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October 2005

68 entries from September 2005

I wanted to be a writer

When I was in junior high school, I was seized by the notion that writing would be a great way to earn a living. I hadn’t decided if I thought fiction or non was the way to go yet; just the idea of writing—of being able to say, “I’m a writer”—somehow it appealed to me.

In high school I was on the staff of the school’s newspaper and I wrote a few articles here and there (I remember none of them). I caught the bug for journalism and I didn’t specialize, mainly because in my high school the only specialties were sports or student life and I participated in neither. My friends were outside of school and I was at best an indifferent follower of the school’s athletic teams, particularly because the football team was in the midst of a record-setting losing streak at the time. I tended to gravitate more toward the design and layout of the paper, copy-editing others’ work, the mechanics of producing the monthly rag.

This continued into college, where I declared journalism as a major at one point. (Actually it was Communication with Emphasis on Writing for Print Media; we can’t have a degree program with a single-word name, after all.) And I wrote a few articles, a very few, but again I ended up on the business and editing/production end of the whole gig once more. The paper’s editor specifically asked me to handle the business operations of the paper; he knew me from our membership in DeMolay and thought highly of my as yet unknown business skill.

And I had a great time, but I was past the idea of writing for a living.

When I first considered starting some sort of web site a few years back, I had no idea what I’d put there. I figured it’d probably end up like the home pages of AOL Hometown and Geocities and similar services, slapped-together web presences that no one much cared to view. Then I stumbled over beta-testing opportunities for various publishing and content-management services, TypePad among them, and I was hooked.

All with no idea what I might possibly put on the damned site.

So I started small and just scribbled up quick notes about the blog process itself and my first steps into it. Then I got ambitious and thought I’d start a second blog that summarized the news and other stories that grabbed my attention each day, and when I suddenly had a topic, I posted like a madman on that news blog for, oh, I’d say a month or so.

My personal site, in the meantime, went through dry spells and incredibly prolific spells as well, and it was all inconsequential. My archives reveal a lot about my day-to-day life over the last two years but less about my personality or my politics, though you can get a sense of those by the stories I’ve told about myself and by the news articles I’ve quoted and by the sites and other blogs I’ve linked.

Now I seem to be going through another dry spell and I think how amazing it is that some people start up blogs devoted to PVRs or television or conservative politics or knitting or hiking or Google Local and I’m just amazed. I can’t think of a single topic about which I care that much, but I sure love reading other people’s efforts in the subjects they’ve chosen.

Such a vast diversity of sites out there, and mine has elements of many of them and says nothing much at all.

I love technology. That so many people have such immediate simple access to such a powerful medium just boggles my mind. By no means perfect, of course—some countries still exercise too much control over their citizens’ ability to speak out in any forum, the web included—it’s still an absolutely astounding progression over the last six centuries from hand-copied manuscripts to movable type and on to mass-produced books and printed matter and now to the electronic world.

All so readily available, some of it infuriating, much of it annoying or just plain wacko, still more of it just individuals’ attempts to stake out an identity in one more part of their lives.


I didn't think I was afraid of the dark

And then I set my TiVo to catch the premiere episode of Supernatural on The WB, and in the first few minutes the following things happened.

  1. On-screen, a woman ended up pinned to a ceiling and bursting into flame.
  2. Off-screen, Annie jumped into my lap at the moment the on-screen woman screamed in utter absolute horror.
  3. Off-screen, I nearly leapt bodily through the wall behind me into the townhouse to the north.
  4. On-screen, a commercial rolled.
  5. Off-screen, I attempted to defibrillate and then foolishly continued the episode.

There's a reason I hate horror movies. The tension works way the hell too damned well on me. All I need is a bit of atmospheric music, a little darkness or obscure lighting or weird camera angle, BAM my psyche leaps into overdrive and I go into fight-or-flight mode. Mostly flight, in fact. I hate horror movies. Hate, hate, hate, hate, hate them.

So I figured I'd give this show a try, at least the one episode, and just be sure to watch it in daylight. Because, you know, what evile lurks at night can't do anything bad in the light, and then the damned cats scared the shit out of me.

And then the sun actually went down and now I've been in various parts of the house in darkness and my skin crawls even though I know nothing's going to happen, but there's that sense of "What if...?" anyway.

And the cats are doing everything in their power to keep me uptight. Knocking plants off counters, sending their toys rolling down the stairs, sneaking up on me to be loved, etc.

Little bastards.

I just had an odd experience involving a restroom, my boxer-briefs, and the fortune I received after lunch at the Chinese restaurant

Quite likely more than you ever wanted to know.

So I heard The Call of Nature and, heeding it, wandered from my desk to the men’s room where I stepped up to the urinal as I’ve done a time or two every day for the entire three years I’ve worked here. I unzipped and reached in to use the fly built into my boxer-briefs because I’ve never understood it when men unzip their pants fly and also undo the belt and unfasten their pants and lower the whole shootin’ match out of the way when they’re standing at a urinal. Just... WTF?

Anyway. The boxer-briefs are cotton and snug and I’ve never had trouble maneuvering around before when I needed to use the restroom, and while I’m trying to be a bit euphemistic out of some sense that I might outrage someone who happens to read this, I don’t know why I’m bothering.

So I’ve never had trouble with this process before but today somehow I managed to pinch the head of my penis as I pulled apart the cotton panels that make up the briefs’ fly. I guess I got caught in the internal seam and I emitted a sound of horrified pain even though it didn’t really hurt so much as surprise me.

Of course the sudden cascade of nerve impulses briefly removed all need to use the urinal for its intended purpose, and I was immediately much more careful with my movements. Eventually, however, The Call returned and I finished up and CAREFULLY zipped up and washed my hands and walked, slowly, back to my desk, and that’s when I remembered the fortune I got as I paid the tab for lunch at Chan’s Place in Woodinville:

You will enjoy good health,
that is your form of wealth.

I thought: This is why I nearly emasculated myself, this fortune I received not one hour ago

And the only reason I kept the fortune paper was it reminded me of an amusing verbal exchange involving iambic pentameter between the White House Counsel and an associate counsel from a second-season episode of The West Wing.

What a wonder is the human brain, that pinching one’s penis in one’s boxers fly could bring to mind a literary joke from a television show.

“Designer dogs” outrage reaches the hinterlands, 18 months later

I first posted about this in January 2004 when ran a story about it. Seems we’re just now getting the word here in Seattle, via a wire story from an upper-midwest newspaper . . . ?

Continue reading "“Designer dogs” outrage reaches the hinterlands, 18 months later" »

Links: Sep 25, 2005

Harry + Max (unrated) (2004)

Netflix summary:

Two brothers, 23-year-old Harry and 16-year-old Max, who also happen to be pop singing stars, embark on a camping trip together for some quality bonding time. Harry’s boy band career is on the slide, while Max is a rising teen icon. During their trip, they hope to come to terms with their dysfunctional family past... but in the process, they begin to have feelings for each other that redefines the term brotherly love.

My take:

Harry and Max (unrated) (2004)This was another Netflix recommendation and will likely be the last for a while to come.

It struck me as an amateurish effort from the get-go. I’ve never put much stock in film festivals and the fact that this movie apparently garnered any praise at Sundance leaves me with even less faith in festivals and the people behind them. Overall, a wasted effort with a muddled story line and mediocre acting at best. And the two lead actors were absolutely unbelievable as boy-band pop stars, mainly because neither could sing.

Michelle Phillips must’ve been pretty hard up to consider appearing in this turkey.



Links: Sep 24, 2005

Links: Sep 23, 2005

Universal cursing

I found this article absolutely fascinating. I'm pretty passionate about language, though I think the flap about obscenity is stupid; but I do find myself highly irritated when I encounter common examples of bad grammar or usage. I feel my pulse quicken and I go into a defensive mode sometimes.

New York Times: Almost Before We Spoke, We Swore

Incensed by what it sees as a virtual pandemic of verbal vulgarity issuing from the diverse likes of Howard Stern, Bono of U2 and Robert Novak, the United States Senate is poised to consider a bill that would sharply increase the penalty for obscenity on the air.

By raising the fines that would be levied against offending broadcasters some fifteenfold, to a fee of about $500,000 per crudity broadcast, and by threatening to revoke the licenses of repeat polluters, the Senate seeks to return to the public square the gentler tenor of yesteryear, when seldom were heard any scurrilous words, and famous guys were not foul mouthed all day.

Yet researchers who study the evolution of language and the psychology of swearing say that they have no idea what mystic model of linguistic gentility the critics might have in mind. Cursing, they say, is a human universal. Every language, dialect or patois ever studied, living or dead, spoken by millions or by a small tribe, turns out to have its share of forbidden speech, some variant on comedian George Carlin’s famous list of the seven dirty words that are not supposed to be uttered on radio or television.

Young children will memorize the illicit inventory long before they can grasp its sense, said John McWhorter, a scholar of linguistics at the Manhattan Institute and the author of “The Power of Babel,” and literary giants have always constructed their art on its spine.

The Jacobean dramatist Ben Jonson peppered his plays with fackings and “peremptorie Asses,” and Shakespeare could hardly quill a stanza without inserting profanities of the day like “zounds” or “sblood”—offensive contractions of “God’s wounds” and “God’s blood”—or some wondrous sexual pun.

The title “Much Ado About Nothing,” Dr. McWhorter said, is a word play on “Much Ado About an O Thing,” the O thing being a reference to female genitalia.

Even the quintessential Good Book abounds in naughty passages like the men in II Kings 18:27 who, as the comparatively tame King James translation puts it, “eat their own dung, and drink their own piss.”

Entire article (registration-free)

He brang it.

From previous photographic proof (1, 2, 3, 4), you may already know that I attended the Neil Diamond concert at KeyArena (map) last night.

I had a pitcher of beer in me before the show and I haven’t yet decided if that was too much or nowhere near enough to prepare me for the experience.

Continue reading "He brang it." »

Favorites and trivialities

On my way to bed and via lex icon:

What time did you get up this morning? 06:30

Diamonds, pearls or silver? Silver

What was the last film you saw at the cinema? Star Wars: Episode III—Revenge of the Sith

What is your favorite TV show? The West Wing

What did you have for breakfast? Honey Nut Cheerios with banana slices

What is your middle name? Lynn

What is your favorite cuisine?

What foods do you dislike? Beets, organ meats

What is your favorite chip/crisp flavor? Barbecue

What is your favorite CD at the moment? No single CD, I have a "favorites" playlist rotating a lot through iTunes; heavy on Vienna Teng, Carbon Leaf, The Fat Lady Sings, my usual stand-bys

What kind of car do you drive? Ford Escape

Favorite sandwich? Grilled cheese on wheat or sourdough; also the Brew Pub Chicken sandwich at Taylor Brewing Company from my days traveling for work in the Chicago area

What characteristics do you despise? Insincerity, applied stupidity, lack of personal responsibility

Favorite item of clothing? Canvas duster (any long coat, really)

If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would you go? Alaska or Australia

What color is your bathroom? White and beige for both

Favorite brand of clothing? Eddie Bauer and L.L.Bean are both up there

Where would you retire to? No idea

Favorite time of day? Evening in autumn and winter, morning in spring and summer

What was your most memorable birthday? 21st for the milestone

Where were you born? St. Mark's Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah

Favorite sport to watch? Live: Football and basketball; TV: tennis or baseball

Who do you least expect to send this back to you? Not sending it out, posting only

What fabric detergent do you use? Tide

Coke or Pepsi? Diet Coke

Links: Sep 20, 2005

Surveying the carnage

One of the things I find most amusing/annoying about moving house, either my own or someone else’s, is the plethora of bruises and other small injuries you discover on your person after the fact.

I have a two-inch bruise, rapidly fading, on my right forearm; several small bruises and two cuts on my left knee; and several more small bruises on my right knee. I don’t remember dropping anything on my left foot but one of my toes is nearly black from its own, also rapidly fading, bruise, and the nail on that toe is oddly wobbly, like the shock of whatever hit it has loosened it to the edge of slipping right off.

I don’t remember any of these injuries at the moments they happened. I don’t recall reeling backward from some sharp pain or jerking my arm away as a box corner stabbed into me or anything of the type.

But here they are, taunting me with my lack of memory.

Ah well, below the fold is the tale of Michelle’s Move, September 2005.

Continue reading "Surveying the carnage" »

Weekend, compressed

I was going to scribble up this mildly amusing entry in which I talked about our whirlwind day trip to Portland to help our friend Michelle and her family move from a three-bedroom apartment in one complex to a three-bedroom townhouse in the complex directly east, due to a lease brouhaha with a dog. And how I dropped my end of a 400-pound 35" (or thereabouts) television, to the collective shocked gasp of everyone in the room, but it was okay in the end and no crushed toes. And how Shannae is afraid of bats and the trees directly behind their house are the type bats love to roost.

I was going to mention all those things and more but I've a weird throbbing headache which I believe is a combination of these new glasses and that we drove to Portland from 06:00-09:30 yesterday and returned from Portland from 22:00-01:30 last night/this morning.

I hate headaches.

Vending-machine Stupidity Zen

So I was in the break room at the Coke machine, feeding it change to get a Diet Coke because while I've been very good about not drinking DC for the last couple of weeks, the last two days I've been not so good.

Dropped in two quarters and a dime and then the stupid machine absolutely WOULD NOT ACCEPT the final nickel, despite six or seven tries. So I whipped out another quarter, figured I'd deal with the small amount of change I'd get back.

Then I remembered the cost for a beverage is 60¢ and the machine was patiently refusing my nickel because, well, it didn't need it, and would just return it to me as change anyway, so why accept it?

The lab folk who were in the break room enjoyed this spectacle immensely, mainly because I called myself "numbnuts" as I explained why I was close to destroying the machine in rage when the light bulb went off.

So glad it's Friday.

New specs!

Flickr photo sharing: New specs!
New specs!
From Don Nunn's photo stream
I saw the eye doc just a week ago Thursday and they told me the new glasses would probably take 12-14 days, so I was stunned when they called this morning to announce their arrival.

I'm doing the goggle-eye thing today as a result; my right eye's astigmatism changed enough that the world looks a bit... twisted... this afternoon.


"Jihad E. Coyote"

That's Jerry Seinfeld's name for a suicide bomber whose payload goes off too early due to error or whatever, resulting in the death of the bomber himself without the intended target casualties or damage. Failed mission, how embarrassing it must be, etc. etc.

I nearly laughed myself into coughing fits at that one.

The show was a scream throughout. The opening act, whose name I did not catch, was mildly amusing, but Seinfeld as usual had me near death from the laughter.

And for once, all the people seated around us actually laughed with the show. Every time before, at least one person next to us would be stone-faced throughout the show, like Colonel Flagg from M*A*S*H, though I doubt by the same method.

Anyway, 'twas a good show and our parking was included in the season-ticket package, so we got in and out in no time at all. I was home by 22:00, felt positively middle-aged after what seemed like a full rich day and the nightly local news was still an hour away.

Links: Sep 16, 2005

Links: Sep 15, 2005

Labor Day weekend in Victoria, British Columbia

Finally getting around to setting down the travelogue of our weekend in Victoria, nearly two weeks later. Thank God I’ve my PDA (read: Nerd Tracking Device) to assist with reconstructing the days. Otherwise it would be only a tale of a brewpub, some beautiful formal gardens, and an afternoon tea the likes of which I’d never experienced.

And in fact that’s exactly what it was, with some city wanderings and some metric-system road signs and various other small details that made it an experience I never expected and I’m so happy I didn’t miss.

Full tale below the cut. Note that I’ve included distance and speed conversions to make things easier on my non-metric readership, because we all know the metric system’s just stupid, with its easy conversions and decimal base.

Continue reading "Labor Day weekend in Victoria, British Columbia" »

October Project — Where You Are

From October Project’s self-titled album released in 1993.

Download Where You Are (6.4MB MP3)
Floating in the summer sunshine
We are flying
We are blue
Falling like a summer raindrop
Like a teardrop
Like the dew

Nothing but a blue horizon
All around us
Like a glove
Feeling it go on forever
Far below us
Far above

Where you are
Do you know I think of you
Where you are
Do you know
I hope you do

Shining like a summer rainbow
We are colors
We are bright
Vanishing into the sunshine
Like a river
Made of light

Floating in a summer memory
I can see you
In my mind
Knowing it goes on forever
Far beyond us
Far behind

Where you are
Do you know I think of you
Where you are
Do you know
I hope you do

Falling in a summer daydream
I remember
What I knew
Nothing that I can’t hold on to
Or return to
Even you

Where you are
Do you know I think of you
Where you are
Do you know
I hope you do

Where you are
Do you know I think of you
Where you are
Do you know
I hope you do

I hope the Mariners win tonight

Not because I'm a huge Mariners fan, nor because it would mean two wins in a row and they'd be in position to sweep the three-game series. Not even because the Mariners' 62-81 record mirrors their opponents' 81-62.

No, it's because they're playing the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, a team with easily the stupidest name in the history of sport. Why two cities in the team's name? They wanted to play in Anaheim but be a Los Angeles team?

I find it amusing that in the SMS score updates I receive, they're called the L.A. Angels, and their official web site's address is just—most other teams' MLB sites incorporate the teams' cities into the web-site address—and its title is Los Angeles Angels : The Official Site but the team's full name apparently has to be given during broadcasts and the like.

It must be the lawyers working the strings in the background.

Because I haven’t listed my recently played songs in a while

And I know how breathlessly everyone awaits these lists.

I discovered today, when I plugged in my iPod shuffle to sync with iTunes 5.0, that not only are my play counts updated, but so are the Last Played dates for songs whose play counts have changed. The iPod shuffle has no internal clock and can’t stamp played songs with their actual last-played date/time, so iTunes makes up for this by updating those songs’ play times to the sync date and time. I end up with a slew of songs showing the same Last Played information, but I’m fine with the inaccuracy because it does better to accommodate geeks like me who have Smart Playlists that use Last Played as part of their selection criteria.

Now all my “not played in 3 weeks” and similar lists will update to reflect play activity on my shuffle, oh joy. This was one of the things that most annoyed me about the shuffle when I first got it and tried to set up playlists to use a combo of play counts, played dates, and ratings to keep a rotating mix of songs moving through at each sync.

So without further ado....

Song – Artist, Album

Continue reading "Because I haven’t listed my recently played songs in a while" »

Links: Sep 13, 2005

won't someone think of the filters

This weekend brought a lot of doing nothing, including not writing up my Victoria travelogue (my conscience is nibbling at me about that, why I've no clue), but it did feature a lot of coffee.

Niagara Falls: American Falls
American Falls in autumn, snorked from Info Niagara
On with the coffee. Refill the coffee. Keep sippin' the coffee.

Oh, the coffee.

I used up the last of my Seattle's Best Seattle's Best Blend® (damn that's redundant) half-pounder yesterday morning—it made an 8-cup pot, which was unexpected, but I downed the whole thing over a six-hour period—and today I had four cups with breakfast at Queen Anne Café starting at 10:00, followed by a tall white-chocolate mocha and then a grande drip at the Tully's across the street.

It was only at 14:00 that I finally had to use the restroom and since then it's been goddamned Niagara Falls every hour on the hour.

I loves me social coffee. :-)

Links: Sep 11, 2005