M.I. Incorporated

My friend Patrick covered the white walls of his studio apartment with copies of Edward Munch's work. The reproduction of The Scream hung above the plaid Ikea couch.

That couch... we would waste a cloudy Saturday afternoon drinking Harp on M Street. Then, hours later, would return to his apartment where he'd encourage one of us to lie on the couch and reveal some imaginary problem to the "Good Doctor." He named his practice M.I. Incorporated.

Funny how we have so little control over the random memories that pop into our heads.

Global warming

Six years ago this month, more than 150 countries agreed to control the Earth's greenhouse gases at a conference in Kyoto, Japan. One of Bush's first moves as President was to withdraw the United States from the treaty.

Despite reports released by Environmental Protection Agency, the World Health Organization, environmental groups and scientific organizations, The White House denies that human interference is the cause of an increase in the Earth's temperature.

In fact, although the US has no federal policy on global warming, the States have taken matters into their own hands.

Here is a sample of this week's headlines:

* Global Warming Threatens World's Ski Resorts

*Climate Change Blamed for some 150,000 Deaths

* A Flake-free Christmas

* Inuit People Launch Human Rights Case Against Bush Claiming Extinction Because of Global Warming

* Insurer Warns that Premiums Will Rise as Global Warming Continues

* Global Warming: 2003 Blows Hot - 3rd Hottest Year on Record

* US Researchers Try to Bury Gas Causing Global Warming

* Will Global Warming Cool Europe?

Should the United States have a federal policy regarding global warming? Or is this campaign the result of a bunch of fatalistic wackos making a mountain out of a molehill?

Car alarms

Raise your hand if those annoying sirens interrupt your day? Raise your hand if you live in New York City?

The New York City Council will hold a hearing early in 2004 to determine whether or not to silence those pesky bells and whistles for good.

I'm hoping Washington, DC has the good sense to follow suit.

I can deal with fire trucks tooting horns (god speed); ditto with ambulances and police cars.

But those bloody car alarms.... every night, one or two car alarms go off around midnight and it drives me crazy. In the summer, I'll have friends over up on the roofdeck. We'll enjoy a lovely supper and swim in the pool. And just when everyone's relaxed and happy, an anti-burglary device will shatter the tranquil atmosphere.

And they don't work. Who has ever dialed 9-1-1- upon hearing a car alarm go off? What's the point?

All those in favor of tossing all car alarms in the Pacific, say Ayyyyyyyyyyyye!



My friend J is being shipped out right before the Christmas holiday. Another friend, working for a defense contractor, left before Thanksgiving. That brings the total count of people I know in Iraq to a baker's dozen. I'm afraid before this mess is over, everyone I know will be working in the Middle East in one capacity or another.

Somewhere between breaking the news of his assignment and our saying goodbye, the topic of Santa Wishlists came up.

Santa, if you can hear me, or if you read blogs, this is what I want for Christmas this year:
1. An unlimited pass to fly anywhere in the world free of charge. To expire Christmas night of 2004.
2. The courage to leave my job so I can use my unlimited flying pass to visit all of my loved ones who live so far away.
3. Resolve to finally replace all of my bad habits with less-bad habits.
4. The audacity to attempt a living as a photographer and exhibit my photos *somewhere*.
5. The ability to think of a person and relieve them of their anxiety or fear or doubt for a 24-hour period. (this gift would also expire on Christmas of 2004 because I'll probably be worn out by then and I'm sure someone, somewhere will request this superpower)

Oh - and if there's any room left in that bright red bag of yours, a loft-apartment in downtown DC would be really SWEET!

Anyway - what do YOU want from Santa? Better yet - do you think you've been more naughty, or nice this year?


Noise control

The condominium I live in was built in 1963. There are about 25 residences on my floor - 250 apartments in the building. Although the walls are constructed with reinforced concrete, people are fairly considerate about noise - forewarning neighbors if there's a party planned, keeping the volume down after 10:00 p.m., that sort of thing.

I sleep with the window open. Police and fire sirens lull me to sleep. By summertime when noisy, drunk, 20-somethings, coming from or going to Georgetown, yell back and forth to each other at 3:00 a.m., the window is shut and I'm breathing to the hum of my air conditioner. So it's no big deal.

Last night, I had a rude awakening. My new neighbor started yelling (berating, criticizing, screaming) at his significant other at midnight. MIDNIGHT! The argument didn't die down until after 3:00 a.m.

Of course, the most troubling part, is that this brute verbally crucified his lady friend for the better part of THREE hours. She never once raised her voice to him. How do human beings put up with verbal abuse?

Then there's the whole sleeplessness on my part - lieing there; hoping he'd just shut up or she would get fed up and leave or kick him out; praying he wouldn't hurt her in a fit of rage; wondering whether or not I should phone the security desk downstairs; wondering why no one else had notified security as I pondered the best move.

This couple moved into that apartment a month ago. I haven't formally met either of them, but think I've seen him in the elevator a few times.

If they go at it again, do I notify security? Do I buy ear plugs?

I don't want to turn into some nosy neighbor, but the guy is LOUD.... three hours of angry screaming loud. And I certainly don't want to turn this into a tit for tat - because I tend to throw soirees in the summer and things occasionally get loud.

What would you do?


This past weekend, a man I consider to be wise and sensible, told me that -

Great change can only come from great conflict.

I'm sure he borrowed this axiom from someone else... it just sounds like a phrase that has been around for a while. But is it true?

Is it possible for a person to wake up one morning and change overnight .... just as a matter of course? On a whim? Do struggle and stress have to be a part of the equation?

And does a great conflict necessarily guarantee some kind of change?