April 19th, 2010 | Uncategorized

Thank you all for your very helpful suggestions in re my lost iPhone. I couldn’t take it any longer, though. Had to go out to the phone store and replace it. But strangely, it all worked out rather well. This phone, the 3GS, is an upgrade from my old one. It’s faster, it shoots video. And it’s not all scuffed up. And it cost $100 less than the old one did. Somehow I had become “eligible for an upgrade.” That sounded like bizarre corporate double talk. Like, why wouldn’t you be “eligible” to buy a new phone whenever you wanted? But whatever. If I’d known all that, I’d have stolen my own phone. Anyhow. You’ll all be pleased to know that I immediately signed up for MobileMe.

I also posted on Craig’s List about my lost phone. If it turns up I’ll donate it somewhere. It was very moving to see the half dozen or so notices from the other people who lost their iPhones in Manhattan this weekend. I felt such a profound sense of community. There were also two found cats, which struck a hopeful note. And one found phone which was not mine. And one lost phone with a $2000 reward because of the incriminating photos on it of an older man, a younger man, and some kitchen utensils. The older man didn’t want his wife to find it. I couldn’t tell if it was for real or not.

Okay. Going to bed now with my new device. Check out my new holster.

Photo on 2010-04-19 at 23.26 #2

107 Responses to “caved”

  1. @Anne Laughlin on the last post…yes, it is galling. Delightful as the 3GS is, it will be like last week’s leftovers when the 4G comes out. And I won’t be “eligible” for the new model yet.

  2. I’m really sorry, everyone, for going on like this. It’s very disconcerting how disconcerting it was to lose that thing.

  3. Lurk-A-Lot says:

    @ Alison Bechdel

    “If I’d known all that, I’d have stolen my own phone. ”

    Ha hahaha!

  4. Ready2Agitate says:

    dang, this episode would be awesome captured by our fearless and funny Dykes To Watch Out For! (can’t you just smell Mo’s angst? Lois’s ennuie? Stuart’s tech-confusion?) Hee.

  5. Ready2Agitate says:

    duct tape. good.

  6. Jessica Bessica says:

    Now that Ready2Agitate brings it up, is the DTWOF hiatus ever going to end? Or is it still indefinite?

  7. clara lemlich says:

    well, apparently there is something even more disconcerting:

  8. brooke says:

    i understand alison – the phone.. and well.. the iphone thing. for me it’s my only phone (no land line), along with checking my email as needed, texting & mmsing with friends, pictures of favorite kids, notes, games and MUSIC and VIDEO (love being able to watch alix olson and suheir hammad while riding the bus to campus on my *phone*). it’s always with me. i consider it my life line, connection to others but also to my own sanity (here, as a phd student in conservative northern utah). so yeah, really, i understand. and the GS not a bad phone.. i won’t be eligible for an upgrade to the 4G for another 18 months :*(… (yes, im a tech geek, i’m getting my phd in the internet)

  9. Ian says:

    I knew you could buy pre-written high school essays off the internet, but I didn’t know you could get PhDs! (j/k)

    Glad that sanity (or not) is temporarily restored in the Bechdel household. It’s just as well you can’t sketch comics on the damn thing or you might have lost a whole chapter or something!

  10. Eva says:

    Nice holster. Does it come in leatherette?

  11. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Ian (#9)

    Don’t think AB can’t do comics on the thing. A friend of mine has Strip Designer on her iPhone and is always sending me photos turned into comics, complete with dialogue balloons and captions.

    It was cute at first, but now it’s just annoying. If she has something to say, it would be easier to read an e-mail. If it’s worthy of a photo, I’d prefer seeing the actual photo.

    Strip Designer also indulges her Twitter compulsive-reporting-on-her-life side, so I get “comics” about every trivial daily interaction, like the guy who came to read the water meter, the guy who is rewiring the upstairs, etc.

    Strip Designer does have me thinking about the nature of art and comics. What, if anything, differentiates the output of Strip Designer from real comics? It’s not drawing, or we’d have to reject any digitized images as not real comics. Xkcd is drawn in stick figures (and it’s really clever), so it’s not how complicated the drawing is or clever the dialogue. Or am I making an artificial boundary/distinction?

    Tools such as Strip Designer allow ordinary folks to produce something that at first glance, appears to be art. Or maybe it IS art. My head hurts.

    Perhaps art and comics are akin to Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s remark about obscenity; he can’t define it, but he knows it when he sees it.

  12. Aunt Soozie says:

    duct tape is always nice.
    that silver goes with everything… at least until you can get that implant you mentioned. when are you eligible for that upgrade?

  13. Aunt Soozie says:

    and even tho everyone else was too mature (so far) to mention it… I did notice that you said you were going to bed with your new device. tee-hee.

  14. Andrew B says:

    h_o_h, 11, don’t forget the possibility that your friend’s comics are real comics — but really bad ones. Arguments that X isn’t really [science, art, whatever] can get murky fast. You’re often better off to say sure, it’s really art; it just stinks.

    Alison, 2, I wish you’d stop apologizing for posting about something you care about. A lot of your recent posts have seemed pretty pro forma. If your lost iPhone bothered you that much, ok, there’s a fact. Don’t judge yourself. Make something of it. Seemliness is boring. And often dishonest.

    Some philosophers have proposed that devices like iPhones really are parts of our minds. I’m no longer up to date on this stuff, but these are serious individuals who get taken seriously by other serious individuals. (If you’re willing to count any academic as serious.)

    Finally, Mrs. Lincoln… How was the show?

  15. Kat says:

    Hairball, how do you feel about the “Cell Phone Novel” concept (each chapter started out as a text message, and one downloads and reads them on one’s phone) that has cropped up in Japan?

  16. I was going to talk about how duct tape originally began as duck tape, but it’s too early and I have a headache.

    Yes, how was the show? And I’m assuming you also did not miss the extraordinary pairing of Sarah Schulman and Alix Dobkin also in NY. Wish there was video of that somewhere.

    Also too early to research: Has holster always had a weapon connection or did it originate as a less violence-laden term? I’m hopin’.

  17. Dr. Empirical says:

    HoH, I’m with Andrew. Bad art is still art. Bad comics are still comics.

    Whether one accepts Eisner and McCloud’s definitions of comics as sequential art (under which, Monet’s time series paintings count as comics!) or the more technical definition of comics as words and pictures combined to make something new, you friend’s Strip Designer ouevre constitutes comics (just bad ones).

    I don’t like either definition, really. Eisner’s excludes single page gag cartoons like Dennis the Menace, while the other excludes “silent” strips like Henry, or the Bayeaux Tapestry. I don’t have a definition that encompases all such things, which brings us back to Potter Stewart.

  18. Dr. Empirical says:

    “OEUVRE” That’s what I get for using a two dollar word for a thirty cent concept.

  19. Bechadelic1 says:

    Yay! for you Alison. So pleased to hear you got a new phone.

    LOL at you finding a profound sense of community with the others who lost their iPhones…almost typed “other iPhone losers” and thankfully realized in time that would have meant something completely different.

  20. Kate L says:

    AB still looks so sad! 🙁 (Ready2Agitate #4) I think that Mo would have experienced rage over losing her iphone! I can see the caption now…. “Grrrrrr!”

  21. My version of Mo would have suspected a government plot, i.e., the FBI stole her phone to gain access to all the activists’ personal info Mo had stored there against her better judgment but at Sydney’s scornful urging. She would now be experiencing severe angst about contacting all her friends to confess their phone numbers, etc were in the hands of Big Brother, not just the humiliation of it but also because her old Dayrunner (on trusty paper) is now out of date and she doesn’t know HOW to get in touch with some folks. Because they are NOT listed, you see.

  22. hairball_of_hope says:

    Sad news… Dorothy Height has died, age 98. Civil rights leader and feminist, she will be missed.

  23. judybusy says:

    Really? Mo would even have an iPhone? Sydney yes, definitely! Too lazy to look it up–did Mo ever even have a cell phone at all?

    I don’t own a cell phone–I use the BB provided by my employer–but I do understand the attachment to certain things in our lives. In the previous thread, someone has a wonderful quote by Marx about our relationship to stuff, and how much importance it can assume. Still, I’d be lost without much of my cooking gear. And don’t even want to contemplate what my life would be like without my little garden. Empty! But, my tools allow me to express my creativity in and out of the kitchen, so is that different than being loopy about, say, an object for pure beauty? Where would an iPhone fit into this?

  24. Kate L says:

    (Aunt Soozie #13) “and even tho everyone else was too mature (so far) to mention it… I did notice that you said you were going to bed with your new device. tee-hee.”

    The iPhone has an app for that ?

  25. Calico says:

    #24 – Reminds me of an AbFab sketch, with Edwina and Pats in the limo, and Eds is asking where her vibrating phone is. Hilarity ensues.

  26. Lurk-A-Lot says:


    My thought exactly: Would Mo even have an iPhone? The scenario would more likely be built around Sydney losing her iphone, with Mo in the background, commenting (infuriatingly) on Sydney’s dependency on today’s technology; perhaps using the situation to hold forth on foreboding issues such as peak oil.

    ‘Course, I can’t remember if Mo owned a cell phone either. But even if she did, it probably wouldn’t have been an iPhone.

  27. Riotllama says:

    Kate L- there totally was an app that would let you turn your iphone into a vibrator, but I think apple kicked it out of the app store. can’t remember. If anyone wishes their phone could be so equipped, I’m sure a quick google search would yield the facts.

  28. Acilius says:

    @AB #1 & 2: I’m glad you value these discussion threads, what you’ve called “the community the readers have created for themselves,” but come on, it’s your blog! Why would you apologize for writing about yourself? If a regular commenter like me can bring up anything he pleases and never feel the need to apologize, surely you as our host should have the same freedom.

  29. K.B. says:

    The lack of a little hole in the phone where you can attach a lanyard is the biggest problem with the iphone. The iphone is designed to be lost.

  30. Kate L says:

    (Riotlama #27) There was also an app for detecting the amount of radio-frequency radiation in your local environment, but Apple shut that down for some reason, as well. We are in the midst of a mass experiment on the effect of frequent radio-frequency radiation exposure on human brain tissue. That wouldn’t make a good play or movie title*, and probably there were will be no harmful effect, but I’ve never owned a cell-phone, and have only used one once. That way, when everyone else turns into a mob of howling mutants, I’ll still be fine! Hey, that’s what Mo would probably say if she were here right now!

    * – What 1960’s broadway play and early 1970’s major motion picture – title am I making a reference to?

  31. Andrew B says:

    There is a strip from around the time that Mo found out about Sydney and Madeleine in which Mo is talking on a cell while driving, I think using a wired earpiece. Maybe she’s coming from a job interview? The awful angel bear librarian? Too lazy to look it up, too nerdy to let it pass.

    Kate L, the effect of man in the moon something (marigolds?) on something something something. Can’t quite get it.

  32. Okay I finally looked up the origins of holster: Probably Dutch, alteration of holfter, hulfter, from Middle High German hulffter, case, sheath, quiver, covering, from hulft, from Old High German. A second source says via Dutch holster from Germanic; compare Old Norse hulstr sheath, Old English heolstor darkness, Gothic hulistr cover. The only synonym that’s close is sheath, which has a slightly different meaning. All definitions begin with military usage before secondary connections to tools.

    So it’s one of those words that was connected to weapons almost from the outset, but is now being successfully adapted for another use (tools and gadgets).

    Computer geeks are really having an impact on English, either by repurposing or inventing terminology — like railroad terminology, baseball, and gambling did.

    Okay, from geekiness to lyrical — I don’t remember which of our Brits it was in a recent thread talking about what produce was still available in their local stores since the Iceland volcano eruption began affecting commerce, but I neglected to say at the time, that was a beautifully written, evocative passage which has stuck with me. Thank you,

  33. Oh! Just read Andrew’s post above — is that it? I LOVED that movie, it’s “Yhe Effect of Gamma Rays on Man in the Moon Marigolds”? But I would never have gotten it on my own, way to go, Andrew!

  34. --MC says:

    Dang, ONE post late. “The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man In The Moon Marigolds”. I loved that cheesy damn play when I was in high school. I still quote it on occasion. “Earthquakes in Singapore!”

  35. Dr. Empirical says:

    Yo Hairball: So you can plan ahead, my brother’s band will once again be at the Bitter End on May 20th. I will probably be there.

    If you’re willing to tell me your real name, I’ll see if I can put you on the guest list. Contact me at dr.empirical(at)gmail(dot)com.

  36. Kate L says:

    (#31 Andrew B; #33 Maggie; #34 MC) Yep, that’s the play/movie! Sadly, the real effect of gamma-rays on marigolds would probably be dead flowers. (Note: gamma-rays are much higher-energy radiant energy than cell phone – band radio waves!

  37. Ready2Agitate says:

    Sydney: I’ve been everywhere, done everything, tried everyone, and been calling the number for 24 hours. I still can’t find my iphone! It’s prolly #$%&* gone forever.

    Mo: Aw Sid, stop letting the teletechnological industrial complex ruin our day. Look! Flowers! Besides, we could take advantage of being unplugged for a little while… (wink wink)

    OK. That was lousy. It’s late. But I wanted to invite our friends into the discourse…

  38. Calico says:

    I was just thinking, Alison – isn’t your losing your IPhone kind of a Winnicott Moment?


  39. Hoot says:

    Probably already heard this, but you might consider a MobileMe account that – along with on-line back-up of your computer & iphone – has a search feature that allows you to find your iphone via GPS and it emits a sound. I’ve used it several times . . . of course, mine was found in undramatic places like the kitchen counter, daughter’s closet and my bed. But, hey, I found it!

  40. Yes, Calico!
    or at least a Freudian one. I think I was letting go of an outmoded version of myself.

  41. Kate L says:

    The original iPhone is already outdated, Alison? Where does that leave me, with my VCR and my Windows XP?

    “But where are the flying cars? I was promised flying cars!” – A great line spoken by the great actor Avery Brooks in an early 21st century television commercial. Brooks also played the part of Captain Sisko on Star Trek Deep Space 9 and “Hawk” on Spencer for Hire.

  42. --MC says:

    #36 .. yes, I think that’s what Paul Zindel, author of “The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man In The Moon Marigolds” (whew! Writing that out every time is like that Python sketch with Gambolputty the composer) was getting at .. that the flowers would be killed by their exposure to harsh radiation. A metaphor for fragile youth.
    — But .. the effect of gamma rays on man in the moon marigolds?
    — She always wears her hair in the same style.

  43. Aunt Soozie says:

    never saw or read that play but will now.
    friend at AT&T says there’s also another gps based app that’s called family locate or something like that. you can actually track your kid via their iPhone as well. (so, you say you’re calling from the library? We’ll see about that)
    checked into getting the kid an iPhone for her birthday but I’m going for the iTouch because the monthly bill for basic iPhone service is killer.
    yeah, she can have an iPhone when she gets a job and can pay for it herself. There, I said it, it happened, I’m my mother… and stop playing with that thing, you’ll put your eye out like that. (I mean the iPhone, in bed)

  44. judybusy says:

    R2A: Completely plausible outcome of Sydney losing her phone–made me smile!

  45. Feminista says:

    In other news…April 22 is the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. For those of us who were sentient beings then,were you aware of it?

    I was home for spring break from Beloit College,and I read in the paper that nearby Michigan State University was having a celebration. Being a curious sort,I went over. I have no memory of anything particular other than it being a pleasant spring day. No cars were buried as happened elsewhere.

    That summer I participated in an experimental educational program,Intensive Learning; about 20 of us lived in the same dorm and took the same classes: Humanities/writing with an environmental focus,Chem 101,American Intellectual History,and 20th Century American Lit.

    That summer I wrote a paper on eutrification of Lake Erie;I was shocked to discover the extent of the pollution of one of our precious Great Lakes. Also I read The Earth Belongs to the People,required reading for Chem 101 and one of the few things I remember from that class.

    The following winter I wanted to get out of the dorms,so I’d signed up to live in a big early 20th Century dwelling called Ecology House with 12 other students. Our all-vegetarian meals were fairly awful,as only 3 of us were decent cooks. Food was bought in bulk from a co-op in Madison,WI,60 miles north of Beloit.Although we had no creamed burdock root,there were many loaves of barely-edible whole wheat bread. That experience put me off natural foods,as they were called then,for several years.

    Forty years later I’m living in Portland,OR, one of the most sustainable,bike-intensive,and vegetarian-and vegan-friendly cities in the country. An environmental K-12 school is 3 blocks away,organic gardens are abundant,and our neighborhood assoc. promotes solar energy,bartering and building cob structures.

    At the same time,we are overwhelmed with the many changes global warming is effecting our planet and the ways the “developed” world is gobbling our resources.

    As V.I. Lenin,who was born today,queried: “What is to be done?”

  46. hairball_of_hope says:

    Judging from this news story below, the kitchen utensils-turned-sextoys video is probably real. No word if the video in this story was on an iPhone.

    I do wonder where those mice have been and why they were euthanized, as opposed to being put in protective custody along with the horses and dogs.

    Coincidentally, in an 8-1 vote, the US Supreme Court overturned a law which criminalized depictions of animal cruelty, claiming 1st Amendment free speech issues. Guess that means the owners of the animal farm brothel won’t be facing animal cruelty charges for the video.

  47. Feminista says:

    @45: Errata. V.I. was born on 22 April,1870. And he and his comrades pulled off a revolution without email,cell phones,internet,or iPad Thai.

  48. Ian says:

    @Feminista(47): They did, however, have telegrams/telegraphs (the text messages and tweets of their day) and carrier pigeons, both of which are faster than snail mail. And they did have the telephone. At least I think they had the telephone in Russia in those days.

  49. Therry and St. Jerome says:

    Feminista! I went to Belwaa too! Of course, for the first Earth Day, I was in grad school. All I could think of was picking up trash on the green swards of the campus. Does anybody remember the lyrics to the Beloit fight song? Neither do I.

  50. Feminista says:

    @37 Ready: Let’s see…Janis has gotten a part-time job selling electronica at *Radio Shock* and gets a 10% employee discount which she refuses to share with anyone.She’s working on her G.E.D. & studying Spanish at the local community college while managing to follow the latest adventures of Lady GaGa…Jasmine agrees to let Lois get the latest electronic gadget as long as she’ll stop making snide remarks about Jasmine’s paper planner.

    Since JR has learned to say “Daddy is a poopy-head” and other obscenities in Mandarin from her FB pals,Stu decides it can’t be any worse in the public schools; he enrolls her in the local K-8 environmental school where the kids are so busy selling produce from their organic gardens and raising money for Haiti that they lose interest in Tweeting,texting,etc. Stu becomes a parent school volunteer cook and works part-time as a fundraising consultant. Sparrow is happy that he’s bringing in $ and not bugging her so much.

  51. Feminista says:

    #49: No knowledge of the fight song,ma’am. But I do remember folk dancing outside Commons after dinner.

    After a disastrous field term in spring 71,I left Beloit,had some misadventures,got further politicized & attended a large women’s anti-war march against the Presidio in San Francisco, and continued my education and agitation in Ory-gone.

  52. meldyke says:

    Ok, here’s a question: iPhone vs. Droid

    Any opinions out there? I’m in the market….

    And in the spirit of full disclosure, I am not
    super-fond of the iPhone virtual keyboard.


  53. Kate L says:

    (Ian #48) Yes, Czarist Russia did have telephony back in 1917. At least in Saint Petersburg. Trust me, my source was a deposed Romanov archduke.

  54. Feminista says:

    @Ian 48: Russia too cold for carrier pigeon. I meet with comrades in cafes where we drink many glasses tea. Once I ice skate and pass important messasge to Leon. Down with tsar.–V.I.

  55. Ian says:

    Oh Feminista(54). If only you knew. Here in Blighty we’ve had a series of adverts featuring a Russian meerkat selling car insurance for an online insurance broker. The tag is ‘Compare the meerkat’ versus ‘compare the market’.

    Have a look at the meerkats. It’s all done in broken English with a Russian accent. Which is why your post made me giggle.

    [Freed from spam-limbo. –Mentor]

  56. Kate L says:

    (Ian #55) Hmmm… sounds like the Old Blightly verson of the GEICO Insurance Gekko. I’ll check out the meerkat link, but it turns out that the voice of the Gekko was recently fired by GEICO for saying dispariging things about the anti-Obama Tea Party crowd – all in an Australian accent, no doubt. (“Tea Party”: a very loose collection of birthers, truthers, etc. ginned up by Rupert Murdock’s Fox News Channel. Don’t ask what they started out calling themselves.). Here’s the Huffington Post news story on the GEICO Gekko’s demise:

  57. Calico says:

    #40 – Alison, it’s Springtime, and you are “molting” and getting rid of old “stuff”, eh?
    I hope I can do the same! : )

  58. --MC says:

    Kate L @ 56 — (do we have an adherent to this group named James, and can he comment on a post at #15 so I can reply to it with a response that starts “James @ 15”? Jokes for one .. )
    I saw that story — sadly, the voice actor is not the one who does the Gecko, but the guy who does the tag at the end of the ads ..
    I wish they’d replace that Gecko guy. That’s the worse accent I’ve heard since the Liverpudlian guy in “President’s Analyst”.

  59. Calico says:

    I think Phil Collins should do the Geico Gecko voice-he can’t really drum or play keyboards for the time being, so why not?

  60. Kate L says:

    I was going to make some sophisticated point in this post, but something happened over lunch that reminds me that I live in a place somewhat different than our fellow bloggers in London or New York inhabit. I was walking my dog, when I saw some kind of animal galloping down the sidewalk towards us. I thought to myself, “That is one big dog!”, and ducked into the alley. But it was to no avail! The creature turned and was running down the middle of the side street as Sandy and I left the alley. It was a goat. It was a goat. It was a frakin’ goat! Betcha don’t see something like that too often in London or New York! Yeee-hawwww!!!

  61. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Kate L (#60)

    Oh yeah? [animal oneupmanship mode engaged]

    I saw a coyote not long ago on the West Side Highway in Manhattan. A coyote. And not one of the Warner Bros Looney Tunes coyotes either, a real live one. There have been a few coyote sightings in Manhattan in the past few years, and the one I saw was eventually captured in Tribeca.

    (… waiting for Bugs Bunny to show up in the neighborhood …)

  62. Derek says:


    Hello, I’m new to you and your work. I’m an adult returning student (SUNY Brockport) currently enrolled in a Recent American Literature class that focuses on graphic novels. We are doing a group presentation on Monday, and you were the artist that we were assigned. I must say that I’ve really enjoyed looking over your work the past few weeks. But I digress for going off topic.

    I’m glad to see that you were able to get a new iPhone. I was an early adopter and have owned each successive model. I couldn’t begin to imagine the anguish I’d be in if I lost mine. it’s my little electronic major-domo!

    Also, I just picked up an iPad the other day. I’m completely blown away by this thing. If you get a chance to check one out, definitely do so.

  63. Sherry says:

    Like Derek, I am new to your work too. (It was recommended by one of my children in college)
    I have six children, 5 of them being on my Verizon account. I can’t tell you the many times they have come home and given me the bad news that they have either lost or have had stolen, their cell phones.
    The plan is this:
    After two years with each number, it can be renewed with a discount to the phone. Meaning, you get the phone cheap and you can upgrade your phone. (With this, you are under another two year contract) I do this or I use the $50 deductible insurance fee and replace their phone. This can be done twice a year. It’s not that complicated but it gives me a headache!
    Love my children but only wish I knew way back then what I know now!
    I’ve read this post and the previous one. I think you were wise to just go ahead and get a new phone. For me, I can do this in my sleep! When they grow up, I want one phone, one plan. (I agreed to keep this up until graduation from college) The first one comes in May. Yeah! One down and 5 more to go. As a single mother, the first one will be a personal accomplishment for me.

  64. Sherry says:

    Neglected to say that I have six girls. Me thinks that one or more of them may be leaning towards the lesbian side.
    After all, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
    Nuff said!

  65. Kate L says:

    (hairball #61) A coyote in Manhattan? I think I sense a future Law & Order plot here!

  66. Kate L says:

    I’ve been checking in with MSNBC online about the oil rig off the Louisiana coast of the U.S., which burned and sank on this Earth Day. I’m reminded of the runaway oil rig that I and 40 other souls were on one dark and stormy night off that same coast, some 27 years ago. That rig did not stop heading for the open Gulf of Mexico until it ran into a natural gas production platform some hours after it broke free of its moorings. We were all evacuated shortly after dawn the next day. The (Big Name International Oil Company – you’ve probably all bought gas (petrol) from them, no matter where in the world you live) sent me out some weeks later to monitor the logging of a replacement well for the one that was lost. It was eerie to see the first rig, listing badly and lit up in the night fog to prevent it from becoming a navigation hazard. No one died that night, but 11 persons are missing in the current disaster, and more are severely injured. I also recall that (Big Name International Oil Company) also told us that in the event of a rig fire (which I never had to face) that we might have to jump the 90 feet (~ 30 m or so) from the rig deck to the ocean, and then to wave our arms above our heads as we surfaced to move away any burning oil we might come up under.

  67. Ian says:

    Thanks for freeing my post about the meerkats, Mentor. About 2 seconds after posting it I suddenly realised why it might have vanished into limbo lol.

  68. judybusy says:

    Kate L–what a harrowing tale! I hope those people are safe….

  69. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Kate L (#66)

    I thought about you when I heard about the rig blowout and fire. I assumed you had spent time on oil rigs when you weren’t chowing down on crawfish and andouille in New Orleans.

    I imagine the social dynamics of working and living on an oil rig are very strange. Roustabouts vs. management-types. Not an easy place for females, LGBT, and social activist-types. How did you cope?

    Just checking in to orient myself after traveling to the west coast yesterday.

    Lenin impersonators,meerkats, disasters on the high seas, roustabouts, Droids, earth day reminiscences.

    I remember the first one in 1970. I was in fourth grade and my class went to some presentation at a planetarium.

  71. Oh! And not to mention the little updates on the DTWOF characters. Thank you for that! I’m so glad Stuart has a meaningful job.

  72. NLC says:

    Enjoy your (well-deserved) Titanhood.

    Tell Harvey we all said hi.

  73. Sherry, just to say, THANK YOU for raising six children as a single mom. Cannot quite imagine what a feat that is. And additional thanks for giving the world six daughters. May your eggs go on forever.

  74. Andi says:

    Ah, iPad. I’m not generally an early adopter, but I snagged one the first week they were out. And I love, love it. As I said last thread, commodity fetishism at its best. Marx is laughing in his grave…

    Besides being a beautiful, elegant object, this thing is incredibly functional. I travel for work every three weeks, and it’s like having an iPod, Kindle, travel DVD player and a Netbook for $500. (Not to mention being able to play Scrabble on the plane. Sigh.) And being able to watch Netflix from my hotel room (plugged into the TV with a cable) was awesome.

    My Mac-bashing friends are rolling their eyes, and my thirty-something friends wonder why I didn’t just get an iPhone. (Like I could see that screen? Not.) One of them says, “The iPad is the old person’s iPhone – no offense.” None taken. Bash away, I love this thing.

    I bought it the day before a work trip, and it saved me from hauling my laptop, cables, paperwork, etc. with me. Sailed through security and fit in my PURSE, fer Pete’s sake.

    The development of the iPad has also spurred a lot of really interesting discussion about the future of technology and in particular, how it’s a tool of consuming, rather than producing creative content.

    Interesting point, since it’s not a “computer” in one sense of the word, and it’s hard to imagine using it as your primary writing or drawing tool. But with a wireless keyboard and the right apps, you never know.

    And then I saw this video last night:

    Oh. My.

    Right out of Star Trek.

  75. Kate L says:

    (Hairball # 69) You would think that the presence of women on offshore rigs would follow the same pattern as in other lines of work: trail-blazers followed by women who will eventually think that a mixed-sex workforce was just a fact of life, rather than a social advance. But, no. Turnover of the personnel on the rigs was always high enough that every woman visiting a rig was a trailblazer, over and over. Women in my development geology district had the advantage of being only an occasional visitor, most of our time being spent back in the office in the Big Easy (New Orleans), 90 miles up the Mississippi River, where we planned wells and monitored drilling progress. We would only go offshore every so often, when it was time for us to monitor the taking of a core (which is why I was out there that fateful night) or to monitor contractors running scientific instruments like electrical resistivity tools (oil is more resistive to current than the saline water that fills most rock pore space) or gamma ray – neutron tools (no, I’m not kidding). These days, though, such scientific instruments are run continually just behind the drill bit, with the data fed up to the drilling floor by low bit-rate sonic pulses through the drilling mud in the well. I imagine that with the internet, one can even call up the data from the comfort of your office at Shell Plaza or Chevron Place or wherever.

  76. Dr. Empirical says:

    I’m in Boston to discuss healthcare in the third world. It’s starting to look like the meeting will be a big bust- most of the participants are trapped by volcanic ash and can’t make it.

    I don’t particularly mind having a free hotel room on the outskirts of Boston for the weekend, but that’s not helping eradicate river blindness.

  77. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Kate L (#75)

    Interesting about the low bitrate sonic pulses transmitted through the drilling mud, I didn’t know that. I’m guessing that there has to be some FFT (Fast Fourier Transform) signal processing to subtract out the drill bit noise on the data signal.

    No surprise on the resistivity of oil vs. a saline electrolyte. They are using the gamma source to look for voids in the rock? Gamma sources are often used for non-destructive testing of structural components in various settings, I’ve seen Cs-137 (Cesium 137) used for analysis of welds in structural beams. Due to density, I’m guessing rocks might require a shorter wavelength gamma source, perhaps Co60 (Cobalt 60)?

    Speaking of Co60… Back in the dark ages of breast cancer treatment, Co60 was used along with stupidly toxic chemo, it was considered state of the art in the early 1960s when my mother endured the medieval machinations of oncologists and surgeons.

    I remember seeing radiation burns on top of her radical mastectomy scars, I have no idea how she toughed it out. I was too young to ask really good questions at the time, and she died before I was old enough to ask all the questions I think of now.

    Years later, I found the pathology report on her tumor, it had wide clean margins, no lymph node involvement, and the surgeon recommended the Co60 and chemo simply as prophylaxis, not because he thought the cancer had spread. Officially, she died from metastatic breast cancer, but I suspect the crude Co60 treatments of that era might have triggered the subsequent cancers that killed her within a few years.

    Well, that’s certainly TMI. I guess I’m in a contemplative mood today. I walked into a drugstore yesterday and there was signage up for Mother’s Day. I thought about how I have absolutely no conception of that being some kind of significant day on the holiday calendar. As a non-Christian, I have more awareness of Easter, Xmas, Lent, etc. than of Mother’s Day. It’s been that long.

    I do remember the first Earth Day. I made my mother a little award plaque from recycled materials that said “World’s Most Ecologically-Minded Mother.” She loved it. I used some small green glass beads I found in the trash threaded on discarded copper telephone cable, fashioned in the shape of the then-ubiquitous stylized “E”. I glued it to a reused piece of white cardboard from a dress shirt. I used some of the multi-colored telephone cable in a braid around the edges of the plaque. It hung on the refrigerator forever, even long after my mother’s death. Alas, it disappeared into the abyss when my father sold the house.

    (… goes back to plumbing the depths of her memories on a beautiful spring day filled with life in the air …)

  78. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Dr E (#76)

    I do hope the meeting participants are not literally trapped by volcanic ash. ;).

    The Red Sox are in town this weekend, playing Baltimore. Head over to Fenway and see a game. Or perhaps you should hook up with R2A for a bacon-free dinner.

    Speaking of hookup, I’m not ignoring your kind offer to ruin my eardrums in May. I haven’t gotten my work schedule for May yet. The schedule seems to be a one-way deal, however. All sorts of stuff at work gets dumped on me at the last minute despite having a “schedule,” but I can’t reciprocate in kind by having something pop up at the last minute to make them change the schedule.

    I do get paid for the abuse, and these days that’s what counts. My bills are being paid. I have health insurance. And I’m counting down the time until I can leave and do something else with my life.

    (… goes off singing the Beatles’ version of ‘Money’ … “They say the best things in life are free. But you can give them to the birds and bees. I want money. That’s what I want.” …)

  79. Kate L says:

    I attended the local high school during the year of the first Earth Day (1970). They were more interested in celebrating the 25th anniversary of the United Nations back then, though. I’ll bet you that would be very politically incorrect for a high school in Kansas, now!

    Sorry to hear about your mother, hairball. Cardiac fibrilation took my mother’s life. Sometimes, I wonder if I’ll go in the same way. People always said that I was the one in the family who most took after her (my sister, they said, most resembled our father).

    Gamma- ray logging of wells is actually passive – looking for the gamma signature of high-organic content mudrocks (organic matter has an affinity for absorbing uranium out of groundwater). This makes for good stratigraphic markers that can be recognized in a local area. It’s the neutron tools that are the bad actors, with a radioactive source. They are good for porosity measurements (basically, you are using thermal neutrons to look for water as an indicator of pore space. If other porosity tools show a porous layer of rock, but the neutron tool is insisting there is no porosity, it means that there is a porous layer filled with a non-water substance, probably hydrocarbons).

  80. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Kate L (#79)

    Interesting stuff about how to distinguish water from non-water in porous rock. I’m wondering if there’s any research going on using MRI for this purpose.

    Water (or another polar molecule) would “flip” polarity when the magnetic field is switched on, and the signature pulse which results when the field is turned off and they flip back would distinguish between water/polar molecules vs. hydrocarbons, which are non-polar (or at least, certainly much less polar than H2O).

  81. steph says:

    Sorry to be Ms. Bummer McKilljoy but no way would Mo have an iPhone. I can already hear her rant about how conflict minerals like tantalum (from coltan), which is in virtually every hand held device (and computer, and game console), is stoking one of the deadliest conflicts in Africa (mostly in the DRC) in a generation. Nope, there is blood on our iPhones, folks. We need to start demanding conflict mineral-free products and paying a hell of a lot more for our toys.

  82. Therry and St. Jerome says:

    @Kate L (41) is it too late to pick up your Avery brooks reference? Did you know that the star Trek gig was a side track from his real job, that of being an opera singer? True for fact! I own a CD of the opera in which he created the title role, Malcolm X. I always thought he sounded very musical when he talked on DS9. Gorgeous bass-baritone.

  83. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Therry (#82)

    I’m not presuming to speak for Kate, but in my book it’s never too late for opera. Tomorrow’s Met broadcast will be Tosca.

    @Kate L

    I answered my own question about using magnetic resonance in petrogeology. Where would we be without Google, Wikipedia, and all those Amazon listings?

  84. Ian says:

    I was out and about on my art history course and visited a gallery that currently has an exhibition called “The Rise of the Women Artists”. Downstairs in the shop they have a range of wonderful books about women and art, but this particular one caught my eye (excuse the Medusa link):

    Women Who Read Are Dangerous

    [Snip] Artists have long sought to capture the intimacy and tranquillity of reading in their work. There was a time, however, when female literacy was a radical idea, and women have certainly not always been free to read whatever they want, whether for pleasure or instruction. This highly acclaimed book presents a compelling selection of paintings, drawings, prints and photographs of women reading through the ages. Works by a diverse range of artists, from Vermeer, Manet and Whistler to Edward Hopper and photographer Eve Arnold, are accompanied by commentaries that explain the context in which each image was created. Also featuring a foreword by the novelist Karen Joy Fowler and an engaging introduction exploring reading as a female pursuit. [Snip]

    For some reason, and I can’t think why, I thought of the women who post on this blog. Not that we here have any interest in books at all …

    Apols for the unashamed plug, but just the title alone makes it worth looking at!

  85. Feminista says:

    “Educate a boy and you educate an individual. Educate a girl and you educate a whole village.”
    –African proverb

    Recently finished Greg Mortenson’s Three Cups of Tea and now am reading the sequel Stones into Schools. He’s been building schools in remote areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Key to his success has been involving the local people every step of the way. Fascinating books,important work.

  86. Kat says:

    Gah! Alison has headed west, and neither appearance is in the SF Bay Area! Such frustration!

  87. Kate L says:

    (hairball #80) Yes, I do belive that MRI tools like you describe are now being routinely used to log (run a record of) oil wells for water content in the rocks they encounter. A bit after my time, I’m afraid. Even the MWD (“Measurement While Drilling”) tools that ride in the drill string just behind the drilling bit, sending their data stream up the drilling mud in the well, was cutting edge when I was employed as an exploited minion of the patriarchal, hegemonist capitalist overloads (hey, I think some Feminista is rubbing off on me!). Oh, and now they can use a kind of sonar to take “images” of the rocks along the well borehole. Detailed enough to tell geologists a lot about the rock types being drilled through thousands of feet below.

    (Therry and St. Jerome #82) That does not surprise me. And, did you know that Avery Brooks is Professor Brooks of the Theatre Dept. at Rutgers University in New Jersey? His wife Vicki is an assistant dean at Rutgers, though, so she ranks him! 🙂 I’ll always remember Avery for the “Where are the flying cars? I was promised flying cars!” line, though. And that is a very good question! Just watch THIS.

  88. Ready2Agitate says:

    I’m plumb exhausted and hibernating this wkd, Dr. E. But if I weren’t, I’d probably try to catch some of the Boston Independent Film Festival at the Somerville Theatre. (I haven’t even looked at the sked, but I heard something about a documentary on the band The Kinks, you might like.) I’m sure you are also hip to this – but you might enjoy visiting the Million Year Picnic, an independent comic book store in Harvard Square (owned by a good friend of mine). (I’m not a comics geek, but it sure was nice to receive “The Indelible” and other gifts from him!)

    A propos of nothing: I recently saw Mary Gauthier open for the Cowboy Junkies in Somerville. (Mary must have made it onto that list posted somewhere here of the 100 handsomest/butch women – she is sexy as all get out.) Anyway, Mary is extremely talented, and I was surprised when she busted out a whole new set of songs about having been adopted (a closed adoption) in 1962. You can find more about the new ‘concept’ album on her website. I know there’s quite a few folks on this blog who are connected in one way or another to adoption. ps The Cowboy Junkies were terrific. They have 3 free downloads on their site right now if you give ’em your e-addy.

    Reminds me – where in tarnation is Renee?

    (and any word from Shadocat?)

  89. Ready2Agitate says:

    weird transitions – sorry – I’m too tired & lazy to preview – but what I wanted to say is that I was very moved by Mary Gauthier’s (“Say Go-shay, y’all”) set of songs. She tells her adoption journey on her website, for those interested.

  90. Bechadelic1 says:

    @ Kate L # 87
    That video on The Onion was so funny. Are all the people in The Onion videos actors? Not quite sure how satirical newspapers work.

  91. Tori Poppy says:

    Gosh HOH. #77

    I’m sorry about your mom, cried a good one after that. I agree with AB, this is an amazing blog (or follow-up thread???) Either way, medicine is so primitive at it’s best. But Co60… *sigh*

    Kate L

    Really enjoyed the education on geology. (Oil drilling etc.) and folks I work with always call me a GEEK? ha, don’t hold a candle to you! ~_^

    And R 2 A , and all the rest of the gang. You all are so interesting and diverse! My industries’ big trade show is in a couple weeks, (in Vegas Baby *groan*) so I’ve been not sleeping much. Log in to catch up and find there are like three new AB blog-posts and some several hundred comments!

    Oh ‘e vie?

    Guess I “got” to retire just to follow this blog properly? LOL ~_^

    Luv ya all!

  92. Dr. Empirical says:

    I’d forgotten you were in Boston, R2A, or I’d have offered to take you to dinner and stick a big corporation with the bill. Thanks for the recommendations, but it looks like I’ll be spending most of the weekend sitting at the bar, arguing about healthcare rationing.

    Consensus seems to be that there already is rationing, and the sooner we start pretending there isn’t and start developing transparent and equitable systems for accomplishing it the better off we’ll all be. Vodka-fueled “modest proposals” then ensue.

    Many of my college buds ended up in Boston, and I’ll be meeting several for dinner tomorrow.

  93. Dr. Empirical says:

    Stop. Stop pretending. I really need to start proofreading.

  94. Kate L says:

    (Bechadelic1 #90) I’ve wondered the same thing. I know that I’ve seen the woman who is the co-host of The Onion’s morning news show, Today Now ! in commercials. Watch Today Now ! NOW !!.

    (TorriPoppy #91) Thanks! 🙂

    (Dr. Empirical, generally) A friend has a theory about scientific conventions. He says that they provide a weird trip down memory lane, allowing you to meet people from all the past stages of your career. And, another friend was a paleontologist with the exact same name as a different paleontologist who was speaking at a conventon in Seattle that I was attending. My friend and the other paleontologist had never met, but my friend had long followed the other paleontologist’s career. When he found out that I’d be at the meeting, my friend begged me to attend the other paleontologist’s talk, and report back to him on what the other guy was like. I promised that I would do so, but I forgot! Or, did I? As I explained to my friend later, perhaps no one from the two universes with the the two different paleontologists with the same name can ever meet each other, lest the balance of the space-time continuum be destroyed! I think that I saw that on an episode of Star Trek Voyager, once. Janeway fixed it.

  95. HoH, today is my Mama’s yartzeit. (The Jo of Jochild) Candle burning, thinking of 26 years without her, how is that possible? Wonder how many other motherless children are here. At any rate, I hear ya. As always.

  96. Ready2Agitate says:

    Compassionate thoughts to Maggie & Hairball.

    And coffee to Dr. E. 😉

  97. Sherry says:

    Maggie Jochild #73…
    Thank you!
    Unfortunately, I’m approaching the age of 50 and whether my eggs are dried up or not…I’m done!
    It may sound selfish, but I’m ready for some “me” time!
    As I said before, I love my daughters with all my heart but they’re almost grown and I’ve done my job.
    As far as being a single Mom. Let’s just say that I’ve had lots of support in my life from my family. I’m fortunate and I know it.
    Also, let me say that I’m quite happy to have been shown this site. Everyone that posts here is unique…and that goes for the owner of the site too.
    I’ll frequent here when I can. This place give me a good feeling.

  98. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Maggie (#95)

    Hugs to you. May her memory be for a blessing. ???

    Every so often, the markers of time passage since my mother’s death hit me upside the head. When my cat died, I did the math and realized I had lived longer with my cat than with my mother. Then there are the other time markers. I passed the age of her diagnosis, and I’m fast approaching the age of her death. All of these weigh on me, even when I’m not fully conscious of them.

  99. hairball_of_hope says:

    Damn, that didn’t come out right. It previewed ok, but I got some kind of WordPress database error when I clicked ‘Post,’ something about mixing character sets between UTF-8 and something else.

    The ??? was supposed to be the Hebrew abbreviation for aleyah ha-shalom (peace be unto her), a traditional Jewish saying when referring to the deceased (sometimes abbreviated in English as A”H).

  100. hairball_of_hope says:


    ???? ?????

    ???? ?????

  101. hairball_of_hope says:

    Oh well, that test didn’t work. I thought maybe just doing a cut/paste with the Hebrew letters and no English might display properly. It looks good during ‘Preview.’

    Guess I’ll have to point to the Wiki article:

  102. Acilius says:

    @Feminista #85: What did you think of Mortenson’s book? I haven’t read it, all I know is that Sabbah Haji didn’t like it. She explains why here:

  103. HoH #100 — Thank you and ??? back to you.

  104. Home says:

    The above thought is smart and doesn’t require any further addition.
    It’s perfect thought from my side.

  105. meldyke says:

    This is a great thread – starting at iPhones and ending up who-knows-where… Love it!

    @ Maggie and h_o_h – yes, there are plenty of other motherless children out there this mother’s day. My wife and I both lost our mothers in the past 9 months – my mother died of ovarian cancer last August, after which this online community was so very supportive for me at times ((thank you)). And my wife’s mom died unexpectedly in mid-February. I am dreading mother’s day. Please accept warm fuzzies from both of us….

    And my required public health shout-out:


    Unexplained symptoms such as
    — Bloating
    — Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
    — Pelvic or abdominal pain
    which are often misdiagnosed as IBS. My opinion – if a provider tells you that you have IBS, treatment doesn’t work, and the doctor doesn’t investigate further, then go to a different doctor!

    IMPORTANT: Lesbians are generally at much higher risk because of higher rates of non-bio-child-bearing, lower rates of taking the birth control pill, and higher rates of higer BMIs (I know, it’s a very troublesome measure of body size… but just go learn about ovarian cancer, please). Go to or for more info.

    [Freed from spam-filter limbo. –Mentor]

  106. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by maudnewton: Alison Bechdel on lost iPhones, found cats, and compromising photos of two men with kitchen utensils:

  107. Kate says:

    I lost my kindle. I wept. I became hysterical. I wondered how to go on. I have now begun reading actual books again while I wait for the universe to deliver me another kindle. Your story of perseverance and strength is an inspiration–thank you.