What’s Up?

I just finished a book called The Price of Privilege, by Madeline Levine (here’s an article on that topic), and have moved onto one called Quiet: The Power of Introverts, by Susan Cain.

From the former, I learned that affluent parents — such as the type Ian and I are poised to become, although we’re probably on the lower end — tend to impose excessive expectations on their kids, exert intense pressure to succeed (according to the parents’ definition), and ultimately stifle and steamroll their kids. The kids try their best to please Mom and Dad until, one day, they give up. For girls, that’s reflected in the high rates of depression, anxiety disorders, and eating disorders; for dudes, it’s often more aggression, acting out, or being extremely rebellious. I had no idea, but apparently upper-middle-class kids are heavy drug users. Alcohol I’d expect, but cocaine? Seems a bit… hard core for young teens. But how do you cope with the expectation you’ll take all AP classes, maintain your 4.0 GPA, and play on Varsity soccer, basketball, and baseball, plus squeeze in some extra-curricular French and violin lessons?

I understand now when they say parents want the best for their kids: Of course I do. But what is “the best”? My take-away from Price of Privilege is that kids don’t need you to be a best friend, they need someone to provide structure and rules. If we want to be good parents, we’re responsible for being attuned to Benji’s needs and responding to them, but not trying to force him into our ideas of what he should be or achieve.

From Quiet, I’ve learned all sorts of interesting facts about introverts, of which I’d consider myself one (despite my tendency to get loud and excited, I’m anxious and exhausted in large groups and prefer my interactions one-on-one). Probably the most interesting was how introversion/extroversion may have played a role in the 2008 Great Recession. Apparently, extroverts’ brains respond strongly to rewards or the potential for a reward, and extroverts are willing to take big risks to get rewards because this stimulates dopamine production in the brain, which makes you feel delightfully buzzed. As a matter of fact, extroverts actually ignore — can’t perceive — risk the same way introverts do. It’s just too compelling to go for the big payoff, so the warning bells are muffled by the roar of excitement at the risky activity. Introverts simply don’t get the same buzz from a reward, and are far less reward-driven.

So in the years leading up to 2008, financial peeps who took big risks — nearly all extroverts — reaped apparently big rewards. These extroverts were promoted because they were “successful,” while the cautious introverts who didn’t invest in high-risk/high-reward funds tended to get shunted to the side. Eventually the big financial institutions came to be run by extroverts who didn’t even see the riskiness in their choices, and there no voices of caution to slow them down. And over we went. And lo and behold, the introverts who were more driven by fear and uncertainty turned out to have been right, but nobody listened to them because they were the quiet losers.

Which makes me wonder… who’s in charge now? Is anybody checking with the cautious introverts before making big financial choices?

Evil Plan

Here is my evil plan. I will become a bestselling author of action novels*, a la Tom Clancy. In my novels, the good guys will always triumph, but only by the skin of their teeth, overcoming  the villain’s superior planning, financial advantage, and ruthless nefariousness through a combination of good fortune, unbelievable physical resiliency (including the ability to not need a pee break for more than 72 hours during the exciting climax), and sheer willpower. No main characters will ever die, but at least one will always come close.

This basic plot will serve for all my novels, so readers will come to know and rely on the fact that in my novels, however dire the straights, the good guys will succeed. In fact, you could just read the novel to find out how the protagonists win, not whether they will.

Then, with my reputation as the next Clive Cussler well established, I will write a novel where the bad guys win. It will be exactly like all the other novels, except in this one, when odds are impossibly stacked against the good guys, the good guys fail. They don’t get there in time and the President is assassinated, anthrax gets put in the NYC water supply, or the global financial system is hacked and irretrievably confounded. And then they die, because they were caught trying to covertly do something exceptionally complicated, fiddly, and unlikely to succeed.

Then I would go back to writing ho-hum, predictable, and brainless action novels.

This is my evil plan.


* This would be quite a feat, as I can’t readily think of any female authors of action novels, possibly because few women can describe all types of weapons, vehicles, and machinery with the kind of lavish and loving attention to detail normally exhibited in this genre.

Other Katie Bonanza

I’ve been quite remiss in sharing the amusing Other Katie emails I continue to receive. Here are a few of the ones I’ve received lately, omitting the zillions of LivingSocial and Thirty-One emails I get. No matter how many times I unsubscribe, some dumb Other Katie keeps re-subscribing using my email address. Katie, seriously, give me a break!

Some Other Katie has the world’s worst photographer friend/relative, as I can attest from the following email:

On Mon, Nov 12, 2012 at 6:48 PM, pdr < [redacted]@mac.com> wrote:
Here are my photos from your party. If you want any printed, let me know the size, etc.

Love, Grandma

Begin forwarded message:

From: pdr < [redacted]@mac.com>
Subject: last one
Date: 10 November, 2012 7:09:07 PM CST
To: Bob Ferguson < [redacted]@sasktel.net>

I can hardly quibble about Grandma sending an email to the wrong person, though. At least she’s trying to use the Internet, even if she’s only marginally successful. And, on the bright side, Other Katie seems to be getting out and spending time with her family, which I do approve of.

Other Katie seems to be looking for housing in Texas again:

Custer Park Apartments Prospect web site information


Thank you for registering for a Resident Portal account. Resident Portal is a convenient way to take advantage of the expanded online services we offer

Leasing Staff

If you already live with us, please go here Click Here
Login name * [redacted]
Password * [redacted]
* You may log into the Resident Portal by using the same user name and password for your application process.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact us at (972) 596-0908 .

3400 Custer Road Plano TX 75023 (972) 596-0908

Actually, it’s rather odd that Katie needs to rent an apartment, because back in September a real estate agent (from whom I’ve received a number of erroneous emails, and who I already tried to correct twice) forwarded me this title information email, with the PDF of the official title attached:

On Mon, Sep 24, 2012 at 9:44 AM, Shantanu Narayen wrote:

[body of email blank]
Sent from my iPhone

Begin forwarded message:

From: Liberty Title Company < [redacted]@aol.com>
Date: September 24, 2012, 11:49:53 EDT
To: Shantanu Narayen
Subject: Deed and Warranty

When you fill out the Dedd you can call me if you need any halp. Thanks, Carri

Liberty Title Company
655 W. Morse Blvd., Suite 112
Winter Park, FL 32789
Tel: 407-629-5533 Fax: 407-629-5528
Email: [redacted]@aol.com

I hope Carri is better at doing titles than she is at spelling. I’m not sanguine about that, though, since the email address is at AOL.

The next email requires a certain amount of explanation. At first I thought Katie Ferguson was looking to get a job with Hyatt, but then I realized no; Katie works for the Hyatt as an HR lackey, and she blind carbon copied herself on emails she sent out to prospective new hires. Except instead of bcc’ing herself, she carbon copied me… six different times. Which is the worst kind of Other Katie email: When Katie herself types in the wrong email address.

On Mon, Jan 7, 2013 at 4:44 PM, Human Resources

Good Afternoon,

You are invited for an opportunity to interview on Friday, January 11, 2013 from 2:00pm – 4:30pm at Hyatt Regency La Jolla. When you arrive, you will park in the parking garage. Please go to Mykonos AB meeting room, which is located on the 2nd floor level of the hotel.

Please come dressed for success to interview with our managers. Please bring your resume. Interviews will take place on a first-come, first-serve basis, so please be advised there may be a wait.

Our dream is for you to love our company and the people you work with so much that you decide to join the ranks as part of the 75% of our associates who are promoted from within to supervisory and management levels either in our hotel or any other Hyatt hotel.

Hyatt is a place where high expectations aren’t just met, they are exceeded. It’s a place of outstanding rewards, were talent opens doors to exciting challenges in the hospitality industry. It’s a place where career opportunities are as unlimited as your imagination. Discover your place to shine in our warm, respectful, and inclusive culture.

You’re more than welcome.

Please RSVP by Wednesday, January 8th with your name and position to [redacted]@hyatt.com.

Warm Regards,

Katie Ferguson
Human Resources Manager
Hyatt Regency La Jolla
3777 La Jolla Village Drive
San Diego, CA 92122

Whoa – I just realized that this could be the same Other Katie who signed up for AdultFriendFinder and put my email in instead. It’s the right geographical region, and she does have a history of typing her own email wrong. If so, Other Katie really needs to get her head in the game, because I know way more about her work and sex life than any stranger should, and it’s entirely her fault.

Fortunately, Other Katie is in good company — or at least international company. I recently received an email from O2, a telecom in the UK, asking how I liked my wireless service. And back in October, I got yet another email in German:

2012/10/12 Andreas Klewe < [redacted]@issw.uni-heidelberg.de>
Liebe HochschulsportlerInnen,

das Wintersemester 2012/13 beginnt für den Hochschulsport am 15. Oktober und wir werden wieder vorher unsere bewährte Online-Kursanmeldung für die gebührenpflichtigen Sportkurse durchführen.

Ab diesem Semester ist für Studierende und Mitarbeiter der Universität/ PH sowie alle Nutzer mit gelbem Bedienstetensportausweis (auch Klinikum & DKFZ) ausschließlich eine bargeldlose Bezahlung mit der CampusCard des Studentenwerk Heidelbergs möglich. Bitte sorgen Sie für ein entsprechendes Guthaben auf Ihrer Karte, da wir keine Aufladestation (Kartenaufwerter) besitzen, sondern lediglich abbuchen können.

Die Online-Anmeldezeiten im WS 2012/13:
– für alle Kurse: ab Sonntag, 14. Oktober, 7.00 Uhr

Ihre Buchung muss dann innerhalb von zwei Werktagen im Hochschulsportsekretariat INF 700 bezahlt werden.
Sie benötigen:
1.) CampusCard
2.) ausgedruckte Buchungsbestätigung
3.) gültigen Studentenausweis/Bedienstetensportausweis/Gästekarte
4.) aktuelles Passbild für Kraft- und Spinningkurse.

Bitte denken Sie an ihre alten Ausweise, die verlängert werden. Dann geht es rascher.

Die Sonderöffnungszeiten des Hochschulsportsekretariats:
Montag, 15. Oktober: 10.00 – 20.00 Uhr
Dienstag bis Freitag, 16. Oktober – 19. Oktober: 17.00 – 20.00 Uhr

Während des gesamten WS: 15.Oktober 2012 – 07. Februar 2013:
Di, Mi. Do. vormittags von 10.15 – 12.15 Uhr
Mo, Do abends von 17.30 – 19.30 Uhr

Aktuelle Informationen wie Kursausfälle oder neue Sportangebote gibt es täglich auf unserer homepage: http://www.hochschulsport.uni-hd.de, über facebook („Hochschulsport Heidelberg“) und auf Twitter („Hochschulsport HD“).

Wir wünschen allen HochschulsportlerInnen ein sportliches und erfolgreiches Wintersemester 2012/13.

Matthias Wolf
Leiter Hochschulsport
Universität Heidelberg

In addition to remaining internationally connected, Other Katie finally sprang for some TV, which may mean that I’ll stop getting her Redbox receipts. (I don’t think much of her taste in movies, let me tell you!)

On Tue, Nov 27, 2012 at 5:41 PM, Order Confirmation wrote:

Your order confirmation number is : 026-5130728

You ordered:

TV – $49.95 Monthly
Install Price – $19.95 (Once)

That price seems reasonable. More reasonable than Darron Edwards Jr.’s sending me three emails in a row with InDesign files attached. Also more reasonable than another Other Katie providing Sears with the wrong email address, and then being rejected for the job(s) she applied to there.

On Mon, Dec 3, 2012 at 10:51 PM, wrote:

Thank you for expressing interest in opportunities with Sears Holdings Corporation!

As you know, matching applicants with the right positions requires a unique combination of candidate experience, job requirements and timing. Your application that was active in our database has expired and while we may not have made a match for you during the time that has passed since you’ve applied, we would like to introduce you to other great companies who may be able to give you the position you seek, right now.

Sears Holdings Corporation is a founding member of AllianceQ – a partnership of leading companies collaborating to increase our ability to find the world’s top talent. It’s an easy, free and confidential service. Simply share your background and what you desire in a new job. Every day you will be automatically and anonymously considered for thousands of opportunities with other leading employers, including those current or future openings at Sears Holdings Corporation.

To join AllianceQ or for more information, visit: AllianceQ.com/shc

To review current Sears Holdings Corporation openings and to reapply directly with us, visit:

Please do not reply to this email if you have questions (your reply will not be responded to), instead contact the Human Resources department at the location you applied to.

Again, thank you for your interest in Sears Holdings Corporation and we hope you will consider us for future opportunities.


SHC Talent Acquisition Team
Sears Holdings Corporation

And, penultimate but not by any means least, we have the classic “coworker inadvertent email typo” series of Other Katie emails.

On Tue, Dec 11, 2012 at 2:50 PM, Thompson Cindy < [redacted]@quarrytile.com> wrote:
Katie—this is Cindy. I am writing this up for Michelle. I am including some of the new colors that will be taking over for Citrus, Mandarin and Scarlet. They might want to consider some of them. We are phasing out the old colors.
—–Original Message—–
From: Laine Michelle
Sent: Tuesday, December 11, 2012 2:07 PM
To: Thompson Cindy
Subject: FW: Jefferson Houston tile samples

Can you do this for me?

—–Original Message—–
From: Katie Ferguson Gray [mailto:[redacted].daltile@gmail.com]
Sent: Tuesday, December 11, 2012 1:28 PM
To: Laine Michelle
Subject: Fwd: Jefferson Houston tile samples

Hi Michelle!

Can I get the samples below sent direct to my client?

Can you send what you can in a 3×6 but if that’s N/A you can send 2x2s or 4x4s. She would like at least one 3×6.

Please let me know. My FedEx is [redacted]. Please send 2nd Day.



Katie Ferguson Gray | Architectural Representative
Daltile | Southwest Region
2728 Bell St. | New Orleans, LA 70119
Phone: 504.415.3383
Fax: 504.488.3383
Mail: [redacted]@daltile.com

Begin forwarded message:

From: Brittney Everett < [redacted]@concordia.com>
Date: December 11, 2012 11:17:43 AM CST
To: Katie Ferguson Gray < [redacted].daltile@gmail.com>
Subject: Jefferson Houston tile samples

Hi Katie,

Thank you again for coming in the other week. Such a clever way to get to know the different carpet and tile options. Very fun.

So I would like to request the following samples:

-Semi-Gloss Color Trends
Totally tangerine
Citric bloom
Go Green
Electric blue
Sea breeze
Plum Crazy
-Natural Hues
Regency Blue

I’m thinking of making each bathroom one of these colors, 3×6 staggered vertical subway tiles up to about 7 or 8 feet, with a light gray grout. The sink area in the bathroom is open to the hallway—no doors–so the tile will wrap around the wall out to the hallway. Just wanted to let you know what I’m thinking. These colors may end up correlating with the “grade house” colors (ie. 3rd and 4th is a gradehouse, 5th and 6th is gradehouse, etc).

If it’s easier to send 2×2 tiles since I am requesting so many, that’s fine. Would be nice to get at least one 3×6 to show the client the size though. Is it possible to get these before next Tuesday?

Thank you!

Brittney Everett

201 St. Charles Ave., Ste 4318 | New Orleans, LA 70170
Office | 504 262 8184 Mobile | 504 756 2270

P Think Green before printing this e-mail.

Instead of thinking green before printing the email, I figured I’d think kiwi. Or maybe Aegean, Go Green, or Sea Breeze. On the bright side, though, this Other Katie seems to have some talent towards interior design. Maybe I could get her to help out with our house.

And, last but not least, I’m happy to say that at least one of us has some personality. The following is long, but worth posting in its entirety if only for the names of the folks involved, so I’ve put most of it under the fold. Apparently, an Other Katie is a roller derby lady with Ladies of Laceration on Long Island.

On Tue, Jan 22, 2013 at 8:21 AM, Jax Berrios wrote:
Question. I know dolly has attendance for Thursday. So she will get that over. So counting the rules class I should have 5.

I know I need to skate as much as possible but it’s so hard to make Saturdays and I need all the credit I can get. Thanks again

Namaste & Blessed Be


Continue reading “Other Katie Bonanza”

Bad Poetry

Now I lay him down to nap
I pray that he won’t take a crap
But if he goes before he wake
I pray that he won’t make a lake.

Okay, it is not fine poetry or anything, but I have to think of something for the hours a day I spend alone, feeding/rocking/soothing him. Another mom might, say, find a way for peace in the Middle East or think of how to avoid the fiscal cliff while satisfying both Republicans and Democrats. Sadly, I am not that mom and the best I got is bad, grammatically incorrect poetry.

In other non-baby news, I start my new job with Kaizen Financial Advisors in just under one month. I’m a bit apprehensive – How will I fit it in on top of chores and bike training in the limited time he’s asleep? Will we have to get a nanny to give me enough time? Will I do ok and like it in finance-land, a place I’ve never spent any time? – but I think I will enjoy having some part of my life that requires my brain. Most of my days I feel like a robot could do my job just as well but more patiently and without sleep. I will be able to work from home and start with a small number of hours to ease into it, so it should be manageable. I hope.

In that vein, we are getting a very, very large armoire from a friend of Mom’s. This thing apparently folds out into a couple big desk wings plus storage space, but you can close the doors and hide everything away. I’m excited about this, but it is big (did I mention that? Yes, BIG) and very heavy and awkward. We are looking for 2 or 3 strong volunteers plus one pickup truck to help move it. Timing is flexible. Please let me know if you can help!

There’s more going on, but only so much blogging time in the day. Until next time, be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Time Travel Artefact


Found this inside my library book. I used to find it fascinating looking at the dates and seeing how often and at what intervals a book was checked out. This book, for example, is almost 20 years old and had periods of four and five years of sitting on a shelf, waiting. After 2002 we lose its story, thanks to electronic book tracking.

But I wonder: What do books do while waiting on shelves? Do they hope to get chosen, feel disappointed when the next book over gets taken? Do they have squabbles with neighboring books and hope for preserving?

Do books sleep, and what would they dream?


Political Lawn Sign Proposal

I have an idea for next political season, based on the following Atlantic Monthly article: http://m.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/11/the-popularity-and-irrelevance-of-our-lawn-sign-wars/264488/

So, if lawn signs are ubiquitous but useless, as this article suggests, here’s my proposal. In the future, all politicians must have supporters remove all lawn signs one week before voting. This plan has two advantages:

1. It ensures that lawn signs don’t get abandoned after the election is over. I hate driving around months, or even years, later and still seeing signs for long-resolved political races. Plus it’s litter – we fine people $103 for littering, but don’t apply this to political signs*.

2. It demonstrates which politicians follow through and can motivate supporters twice. It’s easy to say you believe in personal responsibility, but this would force aspiring public servants to actually show some responsibility.

I’m quite sure that voters wouldn’t forget the candidates’ names if the signs disappeared early. And frankly, I would be more likely to vote for the candidate who didn’t leave a bunch of useless and ugly election detritus lying around.

* There’s no way to track down the supporter who put up the sign. Instead, simply fine the politician whose name is on the sign for every lawn sign remaining after voting day. Use the money for something like maintaining green spaces or promoting transparency in politics.

Unrelated but nice:

On a Different Note


Take a moment to look at this house. I have watched with interest as it goes up, because no matter how far along it gets, the construction strikes me as odd. Every time I see it, one question plagues me, so far without resolution: How do you get to the front door?

What looks, to my admittedly untrained eye, like the front door-like space appears prohibitively high off the ground. I don’t see room for a substantial porch, with stairs, which might be the most logical solution.

Construction workers building the house have put ladders up. Will the owners employ a similar tactic? You could, at least, guarantee no solicitors came to your door: simply pull up the ladder!

Or are the owners world-class high-jumpers? Do they have extra-long limbs? More prosaically, do they intend to go through the garage exclusively? (If so, why put the front door there at all?)

Things that make me go “hmmm.”