Monday, April 30, 2007

On the one hand, it's great that the Highway 90 bridge is opening soon (see here for what it looked like after Katrina), but on the other, it's about damn time.

Can we talk about the Ninth Ward now?

Saturday, April 28, 2007

I feel like I ought to be blogging, but don't have all that much to say. At the doctor's office on Thursday, the nurse was kind enough to have the scale on kilograms when she weighed me in, but ruined it by switching it over to pounds before I could step off. Dammit! Oddly enough, I'd actually started working out again the night before. It's like I somehow knew that I was overweight and out of shape. I must be psychic!

Today, though, my workout was yard work. Tomorrow, maybe as well. Today was mowing, and tomorrow I think I'm going to try and coax grass into growing on our front hillside, weedy and denuded as it is. It's a process not unlike writing poetry. You prepare the soil, sow the seed, water just enough, but not too much, and then the birds come in and eat the seed, and you're left with weedy muck.

Christie's sick, so with her confined to the couch, I was finally able to get her to watch Clerks II. It's not that she doesn't like Kevin Smith movies (actually, she's a bigger fan of the first movie than I am). It just that sitting still for that long only happens when she's not feeling well. She liked it and all, but she was kind of bummed that Randall stole her Tolkien joke.

See, just a few weeks ago, she was reading some fantasy novel she picked up off a table at Barnes and Noble, and she tossed it aside saying, "I'm coming to realize that when one of these books says 'in the tradition of Tolkien' on the cover, all it really means is that there are going to be a lot of long, boring parts with a lot of fucking walking."

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Via Recomendo, we have A Periodic Table of Visualization Methods.

Apropos of nothing:
I once sat across a breakfast table from a military bomb technician for two mornings in a row at the Black Dog Inn in Estes Park. Though he was military, he'd been contracted out to the Secret Service. The B&B was a nice break for him, he said, because he usually stayed in 4-star hotels doing security for VIPs. He stayed in their rooms the night before they did, and spent that night going over every square inch, making sure it was safe.

The second morning, he came down to breakfast in a t-shirt that said "BOMB SQUAD" on the front, and on the back, "If you see me running, try to keep up."

Friday, April 20, 2007

I wish I understood my own mind a bit. For a couple of months now, I've been stressed out about two projects. One was almost completely out of my power to get done, but making sure it got done was completely my responsibility. Stressful. The other was also completely my responsibility, but I had a bit more to do with getting it done. Some crucial step would come up that required my work or my input, I'd get it done, and then I was back to waiting for the next piece to pop up. It was a whack-a-mole project, making it actually a bit more stressful than my "cross my fingers and hope" project.

Both launched this week. Stress over, right?

I wish. There's this knot in my gut, and I can't figure out what it's from. Usually when I'm stressed, my mind has some thing it's working on like a puzzle, and my mind is rotating it this way and that in my mind, trying to fit in the next piece, and all that brain churn keeps me up at night. Not this time. It's like the stress itself is the puzzle, and my brain is approaching it from every possible angle, trying to figure out what's causing it.

It's a knot, that much is clear, but there's not one or two big things in there that I'm worrying about. Instead, there's a mess of phone calls to make, little things to fix, big things to plan, and the one, big, intractable problem that I can't really do shit about. Except make a phone call to make an appointment to talk about options and find out what the hell is going on.

But I don't want to think about that, so instead I worry about how much longer the dryer is going to last on its slow march to death and replacement, what my boss is going to ask about the next time he walks into my cube, or which gutter place to call for a second estimate.

I guess I've got some phone calls to make over lunch.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

I've got to say thanks for all the support Christie and I have gotten since we opened up about the whole infertility thing. We're hardly unique in what we're going through, but it's not something anyone talks about, so nobody gets any support. Yes, there are support groups, but by talking about it openly, we've found our own support group from within our friends and family. So thanks.

Also, I realize somewhat belatedly that my crack about old magazines in the doctor's office might be construed as a complaint. Not true. See, as near as I can figure it, for middle-aged men, pornography is more about nostalgia than actual lust. Looking at the young girls in Playboy isn't about sleeping with 20 year old girls, it's really about being 20 years old ourselves. And Playboys from the early 90s are therefore much better than new ones.
This sort of thing never happens to me.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

For those of you keeping track, the world got a little bit better yesterday: Billie and Emily had their baby! Welcome to the world, little Ella.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Still wondering if there's reason to impeach Gonzales? How about this? On what grounds can you possibly justify jailing someone for a year (or deporting them to Pakistan) for filling out a voter registration card?

When I first registered to vote, I wasn't 18 yet, but I turned 18 the day of the election. My reading of election law seemed to indicate that was good enough, but I wasn't sure. I registered anyway. I assumed that it was an application, and that if I wasn't qualified to vote, they wouldn't send me the voter ID card. If these ass clowns had been in power then, I could have been locked up for wanting to do my patriotic duty!

The only way this could be seen as a good thing would be if your goal was to suppress voter registration in marginal populations, and you didn't care about destroying a few lives along the way.

Oh. Right.
While he might not have touched as many lives as Vonnegut, and I can personally say I never said, "I want to be the next Bob Dyer," he was a great storyteller, and will be missed.
Sometime around twenty years ago, I read my first Vonnegut novel (probably Slaughterhouse Five, maybe Cat's Cradle), and told my father I wanted to be the next Kurt Vonnegut. He suggested that instead I try to be the first Mike Terry.

It was good advice, but my admiration for Vonnegut's work has remained (though I didn't love everything). Now he's gone. I think I'm going to get all his books that I haven't read or didn't love and give them another try.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Because I ran across this story on John Hodgeman's blog, I can't help but hear it in his voice, which makes it particularly entertaining, despite its tragic elements. This is especially true of the last sentence:
"As for the young man himself, all he can offer them is the faint recollection of an abbey."
Coming this month at The Ragtag:
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Singalong
Come join in the fun as we sing along with "Once More With Feeling", the musical episode from Buffy's sixth season. The plot involves a tap-dancing demon who makes everyone in Sunnydale dance and sing out their deepest, darkest secrets until they uncontrollably combust. Free!
Times: Friday, April 20, 2007; 10:30pm

Alas, I think 10:30 is a little late for Christie and I these days. We're usually pretty drunk by then.
HistoryShots is cool. We may need one of these prints for the living room.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

"So, do you guys have any kids?"

It's a casual question between strangers, like "What do you do?", but if you've been trying for a while, it's not a casual answer. I usually end up saying, "Not yet." At what point does "Not yet" become just "No"? Or the infinitely more personal "It didn't work out"?

I've been blessed with so much I never thought I'd have in life that it seems weird to miss something I took for granted but never actively sought. But I do.

I should be clear. I've been reading a fair amount, and it seems the most common variety of infertility is this sort of vague thing where the doctors don't know exactly what the trouble is, leaving the door open for folk cures, suggestions to just relax, and lots of mystery. That's not the case with us. While we are doing some further tests, we know exactly what the problem is, and there's no easy solution. The tests are to find out which of the difficult options are at least possible.

And then comes the hard part. How do you do a cost/benefit analysis on a child, even a potential one? I tend to take every life challenge as a course in applied spirituality, but infertility is a dual-discipline internship in philosophy and spirituality. The personhood of a fetus has concrete implications, as do questions of free will, immortality, social responsibility, and economics. See, insurance will pay for the diagnosis of infertility, but not the treatment. And so we have to decide not just if we want kids, but exactly how badly. Enough to risk surgery? What about money? $3,000? $5,000? How about $50,000? Is it worth having a kid if you've gone so far into debt that you're stressed to the gills paying it off?

What about couplehood? Christie and I have both been through divorces, so we're pretty adamant about being a team, which means checking in with one another on an almost daily basis. It's pretty easy right now, when we're just gathering data, but what about further down the line? When do you give up, and what happens if we're not on the same page?

Um, yeah. I don't know what happens then. I guess we'll just have to figure it out as we go along, just like everything else.
Everybody knows that the magazines in the doctor's office waiting are old, but there are...other magazines in the doctor's office (also old, but that's another story). Magazines that would make your time in the waiting room much more interesting, and infinitely more awkward. As the nurse walked me back to the room with said magazines (and an ancient VHS tape with bad tracking and no sensible plot), she said, "Be sure to lock the door!"

"Oh, don't worry, I will" I said.

And this is where that particular narrative will stop. For obvious reasons. Although I will say that it's cruel to give a guy a cup that big. It's a recipe for feelings of inadequacy.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

This is really something. Orrin Hatch (Sen. R - UT) lays out a series of facts about Carol Lam, none of which turn out to be true. When he's called on it, he issues the following statement:

"My comments about Carol Lam's record as a U.S. Attorney were accurate, but I misspoke when making the point of discussing politically connected U.S. Attorneys. I accidentally used her name, instead of her predecessor, Alan Bersin, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton."

In other words, 'My statement was accurate because all of the things I said were true about someone, even if they weren't true of the person I said I was talking about.'

Truly an inspired bit of sophistry.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

A Note of Explanation

You might have noticed the tags on the poems below, one of which is "poems it took me ten years to write". If so, you might have asked yourself, "what's up with that?" Here's the deal: Christie and I were talking about the "weird things" meme that's been bouncing around the blogosphere. Basically, you're supposed to tell the world 5 (or 6, or 9, or 10) weird things that pretty much nobody knows about you. It's a problematic assignment at best.

Christie's problem is that she doesn't have that kind of blog. My problem is that my blog is one place where I make no attempt to conceal my weirdness, so I tend to think there's nothing youse guys don't already know about. But the real problem with this meme is inherent in its nature. See, neither Christie or I thought we had ten weird things about ourselves. The most either of us could come up with was three. But we really went to town on each other. I easily thought of 5 more things that are weird about her, and she came up with at least that many for me.

What are they? I'm not telling. Except that one of the things she came up with for me is that I spent ten years on a single poem. (Actually, the first time I did it, it was 13 years.) That inspired me to take another crack at the magnolia poem below, which still isn't perfect, but at least now it's a true haiku, which I've always felt it was meant to be.

My point, beyond a simple explanation, is that we're blind to our own weirdnesses, since it didn't strike me as even slightly weird to take ten years to get three lines just right. It seems quite reasonable to me, even now, just as I accept that no one will ever love these poems as much as I do. The drive to make something perfect is not, in the end, about external gratification. And the drive to be weird comes from somewhere deep inside, where we can't see.

Also, any blogger that's writing about what's weird about them and doesn't list "I'm a blogger" as number one is deluded.
The Inbox Of Nardo Pace, The Empire's Worst Engineer.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Steven Pinker's got a new article out of the evolution of violence, and Boing Boing has a useful summary with links to the original essay as well as supporting materials. Pinker argues that mankind is becoming less violent, and that this trajectory can be traced back a long time.
Lately, the to-do list has been growing wayyyyy to much for comfort, but I haven't been able to do much about it. I mean, yeah, there's work, and I'm mentally pretty much toast by the end of the day, so even if there's daylight left, I'm not going to get anything done. And it's almost all outside work.

That's why this weekend was eleven kinds of awesome. Saturday, admittedly, was mostly planning and general farting around, but Sunday was a work day. All in all, we tried a new place for brunch and determined that we'll never be going there again (bad brunch, but good information), fixed the holes in the siding that have been nagging at my brain since January, hung the windchimes, freshened up the mower, dealt with the last of last fall's leaves, mowed the most visibly out of control parts of the yard, cleaned the house, tooks the donated books to the library, checked out new books to read, bought more new books at the bookstore, and, um, well that's it, but jiminy christmas, isn't that enough?

Now I just need to get estimates from some tree services and gutter places. Anybody local folks have good recommendations for either?
TreeHugger's got a good April Fool's.