Trouble is my Business

I normally don’t like mysteries. They don’t grab me.

For a period of time, I was thinking this was a sign of my superiority, but then I realized it’s more a sign that i’m bad at finding the clues. You know? I just never catch on to whodunit.

I read books for the pleasure of the journey, and I don’t want to know where it is going to end up. That is why I don’t like formulaic books at all.

UNLESS! they are done with style. Which brings me to my point:

Raymond Chandler. Wow and wow again.

I was reading White Oleander a while back, and it starts out by talking about the Santa Ana winds. I was telling Chris about it, and he immediately said, “that’s from Raymond Chandler.”

He’d mentioned Raymond Chandler to me, telling me I should read it. So now, he dug up a paperback of short stories and I read it, once I got through White Oleander.

I loved it for so many reasons. I don’t like formulaic stories, but some formulas are so true to life. Like, some people, especially people who are bent on doing the wrong thing, are so predictable.

Like the dispirited blonde lady cop who falls in love with a con and keeps on wanting to reform him. She may be more complicated than that, but while she’s on the reform path, that’s pretty much all she is.

During moments, people can be just the one thing, not full complex people. Chandler captures that so well. People makes types of themselves, narrow themselves down. I get the idea that the stories emerge from the character’s choices, not the manipulations of the author.

And he boiled it down to such lovely sentences.

Plus, now that I live in LA and work across the block from where he lived, I find glimpses of my city in his books. He practicaly gives driving directions to crime scenes. It’s a vieled realism that’s really exciting.

What’s your name?

You know that club of girls on the cartoon “Recess”? all of them are named “Ashley”?

That is so true! That happens all the time, when somehow a name gets mysteriously popular with EVERYONE for a year or so.

The government has a site about it. Alas, it only goes up to 1990, so those of us over the age of 13 will have to look elsewhere for our birth year.

My (nick) name Murphy does not hit the charts. My REAL name, Elizabeth, is WILDLY and enduringly popular.

No wonder I don’t use it.

But something else struck me. The most popular girls names have less incidences (girls named that name) than the most popular boys names. So, there are vastly more, like more than 10 THOUSAND more boys named the most popular boys name of the year than there are girls named the most popular girls name of the year.

The girls names are also substantially weirder. Did any of us see “Madison” becoming the rage? Suddently, it was everywhere.

But for males, Christopher, Michael and Joshua are inescapable. John has dropped off the top ten in the last decade, thank god. But not the top 20.

Anyway, I find it intriguing that males have far more name conformity than females, and their names are far more conservative, less risky. They don’t seem to get tricky or different names.

I wonder what implications this has. I wonder what it says about parents’ expectations for the roles that their male children and their female children will fill as they grow older.

I thumbed through the top 50 boys names, being struck by how vastly status quo all the names were. That is until I saw 2002 bringing in a new contender:
Angel

at number 46 in popularity.

You think that Buffy had something to do with it?

Asbestos can kill you!

I have a new set of things to worry about as a home owner. One of them is quite pleasant:
How shall I redecorate?

My condo is not new, so I have to be careful of old-school carcinogenic building materials. Which are probably lodged in the popcorn covering that is blighting my ceiling.

I want to take it off! One of the guys at work (who also told me how to replace a toilet) told me it’s really easy: just spray it with water and scrape it off.

“But what about asbestos?” I asked.

“Psh! You don’t need to worry about that.”

But I do worry. I had to research it.

Know what I found out?

He was right!

The EPA and osha basically say that if you keep it sufficiently wet, asbestos-containing materials cannot become airborne, so they can’t be breathed in and give you asbestositis, which is basically asbestos induced lung cancer.

They don’t even say you have to wear a mask; just make sure the material is sufficiently wet.

I’m gonna have to pick the color to paint the ceiling now!

Summer’s Over

So this is it. The first day back at work after Labor day. Most kids are in school, and it makes the rest of us remember when we WERE in school and we feel like buckling down and getting some work done.

But where did the summer go?

What did YOU do with your summer vacation?

I went to 2 free shakespeare plays, that was wonderful. I took a trip to Germany, also wonderful.
AND I went to the state fair.
The biggest thing I did this summer was buy a condo.

I guess that’s about it.
There were a lot of things that I wished I could have done.
I wish I had gone to the beach.
I wish I had hiked more.
I wish I had gone to a raucous rock concert. I did go to the symphony, but that is a different thing altogether.
I wish I had danced more. I dont’ think I danced at ALL. wow. that’s not right.

But this is not the only summer I have. I can do all those things in the fall as well. My time is pinched by earning a living, so I have to enjoy the other good things in life in between.

Maybe I”ll get down to the work of having fun this fall.