Tuesday, August 30, 2005

got a penny jar?

I can't even waste time as architecturally as some.

Monday, August 29, 2005

i should have just called in sick

The first sign was when I burned my knee eating eggs.

Then there was the moment when I realized, an explorer in the deepest reaches of Whiteshirtlandia, that I had everything but a clean tux shirt. My closet's full of dress blouses, a chef's jacket, a lab coat to go with all the doctor's office gowns I steal, a few white men's shirts for painting in. But no clean tux shirts. Tux shirts all hiding in the basket under damp dishtowels and socks claiming that it's okay they're single because they're quirkyalones.

Okay, okay, I know this tux shirt thing--whether I have a clean one, whether it's too thin to wear, whether the whole tux-wearing process makes me look sexy in a drag sort of way or just like a premenstrual penguin--is becoming a theme over here at waterbones. But the sort of tux shirt I have available at any given moment is absolutely critical to my sense of catering well-being. Am I clean and starchy, nice and flat and crisp like a Swedish cracker? Or rumpled and feral? Even my hair follows suit, as though it were connected to the shirt through some miracle of quantum physics, connected without appearing so, paired quasars or whatever the hell they are spinning in sympathy. Pressed shirt: smooth professional hair. Wrinkled shirt, and I'm a freakin' hippy from the forehead out, all frizz and Moebius-strip curl and the white hairs choosing their own idiosyncratic paths away from my head.

So--don't tell anyone this--I chose the one that smelled the least like someone had walked countless miles in circles in it, touching things that had been in other people's mouths, and hung it in the bathroom while I showered, and the wrinkles steamed out okay. Close enough for television work.

It was pretty much downhill from there. But the finger's not broken and eventually the rental company will find their equipment, so I'm trying to let it go.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

weird night

Name the lemur who should be working. Yes. That would be me. A much shorter turnaround on an article because of Labor Day, and I have to manage a party tomorrow starting in the early afternoon, so I'm looking at being up much later tonight than I care to. So I should really stop...

1. Constantly going to the fridge to peel the skin off the batch of pudding I just cooked, and

2. Compulsively checking to see if we've lost New Orleans yet (and what a terrible sad thing that could shape up to be; the city may be rendered uninhabitable in a few hours' time, awash in bacteria-laden water and floating coffins), and

3. dusting, and

4. thinking about how strange my love life is getting, full as it is of amazing people who I can't or shouldn't be with for one reason or another, and someday years from now when I'm old and toothless (more toothless) the story of this year is going to seem really funny but right now it's just confusing, and

5. realizing that all the music I've been listening to on my cheap boombox is actually completely different, filtered through a fancy soundcard, and

6. wishing I was out on the playa right now, driving rebar into the ground or playing pool at a table an inch thick in alkali dust with people who can't shoot straight because they've had too many peyote buttons, and

7. thinking about the models' guild audition for which I was a judge this afternoon, where we interviewed a very cool FtM tranny and another boy I nearly had to recuse myself from judging, because the floor was melting around his very feet and I could barely see him through the heat waves--damn pointy-nosed men with glasses, the lot of them. It's just not fair.

Back to the fridge. Are you listening, Snufkina? Puddin'!

Friday, August 26, 2005

shoot, i could have gotten in free

Cyrano would be proud.

(exactly three from face to tip, thanks for asking.)

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

painful things we do to keep ourselves sane
Rainborough was not averse to being unhappily in love; indeed an arrangement of this kind would have suited him very well. But he was reluctant to undertake the drudgery of an unrequited attachment if he was not also to have the satisfaction of being, in the eyes of the world and of the object of his love, a solitary figure.
Iris Murdoch, The Flight from the Enchanter

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

donner, party of four... donner, party of three

Quiet weekend here at waterbones; as mentioned in the rant about automated ticket saleswenchs, I was up Truckee way, visiting with my gently crazy aunt. She wasn't actually pulling weeds but some massively thorny plant with a name I've already forgotten, and turning old dead trees into woodchips. Does nobody on my bloodline know how to take a proper lazy meaningless vacation? Anyway, here's what Truckee looks like from the train station when you're waiting for a cab. More later when I've gotten a grip on everything I left hanging Friday.

Friday, August 19, 2005

as i wait to hear if the police actually come to shut up the neighbors

I'm having myself a delightful little stumble around, and tonight's theme is apparently cats.

So here are some kittens. Just a lot of kittens. A lot a lot. And as MonkeyScientist notes of Andre Brunsperger's photos, cats are pretty much the same everywhere, as evidenced by this:

There are some other neat ones, like these guys. According to the info page, Brunsperger survived a heart attack and a five-year coma; when he came to, he dropped IT work to be a wildlife photographer. Can you blame him?

And no, I am not the one who called the cops. But I went upstairs to ask them to turn down the monster television (it's one in the morning here), and had to bang pretty loudly on the door before the male came to see what the noise was. The minute he closed the door, his next door neighbor, who I hadn't met before, opened his and we had a nice little chat about how much we'd like to get some sleep, and how difficult that is between the television and the whooping and of course the orgasms, and he mentioned that he'd called the cops already tonight.

Are you the writer? he asked after we'd established all that. Leading me to wonder what the building manager is telling people. Yes, there's a writer living under the stairs. Like a troll, but better.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

lateral thinking

Something to play with.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

well, as far as i know no 9000 computer's ever been disconnected

Can we find the person who developed the talking automated phone reservations system, and subject them to an exceedingly slow and painful death? Preferably one that involves pressing or saying one repeatedly and getting no response?

I'd procrastinated on getting my tickets set up for this weekend's festivities, partying down in Truckee with my maiden aunt who will have been out there on a Sierra Club vacation pulling weeds or some such. Procrastinated because I've gotten used to the European way of booking trains--you know, relatively efficiently (if you don't count that glitch we faced getting from Budapest to Ukraine with tickets that weren't printed in a language the bribe-hungry Ukrainian conductor understood) and at the last damn minute if I so choose.

I had forgotten that with our new Homeland Security paranoia firmly screwed on, you can't just decide to buy a train ticket three days before you plan to travel. Especially on-line. So I called the number and got... Her... "Julie"... Amtrak's automated saleswench.

Why do they have names? They're not AI. They don't have consciousness. I'd feel a lot better if a metallic voice had said, hello, I'm X-34826, and I'm completely incorporal. That way I wouldn't keep feeling compelled to say anything other than the phrases the system is designed to understand. I wouldn't feel like screaming, no, I'm not trying to go to Boston's Back Bay on September first, you idiot, I said "Truckee California returning August 22nd."

Just as an aside, I'm having the strongest deja vu. Have I ranted about automated reservation systems before? Anyone know? I'm too lazy to look.

ANYWAY. I was so irritated that "Julie" couldn't find the outbound train that I could see online that I hung up, went over to Greyhound's site, and quickly and easily bought a bus ticket for that first leg. It means being at the creepy subterranean bus terminal at 4:45 Saturday morning, so maybe I'll just go dancing Friday night at the nearby Sound Factory until 4 am and then hike over. I'm sure the coatcheck person at the SF won't blink at a backpack with a sleeping bag attached, right? Because I'm pretty sure you can't leave anything in lockers anywhere anymore. I'm not thrilled about six hours on a bus, but I can sleep anywhere, in any position, so that is what I will doubtless do.

Then I took some deep breaths, and called "Julie" back. Scheduling a return meant that I eventually ended up talking to an actual real physical person (at least she sounded real, and deftly handled the trick robot-weeding-out questions I tossed her), and did not have to give my credit card number over a wireless phone. And my trip back will include six hours on the train, which sounds lovely.

Open the pod bay doors, please, HAL.
i want my pound of flesh

Scientists are working on growing meat in the lab. If they figure it out, this is going to raise some real issues for vegetarians.

I have to admit, as opposed to Frankenfood as I am, this is really appealing. If they can take the samples from which to grow the cloned meat without hurting the animal. Clean, disease-free meat that doesn't require acres of stinking feedlots, water subsidies, and animal suffering? Sign me up.

This could knock the market for some endangered or threatened species on its ear. How about vat-grown whale, for example? Get all those fisherfolk who are complaining about losing their jobs to the Endangered Species Act retrained, and give them safe, clean jobs in the whale factories. If they find a way to grow flesh with fur, that would be awesome too: lovely soft fur coats for everyone, and no seals or minks or foxes getting brained or electrocuted for them!

And there's another possibility that will doubtless make the sensitive shudder, and cement my reputation as a Godless pinko commie bra-burning lezzie Jew witch out to destroy everything America stands for, but stay with me for a sec. Right now the law-abiding citizen's only chance to taste human flesh is Hufu, the Healthy Human Flesh Alternative. Allegedly this tofu product is so popular that you can't currently buy any until they make more, and have to satisfy yourself with T-shirts, aprons, and Hannibal Lecter DVD's off the Web site.

Now think about what we could do with a vat, a few millimeters of, oh, say, Brendan Fraser, and a CostCo sized jar of barbecue sauce.

Mm-mm good!

Note: the cow pictured is fiberglass. Not tasty.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

too cute for words

I can't believe I missed this. What kind of lemur am I if I don't know the minute researchers find a new species of my kind? Take a look at Microcebus lehilahytsara, a type of mouse lemur, and then tell me that's not a creature just begging to have a line of stuffed toys modeled after it. The trippy thing is that this little guy wasn't hiding out in some unexplored corner of Madagascar--they found lehilahytsara in Andasibe, one of the most touristed (I use the term very loosely) parts of the country. Although the articles don't say, I'm guessing these critters are nocturnal, based on the big eyes.

In '99, I went on a night hike through the Perinet Reserve in Andasibe to look for mouse lemurs. You don't really see the lemur, exactly. More like, you wave your flashlight around and if it reflects off two little spots, you've found one.

It's a little disappointing after a couple of day trips into the reserve, when you can actually see (and hear) some critters. Slice and I took that trip together. He was humoring me--he'd had zero interest in lemurs when I first said that I wanted to go. But our first day in Perinet, we found a troop of indri up in the trees, hooting and jumping around, and he got it. Look, he said, I'm touching a tree a lemur is in! and his eyes were alight.

Probably the best moment of the trip, really.

National Geo also has a photo of the first captive-bred aye-aye, Kintana, who was born at the Bristol Zoo in the UK last April. I know at least one of you is into aye-ayes.

Yes, for those of you have never seen one before, that's a real creature.

Monday, August 15, 2005

tell me i'm dreaming

What I want to know about this gadget is, does the price include the naked girl, or is she extra?

Sunday, August 14, 2005

what happens when you don't have a television

Did everyone else know that Christopher Walken is running for President?

Why didn't you tell me?

On the one hand: we've had actor presidents before. On the other: if he were in the White House, they probably wouldn't let him make any more Prophecy movies. Wait, maybe that's the same hand. I'm not sure.

edit: Snopes says it's a hoax (thanks, AX!) but I'm not taking down the post... or suggesting that the idea doesn't still tickle me.
picking on germany again

People who know me will understand why this has left me speechless with laughter.

For those who don't, a brief and hopefully illustrative anecdote. Yesterday I worked a job with Film, a great woman who jokes that she never finishes a sentence. As we were changing out of our work duds at the end of the night, she was trying to tell a story, and not succeeding very well, and our manager was goading her so that Film would get flustered and start making up words. I can't stand it, I finally said. Oh yeah, Film said, you're one of those word people. This must be awful for you.

My favorite line in the article:
Unveiled in 1998, Germans have had seven years to get used to the changes. But a survey carried out at the beginning of August showed that two-thirds of Germans were still using the old spelling system and only one in five had made the full switch.
And I wonder why people, when they write to me, always apologize for their spelling and grammar.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

two years i've been doing this

Huh. I hadn't thought about it.But today is exactly the two-year mark since my first post.

Where's my cake?
is schroeder playing a deeper game than first appeared?

While I was in Berlin, there was a kerfuffle in German politics. Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats lost an election in their home territory, North Rhine-Westphalia, an area they've held for nearly forty years.

So Schroeder called for the national vote to be pushed up a year, to this fall. It looked like political suicide; to a very outside (and non-German speaking) observer, it looked like he'd gotten tired and was looking for a way out. Although some observers suggested that he might be jumping before he was pushed; joblessness is high (12% of the workforce), growth is slow, and there's a lot of grumbling in Germany.

There has been much discussion of Angela Merkel and her party, the Christian Democratic Union, being in the ascendant. Merkel is pragmatic, quietly charismatic, and has a good reputation. She also came to power within her own party during a scandal, making her look all the cleaner and more reform-minded.

But now the BBC reports that Schroeder got rapturous applause from an audience in Hanover when he spoke out against Bush having suggested that force is an appropriate threat against Iran for restarting their nuclear program. And they also point out that while Schroeder has been lagging behind the CDU, the gap is starting to close.

Just as it did the last time Schroder was up for election, three years ago, when he had a surprising win based on the strength of his stance against military involvement in Iraq:
In the 2002 poll, he came from behind to snatch victory after anti-Iraq war feeling - and an outbreak of serious flooding in Germany - helped him attract last-minute support.

I'm not suggesting that Schroeder has been biding his time, waiting for someone else to draw the US's ire so he could cast himself in the anti-war role and enlist his nation's sympathies. But--and I could be completely wrong about this, not having followed the question closely--is it possible that he knows Germany's heart better than it first seemed?

In any case, I find it striking that he said that Germany will not join a military effort against Iran for as long as his party is in power. Which could be a matter of mere months.

And if you're looking for something a little lighter, may I present the Bundesdance, courtesy of Ed over at Berlin Bites. No, I don't know what it means either (I did mention that I neither speak German nor follow German politics) but it's still amusing.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

what lies beneath

For a brief, glorious period in the late nineties when I had disposable income, I would do an hour every week in an isolation tank. There's a whole 'nother story about becoming friends with the tank's owner, and then that falling apart, but it's really not interesting.

What's interesting, in retrospect, is what was happening in my sketchbooks. I have several challenges when it comes to drawing. One is that I have a hard time drawing things I can't see; I'm not one of those blessed folks who can draw straight out of their heads. Another is that for seven years, I made a living drawing the outlines of things. Oulines of things I'm looking at: no prob. Shading, texture, mass: eh.

Anyway, one night after I'd bopped out of the tank and showered off all the salt and debriefed with S, I went home and drew this. Out of my head. I don't know why. I wasn't actively thinking about boys or dogs or skeletons, but this is what was in me. It was really comfortable, too; it came easily.

A lot of bones out of that period. Skulls, skeletons. Maybe from hanging in the dark water, becoming increasingly aware of all the hissing, squeezing, gurgling of the human body? The muscle flutters? The internal mechanisms of sight struggling to put pattern to nothingness? I don't know.

I just remember that I made this drawing, looked at it, and thought I am sort of a weird girl.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


A raccoon just walked through my backyard, across the deck, and then (I think) climbed the fence into the next yard. I've seen bigger ones. Once I saw two walking down a side street in Oakland's Rockridge neighborhood at sunset, pear-shaped, unrushed, as if they were out for their evening constitutional, or heading home from one of the restaurants on College Avenue. Which they may have been, come to think of it. Those two could have taken a sizable dog and won. This one was smaller, but not exactly skinny.

Readers who know the Tenderloin will understand how weird this is. I am four blocks from one of San Francisco's major arteries; there's very little open land around here, and I'm essentially downtown.

I put out an overripe plum, in case it comes back through. I want to see if they really touch their food all over, before they eat it; the behavior that gave rise to the idea that they wash their food.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

welcome home commander collins

Nice driving!
you should have gone before we left the ISS

I'm watching NASA TV on my computer, and checking the live landing coverage on nasa.gov every few minutes. Here's the latest on the latter:
4:15 a.m. - There are two important decisions to be made by Mission Control within the next hour. The first will occur about 4:35, when the crew would have to start "fluid loading," in which the astronauts drink large amounts of fluid to help in their re-adaptation to Earth's gravity. Flight controllers held off on fluid loading prior to the first landing opportunity because the uncooperative weather indicated a wave-off.
In other words, you don't want them "fluid loading" if they're not coming down yet. Because, you know...

Monday, August 08, 2005


A lot to do today, and not enough hours.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

i may have to do this

They're opening a currywurst museum in Berlin next March. I could add it to my collection of strange food museums. Maybe I could even write about it for the same magazine that ran my piece on the history and cultural signifcance of ramen.

The problem being, I like ramen. Versus serious doubts about currywurst.

thanks to raskal trippin
breaking the first rule

Do not talk about pillow fight club.
britannia rules the waves

They got the sub in time!

It's nice to come home from work to a little good news, isn't it?

Saturday, August 06, 2005


As much fun as yesterday's eruption was, it's time to move on to Bob drawing our attention to a great Jon Carroll column, where Carroll in turn tells a story about dinner with Robert Fripp. Who says grace--which doesn't surprise me, somehow, having grown up listening to my parents' King Crimson albums.

Seven or eight years ago, when I started eating meat again after a long herbivorous hiatus, I started doing something like saying grace. I'd been reading a lot of Daniel Quinn, and poking at Fritjof Capra with a stick, and absorbing their ideas about the interconnection of all life forms. They come to very different conclusions, but the piece that stuck was that whatever I was eating was giving something up for me--and eventually my turn would come.

So as much as I'm being grateful for the food, I'm also doing a sort of cut-rate Tibetan meditation on death. I prepare myself for the eventuality by rejoicing in the knowledge that I will someday feed other plants and creatures and give back some of what I have been given. It's not nearly as beautiful as either Fripp's grace or Bob's, but it's hard for me to remember anything too complex when I'm hungry. And this is what I can say sincerely.
I honor and respect your energy, [and that of my companion(s)]
I anticipate my return.
But not too soon, I have work to do and people to love.
Thank you.

What always strikes me when I do this around other people is the range of reactions. Some people don't even notice I'm doing it; I try to be pretty discreet. But I do close my eyes for a minute, and I don't reach immediately for the utensils, so sometimes people do notice. And maybe there's an awkward pause as they realize that they're talking over what must be a Meaningful Moment. But really, it's not that big a deal. I don't need other people to do it, and I'm not trying to guilt other people into it. It's just a thing I do.

And then there's the other direction. I dated a man for a few years who was really respectful of food and eating, and when he learned what I was doing, he started doing it with me, and we would hold hands for a minute before we ate. Which I miss, actually, now that I think about it. That was nice. The part where he once made me say grace out loud for his family was a little weird though. I didn't know how they would take the death bit. So it was a bit of a stumble.

Friday, August 05, 2005

deeply horrifying

Dan's post is rational, sane, and interesting, but the comments are a window into hell. At first I thought all the MRAs ("Men's Rights Activists") were some kind of joke.

But they're not.

Honestly, keep your blood pressure medication close to hand. You're going to need it. I had no idea that the antifeminist backlash was this virulent. Or poorly spelled.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

remind me, the next time i go cold turkey

1. There's caffeine in chocolate. As much in one bar as in a cola.
2. Caffeine withdrawal sucks.
3. Eventually, the mountain trolls will wonder where they left that pickaxe, and they will come and remove it from your skull.
what are you overusing?

Me? "Seem", "just", and "much". Show up far more in my writing than is strictly necessary. I would say that this fabulous little site has helped me see the light, except that it has a sister site by the same designer where you can put in any word and it'll spit back all the cliches it can find that use that word. And "see the light" is right up there. So let's pretend I didn't say it at all, shall we?

Anyway. The WordCounter is a truly nifty little tool. Maybe this is possible in some kinds of word-processing software, but I wouldn't know, as I am stuck with this weird open-source WP program Muscles put on my laptop after he exercised the nuclear option on some viruses by wiping my hard drive. Try it, it's fun.

Well, fun in the geeky "reads the dictionary for kicks" sort of way.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

one hundred sixty-six

Oh, this is getting rough. The headache's worsening, I'm really spacy, and I'm starting to feel like Susan Sarandon in The Hunger, after the sex and just before Catherine Denueve makes her kill her boyfriend to brink his blood. Drink his blood. All through class tonight, I was trying to pay attention to what Jill was saying, but it all came out sounding like the names of candy bars. Now we're going to do Arabic into MilkyWay. Or now do two chest circles with level changes and KitKats. Eight counts of Tunisian traveling step and then Reese'sPeanutButterCups.

If I didn't think I had a sugar addiction before, well, we've got the answer to that, now don't we? Ohhh, my head.
feeling vengeful?

This is gross, but has a certain poetry nonetheless.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

i've had chocolate exactly once in the past 120 hours


Wednesday night, Snufkina and I went out because I was feeling all sad and lonely and so on, as I mentioned last week. After I'd dried up from throwing a bit of a jag in her truck, we went into Cafe Abir (and yes, the sandwiches really are good) and talked about a book she's reading called The Mood Cure. The author's all into amino acids and butter instead of margarine (I can completely live with that) and using foods and supplements instead of meds to regulate one's brain chemistry.

I haven't been, as an adult, generally a depressive person. I go through swings, of course, but they rarely last. Lately, though, I just can't seem to pull myself out. I have days where all I want to do is sleep and cry. I'm not mentioning it because I want or need anyone to feel bad for me, and lord knows I don't want to fall into the "I'm so depressed!" blog trap. But it's scientifically interesting, sort of trying to watch from the outside as this happens. Is it chemical, or is it situational? Could one be triggering the other? I forget sometimes that I actually have some pretty sad stuff going on in my life, and that it's completely valid to be down. The way I represent myself to myself does not allow for "weakness", and being sad just because I've lost my father and have this massive unrequited love seems...weak...sometimes.

I am not patient with myself about these things. I am patient with other people about them, or at least I'd like to think that I am, but not with myself.

Anyway. You see where I am. Well, there's another issue, and it may have more bearing than I realize. Namely, I've been eating really poorly lately. It's a lot easier to buy crack than cukes in this neighborhood, and I've been distracted anyway and not inspired to cook often. So I'm eating a lot of starch (did you think I was going to say crack?) and a lot of chocolate. And not even good chocolate, with the bioflavinoids and so on; no. Cheap, trashy chocolate. I'm so ashamed.

Is it any wonder that I've been listless and cranky? According to the book, I've been squandering my serotonin and need to build it back up, along with a bunch of other chemicals running around in the squishy stuff. Allegedly this is possible through eating carefully and taking supplements that sound like something you use to clean the engine block of your car; GABA and 5-HTP and god knows what all else.

I'm starting small. Just cutting out refined sugar, caffeine, and wheat. Yeah, small. Ha! I was talking to one of my troupemates tonight, and I mentioned that I'd been without refined sugar for a few days. Are you having withdrawal? she asked. Is that what this headache is about? I responded. I honestly hadn't thought about what I was in for, I'd just decided, after talking to Snufkina, to keep walking past the open (candy) windows. But yes, I guess I am having some withdrawal symptoms. Weird.

Now, I want to be perfectly clear: I have not gone all Atkins (neither, incidentally, have the Germans). Even if it turns out that bread is dangerous for reasons I never thought about.

Monday, August 01, 2005

something for everyone not blessed with a foggy city

For those of you sweltering away everywhere else...an image upon which to meditate.
so do i invest in stocks, or is it pointless since we're colliding with andromeda?

Yet another cool site discovered using stumbleupon, a Firefox extension that bops you around to different sites on the Web based on what you tell it you're interested in.