Saturday, April 30, 2005


And Lo! A new voice among the din in his head spoke, and it spoke forcefully, filled with loathing and bile:

You pathetic piece of shit! You keep on moaning about how unhappy you are at work, and for what? You get paid a good salary, you work sane hours, you have a reasonable amount of vacation, and your job doesn't abuse your body (and don't even think about complaining about your wrist sometimes hurting -- repetitive stress syndrome is nothing compared to black lung, just to name one example. Besides, if you quit playing on the internet in the evening, it wouldn't hurt so much). Think about all the people in the world and the work they have to do -- for so many of them, their wages barely allow enough to survive, and they work 70+ hour weeks, with minimal or no vacation. The only thing they like about their job(s) is that they have one (or two). You might live in an age, and in a country, where this is unusual, but historically, this has been the rule, not the exception. And you have the chutzpah to be unhappy with a desk job that won't leave you crippled after working it for a lifetime -- you'll be able to retire at a fairly young age, quite possibly in decent health and with the expectation of many years left to enjoy. What the Hell does happiness have to do with work? Be grateful you have so many hours away from work, and your job gives you the money to enjoy this time. Yeah -- there are all these self-help books, trying to help you figure out what job you can take that you'll love, and you know what? These books' authors have such a job, because they find it fulfilling to make an easy buck off of unhappy suckers like you. Who the fuck are they to suggest that work should make you happy and be fulfilling? Work should pay the rent. Now shut up, and get back to making a decent living.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Seriodrama d'Obsession

When last we looked, our intrepid blogger was obsessing over which digital camera to purchase. So many choices had a quality that made them worth considering over the other choices -- for months he had considered the options, and eventually he gained the gumption to tell the world of his dilemma. We now rejoin the story.

The obsession continued day and night, night and day. (cue dreamlike aura, where everything is a bit fuzzy) He dreamed of a gargantuan camera store, with every camera in the world neatly laid out before him. He picked one up and admired its heft, its controls, its features, its quality. This camera, he thought, and took it to the store checkout. Before he reached it, however, he remembered one feature he wanted that the camera didn't have. Back he went, grabbed another camera, loved everything about it, and headed to the cash register. Again, before he actually bought the camera, he discovered a flaw and had to return it to the table of cameras. He engaged in this Sisyphesian activity for what seemed like an eternity, until finally he found The Camera. It was an absolutely perfect camera. No matter how many features he desired, The Camera had it. No matter how many possible flaws there were, The Camera had none. He was ecstatic, and this time, he successfully navigated his way to the cashier, paid for The Camera, and walked out the door. When next he looked down to gaze upon The Camera, he discovered that it was the pinhole camera he made when he was in the Cub Scouts. He whirled around to go back to the gargantuan camera store, but it had vanished, and he was stuck with The Camera. (end dreamlike aura) He screamed himself awake.

Finally, on April 14, five long days after he revealed his obsession to the world, he reached a monumental decision -- it was healthier to select one of the cameras (heck, any camera) than to continue his obsession, day after day. And so, after spending one day fruitlessly searching for the perfect combination of price, reliability and availability, he ordered the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ5 (FZ5) (Option 2 as described in our last installment), a fairly small camera, which had garnered excellent reviews for its picture quality and was replete with many of the features he desired. Unfortunately, the place he ordered from said it wouldn't be in stock until the following week, and the following week its estimated shipping date slipped to the first week of May. It was almost as if Chance were taunting him, telling him that although he had made his choice, things weren't settled, not by a longshot. Patiently he waited, ever so patiently, checking the delivery status every single day, sometimes more than once per day. Then, on April 22, seven days after he ordered the camera, an earthshattering event struck, challenging our fearless blogger's resolve. For on that day, a new camera was announced, the Canon PowerShot S2 IS (S2).

(cue flashback) In the early days of his quest for the perfect camera, our blogger chanced upon the Canon PowerShot S1 IS. He thought that the S1 had so many good qualities, and for a time it seemed like the perfect combination of features. But upon closer inspection, he discovered subtle flaws that rendered the S1 unacceptable to his high standards.

(end flashback) All of these features appeared to be fixed in the older camera's successor. But the thing was, the S2 wasn't due to be available until June. And with such an expensive purchase, our blogger wanted to read reviews, because no matter how good it looked on paper, he didn't want to order it until he was sure that it was as good as it looked. Could our blogger wait? Would the wait be much longer than the wait under his then-present course of action? Would the back-ordered FZ5 ship the first week of May, or would it be delayed even longer? He thought about it, carefully, over a long period of time. Finally, four mind-bending days after the announcement of the S2, he made up his mind, and cancelled his order for the FZ5. But (play music of Surprise), he didn't hold off for the S2 -- he instead placed an order for the FZ5 from a different store, one that had it in stock, and was offering it for ~$25 less.

And so, even now, as this tale of woe is unfolding before you, the FZ5 is speeding its way (probably in the back of an ox cart) from Cerritos, California, en route to Washington, DC, where our blogger awaits the epic meeting of man and camera. Will Fate intervene, perhaps via a mysterious cyclone that takes the mail truck holding the camera to places hitherto unknown? Will Chance again strike, choosing this package to be misplaced by the post office? Will Irony appear, causing the FZ5 to slip through our blogger's fingers the very first time he holds it, shattering on impact with the floor? Or will Mercury successfully deliver the goods, enabling our blogger to finally meet his picky pics pick?

Tune in Next Time to find out.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Picture This!

If a picture is worth 1,000 words, I give you this:

The real story behind the picture is interesting, but not as much as I'd hoped for.

Going Nucular?

Despite the title, this post isn't about Bush's propensity to mispronounce words. Nor is it about the final report from the Iraq weapons investigator, which found no Weapons of Mass Destruction. It's not even about the "nuclear option" on ending filibusters over judicial nominees in the Senate. Instead, I wanted to pass along an interesting editorial from this morning's Washington Post, which argues that nuclear must have a place at the table when discussing future energy supply. Though it's not something I've given much thought, I have to admit that the arguments being offered up appear to be well thought out, and have a certain appeal. While I would prefer that energy consumption be reduced so that both fossil-fuel emissions and nuclear waste be kept to a minimum, I do recognize that without a dramatic change in prices, or the discovery of a viable large-scale renewable energy source, that won't happen. But in truth I don't fully know the risks involved with nuclear, with either nuclear weapons or nuclear waste. After reading the editorial, it seems like I should start educating myself on this subject.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Back in Town

Just got back from a busy but rather relaxing 3-day New England weekend -- stayed with Kathy's folks Friday and Sunday night, and was in the suburbs of Boston for Seder with family on my Dad's side. Got to see several people (cousins, aunt and uncle) I haven't seen in about four years (the last time the Seder fell on a weekend), and really enjoyed it. We were kindly driven to/from Massachusetts by my Aunt Faith and my cousin Jeff (whom we've seen much more recently). After we left Massachusetts, we went to Rhode Island to visit my Aunt Gladys, my grandmother's younger sister. At 91, she's still doing remarkably well. Pretty coherent, hears ok (with hearing aid), and sees very well (with bi-focals). Jeff had taken photos at the Seder so we could show them to Gladys, but unfortunately, her old TV didn't have the cable cords for us to show the pics and movies enlarged. Amazingly, she was able to see the 1.8" screen on Jeff's camera fine. To our shame, we hadn't seen her in four years. In the future, we'll try to drive over there every time we go up to visit Kathy's folks. She lives only an hour or so from there.

The visit with Kathy's family was nice as well -- in addition to seeing the folks, we got to see her sister Suz, her sister's three children, and boyfriend. And at various times, the adults talked about where we would like to set up the family co-op/commune, and what we'd do there. It's a dream we all have at various times, and while so far we haven't collectively gotten the get-up-and-go to do it, it's something we consider. The latest "what we'd do" is open several stores under one roof -- Books, Bean (i.e., coffee), Bikes, Beer, Boats, & Baubles (with a B&B to boot), giving each of us at least one store that sells something we love. Sounds like it might be a bit too ambitious, but at the least it's pretty alliterative.

Friday, April 22, 2005


Has anyone ever said something like:
Often, questions asked reveal far more of the questioner than the answers tell of the respondent.
If not, I've got dibs.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Another Night, Another Meet-Up (or, Revising #91)

He says we'd gotten together since my wedding, but we both agree it'd been over five years. And I know it'd been two years since we'd spoken. There hadn't been an incident that precipitated a falling out. It was more my getting tired of always being the one to initiate communication, and when I stopped doing it and he didn't say anything, eventually I grew indifferent. After the e-mail I sent him on a whim bounced, I called him up to wish him happy birthday. We talked for a while, and he said a conference was bringing him downtown all this week (he was wrong, but it did bring him to a much closer suburb). So on Wednesday night, I got together with my best friend from high school, someone who lives in the suburbs of DC.

So much of the conversation during dinner and afterwards was recountng the past, and so much of it was catch up. At times we slipped into familiar patterns, like him talking all serious until I inserted a silly one-liner that sent him off on a tangent. But while the manner of communication seemed familiar, much wasn't. We're different people than we were when we last saw each other. He's got three kids now, and the oldest is 10. I'm not a newlywed -- I've been married for almost six years. He's much more a part of my past than any part of my future, and we'll have to see each other more frequently if that has any chance of changing. We're both interested in trying to make that happen, so we'll see.

One thing our meeting means is that I'll have to revise my 100 Things About Me -- over 36 years to come up with the list, less than two weeks before I needed to revise it.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Meeting on a Tuesday Night

It started when I stumbled across another blog that I really liked. I added it to my list of other blogs, a.k.a. blogroll. A few days later, the author of that site posted on my itty-bitty new site, and damn was I flattered! I figured he could track who had linked/posted to his site, but that didn't mean he had to post to mine. I posted to his site, he posted to mine a couple more times. I e-mailed him, and he said he was coming to dc. I invited him out for a beer if he had time, he said he was getting together with other dc bloggers and I should join them. I said I'd be out of place as I'm not a real blogger, he responded by adding my site to his blogroll. So I went.

I arrived at 6:30, ready to meet complete strangers. I was looking for two women and one man, didn't see a group that looked like that, walked around the block figuring I was early (it was a beautiful evening to be outside). I came back, went to the bar, and discovered that the group of three men and two women to my left were Brandon and the other bloggers. So I was introduced to kat, supine, Jake, and kat's SO Seth. Jake was somewhat of an outsider too, as his blog is less of a journal than the others' blogs -- in a sense, they're part of a sub-group of blogging. We did drinks for a while, and based on my past experiences with meeting people from online, it was no surprise that all of them were quite nice. Jake had to leave after a while, but the rest of us eventually made our way over to a Mexican place where we stayed out pretty late for a school night.

Thoughts on the evening:
  • It's somewhat different from meeting other beer geeks or boggle players. With beer or boggle, you talk about your common bond and your life outside the common bond. With blogging, the distinction between the two is blurred -- generally speaking, blogging already is all about your life.
  • The weird thing was that, even as I was worried that I wasn't "worthy" to be in such august blogging company, the others felt like their own blogs were inadequate. Brandon writes so poignantly, and while he acknowledges that others like it, you realize that he doesn't truly believe it. Supine doesn't think much of her stuff, even though she recently was a finalist for best new journal.
  • One difference between most of them and me is that I don't hide who I am in my blog. Kat and Supine are anonymous. Heck, Supine said her closest friends don't even know she writes her blog. Anonymity enables them to talk about anything, and because their blogs are well-written, it attracts a good audience. As I've posted earlier, my blog is for my friends and family, and if others enjoy it, great. The downside is that I can't be quite as open about certain matters, and so don't generate as wide an audience as I might otherwise (also my writing isn't as good, but we don't need to go there). Brandon asked if Kathy read my blog. I think I surprised him when I said that not only does my wife read it, so do my parents.
  • So why do they blog? Kat said she blogs because she wants to get published, and she's in need of practice after law school beat out all her creativity (I can certainly understand that feeling). It was interesting to hear Brandon and supine talk about their need for recognition -- that they check how many hits their site gets, that when Brandon isn't getting many comments he goes back to earlier posts that garnered lots of hits, to see what he should change. They also said that the best way to get comments is to post on other people's sites -- they'll comment back on yours (apparently some people get mad if they post on yours and you don't post back). And it felt like this was particularly important because they want to maintain or, preferably, increase readership/comments. Still, they always want more, and I wonder, if they increased readership/comments twentyfold, would they be looking for ways to increase traffic to even higher levels within a month? I admit to having an interest in readership, but I don't think the blogging bug has hit me as much as it has them (which stands to reason, since they've been doing it much longer).
Overall, I learned a whole bunch about blogging, and was introduced to an entire culture that I have only just scratched the surface of. More importantly, I met several really cool people that I hope to get to know better in the future (assuming my pop-psych analysis here doesn't piss them off).

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Photo Exposition -- Our Cherry Tree

For the past eight mornings at about 8:30am, I've taken a picture of the cherry tree in front of our house. It's been wonderful watching it come into bloom, and the photos show how quickly it happens. We planted the tree four years ago -- it's a cherry varietal known as a double-flowered cherry blossom, and it blooms 1-2 weeks after the better known cherry blossoms by the Tidal Basin. Here are the pics (I recognize the composition of the photos isn't perfect -- it wasn't until after I picked the angle for taking the photos that I noticed how prominently our neighbor's house shows up on the left (the door, the American flag, and the rust around the door are all his). While usually I want to impress with composition, this time I'll let Mother Nature take full credit for the composition that matters.):

April 12

April 13

April 14

April 15

April 16

April 17

April 18

April 19 Posted by Hello

And for anyone curious, the tree has grown a great deal in the four years since we planted it (and the background here is of our front door):

Kathy with the New Tree (2001) Posted by Hello

Monday, April 18, 2005

Remember Iraq?

I find it hard to get info on what's really going on in Iraq from U.S. media -- it's good to get a different perspective than the uniform one that essentially comes straight from the military. As to why you can't trust the U.S. media reports:

With US networks largely confined to their hotels in Baghdad by fear of kidnapping, it is possible to sell the American public the idea that no news is good news.

As to why you shouldn't trust what the military tells the journalists:
Most violent incidents in Iraq go unreported. We saw one suicide bomb explosion, clouds of smoke and dust erupting into the air, and heard another in the space of an hour. Neither was mentioned in official reports. Last year US soldiers told the IoS (Independent on Sunday) that they do not tell their superiors about attacks on them unless they suffer casualties. This avoids bureaucratic hassle and "our generals want to hear about the number of attacks going down not up". This makes the official Pentagon claim that the number of insurgent attacks is down from 140 a day in January to 40 a day this month dubious.
I could go on about what a poor decision it was to invade Iraq, the effect of the media selling its soul to become embedded with the military, the Bush admistration's eagerness to change its tune as to the mission in Iraq when no WMDs were found, and the American public's unwillingness to hold the people who made such decisions accountable, but all that is in the past, done and can't be undone. I would be ecstatic if the U.S. military succeeded in creating a stable democracy in Iraq, but I don't see it happening. The U.S. will be withdrawing most of its forces over the next couple of years, because the last thing any Republican wants is to have over 120,000 troops still over there come election time. The insurgents are content to wait out the United States, and it's clear that unless something drastically changes, the new Iraqi police/military will lack the ability to defend itself, much less the country, against the insurgents.

It saddens me that the American public has largely turned their attention away from what's still going on over there -- the only things you hear about over there are (1) government is forming (good), (2) casualties (bad but has to be reported), or (3) kidnappings (bad but has to be reported). We as a country made a bad decision to put/keep Bush in office, but people don't want to be troubled with the repercussions, particularly when they don't directly affect them.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Spring Cleaning, Insomnia, and Gustavo Chacin

We aren't very good about keeping the places that are out of the sight of visitors clean (and when there are no visitors, we're not always too good about keeping the rest of the place clean either). When you have a dog that sheds as much as Junebug, that's not a good thing, but neither of us are particularly enthused about the idea of housecleaning (and I'm worse than Kathy). So yesterday I got the idea that we should clean our bedroom. I'm not sure how long it had been in a sad state of only getting minimal attention, but suffice it so say that much of the stuff we'd moved in there during last spring's renovation was still there, and still in the way (though we'd learned how to get around it). So before we had time to change our minds, we attacked the room, and it looks a lot better -- papers have been thrown out or organized, miscellaneous crap was tagged for give-away or yard sale, things missing for a while were found. I thought about providing before and after pictures, but I was concerned that it would be too graphic for any children that might accidentally show up here.

* * * * *

Kathy was much happier last night -- there are times, particularly in winter (when she is prone to getting depressed), when she's unhappy with the house (among other things) -- it's too big, too gloomy, etc. The spring cleaning did away with that state, and she went to sleep happy. I, on the other hand, did not sleep well. It took a few hours to fall asleep, because, while my body and mind were both ready to sleep at 11pm, by the time Kathy was ready to sleep 45 minutes later, for some reason my mind had awoken. While lying in bed, I went from rational worries to tangents to vacation plans to upcoming events to irrational worries to long-term goals and back again -- my brain wouldn't turn off. It wasn't how I wanted to spend my night. Ah well, hopefully tonight I sleep well, though I have no doubt I won't be ready to roll out of bed when the alarm goes off tomorrow morning.

* * * * *

With the start of the baseball season, fantasy baseball has gotten under way. So far I'm doing fine, but it's too early to matter (just like it's too early to think the Yankees could end up missing the playoffs). With fantasy, you have to keep an eye on players who come out of nowhere that could help your team, and last night, after his third excellent game, I picked up Gustavo Chacin, a starting pitcher who zipped through the minors last year after several years of mediocrity, and so far is pitching great in his rookie season. At least until last night most experts said he won't continue to pitch well (I haven't heard any of them since then), but last night he had his best game so far, in a difficult place to pitch. So I picked him up, and though it might be a bad move, my sleep-deprived imagination concocted a reason why he'll succeed when the scouts and others have consigned him to failure: he made a deal with the devil. At least that's what he says when he's interviewed. It got me to wondering what would be the response by the fundamentalists (and others not so extreme) if he actually said something like this. Would there be boycotts? Would his success continue unabated? If so, would journalists deny him post-season rewards? Would baseball intervene? He plays for Toronto -- would immigration deny him entry to the U.S. (for unstated reasons)? Who (if anyone) would come to his defense? Feel free to jump in here -- treat it as something that came up in our cyber-conversation.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Another Reason to Hate the Nats

I was walking home from work tonight, and as I made my way east on Independence Avenue, I noticed police slowly but surely blocking off traffic, even preventing pedestrians from crossing one side of Independence to another (fortunately I crossed before they started doing that). It wasn't until I saw that the blockade continued on Independence east of the break with Pennsylvania Avenue that I realized what was going on -- Bush was on his way to throw out the first pitch for the first Washington Nationals home game. As it was, the game started at 7pm, perfectly timed to induce additional gridlock upon rush hour (apparently this will be the normal starting time for weeknight games). The additional 15-minute delay caused by the Bush motorcade was just another burden drivers had to contend with.

Another thing: as I got to my house, a couple of guys asked if they were headed in the right direction to the game. I politely helped them, and as they headed out, one said, "It's been a long time since 1996." "1996?" I asked? They both exclaimed, "The last Redskins game at RFK!" Silly me, I had been going to RFK at least a dozen times a year since then for United games, tells you what little I know.

More Proof We Have the Government We Deserve

When I got into work this morning, I found that a friend had forwarded me the following:
Join the resistance!!!! I hear we are going to hit close to $3.00 a gallon by the summer and it might go higher!! Want gasoline prices to come down? We need to take some intelligent, united action.

Phillip Hollsworth, offered this good idea: This makes MUCH MORE SENSE than the "don't buy gas on a certain day" campaign that was going around last April or May! The oil companies just laughed at that because they knew we wouldn't continue to "hurt" ourselves by refusing to buy gas. It was more of an inconvenience to us than it was a problem for them. BUT, whoever thought of this idea, has come up with a plan that can really work.

Please read it and join with us! By now you're probably thinking gasoline priced at about $1.50 is super cheap. Me too! It is currently $2.09 for regular unle! aded in my town. Now that the oil companies and the OPEC nations have conditioned us to think that the cost! of a gallon of gas is CHEAP at $1.50- $1.75, we need to take aggressive action to teach them that BUYERS control the marketplace....not sellers. With the price of gasoline going up more each day, we consumers need to take action. The only way we are going to see the price of gas come down is if we hit someone in the pocketbook by not purchasing their gas! And we can do that WITHOUT hurting ourselves. How? Since we all rely on our cars, we can't just stop buying gas. But we CAN have an impact on gas prices if we all act together to force a price war.

Here's the idea: For the rest of this year, DON'T purchase ANY gasoline from the two biggest companies (which now are one), EXXON and MOBIL. If they are not selling any gas, they will be inclined to reduce their prices. If they reduce ! their prices, the other companies will have to follow suit. But to have an impact, we need to reach literally millions of Exxon and Mobil gas buyers. It's really simple to do!! Now, don't whimp out on me at this point...keep reading and I'll explain how simple it is to reach millions of people!!

I am sending this note to about thirty people. If each of you send it to at least ten more (30 x 10 = 300) ... and those 300 send it to at least ten more (300 x 10 = 3,000)...and so on, by the time the message reaches the sixth generation of people, we will have reached over THREE MILLION consumers. If those three million get excited and ! pass this on to ten friends each, then 30 million people will have been contacted! If it goes one level further, you guessed it..... THREE HUNDRED MILLION PEOPLE!!!

Again, all You have to do is send this to 10 people. That's all. (If you don't understand! how we can reach 300 million and all you have to do is send this to 10 people.... Well, let's face it, you just aren't a mathematician. But I am ... so trust me on this one.)

How long would all that take? If each of us sends this e-mail out to ten more people within one day of receipt, all 300 MILLION people could conceivably be contacted within the next 8 days!!! I'll bet you didn't think you and I had that much potential, did you! Acting together we can make a difference.

If this makes sense to you, please pass this message on. PLEASE HOLD OUT UNTIL THEY LOWER THEIR PRICES TO THE $1.30 RANGE AND KEEP THEM DOWN. THIS CAN REALLY WORK.

This was my response:
Please tell me this is a joke.

This isn't about ExxonMobil -- it's about oil prices (i.e., what oil companies like ExxonMobil have to pay for) going from $33/gallon six months ago to closing in on $60/gallon right now. It's about the rapidly growing industrialization of China and India rapidly increasing worldwide demand at a faster pace than in the past. It's about the greater difficulty (and higher cost) of extracting oil from the earth (all the easy oil has already been used), as readily accessible supplies continue to reduce over time (after all, oil is a non-renewable energy source).

What further amazes me is that the author completely rejects the possibility of consumers being responsible for demand. How about people walk when the place they're going to is less than half a mile away? How about people stop buying their SUVs so demand goes down? Sounds like the author's attitude is that they'll have to pry the keys to my SUV out of my cold dead fingers.

On top of the basics, there's the obvious point -- if you boycott one company, you increase demand on all the others, and drive their prices up. So you end up paying even more for gas than you would have without a boycott. It almost makes me wonder if the original author of this piece works for another oil company.

Sorry to go off like this, but the feeling of entitlement to cheap oil sickens me. Oil prices are going to go inexorably higher because of demand and supply -- that's basic economics. The way to slow (because over time you won't be able to stop) the increase in those prices is to reduce demand, not switch our allegiance to different oil companies (when they're all acting the same).

Feel free to pass this e-mail along to those you sent your e-mail to (or not, it's completely up to you).

My friend did forward my e-mail to those she sent the first e-mail to, as well as the person who sent it to, with an apology for not reading the original item carefully before sending it along. It'd be nice if the person who forwarded it to my friend does the same, and passes it back to the other people she sent it to, and back up the line, repeat as necessary.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Mad Canadian Disease

Thanks to a couple of my Canadian friends for sharing with me the fact that in the last couple of weeks, Americans have needed to get their news from Canada, and vice-versa.

First, my friend Todd was kind enough to send a link on U.S. news that I'm not hearing about here. It seems that the United States, quick to point the finger at Canada for mad-cow-tainted beef, already might have had a couple of cases that were covered up. I suppose it shouldn't come as a shock to see that the United States Department of Agriculture issued a complete denial. Clearly, someone is lying, so the question is, who's more likely to do so -- the scientists who no longer fear getting fired; or the USDA that wants to assure the American public that beef is safe? News like this makes me glad I gave the stuff up years ago. That being said, I wonder why I didn't see anything about this in the Washington Post. Maybe tomorrow (though if so it usually would have showed up on their website by now)?

In the other direction, my friend Debbie brought me up to speed on Adscam, a major scandal involving the Liberal Party, which has run Canada for over a decade. The details are long and complicated (and can be found here), but what's fascinating about the scandal is that the investigation had a gag order on it. The court was listening to testimony each day, that lots of people could attend, but the press wasn't allowed to talk about it. This got someone mad enough to tell a conservative American blogger those details, the blogger (safely in the U.S.) was telling the goings on, and Canadians by the truckload were checking out an American blog to find out what their own government has been up to. The gag order was finally lifted late last week, in a nice victory both for free speech and the right of the Canadian public to know what their government is up to.

It's a shame that scandals and cover ups are among the many things that Americans and Canadians have in common.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Hymns for the Exiled

I have this folkie streak in me. Most of the time I want more volume and more instrumentation, but there are times when I can embrace albums that quietly get their messages across. Anaïs Mitchell's second album, 2004's Hymn for the Exiled, is such an album. It keeps the accompaniment turned down, mostly relying on an acoustic guitar, and her spare, slightly cracking, and beautiful voice. I don't need to listen to the lyrics -- the aching in her voice and gentle guitar can leave me delighted on their own. If she ever wanted to try her hand at country, I feel confident Nashville would welcome her (if she left her politics at the door).

But I don't stop with the sounds, because the lyrics to the album's 11 songs are generally excellent -- most of the lyrics are political, usually tied to the U.S. government or gender. "1984" turns Prince's "1999" on its ear, telling us that with the arrival of Orwell's Big Brother in the guise of the USA Patriot Act, "we're gonna party like it's 1984." "Two Kids" told partly in English, partly Arabic -- while I don't have the translation of the latter, I assume it mirrors the English part, with a child talking about his father hiding in a shelter, afraid of the people who hate all Americans. The speaker in "I Wear Your Dress" tells her grandmother that while she wears an old dress of her grandmother, two generations later, she doesn't need to wear the role that society placed her grandmother in. The album concludes with "One Good Thing," where someone depressed about current political news implores a significant other to tell him/her one good thing about the USA (presumably to prevent fleeing to Canada).

I can't help but compare the album to early Ani DiFranco -- a little more accompaniment, a little nicer voice, but the same quiet insistence. I look forward to trying Mitchell's debut album, The Song They Sang When Rome Fell (2002), which I have lying unopened on the table next to me.

Rating: 10/10

Full Disclosure: After I had already added the album to my wish list, but before I acquired it, I found out that Mitchell is sister-in-law to an acquaintance.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Taking Stock

So I figured it was time to take a look at what I'm doing with this blog:

1. Especially of late, I seem to be doing more "what I'm doing" type of posts than I had anticipated. I expected the vast majority of my posts to be along the lines of "what I'm thinking" instead. It might be a phase, or it might be because...

2. There are certain things I'm thinking about that I don't feel comfortable sharing. I didn't give it much thought when I started this blog, but by the manner in which I've posted, I've made it semi-anonymous -- I don't generally use my last name (I since removed the one time I did), but I do provide enough info that anyone determined to find out who I am could. One consequence is that I don't want to say something that could come back to bite me in the ass, be it about work or co-workers, friends or family. Another is that there are a few things on my mind that right now I only reveal to the people that I am closest to -- I might reveal them here if this blog were completely anonymous, but I gave up that ability when I decided to tell folks about the blog. I guess if I want to type those on a blog, I'll need to start another blog (or, since I wouldn't tell any of you, maybe I already have ;) ).

So going totally tangential for a minute, the stress I've been experiencing, the cause of which I'm not going to discuss here, has been causing me to clench my jaws. It got me thinking -- why do many people (including me) clench their jaws when they're stressed? Is it because our animal ancestors would bare their teeth at their most common source of stress, other animals? Or is it that people generally tense all their muscles under stress (fight or flight), and the jaw, along with certain other places (such as neck and shoulders), can't handle that tension as well as other muscles? I tried a google search, but I didn't see anything useful.

I now return to the made-for-blog special, Taking Stock, already in progress.

3. What happened to music? I've only posted twice about music, and I think that's because I've only been to one concert in the past couple of months, and haven't bought much lately. I need to write a review of one or more of the albums I did buy.

4. I'm enjoying writing a blog -- I didn't think I'd post as much as I do, but it's been good fun from my end of things.

5. Judging from the amount of feedback I've been getting, a number of people are enjoying my blog as well. Thanks to everyone who has commented, both on the blog and by e-mailing me privately -- it means a lot to me that you care enough to tell me what you think. It means even more to me that you care enough to lie by saying you like it.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Sending Positive Thoughts... my sister-in-law Suz, who's oh-so-close to finishing her college thesis (due this upcoming Friday), the only thing standing between her and B.A. in English. In between being a single mother of three, Suz has been poring over the material for over a year, and perfectionist that she is, she'd like to pore over it for another year (and, once she's turned it in, she just might do that).

Suz sent a draft to Kathy and me for feedback -- it's on Fury by Salman Rushdie. I'm truly impressed with the depth of her knowledge of the book, as well as various other Rushdie works and criticisms (admittedly, I say this not having been an English major, or having read any Rushdie much less Fury). She's been able to catalogue a breathtaking landscape of meanings on a multitude of levels. Truly dazzling.

That being said, she hasn't locked in on a thesis. She agreed with my metaphor as to where all her analysis has taken her -- she's got all the pieces of the engine but doesn't know exactly how to assemble it. It'll come together, I have no doubt -- Kathy was able to provide some good ideas on how to organize some of the material in a way that better lends itself to a thesis (Suz said that was how it was organized before a revision a couple of weeks ago). In the meantime, Suz has a lot of people in her corner. I'm pulling for her not just to pass (which all of us know is a given), but to be happy with the finished product. To me that'll be true success.

Saturday, April 09, 2005


How many hours am I going to spend in trying to decide (a) whether I should get a second digital camera to cover the range/situations where the Digital Elph isn't up to snuff; and (b) if so, which camera (and what type) should I get? The answer has to be over 120 and counting. Over five full days of my life taken up with asking these questions and researching same. So far. Clearly I have too much time on my hands.

The Elph is a fine camera for basic everyday activities, such as photographing the cherry blossoms. And its size means that it's perfect for taking anywhere. But it's useless for taking pictures at United games (not enough zoom, tough lighting conditions for the many night games, not fast enough lens), and it's not great in museums (low light without flash (though I have figured out how to do better than I did in Mexico)). In addition to better zoom, I'd like wide-angle too -- my old camera started out at a wider angle (28mm vs 35mm), and I can definitely tell when I want to get entire buildings in a shot (as I did in Mexico), and I presumably will the next time I want to take a group photo indoors (in a couple of weeks at Passover?). And while the quality of the Elph is good, there's ample opportunity for improvement.

So my options are:
  1. one of the handful of digital cameras with big zoom that starts at wide angle;
  2. a less expensive, higher-quality camera with big zoom (bigger than option 1) that I'd need an adapter lens to capture wide angle (or give up on wide angle shots); or
  3. a D-SLR camera (i.e., a camera that allows you to switch out lenses (you have to buy each one, and it can get very expensive), which will give you the highest quality photos, but which is the bulkiest and costs the most).
I know how to take decent pitcures with a point-and-shoot camera, but I'm only just starting to learn about manual controls. All three options will give me lots of manual control -- while a D-SLR will give me the greatest room to grow (and screw up as I grow), there's still plenty I can learn with the other cameras.

Option 1 sounds good, and ideally it would be the logical choice. But I worry about the quality, which the reviews I've read suggest is good but not great -- what's the point of spending so much money and not being dazzled by the resulting photos?

Option 2 appeals the most to me -- the camera is hardly bigger than my old one, and it offers so many more possibilities. The absence of wide-angle is a drawback, though, and it's what keeps me from deciding to go ahead with this option. A wide-angle conversion lens wouldn't be that expensive, however, or that large -- maybe this is still my best option.

D-SLRs give qualitatively better photos, and are the best for sporting events. And the prices have come down substantially, so that depending on the camera, I can get everything I need (for starters) for only a couple of hundred dollars more than the other two options. That being said, they're big (though they've gotten smaller), and I'm not sure I want to lug around at least two lenses -- if I limit myself to one lens, the available range won't be nearly as useful.

So while a D-SLR intrigues me, there's also the fact that I don't print out many photos, so much of the qualitative difference gets lost because a computer screen isn't the ideal medium to view photos. There's also the point that digital cameras are electronics, which means that I should expect that one would have a life of at most 5 years.

But if I don't get the D-SLR, is the qualitative difference between the camera we have and another non-D-SLR worth the expense to get another camera? I'm not sure, but I think so -- there's a significant difference, and pictures are usually my only souvenirs when we travel, so it's worth getting really good quality.

And so these are the issues I wrestle with, knowing that there's no real rush, as I don't have another vacation that I'd use a camera on for a few months (I'll live with the Elph at Passover). During this extra time, prices will almost certainly fall (they always do), and new cameras that would appeal to me might get introduced. Unfortunately, this extra time also gives me time to obsess even more. And so I keep wrestling with myself, knowing that the only way to end this cycle of obsession is to buy something -- it's not enough to decide not to buy something, as that's a decision I can always change my mind over.

Friday, April 08, 2005

National Poetry Month

I don't feel like I have much to say at the moment, but the six of you reading my blog deserve to see the page updated as much as possible. So in that vein, along with the premise that old stuff can become new again, and in honor of National Poetry Month, here are a couple of old poems of mine:

The Child Within

Enigmatic child leads me by the hand,
To take me to his Never Never Land.
Patiently the youth explains what it is he's made,
While in his own world he had played.

The stories he tells defy belief,
And I say that with much relief.
His imagination knows no limit --
I pray adulthood doesn't dim it.

Let the strictures of adolescence never come
To deprive him of his childhood fun.
The freedom to choose between what can't and can
Is a gift that too few understand.

Written in college, revised 5/25/94


the mourning after -- 11/11/95

incessant pounding of a neighbor's hammering takes me unaware,
involuntarily starting my day on the
underside of the life curve
through its rhythmic throbbing inflaming the
bitterness remaining from the previous evening's
endeavors to find someone to share my
affections all the while shunning the reality
that the dysfunctional ambience of
smoke and mirrors makes me ever desperate
to gain more than these furtive jaunts into the
city's loneliness crying out for contentment
can hope to provide, recognizing in myself
the futile goal of finding a
companionship that wouldn't leave me feeling
empty as the morning's dog bowl, the a.m. a
tangled embarrassment of arms and legs
belonging to neither of their owners
but to a moment that ended shortly before dawn.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Crisis? What Crisis?

President Bush is going around the country in an effort to draw attention to the "crisis" of Social Security. Never mind the fact that his plan is disliked by most Americans, or that his plan would cost trillions of dollars, or that his plan doesn't actually address the crisis that he's squawking about. My question is, why doesn't he focus on the more significant crises with the same level of zeal? Or with any level of zeal?

The price of oil has skyrocketed in the past few months, and nary a word has come from his lips. World demand is growing, not just because Americans still feel no pressure to conserve, but also because China's demand is exploding as it becomes more industrialized. World production isn't even maintaining peak levels from the past, and almost no new reserves are being discovered. Consequently, gas prices will continue to rise as the world oil supply dwindles. Even some conservatives are clamoring for development of alternative fuel technology, if only for national security reasons. Thus, Bush would have political cover to turn his attention to this issue. Of course, that might not go over well in Texas.

And it's not just energy vs. social security. What about the spiraling cost of health care? As this editorial observes, it's clear that health care is a much bigger hit on the economy and on workers than Social Security. Check out this gem of a passage:
By either the CBO [Congressional Budget Office] or the Social Security trustees' estimates, the hit to the economy from runaway health care costs is far greater than the potential damage of a Social Security tax increase. The ratios range from four times as great to 18 times as great, depending on which estimates one chooses.
The same article observes that both Medicare and Medicaid are in very precarious positions as well.

I'm not saying that Social Security doesn't have any problems, but it's clear that Bush has his prioirities screwed up -- far greater crises are being left to fester while the President goes off on Social Security. I don't pretend to read Bush's mind, but I'll wager it has to do with the location of the money. Bush seems to live in a world of black and white, no grays (hence, the infamous statement that either you're with us or you're the enemy) -- and as far as goods and services are concerned, they're either privatized (good) or public (bad). Both the energy and health care issues are tied to rising costs in the private sector, so he won't touch them. Medicare was made more privatized by the prescription drug bill, but it's already clear that doing so exacerbated Medicare's financial condition. As for Medicaid, I fear Bush is content to let the poor go without any health care whatsoever, though state governors, Republican and Democrat alike, have successfully besieged the Senate to prevent cuts in its funding. Politically, it would be impossible for Bush to dismantle Social Security -- all he can hope to do is privatize it. This (at best) indifference toward using a solution that doesn't shrink (the non-military component of) government may explain why Bush hasn't suggested a solution to Social Security, and only considered the peripheral issue (no matter that it adds trillions to the national debt).

From what quarter will responsible leadership emerge, or will Bush and the other powers that be fiddle while the USA burns (using wood, since there'll be no more oil)?

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Weatherwise, the weekend was pretty crappy, but the first three days of the week have been gorgeous (obviously I wish the weather had been reversed). Today the high was around 80, which is about 10 degrees warmer than yesterday, and 20 degrees warmer than Saturday through Monday. I walked into work this morning, after walking home on Monday and into work yesterday. The difference is that this time I brought a camera.

Here are a couple of tulip shots at Bartholdi Gardens, part of the National Botanical Gardens (and across from the main Botanical Gardens building):

And I've really enjoyed seeing the miniature daffodils sprouting up (though they're already a little past peak):
Posted by Hello

The camera also came in handy at lunchtime, as I walked over to the Tidal Basin (about six minutes from my office) and took in the cherry blossoms. It was too warm, too crowded, and quite lovely. Here are a couple of tree shots, the first focused more at the blossoms than the tree itself:

I was very taken with close-ups of the blossoms themselves, and a number of the photos came out pretty well:

And of course, no visit to the Tidal Basin would be complete without the obligatory Washington Monument shot (bonus -- with reflection!):
Posted by Hello

Tonight I went to the DC United game against UNAM Pumas, a Mexican squad, in the first game of the semi-finals of the CONCACAF Cup. United scored early off a beautiful cross from Jaime Moreno to Christian Gomez. For the rest of the half, United played very defensively, daring Pumas to score. Fortunately, there were only a couple of close calls, and no goals. That changed early in the second half, when Pumas converted a penalty kick after a dubious penalty was called in the box. Then it was United's turn to attack while Pumas was content with a tie on the road, knowing the second game would be in Mexico City. United had a couple of opportunities, and the ref had several chances to return the favor of a penalty in the box, but to no avail. Final was 1-1.

Alecko Eskandarian, Jaime Moreno, Josh Gros and Ben Olsen, Moments Before Kickoff

In other news, today my boss announced that he's taking a job elsewhere. I like him, I'm sad to see him go, but the new job gives him the ability to pursue one of his life interests. I certainly can't blame him for pursuing it, and hope it gives him everything he wants from a job. On the other hand, work is currently going a major transition due to change among the higher-ups, and I can't help but think of the image of a rat leaving a sinking ship.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Going Postal

Note: While I had written concert reviews in the past, this blog is my first foray into the realm of book reviews. I have come to realize that a book review is a completely different animal (though I guess movie reviews are a similar type of animal). Whereas in a concert review you essentially report, in a book review you can't do that, else you reveal the plot. So forgive me while I learn as I go -- hopefully these will improve with some practice, and if they don't, hopefully I'll have enough sense to recognize that and so stop subjecting you to them. In the meantime, at least you'll know what I'm reading.

Going Postal is the most recent book in Pratchett's Discworld series, and I turned to it almost as soon as I finished Monstrous Regiment. It tells the story of Moist von Lipwig, a convicted con artist who has been given the choice of either running Ankh-Morpork's moribund post office or of dying (long-time readers of the Discworld series may recognize the hand of Lord Vetinari in giving Moist this choice of career paths). Accompanied by Mr. Pump, a golem parole officer who can hunt him down unerringly should he try to escape, he reluctantly takes on the former task. Upon taking the job, Moist learns that the Post Office is a run-down mess almost completely filled by undelivered letters, and that the previous four Postmasters had died on the job (all in the preceding five weeks). But Moist is an optimist, and he's back in the game, so he can't help but raise the stakes in reviving the post office. He soon finds himself taking on Reacher Gilt, the no-good owner of the clacks (the equivalent of the telegraph) in delivering people's messages. Moist also starts wooing Miss Adora Belle Dearheart, the chainsmoking daughter of the inventor of the clacks, who lost ownership of the company to a group of oily investors led by Gilt. Along the way Moist invents postage stamps.

Going Postal is certainly one of Pratchett's better works. Characterwise, Moist isn't the best-developed (e.g., Polly Perks in Monstrous Regiment was better in that sense), but there's certainly enough there for you to empathize with. The other postal workers are entertaining -- Groat especially has more about him than a standard stock character. And Vetinari is as inscrutable as ever.

The plot is well-conceived and appears completely consistent. Even though you know where the book is heading, the enjoyment comes in how Pratchett gets there. In this case, it's with style. Clever wordplay all over the place (don't worry -- the name Adora Belle is surely the least funny), delightful Discworld equivalents to our world, and outrageousness that works. I laughed at numerous passages throughout the book, doing my best not to read the funniest passages to Kathy so she could enjoy them if she reads it. The only quibble I have with the plot is that although the book is chock full of entertaining concepts tied to a Discworld post office, some of those concepts are inadequately drawn out.

Rating: 9/10.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

100 Things About Me

Seems like a lot of blogs I've stumbled across have done this, and if I want to be a Real Blogger©, I figure that I need to do one as well.

Last edited 04/15/2006

1. I was born at Bethesda Naval Hospital in 1968.
2. I was conceived in October 1967 when my Bostonian parents celebrated the Red Sox winning the American League pennant -- they considered naming me Yastrzemski.
3. At birth on July 7 (7/7), I weighed seven pounds and seven ounces.
4. My parents gave me the middle name Russell, in case I didn't like Aaron.
5. I don't like the name Russell.
6. I am the oldest of four children.
7. When I was three I called my Dad at work (in the days before re-dial or speed dial), and I have no idea how I did it.
8. I grew up in Orange Park, Florida, just outside of Jacksonville.
9. My first job that didn't involve yard work or babysitting was as an operator for a telephone answering service when I was 15 (and yes, I worked at an old-fashioned switchboard).
10. I was valedictorian of my high school class of 39.
11. Being a high school valedictorian means diddly within one year of graduation.
12. I was a math major in college.
13. I once woke up 20 minutes after a final exam started, and still finished the exam in time.
14. Between college and law school, a college friend and I did a two-month cross-country road trip that included Canada.
15. Entering Montana from Canada, we were made to wait inside border patrol for a half hour while they did a complete search of our car -- apparently, two long-haired 21-year olds, one from Florida and one from Tennessee, looked suspicious.
16. I lost my virginity at 21.
17. When my childhood dog Puddle died when I was in law school, I couldn't help but think that I'd known her longer than I had my youngest sister.
18. An ex-girlfriend who didn''t want to have anything to do with me moved in next door to where I was living with my then fiancee.
19. I never pulled an all-nighter in college or law school.
20. I have lived in the suburbs of Jacksonville, Florida, the suburbs of Washington, DC, Ithaca, NY, Tallahassee, FL, and Washington, DC proper.

Married and Living in DC
21. I hadn't ever lived in a major city until 1998, when I moved into DC.
22. Within one week of moving into the city, I had met my future wife Kathy at the dog park.
23. I write acrostic poetry to Kathy, where the first letter of each line spells "I love you."
24. I proposed to Kathy reading an acrostic sonnet, in iambic pentameter, where the first letter of each line spelled out "Will You Marry Me," then handing it to her, the question being in enlarged bold.
25. She didn't notice the proposal.
26. Kathy and I got married in 1999.
27. I never want to live in suburbs again.
28. Kathy and I have two dogs, Nora and Junebug.
29. When I met Kathy, my dog was Rosie -- after she died of cancer in 2000, we got Junebug from the pound.
30. For my commute, I either Metro or walk.
31. At our wedding, my cousin Jeff was both the best man and maid of honor.
32. We live on Capitol Hill in a house we bought one month before we got married.
33. Despite living on Capitol Hill, I've never been inside the U.S. Capitol.
34. We would like to have children, but have been unable to conceive.
35. The best present Kathy has ever given me is a digital jukebox.
36. My wife is my best friend.
37. We don't have cable TV.
38. I need more sleep than Kathy does.
39. Together, my wife and I only own one car. We didn't own any car until November 2001, after Kathy had gotten somewhat panicked by 9/11.
40. The thing I most dislike about living in DC is that we have no voting representation in Congress.

41. I love good beer, and if you give me a chance, I can talk your ear off about it.
42. I have tried over 4000 different beers -- you can see the ones I've rated (and how I've rated them) here.
43. The only beer I've ever given a perfect score to is Three Floyd's Dark Lord Imperial Stout, which is not available where I live.
44. I don't think Sam Adams is a particularly good beer, but I'd still be polite if you said you like it.
45. I'd be polite even if you said you liked Budweiser.
46. For the last nine years I've hosted a holiday beer party, where I ask guests to bring a six-pack of seasonal beer.
47. I have taken many trips for the express purpose of trying beers or meeting up with fellow beer geeks.
48. I'm very good at Boggle, and have played a non-copyrighted version of it regularly on this site for over 10 years.
49. I have hosted a Bogathon and attended a few others.
50. As part of our first date (which started at noon and went until midnight), I played Boggle against Kathy.
51. During the first game, I started laughing because I had found the word "inebriate."
52. Kathy no longer likes playing Boggle with me.
53. I have met over 120 people in person whom I first met through the beer or the boggle site I frequent.
54. My favorite professional sports team is DC United, and I have been a full-season ticket holder since 1998.
55. I have been to five of the ten MLS Cups, including three of DC United's four championships.

Likes and Dislikes, Bests and Worsts, Mosts and Leasts
56. My favorite flavor of ice cream is coffee.
57. I don't drink coffee.
58. I don't drink any other caffeinated beverages, or any type of soda.
59. I don't like asparagus, I don't eat beef, and I'm allergic to shrimp.
60. My favorite ethnic dish is Vietnamese vegetable spring rolls (with peanut sauce).
61. I love sushi.
62. I couldn't possibly pick a favorite band (though I have identified several of my favorites on my profile page), but I do my darnedest to keep up with current music despite not having a decent radio station to listen to in DC.
63. My favorite foreign films are Life is Beautiful and Amelie.
64. While one of my favorite albums of the 1990s is the Magnetic Fields' 69 Love Songs, my favorite love song of theirs comes from a different album ("It's Only Time," on i).
65. The "loneliest" day in my life was my 21st birthday, when I saw only one other person (while hiking in the Canadian Rockies).
66. The most beautiful moment at a wedding (not my own) that I've attended was when my brother exchanged vows with his then-four-year-old stepson.
67. The most regret I've ever experienced was at my grandmother's funeral (when I was 17), when I discovered how much she had cared for me that I had taken for granted.
68. I love getting a massage.
69. The strangest place I've had sex was in the breakdown lane of an interstate.
70. My favorite season is spring, but I find winter the most beautiful.

71. My favorite place I've never lived is Portland, Oregon.
72. I have been to every state except Arkansas, Hawaii, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Idaho.
73. I have been to Las Vegas four separate times.
74. I never get tired of vacationing at the Outer Banks in North Carolina.
75. I have no particular desire to visit Hawaii.
76. I have been to Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica, France, Italy, the Czech Republic, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Estonia, Russia, Belgium, Israel and Jordan.
77. When I visited Prague, I left after four days, afraid that if I didn't leave right then I never would.
78. The country I've not visited that I'd most like to is Turkey.
79. Or maybe it's Thailand.
80. I don't speak any language other than English.

More of What Makes Me Me
81. I am both a cultural Jew and an atheist.
82. I feel that I have lived a very fortunate life.
83. I am very opinionated.
84. I'm only 94.7% as arrogant about my opinions as I used to be.
85. I'm a shade under 6 feet tall, weigh about 165 pounds, and have green eyes.
86. My parents are still married, and live in Clearwater, Florida.
87. My brother Josh and sister Shari live outside of Phoenix, and my sister Rebecca lives outside of Atlanta.
88. I have never smoked tobacco or pot, or done any illicit drugs.
89. I favor legalizing pot.
90. I have way too many things.
91. My best friend from high school lives 25 miles from me and I haven't seen him since my wedding. I was first runner up in a Style Invitational contest for writing a poem that used only the first row of letters on a keyboard.
92. I wouldn't want to live forever.
93. I saw the Grateful Dead three times.
94. I have never been to an NFL game, and I haven't been to a Major League Baseball game since the strike of 1994.
95. I use puns way too much.
96. I cry on occasion.
97. Ive stood naked on my roof before.
98. I cut my own hair.
99. For me, work is a means to an end rather than an end unto itself.
100. I envy people who love their work, but I don't know what I'd love to do.

Television News Coverage 2

Following up my snarky comment from yesterday --

People die, and the death itself is nothing special in and of itself. I understand ABC (and all the other stations) were looking at his legacy, etc., as much as announcing his death, but for that there was no urgency that necessitated a 2-hour special report. They could have scheduled something knowing he was dying. If that's too morbid, i.e., you shouldn't assume he's going to die so it's possible there will be more added to his legacy, then wait until the funeral (which will have at least a few days of lead time), or the selection of the new Pope (which is also news).

I have never understood the morbid fascination with death of famous people you don't know personally. Whether it be the reaction to rock stars dying young (Jim Morrison or Kurt Cobain), or world leaders dying in old age (the Pope), these are people that you have always only read about. Then there was the whole Princess Di thing. Why do people fixate on such things? I truly don't understand.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Television News Coverage

The Pope has died. For believers, I'm sure this is sad news, but that's all there is to report.

At halftime, DC United leads Chivas USA 1-0 in a game that was moved from ABC to ESPN to allow for the Pope's death coverage. Meanwhile, ABC News is reporting that the Pope is still dead. ABC News will continue to provide live coverage of this news, just in case anything changes.

In a little over six months...

the full-length Wallace and Gromit movie is due out!

Friday, April 01, 2005

Milestone 2

60 is a number. When it is an age measured in years, it means that someone has been alive for 60 revolutions of the Earth around the sun. Someone who turned 60 today was born in 1945, at the end of World War II. If she is American, she might be the daughter of European-Jewish refugees. She might remember when the words "under God" were added to the Pledge of Allegiance. She might have gotten married at 20, fairly young for the time and very young compared with many marriages today. She might have been a mother in the 1960s, a bit too old to take part in the Summer of Love, but still able to be amazed by Neil Armstrong walking on the moon. She might have four kids that she raised across almost three decades. She might have been a school librarian some of the time her children were in school. She might have gotten her masters in Library Science, and now she might be a librarian at the city library. She might have grown up in Boston never wanting to leave, but now might live in Florida and never want to leave. She might have traveled to Australia, Israel, many parts of Europe, and all over the United States (including Hawaii and Alaska). She might have grandchildren. She might be married to the same man for almost 40 years. She might tell her son that a single paragraph is inadequate to describe her life thus far.

Happy birthday Mom.