Saturday, November 30, 2002

The in-laws head home this morning, which is great. We had a nice visit, but now we get the weekend to ourselves to relax. Talk about things to be thankful for.

As well as it's the last day of November, and the first day of Hanukkah. This year is racing to a close and, over all, I've got to say it was a pretty good one. But there'll be time for looking back on it after we survive December.

How about breaking up the blog here with a joke?

A man goes to the proctologist's office and says, "Doctor, I've got strawberries growing in my ass."

The doctor says, "I've got some cream for that."

Have a great weekend.

Friday, November 29, 2002

I certainly hope that you all had a happy Thanksgiving, and found reasons to be thankful. They do exist, you know. Reasons, that is.

For our little gathering the primary reason was that it was the first time in at least seven or eight years that Leslie's sister came to sit at a holiday table with their parents. I think everyone was a little nervous about it at first, hoping that it wouldn't be too awkward. But once the evening started, it was as natural as if there had never been any problems.

These are difficult times, and there are also certainly reasons for stress and worry about the political situations at home and abroad. While we Americans were stuffing ourselves with turkey (etc.), there were multiple terrorist attacks against Israelis - a hotel bomb in Kenya (at an Israeli owned resort), an attempt at shooting down an airliner, and shootings at a bus station and a polling place.

It's hard to find something to be thankful for in all of that. Sure, I'm certain that some will say, "I'm thankful that the attacks weren't against us," but that's wrong for a number of reasons. In the general sense, we are all part of humanity, and violence anywhere hurts us all. In the specific sense, if you think the timing of these attacks on the U.S. holiday of Thanksgiving is a coincidence, you're very naive. The victims may have been Israeli, but the target included us.

And still, somehow, it was a beautiful day, and today will be another. Somehow the sun rose this morning, and I'm looking forward to a walk in the woods after breakfast. Then, we may all go up to Oakland to see one of Leslie's cousins, and play with their new baby. I'm willing to bet that by the end of it all, we may be thankful for this day as well.

Tuesday, November 26, 2002

Did you know that if it's your 80th birthday, the President will send you a personal greeting, but not if it's your 79th birthday? How about a nice note from W on your 50th wedding anniversary? Just don't expect him to notice if it's only your 49th.

Birthday, anniversary, and Bar Mitzvah greetings must be requested at least six weeks before the event to be commemorated. Birth and wedding greetings, however, may only be requested after the event. I guess the White House was tired of being burned by people requesting greetings and then not getting married, or having a still-born child. (All recognized babies must be born during the Bush administration - no sneaking in any two-year-old Clinton legacies.)

And, (need I mention it?) only U.S. citizens will be greeted. Everybody else gets the boot.

Send your written requests to:
The White House
Attn: Greetings Office
Washington, D.C. 20502-0039

Click for more rules and regulations from the official White House Greetings Office

Monday, November 25, 2002

I realize I didn't manage to post here very much last week, and I apologize for neglecting you, dear reader. It's getting to be that busy time of year, with many demands on what feels like a shrinking supply of time.

Each day I've gone to work thinking, this will be likely be a slow day, and I'll be able to catch-up on a a few things, and each day I've been swamped with more than can be done in eight hours or so. And, of course, this week, I'll only have three days in which to do the over 40 hours worth of work.

We did manage to get out and do a few fun things over the weekend. Saturday we went to the auto show. You may recall my review from last year's auto show. At that time I probably said that we were thinking of replacing Leslie's car. Not much has changed since then. We're still thinking about it. Meanwhile, the car has lasted another year, and will probably survive another if we continue to stall (no pun intended).

As far as big purchases go, the car may be delayed if we get any more serious about buying a house. We saw another over the weekend, and it actually has some promise. At least, more so than the haunted one with the mummified gopher in the basement that we saw last week. It's still a big scary decision, however. And expensive. Better we should stay put and get a new car.

Movies: We saw "Punch Drunk Love" - Adam Sandler's dramatic debut that's been the subject of many mixed reviews. We loved it, but then, we're a little weird. Definitely not mainstream stuff for your typical Adam Sandler fan. But, if you loved "Magnolia," you'll really like this.

Finally, of course, another thing that's been taking up my time is writing. I'm still working on that NaNoWriMo story, although I haven't been updating my word count so much. Not much point to it since I'm not really shooting for 50,000 before next week. But it has been a good motivator in getting me to put down this particular story.

And now, back where we started, it's off to work.

Wednesday, November 20, 2002

My friend, Nan, sent me the following link:

Nude Peace
click image for full size & article

West Marin (north of San Francisco) women strip for peace. It's actually a wonderful, attention grabbing way to bring attention to the peace movement, and I support them completely.

However... I do need to point out one little problem. According to the organizers, one of their goals was to "show solidarity with the people of Iraq." Maybe I've been getting the wrong image of people in Iraq, but it seems that they're a bit less comfortable with public nudity than we Californians are. Can you show solidarity with a people through an act that's likely to offend them?

Again, I'm all for peace, I'm all for free speech, I'm all for protest, and I'm all for nude women on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge. But I still found this kind of funny.

Sunday, November 17, 2002

This weekend I made it past 15,000 words in my NaNoWriMo novel. That brings the completed work just past the mid-way point in my outline. Yeah, I know - That means I'm heading for a 30,000 word novella, but that's okay with me.

Most of what I'm writing now is dialogue and key action - I've got to go back in December and January to flesh out a lot of the descriptive passages and fill in a few rough spots, plot-wise -- It will hit 50,000 words or above ... eventually.

When I started this NaNoWriMo madness I decided that I'd rather have a good and complete 30,000 story that could be turned into a novel, than 50,000 words of garbage. Of course, if I had the time to write 50,000 words in a month, I'd like to, but I'm just happy to be making it this far, and still have a job.

An interesting theme that has come up on the NaNoWriMo discussion boards is dead animals. It started with one woman's discovery of a dead squirrel, and has continued with other posters.

Well, yesterday, Leslie and I were looking at this house up in the Santa Cruz mountains - a real "fixer upper" (more like, light a match and run) - and in the doorway to the basement was a mummified gopher.

Not a freshly dead gopher, but a dried out, well-preserved, long dead gopher - One that the various wild and domestic dogs and cats of the hills failed to eat. Not even any insects came to claim it.

While Leslie considered whether or not it was a sign about whether or not we should purchase the house, I realized it was a sign that I needed to be home, NaNoWriMo-ing.

Now, how to work the mummified gopher into my story...

Saturday, November 16, 2002

This morning I'm going to share items from my mailbox. These each came yesterday, and are examples of the kind of thing you get when you add a feedback form to your site. Here they are in all their un-edited, non-spellchecked glory.

First, a reaction to an article I wrote a while back called Spontaneous Human Combustion Explained!:
You had all them theories about what SHC could of been, such as aliens etc. Well what about time travel? I know this sounds stupid but think in 50-60 years time scientists or home workers could of produced time travel! If this was possible and some person or people went back to the time of a older ladys younger days and accidently killed her that would mean she would never of excisted! So wot could happen is the body of the older lady could just Implode and set a fire from inside causing everything to burn around her and the intense heat to melt plastic objects around! Well that is only my theory I know it sounds a bit stupid but we will never no. Like I said its just a theory!! Thank You for your time in reading this and i would be very thankful if you could reply to me about what you think about my theory!!

And now, an Elvis fan speaks out on a little tongue-in-cheek thing I did called The Elvis F.A.Q. :
In response to question 11 about his birth certificate, the reason that elvis only had one A in his middle name is because he had a twin brother, named Jesse Garon Presley, who was stillborne. Because of that, Elvis's middle name was ARON, in commemoration to his brother. Elvis later adopted his middle name as Aaron with two A's because he wanted to be more Biblical. Either that, or the reason that there are two A's on his gravestone is because he was really superstitious and... being still alive, wouldn't want his complete real name on his fake grave... bad charma, ya know

Thursday, November 14, 2002

Quick review here... I realize I never got around to telling about the Tom Petty concert a week or so ago. Well, it was excellent, of course. Since then, I picked up the new CD, "The Last DJ," which included a bonus DVD, and that, too, is highly recommended.

TP just keeps getting better, as far as I'm concerned. There were a few years, back a ways, where they were just turning out pop music that was fun, but not as exciting as the early stuff, and not as important or lasting as what they're doing now. That period is long over.

The TP of today is a thoughtful, mature, artist - who can still rock the house. Some of the songs on the current CD are among his best ever. Thematically, he's returned to one of his best topics; biting the hand that feeds him.

Much of the album is about the current, sad state of the music industry, and the mediocrity that we've all come to accept. While the songs are about artists selling out, the themes apply to much more of what's going on in our society than just the music.

The DVD which came with the CD includes performances of most of the songs on the album, shot in the recording studio, cut together with an interview of TP talking about the project, and the above stated themes. He also lamented how the business uses people up so quickly, and that new artists don't get the nurturing, tutoring, and chances that he was given starting out 26 years ago.

TP's commentary on artists selling out also carried over into the concert. In these days of "Bank of American presents the Rolling Stones" (or Budweiser, etc.), this show was conspicuously without corporate backing. In case anybody missed that, from the stage TP announced, "This show is sponsored by You!"

The Heartbreakers live on! Tom Petty is the last great, honest rock star standing.

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Just a reminder, that this month posting here is spotty because I'm taking part in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). An online event in which thousands of fools (myself included) attempt to write a novel in a month.

Yesterday, my word count passed the 10,000 mark. That's pretty good, and my story is progressing the way I want it to, but it's a little behind pace to hit the 50,000 word "official" target by November 31. I'm not so worried about the 50,000 figure, however, and just want to get the story fully crafted and drafted. I'll worry about adding a few layers of flesh in December and January.

Follow my progress on the NaNoWriMoe web site.

Monday, November 11, 2002

This weekend I went shopping for new pants. For the first time ever I needed to buy slacks that were smaller than what I have in my dresser.

Since losing the 25 pounds I've been walking around everyday with constant habit of pulling my pants up and re-tucking my shirt - not a pleasant sight. At work I look like a hip-hop-yuppie. When the kids wear their pants down low enough to show off their boxer shorts, they're not wearing Dockers.

There's probably some of you saying, "Ah, quit your bragging." You're just jealous. Nyah, nyah, nyah. I feel good, and you're just going to have to deal with it.

Speaking of feeling good, my cholesterol is also lower than it's ever been since I first had it tested year and years ago: 164. Not perfect, but far from questionable, health-wise. I just may be healthier now than I've been in a decade. So why the hell am I so tired?

Friday, November 08, 2002

When I posted on Wednesday morning I made a rude remark about the Republican sweep of the Congressional races on Tuesday. In California, however, the Democrats made clean sweep of the statewide offices. (Although, one race may still be challenged to a recount, as the tally shows a margin of less than 1/2 of 1%).

The positive side of Tuesday's Congressional sweep is that some of the Democratic leadership responsible is stepping aside. Better yet, it looks like the replacement team may be a return to "real" Democrats.

Nancy Pelosi, a San Francisco liberal, is poised to be the new Minority Leader in Congress, now that her chief "moderate" rival, Martin Frost of Texas, has stepped aside.

Frost still maintains that his policy of going along with the President and the "mainstream" is what will return the Democrats to power. It's fairly obvious, however, that this strategy has finally proven itself fatal. Having failed to offer any alternative to the Republicans, the Democrats have now also failed to defeat the Republicans.

Personally, I hope that Pelosi's impending victory (she was one of the few, and certainly the highest ranking, representatives to oppose the Iraq resolution) is a sign that the Democrats may, once again, actually stand for something. Maybe, just maybe, they'll even turn back into a party I can support.

But I'm not holding my breath.

Wednesday, November 06, 2002

"When a Republican runs against a Republican, the Republican will win every time" - Harry S. Truman

And that's all I have to say about that. At this time.


Hey! I'm famous! (Sort of). There's an interview with me posted on Writers Manual (.com). The interview is actually a few months old, but it's jut now been published. Take a look, it was a fun interview.

Tuesday, November 05, 2002

Governor Jesse Ventura has named his key adviser Dean Barkley as interim senator Monday, leaving the U.S. Senate split 49-49 with two independents. This goes against his previous statement that he'd replace Senator Wellstone (a Democrat) with another Democrat.

Why did he change his mind? Could it be because the two major parties f***ed up again? In making his announcement, Ventura indicated he was angry that the Independence Party's Senate candidate, Jim Moore, was excluded from Monday's Senatorial candidate debate. You would think that, at least in Minnesota, they'd learned their lesson by now.

In Ventura's statement, he said, "Today, three very powerful institutions, the Republican Party, the Democratic-Farmer-Labor-Party, and the Minnesota media are conspiring to limit the hard-earned rights of ordinary citizens."

Of course, members of those three groups immediately pounced on Ventura for being paranoid, mean-spirited, and a spoil-sport, but I have to agree with him, and honor his choice for the interim Senator.

Today, of course, is election day, and I want you all to go out and vote, no matter how nauseous it makes you. In fact, I think a little up-chuck on the ballot would make just the right statement.

This has been one of the most difficult elections ever for me to get excited about. I didn't even finish reading all the voter's guides and marking up my sample ballot until about 9:30 PM last night. But vote, I will. And then I'll drink.

Sunday, November 03, 2002

Yesterday certainly began well enough, with a notice on our door from the property manager. That's usually not good news, and we pulled the paper from the door with a bit of trepidation. It was only the second, so rent was not late. There's no garbage piled up outside our door that needs to be cleaned away. We haven't had any parties or done anything else to disturb the neighbors. All that was left in our concept of possibilities was a rent hike.

Reading the notice, and seeing that the figure under "new rent" was actually 6% less than what we're currently paying, we were naturally confused. Was there a typo? Were the numbers transposed somehow? Was this some sort of cruel joke? I chase the property manager down and demanded an explanation.

Our rent has actually been cut, she explained. The owners wanted to make sure that their good, long-term tenants remained happy. Imagine my surprise at a business person looking at the long-term and recognizing the importance of their customers, rather than looking at the short-term and only seeing their wallets. I nearly kissed her, but Leslie was watching.

Later in the day we saw other tenants walking around with the notices in their hands and dazed looks on their faces. "Did you get one of these?" being cautiously asked. "Is it for real?" An early holiday gift, and a great start to the month.

This is, of course, National Novel Writing Month or "NaNoWriMo" for short. Idiots, such as myself, sign up to begin writing our novels on November 1, and expect to complete at least 50,000 words by November 30. You can track my progress on my profile page.

Finally, yesterday we also say Michael Moore's new movie, Bowling for Columbine. This is an excellent and important film that every American should see - and before election day, if possible. It will make you laugh, it will make you cry, it will make you get off your ass and do something. Yeah, right now! Shut off the computer and go see it!

Saturday, November 02, 2002

San Francisco Anti-War Protest

This is a picture taken last weekend at the San Francisco anti-war protest by a friend of mine. (Yes, she gave me permission to distribute it, saying that she wanted as many people as possible to see it).

The text around the black-and-white photo in the lower right asks, "Are you willing to kill her to get Saddam?"

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