Monday, October 31, 2005

Around the office, I've got a reputation as the guy to go to with weird questions. Was the fax machine really invented before the telephone? Yes. Is that one story about the guy in the place just an urban legend? Probably. Back in the heady dot-com days, my ex-boss would bring me a press release to see what I could find out about all the various names in it.

That was back in the day, of course, when Sergei Brin was an undergrad, and Google wasn't even a dream. Google makes it all so much easier, now, not to mention expanding every day the scope of what you can find out. Which is why, from time to time, I pull a name out of the ether and see what I can find out in five minutes.

There are certain constraining factors, though. The Jim Smith I went to high school with is forever ungoogleable, I'm afraid. And Otik Zefas is no challenge whatsoever. Today's target, [redacted], was ideal, though, because her name was neither unique nor too common, requiring a certain amount of skill to extract her biography from the various other [redacted]s out there.

The rules of the game don't require any particular relationship with the target, but in this case the young lady is question is sort of an ex. I say "sort of" because we never actually dated, but, being teenagers, we devoted more energy to 'not dating' than I've put into many of my actual romantic relationships since. So it's only natural that when we finally fell apart, we did so with a nastiness far exceeding the venom that got spewed in my real break-ups. Well, all but one. The low point might have been her telling me that it would never work between us because she was "champagne and polo", while I was "beer and bowling". Scratch that. The low point was actually the letter I wrote back to her after that, which makes me feel like a shit whenever I think about it, which is why I've artfully removed it from my memory, in order to maintain my hard-won sense of superiority.

So you can imagine my feelings as I found that, after college, she actually found work in her chosen profession, one which is both competitive and high-profile. And that, after a series of job changes, she's fairly close to the top of her field. And that she runs marathons. The marathon thing told me she lived in New York, and Google told me it's on the upper-west side. Huh. Champagne and polo, indeed.

But an intuition told me there was more. She was a voluminous writer as a young woman, and I know personally that that's a harder habit to kick than crack. A blog, perhaps? What I needed was an email address. A woman with her level of success has got to be on the speed-dial of her alma mater. Bingo. They list possible mentors with some basic contact info, and now I have her email address. Googling that only brings up a couple of pages, two of which are currently 404. But the url contains the text string "fanfic". I must know more! To the Wayback Machine!

Turns out that she wrote herself some General Hospital fan fiction. Tee-hee.

Phew. Hard-won sense of superiority intact.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Time to do a little photographic catch up. First things first, here's a before and after of a little wall repair in the kitchen. It's nothing too elaborate, just a wooden cap on the end of a wall that turned out not to have drywall on it once we pulled off the panelling. But, as I'm sure you'll see, it's a sizeable improvement.

Also, Christie and I have once again done overly elaborate pumpkins, and, once again, Christie's pumpkin kicks my pumpkin's ass. The pictures are here (along with last year's pumpkins).

Friday, October 28, 2005

Awesome Pumpkin Patterns. I think I'm either going to do a Wild Thing or Wile E. Coyote sillhouette.

Screw you, Aging!
"It's not that I feel old, it's just that this is the oldest I've ever been."
- Pete Seeger

A little over a week from now, I'm turning (to use Christie's phrase) "halfway to seventy", and all in all I'm okay with it. Something I used to think I'd have done by now are still left undone and things I'd hoped I'd be done with are still with me and likely always will be, but my life is full of wonderful surprises that I never would have thought could be mine, and I still feel, to steal one of my father's phrases (too old for original thought, I guess) that "every day is a net gain."

That being said, I'm not feeling very happy with my body right now. Yesterday morning, I tweaked my back putting on my shoes in exactly the same place that always hurts after a long day of canoeing, or when I've slept on the ground, and today it still hurts there, not again, but still, and it's actually getting worse, which sucks because my plans for the weekend involved not only two long days of canoeing, which is the best way in the world to see the fall colors in the ozarks, but also some sleeping on the ground, and I know that if I start out the weekend already hurt, I'm just doing to make myself worse, and come Sunday evening, I'd be in a body cast, and Christie would have to drag me up the stairs and prop me up in front of the TV so I could watch Extreme Makeover Home Edition, only this time I'd be thinking about whether Paul could come over and widen all our doors so that I could fit through them in my new body cast.

Except that Christie's sick, which means she wouldn't have the energy to drag me up the stairs, so no canoeing trip this weekend. And suddenly, I'm feeling like a seven-year-old stuck in the body of a fifty-year-old, and I want to whine about the unfairness of it all and throw myself around and stamp my foot, except I'm sort of afraid I'd hurt myself in the process.

Also, I went to the dentist yesterday and it was one of those, "Well, at your age..." kind of experience. I spent my whole youth worrying about a receding hairline, and now they tell me I have a receding gumline, which I didn't even know was on the menu. I feel very unprepared for getting older.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The case of the 500-mile email. Via Accordion Guy.
This is brilliant: Woodworking Tip: Table Saw Storage
The Problem with Missouri Town Names
Her: Wait, I'm confused. I'm supposed to keep going? But I just drove through Independence!

Me: Yeah, but you're going to Liberty.

Her: Well, you can see why I got confused.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

This is really annoying. Salon's started a new blog on women's issues, called Broadsheet. For the most part, it's fun, funny, and smart. But then there's this entry on Gordon Ramsay. The chef travelled around the country (not sure if it was the US or Britain), and said this: "I have been visiting ladies' houses up and down the country with our film crew and you would be amazed how little cooking the girls are doing. When they eat, they cheat -- it is ready meals and pre- prepared meals all the way...Seriously, there are huge numbers of young women out there who know how to mix cocktails but can't cook to save their lives, whereas men are finding their way into the kitchen in ever-growing numbers."

Katharine Mieszkowski pulls out of that the scare quote "women...can't cook to save their lives" as though he was talking about innate ability, when he's obviously talking about acquired skills, which are a completely different thing. For shame, Katharine.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

I was supposed to go camping with the guys a couple of weekends ago, but it was threatening rain, and I was feeling old and out of shape, and after much annoying vacillation and hair-pulling, I bailed. Last night Theron told me a story of what happened that weekend that had me very, very glad I bailed. It's tempting to go into details, because I haven't laughed that hard in I don't know how long. But it's also the most revolting story I've heard ever. And I do mean ever.

I will tell you this much: If anyone ever again asks me when Christie and I are going to get a dog, I will tell them the story of Chaco and a Most Disagreeable Breakfast. As long as nobody's eating.

Monday, October 17, 2005

The title of the Columbia Tribune's in-depth examination of the case against a couple of teen maybe-murderers is called Atonement, but it could just as easily be called "Epistemology". It's also depressing, heart-wrenching, and confusing. I really don't know what to think about this case.
Awesome model railroad slums.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Interesting editorial from The Crazy Town Ledger. Seriously, what planet are these people from? Here's a taste:

"In the same way that Democrats still call the shots on Capitol Hill, despite a Republican Senate majority, the Times and other liberal media forced the Bush administration to agree to their demands for an investigation in the CIA leak case. Fitzgerald was appointed by the Bush Justice Department and administration officials have been cooperating from the start."

Thursday, October 13, 2005

I agree that this magnetic egg timer is a nice piece of design, but there's a seriously problem with the article. They give this device as a good reason to switch to an all stainless steel kitchen. Except (duh!) magnets don't stick to stainless.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

More good reporting from Matt Welch on the rumors that flew in the Katrina aftermath.
Getting up at 6 to go to the gym was made much easier by the fact that, before the alarm, I was dreaming about a crumbling old house haunted by the parasitic ghost of a little girl. Very, very creepy.

There was even a creepy old retainer who was reluctant to let me leave until "the little miss had fed". Ugh.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Colorblender.com is a nifty little website where you put in a single color, and it provides you with a coordinating color scheme. Pair this up with Color Cop, and you've got free tools that can help you design a beautiful web page, paint your kitchen, or even dress yourself!

Monday, October 10, 2005

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Part Two

Her: What do you want to do tonight?

Me: We could go see Serenity again.

Her: What? God, I hate this cellphone. You're breaking up.

Me: Wait, America's Next Top Model and Veronica Mars are on tonight.

Her: What? I can't hear you.

Me: America's Next Top Model and Veronica Mars are on tonight.

Her: What?

Me: TV!

Her: Oh! Hey, America's Next Top Model is on tonight!

Me: Yeah, that's what I said. But there are only so many times I can risk saying that at work before somebody overhears me.
Her: I know we just needed milk, but I got us a bunch of produce.

Me: Okay.

Her: Cuz you said to see if there was any interesting produce, and there was. But I just got interesting stuff.

Me: Like?

Her: Well, I got a pomegranate. I've never had pomegranate. It'll be cool! And these little plums that're like the size of grapes. Oh! And potatoes.

Me: Yeah?

Her: But they're really interesting potatoes!

Me: (Laughing)

Her: What? I'm serious!

Me: Which is what makes it funny.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

My own personal theory as to why Bush's Supreme Court nominee a brainwashed crony with no judicial experience: Because he wants to keep his scrawny ass out of jail once his term is up and we start finding out just how corrupt he really is.

Jeez, I'm starting to sound like those dittoheads who were always bitching about Clinton. The key difference, of course, is that I'm right, and they were just crazy.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Serenity ruled, but the best stuff in the movie, the stuff that had real emotion resonance, I can't talk about in a spoiler-free environment. So just go see the movie already so we can talk about it!