Friday, December 31, 2004

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Wow. That was depressing.

Usually when you go out to dinner with friends, you end up feeling better in the end, having had an opportunity to talk and laugh and complain and eat. Last night, though, we all left the table feeling lower than the lowest you can go. We kept trying to pull the conversation back up to some level of cheerfulness, but it seemed to repeatedly devolve--almost willfully--to a point where we were all hovering on tears. Actually, we had a moment where all four of us were indeed crying and had to just have a moment of choking silence while we pulled ourselves together. What kind of happy meal was this? Tired, drained and seriously depressed.

Monday, December 27, 2004

It's too bad that I forgot to take out the digital camera yesterday. Christmas 2004 passed without any photos, and it would have been nice to at least get some of Erika and Henry at dinner last night.

I did a whole lot of cooking yesterday (demonstrating that just because I don't cook, that doesn't mean that I can't cook). I think I managed to do 80% of the cooking in the end, but Catherine did more than 80% of the cleaning. Anyway, I did the onions, the rice salad, and the carrots, and also the finish work for the gratins. Catherine did the bulk of the gratins and the wine. We accidentally managed to cook all of Henry's favorites (although I'm not sure that's all that difficult, as he seems to be willing to eat anything). Erika made bread and a chocolate ganache w/violet syrup, and we all ate until the point of nausea. Then Catherine and I stayed up way too late and watched The Sound of Music.

We had so many Christmas presents even though we really didn't buy that much for each other. We must be cultivating good relationships with people other than ourselves. I managed to make Catherine cry three times yesterday (in the good way) while she was opening presents. Even taking into account the fact that she's menopausal, that's pretty good. My parents went *crazy* with the gift-giving, and my workshop will benefit from it. Catherine's "big" gift to me was a table-top easel. She promises me it was on sale, but I'm not sure she's telling the truth. Still, I love it, and it will be good to trade in my piece of Masonite propped up on an outdated AutoCAD book. I ended up w/some good reading material, too. Catherine got me Oliver Twist and a collection of Poe stories, and the new two-volume set The Complete Peanuts to add to the Charlie Brown section of the bookshelf. And a friend sent me a book that should keep me busy in one way or another for awhile, too.

Today, I lack the Christmas spirit because my boss made me work, and I'm trying not to have a bad attitude about it (and not succeeding). There are so many other things to worry about in the world--jesus fucking christ, that tsunami, for one!--and this job is just a temporary burden, and I need to just let it all go. If I hadn't already have resolved to give up fast food for the New Year, I'd have to make a resolution to not let my boss get to me. Maybe there's room for two resolutions in my life. Happy New Year.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Ah. It took us two hours to get our car out this morning, and that was with four of us working on the problem. We'd still be out there if it wasn't for Garry and Amanda, I'm telling you. Garry ran his Jeep up and down our driveway a few times to give us a trail, but the snow was still too deep for our little Toyota. We pretty much had to shovel out the entire driveway, garage to road. You know what? That's a long way.

After we got our car to the patch of clear space by the road (Catherine spent two hours digging out a space yesterday), we went across the street and helped the neighbors there get their car out. It went a little quicker than ours because their Nissan had a slightly higher clearance, and their driveway isn't uphill.

After that, we went to Garett and Diane's to feed their cats, and yes, to shovel their walks. I didn't do what I should have done, which was clear the sidewalk along the entire length of their property. My collar bone is killing me right now, so I'm glad I just did their stairs and a path to the road and called it a day. My sinus infection seems better, my shoulder seems a lot worse. That's about breaking even, I think. Not bad considering all the time I spent in 10 degree weather.

Because of all the snow, it took forever to run four simple errands today: 1) feed the cats; 2) go buy a couple more Christmas presents at the bookstore; 3) buy four ramekins for Christmas dinner; and 4) buy a few groceries for Christmas dinner. We tried to leave our house at 10:00, shoveled snow for two hours instead, and didn't get home until 4:30. And now we must clean.

However, I am absolved from vacuuming due to the egg-sized swell-up on my right shoulder. And I may not scrub the shower, the company won't notice.

Looking forward to opening presents tomorrow, we've got a stack of interesting things from each other, but also from friends and relatives. We've been saving them all up to make a better pile under the ficus tree (except for Catherine's parents' present, which we knew ahead of time would be perishable). We might open the ones from my parents this evening, mostly because the stack is getting embarrassingly large.

Christmas menu is set. That is to wit:

Butternut Squash and Leek Gratins

Carrot Coins w/Maple-Balsamic Browned Butter
Cold Rice Salad
Peppery Baked Onions with Sage and Gruyere

Bread (supplied by others)
Mulled Wine
Dessert (supplied by others)

If you're coming to dinner, bring your slippers because our floors are cold, cold, cold.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Okay, okay, I'm up. But don't expect me to be fulfilling any of my social obligations at this point. 1) I've got a fever; and 2) there's two feet of snow on the ground and what do you want me to do about it?

We have to go out to the store tomorrow, and I have to be fine by Saturday at six, because we're having friends over for Christmas dinner. We might be having our neighbors over, too, if they can't go home because of the weather. So today is another day of sick time, and maybe tomorrow I'll get up and talk to you all.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

That head cold? Now a sinus infection. I'm off to bed w/my antibiotics and my blanket.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Well, I like working closer to home, but I've been putting in a lot of hours. I'm going to see if I can trade some of these hours for comp time instead of money. As much as I want/need the money, I'd also like to have a three day weekend for Christmas. I've worked enough hours for a four+ day weekend, but three days will do me.

Today after work, we made and decorated Christmas cookies for the neighbors next door to us and the ones across the street. On Tuesday I'll do some for my boss. Then my Christmas obligations will be over except for about five Christmas cards.

Bought a cooking magazine today to see if we could do something different for Christmas dinner. Catherine's pretty much set on making a corn pudding, but we couldn't think of anything else. The magazine helped. We've decided on Butternut Squash and Leek Gratins, Carrots w/ Maple-Basalmic butter, and baked onions, either our regular recipe or "Peppery Baked Onions w/Sage and Gruyere." Probably go w/a combination of the two. Dessert probably is a little unnecessary--at least it feels that way after bingeing on Christmas cookies this evening. Might just settle for hot chocolate w/peppermint whipped cream like last year.

We got the coolest gift from Alaska today. We used to just exchange food (Michelle makes awesome fireweed jelly), but for the past few years, we've been trying different things. This year we got some smoked salmon and a fantastic bowl made at a pottery near Michelle's parents' house. But the really cool thing was this salmon Christmas ornament made of...I don't even know what. It's hiding in our ficus right now, watching over our Christmas presents.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

I remembered that I also sent an Eid card. That's pretty good, then. In the space of a couple weeks, I managed to touch on all three religions of the Book, plus paganism, agnosticism, and atheism. Happy Holidays.

Earlier this week--and I wish I was making this up, but I'm not--I did a Google search on "what to say in a Christmas card." Unfortunately, I didn't find anything to help me out (although 'Tis the Season did make me laugh). Really, if I'm going to the internet looking for help, maybe it's time to re-examine a few of my relationships.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

An old photo, but I recognized her.
Well, my work situation is a bit weird right now.

How did I get my job? I actually applied to work at a different office. They weren't advertising, but Catherine finally convinced me to send an unsolicited resume, based on the fact that I liked the firm's work, and it was conveniently located (ie., in the same town in which I live). Amazingly, they called me in for an interview, and told me it would be very likely that I would be hired. I'm not sure what happened then, why I wasn't hired. A few weeks later, my current employer called me, said my resume had been forwarded to him, and would I like to come in for an interview? The timing wasn't great because of my shoulder surgery, but I finally had a job.

Fast forward to today. I'm on the verge of being laid off because things are slow. Industry slow down, or poor planning on the part of my boss? I'm not sure. I haven't had any work for about three weeks now, and for the last week, my boss has been hiring me out to the firm that didn't hire me in the first place. It's crazy--I've been picking up work in Bloomington, then driving an hour to Columbus to the office there, then bringing the finished work back to Bloomington with me to drop off here. At least it's work, and I'm guessing my boss is hiring me out at a rate that will make him a profit.

Today, though, just as I was leaving for work, the Bloomington office called me at home and said I wouldn't be going to Columbus today, they'd already talked to my boss and decided I would work in the Bloomington office. I suppose I should have been ecstatic to have escaped the commute, but instead, I felt a lot like a piece of property. It didn't occur to anyone that I had other plans, did it? And, in fact, I did, but no one asked about them. I'm also going to be in Bloomington tomorrow, but I have to drive to Columbus after work to get my paycheck. I just can't wait until Monday (and besides, I might be in Bloomington again on Monday), I have somewhere between 5-10 dollars in my bank account right now.

So, I'm a little annoyed at this, but on the other hand, it's good to be really busy instead of spending the day just trying to look busy. And it's good to be in another office to see how their standards work, and how they produce construction documents. And it's also good to hear that I'm not the incompetent my boss makes me out to be. I heard the project manager complaining today that I work too quickly, he can't keep up with me. The principal also said she'd heard that I was quick, and I think quickness counts (especially if it's partnered w/accuracty, which it is). I know they can afford to flatter because I'm not part of the design team, but it's still nice to get some positive feedback at a time when I just don't like how I'm feeling about the field.
And speaking of family....

When I'm really stressed, I shiver, and I usually end up quaking when I try to sustain a lengthy phone conversation. Phones really do it to me. Even when talking to friends, I can shudder as if standing in a freezer, and I generally end up under the blankets, as if heat can dissipate the tension in my body.

So, imagine how my poor arthritic shoulders feel after a long political discussion with my father. I never, ever NEVER talk politics with my dad. Not since the first Gulf War, when he stopped talking to me for six months because of our difference of opinion. But what do you do when someone asks you point blank, "What do you think of the war in Iraq?" It's hard to change the subject. I know, because I tried.

By the time we'd finished, I thought my skeleton was going to shake itself free of the ligaments holding it together. It's funny. We generally share the same opinion about the war, but still, I felt like he was arguing with me. At least he didn't seem too angry when he pointed out our votes will always cancel each other out in an election. That's probably not true, but I'm not about to deliberately go deeper into political waters by trying to explain that I'm not a single party or single issue voter.

Ah. I'm shivering again. Time to hang it up for the night.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Christmas tends to be an invisible holiday for us. Christmas isn't a "my family is your family" sort of occasion. No one invites non-relatives to Christmas dinner, not like they do for Thanksgiving, so we spend it alone, since there's no family near. We do mostly what we'd do on any weekend: sleep in, eat junk food, watch movies, read, with the added bonus of a few new toys with which to play. It puts us a little at odds with the rhythms of everyone else's holiday, since everyone else tends to have an intensely social, relative-heavy day. We get a bit wistful at the end of every year, first for Thanksgiving (although the family in Valparaiso substitutes nicely for our own), and then for Christmas. Wouldn't it be great to be home for Christmas?

Except, you know, it wouldn't. I'm too old to make that 12-hour drive over the mountains in the snow between Catherine's parents' and my parents' homes. I'm too fragile to spend time with my family, I haven't even recovered from our visit in August. Not at all, really, making this a record-length period of licking my wounds. It's easy to idealize when you're 2000 miles away, you can imagine all sorts of things. But if you do, and you let yourself believe them, you're only going to be disappointed if you try to make them come true.

At any rate, I just need to box up the presents for my mom and dad, and I can give into this head cold. I've mailed all the rest of the presents, and I'm about 1/2 way through the Christmas/Winter Solstice/New Year's/sorry-I-know-Hanukkah-isn't-a-major-Jewish-holiday-but-I-can't-leave-you-out-of my-holiday-thoughts cards. I'm ahead of last year, anyway.

I hope someone gives me warm socks for Christmas because I really need them.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

A few months ago, a friend told me that he preferred the time when I had a regular site that I updated every now and then rather than an online journal. More specifically, he liked the page w/my reading list. If he wants to know what I'm reading now, he has to search through paragraphs of absolutely irrelevant data to find it, if it's there at all. That's the problem, really. I seldom write anything about what I'm reading, so even if he takes the time to search, he's not going to find anything.

The problem is, the way I read, it's almost impossible to set a book review out in type. I finish 5-6 books a week, on average. I usually have 8-10 going at once, one to three (or more, in the living room) in every room of the house, and a couple in the car. If I finish a book at lunch, and think, "Oh, I should write a review about this," by the time I get to the computer at night, I've already started a new book and read chunks of one or two others, so I can't possibly remember what I wanted to say at lunch time.

The way I read keeps me from drawing firm conclusions about the material. For instance, right now I'm reading three different Alice Munro books. How can I possibly separate one from the other when I'm reading, especially since they're so thick w/regionalism? It can't be done, not by me. And usually what I think about a book is largely dependent on its relationship to another book I've recently read. I finished _Old School_ by Tobias Wolff last week, and my impression of it was certainly colored by the fact that I'd recently read _The Fountainhead_. If I'd just last week re-read _Old Man and the Sea_, I would have focused more intently on the third part of the book (and perhaps if I'd recently re-read _Old Man and the Sea_, I'd understand the odd structure of the book, the "Master" chapter tacked on the end). A couple of weeks ago, I simultaneously read three books about earthquakes, and without a doubt, two of the three suffered in comparison with the one I started first because it was the most technical, presented in a very linear fashion that allowed me to flip forward and backward to easily cross-check information. So, it's difficult for me to evaluate any one book as a work of writing in and of itself, my judgement is too actively and too often clouded by everything else I'm reading.

I've lately been thinking that I need to do something else besides read. I can't empty my mind of what I've been reading quickly enough to get to sleep on time. I'm late everywhere I go, because I always try to get in a few more sentences. Right now I'm listening to a book on tape in the car during my commute, but reading the same book at lunch to hurry the process along so I can move on to something else. It's starting to feel like obsessive behavior, and that's not good. So maybe I should declare a moratorium on reading for a bit, and see what else I can do to keep myself busy during my lunch hour.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Why I hate my job.

I hate my job because I'm so ashamed of the way I'm being treated that I can't even bring myself to write about it for fear someone will read it and think less of me for allowing myself to be treated this way.

That's why I hate my job.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

The news today reminds me that I saw a building catch on fire this weekend. Or, more notably, I *didn't* see a building catch on fire this weekend, even though I was standing right next to it. Looking back, I suppose I did smell smoke, but apparently that's not enough to trigger any fight-or-flight instinct I might have. I eventually recognized the air was growing more smoky, but it wasn't until the fire engine roared up that I realized, hey, I can't breathe anymore. By that time, there were flames shooting out the windows, black smoke billowing into the street, fire hoses spraying. God knows what would have happened if I'd been inside the building rather than just standing across the street from it. Maybe I would have recognized the danger signs just a bit more quickly. Maybe not.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Spent mostly a solitary weekend in Manhattan. Catherine's workshop was a success, but that's her story, so I'll let her tell it if she wants to do so. My story is much more straight-forward and involves a lot of silence, since I spent the weekend walking around by myself.

Arrived in midtown Manhattan really late Wednesday night, so late that it was actually Thursday morning. I'm not all about midtown, in case anyone's wondering, because midtown is all about money and shopping. Even if I had money, I wouldn't waste it shopping. But Catherine's class started out at NYU on 42nd, so that's where we were for the weekend, and since there was nowhere I really needed to be, that's as good as place as any from which to start.

Thursday was ours, so we went up to American Museum of Natural History for the day. Catherine made an appointment with one of the entomologists so we could spend some time "behind the scenes" with Alfred Kinsey's gall wasp collection. The collection is kind of amazing simply because it is so extensive, but it's a little difficult to appreciate gall wasp variation w/out a microscope. Still, the curator told us quite a bit about them, and then took us over to look at his specialty, the bees. We learned a lot we didn't know about social, solitary and parasitic bees, and looked at some really neat bees from central and south america.

We spent the rest of the day at the museum. I think the museum is overpriced in a way. You think--well, the collections are huge, it's worth the money, but they really only give you about seven hours of viewing time (if you take 45 minutes at some point in the day to eat and use the bathroom). If it had longer opening hours, I would have been more satisfied. Actually, I guess $13 isn't bad, but if you want to go to the planetarium, that's another $9. Or if you want to see any of the visiting exhibitions, like the frogs, that's an additional $6. Anyway, if I lived in New York, I guess I'd have a season pass and then it would be very economical, but as a tourist, I'm not sure if it was worth it or not, since we only saw about 1/6 of what was there.

Catherine had an evening meeting at the Museum of Sex, anyway, so I guess we couldn't have stayed at the museum even if it had been open until 9 p.m. Then we had dinner at the Japanese restaurant next door to our hotel, which I would recommend if I could remember the name of it. Also, I ate an Eli Zabar solar system (even though it was promoted as a galaxy).

Friday and Saturday I was on my own while Catherine was doing her exhibition design stuff. I started at the New York Public Library, at which I spent about an hour at the Newton exhibit. I almost bought the catalog, but I think I'd rather just buy a good book on Newton. I think you'd probably have to visit three or four times to really "get" the exhibit, but then again, I think it was aimed at people who didn't know much about Newton, so maybe not.

I spent most of the day after that just walking. I walked up the east side of the park, and back part way. Then I just spent a lot of time in midtown Manhattan waiting for Catherine to get back from class. I was really worn out, and I thought I was just out of shape, but I ran it through mapquest this morning and my north-south movement alone covered 9 miles. Obviously, my east-west movement wasn't as extensive, but I think I walked about a half-marathon with a pack full of books on my back, so that's okay.

I should have stopped walking on Friday and gone to the Cooper Hewitt or the Whitney, especially as I found out on Sunday there was a Noguchi show at the Whitney, but I didn't. We thought we might go to MoMA Friday night, but it was free night, so there were thousands of people waiting to get inside. My relationship--intellectual, emotional and otherwise--with MoMA is a bit complex, and I guess I'm not sorry I didn't have the chance to darken their doorway this weekend. I'm all about Modern art and all, but not all about MoMA.

More Japanese food for dinner on Friday.

Saturday I walked up to Central Park (because I obviously didn't walk far enough on Friday) and skated for a couple of hours. It was a pretty decent agility test, like being caught on a huge, moving obstacle course. Lots and lots of children. I probably should have gone to Lasker. One of the skate guards was pretty good looking, though, so that made it worth my time. I thought about asking her where she came by her skate cred, but it would have just been flirting and she was getting enough action from the other skate guards.

Spent most of the afternoon walking and reading at the Coliseum Books cafe. Picked up some spices for Garry and Amanda. Sat in the hotel and read and watched Love Don't Cost a Thing, which I just saw a few weeks ago w/white people, only it was called Can't Buy Me Love. Why would anyone remake such a movie? It boggles. It didn't keep me from reading my book, I can say that.

We ate an early dinner at Porta Rossa, very decent Italian food right around the corner from our hotel. When we got back to the hotel, Catherine watched Love Don't Cost a Thing, which, again, did not take me away from my book.

Mostly I slept on Sunday. We talked about getting up and going to the UN, but decided to just have a leisurely morning instead. A smooth afternoon flight, I didn't lose my car keys despite my stupidity, and the cats were fine when we got home.

To summarize:

I didn't shop.

I didn't see any shows.

I didn't spend much money.

The corollary to that, of course, is: I didn't go to MoMA.

I didn't talk to any strangers.

I did make snap judgements about people around me based on their cell phone and face-to-face conversations.

I did find a place for dogpoet to get another blue cup.

I did avoid every Falun Gong member that tried to approach me.

I did admire the sharp lines of the Salvation Army women.

I didn't do enough to really warrant a journal entry.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

And tomorrow we're off to New York, because of course I can afford to take two days of LWOP during two consecutive weeks. The question now is: do I save a few dollars while I'm there by skating at Lasker Rink instead of Wollman Rink? Safety v. four dollars....hm...tough call.

I just realized that I missed my three-year anniversary of being off Coke (the drink, not the powder).

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Things I'm at:

1. We may have attended a WNBA game in early September, I can't remember. If not, I haven't watched any basketball--live, televised or otherwise--since July. This weekend we saw three games, and that was probably three games too many. Two women's games, one men's game, and all were so incredibly dull I'm thinking of skipping the rest of the season. Except Catherine probably won't let me.

2. So, the roadkill situation in Yellowstone is getting out of hand. One roadkill death a year is too much, in my book, but damn, I wish I was living somewhere with such low numbers. I saw 5 dead deer today. I usually see "only" one or two new dead deer a day, occasionally as many as three. I'm guessing the dead deer truck didn't go out on Friday, so those five probably add up to the average one a day over the weekend. I've seen more dead animals in the last six months than most people see in their entire lives, and some. Take as many dead animals as you can imagine, and double or treble it. Maybe do it again. That's how many I see. No kidding.

3. Work is disappointing. It's typical, though. I've been talking to some other intern architects, and they are experiencing the same thing. Paying your dues architect-style is one big, boring waste of time. I should be glad I haven't been laid off, though. I haven't the faintest idea what we're going to be doing with ourselves for the next couple of months. My boss turned down so many projects in the fall that we're now without. Just in time for Christmas.

4. If I was judging a university by its online application system, I'd have a very short list of potential graduate schools right now. One system is so bad, I'm thinking of sitting down and filling out the paper application instead, even though that would mean writing out the information for the six institutions previously attended plus four more pages of garbage someone probably already has in a database somewhere.

5. Nothing says winter in Columbus like the smell of raw sewage.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

So far, a fairly successful Thanksgiving weekend. We thought we'd have to stay home because of the weather arriving late Wednesday, but by the time we dragged ourselves out to the interstate on Thursday, everything was clear and dry. Still quite a bit of snow and ice on the ground up north, but nothing to get in our way.

Dinner with the family at Valpo on Thanksgiving. We finally figured out what kind of food to contribute to the day, and that cut down on the stress factor a lot. Small group this year, only ten adults plus Ray, so everything was a bit calmer because of that, too. Maybe a little less alcohol imbibed because there were fewer people mixing drinks. It was good to see Beth and Mike again, especially. It's terrible that we only live three hours apart and we still only see each other on Thanksgiving. We promised to come up to go to a Komets game and go tobogganing at Pokagon State Park, but we tend to break our promises all too often, so we'll see.

The Raymonster was feeling sick w/an ear infection, but was still cute and personable. He has an incredibly long attention span for a two-year old. At least, he was riveted to the Spiderman movie, even enduring the commercials.

Suddenly all our friends have children, and the friends that don't have children are talking about having them. We thought we'd escaped the child-bearing phase, since everyone I know is pushing forty or even over forty, but I guess that's not the cut off year anymore. Toddlers are cute and all, but never in a million years would I take on responsibility for one. I can't quite see what the attraction is, but since everyone keeps reproducing, there must be some hidden rewards. Other than coming down w/the flu because your kid puked all over you, or having to change diapers full of green gunk from the electrolyte-replacing juice your kid has been drinking. Those rewards are obvious, of course.

Drove home Friday morning after watching Finding Nemo w/Ray. Sorry to leave the snow behind, but then again, coming south also means leaving the long pants behind. Got home in time to check the mail, feed the cats, and run back out again to go to the holiday lighting ceremony on the town square. Catherine also managed to buy my mom's Christmas present while we were out, and we bought some Mexican vanilla at the chocolate shop because I've been meaning to get some for months. I actually wanted the Bourbon vanilla, but since it cost even more than Mexican vanilla and they're both derived from Vanilla planifolia, I decided to go w/the less expensive bottle. I'm sure the planter will appreciate the half-a-cent he's likely to make off the sale.

Anyway, the lighting ceremony was nice. We thought about staying out and going to hear Bobby play at Kilroy's, but the set wasn't scheduled to start until 10:30, and that's an hour and a half past my bedtime. This morning Catherine is off doing some thing at a scrapbook store, and I'm on my way to drum w/Bobby. Basketball game tonight and tomorrow. Then back to work for three days, then off to Manhattan for four. And then it will practically be Christmas so no one will expect me to be at all productive, which is how I like it.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Having my say will probably result in the loss of every single one of my left-leaning friends, but you know....that's okay. I'd rather be honest and alone than deceitful and surrounded by people who haven't a clue of what's going on in my head.

Yes, I voted for Kerry, and if I'm angry at anyone right now, I'm angry at myself. I cast my ballot for a candidate I didn't respect. I didn't believe in him before I voted, and the fact that I voted for him anyway means I'm a huge part of what's wrong with the world.

To everyone else who voted for Kerry: quit trying to make me vilify my friends and family who voted for Bush. On a day-to-day basis, every person with whom I interact, with the exception of Catherine and my boss, undoubtedly voted for Bush. And you know what? They're not stupid. They're not evil. They're not even remotely bad. Our value systems are sometimes vastly different, sometimes almost identical, and while I'd like to think I'm the one who knows what's best, I can't be sure that's true. Really, my political affiliation/position at the moment can best be summed up with "I DON'T KNOW." I don't know what's right or what's wrong, and I think other people should be honest and admit they don't know either.

Par exemple: the weekend after the election, a man who voted for Bush explained his thought process to me. He listed about a dozen reasons why he didn't want to vote for Bush (he didn't vote for Bush last time), and said he had a hard time with his final decision. But what mattered most to him, his number one concern, was that we stay in Iraq, and not leave too soon. He voted for the candidate he thought would "stay the course." My initial reaction was, of course, "We need to get the hell out of Iraq!" But do we? I don't know. I feel certain that we shouldn't have invaded in the first place, but now what? If we leave now, will it get better or worse? Do Iraqis want us to leave, and even if they do, will that lead to the best result--whatever that is--ten years from now? I have no idea what any Iraqi wants. Like everyone else, I get my news 3rd, 4th or 5th hand from various sources. I've never been to Iraq, I know no Iraqis, and even if I really knew what they wanted, I don't know if I would be able to tell if that was the right thing to do. So...this guy thinks we should stay. I don't know if he's right or wrong, but he did vote for the right guy if that's his number one priority. There's no flaw in his logic--Kerry wants to leave Iraq, Bush wants to stay. Yeah, I wish his number one priority was my health insurance, but that's just me, and who am I to say what's most important in the world?

Anyway, my message to the left who keep sending me e-mail telling me what to think is this: stop looking at the &*$#@! electoral map and judging people you've never met. Don't you realize that red and blue have been imposed on those people, you're looking at a multiplicity of views through the eyes of a two party system? You can't tell anything about anybody by a single vote between two candidates. Look at the electoral votes from past elections, and imagine what they'd be like if the voters had to choose between only two candidates. Millions of people can't be represented by only two parties, and I wish we could all get together and do something about that.

I agree, there seems to be a huge lack of critical thinking in the United States, but I have to say, it applies as much to the left as it does to the right--and to everyone in between and on the fringes. "Critical thinking" is really an interesting concept, isn't it? For years--decades--the academy has been trying to get people to examine and undermine binary oppositions. Rational/irrational, male/female, good/bad, nature/culture...identify and subvert, if you please. Listen to the academy since the election, however, and there is only good and bad, right and wrong, red and blue. The left is screaming that the people who voted for Bush aren't rational, their thought processes are deficient. Irrational thought is only good if you're the one acting on emotions and instinct apparently. What happened to inhabiting the gray areas?

I don't know...Democrats seem absolutely shocked by their defeat, and I just suddenly realized how much hope they place in government. It's almost as if they were hoping for some sort of social Reaganomics: trickle down liberalism. But I don't think any president will make much of a positive difference. Listen--the juggernaut of Coca-Cola culture left our shores a long time ago. No one president is ever going to change that. Kerry wasn't going to get rid of Walmart, was he? He wasn't suddenly going to fight American capitalism, was he? It wasn't like Osama bin Laden stopped plotting because Clinton was in office. There's something much more wrong with our culture than simply a corrupt administration, really there is. Bush might (will) make things worse, but Kerry wasn't a savior. I'm afraid we as individuals have been cast in that role. We can't make politicians do it for us.

Yes, I think the we'd be better off if Kerry had been elected, if for no other reason than we might be able to find a few more allies in the world (not that I think any other country would be stupid enough to join us on our suicide missions in Iraq). But substantively, I'm not sure how much would have changed, especially w/a Republican congress. We can hope that a Supreme Court justice would die while he was in office, but four years really isn't much of a window of opportunity when it comes to death on the bench.

And even if Kerry had won, wouldn't we still be a divided nation? Not as severely divided as the electoral maps would have us believe--not even close--but divided none the less. We've been divided since the moment we declared independence from Britain and promptly went out and started shooting our neighbors in the name of freedom. We were divided before we became a union, and the moment the union was formalized in 1789 (Washington: 69 electoral votes; Adams: 34 electoral votes; scattering: 35 electoral votes; 8 votes not cast--don't you think Adams' supporters were angry?), we started the grand devolution to Civil War. Reconstruction was a disaster. Follow through to the class and labor wars of the early 20th c. Maybe we were a bit more unified during WWII, but there were so many Roosevelt haters, it's hard to say. Culture war? Try the Rosenberg scandal, try the Red Scare. Vietnam was just the icing on the cake. We are not a country characterized by life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, we are a country based on revolution, disagreement and strife. So please stop lamenting the loss of our founding fathers' values, because quite frankly? They sucked.

So, all this is to say, I now belong to the "I don't know" party, and I'm going to stay there for a good long while. I don't know more than my neighbor, I really don't, and I'm not going to vilify him or her for seeing the world differently than I do. It seems counterproductive and counterintuitive, and I'm not going to do it, no matter how much I hate individual politicians.

Just say "I don't know."
This morning as I was rushing out the door to work, I saw my reflection in the window of the back door, and said, "Damn! I forgot to comb my hair again!" It was sticking up everywhere, and once it has dried that way, there's not much I can do about it except take another shower to calm it down. Catherine asked me when the last time I combed my hair was, and to be honest, I can't recall doing it since it Saturday. I don't have the kind of hair that can be left alone for a week, so that's a sad, sad commentary on my life.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

We're exhausted--Catherine probably more so than I--but last night's premiere of Kinsey was a success. Well, there was a bit of a fiasco with the ticketing, but I think that's forgivable. It's not like the Kinsey Institute is usually in the business of arranging movie premieres. At any rate, everything else seemed to work out very nicely. Somehow I ended up with a ticket to the V.I.P. reception, but I stayed at the regular reception (good food) with our friend Erika while Catherine spent time with the Important People. Laura Linney actually took the time to fly back to Indiana from Vancouver, just so she could attend the reception and make some opening remarks before the film. That was very generous of her--no way I'd fly across the country for a two-hour appearance. Bill Condon was there, as was the producer, Gail Mutrux.

Overall, I'm gratified that all the work Catherine and the rest of the collections staff put into supporting the movie was recognized. Bill Condon actually mentioned Catherine and Liana by name and thanked them in his public remarks before the opening, and I know that meant a lot to them and the rest of the collections staff. Catherine really enjoyed working with all the people from the movie, they were all very nice and real. Some people from the major media outlets can be a bit....hm....*imperious*...but that wasn't the case with this project. They seemed genuinely interested in the Kinsey Institute, and very concerned that the movie they were making wouldn't harm the Institute in any way.

In terms of Catherine's job, perhaps the most important speech of the evening was delivered by the Chancellor, Kenneth Gros Louis. He very firmly indicated that he--and thus the University?--supported the past, current, and future work of the Kinsey Institute. It is an absolute rarity for the Institute to get such open and public support from the University, and I hope IU sticks behind the Chancellor's remarks once the anti-Kinsey protests get into full swing.

I liked the movie. It was a lot funnier than I thought it would be. Or, at least it was funny to people in Bloomington, but it could have been because we were all reading between the lines. The first time Catherine saw the movie, she didn't like it so much, but I thought it was just because she was too close to the subject. The people at the Kinsey are very protective of Alfred Kinsey and his reputation, he's like their father. They are also understandably worried about the public response and what it means to their future, so they can't really watch the movie as just a movie. She also thought they left a lot of stuff out, so it felt as if it was full of holes, but I think the regular audience won't see it that way. You only know there's a hole if you're intimately familiar w/Kinsey's life, and most people just aren't. Seeing the movie again last night, Catherine decided I was right. She was so anxious the first time she watched it that she couldn't really focus on it as a movie. She really liked it last night.

Anyway, aside from one awkward scene near the beginning, I liked it. I think people in Bloomington were dismayed that the movie gave the impression that Herman B Wells wasn't going to stand and fight for Kinsey, and that was absolutely untrue, but again, that's not something people outside IU are going to care about. The ending was much different than I thought it would be, so optimistic. I always think of Kinsey as sort of a tragic figure, dying before he finds out that they win the court case and his work can still continue. But the movie emphasizes his will to finish his work, rather than all the obstacles still in his way, and that's nice. And I love Lynn Redgrave, and I loved her role at the end. If she had been upstairs at the V.I.P. reception, I would have dumped Erika in a heartbeat and spent my evening following her around.

I'm surprised the movie was rated R instead of NC-17. I would have thought that the lantern slide scene alone might have pushed it over the edge w/the ratings people. It really is unusual to sit through a movie that doesn't just have sexual content, but is unrelentlessly *about* sexual content. It renewed my weariness with the topic of sex, actually. I think it's only an interesting topic if you don't have to deal with it all time. When people hear what Catherine does for a living, their eyes light up and they just start chatting about all kinds of things. It is rather assumed because we live together that of course I'm interested in hearing these things, too. You know what? I'm not. There was a scene in the movie where one of the young wives finds herself in the middle of a conversation about everyone's sex habits, and as she's standing there, shifting around uncomfortably, I found myself thinking, "I know EXACTLY HOW YOU FEEL!"

Anyway, we're tired. We had a choice of two after parties, and we decided to go to the one at the home of Wendy Corning (Kinsey's granddaughter). An apology to the people who own the first house off the road to Wendy's house: I'm sorry I ended up outside your front door at 11:00 at night, and I'm even sorrier I had my headlights on full beam). It was very nice, with more good food, but by half-past midnight, I was almost falling over with exhaustion. We were out late at another Kinsey event on Friday, and we ran in a 5k race yesterday morning before getting all dressed up to go to the premiere, so we were both really running on empty by that point.

In the end, there was something really rewarding about the evening, listening to people talk about how important Kinsey was, how important the Institute is, how important the work there is. To us, the Institute is rather pedestrian. It's just where Catherine goes to work every day (seven days a week, lately). To me, it's just the building next to the parking lot where I drop her off and pick her up, and really, her job is usually just a point of disagreement with us. For the past two years, at least, I've been nagging her to find a new job, one that doesn't require so many hours for so little pay. But there was a moment there last night when everyone just felt like we were touching greatness, that Kinsey had started something more important than we could understand, that it was essential that someone keep up the good work. I think for Catherine, especially, it was good to hear that what she does is helping someone, somewhere. Well, I'm still looking forward to her next job, but in the meantime, this has been a great reward for her and I'm glad she got to experience it.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Well, I've got a dress, shoes, and a date, so I guess I'm ready for tomorrow's big event.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

I swear (I hope) this is the last job I will have that doesn't offer sick leave.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Join staff and Friends of The Kinsey Institute for a benefit reception and presentation of Fox Searchlight Pictures' film:

Kinsey

with special guests Laura Linney and writer/director Bill Condon

Saturday, November 13, 2004
6:30pm to 10:30pm
Indiana University Auditorium,
Bloomington, Indiana

Schedule of Events
6:30 pm-7:30 pm
Benefit Reception

7:30 pm-8:00 pm
Welcome address by Chancellor Kenneth Gros Louis and opening remarks

8:00 pm-10:00 pm
Film screening

10:00 pm
Bill Condon and Julia Heiman answer questions about the film

Tickets are $50 for the Benefit reception and screening.
Order tickets from Heidi Frankson at The Kinsey Institute,
812-855-1557 or email hfrankso@indiana.edu
Contact Heidi for VIP tickets, as well.

Purchase student/general admission tickets ($20) for the screening through IU Auditorium Box Office, 812-855-1103. (doors open at 7:20 for these upper level seats).

Submit a question
for the after-film interview with Bill Condon and Kinsey Institute Director Julia Heiman.

The Kinsey Institute would like to thank the Ford Foundation and
Fox Searchlight Pictures and these sponsors:

The College of Arts and Sciences, Indiana University
Office of the Vice President for Research, Indiana University
The IU Alumni Association
WFIU and WTIU
One World Enterprises
Lennie's
Bloomingfoods Cooperative Grocery
Bloomingfoods Encore Cafe
Acorn Distributors
Bloomington Bagel Company
Bloomington Brewing Company
Crystal Pure
Limestone Grille
Progress Linen
Restaurant Tallent
Runcible Spoon
Sushi Express
Trojan Horse

Monday, November 08, 2004

To: Dr. C.A. Horton,
Head of Analytical Chemistry Division,
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Tennessee, USA

Forward to:
384 East Dr.
Oak Ridge

From: Dr. S.C. Pande,
Chemist,
Ore Dressing Division,
Indian Bureau of Mines,
NAGPUR. (Maharashtra)
INDIA

Dt. 19thJune, 1976

Dear Dr.

I have gone through two of your very good reviews on the trends in the determination of Fluorine and through your original papers on fluorine determination.

I am also engaged in the determination of fluorine in Fluorspar samples and its beneficiation products done in our laboratory.

I have to confine myself to the Willard-Winter techniques of defluorination and determination by using Thorium nitrate as titrant and Alizarin red-S as an indicator at pH 3.1. I cannot take up the Spectrophotometric methods becaue of the high percentage of CaF2 required to be analysed in the concentrates.

I am in constant touch with Prof. T.S. West (Imp. College of Science & Technology, London); rather I had visited him once in theyear 1974 and he had suggested me the indicator.

Of course, I am fully aware of the neutron activation and ion-selective electrode techniques (rather I used them in Czechloslovakia - UNESCO training programme), in the year 1973-74 with Dr. Weiss) but because of the lack of facilities here in India it cannot be introduced in my laboratory.

I am compiling the work on fluorine determination and without your cooperation it would always remain as an incomplete task. Would you be kind enough to make me abreast with recent developments in the determination of fluorine in all the products (particularly from your laboratory). I shall always remain grateful to you for this help.

I am looking forward for the reprints of your work & suggestions in making this compilation complete and uptodate.

Soliciting your kind cooperation at your earliest as the manuscript is to be ready by August end or September 1976.

With Love,

Sincerely yours,

(Dr.S.C.PANDE)

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

And a shout out to Frances in Toledo. I hope your day at the polls turns out to be unnecessary, incredibly dull and boring, and a complete waste of your time. Somehow I doubt it's going to turn out that way, though.

Monday, November 01, 2004

I was right--no hockey. The UVa women's team played Friday night @ 10:00, the VMI team played Saturday night @ 10:00, both games too late at night for me to be interested.

Still, I got done what I wanted to get done--more or less--and spent the rest of the time visiting friends, used bookstores, and unfamiliar restaurants.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Going out of town, again. I probably won't get to see a hockey game while I'm gone this time, though.

Monday, October 25, 2004

I think I'm the better for having taken a few days away. I used to travel so much more, especially when I was playing hockey, and I'd forgotten how useful it is to just leave everything behind for a bit. I'm going away again on Thursday for four days, and I think that, too, will be nice.

One thing I realized this weekend is how much my confidence is being eroded and undermined by my current job. I was completely blown away on Friday when the people with whom I interviewed took me absolutely seriously. I'm so used to being talked to as if I was a pre-schooler that being addressed as a presumably intelligent adult knocked me back on my heels in surprise. I talked to six different people on Friday, and I never felt as if they were merely indulging me, but that they actually wanted to hear what I had to say. That hasn't happened in awhile and as I thinking about it afterward, I decided it should happen a lot more often. Really, it should.
Where I was Friday at 2 p.m.:

http://www.news.uiuc.edu/news/04/1006humanities.html

Maybe I'll say more later, but my opinion can really be summed up in a short sentence: I was convinced NOT AT ALL that Stanley Fish had any sort of remedy for the (alleged) crisis of the Humanities.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

In the interest of spending even more time alone, and possibly rendering myself completely mute, I'm going out of town this weekend. Leaving Thursday, coming back...well, we'll see. By the end of the weekend, I'm sure. Certainly in time to go out of town again next weekend.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Silence is habit-forming, isn't it? If your daily routine requires--or at least results in--isolation, and in addition you spend the majority of your free time alone, you lose not just the opportunity, but also the desire to share your thoughts with other people. All communication is inwardly focused, and the external world ceases to exist after awhile. It's a subtle but possibly irreversible slide into reclusivity.

I used to think that becoming a hermit would take work, or that at least I would feel some level of sacrifice, giving up social interaction and stimulation. But it's the exact opposite: becoming and staying alone is easy. The effort comes in remaining connected to the people I (used to) know. It's so simple to postpone speaking, hoarding my thoughts and forgetting--refusing--to share them later. It's easy to be lulled into a state of complacency, reading my own mind and keeping my own counsel. Participating in public discourse takes on the form of self-betrayal, and in the end, it's more rewarding to pull away entirely, and refuse to answer when people stand at the mouth of your cave and demand that you come out and play.

Friday, October 15, 2004

What I'm trying to remember is that eventually I'll feel better. At some point the pendulum will swing itself out of this trough and I'll hit some high days, days when I won't have to carry this exhaustion with me everywhere I go. How can a person spend twelve and a half hours in bed and still wake up tired and spent? I wish I knew.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Lately, I've been thinking about how nice it would have been to actually realize the future my parents envisioned for me when I was young. Somewhere between childhood and adulthood, I managed to stray so far from their chosen path that I'm not sure they're able to recognize me now, what with the haze and distortion of the long distances between us.

When I was a child, it was pretty much assumed that I would attend a Christian college. In junior high, it looked certain that I would be going to Western Baptist in Salem. But when I was really young, the plan was always to have me go off to Oral Roberts University and become a gospel singer. My mom eventually changed her mind on that (thanks, Patti Roberts), but still, it probably puzzled everyone when I chose Western Washington over Western Baptist. I even gave up on music in the end, possible a bigger surprise than giving up on Christianity.

I don't think it's really the "in" thing for atheists to do, but if someone called me up tomorrow and offered me a job as a gospel singer, I'd probably take the gig.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

I guess the best that can be said for the situation is that my boss didn't fire me, and I didn't quit. That probably means that we both exercised at least a bit of restraint, although I'd argue that I exercised a lot more. A *lot* more.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Well, Catherine kicked my ass again in today's 5k. I kept telling myself I would catch up with her, even if it meant puking afterward. I didn't catch her up--she beat me by 5-8 seconds--but I did throw up in the end. Unfortunately, I wasn't the first person to use that particular trash barrel to vomit, and that discovery made me upchuck a second time. And yet still, we went out to lunch with our neighbor afterward and planned our next race schedule.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

This morning I had a few applying-to-graduate-school errands to accomplish, so I took a few hours off from work. I think my quality of life improved from being able to get an extra hour of sleep, even if I have to skip lunch a couple of times to make the hours up.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

If anyone wants me, I'll be down by the river, sitting under an osage orange tree and reading a book.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Today my boss told me to be careful when I'm speaking to clients because some of them are extremely religious. I asked him what he meant, since I thought I was doing a remarkably good job at ignoring the bigotry that sometimes goes on around me. He said, "Well, the other day in the meeting, L. said something, and you muttered that she was being a totalitarian." He didn't explain, of course, the connection he thought I was making between totalitarianism, religion, and handicapped access to our museum, which was the topic on the table at the time. Anyway, I think if he's going to accuse me of something, he needs to get it right. What I said was, "Ah. Jeremy Bentham's formulation of utilitarianism, the greatest good for the greatest number of people," an assessment that was not only inoffensive, but perfectly appropriate for the conversation. If only my boss knew who Bentham was, that is.

And speaking of formulations, how many different ways can I say that I'm tired? I've run out of synonyms. I wish I never had to get out of bed. Ever.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

If I believed in god, which I don't, but if I did, I'd wonder why he was always pounding his fist on Haiti. It's a big universe--don't you think he could spread it around a bit?
1. I decided to go w/the Dick Francis option, just in case you're curious. There's 30 or 40 of them, and re-reading them should keep me busy for a couple weeks. And just to prove that I am still a Serious Thinker (tm), I promise I'll read at least one of them in a language other than English, okay?

2. I also decided some other stuff--a LOT of other stuff--so I won't have to make any more decisions until the middle of 2005. And even then, the decision making won't be all mine, so there's nothing more to worry about. I easily narrowed a list of about 50 schools to about 24, and then without much more difficulty cut that list down to six. Then down to five, and finally to four, although number five keeps getting cut then added back on. But, really, down to four. And that's all the decision making I have to do on that.

3. I wish I had run as well last Saturday as I ran this evening. It sucks to be me.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Too many choices. Besides the race yesterday, we had many other choices for entertainment this weekend: the Lotus Festival, the International Mongolian Festival, the Multicultural Festival, the Chautauqua of the Arts, the Apple Butter Festival, and a hot air balloon race.

We had to cross the Mongolian Festival off our list because tickets were $40 a piece. That's a bit steep for a one day pass, no matter what the attraction. The Chautauqua and the hot air balloon race missed us because I was too tired to drive that far yesterday afternoon. Really too bad, because I wanted to see the balloons go off. We did the free-of-charge parts of the Lotus last night, and that was fun. Today we went to the Apple Butter festival, and right now Catherine is at the Multicultural Festival. I'm going to meet her there later, after I clear some e-mail out of my inbox. I think I've earned a vacation.
Catherine and Garry

Catherine ran in her first 5k today, and she kicked my ass. I struggled the entire race to keep up with her, and now I'm wiped out. She, apparently, feels fine and is very much looking forward to the next race.

Just got back from downtown. We wandered around the free part of the Lotus Festival this evening. Had a good time watching Kepa Junkera. Actually, I mostly watched the drummer, Blas Fernandez, and the txalaparta players, Igor Oxtoa and Harkaitz Martinez. Wish I could get me one of those things (the txalaparta, not the Oxtoa or Martinez). Very nice way to pass an hour.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Breaking my self-imposed moratorium on political discussion, I must say fundrace.org is really fascinating. If you put in a zip code, you can track political contributions in your neck of the woods. Some of the contributions from my neighborhood are to be expected--a few $20,000+ donations to the RNC by big business--but who would expect a grad student to have given Wesley Clark, John Kerry, and John Edwards $1,000 each, then follow it up w/$800 more to John Kerry? I wish I had his graduate student stipend. I would have guessed the top echelon of the Chamber of Commerce leaned right, but I was wrong, it donated to the left. I sure as hell wouldn't have expected anyone from Ken Nunn's office to be voting Democrat, but I was wrong about that as well. But the Mellencamps donated exactly how you'd expect them to, so I guess the world's not so crazy after all.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Massive headache. Must kill.

Lessons learned this week:

swallow the pride and ask for the favor;

Villa Lante;

Tsaritsino;

if the USB port on the back of the computer doesn't produce results, try the one on the front;

good goggles = ability to see dirt in the pool;

not a mathematician;

not a statistician;

the world deserves itself.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Too tired and I can't think of anything interesting to say. I'm really going to have to find a hydration solution for lsd runs because I can't spend all day Sunday wiped out.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Monday, September 06, 2004

This for Doyle because I'm too lazy to update the other page.

What I'm reading:

Hillary Rodham Clinton, Living History. So far, it reads like one long Acknowledgements page. If she doesn't cut to the chase and start discussing policy soon, I'm standing on line at the library for Bill's book instead.

National Commission on Terrorist Attacks, The 9/11 Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. Not for the faint-hearted--especially the first chapter--but an intriguing and complicated text. The end notes are fascinating, and I wish I had time to chase down all the cited sources in order to make a better judgement on the commission's work.

Penny Le Couteur and Jay Burreson, Napoleon's Buttons: How 17 Molecules Changed History. My boss had never heard of "tin disease."

Marcus du Sautoy, The Music of the Primes: Searching to Solve the Greatest Mystery in Mathematics. Pushing the envelope of my mathematics knowledge, but I'm still hanging in there.

G. H. Hardy, A Mathematician's Apology. Again. And I might read it a third time.

Ross King. Brunelleschi's Dome. Still. It got buried on my desk.

David L. Goodstein and Judith R. Goodstein. Feynman's Lost Lecture: The Motion of the Planets Around the Sun. Also still. Also got buried on my desk. I seriously need to finish this, though.

Catherine is reading Erik Larson's The Devil in the White City. I liked his Isaac's Storm, so maybe I'll read that one after Catherine's done. Or maybe I'll just sit down and re-read a 1/2 dozen Dick Francis novels. It's hard to say.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

So, Maria Rita won the Best New Artist award tonight, and good for her. Doesn't she remind you of my favorite group, Aterciopelados? Thought so.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Didn't I say my Uncle Dale was famous? In September, my mom and all her siblings are going to Seattle to watch him throw out the first pitch at a Mariners game.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

I shudder to think of the amount of toxins I have breathed in over the past couple of days. I've spent a significant chunk of time in a decaying building full of mold, mildew, asbestos, lead and god knows what else, documenting it for an architectural description I'm writing. It's actually a nice old building, a 1906 school built in a small town east of where I work. I guess it's more correct to say it WAS a nice old building. It's falling apart now, mostly because of a deliberate policy of neglect.

We're on the wrong side of the preservation question with this one. We should be documenting the school before its rehabilitation. Instead, we're documenting it before its demolition. The owners somehow convinced the State Historic Preservation Office to let them tear the building down and put in a parking lot. I'm not saying there was anything underhanded in the process, but after spending two days in the building, I'm certain that it could have been rescued, especially if someone had started paying attention to the water damage in the 1980s. Old school buildings are ideal for adaptive re-use strategies, and while this one definitely has some structural issues (my boss calls the trusswork supporting the auditorium roof "the most optimistic construction [he's] ever seen"), it could be rehabilitated. It just takes desire and a whole lot of money.

Monday, August 23, 2004

How I Spent My Summer Vacation.

One thing is true: Catherine and I do not take lazy vacations. And if anyone is wondering why there's a hole in the ozone, I can probably explain: we (I) drove 1900 miles while we were gone. Fly 2000, drive almost-2000, fly another 2000 home. I am single-handedly depleting the world of its fossil-fuel reserves.

The trip started out fairly slow. We flew into PDX on Saturday afternoon, and arrived at Catherine's parents' house right after lunch. Highlight of the day: the plane didn't explode.

Most of my time in Portland was divided equally between eating, reading and sleeping. We did get out some, though. On Sunday, for instance, we went into town to the Portland Art Museum. Nice museum, but if you go, be prepared to spend as much money as it would cost you to visit the Guggenheim--no kidding. Same price as the Seattle Art Museum, and the SAM is better (sorry, Portland, but it's true). Highlight of the day: paintings from the "Northwest School" in the permanent collection.

Monday, Catherine and I went out to the coast. Perfect weather, we both got sunburned walking on the beach. We stayed out until the fog came in around 4:00. Highlight of the day: lunch at the Nehalem Dock Restaurant, owned by Tom "Wally" Inouye (Pool Service). If you skateboard, you know who that is. If you don't, you probably don't think that's cool. Second highlight of the day: I found a children's book I've been looking for at an antique store in Nehalem. Nehalem apparently rocks on many levels.

Tuesday, we had an incredibly late breakfast (our fault, we had to go running before we ate), then went up to Pumpkin Ridge for lunch almost immediately afterward. We dined w/some friends of the family, and it was really, really fun. Highlight of the day: that meal.

On Wednesday we left Portland and drove to Goldendale to spend some time at the observatory. We timed our visit to coincide with the Perseid meteor shower, which made for a really late night. Between our afternoon viewing and our evening viewing, we had nothing to do, so we drove to Bickleton. It's like starting out from the middle of nowhere and driving 30 minutes just so you could look over the edge to make sure you really were in the middle of nowhere. Highlight of the day: The billboard in Hood River had a huge picture of John Kerry as a windsurfer. Second highlight of the day: Looking at Venus through the telescope in the middle of the afternoon. Third highlight of the day: sweet and sour tomatoes. Fourth highlight of the day: the meteor that left a smoke trail. Anti-highlight of the day: the sliver I got in my thumb from the bench behind the observatory.

I'm not sure how many miles there are between Goldendale and Okanogan. My estimate is "too many." We compounded the damage by adding more miles on, taking a detour to Vantage so Catherine could visit the Ginkgo Petrified Forest. Being petrified, it hasn't changed much since I was there in college. It was really incredibly hot and the air quality was bad (we drove through a brush fire just south of Toppenish, and later saw the Fisher Fire blow up), so we didn't spend much time on the interpretive trail. We did acquire--legally--a few chunks of petrified wood to bring home. Highlight of the day: the cheese and tomato pastry my mom made. Anti-highlight of the day: heat and smoke.

Spent Thursday night w/my mom and dad, and then on Friday, we went camping up the Twisp River w/all the aunts and uncles from my mom's side (except my famous Uncle Dale, who was out fighting fire). Highlight of the day: not getting eaten by a cougar. Second highlight of the day: the swimming hole. Anti-highlight of the day: yellow jackets and heat.

Too hot to hike on Saturday, so we went driving in the backcountry w/my Uncle Ernie. He really needs a mini-van w/four wheel drive. First we went downtown to the farmer's market, then took the Poorman's Creek cut-off up to Black Pine Lake. Then we came back down around and went to Roads End, looking for Gilbert. It's amazing how difficult it can be to find a place when a) it consists of only two old cabins; b) the driver hasn't been there for 35 years; and c) nobody has a Forest Service map. Highlight of the day: relatives. Anti-highlight of the day: relatives.

Sunday, Catherine and I needed some time out (see "Anti-highlight of the day," above), so we drove up to Falls Creek Falls, up the Chewack/Chewuch. It was nice and cool in the spray of the falls. When we came back through Winthrop, we stopped to look at my grandparents' old house. Not even recognizable. Highlight of the day: being given a good deal at the fruit stand because of my family name. Anti-highlight of the day: pizza.

It was really crowded at my parents' house after this because my brother and sister were both visiting. We stayed in a tent in the backyard. Monday we went down to Brewster to visit my grandmother. Tuesday I drove to Tonasket twice. On the first visit, we saw my cousins Wayne and Sheryl, my cousin Ron, and my Great Aunt Pearl and Uncle Emert. On the second visit, we went out to dinner with Shawn and Marsie. Highlight of the day: watching a two-and-a-half-year-old trying to sweet talk firefighters in the Whistler's parking lot. Quasi-anti-highlight of the day: visiting a lot of people I might never see again.

The drive from my parents' house to Mt. St. Helens felt really long, but I guess it was only about 350 miles or so. We drove down through Ellensburg and over White Pass because I'd never been that way before (at least not since I was an infant). It's a very picturesque drive, but not particularly speedy. It was good to get out of the Okanogan Valley and all the smoke. The smoke got A LOT worse around Entiat/Orondo because of the Fisher Fire, but once we were actually in Wenatchee and heading toward Blewett, the air quality was much better. Highlight of the day: the spectacular view of Mt. Rainier.

We spent the last few days of our trip at Mt. St. Helens. I think we liked this part of the trip the best because it involved a lot of reading and thinking, but also a lot of outdoor time. Although we weren't exactly stupid about volcanoes in general or Mt. St. Helens in particular, it's true that we gained a lot of knowledge in the three days we stayed near the mountain. Part of what we learned came from the exhibits at the three visitor centers at the monument. The rest came from the books we lugged across the country to read as we went. We also talked to a lot of locals while we were there. You'd think they'd be tired of talking to tourists after 24 years, but it really didn't seem that way. Highlight of the day: watching the glass blowers @ the gift shop. Anti-highlight of the day: Weyerhaeuser.

We did some hiking on the Boundary Trail and the Hummocks Trail on Friday. The Boundary Trail is really hot and exposed (and steep and rocky in places), but the Hummocks Trail is mostly shady, going through wetlands formed by the eruption. We went back up to the Johnston Ridge Observatory after we were done outdoors and just hung out for awhile, asking the intrepreter questions. Highlight of the day: the boreal toad. Anti-highlight of the day: Weyerhaeuser.

Mt. St. Helens is w/in spitting distance of Portland, so we didn't have to get up at the crack of dawn to make it to the airport on time. It was a nice quiet trip home, I did some of the studying that I'd been putting off all vacation, and had a good pasta salad on Concourse C of the United Terminal in Chicago. Highlight of the day: the plane didn't explode. Anti-highlight of the day: vacation ended.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Confirming my current state of detachment from everything in my life, I decided to go for a run instead of packing tonight. That is freakishly unlike me, given we were w/in twelve hours of departure and I hadn't even started putting things together. I always start packing 48 hours ahead, ALWAYS.

But tonight I went running instead. It was probably a bad idea, since I had scarcely had time to digest dinner, I had a million things to do, and it was starting to get dark. But it turned out to be my best run in months, fast and strong (for me), so I'm not going to second-guess my decision. I'm starting to feel more confident about racing in September. The calf muscle is still wonky, but not painful. More of an absence or emptiness than anything else. Anyway, it has a month to fix itself.

And now I'm packed, and I've done most of the things on my list, including checking my anger. It's still there, so I guess I'll take it with me on vacation, at least as far as the airport, then we'll see.

I can hardly wait to be gone.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Box parts/groove plane to garage.

Move door back into garage.

Piano box up.

Backpack.

The Fountainhead.

Call home.

1 or 2 study books? 1. Or both.

Car wash?

Dinner? Running?

Check yellow list, too.

Check anger.

Cell-phone charger.

CDs?

Gas cards.

Blanket.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Catherine gave me my birthday present today, several weeks early: she put a down payment down on an electric piano. We had to move some furniture to fit it in, but it is way cool, and if I had to throw away a couple hundred books to make room for it, so be it. I haven't had a piano since I left home in 1985. We've been talking for years about getting one, but they're so damn expensive. Even electric pianos are usually well beyond our budget, and I'd more or less accepted the fact that it would be another twenty years before I ever got anything acceptable. But suddenly this one showed up on the market, and it was a really good deal, and when Catherine came to meet me after drumming today, she filled out the paper work, wrote a check, and said, "Happy Birthday."

I like it because it's got 88 keys instead of just 76, and also it has "touch," which means it feels and reacts like a piano instead of a synthesizer when I play. Also, there's another dozen or so reasons why I like it, but I'm too tired to write about them at the moment. I'll come back and say more after I work my way through the 108-page instruction manual. I'm probably going to play it in grand piano mode 95% of the time, but it won't hurt to figure out what else the thing can do.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

My boss is really quite good at making me feel incompetent.  He leaves me feeling as if he doesn't quite trust me to do things right, even though I haven't made any devastating mistakes in the past four months.  Yesterday I actually found something I do quite well--laying out VCT flooring.  I spent several hours working out the flooring designs for the children's museum, in the art area, the program room, the party room, and three bathrooms.  My boss looked at them and said, "I like this!" which would have been a compliment, had not his voiced dripped with incredulousness.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Yeah, I know I could be less surly and more social, but I'm trying to make some big decisions here, and I don't want to risk getting good advice from friends that might interfere with my god-given right to fuck up my life all by lonesome. And really, if you could see the things happening in my inbox right now, you wouldn't blame me for ignoring everyone around me. Just be glad you're not Catherine, she doesn't get ignored, she gets snarled at.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

My best advice: don't go to a rock concert--even a relatively sedate one--on crutches. Drunk people are drunk people, and they'll run you over on the way to the parking lot after the concert w/out so much as a backward glance.

Man, I haven't seen so much alcohol since the last NHL game I attended, and I'm not sure that even hockey fans put away so much over-priced beer. Before I could even get out of the car, the people who had pulled up next to us were out of there car, had the trunk popped, the cooler open, and were already drinking. I know I'm moving slowly right now, but it was amazing how quickly they had the beer open and distributed. Our view was obstructed through a lot of the concert because people kept getting up to get more beer, and the woman behind Catherine during the concert was so drunk I was afraid she was going to fall over on top of us every time she leaned forward to gush something in Catherine's ear. And this lesbian a few rows in front of us was so drunk she was letting a total stranger--a middle-aged man--slobber all over her (after his wife walked away in disgust, of course).

Anyway, Deer Creek is too far to go for a concert. We've been exactly once in the seven years we've been here, and that should do it for us. Here's to a quiet rest-of-the-weekend.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

The good thing about being on crutches is that you get to use the wheelchair when you go to the grocery store. And not the lame, electric wheelchair, either, but the cool one you push yourself. No one can stop you from skidding around corners because, hey, you're in a wheelchair.

Of course, if you're in a wheelchair, you're pretty much restricted to the bottom two shelves for shopping, so you really need to like all the storebrand foods, because that's what you're going to get. But the wheelies make it all worth it.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Go ahead, ask me how I spent my morning.

Long story cut short, I'm on crutches w/a torn calf muscle. And you know what? I'm not very happy about it.

Friday, July 16, 2004

So, I totally lost it at the mall this afternoon. 
 
You know, Hallmark is all about "a card for every occasion," but they don't have one that says "It is so FUCKING UNFAIR that you're not going to get well soon."  And you know, the woman at the checkout completely missed her chance to empty my checking account, because she was all "would be interested in contributing to the fund to send cards to our troops overseas," and I was all "you can do whatever the hell you want with my debit card, just hurry the fuck up and run it through because we're about to have a scene here, and neither you nor I want that, okay?"  Completely missed her chance.
I think I'm losing my mind.  I actually had to call the wife at work this morning to ask her what our home phone number was.  After thinking about it for five minutes, I managed to come up w/the last four digits, but for the life of me, I couldn't remember the exchange.  I'm not sure if I should be worried or amused.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

"You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do."

So says Eleanor Roosevelt.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Getting an e-mail from a famous person isn't necessarily cool--fame doesn't guarantee intelligence, quick-wittedness, or kindness. In fact, sometimes I've wondered if fame doesn't cultivate the exact opposite personality traits.

However, getting an e-mail from a famous person that you've admired for a long time, an e-mail that suggests the author is exactly as intelligent, insightful and warm as you'd hoped she'd be, *is* cool, and being able to follow it up with a phone call...well, then you get into something that is so far beyond cool that I can't even think of the appropriate words to describe it.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

It's not entirely true that all I do is work, but it does seem like it by the end of the week.

Other things I'm doing besides working: a hell of a lot of training. My CV and strength-training schedule is plotted out through November (although I reserve the right to edit it between now and then). 5 training days, 2 days rest. That breaks out into 3 running days, two cross-training days, two days rest. 2 of the running days finish up w/lower-body strength training, the 2 cross-training days conclude w/upper-body strength training. 1 of the running days is reserved for the long run (distance increase starts in a week), so no strength-training.

Other things I'm doing besides training: I spend 45 minutes every Saturday w/Bobby, working out drum exercises I can use to strengthen my shoulder. So far I'm limited to about 10 minutes of drumming at a time. That's okay, because once I fully recover, I'll have to seriously thing about a new drum kit, and I can't afford it. I'm really at the point where I'm not going to be able to improve my playing much more w/out a more robust kit, so I've got to give this some serious thought.

Other things I'm doing besides drumming: I finally got to take the woodworking class I've been putting off for a year because of my shoulder. It's a class on dove-tailed joints, and although my first attempt truly and totally sucks, I've got the concept down, and it can only improve from such a dismal beginning.

Friday, July 09, 2004

Doesn't it seem like all I do is work?

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

I'm not sure what Catherine did when we got home this afternoon, but I read the paper then went to bed for the next three hours. We're both exhausted for some reason. I guess we did a lot of driving, and I do feel a little dehydrated, but I'm not sure why we feel so worn out.

Saturday we drove to Columbus, and arrived early enough to spend some time at the Franklin Park Conservatory. It was crowded and hot, and looking back, I would guess my dehydration started right there. Anyway, the butterflies were very nice, as was the garden train set. It was the last weekend of the Chihuly exhibit, thus explaining the dense crowds, ordinarily we don't have much competition when we go to look at plants. The Chihuly glass was nice, but I think this makes my 3rd Chihuly exhibit, so it didn't knock my socks off. Also, some of the pieces I'd definitely seen before--what I want is a "here's what Dale is doing RIGHT NOW" exhibit, not a collection of his older pieces.

Stopped off at the increasingly derelict Wexner Center on our way north through town. I don't think they're ever going to re-open that place. Went to see a movie in the evening--F9/11, like good internet liberals. It was either that or pay $20.00 to see Harry Potter on the IMAX screen.

Sunday we got up early and went for a run at Highbanks Metro Park. Excellent decision. After we showered, we drove up to Bucyrus to do some looking around for my dad. Spent a lot of time at the Oakwood Cemetery looking for family plots, and wandered around a lot downtown, photographing several late 19th/early 20th c. buildings contracted by one of his relatives. I was sick a lot, and it was quite hot out, and it was really a long day, but we got a lot done. On our way back to Columbus, we stopped at the Ohio Wesleyan University in Delware to photograph another building contracted by the same relative who worked in Bucyrus.

Stopped back at Highbanks Park on the way back to the hotel, watched some groundhogs for awhile. Thought about going to another movie, but decided we were too tired, so after dinner we went to a nearby park to sit and read read. Only we didn't read, we spent the evening watching skaters at the skate park in the Olentangy Parklands in Worthington. Almost all the skaters were adults, one guy was even skating in a pair of tailored dockers, he looked like a banker. Only one woman, maybe my age, and one little girl who had very groovy tiger-striped knee and elbow pads that matched her skate shoes.

A good but oh-so-unhealthy muffin at Tim's this morning (maybe *that's* why I feel so rotten), then we drove home. We made really good time considering I wasn't even speeding. And now I'm ready to go to bed and sleep for a week, but I suppose I really must get up and go into work tomorrow.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Thursday, July 01, 2004

I didn't get home from work last night until 9:00 p.m.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

I really should start taking a camera with me when I go running. One of the ice cream trucks in our neighborhood has a big, bright sign on the back that says "Firearm Violations May Be Videotaped."

I felt like I finally hit my stride this evening, in that the last ten minutes I was really running rather than just shuffling along. That's the first time since we've started back that I felt like I had it in me to really stretch it out into a good pace. I guess slogging up that hill at Winslow Park the past few weeks has done my legs some good.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

I recommend the sports massage.
This post is really by Catherine, although she demurred when I offered to let her sit down and type it herself.

After it got dark this evening, we took a star chart and walked over the the park. It wasn't ideal viewing, the park lights were overpowering, and there's a half-moon in the sky, but we still managed to do a little star-hopping. This is especially exciting for Catherine, since she's never spent any time with the constellations. We found:

Ursa Major
Ursa Minor
Draco
Vega in Lyra
Deneb in Cyngus
Hercules
Arcturus in Bootes
Canes Venatici
Corona Borealis
Cepheus
Cassiopeia
Great Square of Pegasus

and on the way home, Scorpius

There must be a word for those people walk down a sidewalk in the middle of the night, trying to read an astronomy magazine in the dark. A word other than "dorks," I mean.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

To K. Pandya, wherever you are at the moment: Syd, I went back to the pool this week. Nothing serious, just a few hundred yards, but I thought you'd be interested. Hope your fly is still strong.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Former fellow asg-xer Kerry Lutz has an entertaining blog.
When we grow up, we want to have a big house, a house that has room enough for a deep freeze somewhere. I'm sure Catherine would like to use it for all those damned frozen vegetables she keeps buying. Me, I'd like to have room for a half-dozen more ice packs. Because let me just say, three ice packs aren't enough for the broken-down body that is mine, even if you take care of the feet and ankles with a washtub full of ice water.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Catherine has decided she wants to run a 5k this fall. She could probably go out and run one next week if she wanted to, but it seems to be a confidence thing with her. She runs on a regular basis, but when it comes time to sign up for a race, she always chooses the walking option instead of the running option. But now she's decided she's going to run the Jill Behrman Run for the Endzone in October. I'm probably going to do the Hoosiers Outrun Cancer run in September, and then the Jill Behrman run. The running goal for 2004 is the 10k, though, since I didn't make it last year. I'm thinking that the Wabash Valley Runners Indiana Fall Classic might be the one, barring any new injuries.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

When I got home from work, I put the pizza crust on to rise, then forced Catherine to go to the park with me. We kicked around the soccer ball, and then threw the Aerobie around a bit. That's all I'm doing tonight.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Hit the wall yesterday, physically and mentally. Decided the best thing to do was just spend the rest of the day in bed. So I did.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Nothing feels quite right at the moment. Some of it's physical, some of it's mental, all of it is tedious. Time to just dig in and force my way through life for bit, regardless of how I feel about it all.

Work has been slow. We've been at a standstill design-wise on the museum, pending further discussion with the State Historic Preservation Office. Luckily, we meet with them tomorrow, and hopefully things will start happening again. I've been working--sort of--on a landscape project this week. It's amazing how difficult it is to site a pool properly on an essentially empty lot. Anyway, the best part about the project is the observatory we're adding to the property. I spent a lot of time today surfing the web, looking at other backyard observatories around the world.

Catherine is making pineapple salsa pizza again tonight. I'm really hungry.

Monday, June 07, 2004

One of those days when I have absolutely nothing say. Life feels as flat and thin as an empty piece of paper.

I spent most of yesterday afternoon out on the back porch reading Toni Morrison's Beloved. I think her writing is meant for people with more spirit--or more spirituality--than I possess. I can see where I'm supposed to connect with the narrative on something more than an intellectual level, but I don't have another level in me, and I don't think I ever will. I wish I could write like she does, but then again, I don't think I want to have the kind of soul I would need to have to do it.

Friday, June 04, 2004

It's like playing chicken in reverse...instead of racing toward each other, you run in opposite directions. Whoever turns around first, loses. Or possibly wins. It's a complicated game.
I can't believe how often I have to call Ameritech about our phone line. Out of order again. Even when it's in order, the quality of the line is terrible. We can hear other people talking, music, static and about a dozen other noises during every phone call. If I could figure out how to afford a cable modem, I'd abandon our phone line completely.

My leg is starting to look better, so the antibiotics must be doing something other than making me feel sick to my stomach.

Damn, I just realized I left the site plan and notebook I need in the car. Spent all yesterday morning out surveying two residential lots for a pool/landscape project we're doing. First time I've used an engineer's level. It's not very complicated, but you have to have a detail-oriented assistant. I apparently did not (I borrowed someone from another office), since Louis and I had to go back out a second time at the end of the work day to re-take some measurements.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Friday p.m.: running, coffee, drive-in--Shrek II and Ella Enchanted (forgettable)
Saturday a.m.: running, errands. Talked to Bobby, went to public library, lunch at Opie Taylor's.
Saturday p.m.: Dinner with Jen, David, Natalie @ Erika and Henry's. Storm Saturday night.
Sunday a.m.: Storm in a.m., drive to Falls of the Ohio after. Dinosaur exhibit, tornado. B&B, tornado. Dinner @ Japanese steakhouse. Read Sharmila's Book, Catherine watched Open Range (forgettable). Tornado sometime during the night.
Monday a.m.: @Churchill Downs by 8:30 (breakfast tomato tart fiasco), backside tour until 10:00. Derby Museum.
Sunday p.m.: Churchill Downs, watched 1/2 race card, picked two winners. Took I-64 to 37 to avoid storm damage on way home. Grocery shopping. Read The Prime of Jean Brodie.

Monday, May 31, 2004

Friday, May 28, 2004

Better than pizza.

So. Eleven weeks of work under my belt. I've learned that there are good things and bad things about working in a small firm. The bad things are obvious: since my desk is only 3 feet from that of the principal, I know more than I probably need to know about his personal life. I can tell you quite a lot about his kids, and at least a bit about his ex-wife.

It's a little difficult negotiating our relationship. The employer/employee thing is fine, but we also have to be at least somewhat friendly, otherwise the day would be impossible to get through. We've gone out to lunch together a few times, and it's never been clear to me what we're supposed to talk about. I drove down to Scottsburg w/him earlier this week so he could pick up his new car, which was fine, I don't mind being paid to drive his car back to town, but the people selling car clearly mistook me for someone other than his design assistant. So, sort of weird at times.

On the other hand, since it is a small firm, my day-to-day work has a bit more variety than it might otherwise. I'm tired of the project we've been focusing on, and I can hardly wait for July to get here so we'll be mostly done w/the design/spec work. But, I get to do fun things sometimes. Wednesday, we took some floor mat samples out into the rain, covered them with soap, and skidded around on them to see how they would work in the bubble-making area of the museum. Tuesday, we did a bit of demolition at the building site, hacking through plaster and tearing up carpet. I get to talk to sales reps about interesting things, like epoxy coatings and cementitious underlayment. I get to run the occasional errand out to various builders' and contractors' offices.

Lots of valuable experience to have, good resume building stuff, generally enjoyable. I'm way tired of the commute, and I look forward to working closer to home. I think next time, if I have my choice of jobs, I'll go with a slightly bigger firm. Louis says the super-large firms will chew me up and spit me out, and he's right, but it would be good to have co-workers.