Wednesday, June 30, 2004

I've read that visualization can be a real help in fighting cancer, particularly if you're very specific in visualizing your immune system fighting it off. That's one reason why I think it's such a good idea to create a video game around fighting cancer. The fact that it was designed by a kid with leukemia is just icing on the cake.
My horoscope this week starts with "The astrological omens are telling me you need a vacation from media babble." How fortunate, then, that I'm leaving Saturday morning for my annual media fast in Michigan. This year will be a little different in that we'll be shoehorning in a visit to Christie's grandparents in Ann Arbor, but I still plan to avoid electronic media as much as possible.

Except Spider-man, of course. I mean, let's be reasonable.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Wil Wheaton put up a link to gmail4troops, which is set up to facilitate donations of gmail invites to our troops overseas. The good news is that it looks like they have more haves than needs. The bad news is that I've got a handful of gmail invites burning a hole in my pocket. I've been using it for a couple of months now and like it a lot, so if you're interested, drop me an email, and I'll invite you.

Priority, as always, will be given to people I know in real life, but anybody's eligible.
Oh, and I have a new hero.
Kevin Drum's posted his take on Fahrenheit 911, and it's the typical "I'm a liberal who doesn't really like Michael Moore" sort of review. He specifically compares its "slanders and cheap shots" to those of the pro-war crowd, saying "He never flat out says that the Bush family is on the Saudi payroll. Rather, he simply includes '9/11,' 'Bush,' and 'Saudi Arabia' in as many sentences as possible, thus leaving the distinct impression that George Bush is a bought and paid for subsidiary of the Saudi royal family."

Um, okay. Except Moore's "insinuations" are filled to overflowing with facts, not one of which I've actually heard refuted. And I must have seen a slightly different edit from the one Kevin saw, because the argument I saw presented on screen on Saturday was that the Bush family's long-standing personal and financial friendship with the Bin Ladens and the Saudi royal family created a blind spot that got in the way of Bush doing his job properly.

And then there's Afghanistan. Many reviewers have characterized Moore's 'argument' like this: "The invasion of Afghanistan was a sham, and we didn't send enough troops!" Sort of like the classic restaurant review, "the food was no good, and the portions too small!" Some have also brought up Moore's objections at the time to our invasion of Afghanistan, or, more accurately, to the way in which we invaded Afghanistan.

There's a difference, you see, between agreeing on a goal, and agreeing on the means. I've got a great-uncle out in Santa Cruz, for example, who's something of a family legend for having invented the most effective gopher trap ever. I'm probably violating some sort of secret family compact by telling you this, but the secret ingredient is a blasting cap. Trust me, it's very effective, and the damage it does to your yard is minimal, geologically speaking. It is a little hard on your sleep schedule, though. And the water main. But it's very effective, and you want the gophers out, right?

Moore's complaint regarding Afghanistan is that we used so few ground troops that the people we were after got away, set up a puppet government certain to be sympathetic to business interests friendly to Bush, et al, then moved on to going after Iraq without doing enough to protect against Afghanistan dropping back into the chaos that allowed Al Qaeda to find shelter there. That strikes me more as a listing of facts than a structured argument, and it's a pretty damning set of facts.

The negative reviews I've read of F911 fall into two camps. They either say Michael Moore Hates America! And You! or they bemoan the sorrow of having such an intellectually dishonest person on their side, and why don't his arguments make sense?

You can't even talk to the first group, but it's sure fun to watch them sputter while their heads turn red. As for the second, his arguments don't make sense because he's not making arguments, he's telling a story. That's generally what documentaries do.

Here's the story he's telling: an incompetent, corrupt son of priviledge finagles his way into the White House, where he glided through life screwing things up but doing relatively little actual damage, until terrorists attack New York. If he'd been paying attention, he might have seen it coming, and possibly even taken steps to prevent it, but we wasn't. Ironically, though, the attacks give him political power like he's never tasted before, as the American people rally behind their leader. Logic and political realities dictate that he go after the people who attacked us, but that's not exactly in our hero's best interest, since his personal wealth was largely created by and is dependent on the same people who support the terrorist who attacked us. So he leads us instead into Iraq, where things go terribly wrong.

There's another, parallel story being told, of an Everywoman who loves America and supports our president, but comes to realize after her son is killed in Iraq that she's been conned, as have the rest of us. It's a much simpler story, and definitely more emotionally powerful than the first, but it would lose its power without the first to give it context, just as the Bush story would, on its own, lack real-world impact. The two stories need one another.

So it's fair to ask if the stories hold together, and if they fit the facts. Unfortunately for Bush, they do - much better than the assortment of stories we hear from the mainstream media these past few years.

Does that mean I think it's the literal truth? No. I think the truth is probably less interesting. Incompetence is a thousand times more common than corruption. But we live in a country where more than half of the populace think Bush is doing a bad job, while the media continues to ignore basic facts of his biography and job performance while broadcasting out and out falsehoods put out by his supporters. No wonder Moore's getting standing ovations across the country.
Two great stories are featured in The Anomalist this week. The first points to evidence of toolmakers in North America at least 16,000 years ago, well before current scientific theory says there should be. The second revisits a story they covered last week about an unusual rock found just north of Abilene, TX. Apparently it' oddly shaped rock. Here's my favorite bit: '''Why is it so heavy?' Oliver asked. Ouimette said, 'Because it's a rock.'"

Friday, June 25, 2004

Apparently she was fake. I knew it all along.
What happens when a gear-head becomes a dad. It's a nice little article, but what about those of us who are both gear-heads and geeks? Oh well. Any taxonomy is going to have gaps. And it was worth it just to see this. Who knew you could get a crib that padlocks shut?

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

I've been arguing about language with Billie in a comments thread, though it started in real life. As is so often the case, it started with Alanis Morrissette. Now I have nothing against the woman, but that damn song of hers is full of things that are not ironic except in the loosest sense of the word. Billie, chivalrous soul that he is, leapt to her defense, citing the sixth definition found in my massive unabridged dictionary, since the cable modem was out at the time, which included "surprising or unexpected." Later when he went home and we took the argument online, he cited's fifth definition "an outcome of events contrary to what was, or might have been, expected", and the sixth, "the incongruity of this."

I won't try to sum the whole thing up. It's here if you really care. Suffice it to say that we very quickly found ourselves in a deep structure conflict, where the conflict was ultimately in our assumptions as much as in our conclusions. For instance, we have very different attitudes about the dictionary. It'd be a sidetrip on a dangerous road to give voice to how Billie views the dictionary, but I'm finding it very interesting to try and articulate my own, so that's what I'll stick to.

Language is a river through diverse landscapes, not even as simple a thing as a lake, but dictionaries do their best to treat it like a swimming pool, all smooth edges and clear water. At their best, they're a snapshot of the way the language is used at a given moment in history, and as such are very useful. At their worst, they're an attempt to nail fire to a log, and just about as safe.

When we speak or write, we conjure words from behind some curtain in a process that no one really understands. For the many thousands of years in which dictionaries did not exist, this was a fuzzy, haphazard process, and the meaning of words depended entirely on how they were used. Saelig is an Anglo-Saxon word meaning, variously, "blessed", "holy", or "sacred". We don't know this because we found an Anglo-Saxon dictionary, we know this because it's used to describe saints, churches, and other places we intuit to have been holy to the people using the word. The same word in modern English, "silly", has a slightly different meaning.

Sometimes when we're dealing with dead languages, there's hardly any context at all. For instance, at one point in Beowulf, Grendel is described as ____ing across the swamp toward the great hall. What is ____? Damned if I know, but it shows up one other time in the Anglo-Saxon literature that survives, describing a group of clouds moving quickly across the horizon in the evening. Clear? Not particularly. But evocative as hell.

Language is a tool for messing with other people's heads, and words are tiny evocative units, used to conjure pictures, tug at the heartstrings, bring anger to the surface, or whatever we need them to do. They derive the power to do this from the ways in which we hear them used throughout our lives. "Fuck!" has a lot more emotional weight to my parents than to me because they've heard it almost exclusively in highly emotional circumstances, while I hear it just about every fucking day. "Bloody" sounds pretentious to me because I only heard it on PBS when I was a kid, but to a Brit, I've been told, it sounds course. Very different emotional loads.

Gone are the days when dictionaries stood as prescriptive edifices telling us the correct way to use our language. Editors today recognize that the ultimate arbiters of a language are its users, not themselves. That's how we get words like orientate. A good dictionary will, if space allows, address these sorts of issues, such as in the American Heritage's usage note for "utilize", which points out that, while "many occurrences of utilize could be replaced by use with no loss to anything but pretentiousness", there is a legitimate and very specific meaning which would be lost if we completely purge it from our vocabulary. But that's not the point, really.

The point is that a dictionary is really just a tool for finding out how language is used by its community. If we're curious about how to use a word, the dictionary tells us what everybody else is doing. But not every use is created equal. To go back to "ironic", it's true that a lot of people use it so casually anymore that it might as well be a synonym for "surprising". Of course, a lot of people say "literally" when they mean exactly the opposite.

So, yes, when Alanis says that a black fly in her chardonnay is ironic, it might be considered surprising (if you've never found a black fly in white wine before, and are an incurable optimist). It might even be considered inappropriate, though I can't really imagine why, since fruit flies feed on yeast, and are therefore attracted to the smell of fermenting fruit. So if ironic means unexpected and incongruous, and incongruous means inappropriate, and you've limited your worldview to only include the best possible outcome, therefore ignoring the existence of flies that might land in your wine, then calling that outcome "ironic" could technically be considered correct.

But you'd be modeling your language use on the sloppy end of the scale, and why do that if you know better?
Future voters against Bush - A group of 13 year-old girls advocating against Bush. I'll be downtown during the Twilight Festival tomorrow night; I'll keep my eyes open and see if I can get one of those "President Bush went to the White House and all I got was $20,000 in debt" t-shirts.
I finally got around to taking down the link to Plain Layne. She took her site down weeks ago, spurring a tempest in a teapot, the result of which was a bunch of people deciding that she was a fake and her blog a fiction. As I've said, I think she's probably real, though her name might not be Layne Johnson, and she probably fictionalized at least part of her life (who doesn't). Why? Mostly it's a gut thing, but really it comes down to a lack of convincing evidence either way.

Here's my problem: Some of the folks who read her blog are completely convinced that it was fiction, and they've hit the various archives available to the Internet community and created a nearly complete archive of the site. Now, one of two things is possible here; either she's real, or she's not.

If they're right, and the site's fiction, then they're appropriating the work of a living author and republishing it without her permission and more than likely against her will. That's a bad thing to do.

If they're wrong (which they don't seem to be considering even as a possibility), then she took her blog down for a reason, and they may well do serious harm by reposting it. Just to pull some possible examples, her last few entries talked about romantic relationships on the verge, professional opportunities, and her parents moving to town and becoming more a part of her day to day life. Any or all of these could motivate her to want to be a little less visible on Google. And then there are the psychological issues that can come from living too public a life. Her every decision was weighed and commented on daily by a raucous peanut gallery. It's easy to see why somebody would want to escape that, but I can't see how it'd be helped by having strangers write bad "fanfic" about her life.

As for the good that comes from reposting the site, I can only think of one: entertainment.

So how selfish do you have to be to think that your own entertainment is worth possibly screwing up somebody's life?

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Dr. William Hatcher, Platonist, puts forth a new argument for the existence of God. Here are his premises, listed without the steps taken to get to them:

1. Something exists. Even an illusion is something, so this is clearly true.

2. Everything that exists has a cause (this is not the same as a purpose).

Intermission: In order to be God, an entity must exist, must be unique, must be self-caused, and must be the ultimate cause of everything else. Please note that no particular attributes beyond this are given.

3. All somethings (with the possible exception of sub-atomic particles) are made up of other somethings.

4. Something cannot be the cause of its own parts. i.e. If A is a part of B, then B cannot have caused A because B is not B without A.

Conclusion: The universe, being a composite, cannot be the cause of its own parts, and cannot be self-caused. Therefore there must be something outside of the universe that caused it.

Fucking Platonists. They really need to read more physics. First of all, if sub-atomic particles are not composites, then the whole thing falls apart, since they may, in fact, be self-causing. Secondly, what's the deal with premise 4? My blood is a part of my body, but it is also caused by my body, and if I lose some of it (which happens whenever I work with tools, it seems), I may be diminished, but I am still me. In fact, I'm constantly shedding pieces and taking up new ones, as is everything other composite in our Heraclitean universe. And even if his argument held together, he's still only proven that the universe depends on a logical cause that stands outside of it. This is not news to anybody with even a moderate familiarity with cosmological physics.

Still, a nice try and a fun diversion for a few minutes.

In a similar vein, here are 38 dirty debate tricks and how to argue against them. (Thank Rebecca for the links.)

Monday, June 21, 2004

Quote of the Week
Christie: A black fly in your chardonnay is not ironic. Now, if it were a bottlefly...
Defective Yeti's got a new, chuckle-provoking article up on The Morning News:The LiveJournal of Zachary Marsh.

Friday, June 18, 2004

McSweeney's has a number of Open Letters to People or Entities Who Are Unlikely to Respond. Each one I've read has had its own particular charm, but I particularly liked An Open Letter To The Strange Red Bugs With Many Legs Living In My Basement, Which Is Where My Roommates And I Sleep.
This Craigslist entry entitled "I almost won a Darwin Award" brings a chuckle or two, even though when I saw the link on Kottke, I wondered if I'd taken the time to write up the white gas incident from my last camping trip with Billie and Emily, and then forgotten about it. But no, this is nothing so mundane. After all, any yahoo can burn his eyebrows off trying to start a campfire, but it takes a special kind of genius to run yourself over with your own car. Christie, please take note of this, and remember that I've never done anything even close to this. Not that I can think of, anyway.

House Update: When I came home last night, there was a steady stream of water coming out of the iron cover on the water meter that's buried in the front yard. Turned out to be a broken gasket on the city's side of the water meter, so not only did the city fix it for free, but since the leak was on the other side of the meter, my water bill's not going to go up. Still, I'm looking forward to Christie coming home so that things'll stop breaking.
My dad's a bit of a storyteller, and one of the recurrent characters in the stories he'd tell my mom in the early years of their marriage was a guy he grew up with named Soapy Gommerginger. The only one of the stories I can even vaguely remember now revolved around the fact that Soapy lived in a house on stilts down by the river, but the impression I get from my mom is that they were all similarly implausible. La Cygne's not a big town, so they don't have high school reunions, exactly. But they'd have a big get-together every year where whoever wants to show up, shows up, regardless of when you graduated. It's held at the high school, so there was never any booze, unless you wanted to count the coolers of beer everybody had in their cars. Naturally, then, the real party was out in the parking lot, and that's where my parents were, young and fancy-free, having dropped my older brother with my grandparents for the evening.

"I'm standing there talking to your Aunt Joyce," my mom says, "When your dad, who's standing next to some car, get's all excited and starts motioning me over. 'Dotty, I'd like you to meet somebody,' he says. 'Dotty, Soapy Gommerdinger.'"

At this point in the story, my mom would pantomime her younger self shaking hands with the air, and incredulously say, "I never believed in you."

I, on the other hand, grew up steeped in "I'm not making it up, I'm making it good", so I like to think I'm a little better at telling fact from fiction. And if I ever meet Layne Johnson of Minnesota, I'll have no problem saying, "I knew you were real." Not everybody agrees with me, of course, but it takes all kinds of folks to run a railroad.

In a fascinating development, over at Plain Layne, the inmates have taken over the asylum. Should be an interesting experiment.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

So, how's your week been? Mine? Well, let's see...

Monday night I dropped Christie off at my parents' house in Kansas City so she could catch an early morning flight, had dinner and a little facetime with the folks, then headed home about 10:00, putting me in bed by not too long after midnight. No stress, I can just go to bed early tomorrow night, I thought.

Tuesday night, the cable goes out, as does the cable modem. Fine. It happens. I mean, sure, it sucks when the girlfriend leaves town, then the porn pipeline shuts down, but I've got a Tivo full of shows to watch, laundry to do, books to read, and boxes full of stuff to be put away in the kitchen. Besides, the cable generally fixes itself in a matter of minutes. After a couple of hours, though, it's still out, so I decide to check all the connections, then call the cable company. Everything looks fine inside the house, so I check the box outside. The first thing I notice is that it's warm. And when I open it up, there are sparks coming from the ground wire connection, and I can see that the insulation around the cable where it comes into the filters is starting to melt! Nice.

While I'm on hold with Mediacom, I call the city (which provides my electricity). I know cable isn't supposed to carry any current, just data, so maybe something got crossed up on the pole? The promise to send somebody right out. Meanwhile, I disconnect the cable in the house so I don't do anymore damage to my equipment than might have already happened, and tighten the almost completely loose ground wire on the cable box so that the current will have somewhere to go.

I finally get through to Mediacom, and the guy on the other line makes notes on my problem and agrees that it sounds very, very serious. However, as I found out when I called them today to find out what they were doing to solve my problem, he apparently forgot to press the "do something" button or whatever the hell it is you're supposed to do that makes men with trucks come to your house and fix things. But I didn't know that at the time, and get off the phone feeling like something's being done.

About this time, the guys from the city show up. They can tell right away that it's not their problem, but they stick around anyway, checking the voltage from various things to ground, opening up my main breaker box, checking the meter and just generally poking and prodding until they're pretty sure it's a problem with the cable and nothing with the house, but I might want to call an electrician, just to be sure. In the words of one of them, "You got me, chief. It's a head-scratcher, alright."

Before they leave, they uncouple the house from the wire coming off the pole, so I no longer have firehazard screwed onto the side of my house. Nice guys. I go to bed not too long after midnight, thinking as I plummet into sleep that I need to get a surge protector for the entertainment center that covers the coax as well as the plugs.

Wednesday: There's no point in surge protection if you're dealing with an ungrounded outlet, and that's an ungrounded outlet. So I spend my lunch hour buying 50 ft. of 14 gauge wire, fish tape, outlet boxes, wire staples, and, of course, a surge protector. Oh, and Rolos.

It's getting hot outside, and the AC's been sucking wind lately, so I call Reed Heating and Air Conditioning. They think maybe they can get somebody to come out the next day. Great, I say. About 4:30, I get a call. Can I be home in ten minutes? Turns out somebody got done early with another job, and he can come by right away. Really great, I say. So I'm doing wiring while he's hunting down a freon leak. Being a professional (and having a task that's a little more limited in scope), he's done well before I am. But I am, once again, in bed not too long after midnight.

What did I learn? Well, my belief that nothing ever goes as plan was once again confirmed. And I've expanded my belief that somebody's drunk brother-in-law wired my house has been expanded to somebody's drunk, insane brother-in-law wired my house. That impressive looking fifty year old fuse box at the bottom of my stairs? It turned out to control a single light switch that, in turn, controlled a single 40 watt light bulb. I'm keeping it, though, to be used for some sort of mad-scientist project down the road.

And then there's my totally irrational belief that blood must be shed before the home-improvement gods will allow any significant work to continue. In addition to the usual ephemeral scratches, this time I got a nice puncture wound right between my fingers from (wait for it) a rusty nail. So not only does it hurt in that deep, I-think-I-cut-into-muscle kind of way, but I get to go in for a tetanus booster. Whee!

Oh, and the cable is still out, but they say they'll be able to come fix it on Monday. Monday! Jeez. Mediacom could definitely take a lesson from the air conditioning guy.

In other news, Hoffmania is back from vacation with some truly funny Florida stories.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Dunno if you've heard, but there's a California PR firm out to keep Fahrenheit 9/11 out of theaters. They've been nice enough to put up a website with email contact info for all the major theater chains, saying, "Since we are the customers of the American movie theatres it is important for us to speak up loudly and tell the industry executives that we don’t want this misleading and grotesque movie being shown at our local cinema."

Of course, I'm a customer of American movie theaters, and I very much want to see this movie, so I sent the companies that own my local theaters a note telling them as much.

Update: I've already heard back from Goodrich, which runs the Forum 8 in Columbia. The emails they've received have run 85% for the movie to 15% against, and they're definitely going to carry it.

Monday, June 14, 2004

I'd like to artfully evoke the last week of futzing with the house and working on work, but I worked too hard in the heat and dust and cat dander yesterday, so my neck and sinuses have my head in a full nelson and I'm just not up to it. Instead, I'll just have to tell you that my house was apparently wired by somebody's drunk uncle, and the blinking and brightening lights were scaring Christie and freaking out the UPS that keeps my computer happy, so my spare cycles have been used up on learning about electricity, with precious little time and energy left over for blogging.

But I do have a couple of things to share:

First of all, if you live in eastern Missouri, please consider firing Kenny Hulshof and sending Linda Jacobsen to Congress in his place. I got to talk with her for a while yesterday evening, and she strikes me as worth your vote. Hulshof's got a reputation as a nice guy and responsive to his constituents, but he has, for the most part, marched in lockstep with the incompetent morons who are ruining our country and done nothing for our state. Don't send him back for more of the same.

Secondly, Christie's leaving tonight for ten days or so of fun in the sweltering heat of New Orleans, hanging with her parents and spending her professional development money. I expect a few hours of exhilaration, followed in close order by nihilism, despondency and despair, mitigated only by escapism, until she returns to find my ass fused to the couch. Or I might go crazy-busy, cleaning, building, filing, etc. to keep my mind off man's inhumanity to man and my own insignificance when faced with the vastness of the universe. Either way, it should be entertaining for youse guys, which is the most important thing after all.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a meeting, so I must go pretend to contribute.

Friday, June 11, 2004

I watched a few excerpts of Ashcroft's testimony (and I use that word very, very loosely) before Congress, and it left a strong impression. First of all, I never thought much of Joe Biden before now, but he gave intelligent voice to the same righteous anger I feel in response to this administration's arrogant disregard for human decency and the rule of law.

That phrase, "arrogant disregard for human decency and the rule of law", sounds as familiar to my ear as the repetive call of the whippoorwill, or the shrill chirp of the crickets in my backyard, but in this case it's the call of the Lesser American Leftie, a species that likes to think its endangered but that actually flourishes in many isolated ecospheres across the country. And like bad money driving out good, their constant, chirping moral outrage has so diluted our discourse that the national ear tunes out the words.

How then are we to express ourselves when our president and his staff refuse to answer our questions about their policies, and we find out only through the actions of conscientious individuals that they have crafted legally torturous justifications for setting aside both international and United States law, purely on the say-so of one man?

I used to worry that we would need to put Bush and his crew on trial for war crimes, so that the international community could see us search for the truth, and see that we are a nation of laws, and that even Presidents could be held accountable for breaking them.

Now I want to see Ashcroft in prison for contempt of Congress until he understands that he works for us, and that our system of checks and balances was written into the Constitution for precisely these sorts of situations, and I still want to see Bush, et al. up on charges, not because of the international community, but for the simple reason that they broke the law, destroyed lives and did possibly irreparable harm to the nation they swore to protect.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Mark Kleiman's posted a nice New Yorker Piece by Evan Eisenberg called Bushido: the Way of the Armchair Warrior. Here's a taste:

Once, a group of travellers were on a perilous journey, in the course of which they had to cross a river. Unluckily, their guide forgot the location of the bridge, so the party had to ford the river, which, at the place they then found themselves, was shallow but very wide. After several minutes of wading through the icy water, the travellers began to grumble, "This guide is worthless! Let us abandon him and find another!" Sensing the discontent of his charges, the guide cleverly led them into a deeper part of the river, where the current was stronger and the footing more treacherous. "Help us!" the travellers cried. "Esteemed guide, do not abandon us!"

Monday, June 07, 2004

It's tempting to think of a canoe as a marriage in microcosm. After all, two people in a canoe are joined together on an uncertain course where the actions of each affect them both in ways that can be predictable, but are often totally unexpected. A lot of the time you can coast, but obstacles will come up, and if you can't bring teamwork and communication to bear on them, you'll end up in the drink.

But that's about as far as I want to take it, lest we end up in Promise Keepers territory. When a man and a woman canoe together, the man usually ends up in back, partly because canoeing falls under the banner of generalized "boy stuff" along with hunting, camping, catching frogs, and, I don't know, pissing off of bridges, so in your average boy/girl couple, the boy's more likely to have been canoeing. And paddling a canoe is much more about the arms and shoulders than, say, a kayak, which involves the hips and abs, making it a little more female-friendly. And whoever's in the back of the boat ends up steering.

It's not for sexist reasons that my favorite part of this weekend's trip on the Niangua River was when Christie stuffed the drybag in the bow for padding and stretched out backwards in the seat, enjoying the view upstream while I worried about what was ahead of us. It's more that as hard as it is to improve of the oldest mountains on the continent looking more or less the way they looked before the first white man set eyes on them, every landscape looks better with Christie's smile in it.

Of course, Christie's not the kind of girl who could be happy if she never got to drive, so I took my turn in the front of the boat while she drove. Unfortunately, I'm so used to driving the boat that I kept trying to make the canoe go where I wanted it to, in spite of the fact that I didn't know Christie's plan, couldn't even see her, and was in the front of the boat, where I couldn't effectively steer even if I had the necessary information. But I'm strong enough that I could pull us enough out of line that Christie couldn't compensate for me, which resulted in the quote of the day, from Christie:

"Stop helping me!"

Of course, that was immediately followed by, "Don't worry, I'll get us unstuck as soon as I finish my sandwich. I just can't focus when I'm eating."
Great quote from a letter to Neal Gaiman's blog: "I was re-listening to 'Snow, Glass, Apples' tonight...and I remembered something that had caught my attention last time I had listened to it. You refer to the 'mound of Venus' as the base of the thumb. I was always under the impression that one's mound of venus was nowhere near the thumb (well...I guess it really depends where the thumb is...)."