Archive for the ‘Random Stories’ Category

If you are like me, you might not have seen or even heard of a burka until the media began covering the Taliban and the war in Afghanistan in the early 2000s.  Now, images of women in this infamous Muslim garb are familiar to most of us:

For many in the West, the burka is a controversial symbol of the institutionalized oppression of women—a physical representation of the matching social and religious barriers that remove their option to speak or engage openly in public life.  Some women challenge this interpretation of the burka of course, like this lady:

I have spent many years in circles of faith, and I can understand that life within that circle is often quite different from what is perceived from the outside.  If I put myself in the shoes of a conservative Islamic woman, I could imagine valuing hijab (the headscarves some women wear, leaving the face open) and thinking it was pretty and modest.  I just can’t imagine liking the burka, though.  Even if the men around me treated me respectfully and I was free from fear and shame and my voice was valued in society, I still can’t imagine thinking a burka was anything but hot and itchy and a pain to move around in.

I certainly hadn’t thought about how to swim in one.  I think I assumed that women in burkas  just…didn’t swim?   Stayed at home?  I was quite surprised, then, during our honeymoon, to see ladies in burkas swimming and enjoying the beaches in Langkawi, Malaysia (a predominantly Muslim country).

Last week, Matt and I were discussing these burka-swimming sightings with some fellow expat friends in China.  One of them, a Norwegian dad about our age, had an interesting story to tell.  He said that a friend of his visited Dubai and encountered the haute couture side of burka life.  “The wealthy women in Dubai won’t wear just any burka” he said.  “My friend said they all wear Dolce and Gabanna and other high fashion brands.”

To be honest, I was really surprised to hear that an edgy Italian label like Dolce and Gabanna would embrace such a controversial fashion item.  Not that they strike me as supporters of a liberated feminine voice, and not that I’ve ever purchased anything from them, but I just expected…something else…like conscientious objection?

Once home, I tried to find articles or photos or something online to establish D&G as a supplier of burkas.  Incidentally, when I first ran a search, I hadn’t set up my VPN (that’s the secret-sauce that makes it look like our computers are in LA, sneaking us around the Great Chinese Firewall to delightful places like Twitter and Facebook).  Most web listings and all photos that came up for Dolce and Gabanna burka or burqa were blocked.  So…there I was in one country, hampered by censorship, trying to find out about potentially oppressive fashion in another country…what is a blogger to do?

Set up her VPN, of course.

I still wouldn’t say the evidence was overwhelming,

One blog mentions the D&G burka, and posts this “Dolce and Gabana-inspired burka” but it was likely hyperbolic:

Another claims the fashion label released a burka for women over 200 lbs, but had no photos, and yet another tells a story of Selena Gomez wearing a modified and very revealing D&G “burka dress” (that sounds more like them) as a slight against the Muslim world.  A regular-looking guy on Flikr posted a picture of a lady in a burka from Langkawi, of all places.  It was entitled “D&G Burka”.   Lady Gaga, of course, joined in the fray with a mostly unrelated burka hat, but it amused me.

D&G’s own website, however, returned no results when I tried to shop for a burka online.  So, in the end, an uncensored look at the web didn’t help much.  Maybe the ladies in Dubai are buying fake D&G burkas, maybe D&G is keeping the line quiet, or maybe the guy who saw it was just straight and got his high-end fashion labels mixed up.  It got me thinking, though.


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‘Orrible Cakes

I’m taking a blog-writing class this summer for my “other blog” (the one exploring interesting research about dating, relationships, and breakups), and our lectures guide us through a veritable tilt-o-whirl of blogs to underscore certain principles.  I forget why we had to look at this one, but who doesn’t want to read a blog willing to expose “When professional cakes go horribly, hilariously, wrong”?

Cake Wrecks

Not me.  🙂

If you have never picked up a magazine devoted to wedding cakes, please do.  My friends and I were absolutely enraptured at the horrible-ness.  Horribility?  Horribilitude?  Anyway, there are some awful awful cakes out there.

But not at my wedding.  We’re having brownies and cheesecake instead.  🙂


Te he.

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The things your boss asks you to do don’t always make sense if you take your education, experience, title, and job description into account.  But, if you forget all of those things, then most requests become perfectly reasonable.

A few days after Matt’s group hosted their annual technology conference here in Shenzhen, the US-based corporate CTO realized he had left something behind:  his pants.  (Let’s collectively agree not to spend too much time thinking about the specifics of how the pants came to be separated from their owner…).  His staff had made efforts to procure them from the hotel, but things that sound simple if you’re calling from the US, like, “mail them to us and charge it to this credit card” are just not simple at all in China.  So, Matt, who has a shiny cache of graduate degrees and strategy responsibilities spanning countries and markets, was tasked with the pants re-procurement.  Being the responsible man that he is, he got to the Crowne Plaza straightaway and had the pants in the mail within a day.  Not a big deal, he knows the CTO well, and was happy to help.

I had been chuckling about this pants thing, though, when I opened this email from Paige Silva nee Hinkle.   She was forwarding a story her friend and old co-worker Erin Campanella nee Keller had sent her.  I’ve met Erin, and her now-husband Frank, who is the protagonist in this story.  (They met through some kind of online connection, maybe Match or E-Harmony, fell in love immediately, and were married within a year and a half–I’m possibly l on the facts, but it was very romantic).

“So, lately, Frank has been complaining that his work has been giving him jobs that are not his to do.  But yesterday took the cake.  They asked him to go to the vet and pick up the dead, frozen dog of a salesman in the company, drive it to the salesman’s house, and lower it into the freshly dug grave in the backyard.

He did it, because the salesman (whom he doesn’t even know that well at all) sadly lost his mom two days before.  So he was at the wake.

If you have questions like:

Isn’t it illegal to bury pets?
Would they really release a pet from the morgue to someone who wasn’t the owner?
Was it at least a  small dog?

I only have the answer to one.  It was a baby horse.

So if you would like to picture Frank, in the middle of a rain-with-bits-of-hail storm, doing this, the day after he saw the movie Buried (with Ryan Reynolds.  I didn’t see it), please do.”  –end story

I do, in fact, have all of those questions, plus one additional question:  if the dog was both dead and frozen, what was the rush?  Backlog at the pet morgue?  The world may never know.

I got in touch with Erin, through Paige, to ask for permission to use this story, and she wrote back saying sure, and filling us in on the next installment in what I hope will become some kind of entertaining serial novella:

“Frank is training a new intern at 6:30 this morning, whom he’s never met, so he needs us out the door by 5:30am.  As we’re locking up the house, in the dark, the phone rings, and it’s the intern, whom, to keep his anonymity, we will refer to as Pablo the Wonderboy.  Pablo W. says he’s already there, and can’t get into the building and Frank says “I’ll try to get someone in the building to come get you.  You know we’re meeting at 6:30, right?” and Wonderboy replies that he just likes to be early and sharp and ready for work, Mr. Campanella” and Frank is so impressed with this new title, and it’s very early, so I can see the wheels turning, wondering if I would conceivably call him this to which I just nod “no” before he can ask.

So Frank is VERY good at his job.  He really is a dynamo.  He goes above and beyond (see: frozen dead dogs of coworkers he barely knows). So as a joke I mention “All About Eve”, the movie about the aging actress who takes an ingenue under her wing, only to have the ingenue connivingly bring her down and become the new shining star.  And Frank’s like “you don’t think that could happen, do you?” and I say “I’m kidding.  This kid is not trying to be the new you”

Frank shows up and Pablo is wearing the EXACT SAME OUTFIT as Frank.  Khaki pants, navy blue button down shirt, with thin vertical stripes, which, remarkably, Frank decided to tuck in today although he usually doesn’t.  I think they were wearing the same shoes too.  And of course, “Frank, this kid isn’t try to be the new you” is echoing in his head.  So I think Wonderboy is having a very hard day because of me; I fear Frank’s insecurity might have him subconsciously teaching P.W. all the wrong things.

Poor Pablo.  His Wonderboy days are numbered.”  -end story

In closing, just remember:

a) if you think your boss demands crazy things, s/he probably doesn’t.

b) Frank might work for the mafia, so we should be nice to him.

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Urban Picketing?

For those who obliquely assume the white picket fence is mutually exclusive of the urban existence, think again.  It turns out you can simply affix picketi (duh, the singular) in a series of five to the side of your townhome and viola–the inner-city picket fence.  Tell those sizeist fence snobs in your critical ether and sub-ethers that we’ll have our fence and…have it too.  (As seen in San Fransisco’s Mission neighborhood)

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The Water of Life

So a priest, a rabbi, and a fish monger with intermittent spiritual inclinations walk into the enhanced water section…  (As seen in Duane Reade at 42nd and Lex)

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