Saturday, February 28, 2004

Easy...

...to guess my vote.

storySouth Million Writers Award

That reminds me.

Saddened by the Adeline Skultka Garcia's passing. My first job out of college was with the Seattle Indian Health Board, it's an amazing social service, and everyone should be proud of the work done by the people behind it.

Gotta stop reading the Seattle paper every day, though, it just makes me homesick. But reading today's article reminded me of something I tried (failed) to puzzle through last time I was in Washington. I'm really interested in this topic of passive appropriation of someone else's culture--although I'm not sure if appropriation is exactly the right word, because it carries an essence of deliberate activity with it. If you're white, and you grow up surrounded by the visual culture of coastal Indians, the public part of the culture, meant for display, is there ever a point where it becomes partly your culture, too? I mean, some of it is actually offered up for consumption by natives and whites alike, in public ceremonies and art displays, but as a white person, you can't really participate in the entire cultural system. So, it puts the white person in a position of belonging to an outsider culture, instead of the Native American, not allowing full access to the meaning behind the symbols/ceremonies. But on the other hand, it's still part of the white person's self-identification process, and it's still part of his or her visual and spatial world.

The thing is, I really miss the raven. It's not my creation myth, but I know the trickster's story, and I miss seeing his wooden beak hovering over my sidewalks. I miss the verticality of Haida totems against blank coastal skies. I miss the reds and the blacks and the blues superimposed on the green of a coniferous forest. These aren't things I created, and they're not even things I spend a lot of time trying to understand. But they're still a large part of my childhood, and they're still symbols of the geography that I consider home.

I think the membrane between "mine" and "yours" is perhaps more diaphanous than I was led to believe when I was younger. Partly I can be defined by who I am not, and in that sense, the visual culture of the different coastal tribes reminds me of that (white Americans don't embrace this concept very often, they're too busy defining the rest of world from the comfort of their living room). But along the way, all the signs of things I am not also become partly mine, even if they signify different things than was originally intended in the culture that produced them. I don't think it's an active moment of appropriation, rather more of a slow cultural leak.

But I'm prepared to be proven wrong.

Friday, February 27, 2004

Pre-op.

I think that makes the fifth person this week to ask whether I'm worried about my upcoming surgery or not. The insta-answer is, no, I'm not. The doctor can take an axe to my shoulder for all I care, as long as she excises the AC joint in the process. A quick and dirty amputation has been sounding pretty good these past few weeks, really. And while I don't think anyone can REALLY look forward to having a bone cut in half, I am anxious to get the whole thing underway.

That's the easy answer. The real answer is not so quick. I'm not worried about surgery, but I am worried about coming out from under anaesthesia after the deed is done. That probably sounds strange to anyone who hasn't been put under before. They never show the recovery on TV shows. The patient just wakes up drowsily and either recognizes everyone standing around the bed or not, depending on whether or not the plot demands memory loss on the part of the stricken. I don't remember the waking up part the first time I was put under anaesthesia, I was only six, but I do remember it from my surgery six years ago, and I hated it. You go through this absolutely bone wrenching shuddering when you're was coming out. I just remember thinking "I'm cold, I'm cold, I'M COLD!" and then waking up out of spasm and realizing, "Oh...no, I'm not." Then you go under and start all over again. "I'm cold, I'm cold, I'M COLD! Oh...no, I'm not." The recovery nurses drown you in heated blankets, but it seems like it takes forever to just sleep and not shudder.

That's the part I'm worried about. They can take my entire collar bone if they want, but they need to keep me warm while they're doing it, because I don't want to go through that again.
  1. Unit Three
  2. BMV
  3. C. present
  4. mail box
  5. mop
  6. vacuum
  7. floor by washer
  8. public speaker report
  9. apologies to Steve
  10. gas/wash car

Thursday, February 26, 2004

I'll bite.

What I think: it's incredibly sad when gay activist groups agree to settle for a candidate that isn't supporting their cause. I expect "regular" citizens to do that, to decide that Kerry is good enough for now. But when the organized activists start doing it, that's a bad sign, because they're supposed to be one step ahead of the rest of us. Who will lead if they start to say,"Well...he's good enough, I guess."?

I don't think I can vote for Kerry, and it's not particularly because I'm a one issue voter. Well, I am a one issue voter, and that's the issue of universal health care, but I can't vote for Kerry because I'm tired of listening to him dissemble when he suggests gay and lesbian interests can be taken care of with civil unions. As Kerry very well knows, a civil union doesn't even stand up to the "separate but equal" scrutiny--it falls deep into "separate and not equal." He knows this, and still he promotes it as if it would take care of everything. Because of reciprocity laws, anyone who gets married in one state will be recognized if they move to another state. Not so with civil unions. Anyone who gets married in any state has their marriage recognized by the federal government. Not so with civil unions. According to a recent article, civil unions in Massachusetts would guarantee couples some 350 state benefits previously denied gay/lesbian couples, but still withhold some 1,000 federal rights. Fair? No. So, either Kerry is trying to deliberately mislead gay and lesbian voters, or he's too stupid to know he's not telling the truth. I'm tired of having a stupid president, and I'm tired of having a deliberately sly president, so Kerry isn't getting my vote until he shapes up.

Which brings me to another point. I'm kind of tired of (well-intentioned) people saying, "The government should stay out of marriages, anyway!" In an otherwise great post, Wil Wheaton suggests that the government shouldn't be involved in marriage, anyway. Well, I'll tell you. I've got a marriage that doesn't involve the government, and it sucks. Yeah, my partner and I can take care of the spiritual/emotion/religious bond, but it's the lack of a legal contract with the government that is making my life hell. If something happened to Catherine, not only would I not have insurance, I wouldn't have a house, because although we had wills drawn up, there's no way I can come up with the money to pay the inheritance taxes on the house, our property, and our car. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. The thing is, most straight people really don't notice how much the government is involved in their marriage, they don't really think about the legal contract part of it--it's so ingrained in the concept of marriage in the U.S. that they just take things for granted. So, no offense to Wil, but I think he's wrong on this point (but right on the rest of it).

It sounds like it's all about but money, but it's not, or at least not totally. Financial distress is simply a manifestation of being considered a lesser citizen. Money--financial security--is a language most Americans speak, it's the lingua franca of privilege, and when it's denied to someone, that sends a message loud and clear. Listen, I can mess up a primary relationship as well as the next (straight) guy, so I don't see why I can't get as involved with the government as everyone else.

Message from Japan.

Wednesday, 2/25/04

"We had gorgeous weather here today, so I checked out one more holy spot, the Heian Shrine (a relatively new one, built in 1895 to celebrate the 1100th anniversary of Kyoto as the capital of Japan, even though it wasn't anymore by 1895). It's famous for its garden, which was beautiful even without the cherry blossoms. I communed with the very friendly carp in the ponds. On the way to the shrine I did a bit of shopping--the saleswomen are soooo nice here that it's very easy to spend money. Not to worry--I was still able to pay my hotel bill this evening...

"We're off tomorrow morning to Tokyo. I believe we're going to visit a sex museum, which should be a unique experience. You should probably be glad you're back in Indiana..."

Monday, February 23, 2004

Labor movement.

The conservative estimate is that I moved 7650 lbs. today. That's 3.825 tons for anyone who is keeping track. The only positive thing I can say about this job is that it is supposed to be easier to recover from AC joint surgery if you have strong shoulder muscles. I could bench press a small pony, so I guess I'm ready for surgery.

When I told my boss I was quitting so I could get my shoulder fixed, he told me that he would be glad to have me back, I'd always have a job there, things go really well on the days I work, blah blah blah. Outside, I was nodding gratefully and saying thanks, inside I was thinking, "Buddy, the only way I'm ever coming back here is if I'm representing a union. You're not going to want me back then."
  1. bills
  2. bank
  3. Unit Two
  4. rack for shoes
  5. Lowe's/caulk
  6. six fade
  7. BMV
  8. Office Max/envelopes
  9. post office--mail tape
  10. stamps
  11. mail C's letter
  12. card for box
  13. mail box
  14. progress mtg. Thurs. 1:30
  15. Danielle's computer
  16. library
  17. C. present
  18. Unit Three
  19. paycheck Sun.
  20. library redux

  • garbage
  • recycling
  • mop
  • floor by washer
  • clean bathroom
  • caulk shower
  • vacuum
  • print out recipe
  • groceries
  • fridge

Sunday, February 22, 2004

Message from Japan.

Sunday, 2/22/04

"...It's Sunday so I'm on my own. I walked down to Kyoto University and toured the university museum (fossils, ancient pottery). Then I walked around the Yoshida shrine that is just south of the campus, until it started to rain and I decided I should head back. Luckily it stopped before I got too wet. I just completed my first visit to a grocery store! I bought something similar to Cup o'soup to have for dinner and some yummy looking bread. I also couldn't resist the Mt. Rainier coffee and cream (cold). It was 100 yen, which I'm sure is much cheaper than Starbucks (however there's a Starbucks shop in my hotel complex so I may have to give it a try before I leave)...I had green tea ice cream the other day, which was quite refreshing...

"...Masa sent me a message today to tell me he got me tickets to the Takarazuka Revue!! It's the afternoon show on the 24th--a love story set in 19th c. Paris, though he also mentioned Cuban dancing (?). He can't go, but I guess someone will be taking me there on the train (it's somewhere between Osaka and Kobe, I believe)...."

Saturday, February 21, 2004

Message from Japan.

Thursday, 2/19/04

"...Yesterday was my first full day here, and it was a busy one, with visits to three ancient temples (all beautiful). I went to Kyoto University and met my host Prof. Tanaka, but he had appts all afternoon so Yuko showed me around Kyoto. The weather is perfect for sightseeing, warm and sunny (no snow!). We ended up in the southern part of the city at the Kyoto Costume Institute, where Yuko and I parted company for the day. The curator Ms. Suoh was very gracious though she may have wondered why I was there. I was able to see the storage area, which is filled with incredible clothes from the 18th c. onward (they also have a true treasure from the 16th c., an embroidered jacket owned by Queen Elizabeth I!). Then I had to get myself home to the hotel in northeastern Kyoto--a feat that required taking a train and a bus (and then I had to find the hotel after debussing!)... Anyway it's now Friday morning, and I'm waiting for Prof. Tanaka to take me to Osaka to visit the Museum of Ethnography. More later..."

Friday, February 20, 2004

Saturday, February 14, 2004

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Ah.

So, Dreamhost's mail is down. Never thought I'd say, "Luckily, I still have Yahoo," but there you go.

From Dreamhost's support system:

"A spammer initiated a massive attack on a domain serviced by the "cluster"
of mail servers that hosts at least one of your domains' mail. We've
blocked the spammer and are clearing out the tens of thousands of messages
left by the attack. It's made mail slow on this group of machines, and has
exacerbated the high load our mail servers are already experiencing due to
MyDoom, the latest Windows virus. All mail will be delivered, just slowly.
We're working to ensure that a similar attack won't slow mail down so
badly in the future."

Not bad.

I had an amazingly productive day, considering my e-mail was/is down. Ordinarily, I would think I was productive *because* my e-mail was down, but in this case, I could have gotten even more done had I actually received the 2 e-mails Steve sent this morning. Hours later, I'm still waiting for some test e-mail I sent to appear.

Anyway, I managed to pull myself out of bed early enough to drop Catherine off at a meeting before I went to my job interview this morning. After that I went to the public library and replenished the stack of books I'm usually too tired to read (but don't they look good sitting next to my recliner?). Had some coffee, finally finally FINALLY bought some new ink for our printer, read a little bit, did some homework. Met Steve at Sixth Street for a progress meeting, then went back to the office with him, at which point I installed a zip drive and a printer on the office manager's system. Went home, finished off the written homework for Chapter 8, then picked up Catherine from work. Took her to the mall to replace the batteries in our watches, returned home.

That probably doesn't sound like much, but usually my day off goes something like this: Sleep in. Get up, watch Perry Mason for two hours. Go back to sleep. Get up, eat dinner. Go back to sleep.

I wish.

In the past week, I've had two interviews, both for jobs I'd really, really like. One was for a technical writing job, and the other was for a building inspector job. I think I'd be good in both positions, but I'm trying not to hope for either one because, really, it seems like the odds are against me.

I don't know about this interview thing. Several times in the past few months I've left interviews feeling really good about my chances. In one case, the interviewer told me I would definitely be hearing from her in the next few days. Sadly, that was two months ago, and I haven't heard anything. In December, I sent my resume (unsolicited) to a local firm, and much to my surprise, they called me and asked me to come in to talk with them about what I could do for them. I thought the meeting went really well, the principal architect seemed sincerely interested in giving me some work, and she told me she'd be getting back to me right away. One month later....nothing.

What exactly am I doing wrong? My resume seems strong, at least strong enough to get me interviews. So what am I doing wrong in the face-to-face meetings? Bobby thinks I should call up one of these people and ask if they'd be willing to tell me what prevented them from selecting me, but I don't feel like I can do that. It's all a big mystery to me. I can't change my personality, or even the way I look in any substantial way. I could probably improve my posture, though. Maybe that will do the trick.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Why you should always keep your bathtub clean.

When you come home from work exhausted and achy, you just want to climb in bed. You can't, though, because you're covered in flour and oil and sweat, and it would just mean you'd have to wash the sheets when you get up, and you can't be bothered to do that much more work. So you want to take a shower first, but you're too tired to stand up and do it. Doesn't matter, because if your tub's clean, you can pretend you're taking a bath, only with the shower running instead. Works for me. Several times a month, in fact.

Tired.

Everything went okay yesterday. The courts were backed up a little, so we had to hang out in the hall with a bunch of juvenile delinquents on probation, but the actual legal proceedings took about 45 seconds. My check for the article I sold to the Columbus Dispatch came in yesterday's mail, so we went out and had a celebratory dinner. Then, romantic that I am, I came home and reinstalled a few software packages before going to bed. I was in bed by 8:30, and the alarm still went off too early.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

How to tell your under-employed.

Every morning, someone has to make "bags" for day's dough batches. For pizza, this means putting .44 pounds of yeast, 2 cups of sugar, and 2 cups of salt into a plastic bag for every double batch you want to make. For breadstick, you drop the yeast to .26 pounds. If you have to make 58.5 batches, that's a lot of plastic bags. (In case anyone's curious, the bags are mixed in with 100 pounds of flour and 2 cups of corn oil for 30 seconds, then 2x25.65 lbs. of water is added, mixed on low for four minutes, and high for three. Don't spin the bowl backwards, or you'll fuck the whole thing up.)

This morning, I was putting yeast into bags, watching the numbers on the scale fluctuate as the yeast dropped from the measuring cup into the bag when I realized I was seeing acceleration due to gravity RIGHT BEFORE MY VERY EYES. And from there, I realized that I did indeed understand that you could compensate for the loss of gravity in a spaceship if you just accelerated it away from the earth at the proper speed. If you sat a space ship on a scale, and attached a bomb to the scale set to go off if the weight on the scale changed, you could still send the space ship into outer space w/out having to worry about the weight changing as the ship escapes earth's gravitational pull, as long as you accelerated it in the proper fashion.

And then I decided to stop thinking before I got really, really depressed about making pizza dough for a living.

Monday, February 09, 2004

That's my name, don't wear it out.

I've been using a hyphenated last name for ten years, give or take a couple months. Catherine has never really been into sharing my last name, for whatever reason. Probably the same reason she never thought she wanted to get married, I don't know. At any rate, a couple of months ago, she suddenly decided now was the time to make the change over. I think it was purely practical--she was out of business cards, and had to get more printed anyway, so she might as well change her name. That and the fact she realized she was graduating in December and wouldn't have access to free student legal services after the New Year.

So, today is the day when it all becomes final. I'm all polished up and ready to go to court this afternoon and finish the deal. If she wants to throw me over for a younger, healthier woman, she's going to have to go through the hassle and expense of changing her name back after this.

I'm just saying.

If the Democrats ever want me to come over to their camp, they're going to have to find a candidate who isn't afraid of giving me the same rights as every other U.S. citizen is (theoretically) guaranteed. Until they can find someone a little less cowardly, I'm not going with them.

Much swearing before bed.

A few hours ago, as I was measuring out oil to make kettle corn, Catherine came into the kitchen and asked "What does it mean when there's a blue screen that says it can't write to C:?" I'll tell you what it means. A whole hell of a lot of work for Susan, that's what it means. I'm not sure exactly what the story is, but when I finally got the machine to boot from a diagnostic CD, the c:\windows directory was missing.

So, many hours later, I've obviously got internet access (I had homework due today, so it was a necessity), but not too much else. The good news is even though I had to reinstall the OS, I didn't lose any of the drawing files I did this weekend. Everything else--data-wise--was backed up, so I wasn't too concerned, I just didn't want to have to draw all those stupid homework assignments over.

Okay, the modem is reinstalled, and I've reinstalled the drivers to the zip drive. My monitor driver is not making me happy, and I have no sound. The only working app is Mozilla. That's enough for tonight. What this means in the long run is that I lose one drafting application, but I guess it won't kill me. I liked it, but not enough to pay the $700 to replace it.

If I'd known when I started working on it this afternoon that I was going to have to reinstall the OS, I would have upgraded to XP instead of leaving it at 98. I'm not doing all this over again, though, so it's just going to have to remain a dinosaur until we can get a new system.

Sunday, February 08, 2004

Better.

My stomach seems to be recovering. It's growling, telling me to eat dinner already. I'm pretty much just waiting for the loaf of cheese-and-onion bread I made this afternoon to cool off enough to eat. That will be the test of my digestive system's hardiness, I think.

I spent the afternoon doing a minimal amount of homework, and a maximal amount of tax preparation. My big plan for 2004 is to do no freelance writing. I'm tired of the tax hassle of freelance work/home offices. Matters aren't helped at all by the fact that I had three "real" jobs in 2003, meaing three different W-2s. Thank god I have an accountant (aka "Dad") to figure it all out. I don't object at all to the concept of paying taxes; I object a lot to the bizarre calculations I have to do every year to fill out my return. But it's done, at least all the work I have to do before handing it off to my dad.

Saturday, February 07, 2004

Not according to plan.

What I wanted to do this morning was sleep in, then get up and do some homework. Instead, I woke up at 4 a.m., just in time to throw up last night's dinner. So much for sleeping in, I guess. I still feel sick, and it's been a struggle to keep down the bowl of cereal I had for breakfast.

My body is staging a rebellion, and I can't seem to summon enough support troops to put it down.

Friday, February 06, 2004

Amy Beach.

For about 20 seconds, I thought I was listening to Gershwin. Then I realized it couldn't possibly be so. Turns out it was Amy Beach's Piano Concerto. Next time I'm in Kansas City, I'm going to have to spend some time with the Amy Cheney Beach Collection, just because I can.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

The romance is gone.

And my butchness is being maligned.

Today, while we were grocery shopping, Catherine actually said, "It'll be easy to shop for you now. Since you've been doing so much of the cooking and baking, I can start buying you gifts that have to do with baking. Like a new sifter."

I'm pretty sure that's grounds for a divorce.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Do I really need this degree?

Short--and honest--answer: no. But since my tuition is paid for this semester, apparently I'm going to finish it, even if it means having to take Communications 101. Initially, I wasn't too upset about having to take it--requirements are requirements, and I may have more credit hours than anyone else on the planet, but none of them were taken in the Communications department. So, I have to take it. Fine, but do the assignments have to be so STUPID?

We have to submit the lyrics to a "theme song," and then give a speech about them. I spent an hour sorting through CDs today, and couldn't find anything suitable. For one thing, fully half of our CDs aren't in English, so that leaves out a lot of my music collection. A large chunk of the remaining CDs is classical/orchestral/instrumental. That leaves a lot of pop music that has a good beat (and you can dance to it), but it doesn't have any meaning at all. And if it did, would I want to share it? No. I can think of a Matchbox 20 song and a U2 song that really sum up my personality pretty well, but why would I tell an auditorium full of strangers about something so personal?

Anyway, I did come up with a song, and the instructor is going to hate it, and that's great with me. From our collection musical soundtracks, we have Ethel Merman in Annie Get Your Gun, singing "Anything You Can Do (I Can Do Better)." That should not only give the class a good glimpse at my combative personality, it should scare the hell out of the instructor.

Monday, February 02, 2004

Babysitting.

Catherine asked me last night if I would mind if she arranged for various people to pop in and check on me while she's gone out of town. I'm not sure if she expects me to run away from home whilst she's gone, or just not eat properly, but either way, she's not going to let me go two weeks without adult supervision. Damn.

Other people's music.

The other day, during a conversation with a friend, I mentioned that I hated Mozart. Hate, hate, hate Mozart, especially his operas. There is an etude written in d-minor that I enjoy, but I can never remember which one it is, and I don't want to wade through his entire body of work to find it. Other than that, Mozart is not for me. Today, though, as I was trying to nap, I remembered that I really liked his Requiem. I've even been known to darken the entry arches of a Catholic cathedral at least twice to hear it performed on All Souls' Day. So what's up with that? Come to find out that the reason I like it is because it isn't reallyMozart's work. He set up the requiem with the introduction, but the bulk of the work was written by Eybler and Süssmayr. Mystery solved. I can go back to hating Mozart.

The funny thing is, this has suddenly become the norm for my listening tastes. Last week I was dozing on the couch, listening to Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition and Night on Bald Mountain. I performed them both in college, and I really like them, or at least parts of both of them (the final passages of Night on Bald Mountain stick in my head as particularly nice). When I woke up after my nap, I started reading the liner notes to my CD, and realized the reason I like Mussorgsky's music so much is because it isn't really written by him. Ravel did the orchestration of Pictures at an Exhibition that I know the best (Mussorgsky wrote it for piano), and that makes sense, because I really like Ravel. And Rimsky-Korsakov completed--and completely changed--Night on Bald Mountain. The ending that I like? Pure Rimsky-Korsakov.

So, I guess the thing I like is famous music ghost-written by other famous musicians. At least it helps put me to sleep in the afternoon.

Sunday, February 01, 2004

Credit.

We had $5.69 worth of credit left at the used-book store on the square. I spent $4.98 on a Russian-language version of Aldous Huxley's Crome Yellow. Now we have $0.71 left.

Bad attitude.

How do I know it's bad? I'll tell you.

Last night, the neighbors were supposed to come over and watch a movie. I thought, "Hey, I can do this. I'll sit in my recliner, pretend to watch it but really sleep, then they'll go home, and I'll go to bed. No problem." What really happened was: the neighbors showed up with bags of groceries, stormed the kitchen, and started making us dinner. And I was standing there, leaning on the door jamb and thinking, "Wtf? This is NOT what I agreed to. I wanted a nice, quiet night that involved me sitting in my recliner, nothing more." How's that for awful? When someone shows up to cook dinner, bringing their own groceries (and their own frying pan, for god's sake), you do NOT grumble.

I managed to step back, spend a few moments in the living room messing with the disc player and the Brandenburg concertos, and return to the kitchen in a slightly more grateful mood. Dinner was very good.

We watched The Whale Rider. It was a nice fairy tale, nowhere near as harsh as When We Were Warriors, but also not as shallow as critics would have you believe. Sometimes I think critics are just lazy ass journalists. If it's not spelled out for them on the screen, they're not willing to do any extra thinking to puzzle through the cultural complexities. Well, neither am I right now, but that doesn't mean they're not there.

Anyway. The young girl who played the main character did a good job, but I still think the youngest girl in Rabbit-Proof Fence is the best child actor I've ever seen. Her audition work was amazing.