Pre-Day One: TP, LB, and I battened down our respective hatches, wove our way through the airport full of smarmy, cowboy-wannabe, black-hatted and booted Republicans (in town to celebrate their prez's inauguration), and beat the "Blizzard of '05" that blanketed the East Coast by a matter of hours. We flew over snowy hill and dale and even the Grand Canyon:

Five hours, two snooty flight attendants, and one middle row seat later, we arrived in LAX. It was such a warm day in sunny Cali that we walked from our arrival terminal to our departure terminal outside, shedding our coats and sweaters along the way. We took some perverse pleasure in reading the monitor's announcements that the DC airports were now completely shut down. After a bit of fretting over whether my parents would make the connecting flight (their flight to Cincinnati had been cancelled, the re-rerouted flight through Hotlanta had been delayed, and the United Airlines bozos at the ticket counter couldn't comprehend that someone could fly one airline and then connect onto another airline), we all had a happy family reunion in Terminal 7.

Another five hours, another middle seat, and one crappy movie later, we arrived in KON. It was such a gloriously warm night in tropical Hawaii that Dad and I almost walked to the rental car lot until we realized that walking over a mile away in the dark and on little-to-no-sleep was probably not a good idea. Hopped a shuttle bus to pick up the rental car, swung around and picked up the family and luggage, drove about 45 minutes through the night surrounded by black lava flows and palm trees, and checked into our rooms at the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel resort. We were given cool, moist towels with which to wash some of the travel grime off of our faces and glasses of passion fruit juice with which to re-hydrate our desiccated bodies. Local time aside, my body screamed that it was 4:00 a.m. our time and well past my bedtime. So, as the waves crashed on the rocks outside, I crashed on the bed inside and sank into some sweet sweet sleep.

Next up: Dad wants to go to Honolulu but his idea is shot down.


Ahoy, mateys! We're back after a wonderful trip to the lovely, tropical "Big Island" where we had lots of fun (stood at the edge of a volcano (yes, it's dormant now, but still!), watched a plunging waterfall in the forest, and contemplated the ocean crashing against lava rocks and our toes), sat in the sun (every. single. day.), and spent a lot of mon (if by "we" you mean "dad"). When I woke up last time, this was the view that greeted me:

I was up and traveling for 32 straight hours and just woke up from a nap of12 straight hours and was greeted by this:

I miss Hawaii. :(

Travelogue and more pix comin' up.


TP and LB and I are leaving for Hawaii! Hot Kona coffee, hot volcanos, hot beaches under a hot sun. Woot woot! Y'all behave while we are gone. I'm off to search for buried monkey pirate treasure.

See ya, suckahs!


Hmmmm . . . highest sense of paranoia (x) tightest security ever for a presidential inauguration (+) hordes of area Muslims attempting to converge for Eid prayers (/) icy road conditions = __________. Yipes! Anyway, Eid Mubarak, y'all!


Guest Post Series: My Grandfather (post published here unbeknownst to him and via an e-mail to me)

When I was in Jeffersonville, two salespersons, a boy and a girl, visited our house [in Islamabad], congratulated [Aunty R] on having won a hi-tech camera in a lottery and sold her some washing powder. We had never participated in any lottery and anyway the "prize" was too "sophisticated" for anyone in the family to understand, so they kept it safely until my return. The other day I noticed the nice-looking heavy camera carrying case and on being told the story, opened it and tried to figure out how the contraption worked. The user's manual was a third-rate production that had crude sketches and diagrams which could not be located on the camera and there were mysterious gadgets on the camera which didn't find any mention in the manual! The camera was dead as the dodo, so I decided to carry out an autopsy, using only a screwdriver and hammer.

In the "morgue" lay the shattered bits and pieces of plastic, wires, toothed wheels, knobs, levers, switches, and other "hi-tech" stuff, but their total weight was only a few ounces, far less than what the manual specified. Yet the body felt heavy, so I pounded away with the heavy hammer to break it further to discover why it was so heavy. Lo and behold, inside each of the three "sinuses" of the camera, moulded and fitted skilfully, were chunks of solid pure lead (Pb). I intend melting them down into one chunk as a paper-weight.

It reminds me of a story I read when I was in school. A man bought a cat and instructed his servant to feed it one pound of meat daily. The servant complied faithfully but only for a week or so. One day the cat was heard meowing and meowing pitiably. The master ordered the servant to fetch a pair of scales.

"Did you feed the cat today?"
"Yes, Sir!"
"When and how much?"
"Ten minutes ago. One pound, Sir, just as you ordered."
"OK, the scale shows exactly one pound. That's the meat. Where's cat?"

The camera manual specifies its weight as 510 grams. The lead chunks alone weigh 510 grams. Where the devil's the camera?

Early Eid Mubarak, y'all!


Just finished The Time Traveler's Wife which I really enjoyed (some time traveling, a love story, some humor, some pathos, some good music discussions) but which I would not recommend to readers with delicate sensibilities (some juicy, racy stuff). It was kind of like Memento meets When Harry Meets Sally. Next up: What The Body Remembers by Shauna Singh Baldwin. The debut novel is about two women married to the same man and the drama swirling around all of the characters in the days of pre- and post-Partition. So far, so good. This excerpt is dedicated to everyone's favorite chooriyan-hound, Chai:

The bangle seller has entered the tunnel, waking Roop from her musing.

He carries two jute bundles, dingy brown, with the promise of sparkle inside. They oscillate from three ropes tied to each end of a long stick with its fulcrum on his shoulders, supporting the fragile hidden circles of bright coloured glass. Rolled tight under his arm, a reed prayer mat awaits his need to kneel before his Allah.

He rests his bundles on the floor of the tunnel and squats. With a practiced flourish, he unties the first bundle before Roop. Colour prisms splash, shoot and shimmer on the haveli's mud-plastered walls.


Gujri comes, wiping her hands on a corner of her chunni. Seeing the bangle seller, she returns with three small bruised bananas and lays them on the ground before him. "Give her a dozen bangles," she orders, then retuns to her rasoi. . . .

Vermillion reds, mustard golds, purples and green glass. Red glass, pink glass, glass that has passed through fire, melted, then spun down a wood cone to Roop's size, cooled, till it formed a hot skin that could bear the touch of a paintbrush tip, dotting it with gold, threading it with silver.

Such tinkling, shimmering fragility, doesn't she want a few?


(editor's note: In observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the staff has been given the day off. Today's post is a republished post that originally appeared on Abez's blog this weekend as part of a blog-exchange program. The normal(ish) posts will begin again on Tuesday. Thank you.) *streches arms over head, heaves contented sigh, returns to curled up position on couch for nap*

How to mortally wound yourself around the kitchen - or -
the secret ingredient is blood!

1. Prepare a batch of cookie dough. Be sure to sample the ingredients before adding them to the mix: finger-swipe of melted butter, spoonful of brown sugar, cheekful of chocolate chips until said cheeks are bulging outrageously and you cannot deny the moniker "squirrel nutkins" as passersby shake their heads at you. Blend the ingredients well with an electric or old-timey hand mixer. Just before tossing the beaters into the sink, save time, water, and soap by licking the raw batter off of the metal strips. Scoff at the threats of Salmonellosis and attempt to clean off even the hard-to-reach inner curves of the beater. Pull a muscle in your tongue (possibly the styloglossus if not for the sheer enjoyment of saying "styloglossus") Cry out in pain. Pause. Continue licking the batter off with slower movements and care. Lesson the first: your tongue is not an acrobat.

2. Prepare rice. Assemble your materials by lining up the canister containing the basmati rice and the pot in which to cook the rice. Step back and enjoy your accomplishment thus far. Measure out 1 cup of rice. Rinse the rice out several times and offer mild curses when some grains escape with the runoff water. After rinsing, add 1 and a half cup of water to the rice and set it on the stove to boil over high heat. Add a chunk of butter and a pinch of salt. When the water is boiling rapidly, lower the heat to a simmer, cover the pot, and walk away. Set the timer for 10 minutes. While waiting for the timer to go off, clean up your workspace. Lift the canister containing the rice by its lid. Watch as the base separates from the lid in slow-motion. Wait for the canister to crush your toes and the rice to fly into your hair, your eyes, and possibly your lungs. Lesson the second: let someone else clean up the kitchen for you.

3. Prepare an apple. Wash the apple. Contemplate its beauty. Grab a knife. Recall how your mother would deride such crutches as a cutting board when chopping, slicing, and peeling a variety of fruits and vegetables. Attempt to emulate your mother. Grasp the apple with your left hand. Work the knife gently around the apple with your right hand to divide the apple in half. Put aside one half of the apple and begin to core the other half. When you are sure that you have a good and steady grip on the knife and apple, plunge the knife directly into your hand. Die. Lesson the third: you are not your momma.


Guest Post Series: Abez

Travelogue Bajiland: Day Three

Our third day in the Land of Baj was marked by sun, sand, and salamanders, all of which were present in our hotel room left of the Arc de Triomphe and right of the Basket du Sock. The salamanders, a rare indigenous breed whose taste remotely resembled gelato, earned a C+ for their crunchiness and slightly puckish taste.

The Salamander was a C+

After packing up and checking out, we tarried south towards a charming little cafe on the Coastu Coast that smelled slightly of the sea and strongly of the weed. It reminded me of the creepy little joint in that old movie that no one but myself has seen, Sea-Dive, which starred Johnny Obscure and Jill Oblivion. As I sat there eating crepes and drinking cappuccino, I couldn't help but think of the quote that captured the very essence of the film; "Tartar sauce, the fish that doesn't swim."

Having finished breakfast, Mothra (my travelling companion) and I went in search of a copy of a Washington Post. No other magazine would do, because only the Washington Post allows me to paste links that other people cannot read because they're not subscribers. After visiting a few overpriced shops for tourists, we asked a man who appeared to be local (he was sleeping on a bench) where we could find the 'real' shopping area. My French isn't too good, but I did understand the instructions to a land where the sun didn't shine. We thanked him and went on our way.

We walked along the Boulevard de Boullion for what felt like millions of miles until we realized we were lost and the soles of my hush puppies were yelping for mercy. Mothra thought we needed a rest, and from my place on the ground underneath of a mailbox, I had to agree. We popped into another little cafe for coffee and the house speciality, a mysterious looking blob of brown stuff on toast that the waiter assured me was vegetarian. Or Sumerian. Or valerian. It turned out to be valerian; the root. Quite disgusting. Very much not like gelato. Not even like salamander. D-.

The Boulevard de Boullion

We eventually gave up for the day and Mothra hailed a cab with his index finger extended in the air. Had we known that this was a culturally rude gesture, we might have hailed the cab differently, but at the time we could only wonder why cabs would drive up and then pass dangerously within inches of us before speeding away. We made it back to the hotel, seven hours later, and fell exhaustedly onto the furniture. It had been a long and exciting day, although we never did find a copy of the Washington Post.


The Washington Post's Style Invitational asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition. Here are some gems:

  • Bozone (n): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.
  • Sarchasm (n): The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.
  • Inoculatte (v): To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.
  • Karmageddon (n): It's like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's like, a serious bummer.
  • Dopeler effect (n): The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come very quickly.
  • Beelzebug (n): Satan in the form of a mosquito that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.

Abez and I are working on creating a new dictionary with such fantabulous entries such as:

  • Beardage (n): Lower facial hair. Used in conjunction with "sporting" (i.e. "that mullah is sporting some major beardage.")
  • Blurker (n): One who visits a blog but does not comment upon it and/or maintain one's own. (psst - we still love you, you cute little blurkers!)
  • Bowpit (n): The inner side of the elbow (derived from a variation of "armpit" while Gojira and I were sweating and zoned out in a park in Dublin).
  • Busticated (which I recently learned is an actual word but will get high honors as a fake word nonetheless).

And those are just the "B"s! Any contributions?


As an apology for tampering with my bank account and switching my social security number with that of another "icubaji" who lives in Virginia and doesn't even have an account with them anymore but for some reason they have her SSN linked to my account and prevented me from accessing my account on-line (and for previously screwing up last year with the same account mix-up so that my checks were sent back for insufficient funds because her account had zero moolah in it) which meant I had to go to the bank in person and talk to no less than three people to straighten it out, I got this:

Apology accepted. But next time (and I sincerely hope there is not a next time) just remember that I'm more of a daisy girl than a carnation girl. Jackholes.


Three days until Counter-Inaugural kicks off its week-long events including poetry readings, student walkouts, and Underground Hip Hop and MC Battle Against the Inauguration and the War.

One week until the feds are going to close about 100 square blocks of downtown DC for Inauguration Day and to restrict traffic on another 100 square blocks.

One week and a day until Turn Your Back On Bush demonstrators will protest by literally turning their backs on Bush as he coasts by on his route to the White House. A.N.S.W.E.R. will be demonstrating on the north side of the parade route. D.C. Anti-War Network will hold their rally at 9 a.m. and will be joined by the Women's March and Funeral Procession (New Orleans jazz style) in the afternoon. CodePink and Billionaires For Bush will host a Black Tie and Boots Inaugural Ball the night before and then return in full force the next day when they will auction off Social Security at 10:30 a.m. and host another ball that night. ReDefeatBush will be holding "the world's first CounterInaugural Ball" that night.

For all of you out-of-towners, you can join in on the festivities/mourning as well! In case you are wondering where I'll be after a full day of activities listed above, perhaps you can find me here, at the NOT MY PRESIDENT! Punk Rock Counter-Inaugural Ball, rocking my broken little heart out.


Now, I love robots as much as the next person. Maybe even more so. But $138 for a Prada Robot Trick Keychain?

Eesh. However, since it IS Marlene's birthday, let's all sing for her and pitch in and get her this similarly priced but perhaps more to her liking keychain. Happy Birthday, Marlene!


Public Service Annoucement:
Dannon's Raspberries 'N Cream, Light 'n Fit, Carb Control Yogurt.
What was I thinking, you ask?
It was on sale.
Now I know why.

This message was brought to you by your friendly neighborhood tastebuds.


In the never-ending appreciation for free stuff, we visited the Freer Gallery of Art (part of the Smithsonian Museum complex) to attend a screening of the first in a series of films shown for the Iranian Film Festival of 2005 (one of TP's joys in life). We were supposed to see The Unfinished Story, a facty/fictiony film about two documentary filmmakers attempting to make a film about Iranian smugglers and their clients who run into the real deal and help them by pretending they are actors performing in a film. Alas, the reel was languishing in Brazilian Customs.

The replacement film we saw, The Canary, is an Iranian film set in Palestine. This film is about a young boy who is entrusted with the care of the local priest's canary and who tries to protect the canary from loud noises, local bullies, and the war itself (not an easy task in rat-a-tat, constant bombs and bullets, Palestine). Iranian filmmakers seem to enjoy creating stories through the eyes of children (see The White Balloon and The Color of Paradise), but do so by exploring tragedy and humor with sensitivity and subtlety. Not so much with this film. The heavy-handed portrayal of the freedom fighters and the faceless Israeli military was jarring and disturbing which, perhaps, was the director's intention. Next up: The First Letter.


I just ate an entire avacado by myself. Granted, I made it into guacamole first. Then, I spread some of it on a slice of toasted rosemary sourdough bread. Tasty. Then, I did it again. Yummy. Then, there was only a little bit left anyway, so I finished it off. You know, to save room in the fridge. Yep. That's why.


Which Napoleon Dynamite character are you?


Just finished reading The Kite Runner (tragic, painful, not recommended bedtime reading unless you want nightmares) and Insomnia (typical Stephen King fare that was less nightmarish than The Kite Runner). Next up: The Time Traveler's Wife (upstairs) and Monkeybicycle (downstairs). But first, going to see In Good Company which has been reviewed as being "sappy, underachieving and weak plot" but which I'm seeing for free and y'all know how I feel about free. In other news, someone warn Yasminay not to behave like this guy if she doesn't get her french fries.


*whisper* shhh. HB is asleep. quick bullet point post before she wakes up.


Happy New Year, y'all! And Happy Birthday, Bloggie! And Happy Sixty Degrees In January, DCites!