Thursday, September 30, 2004



A music video featuring a cross-country road trip, by Gondry for a tune by Lacquer. (Those crazee Fraench, with their crazy single name, er, names.)

Monday, September 27, 2004


I've been reluctant to post this because I fear it will become THAT KIND OF POST that everybody hates. You know, the one with the guy who's doing all this excessive navel-gazing IN PUBLIC and just gushing about his feelings and "wow, isn't everything great?" but "wah, I'm saaaad" and on and on and on. But here I go anyway. I guess I can take heart in the knowledge that almost nobody reads this thing.

Anyway, I've had this JBE song in my head the past few days. It just kind of pops up and rolls around my head for a while:

I'm lucky I'm lucky I'm lucky I'm lucky
I'm lucky I'm lucky I'm lucky I'm lucky
I'm lucky you left me
I think I'm better off this way
I'm lucky you left me
although I wanted you to stay
I'm lucky you left me
I don't cry a lot at night
I'm lucky you left me
don't worry darling
I'm alright
It's kind of a bitter anthem (obviously). I like it; I've been there and can appreciate the sentiment. But that isn't really what this is about.

I've had a fair share of injuries over the last two or three years, but these days I'm actually pretty healthy, all things considered. The Achilles has been bothering me a bit, my shoulder and back both still have a tendency to get sore, but I can generally do all the things I like to do -- run, play disc, play hoops, dance, climb. I have the use of both of my hands, I have my sight and hearing, my sense of touch, taste.

I don't love my job, but they pay me pretty well and the work isn't so bad. No risk of death or dismemberment. And really, being able to go for a run or playing disc during lunch doesn't suck at all.

There's this wonderful woman (that'd be the SOOTTAD) who rocks my world. She's cute and fun and smart and wicked cool and interesting and crafty and can dance and even loves me back. Did I mention that she rocks?

And you know what? This is a great country, founded on the principles of freedom and equality and justice for all. Where you have the right to say what you think and love who you want. Ok, we've got a few glitches here and there (and I'll probably get to that later), but when I stop and look around, we really are better off that most.

Life is good. And the world is a beautiful place.

But recently, I've just been feeling really out of it. And I'm not sure what's up with that.

"Sometimes the best map will not guide you
You can't see what's 'round the bend
sometimes the road leads through dark places
sometimes the darkness is your friend"
-Bruce Cockburn

It may be that my impending birthday (whether consciously or not) is leading me towards introspection. Maybe I'm just not getting as much down time as I used to, to think about things and work stuff out in my head. Maybe I'm just playing too much on-line poker.

Maybe it's about expectation. There was a Harlan Ellison story about a guy who wanders into a bookstore full of people just standing around, as if lost. A bookstore full of books that would tell you exactly what the greatest moment of your life was or would be. And once you know that, you know that it's all downhill from there.

Things feel good. Settled. In place. So what else it there to look forward to? I'm getting older and getting slower. I have only the prospect of being able to do less and less of the things I love to do.

Change is growth. Growth is life. Life is change.

I got a tattoo almost 10 years ago that was supposed to remind me of that. But what is there that I want to change? Besides getting out of this rut?

Play more piano? Start drawing again? Start studying Chinese again? Yes, yes and yes. But is that really going to make the difference?

And then there's that whole political uncertainty. And not even uncertainty. There's a lot of bad shit going down these days, and half the country thinks things are just hunky-dory. And the lies, and the misrepresentations. It all just makes me mad, frustrated, depressed. I voted in the local primary a few weeks ago. I'll vote on November 2nd. But for now, I'm aggressively trying to avoid following any more of the campaign. It's not going to change my vote. It's all well and good to stay informed on the issues, but I'm not going to win any votes with my writing or conversation. Especially if the guys who CAN make the case can't seem to sway people's opinions. And really, it's because it's not about the issues or the policies or the facts. It's about belief. It's about faith. And that's hard to change, if it's even possible at all.

So I'm going to try and have faith. And hope. But I'm going to try to avoid the political blogs. And maybe go and play some piano. And play a little less poker.

[This is actually about a week after I first started writing this. And other than a few poker setbacks, and maybe a little too much NPR, so far so good.]

Friday, September 24, 2004

Cue Fall

My Excite calendar told me it was the Autumnal Equinox on Wednesday. It hasn't been particularly obvious that it's fall as it's still been pretty warm of late, the critters are still out and about, and I can still hear the crickets (or whatever they are) buzzing in the grass and brush, not to mention the growl of lawnmowers around homes and office parks. But I think I have picked up a few cues that I do recognize as being more particular to New England, at least in comparison to what my Southern California bred brain expects for this time of year:

  • The evening temperatures dipped below 50°F for the first time last week. Definitely time to bust out the fuzzy fleece.
  • On the drive up to work, I've just started noticing the color of the leaves on the trees along 93N. Sadly, some trees have already lost all their leaves.
  • It's dark when I leave the office at 7pm
  • The concord grapes are ripening. I can smell their sweetness, followed by a musky smokiness, as I pass the wild vines that line the roads and trails where I run. Strangely, I haven't actually been able to see any fruit.
Happy fall, folks.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Scary things on TV

Ok, so we don't watch much TV, but the last two nights, we've switched to broadcast TV after watching a DVD and seen the new Burger King ad, "Wake up with the King." If you haven't seen this commercial, I'll give the quick synopsis:

A man wakes up in bed to discover a man dressed up in a complete Burger King king outfit, complete with b'giant Mardi Gras Head with creepy frozen grin, lying under the covers next to him. He stares in disbelief for a few moments, at which point scary King guy seems to understand that his bed-buddy doesn't get what's going on, so in explanation, he turns around and produces a breakfast sandwich.

Uh, right. Iew.

This is freaky stuff. It could just as effectively be a PSA against binge drinking or roofies, or some equally dangerous mind-altering substance.

Geez, what were these guys thinking?

[UPDATE 07Oct04] There's now an article about this ad on Slate. The writer actually claims that the ad is effective in creating an edgier image for Burger King and getting the message out that they're doing the breakfast thing. Um, yeah. It's edgy alright. But I'm not sure it's gonna sell many burgers or breakfast sandwiches.

FWIW, after my initial feeling of queasiness and having given it a little time to bounce around my brain (still occasionally traumatizing), I do find it kind of funny, in a sick and twisted sort of way. But again, not really making me want to eat there.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Proof of the existence of God?

A visiting friend had made a comment about this around the time hurricane Charley was hammering Florida (mid-August). He was following the news reports, considering how the hurricane might affect the upcoming election. I hadn't really thought too much about it myself since then, until I was directed to this from Cynical-C:

I thought it was an interesting coincidence that a state with questionable presidential election results would be pummeled by hurricanes just before the next election. Then I thought it was an interesting coincidence that the storms spared Miami, who voted for Gore in 2000. Just out of curiosity, I overlaid two maps: one of the tracks of the hurricanes of 2004, and one of the election results of 2000.

This is no longer an interesting coincidence. It is an unmistakable message from God. I hope everyone is listening.
If so, hopefully, He hasn't now vanished in a puff of logic.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

9th Middlesex district State Rep; progressive tackiness

So I was trying to do some research for the upcoming State Rep election. There are currently three candidates for the 9th Middlesex district covering precincts in Waltham and Lexington: Tom Stanley (the incumbent, who just won the runoff against fellow Democrat, Kathleen McMenimen), Jill Stein (Green Party) and Linda Fosburg (Republican).

I like Jill Stein, and I think she, like many other third party candidates, was probably being too ambitious shooting for the top executive position in the state without any prior experience as an elected official. (Although the same really can be said for Romney, who I'm NOT keen on.) But anyway, I think running for State representative is a good step. Start small, as they say.

However, I'd hate to vote for her only to help take away enough votes from the incumbent Democrat to allow a Republican candidate take the seat. Especially after the anti-gay-marriage fiasco that went down at this year's constitutional convention, I would hate to lose any more ground; not to mention that Stanley deserves due credit and praise for standing up against House Speaker Finneran, who is living proof that a Democrat can be an agent of Evil. Sadly, that's about all that I've been able to find going for him -- his legislative record is marginal and he has the demeanor of a stereotypical old-school Massachusetts politician.

Anyway, through my web search, I found this article on Ken Sain's website which seems to attempt to dismiss the worries about the republican candidate:

Stanley has held this seat since 2000 and ran unopposed in 2002. He faced a primary challenge from a local politician with considerable name recognition on Tuesday and won easily. Stanley earned 10,504 votes in the 2002 election, meaning it may only take 6,000 votes to win this seat. [. . .]

Fosburg is not much of a factor. News accounts there say she's not mounting a serious campaign in this overwhelmingly Democratic district.
However, I'd probably feel better about it if I could find results of the 2000 election. Which I can't. So I'm still in a bit of a quandry over this.

Through this exercise, I was also trying to get more information about the individual candidates. There's basically nothing on Fosburg except a blurb I found that said she was hand-picked by Romney to run in this district -- not a ringing endorsement, but not much else, either. Tom's got his website.

For whatever reason, Jill's website ( wasn't resolving when I tried to look it up yesterday (it seemed to come back sometime last night), so I started trying entering some other URLs hoping I'd get lucky and find another page. Second try, and sure enough, I found, which resolved to... the Unity Campaign, effectively an anti-Nader, unite-against-Bush site. I can certainly appreciate the sentiment. But I have to say, I find that having a URL based on the name of a local Green party candidate (in a non-battleground state) redirect to their site is just tacky. (And something the GOP was doing prior to the selection of John Edwards as the VP running mate. Not good company to be keeping. [sorry, I can't seem to find a link to any of the stories about it, or the offending URLs])

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Kids at the Museum of Science

Dr.J was in town this weekend, ostensibly to see the Lord of the Rings exhibition at the Museum of Science, so in addition to the enjoyable meals and general catching up and hanging out, we actually went to the exhibition.

We bought tickets on-line last night and pulled into the museum parking lot right on the nose of our 2:00pm entry time (of course, making us about 10 minutes late). I have to say, it was convenient to go straight to a ticket kiosk to get our tickets, but it probably wasn't worth the service fee given that there was practically no line when we got there. (I'll grant that there may have been some additional waiting that we missed because we were late and that some of the timeslots may have sold out during the day.)

Anyway, all told, I enjoyed the exhibition. Although I skipped all the interactive exhibits, I liked seeing the props and models and found the written commentary and videos pretty cool. I particularly liked the clip about dynamic forced perspective. Forced perspective is already cool since, when done properly, it's basically impossible to detect the smoke and mirrors because it's entirely based on how our brain perceives and interprets a 2D image, and to realize that they were able to rig up a system so they could maintain the visual illusion from a moving observation is just the total SHIZ-nit.

So, just a handful of observations while we were there:

  • First, on a general note, I do find it somewhat interesting that a movie exhibition is being held at the museum of SCIENCE. The SOOTTAD points out, correctly, that there's a lot of applied science going on. There's also a lot of costumes and nifty looking stuff that's just kinda cool to look at, but I suppose if you're there to see the science, you'll probably find it.

  • Annoying kid #1: several of the video stations have multiple segments that you can select through a set of up/down/play buttons. On two occasions, a kid would go up to select a video, watch it for maybe 2 seconds and then wander off, leaving us to watch a video clip we'd probably already seen 2 or 3 times already.

  • Annoying kid #2: there was a video station on the riders of Rohan, including an interview with Miranda Otto, who played Eowyn, and a clip from her showdown with the Witch King in Return of the King. The SOOTTAD is standing a few feet back from the screen watching this clip, Dr.J and I are sitting on a nearby bench, and there's a skinny adolescent kid, wearing a T-shirt and jeans, standing a few feet in front of us, back and to the left of the SOOTTAD.

    [If the following is a spoiler for you, WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU that you haven't either read the book or seen the movie?!]
    The Witch King goes into his rap about how he's a badass and no man can kill him and how Eowyn is toast. Merry makes a surprise intervention striking him low below the knee from behind giving Eowyn her opening. Casting off her helm as she regains herself, she says defiantly, "I am no man," cries out and drives the killing thrust into the space where his face would occupy.

    The SOOTTAD lets out a "Whoop!" with a quiet fist pump (we are in a museum, after all), and the kid lets out a cynical "go girl power," under his breath and shuffles away. (the SOOTTAD disagrees and thinks it was a girl, but confirms the tone of the comment) You can almost feel the eye-roll.

    So yeah, Girl Power. That's there. But it pumps me up too. As the SOOTTAD reminds me, it IS one of the best fight scenes (if not the best one-on-one fight scene) in the third movie. But to me, it's also a classic representation of the underdog beating the odds-on favorite. It's the noble and righteous striking down evil. It's the cocky, bad-ass bully that misreads and underestimates his opponent and receives a much-deserved defeat.

    And I remember being that jaded, cynical (and annoying) kid. And I still find it annoying.

    Ok, so sometimes I find a lot of things annoying.

[Update 20Sep04] I forgot to mention that when we got to the ticket collector, the SOOTTAD asked how long she thought we'd spend going through the exhibit. She said about an hour, maybe a little longer if we wanted to try some of the interactive stuff.

We were there for 3 hours and may have stayed longer if they hadn't kicked us out.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Happiness in a Compact Disc

"Do Your Thing" -- Basement Jaxx

A friend had this song on his MP3 boombox while we were playing disc a few weeks ago. It totally had me grooving and I had to ask who it was. When I got home that afternoon, I told the SOOTTAD about it, but I'm not sure whether it registered -- we were heading over to a BBQ and she was also a bit distracted getting ready for dance camp in a few days. The following week when she came back from dance camp, she tells me she heard this amazing Basement Jaxx song...yep, same song. Confirmed after doing a search online. (And yes, I know. The album was released in 2001.)

I don't need no TV, I don't need no news
All I need is a bumpin' beat to bump away my blues
I don't give a damn what the people say
I'm gonna do it my way, gonna do it my way
Gonna let it all out an do my thing
Boom boom boom and a bang bang bang
Boom bang boom bang bang boom bang boom bang bang
Oooh -- do your thing
Do your thing, make my body sing...

It's a gray and dreary overcast day as I drive to work this morning, scattered showers. I'm feeling a little more than the normal morning cranky, so I put the CD in the player and end up going straight to track 12. As soon as the beat kicks in, I'm feeling much better. I probably listened to it three or four times on the drive up.

We bring it over to LittleLee's where we're having dinner with her and Spleen so they can experience it. We are four cynical and generally curmudgeony people, and when we put the CD into the player, we're dancing around like hyperactive seven-year-olds as we prepare dinner, and all is right in the world. It's happy drugs digitized into 4 minutes and 38 seconds of modern audio technology.

It swings. It's got its gospel on. It unsa-unsas and boom-booms, a crazy driving beat and kickin' horns that I defy you to NOT tap, nod and bounce to.

And the way it starts -- I see a gray and dreary day (a different one from this morning, but the same kind of feeling). People are sitting, meandering around a park or town square, the life and vitality drained out of them by the daily grind. But off in the distance, a faint light, something coming over the horizon. It's the feeling you get when you first hear the jingle from the ice cream truck. It's the first few bars from the Disneyland Main Street electric parade just after the lights cut out. And as it comes closer, you can start to hear it, the light growing, filling the sky, and it's suddenly sunny and warm, and you're surrounded by the energy of ... this music. It's like a scene out of the Blues Brothers or one of a plethora of movie musicals or music videos and everybody is dancing, including the trees and park benches. It makes you (us) want to put the top down and crank it to 11.

And it's just...this song.

Sometimes it just takes a little thing to pick you up. And these days, I'll take what I can get.

Feeling Old

On the drive home from work yesterday, I was listening to Marketplace on NPR (Wow, out of the office before 7! Sweet!) and they started a segment on how the Gap was going to try and market to the over 35 demographic. This wasn't so much a surprise to me since I had seen a headline on-line about it earlier in the day. So they go on say that they had recruited "39 and older celebrities" such as Sarah Jessica Parker, Lenn...


But Sarah Jessica Parker isn't old, why would they use her?

:: Mental double-take ::


I don't think she's old because I remember her as the nerdy girl with glasses from Square Pegs back when I was in high school. And she's married now, and has a kid. And I think of her as my age. Because basically, she IS my age (Give or take). Because I'm in that 35+ group they were talking about. Not that that's really old. But I don't think it counts as young so much either.

I didn't really hear the rest of the report -- I was too busy working out this whole Sarah Jessica Parker thing. But when I listened to it later online, I heard a quote by a spokesman from the company:

"people in general tend to see themselves as younger than they are and the older they get the gap grows wider."
Nail. Head. Ouch.


Sunday, September 12, 2004

Weekend notes

Got up early Saturday morning to attend a wedding in Westport (about an hour's-plus drive south from here, if you set your mind to it. Otherwise, maybe an hour and a half). Frisbee friends. An outdoor wedding on a beautiful weekend in the calm between hurricane remnants -- it couldn't have been a more perfect day. Some thoughts:

  • We couldn't imagine how someone could schedule things such that they'd have to get up at the crack of dawn for their own wedding. They had to get up the next morning at 5am to catch the flight for their honeymoon, too.
  • Our friend and teammate, RockStar, was designated by the State as an official solemnizer for the day to perform the wedding. We've all very amused by that title. Solemnizer! We're immature; we can't help it. (He did a great job, BTW.)
  • There was a musical interlude during the ceremony. I'm familiar with this tradition, but I've always found it a little odd because basically the bride, groom and solemnizer just kinda stand around in front of everybody while the music is playing. I suppose it seemed stranger this time because it was a recording rather than an actual musician playing the music. I mentioned it to RockStar afterwards and he said that he thought it was a good opportunity for all parties involved to take a mental breather during the ceremony. (Ok, I'll buy that.)
  • It was the anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy, and it was nice to not have to think about it for a little while. It's not like I'm ever going to forget what happened. I mean, when I look at a digital clock and I see that it's eleven past nine, AM or PM, I feel like the powers-that-be are trying to remind me about the tragedy.
After the wedding, the reception, and some post-wedding hanging out, the SOOTTAD and I headed over to a dance at the St. James Armenian Hall in Watertown. These are monthly dances with live bands that are put on by the Boston Swing Dance Network (beware, they have a noisy homepage). I hadn't gone to one of these dances in years, and have gotten less excited about dancing to live music in general (at least around Boston), but Ron Sunshine was in town and he did not disappoint. The band was tight, the music awesome (they play a blues/R&B-infused style of swing that's just great to dance to) and I'm glad we went. I would probably be willing to go to a smaller club with limited dance space just to see these guys play. However, we were both reminded why we stopped going to this dance. The turnout was embarrassingly low for a band of this caliber (poorly advertised? out in the 'burbs? A dry venue on a Saturday night? maybe just people staying in on 9/11.), the crowd is generally older, and, while all the dances I had were good, there was a dearth of acceptable leaders for the SOOTTAD. (read: mostly rockstars and creepy old scary dudes)

Sunday morning we slept in. (It was a pretty long day yesterday.)

It also turned out to be another beautiful day, so we were able to spend most of the afternoon climbing at Hammond Pond. We usually go to the main wall down by the mall parking lot (it's easy to get to and familiar territory), but the climbs are all pretty easy, and at this point, I feel like we've been there a million times, so this time we decided to check out the Pinnacle area up near the intersection of Hammond Parkway and Beacon.

It was a nice change -- a different landscape, new routes, and no crowds (actually no other people at all). Not exactly quiet -- the green line runs right by it, and the crags themselves are maybe 200 yards from the road, so every so often you can hear the cars go by -- but you can't see either from where we were climbing. We first set up at Lunchtime Crag and later moved over to Pinnacle Wall. I liked that the routes were a little more challenging, but they were probably a little too challenging for the SOOTTAD and Gro, who had joined us for part of the afternoon. Hopefully we can get back there again before the season ends so they can give 'em another shot. The only downsides: the mosquitoes were bad enough that the SOOTTAD and Gro had to make a CVS run to get more bug spray while I was setting up anchors (and it's not like the main wall is an mosquito-free oasis), and one of the routes (the 5.5 slab) was blocked by poison ivy. Both bummers, but it could have been worse.

Regardless, a pleasant afternoon spent outside. And a good weekend overall.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

New look

yeah, like you hadn't noticed.

Figured it was time to try something new.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

...and then they came for the musicians. And the tourists. And the bystanders.

I've been trying to avoid writing about this for the last week, but it keeps coming up, but not in the news headlines. And that kind of scares me, because these stories keep popping up, and they're all consistent with one another. And they're all consistently about what appears to be unlawful imprisonment, the trashing of civil liberties and government abuse of power.

I mentioned the bicyclists before. And then I read about this on dailyKos:

Jeff estimated that more than half of these detainees were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time... shopping... studying... being a tourist. The arrests were completely indiscriminate, unless you're a delegate, in which case it cleared some human waste out of your path. If you were within a city block of the entrance to the NYC Library on Tuesday at about 5:30 pm, you were one of the estimated 1,200 people that ended up in a cage on a pier in Manhattan, waiting 12 hours before being given access to a phone, and more than 24 hours before being charged with anything. In most cases, this has amounted to being detained for 36+ hours (at least 12 hours longer that allowed by law here) and written a f***ing ticket.

And then I hit this report from a completely different source:
After taking some pictures of Critical Mass riders getting arrested, I turned to walk away and suddenly was in cuffs, one of the 264 cyclists and random passers-by arrested Friday night. Rather than writing us summonses for the offenses we were charged with, which were violations (on par with a traffic ticket or an open container), not even misdemeanors, the cops decided to teach us a lesson by hauling us over to a bus depot-turned-holding cell where we got to sleep in cages on diesel-sludge-covered concrete. (Many people reported chemical burns from contact with the floor.) I got to spend 16 hours there, then ride a corrections bus downtown to Central Booking for the full handcuff/search/mugshot/prints treatment, in shackles all the way, and spent another 14 hours there while the cops, who were either intentionally stalling on Bloomberg's orders or staggeringly incompetent, took 14 more hours to write us all the same desk-appearance tickets they could have given out at the scene. There were still at least 50 people in there when I got out at 2:30 a.m. Sunday (and spent another hour waiting on line to get my keys, phone, camera, and pen from the property clerk; I don't get my bike back until the trial).

And today I read this on This Modern World:
... After a few hours of sightseeing, we thought, before dinner let's see if we can find this rally again. It was almost 7pm and the rally was scheduled from 5-7pm. We again saw no signs of an organized rally, but after a few minutes a band started playing and swaying and then walked away from the park. People followed them and we followed to see where they were going. It never occurred to us that we were participating in anything illegal.

We crossed Union Square East and then turned into 16th St. There were people walking in the streets, but I made a point of always staying on the sidewalk. We were following a bunch of people. A line of police closed off the intersection at Union Square East and 16th St. Some people took off running for Irving St to get out of that block, but we stayed on the sidewalk and didn't run. We didn't want to look like we might be doing something wrong. It never occurred to us that we were participating in anything illegal.

Soon a line of police closed off the other intersection at Irving and 16th, trapping us on 16th St. We didn't get on the street, we didn't climb onto anything to see what was happening, we didn't yell, we didn't attempt to run, we didn't appear violent in any way. There were probably 100 of us together there on the south side of 16th St, I think that the police had trapped other bubbles of people on the north side and farther up and down the sidewalk. We saw the police roll out a yellow net, a mesh bolt of fabric that they unrolled and used to push us into a tight group. At one point a policeman yelled at us violently and angrily that we had brought this upon ourselves. He was walking past us on the sidewalk and he yelled and screamed; and this was the moment when I became seriously afraid. I was standing closer to the street, not pressed against the walls of the buildings, and I was afraid that he would grab me and hurt me: I was very scared. The police never gave us an opportunity to move, to disperse, they never told us that we were about to be arrested, and they never said a word, besides this one officer who scared the shit out of me. It never occurred to me that this would happen. I didn't know that we had participated in anything illegal.

Eventually the police pressed us tightly together into a group. And then they kept pressing. They grabbed instruments from the band members and threw them into the road. Then they grabbed the band members, the group held onto them, but the police pulled these individuals away and tossed them into the road. The police were pressing us and pulling individuals who were on the perimeter away. People were shouting to the police: "Tell us what to do and we'll do it" and instructing us to hold onto the individuals the police were grabbing: "Don't let them take them away." I was on the perimeter of the group and I was scared that they would grab me next. I was standing right next to a street sign, there was a bicycle tied to the sign and it had fallen, and I was standing on the bicycle; every time the police pressed us I grabbed on to the sign and Sarah grabbed on to me, and I prayed that I wouldn't fall and break an ankle on the bicycle. I was scared like I have never been before....

I don't have anything witty to say about this.


This isn't really about the cheer, but it ends there.

For those that don't know, traditionally, at the end of an ultimate frisbee game, each team gives a cheer to the other team -- a simple rhyme or a riff on a popular song (sometimes raunchy) to a full-out singing and dancing number. It's kind of dying out as the sport becomes more "legitimate" (hey, TV coverage on CSTV -- that's the College Sports channel in case you've got super-extendo digital outer-space based TV) and really, as it becomes more competitive. But it's one of the reasons I first started playing. I thought it was cool that you could have this athletic activity that was combined with this bit of silly, creative expression. (That and Spirit of the Game.)

So we got clobbered in last night's game. And I was still a little left-over cranky. But I still came up with a cheer; it wasn't great, but y'know...

Great game team eighteen
The entire game, you lost no steam.
Pretty throws, great flow,
mosquitoes biting -- gotta go!
And my point is this: the little bloodsuckers were out in force. I think I got more F'ing mosquito bites last night than I did all season -- a result of the deadly combination of nearby wetlands, an early fall evening, and having to stand around on the sidelines. Bah.

Monday, September 06, 2004


I've been pretty cranky most of this past holiday weekend. An unfortunate state to be in with three parties to attend, Saturday, Sunday and today, Monday. I went with a true desire to see people and to help celebrate various transpirings but also a mix of social obligation and a faint hope that spending time with other people might kick me out of my funk. Mixed results. Feeling a bit anti-social and like I had the shields up; occasionally withdrawn, occasionally unnecessarily snappy with people. I feel kinda bad and hope that I'm just being my usual overanalyzing, oversensitive self.

Although I think part of it was due to the particular scheduling of events that seemed to preclude any other full day activity (like my annual solo-hike of Mt. Watatic and part of the Wapack trail), I figured it was mostly because I was bummed that the SOOTTAD had left me for a camp full of swingers. (She went to dance camp.)

But it occurred to me after I got back from my Fall hat league game that it might be something else. After the end of season tournament, my left Achilles had been bothering me. I probably would have ignored it (as I probably had done during most of the season) except that an injured teammate was describing his own symptoms and I realized that they sounded disturbingly similar. Being more mindful of my lower left leg as I switched over from disc to more road running, I noticed that I was experiencing increasing discomfort (and owwie, pain) to the point where I became concerned. Not wanting to deal with trying to get an appointment with an orthopedist to look at it, I figured a short regimen of rest would probably do me some good. Which seems to be working -- it doesn't feels too bad after playing a decent number of points tonight. But, I forgot the other side of the equation; the mental health part. When I don't exercise, when I don't get outside, when I don't get the blood moving, I get depressed. It's just one of those things, but I forgot about it since it's usually only an issue during the winter. And of late, I've been more concerned about my back, which seems to be under control (by trying to keep up with my some stretching and working a few back exercising back into my routine). So maybe that's really what's been behind my mood funk.

So now I have to try and figure out how to balance the rest part with the getting enough exercise to not be Mr. Crankypants thing. Should be interesting. Hopefully, the week off will have been enough and it'll be ok to slowly ramp the running back up again.

Fingers crossed.

Oh, and tomorrow it's time to go back to work again. Yeah, that oughta help...

Saturday, September 04, 2004

no escape

I thought I was going to get away from the politics in the news, but I guess it's kind of hard to avoid what with the convention going on.

I did stop to wonder why I bother writing about this stuff since there are so many others who are far more articulate than I am; and there's that whole "having an audience" thing that they've got going for them. I've got maybe one dedicated reader (hi DrJ!) and the random people who stumble across the site via search engines looking for random things (the strangest, and disturbingly, the most frequent: "asian piss." Um, iew. But hey, whatever floats your boat. And hey again, thanks for stopping by!)

At first I had the crazy idea that there might be the off-chance that I might actually make somebody stop and think about things. I think I know better now, but I keep writing because I realize that things have me so worked up, that they need some kind of outlet. Like screaming into a pillow or writing the nasty letter that gets filed away to never again see the light of day. I gotta get it out of my head and record it somewhere so I can stop thinking about it.

And now I've stopped thinking about it.

[UPDATE: Wed Sep 16, 2004, 09:07:55 AM EST]
Ok, I'm still thinking about it. In fact, there a lot of things that are really pissing me off right now. But at this stage, the more I think about them, the more worked up I get. So rather than going into seizure trying to articulate all the things that are bothering me, I'm going to try to put my head down and think happy thoughts. And maybe I'll actually get some work done.


Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Ahnold at the RNC

There was a lot of buzz on the left side of the blogosphere after the California governor's comment about "girly men" in his convention address tonight, so I figured I should listen to the whole thing so I could get it in context. When he got to the line (and it is just one line), I could see where people were coming from, but I probably wouldn't have made as big a deal of it. Most of the responses could be described as an extrapolation of what he had said or perhaps embodied the subtext behind the statement made explicit. A nuanced interpretation, you might say -- and sadly, I think it's already been proven that nuance isn't welcome in today's political climate. (or maybe people would be pointing out Bush's more relevent flip-flops, like his position on campaign finance reform for starters...)

Nothing earth-shattering in the Governator's speech -- it's the patriotic fluff you'd expect at the convention -- full of grandiose platitudes about America's greatness that no one can argue with. America IS a great country, founded on universal principles of freedom and human rights, we ARE a united country of immigrants (or at least it's an ideal that most of us believe in), out of many peoples, we have created one. You've got to at least give him credit for generally staying on message and not attacking the opposition (mostly, and I'll get to that) as opposed to what I've read about Giuliani's speech. I should hear it for myself, but I really don't have the stomach to sit through that one just yet.

However, I did experience moments of cognitive dissonance during a few of his remarks, and I figured I'd point them out.

  • When he talked about growing up in Austria and his fear of the Soviet soldiers, I wondered if he could then appreciate how Americans of middle eastern descent must feel under the shadow of Guantanamo Bay.

  • He became a Republican because of Nixon? Doesn't he know why he stopped being President in '74?

  • "In this country, it doesn't make any difference where you were born. It doesn't make any difference who your parents were. It doesn't make any difference if, like me, you couldn't even speak English until you were in your twenties."
    Except that it does. Like getting into the National Guard when there's a waiting list for everyone else. Being able to start a business for yourself because you've got some extra cash from your college trust fund. Arnold is right: this country is about being able to make something of yourself regardless of your origins. And that's certainly more true here than in many other countries. But it's by no means the equal playing field that he describes.

    But there I go into nuance again.

  • "if you work hard and play by the rules, this country is truly open to you. You can achieve anything."
    Which is mostly true, but perhaps more true if you were born into money and didn't have to play by the rules.

  • "And maybe just maybe you don't agree with this party on every single issue. I say to you tonight I believe that's not only okay, that's what's great about this country. Here we can respectfully disagree and still be patriotic still be American and still be good Republicans."
    Yes, that's what's great about this country. But no, I don't think the same can be said of the Republican party, which seems perfectly capable of labelling anyone who disagrees with their policies as being unpatriotic. But I guess that's only if you're a Democrat.

  • "if you believe we must be fierce and relentless and terminate terrorism ... then you are a Republican!"
    Because if you're a Democrat, you probably want to help terrorists. Actually, you probably ARE a terrorist. Bzzzt. Sorry, no.

  • "[Terrorists] ...hate the power of the individual. They hate the progress of women. They hate the religious freedom of others."
    When I heard this, my brain immediately asked (rhetorically, of course): Doesn't the President push policy that favors big business over individual protections? Doesn't the President oppose a woman's right to choose? Doesn't the President marginalize those that do not share his religious beliefs? Arnold, are you saying that the President is a terrorist?

Maybe I'm just nitpicking, but I don't remember the Democratic speakers being quite as misleading. And again, I haven't even tried to listen to Giuliani's remarks yet (apparently it's the 9/11 - Kerry is a flip-flopper speech).

First they came for the bicyclists...

In an entry on [BoingBoing], Joshua Kinberg of Bikes Against Bush recounts his experience of being arrested during the Republican National Convention in New York City:

I’m now sitting in the MSNBC trailer at Herald Sq., NYC, with Ron Reagan and Joe Trippi after spending 24 hours in the “Tombs” with several hundred Critical Mass cyclists, who were arrested the night before.

I was arrested while Ron was interviewing me about my invention— a bicycle that prints text messages on the street in water-soluble chalk. While we were conducting the interview, the police stopped me and asked for my ID. After I produced identification, the police waited for their sergeant to arrive before placing me under arrest without stating the charge. I was doing nothing more than describing my invention to the media and explaining my disagreements with the Bush administration.

When I arrived in the Tombs, I was placed in a cell with around 30 other cyclists. They had spent the previous night in a location they were affectionately calling “Lil’ Gitmo,” a makeshift detention center on the West Side piers converted from a former bus depot. Lil’ Gitmo had cells sectioned off with chain link fence and razor wire, and a floor covered in motor oil, transmission fluid, and other toxic chemicals. The cyclists detained there were forced to sleep on this hazardous floor wearing nothing more than bicycling shorts and t-shirts. Consequently, several developed serious skin rashes the following day. After 36 hours most of the cyclists had been released with a pending court date. Several had been arrested when specifically following police directions to exit the peaceful bike ride. Others had not been part of Critical Mass, but had simply been on the streets with a bicycle at the wrong time.