the island of the week before: archives


category: journalesque
In which there are responses to current events and reflections on my string of experiences.

Tuesday, December 31, 2002

There's a window over my desk now, so looking out over the top of my screen I can see the tips of the monster cactus, and beyond that the back of the house that's been converted into a Thai Buddhist temple with gilded llamas (donkeys?) chilling in relief under the gables. Beyond that, one of Berkeley's peculiar glowing mottled skies with bits of blue starting to creep in. It's rained and cleared twice in the 90 minutes I've been sitting here.

After this morning's work, there'll be cooking and cleaning and then a small flood of people to wish in the new year in our warm new houseful of people.

I wish you luck and light and love and a good new year.

12:53 PM (link)

Friday, July 12, 2002

How long has it been since I felt really sharp? I've been half-babbling, unfocused, skimming along on the surface of most conversations outside of my inner circle for what feels like a good long while.

I've gone all brain-flabby. Time to get more hardcore.

07:18 PM (link)

"I have two working speeds: the first is flat out, with unwavering concentration, blissfully unaware of any distractions; the second is reading Metafilter." (- Eclogues)

03:05 PM (link)

Monday, July 08, 2002

This pause has been brought to you by a lovely trip to Montana that included:

One (1) 12-hour layover in the Seattle airport

Sixteen (16) other people in one house, 6 under the age of 12

Three (3) trips to Glacier National Park

Thirty (30) -ish separate fireworks displays (celebratory) visible from the front porch

One (1) fireworks display (emotional) visible from the living room

Zero (0) dead bodies

Fifteen (15) Christmas, birthday, St. Patrick's Day, Easter, Valentine's Day, etc. presents (including 1 wooden spoon, 1 miniature bottle of Tobasco sauce, and 1 pillow-sized bag of walnuts) from my father, some 3 years late, all wrapped festively in 1 box

One (1) knee injury

Forty (40) cups of coffee

...and no sleep to speak of at all.


A good time was thoroughly had.

Your regularly scheduled posting will now resume.

09:46 PM (link)

Thursday, June 20, 2002

Oh yeah. We're back. The wedding was lovely, our hosts were incredibly gracious, we got to see old friends and meet some terrific new people, and we escaped in the end with only minor collateral damage, tra la la.

Also, I found, purchased, and wore a truly ideal pair of red shoes. Oh yes.

I accidentally spent yesterday alternately sleeping and staring off into space, but I think I'm ready to re-enter now.

08:58 PM (link)

Recently, at Golden Gate Park...

...The high-noon sun glints off black latex, soft leather, and gleaming belt buckles as the arsenal of candy-colored weaponry grows. Someone arrives wearing bunny ears.

"What is all of this?" inquires Garfield Schalk, a silver-haired gentleman from Vienna. "Some sort of social club?"

"The fifth annual S.F. Goth Naval Battle, sir," replies a pallid young man.

"It is serious?" asks the tourist.

"Oh, very serious, sir," replies the goth combatant. "Super Soakers and sock monkeys. Very serious, indeed."

"Soaking and sock monkeys?" asks Schalk, lifting his bushy white eyebrows.

"As prizes, sir," clarifies the goth. "Monkeys and pie."

"Ohhh, and pie," says Schalk, nodding with a satisfied grin. "We shall watch the soaking then," Schalk continues, patting his wife's hand tenderly.

And that, Tinky Winky, is why I remain unashamed of my wee gothy past.

08:26 PM (link)

Thursday, May 30, 2002

down among the reeds and rushes
a baby boy was found
his eyes as clear as centuries
his silky hair was brown.

never been lonely
never been lied to
never had to scuffle with fear
nothing denied to
born at the instant
church bells chime
the whole world whispering
born at the right time.

-paul simon


Adam Pearl was born on Tuesday.

10:23 PM (link)

Thursday, May 23, 2002

Awhile back, I abruptly learned that the tiny next egg of stock that had been fairly stable had decreased to about 10% of its expected size in a matter of days. At the time, there were also half a dozen other substantial refunds/paychecks/etc. that were inexplicably late, leading to a sudden money panic.

After a midday visit to the bank to do a frenzied little cash-movey dance, we found ourselves stressed, hungry, and at loose end. A cheap sandwich seemed inviting, so we drove up to North Berkeley to check out the restaurants we hadn't quite managed to visit. 15 minutes of walking up and down looking at high prices and long lines, we popped our heads into the locally-famous Saul's Delicatassen. A look at the menu and our wallets and we decided to pack it in and head home.

Five steps out the door, we were accosted by the manager. After ascertaining our budget concerns (aided by my unexpected confession about the stock market), he collared us, sat us down in a booth, and brought us lemonade and a friendly waitress. We let the lemonade and air conditioning bring our adrenaline levels down, and split his (yummy) recommended hummus and tahini plate.

I could have cried.

When the calories and friendliness had revived us, we paid, tipped, and couldn't make it out of the restaurant without a bag of cookies (on the house) from our server.

So Saul's Deli up on Solano Ave is on my list of places to patronize a lot when I'm wealthy and given to entertaining groups of twenty. Let it be known that they're good people, and friendly to the frazzled and low on blood sugar.

10:25 PM (link)

Wednesday, May 15, 2002

An update:

The telltale tingles in my wrists have subsided after switching back to a trackball and easing off the typing, so I'm free to poke around again without injuring myself.

[A tangent: Jeanette Winterson, in the incomparable Art Objects, writes about Virginia Woolf's assertion that society hoxes women. Hoxing, she (Winterson) explains, is a racing term for inflicting subtle damage on a horse's tendons — subtle enough that it can walk, but damaging enough that it can't run. Woolf was discussing the lack of a female Shakespeare, that venerable illustration of the intellectual inferiority of women.

I think about the ridiculousness of The Bell Curve and the affirmative action debate and the frustration I've felt at being blamed as a white girl for invisible damage and about that spooky period before the age of three when human babies' brains gel, and I wonder.]

Back also from a road trip to Venice that included one breakdown (which included a Sean Penn sighting and a rooster, among other things), five unexpected minutes of corporeal mime, and my first trip to the astounding Getty Center. If you haven't been to the Getty Center and you're going to be in Los Angeles, go. The views are so good they almost make L.A. make sense, and the gardens and sculptures are luscious. I'll even tell you a trick I just learned: take the long ramps down to the gardens and thump on the stone blocks that make up the wall. They're backed by some kind of hollow structure, so they sound like steel drums. Fun.

The answering machine filled up shortly after we left, and the next time I go anywhere, I'm going to post “I'M NOT DEAD” notices on the answering machine, the cell phone, and the cat. I'm also going to call the credit card company and tell them I'm on the road so that won't panic. I hate the sound of panicked robot messages filling up the machine.

The poppies outside the window are up to my collarbone and bursting with coffee cup-sized red and pink blooms.

We'll be in New York in a month. Let us know if you want to see us.

The end.

04:18 PM (link)

Saturday, April 27, 2002

It's cleaning week, so I'm going through my bookmarks and making every site justify its continued inclusion and finding some great stuff along the way — perhaps even enough to make me give up and take Dooce off my blog list.

In any case, I meandered through a dozen degrees of separation and found a link from the lovely Eclogues pointing to the LP-cover art galleries at Show and Tell Music. A few minutes later, I was cackling loudly enough to make my roommate put down his headphones and peek over my shoulder.

"Oh hey," he said, "that's Will's site," jerking his thumb at the wall. Will, proprietor of Show and Tell, turns out to be the same Will who moved out of the apartment next door a couple of weeks ago and whose houseplants are attempting to thrive in my terrarium. (Well, one. My cat ate the spider plant like a tasty kitty salad before I could hide it. Sorry, Will.)

I also have an excellent CD he compiled and produced that features a surprisingly delightful collection of 60s Asian dance-pop groove. Somewhere. In the house. Did I mention that it's cleaning week?

09:39 PM (link)

Monday, April 22, 2002

Dooce has gone away.

She's ceased to update the site as of today because of the problems it has caused with the people in her life.

It seems like common sense to most people, I realize. You can't expect to speak honestly under your own name and not offend. You should write anything on the web that you wouldn't want published in the Times or sent to your mother. But those people miss something crucial which has nothing to do with the right to self expression.

The web was different. It isn't now that parents and grandparents and bosses and principals are all hooked up with high-speed connections and snorting Google on the sly, but it was.

When I was a freshman in college, I could say anything I wanted to online and never worry that anyone I knew would see it unless I pointed them to it directly. A little later on, it was likely that the most technologically advanced of my friends would know what I was up to, but editing for those people wasn't a problem. They were unlikely to be offended by my views on sex or drugs or politics, and they were very unlikely to be able to fire me if they were.

Now it's different, and I haven't adapted. My name is linked to my site in a few well-trafficked places, and Google has my number. My high-school theater teacher's grown-up baby daughter can find me in a moment. (Hi Corinne, I owe you an e-mail.) I could opt out of all of that — close the site, go anonymous. I've eliminated the employer problem, but there are always people with whom I'd never intentionally share my politics.

I have no interest in posting the details of my personal life, I admire those people whose public behavior requires others to accept them on their own terms or not at all. I admire the people who are out emotionally as well as sexually. I'm just not one of them except in this half-ass online way.

I'm not much for reader interaction, but this is an exception. Who are you? Why are you here? What do you think?

08:22 PM (link)

Saturday, April 20, 2002

It looks more and more likely that this whole self-employment bit is going to work out. I'm not planning any trips to Venice quite yet, but I think I'm headed in the right direction to make a decent living. Moreover, if it does work out, I don't think there's any way I'll be able to justify going back to working for someone else.

This is exciting.

I'm starting to feel my brain coming back. It's much the same as summer vacation from school — for the first few weeks, the extra time with no papers due or classes to attend or rehearsals to organize seemed enormous and I read and slept myself into a stupor. And then, a few weeks in, my brain would emerge from its gelatinous school-state and start giving things back — story ideas, energy, realizations. The same thing is starting to happen now.

I suddenly have the energy to be well and truly antsy, and while I'm too busy with my business stuff to go off in any direction full-steam, it's time to start some doings.

Expect things.

09:58 PM (link)

Monday, April 15, 2002

As much as I despise telemarketers, it tickles my gizzard when I get to tell a long-distance phone company that we have Working Assets long distance. You can hear all of the sales hope drain out their voices as they flee as quickly as they politely can. It's one of those benefits they don't describe in the sales literature.

The one this morning from MCI actually thanked me for my responsibility in choosing Working Assets.

Heh.

09:35 AM (link)

Tuesday, April 09, 2002

I suppose I am bringing tidings of subversive cheer.

Last week was one of the longest work weeks I've put in in a long time. Knowing that I'm making the decisions myself is quite a morale boost, and the direct correlation between my actions and my ability to make rent is, predictably, an excellent motivator.

Net result: not quite a week and a half after quitting my job, I have three clients (ostensibly). Should this trend continue, I will be able to pay the rent and DSL and student loan and all those other folks when or before my scraped-up backup money runs out.

What that actually means is this: five months after I started working on getting my freelance act together, I am beginning to see a glimmer of profitability. It has been and will continue to be a ton of work (now instead of working late after my job, I work late after a day working at home), but the fact that I can skip the commute and have breakfast and lunch with my other half, take a shower whenever I feel like it, and work with the cat sleeping next to my toes feels miraculous.

And, finally, no guilt for not committing my whole brain to the task at hand when I know that the task at hand would suck my soul if I let it.

Hallefuckinlujah.

Here's something both on-topic and inspiring, via Tom Tomorrow's blog.

11:47 PM (link)

Friday, March 29, 2002

When I left college, it took awhile to really assimilate the sudden lack of long-term deadlines. After work, I didn't need to write papers or do thesis research. I could, in fact, do exactly as I liked on weekends.

Now I miss that engagement. I want work that I'll do — a little — on weekends, and want to. I want work that curls up happily on my bookshelf and that makes me want to check my work e-mail before breakfast. So far, wanting too much has turned out extremely well.

As of today, I am unemployed.

07:37 PM (link)

Monday, March 25, 2002

I did not watch the academy awards, because they always irritate me by picking the wrong movies, but I would like to mention that:

- Nicole Kidman and Kate Winselet get it.

- Gwynneth Paltrow was clearly drugged into that dress.

- Audrey Tatou really is that cute and will be our Bjork substitute for the moment.

- John Waters has finally gotten to Jennifer Lopez. God bless him.

11:38 AM (link)

Thursday, March 21, 2002

After a typically offhand blurt on the nature of reality, Grant Morrison notes:

I have amassed enough evidence to convince me the universe is a fractal larva grown in a five-dimension fluid information medium. I think the larval universe is growing rapidly towards adulthood and understanding, so nothing scares me much, except for giant spiders and normal sized moths.

That is all.

03:34 PM (link)

Wednesday, March 20, 2002

It's getting warmer and warmer. I have the windows open and it's almost 11pm. Predictably, today feels lighter despite the lack of major strides toward utopia.

There are a lot of things to write about, but these days are full of finishing one job and starting a business and hanging out with the mammals I live with. So soon, but not tonight.

10:43 PM (link)

Friday, March 15, 2002

Work countdown

Two weeks from today, unemployment.

02:02 PM (link)

Wednesday, March 06, 2002

So this girl that I was in a few plays with in college is apparently starring in the upcoming vampire debacle, Queen of the Damned.

A handful of people from school whom I never really knew, but whom I saw nearly every day, have turned up in movies. It's so strange to see their faces under movie makeup and lighting — which reveals how much of a reality disconnect I have about movies and movie actors, I suppose.

Point being, now I have to go see the movie. Damn her.

10:14 AM (link)

Monday, March 04, 2002

Recipe for an excellent weekend:

4 hours house party
1 good house DJ
1 batch cheese fries at 3am
1 sunny afternoon spent walking around Berkeley in no sleeves
3 episodes of Junkyard Wars, consumed with beer and good food
1 lazy sunny morning spent drinking coffee and reading
1 interesting article about Shakespeare
several naps
happy cat
friends

Mix and chill. Serves plenty.

02:29 PM (link)

Wednesday, February 27, 2002

It turns out that the whole Dooce-got-fired business is old news. Ironically, I didn't find out about it till this evening because I was working at work today, unlike the large number of people who spent some portion of their work day ripping into Heather because she was a bad, bad employee.

Employers who care more about what you write on your weblog than about your actual performance are vile. The idea that a person represents his or her employer 24 hours a day, and must therefore maintain a perky, submissive attitude at all times is loathsome. Firing someone for writing caricatures of her colleagues, or for spending too much on wine means that you demand far, far too much control over your employee's lives. (There are, of course, exceptions. Breaking the law [and getting caught] for instance. Publicly disparaging your company by name. That's about it.)

Heather took responsibility for her actions, which is far more than the well-paid hordes who spend their time leaking company secrets to FuckedCompany, et. al do. The fact that she signed her name and did take responsbility for what she wrote seems to be the problem for her employer.

Of course, if all the people who resent having their lives subsumed into a work-hive either got fired or quit, the only people left in these companies would be servile, backstabbing conformists who could all work together, sell to each other, and enjoy the same Club Med vacations, giant ugly cars, and loveless marriages, leaving the rest of us to get on with life.

Also, I have quesadillas, and you don't.

07:10 PM (link)

Tuesday, February 26, 2002

In case anyone's wondering, I just made it through my third round of layoffs here (500+ people this time). As I'll be leaving in a matter of weeks, it doesn't really matter to me directly, but I want an extra stripe or something.

Layoffs are gross.

09:05 AM (link)

Monday, February 25, 2002

The shouting guy at the corner of Telegraph and Bancoft had neon-colored laminated signs to back up his talking points: “3 am,” they read, and “back yard,” among other things. He held one of them up from time to time.

We stopped and listened for a moment, noting the frequency of the modifer “spotted” in his anti-liberal, anti-media, anti-? rant...spotted horses and mules, spotted teepees, all signs of the totalitarian menace that is apparently headquartered on Mount Diablo.

“Tell that to Bob Marley,” he yelled, appropos of something known only to him. “I want you to sit down on your phone and call Bob Marley and tell him we'll meet him on tonight Mount Diablo.” He paused for a moment, and disdain crept into his voice. “And tell him to bring your own beans (pause) Bob.”

04:48 PM (link)

Friday, February 22, 2002

For the first time since sometime a couple of summers ago, things are beginning to gain speed.

I’ve spent the last year with my ear pressed to the font of a safe, slowly clicking through possibilities and iterations, getting a little at a time, heart jumping at false starts. But now something has invisibly clicked into place while I was sleeping or staring out the window on the train or reading in the tub, and I can feel the difference in resonance on my skin and in my chest.

All of the meaningful decisions and coincidences in my life have felt like that – clicks that just missed, slipping off a slick surface, or clicks that suddenly dropped the pins into place. The door swings open, and I feel it like a rollercoaster drop in my stomach.

This is auspicious, I think.

02:44 PM (link)

Wednesday, February 20, 2002

Yesterday, I (unofficially) quit my job. The details aren't quite worked out, but in a couple of weeks, I'll be without a steady paycheck for the first time in a couple of years. The last time I was unemployed was at the peak of the boom, but I don't have any illusions about jobs falling at my feet. But if you happen to run into any freelance editing/copy editing/etc. stuff and you don't need it yourself, feel free to let me know.

In the meantime, I'm going to be drinking cheap beer, eating a lot of rice, and remembering what it's like to be less responsible.

04:05 PM (link)

Monday, February 11, 2002

Too much whining makes the baby go bonk (?), so let me tell you:

Despite all the warnings from my east coast friends, the bay area is gorgeous in the spring, which is now. February in New York-Boston is horrible. February in Berkeley means that there are flowers and trees blooming in every other yard, that it's 60° and frequently sunny in the afternoon, and that our radishes have sprouted.

Cryptonomicon is every bit as brilliant and funny and clever on the second (third?) reading as on the first. On a slightly related tack, here's Neal Stephenson talking about tech in China back in 1994, and a doofy story he published in 1994.

SpamCop is the savior of the city.

In the Mood for Love is splendid. The timing is precise, the cinematography is simultaneously tightly controlled and lush, and afterward the whole movie felt like a perfectly-proportioned, exquisitely decorated chocolate that was satisfyingly rich and gone before it gone cloying.

Leeloo, the cat that I carried around in my hat when she was a kitten, died very suddenly last night at my mom's house, probably after eating a poisoned mouse. Humane mouse traps are effective, safe for pets and children, and last forever. They're also quite inexpensive compared to the cost of consumable poisons purchased several times a year.

11:21 AM (link)

Saturday, January 19, 2002

Happy birthday, Peter! Boing!

11:00 AM (link)

Thursday, January 17, 2002

Matt Smith, regular writer for the SF Weekly, wants journalists to stop babbling about how much we've all changed since September 11th.

I read the article last Wednesday on my commute from the East Bay into San Francisco, and it's been scratching at the back of my head since. On first glance, well, sure. It would be nice if the media and the president's wife stopped pretending that a great conservative change has come upon us.

But come on, it is different out here. Our laws have changed, our government has changed, and a lot of us are still jumpy as hell. So Smith's self-indulgent, reflexive gripes about the media's fixation on a national trauma seems like a hip, cynical version of what the Bush administration has been telling us for months: everything is normal, go about your business.

I don't live in New York, but I couldn't seem to stop crying this fall. In unexpected moments alone I kept crumpling uselessly, unable to deal with anything but plain vanilla grief. I realized yesterday that I haven't cried like that since — when, November? I don't know. But if this hadn't changed me — focused my politics, broadened my media scope, roughed up my heart, I hope that I'd have been worried.

And it's pretty lame to dismiss all of that kind of change just to fill up a weekly column.

03:06 PM (link)

I have a favor to ask...if you read blissblog and you know me offline and I don't know that you read this, would you drop me a note and let me know?

Thanks.

02:40 PM (link)

Tuesday, January 15, 2002

In our household, over the last ten days or so, we have accumulated:

one skateboard-related set of abrasions and bruises (right)
one dog-bitten hand (left)
one scalded hand (left)
one thumb squashed in unintentional window-slamming (right)
one inflamed set of shoulder muscles (left)
two (unrelated) mouth injuries
and
a case of the stomach flu

Note: there are only two of us, and the cat, who is suspiciously healthy.

03:36 PM (link)

Sunday, January 13, 2002

After a night and a day of illness and firey joint pain, we both awoke feeling refreshed, solid, well-rested, and altogether healed. The sun is shining, it's warm, I can move my arms again, and everything is generally brilliant.

I just ordered seed catalogues and am now about to start our first round of spring planting.

01:08 PM (link)

Wednesday, January 09, 2002

New projects bubbling just out of reach, but it's been warm and sunny and utterly unlike Boston here.

On the bus home from work, a plot for a story sprang fully-formed from my head, and last night one of my dreams was so uproariously funny that I woke myself up by laughing out loud.

Both of these occurrences are unique in my experiences to date. I consider them highly auspicious.

09:43 PM (link)

Thursday, January 03, 2002

That took a bit longer than I expected...about halfway through the switch from Blogger to Moveable Type, I decided that the time was ripe to switch from table layout to css, which took awhile. The change isn't entirely finished, but the archives should be back online within the week, and there should be a super-simple stylesheet to hold all the bits together for non-compliant browsers soon after.

In any case, Moveable Type is brilliant and provides me with a much more convincing illusion of control, so mad props to Ben and Mena.

The css layout will be spreading like kudzu to the rest of blissbat, and once I'm all done, I'll publish the stylesheets in case anyone's interested in recycling them(although you could accomplish the same thing by checking out Tantek Çelik's box model hack, glish.com's css layout techniques, and A List Apart's helpful primer).

11:56 AM (link)

Thursday, December 27, 2001

Christmas and the days around it were blissful. After days and days of cozy, Christmas-lit home and good friends and lots of food and time, even the office seems sort of cheery. Not so much that I regret another few days at home for New Year's, of course...

Things are afoot. Before the new year arrives, blissbat will function a bit differently.

And for the moment, I recommend maple scones and good coffee — I haven't tested these recipes, so if you do, let me know what you think.

09:35 AM (link)

Tuesday, December 11, 2001

You might not think that I'd obsess about Christmas, but you'd be so wrong...

Christmas was pretty weird in and right after college: flying back and forth to alternating parents' houses for the holiday, dealing with the end-of-semester crunch that came with college, and eventually managing to break off a long-term relationship on Christmas Eve. This year is all about coze.

I'm not spending all December writing papers or flying 2000 miles or really anything stressful at all. We live in a warm, well-blanketed house-nest, and as of today, we have a real tree. And I will miss my family, but I haven't seen them all together for Christmas since I was wee, so it won't be that unusual. I can make Christmas cookies and sit on the couch with my love and my cat and watch Christmas in Connecticut while eating popcorn and drinking Christmasy beer.

I am so down for this.

Yum:

Hoopla.com's cool advent calendar is cute and has useful things like recipes for Russian Tea Cakes hidden in it.

The Soapbox Girls come through with advice on making and procuring inexpensive, fun things for the people you love. I am all about the making this year.

03:08 PM (link)

Monday, December 03, 2001

Well, then. I finished my nanowrimo 50,000 word beast on Friday afternoon, ate celebratory Thai food, and then promptly lost my cable modem connection the following morning.

So I have all this post-novel-writing energy and these great working habits and...no...net...at...home. I guess I'll have to read and sleep and drink tangerine tea and watch Buffy. Le sigh.

04:55 PM (link)

Friday, November 16, 2001

All my spare brain is going into cranking out 2000 words per day for nanowrimo, and I'm a few days behind as it is. Nearly halfway there, though, and much too far along to consider quitting. It feels really good, actually, writing that much every day, and I've somehow managed to take a break from caffeine at the same time, although that will be changing soon.

In the meantime, Slate and Salon have both recently had nice things to say about Buffy, and The Onion AV Club has an enormous two-part interview with Joss Whedon that you should read if you haven't yet.

And, as the beginning of what promises to be a blissbat Alan Moore link compendium, the Onion has a big two-part interview with Moore as well.

01:13 PM (link)

Tuesday, November 06, 2001

I'm almost seven thousand words into the novel thing, which means that I'm slightly behind schedule. I don't yet have anything which could honestly be called a plot, but for now, I'm ok with that. It feels good and a bit scary, like limbering up tight muscles while escaping a school of flying pirhana.

Should you be interested in following the progress of a few hundred other participants, there are a couple of lists of bloggers and journal-keepers who are taking part (some are even publishing their work online as they write it).

12:55 PM (link)

Monday, October 29, 2001

seven things I'm doing instead of writing here:

1. working at my actual job
2. editing for A List Apart
3. editing for another website, more about which will be revealed later
4. recovering from the brilliant sunset crew halloween boat party
5. watching every episode of Twin Peaks on video while drinking too much coffee
6. growing things

and...

7. getting ready for National Novel Writing Month, for which I just signed up.

02:41 PM (link)

Wednesday, September 26, 2001

It's pretty damn strange to see an Invisibles reference on a random site and follow the link and find a bunch of people I went to school with.

03:47 PM (link)

way over our heads

I saw Michael Jordan on the front page of a newspaper today, instead of a flag or a burning building. People on the street don't look shellshocked, except for the homeless guy on the corner who's looked that way for years. The bottom of the journalistic and political barrel has just had time to use this opportunity to strike more openly and viciously than usual at their ideological enemies.

In New York, firefighters who survived the rest of their battalions are drinking and breaking and trying to avoid going home to their wives.

I'm here in sunny Berkeley with the one I love and my throat still feels like it's made of glass.

03:15 PM (link)

Friday, September 21, 2001

I've read a lot of coverage and analysis of last week's terrorist attacks and their aftermath. These are a few that have stuck with me:

The New Yorker: This is not a movie
Salon: Lessons on how to fight terror
The Guardian: They can't see why they are hated
Grant Morrison: Fall of empire: Bombs and magic

11:29 AM (link)

Monday, September 17, 2001

One of the strongest emotions I've been wrestling with since Tuesday is an overwhelming feeling of helplessness. I can't go work in the WTC rubble. I can't give blood. I certainly can't retroactively prevent any of these lacerating events.

So maybe this is just catharsis, but the violence toward innocent people who look "arab" is too close to home to ignore, and it's something I might be able to do something about.

If you're interested, you might:

- Talk to your local businesses about putting these posters up in your area.
- Visit GlobalExchange's September 11th site and get your community organized against violence.
- If you're in the SF Bay area, check out the anti-violence section of Craig's List.

04:15 PM (link)

One of my co-workers was stabbed in the stomach Friday night in San Francisco as he tried to defend his companion from being stabbed because the companion looked like he might be middle eastern. He's alive and in the hospital, having undergone emergency surgery.

It's that bad here, and this is San Francisco.

11:48 AM (link)

Wednesday, September 12, 2001

we must love one another or die

I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade:
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives;
The unmentionable odour of death
Offends the September night.

Accurate scholarship can
Unearth the whole offence
From Luther until now
That has driven a culture mad,
Find what occurred at Linz,
What huge imago made
A psychopathic god:
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.

Exiled Thucydides knew
All that a speech can say
About Democracy,
And what dictators do,
The elderly rubbish they talk
To an apathetic grave;
Analysed all in his book,
The enlightenment driven away,
The habit-forming pain,
Mismanagement and grief:
We must suffer them all again.

Into this neutral air
Where blind skyscrapers use
Their full height to proclaim
The strength of Collective Man,
Each language pours its vain
Competitive excuse:
But who can live for long
In an euphoric dream;
Out of the mirror they stare,
Imperialism's face
And the international wrong.

Faces along the bar
Cling to their average day:
The lights must never go out,
The music must always play,
All the conventions conspire
To make this fort assume
The furniture of home;
Lest we should see where we are,
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good.

The windiest militant trash
Important Persons shout
Is not so crude as our wish:
What mad Nijinsky wrote
About Diaghilev
Is true of the normal heart;
For the error bred in the bone
Of each woman and each man
Craves what it cannot have,
Not universal love
But to be loved alone.

From the conservative dark
Into the ethical life
The dense commuters come,
Repeating their morning vow;
"I will be true to the wife,
I'll concentrate more on my work,"
And helpless governors wake
To resume their compulsory game:
Who can release them now,
Who can reach the deaf,
Who can speak for the dumb?

All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.

Defenceless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.

- "September 1, 1939," W. H. Auden

11:05 AM (link)

PayPal has set up a page that allows you to donate to the Red Cross without paying any fees.

09:04 AM (link)

Tuesday, September 11, 2001

Life here will never be the same. Bright, beautiful morning. International day of peace. So much pain.

I don't have any way to talk about it.

~~~~~

This morning, the BART announcer stated that there had been "terrorist bombings" in New York, that all flights were grounded. I got off the train and walked to my office with no idea of how bad it really was, but already feeling sick. Crowds of people walked past me, back toward the trains, and suddenly a boy about my age, a stranger, stopped in front of me.

"Are you alright?" he asked. When I nodded, he kept walking.

Nothing like that has ever happened to me. After all of this, and after that brief exchange, I don't feel like the people around me are strangers at all.

09:43 PM (link)

Friday, September 07, 2001

So here we are in surprisingly sunny San Francisco with our possessions still boxed and our phone freshly connected and the stunned expression of the recently blessed on our pink little faces. Well, my pink little face. Moving recovery and nest-building are taking priority, and no cable modem at home yet, but damn, I'm happy.

Doom doom doom dooooooooom...

04:04 PM (link)

Tuesday, August 28, 2001

I'm postponing the moment when I shut down and disconnect my work machine. The cable modem at no-longer-home is on its way back to the cable company, and this is the very beginning of my week in the truck, away from all forms of communication other than human speech and letter-writing. (It actually sounds quite delightful.)

In the meantime, go read Kristin Thomas's things and fall over laughing or trace the wicked cute process of convergence on these two people's text-trails.

09:09 AM (link)

Monday, August 27, 2001

Boston to Berkeley in six days with a truck full of stuff, a loony cat, and a Karmann Ghia stuck on the back. The move is upon us and (starting tomorrow afternoon) blissbat.net will be snoozing until September 4th. Wish us luck!

12:20 PM (link)

Thursday, August 23, 2001

Going away dinner (tapas) with my colleagues last night was lush beyond belief. If you're ever in Boston and interested in a truly ideal group dining experience, get you to Cuchi Cuchi (yes), surrender to the taste of the superb staff, and get someone to carry your blissed-out self home when you're done. Not only was the food spectacular, the restaurant itself was so cute I wanted to bite it.

07:23 AM (link)

Wednesday, August 22, 2001

So this complete stranger just sent me a couple of very, very long emails full of Christian scripture explaining how I'm going to hell "when the tsunami wave overtakes [me], and when the rocks fall on [my] head" if I don't straighten up and fly Jesus. Her primary argument displayed the same weird unconsciousness of the rest of the world's cultures and belief systems that so many amateur Christian evangelists do:

Believe in X because it says in Book A that X is the one true god. Of course, books b-g also say the same thing about their respective belief systems. Why should I believe Book A instead of one of those other books? Because it says so in Book A.

I mean, come on, there are much better arguments for Christianity than that — read some CS Lewis or St. Augustine or Aquinas, for god's sake. Give me something to work with here...

06:50 PM (link)

The technology company I work for is shifting a lot of its development work to its New Delhi office, and I'm seeing the US-side impact all around me as US-based workers are laid off and India-based workers are hired. In These Times has a succinct commentary on the human side of globalization in India.

12:25 PM (link)

Friday, August 17, 2001

I would so vote for John Cusack for president.

01:00 PM (link)

Sunday, August 05, 2001

We're packing, so our cute, cozy apartment is suddenly half-finished and in flux. Almost all of the books, comic books, art books, cookbooks, and coloring books have been packed, which is a pretty monumental accomplishment despite the weeding I've been subjecting my shelves to for the last six months. I've been reading Libris ex Machina to mitigate the weird feeling of having all my books shut up in boxes.

07:31 AM (link)

Saturday, July 28, 2001

The Moving: It Begins

Cable modem part one: options

1. I can't find any locally-run cable modem services in Berkeley via the google directory.
2. TimeWarner RoadRunner is unavailable in Berkeley.
3. ATT @Home requires me to fill out a form that includes my name, telephone and email in order to tell me if their service is available. Their server continues to be unable to process my request.
4. ATT Broadband does the following head-bonky dance:

Dear reader,

I came to attbroadband.com to attempt to sign up for a new cable modem account for my new apartment in Berkeley, California.

I clicked "check availability" to find out about service, and I filled out the requisite form and was informed that access was available, and that I needed to select my individual apartment. I did so, and received the following error message:

"Unfortunately our system returned a response that requires the help of one of our Customer Service Representatives. Please call 1-888-824-8101 and ask about receiving AT&T Internet Service.

"Possible past due account "

(Please note that I have never had an account with ATT Broadband, nor have I yet lived in California.)

I called the number above from my apartment in Boston, where I currently live, and received an automated message telling me that ATT Broadband is not available in my service area and that I should go back to the website and sign up for notification. Since I hadn't entered any information at that point, I can only assume that this information was based on my telephone number, but I was given no option to change my area or speak with anyone.

I then attempted "contact us," which didn't have an option for ATT Broadband. It did, however, have an option for RoadRunner, which I selected. Doing so returned me, quite unhelpfully, to the main ATT Broadband page.

Hence I'm writing to you, anonymous Escalation Team member, in the hope that you can help me figure out how to correct whatever mess the previous tenant of my new (California) apartment has left behind while calling from my Boston phone so that I can sign up for the installation as soon as possible to avoid delays once I arrive.

(The address I've entered above is the address for my new account. )

My thanks,
Erin

11:12 PM (link)

So we're back from California. From Berkeley and Venice, specifically, with a little Montana thrown in at the beginning. I am suddenly able to focus enough to clean up my inbox. We have an apartment in Berkeley, photos of which may be viewed via the links below. It was primarily a working (house-finding) trip, but we managed to get in a little ocean time and see chill people and eat good food, and I'm much re-freshed.

Apartment photos for family, friends, and curious strangers:

our wonderful driveway -- really, it's the best driveway ever
our lovely living room
our cute kitchen
the flowers growing across from our hoose
morning glories

10:04 PM (link)

Friday, July 27, 2001

RIP Phoolan Devi, one-woman militia, class activist, goddess of flowers, and all around fierce lady.

10:03 PM (link)

Friday, July 13, 2001

After a long work week, we're off to Montana to loll in the wilderness and then to San Francisco to drink coffee, run around, and find a cat-friendly home. I'll be back to Boston and steady net access in two weeks.

07:32 AM (link)

Monday, July 09, 2001

I have no way of verifying this information, but if it's true, then it's an excellent example of the power that rests with a very limited set of media groups.

Update: the Herald-Times Record site is back online after some server trouble, so here's the main story. To summarize, Jared T. Bozydaj, a New Paltz native, spent two hours on June 21st shooting at New Paltz police with a semiautomatic, very nearly killing several sleeping residents in the process. He did so as an act of protest against Timothy Mc Veigh's execution, and not a single major news outlet that I can find picked up the story. The author of the Online Journal story above wants to know why.

[First link via Slythiatova.com.]

10:35 AM (link)

Wednesday, July 04, 2001

It’s always an interesting experience when you’re lazily reading along and suddenly the argument snaps into focus and you realize with awful clarity that the author is so absolutely right.

My tiny, under-educated theory of typography is that it shouldn't be a barrier between the language and your brain (unless it's supposed to be). Anything that helps make text (in this case, Latin-based character sets) more readable on-screen is worth the extra effort.

Oh, it’s going to be such a pain in my ass to implement.

07:40 AM (link)

Monday, July 02, 2001

“Yeah, we're looking for someplace in the East Bay,” I said. “Someplace, ideally, with a yard. Someplace with a garden.”

“Oh, so you're moving to California to get your head together.”

I'm moving to California to steal my life back.

I will slink through the back door and steal the late mornings and the early afternoons and I will spend them lavishly on that which I love. I will be ninja-quick and sneaky. I will snatch back my body heat and scurry away with it and live like a lizard on a sunny rock. I will steal back the ability to code because I like it. And when I am toad-fat with my stolen time, I will leisurely lollop out and and build a more spacious life.

07:07 PM (link)

Sunday, July 01, 2001

You know those peace-love-and-linux ads that IBM's been using? They're kinda cute, and hey, Linux. I'd seen one or two on the sides of city busses, and they make me grin.

On the way home from seeing AI last week, we got onto a train and saw one of the ads above the opposite doors and were vaguely pleased. Then we realized that the whole car was plastered with peace-love-linux rectabgular posters above the doors and square posters with the giant head of Tux the Linux penguin on them. A little spooky.

Then we noticed that the *whole train* — or at least several cars on either side of us — was covered in Linux ads. For a moment, it seemed like counterculture open source geek icon gone terribly, terribly wrong...and then I noticed (as we were removing our own little Tux head poster for home use) that about a third of the ads had been removed.

And the cockles of my heart were warmed by the knowledge that Linux geeks all over Boston were simultaneously decorating their offices with IBM-sponsored (but unbranded) posters of a benevolently grinning penguin.

08:00 PM (link)

Saturday, June 30, 2001

I'm not moving to France, but here's why I'd kinda like to. There's the whole French thing, but the extra time (plus the excuse to finally read the French canon in French) would sooo be worth it.

08:27 PM (link)

Thursday, June 21, 2001

The work project I was hired to work on over a year ago finally kicked off eight blurry-short weeks ago and went live in a flurry of tiny server-related panics last night while lightning crashed all around the nearly deserted office building where I sat, quietly FTPing. There's a whole mess of cleanup, which will mostly be me, but the panic's over, the site works, the servers are running, and my wrists are steadily healing.

It's been unbelievably frustrating not to be able to type anything but emergency-level work stuff for the last couple of weeks, although the San Francisco-based team I've been working with have been incredibly cool about it and I've been getting regular wrist massages, which have helped a hell of a lot. Now I'm only about a day away from typing normally again, so I hope all the things that have been piling up in my head and in notebooks and dreams don't all fall out.

In the meantime, check out this New York Times article about Apocalypse Now Redux.

08:31 PM (link)

Saturday, June 09, 2001

Not much typing right now, as my wee wrists are all carpally (to quote an adorable colleague). But it's glorious outside and I'm reading a horde of delightful comics (reviews coming when I find my wrist braces) and Moulin Rouge was absolutely gorgeous.

03:15 PM (link)

Monday, June 04, 2001

After walking around DC until dawn and crashing on a kindly-lent floor, we woke up Saturday morning to the unmistakable strains of...a marching band. Brass and drums that sounded like they were maybe a foot away from my head woke me up and got my eyes pried open — standard high-school band stuff — but a minute later, drums and rhythmic chanting actually got me up off the floor.

I stuck my blinky head out the door and caught the tail end of a cluster of middle-schoolish looking black kids, maybe 14 years old, in street clothes, with big-ass drums. They were followed about thirty seconds later by an old black man playing a jazz trap set in the back of a pickup truck. By far the grooviest marching-band style parade I've ever encountered while dopey-sleepy on a Saturday morning.

03:24 PM (link)

DC (weekend visit) turned out to contain just the lushness I've been missing. I'd never been, and I expected vast concrete spaces and the grey smell that goes with them, but I was enormously suprised and delighted by the presence and variety of plant life, all of which was flourishing, since DC's in a much more reasonable latitude than, say, Boston.

The combination of really cool people, an extremely chill underground, and a radically altered sleep schedule have left me sleepy, refreshed, and enormously pleased with the world.

10:17 AM (link)

Thursday, May 31, 2001

Lushness abounds elsewhere, and I'm longing for blood-warm late afternoons (oh, for a heat wave) and continuing to lay plans for future projects. Work is work, but I'm having so much fun with the rest of my head that it's tolerable...and I got word today that my transfer from Boston to San Francisco has been blessed by the work people, so now I can relax, enjoy the summer, and move without stressing about finding new-city employment right away. Hallelujah.

Elsewhere, it's Zeldman.com's six-year anniversary, so follow Textism's example and give up the love.

08:02 PM (link)

Monday, May 28, 2001

Last night was drenched in the kind of heavy,cool mist that you can feel breaking on your skin as you walk through it. The trees here are still a preternatural, hallucinogenic green, and I want to build a treehouse and fill it with dried fruit and coffee and a soft, intricate carpet and live in it for a month or two.

I'm back to parallel processing, half my head (more) jigging through shiny things and drawing up plans for future (soon) constructions, the other bit buzzing through work. It's taken this godsent three-day weekend to get things balanced again, but this'll be a short week with a trip to DC on the other end of it, so I have a fighting chance of emerging with my brain intact.

chinese guardian statueA guardian from the Boston Museum of Fine Arts:

This is the guy who'll be standing guard over my head this week, so I expect no trouble.


08:35 PM (link)

Tuesday, May 22, 2001

10:25am. Arrived at work at 9:30, slogged through email, put out two medium size fires and one small one.

Now I get my chai.

Have you ever seen a greyhound shake itself? It looks like the fabric of reality being altered. The small one I saw this morning obviously didn't approve of rain, and when it shook, it flung individual parts of its (unnaturally long) body out to the side and whapped them back and forth in succession. Possibly, the weirdest thing I've seen all week, monkeyman included.

This morning's coated in that special New England drizzle, but the walk in was refreshing and work looks possible.

07:25 AM (link)

Wednesday, May 16, 2001

My time's very compressed these days, and it feels like my consciousness is split. When I'm working, there's no room for anything but fast and accurate problem solving. In the lulls, the world creeps back in and I'm drenched with the ideas and distractions that have been crouching in the back of my head, waiting for an opening.

I remember now why I wasn't more political in college. Busyness is an enemy of creativity, of "intuitive" leaps, and of inspiration. I want to hard-code free time (not decompression time playing video games, not the few hours a week I spend with friends, not the essential time with my partner, but empty, open expanses of time) into my life. Space for new ideas to inhabit, room for connections and digestion, time to let things soak in the underlayers of my mind and come out heavier and more complex and resonant.

01:16 PM (link)

Monday, May 14, 2001

The sky over Cambridge is high but dark and snatches of mist keep drifting over the river, so all the colors outside are storm-intense and the opposite bank is alternately crystal-clear and almost obscured. The trees are the trip-worthy, early-summer green that makes my heart jump and the tall, glassy building opposite my window is smoothly reflective with a rare lack of glare. Sharp, invisible spirals of wind slide through every few minutes, carving moving circles of darker grey into the river. It's gorgeous.

01:05 PM (link)

Sunday, May 13, 2001

Last week was hot and busy and Saturday was hot and restorative and I'm leaving the weekend with the tastes of chai ice cream and hot breeze on my tongue and an unexpected hollowness under my collarbone.

I just finished The Hours, which deserves more than a quick summary, and which I'll review after further digestion.

RIP Douglas Adams. Somehow, I miss his being in the world.

05:04 PM (link)

Wednesday, May 09, 2001

Ten Drinks at Diesel
Drink #2

Iced Vietnamese coffee and Italian wedding soup, late Saturday afternoon.

A particularly successful trip to MacIntyre and Moore's (the magically useful used book store next to Diesel) had just left me with:

The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook
Part cookbook, part memoir, part travelogue, written by Toklas, Gertrude Stein's partner and caretaker. A particularly delightful edition in a slipcase with a silver-on-black cover.

The Venetian's Wife : A Strangely Sensual Tale of a Renaissance Explorer, a Computer, and a Metamorphosis
Another lush, beautifully illustrated soap opera from Nick Bantock. I've already finished this one, and while it wasn't one of his best, it's worth a leisurely read. The Griffin and Sabine books were really interesting, and while the gimmick of opening someone else's correspondence certainly helped them along, the story was compelling on its own. The Venetian's Wife begins well, and the illustrations are lovely. Unfortunately, the story begins to falter halfway through and never fulfills its early promise — it feels rushed and undeveloped, which is shame, since Bantock's obviously enormously talented. The art is lovely, but this would have been a much better book if it was two or three times as long. For a more evenly weighted experience, I recommend The Museum at Purgatory, which is less linear, but more satifying.

[Side note: Nick Bantock's lesser novels are very much like Buffy. Literate, funny, engaging, but also just trashy enough to feel satisfyingly like an indulgence. Of course, Buffy's a bit less literate and more trashy, but incredibly satisfying.]

The Complete Novels of Jane Austin
Which is out of print and big enough to stun a pretty insistent burglar. Perfect for the gym.

I ate the soup and read the cookbook and lounged in the sun.

In all, a remarkably successful afternoon.

07:06 AM (link)

Tuesday, May 08, 2001

A little extra time in the morning does wonders for my head. Somehow, having the time to take a short walk, have something to eat, and read a little before going to work and handing over my brain makes me feel much more in control of my life. I'm much less vulnerable than when I stumble into work with my eyes still half shut and my dreams still on the back of my tongue.

Of course, I usually only experience this morning respite if I go in late to work, but I may actually be ready to start getting up early enough to start my day consciously and to breathe a bit before starting the work day.

09:09 AM (link)

Monday, May 07, 2001

Yesterday was the Dance of the WaterSpiders, part of the Boston Cyberarts Festival. The spiders themselves looked quite a bit like hamster balls with legs, and they kept blowing into the walls and bashing against things and having to be towed back out into the center of the pond, but the sun was shining and the snacks were yummy.
(Spiders in dance formation.)

10:01 AM (link)

Monday, April 30, 2001

Ten Drinks at Diesel
Drink #1

Chai after work, early evening sun last week.

There was a bearded, spectacled, hippieish a man at a table by the open garage-door front of the cafe. The woman who'd be sitting with him had stepped out the door to smoke a cigarette. About a minute later, he lit one himself and continued to read his book. The smallish, shaven, extremely practical lesbian owner* walked over to his table and let him know that he couldn't smoke indoors. His shoulders squared. He dug in and replied, "I appreciate that," and didn't move. She then explained that he'd need to leave in order to smoke. Same stubborn set of the chin, same reply. She didn't stay to argue, and she didn't retreat, she just went back to the kitchen.

About a minute later, he got up and took the two steps required to officially be outside, where he finished his cigarette. I can only guess that he was saving face or making some kind of point. Maybe he just couldn't handle being asked to move by a woman. In any case, he just looked like a dweeb, and wasn't that interesting. Much more interesting to me was the owner — she's been smart enough to step in, say what needed to be said, and then clear out, leaving enough space for a ruffled male ego or a belligerent personality to persuade itself that it wanted to go outdoors of its own accord.

I want to get better at that sort of thing.

* there are two owners, they're both lesbians, the cafe's called Diesel, it's cute. Correction, 7/13/02: There are three owners. To be perfectly fair, I have no proof that any of them are queer, so I was guessing based on the available cues that at least some of them were and that “diesel” was a cute semi-in-joke. Apologies for inaccurate reporting. P.S., I miss you, Diesel!

11:56 AM (link)

Friday, April 27, 2001

Let it first be said that I know nothing about the formal practice of photography. My previous experience has consisted of a series of blurry photos taken too close up.

But Spider's eyes have new lenses, and I can finally take unblurry pictures of the tiny things that I find most interesting. So watch out.

(Almost all photos will be linked to larger versions of themselves.)

07:08 AM (link)

Friday, April 20, 2001

"The time is long overdue for a house cleaning of the soul"
- Lamb

I'm restless. That's hardly unusual; restlessness is my native state. For the past few months, my restlessness has run along and across and under a gritty, busy street. Today it ran off an edge, dropped two feet and joined a bigger, faster, bubblier stream.

After months of stagnance, a housecleaning project at work has suddenly sprung full-formed from the head of a brand strategist and has me happily scrambling to do all the culling and cleaning and pruning that I've been dying to do.

The weblog I read most faithfully is undergoing an alchemical process of re-substantiation.

Bruce Mau's theory and Paul Ford's practice have been soaking into my brain like an caffeine-and-oxygen cocktail.

And the Weather Channel says Sunday's going to be 70° and spattered with thunderstorms. Soul-cleaning weather indeed.

11:29 AM (link)

Thursday, April 19, 2001

Hooooough. Tomorrow, Spider gets to look at objects from very small distances.

12:00 PM (link)

Yesterday's shades of Boston grey, seen from my office window.
view from my office window

06:57 AM (link)

Wednesday, April 18, 2001

It's 36° and snowing in Boston this morning. In the meantime, it's 79° in Belize and 64° in Shanghai.

07:34 AM (link)

Monday, April 16, 2001

RIP Joey Ramone.

06:44 AM (link)

Sunday, April 15, 2001

I read this requiem for the small, independent business and, encouragingly, I have something positive to respond with. Diesel Cafe is this particularly friendly coffee shop just down the street which is owned by three local women. The coffee is delicious, the atmosphere is warm, and the light is great. And they're succeeding so remarkably well. Across the street is the Starbucks that moved in last year. On summer days, Starbucks frequently has a handful of people sitting in the window — but Diesel's got a line running out the door.

It's not luck, though. The business plan the Diesel owners wrote is so good that it's used as the example at the Somerville small business association. And the location's certainly favorable, but the little new agey bath products shop that opened down the street closed after a few months. But a combination of a rare location, semi-conscious locals, and excellent planning do still seem to work.

04:55 PM (link)

Today's Easter weirdness: the man with a bullhorn driving a truck with big white wooden signs attached around Boston, heckling the people who celebrate Easter. On the back board, a few statements about how the early Christians never celbrated Easter, heathen holiday, etc. pretty standard as Jesus-boards go. But on the side, a list -- apparently of why Easter's a bad idea. I missed the last two, but the first three were:

  1. Easter bunny
  2. fancy clothes
  3. silly songs
(Silly songs actually having been underlined.)

Not only are all of you silly egg-hunting children going to hell, but you're apparently also in extremely bad taste.

04:34 PM (link)

Friday, April 13, 2001

I'm surrounded by coworkers who are accomplishing their spring slim-down by getting on the Atkins diet. So I'm surrounded by pork chops, lamb chops, beef chunks, and other assorted greasy goodness...it's not that I'm anti-carnivore, but meat (just meat. with cheese.) for every meal is just naaasty.

09:45 AM (link)

It's 50° and cloudy and beyond humid. It feels a lot like the Pacific northwest, and it's friendly and comforting and feels good on my skin and I love it.

07:28 AM (link)

Saturday, April 07, 2001

I'd forgotten about my remarkable symbiotic relationship with vodka, in which any instance of sigificant vodka consumption results in my waking up far too early the following morning (6:30am on a Saturday) with far too much energy. This is not the result of any sketchy energy-drink combinations, and (here's the key) seems to be consistent whether I have two drinks or ten. The nice part about two is that I get to keep my liver.

Based on a quick search, I appear to be alone in this, but Salon does have hangover cures for my droopier companions. Now it's time to clean everything before the energy dissipates.

06:40 AM (link)

Friday, April 06, 2001

Last night's big news: my cat climbed into my drawer, chewed 14 inches of stap off the top of my swimsuit, consumed it, and then yakked about six inches of it up onto the carpet. I don't want to think about the remaining eight inches.

I mean, good lord, why?

08:15 AM (link)

Tuesday, April 03, 2001

It's not the fact the "white fluffy" is a cake frosting flavor. It's not even the fact that there is such a thing as Easter Flavor cake mix. It's that the Easter Flavor cake mix is marked "artificial flavoring."

What did they think I'd think it was flavored with, live bunnies?

08:23 AM (link)

Monday, April 02, 2001

I would like to announce that I have completed my income tax forms. (I'm phobic about taxes, it's lame, they're done.)

As I've always suspected, the goverment owes me money. Please feel free to send congratulations and alcohol.

02:40 PM (link)

Tuesday, March 27, 2001

This is obviously a day for great light.

In addition to the snowy goodness of the trip to work, there is bright, bright sun on blue, blue river water outside my window, and the shiny, blue-green sparkly bracelet that I'm wearing is sending disco-ball colors all over the walls as I type.

I love light.

07:22 AM (link)

It snowed yesterday, and it was cold enough that the snow fell in discrete, icy flakes. This morning's bright sunshine hadn't yet had a chance to turn the snow to slush, but was loosening it from powerlines and windowledges as I walked to the train. Just outside the Porter Square T stop, there's a giant, shiny, bright red kinetic sculpture that spins in the wind like a giant, slow pinwheel. Piles of still-fluffy snow spun off the sculpture and landed around my feet as the sun warmed the metal.

Off the train, on my way to the office, a lucky wind blew glittery snow-bits through a fence and straight across the sidewalk at eye level. Walking through in bright sun and soft-feeling glitter-snow felt like a good omen.

06:44 AM (link)

Monday, March 26, 2001

The weird thing about the Internet being so small works both ways. After finding a link to an old classmate's page, I went on an impulsive googling rampage. It turns out that some of the people I most want to find remain elusive...but I know what's happened to various random classmates and old friends. In the spirit of x degrees of separation: Michael Bird? Kevin Aldridge? Sunshine? If you ever pop out of the woodwork, email me.

06:53 PM (link)

I've finished the mix CD that I started last week and am now ready to hunt down the addresses of my lost friends so i can send it to them. If you're one of my lost friends, send me your address.

11:19 AM (link)

Another Alternet prize: a travel essay about escaping the tech industry and travelling the world. Pertinent to me because it's more about the paradoxes of being a relatively well-off American travelling through impoverished areas than about the freedom of travel. Thoughts like these are the reasons I'm still digesting my trip to Belize too much to talk or write about it in detail.

11:05 AM (link)

Friday, March 23, 2001

"I can't explain my irrational behavior, so ASTROLOGY COSMIC ENERGY MASONS ZOG ZOG ZOG."

Indeed.

11:26 AM (link)

Thursday, March 22, 2001

Is it just me, or do the Dutch not have the best surnames? I mean, come on: VanHootegem? Vadenwaterweg? Van der Blonk? (Names taken from random emails I've received at work.)

On a related note, should you want to curse in Dutch, try this.

02:02 PM (link)

There's a new object on blissbat, so go look.

School, by the way, will always just be school, no matter how long it's been since I left. New York is the City, Vassar is School. And it was, too. New England autumns on the Hudson, gothic buildings, waxed floorboards, wooden desks. The library there smelled like library, and the dormitories were old and creaky, and it was perfectly School. (Not a perfect school — that's something different.)

It's not nostalgia, incidentally. It's only been a few years, but the specifics of no sleep and psychodrama and New York cold are quite fresh. It was just the right thing at the right time, and I appreciate that a lot.

10:07 AM (link)

Today's tropical blissbat picture:
Kinkajou licking my nose

I started looking at the Belize Zoo Web site about two years ago. My interest in small marsupials started about the same time, so I can't say which came first, but they have a section about the Zoo's mammals that includes movie clips and pictures of their kinkajous. (Kinkajous are small marsupial mammals, native to Central America, with prehensile tails and big, lemur-style eyes. They're also really fuzzy and quite friendly if they're hand-raised.) I put Belize on the list of places to visit.

The last day we were in Belize, Peter and I went to the zoo. It's quite small and only takes animals that have been raised as pets or injured or are otherwise unsuitable for reintroduction into the wild. It's also quite full of small Belizean children. We wandered through the zoo and cooed at the baby monkeys and tried to coax the ocelot into being photogenic and finally wound up at the kinkajou enclosure. No kinkajous. Only a sign stating that the animals had been temporarily taken off exhibit.

Disappointed, we moved on to the jaguars (big, sleepy), where we met Jamir (possibly Jameer), one of the zookeepers. I inquired after the health of the kinkajous and he explained that their cage was being remodeled, but that if we *really* wanted to see them...long story short, he took us back to the sub-zoo where all the unexhibited animals live and not only did we get to see the sleepy breeding pair that were normally on exhibit, we got to play with the year-old orphan babies (including the one licking my nose above), who climbed all over us and tried to eat my earring and I nearly died of cute.

Jamir, it turns out, was one of those people who really enjoy it when other people get worked up about their specialties. Plant and animals people — really skilled ones — are frequently like that, and it's always encouraging.

Now all I need is a greenhouse for the sugar gliders...

09:00 AM (link)

Wednesday, March 21, 2001

In the next chapter of the Connection public radio spat [1] [ 2], Christopher Lydon is no longer associated with WBUR and has begun producing his own weekly Webcast from www.christopherlydon.org.

What an encouraging use of the Web — Lydon and his producer were locked out of the show he built, so he's simply taken the main ingedients to the net while he regroups. Check it out.

06:47 AM (link)

Tuesday, March 20, 2001

Some mornings, you eat the muffin. Some mornings, the muffin eats you.

09:17 AM (link)

Monday, March 19, 2001

I'm trying to ease gently back into Boston and work without dislodging some of the psychological/emotional status changes that came during the trip. Admittedly, Boston's been cooperating with that goal -- it's been a mild and even sunny since I got home, and no major catastrophes were waiting for me when I came in to work today.

There are a lot of pictures and words that I'm fitting together on the subject of Belize, but in the meantime, the tropical blissbat picture of the day:

(Click image to see *very* large [~1 meg] version.)

Peter took this one from the top of the observatory pyramid at Tikal just before sunset. The pyramid is part of a complex called El Mundo Perdido (the Lost World) by the archaelogists who uncovered it, and is actually a series of pyramids built one over the other, with the oldest and innermost being the oldest structure uncovered in Tikal. It's also apparently the structure that the most tourists have fallen to their deaths climbing. (January was apparently a particularly spectacular month in terms of unintentionally autosacrifical tourists.)

08:59 AM (link)

Friday, March 16, 2001

Back from Belize alive and sunned and exhausted and refocused. It was lush and extreme and I have stories and pictures coming, but first I need some solid, un-parrot-interrupted sleep.

My perspective's shifted a bit. I like it. I want to keep doing that.

06:39 PM (link)

Wednesday, March 07, 2001

We're going. The tickets have miraculously arrived, the passport guardians have accepted our proofs of identity, and the lost application has been redeemed.

Tomorrow afternoon at 12:30pm, I'll be in Belize City. I'll be in the jungle, and then at the beach, and also at Tikal.

01:54 PM (link)

I'm not going to post about next week's holiday until the final snag has been resolved, but I will say that right now, Boston feels remarkably blue-filtered indeed.

All the Seattle scenes in Little Buddha (a pretty but otherwise mediocre film) are shot through a blur filter, while the ancient Indian scenes are all in warm, red-gold light. I just want to get from the blue cold place to the earth tones. Please.

11:30 AM (link)

I know I said less job talk, but I keep having and running into the same reaction — we don't like the corporate world or its tactics or whatever, but we understand why the companies we work for behave the way they do. I don't have the attention span to stay still if I'm not inspired...so, high-school-guidance-counselor style, I'm back to the drawing board, trying to determine which elements of Job I do and don't want.


what it iswhat it isn't
humancorporate
flexible9-5
usefulbusiness
well-payingpoverty-level
independantanonymous
low-stressfor shareholders
healthystupid
non-location-specificbureaucratic
positive 
doesn't increase social inequality 
moves toward a greater good 
integrated 
enjoyable 

Best recent advice: "be militant in your pursuit of your heart." (Thanks, Mark.)

What's your list? And how's the freelance market in San Francisco these days?

07:08 AM (link)

Tuesday, March 06, 2001

The Big Storm finally hit Boston and we're under about ten inches of snow, expecting a foot by the end of today. This is good, because I'm working from home while eating jam and toast and tea and scritching the cat. I love being cozy and mammalian during horrible weather. Once I get work under control (there's a grand total of three people in the office today), I'm going to curl up by the heater with the Chronicles of Narnia (more)and reread them starting with Prince Caspian.

06:25 AM (link)

Monday, March 05, 2001

This catalog arrived in my mailbox last week, precipitating a massive, twitchy case of spring fever. Windowboxes seem like the only solution.

11:04 AM (link)

The New Scientist explains why women's knees fall apart...I have no ACL in my right knee anymore, so this is particularly interesting to me. Another article here outlines the other general theories about why female athletes suffer more knee injuries than male athletes.

09:14 AM (link)

Sunday, March 04, 2001

Someone else's logic has connected the dots between me and the place where I work...which I've avoided naming (certain posts have been altered or deleted for legal reasons). For what it's worth, they're a decent company, run by very smart people. I just can't justify spending eight hours a day, sometimes a lot more, working for an entity that doesn't have my best interest (or the greater good) in mind. I could work much harder and longer if real lives were being improved, but the goal of revolutionizing the business world isn't important enough for me to hand over my brain.

On a spoken word CD produced by Ani DiFranco, Utah Phillips, folksinger and all around smartass quotes Fryin' Pan Jack, a fellow hobo:

"I told myself in '27: If I cannot dictate the conditions of my labor I will henceforth cease to work. I learned when I was young that the only true life I had was the life of my brain, but if it's true that the only real life that I had was the life of my brain, what sense does it make to hand that brain to somebody for eight hours a day for their particular use on the presumption that at the end of the day they will give it back in an unmutilated condition?''

That said, we will now return to topics other than Erin's work crises, cause dear god, the angst.

02:24 PM (link)

Last week, I helped people who'd been at the company for years pack their stuff into white paper bags (which had been strategically been placed under their desks before they arrived) and leave. One of them has to get a new job within a few weeks or go back to India. Over in the other building, project teams got cut by a third, and people who'd been working till 11pm for months at a time were laid off. It's pretty clear that the layoff selections were mostly arbitrary, which, for some reason, makes them harder to cope with. My team hit the bars at 3:30.

Yesterday, I took the day off of the net and slept and paid bills and ate soup. The other person who lives in this house workes for the same company, and we're both reeling.

I'm done with this. My heart isn't even remotely in what I'm doing, and I know that I have unrealistically high expectations, but they've gotten me this far. In a few days, I'm going to Belize for a week and I'm going to soak up sun and warm and ocelots and when I come back, I'm going to save money until I have enought to move to California and then I'm done with this corporate thing for good. There are other ways to live, and I have faith that I'll figure something out.

07:09 AM (link)

Friday, March 02, 2001

The company I work for just laid off several hundred people, which works out to something like one out of five. We missed all the other layoffs, and now we're here.

The trick is that to work effectively at a place like this, you really have to invest your energy and attention and make sacrifices. I've been hearing people talk about the "family" way too much in the last week as the company closes ranks. So if you're that bought-in and then you get ditched, it's more than losing a job. There are big security goons on every floor and people are mostly just grieving.

07:42 AM (link)

Wednesday, February 28, 2001

More Adbusters (when they're good, they're very very good). Recanters is an article about changes of heart: road-to-Damascus-style realizations that there is a different, better way. One section of the article quotes Princeton philosopher Peter Singer:

"...Singer cooks up a hypothetical man named Bob. Bob is a car nut; his prize possession is a vintage Bugati roadster. One day, while out walking, Bob sees a train bearing down on a toddler who has wandered on to the tracks. Bob can save the child by throwing a switch and diverting the train onto a siding. But parked on that siding is . . . his beloved Bugati. If he throws the switch and saves the child, his car will be crushed. The kid or the car: which to choose? Nobody with any heart or soul would fail to save the child, Singer has us acknowledge. But wait: aren't all us First Worlders, in effect, in the same position as Bob? We know there are kids, in Africa and India, in the path of the speeding train of starvation or disease. With only a few dollars – a tiny fraction of our disposable income – we could save them. Singer provides the toll-free numbers for UNICEF and OXFAM.

"'Now you, too, have the information you need to save a child's life,' he writes. 'How should you judge yourself if you don't do it?'

"Whether you find Singer's approach inspiring or manipulative, it does, pretty effectively, push buttons most of us would rather not have pushed. It forces us to step back and look at ourselves and consider our choices objectively. The process is almost like engineering a moment of reckoning: if you suddenly see things Singer's way, you're obliged to rethink the way you live."

Along those lines, look at the "change things" links to the right. It's obviously not enough, but it's a beginning.

11:03 AM (link)

Hah. God bless Salon. They've got an article about the Chris Lydon suspension headlining their Tech and Business section.

07:43 AM (link)

Monday, February 26, 2001

There are too many damn people on the Internet. I don't particularly like running into people I knew from previous phases of my life unless I'm a.) looking for the person in question, or b.) liked them a lot when I knew them originally. I don't like going backward. And now with everyone's family doing googles and everyone I ever went to school with working for an Internet company, it seems impossible to maintain the kind of separation I took for granted five years ago. I think it's really cute that my mom reads my web log, but I suddenly feel like I'm standing in the middle of a big sticky trail composed of all the email addresses and usenet posts and web sites I've ever been attached to, and it's disconcerting.

[Update, much later: I do like hearing from people I used to know, despite the above. How about this: if you never broke my heart or intentionally did damage to my psyche, please do e-mail. Love, Erin.]

09:14 AM (link)

Saturday, February 24, 2001

Synchronous or just coincincidental?

Short version: The Invisibles + Ani DiFranco = tasty British blogs.

Long Version: a friend points me to The Invisibles while I'm in a comic book slump. I wind up at the fantastic annotations at The Bomb about a year later. Via The Bomb, I wind up at the Nexus, later the Barbelith Underground. Lots of things from my favorite parts of college combined with a fairly sincere desire to mess with reality in appealing ways. I read the e-list for a few months and then got distracted by the play I was directing. Months later, stumble onto plasticbag.org via a link from like Zeldman or something. Turns out that Tom of plasticbag.org is the same Tom who started The Bomb and the Barbelith franchise. From a different angle (a link from a page about Ani DiFranco, if I recall accurately), I ran into not.so.soft, which turns out to be written by a real-life friend of plastic-bag-Tom's. So yeah, small net world, fast memes, whatever.

06:11 PM (link)

Tuesday, February 20, 2001

Christopher Lydon, the host of WBUR (Boston Public Radio)'s The Connection has been suspended, along with the show's senior producer, over salary/creative control disputes. Various articles detailing the spat are re-posted on The Connection's forum.

The Connection is frequently one of the most engaging programs on US public radio, and it's frustrating to see power struggles disrupting public radio. I'd rather drink my free-range beverage and pretend that everyone working in public media is altruistic and *nice*, dammit.

12:44 PM (link)

Tuesday, February 13, 2001

Every so often, I get the feeling that an idea is chasing me. Or a complex of ideas. And (right now, from my office) I know that it's not -- that what's happening is that my brain is finding subtle connections between things that spark my interest and feeding them back to me when I least expect it. Because finding connections is one of the things that the brain does best, and mine has a taste.

The meta-point here is that you do, in one way or another, shape your own reality. Even from an assumed stance of level-headedness, I can understand logically that the senses take in more information than the brain can process, and that in order to have consciousness, your brain has to filter sensation/information constantly. Now if you focus on one thing/idea/mood/what-have-you, your filter is going to adjust for it -- which is why you read about something in the news and suddenly notice it four times in the next week: your filter is adjusting and refocusing. Which means that if you focus on something, you're going to notice it cropping up more, which could very well cause you to focus on it more...it's cyclical. (Well, actually it's a spiral.) The interesting thing is that you're actively altering your brain filter, which is basically to say that you're changing your perception of reality.

The difference between your perception of reality and actual/objective reality? Tricky.

The non-meta point: the idea that's chasing me has to do with altering one's perception of reality, and it comes wrapped in itself. In order to think about these synchronicities, I have to think about my ability to change my brain filter, which is the end-point of the synchronicities themselves. Or an endpoint, anyway.

This is interesting to me because I want to figure out how to have a healthy body to go with my busy brain and because I've had a crush on this stuff since I was about seven and I haven't grown out of it. Look for more.

03:11 PM (link)