CSI: Phoenix
So, the news around here is my work computer left me. As in just got up last night, took its monitor and external hard drive with it, and said, I'm getting the hell out of Dodge. We fought over a font last week, but I didn't think it was a fight worth leaving over.

Or maybe, just maybe, it was stolen. Either way, it leaves me without my normal work station and prepping to talk with police officers. At least that's what I expected. But one police office visit later and they didn't even dust for finger prints. I was hoping for some yellow caution tape roping off my desk at the very least. Apparently the footage from the tiny cameras that record every move in our building has been fried by the heat. And I had to unlock the door to the office this morning. Something fishy's going on here.

Thank God for the major backup I did last Thursday of this summer's total redesign. That leaves only 2 days of work to make up. Here's a tip: write down all the serial numbers of your computer, monitor, printer, all software etc. so you have them in case anything happens to your computer.

makin' the news
In case you haven't read Fiscus' post yet, here's more news from the Valley of the Sun: I made The Republic. Scott Simon: so dreamy.

in plate view
What do you think of ONAJRNY?


i give up
I went to apply for my personalized license plate today and it turns out that CTHWRLD has been taken now! (Which one of you stole my plate?) Don't even try to talk me into 300DPI, because frankly I never liked that one to begin with. I'm discouraged with what I came up with, so I'm just going to go with the boring old 047•SLN that was assigned to me.


if you thought the FHNGBCBC had faded away...
You'd better check again! We're back in action, folks. (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince spoilers abound, be forewarned.)


*Or as my mom would say, a God-incidence
This morning I navigated to the Sojourners website on a whim, thinking as I have off and on over the past year-plus that I should subscribe to the magazine. (Its price tag is a little heftier than my $8 Esquire, so this decision has required much thought.) Not two hours later, I received a forward from Sarah saying I should read the article below. I take this as a sign in the affirmative that I should subscribe. I copied the full text of the article below. I'd just link to it, but I thought you'd be more likely to actually read it here. The point is one I strongly agree with. (I bolded the lines that struck me the most.)

The Religious left fights back
by Van Jones
AlterNet 7-28-2005

Rabbi Michael Lerner is stirring up trouble again - thank God.

Earlier this week, Lerner was the main organizer of a national gathering in Berkeley, California, for the religious Left. His "Spiritual Activism" conference was intended to help launch a much-needed new initiative: the Network of Spiritual Progressives (NSP).

Lerner has been the spark-plug for many progressive, faith-based undertakings over the years, including Tikkun magazine. But this latest effort is an order of magnitude more challenging than anything he has attempted thus far. And given the stakes for our ailing would-be democracy, the birthing of NSP may prove to be his most important calling.

Lerner wants to help forge a new alliance of "religious, secular and 'spiritual, but not religious,' progressives." This alliance will someday expose and challenge the cancer of American consumerism. And it will oppose the religious Right's abuse of scripture to promote war, intolerance and ugly corporate agendas.

By itself, those two goals would warrant full-throated support from all progressives. But don't be surprised if the good rabbi's efforts also draw some serious "boos" from many parts of the Left, as well. That's because Lerner's bravest and hardest work is aimed much closer to home.

He wants to do more than just minister to the mall-lobotomized masses or give the fundamentalists a well-deserved spanking. He also wants to challenge the Left's chronic and toxic bias against religious feeling, expression and people.

Lerner hopes to end "religio-phobia among progressives."
And such efforts will not be welcome among a great many rabidly secular progressives.

As for me, I will be praying for the Rabbi's success. I am an African-American Christian who was raised in the American heartland. When I moved to the cosmopolitan coasts of Connecticut, and later California, I ran headlong into shocking levels of anti-religious bigotry among progressives.

I literally have had liberals laugh in my face when I told them I was a Christian. For awhile, I felt self-conscious about telling other activists that I preferred not to meet on Sunday mornings, because I wanted to go to church.

It is still commonplace to hear so-called radicals stereotyping all religious people as stupid dupes - and spitting out the word "Christian" as if it were an insult or the name of a disease. I thought progressives were supposed to be the standard-bearers of tolerance and inclusion.

I certainly know the monstrous crimes that have been committed through the ages in the name of religion, or with the blessings of religious people. But I know a few other things about religion, too.

I grew up in the Black churches of the rural south, listening to the stories of my elders. As children, we heard about the good, brave people who had poured their blood out upon the ground so that we could be free. We learned how police officers had clubbed and jailed them. We learned how Klansmen had shot and lynched them. And how the G-men from Washington had just stood by and doodled in their notepads.

We learned of marches and mayhem, freedom songs and funerals. We saw images of billy-clubbed Black women on their hands and knees, searching for their teeth on Mississippi sidewalks - crawling while still clutching their little American flags. We felt pity for the children who spent long nights in frigid jail cells, wearing clothing soaked by fire-hoses, while their bones - broken and untended - began to mend at odd angles.

We saw pictures of Black men, like our fathers, hanging by their necks - their faces twisted, their bodies rigid, their clothes burned off - along with their skin. And we saw photos of carefree killers, sauntering home out of Alabama courtrooms - their faces white and sneering and proud.

We learned how the very best of humanity had faced off with the very worst of humanity - each circling the other under the same summer sun. That epic struggle had elevated southern back roads and backwaters onto the Great World Stage. And the fate of a people - along with the destiny of a nation - hung in the balance, for all to see.

In the end, we children cheered, for the righteous did prevail. More than that, they performed one of the great miracles in human history: They transformed American apartheid into a fledgling democracy, tender and delicate and new.

All progressives today proudly celebrate that achievement - and rightly so. But one key fact seems to escape the notice of today's activist crowd. The champions of the civil rights struggle didn't come marching out of shopping centers in South. Or libraries. Or high school gymnasiums.

To face the attack dogs, to face the fire-hoses, to face the billy-clubs, these heroes and she-roes came marching boldly out of church-houses. And they were singing church songs. They set an example of courage and sacrifice that will endure for the ages. And as they did it, they prayed on wooden pews in the name of a Nazarene carpenter named Jesus.

The implications are clear for those who seek today to rescue and redeem U.S. society. The facts are simple and profound: The last time U.S progressives captured the national debate and transformed politics, people of faith were at the center of the movement, not stuck in its closet.

As a descendent of enslaved Africans who were told that God (and not capitalist greed) required their degradation, I know the crimes of the Christian church as well as anyone. But as a child of the civil rights movement, I also know the power of Christian faith, the power of moral appeal and the power of spiritual strength - to break asunder the bonds of servitude.

And in our do-or-die effort to set things right in America, it is time for U.S. progressives to return to the bottomless well of soul power that sustained the slaves and defeated Jim Crow.

That is why I applaud Rabbi Lerner's efforts. He is standing in a long tradition of faith-honoring Americans, who have helped lead the charge from barbarism toward democracy. In the 1800s, escaping Africans fled enslavement through the bedrooms and basements of Quakers, along the famous Underground Railroad. In the 1980s, religious congregations led the Sanctuary Movement. Their efforts opened up U.S. cities to Latinos who were fleeing U.S. President Ronald Reagan's violent and covert interventions in Latin America.

The Rabbi's new efforts also resonate today. Reeling from the steady string of recent defeats, even the most hard-core U.S. activists are seeking deeper meaning and spiritual sustenance in their lives. At the same time, previously apolitical "spiritual types" are getting involved as activists for the first time - to defend the Earth and her people from the predations of the Bush agenda.

Rev. Jim Wallis' most recent book, God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It, struck a chord this year and became an instant bestseller. Rev. Frances Hall Kieschnick (spouse of Working Assets wunderkind Michael Kieschnick) is taking steps to start a Beatitudes Society, to give more voice to progressive people of faith. Similar efforts are springing up on smaller scales all across the country.

Somewhere, in all of these stirrings, I see the seeds of a wisdom-based, Earth-honoring, pro-democracy movement - one that affirms and applauds religious and spiritual impulses, while opposing fundamentalism, chauvinism and theocracy. Over time, this kind of progressive movement has the potential to win - and win big - in the United States. To be honest: it is probably the only type of progressive movement that stands a chance in a country as religious as ours.

Such a movement is within reach. But progressives must abandon the old pattern of reducing the Great Faiths to their worst elements, constituents and crimes - and then dismissing all other facts and features. It is not just stupid political strategy. At a moral level, it is a form of blindness and bigotry that is beneath all of us.

My prayer is that a critical mass of progressives can agree on two basic premises.

Number one: Any progressive approach to "faith in politics" that ignores the awful crimes of religiously-inspired people is dishonest, inauthentic and can never achieve emancipatory ends.

Number two: At the same time, any approach that fails to honor and embrace the positive contributions of religiously inspired people is also wrong-headed, and it foolishly and needlessly shuts progressives off from our own history, achievements and present sources of vital support.

I believe that Rabbi Lerner has come up with a thoughtful, sensitive and wise approach, worthy of broad-based affirmation. He aims to: "build an alliance between secular, religious and 'spiritual but not religious' progressives - in part by challenging the anti-religious biases in parts of the liberal culture (while acknowledging the legitimacy of anger against those parts of the religious world that have embodied authoritarian, racist, sexist, homophobic or xenophobic practices and attitudes").

That is a formulation that the vast majority of progressives should be able to adopt, affirm and cheer about. And I proudly say to it, Amen, brother Lerner ... Amen!

Attorney Van Jones is the national executive director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights in Oakland, California.
go choke!
I became a student again this week. I started an evening Adobe Illustrator class at Scottsdale Community College, where their (our?) nickname is - get this! - the Artichokes. Mascot: Artie. I'm thinking the purchase of a "Support your local Artichoke" t-shirt is deffinitely in my future. Ran into my friend Betsy in line at the bookstore (motto: We like to make you wait. And wait. And wait. And be late for your first day of class.). It still freaks me out whenever someone calls my name here since I know a total of about 8 people outside work and family.


The yellow arrow is pointing at my aunt and uncle's car on I-25 outside of Denver. Although their car is totaled, they are safe and everyone involved in the crash survived. Thank God.


Sometimes I feel like blogging is a chore. One more thing to do after unpacking from a trip, cleaning the bathroom and paying my bills. Sometimes I have so many blog post ideas buzzing around in my head that I can't blog fast enough. Sometimes both feelings occur at the same time. Most of the time I just wonder how much this blog thing actually matters. But it's somewhat cathartic and quite self-indulgent, so I will continue to post as an outlet for my thoughts and observations. Thank you for being such a great audience.

fostering family
The final wedding of the summer was the toughest. There are many reasons I could give for this, and while catharsis may be had by doing so, I know it would not be prudent to expound upon what is family history. It was a definite joy to be around family, as always, and I am comforted by the fact that even in hard times, our family really comes together in love. It was great to see how welcoming Gary's family was of Delaney's entry into their Foster family tree as well.

it's a small world, after all*
Story #1: I'm on the plane to Orlando, glad to have an entire travel day open to reading my new issue of Esquire, when I turn to the story about the Best Dressed Real Men in America. I have a fleeting feeling that I recognize the man on the left. Then I turn the page to his bio, and I know I recognize him. He was an usher at Damon's wedding (he's an administrator at the high school my cousins attended). So, all you Esquire readers out there (I know that means most of you), vote online for Andrew Gutierrez as the Best Dressed Real Man in America. (Especially now that polls have closed for the Hottest U.S. Senator, the Hottest Canadian MP and my personalized license plate, you need to vote for something, right?)

Story #2: I'm out to dinner in Orlando with family when I receive a phone call from FIGmate Jason, who tells me about meeting this random girl, Katie, at a bar in DC and then again in NY, only to find out that she was from Manhattan, Kan., and was none other than one of my dance class car pool buddies in elementary school. Get out! This is a crazy small world, man!

*My mom and I were in line for the Peter Pan ride in Disney's Magic Kingdom when a 12-year-old boy came out of the It's a Small World exit and started banging his head against the trash can by our line, saying over and over, "Make it stop! Make it stop!" I felt for the kid. I remember thinking the same thing when I first experienced the ride, although that may have had more to do with my mom singing along throughout the whole thing...including the wait in line.

vote outcome
CTHWRLD 14 votes (53.85%)
300DPI 12 votes (46.15%)

I am happy with the outcome. While I appreciate 300DPI for its nod to the printing industry (for those of you who missed the explanation in the comments a few weeks ago, an image has to be at 300 DPI [dots per inch] to be a high enough quality to be printed), I have an aversion to being defined by my occupation. I'd rather be known (and have my car be known) for my desire to travel across this lovely Earth of ours, whether or not Yolanda the Honda can accompany me in each of those excursions. The requisite picture will be posted once I wade through the Red Sea of Tape that the state of Arizona requires before getting my new plates.

speaking of pictures
Here are new online albums from the week in Orlando:
Delaney's wedding
Orlando theme parks
And more pictures of one of the most-photographed babies in the world:


see this movie
One average guy, Brian. $1,100. And 30 days for him to get a date with the crush of his lifetime. No problem, except that she's Drew Barrymore. For anyone who's ever had a crush on a star, or even anyone totally out of your league, My Date with Drew is your story. Just came back from the film's opening night in Phoenix, where I got to meet one of the producers/co-conspirators/best buds from the movie. The movie was conceived by three buddies on a Friday night as they're just shootin' the shit. Monday morning they head to Circuit City to buy the store's most expensive camera. Brian's flat-broke, but Circuit City has a 30-day return policy. So these guys figure they have 30 days to make their movie, then they'll return the camera. That's 30 days for Brian to figure out a way to meet Drew and convince her to go on a date with him. Fantastic movie. Go see it.
 Which one of the following should Erica put on her personalized license plate? 
Current results

funny sentences in my inbox™Fiscus
Yowsa!! Those people are all kinds of naked.

Good call, my friend. It's sort of like you're Oprah.*
*Meant in literary context only. Unless you want to give me a car.

Dear sweet crap! There's a way to put polls on one's blog? I... I'll never have to make a decision on my own again! My every action can be dictated by a committee of blog readers!

Too bad you don't have enough letters to do ERICABRAKES.

They're way lucky to have you, because someday when I'm running my own magazine or Other Important Thing, I'm going to steal you away and pay you lots of money and feed you figs and buy you even better Ipods. And then they might just have to hire someone who uses comic sans. HA!

I tried "Accio checkbook!" when I couldn't find it yesterday, but to no avail.

Well, as it stands, I am "in between houses" yeah, I was walking down 10th street in Washington, DC, and a homeless lady laughed at me. They can smell the homelessness on you, and they mock it. If I could have a house at all, any where at all, it would be in the Capitol Mall in DC. and on the front I would have the sign "hey congress, if you lived here, you'd be home by now."

By the way... you left and the temperature skyrocketed. I think you must have let the hot weather slip out of your bag. It's in the 90s today. Yikes.

...as I recall it was while watching some Friday-night-of-Homecoming Greektown skits. (If only actual world conflicts were as easily solved as Truman's invariable foibles of the Homecoming skit variety. "Ooooh, Osama, we've got you now!" Truman distracts enemy, cartoon or Disney character drops 2,000 ton weight on enemy, "and that's how Truman saved Homecoming from the terrorists forever," cue Ev'ry True Son.)

"She said that that 'that' that that man used was wrong."

Wanna see what I found crawling on my leg during a shower this weekend? [insert picture of 2-inch-long scorpion] The hotel manager's response was: "We're in the Keys. It's the tropics, you know?" They expect me to uncurl from the fetal position later on this week.

Wide camera shots + hot people + classically trained acting + swords + more hot people + no nipples on Batman suit = AWESOME.

HP has already helped further my literacy; when I saw "protean" in The Economist, I knew what it meant because of Hermione's protean charm on the galleons for D.A. meetings.

Sounds like more fake etymology on the loose.

They're painting my office and I think I'm high.

Why don't I have normal dreams about going to school naked? I have NEVER had that dream. Probably because I love clothes and fashion too much to ever forget to clad myself before going into public.

Did I just make it onto Funny Sentences *four* times? Now I'm going to feel cool all day.

Indeed, it is a sad day. Kelly Kapowski? Married. My heart? Broken. Into 8 million pieces.

Hey, she writes for the Post. She can't be expected to deal in facts.

You better step out of the shower, 'cause I gotta flush ... due to the fact that I just puked in the proverbial toilet

Best regards,
Brad Pitt

Stay cool in the desert! Is it anything like Hey Dude? Just kidding. I do miss that show though. *sigh* Melody and Brad were so cool.

In 11 hours, I will be watching Anakin become Darth Vader. For you, that means the guy who played Stephen Glass will become the guy who voiced Mufasa in "The Lion King." For a whiny Canadian to become a thundering black man, George Lucas better have some awesome special effects.

It's all very eighth grade, but I'm (gulp) jealous. And you know how jealousy makes you feel 25 pounds heavier.

So I've found that forcing myself to read magazines only when on the treadmill makes a good cardio plan. (Curiously, I'm in better shape around when TM and Esquire arrive ... ) Now if I can just figure out how to attach the mag to the bench-press bar, and I can round out the ol' fitness regimen. =)

Happy G8 Summit! (And may America remember our Dear Friend Mr. Bush when our children's coastlands are flooded and cancer becomes like a common cold)

5. WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE KITCHEN APPLIANCE? I'm not telling you, then the word will get around, and then the toaster won't want to work, because I said that I was partial to the blender, and, blah, blah, blah. It's too much to bear.

Oh, and P.S. It's coincidental that half these sentences are fodder for your funny sentences segment. I wasn't trying. These are all just accidental masterpieces.

I used to say I could handle my friends getting married, that it wouldn't feel weird until they started having kids. Well, one couple from the team -- she's our age, he's a year younger -- are expecting. Yikes! (Dear friends: No procreating please. Thanks.)

Wow, that was too deep!?!?! I'm going all 'Walden' on your asses, because I've been sitting on the porch, watching sunsets and hanging out on the dock the past two days!

In His Blessings Love Jesus God Crusade Saved Always,
[name withheld]

In other news, I'm totally jealous of your outdoors opportunities. Although we do have a mountain now ... inside the new Cabela's.

I've done NOTHING today. Every time important people walk by, I'm on the Internet. This is ridiculous.

P.S. I did not copy-paste this e-mail. This one's just to you. : )

So about one minute till deadline, I get a ballet review. Luckily the reviewer had suggested a headline, for I quickly was reminded that I know very little about ballet. I totally should have you on call as a lifeline for such situations.

You all are getting slammed by Dan. He's a like Funny Sentences In My Inbox Machine! Pick up the pace, folks!


the polls have been closed
The votes have been tabulated and the results are as follows:

FIRBOLT 6 votes (17.65%)
GRNMCHN 3 votes (8.82%)
2CZWRLD 12 votes (35.29%)
COMICNO 2 votes (5.88%)
MIZURAH 3 votes (8.82%)
300DPI 8 votes (23.53%)

Total: 34 votes

As recommended by MP Dan, a new runoff poll has been created. Vote below. However, do not let the presence of a poll mislead you, as Fiscus remarked. ALCoS is a monarchy ruled by yours truly. I can still decide to overrule the outcome of the vote, or scrap the names altogether. In that vein, if you have a spark of inspiration (MOR R LES), do share.

Which one of the following should Erica put on her personalized license plate?
Current results


do you want a chance to win $50 every week between 9/12 and Dec. 26?
Do you want to support future MU Tigers?*
Do you want a(nother) reason to tune in to Monday Night Football this fall?

Yes? Well, have I got a deal for you! For just $20, you can participate in the MUAA Valley of the Sun Monday Night Football Scholarship (This is Totally Not Gambling) Fundraiser. Email me and I'll explain the setup in more detail. The basics that you need to know: pay 20 bucks and you have a chance at $50 every week of the regular NFL season. If you win once, you can still win again. And the best part of it (for all you who have never tuned in for a Monday Night Football game in your life) is that you don't have to keep track of the games at all. You win, we mail you a check for $50. Do it!

*Full disclosure: Future MU Tigers from Arizona.

the taste of yum
Bailey's Irish Cream: YUM
Häagen•Dazs Bailey's Irish Cream Ice Cream: YUM without the alcohol

Crême Brulée: YUM (one of my "kicks" I left off the list last week)
Häagen•Dazs Créme Brulèe Ice Cream: not so yum

providing there are no hanging chads
Polls will close at noon (Arizona-time) on Wednesday, Aug. 10. As per Dan's request, if no license plate has a 50 percent majority, a runoff election between the top two vote-getters will ensue.

you rock, rock
Back to watching I [Heart] Huckabees and eating crême brulée.


meep meep!
I've already become That Girl Who Can't Control Her Car Alarm. I've never had keyless entry or an alarm system before. Who knew that this newfangled technology no longer lets you actually unlock the door by inserting the key into the keyhole?!?! What's the purpose of a keyhole if you can't use it?!

what're you doing?

 Which one of the following should Erica put on her personalized license plate? 
Current results


first, vote, then read the new post

 Which one of the following should Erica put on her personalized license plate? 
Current results

don't drink the water
If you're planning on getting married next year, you'd better speak up fast, because my weekends are already starting to fill up. In the space of one week - ONE WEEK! - three more people have called to let me know of their engagements.

Last Thursday: Flatmate Sarah, engaged to page designer Micah (you know him, real quiet, blond, one of those "he's such a nice guy" guys, perfect for a "she's such a nice girl" girl)
Monday: Coworker Kristin, engaged to coworker Matt
Yesterday: Sister's best friend, former fellow dance team member and former fourth grade book buddy, Alison (yes, my sister Allison's best friend is Alison, isn't it cute?) engaged to high school sweetheart...crap, I forget his name.

All this, on top of the extremely vivid wedding dreams I've been having has me worried that something toxic might be in the air.

Wedding dream three weeks ago: Former roommate Sarah (not to be confused with flatmate Sarah, or best friend Sarah) marries a football lineman in a huge lecture hall auditorium-like church. She has to navigate the insanely high and narrow steps down to the front, where instead of a dry erase board, there is a stained glass window. Ceremony is so long that there's an intermission. Sarah has a costume change, from a pale yellow dress to a navy blue one. Youngish minister is wearing a cowboy-style vest made out of Cosby sweater material under his stole. During the intermission, he tries to ask me out. Realtime, I talked with Sarah a week and a half ago and she's thisclose to being engaged to boyfriend Esteban in Bolivia.
Wedding dream a week ago: Aforementioned Alison and her sister Jennifer (also a former fellow dance team member) decide to get married on the same day. Realtime, it turns out that Jennifer got married a week before my dream, and Alison got engaged a week after my dream.
Wedding dream two nights ago: Former roommate Emily marries 2003 MU Homecoming King Neil, somewhat begrudgingly. They ask me to celebrate by accompanying them to their celebratory wedding dinner at Outback Steakhouse. I'm a bit worried to call Emily and find out what realtime connection there is to this dream.


ALCOS' first-ever interactive poll!
Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments below.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The following poll has been updated, due to discovering the fact that some of the aforementioned plate ideas are already in use. The tabulations have been reset. Please vote again. Sorry for any confusion.

Which one of the following should Erica put on her personalized license plate?
Current results


meet yolanda the honda

She's a 2003 Civic Hybrid, and she's mine. My obsession with my MPGs begins now.

It's so nice that when I log on to my bank's website, it tells me I have an outstanding balance. How kind.