Monthly Archives: July 2003

Side Effect du Jour

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Those who guessed “nausea” are awarded five points. All others, thank you for playing.

So, here’s the deal. My sinuses have sucked for pretty much my entire life. Plugged, runny, completely inflamed — name a state of discomfort, and I’m likely to be in it. As health problems go, pretty small and dealable. But now there’s this thing where I keep getting sinus infections, and this one was completely unresponsive to the run-of-the-mill antibiotics. I have a sense that I was much sicker much longer than I had realized. So now, after 10 days of one antibiotic and another 14 days of Nuclear-Strength Killzall, on top of the antihistamines and decongestants and everything else, I’m almost feeling human again (though my eyes were all unhappy today). I can even run, so I’m easing back into that. But the doc says I gotta do something about this, which may be a combination of returning to allergy shots (no big deal, and well worth it if they work), and a possible, um, well — in carpentry terms, it could only be called “reaming” — of the sinus passages. But first, I must stick my head in a box and let the seers take a reading. There will also be an animal sacrifice of some sort, not because it’s necessary, but because it lends a proper solemnity to the proceedings.

But first, the vacation! Away next week, lying on a beach along a bike path in scenic Burlington, Vermont. It if rains, we visit the Ben & Jerry’s factory. It’s as simple as that.


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Do you realize that I cannot think of a single song, not a solitary one, about a high school reunion? There must be something in the country realm, but over on the pop side of the planet, I can’t think of a single one. And in classical, the only thing that comes close is Mussourgsky’s “Class Pictures at an Exhibition,” and frankly I’m beginning to suspect that street vendor’s CDs weren’t all on the up and up. Because don’t you think I would have remembered a Sinatra rap album?

Swiftly veering back to the as-yet-unannounced point: high school reunion Saturday. Held at a house in the Stockade, one of those houses that everyone wishes they had — three story house from the 1700s, in the city and on the river, its lot stretching to the river in a series of three terraces, the lowest one containing a large swimming pool. Brick wall in place of a fence, with gates leading out to the alley and down to the riverfront park. What keeps us all from owning such houses? Sanity! The gardens alone would be a full-time job! (And of course, my mind begins to wonder just how a two-hundred-plus-year-old house is wired, and I suspect the answer isn’t anything I’d want to be responsible for.) So we don’t own houses like that, but we’re grateful for the people who do, and who occasionally let us use them for delightful events like this.

So, this was the 25-year reunion (more formal event to follow in the fall). This is where you start to see who has hit the wall. There were the people who had always looked good, and to the annoyance or delight of others (depending on how you felt about those people), most of them still looked good. There were the people who have settled into a comfortable cruising altitude and look pretty much like middle-aged people should look, except that you have a picture of them in your head from kindergarten or fourth grade or ninth grade, and to some extent that picture will always meld with however they actually look now. There were people who have hit the wall at 42, or perhaps earlier, and who have much cardiology work in their future. There were people (though far fewer) who now look so unbelievably different from how they looked in high school that when these people introduced themselves, I was unable to understand their words, and having committed an introductory faux pas, was never really able to recover, conversationally. And there were people, and had you gone to my high school you could have guessed who they would be, if you had even remembered them at all, who think that such an occasion calls for mixing extreme drinking and that there swimming pool. There was one fine fellow with whom I shared a drunken conversation (or was it half-drunken, as I was in my 24/7 stone sober state?) who could not begin to remember that I was in the same graduating class. I thought that was natural, since a) we weren’t exactly on the same academic track; b) his academic track involved being bused somewhere else for most of the day (and I’m not busting on BOCES kids — in fact, I think there should be a lot more technical education than there is — but most of those kids might as well have been on another planet as far as I was concerned; c) he and most of his cohort used to reek of weed on a full-time basis. I was impressed he knew he’d been in high school. Perfectly fine guy, by the way.

So, interesting. Enough old friends were there that I had someone to talk to, and a couple of interesting people showed up. There’s this odd and interesting bond you share with people you grew up with, even if you never see them anymore. And there was a strong contingent of people who still live in and around Scotia, and know each other and see each other all the time. I guess that’s what they call a “community.” We talked about what grownups talk about — our kids, our parents, insurance, internet music piracy, Schenectady’s endless tumble into the abyss. Carol’s still a sweetheart, Nancy’s still quick and witty, Bruce is still a guy I just like to chat with. Louise is still Louise, and I mean that in a good way.

Only one set of new breasts that I noticed. I wasn’t looking that hard.

Holy Naked Duckhunting Girls, Batman!

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Okay, I got a couple of disturbing search requests yesterday. By disturbing search requests, I mean someone typed an odd search request into Google, my site showed up as a possible answer to that search, and said someone decided to visit my site as a result of that search request. Some are so disturbing that I wouldn’t even mention them here, lest I continue to draw in freaks and weirdos. The phrases sought do not, as a rule, appear all of a piece in my weblog, but Google finds them nonetheless. (I’ll confess to use of the phrase “Parisian whore,” in a now-forgotten discussion of Henry Miller, but that’s less disturbing than colorful. By modern standards of perversion, that’s an old Toulouse-Latrec sort of Google. A Google-Latrec, if you will.) And if these are disturbing but interesting, I’ll post them over at Disturbing Search Requests, a repository of such arcana for the desperately bored. (As mentioned previously, the Tour de France is over, and I have no clue what to do of an evening.)

Yesterday, there were two such searches. One was for “Lance Armstrong wife lonely,” which is disturbing in the sense that, in the spirit of fair play that pervades bike racing, one should not be scouring the web for information on whether Lance’s wife is lonely anytime around the Tour. The only use for such information would be to make a move on her, and that would just be wrong. It’s also disturbing that someone thought my site was worth a look. I can provide no insight into his domestic life; I’ve got my own glass house, thank you.

The other was an expansion on a previous disturbing search request, by adding “naked” to the already odd “duckhunting girls”. On Yahoo, mine was the only site that came up. The searcher came to my site anyway. Then I posted this odd search at Disturbing, hoping perhaps someone could enlighten me. What is it with duckhunting girls? It is a band, a movie, or what? Well, today my site was inundated by people who wanted to learn more about naked duckhunting girls.

I mean, I know I’m sick, but I didn’t know so many other people were…

Tired and Sleepy

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I’m so tired, you can’t even imagine. No longer sure if this is a side effect of the Avelox (which has a different side effect each and every night, including one night when the side effect was that it didn’t have a side effect), or if it’s just the cumulative exhaustion from 11 nights running without decent sleep. But my witty and pithy retelling of the reunion will have to wait at least one more night. Me, I’m going to sleep.

What a race!

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Wow. Unbelievable race for the 100th anniversary of the Tour de France. Lance arrived safely to his closest and perhaps best victory yet. He really had to work for this one, and Ullrich is going to be tough to beat in the future (Vinokourov is no slouch, either, and Beloki was doing very well until he fell and snapped his femur in two). He’s already said he’s going to try for number 6 (how can he not?). Unbelievable excitement. But now I can have my evenings back.

Le Tour est fin (almost)

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Have to realize that even if he hadn’t fallen, Ullrich (who is surely the second greatest athlete in the world, behind Lance) wasn’t going to gain time on Lance in the time trial. He knew that too, which made him take risks. He fell hard and skidded completely across the road and was lucky that there were actually hay bales at that location to keep him from slamming into a curb. He got up and got back on, seemingly not much worse for wear, but you could see how much that shook him and he couldn’t do anything to try to gain back the time. Lance had scouted the course that morning, had been warned by Hincapie that the final 15k were like ice, and knowing that Ullrich had lost time in a fall, he took all the twists and turns ultra-conservatively, and in the end still took back another 11 seconds from Ullrich. A phenomenal finish to an unbelievably exciting race. Lance has hinted a couple of times that there are things going on that people don’t know about, which of course makes one wonder if he was hurt in his fall at Dauphine Libere, or if his cancer is back, or what. And normally, they’d be able to say it’s all over and tomorrow is just a slow, easy ride into Paris, but the green jersey for best sprinter is still in contention, meaning the peloton will be working tomorrow, and Lance will have to watch out for any breakaway situation that Ullrich might be involved in, and his teammates will have to work to keep him out of trouble in the peloton. Too much, baby.

Oh, you wanted to hear about the reunion? Not yet. But soon.

1. Easy Way. 2. Hard Way. 3. My Way

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Many people build a treehouse by finding a tree of substantial girth and nailing random pieces of wood (or not-so-random, as the treehouse biz has gone all high-end) into it. I’ve taken a different tack: I built a very substantial tower (known around these parts as The Crow’s Nest) several years ago, and am allowing maple seedlings to grow underneath it and carry it up to the sky. My children’s grandchildren will have a seriously cool treehouse, I can assure you.

Some level of order has been restored to the yard, including the yanking of aforementioned seedlings, which were growing unimpeded since we surrendered the idea of keeping the sandbox free of cat poop. Raked up half a billion maple seeds, too. The party tomorrow has a camping theme, so we will be pitching tents in the morning. Bekah is seriously overloaded with the enormity of her birthday, and cries about every three seconds. All is going according to plan.

Lance, you’re killing me, man. . . . Listen, the leaders of the race are NOT supposed to competing for sprint bonuses, anyway. What is going on here?

The suspense is killing me

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Lance is 67 seconds up. Yesterday’s was the first stage in which you could truly say that nothing exciting happened. Which is fine. But I’m told that something exciting happened today, and I didn’t want to know if it was exciting good, exciting bad, or exciting Lance broke both his legs. I just don’t want to know. I’m suspecting he wants even more than that 67 second buffer, just in case he has a bad time trial tomorrow. Which he won’t, because it’s not as hot and he won’t make the dehydration mistake again (and really, he just wasn’t on in the first time trial, either.)

Gotta say, this whole Murder in City Hall thing creeps me out more than just a little bit. I do feel better that it was some kind of warped personal-political attack. But as someone who occasionally has to face angry mobs and tell them things they don’t want to hear, and who has done it on a number of occasions in that very chamber, I found the whole thing unsettling. I like to think that once I’ve passed through the metal detectors, there’s some level of security inside. (That’s something that’s not provided for at all, and should be, in the State Legislature’s hearing rooms. Decent security around the chambers, but nothing at all in the hearing rooms across the street.)

The presents are wrapped and ready to go… let the big Double Birthday celebrations begin!

Quick notes

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When and how, exactly, am I supposed to go grocery shopping when the Tour de France is taking up my every evening hour? I know, there was a rest day, but I was having one of my more interesting reactions to these antibiotics that night, so actual movement was out of the question. They’re taken once a day, and the first few hours after a dose are always interesting. Anyway, last night, Tyler Hamilton joins a breakaway very early into the stage, and incredibly, he stays with it and keeps the lead forever. Unheard of for a major player to do that, and you can bet they’ll never let him do that again. And you could see how much pain he was in from his fractured collarbone — his was not the calm face of Lance Armstrong. An amazing ride. Armstrong and Ullrich maintain their time separation of 1:07, the race gets flat for a few days, and it all comes down to the time trials on Saturday. First time I’ve ever been able to watch the TDF, and it’s apparently one of the greatest of all time.

I actually ran yesterday. Embarrassed to say how long it’s been, what with the rain and the heat and the sickness mmmmGLAVIN!!! (to quote Lileks quoting Simpsons). Started out in a light, delicious rain that felt just great, but then it started to heat up and muggy up, and by the time I was done, an invisible sun was punching UV through the mist and it was one of those days when you could get a sunburn even though it was dark. Got in a good 45 minutes in the zone, had to ice up a little last night and I’m a touch sore this morning, which is good in that it means I actually worked some muscles. Would have gotten out for another run this morning, but it’s raining pretty hard.

Coming up this weekend: Two birthday celebrations! Eighteen seven-year-olds running around my house! High school class reunion (note to self: lose 6 pounds; experiment with caffeine/Rogaine mixture)! And the final time trials! Can I get a woo and a hoo?

Web-commerce props

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I wanna give props to four e-tailers who have just in the past couple of weeks given me what I want, when I wanted it, no problems or questions or anything else. Need right-sized inner tubes, plus a couple of helmet liners and a fancy pump? Performance Bike. Need a new tent, like, now? Mountain Sports. Need a footprint for that tent? Backcountry Sports though the turkey-hunting bent may not be for everyone (Mountain Sports was out, but they had it back in stock within the week.) Need bike shorts for kids so you don’t have to stop every 3 minutes to fix a wedgie? REI.

There is nothing better than coming home and finding UPS boxes waiting for me, full of goodies.