Monday, January 24, 2005

Thought for the day
When God closes a door, he opens a window. Since you live on the fifteenth floor and don't have a fire escape, what, exactly, is God suggesting?
I've noticed that among those commenting on the Larry Summers thing, the split between the "he's a sexist ass!" crowd and the "hmmm, I wonder if he's onto something" crowd seems to fall neatly along gender lines.

Must be cuz girls can't do math.
A few years back, I was doing a textbook buyback at a community college in Battle creek Michigan. It was almost exactly a year after my first wife left me and about a month after we officially signed the divorce papers. The buyback was a week long (with a weekend off in the middle), in a town I'd never been to, where I knew nobody, and it wasn't a particularly busy one, meaning a lot of time sitting by myself at a table in the student union. I'd brought a book to get me through the slow times, but when Wherever You Go, There You Are came across the table, I had to at least take a look at it, for Buckaroo Banzai's sake, if not my own.

The title essay suggests the unthinkable, that when it comes to your problems, maybe it's you. Oddly enough, though, that struck me as good news. At that point in my life, my brain was broken, and Kabat-Zinn had some very simple suggestions as to how to fix it. Actually, it was just one suggestion: Pay Attention.

I could go on, but all I really want to do with this post is suggest that if you're looking for a good introduction to (or reinforcement of) mindfulness practice, his books are a good place to start. And that if you're in or around Columbia, you might like to hear him speak this Wednesday or Thursday. Here's what's happening when.

Friday, January 21, 2005

So, the car thing is resolved. Thanks to Christie's family connections, Ford's recklessly generous retirement benefits, and the modern miracle of "bonus cash", the self-indulgent thing ended up also being the fiscally responsible thing, and I am now the proud owner of a brand-new Ford Focus sedan.

There were screw-ups and delays galore, but I have a brand new car (for the first time in my life) that's sexy as hell, so I'm in a very forgiving mood.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

I knew I was in trouble when she laid down her first word: "twisted". What with using all her letters and the double word score, she had a 124 point lead before I'd laid down a tile. I'd like to say that was a fluke, but I barely broke 200, and her final score was, if I recall correctly, 504.

Obviously, my vocabulary's nothing to brag about, but I believe that's what they call "an ass kicking".

Monday, January 17, 2005

In a certain shopping center in Kansas City, about 15 feet up a 20 foot high wall, there's a silly-putty T, one of two placed there by Theron and I perilously close to 20 years ago. But that's nothing compared to a tennis ball that's been lodged in a cathedral archway for over 100 years.

Friday, January 14, 2005

So the adjustor finally calls me, and asks, does your car have 375,000 miles on it? I say, no, more like 121,000. He says, damn, I was afraid of that, well lemme call the body shop and verify the miles, then I'll get back to you one whether it's a total, but with 121,000 miles, it might be a close call. Fine, says I, I'll talk to you later.

Five minutes later, the body shop calls to ask me how many miles I have on my car. Keep in mind, of course, that they have the actual car, and could go check. But it's easier, I guess, to pick up the phone and call me, so they do. Which means that the insurance company just verified what I told it by checking with...me.

Monday, January 10, 2005

The blue white light of nightlight dreams
in which a whispered wish becomes
and you, ephemeral, are pinned down
with a word that doesn't
mean what it used to,
if it ever did,
and what we are is nothing
next to what we are become.

That word, which could have come between us
is nothing, just another word
given in a glance or shouted
on the street or
whispered in a squeeze
of fingers when the theater
lights go out or spoken,
matter of factly,
in the sleepy still moment before dreams.

Friday, January 07, 2005

In the category of "I couldn't have said it better myself", here are some tips on hacking your own mind.

In the category of "Yes, and...", here's Dale Keiger on yellow ribbon magnets, and here's my addition:

A month or so ago, a young woman knocked on my door, holding up a stack of yellow ribbon magnets for my perusal.

"Support our troops? Only four dollars!"

"Where does the money go?"

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, how does it support our troops? There are a lot of people saying they support our troops, but then the money turns around and goes for something else. So, where does it go?"

"Oh. Well, I don't really know."

"Then I guess I'll have to say no."

"Okay. Wanna buy a lighter?" And she held up a tray of lighters with American eagles on them.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Yesterday it rained, and last night it froze. It took me half an hour to clear my windows this morning, if you include it the break I took to let my cheeks thaw (it was all of 14 degrees at the time). My usual route is mostly side streets, but I thought it best to stick to the main roads, thinking they'd be salted and cindered by now.

Oops.

When the car started sliding, I did everything I was supposed to. I pumped the brakes, which succeeded in turning me sideways, so I steered into the skid, which got me back to being aimed straight for the SUV in front of me. There was a nice yard on my right, which seemed like the perfect place to stop, but I couldn't turn sharply enough, so instead of going into the yard, I went into the pole.

Luckily, I was only going about 10-15 mph at the time. Unluckily, I hit the pole squarely with the front corner of my car, doing some level of damage to my bumper, quarter panel, hood, grill cover, headlight, radiator, and who knows what else. Since I drive a ten year old tic-tac, that makes it pretty likely that I just totalled my car.

So, how was your day?

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Monday, January 03, 2005

Christie were on I-44 long after dark on Thursday night, headed toward friends and the promise of vague New Year's plans. A star fell exactly parallel to our path, slicing our view in half as it burned itself out.

"Did you make a wish?" she asked.

"Nope," I said, "no need."

And that, dear reader, is my year in a nutshell.
Great googly moogly. A Seattle judge won't let woman divorce while she's pregnant, even though her husband beat her, and isn't the father. She took up with a new fella after the divorce proceedings started, got pregnant by him, and wants to marry him, but can't because some idiot judge is worried her kid will be "illegitimate". Jeesh.