I've been making themed uber-CDs lately for my commute to and from the city. I rip 10 or 11 albums to mp3 and then put the mp3s all onto a CD that my discman can read. I listen to music in themed phases anyway - now I'm gloomy and dire, wait, now I'm cute and dorky, no, now I must have zydeco and nothing else - so a small handful of uber-CDs can contain my musical selections for several months. I dream of having a small CD wallet of expressively-titled CDs that I can easily choose among when I feel the need for some music.
I started with You Know, For Kids. It's the Get Up Kids, Weezer, Death Cab for Cutie, and so on: the music of my dorky years as an indie kid (not that I'm saying those years are over, mind you). Then came Oh My God, The World's Ending. It's the Cure, Depeche Mode, Murder By Death: all things dire and gloomy which, paradoxically, fill me with glee.
I'm attempting now to collect the makings of another CD. The title is a toss-up between Pure Fucking Sex and Dead Sexy (hence the title of this entry). You get the idea. Voices which I have previously stated are welcome to climb in my window at 3 a.m. and ravish me in my bed, as long as they're singing while they do so, are eligible for inclusion on this CD. Dave Gahan doesn't even have to ask for an invitation. Come to think of it, that applies equally to the ravishing and to being included on the CD.
The only problem I'm having is that 90% of what I came up with when I went looking through my collection for specifically sexy music is the same as what I came up with when I went looking for dire and depressive music. That's fine; I can certainly have overlapping CDs. I'm just a little bit concerned about the implications for my mental health if doom and gloom are requirements for being considered sexy. Jacob's trying to help out by lending me CDs from his collection, but Portishead isn't exactly positive either, and Morphine's got its own set of problems.
Guess I'm going with the second title, then.
I had dinner last night at the Cheesecake Factory in San Francisco, on the 8th floor of the Macy's building downtown. We ate on the outside patio with a beautiful view of Union Square, a dozen or so towering skyscrapers, and a lovely gloomy San Francisco sky. The food was excellent; the Cheesecake Factory's vegan options are severely limited, but my Mediterranean-ish pasta was really quite delicious. The company, a group of I think 12 assorted folks, was enjoyable. It was a thoroughly pleasing dining experience, except for the bit about the profound acrophobia.
8th floor. Outside. Separated from 7 floors of nothing by a crystal-clear Plexiglass boundary. You can sit facing the void and watch it with a slight queasy feeling while you eat, or you can sit with your back to it. If you sit with your back to it, you can either watch it reflected in the shiny windows of the restaurant in front of you, or you can just think about how close it is behind you. It's a lose-lose situation. I opted for more straightforward terror and sat facing the nothingness, then passed the next two hours alternating between morbid speculation about earthquakes and structural failures*, reflection on how nice it is to live and work near ground level, determined unconcernedness, reflection on how nice it was that the Macy's building has interior elevators instead of exterior ones, and occasional fits of panicked lightheadedness that came on whenever I made the mistake of watching the seagulls wheeling overhead.
One thing that I found interesting, aside from the fact that I was 80 feet above the ground, was how people reacted when Jacob brought up my fear of heights on my behalf. The group seemed to be split into two camps: those who asked if it would help if we moved inside/ if I'd be okay sitting on the side away from the edge/ etc, and those who told me, "Oh, you'll be fine." I'm not bashing the you'll-be-finers, understand, but I am particularly curious what made some people is-this-okayers and others not. Was it knowing me well enough to know that I'm a naturally panicky person? Jacob, going on two years of putting up with my neuroses, was the chieftain of Clan Do We Need To Go Inside. Was the difference in people whose own phobias were acting up? Jason, a respected member of the Telling Me There's A Sixty-Foot Pile Of Marshmallows Below Us Club, was claustrophobically displeased with the crowded waiting area. Was it just that the freaked-out look on my face was only visible to the people standing closest? It's a bit hard to isolate variables when I was standing nearest the phobic people whom I already knew well. Or was it the indulging-only-makes-it-worse philosophy at work?
Call for comments and opinions begins.... now. Rather, the call for comments and opinions begins after this footnote from two paragraphs ago.
*If you think that's bad, you should see how I behave on airplanes. I once spent a flight from Detroit to San Francisco calculating, on a drink napkin, how long it would take a plane to reach the ground if it suddenly lost all motive power at 25,000 feet and at what velocity it would be travelling when it hit. I've still got the answer somewhere.
I left the office at 12:10 today, a few minutes after most of the architects wandered off in a pack to have lunch. I spent a while figuring out how to lock up the office before I got it right, so when I finally headed out I was 10 minutes behind the Architect Posse. The deli they went to is only about 8 blocks away from the office, but my destination lay half a mile further on, over the hill to the park.
I caught up with the architects before they even reached the deli. I tromped to the park, ate my lunch, and tromped back. When the architects came back I was sitting at my desk calmly filling out shipping forms and not at all out of breath, and a few people almost lost their lower jaws permanently.
This is why everyone should walk three and a half miles in San Francisco and one mile in Berkeley five days a week. Who needs a gym?
The comments from my last entry have been deleted and further comments have been blocked. I'm not getting into this same discussion again. It was pretty well exhausted, along with my patience, on Carthage last month and I'm not interested in having it all over again on my page.
An ancient Chinese almanac once attempted an organized classification of all the creatures of the known world. Categories used in the classification included:
2. Belonging to the Emperor
3. That which looks like flies from far away
A classification of human animals by me, along the same lines, would include in part the following categories:
2. Belonging to the right wing
3. That which attempts to put words in my mouth or attitudes in my head which I can say with authority do not exist there.
It's everyone's right to be #2 if they so choose, and #1 can be perfectly innocuous by itself, but when people are all three I find myself not very inclined to talk to them.
Sometimes I read the news at work and then regret it. A five-minute perusal of CNN.com has just convinced me that the world is falling apart. 90 people killed in Iraq in one day by car bombs and attacks in five cities. Bombings in Turkey. Death threats to the interim Iraqi government. Another beheading. More people from the U.S. and Korea getting handed guns and sent right into the middle of all of it. I don't think there are any good choices here; I mean, do you let the people who already live there get killed, or do you send more people from over here to get killed for them?
And our nation's president is trying to push his own reelection button by talking about his ambitious, multibillion-dollar plan for fighting AIDS in the U.S. and around the world. I'm genuinely glad to hear it. I was feeling slightly better as I read the article, until I got to the end and read that his idea of a life-saving message about sex is not to have any. Abstinence, he says. Go play with dynamite, I say. It's less dangerous than keeping people ignorant about things that threaten their lives and justifying it by some fucking piece of dogma that, your sweet illusions notwithstanding, no one's ever obeyed anyway.
Me: Fallacy press-fit gramophone.
Me: [Insert name of contractor] is on the phone.
Architect: For me?
Me: Belly sauna heartthrob butter fizzy.
Me: Well, he wanted [insert name of owner] but he's busy.
Architect: So tell him he's in a meeting.
Me: Grime Lester vindaloo.
Me: I'm just about to.
Architect: So no one needs to talk to me, then?
Me: Fallacy press-fit gramophone! Purdue!
Me: You are from Mars.
There's room in the wheelchair space of a BART train, if it isn't being occupied by a wheelchair, for one antisocial girl to stand and block out the presence of the other passengers by listening to Murder By Death on her big, dorky cone-of-silence headphones. Unfortunately, all it takes to shatter the dream of solitude is one person with strong cologne deciding that there's enough room for two people and standing right up next to the aforementioned antisocial girl. Rarr.
The following will only amuse Jacob and Katie. Or maybe only Katie.
Track 1: The Devil In BART
Track 2: Killbot 2000 (unchanged)
Track 3: Until Mood Improves, The Scowlings Will Continue
Track 4: Three Men Hanging Around In My Way
Track 5: 16th and Intermission
Track 6: A Masters in Sideways Glareology
Track 7: The Foot Is On Toe
Track 8: That Cologne Don't Make You Smell Good
Track 9: Fillers Of Space
Track 10: %#%^#*^#(%*!!!*$&!^#*!!!!!
I may have intended to discuss something here, but I've now forgotten it.
I've picked up a habit of reading over people's shoulders on BART. How can I help it? My fellow passengers read a fascinating assortment of newspapers, magazines, novels and explanatory pamphlets that I simply don't have in my collection at home. Headlines grab my attention and I tilt my head to see what they say; the next thing I know I'm halfway in the aisle craning my neck and gawking. This morning it was a book called Becoming a Contagious Christian, and it was several minutes before I realized I was sneering and forced myself to stop.
Last week I was standing on a crowded train watching the woman seated next to me reading over a stack of papers. She had a pen in her hand and was making notes and corrections. I watched her cross out "$9,000" and write in "very little" on a memo, star several items on an agenda, and then turn to a company to-do list.
"Focus," she wrote carefully, "on key targets."
Thanks to her, my goals are now perfectly clear.
A few of you have met my Canadian roommate. He's generally a good guy. He recycles. He's kind to his cat. He pays his bills on time. He tries to get me to eat bacon now and then, but it's usually all in good humor.
Last night I had what I'll charitably call an interesting conversation with him. He was describing his latest trip to Ikea and the assorted fun things he'd gotten there-- a tiny coffeemaker, an old-fashioned alarm clock, and the world's most badass mousepad. "Oh? What's so badass about it?" I asked. "It's made of LEATHER!" he announced triumphantly. I rolled my eyes, and he cackled. "Yeah... animals died for my mousepad!"
I was floored. The bacon is one thing; after all, it's the tasty end product and not the inhumane process that he's glorifying. I can understand that, and I'll be the first to agree that animal products generally taste pretty good. I can also understand raving about the attractive styling and incredible durability of the leather mousepad. But to look a committed vegan in the eye and gloat specifically about the cruelty involved in the product you're talking about? That's appalling. I'd be horrified by the total lack of empathy even if it weren't a deliberate slap in the face to my beliefs, and I'd be offended by the deliberate slap in the face to my beliefs even if it didn't also reflect a total lack of empathy.
I understand that it was a joke, at least to him. That was why I didn't subject him to an immediate lecture on compassion and the humane treatment of other species. My disbelief at what I'd just heard was why I didn't subject him to an immediate lecture on common courtesy. Now that I think about it, he really made out like a bandit on both those counts.
Really, though, where the hell did that come from? Dear Abby: if my roommate's a hippie, can I mock her most deeply-held beliefs without feeling that I've done anything inappropriate? I can? Oh, goody. Please, for the love of god and/or cookies, someone explain to me what's going on here.
-Well, I've got a question about the plans for a project.
Oh, is this the Hfiwrufhsd Inn & Suites in San Rdfigdh, California?
-Yes. The plans came into my home yesterday and ate my first-born son. Were they supposed to do that?
Well, no, I don't think so. We did put out an addendum addressing some of the questions we've gotten, if that helps.
-Addendum? No, I didn't get any addendum. Look, he was only three. My wife and I have been saving for his college tuition already, we wanted him to go to a really good school.
Um, I'm really sorry.
-I mean, I didn't like the look of the plans to start with. I thought the red eyes and goat horns were really tasteless. But I thought they'd be okay to build from; I mean, I never thought plans would actually eat anybody.
No, I wouldn't really think they'd do that either.
-Did you know that in 43 years I've never seen a set of plans eat anybody's first-born son?
No, as a matter of fact I didn't know that.
-They just came right in and picked him up, drew this star thing on his chest, and started eating. Chomp. Chomp. Two big bites and he was gone. How does paper even digest, anyway?
I really couldn't tell you, sir.
-These plans are bad. I mean, really, really BAD.
Those of you who saw the pictures from our trip last year in the Ventana Wilderness may remember the useful equation trail=stream. It's worth noting that on this trip, that equation was joined by several others, among them trail=snowdrift and trail=rapids.
Oh, who am I kidding. It was a total farce set against a backdrop of lovely scenery. We abandoned the Pacific Crest Trail after 3 miles because it went into a snowdrift so wide we couldn't see the other side of it. We spent the night in a motel in Weaverville and set out the next day on the Swift Creek Trail, only to stop 5 miles in because snowmelt had turned an easy creek crossing into whitewater rapids and we couldn't find a safe way across. We camped next to the creek and came back the next day, feeling foolish for spending 3 days hiking around with 4 days' gear in our packs to spend only one night camping.
Enjoy the pictures, and keep in mind that while we really are total lightweights, the snow looked much deeper and the creek looked much faster from up close. Honest.
I got up a moment ago to ask the nearest architect a question. I was leaning through the window in the partition between our desks, resting my arms gently on the window sill, when he glanced at my left wrist and I suddenly remembered what I was wearing there.
You see, yesterday we got an order from Office Depot that seemed to be missing some mini binder clips. I called, like any sensible person who's spent a good 50 cents on a product which hasn't been received, to let them know that the clips hadn't arrived and to ask them to send more. This morning, one of the architects picked up a stack of folders and the missing clips fell out-- this was about 10 minutes after Office Depot had apologetically delivered replacement clips. So we now have 48 of the stupid things, which is more than I think we'll need in a month.
Okay, look, I felt the need to use them up, all right? And the body of each one links very nicely over the arm of the next one; if you make a chain of 12 of them they curl all the way around into a remarkably stable, flexible circle about 7 inches in circumference.
It could have happened to anyone.
Damn it all! all this our Kitchen stinks hunger.
You whoreson dog, Pimiento, come! Let's to dinner!
I have no life save when the pots clang.
But ah! when I see the burners gold, purple, blue, warming
And the broad skillets above them turn smoky,
Then growl I my stomach nigh mad with anticipation.
In hot summer I have great rejoicing
When the juices kill the earth's foul thirst,
And the salsa on brittle chip flash crimson,
And the fierce onions roar me their breath
And the garlic shrieks through my taste buds mad, delicious,
And in all the hot kitchens God's tomatoes simmer.
Hell grant soon we hear again the mushrooms sizzle!
And the shrill whistles of potatoes in oven baking!
Hot butter to juicy onion opposing!
Better one hour's morning than a year's afternoon
With no breakfast, no lunch, wine and no dinner!
Bah! there's no wine like the beet's crimson!
And I love to see the bread rise golden-brown.
And I watch his bubbles through the oven door
And it fills all my heart with rejoicing
And pries wide my mouth with fast chewing
When I see him so firm and turn golden,
His long might 'gainst all unbakedness opposing.
The man who fears weight gain and squats opposing
My words for dinner, hath no buds for tasting
But is fit only to rot in unsatisfied hunger
Far from where sauces are poured and the forks flash,
For the death of such diets I go rejoicing;
Yea, I fill all the air with my chewing.
Pimiento, Pimiento, to the dinner!
There's no sound like teeth to peach opposing,
No cry like the eater's rejoicing
When our elbows and fingers drip the orange
And our lips 'gainst the fuzzy skin clash.
May God damn for ever all who cry "No thank you"!
And let the music of our swallows make them envious!
Hell grant we hear again the mushrooms sizzle!
Hell blot black for always the thought "Not hungry"!
With moderately sincere apologies to Ezra Pound.
The nice thing about when all four phone lines for the office are in use is that I don't have to answer the phone because nobody else can freakin' call.
It's been stupid busy today and everyone's grumpy. I snapped at an architect when he tried to get me to send a list I didn't have to someone who didn't need it, so that he wouldn't have to talk to someone who was calling. I paid for it by having the relationship between developer, contractor, subcontractor and supplier explained to me in more detail than I needed, twice, while my protestations of not having the list fell on deaf ears. I informed an architect who was busy marking up drawings that he had a phone call which he didn't want, to which he testily replied that he couldn't hear me anyway. When I left for lunch I was in the process of making a fax form and thinking to myself that I should start printing out a stack of specifications. With 22 minutes to go before I leave for the day, the form is still incomplete and I haven't so much as opened the specification file.
And somebody just called in the middle of that sentence. And I've got someone's strange and unprofessional version of a resume sitting on my desk while I try to figure out what I should do with it. If the universe is being evil to me of its own volition, I owe it some return evil and should throw the resume away. If I'm paying off a debt of evil left over from something else, I should pass it along to the head of the office, giving the guy a fighting chance and hoping like hell that my good deed comes back to me.
If it's pretentious and self-indulgent, is it still evil of me to throw it out? Please help.
Some nutjob appears to have just flown a plane over Dolores Park and then out over the rest of the Mission District, during the noon hour, trailing a banner reading, "On June 4th There Will Be No Mexicans In California".
It had just better be some kind of protest from within La Raza, or I'm going to be so angry you have no idea. Anybody know anything about this?
Jacob and I had a particularly surreal camping trip this weekend. Suffice it to say that the elements, namely hydrogen and oxygen in a 2:1 ratio, were pitted against us. We'll give you pictures shortly which should illustrate the situation nicely.