Ten years on
This has been nearly exclusively a photo blog for several years now, but on this day I felt like I should have some sort of comment. When I looked back at the last time I wrote about 9/11, though, it still expresses what I want to say.
And the fact that I got a death threat still pisses me off.
Gwendolyn Brooks and DADT
The last few weeks of debate on the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, and its eventual repeal, had a Gwendolyn Brooks poem echoing around in the back of my head.
I finally figured out which one I was half-remembering, and here it is for you.
the white troops had their orders but the Negroes looked like men
They had supposed their formula was fixed.
They had obeyed instructions to devise
A type of cold, a type of hooded gaze.
But when the Negroes came they were perplexed.
These Negroes looked like men. Besides, it taxed
Time and the temper to remember those
Congenital iniquities that cause
Disfavor of the darkness. Such as boxed
Their feelings properly, complete to tags –
A box for dark men and a box for Other –
Would often find the contents had been scrambled.
Or even switched. Who really gave two figs?
Neither the earth nor heaven ever trembled.
And there was nothing startling in the weather.
Gwendolyn Brooks, 1945
"Self," I say to myself, "isn't it about when the photos we uploaded to noise to signal were going to run out? Don't we need to upload more?"
"Why self," I replied, "Of course not. I made sure that it would run out on the weekend, so we'd have time to update without a gap."
"But self," I said, pointing to the computer, "the last photo showed up yesterday morning."
"None today? Self, you better not be messing with me."
"Nope, none today."
"Aw dammit, self, why the hell didn't you say anything?"
(Partly inspired by this tweet from this morning)
nocklebeast, on Tuesday, November 16, 2010 at 3:09 PM:
um.... you better get on that.
At the mall with The Kid
Kid: "What's THAT store called?"
Me: "Um, it's called Victoria's Secret."
Kid: "What do they sell?"
Me: "Mostly underwear."
Kid: (laughing) "NOoooo..."
Me: "Nope, that's what they sell. Fancy underwear for women."
Kid: "That's SILLY."
Me: "Well, it's kind of like princess underwear for grownups."
Kid: "Ohhhhh... OK!"
Apparently that made a great deal of sense to her.
Uncle Vinny, on Sunday, November 15, 2009 at 7:40 PM:
It makes slightly more sense to me now, too.
GeoGeek, on Monday, November 16, 2009 at 7:34 PM:
I always feel like a Princess when I wear stuff from that store.
Last night I had to say goodbye to an old friend.
Rusty and I lived with each other for nearly all of her nineteen years, even before Miz Becky and I started dating. I got her as a kitten, after she wandered onto a classmate's property out in the country. She could fit in my hand at the beginning, and I was immediately devoted to her.
At her last exam, four or five months ago, our vet said "At her age, most of her contemporaries have been dead for six years." And over the last several years, as Rusty passed sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, she seemed like she would go on forever. A little grayer, a little arthritic, maybe a little deaf (or just better at ignoring me), she could still sprint across the lawn like a young cat, even if she was the equivalent of 95 in human years.
And then about two months ago, she started fading out, as old cats do. She got lighter, and spent more time sitting in corners and under tables. In the last two weeks she'd been vomiting up hairballs, which we figured was just her usual end of summer shedding and puking ritual.
Two days ago, she took a turn for the worse, and last night we decided we had to at least get her some pain meds. I took her to the emergency clinic down the hill from us, and after a careful examination, the vet told me what I mostly expected: Rusty had some kind of large mass in her chest, and although we could probably make her comfortable for a few days, it was unlikely to be the kind of thing she was going to get better from.
Miz Becky and I had already talked about this possibilty before I left the house, and we had decided that we were ready to let Rusty go. The vet made all of her preparations, and I filled out paperwork and talked to Rusty.
She left peacefully, in my arms, at about 6:30.
I thought I had lost her once before, just after I moved to the Seattle area, when we were living in a house in the woods on Bainbridge Island. She ran out an open door and spent a week pretending to be a wild cat. I'd whistle for her when I was outside and would sometimes hear her typical chirrup sound in response, but I could never see her. One day as I got home from work I whistled as usual and heard her chirrup, much closer than she had been. I looked around and saw her sitting daintily on a log, licking her paw and looking back at me. I slogged thirty feet through the salal and sword ferns and picked her up. She was in perfect health; I expect she had been having a grand time hunting for her food and drinking water off leaves.
Besides her sweet personality, Rusty was also the fastest cat I've ever known. She'd sit in the bathtub after we had showered in the morning and snatch water droplets out of the air:
After The Kid was born, many people told us that our cats were going to become little mothers to her, acting protective or at least curious. Rusty, already a grand dame at sixteen, didn't bother to. She wasn't at all interested in The Kid, pro or con.
She eventually allowed The Kid to come close and pet her. The Kid called her Tutu Rusty, and I think Rusty was OK with that.
Goodbye, old friend. Good kitty. Good kitty.
Miz B, on Saturday, October 3, 2009 at 8:25 AM:
I can't add much to Dave's lovely tribute, other than to say that Rusty was a great kitty, and will be missed. And to add the memory of her drinking the water drained off a tuna can: you have never seen such vociferous licking of face and whiskers to get every last drop...
The chair where she often sat looks awfully empty this morning. Goodbye sweet girl.
Sophia katt, on Saturday, October 3, 2009 at 10:20 AM:
What a wonderful kitty, and how graciously you let her go.
Sunfriday, on Saturday, October 3, 2009 at 3:25 PM:
Farewell Rustoleum. You taught me well.
Uncle Vinny, on Saturday, October 3, 2009 at 10:41 PM:
I was happy to have met and cuddled with Rusty over the years. She was one of a kind.
Nathan Black, on Saturday, October 3, 2009 at 11:35 PM:
My condolences friend. It is never easy to loose a boon companion, but your photos and words are a wonderful tribute to her.
heather, on Sunday, October 4, 2009 at 12:08 AM:
Rusty was the very first cat I met when I moved to Seattle. That was when she was camping out at Jenn and Rich's. Bye bye, Rusty. You were very very loved.
Savannah, on Sunday, October 4, 2009 at 12:24 PM:
Years and years ago, I had a cat named Helen who must have been an ancestor of Rusty's somehow--she was exactly that kind of full tortoiseshell, hardly a drop of white on her. She could catch drops of water from the air as well, and was smarter and more alert than anyone in the room. She was proud and aloof and magnificent. When she sickened, she kept her head up and behaved with heartbreaking dignity. Losing any cat is hard, but losing a cat like Rusty and Helen cuts extra deep.
At the risk of sounding foolish, I know that Helen has come to help Rusty across the river. She's going to bite the boatman's nose if he makes any trouble, and show Rusty the way. Don't worry, your friend is in good paws.
So long, it's been good to know ya
Everything is ephemeral, even crazy gypsy vaudeville madness, so it's not completely shocking that my good friends in Circus Contraption have decided to go their separate ways after 11 years of looniness.
Here's a selection of my photos from their fond farewell party.
And if you'd like to see more, here's my Circus Contraption portfolio.
So long, guys.
Uncle Vinny, on Friday, July 24, 2009 at 8:45 AM:
I'm so glad I got to see one of their last shows.
While I was writing this, I just noticed the "Caution Wet Taint" sticker on the bass! Ha!
The Kid's gonna be alright
Yesterday morning, getting dressed. The Kid is hiding a bird behind her back.
Kid: "Where's the bird?"
DAE: "I don't know, I can't see it. Do you know where it's gone?"
DAE: "Oh, that's a long way to go. Why is the bird there?"
Kid: "He has a job there."
DAE: "What's his job?"
Kid: (darkly, grinning) "Scaring princesses."
Oh, mine? Yeah, she's the creepy one over there.
Huzzah, I say.
Tim, on Wednesday, July 8, 2009 at 6:39 PM:
GeoGeek, on Friday, July 10, 2009 at 7:26 AM:
earlier in the day it was 12:34:56 7/8/9.
THIS SHALL NOT STAND
Yes, I did shamelessly use my child as a prop.
nocklebeast, on Wednesday, July 1, 2009 at 2:17 PM:
why else would you have kids?
Sarah, on Wednesday, July 1, 2009 at 6:52 PM:
Their small hands are useful for detail work?
This morning's idea for a cabaret act
I'm in drag, dressed as the virgin mary. I have a naked baby ventriloquists' dummy on my lap. We argue economic theory.
rfkj, on Monday, April 27, 2009 at 10:08 AM:
Great, but what's the act?
Another tale of the Stealth Sinoglot
I head to the kitchen in our building to get a cup of coffee. The coffee machine is brewing one already, so I wait.
There are two Chinese women there as well, washing their lunch containers and gossiping about people on the team in Chinese. "He's such a jerk... she's worse... he smells..." and so on.
Eventually the machine finishes, but neither of the women make a move towards the coffee. After a bit they glance at me, and then at the coffee, and then at each other.
"Whose coffee is that?"
They glance at me.
"Oh, it's neither of yours? I'll just move it, then. Thanks."
They studiously ignore me while they finish packing their stuff up in silence.
Uncle Vinny, on Wednesday, April 15, 2009 at 5:11 PM:
You are such a fiend! I love these stories.
Heather, on Wednesday, April 15, 2009 at 11:07 PM:
Isn't it fun :-) I like doing the same avec les Françaises
In which I dream of my father
I am at a party in a loft. I don't know anyone there, nor do I know where I am.
Eventually I realize that it's 1968 and I'm in San Francisco. I don't know how I got then, but I know that I need to get back. To do that, I need to get somewhere in the city.
I find that I have some money in my pocket. None of the money is old enough, though; I have a few quarters from 1969 and 1970 but nothing from before the time I'm in.
As I am walking down the stairs from the loft, I realize that if it's 1968, my parents are living somewhere in San Francisco. I walk through the city to their apartment.
My mother is at work, but my father is home. He thinks I'm insane and challenges me to tell the future. I try, but I can't say anything that has happened in the future.
In desperation, I begin to tell him about his past, about his family, about how he and my mother met, about visiting Yosemite in the winter, about growing up in Brooklyn.
As I tell him these stories he begins to age in front of me. Eventually I realize that we're in my parents' apartment as it is today, and I weep with relief. He hugs me and I wake up.
Heather, on Tuesday, February 17, 2009 at 9:31 AM:
The Baba, on Tuesday, February 17, 2009 at 5:06 PM:
Glad to have been of some help!
The Kid, at least, is enjoying the snow today
Me, I'm working from home in my basement office, pretending it's not all white outside.
Heather, on Thursday, December 18, 2008 at 3:04 PM:
Sarah, on Friday, December 19, 2008 at 4:04 AM:
I don't mind it being all white outside...I just don't like it hanging around for close to six months at a time.
stacy, on Tuesday, December 23, 2008 at 6:12 PM:
She is gorgeous and marvelous, what a great kid you two have...and I love that she's catching snow flakes with her tongue...you did teach her to make snow angels, right?
Have a merry holiday!
The current running gag at our house
The Kid: "Say poop."
The Kid: "Say poooop!!"
Me: "No, no!"
The Kid: "SAY POOP"
Me: (sotto voce) "poooop"
The Kid: "HAHAHA YOU SHOULDN'T SAY THAT"
Both of us: (collapse in helpless laughter)
ejuana, on Monday, December 15, 2008 at 8:54 AM:
russ, on Monday, December 15, 2008 at 11:10 AM:
HAHAHA you shouldn't say that!
Heather, on Monday, December 15, 2008 at 11:48 AM:
Poor Becky. Poor, poor, Becky.
This morning's story from home
The Kid occasionally likes to run around the house naked, as most kids do. Usually this is just before her bath, but some mornings turn into naked running time as well.
This morning I was brushing my teeth when Miz Becky came into the room, laughing.
Apparently as The Kid was struggling to get her feet out of her pajama legs, she was grunting and muttering to herself: "Let's get this party started."
Heather, on Tuesday, December 9, 2008 at 9:41 PM:
Awesome. I love this age.
But remember: Funny now. Not so funny when she's older :)
stacy, on Wednesday, December 10, 2008 at 12:03 AM:
I love it!
Sarah, on Thursday, November 20, 2008 at 6:08 AM:
More on the subject of marriage rights
That's Wanda Sykes in billionaire drag, by the way.
I still don't get Radiohead
Every time these guys go on tour or release a new album, the old and new media go crazy, foaming at the mouth, spending a few days stunned after seeing them, whatever. And every time this happens I make a point of trying to listen to some of their music again.
This morning I yet again queued up a stack of videos on the youtubes and played through the list. The result is the same. Nothing but a big "whuh?"
I'd like to be clear: I don't mean to suggest that they're annoying, over-rated, fiddly navel-gazers. They seem like fine musicians, and I don't dislike their music.
I just don't get the froth. Can anyone explain it to me?
Uncle Vinny, on Monday, August 25, 2008 at 1:04 PM:
My guess is that you just don't like the genre. Your taste in music runs in lots of tracks, but it doesn't seem to include much "rock" or anything like "art rock"... I could be wrong (Radiohead joke, ha!)
rfkj, on Monday, August 25, 2008 at 6:27 PM:
Whenever I've heard a Radiohead song (other than "Creep"), I've thought "Okay...is anything going to happen?" The music is just not interesting. I don't get the adulation either. Same goes for Beck.
Joshua Edelstein, on Thursday, September 18, 2008 at 7:19 AM:
Have you heard "The Bends?" That song alone is enough of a reason to gush over the band. And "Fake Plastic Trees" is pretty good too.
In which I dream music
I am naked, walking down a long concrete hallway. It is dimly lit, with sputtering fluorescent tubes embedded in the right wall at shoulder height. The lights far enough apart that they don't so much light the hallway as make the spaces between them darker.
There is a sound of dripping in the distance. I do not know where I am walking to. I am alone.
The concrete walls and floors are stained darkly, layers on layers splashed on them and dried in place. The walls and floors have never been cleaned.
As I walk, I can hear singing above the echoes of my bare feet on the cold concrete. The voice is high and reedy. The song repeats, endlessly, listless but insistent.
It's raining, it's pouring
The old man is snoring
He bumped his head
And was left for dead
And he was not found 'til the morning
Sarah, on Friday, July 11, 2008 at 5:40 AM:
Yikes. That's a slightly more macabre version than I remember from my childhood:
He went to bed
where he bumped his head
And he couldn't get up in the morning
nocklebeast, on Friday, July 11, 2008 at 7:27 AM:
My musical dream was a little different this morning. I was working on the floor, with paper scissors and tape. My sister was around, distracting me. The heavy metal song where they sing about how cool dungeons and dragons is stops, and I recognize the next song, "Oh, this is a good one." It's Simon and Garfunkel singing "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead" to the tune of "Feelin' Groovy"
Ding Dong the witch is dead,
which witch, the wicked wi-itch
ding dong, the witch is dead,
and we're feelin' groovy
David Adam Edelstein, on Friday, July 11, 2008 at 8:13 AM:
I'm surely not the only person to notice that eGuana managed to bug you in your sleep. She is a MASTAHHHHH!
Tim, on Friday, July 11, 2008 at 8:34 AM:
..... Ummmmmmm. .... (currently standing in line for the newest crack - errr iPhone)
ejuana, on Friday, July 11, 2008 at 10:43 AM:
POWER DREAM BUGGIN!!!
It takes years of advanced training and practice, but I did it!
When we were choosing The Kid's name, one of our constraints was that we wanted something that wasn't very common. As it turned out, the name we liked the most hadn't been in the top 1000 names in the US since 1939, and had only ever gotten as high as the 368th most common girls' name.
Today I wondered what the top 1000 looked like for The Kid's birth year, and turned to the Social Security Administration to find out. Turns out her name isn't in the top 1000 in 2006, either.
What was really interesting, though, was the last 50 in the top 1000 names list. Remember, these are the girls' names that are more common than The Kid's.
|Rank||Female name||Number of females|
Close readers will note that it's more likely that she'll have a classmate named Akira or Leia than it will be for her to have a classmate with the same name.
It's also interesting to note that although the execrable Nevaeh is the #43 girls' name, the poor speller's version — Neveah — is all the way down at #996 .
Uncle Vinny, on Thursday, November 15, 2007 at 11:48 AM:
Huh! 'Janice' all the way down at #994? That's a very cool name, I'm kind of glad it's rare now.
heather, on Thursday, November 15, 2007 at 12:05 PM:
Bobbin's name isn't in the top 1000 for 2005 or 2006 and was ranked 970 in 2004. We went through the same process when selecting her name - really wanted to find a name that wasn't common, that wasn't shared with another family member, but that was attractive and didn't set her up for a lot of teasing, and that also had some personal relevance to us/our family. It took a while and a tonne of research but we eventually did it!
Both Zed and Bobbin's names suite them perfectly, I think.
Are we good parents, or are we good parents? ;-)
Savannah, on Thursday, November 15, 2007 at 2:36 PM:
Yeah, but past performance is not a guarantee of the future. When I was born, "Savannah" was not in the top 1000. More girls were named Aida (787), Athena (757), and Gia (729) than Savannah that year. When I was a kid, people kept calling me "Samantha" because they literally could not wrap their heads around the weirdness that was my name. These are the people who are now naming their children that! To the point where it's #30. So things can change, and change fast.
I think you have to go with the name you love, and forget everything else.
nocklebeast, on Thursday, November 15, 2007 at 8:08 PM:
Janice is my super role model.
This all reminds me of a chapter in Freakonomics on baby name frequency and economic success. There were some poor spellers is the years studied. The one that stands out in my mind was pronounced something like "shah-teed" but its spelling may not be appropriate for a "family website."
In which I get schooled by the truly weird.
To: dae, unclevinny, geogeek
it has been very quiet from you kids lately. i miss the inane banter. ;-)
To: talkingcrow, unclevinny, geogeek
Many people find an undercoat of primer helps with even coverage oftheir chosen color paint.
To: talkingcrow, dae, geogeek
So anyway, I told her that I didn't find the jokes about my divorce as funny as they used to be, and just because I'm losing my hair a little doesn't mean I'm necessarily past my prime. I mean I don't want to get all Judge Wapner or anything, but I will if I have to. Two can play at that game, and I don't mean Jenga. It's easily 14 to 16 hours a week to keep the lawn in fighting condition and I don't get the shittiest "thank you" for it, not a goddam thing, not that I deserve a medal but it would help if she'd scream just a little less... just screaming screaming every day, like everything is a huge crisis well it's NOT a crisis, but it will be especially if we can't afford to get the edger fixed and another 40-pound fertilizer bag. That's a crisis my friend, like she couldn't even imagine. But nooo, it's all "global warming" this and "climate crisis" that, and "oh, why don't we just edge it by hand" as if that's going to get us back on the cover of Homes and Gardens, well it WON'T, I've been through that fairy tale with my last two wives/gardeners, and I'm not going there again!!!! It's back to diagonal cutting regimens, hand-aeration and a lot more attentiveness with the tweezers -- yeah, like that's going to happen! -- just the BASICS, we've completely fallen down on Lawn Care 101, fuckit, and I get a face full of screaming if I try to raise the standards one fucking IOTA, let alone getting us back into regionals (or state, which is where we belong). But anyway, I'm fucking sick of it, and if this thing falls apart you can damn well take it to the bank that I'm taking the dogs with me, no way am I
shit cops are here more later
To: talkingcrow, dae, unclevinny
so there's this guy right? he's my neighbor on the other side of the driveway. yeah that one--the bald fuck that's always out in his lawn wearing that greasy wifebeater. I swear to jesus he's out there every fucking time you come over, isn't he? yeah well I'd probably be out in my lawn all day and night if I was married to what he has to put up with. yeah, no shit. well, see, I found out something about him. found out when the cops showed up last night and started banging on his door. turn's out that mr fucking chem-lawn hasn't been keeping up with the payments to his first marital mistake. no shit. also turns out that the current mrs chemlawn didn't ever know about #1 or #2. cops didn't tell me that part, of course. shit, you could hear her goddamn shouting all the way down to frank's place. i swear to jesus, frank calls me up and says, he says, what the fuck is all that noise? he thought it was my old lady on my ass again about not cleaning the fucking garage or something.
To: dae, unclevinny, geogeek
I love you guys. Seriously. I am devoted.
More dialog around the house
Miz Becky to eye-rolling me: "You know, that 'oh my god you're so weird' look doesn't work so well when you have a laundry basket on your head."
Two unrelated ideas for reality tv shows
Ho-down, the show where street prostitutes compete at country line dancing. These girls can really move in cowboy boots!
Pimp my Hoe: Each week, a lucky viewer gets a set of rhinestone-encrusted garden tools and a set of garden beyotches for a week. They can really turn those beds!
Fred Meyer, 7:48pm
The checker scans my loaf of bread. Scans the humidifier. Scans the three chocolate bars. She looks up at me.
"Sick wife and baby at home?"
"See it all the time. Bad time of year for it."
She goes back to scanning my purchases.
coda: At home, writing this up. Reading the receipt: "Hey, I could have earned nine points with my Fred Meyer rewards card!"
Miz Becky, coldly: "Oh, great. You fucked up again."
Me: (laugh, almost fall off of stool, high five Miz Becky)
nocklebeast, on Thursday, March 22, 2007 at 8:24 AM:
um... was that "mean Becky?"
david adam edelstein, on Thursday, March 22, 2007 at 8:28 AM:
Oh good lord no. That's just snarky Becky.
Regular visitors may have noticed that there wasn't a new photo this morning. Your author is too sick to shoot — which is saying something — with some evil relative of a stomach flu.
The bright spot, from my perspective, is that The Kid seems to be on an upward trend from her own sickness, and Miz Becky is also much better than she was a couple of days ago. Which means your author's timing is pretty good.
Not that the blessing of good timing makes me feel any better.
Photos will resume as soon as I'm well enough to hold a camera steady.
heather, on Saturday, March 17, 2007 at 9:57 PM:
Rotavirus? Norovirus? Or another one? Or did you not get taken to the ER in an ambulance and forced to surrender a stool sample for analysis?
Definitely good timing. See if you can maintain that. Cause it sucks when you're all exactly the same amount of sick at the same time.
Glad to hear 2/3s of you are on the mend. Hope you follow suit soon too!
Uncle Vinny, on Sunday, March 18, 2007 at 3:48 AM:
Hang in there, wet li'l kitten clutching a rope! Healthier moments are right around the corner...
david adam edelstein, on Sunday, March 18, 2007 at 7:12 AM:
It's looking like plain ol' gastroenteritis, for those of you following the team roster, given the relative speed we're zipping through it.
Although Uncle Vinny's mental image has set off a fresh round of projectile vomiting in the house. Thanks, buddy.
Laura Z, on Sunday, March 18, 2007 at 8:20 AM:
Ugh! I am so sorry to hear that. Hope you are all better and back to the camera soon.
After the windstorm
I should probably report that despite what was a hell of a windstorm, we came through relatively unscathed. The power was out from about 3:00am Friday morning -- after a rather spectacular set of transformer explosions -- to 11:30am the same day, which means we were among the luckiest.
Something like one million homes in the Seattle area were without power in the aftermath of the storm, and many of those -- like Tim and Heather -- don't expect to get power back for several days. Heather and Bobbin joined us for a little slumber party at our house last night, after Tim went home to take care of the animals. D&C&E joined us for Shabbos dinner, but went home to their dark house. I haven't heard from geogeek but I expect that Whidbey Island is a cold, dark place right now.
I fired up the wood stove, so the living room was warm. Our water heater is natural gas, as well as our stove, which meant that we could shower and I could have coffee -- after grinding it by hand with the mortar and pestle.
stacy, on Sunday, December 17, 2006 at 4:07 PM:
sounds cozy and sweet but I'm sorry you're all having to deal with that...still, it's a night you'll all remember.
Stay warm. It's 70 degrees in Austin right now!
GeoGeek, on Monday, December 18, 2006 at 7:32 AM:
Yep, Whidbey was a cold and dark place this weekend (but the ferry ride Thursday night sure was exciting!) We went 63 hours without heat/power, but I feel lucky--a lot of places are still without, 24 hours later than us. Besides, we wimped out and took The Febe and pooch to a hotel in Mukilteo--what luxury! The Febe even met Santa (much to her extreme displeasure).
Debra, on Monday, December 18, 2006 at 8:28 AM:
We got our power back in the wee hours of the morning on Satuday so life was better after Friday. Still, I think we had it really easy compared to many. Having a wood stove with a small shelf is a grand, great thing, despite the horrible air quality issues when we all crank the stoves up at the same time. Fridge contents didn't fare as well but hey, good excuse to clean the fridge!
Timothy, on Tuesday, December 19, 2006 at 10:32 AM:
108 hours AND COUNTING -
Ughh - PSE is saying upto Friday or Saturday
What passes for pillow talk around here
Me (exaggeratedly huffy): "I'm not interested in talking to you if you're going to mock."
Miz Becky: "What, we're never going to talk again?"
Laura Z, on Sunday, December 3, 2006 at 8:34 AM:
The meteorologist speaks for me
WHAT A MONTH. HEAVY RAINS AND FLOODING...WINDSTORMS AND NOW NOT ONLY DOES IT SNOW...IT SNOWS WITH A NATIONAL TELEVISION AUDIENCE WATCHING. ALL THAT IS LEFT IS FOR SEATTLE TO BREAK THE MONTHLY PRECIPITATION RECORD WHICH LOOKS LIKE IT WILL HAPPEN WEDNESDAY NIGHT OR THURSDAY MORNING.(From NOA'A, of course)
My mom very reasonably called from Hawai'i to make sure we were protecting her granddaughter.
Update, 10:22 PST: Why yes, I did take some pictures of the snow. They run from last night (weirdo light colors!) to this morning.
rfkj, on Tuesday, November 28, 2006 at 10:02 AM:
It is manifestly unfair that you have snow but I have rain.
David Adam Edelstein, on Tuesday, November 28, 2006 at 10:15 AM:
What do you care? If I remember correctly, it was you who famously said "It's 68 degrees all winter."
rfkj, on Tuesday, November 28, 2006 at 6:40 PM:
However, what I meant was that it's never cold because I'm always inside. But I like the snow :)
No photo this morning.
Instead, I made chicken stock (with plenny feet), and pasta with pumpkin sauce, and granola.
Mmm, delicious. Don't you wish you could have some?
rfkj, on Sunday, November 12, 2006 at 6:53 PM:
Not if they're all in the same bowl, dude.
heather, on Sunday, November 12, 2006 at 8:38 PM:
I want nothing that contains chicken feet.
David Adam Edelstein, on Sunday, November 12, 2006 at 8:44 PM:
heather, on Tuesday, November 14, 2006 at 6:49 AM:
What I don't know won't kill me. So just keep making sure I don't know it.
David Adam Edelstein, on Tuesday, November 14, 2006 at 9:13 AM:
You can be sure I'll handle it with my usual dact...yl.
Today's amusing Chinese language story
I'm waiting for the bus to go to work this morning. A guy walks up to me and asks in a strong Chinese accent: "Excuse me, can you tell me where I can catch the number seventy bus?"
I of course answer in Chinese. Bus directions I can still handle.
"Nin dao nali qu? Hao, di qishe che keyi, qishier, qishesan liangge ye keyi. Tamen xia yige lu ting che."
No reaction at all. He chats with me in Chinese, thanks me in Chinese, and goes on his way.
As though it's the most natural thing in the world to walk up to a 6'2" , long-haired, haole guy in downtown Seattle and have him speak your own language.
Joshua Edelstein, on Wednesday, October 18, 2006 at 10:16 AM:
david adam edelstein, on Wednesday, October 18, 2006 at 10:39 AM:
Ha ha ha, Mr. "I-can-type-in-Chinese". Thbttt.
Timothy, on Wednesday, October 18, 2006 at 4:14 PM:
You both a bunch of show offs!
david adam edelstein, on Wednesday, October 18, 2006 at 4:21 PM:
It's a good thing we're also handsome and modest, or we'd be insufferable.
Joshua Edelstein, on Wednesday, October 18, 2006 at 8:19 PM:
Yeah, but I just noticed that you actually said "您," not "你." For shame on me. At least I'm still good looking.
David Adam Edelstein, on Wednesday, October 18, 2006 at 9:43 PM:
You can't help it if I'm more polite than you are.
I did realize on further consideration tonight that if I was -- or more accurately, when I have been -- on the street in a foreign country, and I tried to ask someone questions in an unfamiliar language, and they answered me in English, I probably wouldn't make a big deal out of it, either.
stacy, on Thursday, October 19, 2006 at 10:16 AM:
you should know this one...
Someone gave me a pendant with some chinese characters on it. It's from one of my homeless friends who doesn't speak Chinese. How do I find out what the characters mean? I don't want to walk around with something like "Hot stuff" around my neck in Chinese...or do I?
Why is this man smiling?
There I was this morning, standing on a crowded bus full of wet, crabby people, the windows steaming up from our breath condensing against the cold leaking in from the outside... smiling and bobbing my head cheerfully.
Because Desmond Dekker was singing sweetly in my ears, and I had no choice but to pay attention, from one happy island boy to another:
Come on, all you people
Come on, before it's too late
Because I and we are going, and we must rejoice
Come on, before it's too late.
That's the refrain from Mount Zion, by the way.
In which we discover I'm even evil in my sleep
Apparently -- I heard all of this second hand, as it were -- early yesterday morning, Miz Becky woke up from a nightmare involving spiders.
As she explained this to 7/8 asleep me, I patted her head comfortingly.
And then made little spider tracks down her arm with my hand.
Of course, as she was describing this to me the next morning, I was terribly sympathetic and contrite. Or, uh, I laughed hysterically, and am in fact snickering to myself as I type this. Not so much that I did that to her, which wasn't nice at all, but that with my societal filters down... I'm basically evil.
Or as a psychiatrist friend of mine once said: "You probably would have made a great shrink, because you're so empathetic... but you use your talents for evil."
Savannah, on Saturday, July 22, 2006 at 10:00 AM:
I was too lazy to look this up in your archives--but you did pretty much get the Satan score in that Evil Quiz, right? So this is not a surprise. But poor Miz B! I would *not* be amused. On the bright side, your evilness should come in very handy at helping your future baby get through middle school.
The home stretch
Somehow we've gotten to the point where, one way or another, we're going to have a baby in the house in the next four weeks -- either she'll decide it's time to see the outside world, or the (as is typical these days) if we go two weeks past the due date, the doctors will likely want to induce labor.
This has been, with one exception, about as average a pregnancy as there is. If there's a measure, this baby is at the middle of the range. Heartrate expected to be between 120 and 160? She's 140. When I glanced at Miz Becky's chart a couple of weeks ago, I at first couldn't see where they were marking down her weight, until I realized that she was exactly tracking the pre-printed average weight gain line.
The one exception, unfortunately, is that Miz Becky seems to have won the coveted "slightly nauseated throughout the pregnancy" award. That "totally fine after the first trimester" thing? Not so much.
Aside from that, though, her spirits are good. We've made good progress on our tasks, and now have a shockingly yellow nursery (vaguely post-it note color) filled with most of the things we're going to need. Everything, of course, except a baby.
I must thank our friends and family here -- all of whom have been so generous with hand-me-downs and gifts and help and good advice that we honestly can't imagine having gotten to this stage without them. We are blessed to have this community around us, and our daughter is lucky to be coming into the world surrounded by so much love and support. Thanks to all of you.
Laura Z, on Tuesday, July 18, 2006 at 10:31 AM:
Cue baby, stage right...:-) It is a happy thing to have a baby coming into the world to two parents who are willing to dedicate themselves to the experience. May the Force be with you these final weeks!
Heather, on Tuesday, July 18, 2006 at 12:27 PM:
We're so happy and excited for you! Baby Girl gets a new playmate, and your lives will forever be changed in the most wonderful and amazing and incredible and awe inspiring way!
stacy, on Tuesday, July 18, 2006 at 10:08 PM:
What? 4 Weeks? You'll be fine. You two are gonna make one little baby a lucky little baby.
I better get to sewing on that baby quilt!
Andrew Canion, on Wednesday, July 19, 2006 at 4:33 AM:
I wish you all the very best for all that is to come. A new addition to the family is VERY exciting!
Savannah, on Wednesday, July 19, 2006 at 5:28 AM:
Miz B, I am sorry to hear about the Nausea Award. That truly stinks. But good luck, congratulations, and you and DAE are indeed going to make a little baby a lucky baby.
From the wonderful A Word A Day:
nostomania (nos-tuh-MAY-nee-uh, -mayn-yuh) noun
An overwhelming desire to return home or to go back to familiar places.
[From Greek nostos (a return home) + -mania (excessive enthusiasm or madness).]
Rich used to have a great cat named Iris. During most of her life, Iris was a sweet cat who loved sitting on the couch getting petted, or lazing around in the house tracking the sun. When she first showed up in Rich's life, though, she came as a feral kitten who had been living in the woods near his grandmother's house in rural western Oregon.
It took a few years for Iris to be comfortable in the house, and both of us probably still have scars from the painful experience of trying to get her in a carrier to go to the vet. (While she was at the vet, of course, she was sweet and lovable, which meant that we would spend the visit getting dirty looks from both her and the vet.) Eventually, though, she settled down and became the sweet housecat we knew and loved.
We were surprised that years later, towards the end of her life, she seemed to revert to her old habits -- she didn't like to stay indoors, and would spend hours or days stalking the fields around their house.
When I read Anu's Word of the Day today, it reminded me of Iris, and made me think about some of my habits that seem to be reverting to my childhood. Maybe taking on some of the behaviors of our childhood is a way of dealing with this kind of longing.
For me, it hasn't really happened in big ways, but there have been a lot of little things I've noticed returning to me. One example: for a long time I was perfectly happy wearing closed-toe shoes, even though I grew up barefoot or wearing slippers and ended up with what used to be known in Hawai'i as "lu'au feet" (named for the wide leaf of the taro plant).
In the last few years, though, wearing closed-toe shoes has become more and more irritating to me. At first, I dealt with it by taking off my shoes during meetings or long car rides. I'd still think of them as my default footwear choice, though. For the last few summers I've worn sandals all summer (no socks, thank you, that's one tacky habit I never picked up from the northwesterners around me).
This summer (such as it's been) I've gone all the way back to slippers on days when it's even reasonably warm. I just don't want to wear shoes, and I'm happier all day when I don't. And, fortunately, I work in an environment where I can wear whatever I like.
Hopefully, of course, we do keep some of the habits and beliefs we've learned along the way (otherwise what's the point of having experiences, anyway?), but it seems reasonable to me that we might eventually reject some of the things we learned away from home -- like a long-term version of the Amish practice of rumspringa, we go out into the world of new ideas and new ways of living only to discover that, no, thanks, we liked some things just fine about how we grew up.
What about you? Do you notice any returns to the habits of your childhood? I know some of you eventually moved home, and some of you have never left your childhood homes. What about you? Do you experience this longing, even though you're physically home? Any habits coming back?
ejuana, on Tuesday, June 13, 2006 at 10:42 PM:
Well, let's see. The weather here right now reminds me a little bit of vacationing in Hawaii. Not too hot, on the humid side. Green everywhere. (Neener).
Other than that French Toast. When I think of my Grandparents N. I think of how whenever we visited them they made us French Toast. Dad, made us French Toast. Uncle Tod made us French Toast that was too eggy. I love French Toast. It always = home.
heather, on Wednesday, June 14, 2006 at 12:30 PM:
Pancake Sunday. Used to have them growing up; dad would make them "crispy around the edges" just the way my sister and I liked them. We recently brought that tradition into our little family. Baby Girl loves pancakes. And I love that I can share a happy tradition and memory with her and Tim, and together we can make them our tradition and memories. I have a lot of other examples like that. They really turned on full throttle when I was pregnant, and have continued since Baby Girl was born. It's amazing what happy memories she's triggered for me - experiences and events and even little everyday occurrances that I haven't thought of in years and years. It's awesome!
Sarah, on Wednesday, June 14, 2006 at 12:56 PM:
Is it possible that your memories of childhood are becoming more pronounced now that you are expecting a new arrival? Some people say that once you have kids you forget what it's like to be a child, but I think that it reminds you of things from your own childhood as a way of preparing you for what is to come. This is just anecdotal observation though.
david adam edelstein, on Wednesday, June 14, 2006 at 1:46 PM:
It's possible, but most of what I'm noticing has been happening for a few years, before we actually decided to have a child.
Uncle Vinny, on Thursday, June 15, 2006 at 11:39 AM:
I'm back to spending most of my in diapers; nostomania, indeed.
Something to talk about
I've been painting this weekend, which is always a bad idea. And while I've been painting -- when KEXP hasn't been occupying my mind -- I've been thinking about this question:
Imagine that you've been contacted by aliens. You're satisfied that you're not insane, didn't hallucinate it, etc. -- that it really, truly happened. However, you have no objective proof to show anyone to convince them -- no artifacts, no mysterious tattoos, no burn patterns on the ground, no impossible knowledge, nothing. Not even a damn crop circle.
How would you convince people it really happened? Say you had a message to deliver, for example, so there's a reason you need to convince people. How would you get people to believe that you're not insane?
1) You know it's true.
2) You have no evidence to show anyone else.
3) You need to convince people it happened.
rfkj, on Sunday, June 4, 2006 at 7:06 PM:
It depends on the message and the urgency and scope of the need to disseminate it. A website and a full-page ad in the New York times would do the trick, keeping in mind Gandhi's axiom: "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."
Start a religion. It worked for L. Ron Hubbard. All you need is a couple of insecure celebrities, as long as blatantly exploiting people to get the word out sits well with your moral outlook.
If it's a philosophy rather than something like "All these worlds are yours except Europa," you could always attempt to sneak it in in a work of fiction or a piece of music.
gracie, on Sunday, June 4, 2006 at 11:54 PM:
Lie detector... Hypnosis...
Hunger strike... Extravagant suicide...
Savannah, on Monday, June 5, 2006 at 8:43 AM:
Why is it a bad idea for you to paint?
david adam edelstein, on Monday, June 5, 2006 at 10:07 AM:
I'm really much more of a "hire it done" than a "do it yourself" kind of guy.
I don't enjoy doing house projects, I'm not good at them, and I don't get any more satisfaction out of them when they're done than I would if someone else had done it.
GeoGeek, on Monday, June 5, 2006 at 10:26 AM:
I think there are 2 other possible ways to accomplish this:
1. Start vehemently denying the prescence of any such message to anyone who you meet. Deny any involvement with aliens, deny there was ever a message. People will become intrigued and demand to hear what the message is. The more you deny it's existence, the more people will demand to hear it.
2. Go to your congressman. Hand him/her a tape with the message recorded on it, claiming that you taped it over a police scanner, and that it's a cell phone coversation with the opposing party's leader involved in a conspiracy. People will focus on the conspiracy, but the message will also get out.
Savannah, on Monday, June 5, 2006 at 10:42 AM:
Oh, see, I thought you meant artistic painting, and I had visions of Miz B going down to the basement at 3 AM and finding you huddled on your paint-spattered drop cloth near a torn-up canvas, turpentine and brushes everywhere, with phthalo and cadmium rubbed in your hair, while you trembled and ramblingly quoted Antonin Artaud. And she would say "David, you know it's a bad idea for you to paint," and lead you upstairs by the hand.
GeoGeek's "vehemently deny" idea is great.
stacy, on Monday, June 5, 2006 at 8:54 PM:
okay, if I absolutely wanted everyone to know the message, I would try one of two things:
1) Make it part of the right wing/left wing agenda.
2) Leak it to "Entertainment Tonight" as if it happened to or for George Clooney
3) Accept that hte only people who need to know it are the ones who will believe me and that if they are aliens, they probably could tell everyone in the world if they really really wanted to, so perhaps they are doing some kind of weird LOST! experiment on some of us to find out how we'd tell everyone this thing that they made us believe was so important.
I love this question and questions like this.
heather, on Tuesday, June 6, 2006 at 9:58 PM:
Turn it into an NBC drama.
It worked for West Wing. There are still people who think that Martin Sheen really was President of the United States. And for those who don't believe, they wish it was true :-)
Um... maybe you should practice on something smaller, grasshopper.
A 17-year-old boy surnamed Liang almost died when he tried to use a kung fu movement to stop a running train in Laibin Railway Station in South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region on Tuesday, Nanguo Jinbao reported.
Liang was pushed to safety by a railway policeman just as he was about to be knocked down. Liang jumped down to the tracks and wanted to use Xianglongshibazhang, a famous kung fu posturing described in many swordsman fictions, to stop the running train.
He was taken into custody for breaking railway rules and said he wanted to test whether or not he could use kung fu to stop the train. Liang is a great fan of swordsman fiction and has also learnt martial arts.
Christian, on Monday, June 5, 2006 at 3:43 PM:
Must be a full moon or something:
Two conversations that you won't find as funny as I do …
… but which will give you a certain amount of possibly disturbing insight into our home life.
Dinner out with Miz Becky's parents, Sunday night.
Miz Becky: "I think I'm going to have the mousse."
DAE: "Ew. You're going to eat a rodent?"
MB: "No, silly. That's a meese."
DAE: "OK, and those guys with the horns are mushers… so what's a mouse?"
MB: "I think it's like a duck."
Home, last night.
MB: "Ew. What's that funny smell in the fridge?"
DAE: "Is it the leftover clown?"
rebelo, on Thursday, May 25, 2006 at 5:22 PM:
....why don't cannibals eat clowns?
Timothy, on Friday, May 26, 2006 at 6:11 AM:
.... Because they taste funny!
In which I dream
I am in an anonymous Eastern European nation. It's time for me to give birth, which is very exciting for the local townsfolk. A woman offers to help me through the process, since I am otherwise alone there.
They move me into a birthing center, all grey concrete, with a television in one corner, a bed in another, and a shower in a third. Nevertheless, it somehow seems cheery.
After I'm settled in, and we have talked for a while, it's time for me to bathe. She helps me get under the shower, and brushes my hair for me, and hands me soap as I need it. I towel off, and she hands me a robe to wear.
We sit there, chatting, me on the bed, her on the only chair, as other people drift in and out, sometimes stopping to talk, sometimes doing mysterious things to the machinery that has appeared in the fourth corner of the room.
Eventually everyone, including me, starts to realize that I'm a man, and somehow we've been mistaken. Slowly, everyone drifts out of the room in an uncomfortable silence, and I am left alone to wake up.
heather, on Tuesday, May 9, 2006 at 7:38 AM:
Wow... if those are the kind of dreams you're having, what in the world is Becky dreaming about these days?! ;-)
GeoGeek, on Tuesday, May 9, 2006 at 8:08 AM:
Ah, yes. The classic "I'm a baby trapped inside a woman trapped inside a man trapped inside an Eastern European hospital" dream.
Laura Z, on Tuesday, May 9, 2006 at 9:58 AM:
Yep! The classic "Baby woman man trapped inside an Eastern European hospital" dream...:-)
david adam edelstein, on Tuesday, May 9, 2006 at 10:44 AM:
You people. It's the "machine baby eastern man" dream. Jung, page 37.
rfkj, on Tuesday, May 9, 2006 at 12:21 PM:
Despite the uncomfortable silence at the end, those are all really positive symbols--especially the "cheery" gray. Cool dream.
nocklebeast, on Wednesday, May 10, 2006 at 2:38 PM:
uh, so, didja get any photos of Eastern Europe?
The really big news
In August, everything changes.
maffy, on Thursday, March 16, 2006 at 6:41 AM:
Mazeltov! Best news ever!
heather, on Thursday, March 16, 2006 at 7:01 AM:
YAY!!!! So cute :-) Baby Girl can't WAIT to have a new friend!
maffy, on Thursday, March 16, 2006 at 8:45 AM:
Ever since I congratulated you, I've had Tevye's Dream running through my head "A blessing on your head, mazeltov, mazeltov, to see your daughter wed, mazeltov, mazeltov..."
Chandu Thota, on Thursday, March 16, 2006 at 10:53 AM:
Congratulations DAE - we now have a friend for Hita
Josie, on Thursday, March 16, 2006 at 4:28 PM:
Andrew, on Friday, March 17, 2006 at 6:35 AM:
Congratulations mate! All the very best to you and Miz Becky!
Russ, on Friday, March 17, 2006 at 11:53 AM:
Woohoo! Congrats! Babies for the Win!
Laura Z, on Friday, March 17, 2006 at 6:54 PM:
Very cool! The kid has a great profile already! :-)
Stacy, on Sunday, March 19, 2006 at 9:52 AM:
I'm so happy for you guys!
I want to be Aunt Stacy in Texas!
Christian, on Monday, March 20, 2006 at 9:02 PM:
Woo! Congrats! (and start saving for college now)
Two lonely guys instant message
Miz Becky and T's wife are both out of town this weekend, and T and I were chatting in IM earlier, just after T succeeded in getting his small baby to sleep...
I'll call you about 2:30 in the morning when I can't sleep because Becky's out of town, k?
but you if you need to spoon I could have come and picked you up
called my bluff.
Savannah, on Sunday, February 12, 2006 at 4:38 PM:
I *was* going to post the ironically-intended message that "Oh yes, you two are a regular Alexander and Hephaistion," but then I realized that the .0000001% of the population that would know (and care) what I was talking about probably doesn't read this blog.
However, if anyone here would like to join me in becoming Alexanderheads, please do--there are few ways as fun to waste time, plus You Actually Learn Something too. :)
heather, on Friday, February 17, 2006 at 2:38 PM:
sad... so sad. But kinda flattering that you're both reduced to... um... this.... when Becky and I are out of town.
In a weird kinda way.
A really really weird kinda way.
Hypothetically speaking ...
... if there were police cars driving through our neighborhood — as there are ...
... and there was a police helicopter circling north of our neighborhood — as there is ...
... should I stand naked on our lanai and scream "you'll never take me alive, coppers!!!!"?
Miz Becky says no. I think she's a fuddy-duddy. Opinions?
Laura Z, on Wednesday, February 8, 2006 at 10:19 PM:
Well, there are many reasons Miz Becky may have said no and not just because she is a fuddy-duddy. Maybe she doesn't want you to catch your death of cold. Or maybe she'd just like to live in the neighborhood a little longer before you establish your "reputation", as it were, with the neighbors...:-P
Sarah, on Thursday, February 9, 2006 at 9:50 AM:
I think you should watch that Chris Rock video again...
Timothy, on Thursday, February 9, 2006 at 10:22 AM:
...Yeah, you should definately watch that Chris Rock video again ...
Two of a kind, just two of a... not really.
TOKYO - Gohan and Aochan make strange bedfellows: one's a 3.5-inch dwarf hamster; the other is a four-foot rat snake. Zookeepers at Tokyo's Mutsugoro Okoku zoo presented the hamster — whose name means "meal" in Japanese — to Aochan as a tasty morsel in October, after the snake refused to eat frozen mice.
But instead of indulging, Aochan decided to make friends with the furry rodent, according to keeper Kazuya Yamamoto. The pair have shared a cage since.
"I've never seen anything like it. Gohan sometimes even climbs onto Aochan to take a nap on his back," Yamamoto said.
Aochan, a 2-year-old male Japanese rat snake, eventually developed an appetite for frozen rodents but has so far shown no signs of gobbling up Gohan — despite her name.
"We named her Gohan as a joke," Yamamoto chuckled. "But I don't think there's any danger. Aochan seems to enjoy Gohan's company very much."
The Tokyo zoo also keeps a range of mostly livestock animals, and promotes "cross-breed interaction," according to Yamamoto.
But Gohan and Aochan's case was "was a complete accident," Yamamoto said.
(Via the excellent MYT)
Savannah, on Wednesday, January 25, 2006 at 10:30 AM:
This is really fascinating to me, because Aochan is not a mammal. He's a reptile. Reptiles eat their own young. It is amazing to me that a reptile would form what appears to be a bond of companionship--and a long-term one, at that--with any animal of any species. I wonder if Gohan's mammalian physiology is exerting some kind of influence over Aochan. Or maybe Aochan is a bit demented from being in captivity. Or something. But this *is* weird.
Savannah, on Wednesday, January 25, 2006 at 4:56 PM:
Of course, I forgot one very important fact that probably explains the whole relationship very nicely:
Gohan is *warm.*
Trying to communicate
When we were up in Canada over Chanukah, and people would ask me where I lived, they would always ask me whether I was excited about the Seahawks' record this year. And I would always mumble something about not really following sports at all.
The usual response was that instead of saying "Oh, Ok" and moving on, they would continue to try to talk football with me, as though somehow I wasn't serious, or perhaps lying because I don't like talking to people, or because I was keeping secrets from our perky neighbors to the north. Something like that.
When we got back, I asked Tim (the biggest sports fan I know) what I should say in those situations — how could I give some sort of culturally appropriate response without actually having to know anything?
Tim thought for a moment, and then gave me a magical phrase to use. "Sounds good!" I said, and tucked it away.
This morning on the bus to the gym I got my chance. There were several Seahawks fans on the bus, heading down early to do whatever one does before a football game. They were laughing and talking about previous games and where to eat after the game.
As I got ready to get off the bus, they noticed me and asked "Hey man! You going to the game today? Wooohooo!"
I turned to them and said, smiling, "It's a great time to live in Seattle."
They cheered again and went back to their conversation! It worked! Thanks Tim!
Timothy, on Saturday, January 14, 2006 at 10:09 PM:
Anytime D ..... anytime.
Savannah, on Sunday, January 15, 2006 at 5:26 PM:
Wow. Timothy, are you in public relations? I have rarely seen anything so able-to-be-interpreted-as-the-hearer-wishes, yet so safely content-free. I am sure that Brangelina will soon be calling you to tell them what to say when in Darfur for the UN.
Timothy, on Sunday, January 15, 2006 at 7:50 PM:
Does it pay well? ;-)
Maffy, on Monday, January 16, 2006 at 11:05 AM:
Being completely unaware of the Seahawks (or any other sport team) I made the unfortunate choice to make a "run" to Home Depot on Saturday about 5pm...That's an hour and a half of my life I'll never get back. I was so freaked out with the traffic, I bagged HD, and just turned around (once there was a safe - still illegal, but safe - way to do so) and head back to Queen Anne. Didn't leave my house the rest of the weekend. I'll just have to get pocket schedules for all the teams so that I know when I should and should not leave the house!! :)
This morning's sitcom idea
Waking up to the unusual sound of seagulls suggested this idea:
A couple wakes up one morning to discover that global warming has happened calamitously overnight. While they slept, the polar ice caps melted, the ocean waters rose, and their house that was formerly well inland in a temperate environment is now semi-tropical oceanfront property.
I'm thinking "Northern Exposure" meets "Magnum, PI". The opening credits sequence could show the ice caps melting to some swinging Sinatra number, eventually morphing to ice in a cocktail glass.
Laura Zeigen, on Monday, December 12, 2005 at 9:27 AM:
Actually what this brings to my mind is "Northern Exposure" meets "Magnum, PI" meets "Gilligan's Island" meets "Lost". Hey! We could even through in some "Masterpiece Theatre" there just for good measure ("Last week when we left our heroes, they were valiantly trying to make it across the lagoon to string up the other line of coconuts to construct the cross-island communications network...").
Laura Zeigen, on Monday, December 12, 2005 at 9:28 AM:
I meant "throw in some" (not "through in some"). Ack! Just finished the school term and clearly my brain is still tired...
More of our home life you don't want to hear
Last night, D&C forgot E's copy of Goodnight Moon, and of course I had to read it aloud before we went to sleep. And also of course we had to invent new verses, including this one:
Goodnight Edgar, Goodnight Rusty.
Goodnight cutting boards getting crusty.
heather, on Saturday, December 3, 2005 at 9:00 PM:
Hey - you guys are good. Wanna babysit?
ejuan, on Saturday, December 3, 2005 at 11:02 PM:
You're right. I didn't want to hear.
stacy, on Monday, December 5, 2005 at 8:00 AM:
I still love that book...read it every night to ace for years...
At home with Becky and Dave
The scene: Last night, as we're falling asleep. Edgar jumps on the bed and, from my perspective, disappears.
DAE: "Where'd the cat go?"
Miz Becky: "He's snuggled down between my shins."
DAE: "Oh. Have you repented your shins?"
Miz Becky: "No, the first coat still looks good enough."
Uncle Vinny, on Saturday, November 5, 2005 at 11:21 AM:
Yikes, I had to read that through a couple of times. You three should take that act on the road.
... to the perky blonde woman talking about your weekend on the bus this morning:
Talking about all the work you did at your friend's wedding, and how first you were a flower slave, and then a kitchen slave, and then a cleanup slave, might have a slightly different semantic weight to your african-american seatmate.
Just a thought, mm-kay?
stacy, on Thursday, November 3, 2005 at 7:09 AM:
people are weird.
In which I can't pass up an easy shot
On the bus this morning, a couple of young Chinese women were sitting behind me and chatting. The bus stops, and people get on.
One of them leans over to the other one: "Look at that guy's coat!"
"The blue one!"
"Oh, wow, that's really ugly!"
"Yeah, foreigners have such bad taste sometimes!" (laughs loudly)
"Shhhh! Don't talk so loud!"
I can't resist. I turn around a bit and say, quietly, in my terrible American accent, "It's OK. Nobody on this bus speaks Chinese."
In the horrified silence, I turn back to my book. They get off a couple of stops later and glance back at me as they walk off the bus. I smile at them.
Savannah, on Thursday, October 27, 2005 at 4:32 PM:
An old friend of mine in high school who had spent a semester in France told me the following story: when she first arrived with her host family, she felt disoriented and overwhelmed, and failed to speak any French. She kept totally clammed up. The teenage daughters of her host family came to the conclusion that my friend did not speak French, and began to talk freely around her. At that point, remaining silent became a strategy. The girls got cattier and cattier. The dam finally burst, as I recall, after one of the girls said of my friend, "She had the nerve to wear jeans into town." (French folks, at least twenty years ago, appear to have been a little more formal about that stuff.) That tore it for my friend, who burst out at her host sisters in perfect French. Being French, however, they only got about half as embarrassed as those Chinese women, even though they had done approximately fifty billion times the damage over a far longer period of time, and based on a much more tenuous assumption (that my friend, though she had arrived through a student exchange program, somehow spoke no French (at all*). My friend told me that they all proceeded to have an "honest" exchange, and things got better from there.
Sarah, on Friday, October 28, 2005 at 9:41 AM:
That is just too awesome.
Creationists gone wild
Well, this was only a matter of time:
Challenged by Creationists, Museums Answer Back
ITHACA, N.Y. - Lenore Durkee, a retired biology professor, was volunteering as a docent at the Museum of the Earth here when she was confronted by a group of seven or eight people, creationists eager to challenge the museum exhibitions on evolution.
They peppered Dr. Durkee with questions about everything from techniques for dating fossils to the second law of thermodynamics, their queries coming so thick and fast that she found it hard to reply.
After about 45 minutes, "I told them I needed to take a break," she recalled. "My mouth was dry."
That encounter and others like it provided the impetus for a training session here in August. Dr. Durkee and scores of other volunteers and staff members from the museum and elsewhere crowded into a meeting room to hear advice from the museum director, Warren D. Allmon, on ways to deal with visitors who reject settled precepts of science on religious grounds.
Similar efforts are under way or planned around the country as science museums and other institutions struggle to contend with challenges to the theory of evolution that they say are growing common and sometimes aggressive.
One company, called B.C. Tours "because we are biblically correct," even offers escorted visits to the Denver Museum of Science and Nature. Participants hear creationists' explanations for the exhibitions.
So officials like Judy Diamond, curator of public programs at the University of Nebraska State Museum in Lincoln, are trying to meet such challenges head-on.
Dr. Diamond is working on evolution exhibitions financed by the National Science Foundation that will go on long-term display at six museums of natural history from Minnesota to Texas. The program includes training for docents and staff members.
"The goal is to understand the controversies, so that people are better able to handle them as they come up," she said. "Museums, as a field, have recognized we need to take a more proactive role in evolution education."
Maybe it's because I'm mean-spirited, but I think that training docents better isn't exactly what I was looking for in a head-on response.
Instead, we should gather people together, go to the churches that are participating in this stupidity, and challenge them to their face on doctrinal matters that conflict with settled precepts of science, or that are internally inconsistent.
Possible subjects (and yes, some of these are low-hanging fruit):
- Adam and Eve. We're all descended from them? Who did Cain marry, then? Why aren't we all inbred?
- Lot. Sleeps with his daughters. This is the one good man saved from Sodom?
- Leviticus. So, what's with the meat and cheese in the after-church casserole?
I'm sure y'all can come up with other examples. Who's with me? As Miz Becky likes to say, "oh, it's ON."
rfkj, on Wednesday, September 21, 2005 at 2:39 PM:
Most of Leviticus is an easy, easy target. You're familiar, of course, with godhatesshrimp.com.
I'm in favor of an even more direct approach. Let's tail the loonies to museums. We can start with saying "*cough*idiot*cough" and move on to saying "Shut the hell up, dumbass."
Sarah, on Thursday, September 22, 2005 at 10:41 AM:
Argh! Why are we lending credibility to their arguments?? Creationists and "Intelligent Design" share the top spot on Sarah's Big (and we're talking BIG) List of Pet Peeves. (I am thinking of turning it into a VH1 special, but I digress.) And for so many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that apparently only a Judeo-Christian version of "God" is capable of "intelligent design", since that's the only acceptable-to-teach-in-a-public-school alternative to Evolution, according to these delusionals. Closely followed by the fact that evolution is not a theory, but an observable fact. They always gloss over that point.
I am all for the discussion of alternatives to natural selection (e.g. punctuated equilibrium) being taught in a biology class...that's what science is all about. But if they insist on forcing non-scientific conjecture to be taught in my classroom, they shouldn't complain when I replace their copies of the New Book of Praise with articles from Nature.
rfkj, on Thursday, September 22, 2005 at 6:37 PM:
I've got some! "If the design of human beings is so intelligent, explain why giving birth is so godawfully painful."
"If the design of human beings is so intelligent, please explain why we're not 100% efficient in processing food."
"If etc. etc., explain the appendix."
"Who designs an elimination organ that doubles as a reproductive organ?"
The real problem, of course, is that we can do this until we're blue in the face and it's not gonna do a lick of good. All the counterquestioning and scientific evidence in the world isn't going to change the fact that for these people, the only theory (and I use the term loosely) that requires no proof is their own. All they need to say is "I believe it because it is in the Bible and that is all I need to know." For them, that's a sufficient proof.
Okay, okay, and the other real problem is that they're deliberately distorting the English language. The word "theory" has a meaning in science that is utterly different from its meaning in the humanities. In the sciences, theories are solid conclusions derived from observable facts, n'est ce pas? In humanities, theories are conjectures: the theory, for example, that Lincoln was gay is supported by...what exactly?
I agree with Sarah that we shouldn't even give these people an argument, because it just means we think they're worth debating. That's why I think we should just tail them and tell them to shut the hell up.
One point to the spontaneous combustion theorists!
At least in Australia, it seems it could actually happen.
Power-dressing man leaves trail of destruction SYDNEY (Reuters) - An Australian man built up a 40,000-volt charge of static electricity in his clothes as he walked, leaving a trail of scorched carpet and molten plastic and forcing firefighters to evacuate a building.
Frank Clewer, who was wearing a woolen shirt and a synthetic nylon jacket, was oblivious to the growing electrical current that was building up as his clothes rubbed together.
When he walked into a building in the country town of Warrnambool in the southern state of Victoria Thursday, the electrical charge ignited the carpet.
"It sounded almost like a firecracker," Clewer told Australian radio Friday.
"Within about five minutes, the carpet started to erupt."
Employees, unsure of the cause of the mysterious burning smell, telephoned firefighters who evacuated the building.
"There were several scorch marks in the carpet, and we could hear a cracking noise -- a bit like a whip -- both inside and outside the building," said fire official Henry Barton.
Firefighters cut electricity to the building thinking the burns might have been caused by a power surge.
Clewer, who after leaving the building discovered he had scorched a piece of plastic on the floor of his car, returned to seek help from the firefighters.
"We tested his clothes with a static electricity field meter and measured a current of 40,000 volts, which is one step shy of spontaneous combustion, where his clothes would have self-ignited," Barton said.
"I've been firefighting for over 35 years and I've never come across anything like this," he said.
Firefighters took possession of Clewer's jacket and stored it in the courtyard of the fire station, where it continued to give off a strong electrical current.
[ . . . ]
Allen, on Tuesday, September 20, 2005 at 8:15 AM:
did you happen to watch Naked Science on the National Geographic Channel last night? They had a special on Human Sponteneous Combustions :)
Off to poetry camp
That's right, our friend Janel is winging her way off to grad school to study poetry for three years. And what better way to send her off than to post a high school picture I snagged at her parents' house? Especially when she's going to be away from the internets for a few days?
What are friends for, really?
One woman walking up to the bus stop, speaking to another woman already waiting:
"I don't want to be saying it's going to be one of those days every mornin' I see you here, but it's going to be one of those days."
In other news, I think I'm close to having the comments problem resolved. Never fear. Your voice as the reader will return, in a real sense, not in some annoying postmodern way :-)
We were talking the other day about the crappy coffee in the kitchens at work -- drunk by those too cheap to pay for a better-tasting caffeine hit in the cafeteria -- and the different strategies people have for making it taste halfway decent.
Several people put two coffee packets in the machine at once, to make it stronger. A couple of people maintained that drinking the coffee right away meant that you got more of the essential oils that would otherwise evaporate. And one person revealed his technique of using two coffee filters, not just one, so the grounds would spend more time in contact with the hot water, extracting more coffee goodness.
This all got me to thinking about urban folkcraft. As an anthropology student (which is how I started out my academic career), we spent a lot of time looking at rural folkcraft: pottery, handmade knives, little tools to make life on the farm or in the bush easier, etc. etc. But what about urban folkcraft, like the coffee? Or just general urban folk wisdom? Special ways to sit on the bus, or how you avoid crossing the street in certain ways?
Do you have any folkcraft or folk wisdom?
rfkj, on Sunday, May 29, 2005 at 8:05 PM:
Seems to me that you'd want to extract less flavor, not more. I don't drink the stuff myself, but logically, wouldn't you think that since coffee brewed longer is so bitter, you'd want to pass less water through more coffee so that you take the good part off the top and leave all the bitterness? The two coffee packets at once sounds like a better way to go than the two filters--always assuming that you can stand coffee in the first place, which I can't.
rfkj, on Monday, May 30, 2005 at 8:15 AM:
To address the question...how about "The best seat in a movie theater is about 2/3 of the way back, smack in the middle of the row." Although I prefer the back row, left side so I can stretch my leg out.
Cat leaves bag
Today we announced Virtual Earth, AKA the enormous project that's been taking up all of my time.
Can you tell I'm a proud poppa?
rfkj, on Tuesday, May 24, 2005 at 5:41 AM:
That "45-degree image" shot, that's not a satellite photo, correct? At least one of the articles you linked to implies that it is, but I read a different article that said that you've partnered with an aerial-photograph company to provide those views. If satellites are taking pictures with that resolution these days, I'm never going outside again.
David Adam Edelstein, on Tuesday, May 24, 2005 at 7:22 AM:
Yep, definitely aerial, from a company called Pictometry.
Karl, on Tuesday, May 24, 2005 at 10:49 AM:
Well, i do believe that the resolution of the updated KH-11 is approximately on that scale, though not at the off angles. And in fact, I was watching something on History or Discovery that eluded to realtime battlefield integration "being developed" to link sat, drones, and other sources to provice up to the second tactical info.
So along with the NSA operations in England to circumvent US jurisdiction, it's about time to dawn the ol' burka and go low-tech.
If you send a signal, it will be recieved.
Karl, on Wednesday, May 25, 2005 at 8:51 AM:
Just to be a dork about it, but the KH-11 was on it's 9th upgrade in 1992. The latest known evolution is the KH-11 Crystal, (likely a generation or two behind the actual) which has a reported resolution of 3cm at 300km.
So for all of you that are concerned about Big Brother, I believe that might slightly exceed the screen display resolution of the arial photography on the Google and MS Earth pages.
Makes me happy that the data collected far too bountiful to process.
It's been a long few weeks
Sorry for not keeping up here lately... it's been a long couple of weeks. Both Miz Becky and I have been very busy at our respective jobs; we've also been trying to make the sale of the old house move forward, which takes a surprisingly long time.
Work for me has been very exciting and rewarding lately, but also very stressful. Tensions are running high, and I'm working way too many hours, but it's for something that I'm very excited about, so that makes it worth it. I wish I could be more explicit, but all I can do is promise that I'll have something very cool to show you, very soon.
The biggest stress around here lately is that we learned that Mr. Edgar, the younger of our two cats, has bladder cancer. There's nothing to be done, according to our vet, so we're focusing on palliative care for as long as he has left. Could be a few months, could be more, could be less. I'm going to miss the little, bitey, shredding punk.
heather, on Friday, May 20, 2005 at 1:56 PM:
I'm gonna miss the scrappy little guy too. BUT while he's with us, I'm gonna shower him with love and pets and cuddles every friday (and ignore the bites I get in response ;-)).
Savannah, on Friday, May 20, 2005 at 3:23 PM:
What sad news. I'm sorry. I wish Edgar great happiness in the time he has left.
Have you guys talked to him about it? After growing up with cats, I got the sense that they know a lot more than we think they do. Certainly they know when we're sad, as you guys must be with Edgar's news, and it upsets them. It may sound dumb and New Agey, but I wish I could go back to some of my dying cats and tell them they were dying but that it was okay and they were going to get good care and lots of love.
Michelle, on Friday, May 20, 2005 at 5:53 PM:
So sorry to hear that. I hope the vet can help you folks keep him as comfy as possible. *sigh*
Laura Z, on Saturday, May 21, 2005 at 11:28 AM:
I am so very sorry to hear this also, Dave. My sympathies to you, Becky, Rusty, and of course, to Edgar. May he be as comfortable as possible. Savannah - I don't think what you are suggesting is weird at all. Cats and dogs "know".
A cautionary tale
When I got on the bus to head home Tuesday evening, I saw my friend Jerry on the bus.
"Hey, Jerry, how's it going, man?"
"Oh, pretty good. Want to know how I spent my birthday?"
He pulls a folded copy of The Olympian out of his bag. On the front page is a picture of a flattened car. "My son survived that."
"Holy..." I read the article. "Holy..." I look at the picture again. "Holy..."
"... shit," Jerry finishes for me. "The doctors told me that only one in 100 people survive this kind of accident. Greg only needed a few stitches."
Greg was apparently going a little too fast and following the car in front of him a little too closely. When the car in front of him braked, he braked too, and went end-over-end in mid air, not hitting anyone else, and landed in the median.
So... all of you out there who like the going fast, and the following close behind... heads up. You might not be this lucky:
(click to see a larger version)
Allen, on Friday, April 8, 2005 at 5:44 AM:
My wife's grandmother was on I95 (in florida) and fell asleep and veered off the side of the road, and rolled the car, according to witnesses, at least 3 times. The people who stopped to help were surprised to see a 76 year old great-grandmother get out of the car and walk away from it... un-scratched.
Christian, on Friday, April 8, 2005 at 11:15 AM:
Ack! Last week I was road-tripping to a meeting at Kamehameha schools (gorgeous campus, btw) when the driver started to fidget with his stereo and totally forget he was driving (on H1). We came about 3 inches from a similar fate until the two of us started screaming at him. In retrospect, the histrionics probably weren't such a good idea...
gracie, on Friday, April 8, 2005 at 7:17 PM:
That could be Juan. She's always up people's asses.
This story is painful on so many levels
Here's a few choice excerpts from a story from the London Telegraph. Note the Telegraph's opinion, cleverly hidden in the title of the article:
I'll buy houses and a flash car, says yob awarded £567,000
A teenage criminal who received £567,000 in compensation after falling through a roof while trespassing boasted about his wealth yesterday, saying that he was looking forward to buying "a few houses and a flash car".
Carl Murphy, 18, got the payout last week, nine years after being injured in a 40ft fall at a warehouse in Bootle docks, near Liverpool, prompting angry protests from crime victims and politicians.
In his first public interview since receiving the award, Murphy - who has convictions for robbery, burglary and assault - said that he did not care about the response.
"I deserve this money and I don't care what anybody says about me," he said. "I'm going to buy a big house so I have a place to live with me mum when she gets out of jail. I might buy a few houses - I'll buy whatever I want." He added: "The papers just call me a yob and a thug because I've been done for robbery and assault but those were just silly stupid little things, like.
"I want to spend my money the way I want without people interfering and I want to have a prosperous future.
"I want to take my mates to Liverpool games and get a flash car. This money is mine now and I'll do what I want. I don't care about anyone or what they have to say about it."
Murphy received his compensation after suing the company that owned the warehouse. He claimed that if the perimeter fence had not been in disrepair he would not have been able to gain entry and suffer his injuries.
He is now partially blinded in his left eye and has 17 metal plates in his skull as a result of the fall. He also claims that the incident has caused him to suffer from behavioural problems. It annoys me that people think I don't deserve this money after all I've been through," he said. "I'm going to spend my money on whatever I want and everyone who called me 'Tin Head' can go get stuffed."
Residents of Bootle, where Murphy lives, said that they were too scared to speak publicly about the case but privately described him as the area "king yob".
[ . . . ]
In November last year, Murphy's mother Diane and her partner Kevin Parsons, both 36, were jailed for three years for dealing in crack cocaine and heroin from their council house in Bellini Close.
[ . . . ]
Since Murphy's mother was jailed, he has lived with his grandmother, Barbara Murphy, who keeps a rottweiler in her home on nearby Church Grove.
She said: "He never finished school because the teachers couldn't control him. He was a nice boy before the accident but ever since the injuries he has been difficult to control. He needs this money. That is him for life now. What is he going to do without it?"
[ . . . ]
Christian, on Tuesday, April 5, 2005 at 10:44 AM:
Ugh. Well, at least it's not just Americans who are capable of such an overwhelming and irrational sense of entitlement...
Sixes and sevenses: the side effects of moves
Yesterday when Miz Becky got home from her afternoon workshop, she asked me how my afternoon was. "Well," I said, "I had kind of a Charlie Brown day."
- I broke a nice glass pitcher by knocking it over onto the new granite countertops.
- When I tried to keep the pieces from going all over the floor, I put an ugly (but not particularly dangerous) cut in my wrist.
- Keeping that elevated to help stop the bleeding put me behind on the work I needed to get done this weekend.
- Then I had the priveledge of putting the first scratch in our re-finished floors, thanks to my aging office chair.
- Finally, shaving without my glasses on after my late-afternoon shower, I used gingermint toothpaste instead of the similarly-packaged shaving cream I had meant to reach down.
I blame it on the move. Right? Right?
Christian, on Monday, March 7, 2005 at 10:02 AM:
At least you didn't try to brush your teeth with the shaving cream...
heather, on Monday, March 7, 2005 at 1:35 PM:
how'd the gingermint toothpaste work for that? Will you go back to shaving cream? Or have you discovered something new?
Laura Z, on Monday, March 7, 2005 at 3:31 PM:
Yes! I say definitely blame it on the move. Moves make people all catty-wompus. I believe that has been officially verified by clinical medical trials. :-) Sorry to hear you had a "Charlie Brown" of a day (what a good description, though!)...
The movers come at 8:30.
I have finally cleaned out the last of the bookshelves that are moving out of my office in the old house.
The bookshelves hanging off the wall -- not moving immediately -- are piled higgledy-piggledy with random things that need to be sorted, or moved by us, or thrown away once our trash cans are emptied.
It's time for bed.
heather, on Tuesday, March 1, 2005 at 9:07 AM:
Happy Moving Day!
Timothy, on Tuesday, March 1, 2005 at 2:56 PM:
ugghhh ... moving day
I am walking along a path, waiting for Miz Becky to show up so we can go hiking. I look up and realize that we are planning to hike into the Himalayas, and it is winter. "We need to postpone this hike," I say to Becky when she arrives. The sky is filled with beautiful glowing mustard yellow clouds, like a radioactive bruise.
I am walking at night. It has just finished raining, and the street lights puddle and flow in the gutters. A pale man in a fedora comes up behind me and attempts to steal my camera. I take his photo several times, which somehow reveals him to the authorities. He leaves. As I take his photo I see the final images, blurred and dark.
I come out of an alley into a large square. It is raining, a fine mist, and the sun is coming up, lighting the rain all salmon-pink and gold. There is a row of cast iron stanchions across the middle of the square, abstracted into solitude by the mist. I take photos: glowing mist at the top, the row of stanchions near the bottom, and then the wet cobblestones of the square at the bottom, reflecting iron and sky.
Savannah, on Wednesday, February 16, 2005 at 7:19 AM:
David, that's not just fascinating, it's extraordinarily evocative. The third dream in particular.
Andrew Sundstrom, on Sunday, February 20, 2005 at 10:47 AM:
Damn it! It's always the same dream for me: custard.
That young ladykiller is of course none other than the valluphilic brother-thing, AKA The Fuzz, AKA Joshie Poshie, who is as they say As Old As Jeezus today.
eJuan, on Tuesday, February 8, 2005 at 5:14 PM:
Hey check out the fuzzy little man! Congratulations on being 33. The youngins these days, I tell ya, they're getting old! It's so cute!
Timothy, on Tuesday, February 8, 2005 at 7:46 PM:
Happy B-day "brother-thing"
Andrew Sundstrom, on Wednesday, February 9, 2005 at 4:39 AM:
My god. All these blog-months I thought Joshua was your father, Dave. I am so ashamed.
Joshua Edelstein, on Wednesday, February 9, 2005 at 7:42 AM:
Thank you, thank you all, for this lovely tribute. Daywee of course posted this after I'd already left my office for the day, so I didn't get to see it until now. Couldn't have checked it out last night as we were out partying it up, which included hanging out in a Kinko's after midnight talking to the copy boys in Scottish accents.
Things I would like to point out to my multitudinous fans who have so graciously written in: 1) lest my brother deceive you with the image, I no longer look like the kid in the photo, that was taken circa 8th grade in China. 2) I no longer have either the sunglasses or the hair. 3) I was actually in a hallway... wedged between two walls near the ceiling (I still do this). 4) Andrew, while you were indeed mistaken about me being David's father, I am in fact YOUR father. MWAH HA HA! Come, turn to the dark side. 5) My birthday was also Chinese New Year and Fat Tuesday this year... buttoning one's pants is a challenging prospect the day after.
Joshua Edelstein, on Wednesday, February 9, 2005 at 7:48 AM:
Oh, and if the above comment seems WAY too verbose, you weigh it against the fact that the red pin I'm wearing in the picture (a gift from my parents) says "The image of our town starts with me."
Uncle Vinny, on Saturday, February 12, 2005 at 8:12 AM:
Nice try with 'valluphilic', but I'm not buying it.
I have a stalker
And he left his prints all over the damn place.
Hah! Hah! I make ze leetle joke.
I don't know much ...
... but I do know this:
Any day that starts out with a little Aretha is going to be better than one that doesn't.
More icy weather coming. Imagine my delight.
Miz Becky pointed me to the charmingly chatty current NOA'A forecast discussion... It looks like she may get her dang 'ol snow, man, I tell you whut.
I've changed to much easier to read sentence case, and added emphasis:
Area forecast discussion Fxus66 ksew 051656 afdsew
area forecast discussion
national weather service seattle wa
900 am pst wed jan 5 2005
.synopsis...cool...dry northeast flow will continue today. A cold front will move south across the area thursday afternoon bringing rain and snow to the area. A cool upper level trough will develop offshore on friday keeping the threat of precipitation in the forecast through the weekend. A reinforcing shot of cold air from canada could invade western washington by early next week.
.discussion...well the forecast is never simple when talking about snow in the low lands...and this case is no exception. Once again we have all the ingredients coming into play..ie cold/dry airmass in place...sfc high to the n...deepening sfc low near the coast...and moisture. How these come together will make all the difference between a mostly snow or mostly rain event. Dewpoints around wrn wa running in the upper teens to low 20s...with ne drainage wind still keeping a dry/cool air in place. The key will be how much of this cold dry air will remain in place as moisture begins streaming in on thu ahead of an an approaching canadian low. Models imply that sly flow develops enough to mix things out as precip begins thu afternoon. We may end up with precip beginning as snow then changing over to a mix or just rain. The exception will be whatcom county where gradients will remain offshore and should keep the colder air in place. Most mos guidance agrees suggesting the low level airmass will wet bulb to around freezing...ensuring mostly snow there. Newer models qpf amounts still running as high as a half inch suggesting warning amounts still possible in whatcom county thu night into fri. The watch will remain in effect at this time. As for areas south...the differences between the eta/gfs make it difficult to discern when a switch back to snow may occur. The problem will be that as colder air moves in both aloft and at the sfc later fri night into sat...the bulk of moisture could move swd. The gfs still lifts some sort of deformation/warm frontal boundary into the area with renewed precip. This could produce a more widespread low land snow...especially if dynamics and wet bulb effects are able to draw the snow level all the way down. Believe the current forecast is the best way to go for now indicating maybe an inch around puget sound thu night into fri. Will need to poor over the latest model data during the day and hope for some better indications either way on how this plays out.
The trough lingers near the coast for showers possibly continuing into sat and sun but a generally decreasing trend. Cold enough air should drain in by that point for mostly snow showers. A very brief dry period may set up late sun into mon before the next canadian low begins to migrate swd towards the area. This system is shown by virtually all global models to have a very strong arctic front associated with it. The front is expected to drive swd into wa during the day tue with much colder air and possibly bring a round of snow the area. Some long range models indicate this could be some of the coldest air in years possibly persisting through much of next week. H850 temps -20 to -25c suggest high temps not getting out of the 20s for highs...possibly even a near record cold event. This is still about 6 days out right now and models often over do the amount of cold air. Will plan on gradually trimming temps back in the extended for the afternoon package but stay conservative at this time. Stay tuned to the latest forecasts as an arctic blast is not out of the question next week. Mercer
Joy. At least I have my Patagonia silk-weight tights to keep my spirits up.
Karl, on Wednesday, January 5, 2005 at 1:44 PM:
Not to actually rain on anyones parade here, but its 8 (the high!) in Minneapolis today, and that is tolerable compared to a few weeks ago.
Its suggested that it will hit 35 this weekend or next week, and I suspect many of the ridiculous population here will barely be wearing clothes at all.
And for some stupid reason I still occasionally wonder why my cousin moved to San Diego. You betcha!
Dean, on Thursday, January 6, 2005 at 2:26 PM:
It's 56 degrees here in San Jose, and sunny. And people think I'm raving, screaming insane that I want to move to Portland, OR. :) But having grown up a Northwest boy, too many sunny days during the year freak me out.
Andr, on Thursday, January 6, 2005 at 9:38 PM:
Bah! All of you.
I'm in Winnipeg, MB, Canada.
the HIGH is -26C... and that horrible thing called windchill is rearing it's ugly head.
My version of a work anxiety dream
A new cafeteria has opened at work, so I wander over to check it out. It's a low building, vaguely mediterranean with pink stucco and vine-covered columns framing the approach. The setting sun is turning it all rosy and beautiful, and I pause to watch a family playing on the lawn.
As I come through the front door, I'm assaulted with noise and confusion: two people in chef's jackets are shouting at each other; there's a jet of steam off to my right, and the din from dishes and pans and knives on boards is tremendous. As I am swept through the turnstile by the press of the crowd I notice a small sign fly by to my left; it says something about being charged even if I don't buy anything, as a kitchen fee.
There are posters hanging everywhere, in the middle of the aisle, with enormous closeups of bad food photos: meats swimming in a pool of glycerin, lettuce already turning brown and soft from the lights. The text splashed across the posters seems to have nothing to do with the photos: "Freshness IS forever!"; "Nice hottie COFFEE the cup!"
There are only a few stations here, and though I can't see what they're serving I'm already shuddering and weak with revulsion. From yards away I can taste the horrifying food coming out of the steamer trays: grade Z meat with a sauce of tar and mayonnaise; soups flecked with diced hair and gristle.
As I move on I realize that the corridor turns in on itself, so the cafeteria is longer than it seemed to be. After I drift out of the first section, there are long empty stretches, dark and echoing, broken up here and there by a bare, flickering fluorescent tube hanging over a tray of pale rolls or a rack of dusty cans of soda: brazil nut, barnacle fizz, cocobolo.
Someone appears out of the darkness ahead of me, pushing a cart with three working wheels loaded down with dirty pans. I can't see their face as they limp by, straining to keep the cart moving in a straight line.
As the slow squeaking of the cart disappears behind me, I come around a corner into a suddenly well-lit area. There's a smiling man standing behind a display case, with stacks of the most beautiful Chinese greens I've ever seen: choy sum, yin choy, gai lan, and others I'm sure I recognize but can't quite drag up the Cantonese phonemes for.
To my right I notice a stand selling various kinds of noodles in bowls. What they're making for other customers looks delicious, but I can't match anything they're serving with what's on the menu. I try to point to something someone else is getting, but the woman behind the counter smiles, and shakes her head, and gestures to the menu above her head. Finally I point to something on the menu, and without looking to see she begins assembling a bowl of greens, and chile oil, and some kind of delicious meat, over fat yellow noodles floating in a shimmering broth. The woman next to her, who is now taking my money, explains to me that they have to have a menu in order to fool the cafeteria -- which she refers to as though it were some kind of living thing, not a building, The Cafeteria not the cafeteria -- but that each customer gets the meal they need most based on the balance of their yin and yang.
I sit down to eat, near a window, nodding at the smiling man with the greens. I pick up my strangely heavy chopsticks and wake up.
heather, on Tuesday, December 28, 2004 at 3:10 PM:
Cool dream dude... you might think about taking a few days off though. Or at least eating lunch across the street more often ;-)
Andrew Sundstrom, on Wednesday, December 29, 2004 at 7:27 AM:
You're leaving out the part about the typewriting anus and the bug powder.
Timothy, on Wednesday, December 29, 2004 at 4:32 PM:
heh .... Andrew said ... err typed, "typewriting anus" .... heh
Sun Friday, on Thursday, December 30, 2004 at 4:35 PM:
Sssshhhh! Don't wake The Cafeteria.
The next ten songs
I thought Andrew's list of the next ten songs iTunes popped up was pretty entertaining, so here's my list. I do have an edge on Andrew in that, yes, I did sit down and digitize every single one of our CDs, so you can see just how weird our collection is. Or so I thought, until a distinct folkie vein showed up...
1) Burning of the Midnight Lamp, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, from Electric Ladyland
2) Ah Ya Bibi, Fanfare Ciocarlia, from Radio Pascani
3) Shakin' Shakin' Shakes, Los Lobos, from Just Another Band from East LA
4) Alabama Bound, Odetta, from Absolutely The Best
5) Gettin' Up Early, Tom Paxton, from Christine Lavin Presents: Follow That Road
6) Keep on the Sunny Side, from Will the Circle Be Unbroken
7) Nerdy Girl, Dealership, from Secret American Livingroom
8) Rock Steady, Bonnie Raitt, from Road Tested
9) Uf dem Anger Swaz hie gat umbe, from the Carmina Burana
10) The Righteous & The Wicked, Red Hot Chili Peppers, from Blood Sugar Sex Magik
Wait a minute, no delta blues? No Coltrane? No Tom Waits? What the heck? Time for the bonus round.
11) La Valse De La Porte Ouverte, Nathan Abshire, from The Great Cajun Accordionist
12) Fawn, Tom Waits, from Alice
Whew. At least ol' Tom made it in.
Uncle Vinny, on Friday, December 24, 2004 at 9:12 AM:
Where's the Black Flag, Dead Kennedys, Vicki Carr and and John Denver? I thought that was all you listened to!
Robert Jahrling, on Saturday, December 25, 2004 at 5:22 PM:
Oh, I am so copycatting this once I get everything digitized and downloaded to the iPod.
Isn't Odetta awesome?
Yesterday's traffic madness
We take a break from the Italian travelogue to report on three exciting traffic incidents that happened on the same patch of ground yesterday.
See, it was raining pretty bad yesterday evening, and as the old joke goes, Seattle drivers see rain so infrequently that they don't know how to deal with it.
The scene: I'm standing at the bus stop at the corner of 40th (east-west) and 148th (north-south). Traffic is nearly gridlocked. It's dark. It's rainy. It's 6:30pm. My bus, as it turns out, is 25 minutes late, but I don't care because I have a constant stream of entertainment: the drivers are on their worst possible behavior.
Genius 1: I see a new Prius in the northbound lane on 148th. The left end of the bumper is crumpled in. "That's sad," I think, "that's the first Prius I've seen with any kind of damage." Over the next couple of lights the Prius creeps up to the intersection, where (clearly having had enough) the driver makes a U-turn into the southbound lane. In front of oncoming traffic.
"Ah... that's why you're the first Prius I've seen with damage. You're the Prius driver with the least judgement."
Genius 2: Heading west on 40th, this driver turns south onto 148th out of turn -- after their lane's left-turn arrow has been red for a while -- in front of oncoming traffic. Sadly for them (but maximizing my entertainment value) the first car in the oncoming lane was... a police car. Who turned to follow them.
Genius 3: This driver takes the cake. A small car -- Acura, maybe -- creeps a little bit south of the three of us standing at the bus stop. The driver leans his head out of the window, makes an annoyed sound, and drives up onto the sidewalk. He drives about 150 feet down the sidewalk, and then takes a right turn into what I assume is his apartment complex.
To be fair, he probably saved about 15 minutes.
I tell ya. Who needs "Reality" TV when the real world is so much fun?
Timothy, on Wednesday, December 8, 2004 at 8:15 PM:
.... and you all wonder why I get angry driving???
There would be no "Angry Tim" driving if everyone would just drive accordingly to the law and conditions (and having their head out of their asses will help too).
Uncle Vinny, on Wednesday, December 8, 2004 at 11:24 PM:
The more I bus and vanpool, the more these sorts of stories amuse me, like hearing a teenager complain about zits. "Ah," I think, "I remember that. That sucked!"
Today's tactical nuclear slam
There I was, standing on the corner, heading back to our car to meet Miz Becky. To my immediate left stood an older black man in a rather elegant suit — deep brown, with the pinstripes picking up his white hair.
Further to our mutual left was a small knot of late highschool age girls, including one who was doing her best to fulfil the cliché role of the "fat friend", with the bad skin and big hair and a sweater that was about a size too small.
The other classic attribute of that role, of course, is the big mouth, the constant "pay attention to me" rudeness that makes her amusing enough to the "cute friends" to be kept around. And she was working it as hard as she could: "We should roll this shopping cart into the street and scream 'oh my baby!' That'd scare the shit out of someone. Hey, Carrie, didn't you need to go to the bathroom? You hanging out yet? You prairie dogging?" And so on.
Eventually she noticed the sour look on the face of the gentleman in the excellent suit, and saw an opening. "Hey, whatsamatter, you don't like what I'm saying? You think people will see your shit colored clothes? We didn't get any on you, did we?" And so forth.
When she paused for breath, he spoke quietly, never looking at her, just loud enough for us all to hear him:
"Goddamn ugly bitch with a big mouth, gonna spend your life getting fucked, but ain't never gonna be loved."
Stunned silence from the knot of teens.
The light changed.
He and I crossed the street.
They didn't move.
Timothy, on Saturday, November 13, 2004 at 7:57 PM:
I just wrote that down (never know when one might need that one).
Andrew, on Saturday, November 13, 2004 at 9:16 PM:
That's fantastic! Got to be one of the best comeback lines ever. I salute the gentleman in the suit.
Christian, on Sunday, November 14, 2004 at 10:50 AM:
Holly sheet, I am *SO* writing this one down!
Another random jumble of neurons firing
Incredibly busy these days. Nevertheless one must rant and muse, no? So I bring you the following collection of randomness.
Miz Becky thinks that my response to this article about student debt is a sign that I am a crabby old man before my time. Nevertheless I give you the excerpt that upset me. In the midst of an article about rising student debt and how hard it is to pay off loans or pay for college, we see this examination of young woman's expenses:
In her job at SU, Khachatourians takes home a paycheck of $1,600 a month after taxes. She keeps her rent and utilities at $450 by sharing a house in Ballard with three roommates. The payment for her 2003 Ford Focus is $355 a month, insuring it costs $190 a month. She goes grocery shopping once a month and tries to keep the bill around $100. Just making the minimum payment on her credit cards was costing her $150. Throw in the $300 loan payments, and her expenses totaled about $1,550.
Excuse me? Her car payments and insurance are more than either her rent or her loan payments? They're 34% of her salary? Damn, woman, get a *(*!!! used car!
Random demographics I'd like to see:
How many people who drive hybrid cars are going to vote for Shrub/Cheney?
How many people who buy organic foods are going to do the same?
Today's lesson in getting stuff done: Lighting a fire. I recently had cause to use a technique I've learned here at Acme labs. In this case I had sent a tech support request to, well, let's say a company I do business with, since it seems like they're going to do right by me. A couple of weeks went by and I had heard nothing.
Now, I was incredibly busy (see pp.1) so I didn't really have time to follow up, but it still ticked me off. So yesterday morning at 7:44 our time (10:44 for them, since they're on the east coast) I sent them another e-mail, and cc:d their marketing director, who I had previously corresponded with. At 8:25am, my phone rang. And who was it? Why, their tech support guys. How nice.
Oh, the Tom Waits concert? Yeah, it pretty much kicked my ass. As Miz Becky told her sister last night, he's a performer who pours every ounce of energy and emotion he has into the shows. The thing that most amazed me was that nearly every song was completely re-imagined, completely different from the album version or other live versions I've heard. An example, for those of you who know the work: The album version of "November", from The Black Rider, is very spooky and atmospheric -- the melody is played on a saw. The version he did on Monday was almost an homage to Nina Simone, a sort of slow torch song, with Marc Ribot playing, well, let's say Spanish classical guitar in the background.
Good people watching, too. The number of guys in ratty porkpie hats and vintage suits or sweaters was astounding.
You know, I was sure there was something else, but it's gone. Time to bathe and head out the door into my day. Buon giorno!
Sarah, on Wednesday, October 20, 2004 at 8:02 AM:
If I didn't live in one of the coldest cities in the world, and had I not had to spend 5 years battling blizzards, on foot, in January, to buy groceries, I would never have bought a car. Where is Ballard, anyway? If the temperature doesn't fall below -10 °C, a car is not a neccessity.
Sean Harding, on Wednesday, October 20, 2004 at 8:43 AM:
I didn't have a car for quite a while after I moved to Seattle, and it wasn't that big of a deal. Even now that I do have a car, I only drive about once a week. If you live and work in the city, it's quite possible to get by without a car. And yes, if you really must have a car and are in so much student loan and credit card dbt, a brand new car is probably not the best choice. I have a huge amount of sympathy for people who are struggling to pay for their education or to get by on underpaying jobs. I had my own pile of student loans to dig out from under when I graduated, so I know how it feels. However, it sounds like that person could make her life a lot easier by making some different financial choices.
The insurance rate quoted there sounds really high to me too, but there are so many variables that go into that it's hard to compare. My car is, I think, more expensive (but a few years older) than hers, the area I live in has a higher rate of auto theft than Ballard and I'm a male, yet my car insurance costs me less than half what they quoted there...
(Hmm. My comment was blocked when I spelled "dbt" right... Let's try it this way!)
heather, on Wednesday, October 20, 2004 at 12:55 PM:
Car? I didn't even learn how to DRIVE until I graduated, moved to Seattle and got a FULL TIME JOB. And I lived in Montreal for 5 years - which is one of the other coldest cities in the world.
Debra, on Wednesday, October 20, 2004 at 3:45 PM:
Can you say "bus?!?" And wasn't she also going BACK to SU to get a graduate degree as well? Good grief. She will be in debt forever...
Debra, on Wednesday, October 20, 2004 at 3:47 PM:
Actually, now that I think about it, if she can keep her job at SU they might pay her tuition, which would be the smartest move she could make...let's hope...
Mi chiamo uno studente
Well, my friends, I have once again circled back into the student life. Not full-time, mind you, but I am devoting two nights a week to Italiano classes at the Washington Academy of Languages. Miz Becky and I, you see, are trying to get our busy asses to Tuscany later this year, and since I hate not knowing any of the local language when I travel, I'm going to spend thirty hours picking up the basics. Not all at once, mind you.
1) Meeting Signora Maffy, one of my classmates, also co-worker of the lithophilic Rob and actual reader of this humble site. I don't meet too many of you who I don't already know in the real world, so it was a little freaky for her to ask about my crows and to know who Miz Becky is. Not that I expect any different, of course... it's just not something that happens every day. Anyway, shout out to Maffy.
2) Rat-holing on the difference between an "open e" and a "closed e". If you imagine "eh" and "ay" as the two ends of the line, the open and closed "e" are on that continuum, but much closer together. It was a little like the "Merry Mary got Married" test -- if you're an English speaker from some parts of the planet, those three words are crisply distinct phonemes; and if you're from other parts of the planet, you have no idea there's any difference. La professoressa e studenti were nearly broken by this little exercise.
3) Really a lowlight: Traffic was so bad on SR520 tonight that not only did my bus not make it downtown in time to grab a snack, but I was 10 minutes late for the start of class. Those of you who know me in the real world (see 1 above) know that I'm the kind of person who likes to plan to get everywhere 10 minutes early, in case something comes up, so it's irksome to me to be late, especially on the first night of class. Ah well. I'll plan better next time.
Andrew, on Tuesday, October 5, 2004 at 11:23 PM:
I have no idea who you are in real life :-) but I do read your site.
After visiting Italy a couple of years ago, I am now also immensely jealous that you're heading off to Tuscany! It's such a beautiful place. I also love Umbria because of the mountains and the fact that it is so completely different from anything we have at home.
Saedigh, on Wednesday, October 6, 2004 at 8:02 AM:
Of course, we Canadians pronounce "eh" as "ay", eh?
David Adam Edelstein, on Wednesday, October 6, 2004 at 9:05 AM:
Timothy, on Wednesday, October 6, 2004 at 11:17 AM:
OH! Jealous now
Heather, on Wednesday, October 6, 2004 at 10:08 PM:
Hey - do me a favour... find out how you say "I am a clock" in Italian? I forgot to ask our teacher when we took our classes last year :-)
This morning's bus adventure
This morning, Miz Becky and I carpooled downtown, as we often do when she needs to drive for work, and she let me off near my bus stop. As I got out of the car, I saw my bus pulling up, so I scampered across one street and the next, after which the bus driver very kindly let me on the bus even though it was at a stop light and not a bus zone.
We rolled through downtown, down Fourth and up Olive towards the freeway, but when we got to the freeway onramp the driver pulled over and stopped the bus. He mumbled something over the loudspeakers about needing to reset the bus, and we sat and waited for few minutes. Eventually we pulled away, and all was well.
Not quite. A couple of minutes later, we stopped on the side of the freeway. The driver announced that we would be switching busses. He offered the use of his cell phone to anyone who needed to call in. Nobody took him up on the offer.
A police car stopped, and the officer came over to chat with the driver. He left.
The driver tidied his bus schedules.
Another bus from the same route rolled by, people's faces pressed to the window.
Cell phones started appearing out of bags as people decided this wasn't going to be quick.
Eventually the replacement bus pulled up behind us, and we all transferred to the new bus. You know the edge of the freeway? It's as filthy as it looks when you're going by at 65mph.
(nice giraffe backpack, by the way)
Welcome to the death of the year, he said melodramatically
Some people mark the beginning of fall at the autumnal equinox; some people pick the harvest moon; others notice the charismatic rodentia gathering nuts or the spiders spinning larger webs.
The sign that tells me fall is upon us is far more prosaic: it's the first morning that the heat comes on in the house. And that, my friends, was this morning.
This is a little disturbing for those of us in the Puget Sound area, since September and early October are usually beautiful -- the cruel joke on the students who suffer through the first six weeks of school watching their daylight slide away.
But this year... ok, it's no trifecta of hurricanes in the Carribean, but it's looking like the Great Gray is coming a little earlier.
Imagine my delight.
(on the other hand, this is of course good news for those of you in the southern hemisphere... enjoy the coming warmth!)
She's gonna blow!
Scientists Say Mauna Loa May Soon Erupt
Mon Sep 13, 7:27 AM ET
KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Earthquakes (news - web sites) have been rumbling more frequently deep beneath Mauna Loa, suggesting that the world's largest volcano is getting ready to erupt for the first time in 20 years, scientists said.
"We don't believe an eruption is right around the corner, but every day that goes by is one day closer to that event," said Paul Okubo, a seismologist at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory on the Big Island.
Mauna Loa erupted for three weeks in 1984, sending a 16-mile lava flow toward Hilo. Since then, the U.S. Geological Survey (news - web sites) estimates that more than $2.3 billion has been invested in new construction along Mauna Loa's slopes.
[ . . . ]
Yes, that's right. US$2.3 billion in new construction on an active volcano. Some lolo, yeah brah?
btezra, on Tuesday, September 14, 2004 at 6:42 AM:
~it could have been worse, it could have been $3 billion...~
Here are a few things that have been rattling around needing a place to go.
Saturday afternoon I was on the bus, heading home, after going to the gym and running a few errands downtown. There was a trio of kids sitting facing me, probably 14-16, with hi-tops, dyed hair, worn army jackets -- you know the look.
I'm reading my book, minding my own bidness, when I hear one of them whisper to the others: "He has stupid shoes." I glance up to see them scramble to look nonchalantly around, anywhere except at my gym shoes.
It's official. I'm old.
A few days ago, also on the bus, I overheard a semi-retarded guy talking to the bus driver. He said "I'm going to vote for George Bush, because he thinks like me!" I am not making this up.
One of the errands I was running Saturday was to see this great, creepy art show at the Roq La Rue gallery. There's a preview of the show online, but those scaled-down images can't convey the richness and depth of either of the artists' work. Really great stuff.
I've been thinking a lot lately about the Nation of Islam's "5% theory". I'm sure there are better explanations online somewhere, but in summary they believe that
- 85% of the people are asleep and have no "knowledge of self";
- 10% of the people are awake, and have partial knowledge of self, and use that to exploit the 85%; and
- 5% of the people are awake and have full knowledge of self, and it's their responsibility to lead the 85% against the 10%.
I started thinking about this as a way to reconcile the fact that I know a lot of people who are good, decent people, none of them stupid or actively evil, who nevertheless in the face of overwhelming evidence are still gung-ho Bush supporters.
I keep forgetting to post a link to this bit of video from Bumbershoot 2004. (sorry, Windows Media Player only -- I gotta find a solution to create MPEGs. Any recommendations for something that will convert from WMV to MPEG?)
First you'll see a few people from the breakdancing competition, including a guy named Selah, from France, who has the most amazing body control I have ever seen. I was not previously aware that the middle of one's chest could move independent of the rest of one's torso, but apparently it can.
The second section is a clip of Jake Shimabukuro, ukulele sensation, demonstration how he's taken that humble instrument to an entirely new level. Ordinarily that expression is hyperbole... but not in this case.
gracie, on Monday, September 13, 2004 at 3:18 PM:
You've probably already checked, but there may be a shareware tool for this - tucows.com. I've consistantly found stuff for converting all my audio files around... I assume there's video stuff out there too.
Happy birthday to me
Yesterday I typed "34" into the elliptical at the gym for the last time. Huh.
Heather, on Sunday, September 12, 2004 at 4:50 PM:
That is too funny - that was the first thought that I had on my own birthday workout - damn - I don't get to type in "32" anymore.
Andrew, on Monday, September 13, 2004 at 6:49 AM:
Happy Birthday! I hope you have a great day.
Fall weather preview
According to Noa'a, it looks like we're going to get a preview towards the end of this week of the stultifying repetitiveness that characterizes Seattle's winter weather:
TONIGHT...MOSTLY CLEAR... LOWS IN THE LOWER TO MID 50S... NORTH WIND AROUND 10 MPH.
MONDAY...MOSTLY SUNNY EXCEPT AREAS OF MORNING CLOUDS... HIGHS IN THE LOWER TO MID 70S. NORTHWEST WIND AROUND 10 MPH.
MONDAY NIGHT...MOSTLY CLEAR... LOWS IN THE MID 50S... NORTH WIND AROUND 10 MPH.
TUESDAY...PARTLY SUNNY... HIGHS IN THE 70S... LIGHT WIND
TUESDAY NIGHT...MOSTLY CLOUDY... CHANCE OF SHOWERS AFTER MIDNIGHT LOWS IN THE UPPER 50S. SOUTHWEST WIND AROUND 10 MPH.
WEDNESDAY...MOSTLY CLOUDY... CHANCE OF SHOWERS... HIGHS IN THE UPPER 60S.
WEDNESDAY NIGHT...MOSTLY CLOUDY... CHANCE OF SHOWERS... LOWS IN THE LOWER 50S.
THURSDAY...MOSTLY CLOUDY... CHANCE OF SHOWERS... HIGHS IN THE UPPER 60S.
THURSDAY NIGHT...MOSTLY CLOUDY... CHANCE OF SHOWERS... LOWS IN THE MID 50S.
FRIDAY...MOSTLY CLOUDY... CHANCE OF SHOWERS... HIGHS IN THE UPPER 60S
FRIDAY NIGHT...MOSTLY CLOUDY... CHANCE OF SHOWERS... LOWS IN THE LOWER 50S.
SATURDAY...MOSTLY CLOUDY... CHANCE OF SHOWERS... HIGHS IN THE UPPER 60S.
SATURDAY NIGHT...MOSTLY CLOUDY... CHANCE OF SHOWERS... LOWS IN THE MID 50S.
SUNDAY...MOSTLY CLOUDY... CHANCE OF SHOWERS... HIGHS IN THE UPPER 60S
Sean Harding, on Sunday, August 29, 2004 at 8:28 PM:
Great. Bumbershoot ought to be a joy.
A couple of guys from Facilities came by today to deliver my stylish new motorized ergonomic desk. One of them was clearly Jamaican and had the wonderful name of Everton Dawson.
Everton was not only super friendly (in contrast to his bored coworker) but very philosophical, so we had a fine old time talking about the meaning of life while clearing off my old desk, moving it out of my office, and moving the new one in. (Summary: Yeah, we all have bad days at work, but that doesn't excuse rudeness.)
As they were leaving, after I thanked them, Everton paused for a second, looked at me, and said "Do I hear little bit of a Hawaiian accent, mon?"
I blinked. "Uh, yeah! I was born and raised there."
He grinned. "I tot so mon! 'Cos I'm from Jamaica, you know, I know all de island accents. Aloha, mon!" He shook my hand again and took off down the hall.
Joshua Edelstein, on Monday, September 27, 2004 at 2:50 PM:
That's happened to me, too--after giving a girl directions to the Court House metro stop in Arlington VA, she asked me if I was from Hawaii. Said I had the same accent as an ex-roomie of hers who was from Hawaii.
Does this mean we're exotic?
It's always nice to see people at their best
From the New York Times:
With Storm Gone, Floridians Are Hit With Price Gouging
Greg Lawrence talks about the $10 bag of ice. Kenneth Kleppach says he was clipped for nearly three times the advertised price for a hotel room. And a man with a chain saw told Jerry Olmstead that he could clear the oak tree off his roof, but it would cost $10,500.
So much for a friendly, helping hand in a time of crisis. Since the winds of Hurricane Charley subsided, officials say a wave of price gouging has swept across central and southwest Florida, putting law enforcement officials into high gear and infuriating storm victims already faced with damaged homes, shuttered workplaces and long lines for basic commodities.
[ . . . ]
In Plant City, just east of Tampa, Rosemary Duffield, who is in her 80's, decided she should get out of her mobile home and she booked a room a little farther inland, at the Crossroads Motor Lodge in Lakeland, she said in court papers. She was told the price would be $44.79, she said. But when she called to reconfirm later in the day, the price was $55.79. After checking in on Friday and settling into her room, she discovered that she had been charged $61.27.
RObert Jahrling, on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 at 7:44 AM:
The works of Carl Hiaasen--fiction and non-fiction--provide a great insight into the way things work in Florida. Somehow, I'm not surprised at this article, not at all.
Squinting into the wind
Tired punks wearing red dye and eyeliner clutch secret laptops under thrift store coats, riding clumsy convoys of express busses to nameless officeparks. There they revise recalcitrant algorithms in the eternal semidusk of cost-saving cubefarm lumens. Mall-bought headphones scream softly in their ears as they type in jagged attacks, raging against and babying their shuddering machines. Each one a day job, each one admitted to with a shy mumble of confessed capitulation that lets them nurse nightdreams of other lives, other choices. They trade aggro for passive-agressive in friday afternoon meetings that drift inescapably into the evening, each bus leaving without them another tick on a clock both oscura and obscurely significant.
Later, hag-ridden and haggard, they clutch serial beers as their brains unfold from the rigid origami their days demand. Sure, I still play, they say, but you know, not much lately, we've been busy at work... Brushing pointedly past memories of post-commute practice sessions derailed by talk of faster processors and real wood dashboards, 401k distributions and taxes on dividends. The songs still come, of course, or the paintings, or the words, but they come obliquely, softly, like mumbled conversation in a language nearly remembered, or a bit of scent sneaking by on a breeze that stirs up blurred memories which would come into focus, maybe, if they could just steal another sniff. But now it's gone, along with the edge of the memory they can still nearly see, off in the distance, if they look hard enough...
No. It's gone. Best not to keep staring after it. The squinting makes the eyes water.
Heather, on Saturday, July 24, 2004 at 9:42 PM:
Sun Friday, on Wednesday, August 11, 2004 at 10:52 PM:
No no no no no.
Yesterday's bus encounter...
...or, they all talk to me.
Yesterday, on the way home from work, I find a place in the side-facing seats in the center of the bus. Sitting across from me is a skinny, grizzled, amateur-tattooed guy, covered in splattered paint and sneaking sips from a can of beer.
We start chatting -- he wants to know if I'm one of those people who are addicted to the internet, since I'm working away on my laptop. I deny it all (no, really, I could quit any time). He tells me he spent the afternoon painting a house, and that he had got done in four hours what the real estate agent who hired him had thought would take two days. I allow as how that's pretty impressive.
"Yeah, well, I'm goddamn good at what I do." He takes another sip of his beer. "Which is being a fuckup." He grins. "That reminds me of a joke." And he proceeds to tell me...
The Lion Joke
One day the lion is feeling a little insecure, so he decides he needs to go kick some ass.
The first animal he comes across is a snake. The lion picks up the snake and whips the snake around his head. "Who's the king of the jungle?" he roared. "You are! You are!" the snake hissed in fear and slithered away.
The next animal the lion ran across was a monkey. The lion cuffed the monkey with one paw and threw him across the clearing into a tree. "Who's the king of the jungle?" he roared. "You are! You are!" the monkey chattered and ran away.
After roaring some more, and racing around, the lion came upon an elephant drinking out of a river. He jumped on the elephant's back, dug his claws in, and shouted in the elephant's big ear: "Who's the king of the jungle?"
The elephant reached up with its trunk, grabbed the lion, smacked him on the ground a couple of times, and flung him across the river.
The lion picked himself up, shook his head to clear it, and shouted across the river. "Hey, just because you don't know the answer is no reason to get mad about it!"
He smirks at me. "Bet that didn't end the way you expected it to, huh? You could tell that joke to your goddamn baby if you wanted to." He goes back to sipping his beer, and I go back to reading e-mail.
A few minutes later, he gestures across the aisle to me. "Hey, bro," he beer-whispers. I lean in. "Yeah?"
"You better watch out, I think that woman in black is checking you out."
"Really? That's going to piss my wife off."
"Yeah, your old lady's gonna want to kick her ass. 'Cause she's really checking you out."
"You sure? Maybe she's checking you out."
At that, he sighs and leans back with a sour expression on his face. "Ten inches and never been deep throated. Ain't that a pisser?" I blink a couple of times and nod noncommittally.
He leans forward again. "Goddamn true. I made a movie in 1974 in LA, man. John Holmes ain't got nothing on me. 'Cept the AIDS. He can keep the damn AIDS. Man, I'm so goddamn afraid of AIDS, I jack off with a rubber on."
I laugh, and he leans back with a satisfied smirk.
A few minutes later, he stands up to get off the bus. "Y'all have a good one, bro."
Sean Hardiing, on Friday, July 16, 2004 at 10:51 AM:
Man, I love the bus.
I lost my bus pass the other day (I'm still holding out hope that it'll show up), so I've been walking to work rather than paying the $1.50 each way. I'm not sure I'd say I "miss" the strangeness, but it provides a more energetic start to the day...
Christian, on Friday, July 16, 2004 at 11:36 AM:
One December, a Seattle metro bus driver refused to go anywhere unless the entire (packed!) bus sang Christmas carols with him. If we all didn't sing loud enough during the song he picked, he'd start to slow down the bus until we starting singing louder. When riders would get off the bus, he made them rub the top of a giant blue genie doll (from the movie "Aladdin"). He wouldn't open the back door for anyone, so everyone had to exit the front. Did I mention it was the 5pm rush crowd on a double-bus?
Timothy, on Friday, July 16, 2004 at 11:39 AM:
One word ...
Andrew, on Saturday, July 17, 2004 at 1:53 AM:
That's a crazy story! Two things that strike me as being very different from Perth:
1) Nobody ever talks to anybody else on public transport in Perth.
2) You'd never use a laptop on public transport in Perth, for fear of it getting stolen!
Great story, though!
I win one
One of the ways Miz Becky and I amuse ourself when we're by our lonesome (NO, this isn't going to be that kind of post) is to engage in deadpan surrealism and see who cracks first. I'm sure this is going to be amusing to nobody except us, yet I feel compelled to share yesterday's exchange.
The scene: We're cleaning the house, in separate rooms.
Miz Becky: Dang, you'd think we have cats or something.
DAE: Why is that?
B: Because it looks exactly like there's cat hair everywhere.
B: [pause] Oh, wait... we do have cats.
D: We do?
B: Yeah, remember? The little brown one, and the little black one?
D: [long pause] Oh... That's what those are!
B: [laughing] OK, you win.
Move along, folks. Nothing to see here.
Instead, you should go see Russ' description of a similar game.
The crow story
Our offices just moved a couple of weeks ago, and aside from any apparent benefits our local Vice President got from having his whole team in walking distance from him, I got something I've been wanting for almost 12 years: a first floor window office.
What's the benefit of a first floor window office? I'm glad you asked. It means I can put a bird feeder on the outside of my window!
When I got back to my office, I hung up the bird feeder, filled the cups with seed, and scattered some seed around on the ground and on the concrete bunker you see in the background, to "help the birds find the feeder," as the ladies at WBU told me.
When I came in Friday morning, all of the scattered seed was gone. I only noticed one little brown bird coming by to feed that morning, though. That is, until mid-afternoon, when I heard a thump and some squawking outside my window. I turned around to find a crow desperately trying to get its footing on top of the bird feeder, and not succeeding very well. It would fly over, stall onto the top of the feeder, struggle a bit, and fall off. Then it would do the same thing, and barely manage to get its footing; but when it leaned over the edge to get a bite of food, it would fall off.
About every sixth time, it managed to get some food. After about an hour of this, the crow clearly got tired and took off.
Monday morning (because crows take the weekend off) I noticed the same crow hanging out on the concrete bunker, looking for all the world like it was studying the feeder. And there it stayed, for several hours, until mid-afternoon when I heard another thump on my window. This time, though, it was the crow hanging on the edge of one of the plastic cups for all it was worth -- not a position crows are very good at holding -- and pecking at the food. It grabbed three or four almonds in its mouth, and flew away. After repeating that a couple of times, all of the almonds were gone, and it left for the afternoon.
I was delighted to see the crow learning -- bolstering my already high opinion of them -- but I wasn't prepared for what happened yesterday.
Yesterday morning I noticed the same crow again, hanging out on the bunker, studying the feeder again. Mid-morning, I came back to my office from a meeting and noticed the crow picking at a small pile of seed on the top of the bunker. "That's odd," I thought, "I wonder if someone came by and got some seed out for the crow?"
It turns out I was partially right. A few minutes later, I saw the crow hanging off of the feeder again. It grabbed a mouthful of seed, jumped back onto the bunker, spit the seed out, and proceeded to pick at the seed at its leisure.
Of course, I was delighted again, but I couldn't figure out why the crow was spitting the seeds out instead of just swallowing them. Eventually I got curious enough to actually watch the process in detail.
So why was the crow spitting the seeds out?
Because it doesn't like sunflower seeds.
It would spit the seeds out, eat all of the millet and other seeds, but leave the sunflower seeds -- which smaller birds would then swarm and eat, which is why I never saw little piles of sunflower seeds.
What will today bring? Perhaps a little stove to cook the millet into a mash?
Robert Jahrling, on Wednesday, June 30, 2004 at 8:54 AM:
Neat! We need pictures of this.
Apropos of this story, there seems to be a disproportionate number of dead squirrels along part of my route to work. It's not a heavily-used road. I was puzzled, until, for a few days running, I saw a pack of crows hunting squirrels. They were doing a hammer-and-anvil sort of attack, where one bird would swoop down at the squirrel and try to chase it towards another bird. They probably would have gotten it had I not come trundling along in my car.
David Adam Edelstein, on Thursday, July 1, 2004 at 3:11 PM:
Update: If you're coming to this story via Google, I've added some pictures.
More from our wacky neighbors to the north
Canadian Voters Urged Not to Eat Their Ballots
Mon June 28, 2004 12:16 PM GMT-04:00
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - Canadians went to the polls in a federal election on Monday with a firm warning from election officials: Please do not eat your ballots.
"Eating a ballot, not returning it or otherwise destroying or defacing it constitutes a serious breach of the Canada Elections Act," Elections Canada warns on its Internet site.
[ . . . ]
Three Alberta men were charged with eating their paper ballots during Canada's last federal election, in 2000. The members of the Edible Ballot Society were protesting against what they said was a lack of real choice among candidates.
Heather, on Saturday, July 3, 2004 at 10:29 PM:
Yup... them's my people.
I can't wait until I can vote here! They don't have a law against ballot-eating in the US, do they?
This morning, as Miz Becky was brushing her teeth, I did one of my periodic Dramatic Readings Of Our Horoscopes. First Miz Becky's:
"The hunt may be on for good times, and you are eager to break free of recent dreary routines." That sounds pretty good.
"Partners will be aggressive and won't take 'no' for an answer." Oh yeah.
"The more you are chased, the more fun it is to be caught." Indeeeeeeed!
"So what does yours say?" she asks.
"Hmmm... let's see. Here it is. 'You could be occupied by past difficulties. Or you could begin writing a mystery novel.' Sorry babe, I gotta go get writing."
I didn't really feel like shaving this morning, anyway.
I almost left my razor and aftershave at home this morning when I headed to the gym. But then I decided, what the hell, why be scruffy all day, it's not that much of a hassle to shave at the gym.
I went to the gym, and I worked out, and I bathed. And just as I'm rinsing the last of the conditioner out of my hair, the fire alarm goes off.
Of course we all get out of the showers, proceed downstairs in an orderly fashion, and wait for the fire trucks to show up. Right?
What actually happens is that as the deafening alarms are sounding, and the strobes are flashing, and I am quickly shutting off the shower and heading back to my locker to towel off and throw my clothes on (45 seconds by actual count), there are guys who are still lathering up. Better still, there are guys who get into the shower right now, after the alarms are already going off. Hang up towel, step into shower, turn water on, all with a painfully loud klaxon in their ears. Not a flinch. Not a curious look.
It's not until a Pro Club employee actually comes into the locker room, goes into the showers, and tells them they have to leave that any of them actually starts moving. "OK guys, you gotta go. This isn't a fire drill. We don't know anything about this."
So I head downstairs in my bare feet (always a good day when I get to walk on warm concrete in bare feet), chat with the physical therapists who are part of the crowd standing outside, and put my shoes on. We watch the firemen head into the building I braid my hair.
None of those guys have yet come out of the door of the building.
I walk down the street towards my bus. I reach up and scratch my chin and realize I never did get around to shaving.
Joshua Edelstein, on Friday, June 4, 2004 at 12:43 PM:
It's so true about the lackadaisical attitude towards fire alarms. It gets even more ridiculous in the building I work in: people (eventually) leave their offices, head downstairs, and then take refuge . . . under our building's prominent overhang. And I quietly imagine them all screaming in terror as firey masses of brick and concrete rain down on them, all from my vantage point of hypothetical safety across the street.
And I hate shaving, anyway.
Andrew, on Monday, June 7, 2004 at 1:21 PM:
I haven't met anyone who enjoys shaving. That said, I spoke with a number of Morgan Stanley colleagues who were in Tower 2 on 9/11. They said that for several minutes after Tower 1 was struck, and becoming visibly engulfed in flames, they continued to work -- as in: they sat back down at their desks, turned their heads from the windows toward their screens, and started coding. All the while their manager -- who sat in her same office in 1993, and this time was taking no chances -- was beckoning for them to follow her to the stairs. She was told by more than one that, "I'm trying to make your deadline." The majority didn't head to the stairwell until the second impact, 12 floors above. They all survived. The last one to the stairwell told me several days later that he saw one of the plane's engines drop through the ceiling.
A psychic right and left
Left jab: Christina tries juicing with the exquisitely beautiful Philippe Starck juicer:
I juiced with the Philippe Starck Juicer, and it made me sad.
Juice flies everywhere. The item is not stable-- it wobbled with each turn. I found myself starting the orange on the juicer, then finishing just with hand. Gorgeous, but art not appliance. In case you were wondering.
WHAT? The first designed object I understood as such? The first kitchen gear I lusted after? My apex of elegant, simple design? I am shaken, I tell you, shaken to my roots.
Right hook: The charming Melissa, Assistant PT extraordinaire at the Pro Club, is showing me her Match.com profile. "Interesting member name," I say innocently, "what does it mean?"
"Oh," she says -- I'm sure with with no ill intent, "my friend came up with that for my AOL instant messenger name when we were in high school."
I make a sort of choking sound. She looks alarmed. "What?"
"Melissa, you have just succeeded in making me feel old, even though I'm not that much older than you. When I was in high school, there was no IM. There was no AOL. There was no Web. If we wanted information to move between computers, we put it on big floppy disks."
And what did she do? She laughed at me, curse her.
Ah well. It's still a damn beautiful juicer.
Bathing a Baby
... or whatever it's called. Oh, yes, a baby shower. We held one today, you see, for our friends Debra and Chris.
Fortunately since nobody in the Whole Sick Crew is particularly "girly", the gig was co-ed and the games were limited.
It's clear that this child (a girl, we all found out on Friday) is going to have a gaggle of completely doting aunties and uncles.
Catching up on random vignettes
It's been a long, long week here at Noise to Signal -- three projects coming to a head at the same time -- which is why the updates have been a bit sparse. Nevertheless the notebook continues to fill with observations, and sooner or later they need to come out. Here's a few of them.
A few months ago, I was sitting behind a guy on the bus who was playing with what was obviously his brand new cell phone. After setting up all of his options, and choosing between several obnoxious ring tones, he made a call. When the party on the other end answered, he said (in a heavy Mexican accent) "Can ju hear me now?"
The party on the other end obviously didn't understand, so he tried again. "Can ju hear me now?" And again. "Can... ju... hear... me... now?"
Finally he got frustrated. "Ai, esta un slogan del Verizon!!! Estupido!"
At work, many people use the horrible speakerphone. Most people face their monitor while they're talking to someone, or lean back in their chair, or get up and walk around the room.
One of our field sales people, however, hunches right over her phone, as though she's looking deep into its depths.
A few weeks ago, I went to an inspiring talk on the necessity of creative expression by Peter Levitt.
As I rode back to my building on a campus shuttle, I overheard two women responding to the same talk. One of them said to the other, "Oh, yeah, I love creativity and all that stuff."
This morning on the bus I saw a guy I used to work with who was, as the expression goes, as gay as the day is long.
It confused me, today, to see him spend the whole bus ride making out with his girlfriend.
Yesterday, Becky and I were in the car on I-405 ("The 405", for those of you in California). Two people in the car next to us prompted me to ask this question:
"I wonder what it would be like to be the kind of person who would tie a bandanna around their head, with the knot off to the left, and then put a baseball cap on, with the bill canted to the right, and not feel silly going out in public like that."
Finally: I love the Clockblock.
Bad news for my messianic complex
I get on a bus this afternoon, in my semi-disheveled and tired post-gym look, and as I sit down in a side-facing seat I see this guy out of the corner of my eye. He looks up, glances over, and does a double-take.
He stares at me.
He gets up and walks over.
I'd like to emphasize at this point that he looks like a normal guy. No obvious signs of membership in International Fellowship of Window Lickers, Local 509. His clothes are clean. He's bathed recently. No facial tics or slurred speech. A very normal looking guy.
Anyway, back to the narrative.
He sits down next to me.
He leans over, and whispers to me: "I just wanted to tell you, I know who you are. I know who you are and why you're here. And I'm glad you're here."
He has tears in his eyes.
I thank him (what else could I do?) and he gets up and walks back to where he had been sitting.
Christian, on Saturday, May 1, 2004 at 5:51 PM:
Out of work Psychic Friends Network employee? Miss Cleo associate? Hmmm.
m, on Saturday, May 1, 2004 at 6:20 PM:
I'm feeling really sorry for Becky right now! :)
Andrew, on Saturday, May 1, 2004 at 6:23 PM:
Um, some of us are watching this site for signs of the Rapture. Don't disappoint us.
David Adam Edelstein, on Sunday, May 2, 2004 at 7:50 AM:
Well, I don't know about rapture, but I'm pretty happy ...
... or is this one of those goyishe expressions that means something else? ;-)
timothy, on Sunday, May 2, 2004 at 11:02 AM:
I knew IT! You are an alien!!!! We're all aliens! ... 'cept Mrs. H ... she's Canadian ;-)
Rob, on Monday, May 3, 2004 at 12:33 PM:
That would explain that unearthly glow!
Richard Beers, on Thursday, May 6, 2004 at 12:21 PM:
Uh... I've always known who you are and why you're here. And I too am glad you're here. Perhaps we forget to tell you that enough, but then we can't have your head swelling. ;-)
The slightly-more-than-one-month gym report
Well, it's been slightly more than a month since I started working out, which means it's time for an update on my progress and some more stories.
My progress, to get the boring part out of the way quickly, has been gratifying. I've noticed a major change in my energy levels; muscles are growing and weight is coming off; and when Miz Becky and I went for a walk on Sunday on our neighborhood circuit, climbing the major hill halfway through didn't cause nearly as much pain as it used to. I'm, as they say, seeing results.
Which is a good segue to the first observation in this update: the dabblers. When I started working out, and I had my free "initial assessment" and session with a personal trainer, to set up my exercise program, he spelled it out clearly: The way to see results is to do some kind of cardio exercise at your target heart rate, and to do sets on either exercise machines or free weights at enough of a weight level that you can't do any more at the end of each set. (And to work out three times a week -- but I can't comment on other people's schedules) I'm following those instructions: I sweat like a pig on the elliptical or the bike, and I work to exhaustion with the weight machines. I'm seeing results. Which means that I get confused when I see people on a cardio machine (bike, treadmill, elliptical, whatever) just strolling along, reading a magazine, not sweating at all. And then there are the people who sit down at an exercise machine, do eight or ten repetitions on a weight setting that's obviously too easy for them, and then move on. As several people have said, "No wonder so many people get discouraged and stop."
On the other end, of course, are the maniacs. There's one woman who does (by actual observation) 40 minutes at a dead run on the treadmill, then another 40 minutes on the elliptical trainer at the highest slope setting, followed by half an hour on a machine that even the fittest of the people I know at the club turn pale at the mention of -- I don't even know it's real name; all they say is "Oh, that one's really, really hard." Then, I don't know, she probably walks home to Tacoma or something. The effect is improved by the fact that her gym outfit is a red bandanna, a muscle t-shirt, and camoflage pants.
Also in the maniac category is the skinny little guy -- easily half my size -- who is one of the few people who has to use the seatbelts on the weight machines. Because, you know, he's lifting 200+ pounds at a time, more than his weight. I suspect I know how he got that strong: He does two entire circuits of the weight machines. Madness.
There's also a wannabe maniac: The guy who looks around casually after he's done on a machine, and if he doesn't see anyone looking his way, he moves the pin in the weight stack down to a much higher weight -- so it looks like he was doing 150 when he was only doing 100.
There's also a fair share of weirdos, of course: The slightly pudgy, pale guy who smiles and hums while covering his torso with hand lotion after his shower; or the guy who only works out on one specific treadmill, and waits until that one is free.
Finally, one unexpected result of working out is that it seems my body memory from my years of hapkido and aikido classes seems to be coming back -- almost as though my body is saying "OK, we're getting in shape again, these are the things we used to do when we were in shape." An illustrative story: last Saturday I was waiting for the bus downtown, heading home after working out. I was standing in front of the bus schedule kiosk, trying to figure out when my bus was coming. An older woman was standing to my right, doing the same thing. She checked her watch by stretching her left arm straight out (so the watch cleared her sleeve) and pulling it back towards her.
And I watched, as though from a distance, as my torso ducked out of the way, and as simultaneously my right arm came up to... HANG ON RIGHT THERE BOYO and I consciously restrained myself from neutralizing the nice old lady's non-existent punch
I spent the rest of the weekend saying "Whew, I'm glad I didn't smack that old lady."
David Adam Edelstein, on Thursday, April 22, 2004 at 8:25 AM:
Update: Woohoo! Provoked by this post, I successfully tried on old jeans this morning. Woohoo!
Uncle Vinny, on Friday, April 23, 2004 at 4:02 PM:
I read this last night, and ever since I've been thinking to myself, "Two hours at a time, three days a week...ugh, I'll never be able to do that." I can do a few hours of exercise here and there, but not since high school (when gym was a class I had to attend) have I exercised regularly; certainly not for 2 hours at a go. I know the benefits of doing it and yet I'm living with the risks and costs of not doing it... Nope, I'm afraid it's going to take some kind of crisis to get me in the gym, at the rate I'm going.
David Adam Edelstein, on Friday, April 23, 2004 at 4:05 PM:
The thing is, it did just about take a crisis to get me in: I started PT for my knees, but I knew that at least part of the problem -- a major part -- was that they were just carrying too damn much weight. Thus my motivation.
Laura, on Friday, May 7, 2004 at 11:07 PM:
That's very cool! Right on, Dave!
And now, some levity
Two posts in a row about a heavy subject. Dang. Here's a story to break things up:
Teen "sold drugs to officers with 'police' on jackets"
A Connecticut teenager has been arrested while trying to sell drugs to police officers with the word 'Police' on their jackets.
A police spokesman said drugs officers were on a routine patrol in Stamford in an unmarked car when Davaugn Goethe, 17, waved them down.
He said Goethe opened the back door of the car, jumped in and asked the officers what they wanted and how much. The spokesman said Goethe even told the two occupants 'You guys look like cops'.
Full story here.
Andrew, on Friday, March 19, 2004 at 7:18 AM:
Can it be...
"He who cannot draw on three thousand years is living from hand to mouth."
Notes towards an anthropology of the urban gymnasium
As some of you may know, at the beginning of this year I started going to the Pro Club for physical therapy (knee complaints, connected to my old back problems, in a complex whole system way) and, more recently (once cleared by my physical therapist) I started working out in earnest.
Before I realized my true calling, I started my academic career as an anthropology major, and to some extent that still informs how I approach and understand the world. Which means that whenever I'm in a totally new environment -- like a gym -- I start to make mental notes about the subculture I've found myself in.
- My hypothesis was that men and women would be checking each other out all the time. Endorphins up, sweat streaming, buffed out people... Turns out I was wrong. Women check out other women's bodies, and compare to their own. Men check out how much weight other men are pumping.
- Speaking of men, apparently all I needed to do to join the old-boys network was to join the gym. Had I known earlier... Men I've known slightly for years in other contexts, on no more than a nodding basis, are all "hail fellow well met" when they see me in the gym. We chat at length. They clap me on the shoulder, like an old friend. Perhaps we've now exchanged some kind of pheremones?
- I would like to compose a symphony for cell phones ringing inside closed lockers. Friday morning as I was getting dressed there was quite a range of tones; rhythm was provided by those set on "vibrate".
Side note: If you're in Seattle, and in need of PT, and your insurance covers them, I recommend Patrice in the Seattle club very highly indeed. You don't apparently need to be a member of the club to see their PTs.
tali, on Thursday, May 12, 2005 at 8:04 PM:
thanks for putting this up i'm in perth, west aus, doing my first year anthropology, curtin uni my essay? the anthropology of a gym. It's good to know it exists.
Memories of house hunting
Today's entry over at The Devils Panties reminded me of one of the places we looked at before we found our current house.
Return to the scene with me: The outside of the house is painted dark brown. As we walk in, we're confronted with wall to wall chocolate brown carpeting, including the conversation pit in the living room. Which has floor-to-ceiling gold-veined mirror tiles on two sides. The mirrored tile also wraps around the mini bar. Are you getting the picture?
At the beginning of the hallway, there's a photo of someone who I assume is the middle-aged lady of the house, taken in one of those mall "glamour/boudoir" photo studios, the ones that are regularly shut down for getting underage girls to pose a little too, uh, glamorously. Always nice to class the joint up when you're putting the house on the market.
So Miz Becky and I wander further into the house, completely ignored by the agent holding the open house, who's talking to someone in the mustard-yellow kitchen (I wish it had been Harvest Gold, but it was not to be). We make our way down the chocolate brown carpeted hallway, with the dark wood paneling on the walls. We get to the bedrooms at the end.
The first thing I see is the carpeting. Butted up against the hallway carpeting (chocolate brown, remember?) is the carpeting of the two bedrooms: One bright, bright red; the other bright, bright blue.
I look up, into the blue-carpeted bedroom, to find a wall-sized confederate flag staring back at me. True to form, the only coherent thing that passes through my mind is "well, at least it matches the red and blue carpeting..."
Then I hear a sound. It's almost like someone's being strangled, with a high-pitched edge to it I recognize. I turn around. It's Miz Becky, looking like she's choking, with a desperate look in her eyes. She makes the sound again, louder this time. Her desperate look grows more intense.
Suddenly I realize I'm seeing something I've heard about, but had never actually seen before: She's covering up laughter by pretending to cough. She's about to lose it.
I grab her hand. We race down the dark brown hallway, past the gold-veined mirror tile lined conversation pit, and out the door. The agent mumbles something to our backs and we wave in his general direction.
We make it out the door, and collapse into hysterical, pained laughter.
The house we ended up getting is about four blocks away from what we eventually named The Museum of Seventies Design. We often see it on our walks.
If it's ever for sale again, we're going to the open house. We need to see what the new owners did with their raw materials.
A pair of leap day retail vignettes
Earlier today we made an unscheduled stop at the Bitter Lake Home Depot (really, that's its name. I can't comment as I haven't actually tasted the lake... but I digress.)
We stopped in search of a ballast for one of the fluorescent fixtures in our garage, but of course since we hadn't planned on being there, we were violating one of the cardinal rules of the Home Depot Hunter-Gatherer creed: Always bring the part you're trying to replace.
So I head over to the lighting section (Becky was distracted by the arrival of the spring flowers in the garden section). I explain my story to one of the helpful orange-apronned guys in that department, who asks a few clarifying questions and then leads me to the fluorescent fixtures.
As we pass a display of fixtures, he points one out. "There's the kind of fixture you have, and it's $24. Aaaand... here's the ballast you need."
He hands me one, and with blank expression says "The ballast by itself is $18.99."
I blink a couple of times.
"It's the American way, sir."
I just don't know what to say about this one:
Michelle, on Sunday, February 29, 2004 at 10:10 PM:
I can't imagine Alex is ever going to need a first cheerleader, or a second or a third for that matter...
I keep meaning to say something about the wash of gay marriages in San Francisco, but words keep failing me. It makes me so happy. Tears well up every time I think about it. It feels like the first day of summer vacation, like the Berlin Wall coming down, like those crazy two weeks where the Soviet Union collapsed on itself and, just like that, the cold war was over.
This beautiful moment in time engendered another beautiful thing, which made me tear up again: An idea to send flowers to random couples standing in line at the San Francisco city hall. $45 or so for a bouquet too steep for you? Flowers for Al and Don are accepting Paypal donations for bulk purchases of flowers for the same purpose.
Even President Dipshit's obvious misdirection move isn't tarnishing the beauty of this moment for me.
Oh, and for those of you down there confronted with hate-mongers who quote Leviticus at you as the basis for their prejudice -- Ask them if they keep kosher, too, and avoid wearing clothes of mixed fibers.
(Note: This dialectic technique doesn't work well on orthodox Jews.)
rfkj, on Wednesday, February 25, 2004 at 8:05 AM:
I'm with you, and let's not even mention the ridiculous prospect of attempting to make it a Constitutional issue.
Another tactic to use against so-called Christians who attempt the Levitican argument is this: "Does John 3:17 say 'Unless they're gay?' No: 'whosoever' means 'whosoever.' No qualifications. Does Luke 6:32 say 'Unless they're gay, then it's pretty much open season?' No. Does Matthew 7:13 say 'Unless they're gay?' No." (Luke 6:31 and Matthew 7:12 are variations on the Golden Rule.) If you question them on following all the laws from Leviticus, they're like as not going to follow up with something like Matthew 5:17, "I am not come to destroy the law, but to fulfill it," which of course makes no sense in this context. That happened to me once, actually, and I didn't have a coherent counter, but it might work to question the intent of fulfillment: could it be a finishing or an ending? Make them consider the question very carefully: remind them that Christ's coming is meant to signal a new covenant--New Testament, if you will--with the Lord. In that context, what relevance could Leviticus possibly have to these people?
Other than the obvious "we need to justify our hate in some way," of course. It burns me up when the talking heads pontificate about this issue; just on a basic human-decency level, how could anyone possibly be against it?
Uncle Vinny, on Wednesday, February 25, 2004 at 10:38 AM:
Hey...that reminds me. Why don't the Jews sacrifice animals anymore? Is it because the temple needs to get rebuilt first? Christians don't have to because JC did cross-time as a blanket "sacrifice" for every filthy thought 'n' deed of those cleansed in the blood, und so weiter. But I don't see how the Jews skate out on it, uncleansed in the blood as they are. (This message brought to you by the Sheep and Goat Council of America.)
David Adam Edelstein, on Wednesday, February 25, 2004 at 1:26 PM:
Yep, it's all wrapped up in the destruction of the temple. We also, as far as I know, don't have an active Kohen Gadol, or high priest, to supervise the slaughter.
Bus vignette and an unrelated note
The question is, where but on the bus to Acme Labs are you going to see a punked out guy with bright pink (receding) hair (which is growing out, buddy, we can see your dishwater roots) writing notes in his officially licensed Seven Habits calendar?
And where else are you later going to see him get whacked in the head with an Ortlieb bag?
On an entirely unrelated note, Miz Becky just sent this in e-mail:
From: Miz Becky
To: DAE, Uncle Vinny
Subject: weird legislation
SJM 8043 - Requesting the elimination of preferences given to asparagus under the Andean Trade Preference Act.
fodder for a short story...
rfkj, on Monday, February 23, 2004 at 11:43 AM:
The senate bill report for SJM 8043 reads a little bit like a Dave Barry column: "Though asparagus production has increased, the production of cocaine has not been significantly affected." It almost writes itself:
"Sir," the aide said, "we have a problem. The Peruvians have destroyed Washington's asparagus production."
"Damn them!" Rasmussen muttered under his breath. "Well, at least we've helped turn them away from cocaine production!"
The aide took a deep breath. "Um, yeah, about that..."
Andrew Sundstrom, on Tuesday, February 24, 2004 at 10:06 AM:
Who says an anarchist has neither priorities, nor the Franklin-Covey means to array them?
No camera today
The sun has broken through the clouds, finally, just in time to let the last of its orange-gold rays reflect off of the conference room windows across the courtyard from my office.
As it pours across my window, the sunlight catches on the streaks left by the tail-end of this afternoon's persistent drizzle, like scratches in old motion picture film.
This morning's haiku
clusters of pigeons
hunch up their shoulders and coo:
"screw this goddamn rain"
rfkj, on Thursday, January 29, 2004 at 12:19 PM:
winter snow comes down
five degrees below zero
i can't feel my toes
Uncle Vinny, on Thursday, January 29, 2004 at 2:25 PM:
like a doting aunt
hefty cop bends down smiling
a crimson baton
I was walking through the dusk-tinted back streets of what passes for Seattle's photo district tonight, south of lake Union, on my way to Ivey to drop off a couple rolls of film.
Near my destination, I passed a tired-looking woman, probably mid-30s but seeming much older, who stared at me as I went by. I often see photographers I know down there, so I looked back, thinking she was someone I hadn't recognized at first glance. But as soon as she spoke, I realized my mistake.
"Want a date?"
"Uh, no thanks," I mumbled, and kept going.
"Hey, look," she said in a rush, "can you spare some change or something? I gotta get something to eat, man, I mean I'll give you a blow job for five bucks, I'm so hungry."
I stopped and looked back at her.
Aw, hell, I don't know if she was really hungry, or just junk-sick and playing me for a fool. But I challenge you to have looked at her in that moment and not have believed every word.
I gave her some money. I declined her offer. I wished her good luck.
The themes of your dreams
Miz Becky and I were dissecting our dreams this morning.
For some reason, I had never noticed this strong pattern in our dreams: She regularly dreams about real people and situations in her life -- dream-twisted, of course, but still real people, like co-workers and family members.
On the other hand, I almost never dream about real people or situations I've been in. Miz Becky shows up occasionally, but even she is a rare visitor.
It's unscientific poll time: What about you? Lots of people from your real life? None? Somewhere in the middle?
rfkj, on Thursday, January 22, 2004 at 7:41 AM:
My dreams are a combination, but lean more towards the absolutely unreal than they do towards the familiar. The ones that I remember the most vividly have to do with needing to go to class but not knowing which one, or where it is, or when, or where I am, or why I need to go to class given that I definitely graduated from both high school and college. BUT THE BELL IS RINGING AND I'M LATE!
Christian DeLay, on Thursday, January 22, 2004 at 10:59 AM:
A mixture of real and unreal. Although the unreal ones tend to have a mixture of realism (I obviously can't teleport, so when I do so in dreams, I have to yell "bamf" and time stops while I run to the desired teleportation destination). Then there's the waiter nightmares and the "oh you STILL need to take one last high school class or we repossess your high school diploma and invalidate your undergrade degree" nightmares. In flying dreams, I always have some sort of mechanism (once it was a very long board with a hole drilled in the middle that I fit into...
Uncle Vinny, on Thursday, January 22, 2004 at 11:08 AM:
I get friends, family and strangers in my various dreams, appearing in situations and places familiar and strange. The one constant is that I *never* get to have sex in my dreams. It's completely lame, and I'm very pissed at my subconscious mind. Do you *hear* me, superego? I'm VERY VERY angry at you! There. That ought to get my neuroses boiling...
Joshua Edelstein, on Monday, January 26, 2004 at 7:50 AM:
Um . . . I know that *everybody's* dreams are freaky, but I've kept dream journals in the past and have records of things like killer whales that speak French and live in swimming pools, as well as me being Batman in a nunnery in the 1400s. My favorite ones are of course the flying dreams, in which I keep myself aloft by pulling my shoulders and arms back and arching my back and legs to get lift. Even wrote a song about the feeling of flying in the dreams.
I've been exploring lucid dreaming . . . practical applications are practicing scales on the bass while I sleep (hey, figure skaters and pianists do it!), while indulgences include flying all the freakin' time. Uncle Vinny may want to explore ye olde lucid dreaming to defeat the superego . . . after all, you get to control the action . . .
A little poet laureate action
Janel is a huge fan of his, so I've heard a few of his poems now and then, but I can't say that I know his work well at all. So when Frances encouraged people to get up and read their favorite Stafford poems, it was with only idle curiousity that I flipped open Janel's copy of The Darkness Around Us is Deep.
When I got up to read, I said "Look, I have two confessions here: the first is that I don't really know Stafford's work that well -- you guys have probably quadrupled the total number of his poems I've heard. The second is that I'm really more of a photo guy than a words guy. So I had to take it as something of a sign when I flipped this book open to this poem."
An Archival Print
God snaps your picture -- don't look away --
this room right now, your face tilted
exactly as it is before you can think
or control it. Go ahead, let it betray
all the secret emergencies and still hold
that partial disguise you call your character.
Even your lip, they say, the way it curves
or doesn't, or can't decide, will deliver
bales of evidence. The camera, wide open,
stands ready; the exposure is thirty-five years
or so -- after that you have become
whatever the veneer is, all the way through.
Now you want to explain. Your mother
was a certain -- how to express it? -- influence.
Yes. And your father, whatever he was,
you couldn't change that. No. And your town
of course had its limits. Go on, keep talking --
Hold it. Don't move. That's you forever.
(William Stafford, of course)
Eric Thirolle, on Monday, September 27, 2004 at 11:20 AM:
I like it. I often find myself wondering about how it seems that so much of a person's character can really be seen in their face and in a few gestures.
A new face around the place
Why yes, we here at Noise to Signal do have a new mascot hanging around the place. He first showed up in the corner of a photo I took on the snow day, and has been around ever since.
We don't quite have a name for the little guy, yet, but here he is:
Bethany Hamilton RULES.
Girl Who Lost Arm to Shark Surfs in Meet
Jan 11, 1:09 PM (ET)
KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii (AP) - Teen surfer Bethany Hamilton returned to competition just 10 weeks after losing her left arm in a shark attack.
The 13-year-old Hamilton placed fifth in her age group in the Open Women Division of a National Scholastic Surfing Association meet at Banyans on Saturday.
"It was definitely a good start," Hamilton said.
It was Hamilton's first meet since the weekend before she was attacked Oct. 31, although she returned to the water Thanksgiving Day.
Hamilton began with a modest 2-foot wave, but caught a 6-footer during her quarterfinal heat. She kicked her left leg to help propel her 6-foot-2 surfboard into waves, and occasionally struggled when pushing off the board with one hand.
"Once I get up on the board, I'm OK," Hamilton said. "Sometimes it's hard to get there."
Hamilton rejected any special treatment, said Bobbi Lee, NSSA Hawaii Conference director.
"I offered to give her more time (between heats) or put her in a more favorable heat," Lee said. "She refused. She said she wanted to be treated like anybody else."
Joshua Edelstein, on Monday, January 12, 2004 at 11:28 AM:
How sad is it that as of this comment, this story is NOT on the Surfer Magazine homepage?
Melicent Young, on Tuesday, January 13, 2004 at 8:19 PM:
Way to go, Bethany! You don't let anything stop you, much less a shark. You're smart and you get right back into the swing of things. You'll go far in life!
beth, on Wednesday, February 25, 2004 at 10:04 AM:
its really cool how you just get right back to surfing even thoe all the things you when threw with the shark attack
Ashley, on Friday, March 5, 2004 at 2:14 PM:
You're really an inspiration to everyone, Bethany! I really hope you achieve your goals!
I win one
Yesterday as we were running errands, I bought a pair of handkerchiefs.
Later, we were puttering around putting away our purchases. I took the bar code stickers off of the handkerchiefs and, true to form, stuck them on Miz Becky's shoulders. "Look, now you have epaulets!" She gave me a look and proceeded to ignore me.
Later yesterday evening, we were having dinner at a local place. We had been there for 40 minutes or so when I glanced at Becky's shoulder and snorted.
"You, uh, still have your epaulets on."
"Oh, crap!" She turned bright red and grabbed the stickers off of her shoulders. "The waitress must think I'm insane!"
I, meanwhile, am unable to respond to this easy opening, because I'm laughing so hard.
Becky sighs. "OK, damn you, you won one."
Why yes, I am checking in from the UNBELIEVABLY BEAUTIFULLY SUNNY Honolulu International Airport, where we are in the first 15 minutes of our three and a half hour wait until our flight to Seattle takes off. Joyful, indeed.
Of course when we get home, or possibly tomorrow after I wake up from a jet-lagged drooling slumber, I will post a much more extensive travelog with photos and carefully constructed witticisms and all of that good stuff, but for now you'll have to content yourself with just a bit of content. Check my mad same-word-different-emPHAsis punning skillz, undiminished by my stay in a tropical paradise.
The key word in that previous sentence, by the way, is not paradise, as you might suspect, but tropical. You see, although Hawai'i is in fact stunningly beautiful 95% of the time, this last week was one of those times when Big Mama Nature comes in and says "Hey, remember that part about being in the middle of the Pacific Ocean? Remember that part about being the most isolated inhabited land in the world? No, I don't think you remember. Here, let me show you."
It's a similar experience to one of mine when I was a snot-nosed kid in my early karate years. Sensei came over and mentioned that I needed to put more snap in my blocks, because they weren't going to do me a bit of good. "I don't think they're that bad," I said, because I hadn't yet learned the wisdom of respecting every damn thing a sensei says. "NO! NOT GOOD!" he shouted, and proceeded to punch my stupid wise ass self up and down the dojo floor for half an hour, while the other students had a good laugh at my expense.
So I'm me, see, and Sensei is Mother Nature, and the other students are the people who visted or will visit Hawai'i outside of the 5 or so days on either side of New Year's Eve, and the punches are the massive storms Mother dropped on our sorry asses for all but two and a half days we were on Kaua'i.
I do have to say, though, that we packed an awful lot into the two gorgeous days we had, and Miz Becky will never take Paradise for granted again.
(Oh yeah, and my blocks did get better over the course of that half hour.)
rfkj, on Monday, January 5, 2004 at 7:14 AM:
Wow, how's that for irony...you visit Kaua'i, which is like the wettest place on Earth that's not actually underwater, and you get no rain. That's just messed up.
(Oh, and be glad you weren't actually sitting in a plane for those three hours; my mother-in-law's plane sat in a de-icing queue for two and a half hours in Minneapolis, and she informed me, through gritted teeth, that the passengers were under no curcumstances allowed to leave their seats. "Not even," she said, "to go to the bathroom." Ouch.)
Cultural identifiers of the insider
Aside from the obvious cultural differences between regions of the United States, there are also other behaviors that divide the insider from the outsider, some of them very subtle. For example, in Hawai'i people don't nod at each other in acknowledgement; they raise their chin -- a gesture that would be considered a challenge in some other parts of the country. Another identifier is skin color -- even the least beach-going haole in Hawai'i has a low-level tan that makes them distinct from a resident of the mainland.
Possibly the biggest cultural identifier here, though, is the Hawaiian accent. It's sort of a remnant of Pidgin English -- a mixture of all the languages of the farm laborers of 19th and early 20th century Hawai'i, slapped on top of Hawaiian grammar and intonation.
When my brother and I were growing up, we lived in a sort of bi-lingual world: We spoke "correct" American English at home, but at school we spoke pidgin. It's not something we really noticed we were doing. For example, we were visiting our relatives in Detroit once and our Mom asked me to speak some pidgin for them; I had no idea what she was talking about.
As I grew older, and especially after I moved to the mainland, I spoke almost no pidgin, and my background pidgin/Hawaiian accent faded considerably. I could still speak it when I wanted to, and I'd sometimes put on the accent for effect, but it wasn't a part of my daily life.
Except, that is, when I come home to Hawai'i. Then my latent pidgin accent comes back like a ghost at the outskirts of my mouth, occasionally flaring up as strong as ever. Usually I just find it funny, but occasionally it's helpful.
Case in point: Today Miz Becky and I took a drive, and on a whim we decided to visit Sea Life Park, which I hadn't visited for probably 20 years.
We waited in line, and as we got closer to the ticket booth I saw that a ticket was about $25. "Crap, I'm not paying that," I said, and we got out of line. Becky convinced me, however, that $25 isn't unexpected for this kind of attraction, and I did want to see the place, so we got back in line.
As we got up to the ticket window, the woman at the window finished the transaction of the people in front of us, and then had to go deal with something at the other ticket window. She said "One moment please," and as she turned away I replied "No hurry!" And as I said that, I realized that the latent accent had flared up again.
When she returned to the window, the ticket agent looked at me a bit closely, smiled, and said "For being so patient, only 26 dollars please." I said "Tanks!" -- accent still in full force -- we paid, and we walked away.
Becky looked at me curiously. "$26 total?"
It seemed odd to me, too. Then the same thought came to both of us at the same time -- she had charged us the kama'aina rate, purely on the basis of that intangible cultural signifier.
And, I gotta tell you, that's the most it's ever done for me. Nah nah nah! Only kidding, yeah?
rfkj, on Tuesday, December 30, 2003 at 10:11 PM:
I love SLP, even though they haven't changed the Whaler's Cove show in approximately forever. You got lucky--my parents always get carded when we go there, although for some reason I can get through sometimes, too.
The chin thing comes, culturally, from a disinclination towards pointing in general. Take a close look, and I think you'll see more often than not that we'll indicate direction and location with the chin as well. I also got slapped by my aunties for using my hands to indicate "come inside", using a sort of gathering-inward motion; it was rude, they said, because it was greedy.
One disconcerting thing that I found the last time we visited was that they somehow changed the rules for handshaking. Literally every male I met would do the handshake-and-a-hug, hands-clasped-between-us shake. Even the ones that I never got along with when I was growing up.
Whenever we go home, everyone says "Oh my God, you're so pale," yet I'm the darkest person I know in these parts. It's pretty funny. I now get asked where I'm visiting from when we go home, and depending on my mood, I'll either say "Wisconsin" or "Kaimuki" (where my parents live now).
Mokihana, on Friday, June 10, 2005 at 5:02 PM:
I know exactly what you mean about the accent. Okay, I am trying to speak good English here, not pidgin! When I first moved to the mainland, I was teased unmercifully about my accent, and because it was such a difficult time in my life,I tried hard to squelch it in order to fit in. It never went away... it was just hidden for awhile.
Now it is some years later, and I am finally coming into my own, becoming the person that I was intended to be: I am LOCAL! I may live on the mainland now, but my cultural heritage is Hawaiian to the core. I am now cutting loose with my accent, reclaiming that part of me that I lost. At www.alohaworld.com, on the message board, my friends and I buss out da pidgin, and when we get together in 3-D, forget King's English, forget toning down the accent: we are 100% local!
If my friends ask me why I suddenly have an accent, I just tell them I'm tired of pretending and it's who I am.
This has been a valuable lesson for me; I don't have to give up my accent to be accepted. Who would ask a Brit, or a French person, or a Russian, to give up theirs?
I am me. Mokihana. Hear me roar (with a local accent, of course!)
My, that was some rain
Well, the lights went in easily; fortunately light fixture mounting standards are still the same 30 years later, so replacing the old with the new was zippy quick. If I had a way to download my pix here, I'd be showing you, but since I can't, well, you'll just have to be impressed at my mad light fixcha skillz without seeing any proof.
We did in fact head off to Foster Gardens this afternoon, to see Michelle and 15-month old Alexandra (Alex to her friends). Alex was supah cute, as promised (insert more imaginary pictures here) and it was great to see Michelle, 15 years later. We walked a little, we released Alex and watched her pick up sticks, and we walked some more.
About 40 minutes into our visit, we started to feel a few raindrops. I, always the hopeful type, said "I think this is going to pass." I was right -- it did pass, about an hour later, after dropping something like an inch of water on us. We're talking real tropical storm deluge type weather here. After trying the theory of "hanging out under a tree 'til it passes" and getting soaked anyway, we made a break for the covered area at the entrance to Foster Gardens. Man oh man, it's been a long time since I've seen a rain like that. Soaked to the skin, water running down steps and carrying gravel along, it was a sight.
Tomorrow, our big plan is to go swimming. In the ocean. Which we somehow haven't gotten around to, yet. What have we been thinking?
rfkj, on Monday, December 29, 2003 at 2:59 PM:
Hey, the last time I went to Foster Gardens it rained small domesticated animals as well. Bizarre.
Whenever we go back home, I vow to myself that we will go to the beach every day, and we usually end up managing to go approximately once.
I just got a picture of Alex today, and I also say she is cute, in case there are any doubts.
Aloha from Honolulu
Well, we've been here a few days now, so I figured I should check in. But what is there to say, really? Hawai'i is beautiful, as always. Honolulu is a little more overgrown than I remember, but not by much. Tourism seems to have recovered entirely from the 30% drop we experienced after 9/11 -- given that every seat on every flight is booked from now 'til January 6 or so.
My parents, the brother-thing, and Miz Becky and I are all staying in our tiny, maybe 900 square foot apartment. Whenever we're all here it amazes me that my parents had enough space to fit two growing boys in here somewhere. Mostly I think we survived by not spending a lot of time actually in the apartment, which is also our strategy here.
Yesterday we all went to the Honolulu Academy of Arts, where there was a large show of photographs from the collection of a local couple. Really beautiful stuff, and an excellent collection. I think Mom's comment said it best -- everything in the collection is very clearly seen; they're all strong executions of good ideas. Very inspiring, certainly.
There's supposed to be some fierce rainstorms coming through this week, although looking at the satellite photos it looks like they may have blown themselves out. It's certainly beautiful this morning.
Anyway, if it's not raining this afternoon, we're planning to head off to Foster Botanical Gardens and get some plant-viewing in, as well as to meet up with my old friend Michelle and her toddler -- who the brother-thing reports is supah cute.
But first things first -- my task this morning is to install new lights in my parents' dining room. Off to put on my electrician hat!
Uncle Vinny, on Monday, December 29, 2003 at 12:27 AM:
How can you say "It's certainly beautiful this morning" and not attach a picture?! (Also, as of this writing, you have an unclosed hover-tag on the Aloha-no phrase.) Ok, I'm done complaining now.
David Adam Edelstein, on Monday, December 29, 2003 at 12:41 AM:
I can say that without a picture because I don't have a damn way to download or upload pix while on the road.
Do I hear the siren song of a 12" toshiba laptop calling my name? Why, yes, I do.
rfkj, on Monday, December 29, 2003 at 2:54 PM:
s/"toshiba laptop"/"Apple iBook"
Hey, go to my parents' house and upload from there. My dad just got DSL!
The memory of garlic
While we were driving back to Miz Becky's parents' house after having dinner with them (at the regrettable McNary Golf Club), we saw a grocery store reader board advertising "Porketta roasts". None of us had any idea what that was supposed to mean, but we quickly turned it into a woman's name, which segued into a story about a childhood friend of Becky's parents named "Orgetta". Going down the path of -etta names reminded me of a great woman who used to work in the cafeterias at Microsoft.
Her name was DeeEtta, but I first knew her as the Loud Lady. DeeEtta was a very strong woman, and a very sweet person, but she wasn't too interested in social niceties. People who walked up to her station would be greeted from ten feet away with "WHAT'LL IT BE?" It seemed like her voice went from shout to louder shout; she didn't just go to eleven, she started at eleven.
I liked her at once, and chatted with her a few times on slow days. She grew up on a farm in Montana, which probably explained her attitude towards working in the cafeteria: "STARTED TAKING CARE OF THE HORSES AT FOUR YEARS OLD. GENTLED MY FIRST HORSE AT TEN. HELL, ANY JOB WHERE I DON'T HAVE TO GET UP AT FOUR A.M. IN THE SNOW AND TOUCH ICE-COLD COW TITTIES IS A GOOD JOB."
I forget, now, what her station usually was; but a couple of times a week, in those days, her station dispensed Ceasar salads. I don't know if everyone who served Ceasar salads made their own dressings, but DeeEtta sure did, and like her speaking style, she didn't believe in subtlety. "GARLIC IS THE BEST DAMN THING YOU CAN DO FOR YOURSELF. IT'LL CURE COLDS FASTER THAN ORANGE JUICE, THAT'S FOR SURE." She put so much garlic in the dressing that it was actually spicy hot. And it was good.
Once, I made the mistake of trying to brush my teeth after having one of DeeEtta's salads. Instead of reducing the smell, as I had hoped, I endured an afternoon of the garlic and the toothpaste engaging in open warfare in my mouth. I've never felt anything quite the same. My mouth felt slick and tingly and garlickly and pepperminty for hours afterwards.
People who were normally too afraid of DeeEtta to order from her station would line up eight or ten deep when she was serving Ceasar salad. They'd answer nervously as she quizzed them about their order: "YOU WANT CHICKEN ON THAT? SALMON? JUST PLAIN? OK!".
DeeEtta retired a few years ago; I was lucky enough to eat in her cafeteria on her last day ("I'M GETTIN' THE HELL OUT OF HERE BEFORE I FORGET HOW TO RIDE A HORSE!") and to get a chance to thank her for all of the great salads and stories over the years.
I had actually been thinking about DeeEtta a couple of weeks ago. I was having lunch in building 25 and walked by her old station. They were serving Ceasar salads (a much rarer thing these days) and the person working there had just filled a big metal bowl with lettuce.
After putting the bowl down, he reached into the fridge and pulled out a big jug of... Kraft Ceasar Salad Dressing.
Uncle Vinny, on Saturday, December 27, 2003 at 9:47 PM:
IT'S SPELLED 'CAESAR', NOT 'CEASAR', YOU MORON! YOU GOT CAESAR, YOU GOT A SALAD AN' AN EMPEROR. YOU GOT CEASAR, YOU GOT DICK! CHRIST, I TALK TO MY HORSE, HE HAS MORE SENSE.
Some absence coming up
We here at Noise to Signal will be out of town for a little while over the holidays, and thus the blogging will be spotty at best.
I'm also going to try to move my blog to a new host while that's happening. Hopefully all will be transparent to you, the faithful viewer.
In case you're in dire need of something to say "Oooooooh" about, here's a little something Jenn passed on:
Powers of Ten
Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida has put up a very interesting Java applet on their site.
It begins as a view of the Milky Way Galaxy viewed from a distance of 10 million light years and then zooms into towards Earth in powers of ten - of distance 10 million, to one million, to 100,000 light years and so on and then when it finally reaches a large oak tree leaf.
But that is not all - it zooms into the leaf until it reaches to the level of the quarks viewed at 100 attometers.
Why yes, I did watch it several times. Why?
The feeding habits of the felis domesticus
Dear cat behaviorist type person,
I'm writing to you to ask about a, well, a problem we're having with one of our cats.
Edgar has always been a normal cat, at least relative to other cats. He's a little mercurial, of course, and has a bit of a habit of licking himself bare, but nothing really outlandish.
Lately, however, he's developed a bit of a taste for, well, bread.
Specifically, twice now he's wrestled part of a loaf of bread (in a plastic bag) out of the bowl we keep bread in, off the counter, down the length of the kitchen, and down the stairs to the basement, where we found both loaves.
The first loaf made it look like it was more of a plaything, but with the second one he's actually chewed a hole in the corner and eaten some of the bread.
What makes it worse, of course, is that he's supposed to be on Atkins, and so not only do we have to scold him about playing with the bread, but we have to lecture him about carbs as well.
What are we to do? Clearly part of the answer is to hide our bread away. But what's next? Will we find the toaster at the foot of the basement stairs, after a futile attempt to heat some toaster waffles?
Thanks in advance for any advice you can give us.
Jennifer, on Tuesday, December 16, 2003 at 11:46 AM:
It could possibly be a love of the plastic wrap the bread is in. My cat has this "thing" where she steals plastic bags and licks them. It's the weirdest thing. Any chewing on things inside the bag are purely accidental for her.
Heather, on Thursday, January 8, 2004 at 11:19 PM:
Have you tried switching to english muffins?
"Tell us that story again, Bob... please?"
Sorry to have been so quiet the last few days... I've been super busy with work and extra-curricular activities, plus ministering to the influenza-ridden Miz Becky.
I do have a quick story for you, though.
Tuesday night I was at the aforementioned Circus shoot. We were getting some photos together for an event they're doing in January; the theme of the event is "strip club". That means that at the shoot there were, well, uh... Oh, I'll come right out and say it. Naked clowns. And if that doesn't scare ya...
They're cold and hungry. So they order pizza.
Alert readers can already see where this is going.
After they get off the phone, I look up from where I'm fussing with my lights and say "You know, this is going to be one of those deliveries that goes down in pizza dude legend."
The Circus ladies, in their various states of dishabille, look sideways at each other. And snicker.
Half an hour or so later, the pizza dude shows up, looking just like you'd expect a pizza dude to look. And he's greeted by six half-naked women in clown makeup, jumping up and down, giggling, and screaming "Pizza! Pizza! Yum yum!". And he looks, again, just about like how you'd expect him to look.
"Hey, are you guys rehearsing for some kind of show?"
I would have paid cash money to eavesdrop on the conversation when he got back to the kitchen.
Joshua Edelstein, on Friday, December 5, 2003 at 6:35 AM:
You would think, knowing me, that I--as with your alert readers--would have seen where that was going. But no.
For me, it was the threat of hot cheese and tomato sauce on bare skin.
rfkj, on Friday, December 5, 2003 at 11:15 AM:
I interviewed naked people for my radio show once. The streaking club just kind of showed up at the door to the station, and I dumped the record I was playing and went on the air with the memorable "Uh, there are naked people here." I wish I had taped it. Hearing streakers on the radio is almost as funny as seeing them in person.
Joshua Edelstein, on Friday, December 5, 2003 at 12:21 PM:
And yet, sometimes people have virtually no reaction at all to naked people. My old band used to have a song called "Naked." So, one time, at band camp . . . I mean, a gig, I appropriately *got* naked during the drum solo. I'm standing there playing my strategically lowered bass, jamming along, and there's a girl standing in line for the bathroom on my side of the stage. I smile politely at her, and she just gives me this look of utter boredom.
Maybe she didn't like our music.
timoth, on Friday, December 5, 2003 at 2:22 PM:
(in my best "Beavis and Butthead")
"ahhhh ... huh..."
"...he said naked clowns ...."
To resist was futile ....
Miz Becky zings me
The scene: last night, Miz Becky and I both get home from our respective late evenings at about 9:00. We chat briefly and then get ready to sit down companionably to a snack-and-magazine decompression period.
When I get to the table, I notice that Becky has snagged my brand new issue of Cook's Illustrated, and I make a show of huffing around and finding another magazine to flip through.
Becky ignores me for a few moments, then looks up with an expression of studied boredom. After looking at me briefly, she sniffs the air loudly and looks around the room.
"Do you... do you smell drama queen in here? I sure do."
I collapse in a heap of semi-hysterical laughter.
That's my girl!
More on relationships
There is no human relationship until a relationship has broken down. As long as each fulfills the others expectations, there is only a contract. There are no people, only transactions.
Once trust is breached, a new depth enters: The depth of the person. If there is truly a relationship -- if it is the person inside that matters -- then there is a search for forgiveness, for return and for healing.
So it was that within forty days of entering into a contract with the One Above, the Children of Israel sinned. And the soul below and the One Above discovered they could not part from one another.
Some thoughts on relationships
An old friend of mine is going through some relationship troubles right now. Their pain inspired me to write down some of the thoughts I've had about relationships over the last several years.
I'm not the easiest person to live with. I wasn't always good at being in a relationship. But having made some mistakes, and having learned to have a successful relationship with Miz Becky, I think I'm much better at it than I used to be.
None of this is rocket science. Most of it will probably sound obvious. The fundamental point I want to communicate is that being in a relationship is hard work, one of the two hardest things I've ever tried to do in my life (the other one being coming to terms with myself, which I expect to be working on for the rest of my life).
Over the last several years I've grown to understand the wisdom of one of my parents' comments at their 25th wedding anniversary celebration. They were asked, by their much-divorced circle of friends, how they had stayed together all that time.
Without prior rehearsal, they immediately looked each other in the eye and said "Low expectations!"
At the time I thought it was just funny, but as I've spent more time doing the hard work of keeping a relationship going I've grown to understand their comment better.
Fundamentally, what "low expectations" means is that the person you're married to is a human being. They're not perfect. Neither are you. And despite any illusions the two of you may have to the contrary, love doesn't get rid of all problems: it makes them more intense.
Your relationship won't always be deeply passionate and romantic; sometimes you'll spend days or even weeks feeling more like roommates. That's OK. It doesn't mean "the love is dead" or some such romance novel crap. You just need to spend some time being together, and allowing yourselves to re-integrate into each other's lives. Miz Becky and I have "couch time" a couple of times a week, where we sit and just hang out for an hour or more. We don't always talk; and when we do, it's not always or even usually about Big Issues. The point is for us to be together and to be ourselves. We're not reading, we're not watching TV, we're just being present together.
The other person will not always be on their best behavior. Sometimes they'll be a raging asshole, and it will hurt worse because you love them. You're hurting them, too, sometimes, and you don't always know when it's happening. You have to tell each other that's happening. Not right away (usually) -- too easy for it to become a fight. And not too long after whatever happened -- you want both people to remember it, and you don't want to chew on it for too long by yourself.
Don't, as they say, sweat the petty things. There are many little ways that Becky and I work around each other's trivial annoyances. Don't fight over the toothpaste flavor, or how you should squeeze it: Get two tubes. Don't fight over what movie you want to rent: trade off. It's not that important.
On the other hand, there are some things -- even things that sound stupid -- that are really important. Let your partner know what they are. For example, occasionally when I came into the room and Becky was on the phone, she used to not look up. For some reason, that makes me incredibly angry. It's not rational, it doesn't make sense, but it's how I respond. I explained to Becky that I needed her to just look up at me -- not interrupt her call, just look up at me and acknowledge my existence. Now, no problem. She's slightly adjusted her behavior, at no cost to her, and great benefit to our relationship.
As you grow to trust each other the surface personality traits that you were able to overlook will turn out to be the tips of great icebergs of personal issues. Again, this is OK. Your partner is learning the same kinds of things about you. This doesn't mean that they are fatally flawed, or that you are. Everyone has issues like this. That is, in some ways, why you're in a relationship (sociobiological urges to nest and reproduce notwithstanding): it gives you a safe space to deal with these problems.
Finally, none of this works unless it's a partnership. You both have to commit to being open and honest, to being non-judgemental, and to being non-defensive. Don't treat a problem as a personal attack, or as the end of the world. Every problem has a solution. Work on it together.
Like I said, none of this is rocket science. It is hard work, though. And it's one of the most rewarding things to do there is.
rfkj, on Wednesday, November 26, 2003 at 7:34 AM:
Good thoughts. To them, I would add two things.
The first is, a relationship isn't a competition. It's not a matter of "I get mine and you get yours and for every hour of x, there better be an hour of y." This was one of the hardest things for us to learn--and we're still learning it, to be honest.
The second is a paraphrase of an article I read not that long ago--I wish I could remember who wrote it, or where I read it. Here goes; I'm sorry that my version sounds a little more Hallmark than the generally well-written original.
All too often, we act like we've only got a limited number of apologies inside us, and that we need to hoard them all, lest one slip out and somehow diminish us as people. Don't do that. Just say "I'm sorry," even if it's not your fault--even if he's the one who leaves his clothes all over the floor, or she's the one who leaves dirty dishes all over the place. And don't say "I'm sorry you feel that way," either, because that's tantamount to "I'm sorry you're such a jerk" and that's not the goal. Just saying "I'm sorry" starts the process, and you'll probably get a "Me, too" and you can go from there.
It helps to set a foundation for that trust, communication, and partnership of which you speak. It won't magically make everything okay, but it can help it start to get there.
(It's like that cell-phone commercial for text messaging, where the couple is having a fight and neither of them is looking at the other, and he sends her a text message while she's in a meeting. We don't know who's fault it is, or what they were fighting about, and it doesn't matter.)
I also like what you had to say about having "couch time". It was a shock after Lani was born how stressful everything was, and because both of us were forced to have such radically different sleep schedules, we basically didn't talk for a LONG time beyond "Good morning" and "See you at five" and "Have a good day". So the stress just built and built and built until it exploded, and we realized that all we needed was that time together to talk--fifteen minutes, half an hour, whatever, every day.
Thanks, man. Good stuff.
Hannah, on Wednesday, September 8, 2004 at 11:47 PM:
That is good solid stuff. And I couldn't agree with you more.
Talking is paramount - talking about nothing, about everything, about whatever fleeting thought is going through your mind.
You've touched on things that I've thought about for a long time. As has "rfkj" - it has taken me a long time to learn how to apologise. Amazingly, I could do this in my nowhere-near perfect relationships. I think because I was so desperate to make it work and if it didn't that was my fault. Learning to apologise and admit true wrong in an equal and loving relationship has been much harder as it is truly accepting responsibility, it's not just a bandaid.
The one thing I have learnt (and am still working on), and kind of fits with your "low expectations" advice is acceptance. I cannot stress how important this is. And it's hard, accepting different things about someone (those things that are different from you) sometimes needs to be done on a daily balance. In a relationship, without even realising it, you challenge the other person.
When you love someone, you accept someone. They may do things differently from you, they may work on a different timeline, they may not react the way you want them to - but that's OK.
You CANNOT change someone - no matter how much you will it, no matter how much you think "I just wish...". You cannot make a person into person B when they're person A.
Those things around the edges of a person is what makes them interesting. And I think if your partner actually did change, it just wouldn't feel right. Absolutely, some behaviours can be modified (eg looking up from the phone)but the person can't.
And yes, relationships are hard work. And definitely, definitely worth it.
A little slice of Northwestern irony
From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's "Focus" section in today's paper:
Kathy Marshack, 54, is charged in Clark County District Court with third-degree malicious mischief, criminal trespass and fourth-degree assault after allegedly barging into the law office of her estranged husband, Howard Marshack, trying to remove a piece of office furniture and, when her husband's assistant tried to stop her, punching the woman in the face. Police reports from the Oct. 10 incident say Marshack allegedly also smashed two framed pieces of artwork, one made of stained glass. Her husband was not in. She has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Marshack, a Vancouver psychologist, is the author of the 1998 book, "Entrepeneurial Couples: Making it Work at Work and at Home." She specializes in counseling working couples.
eckdancer, on Friday, November 21, 2003 at 12:11 PM:
Kathy is a dear friend of mine and what is happening to her is terrible. She's been trying to get a divorce from a bad husband and father, who unfortunately, happens to be a local divorce attorney and is not being cooperative, to say the least. She had her husband's permission to go and get a few belongings which he had taken from their office. The pictures were hers; she can break them if she wants to! The assistant should not have physically tried to stop her from getting her stuff. It was a set-up. And she can't get fair legal aid because the lawyers and judges know them both. The truth about her husband needs to come out. It's amazing what the newspapers will do to sell papers. Intelligent people don't want to know about a couple of nobodys in a heated divorce. But abusive fathers need to be be held accountable. Aren't there any good reporters out there that would like to write her side of the story? That's only fair!
Howard, on Sunday, March 14, 2004 at 8:34 AM:
I am the person Ekdancer (who ever that is) describes as a bad husband and father. She does not know me, the six eye-witnesses or the facts. Kathy pled guilty last week.
Indigo Girls with Michelle Malone, Moore Theater, 11/7/03
Friday night we went to see the Indigo Girls at the Moore theater. It was a great show, as usual, although (as they mentioned a couple of times) it was weird to see them indoors -- usually when they play in Seattle it's part of the Summer Nights at the Pier concert series, outdoors in the setting sun.
They played about 25 songs, covering their entire career, including three or four songs off the new album. All good stuff.
Opening for them was Michelle Malone, who we had never heard of. She rocked the
She was funny, too. "Could y'all buy a few cds, please? We had to pay to park our own *!! van out back." She raises her hands in an ironic metal salute. "Rock and Roll, man!"
Michelle shakes her guitar at us in alt-country-rock-rage:
The crowd rushes the stage when Amy and Emily come on:
Michelle sat in on several songs:
A quick reminder: I am David Adam Edelstein. I am not any of the David Edelsteins running around -- not David Edelstein the owner of a graphic design firm in Seattle, not David Edelstein who used to be a surfer in Hawai'i, and most frequently not David Edelstein the film critic, who currently works for Slate (but who also wrote for Rolling Stone and the Village Voice).
However, that doesn't stop people from contacting me as though I am Mr. Edelstein. It's particularly frequent at work, where if the Slate editors type "David Edelstein" into e-mail, and don't make sure it's checking their contacts list instead of the global address list, I get their e-mails. Then of course it's resolved to me once, so Outlook assumes that I'm the correct answer, and it takes a heroic effort for them to stop accidentally sending me requests for my thoughts on how we should approach the upcoming summer movie season.
Even more amusing is the number of promoters, authors, and reporters from the outside world who obviously go through the following chain of logic:
- David Edelstein writes for Slate.
- Slate is owned by Microsoft.
- Therefore, David Edelstein works at Microsoft.
So they track down the main Microsoft phone number, ask for David Edelstein, and leave me amusing phone messages.
I'm sure that sooner or later I'm actually going to be in my office when someone calls from the New York Times or the Washington Post (both of whom have actually called me) and I'm going to give into temptation and answer their questions about the Oscars, or the latest celebrity coupling, or the arc of Russell Crowe's career. What the hell... they asked for me, after all...
A side note: "Les Luchtor"? Who does this guy think he's kidding? I know it's *&)(! LEX LUTHOR... suuuuure I'm going to open the disguised package of kryptonite. How dumb does he think I am?
rfkj, on Friday, November 7, 2003 at 2:58 PM:
Have you received any death threats for "your" review of "Matrix Revolutions"? Scott Kurtz at PvP received some when he gave "Reloaded" a negative review. Or at least he says he did...
rfkj, on Friday, November 7, 2003 at 3:03 PM:
Oh, and I bet it's especially annoying when you consider that they give an email address for responses directly to the critic (well, okay, to a mailbox that his assistant looks at and weeds through) right there at the bottom of every article he writes.
We're supposed to have that rarest of Seattle weather this week -- clear, sunny, and cold. Those of you in colder parts of the country (Madison, Waltham, Brandon, Chicago, NYC, y'all represent) may find it funny how much people in Seattle freak out when it's like this.
The fundamental problem here is that people in the Northwest, specifically those west of the Cascades mountain range, fear the sun. It's not that they don't like the cold on days like today; it's just that it's not quite shitty enough outside. If it were 36 degrees and drizzling, they'd be much happier.
So everyone walks around with a pissy look on their face, mainly because their sunglasses are stuck in their box of summer clothes and their faces are all scrunched up from squinting into the sun. We all pack in a little tighter on the bus, the extra layer of padding helping to insulate us from the swerving of the deeply, deeply disturbed driver on the 9:05 run.
This morning I saw a maintenance guy trying to scrub guano from our downtown starling population off of the top of a row of newspaper boxes, as he'd oft done before. Of course, this morning the already sticky poo was covered with a thin but effective layer of frozen dew, and the sawed-off push broom he was using was just not doing the job.
For the rest of the ride to work, I was trying to figure out what that image had reminded me of. There was just a little echo rattling around in the wide-open spaces in my skull, some primal image that little vignette had reminded me of. It wasn't until I got off the bus and started walking towards my office that it came to me.
When we lived in Tianjin, Joshua and I would walk to school every day -- out the front gates of the Foreign Language Institute, turn right onto Machang Dao, wait at the light, turn left on Xinhua Nan Lu, turn right into the gates of our school.
Many mornings, when we waited at the light, a woman would come out of the door of her home across the street and toss a bucket of night water into the sewer opening at the curb. She was a pretty good shot, so most of it would end up in the sewer, but of course there would be a little oversplash.
This wasn't really a problem most of the year (aside from the smell, which was pretty wretched on hot days) but once the temperature dipped below freezing the overspray began to accrete, layer by layer.
Eventually, of course, most of the sewer opening was iced over, and the glacier formation began in earnest. Day after day she continued to throw the night water in the same spot, and day after day the ice grew. Now of course it wasn't just liquid building up; once the sewer froze over, solids began to accrete as well, eventually icing over, dark shapes lurking under the surface like bronze age warriors waiting to be discovered.
Over the course of the winter the ice grew into a frictionless sheet five feet across and a foot thick at the curb. Occasionally our morning walk would be livened up by seeing people try to pick their way across the frozen sewage instead of walking around it. Inevitably they'd slip halfway down and slide across the ice -- infinitely amusing to the 11 year old mind.
When spring thaw finally came, the ice sheet disappeared in a few aromatic days, and the next time we saw the woman come out with her bucket, most of it went into the drain.
You're right, that is pretty tough.
'Iceman' Grabs Shark to Save Men
Oct 24, 9:59 AM (ET)
STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - An Icelandic fishing captain, known as "the Iceman" for his tough character, grabbed a 660-pound shark with his bare hands as it swam in shallow water toward his crew, a witness said Thursday.
The skipper of the trawler "Erik the Red" was on a beach in Kuummiit, east Greenland, watching his crew processing a catch when he saw the shark swimming toward the fish blood and guts -- and his men.
Captain Sigurdur Petursson, known to locals as "the Iceman," ran into the shallow water and grabbed the shark by its tail. He dragged it off to dry land and killed it with his knife.
"He caught it just with his hands. There was a lot of blood in the sea and the shark came in and he thought it was dangerous," Frede Kilime, a hunter and fisherman who watched from the beach, told Reuters by phone from Greenland.
Icelandic author and journalist Reynir Traustason, who knows the trawler captain, said the act was typical of the man.
"He's called 'the Iceman' because he isn't scared of anything," he said. "I know the people in that part of the world. They are really tough."
That's right, I didn't have enough bibliophilia the first day, I had to go back -- partly to hear my friend Tiffany read:
Tiffany was there as part of a group of writers and poets associated with Clear Cut Press, a relatively new Northwest publisher with an interesting model: Interested parties can get their books by subscribing to the series of 8 books Clear Cut Press is planning to publish over the year. Based on the great readings today, I'll definitely be subscribing.
Bookfest was great, as always. Interesting speakers (Sherman Alexie's rant about vegans and thumbs was hysterical), cool small presses (like the aforementioned Clear Cut Press), and lots and lots of books. Mmmm... bibliogasm.
Here are a few more pix from the two days I was there.
Timothy, on Monday, October 20, 2003 at 5:00 PM:
You can get those stanchions at toys-r-us ... :-)
Eric's demo at NW Bookfest
This morning I went to the Northwest Bookfest, partly to soak up the book vibe but also to see Eric Gower (a fellow member of the WELL's cooking conference) give a demo of some recipes from his new cookbook, The Breakaway Japanese Kitchen.
Mostly he demoed while giving us a piece of his mind about Japanese cooking in the US and in Japan, salt, combining flavors, brightening food with citrus, the importance of beautiful pottery, and the tragedy of eating good food without a good wine.
Sadly, the bookfest didn't have a health department permit to allow the audience to taste the dishes; but we got to take a look at them, anyway.
On the left is Ceviche Japonesa; on the right are some noodles with Edamame Mint Pesto.
I highly recommend the cookbook, by the way. I've made several dishes from it (including that edamame mint pesto), all of which have been excellent. One neat thing about the book is that although it's neither expressly a technique book, nor a book of quick recipes, it nevertheless does a good job of teaching techniques that can be used in other combinations, and nearly all of the recipes can be done in 30 minutes or less. Tasty food, quickly -- what could be better?
Tomorrow: Brunch with more WELL folks, plus back to the Bookfest to see Tiffany read. What can I say, I lead a rich life.
The strange road of memories
He was kind of sheepish about "outing" himself as a D&D fan, but he described it as a way to escape his bad situation in the real world, and as one of the things that taught him storytelling.
Of course Alexie's admission made me nostalgic for my old obsession with D&D, which then reminded me of the story I'm about to tell you. Which may give more amusement to those of you who know the characters...
I was admitted to the eigth grade at Iolani while we were still in China (admitted as a "foreign student", apparently), which meant that although they could see my test scores and writing samples and whatnot, they couldn't do the "entry interview" until we got back to Hawai'i. And since most of the staff was still on summer vacation, I did my entry interview with Charles Proctor, the assistant headmaster, hereafter known as "Chuck", because he hates it.
Chuck and I talked for probably half an hour; I don't remember anything about the interview, except that at the very end he asked me if I had any more questions. I thought for a moment, and asked "Do you have a D&D club here?"
Chuck's face fell. "Oh. You're one of those." (Not, mind you, "them". "Those.")
Full of attitude at 13, I scowled back. "Yeah, I'm one of those! I didn't know there was anything wrong with it."
With a sour look, he turned back to the pile of papers on his desk, and mumbled "Yeah, there's a games club."
We were done for the day, but that exchange started an arc that continued right through until my graduation. We'd clash regularly, often with me sitting in that same chair in his office, him trying to provoke a reaction in me, but never getting one. "You're a lump! Is that what you want to be? Why are we wasting a spot in this school on a lump?"
It probably didn't help things any, in 9th grade P.E., when I cut in front of his younger daughter in a soccer game. She went down hard and wrong, and I learned just how sickening the sound of a radius bone breaking is. Chuck blamed me, of course, and our already poor relations deteriorated.
More clashes, a few great teachers left because they couldn't stand him, and more sessions in his office.
And then came graduation day. Chuck was reading the names of the graduates, as he always did, droning through the list with the regularity of a pasty-faced metronome. "Laura Duckworth... Laura Duguay... Tammy Durez..."
And then a pause. Not a long one, half a beat at most. "David Edelstein." Another brief pause, and then back to the metronome: "Laura Fan... Lana'i Ferguson..."
As I walked across the podium I could hear my father's laugh in the audience. I winked at Chuck as I walked by. And the look on his face matched the look on mine: There was nothing more he could ever do to me. I had passed out of his sphere of petty influence. He had lost.
rfkj, on Monday, October 6, 2003 at 7:29 AM:
"Strange road" indeed. All of my synapses are firing now, in multiple directions.
1. I still play D&D today. Strange that we never played together. You should check out the new rules, if you don't have them already. They're a lot of fun.
2. Proctor...what an asshole. I remember sitting in his office going over my schedule for senior year. I had pencilled in one of the AP history courses, probably European, since I had done reasonably well in history up to that point. He looked down his nose at me in that supercilious way of his and said "What makes you think *you* can take an AP course?"
I really had nothing to say to that.
Hell is a middle management sponsored offsite
Bad sign #1: Four, count 'em, four e-mails describing this afternoon's event as a "mandatory meeting and morale event."
Bad sign #2: The name of the venue has a "wacky" spelling.
Bad sign #3: There's going to be a magician.
What is love?
The last thing someone said in the dream I just woke up from (in a heavy New York Italian accent):
We were trying to figure out what to do to thank my parents for all their help with the wedding. And my friend said "you stand up during the party, thank them for their help, and wish them your love." I said "Fuck that. What is love? Love is food." So we cooked them a nice meal.
We here at Noise to Signal will be on hiatus for a few days, on a secret mission in the Canadian wilderness. We'll debrief with you when we return. In the meantime, spread the love. Or the butter. Whichever.
Happy birthday to me
Also Lorenzo de' Medici (1449), Maurice Chevalier (1888), Margaret Hamilton (1902), Jesse Owens (1913), George Jones (1931), Michael Ondaatje (1943), and Barry White (1944).
And God bless Johnny Cash, who died early this morning. He only had to spend four months away from June Carter Cash, which is something of a blessing. In memoriam, go watch his video for the Trent Reznor song "Hurt".
Tin King, on Friday, September 12, 2003 at 10:28 AM:
Also born today: Miss Kimberly Love.
A bit of wedding doggerel
Last night we went to Heather and Tim's wedding. Aside from being very sweet (lots of tears on stage and in the crowd) and lots of fun (Great food! Dancing! The Newfie relatives!), the wedding was also notable for a rule that I suspect will make it into many future weddings: Rather than the usual custom of clinking silverware on glasses to demand the bride and groom kiss (which I just this second realized is probably an evolution of the tradition of charivari), our bride and groom announced that they were only going to kiss if we recited an original, wedding-specific limerick.
Vince was the only one who had one ready ahead of time, but many other people rose to the challenge. Below you'll find my two efforts.
The first one scans pretty well but could probably have used some polishing:
There once was a poor guy named Tim
Whose life, though fulfilling, was grim.
But then he met Heather
And now in all kinds of weather
He's chock-full of vigor and vim.
The second one doesn't scan nearly as well (unless you force it in the oral performance), but was much more inspired. I came up with the last line first, and then had to jack it up and build the rest of the poem under it.
They've loved each other in several cities
They've sung together on several ditties
But what Tim loves the most
Something we'll all surely toast
Are her hair, her eyes, and her... cats.
Tim and Heather, on Sunday, August 31, 2003 at 3:08 PM:
Us ... The Hardings (again), on Sunday, August 31, 2003 at 5:40 PM:
This picture says it all ....
This morning's bus vignette
A woman is sitting across from me on the bus, in the articulated section in the middle. She's wearing the uniform of a janitorial company, and looks like she didn't sleep that well last night.
Another woman gets on a little later and makes a beeline for the woman sitting across from me. "What's up, black? How come you never called me last night?"
"Oh, you know. I was so tired after work..."
"No worries, no need to explain none! I just wanted to know a sister was OK."
"Oh, yeah, I'm fine. You know how it is."
"I do! You don't got no damn wife to have dinner on your table when you get home!"
Two Bus Vignettes
1) A construction worker is waiting for his ride at the bus stop. Big, burly, unshaven. He's got the remains of his lunch in a torn white plast bag, stuffed in his hard hat.
His ride pulls up in an older Acura sedan. Spiked blonde hair, sunglasses.
The first guy throws his gear in the back seat and gets in. They kiss and drive off.
2) I'm talking to a guy on the bus. He looks at his watch and says "Oh, I need to talk to my wife about where I need to pick up her parents so I can take them to dinner while she's in class. Excuse me."
He dials his cell phone. When his wife answers, he says (without any particular drama) "Do you want to make an exchange of prisoners?"
An ending and a beginning
Yesterday was the end of an era in the design world at MS: Our beloved design training manager, Scott Berkun, gave his last talk. He'll be cleaning out his office over the next week, but he's effectively gone.
There had been other talented people in that job, but none of them took to it with the same energy that Scott did. He was always excited about the possibilities of getting Design deeper into the product cycle, and he helped us get excited about it when we felt like we were faced with impossible odds. (And the odds ain't good, folks -- 50,000+ employees worldwide... roughly 200 designers... and you wonder why some of our products don't make any damn sense to human beings)
As a last lecture, it was a doozy. It had a classic Berkun title: "Ten Golden Rules: Thoughts on Software from Voltaire, Willy Wonka, and Microsoft Postmortem archives." It was also clearly a "whaddya gonna do, fire me?" talk: He had a beer, he said f*ck a couple of times, he sang a song about the product cycle, and he (jokingly) yelled at the training coordinator who asked him to repeat questions for the tape.
If you're involved in UI design at all, I'd check out the essays on his site, and bookmark it. He's going to do as little as possible for a couple of months, and then is planning to do a bunch of writing. I'm looking forward to it.
Sir, do you have a license for that stereotype?
Yesterday Miz Becky and I were driving home from Carkeek Park when we pulled up behind someone who instantly made my skin crawl. I know, it's an ugly emotion, but the points just kept adding up and, well... you be the judge.
He was driving a shiny new Land-Rover, with a Seattle University Law school license plate frame wrapped around a Seattle Mariners license plate. His graduation tassle was hanging from the license plate frame. As we pulled past him he dropped his cigarette on the street next to his FUV, and adjusted the white bandanna he was wearing on his head because he's such a rebel.
I successfully fought the urge to lean out of the window and say something to him. It's that keen survival instinct that's kept me alive this long...
... that I have been in the Northwest too long.
I was actually happy to be woken up by pouring rain this morning.
In which your author demonstrates his nasty childish streak. OK, one of them.
We walk into our yoga class tonight. Cleo, our regular teacher, isn't behind the desk as she usually is; instead, there's a sub. She seems nice enough, but it puts me in a tense "my weekly relaxation isn't going to be as relaxing as it's supposed to be i hate change i didn't really want to come tonight" sort of frame of mind.
We start. We meditate. Cleo doesn't have us meditate, but it's a nice change of pace, so I suppose it's OK. She wants us to what? We chant "om" three times. I'm officially nervous. I'm not categorically opposed to chanting "om" -- I did live in Eugene, after all -- but it makes me worried that she's going to be too "woo woo", as Miz Becky says.
We do some poses. A lot of downward dog, which is a pose I like, because it works all of the areas I need to work, but also one of the ones I'm worst at, because it works all of the areas I need to work.
We do dolphin pose, which is a lead-in to "half headless headstand", up against the wall. Not bad, I can sort of do that.
Then she asks us if we want to try "full headless headstand". Mysteriously, most of my classmates nod.
The phrase "with a sickening crunch" passes through my head.
She seems to linger forEVER in the poses that I'm struggling in, and to breeze right through the ones I'm good at.
We cool down. We do some hip openers.
We finish with shivasana, "corpse pose", also known as "naptime for adults".
I stare at the ceiling.
I settle into the floor, feeling all of my opened joints and stretched muscles.
I lighten the fuck up.
A pair of (unrelated) vignettes
Vignette the first: On Sunday, Miz Becky and I went to Cranium's for a late lunch. The cute young woman behind the counter -- petite, perky, and tie-dyed -- took our order, and we sat down. A few minutes later, she went off-shift. On her way out of the building she called out to the 30ish, slightly nerdy guy sitting a few tables behind Miz Becky. "Good luck with the math!"
He looked up from his thick textbook, startled, and mumbled "thanks" as she headed out the door. He watched her as she walked by the windows, with a half-smile on his face. After she passed out of view he kept the smile and stared distractedly out of the windows for four minutes or so.
She came back in, through the back door of the building, having forgotten something. He glanced back, saw that it was her, looked back at his textbook, glanced over again while taking a sip of his coffee, and sighed as he settled back into reading.
Vignette the second: This morning, I was walking towards Ivey to pick up some film, and passed Denny Park. I saw a woman walk out of the park while looking over her shoulder who was, let's say, professionally dressed. A few seconds later, another woman, probably a colleague, walked out, looking backwards over her shoulder as well, followed by a guy (perhaps a manager) who headed off in the other direction.
"Huh," I thought, "I wonder what's going on." That's when I saw a police car in the park, with one officer talking to a third woman, and another officer putting on a pair of blue latex gloves and preparing to go through the pockets of a man who was standing against the police car, hands spread wide.
As I walked on, reflecting on this little urban scene, it struck me how much the people leaving the park had looked like cockroaches scattering when the kitchen light comes on. And that I wish I could have seen the whole scene from above.
Anyone know what kind of tree this is? (Updated with answer!)
One of our neighbors has a great tree in their yard. When I rub the leaves (as I often do, since they hang into the road where I walk by on my way back from the bus), they have a delicious citrus-like smell. They produce fruit, which you can see below, but which never seem to ripen.
It seems like it should be useful in cooking, what with the aromatic leaves, but I'd like to find out exactly what it is before I go throwing it into a stew pot, ya know?
Here's a closeup:
For scale, the fruits are about 2.5 or 3 inches long.
UpdateIt's a freakin' walnut!
Or at least I think it is. A quick survey of google shows a lot of pictures of walnut trees, but none with leaves the size of this one. Nevertheless, the nut is almost certainly a walnut. Weird.
No, wait, here's one with big leaves.
Dancing through Portland
Another quick trip this weekend, our last for a few weeks at least, an overnight in Portland.
Our friend Tiffany is spending a couple of weeks in Portland teaching at Conduit Studio; she also gave a pair of performances this weekend with Laura Hymers, an excellent dancer in her company. Given that we're patrons of the company, we felt we needed to come to Portland and inspect our investment. Oh, yeah, we thought it'd be nice to see our friend as well.
The performance was great -- a couple of tiny but very moving excerpts from longer and larger pieces. And then, of course, once she was finished being famous choreographer from New York, we got to hang out with an old friend -- late night dinner, a sleepover at Laura and Allen's house, brunch, and talking on the porch. All kinds of fun.
As a tangential side note, I find it funny that neither of the people I know named Tiffany are what one would consider typical of the name. Maybe it's being raised in Oregon with that name?
Andrew Sundstrom, on Monday, July 21, 2003 at 11:23 AM:
Her wicked, wicked ways:
Well, we're finally back from our travels. The last bit, a few days with Miz Becky's parents down at Floras Lake, in Oregon, was quite lovely: lots of boating and reading in the sun and generally relaxing. Oh yes, and Miz Becky proved herself the Mighty and Terrible Bass Goddess, Both Vengeful and Merciful.
We flew down on a couple of very small Horizon turbo-props (Dash-8's for you aviation fans), to the very small North Bend airport, and stayed at the lovely Sea Crest Motel in Port Orford (highly recommended if you're travelling on 101 -- clean, inexpensive, and great views from every room).
Now, aside from a quick trip to Portland next weekend, it's going to be nice to be home for a while.
A quick trip to San Francisco
The penultimate stop in our vacation-of-1000-cuts was a longish weekend in San Francisco. We're back in town for about 18 hours, no kidding, and then off on our next leg.
We had been toying with the idea of going down to San Francisco for, well, a few years, and had never gotten around to it. The catalyst for our finally deciding to go was that a friend of mine from The WELL had decided to hold an open house to show off his collection of Chicano art; that it was clearly going to be a gathering of several of the people I know from the WELL's Arts conference sealed the deal. Plus, of course, we got to visit San Francisco.
And here is my scruffy little travelogue:
The LodgingWe stayed in the Golden Gate Hotel, on the recommendation of... well, someone, I can't remember. But it was an excellent recommendation. The hotel is centrally located in the downtown area, a few blocks from the Powell BART stop (particularly convenient since BART now goes all the way to SFO), and half a block from a cable car stop.
The Golden Gate Hotel is a wonderful, charming place, with a couple of very friendly innkeepers, and at least two house pets: Captain Nemo, un chat noir, and Humphrey, a very sweet golden retriever. I say at least because there was one other dog we saw there one morning, but I'm not sure it was a permanent resident. Anyway, this was a great place to stay; we'd definitely stay there again.
BARTComing from Seattle, we were delighted to get to ride a real transit system. And ride it we did. Aside from a few picky design critiques (which I'll write about later), it was a great experience.
MuralsMaybe I just missed the bulletin, but I had never really heard about all of the public murals in San Francisco. I was impressed with them -- from WPA to historic reconstruction, they were all fascinating.
It struck me that most of the people in the WPA-era murals looked morose. Miz Becky pointed out, of course, that it was the great depression, after all.
We visited some in a building on the edge of Golden Gate Park, in the Coit Tower, in Rincon Center, and in Grace Cathedral. I'm sure there are more.
This and thatHere are some other random photos from the weekend.
DiningOh yes, how could I forget food? We had several great meals:
Our first afternoon there, we headed into Chinatown to get some lunch. We followed my nose into King Tin, where we had mighty fine barbecued pork and duck and a very tasty chow mein with Chinese greens.
The next night, we and Chris did the same thing, ending up at Le Zinc in Noe Valley. Great French Bistro food; I had a very tasty cassoulet that would have easily fed two people, which forced me to strategically eat just the tasty meaty bits (sausage, duck confit, pork confit, etc.) and forgo the delicious white beans they were lying on. Becky and Chris had... uh... something else tasty.
The next day we had lunch at Yank Sing in Rincon center. We get some good dim sum here in Seattle, and we've had some excellent dim sum in Vancouver, BC; but this topped it all. So tasty and delicate and beautiful... mmmm. And their chili sauce was so good I had to bring home a jar in case I couldn't find it here.
That night, we made a pilgrimage out to Albany to visit Nizza la Bella, owned by the wonderful Evelyne Slomon -- a fellow WELL denizen. Another meal of excellent French bistro food in a beautiful space. The frites -- french fries -- are amazing. How does one make french fries taste better? I have no idea, but they manage. Everything we ate there was at the same level... mighty good food.
barbara edelstein, on Tuesday, July 29, 2003 at 4:48 PM:
reminder to david that his parents lived in Albany California for 6 years....
Spokane and back again
In the next stage of this summer's "vacation of 1000 cuts", Miz Becky and I did our now annual run to Spokane and back. Miz Becky's organization holds a board meeting there once a year, and I usually come along. There's usually some kind of event or reception the night before, when I get to hang out with Miz Becky's cool co-workers and their board members. And then I spend the next day watching 3-on-3 basketball.
What? You see, for the last few years, they've scheduled the board meeting on the same weekend as Spokane's annual 3-on-3 half court street basketball tournament, Hoopfest, which they describe thusly:
Actually, Hoopfest is the biggest 3-on-3 street basketball tournament on the planet. That means over 6,000 teams, 3,000 volunteers, 130,000 players and fans, 380 courts spanning 40 downtown city blocks, and thats just on day one!
I shot a pile of photos of the event, but (you guessed it) they're all on film, which means they'll have to get back from the lab, and I'll have to make the time to scan them, before I can share with all y'all.
Soap Lake, you see, is apparently a medicinal lake, with all kinds of wild claims about the curative properties of the lake water. I don't pretend to have been cured of any great problems, but the rough skin on my elbows does stay smooth for several months after we visit.
Anyway, I'll work on getting some of my highlights from hoopfest online, including the amazing wheelchair basketball game I saw -- the best game I watched all day. Who knew you could do jump shots in a wheelchair?
In the meantime, here are some random digital shots from the trip.
Like swallows to capistrano ...
... the high school interns have returned to Microsoft.
Yesterday evening, as the bus pulled up, a young woman in front of me asked the guy standing next to her whether this was the bus to downtown Seattle. He said that it was, and they chatted briefly about the route.
After a small lull, he decided that he was going to take advantage of this opening. Indicating the "welcome to microsoft" packet she was holding, he asked "so, are you a new employee?" She hesistated. "Intern?" he asked.
"High school intern."
"Oh," he said, and actually stepped back.
Spring springs eternal
Much madness -- springtime, work busy, freelance busy -- and not much time to post here. Nevertheless, I feel compelled to report a few things:
1) When your yoga teacher is smoking the class like a cheap cigar, and you're struggling to keep that plank pose looking good (because, let's face it, you're nowhere near anything resembling "in shape") and the teacher says "Now, don't work too hard, because we're just warming up!", it's important to keep your eyes on the 10 year horizon. Because if not, you might collapse onto the floor and whimper. Not that that happened to me last night. No sir.
2) Defrocked anthropology student that I am, I always enjoy it when I pick up some new folklore, especially slang; this morning I had a particularly good field visit. I was, of course, listening to the conversation between the two youths sitting next to me on the bus this morning. They were discussing who was in prison, who had just gotten out of prison, who they were hoping would go back into prison soon, and so forth. They kept referring to people who had gotten "fixed" in prison, or that "they'll fix it for you" in certain prisons. At first I thought it had something to do with drugs, but eventually I realized that it meant getting raped in prison. Yeesh. And now I've shared with you.
3) I'm about to move this site to a new host. Depending on how long it takes for the domain servers to propagate, this site might appear to be silent for a few days. But it won't be, really. I promise. It'll be back everso soon.
Truth imitates fiction
Sometimes, when my brother and I were being particularly horrible children (which wasn't infrequent), our father would threaten (kidding, I think) to send us to a military school named BUKED. That, of course, stood for "Beat Up Kids Every Day."
It seems that someone heard him, at least according to this article in the New York Times (free registration blah blah blah). An excerpt:
OROTINA, Costa Rica, May 25 A torrent of teenage rage, hard and fast as the tropical rain on this Pacific coast, washed away the Academy at Dundee Ranch this weekend.
Dundee Ranch, the latest foreign outpost in a far-flung affiliation of behavior modification programs that promises to convert troubled American teenagers into straight arrows, lasted 19 months before the students rose up in revolt and overthrew their masters.
Apparently what set off the chaos was a visit from the Costa Rican child welfare agency, PANI:
"They told us you have the right to speak, you have the right to speak to your parents, you have the right to leave if you feel you've been mistreated," said Hugh Maxwell, 17, of Rhode Island. "Kids heard that and they started running for the door. There was elation, cheering and clapping and chaos. People were crying."
Adults beat some of the children to quell the uprising, according to six people present.
The best part is that it even has a scary name, much like BUKED:
Dundee Ranch's base lay in the canyonlands of southern Utah, in a business called the World Wide Association of Specialty Programs and Schools, or Wwasps.
Wwasps, based in St. George, Utah, bills itself as the fastest-growing enterprise aimed at defiant and delinquent children. Some 2,200 children in 11 affiliated programs in the United States and abroad are charged between $30,000 to $50,000 in tuition and fees, generating yearly revenues of $60 million or more.
Like any good repressive regime, they set up a system of internal control through pecking order:
Children were divided into six levels, the lower ones forbidden to speak freely or raise their eyes, the higher ones free to discipline and punish inferiors. A muscular cadre of minimum-wage staff members enforced the system. Communication between parents and children was barred or closely edited. Parents were told that complaints from children were manipulative lies.
And, of course, they pretended to not understand what had been going on after the revolt began:
In Utah, Ken Kay, president of Wwasps, sought to calm parents and transfer children to Wwasps-affiliated programs inside and outside the United States. But over the weekend, even parents who passionately believe in the program found flights home for their children.
Mr. Kay kept working to persuade them to stay, saying in a weekend e-mail message a copy of which was made available by parents that programs in New York, Montana and Jamaica "would be happy to work with your child."
"I feel bad that you don't recognize that Narvin was trying to do what he could for your children," Mr. Kay wrote.
rfkj, on Wednesday, May 28, 2003 at 9:40 AM:
I think that what scares me the most, as a parent, is the idea that there are parents out there who would consent to a private company shipping their children off to foreign countries. Let us not split hairs here: to prison camps in foreign countries.
It sounds to me like Wwasps does this because other countries are probably more willing to turn a blind eye to this kind of abuse. I'm glad that Costa Rica seems to have gotten some sack.
More hand photos
Michael just stopped by my office this afternoon, and I got a chance to see how his hand injury is progressing.
And of course I needed to take pictures to record the event. As you can see, he's still in good spirits about the whole thing:
And here's the front and back of his hand. Less nasty than you might expect, given the recency of the injury. Good thing it was a sharp knife!
Joey, on Wednesday, May 28, 2003 at 2:27 PM:
Talk to the wrist, 'cause the hand is pissed!
My, what an arty lunch
Rob, naturally enough, had brought some rocks for Marcia. We convinced him to show his mad rock balancin' skillz in the restaurant, much to the amazement of our waitress.
Michelle Shocked, Crocodile Cafe, 17 May 2003
Despite living in a city that's awash with great music and great venues, we don't get out as often as we guiltily feel we should. So when we heard that Michelle Shocked was going to play the cozy Crocodile Cafe on Miz Becky's birthday, we decided it was meant to be.
After a great dinner with part of the whole sick crew at Typhoon, we headed up to the Crocodile and joined up with the West Seattle subset.
Just before 9:00, a guy with a purposeful look came by with Ms. Shocked in tow and whisked her into the little room by the stage that serves as a green room. About fifteen minutes later, she and the band took to the stage.
Or took over the stage. They rocked. She showed the full range of her music and her voice, from delicate ballads, to slamming rockers that showed her years as a punk rocker, to a country hoe down. "Y'all know what a hoedown is?" she asked. A woman shouted out "Well, I've got my ho here!" Michelle tried to keep a straight face as they started the song, lost it, and mumbled "yeah, yeah, I heard it too."
She had brought along a couple of performers from the Second City/Firesign Theater orbit who established a sort of frame story for the show, pitching it as a USO show for the Shocked and Awe tour. Each time they came on it was another bit of political satire, usually dead on and hilarious. Michelle explained later that she had spent the whole war waiting for someone in the mainstream media to represent the counter viewpoint. Since she never did, she decided to bring that viewpoint with her, so that at least some people would hear it.
The woman, 'Martha Raye-of-light', was winding up a list of the terror alert colors ("blue: something might happen. Yellow: no really, something might happen.") when someone shouted "We want to hear Michelle!" She moved on nicely ("So do I, but...") and then Michelle came on, making faces and pointing sideways at the person who had shouted out, and who was proceeding to shout "Michelle, we want to hear you play!" A couple of other people joined in. Michelle stepped up to the mic: "All of you are fucking assholes." There was a general cheer, and we moved on.
One of the things I loved about this show was how much the band was into it. As Miz Becky said, "it seemed like they were really excited to get to play with her, and full of respect for her and her music."
At one point, during Come a Long Way, the guitar player (on the left, below) was so entranced that he got lost and came in late on a break.
Her band, especially the guitar player and the horn player, was excellent. The horn player had one of the more extensive collections of mutes that I've seen.
At about 11:00 Michelle turned to the band and said "OK, boys, I can take it from here." As they trooped off the stage, she took a drink of water, picked up her acoustic guitar, and said "All right... what do you want to hear? I'm not gonna leave until I've played 'em all. You've shown me a lot of love tonight, and that's the truth."
The rest of the show was a conversation between her and the audience. She handed the microphone to one woman, who told a long and sad story about how she had been raised to be strong and not show emotion, and that during one particularly bad summer (both her nephew and her mother died) the only way she could break down that training and let herself cry was to listen to Cold Comfort again and again. And, she went on, now she's been diagnosed with breast cancer, and is going through chemo, and again Michelle's music has been keeping her going. Michelle was clearly touched deeply by the whole story. "You know, I'm always afraid that my music isn't quite making the connection I want it to, and that it becomes just entertainment. And you've given me such a gift with that story. Thank you."
She closed around midnight with a stunning rendition of 5 AM in Amsterdam, joined at the end by the horn player from the back of the room, playing beautiful soaring bell-like notes over the crowd.
All in all, a hell of a show. Funny and touching and rocking and political and beautiful all at the same time. Thanks, Michelle!
rusto, on Monday, May 19, 2003 at 12:01 PM:
Sounds like a great experience.
Regarding hecklers, a coupla years ago I saw Joe Jackson at the Berklee School of Music and this one guy kept shouting, "Play ' I'm the Man!' " during Joe's performance of the whole album, "Heaven and Hell". Joe paused between songs to say, "If you can spare the next 40 minutes of your life so I can perform this album, I'm sure I'll get around to everything else." This was followed by a rollicking cheer from the audience and not a peep from Mr. Jackass the rest of the show.
I totally connect with your observation of the bandmembers visibly enjoying the act of performing. I'm not talking about stage posturing for "show" but as you said, becoming so involved in the interaction between bandmates and audience that it takes the performance to a higher level...and everyone wins!
Speaking of pain...
I saw Michael on the bus this morning, and was shocked to see a rather large cast covering his hand. "Michael, Michael, when will you learn? Every time you beat the crap out of someone, you end up like this. Aren't you tired of this?"
"Oh, but it feels soooo good while it's happening!"
Pleasantries over, he explained what actually happened. Apparently he was cutting up an avocado last Friday with a knife too large for the task, and attempted to poke the pit with the tip of the knife to pull it out of the fruit.
What actually happened... uh, actually, the squeamish among you should probably stop reading right about here.
What actually happened was that the tip of the knife went straight through the pit, through the fruit, and through his hand on the other side, severing one artery and two nerves on the way. See, I told you to stop reading.
The rest of it winds up kind of how you'd expect: blood everywhere, a trip to the ER, some stigmata jokes from the duty nurse, and surgery on Tuesday to reattach the nerves. Looks like everything will work out OK, since he missed all of the tendons and he apparently "cut the nerves in a good place", as if there was a good place to cut nerves.
And, as you can see, he's maintaining good spirits about the whole thing.
My back pain? Again, I don't feel so bad about it.
rusto, on Friday, May 16, 2003 at 1:45 PM:
Okay, I'll stop complaining about skinning half my knuckles as I work on the "new place". I hope his recovery is quick!
Joey, on Wednesday, May 28, 2003 at 2:24 PM:
You bad little kitten, you've lost your mitten...uh, wait a minute. Naughty Michael, give the kitten back his mitten!
Comparative pain studies
1) This weekend, I did some evilness to my back, which re-awakened the much more serious injury I did a couple of years ago. This is already passing, but a few days of limping and having trouble getting out of the car is enough to re-energize my efforts to become more flexible (yoga!) and get in better shape (biking to work!)
Ironically, of course, I can't do either of those things until my back is better. With a little care and plenty of what my physical therapist called "belly time!", I should be OK by this weekend.
2) I had lunch with my friend Scott yesterday, who told me his tale of passing a kidney stone while his young daughter was at a birthday party last weekend. Anything that causes one to lie curled up on a hospital bed whimpering is not a good thing. "I didn't know pain could get that intense," he told me, "and then it got worse."
3) Scott, on the other hand, called a friend of his, who spent the weekend in a hospital because his appendix had burst.
4) My back ain't so bad.
More fun and games in the yard
Miz Becky ordered some materials from Sky Nursery to be delivered: six yards of bark dust and seven yards of top soil, which manifested themselves Friday morning as enormous piles of potential labor:
The first tasks Saturday morning were to pick up the rental truck and the tiller. As we headed off towards Hertz after collecting the pickup truck, I flicked on the radio. We were suprised to discover that it was set to one of our local NPR affiliates.
A few moments later, the answer came to both of us. "Liberals rent pickups," I said, and Miz Becky finished the thought: "conservatives own them."
After picking up the enormous hydraulic tiller -- "are you sure this is the one you meant to rent us???" -- the next task was to finish shaping the beds and to remove the last bits of sod. Naturally, we didn't have the sod cutter this week, which meant using the edger (easy) and the sod hoe (slow, painful, and and thirsty work).
After that exercise was done, we took the sod to Pacific Topsoil, where they'll... well, we don't really know what they do with it. We assume they compost it somehow. But they sure get a lot of it:
After lunch, it was on to the tilling, the spreading of topsoil, and more tilling. Miz Becky, naturally, took a turn at the tiller:
It was quite a machine. One of our neighbors was at Hertz when we were there, renting a tiny front-tine tiller, and making big eyes at the behemoth we were loading into the pickup.
We made many circuits with the tiller (discovering a buried piece of steel rebar on one of them), and many trips back and forth with the wheelbarrow. We're finally nearly done. We have about three more yards of topsoil to spread, and then there's the bark dust to put in after Miz Becky plants the beds, but things are looking pretty good now.
We're not sure what we're going to end up putting in the middle bed -- Miz Becky is planning to plant it in the fall -- but she came up with a clever idea for what's going to be there over the summer. What is it? Well, you'll just have to wait and see, won't you.
(you see how I masterfully create ze dramatic tension? Oh, mais oui, I have ze mad skillz.)
One of those days
I just realized I never told my great story from Tuesday night!
It's a little after 9:00, there's still some light in the sky, and I'm leaving the Hugo House after my writing class. A pile of other classes have also gotten out, plus the softball game at the ballfield across the street has just broken up, so there are a lot of people around, finishing conversations, getting into cars, pulling out of the tricky angled parking spots.
I'm about half a block away, chatting with a classmate, when we hear a tremendous crunching/tearing sound. We turn around in time to see an FUV finish ripping the bumper completely off of a recent-vintage sedan. Apparently the driver tried to cut too closely around the sedan and hooked the bumper.
He gets out of his behemoth and looks at the damage. Even from forty feet away we can see his shoulders slump.
Then, in a slow take worthy of the greats of silent comedy, he looks up... looks past his vehicle... and sees the police car that has pulled up behind him. And the officer getting out. Notebook in hand. Shaking her head.
I wouldn't have guessed that he could have looked any more dejected than he had moments before... but I was wrong.
Did I giggle vengefully? Lord forgive me, but you bet I did.
No post yesterday, even though I took the day off from work. Why, you ask? Because Miz Becky and I labored mightily in the back yard, removing grass in pursuit of our Master Plan for the back yard. Which sounds very organized and mature, yes it does, except that our master plan mostly involved us vaguely gesturing around the yard: Perhaps a shrub bed there, and some kind of bed here in the middle, and a second patio over by the house, yes, that sounds nice.
Thursday evening, though, Miz Becky made the most concrete version of the plan to date: Actual outlines! In the actual yard!
Bearing in mind that the photo is heavily foreshortened, you can get a sense of what we're moving towards.
The first patio was a great addition to the yard, which was largely a blank square when we moved in. Now we're ready to make it even less square, and add some "rooms" to the space, surrounded by beautiful beds filled with largely native plants.
You can see the outline of a future patio in the foreground, and a shrub bed to the right; the two chairs are arranged in the "nook", which is defined on one side by the shrub bed, and on the other by another bed of some sort which you can barely see outlined in an orange extension cord.
There are also a couple more small beds, on either side of the "entrance" to the patio, in an effort to soften that edge.
After many hours of labor, and a comedy of errors that included the equipment rental place thinking we wanted the sod cutter today instead of yesterday, and U-Haul thinking we wanted to rent a moving truck, instead of a pickup truck, we managed to remove sod from the two big areas we wanted to, and haul most of it away.
It doesn't look that impressive in the picture, but my aching arms disagree. There's still a bit of sod cutting to do -- refining the edges and so forth -- but we got most of it done. Then of course comes the really hard work, which Miz Becky mysteriously thinks of as fun: choosing and planting the shrubs that will fill the space.
I'm not really a yard work person; growing up on the sixteenth floor of an apartment building firmly fixed in my head the idea that yard work is something that other people do, usually at a great distance. I'm much more suited to doing cheesy visualizations in Photoshop:
rusto, on Saturday, May 3, 2003 at 11:45 PM:
Nice hunk o'property! Looks like a nice spot to sit, read and sip lemonade...
David Adam Edelstein, on Sunday, May 4, 2003 at 6:53 AM:
I wouldn't know, what with all the projects :-)
Last night Miz Becky and I went to see a showing of Claire Denis' latest film, Friday Night, sponsored by the Northwest Film Forum. We were pretty whupped by this week, but as Miz Becky said, any time you get a chance to see a film introduced by its director, you should take it. Plus (as will be revealed later) it was important for us to be there.
I confess that I had never seen any of Denis' films before. Aside from generally being aware that she was a director I should look into, my only exposure to her had been as the character "La cliente asthmatique" in Venus Beauty Institute (which, it turns out as I look just now, also included Audrey Tatou of Amelie fame -- I knew I had seen her somewhere before that film came out)
Now, of course, having seen Friday Night, I have to go back and see more of her films. The guy who introduced her before the film (a classic Seattle scenester with ugly glasses and a 'harvest gold' striped shirt) described her as the "great sensualist of cinema", which cracked her up -- but after seeing the film I'd have to agree with him.
Nearly the entire movie is shot in closeup, sometimes extremely so, which gives the effect of incredible intimacy with the characters: you're not watching the action, you're right in there with them. There's very little dialog, and what little is there only contributes to the sensuality of the film. The most astonishing thing about the film, perhaps, was the footage of Parisians stuck in traffic, with the camera drifting lovingly past people sitting in their cars, doing the things that people do when stuck in traffic. Miz Becky found those scenes claustrophobic, but I -- perhaps because I'm mostly a pedestrian, and I've spent a lot of time looking at people in the same situation -- found it beautiful.
Madame Denis was (despite being horribly jet-lagged) gracious, friendly, and funny. When one audience member asked the classically silly question "what happened after the movie?" she reported that she and the crew had gone back and forth over the same question.
All in all, a great evening. A great film -- highly recommended.
Oh yes -- why was it important for us to be there? We sat through the entire Q&A session, during which it became clear that they should just cut the questions off and let Madame Denis get some sleep. We stopped and talked to Kevin briefly on the way out. Miz Becky headed off to the restroom.
All of this took just enough time for me to turn around and see my old and dear friend Shauna coming out of the theater trying to get rid of a guy who had latched on to her. I haven't seen Shauna since college, but I've always known that I'd run into her at some cultural event like this. Poetry slam? Missed her. Tom Waits in town? Didn't see her. Finally, last night, there she was. And that's a great gift. As Miz Becky is wont to sing,
Make new friends, but keep the old
One is silver, the other gold.
This started as an exercise for the "Writers Reading Memoir" class I'm taking at Hugo House, inspired by a topic on "Food Memories" in the WELL's cooking conference. A little polishing, and here it is.
The trucks started rolling into town early in our first winter in Tianjin. They were piled high with their pale, grayish cargo: thousands and thousands, and thousands, and thousands, of heads of bai cai, Chinese cabbage.
Over the course of a few weeks, biers of these little white bundles grew outside of every shack, house, and office, and on every balcony of every building. At first we found it funny everyone putting up their winter supply of bland cabbage but as the trucks kept rolling in, and the coal-dusted piles kept getting higher, our sense of dread grew with them.
Eventually, our suspicions were confirmed. Bai cai, one of my fathers students explained, has a very useful property: left alone in a cold, dry environment, the outer leaves will dry to a pale, papery shell, and preserve the inner leaves in a state approaching freshness.
A panicked check confirmed our fears a similar pile had grown up behind the kitchen in our residence compound. We were, it appeared, going to be eating a lot of bai cai.
And, boy howdy, we did. At first there was only the occasional appearance on the menu: dumplings stuffed with cabbage, or twice cooked pork with cabbage. But as the long, grey winter wore on, and the supplies of other vegetables ran out, bai cai became more of a recurring theme. Mushrooms and vegetables turned out to be one mushroom and a plate of bai cai. Pork and greens, once the supply of butchered pigs ran low, turned out to be pork fat and bai cai.
Tianjin was, at the time, a gray city. Ive seen recent pictures that suggest Tianjin is on its way to being another Shanghai or even Hong Kong, but back then it was in a pretty sad state. We arrived just after the dying spasms of the Cultural Revolution, and only a few years after the devastating Tangshan earthquake. Decorations on buildings were rare, and large expanses of the city every formerly open space were covered with what the government euphemistically called earthquake shelters. These were shacks put up in haste after the quake knocked down much of the city in 1976, built out of the rubble of the hundreds of collapsed buildings. By 1980 these temporary shelters were starting to feel ominously permanent.
The other major atmospheric element in Tianjin was coal dust. The Chinese have spent centuries exporting their high-quality coal and burning the inferior stuff domestically. Every home, store, and office was heated with a small coal-burning stove (if they were heated at all). Coal dust, mixed with the soot coming out of the chimneys, covered everything. The red brick of the earthquake shelters had quickly turned a grayish brown. Any brick corners that might get chipped off would match the rest of the neighborhood in a few weeks. My mom still talks wonderingly of rinsing off apparently clean hands before a meal and watching the water come off her hands black with soot.
The winter wore on and on. The occasional snow seemed to just redistribute the dust on the ground, diluting it here only to concentrate it there. The sky remained a featureless shield from the sun. The occasional clearer day revealed a grey-blue sky that didnt ever seem quite right, even as the piercing blue Hawaiian skies I grew up with receded into what seemed an ever more distant past.
And the cabbage kept coming. Eventually, the kitchen stopped even pretending that there might be any other vegetables. Pork and cabbage, cabbage and pork, braised cabbage, cabbage soup with pork, garlic cabbage (a special treat), steamed cabbage with ginger The repetition wore at us, an echo of the cold, gray days outside.
For a while, we had a bright spot to look forward to: Mom would go to the department store and buy a jar of canned peaches or pears. Wed savor the sweetness and pretend that they tasted like the fruit they had started as. Eventually, however, we realized that we were the only people buying the fruit, and that they werent being re-stocked: six jars became five, five became four, and eventually we bought the last lonely can in the department. After that, it was as much cabbage as we could eat.
And still the winter wore on, and still the coal dust settled on the steadily dwindling piles of cabbage. One head lingered for months under a desk in the post office until one day we saw someone waiting in line stoop down and hide the lonely cabbage in their coat.
We had cabbage and noodles, rice and cabbage, cabbage in soup, salt fish and cabbage, cabbage and shredded cabbage with a cabbage sauce.
And then, one day, a miracle happened. Mom and I were walking home from a shopping trip another fruitless expedition to try to get our hot plate fixed when we spied a cart heading into town, towards the open market. There was a flash of red in the back of the cart. Mom and I half-ran, half-stumbled after the cart. Ni mai shenma? I called after them. What are you selling? They shouted back a word I didnt know. My mom didnt need a translation, though she had gotten a better look in the cart. Strawberries she breathed.
We followed that cart for what seemed like ten blocks, to a market quite a ways from our house, and fought our way through the already-thick crowd to buy three bundles of strawberries. We carried them home like they were the most precious things in the world, afraid at every step that we might drop them, or be bumped by a bicycle, or that someone might steal our treasure.
Nothing has ever tasted as perfect to me since then as that first, fresh strawberry. They couldnt have been at their peak yet, since we ate strawberries for a month after that, but my memory of biting into that first strawberry refuses to submit to logic. It was perfect. As was the next one. As was the one after that. And on and on, like a massive scarlet wave of spring thaw, for the whole of strawberry season, until it seemed as though we had consumed pound for pound the same amount of beautiful, perfect strawberries as we had lifeless cabbage. And spring came, and even grey Tianjin bloomed. We had made it through the winter.
This morning on the bus, the following scene unfolded in front of me:
I get on the bus at the last stop downtown. As I walk in, I note that the guy sitting in the "chat seat" across from the driver is playing Scrabble on his iPaq, and has a nasty cold -- iPaq in one hand, handkerchief in the other.
Among the people who get on at Montlake, the next stop, is an attractive woman carrying a book. She settles down across from our other protagonist.
A few minutes later, as we're crossing the floating bridge, our boy looks up and notices that she's reading Word Freak, which is about competitive Scrabble playing.
The look that appeared on his face wasn't surprising, or hard to read: "This is my chance!" He looks down at his game. He looks up at her. He looks down at his game. He looks up at her.
He's about to make contact across the aisle... when his nose finally spills over. He just barely nabs the snot with his handkerchief and blows his nose.
He looks back up at her, blows his nose again, sighs visibly, and goes back to his game.
From Aaron Weller:
I am finishing my lunch today at a Chinese restaurant. Engrossed in my book, I do not actually look at my fortune cookie as I break it in half and put half in my mouth. After a couple of bites it becomes clear that I am eating the half with the fortune in it.
I carefully remove the fortune from my mouth. It is still legible. It says, "You are careful and systematic."
On the road again
SO as if one train trip in a week wasn't enough, Miz Becky and I are enjoying the formidable luxury of a second train trip this weekend, south instead of north this time. We're at her sister's house in beautiful Portland (or at least it's beautiful this morning, which bodes well for our planned walk in the Japanese Garden this afternoon with their parents)
I've just remembered that everyone in the house is asleep, which means I should probably moderate my usual fiery attack on the keyboard -- usually a series of small explosions as a thought strikes me, followed by some selecting and deleting as I realize that what had seemed insousciantly witty moments ago was, in fact, just a fart joke. The few times I've had an office mate, they've always been distracted by my typing rhythms. "Geez Dave, are you actually typing words there?" Eventually the teasing turns to mockery, then to open scorn, we break out the bastinadoes, and they leave in shame.
Anyway, for the rest of this post, you're welcome to imagine me tip-toeing around the keyboard. (pffffft) (hah hah, ze leetle self-referential joke)
My keyboard trauma, as if you care about how the content is delivered, is furthered because Aaron likes to use a Dvorak keyboard (which is his own business, really, it's perfectly normal for a boy his age to do some experimenting). This keyboard, from a company amusingly named "DvortyBoards" (go ahead, say it out loud) is primarily labled for the Dvorak typist, with little "you're driving in Canada, now you need to know kilometers per hour" labels in the upper left of every key.
Now, I'm largely a touch typist, using a weird sort of homegrown combination of touch typing and proper keyboarding technique -- Father Halter would be so disappointed. Ordinarily I don't need to look at the keyboard, but I do glance down now and then to orient myself. And like a high wire artist realizing that Times Square really is twenty stories down, it's a bad idea. I stumble. I get confused. It takes me a few minutes to get re-oriented. Trust the fingers, David... Or the force... whichever...
Yesterday's train ride down (there I went again, looked down at the keyboard and lost my flow) was as chock full of beautiful moments as last week's ride, but since I had only gotten four hours of sleep the night before (I'm the most popular girl at the dance at work right now) I only really remember a few.
There was the girl both Miz Becky and I noticed as we were walking back from the Bistro car, about 10, very serious expression on her face, reading a book called "worlds best jokes".
There was the older couple sitting across the aisle from me, probably both research doctors. The husband was trying to play some music on his laptop, and they had this exchange:
"Arghh! I hate this goddamned Windows Media Player. It won't do what I want it to do, just what it thinks I should be doing."
"It thinks it knows better than you!"
"That's exactly it. It thinks it knows what I want to do instead of letting me decide."
"That's just like Microsoft, isn't it. They always think they know better than us and they want to push us into doing something stupid."
"Right, instead of just letting us get our work done."
I was awfully tempted to come out of the closet and do a little field research right there... but I just wasn't prepared for a couple of hours of cross-aisle vitriol, which is what they seemed to be in the mood for.
In other news this morning, I was amused to read a confessional piece over at Nobody's Doll talking about how she Freaks Out and watches too much television whenever she's on vacation: "We don't have a teevee in Vermont, so our Rhode Island vacation was like TeeVee Fiesta! Week. We went on vacation for a week to watch teevee. And also, you know, to look at the ocean and stuff."
Miz Becky and I do have a TV in Seattle, a rather large one we received as a gift from a friend who had One Huge TV Too Many, but we barely ever actually receive broadcasts on it -- partly because it's in the basement, and even with the super duper ($19.95) amplifying antenna, we don't really get any channels well (Except PBS... it's the perfect liberal TV). And who has time to watch TV, anyway, what with all of the photo projects and design projects and now this incessant blogging that I'm doing here even as we speak.
But when we're in a hotel room, hoo boy. We always bring lots of books and whatnot, both trash and Good Intellectual Stuff, but what do we end up doing? Arguing about which underfed teen should win the Modeling Contract Talent Search on MTV. Delaying dinner so we can tune in Iron Chef. Watching bad standup. WALLOWING IN IT. Because, you know, sometimes ya gotta.
Window Washers and antique systems
I was waiting for the bus this morning, watching a window washer working on windows (and actively, if ineptly, alliterating) when it struck me how antique and primitive this system was.
Here's an office building -- no doubt full of computers, fax machines, and cell phones, able to connect in a few moments to nearly any spot on the planet -- and its inhabitants depend on a guy dangling from two ropes fifteen stories above the ground, carrying a squeegee, with a bucket of soapy water tied to his waist, to see out the windows.
I'm going to have to spend some time looking for other examples of this sort of thing -- and defining what "this sort of thing" is. Perhaps there's a photo project hidden in here.
rfkj, on Thursday, April 3, 2003 at 1:00 PM:
Related to window-washing is building-washing. My brother-in-law used to work at his father's building-cleaning company. They do the same sort of thing, hanging off the side of a building to refurbish the concrete and such, but they've got a lot more equipment.
You should find a window-washer to talk to; I imagine they've got some pretty good horror stories about being pushed all over the place when the wind blows. I know my brother-in-law has some doozies.
rfkj, on Thursday, April 3, 2003 at 1:11 PM:
Okay, here's the hidden project: antique systems vs. modern systems. The window washer you saw versus the machines that they use to wash the windows on, say, the Sears Tower. I think the key to making it something other than hackneyed would have to be ensuring that the "primitive" systems are still viable and used: you NEED your windows washed, and soap and water are pretty much to only way to do it. A shot of an old telephone operator console from the 1940's next to a modern PBX wouldn't cut it, for example. Nor would auto-plant assembly-line robots and auto-plant assembly-line humans. A compass vs. a GPS unit, maybe? A spirit level vs. a laser level?
David Adam Edelstein, on Saturday, April 5, 2003 at 9:04 AM:
Interesting idea. I think I'd rather (as if I'm planning to run out and do this) focus on the antique systems in and of themselves, instead of comparing them to modern systems -- too much temptation to apply a John Henry-esque structure to the project, I think.
1) Coming up out of the bus tunnel this morning I saw a mother and her small (3-4 yrs) child. "What's that on the child's hat," I asked myself, "is it... hmmmm... why, they're skulls!" Yes, that's right. It was Los Tocque de los Muertos.
2) Our driver this morning, faced with traffic at a dead stop on the floating bridge: "Good morning everyone! Welcome to the happy bus!"
3) Watching people putting makeup on while the bus is in motion always makes me tense. I start checking out my fellow passengers: Which one of them looks like they'd be the sturdy reliable type who could keep the other passengers from screaming while I'm trying to perform first aid on someone with a mascara brush jabbed deep into their eyeball?
3a) For the record: Cover both eyes. Tell the patient to look straight forward and to keep doing it. Find some way to fix the object in place. DO NOT pull the object out or wiggle it around. Keep the patient calm and elevate their feet in case they start going into shock. Contact EMS as soon as possible.
A Travel Narrative, or, Hell really is other people!
Becky, as I mentioned previously, was in Canada most of the week for a Forestry conference. Saturday morning I took the early train up to Vancouver to meet her there in what I described as a 30 hour shore leave.
It was a great deal of fun. Vancouver is a great city to be a tourist in -- I don't know how it is to live in, although the cab drivers I talked to seem to think it's a nice place.
I particularly enjoy the Americans-in-Prague-style sport of looking at great things about Vancouver and bitching about what passes for Seattle's urban "planning" (see, I did it again). It's hard not to, with mixed-use buildings all over the place, great urban density, etc.
Of course we spend all of our time downtown, and don't go out into the burbs, so we get a very narrow view of the city; nevertheless, the expatriate exercise of slamming one's own country is always entertaining.
What I really want to talk about, however, is the trip up. I caught the early train up to Vancouver, 7:45 Saturday morning (which entailed a 5:30 wakeup call so I could make a 6:30 bus). The train station was much more crowded than I expected. As I learned from the number of people I recognized on the trip back the next evening, the "leave Saturday morning, return Sunday evening" trip is a popular one, and if you enjoy the train as much as I do, it's nearly two full days of fun with no driving at all.
Now, most of the time, I'm pretty fond of my fellow human beings. Nancy tells me that my street photos would be more consistently good if I was more selective about "casting" them. The problem is that I find people endlessly fascinating, and I have some sort of automatic affection for most other people that borders on the bizarre. (It's not like I'm some kind of saint in my normal life... believe me.)
But sometimes, some people manage to be so annoying as to pierce through my beatific gaze. Lucky me, on this trip I got two of them.
The first was the woman at the ticket counter in front of me. The agent told her that they needed to see her husband and his ID as well as hers. A reasonable request, I thought. But she decided to argue with him. "But I'm picking up the tickets!"
"Nevertheless, ma'am, before we can issue him a ticket, we need to confirm that it's actually him."
"But I'm here. It's really me. Why do you need to see him?"
Gee, lady, I dunno, maybe because we're presently engaged in whacking a hornet's nest with a stick in the Middle East and these are therefore dangerous times?
"Ma'am, I can't issue him a ticket unless he shows me his ID."
"But he's watching the bags!"
Finally she gave in, waved her husband over (he was only 30 feet away) and they moved on.
The second set of people were right behind me on the train ride up. They were in-the-eye-out-the-mouth people, seemingly unable to perform any action without verbalizing it. And almost entirely in a sort of whiny, fading tone that gave an odd rhythm to their speech.
Riding out of Seattle, for example.
"There's the spaghetti factory... where you were wednesday night... remember... and you met Mrs. Simpson... wasn't she nice... you had a nice conversation with her..."
The same people, later, were excited to see that Vancouver had chain restaurants they were familiar with.
"Oh, look... they have an old spaghetti factory... we should go Monday night with your friends... oh and there's a Keg, too... maybe we can have dinner there tonight..."
The real prize, though, was this exchange.
"Well, I have my keys, two lipsticks, and some change in this pocket..."
"You've got a little bit of everything in there, huh?"
"Well, I could put my keys and lipsticks over here... then I wouldn't have so much in this pocket... [pause] Now that pocket's empty..."
I'm afraid I snorted at that last statement. Later, heading towards the restroom, I snuck a glance at them. He was wearing a Wall Drug t-shirt. She had big two-tone glasses with rhinestones at the temples, and a white sweatshirt with a sad kitten airbrushed on it. You, as Margaret Bourke-White said, "have seen their faces". You know who I'm talking about.
The symbolism is getting a little thick
WAR WAR WAR WAR WAR blah blah blah... Honestly I'm tired of hearing it. Hearing news reports of trenches filled with burning oil, or Rumsfield complaining about Iraqi soldiers using dirty tricks while dropping laser-guided bombs on Baghdad, doesn't help my sense of futility about my participation in protests and whatnot. The temptation to investigate emigrating to Canada is pretty strong.
(To be perfectly clear: I absolutely support the Geneva Convention's rules about treatment of POWs. However, if someone invaded my country with a vastly superior force, I'd fight them using every dirty trick I could come up with -- and I don't think that would be morally wrong.)
Moving past the rant to the story... tonight I saw Miz Becky off on a bus to Vancouver, BC, where she's attending a forestry conference. After a quick stop at Uwajimaya to pick up some groceries, I hopped on the bus home.
I was about to cross the street when I checked the turn lane, as I usually do. And as often happens, that check kept me from getting squished. This time, though, it was particularly ironic.
As I paused there on the curb, a massive Ford Expedition rolled by me without stopping. The driver, a morbidly obese woman, was looking away and shouting into her cell phone.
As this vision of American Consumerism passed me, I caught the punchline: A "pissing Calvin" spraying an Arab caricature.
Mind you... I love my country... but that real estate in Canada is looking awfully tempting.
Life during wartime, part 1
After 9/11, a few security measures showed up in my life. Signs went up at work emphasizing the need to wear our badges visibly and to not let anyone tailgate us into buildings. Barricades showed up at the entrance to the bus tunnel downtown, with a sleepy sheriff sitting in a car watching them.
We knew that things were more serious elsewhere, and when we flew we noticed the spastic profusion of new measures designed to keep grandmas from knitting on long flights, but it didn't really impact our lives here.
This morning, things were different. Bright yellow signs on the bus now warned us to be aware of suspicious people carrying suspicious packages. The fact that they were printed with the same color of yellow as this year's crop of Poetry On The Bus entries was a confusing, if ironic, visual effect. Am I to be aware of suspicious poets? Laura Bush seems to think so.
The sleepy sheriff has been replaced by two alert partners. The barricade has been lengthened by one jersey barrier. And (for some reason the most creepy of all) a small guard house has been erected just past the barriade.
As Vince pointed out at lunch today, these things are very hard to take down later, both logistically and politically. When do they take away the guardhouse? When we're "safe"? What does "safe" mean?
I feel as though I should be taking pictures of these things, for posterity if nothing else, but I'm worried that I'll be arrested or at least hassled. And frankly, I just don't want to deal with that. I think the whole situation is making me, pardon the expression, gun-shy.
Of course we've been going to yoga every Thursday since my post about my first yoga class (I'd link to the post if I had my damn archives from my old host, but they're still down; maybe I'll replace this futile whining with a proper link when they come back up and my crabbiness will be lost to history) (who am I kidding, there will be plenty of crabbiness even if I do redact this instance)
I could go on at dreary length about how much I'm enjoying this experience and what it's doing for me, but I'll limit myself to three notes:
NOTE THE FIRST
Best quote from our teacher, Annie, tonight: "Good... keep your head in and your shoulders down... try to let your leg support your body, instead of using your clenched jaw."
NOTE THE SECOND
Some positions, obviously, are easier than others, and these are different for each person in our class. For me, the positions that make the most body sense -- not necessarily the easiest -- are the series based on the "warrior" pose (sorry, again I am a little weak on the terminology -- I will get me a book and have it all in front of me). Not surprising, I suppose, given my martial arts training, but nice to see that my body still remembers them.
NOTE THE THIRD
Earlier this week I noticed some sharp pains in my pectoral muscles. Too shallow and too far to the right to be "chest pains", but I couldn't figure out what was going on. Tonight while we were doing an extended rib cage opening stretch my eyes opened and I saw the situation clearly.
What I realized was that because I've had asthma my whole life, I naturally breathe a little shallowly, especially in my chest. And some of these lie back - twist torso - extend arm - breathe deeply positions are stretching and opening my upper torso in ways that it may never have been stretched before. So... it was just sore muscles. And clearly I need to spend more time doing them.
I'm very interested to see what kind of body and posture changes these will bring about as I get stronger and more flexible. For the moment, though, I'm just enjoying how it feels.
We're back, mostly
Well, after a painful several days of web hosting hell -- problems with my original inexpensive and scrappy host, then problems switching over to earthlink, all of which I'll detail in a later post -- I'm finally up and running again. I'll be sticking with the current default template until it becomes clear whether or not I'll be able to recover my archives from my original host, including my carefully constructed original template.
If you've been waiting for me to come back, thanks for your patience. Nobody's happier than I am.