« August 2002 | Home | October 2002 »

September 30, 2002
The lesson is, when I

The lesson is, when I have something to say, something to dump, as it were, I should do it right away. Otherwise I find myself 3 or 4 days later, sitting here with a pile of tiny scraps of paper with notes on them, a small stack of various little notebooks with other notes, and when I read the notes, I'm disconnected, don't care about what I had cared about a few days ago, and end up letting it all go. This is a problem.

Friday I went to have lunch and hang out with Sonja and Arye. These are relatively new friends of mine, so it's fun to spend time, it's new, different. Arye is a character that could only exist in New York. He conforms to so many of the stereotypes of a Upper West Side Jewish Kid, it's hard to believe. I've been to restaurants with him twice, and both times he made some kind of issue with the waiter about substitutions, pricing, etc. For example, "So, it says here guacamole is $.75, but I don't want cheese on my burrito, so I can have guacamole instead, and just charge me the original price, since I'm not getting the cheese?" or "When I asked for a side of guacamole, the way the guy said it, I assumed it was going to be free, so I don't want to pay for it." This last one actually worked, which is really the root of the problem. It also very well illustrates why I don't work in food service. If it had been me, I would have told him to shove it up his ass and quit on the spot. Interesting that both incidents revolved around guacamole. It is a rather contentious condiment.

Saturday Liz went to Jersey to play in a volleyball tournament, so I had the day to myself. I went on a voyage to see Apollo 13 on the IMAX screen at Lincoln Center. First, in the morning, I watched High Fidelity, which made me cry. Apollo 13 made me cry too. Go figure.

On the way into the city, I decided I really need to simplify my life. I was lugging like 20 pounds of shit with me, it was just ridiculous. I had also decided to take a discman with me, which I never do, and that added to the clutter. I was juggling all kinds of gadgets, trying to get through turnstiles, it was silly. I did an inventory, here it go:
-me, clothed (t-shirt, pants, socks, underwear, shoes).
-about $70 in cash, debit card, ID
-like 8 pens
-pocket knife
-discover magazine
-the village voice
-naked by david sedaris
-hacky sack
-car keys
-house keys
-two lighters (I don't smoke)
-subway map
-little black journal/notebook
-little yellow journal/notebook
-3 CDs
-portable, fold-out keyboard for PDA
-cotton terry headband
-back country first-aid and extended care booklet
-small pump
-bag of advil
-hand sanitizer
-waterproof matches
-artificial tears
-several chapsticks (I hate the stuff)

Now it's important to note that I recently went through my backpack and took out everthing I deemed unessential. Really.

Yesterday, Sunday, Luke, Jeanhee, Liz and I went down to Jersey to play in the coed divisions of the volleyball tournament. It was the last beach tournament of the season, and only the second time Liz and I managed to play together in coed. We came in second in our division, won $80 worth of sweatshirts. In fact we would have won our division, but the team that beat us in the finals had a ringer. He was practically a professional, but had never played coed in this league, so he was allowed to play in our division. He was playing with a girl who he coaches in high school and, as he put it, he "wanted to get her some time on the beach". If that was really the case, though, he wouldn't have been playing so hard, spiking visciously and so on. He in fact would take served balls from her if possible, which didn't exactly give her a lot of practice. Having found this information out after we lost to them in pool play, in the finals we focused all of our serves and hits on the girl and it worked pretty well, we lost only 15-10, and I think gave the guy a little scare. We also dug up lots of his hits and serves, and generally played well against them. It would have been better if we'd have beaten them, though.

I have a couple of small goals for myself to complete before Wednesday this week, so I'd better get to it. I'm not mentioning what the goals are, though, so I still have a chance to back out.

September 26, 2002
Aw jeez.. I suck at

Aw jeez.. I suck at this updating thing. At updating this thing. At thing updating, this.

Catch up. There you go, you're caught up. This is what I've done in the past 6 days. There. That's it.

No, there must have been more than that.

Items of interest:
1) It's possible for a woman to have fraternal twins with two different fathers. Apparently, if she has sex with two men close enough together (temporally, that is) the two eggs can be fertilized by different men. Seems reasonable, but I had never thought of it before. How fucking weird would that be?
2) On a related note, the average man produces 1000 sperm every heartbeat! A typical ejaculate (there's something unsavory about that word when used as a noun) has up to 200 million spermies per milliliter. That's almost the population of the United States, if we were all sperm, per milliliter. I don't know how little a milliliter is, but it sounds really small. (In case you're interested, the context here was how difficult it is to develop male contraception. They're really "fighting the tide" as it were.)
3) According to one astronomer's calculations, in any given year there is a 1-in-5,500 chance that an asteroid or something will hit earth causing more than a million fatalities. The odds of winning $100 from a New York scratch-off lottery ticket are 1-in-9,600. My money's on the asteroid.

There's been a lot of talk lately about a new book, published today, called The Blank Slate. It's by Steven Pinker, the author of The Language Instinct and a leading authority on the study of language and mind. His basic idea, as I understand it, is to bring back the notion of human nature. He discusses how the accepted wisdom is that people are essentially a "blank slate" and that we are shaped by our environments, most directly by the way we are raised. Examples would be that we believe that children who are abused become abusers, boys fight and argue because they are encouraged to do so by the society while girls are not, etc. The extreme end of this argument is the current debate over teaching girls and boys in completely separate schools, and even re-segregating schools by race.

Pinker argues that most of these conclusions are based on very little actual evidence, but instead come from just what has become a dominant point of view, to the exclusion of others. The idea that people have inborn talents, skills, intelligence and tendencies is anathema to most people's general way of thinking because we feel that it restricts free will and precludes the wonderful world of complete equality that we like to pretend exists or can exist. The argument is that it is just as possible, and in fact more in line with actual data, that people become abusers because they have certain genes that were passed from their parents, who were abusers for the same reasons. This is not to say that it is predestined, but just that they have a higher propensity for abuse. We seem to be well prepared to accept that our physical traits are determined by the genes we get from our parents, but not so with our emotional or mental traits.

Liz brought up an example that I thought was particularly telling. We have a friend who was adopted, a fact he was not aware of until he was a teenager or older. His adoptive family was conservative, Christian, and Republican. His whole childhood, he felt strange about his family's beliefs, had no interest in the religious school he was sent to. He joined the Democratic party when he was 11 and started canvassing for them. It was only when she met her birth parents for the first time years later that it all made sense. They were liberal Democrats, religious skeptics, basically shared all or most of her political and philosophical views. This is a direct example of the problems Pinker points out with most of our accepted conclusions about personality, that the studies from which these conclusions are often done are almost never done with adopted children, the only way to really test the hypothesis.

Anyway, I thought it was interesting, I want to read the book.

In other news, Liz and I rode our bikes around the perimeter of Manhattan yesterday, a ride of 46 miles (including from our house to Manhattan and back). It was really fun, we got to see many parts of the city we'd never seen before, staying within a block or two of the water the whole time, most of the time right on the shore. I thought it should be called, "Circle Line. My Ass." because we followed the same route as the Circle Line boats, but our way was better, so we say "my ass" to them. Also, for an extra entendre, it really hurt my ass, so it's both "Circle Line, my ass" and "Circle Line. My Ass!". Some better ideas for taking pictures along the way occured to me when we were almost done, so maybe next time, the pictures will be more interesting. Here are the ones I did take.

Q&A with Pinker from the NY Times Magazine
Excerpt from the book, Part I
Excerpt from the book, Part II

Oh, P.S. - Apologies to my sister for not including her in my list of people I'm trying to get Phish tickets for. She's right there, in the thick of things, and I really really really hope she can come.

September 20, 2002
Ok, looks like the horror

Ok, looks like the horror over my picture has worn off, I guess we can move on. I have, I shaved the rest of my hair off on Wednesday.

My forearms and shoulders are sore today, Liz and I went rock climbing last night at a gym on the west side. It was fun, I haven't been climbing in years. It unfortunately points up how out of shape I am, it's no good. When I exercise and get sore, I get reminded of what a lazy shit I am, and I feel bad about it. This is the main reason I don't like to exercise. You would think that my solution would be too exercise, that way I wouldn't feel bad about not exercising. Seems reasonable, right? But no, I figure, never exercise, that way I can't quit exercising, which makes me feel bad about myself. Hmmm... something doesn't seem right about that. I'd better check my calculations.

Phish ticket mania has been in full swing for the past couple of weeks. They're playing their first show in over 2 years on New Year's Eve at Madison Square Garden, and of course I want to go like it was my job. So far, Sarah came through with 2 tickets, god bless her, and I managed one this morning before they sold out. 3 tickets is a serious problem though, perhaps even worse than 2.

See, there's four of us. Me, Liz, Dave and Cass. Those are the four who want to go badly and want to go together. We're all great friends and it's just the perfect thing. (Liz wants to ge because, you know, I want to and I told her she does too. She doesn't know yet, but after she goes, she'll want to go again. I call it the gift of Phish. Ha ha ha.) With 2 tickets, we had an issue for sure, but at least it was an even split. We would have had to decide if Liz and I went, or if Dave and I went. I had a feeling it probably would have ended up Dave and I, due to our long standing history with Phish, and it would have meant so much to us. Then again, I really want to take Liz to a show. It would have been hard. At least, though, whoever didn't go could hang out together for New Year's.

Now we have 3, and that's just no good. We have a possible angle on a trade for 2 more, which would be perfect and we're doing everything we can to make it happen.

** time passes **

I'm determined to replace the headlights on the car today, small comfort as it may be. I'd better get dressed.

September 17, 2002
It's amazing how the laziness

It's amazing how the laziness that can take hold for a few days, or a week or two, when you suddenly find yourself without a job. When I do anyway. The funny thing is that it even applies to the things that I supposedly "want" to do. All those things that I couldn't ever fit in because I never had any free time, I'm not doing them now either. I still have most of my original faith that I eventually will, but I'm also starting to remember my life up to this point. Ha ha... oh yeahhhh.....

Today, however, I baked. It may seem like a small accomplishment, but I made something, from a bunch of other things, it's in the oven. It was fun. The nice thing about baking is that you can clean up while the thing is in the oven, then you don't have the depression that comes with cooking and eating a beautiful meal, only to face cleaning it up after you've eaten. After eating, you're sated, bloated and happy, the last thing you should do is dishes. I'm a big fan of leaving them til the next day. Baking, though, the cleaning is part of the making, then when it's done, bing!, you've got cake and clean.

I was going to write something the other day about how amazing it is that rock stars who stood at the edge of the stage with a mini-keyboard on a stand, with a silver jacket and giant girl hair, were ever popular. I know we tend to fall back on "the style of the time", but really, these guys must have looked just as ridiculous even then. I'm thinking of Hall and Oates here. What the hell was going on there? "Rich Girl" Live? People actually went to these guys' concerts?!
One of the dancers was wearing a fanny pack.

And now, a chilling vision of things to come:
chilling vision
September 16, 2002
Yeah, that's right.
Yeah, that's right.
September 13, 2002
Things I haven't done yet:

Things I haven't done yet:
1. Written that French Toast article
2. Made any car repairs, or even looked at it.
3. Studied for the LSAT.
4. Thought about whether I really want to do something stupid like go to law school.
5. Started working on redesigning my site.
6. Started working on redesigning nimprovyc.com
7. Started working on the Nova Scotia thingie, whatever that may be.
8. Started looking for work of any kind.
9. Eaten.

Things I have done:
1. Beat the Mecha-Bowser.
2. Contemplated reinstalling my operating system clean (would take days to get everything back to normal).
3. The dishes.
4. Found 12 Shine Sprites.

My attitude toward Oxygen has slowly gone from indifferent to slightly hostile. I'm thinking of writing an email. Liz told me yesterday that they now think that much or all of the work will be done by November 1, so the people who were told they would be working until December 13 will go early, but still be paid through that date, plus their severance. And this on top of the fact that no one is doing any work there whatsoever right now. Maybe a few people are, or are talking about it, but most of the people I know who are being layed off in December are bored silly. This pisses me off because I was one of few people selected to get cut immediately, severance (oh so meager) and that's it, instead of 3 months of pay for 6 or 7 weeks of nothing. Seems unfair, no? At least half of the household is getting a free ride.

On a geekier note, I have to take issue with this Mac thing. They're cool looking and fancy in some ways, and the Unix base to OS X is cool, but their trendiness right now is getting boring. Those switch ads are terrible, and since installing "Jaguar" on the G4, when you right click the mouse, the whole desktop redraws, Final Cut doesn't work anymore, etc. This is an incremental release, you would think it wouldn't make your software stop working.

I need a suggestion box. "What should I do today?" Maybe I'll work on that.

September 12, 2002
One Year Ago Today Liz

One Year Ago Today

Liz and I spent the day together today, didn't watch any of the coverage on TV, and really had quite a nice day.

Actually we watched a few minutes of TV, as they read off the names of victims to the music from Schindler's List, but couldn't take it for very long and changed the channel to Tom & Jerry. It's not that we couldn't take it emotionally, it was something else. I understand the need, or at least motivation, for the way the anniversary is being handled, but it's not for me. Some people probably get a lot of solace or comfort from it, but to me it taints my memories and true feelings about the event. I have trouble with America being portrayed as the victim, I can't stand the talk of war in the same breath as remembering those lost in a senseless attack, and I just don't need to see the logos, graphics, slogans, hear the Lincoln quotes, and see all the flag waving. It has its place, perhaps, but it's not for me.

The BAM Rose Cinema was screening Woody Allen's Manhattan for free all day, so we walked through Prospect Park and over to the theater. It was packed and I got chills up and down my spine as the opening sequence ran, black and white images of New York, the narration, and Rhapsody in Blue. A great film, everyone who lives here should see it. It's not really about New York so much as it just is New York. It couldn't take place anywhere else. They call it Woody Allen's Valentine to the city, and it felt like that. There was practically a standing ovation at the end.

After the film we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge as the sun set, one of my favorite things in the world, and then had a nice dinner with Luke and Jeanhee at Jeanhee's beautiful Chelsea apartment.

I thought and talked about the events of a year ago today and tonight, but not too much, and I had a good day. I think it was just right.

September 9, 2002
About an hour and a

About an hour and a half into my first real day of joblessness in almost 4 years. I called to apply for unemployment, got lectured for using a cell phone but talked the lady into giving me a chance instead of waiting on hold for another 20 minutes, discovered why the dryer isn't working but have yet to fix it (I have to pace myself), called HR at the ex-office to inquire about my severance papers, which were returned to them by FedEx, and at least once contemplated the peeling paint.

A good days work, I think. I'm taking a nap.

Actually, I have to go to Circuit City to return some speakers exactly 30 days after I bought them, go into work to pack up my stuff and bask in sympathy, probably sign some papers vowing never to reveal the secret of Oxygen's success, and get ready for the volleyball team's first playoff game tonight. Oh, I also have to get my GameCube back from Luke, I think I'm going to need it.

Oh come on, I'm just kidding. I promise not to sit around playing video games and eating fudge-sicles for more than 2 weeks. Okay 5.

As for the trip, I want to tell all about it, and I will, but I think perhaps not in this blog. As part of my new quest to invent things for me to do, I think I'll make a mini-site of some kind with all the photos and stories, blueberries and whales. I shall call it "Scootcher". Or maybe something else.

Some stats to whet your whistles:
Time Gone: 14 days, 11 hours
Badunkadunk Miles: 2061
Actual Miles: approx. 2473 (why different? well.... another story)
Nights in hotels: 3
Nights in Badunk: 8
Skinny dippins: 1
Showers: 2
Sunrises: 2

September 8, 2002
Difficult after a long absence,

Difficult after a long absence, especially such an eventful one, to start back into the blog. There's far too much to report for one post, but then if I don't talk about the events of the past few weeks, I might never. Then again, I have a lot of time on my hands.

See? Crap, I walked away for half an hour or more. Not feelin it. Watching tennis. More later.