Thursday, July 31, 2003

For beginning runners, I must recommend Katharine Switzer's Running and Walking for Women Over 40. We used her ten week plan to get up to 30 minutes a day. It definitely took us longer than ten weeks, but it did work. I used her second ten week plan to get up to 60 minutes a day. It took about twelve weeks, I think. In the interest of preserving my ACL, I'm dropping back to 30 minute runs. In a week or two, I'm going to start the slow and methodical process of working back up to 60 minutes.

I will never be a fast runner. I can be faster than I am now, but never just *fast*. I am unfortunately all slow twitch muscle. This would be good if I had the long, lean body of a marathon runner, but no, I'm stocky and close to the ground. I bulk up easily (with both fat and muscle) and should have been a sprinter by rights. Too bad about the reality of genetics.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Snaps to Susana for reminding me that Distance Education is a viable option.

I haven't been all that concerned with finishing this Design Technology degree. I mean, really, I have four degrees, do I really another, especially an A.A.? But it's creating a gap on my resume, and I think it's time to close it up. I can practically hear potential employers thinking, "Well, she's teaching architectural design, and she has practical experience with architectural design, but where is her formal training?" Listing out three years of design courses on a resume isn't a very elegant solution, so I tend to skip it completely and merely allude to it in my cover letters.

There are other reasons I haven't rushed out and finished off my course work. The scheduling at the local campus does not work with my schedule, I'd have to take two night classes and a day class this semester--how am I supposed to a) get a job; b) play with the band; c) go to tae kwon do? I have my priorities. Also, the electives I want to take to finish up aren't offered on the local campus.

Anyway, I figured out today that I can take my last five classes over the Internet from the Terre Haute campus. Four of the five are classes I actually would like to take--two architectural design courses, one structural detailing course, and statics. The last one is a speech course, and I'm amazed you can take it online, but there you go, the wonders of modern technology. Maybe it would be better to take some of these courses in person, but this way, when I need to cry over my Statics homework, I'll be all alone in my office at home and no one will see me.

So, by June, I'll be B.A., B.A., M.A., M.A., A.A. This is important because it will put me one degree up on my wife, and I need the ego boost.
Before we cleaned the living room:

Luna gets comfortable
So, I'm way behind on documenting my life, and I don't feel like backtracking all that much. I meant to sit down on Sunday evening and give a rundown on the weekend--Friday night: Habitat crew leader training; Saturday morning: Building w/Habitat; Saturday afternoon: taekwondo club picnic; Saturday night: Fever game; Sunday morning: fight with partner; Sunday afternoon: clean the entire house; Sunday evening: talk to two different friends on the phone--but I just never got to it. And working in close proximity to a man who isn't speaking to me over the past two days has done nothing to make me feel like sitting down and chatting with myself in my journal.

I don't know, sometimes it seems that life sucks, and then it goes and sucks some more. Mr. Land, my primary tkd/hkd instructor, had a massive heart attack on Sunday. It's Tuesday night, and he hasn't yet regained consciousness, so it's probably pretty stupid to try and convince myself, hey, everything's going to be fine. If I had remembered how fragile life is, I would have talked to him more on Saturday at the picnic. He was walking around w/out his shirt on, and Catherine was just saying that he looked so fit and healthy. Mr. Katz talked a bunch of kids into sneaking up and dumping water on Mr. Land while he was catching some rays, and we were all joking that he would be making them do push-ups to pay for it for the next two weeks. Well, I guess not.

I hate it that I'm tired, I hate it that I'm weepy, I hate it that I can't sleep, I hate it that I have to put up with an awful work situation, I just *hate* right now. And that's not particularly good for my own mental health, not to mention that of everyone around me.

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

I'm so tired, I can't even summon the energy to complain about life.

Monday, July 28, 2003

Mmm...most efficient. I earned points for being a friendly neighbor, and made extra space in our crowded closet as well. I loaned my trumpet to Amanda, and my trombone to Garry. Two less things to worry about in my life.
We just live in a bad neighborhood.

The other day, the neighbor kid was over in our yard chasing down his (very sweet, how did it get that way?) dog. He looked sort of like your typical kid guy, no shirt, pants hanging off his butt, but I found his tattoos decidely unnerving. They weren’t cool, full-body, polychromatic fire-spewing dragons, and they weren’t bad-ass motorcycle-riding skull-and-crossbones w/snakes flowing from empty eye sockets. Just plain, blue, block letters across his back and chest. Maybe it was the way he walked or the way he yelled at the dog, I don’t know, but I looked at those tattoos and instantly thought, “Prison time.” He thoroughly creeped me out, and I didn't particularly want to give him back his dog.

Well, earlier this week, Catherine saw his name in the police blotter of the local newspaper; he was arrested for theft (and the subsequent probation violation). I think my instincts were right: that kid is headed the wrong way down a one way street and he’s not going to end up anywhere good.

On the other hand, it was a peaceful couple days next door with him in jail. He’s obviously back, because the yelling and screaming was up full volume again today. It’s really too bad. We’re relatively decent citizens, Garry and Amanda are definitely good people, Dana and her group across the street seem like good neighbors, and we’re all listening to this family self-destruct next door.

What really decided me I wanted to move, though, was my little jaunt to the store on the corner (sells the most lottery tickets in the county every week!). I couldn’t help but overhear the man and the woman parked next to the soda machine, obviously catching up after a few years of not seeing each other. I missed the story about his divorce (he thinks he got married at the end of ’96, divorced in ’97), but did catch her talking about her boyfriend: “I love him and everything, but he’s on house arrest, and if he comes over to see me, he has to go back to jail.” I don’t even need to hear the rest of that story to know that relationship is the worst idea I’ve heard in a long time.

We so need some upward mobility in our lives.

Sunday, July 27, 2003

I would guess that on 99 out of 100 days, I like being one-half of a long-established couple. And truthfully, if something happened to Catherine, I probably wouldn't be long for this world. I can't see much point in continuing life without her. That being said, today was that 1 day out of 100 that I really, really wanted to be single. Not that I wanted Catherine to completely disappear, but it would have been nice if she had her own apartment on the other side of town for the day. Sometimes it just happens that I want to responsible for myself and only myself. Amazingly enough, it's never the big stuff that sets me off in a rage. I mean, really, we should be arguing about the fact that I need to be living in a different part of the country if I'm ever going to find work in my field. But instead we're arguing about those *stupid* cell phone boxes that have been stacked in the breezeway of our living room for more months than I can count. Get rid of them already!

Saturday, July 26, 2003

What I realized today: I really miss Barb. I'll spare the world the entire thought process behind the realization that I miss her--the short version: I realized today that I still use one particular word *way* too often, and I picked it up from Barb my freshman year of college. That's almost twenty years of word overuse. Thanks, Barb!

I think it's really odd that I miss her, though, given that I haven't talked to her in at least five years, haven't seen her in more than ten years. Don't know where she is (not quite true, I know she's in the Seattle area somewhere), don't know what she's doing. I'm not really quite sure where our friendship went. Time and distance probably did it in; my fault for moving to L.A./Oregon/Indiana, I guess. Maybe we both could have made a better effort. Maybe she was tired of dealing w/my difficult personality, I don't know. And actually, I don't care. If she called me tomorrow and said, "You know, I haven't seen you in ten years because you're the most annoying person on the face of the earth, but hey, I've decided to give you a second chance," I'd say, "Hey! That's great! Let's go see a movie!" Ah, it's telling that I would see a movie for Barb, because Catherine has to practically tie me up and drag me to the movie theater on a normal day.

So, I tried doing a web search to see if I could find her, and I did, sort of. I found her father's obituary, which just...stunned me. He's younger than my dad! Anyway, the obituary mentioned that both she and Deb were in the Seattle area, but she's got such a common last name, I can't find her. I did find a mortgage officer with the same name, a lot of good that did me. I don't know, maybe the alumni association would help me out. I'm not sure what the proper etiquette is--her father just died, does she really need to be dealing with anybody else right now? Maybe I should just let it slide. What started out as sort of a happy thought earlier in the day has turned into something else, and maybe that something else just needs to be let go.
It's one of those things that could go either way: you know your wife is going to comment on it when you get home, but you're not exactly sure what she's going to say. Is it going to be "That's great, honey!" or is it going to be "Don't you think your time might be better spent doing yard work?" Hard to tell.

After work, I pulled out the tripod and equatorial mount for my all-but-abandoned Meade DS-10 telescope (10" f/4.5 Newtonian Reflector). I very much loved this telescope when I first got it. I worked a summer thinning apples (maybe not the world's worst job, but close) to earn money for it. My dad foolishly told me he would match my earnings dollar for dollar, and the next thing he knew, we had a $600 scope sitting in our living room. It was a tough purchase--Mike Baechler and Mr. Wilson were pushing the Dobsonian mount, but I really thought the equatorial would be better. Also, the Celestron C8 seemed to be everywhere (or at least on the back cover of Sky and Telescope magazine, which was my drug of choice when I was a teenager), but I couldn't even pronounce "Schmidt Cassegrain" in those days, so no way was I buying one.

My poor DS-10 got locked away in a closet during an emotional crisis my sophomore year of college, and I'm afraid I've never once used it since. Couldn't bear to for the longest time, and when I was finally back to the point where I could stand to look at/through it, I had misplaced the eyepiece extender and both eyepieces. So, it's been sitting in my bedroom since 1987, sad and lonely, and unfortunately, gathering dust even though I had the sonotube closed up. Every once in awhile I talk about selling it and buying a new one (a Celestron? much more compact). But I realized today that even though I never, ever use it, I'm really quite attached to the beast.

$50 for a mid-range eyepiece. $18 for a new extender. $35 for a new motor on the tracking system. Even if I have to get the mirrors re-surfaced, it would still be vastly less expensive to clean up the DS-10 than to buy a new one. Yeah, I could buy a lot better telescope now for $700 than I could 20 years ago, but I don't really need one, do I? Nor could I afford one. Anyway, the mount and tripod have been reassembled, and they are now taking up precious room in our garage. I'm going to collimate the mirrors over the weekend, and move forward from there. One more hobby for Catherine to put up with. I guess she's survived my model rocketry--just looking at space instead of trying to fly into it should be a lot easier on her nerves.

Friday, July 25, 2003

Current Terror Alert Level:

Terror Alert Level

Thursday, July 24, 2003

I thought I was doing a pretty good job of sucking it up. A little online whining, but other than that, basically coping. But when I was sitting in the waiting room this morning, waiting to see which physical therapist was going to be stuck with me this time, I discovered all I really wanted to do was cry. So, there I was, trying not to cry, with this old guy sitting across from me trying not to notice. Too pathetic to even describe.

I think that athletes are bad role models. When I look around at my non-athlete friends, I notice that none of them are in pain. Emily sprained her ankle falling down the stairs last year; Carolyn has some pretty intense dental work done. Other than that, they are all essentially pain free, and they don’t think that’s unusual. When you hang out with athletes, the benchmark changes. Since everyone is pain, you’re not allowed to notice your injuries until they become really debilitating. I had teammates who were playing w/arthritis, tendonitis, reconstructed knees, bronchitis, you name it. That’s just the way it is. Everyone hurts, and unless you’re actually bleeding on the ice and slowing up the game, you just need to shut up about it, give 110%, and take one for the team. It just seems to be accepted dogma: if you’re going to play sports, you just have to learn how to deal with pain. Can’t deal? Don’t play.

This can’t be right. I mean, I don’t mind the pain of playing hard, aching muscles, burning lungs. That’s the kind of thing you can recover from, even if it takes a couple of days. But I’ve finally gotten to the point where I have to admit I’ve reached my pain threshold, actually surpassed my tolerance point. I’m starting to cry in public, and that is definitely a bad sign.

So, Kelly gets to be the one to thump on me this time. I was a little worried when I saw it was him, because he got a bit mad at me the last time he worked with me because I wouldn’t let him use the Graston tool on my achilles. (Note to physical therapists: I’m not a fucking idiot. You can use the Graston tool on me once, but I’m not going to hold still for it twice.) Hopefully, he didn’t write that down on my chart. Anyway, our session went okay, and was only moderately painful. He thinks if we can resolve some of the shoulder inflammation, my other joints might respond, too. Also, he thinks my hand diagnosis was wrong, so we may work on that.

As I was lying there wrapped in ice afterward, I thought, “Well, this will be okay, I can do this, and maybe it will help.” But when I checked out, and started making appointments for the rest of my therapy—3X a week for the foreseeable future—it just overwhelmed me again. I’m going to have to miss at least some work 3 times a week for the remainder of my time at the FS. Not a big deal in terms of getting things done, but definitely a big deal in terms of my paycheck. The moment the ice came off, I was back in pain, despite the anti-inflammatory meds, so at this point, I’m not very optimistic. I’ve had a lot of medical professionals assure me they could fix me up, and so far, most of them have been wrong. It’s hard to look forward through the pain and hassle and expense and everything else and see a good resolution. And yeah, I know I’m just tired and whiny, and everything is going to be *just fine*, but it doesn’t feel fine, and really…I pretty much just want to sit here and cry.
I'm not really sure I needed to be able to talk to my web page, but since I can...I will.

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My boss can't freaking drive.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

So....yeah. I saw my orthopedic surgeon yesterday. Just the fact that I have someone I consider "my" orthopedic surgeon should be considered a warning sign, I think. I totally freaked myself out by reading the magazine Arthritis Today in the waiting room. If that's my future, I vote for killing myself now. I totally refuse to live like that.

And I've been typing and erasing this paragraph for 30 minutes now, so I think that's also a warning sign. Go think about something else for awhile.
This morning, I got to work about ten minutes late, then spent another twenty minutes or so goofing off with my e-mail, etc. About 8:30, I asked my boss what was on the agenda today. His answer? "As little as possible." And I'm thinking, "Okay. I already did as little as possible yesterday. Come to think of it, I did as little as possible on Friday, too. Is there a chance I'm going to be able do something more than as little as possible anytime soon?"

It's not like there isn't anything to do. There is a stack of 18 brand new flat panel monitors in our office, just waiting to find new owners, but my boss can't seem to figure out what he wants done with them. I guess we're just going to hold on to them until they're obsolete. Ditto for the ten new Dell workstations stacked in the garage. And the five new Dell laptops stacked next to the monitors. Pllleeeeeeaaaaase let me do something with them, pretty please?

Monday, July 21, 2003

How to spend a Sunday:

  • sleep in
  • get a haircut
  • get coffee
  • go to Hallmark, buy cards for your friends
  • go to the pet store, contemplate buying more toys for your already spoiled kitties, settle for cat food
  • buy some new zip disks and a ream of paper
  • eat lunch, act stoic when you discover they are out of your favorite cookies
  • go to the grocery store, ruin a cart full of perfectly healthy food by adding a can of chocolate frosting to the mix
  • spend too many hours trying to figure out how to break up many MB of data so your backups will run a little more efficiently
  • give it up, back up your system inefficiently
  • clean out the bathroom cabinets
  • answer some e-mail
  • edit (another) resume, write a fresh cover letter
  • surprise your partner w/a card she didn't you bought earlier in the day
  • mmm...have a great dinner of pasta w/homemade pesto, courtesy of your partner who has a heretofore undiscovered talent for growing basil
  • e-mail off your resume
  • sit in the backyard w/a cream soda, alternately admiring the garden and watching the fireflies
  • take a moment to watch your partner reading, remind yourself you're lucky
  • remember you need to dash off notes in the cards you bought today
  • write in your journal
  • go to bed early with a book

New Lillies

New Flowerbed

Sunday, July 20, 2003

"It's like I told my aunt, I just don't make bail for people. She couldn't believe it, but I was, like, I am not going to bail anyone out! She was all, what if they call you up and ask you to bail them out? and I said, look, if they did the crime, they should spend the time in jail. I'm not going to bail them out!"

And I'm listening to this, thinking to myself, "Never in my life have I ever had the opportunity to not bail someone out of jail. Am I doing something right, or am I doing something wrong?"
News from home.

  1. The big fire. If it wasn't so serious, I'd make some funny remark about it being a good thing my parents are too poor to live on what my mom calls Snob Hill. When a fire runs up a hill, you can be glad you on the flood plain, I guess. Seven houses in a town of 2000 is a pretty big number. My mom credits the water drop from the reservation plane with saving the entire town from burning down. I think everyone feels particularly bad for Jackie Bradley (a co-worker of Aunt Rosella's). I'm not sure where people find the will to live when they just keep getting pounded with one bad thing after another.
  2. My parents had to buy a new water heater, and apparently my brother is earning his keep by installing it. There is also a rumor being floated that he is going to install an air-conditioner upstairs. Also, I heard he helped my mom clean out the garage and take stuff to the dump.
  3. McDonald's, Taco Bell, and KFC all share the same building now, so my mom can get chicken when she wants it, and also get something for my dad.
  4. Super Walmart gets a big thumbs down from my mom. It's too hard on the old people. If you need kleenex and you also need Poligrip, you have to walk two miles to pick up one, then the other.

Saturday, July 19, 2003

Who knew? All I had to do to dramatically raise the number of hits on my web page was to talk about Sushirobo. Did I mention they a) have a new album coming out this fall; b) it's called The Light-Fingered Feeling of Sushirobo; and c) I already have a copy of it? Hmmm?

Your attention, please: if you stumbled on this page by doing a Google search on "Sushirobo," you probably don't really need to be here reading my opinion of the album. Let me make something clear--I am in NO WAY cool enough to be listening to Sushirobo, much less writing about the band. I'm a boring, middle-aged, seriously geekish, semi-employed woman who hasn't been to a club in probably ten years. I'm not cool, never have been, never will. When we were all in college together, the cool, indie kids were listening to the Posies, right? Well, I was probably off being a dork, reading a book and listening to someone like Barbara Mandrell. So I can't tell you anything vaguely useful about Sushirobo, other than the fact that if I was your mother, I'd make you buy all the CDs Pattern 25 Records has to offer BECAUSE I SAID SO.

Also, I'm a big fan of Barry Shaw's drumming. So, there you go. Be sure and watch for the new Sushirobo release.
This morning I got to be a mason's assistant. I followed Walt around as he did repairs on the concrete block foundation of a Habitat house we're renovating. I learned a lot, which is good because now I can put it to use fixing the tuck pointing on our house. First we cleaned out the damaged joints w/a hammer and claw, which was, wow, hard on the hands, but still kind of satisfying. Then we washed down the joints. Walt mixed the cement, sand and water, and filled the joints w/a trowel and pointer. Then he tooled them. I just sort of stood around and handed him things, but it was still pretty fun. He told me where to get some buff-colored masonry mortar to fix our limestone wall, and what tools to get. Kind of neat, hands on experience.

In the afternoon, I helped paint the tool shed, so once again I'm covered with white primer. I had just finally gotten the last of the spots off from two weeks ago.

In mostly un-related news, I totally shredded the bottom of my foot when I got home this afternoon. I'm not telling anyone how I did it, because it will make me look like a huge, big dork, but damn, how unlucky can I get? And there I was, standing on one foot in the bathroom, trying not to drip blood on anything while I was looking for some gauze, and I go and lose my balance. I reached out and grabbed the closest thing, and ended up pulling a shelf out of the medicine cabinet. Not good timing, things falling everywhere; I did find the tube of analgesic my mom gave me for the pain in my hands amongst all the things on the floor, though, so I guess some good can come from my repeated acts of idiocy.
Okay, I'm taking bets. Ten bucks says Wil's wife is pregnant.
So...yeah. I took off work early today to take Catherine into the doctor to get her heart monitor removed. She's been wearing it for the past 24 hours. They'll read the monitor data on Monday, then send it to a specialist to be interpreted. If it turns out to be something quite serious, he'll notify her immediately. If it turns out to be something other than quite serious, he'll send the data back to our doctor, and she'll notify Catherine of the results. Either way it's a hell of a lot of waiting around for answers.

Friday, July 18, 2003

Today I was filling out a work application, and it had the following two questions under "Additional Information":

What is your ethnicity? (Check one)

[ ] Hispanic or Latino [ ] Not Hispanic or Latino

What is your race? (Check one or more)

[ ] American Indian or Alaska Native. A person having origins in any of the original peoples of North and South America (including Central America) and who maintains tribal affiliation or community attachment.

[ ] Asian. A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent including, for example, Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippine Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam.

[ ] Black or African American. A person having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa.

[ ] Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander. A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, or other Pacific Islands.

[ ] White. A person having origins in any of the peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa.

How does anyone know how to fill out this form? And who wrote it and for what purpose? Why did they filter out Latino? If I check yes for Latino, can I skip the race section, or do I have to sub-identify as American Indian or white or whatever? What the hell is a "community attachment" and why is that only a relevant race indicator if I'm American Indian or Alaska Native? And why isn't there an "other" box? What if I'm from southern Africa, but I'm don't have origins in any of the "black racial groups" of Africa? Or even better, what if I am a black african, but my family moved to Egypt five generations ago? Am I black, or am I white if my family has been living in North Africa for a century and a half?

I distrusted census taking before I started reading this IBM book. Now I'm doubly suspicious of every question asked.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

I spent some quality time with my television last night, watching 7/9 of the Democratic presidential hopefuls address the Human Rights Commission. Based on last night's speeches and Q&A sessions, I'm down to three possible candidates. Only three candidates backed gay marriage: Carol Moseley Braun, Dennis Kucinich and Al Sharpton, and therefore, only those three have a chance in the world of getting my vote. Saying this makes me sound like I'm a one-issue voter--gay rights! gay rights! gay rights!--or that I'm enamored with the institution of marriage, but really, I'm neither. I just refuse to vote for anyone who doesn't recognize that creating a separate set of rules for glbt citizens is discrimination. If they won't stick up for my rights even this early in the game, why would anyone expect them to stick up for any other oppressed group?

Both Sharpton and Braun have nice sound bites on it (I missed Kucinich, probably because I turned the channel for awhile because Lieberman pissed me off). Sharpton said creating civil union rules for gays and lesbians is "like saying we'll give blacks or whites or Latinos the rights to shack up, but not marry." And Braun said (in her survey answer) "The concept of 'separate but equal' was properly rejected as inherently problematic by the Supreme Court in the landmark school desegregation case, Brown v. Board of Education. While I applaud the Vermont civil unions law, I am convinced that ultimately inequities will arise if there is one set of laws governing marriage commitments for heterosexuals and another set of laws governing marriage commitments for homosexuals." I enjoyed Sharpton's passion, but I liked Braun's response better, because she was smart enough to bring up the best legal precedent she could find.

Gay marriage is a tough topic, because let's face it, marriage ain't all it's cracked up to be. At least, the majority of the marriages I see around me are something to escape, not celebrate. So, I'm not all into emulating the heterosexual world. On the other hand, I'm tired of how damn complicated life is when you can't get married. Why should I have to work overtime to pay for the legal fees so I can get a set of papers that should at least in theory give Catherine the right to visit me in the emergency room? Why do we have to worry about writing extra tight wills so we can inherit our joint property?

So, I see some legal benefits I want. What I want may not be what's best for the country, though, I haven't decided. Rewarding marriage with certain legal privileges does create a two-tiered system. If gay marriage becomes legal, then Catherine becomes the head of our household, we get a tax break, and I can finally afford my insurance coverage. But is that fair to people like Garry and Amanda, who have been living together for 8 years? Why can't Garry be on Amanda's health insurance w/out that stupid little marriage certificate? Too many privileges are tied to the rules of courtship and marriage in this country, and I'd love to pry them apart, but I find myself instead saying "Hey, give me the right to marry!"

I hate being an American.
Last night I dreamt that I was sitting at an outdoor concert. Jenna and I had been having a conversation about what to do about my shoulder pain. Mel and Joe were sitting behind me. Joey was trying to bug me by leaning into me with his elbow, and it was digging right into "the spot" on my back--and I was screaming. A notable dream for two reasons: first, my subconsious has somehow learned to scream. I have never in my life screamed, I don't even think I know how. If someone held a gun to my head and said, "Scream or die!" I'm not sure I would be able to figure out the mechanics of screaming quickly enough to prevent my demise; second, the level of pain I've been dealing with seems to have ratcheted up just a notch lately, so much so that I dream about the trouble spots. One of the questions the doctors always ask is "does the pain keep you awake?" and I'm wondering why that even matters if you're going to wake up exhausted from feeling the pain through your sleep, anyway.

So, apparently the point my mind is trying to make is that I need to do something about it all. Well, I am doing something, I see my favorite orthopedic surgeon next week about my shoulders. And my family doctor has referred me to an acupuncturist as sort of a last resort before surgery. If she can do anything at all to make my hand functional, I might let her have at the rest of my body and see if she can fix it. It's just so tiring, and maybe even overwhelming at times. I have to make bargains with myself: okay, you can play the drums for awhile, but I don't want to hear any whining later, and you can't spend any time at the computer this evening. Yeah, you can go skating, but you have to promise me you'll sleep in your splints and not take them off half way through the night. You can keep doing taekwondo, but only if you give up hockey and promise not to go barefoot anywhere else. I even make myself splint bargains: if you sleep in your hand splint, you can forget the feet splints tonight. If you sleep in only one foot splint (less stress on the back that way), you have to also wear the hand splint. If you don't sleep in either, you don't get to type out self-indulgent whines.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

I'm officially cool. Diana sent me my very own copy of the Sushirobo CD due to be released this fall, The Light-Fingered Feeling of Sushirobo. I haven't been through the whole thing yet, but the first track sounded like "classic" Sushi, so I'm happy. The second cut, Last Call is available for download at Pattern 25 Records. The last Sushirobo album got some great reviews, and I expect the same of this one. And I see by the liner notes that Clay is back to being Martin, not stirred or shaken.

Go see them live in Seattle and Portland this weekend and next.

  • SEATTLE JULY 19 - Vera Project w/ AVEO
  • PORTLAND JULY 25 - Dante's w/ The High Violets

Sushirobo Press Kit Shot
The tall one in the red shirt would be David. He doesn't usually look so sinister.
Luna might like Catherine, and she might like me, but she looooooovvvvves Jack. She follows him everywhere. Sits at his hip when he eats, trips him up when he's walking. If he's lying down, she comes down and flops her little body not just near him, but right on top of him. She's begging to be groomed, and since that is what Jack likes to do best in the world (he'd groom everyone in the household if we'd let him), the relationship is now working quite well.

Jack and Luna

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

The Forest Service has this program called the "Senior Community Service Employment Program," or SCSEP (see-sep) for short. So, there are a lot of old people running around the building, doing various things like making copies, delivering mail, and things like that. Well, I didn't see the memo, but apparently the new SCSEP mission is to make sure I don't leave this job without having had persimmon pudding. I was trying to make polite conversation the other day with one of the SCSEPs, and said that I had heard she had a persimmon orchard, and that John said she made excellent persimmon pudding. I've never had persimmon pudding, and I've never wanted it. I know it's a very hoosier thing to eat, but it just sounds disgusting.

Well, I guess the SCSEPs got together and decided Tuesday is the day Susan will have persimmons. One woman brought in persimmon pudding, and by the time I had heard the entire story about the drama involved in its making (she got home at 9:00 last night, made one pudding, decided it wasn't good enough, went to the store for buttermilk, made a second one), the pressure was on: I was going to eat persimmon pudding and love it, dammit.

So, I had my first piece of persimmon pudding at 9:00 a.m. I actually liked it, but I'm not sure anyone understood what I was trying to say about it. It was like eating a fragrance, how you'd think perfume might taste if it didn't have all that bitter alcohol in the vapor. At 10:30, another SCSEP brought me a piece of persimmon cream pie that she had made for me, and then I had to have another piece of pudding to prove that I really did like it. I was feeling pretty ill by lunch, it's a little like knocking back a bowl of sugar for breakfast. But I guess I'm a hoosier now and I can say that I've eaten some very fine persimmon pudding.
I read a lot about the Holocaust. And I mean a lot. Maybe I read more books about the Civil War, but...probably not. Although I do read plenty of academic history texts about it, mostly I read journals and memoirs. One thing that always strikes me about this sort of personal writing is its ability to represent the humanity involved in the whole 'Final Solution' process. You always get a sense of the actual humans behind the rather monolithic agenda of the National Socialists: it's humans who do the terrorizing, it's humans who imprison you, it's humans who feed/don't feed you, it's humans who do the executing, and I guess that's what makes this genre of writing so powerful. It has the ability to bring to the forefront all the most evil possibilities in human behavior.

But one thing that has always puzzled me is how humans actually managed to pull off the Holocaust. I mean, not how they pulled a trigger here or there, beat up a person here or there, or even how they came to believe that was the proper thing to do, but rather, how they orchestrated the entire system of eradication. How do humans do that? Most of us can't remember where we left our car keys. How can we be expected to remember all the steps involved in exterminating an entire population?

I've always wondered who exactly kept track of all the lists of people, how anybody ever knew who was supposed to be in what railroad car, who was supposed to be fed, who was supposed to be starved. Obviously, there was a numerical system behind everything, but who designed it, and where was it being managed? I recently finished Gerda Weissmann Stein's All But My Life. At one point in this memoir, she recalls being singled out because she was a trained weaver, and she (and I both) wondered, "Hey, how did they know I could run a loom? I just got here." These people are being transported in absolute chaos, escaping, being recaptured, and yet, the people in charge of the camp know exactly who she is and where she came from. Where did they get that little piece of paper that told them everything about Gerda Weissmann?

So, now I'm reading Edwin Black's IBM and the Holocaust: The Strategic Alliance Between Nazi Germany and America's Most Powerful Corporation, a book that is opening a lot of possibilities in my mental map of the Holocaust. I cannot recall a single book in which a survivor has mentioned statistical technology at any concentration camp--all the books are too concerned with humanizing the Holocaust to pay any attention to machines. I'm not that far into the book, but a lot of things make a lot more sense all the sudden. I'm not even sure I need to read the book to get the idea of how punch cards, census bureaus and unchecked capitalism can turn into a very, very dangerous combination. Mr. Black is most concerned with making a moral argument, I think; he's horrified by the role he believes IBM played in the Holocaust. That's sort of refreshing--god knows I've lost my ability to be horrified at anything humans will do for money. The author is astounded at the ruthlessness of the early players in IBM's history, and I find myself shrugging and thinking, "Yeah, well, tell me something I don't already know." If it hadn't been IBM, it would have been someone else. Getting things done more efficiently. The human juggernaut of National Socialism had a little bit of mechanical help doing its dirty work, and although I know it's wrong, I can't help but feel just a little bit fascinated by a well-oiled machine. I realized today that I wasn't still reading because I wanted to judge whether IBM was right or wrong, but rather I just wanted to know how they did it so well. And that, I guess, really shouldn't sit very well with my conscience.

Sunday, July 13, 2003

I'd forgotten how much work it takes to do research, even though I pretty much never had to get up from my chair for the first three hours. I really, really hate people who carelessly dig through all the pages waiting for pickup at the library laser printer. It totally pisses me off to find my pages all dog-eared and wrinkled, especially when they've only been sitting there for about 45 seconds. Show some courtesy, people!

Anyway, if I ever get to move somewhere else, I'm moving to a university that has windows in its research library. It's like spending the day in a freaking cave, doing research by candlelight, I swear.

This morning, we met our neighbor from across the street. For the first three years, we pretty much pretended we didn't see each other whenever we happened to be outside together. Over the past year, that's sort of evolved into waving and acknowledging each other's presence. That was enough for me, but today, after waving across the street, Catherine announced that she thought it was ridiculous that in five years we'd never talked to the woman, and she was going to go across the street and talk to her RIGHT NOW. Fine, do whatever you want to do. But then I felt really rude after they'd been talking for a few minutes, so I went over, too. So, we found out our neighbor seems to be a nice (and more importantly, sane) woman, with a ten-year-old son who plays the drums and a husband (boyfriend? significant other?) who doesn't like yard work. I think we talked for over an hour, because then Garry and Amanda came out, and they had to get all introduced, too.

So, suddenly, we have a community. Or, as I prefer to think of it: a growing pool of potential rides to the emergency room the next time I need one.
Talk about burning the candle at both ends. Up way too early to run a road race, to bed way too late after giving a concert.

Great concert, though, out at McCormick's Creek State Park. Excellent crowd, and I (we) played really well. Rave reviews from Catherine, anyway. A good setting, in the amphitheater surrounding by natural kind of stuff.

Warming up, a crowd starts to gather:

Performing at dusk:

Saturday, July 12, 2003

Looking worried before this morning's race:

Limestone 5K T-shirt

The race finished up w/a quarter-mile stretch around the track at the Girl's Club. As I was going through the gates, wondering if I'd make it to the finish line w/out puking, I heard, "Go, Starbucks Customer!" and that totally cracked me up. Earlier this week, a barista at the campus Starbucks noticed my t-shirt from the last race, and asked if we were running today. She was all nervous because it was going to be her first race. Her boyfriend is a runner, and she was afraid it was going to be an awful experience, but we reassured her. A lot of people do a 1/2 walk, 1/2 jog thing, so she should walk if she needed to. She needn't worry about being last (because there's always me at the end of the field), it would be fun, she would be fine, etc., etc.

Anyway, she did do fine, I could see her ahead of me the entire race. Her boyfriend ran so well he won his age group and got a groovy limestone trophy. It was a *really* fast field today, very competitive. I didn't do as well as I'd hoped, but improved my time from the last race, so that's all good. It's more than a month to our next race, so I should have some time to get into the workout schedule I've had taped to my computer monitor for the past six months.

Friday, July 11, 2003

  • Should have taken a longer nap. I was almost asleep, at a reasonable hour, too, when the tornado sirens went off last night. Must. drag. self. out. of. bed. Tornado warnings, god I hate them. Garry and Amanda don't have a basement, so we all headed down to ours. Poor Jackie, he went from being curled up on the bed, face tucked under a paw, to fighting against the horror of the cat carrier. Four adults, four cats, one damp, hot basement. Lots of thunder and lightning, lots of sirens, no damage. Unless you count the fact that I got very little sleep last night. There must be a good reason to live in tornado alley, but I'll be damned if I know what it is.
  • My boss can't drive. Period. I swear to god he was snoring on the way down to Tell City, which isn't good since he was the one driving. He almost killed us on the way home today, pulling into traffic w/out looking, at the exact same intersection he almost killed us at last time I let him drive home. I don't know if he's just inattentive, or what. But I'm definitely saying, "Dude, give me the keys" next time.
  • As it turns out, "ironical" is a word. However, I still think someone should tell Celine Dion that most people say "Isn't it ironic?" not "Isn't it ironical?"
  • Signs you're a total geek: after you look up a word in the dictionary, you spend the next 20 minutes looking for other interesting words, reading each and every derivation outloud to your partner. Double geek points if you can actually produce an equivalent Greek-derived English word for every Latin-derived English word you find worth pronouncing.
  • Triple geek points if you go back and edit your journal entry to correct the split infinitive you noticed in the previous bullet point.
  • So, Grace complained about my drumming the other day, so I decided I'd start doing some jazz beats w/the brushes instead. Jazz drumming = very hard. Worked my way through some Fred Astaire soundtracks, miscellaneous songs from two different Manhattan Transfer CDs, a big chunk of Glenn Miller, only to find out she wasn't even paying attention. Women.

Thursday, July 10, 2003

One of the first things they teach you in Insomnia School is DON'T EVER TAKE A NAP. I understand why, I really do--taking a nap just further deviates from a "normal" sleeping schedule. However, I've always had a hard time figuring out what the point is of denying someone who has been awake for four days a few minutes rest just because it happens to be 4:00 p.m. instead of 4:00 a.m. Anyway, being the perfect insomnia student that I am, I've always resisted every napping impulse I've ever had on the grounds that 50,000 monkeys at 50,000 typewriters can't be wrong: it must be bad to nap if you have a sleeping disorder.

Nevertheless. I took a solid 22 minute nap today, and felt a lot better afterward. I didn't intend to sleep, I was just too worn out to get back off the bed after sitting down to call Catherine's office, and Jack had already decided to settle in on my chest, so it's not like I could disturb him. And, amazingly enough, the baby came in and slept on the bed, too. Luna never sleeps on the bed anymore, and this afternoon, not only was she on the bed, she was actually touching my leg. So, maybe it will disrupt my sleep tonight--as if anyone could ever tell exactly what it is that keeps me awake, anyway--but I think it was probably worth it.

Napping w/the cats is cool.
Sushirobo has a new CD coming out in September.

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

S: I don't know. Do you think I should go to the store now?
C: Yes, why don't you? I'll start dinner while you're gone. Or do you want me to come with you?
S: No, that's okay. You don't have to. Although.....if you go with me, that's one way of making sure I'll come back.
C: Where would you go instead?
S: I don't know. Where's the end of the world?
C: A long ways from here. Over the ocean. Over two or three oceans. A long, long way away. You can't get there.
S: Then I guess you'd better go to the store with me.

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

I had every intention of coming home and lifting weights, but instead I let Wil make me cry. I was pleased to see that he included my favorite anecdote (the rain, the wife, the umbrella) in his book, and I thought he did a really good job stringing together the Star Trek material. And look, I didn't like V'ger, either, nor DS9, so Wil's not a total freak. His "William Fucking Shatner" routine cracks me up every time I read it. Yeah, I guess I could have read all the stuff on the web again, but I like having it in hard copy, nice and neat. I'm looking forward to reading Just a Geek when it comes out.

Monday, July 07, 2003

Maybe the rest of the world spent the weekend celebrating Independence Day, but I've got more important anniversaries to worry about.

This weekend marks the five year anniversary of Catherine discovering sports. Five years ago, on the Fourth of July weekend, she got trapped in front of the television at my parents' house, and found herself watching the U.S. Women's soccer team play at Soldier Field. Quite coincidentally, my dad and I had just been regaling her with stories of Mia Hamm, so she actually paid attention to the game and liked it. More significant, though, was the U.S. Women's Open, also played that weekend. I think she was stunned to discover golf was actually exciting, and I was stunned to hear her agreeing we should alter our travel plans so we could be sure and see the end of the tournament that Monday. I told her today I should send Se Ri Pak and Jenny Chausiriporn thank you notes, because they gave us the best U.S. Open playoff I've ever seen that year, totally captivating Catherine and turning her into a diehard sports fan overnight.

To celebrate, we watched golf off and on all weekend, and all day today (instead of attending a live WNBA game for which we had tickets, a fact that should tell my friends something about how much I like the U.S. Open) and relived all our favorite 1998 U.S. Open memories. It's been kind of a bittersweet weekend, though, because the tournament was being played on a course located precisely five minutes from Catherine's parents' house, and we just couldn't afford airfare out to see the tournament live. I'd give an arm and a leg to see Annika Sorenstam play in person, but no one wants to buy my limbs, so we had to watch it on T.V. And damn, we have to go to work tomorrow and miss the playoffs. Annika finished one off, anyway, so she's not in the playoff round, but I hate to not see the end of a tournament.

It's a good day when you can go into the living room and find your partner switching back and forth between the three cable sports networks, trying to follow three games at once. I've created a monster, and I'm happy about it.

Sunday, July 06, 2003

Got up early to take Zina to the airport this morning. As I was listening to her talk to Catherine about what she could expect to be doing once she finally got home, I realized anew how glad I was that I got out of Russian/Soviet studies. The futility of Russian life is simply overwhelming. Just spending the occasional forty-five minutes with it makes me want to bang my head against a very hard object.
Ob blog:

Congratulate Nancy and Philo on their new glbt news site. Ten thousand times better than planetout, I think.
Well, yes. I do think it's true. When used properly, hobbies are nothing more than a socially acceptable form of an eating disorder. If you pack enough events into your life--however altruistic those endeavors might seem--you no longer have time to worry about what else might be going on around/within you. No reading the newspaper, no watching the news, no surfing the web, no dealing w/politics, no dealing w/personal issues, you're just too busy and too distracted to think about reality. And when you finally do crack, well, you can chalk it up to plain and simple exhaustion. Works for me, anyway.

On a semi-related note, after listening to my former teammates rehash all the garbage everyone has been dealing w/for the past several months, I have come t the final conclusion that I am not playing this fall. If someone keeps a pick-up time open on Sunday nights, I might show up occasionally, and I'll definitely skate if they have another hockey class in B'town, or if Mike Berger has any clinics. But I'm not going to choose between playing for the Sirens, which I still consider "my team" even after all this, and the Renegades, the team made up of everyone who has quit/been kicked off the Sirens. Neither one is holding the moral high ground as far as I'm concerned, and I don't want to be involved w/either at this point. So, I'm sorry I'm going to have to let everyone down, sorry I have to disappoint everyone who supported me these past three seasons, but it's just not happening for me right now. I really need a break from all this angst.

Saturday, July 05, 2003

Well....I feel a lot better today. Yesterday was just a bit too much, I guess. I don't need to record the pathetic details, as I don't think I'll forget how sick I felt. I knew I was in trouble when my teeth started chattering--it's just not normal to shiver when it's 95 degrees outside. But I learned a good lesson yesterday: don't let civic obligations make you do stupid things. Just because someone else thinks it's a good idea to have you stand in the sun all afternoon doesn't mean you have to do it.


Spent the evening crashed near the air conditioner, which kind of ruined our plans, but we had a nice, quiet dinner together, anyway. I know I didn't do any of the cooking, but I think I should get screen credit as the creative director, since the whole thing was my idea. The basil we planted a while ago has finally gotten to the point where we can use it, so we did. Today we counted 15 tomatoes in our garden. Catherine harvested our first bean. In a couple of days the peas and beans will really be ready to pick. If all the cucumbers make it, we're going to have cukes up to our ears. Squash, canteloupe, pumpkins, peppers--all flowering. I guess I'm going to have to find some way to use all this produce.

I also have to figure out some way to get all this paint off me. I spent the morning painting the interior of a house Habitat has reclaimed from its owners, who relocated across the country. Unfortunately, the place was trashed, so there is going to be a lot of rehab work to do on it before Habitat can use it for another family. So, we spent the morning priming the walls of every room but the kitchen, and since a lot of the painting was w/rollers overhead, my hair, glasses, arms and face are covered w/paint spray. I hope JaneAnne won't mind me showing up this evening blotched with Kilz.

A photo from yesterday. Brian and I spent the entire second concert in the full sun, but at least he was sitting down for most of it. I'm not doing it again next year, that's all I can say.

Freaking hot outside

Friday, July 04, 2003

the iceman cometh

Thursday, July 03, 2003

They've placed a gong in the dojang. If you yell loud enough, you can make it ping w/the sound waves. If you don't yell loud enough, well, then you get to do more pushups. A lovely addition to the studio.

On the other hand, I'm finally developing a tricep muscle, so I guess I shouldn't complain.

Other things to ponder: how many copies of this evangelistic piano book do I need? My mom sent me one exactly like the one my aunt sent me. Are they trying to send me a message? If they are, I hope it's this: buy a freaking piano, already. That's the second thing on my list of major purchases if I ever get a real job.
Rejected by my own wife. Man, if that's not a slam, I don't know what is.

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

I wonder if the director could feel the animosity radiating from the percussion section last night. If we'd had any real weapon--as opposed to sticks and soft mallets--he'd probably be dead right now. I wasn't even the one at whom he was yelling, and I still wanted to tell him to fuck off. I understand he's all freaked out by the fact that we have two concerts on Friday, but my god, if he wants to live to see another day, he needs to dial it back.