Monthly Archives: March 2003

I am so very lagged

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But I swear to god, Mimi Smartypants is the funniest blogwriter I’ve found in ages. And any woman who would tell an IT techie “I’m here to rock you like a hurricane!” must have something going on. Full story here. Your click will be rewarded.
Otherwise, I’m exhausted. Note to self: Northern California in the brown months is much safer, histamine-wise. What isn’t swollen is bloodshot. What isn’t bloodshot is dripping. You’d think after 42 years my body would figure out what the f to do with pollen, but apparently I have an immune system like a labrador retriever chasing a ball into a wall, and every time it bangs up against the wall, it’s a surprise. (Hours of editing wouldn’t make that sentence clearer, so just deal with it, okay?)

Blog during wartime

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From the bulkhead window seat of an Airbus 319:
There’s a hell of a lot of America down there. I am always surprised by how imaginary the mountains appear. Shadows in light & dark brown with shocks of white at the top, impossibly detailed, even individual trees visible from 5 miles in the air, wisps of mist here and there distorting the view. Or, here, monstrous fluffy white clouds casting shadows below. The extent of the clouds is knowable only from above; below, you can only guess. The mountains run as far as the eye can see, even from way up here. The valleys are filled with snow, looking like powdered sugar that fills in the folds of a tablecloth. Those who first crossed these must have wondered if the mountains would ever end, if they hadn’t truly entered the land of the frost giants.
Just passed two other planes, one going the other way, the other a big bomber running right toward us, which is always unnerving. Seems as if there’s enough ‘up here’ up here that we needn’t see anyone else at all, but I know it doesn’t work that way.
People once walked across all this. And consumed 9 pounds of meat a day, while there was meat. No wonder the horses were skittish.
My allergies whacked me upside the head on this brief trip. On the way to the airport I noticed copious goldenrod, normally a July/August menace (with its quieter partner ragweed), and now I know what hit me.
There’s a war on, or didn’t you know? Nonstop coverage on CNN and everywhere else. Can’t even look at most of my usual blog reading. The arguments are over, we’re in it, and I can’t stand to read another word of self-righteous bleating from either side. There was an article on Salon earlier in the week that well-described my feelings on this- that this is something that has to be done, but that the Administration didn’t bother to make the case for the liberation of Iraq. I remember years of articles lamenting the horrible conditions for women in Afghanistan, demanding (and rightly so) that there should be some sort of intervention – but not sanctions, of course, because those only hurt the powerless, and nothing that infringes sovereignty even if it’s illegitimate. And then we went in and did something, and many of the same voices criticized that we didn’t fix it all overnight. And in the Iraq situation, there’s the call for endless diplomacy (11 years not being enough) and the naive belief that you can reason with madmen. It’s tragic that Vietnam casts such a long shadow over our foreign policy history, because what we’re seeing here is 1930s appeasement, a hope that if we give them what they want they’ll leave us alone. Read what the Muslim extremists are writing- this isn’t about our support for Israel and it’s not about their hatred of their love for Britney Spears CDs and Coke. This is a reactionary movement to restore the world to an imagined time of glory. Where those sentiments pop up here, they’re recognized for what they are, but there’s a dangerous tendency in liberal thought (and I don’t use that term derogatorily) to view the exotic as somehow more legitimate than the familiar, which leads to the fallacy that everything can be resolved if we just understood everyone else better. We should, but it’s important not to forget what we knew as children: some people are just evil.
Yes, some of our actions now will come back to bite us in the future. As they did in Afghanistan. As they did in Iraq. Despite our wishes, situations change. The Soviet Union and Iran leave the equation. People living among us save the money they make driving cabs and making pizza, and they funnel it back through ostensibly religious organizations to make into bombs to kill us. I don’t see a need to discuss the legitimacy of their desire to kill me as opposed to my desire not to be killed. In 10 years other things will have changed that will affect how all this turns out. Perhaps Islam will be swept by a movement that seeks to bring their societies forward.
Here’s a thing to keep in mind: attempts to return to a glorious past have not, historically speaking, worked out to the benefit of mankind.

Serendipity

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Serendipity- here’s what you should try: watch ‘Star Trek: Nemesis’ while listening to Aimee Mann’s ‘Lost in Space’ Maybe this album works with any movie, but this one fits very well. This movie sucks, but with Aimee way up loud, you can picture word balloons coming from the characters’ mouths, which would improve things more than somewhat. I cannot imagine that i once got a rush from Kate Capshaw playing Maggie the Cat at Syracuse Stage, but Counselor Troi (the Counselor With the Big Big Eyes) looks more beautiful than ever.
Hey, this works pretty well with The Church too.
The iPod is The Shuffle Mode of the Gods, the long-wished-for Radio Station of Me, What Music Would Sound Like If I Had Any Say. I have something like 850 songs on it, nearly 2 solid days of music. And even that seems not enough.
This new replacement for my Palm, the Audiovox Thera, is working out well enough. Having huge problems synching it, but it adds lots of features (like guessing words so I don’t have to write them fully . Wireless web access rocks! Too bad I’m such a good typist (90 wpm) that anything else will always be too slow
‘the moth don’t care if the flame is real.’ – Aimee
Hannah is so much my daughter — these days she’s constantly making up wordplay jokes. ‘What does a pig put on a boo-boo? Oinkment!’
Last night she came along with me to the drugstore, and while we were getting checked out, ‘Long December’ by Counting Crows came on. I said, ‘I hear this song everywhere I go,’ which has been true, plus it was featured in a Warren Miller tape we’ve seen a number of times this winter. And she asked, ‘Do you like it?’ which for some reason struck me as an interesting question. Then she sang along to an Elvis Costello song on the way home. A very interesting little girl.
Hey, remember this: we’ve got tickets to Marshall Crenshaw for Saturday night! Can’t wait. Saw him a couple of years ago at Belleayre, and he totally rocked. (Hey, does anybody else have rules about not listening to an artist for the five or six days prior to seeing him or her in concert? No? Then I won’t even ask about playing contrasting music during the ride there and back.)

Gadgets, gizmos, exhaustion

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Looks like I picked the wrong week to trade up my cell phone. Or something like that. I’m literally triple-booked at times these days, and tomorrow night I’m off to Sacramento and then right back on Friday night. Trying to get my new cell phone programmed and ready to accept text messages so I can leave the goddamn beeper behind forever (and so I shall), and also trying to get my other new toy, an Audiovox Thera, synched up so I can use it for my e-mail. It almost works. Even so, I can access work e-mail through its web interface, which means: NO MORE DRAGGING THE LAPTOP AROUND THE COUNTRY!! My back thanks me.
Oh, and the iPod? Shuffle mode tantra, baby.
And the plumbing? Oh, well, the plumber’s coming tomorrow. We have but one toilet, and I’m not going to be the one who makes it inaccessible for long periods of time.

I’m thinking of a water theme

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First bike ride of the season yesterday — snow still everywhere on the bike paths. Who knew that only Albany plowed its path? (Thanks, Albany!) Tried to start out at Colonie Town Park, but that didn’t work, so I drove down to the train station in Niskayuna, and that part of the path was clear only as far as the Lock 7 road, so I got out onto River Road and then up Rosendale, did some spins through the neighborhoods, went all the way to the end of Rosendale and then came back. Turns out I had been climbing more than I realized, because the ride back was fast.
Then I hit the mall for my iPod. Major tax return coming, and a cross-country trip this week, so I finally decided it was time to make the plunge. iPod: very cool. Software is completely intuitive, it’s like it teaches you how to use it.
But going to the mall is thoroughly painful. The place is just too goddamned big. Can’t wait ’til the EMS moves out of there. If only the Apple store would follow…
Today, continued work on the plumbing issues over my head. Found the leak, but man is it subtle. Have to tear out a little more ceiling, scrub some pipe, and hope that I can caulk it up. It may just be that the iron waste pipe is rotten after only 74 years, but I’m hoping I can patch it up because replacing that would be a major venture.

Dances with girls

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Last night was the Girl Scouts’ Sadie Hawkins Day Dance. (Never mind that any Lil’ Abner fan knows that Sadie Hawkins Day is November 15 — that’s the kind of thing that leaves you uninvited to dances.) This is a delightful event at which girls and their dads get to dress up for dinner and dancing. They seated us by troop (bad dad doesn’t know his daughter’s troop number — 75, as it turns out — but remembers his Cub Scout Pack was 63, Boy Scout Troop was 21, and Explorer Post was 30) and I had to work at small talk with the other dads and a grandpa, but we were all game for it. The girls were all dressed to the 7’s — they’ve got a little bit of practice before they get to the 9’s, but there were lots of heels and shawls, flouncy gowns and strappy little numbers, and a little bit of makeup and eye shadow here and there. Very cute, particularly when the DJ encouraged them to shout along the chorus to Shania Twain’s “I Feel Like a Woman” at the top of their lungs. The irony was for the dads. There were daddy-daughter dances, macarena and hokey-pokey, and a medley of oldies that at least gave me something to dance to. I wasn’t constructed to dance to “Jennie From the Block,” but I can manage the “Hawaii Five-O” them very nicely still.
But sitting in a cafeteria with swirling lights, a mirror ball and a DJ is still the same as it ever was, and it was just a little weird to be transported back in time. During our 6th grade class trip to Old Sturbridge Village, while we were eating our picnic lunch, Eddie Carroll asked a question that would unnerve me for the next year: “Who ya gonna take to Teen Town?” I didn’t even know what Teen Town was. It turned out to be a school dance in the eighth grade gym — they were held three or four times a year. (And yes, the name seemed dumb then, too, but there was still the Generation Gap then, and the oldsters had trouble naming things right. I suspect we still do.) From that moment on, my 11-year-old brain worried about nothing more than I worried about who I could possibly ask to a dance, and who would possibly go with me. I was not alone in this — we boys discussed this night and day. Our options, being from a very small neighborhood school, were very limited. If I’m remembering right, my active crush at that time (and there was always at least one active crush) was on a girl a year behind me, so she was safely excluded from consideration and I was safe from ever having to actually talk to her. When we advanced to seventh grade the next year, there would be girls from 5 other schools to choose from, but we worried whether we would have enough time to develop crushes on any of them before the first dance. (The biggest problem with being young is that you have all the time in the world to obsess over this stuff.) But still, that seemed like the only sane option.
Of course, in the end, despite dares and double-dares and months of consideration, almost no boys asked any girls. We all went in a knot. I still remember the song that was playing as we entered the darkened gym: “Go All The Way” by the Raspberries. (We knew that meant something. We didn’t really know what.) I still remember the horrible horrible horrible orange soda that was offered by way of refreshment. And I still remember that I danced not at all, talked to no girls whatsoever, and generally tried to stay invisible along the gym wall. The girls ran around whispering about who liked whom. The boys wandered in and out of knots, trying hard to be too cool to care since we were too dorky to dance. They could have torn up the center of the gym and it wouldn’t have had any effect — all the action was on the sidelines. I did have an active crush, but she was way out of my league, and if she was even there, I don’t remember, but I would never have talked to her. My friend Keith talked to girls like it was no big thing, and we all desperately envied his cool. I had fun anyway, and developed a progressive plan by which I would be both talking to, and dancing with, girls no later than high school graduation. I couldn’t see a way to speed things up.
In just a couple of years, all those little girls from the dance last night are going to be the gossiping objects of desire for boys who don’t really have a clue what they’re desiring. And so the world turns…
Oh, the top of the cafeteria must have been used for orchestra practice. Up with some of the music stands was a sheet of paper listing their practice order:
1) Scales
2) Bartok
3) 1812 Overture
4) Cripple Creek
I’m dying to hear a fifth-grade orchestra wheeze its way through Cripple Creek. A music teacher’s desperate attempt to be hip by letting them play music from their parents’ time?

Sawzall: good.

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You can’t really do serious damage to your house without a Sawzall. But I’ve got one of those.
Actually, the news is goodish. For the last couple of years, in the dead of winter, we’ve had occasions when there has been a leak down the dining room wall, but a very light one, and it has always gone away once it has warmed up. Once we thought it might be from an ice jam, and good luck ever tracking down a roof leak. But eventually it dawned on us that it was connected with draining the bathtub. Never leaks during a shower, but would occasionally leak in the very cold weather when there was some hydraulic head in the tub. (And, please, if you’ve never had hydraulic head in your tub, you just have no idea.) But it always went away when it warmed up, so we figured, a little pipe shrinkage, a couple of drips, and I’m not going to rip out a wall and a ceiling for a couple of drips.
Lately, many more drips. Not just drips. Spillage.
So, today, the Sawzall.
Stay tuned.

I’m all lost in the supermarket…

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I can no longer shop happily. Here’s what happened to me tonight:

  • The least of all Human League songs, “Human,” is now stuck in my head. The least of all Human League songs is saying something, especially for those of us who remember “Mirror Man” and “I Am The Law.” I’m sorry, it was the ’80s, music deeply sucked, and I was really very stoned. Very. And “Don’t You Want Me” rocked, right? Right?
  • They moved the bananas to the entrance to the fruit & produce section. Or so it would appear. Bananas up front, where bananas have never been before. But I work my way to the back, and what do I find? Bananas in back, where bananas have ever been before. Fruit & Produce is now bookended by bananas. I don’t know what this means, but if they show up on the third wall next week, I’m switching grocery stores, just to be safe.
  • I ran through entire aisles without even looking, meaning I probably missed a mess of stuff I needed, but I just couldn’t deal with those aisles today. Like the battery/detergent/starch aisle. I really couldn’t bear to think about all the things I might need from that aisle, so I skipped it altogether. If my shirts start to look less than starchy fresh, you’ll know why.
  • The raisins are on the very bottom shelf. It’s a squat I really just would rather not do. Nothing else I need is on the bottom shelf.
  • The conversations of teenage clerks and bag boys are enough to make me want to throttle them, but only because I had those conversations more than 25 years ago, and it doesn’t seem like they needed to be said twice. Apparently I was wrong. My god were we stupid when we were young.

Check out this rap

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I’m not into blogrolling and all that, but there are some blogs I read regularly — Lileks, Wil Wheaton, a number of the LiveJournal Buffy/Angel entries, and I’ve just discovered this delightful writer, Mimi Smartypants, who today starts her entry with:
Tax refund for me! Everybody say yeah! After last year’s debacle, when we owed two thousand dollars and I was convinced I would end up in debtor’s prison, I totally changed my withholding scheme at work and that, combined with NASDAQ’s shitty performance, means hooray hooray refund. What do you think? Pay off the Visa bill or spend it all on cocaine and lapdances? I knew you would say that.