i made $25 this morning answering a phone survey from mass general hospital about core-needle breast biopsy. i don't even know why they picked me, since i wouldn't normally be a candidate for that kind of procedure (or is MGH trying to tell me something?). maybe they couldn't tell from my name whether i was a man or a woman. but when i talked with the person on the phone, my gender didn't seem to make much difference to her, even though i was personally confused by some of the questions. 

the haitian earthquake has gotten me worried about potential earthquakes here in boston. is haiti even an earthquake prone area? does it lie on a fault line the way the entire west coast does? if it can happen in haiti, surely it could happen here as well. i imagined myself being in an earthquake, how quickly i could run out of the house, whether that'd be a safe idea (with the possibly of falling electric cables and tree limbs), or whether it'd be safer just to brace myself in a doorway, which if memory serves me correctly, is the proper procedure during an earthquake because it's structurally the strongest part of the house. i then went online to do some research on boston earthquakes. the cape ann earthquake of 17551 was the last time boston suffered a catastrophic tremor. seismologists have rated it as a 6+ on the richter scale. fortunately, 18th century new england was still very much rural, and there only seemed to be property damage (mostly collapsed rock walls or toppled brick chimneys). so it's been more than 250 years since the last big boston earthquake; if one should happen again, it'd be a different story. although here in new england, the more prevalent natural disasters are probably still hurricanes and snow/ice storms. nevertheless, i'm going to be practicing some emergency exit move in case the house is ever a'rocking. 

massachusetts senate election has been garnering some national attention lately because the republican challenger scott brown has been surprisingly rising in the poll numbers against democratic candidate martha coakley. could a republican capture the senate seat of the late senator ted kennedy? in my opinion, the problem is the weak democratic candidacy. i'm not a fan of martha coakley. i think she came out a little too quick with her announcement that she'd run for the senate immediately after kennedy's death. her undisguised ambition is distasteful. i didn't vote for her in the primary (i voted for local representative mike capuano), so i'm pained to vote her in the special election next week. not because i think she deserves the senate seat, but more because she's the lesser of two evils, since i can't bear the idea of scott brown winning. he's kind of like a mitt romney lite: he has all the right credentials, including good looks, but a brown victory could potentially upset the democratic majority in senate, and might derail the health bill. 

oh, the late night talk show debacle! i'm still hoping jay leno will do the right thing and retire. conan has to stay as the host of the tonight show at 11:35. any other scenario will screw him over. starting a new 11:00 talk show at fox? that's going to compete with his same demographics who are watching jon stewart and stephen colbert at that time. jay leno just isn't funny. his jokes are awful, the sort of stuff that gets laugh on the playground but not the kind of sophisticate humor for mature audiences. i don't think conan's monologue is any better2, but at least he's willing to try new things and his sketches are occasionally hilarious. he seems out of place on the west coast, but there's where the celebrities are, and he'll need to stay there if he wants to draw those big name guests. i think leno is a nice guy, but he's at the epicenter of this whole mess. why NBC would continue to support him i don't understand. returning to the 11:35 time slot with a half hour show? how will he win back the ratings for the peacock network? at this point NBC has created a schism between the leno and conan camps. no matter what they decide now, they'll lose half of their audience. they have to look towards the future, and that future is conan. letterman may be winning the rating wars, but conan appeals to a more lucrative younger demographic. the biggest surprise is that i actually like the new jimmy fallon show. i didn't at first, i thought he tried too hard, but he's finally settled down and late night is remarkably funny. 

thank you hallmark channel for broadcasting reruns of cheers! starting at 1:00 in the morning every night i can catch 6 episodes. it's starting to become my new night time routine. i forgot how great the show was. i find myself embarrassingly laughing out loud in bed. i like the later episodes with rebecca, although the earlier ones with diana aren't bad either. last night i saw the one where sam prayed to god he's give up sex for 3 months if he survived a baby scare. then there was the episode where rebecca's new boss is this young upstart who wants to go on a date with her. 

an inconspicuous wednesday, i watched a lot of haitian earthquake coverage on television.3 since i unified my network last night, i was finally able to access my music library (served from a 10 year old mac in my bedroom) from my laptop out in the living room. english muffin sandwich, smoothie, hot dogs, and a bowl of miso soup made up my lunch and dinner.

1 the cape ann earthquake of 1755 was completely overshadowed by the lisbon earthquake that happened 3 weeks earlier. that one was rated richter 9.0, with perhaps upwards of 100,000 deaths, and pretty much completely destroyed the portuguese capital. 

2 actually, now that conan may be cancelled, his recent monologues have become unexpectedly funnier with a slew of gallows humor. with nothing left to lose, he's going for broke, and nothing is sacred, including his NBC overlords, who have been ridiculed mercilessly. the studio audience give him a standing ovation at the start of the show, and guests join in the fun of skewering both NBC and leno.

3 NBC (groan) sent a ragtag team of crack reporters to port-au-prince: brian williams, anne curry, and al roker. al roker? as the morning weatherman, does that also automatically make him the resident seismologist?