Category: General Page 2 of 12

A dreadful catch-all, mostly for pre-WordPress posts.

nothing really profound to say right now, which is okay, I guess

This recommendation from Amazon left me confused. How do those things I’ve purchased have anything to do with condoms? Do David Foster Wallace readers get laid more often than non-DFW readers? Or, more likely, are they more likely to buy condoms online? Or is there a semantic connection—are my purchases of “The Big One” and “A Supposedly Fun Thing…” somehow sexually suggestive to Amazon’s poor, overtaxed recommendations engine?

I have nothing really profound to say right now, which is okay, I guess. I wonder if that has anything to do with my recent decision to cut out caffeinated, sugary soda.

In completely unrelated news, I played a great deal of baseball on Saturday with co-workers and other friends, which was deeply fun. I was only sore for about 36 to 48 hours afterwards, which isn’t so bad, considering we played for roughly 5-6 hours (with a picnic break in between). I probably should have worn sunscreen. My family will be so impressed by my tan at Thanksgiving.

I’ve taken quite a few photos I’d like to post here but just haven’t taken the time to do so.

people-powered Howard

The progressive case for Dean.

dialects!

Even if you didn’t know you were, this is what you’ve been waiting for: The results of the Harvard Dialect Survey are in.

Car boot sale? Twiddle bug? Kitty wampus? Uh… uh… cabbage night? For God’s sake: Whipping shitties?!?

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Crap, I hate staying up till after sunrise. Especially pointlessly.

the most notorious lie ever

“The check is in the mail”? Doesn’t anyone in the benighted Bush Administration know that’s the most notorious lie ever? [Even if his claim that checks are “almost in the mail” is true, it’s still a highly ironic turn of phrase.]

Speaking of lies, the ubiquitous phrase “weapons of mass destruction” now no longer features—at all—in Bush’s speeches, as of this week. And he has the nerve to call people who challenge his lies “revisionist.”

I’m very tired. Today would be my first true weekend day in 3 weeks. However, I have a lot of work to do.

a merciful downslope

From an email I just got from MoveOn.org:

In an amazing departure from reality, President Bush explained in a press conference on the 14th that “we gave [Saddam Hussein] a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn’t let them in. And, therefore, after a reasonable request, we decided to remove him from power… ” Inspectors were, of course, on the ground in Iraq for over three months, until they were pulled out because the U.S. was going to war. (White House, July 14)

If you’re not already a MoveOn.org member, join. Contribute. Write letters.

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I did make it up the hill last night without getting off my bike to walk, by the way…. 13th to Harrison to Grand to Lakeshore to Brooklyn to Wesley to Prospect (the big hill, then a merciful downslope) to Athol.

trial and error is the only way

I spent 8 hours yesterday cleaning the old place. Fuck that. There’s more to do—see previous sentence.

I’m finding good bike routes to my new house fairly quickly. The area just east of Lake Merritt is quite hilly (for a midwesterner like me, anyway). I’d like a route up the hill that doesn’t require me to get off the bike before I reach the top (or go half a mile out of my way for a gentler slope). Street maps are useless for this purpose; trial and error is the only way. Anyway, I’ll get used to biking up the hill soon.

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I endorse the following links for entertainment purposes only.

no seller’s remorse

Super-tired. However: I sold the car. It is now no longer mine. I now own a new bike (make: Marin; model: Larkspur) and a used digital camera. Nice how these things work out.

No seller’s remorse, but it was really weird watching someone else drive off in my car.

Sorry if I haven’t sent you my new address yet. I’ve been incredibly busy… uh… moving, and selling my car.

not lying on the ground broken

On the way home from work last night, around 10:30 or so, as I was walking from Ashby BART to my soon-to-be-former house in South Berkeley, I noticed several cop cars at the intersection of Ashby and Martin Luther King. My heart sunk to imagine what was happening; I thought the corner store might have been robbed or something. I noticed, as I got closer to the corner, that a man was lying on the ground in the crosswalk, getting some attention from the police. The paramedics and fire engine showed up just as I walked up to the corner.

I asked some bystanders what was going on, and someone told me that the guy lying on the ground had been hit by a car, which then sped off. Apparently, when he was hit, he went flying, and the prognosis was not good.

As I walked away, after chatting somberly for a minute, several thoughts came immediately to mind. I realized that it could have been me—in the crosswalk or behind the wheel—and felt a surge of conviction that selling my car right now is the right thing to do for a thousand reasons. (I got an offer on it Tuesday night—the guy who’s buying it is basically the perfect person to buy it. He doesn’t mind that it’s a little scratched up and he offered me a fair price. We’re just waiting for the appointment with a particular mechanic to seal the deal.) Yes, I finally took the advice of “Divorce Your Car” (see previous entry) after living “car-lite” for the last 10 months. I am genuinely glad to be cutting my contribution to air and water pollution. I won’t be supporting the oil and auto industries anymore. I’ll get a lot more exercise walking and biking. And I’ll be forced by necessity to plan ahead a little bit more.

I also realized that I need to be incredibly thankful for how good my life actually is. I’m not lying on the ground, broken, after being hit by a car. I have friends and family all over the country. I have personal assets too numerous to list here, and, doggone it, people like me. I have a job at an organization that is doing work I believe in (and just learned yesterday that I’ll be redesigning CLCV’s website, which I’m pretty excited about [though I have to finish NARRP first]). I’m moving to a nice neighborhood with roommates I like into a really cool house which is only 2 miles from work. After the sale of my car, I will be totally out of debt and will have enough left to buy a new bike, a digital camera, and a CD burner and put a bit of money into savings.

Life is incredibly hectic now, but I think things are going to get a lot better soon. I have a sense of perspective I didn’t before last night. I need to make sure to keep it, which is always difficult.

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I really wish I had a camera now (my old one broke, inexplicably, the first week I moved out here). I keep seeing the weirdest things on the streets of Berkeley (a ripe strawberry, a bottle of Yoohoo with a straw sticking out of it) that I’d like to document. I just miss taking pictures.

a new niece, and the men and woman who would be president

It’s incredible how much I neglect this site.

I had a really great weekend in North Carolina two weeks ago. I visited my brother, his wife, and their incredibly perfect, beautiful new daughter Nora Ruth (Ruthie, as they call her), born April 8th, 2003. Pictures soon. My visit was timed deliberately to coincide with that of my mom, who still lives in Wisconsin. The trip was both fun and meaningful.

The week after I returned to the East Bay, though, was possibly the bleakest week I’ve ever had, save perhaps some weeks from the summer of 1984 or the winter of 1993-94. (I never noticed until just this moment that the hardest ages I’ve been have all been divisible by 9, which is odd. Pun intended. Actually, 1988 to 1993 [inclusive] were relatively tough.) After seeing some of my family, whom, I must admit, I miss very much, it was difficult to return to a place that is so far away from most of the people I’ve known & loved most of my life—a place that, off and on, I’ve regretted moving for a variety of reasons.

I have definitely risen back up from the low point I hit between Tuesday and Sunday of last week. It’s clear to me, though, that I’m entering a time in which it is vital to my life and my future that I be seriously, productively introspective. It would help if I could think at least somewhat rationally, an ability I haven’t demonstrated (to myself) very convincingly in the last four years.

Still, I’m feeling better. I’m taking stock. I need to determine, really, where I’m going.

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Yesterday was an amazing day. I went to the CLCV/LCV Democratic Presidential Candidate Environmental Debate (which you apparently did not see live on C-SPAN, according to my highly disappointing videotape of debate from the U.S. House of Representatives). I was extremely privileged to be there, having been picked at random to fly down there on CLCV’s tab.

Afterwards, I was able to shake hands with Howard Dean and with Carol Moseley Braun. I told Governor Dean as he leapt down from the stage, assisted by the helping hands of a couple volunteers, “I voted for you the other day on MoveOn.org” (a true statement). His response: “O-oh, you’re great — thank you!” I and the other members of CLCV’s staff got extended face time with Carol Moseley Braun, and a picture with her, which may just go up on the CLCV website tomorrow.

I was largely impressed by the candidates that showed up (Braun, Dean, John Kerry, Al Sharpton, and to a much lesser extent, Joe Lieberman).

It struck me that each of the candidates that were there can play a very important role in the runup to the general election, during which the Democratic Party seriously needs to define what it’s all about:

  • Lieberman: How not to win the general election. Lieberman is far too socially conservative and moderate on many issues to seriously contend next November. He dodged a question about whether he would work to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from cars, probably because he wouldn’t. He is the epitome of “Bush-lite” as coined by Dean. He is not my idea of a strong leader, though he is an admirably dedicated public servant.
  • Sharpton: Passionate populism. The man has charisma, is an excellent public speaker, and is hilarious. He may not have fully done his homework on our country’s basic environmental laws, but he was 100% right in asserting that the only way the Democrats will beat Bush is by creating a movement, exposing Bush’s record, and getting new voters to the polls. Sharpton is a leader and a showman, and the Democrats need to embrace him and use him to connect to people who don’t usually vote.
  • Braun: She is obviously very caring and compassionate. Her platform, from what I’ve read on the web, is strongly progressive. I didn’t feel she did much to distinguish herself in this debate, however.
  • Dean: Pragmatic, intelligent administrator with lots of great ideas. I think that Dean would make a very good President. He has a very no-nonsense view of government’s role and would probably accomplish a lot, simply because his proposals build effectively on the status quo, more than most pie-in-the-sky campaign promises. Some of his positions disappoint me (he doesn’t favor cutting the Pentagon budget, and he recently decided he was in favor of the death penalty); however, he definitely seems to bridge the gap between idealism and mainstream Democratic principles, which should play well in the general election. I think I would need to watch the debate again to get a good handle on what Dean really said, because he talks in a really rapid-fire fashion.
  • Kerry: Simply, a leader. John Kerry is very experienced and very impressive. I knew little about him before the debate, and now will probably vote for him in the primary. He has basically everything a candidate needs and will appeal to a lot of people. He’s a war hero, a longstanding leader in the Senate, an environmentalist. He’s a good speaker, has a sense of humor, and has more of “the vision thing” than any of the other candidates. Kerry is clearly emphasizing job creation (he said the word “jobs” at least 6-10 times in the 90-minute forum, reminiscent perhaps of “it’s the economy, stupid”); I think he’s right on in his assessment that we are at the end of an era, after which we must reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. He proposes to make our economy sustainable by putting people to work building up an environmentally sound technological infrastructure (alternative fuels, for example), which I think is right on target.

There’s more I could say—these are my more or less immediate impressions. My new favorite is Kerry, followed very closely by Dean (whom I’ve liked for months and have even given money to). Neither Kerry nor Dean are afraid to strongly challenge Bush’s record, which they almost certainly will need to do to win. I would not be disappointed if either of them were to win the nomination; though it is an uphill battle, they would give the Democrats the best chance to win.

Of those who did not show up, these are my impressions: Kucinich has possibly the most progressive positions (in fact, he didn’t show up because he was meeting with Nader and the Greens), but has little charisma and weak speaking skills; Gephardt’s intelligence is apparently stunningly Quayle-ite; and Edwards, a total mystery to me, would probably end up coming off as inexperienced in the general election.

I also met a cute girl at the debate, which was great and totally unexpected.

here goes

You might not believe this: I’ve put my car up for sale. I listed it last night and have already gotten a call from someone who’d like to look at it.

This is how I wanted it—once I actually made the decision to list it, I wanted it to go fast. Here goes.

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