a Muslim, I understand the argument, but I have surprised myself by being on the side of the right-wingers on this one. Christmas is an important part of most Americans' traditions and I don't think it should be censored. But I suppose I am still a little different from the likes of Pat Robertson...I think we should follow Bangladesh's model and just celebrate ALL the holidays.

In Bangladesh, most people are Muslim, so the Islamic holidays are most widely celebrated. Islam is a very holiday-oriented faith...lots o' there are lots of Islam-related vaycays. (The month of Ramadan is not an official holiday, but people who do work walk around in semi-comas all day until it's time to eat, so it might as well be a holiday. The end of Ramadan, marked by Eid-al-Fitr, is celebrated for up to a week.) Being the inclusive secular organization that it is [please note that I'm typing with an facetious expression on my face], the Bangladeshi government also observes the holidays of the FOUR major religions in Bangladesh.

This is kind of funny, seeing as there are really only two major religions. Most Bangladeshis are Muslim (83%), followed by Hindu (16%), and then Christians and Buddhists fall into the 1% that's left over. But just because they only make up 1% doesn't mean they should be left out. I mean, 1% of 140 million people is actually a lot of people. Important Hindu holidays are observed, of course, and I remember getting a few days off for some kind of Buddhist deal. I think I saw two Buddhists the entire time I was in Bangladesh. They must have felt very special on their holiday. The entire country shut down, just for them!

Christmas is a holiday if it falls on a workday. The Awami League even moved a strike last year because it fell on Christmas day and they didn't want to offend the <1% of people who are Christians by messing up their big day.

I'm an advocate of hedonism, so I say celebrate them all! It would be very depressing for me to not get give presents at Christmas, because it's a big cultural deal for me. I don't give a crap about the "true meaning", whatever that is, but I like the idea that we all get together, eat a lot, and give each other thoughtful gifts! that the "true meaning"? Then I guess I do give a crap.

Also, I enjoy the gluttony that is Eid (not so much the bloodbath that is korbani Eid). I liked the loud and gaudy Durga Pooja celebrations. I like Easter candy. I think Halloween is great. And after all of this self-indulgence, a good, restraint-filled Buddhist holiday would bring it all back into perspective for me.

So, instead of arguing over the fine line that exists between Church and State, I think we should all just load up on egg nog and fruitcake. Although I think egg nog is gross, so I'll just have some other beverage. And I guess I'd rather have chocolate cake than fruitcake. But just because I think egg nog is gross doesn't mean I will restrict others from enjoying egg nog. It is, as they say, a free country. Isn't it?

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The FACE of 29.

Hmmm, I'm not sure I like being almost thirty. Somebody at Isaac's school called me "Mrs. Zaman" the other day and it took me a while to realize that she was addressing me!

The other day, my sister told me that an article of clothing I wanted was "too young" for me. Ouch. But TKP says that as long as I have Rage Against the Machine on my iPod, I'm still rad.

There will be no big celebration tonight, although my mom is dropping off cake and veggie lasagna. Everyone is working late, and who cares about birthdays when you're turning 29 anyways? And don't even get me started on the whole "birthday this close to Christmas" deal.

Peace out, everyone. I'm going to have brownies for lunch, because dammit it's my birthday.

Sunday, December 18, 2005


Is the weekend seriously almost over? All I have to show for it is a half empty laundry basket - which is quite an accomplishment seeing as it was overflowing two days ago.

Quick poll: How many loads of laundry per week are average for a family of three?

We had a grand total of six loads this week. Is that a lot? I feel like it's a lot. How many times is it okay to wear pants before washing them? Sometimes I feel like one time is enough, but then I try to be an environmentalist and wear them again, but I feel gross about it. I hate it when the knees are all baggy and hang down. Isaac wears his pants twice, but that's because he only has three pairs and has no choice sometimes. Socks and underwear are definitely a one-hit-wonder, but what about shirts? I mean, if you don't spill coffee down the front and you wore deodorant, is it okay to wear them twice?

Anyway, Isaac has become an EMOTIONAL WRECK now that I put the Christmas presents out. I'm trying to explain to him that xmas is for giving, not receiving. But he asks me every five minutes if he can open a present yet, and then when I say no he starts to bawl..."It's too hard to wait, mom! I'm only FIVE!" So I gave in this weekend. I know, bad mom. He'll have like one present left to open on Christmas. But one is better than NONE!

I guess I better gear up for the week. I woke up with a sore throat and have felt crappy all day, so lets see how well this week goes, eh? Only four days though! Friday is a holiday.

And Tuesday is my birthday. CAKE!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

The Goblet comes to Montello

We finally saw the new Harry Potter movie last night! For those of you who do not know, Montello has a rad little movie theater - pictured to the left in a terribly dark and gloomy photography. I think I took that picture right before it dumped about 7 inches of snow on us.
Isn't our theater cute? It has one screen and these uncomfortable wooden seats, but the ticket prices ($3 - all ages, all shows) can't be beat! Last night, Masud, Isaac and I went to see the movie, and it cost a grand total of $16, including large popcorn and soda, gummi worms and gobstoppers. What a deal!

My sister, however, wanted to see Narnia, so she drove 45 minutes to Portage, where she paid $7.50 per ticket and a lot more for her sourpatch kids.

We really enjoyed the movie, although it was a little bit scary for Isaac. He didn't understand a lot of it - I spent half an hour explaining to him why Harry's parents came back when he was fighting Voldemort. Isaac's probably way too young for this movie, but I never would have been able to get away with not letting him see it. He'll get it in a few years, and it was a fun family night anyway!

Have a great weekend everyone, and don't forget to vote for my NYR! (My hit counter shows that lots of people have visited since I posted the vote request, but only three people have voted so far. Let's get crackin'! This is a democratic blog!)

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

A vote: What Should Katie's New Year's Resolution Be?

I never took NYR's seriously until three years ago when I resolved to floss every day. I actually started flossing every day, and I still do it. It didn't cure my cavity-prone-ness (Sonya the dentist, do you have any input on that?) but it sure did make those twice yearly cleanings less painful! I discovered that NYR's are a great way (for me) to change a bad habit or start a new good one.

This year I'm having trouble deciding what to resolve. I need your help. Below are some of my ideas (with rationale), and I want you, my loyal readers, to vote on which one I should take on.

If you think you have a better one than I listed, feel free to submit it. It has to go by these rules, though:
1) It can not have anything to do with losing weight, exercising, or otherwise restricting/requiring diet or exercise.
2) It has to be feasible - and feasible for you may not be feasible for me. (If you don't know me in real life, here's a clue. I prefer sitting to any other activity. So don't recommend that I take up hiking. See rule #1.)
3) It has to be free. I'm broke. (Yes, I know I have a job now, but I'm still broke.)

So here are my ideas. Friendly critiques are encouraged.

1) (My personal favorite) I resolve to read all the books that are on my book shelf that I have purchased but not read yet.

Rationale: I have the habit of buying books because I love them and want to read them at some point. Usually, I am already reading too many books and the new book goes on the bookshelf for "later". I have about 25 books that need to be read. Fiction, non-fiction, self help, spiritual, poetry - they are just waiting for me. But I keep getting other books from the library or buying new books, and these have just sat here - some of them for years - and every time we move I get mad at myself for not reading them. If I read them, then I can get rid of them and not have to lug them around the world with me (and buy more).

2) I resolve to learn the art of palm reading.

Rationale: This is something that I've wanted to do for a while, but it became a more prominent goal when I was in India last January. Kei, Tanya and I went to a weirdo palm reader on the beach in Kerala (check my blog archives from January 2005 - I'm too tired and lazy to put in a link). Then we went to a less weird palm reader/astrologer in Kolkata. It was so fun! Then I bought a palm reading book in a bookstore there, and I decided to learn how. Think of how cool I'll be at parties! I won't be stuck for things to talk about every again!

3) I resolve to learn Spanish.

Rationale: This would be a good career move - people who can speak Spanish are IN DEMAND, especially in the human services fields. It's been a personal goal for a while, but I have lacked the determination. A NYR might just do the trick.

4) I resolve to go through all of the Bangla workbooks that I bought in Bangladesh, so that I don't forget how to read Bangla.

Rationale: It was damn hard to learn how to read Bangla, and I don't want that to go to waste! This probably would not be a great asset to me in my career (presently, anyway) but it would be a rad skill to have.

5) I resolve to save my spare change in a jar, and when the jar is full, to put it into the savings account that I do NOT spend.

Rationale: Who are we kidding. That one is never gonna happen. I'd probaby spend it all on books!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Isaac's comments about the KKK.

Setting: I am reading Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell. Isaac is bored, so I read some of it out loud to him. It happens to be a paragraph about Martin Luther King Jr. and the KKK. It said something about the KKK stealing babies. (Yes. I realize now that maybe this wasn't an appropriate paragraph to read to my five year old.)

Isaac: Mom, what is KKK?
Me: It's a group of white people that think they are better than all other people who are not white. They are mean.
Isaac: Why did they steal the babies?
Me: They are bad guys. Don't worry, they don't live around here.

Fifteen minutes later, we go to the library to return the book

Isaac (to the librarian): Did you know about the KKK?
Librarian: Yes, I know a little about them.
Isaac: They are bad guys. They steal babies. We should call the police to put them in jail.
Librarian: That's a good idea.
Isaac: I know.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Speaking of Bombs...

There have been TWO bomb threats in the past TWO weeks at the local high school. Isaac's elementary school is attached to the high school, so the threats resulted in all children being evacuated. The younger kids walked across the street to the nursing home, and the high schoolers had to sit on cold buses for three hours with no coats. (For those of you who live in warm parts of the country, it has been near zero degrees farenheit here for the past few weeks.)

The administration is MAD. Their budget is already tight, and these incidents require lots 'o cash to resolve. In a small community like this, it's not something we can afford to spend money on. The art department resorted to selling ice cream during lunch as a means of raising cash (I know the teacher is buying supplies out of her own pocket - a fact that is very common around here.) I have heard that one of the neighboring towns has had four bomb threats so far this year at their school. If each of these incidents costs $5000, that adds up to a huge chunk of the budget.

I wonder if the number of bomb threats/school violence incidents goes up when our nation is at war. Every day, we are bombarded with images of war, warned of the risk of terrorism, and told that violence is the way to safety and freedom. What kind of message does that send to our children?

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Here come the suicide bombers.

There has been a recent hike in the number of violent bomb incidents in Bangladesh. The government is trying to crack down on Islamic fundamentalism, and the radical groups are retaliating. They have started using suicide bombers.

My heart is breaking for Bangladesh.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Say what?

Setting: Our living room, Katie and Isaac watching TV. It's been an intense day of sickness, nose blowing, medicating and doctor's visits. Katie is surfing the net, Isaac is blowing his nose.

Isaac, looks up suddenly: It's hard to take care of kids, isn't it, mom?
Katie: It sure is, dude, but I love taking care of you.
Isaac, pondering: I love that you take care of me.
Katie - feels warm and fuzzy...
Isaac: Mom?
Katie: Yes, baby?
Isaac: I just farted.

So much for warm fuzzies.

Transitions Suck.

Research has proven it, and now I'm livin' it.

Isaac is sick, AGAIN, and I had to stay home from my new job already. Sigh. It just so happens that he got sick on the day that my mom and dad were busy and Masud had a big meeting at work. So much for my "support system"!

Hopefully the bugs will work themselves out soon. Bug #1: Isaac has been SO SICK for the past few months. He has filled his sick-quota for the entire school year, I think. Bug #2: What do working mothers do when their kids are sick? They can't go to school, and should not go to day care either, so what do people do? Especially single moms, what do they do? Please tell me!!! Bug #3: I don't officially have an office yet, and I don't have a schedule yet, either. Hmmmm. Hard to plan ahead.

I'm really tired, too, because I was up all night with him last night. I think I'm gonna turn in early. Like right now. Nite nite. Zzzzzzzz.

Friday, December 02, 2005

If you have time...

check out this post by one of my favorite bloggers, Bitch Ph.D., about her radical married feminist manifesto. Fair warning: there are swear words in this post, but damn, they're worth it.

My friends are in the news!

Kathy Ward sent me this link to a picture of my Nari Jibon friends. They are in a group called Ulka Nari Shongbad, and were marching in a Dhaka procession for World AIDS Day. I think I can make out Anowara in the back and I recognize Suriya's forehead in the middle...the women in front are also familiar. You go girls!

I'm home.

It's always good to get away for a few days, but even better to come home. DC was great, nice and warm actually, but I was pretty busy. Plus, for some reason, I couldn't sleep - so I am exhausted today. I had hoped to meet up with fellow bloggers and hospitable Bangladeshis Zeenat and Tanveer, but it was not to be. Maybe next time, dudes!

Thursday morning I managed to run over to the Smithsonian Museum of American History, where - this is going to sound nerdy - I gleefully viewed Abraham Lincoln's top hat and other presidential memorabilia, because I just finished reading Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell. I also put a penny in one of those machines that squishes it flat and prints a little design on the front. Yes, I am a total dork. Picture me running through the exhibits (because I've got to catch my plane) - I got a map ahead of time and knew right where to go - up to the third floor for the Lincoln exhibit, then down to the first floor for the First Ladies exhibit, then the lower level for the penny squishing.

I will understand if none of you return to my blog for a long time.

Masud and Isaac survived my absence, and Masud even did the laundry and washed the dishes while I was gone! Maybe there is hope, after all!

Time for me to get a little work done and then go up to school to observe Isaac's recess shenanigans. He's been having issues with getting picked on at recess and I'm going up to make sure it stops. Nobody picks on my boy, even if his mom is huge dork!