Blognote: Where’s the old stuff?

Written By: admin - Aug• 29•13

So, I broke my blog. And in repairing it, I lost some pictures and broke some links: looks like some of September 2011, and then everything before August 2010. I’m going to work back through my archived photos, most of which appear to still be THERE, and repair links as I go.

If for some reason you are experiencing a RED PEN BRIGADE EMERGENCY and absolutely need to see a post that isn’t live on the site/archives, let me know.

Shouting into the void

Written By: admin - May• 08•13

Okay!! I know I have readers. I mean, there’s my dad, but other than my dad. I know you don’t like to comment and I hope it’s just because you’re generally comment-disinclined and not because you hate me or this blog. But I do know you’re out there — the software tells me so, and you can’t ALL be bots.

Those of you who know me in meatspace know I’m making some large changes in my life. I was thinking I’d like to blog. And then I thought, hey, I already have a blog.

So here’s the question: how disruptive to the RPB audience would it be if I also blogged in this space? I can tag blog posts and RPB posts separately so they’re easily sortable. In fact, for those of us still using dinosaur RSS technology (yes I will, and I will not be foiled even by YOU, Google!), I think I can sort posts so that you can subscribe to only one or the other.

Or do I need to buy a totally new URL?


How ’bout that local sports team!

Written By: admin - Jan• 23•13

Soooo… I went on this extended trip to India.  And then I started my overnight rotation. And overnight rotations make me really, really cranky. But I miss my blog peeps! All three of you!

So okay, I’m going to try to put some of the last 3 months’ worth of submissions up. And you can send more without fear of their languishing unloved in an inbox.

Also, here is a picture of a monkey I took with my phone, with no zoom. I am going to post it ALL THE PLACES because it makes me happy!


Written By: admin - Aug• 31•12

You guys! I got something awesome in the mail today! Remember the adorable zombie tacos on Etsy? I have one!! It was a gift from an anonymous reader!

(Everything is cuter when posed next to guinea pig.)

Thanks so much, anonymous buddy. I love it!

Aaaand we’re back!

Written By: admin - Jan• 16•12

Fresh new look!  Same old spelling and punctuation errors!  Wahoo!  Also, I intend to post more pictures of my pets here this year, because ZOMG Google Analytics.  COMMENTS WOULD HELP TOO I’M JUST SAYING.

So, welcome back, welcome to 2012, keep your eyes peeled and your cameras handy, and let’s get ready to red pen!!

Not about grammar.

Written By: admin - Sep• 11•11

I wrote this two years ago.  You can feel however you like about the 9/11 commemorations, but this is what I think about every year.  So I’m putting it here, because I pay the rent on this blog, and I can.

Also, because I am a well-trained worker bee:  the below are my opinions and do not reflect the opinions of my employer, or anybody else for that matter.  Also, I’ve changed names, because this is my story and I don’t want to complicate anything for anybody else.


The view from my roof in Jordan.

It is hot, and I am tired. I am the kind of tired I get when I have to pack – the frustrated, anxious tired. Tired of having to think, make decisions, process, plan. It has been a very long week, fraught with social tension. The weight of my leaving hangs over me at all times like a gloomy raincloud, every bit as likely to burst into rainy tears at any moment.

Keep going, I encourage myself. Pack a little more. If you can focus for thirty more minutes, you can take a break. If you can focus, you can sit for half an hour and watch “The Bold and the Beautiful.”

This is a real motivation. It’s not so much that I’m addicted to the daily soaps, and I’ve never watched this particular show before moving here. But it is broadcast every weekday on Israeli television, and the local ladies never miss an episode. It disturbs me that the machinations of the powerful LA fashion world are equated with typical American life, but in watching, I share a powerful common bond with my neighbors. And today, the distraction is welcome.

At 4:30, I pour myself some juice and throw myself on my couch, flipping the television on and idly cycling through all six stations before settling on Israel 2.

What greets me there isn’t unusual, although it is unwelcome. Shaky hand-held camera footage of a building in flames. Smoke. A male voice droning on and on in Hebrew. I am jaded – and so, so tired – and I roll my eyes. Water in the background, I note… a bomb in Haifa? It doesn’t look like Tel Aviv. I’m not really paying attention. I am frustrated that the reward I promised myself has been thwarted by violence. I’m frustrated that there is so much violence. I am petulant. I want my soaps.

Then I notice that the droning Hebrew voice is droning over something. And that something sounds familiar. A voice from before, from a long time ago, from… is that Katie Couric?

Katie has dyed her hair since I’ve been gone, but that’s hardly the most important thing, why is Katie Couric reporting on a bomb in –

Oh god.

Oh god, oh god, oh god.

It’s New York.


The thing about an event like that day’s is that it doesn’t matter how involved you are. I am nowhere near New York. I am not particularly worried about any close loved ones. I am safe, warm, well-fed, sheltered… and terrified. Everything has changed, from what was before to a total unknown. What is going on? What comes next?

Katie says there are rumors of other planes… the Pentagon… untold dead… untold hijacked vessels… I have had enough. I grab my backpack, a little money, and head for the bus stop. It isn’t my first choice. I never leave my village just as the sun is setting. It will mean paying for a taxi home, in the dark, the idea of which is objectionable for several reasons. But it doesn’t matter. In this moment, more than anything else, I need the connectivity of the internet.


I stand waiting by the Post Office. The main street is almost deserted; most people are home, relaxing after a hot day, preparing for the evening meal. Many of them, I imagine, are glued to their own television sets. I am optimistic that the buses are still running, but can only hope that all the bus drivers haven’t been distracted.

Finally Abu Saif’s bus rounds the corner. His bus is my favorite, and has never before failed to cheer me up – clean, new, brightly painted, decorated with cheerful good-luck charms and prayer beads. And Abu Saif never lets the young men treat me disrespectfully. But today I hardly care which bus it is; I just want to get to Irbid.

I board the bus and sit, shaking, staring straight ahead. Abu Saif looks at me out of the corner of his eye and says something to another bearded gentleman behind him. That gentleman turns to me and says, seriously: You… New York? Family?

No, no, thank God, I say.

Thank God, the stranger and Abu Saif agree. Ya haram. It is a profound shame.

When I disembark in the city, Abu Saif won’t take my money. Not today, he says, not today.

I start to cry.


By the time I reach the internet café, the first tower has fallen; the second falls shortly thereafter. The normally chaotic back room is silent. Nearly every monitor displays CNN. Every eye follows me as I sit. After a few minutes, the café attendant brings me a juice I haven’t ordered, and in polite, collegiate English, asks if everybody I know is okay.

I think so, I say.

Thank God, thank God, the room intones. Ya haram. It is a profound shame.


My parents are missing, and I am grateful for the assistance of a travel agent friend, who locates their plane and tells me they’ve been stranded in Amsterdam. I’m sure they won’t have a fabulous time as refugees, but there is no cause to worry that they are in danger. My friends in New York are all present and accounted for. And it is a gorgeous night: breathtaking, intense, perfumed – the kind of night that always makes monotheism easy to understand and believe. Of course God speaks to people here, in nights like these. Sometimes God speaks of joyful things. Tonight, amid the beauty, God speaks only of sorrow.

I thank the cab driver, who has barely even made eye contact with me. This is unusual, for cab drivers. I suspect he’s been listening to the radio. As I get out of the car, he says, God bless your country. Ya haram.


My apartment is dark and cool as I enter. The juice is there, where I left it; the pasta I’d planned for dinner; the sewing I’d meant to enjoy during my siesta. Everything the same. Nothing the same.

I have barely closed the metal door behind me when I hear a timid knock. I open the window in the door and see Noor, the youngest of my landlord’s nine children. Mama wants you, she says. They’re on the roof.

I follow Noor up two flights of stairs and find the family gathered at the west side of the roof. Abu Jameel is in the center, plastic chair tipped back and leaning against the roof-edge, steaming cup of tea balanced precariously on the cinderblocks, surrounded by children and grandchildren.

I sit in a chair vacated for me by a younger person, as propriety demands, and another child hands me a glass of minty tea and a plate of grapes. After the same brief exchange assuring everybody that my family is safe – thank God, thank God – I sit in silence. I usually sit in silence at these things. They speak of family business, in colloquial words, and most of it is completely beyond me. But tonight feels different, somehow.

Finally, Abu Jameel tips his chair forward and leans towards me soberly.

The people who did this are not Muslims.

We don’t know who did this, I begin, but it certainly looks like –

No, no, Abu Jameel interrupts. I know they say they’re Muslims. They are not Muslims. He nods definitively. It is clear that nothing more will be said on this subject.

I nod, too. I understand what he means. But he isn’t quite done.

I think maybe it’s a good time, he says. You are about to leave us; you are going home, and people will ask you about us. I think God sent you here, so you could know us. You know me. You know my boys. You know we are good men. You know my wife, my daughters, are good women. You know the people of this village are simple, good farmers who love America. This is why God has brought you here. You will go back to America and tell them about the people of our village. Ya haram.




Written By: admin - Aug• 31•11

…unless you don’t know where your towel is!

But seriously, I’m taking a week and a half off, because I deserve it.  The latter part of this week and a half is going to involve a lot of reading trashy books and taking naps.  I’ll need the recovery because this weekend is totally Dragon*Con!

Dragon*Con is sometimes a good source of pictures, so in a sense, I do this for you, Dear Readers.  I mean, they use this sign EVERY YEAR.

Maybe this year I’ll bring a Sharpie.  Hmm.

Anyway, I’m off to stalk famous people, engage in lengthy pointless debates that feel so good, and experience utter claustrophobia in the crowds for a few days.  Oh, also, and I’m going to try to find Jen from EPBOT/CakeWrecks on the side.  🙂

I shall leave you with a philosophical observation that even the best of us are flawed.  I refer you to Joss Whedon and my post from 2008.  Sigh.

A geeky aside: Pigs in Jayne hats!

Written By: admin - Aug• 20•11

This is my blog, so I can also post adorable pictures of my guinea pigs.  And when I happen to have a picture of my guinea pigs wearing totally cunning hats that I myself knit on teeny-tiny double-pointed needles (which, if you know me, is amazing, because it requires coordination to avoid stabbing yourself in the eye) — well then.

Also, just in case I have any readers who don’t actually know me:  These are Snickers (2 years old, male) and Ouiser Boudreaux (3 years old, female, spayed).  Both are rescues and they’re wonderful, even if they don’t really love wearing hats.  Please consider a rescue for any pet you’re welcoming into your family — local shelters often have hamsters, guinea pigs, ferrets, etc. who are also desperate for a home.

EDIT: Pigs-n-hats now featured on EPBOT!  And honestly, Jen did a much better job writing the situation up than I did.  Of course, her consistently hilarious writing is why we read her blogs!

It’s Wednesday, so…

Written By: admin - Aug• 03•11

…I thought I’d change it up a little.  Announcing yet another Robi-banner!  See, doesn’t it feel all fresh and new around here now?

From China with love

Written By: admin - Jun• 08•11

I don’t know about you, Dear Readers — look at me assuming I have more than one reader! — but I often find my deepest sentiments expressed perfectly in the pages of Victorian literature.  Okay, I read too much as a kid, probably.  But an example.  I received this picture from my father, who recently voyaged to the Far East without me and, I might add, without a camera, and who is therefore very lucky he had a smartphone with him.  Considerately, he sent this along to me, and my first thought was:

I like it so, it — it makes me feel sorrowful.

No joke, peeps, that is literally the first thing I thought.  Seriously: I read too much as a kid.

In case you can’t see it clearly — I reduced its size rather drastically so the neon wouldn’t sear your retinas, and that’s how much I care, Dear Readers — it says “Country dishs homely dishs.”

I’ve made the point before that I don’t think it’s totally fair to go after non-native speakers, and this is someone who has translated their shop name into English in a country where most of his/her clientele might be expected to speak Chinese, so they get extra extra leeway.  I mean, I can’t even imagine what many of the signs on Chinese restaurants around here must say, but I’d bet quite a few of them are less than grammatically perfect.  So this place gets a pass; I’m not even putting it in the misspelling category.

But honestly?  Doesn’t it make you feel sorrowful, you like it so?  Can you imagine being a Chinese person from some far-flung, rural part of China, which is a very very large place?  You’re far from home and you’re hungry, and then you see this sign, which I’m guessing is saying something like “Down-home country cookin’.”  Isn’t this a place you would eat?

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