Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Shakespeare is fresh

We're reading Richard II (I lost the game) and it's pretty good. I mean, I've read Macbeth, King Lear, and the Merchant of Venice, but those were in high school English classes and they really kind of coddled us along. Maybe what's so fun about it is that it's like a code- you read a page, understand it, and then it's cool, because you decoded another page. This sounds lame- "I like Shakespeare" sounds like something that one might say just to appear erudite. But I actually enjoy it. Now if only I had more time or less to read... because reading a play in 4 school days w/ other stuff going on is not easy. But whatever, (I lost the game again) I'd rather read than do actual work. So it's cool. I'm glad I'm taking the class. Not to mention, Julie, Sarah, Tyson, and Mary Grace are in it, and that's cool too.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Self-denial as selfishness

Here's a musing for the day: Self-denial is selfishness in disguise. Now I'm not saying this is always true, but it's something I've noticed in my own behavior and thought. Maybe I'm just especially manipulative.

So you're a kid, say, and your parents want to buy you a ton of presents for Christmas. Now I'd make up a laundry list of stuff, tell Santa Claus, and get a lot of things. Just like every other kid on my suburban block. But when I got older, I realized that my parents would get me the top n things on my list. So if I asked for something, and it wasn't ridiculous, I'd pretty much get it. Some of you may have had a similar experience. The fact that this is exceptionally consumerist and not the sort of mindset that our civilization should be fostering is beside the point.

So Christmas morning became a ritual of opening things that I already knew about. I realized that if I just asked for fewer things, my parents would still buy me a ton of presents, but they'd be surprises (and I'd still tend to enjoy them as much or more). So I started not asking for much. Isn't that kind of conniving and manipulative? Yeah, well... yeah. That's what I'm saying. I wasn't trying to be nice or save them money or something, I just wanted more presents- but I wanted to seem like I was being nice.

Few things in life are free- everything's an exchange. You don't eat as much because you want to get in better shape- you trade food for fitness. You don't buy a CD because you're saving the money for a video game- these are lame examples, but you see what I mean. And really, what I was doing by asking for less was saying "don't spend the money on me here, spend it on me some other way." Or even just in general- maybe if I didn't want my parents to buy me new clothes or whatever, I bet somewhere in my subconscious, I was thinking "then they'll buy me something else."

Just now, Connor, Joe and I were ordering pizza, and I think we were all doing it. I was thinking vegetarian pizza, Connor was thinking some kind of meat pizza, (Joe was playing a video game and not really listening)... but neither one of us wanted to insist on our choice, because we both thought- what? that maybe next time we ordered, whoever didn't get his way this time would get his way next time? like a you-owe-me-one deal?

But as soon as you start insisting on what you want, you become "pushy." Is there a solution to this? I don't know. Maybe just say what you think, and not get mad at others when they do the same. For serious.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Shit, the birds will be out soon!

That's when it's late, when the birds are coming out while you're still awake. Then they start their little chirping, and it sucks, because you're trying to sleep.

So I'm sitting in WIZZO 403, and we just had our first party of the year, and it was sweet. I'd like to thank everyone for coming. I'm sorry that we had to be a little bitchy about the noise... Thank you, Tim and Matt and Janet for taking people to continue the party elsewhere. I guess our humble abode can't quite handle that many people, so I apologize. But hey, this sure beats the alternatives: having nobody, or having lame people who won't party.

Rock over London, rock on Pittsburgh. Wizzo 403: the place to be.

Thursday, August 25, 2005


I am posting to the INTERNET, from WEBSTER HALL 403, my beautiful new home. I am psyched about this semester, this year, things in general. Hope you all come to the party on Saturday, it will be a hoppin' sweet time.

This would be a good time for a Howard Dean scream of exultation, or a Steve Ballmer scream of "Developers!"

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Why I like sleep

See, usually, sleep is just a means to an end (specifically, being awake). But last night, I had a lucid dream. You know, one of those dreams where you realize you're dreaming and you can control it? (at least more than you can control real life)...

Well, I found myself in my old North Olmsted house, the one I lived in before my current house. I don't remember who was around- I think my family. I thought "Wow, I'm dreaming! I can do whatever I want! But since this is a dream, I'm likely to wake up soon, I only have a limited time." And if someone told you, you can do whatever you want, with no consequences, but only for a few minutes and in your own house... what would you do? I mean, there's not much.

I think I opened up the fridge and started eating ice cream and drinking pop. I spilled some ice cream, but then I thought, who cares? It's just a dream. And then I was going to take the car somewhere. On the way out, I thought, hey, I'll grab a beer for the road. I thought "I don't even particularly like beer- it's just that I can do it, so I will". I felt like I shouldn't be driving with a beer, and then I thought, what's the worst that can happen? I get pulled over and thrown in dream-jail? I crash? I'll just wake up. Course, about as soon as I got in the car, I did wake up.

Even so, lucid dreaming gives you a ton of power. But think about it... what would you do if you could do anything, but only for a few minutes and only in a predefined place? And here's the kicker: no consequences! It's pretty much "id, do whatever you want." At any rate, I hope I lucid-dream again.

Friday, August 19, 2005

While we're on the subject of "people"...

My dad is pretty masterful sometimes. Usually we get along pretty well, except when he asks me to do a bunch of things or when I don't do said bunch of things. I think that in life, he puts the emphasis on work, I put the emphasis on fun. Aged well-brood water babies. In der yablons. But both sides have their ups and downs, I won't really get into that here.

Occasionally we grate on each other a little. And it's worst before a trial (he's a lawyer). He gets all jittery, and to try to calm himself down, he tries to get everything in his life in order, which means straightening things up, mowing the lawn, putting our shoes away, and Who left this bag out on the counter?!

But man, when the trial starts, he is a giant. He'll come home and tell me stories of every little part of the trial he smashed face in. Right now he's in a trial about a fire, the plaintiff claims it started with this vacuum cleaner, he (representing the insurance company) claims it started by this chair. Now, to hear him tell it, this trial is so one-sided, it's not even funny.

The plaintiff's witness testifies for 3 hours. He builds up this little house of cards. In 30 minutes, my dad destroys this little house, tears up the cards, and makes this witness eat them. He got one witness to testify that all of their witnesses got together before the trial, practiced their testimony so they "had their story straight." Another one blew some smoke and said that this motor caused the problem... my dad got him to admit that he had no evidence at all that the motor caused it, and furthermore, they did some destructive testing on it, so there is no possible way they could even claim that the motor was defective! I mean, we're talking name-whatever-trial-scene-from-whatever-movie, where some sharp lawyer shoots holes into an obviously false case... that's just what's going on here! He was literally at the point where he could have asked the judge to rule in his favor and dismiss the trial!

Now, he couldn't do that, because this judge is an old fuddy-duddy, kind of makes his own rules, and was a little mad at my dad for something that didn't agree with him the day before. (seems to me that judges have a ridiculous bit of leeway... but hey, it's the current system, I'm no lawyer)

Anyway, it was pretty cool. He was telling me these stories, and I was all enthusiastically listening, he was genuinely excited. I felt a little condescending- like I know he wants to tell me these stories, so I'm listening, you know, "if this makes you happy..." but I really respect him for it. Now, his stories might be slightly biased, but still, he's got a really good record with cases, and I'd imagine that they're at least mostly true. In which case, he's a really good lawyer.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

One week in the life of Dan Tasse

Well, first, read my last post. Then come back and read this post. It's a story that deserves telling, as its subject has left for a very long time.

So last winter, it was getting around Novembery Decembery times, and I was home on shore leave. Must have been Thanksgiving. A friend of ours on the East Side invited us to a party, for this group of us that had somewhat congealed over our last summer. Let me explain the group first:

We knew each other mostly through class. We tended to be in all of the same classes, because we all tended to take a lot of honors/AP classes. Not that we were all the smart kids, but we all did very well in school, and were exactly the kind of upstanding young St. Ignatius High School gentlemen- "Men For Others"- that our parents and teachers wanted us to be. There is little doubt that we will (mostly) all be successful- we were, to some extent, the leaders of our high school class; the movers and shakers; the ones the teachers knew and liked; the ones who dominated the school awards ceremony; the ones who balanced school and friends, enjoyed life, and were primed for Success, in whatever field we chose. Mostly white males, mostly a little over average height. You get the idea.

We knew each other throughout school, as classmates and possibly friends we'd see outside of school. What brought us together in 2004? Mostly graduation parties, and the respect we had for each other, because, after all, we were the leaders of our high school class, the movers and shakers, the... the winners of high school. I am lionizing this group too much- we were not the only Great Ones of our school, nor were all of us Great. But a senile outsider of age 60+, out of touch with our generation entirely, would look at us and smile. At any rate, we would gather sometimes during this post-graduation summer at grad parties, which soon became poker parties when the grad parties ran out. Really, my closest friends and I had little to do with them, besides this respect; we didn't really even like poker that much. And Halo was just annoying. So when 3 Xboxes materialized and linked themselves together, and a dozen Winners began mashing buttons and screaming about the injustices of an inanimate and, therefore, entirely unbiased system... well, Pete and I began looking for something else to do.

Boredom spawned conversation, conversation spawned discussion of winter breaks, and discussion spawned his invite for me to join his family on their vacation. The destination: Summit County, Colorado, home of Breckenridge, Keystone, Arapahoe Basin, and Copper Mountain ski resorts.

Wow, I was hooked like Rafael Palmeiro on steroids. It was, I think, about the only thing I asked for for Christmas, and, through the magic of Frequent Flier Miles, I received a plane ticket to Denver. Hey, lodging was free: some of Pete's relatives own a house there, so they stayed there. Food was mostly free too, although my parents sent them some money for food for me. Even lift tickets were cheaper- they knew how to get the best deals (rent transferrable lifetime passes from people for $39 a day, instead of paying $73 or something)... basically, even given the late notice, this trip was doable, and I was thrilled.

Ever skied a huge mountain, 3000+ft vertical, with one of your best friends and his brother who is also a good friend of yours? And stayed with their family, a fantastically nice and welcoming family, in a house nearby? Going to the Rec Center after skiing and playing racquetball? Staying in Dillon, Colorado- beautiful Dillon, wonderfully pedestrian and spartan compared to lavish Breckenridge or (shudder) Vail, Dillon, where you can taste the mountain air instead of the artificial heating from the nearest souvenir shop? Playing bridge or Bang at night? With no worries except where you're going to ski the next day?
It's nice, let me tell you. That week is pretty much listed in my dictionary under "halcyon."

Again, I may be praising it too much- while I was there, I had a cold, I didn't sleep well, my ski boots didn't fit quite right, so I was a little out of sorts for a bit of it. And there are downsides to skiing Summit County- like 15 minute lift lines. Mountains like Breckenridge, which have no soul. (Seriously, don't go to Breckenridge. Unless you're awesome and can ski the top bowls. If you're that awesome, can I go skiing with you sometime, just to watch and learn? Seriously, I'm not being facetious.) But then, Thursday hit.

Thursday, 7 inches of fresh snow, and we went to Copper Mountain. These guys had passes to Breck/Keystone/A.Basin, and we went to Copper, because I suggested it. That's how accommodating they were. (they were able to trade in some passes and stuff, they didn't just pay for the extra passes, but still). That day was the best skiing day I've ever had. First double black diamonds I've ever skied, best moguls I've ever skied, I was in top form. We stuck together all day, Pete, Brian (Pete's brother), and I, skiing whatever we felt like. The back of the mountain was closed due to wind, so we skied the front. We pretty much rocked out really hard.

Someone once said something like this about skiing with your kid: as you age, you will get worse, and your kid will get better. One day, there will be a point where you will be exactly equal in skill- that day, you will ski together perfectly, you will travel the same slopes, matching turn for turn, enjoying skiing together better than you ever have before. After that, your skills will continue to decline, your child's will increase, and it will never quite be the same again. So savor that one perfect day.

I think that day may have happened for Pete and me right then- with skiing and our friendship. Now, he can still outski me by far (the kid's amazing), but he's given it up, so eventually I'll surpass him. But also, I don't think things will ever be the same between Pete and me. He's enjoying college tremendously in Dartmouth, as I am at CMU, and he's almost entirely moved on to there. We were just hanging out tonight, for probably the last time in Cleveland until ... when? at least a couple years from now. He'll be at Dartmouth through Sophomore summer, he won't be back here until Junior year at the earliest. We'll try to visit, but who knows if that will turn out. He doesn't seem to mind. As he shouldn't; as always, we need to move forward with life.

I skimmed over the fact that he's given up skiing. He says he has. Not because he doesn't like it but because of the money. He says he doesn't have money for it; he says he spends all his money playing Ultimate Frisbee, traveling to tournaments, etc. When he told me, he said it so matter-of-factly that I thought he was kidding. It's his choice, of course, but that one hit me symbolically and realistically. Because I think back to skiing together for that week, watching someone as talented and practiced as him ski, trying to improve as I go, facing mountains and cold that present just enough danger to get the adrenaline rushing, ... and he's just quit!

And there you have it, kids, a premade metaphor. I didn't even have to do anything.

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Uncle Mac

So my "Uncle" (really a great-uncle or something) Mac just died. I never really knew him much, he was a somewhat distant relative, but he was always there at those big family gatherings. He was a little short, kind of unassuming, had a very distinctive way of talking- he looked a little like a cartoon (I say this not to make fun of him, but just to give you an idea). I remember him always looking and feeling a little out of place at the huge gatherings, especially after his wife, Aunt Helen, died a couple years ago. The same out-of-placeness that I always feel. He somehow had this bit of childlike innocence, even though he looked the oldest of anyone.

Overall, he was the nicest, meekest guy... in that side of my family, you've got bickering and arguing- it's not the happiest family ever. But never Uncle Mac. So throw him in your prayers, or whatever you've got- it might be silly, but take 15 seconds to wish Uncle Mac a happy afterlife (or whatever there is). You never met him, and I hardly knew him, but still, he deserves at least that.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Is blogging cathartic?

Or is it like yelling and cursing, which, studies show, actually increase your anger? Or is it one of those things where you start working on something else, and then in fifteen minutes, you forget why you were angry in the first place? Join me and find out!

Dilemma of the day: too much stuff! If you've talked to me over the summer, you realize that I have too many things in my closet, I'm getting rid of them all, but doing so has become nigh-Herculean.

(an hour passes)

Erm, well I was going to continue this post, explaining why I was annoyed by trying to sell/get rid of all this stuff. But instead, I spent the last hour putting stuff on ebay. I guess that makes more sense. Ha HA, pragmatism!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

"'Cause there's no way that I'll sleep when you're near me."

Umm. Sorry, there have been a bunch of posts the last few days. If you want quality, start at the bottom and work your way up- I can't guarantee the quality of these last couple.

This wouldn't be a blog without a gush about music. Good lord, Architecture in Helsinki, why have you forced me to listen to you for the past 2 days? Why are you already dominating my Top 50 most played? Is it too early to make you a triumvirate with the Arcade Fire and the Fiery Furnaces? (if you like these bands, listen to AiH, similar style). Is there a name for this genre? (it might be "Baroque Pop," I'm not sure) Basically, how are you so good, and how soon are you coming to Pittsburgh?

(on a side note, Zach Harris, if you're taking a trip to Cleveland to see Sufjan, I'm definitely in)

(on another side note, Beck 09-25 Cleveland, OH - House of Blues... I'm just sayin')

So, with a heavy heart, I turn down the CA'ship with Rich Pattis and 15-200.

  • I don't have time for 6 classes, how would I have time for 5 classes plus CA'ing?

  • I would really rather TA a math class

  • Well, like point #1, it's a big time sucker. 10-15 hrs/week of free time gone.

It's point #3 that I'm the most questioning about. I don't feel like it's unreasonable to work during the school year. Obviously it's not, a lot of people (including many of you readers) do. However, last semester was pretty crunchy at times, and like I said, I wouldn't want to take 6 classes. But when am I going to TA a math class then? Will next semester be easier? And don't just tell me not to TA.

This is largely my mom's argument. It's a lot of work TA/CA'ing, and I had enough work last semester. College is a great part of your life, why speed through it and waste time CA'ing a job you aren't really sure you want? My mom's telling me to relax! Take it easy!... this may be one of the first times in my life that I've decided to "take it easy." Now, "easy" still includes about 50 units, including 212 and Computational Discrete Math. This semester won't be much easier than last, if any. But I've taken the easy road out of working.

This bugs me! I've never taken the easy road out! Why am I justifying it now? And here is The Official Take-It-Easy-Dan party platform on this issue: I earned a ton this summer. I'm planning on putting that all into college. If someone were to call me out, I could say "look, I put n thousand dollars into my college. what have you done?" Even though said person may have worked more hours, it might end up being less money. But something about this seems unfair. My family has enough money (I'm not saying to brag, I'm just sayin') that I don't have to work during the school year. As a consequence, I get to enjoy it more than others? I get to party a lot? Something about this is inherently unjust, and I don't quite have my finger on it yet. I mean, I guess it's obvious: it's unfair that I get the easy road.

At the same time, I'm trying to avoid taking the easy road. For example, this summer, like I said, I put in 40 hours/week for a lot of weeks at a job I didn't really like so I'll have a big bundle of cash to put into college. Most of my friends my age worked at random jobs making half as much. So I guess there's a credit for me- I took the extra effort to get a nicer job. But what about my friends? What about my one friend, a skiing prodigy, who's giving it up because he doesn't have enough money to do that and play frisbee? What about my friends who have jobs they don't like so that they can afford to stay in school?

Abe Lincoln would have one for this: "You can't strengthen the weak by weakening the strong." If I don't have to work, great, more power to me. Also this: my sanity. Maybe I can't do it all. Maybe I've hit a limit: I just can't take all these classes, be in SnS and whatever else I'm in, and work too. Without this job, I will exercise more, I will go to Free Ride, I will join the Explorers' Club (or whatever it's called), I will find the Pittsburgh Rock Gym, I will host more parties, I will meet more people, I will cook more, I will sleep more, instead of CA'ing. I will be a happier and healthier person without it. You, my friends, will probably find me a better person to spend time with because I will have more sleep and more energy. As this summer has shown me, I need a break. So maybe I'm doing the right thing after all: working would appease my perverse egalitarian socialist idea of justice, but at the cost of me doing great things. And I'm not grinding down to the nuts and bolts of pragmatism just yet- I'm still riding the high tide of idealism. Maybe, just maybe, life can be this good forever.

This argument still doesn't sit well with me. Someone call me out, or play devil's advocate, sometime and we'll hash it out and see if I really am a lazy no-goodnik or if I'm doin' the best I can.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

A post for the less important things in life

Shoot, I've been cranking these entries out like a Fruit Roll-up factory during a plastic surplus. Two things this time.

1. Should I CA 15-200? (that's programming)... CA = TA with less responsibility and less pay.
Pros: I want to teach, I want to TA eventually, it's some money (probably $1500 over the semester), I feel like a slacker if I'm not working
Cons: Time-sucka (12-15 hrs/week). CA'ing is less good than TA'ing, I might be overworking myself (it'd be like taking 6 classes...), I'm at school to take classes, not to work; I already made a pile of money this summer, I really need to slow my life down. Plus, more work = less fun.

2. Music update:

Architecture in Helsinki, where have you been my entire life? Seriously kids, this band (well, only their CD "In Case We Die" is all I've heard so far) but it's fantastic. Try "It'5" or "Do the Whirlwind" if you want a couple of tracks to download. Wow. I listened to "It'5" 10 times in one day. It's that good. Or rather, it'5 that good.

Pavement, you're still pretty good. I like your good songs more, there's still some filler though. I admire your attitude more than your music. That said, some are really great (shady lane, embassy row, conduit for sale, fame throwa, etc)

Belle and Sebastian (as heard through Push Bar Man to Open Old Wounds)- I like you a lot. Sometimes you get a little too cutesy for me- your singer's voice is a little hard to take. But some of your songs are really awesome, and the more I listen to them, the more I like them.

Brian Wilson (as heard through Smile)- Best record ever? (according to Metacritic) hardly. best of 2004 even? Nah. Pretty good though? Yeah. When I thought "Beach Boys" I didn't think psych-pop or this pastiche of music, off-kilter yet with enough common threads to make it a very interesting listen. Even catchy in parts. Still, it felt like an hour of TMBG's "Fingertips," which may be too much of a good thing.

Flaming Lips (Transmissions from the Satellite Heart)- Oh, it was you guys who did that "tangerines" song. Oh, it was called "she don't use jelly" and it was about how she "used vaseline" instead. Oh. Ahh, childhood. Oh, the rest of your record is pretty boring, I don't dig it at all. Well that's life.

Maritime- I really like "Adios". Why don't you guys rock out a little more? well whatever, you're just a side project, you're allowed to be subpar. Not that you are- every listen, I like your mellow stuff more. "Adios" is as good as I expect from the Dismemberment Plan's bassist, the rest is, well, fine.

Richard Cheese- Still funny.

Joan of Arc- I like this. How about "haunted house emo" for a genre? And how about me liking said genre? It does feel like you're in a world that's just a little creepy though, and I like it. Plus some pretty kick-ass commentary on ClearChannel.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Vague titles are in vogue

This will be a description of Dan Tasse's last few days, both practical and creative. In this, the author hopes to instill into the reader a wild sense of how said days went, while providing enough enjoyment for the reader to keep reading. This post may be embarrassingly long. Topics to be covered include:
-effusive joy
-beej's amish beard
-the ram game
-an odyssey
... so you can skip past the ones you don't want.

Effusive Joy

So this is where I go "wow, last weekend was great" and explode into internet acronyms. OMG and LOL will make an appearance, as will ROFL. I say ROFL, you say ROLF, let's call the whole thing off.

But for serious, it was cool. You've already seen the list of fun things that happened... let's see, what didn't make the list?

1. My parents are awesome, they pretty much let me have whomever over whenever, and also make dinner and brunch. Oh, and make bonfires, and set up sofa beds, and generally make life grand.
2. Cedar Point was cool. I mean, it's always cool. I hope you all enjoyed the Millennium Force and Top Thrill Dragster, they're intense but (hopefully) fun. And the Mantis is generally not worth going on ever, I don't think. Well, we live and learn.
3. Umm... Slug. This game is pure gold. I credit Beej's amazing sense of humor. If you don't know what we're talking about, bring a sleeping bag to school next year... actually, bring one anyway.
4. Poker last night just missed the list- anyway, it happened and it was fun. Taboo was more fun, but poker's fine. Good to see those kids again- they're all going back soon!

What was so great about this weekend? I don't know. I'm really trying to have a lot of these "enjoying this moment" moments. Like I've said, I live a pretty fast-paced life (I'm sure you all do too)... so stopping to enjoy a moment is hard, because it means you're not planning for the next one. I did it a bunch though, shoot, all weekend.

It's great spending time with the kind of friends where there's a lot of respect going both ways. Not lip service- obviously you respect all your friends in that way. But real respect, whether you show it or not. My best friends from high school were that way... I had acquaintances, though, where it was not that way. There's a tone of voice you get, a certain mannerism, that you kind of slip into when talking to that person, and boom, you've made a Friend, not just a friend. Because you can have fun with people you don't respect, and you can respect people you're not friends with, but whenever you both get a certain maturity about the whole friendship, it's pretty awesome. I think it took some of my high school friends a lot of years for us to get that far, and with these folks from CMU I've met about 1/2 year ago, there it is, that respect. I'm kind of talking around the whole issue; I've got buckshot, not a rifle, with describing this, but maybe you understand what I mean.


This is ever a topic of mine, but I recently thought of it when I was discussing with my mom my teeth. They're not straight, but close, and it would take a lot of work to straighten them AGAIN, after having had braces 3 times. My orthodontist was the kind of guy who was real cutesy (ohh shoot, his assistants were the worst. I'd want to get out of there just so they would stop talking to me!)... also condescending. "You really need to brush more" sort of thing. "Mark down on this chart how often you wear this device, you really need to get 14 hours a day." Good lord... arms, kicker, or orthodontia?

Anyway, once I got to the Competent Age (I dunno... 14?) I realized what a bag he was, and started hating orthodontia... luckily I was pretty much done. Oh wait, nope, like sophomore year I think, I got some braces again, because they needed me to walk in a circle and power an electromagnet.

But that's neither here nor there. The point is, she said "Do you ever have speaking problems because of it?" and I said "not because of that." Then what...? I stutter sometimes. I stutter at work, because it's awkward talking to those people. I haven't stuttered ever, until fall '04. I just want you to know that I'm aware of it and trying to stop it. Look, I could go on about how it's caused by my subconscious and I'm really deeply insecure, (and that might be true! who knows?) but what would that accomplish? I am feeling too great to cause myself a bad mood by fretting over occasional stuttering!

Beej's Amish Beard

The idea: Nobody made fun of Beej's beard at all until he pointed out that it looks scraggly and Amish. So when you have something like that, or a spot on your pants or something, do you point it out and say "look, I realize this, it's under control, I'm not totally clueless" or do you not say anything. Because if you point it out, you clear all suspicion that you're just a slob or anything. However, you might get a Beej's Amish Beard effect. If you let it go, people might not notice. But they might notice and think you're slobbish or clueless without telling you what they think. Ideally, someone would call you on it, and you'd entirely clear yourself... but you can't count on someone to do that all the time.

My stuttering might be a Beej's Amish Beard effect.


Charity is the greatest gift of wealth. Agree? Well, if you don't, fine, this point isn't about charity. I'm saying that spontaneity might be the second-greatest gift of wealth. Money gives you cell phones, non-preordered tickets to stuff, airline tickets, etc. You can do a lot more things if you plan far in advance... but spontaneity is the stuff of youth. Just saying "I am going to do this today" and doing it. If I were a millionaire and I had money to burn, I think I'd just wake up some morning and book a flight to somewhere for that same day. Just go wherever I want. Do whatever I want. Is this selfish? Maybe. Wanting everything right now is selfish. But the spontaneity I'm talking about is breaking free of all your scheduleds, agendas, plans, and throwing a little more Serrano pepper into your life. (about 2x as hot as Jalapeno... Jalapenos are actually quite weak)

The Ram Game

The object is to touch the ground. By the way, I lost the game. This game is great though, especially when played by two skilled competitors. I credit Ram with another unit of awesomeness.

An odyssey

Sleep: I'll compare them to restaurants.
<6 hours: Like fasting. Can I sleep this little and still get by? Cool, I'm hardcore.
6 hours: the "McDonalds"... eeurgh. Not fun anymore. I just want to sleep.
7 hours: the "TGI Friday's"... so very mediocre. Leads to a mediocre day.
8 hours: the "Hyland Software Diner"... ordinary, I get these with a pretty good frequency. Surprisingly good sometimes though.
9 hours: the "Chipotle"... awesome. If I had my way, I'd sleep 9 a night.
10 hours: the "Bangkok Balcony"... really nice. Best if you need a little recharge.
11+ hours: an odyssey. I'll compare it to Morton's, a steakhouse, actually a chain steakhouse. Probably the best restaurant I've ever been at. My dad got a huge gift certificate from work or something, we got these $35 steaks and too many sides to eat. Obviously, I love a "Morton's"; it's indulgent. You wake up naturally and still get to keep sleeping. You usually dream like crazy.

I thought I'd have an odyssey tonight... sleep at 8:30. Nope, it's 10:30. Well a good "niner" will do for me. Tomorrow I could use a small recharge, or even a sleep odyssey. I could use a trip to the "Balcony" of sleep. Hey, by the way, Richard's on Richards.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Can we all agree never to say "guesstimate"?

Come on guys, it's redundant. Thanks.

On a side note, can I just say that I love everything? This last extended weekend has been extraordinarily good. You want a list? Fine, here you go:
Wednesday Rock Climbing wik Kemal and Pete, Thursday March of the Penguins and Mad Greek wik Beej, Friday hanging out wik Beej, Julie, Mike, Janet, Theresa, Saturday Cedar Point wik same folks then bowling and Settlers wik Theresa and Beej... today not much exciting.

Look, I think I'm going to die if I don't sleep enough tonight... last time I got enough sleep was a long time ago, so I better sleep now. A more substantial entry will follow tomorrow. But the best part is saying, in all truthfulness, "I feel kind of crap now, but I would not have done anything differently over the last 5 days."

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The bad... and the good!

What a lame title. There's good and bad in everything. The exclamation point makes it sound like it's something new, or at least that i think it's something new. That and the clever reversal of "bad" and "good." I think I'll go kick myself in the ankle with toes that still hurt from rock climbing shoes.

At any rate, thanks for all the comments, everyone but "Harrigan," because, 1. he's not real, and 2. i'm not so sure I'm glad he's "on the hunt." But for serious, it's nice to log on and see "9 comments,"... thanks!

More seriously, I have a few happenings to report, happenings that distinguish one day from another in a way that "I worked today" doesn't.

Monday: I made some shrimp, grilled, in a lemon butter garlic sauce. On the side, some roasted vegetables, including peppers, squash, asparagus, onions. And some brown rice. Utterly delicious- one of my true culinary victories. I think. See, right before the shrimp were done, I brought them inside. Now, my dad speaking through my mom's voice said that they weren't done yet.

My family trusts seafood as far as they can throw a manhole cover. It better be not just done but Done. Of course, to be fair, I may have served them seafood in the past that was as done as a 76-101 (interp) paper the day before it's due. Which is to say, not enough. But this shrimp was clearly Done, and if it stayed in a couple minutes longer, the O and the N might start to capitalize.

So, genius that I am, I burned myself. So strange that a competent person, like me, could stumble on such a basic principle of life as "Don't Touch a Hot Thing." I proceeded to jump on a porcupine and play freeze tag on a NASCAR track. Please.

Said burning was accompanied by a loud shout of a popular expletive (I believe the word du jour was "FUCK!") followed by an insatiable desire to Throw Something Heavy. By insatiable, I mean "not sated by throwing an oven mitt on the ground, picking it up, and throwing it again. and banging the lid to the grill." Umm, I kinda scared my family. I brought in the now-DONe shrimp and gobbled down everything on my plate faster than John Kerry in an ESPN speed eating contest (specifically Round 3: Unborn Babies)

It was delicious! But my frolicking tastebuds were overcome by the melancholy of the rest of me, which just went nuts. I haven't felt so despairing in a long time- everything crashed down like a poker chip tower at a table full of dorks. I didn't even have much to crash down- it sure wasn't about the cooking. My family is the most appreciative cooking audience one could hope for- they'll eat anything I make, even my ordinarily-picky dad. (he won't eat onions or mushrooms. what?) They usually love it, even when it is kinda subpar. What was it? Maybe the breakneck speed at which I live my life- not stopping, barely slowing to go to sleep. Never on time, always trying to cram more into less time. When I'm awake, a lot of the time, I'm stressed. Not necessarily badly stressed (distress) but sometimes helpful stress (eustress). It happens. I choose it. I'd rather stress than boredom... "Rest is a good thing, but boredom is its brother" - a fortune cookie.

I was also more reflective then than I have been in a long time. I don't remember most of it though. That's probably a code phrase for "it's too personal."

Anyway, Tuesday was a day like any other. Except I made some fajitas... with steak... that made it better than most. They turned out really well. Here's an idea: fajita/burrito party. Basically all the mexican food you can think of, and some tortillas, make your own. There are so many mexican things, they're all delicious, healthy, and cheap. I guess besides meat, that's not cheap, but shoot, some chicken or something, no big deal. (not ground beef, we're shooting for Chipotle here, not Taco Bell.) Black beans? Corn? Peppers? Salsa? Rice? Guacamole? Lettuce? Tomatoes? Hot peppers? Yep.

Onward to today, and let's skip past work, it's the boring parts. Also known as the parts where I kinda let my eyes glaze over all day because I didn't have enough energy to work, and we kept having meetings with people who threw new requirements at us, and I didn't understand them. So skip past it.
5:00- read Kemal's email saying he can go climbing.
5:10- talk to Kemal on phone
5:15- read Cleveland Rock Gym website, remember I have to pass a Belay Test to be able to belay so any of us can climb the big walls. (belaying- holding the ropes to prevent falling)
5:25- get to Dick's Sporting Goods to talk to the rock climbing people, see if I remember how to belay (I did it a month ago).
5:27- leave Dicks, frustrated that a store that big has hunting rifles, but no rock climbing stuff. Damn!
5:30- enter Barnes & Noble.
5:35- find book on rock climbing. learn to tie appropriate knots. (you think I'm making this up, don't you?)
5:40-5:45- practice knot tying with my HEADPHONE CORD. from my computer headphones, which I took from work, expressly for this purpose.
5:50- talk to Adam and Pete, Pete's in, Adam's not.
5:55- go to bank.
6:00- meet Kemal, eat some cauliflower.
7:00- get there!

Everything in that last section was true. Man, I win at life. By 5:10, I was on a mission, and I was going to get as many of us out there as I could, and by jiggery*, I was going to pass that belay test.

*jiggery: see "pokery, oh no dokery!"

Long story short, I passed the test. Long story long, I did, but they do everything slightly differently than Exum Mountain Guides in Grand Tetons, Wyoming. Given the choice between the two of you, I'd take the seasick crocodile. Given the choice between the two of them, I'd trust Exum. The guy I climbed with, Al, had climbed huge things all over the world: what a master. These people: probably masterful, but not as much so. But fair enough, their gym, I'll belay their way.

Anyway, they passed me enough to belay today. And a guy named Eugene* was there climbing too. He was from DC, but in town on business, and just doing a little climbing. He was good, he'd been doing it for 2 years. He needed a climbing group, so he joined me, Pete, and Kemal, giving us 2 belayers for 4 people, which worked out all right. Super-nice guy too, he'd not only belay for us schmucks, but also give us advice on what we were doing right/wrong, help us out a bit.

*Eugene: see "the man."

Plus, rock climbing was great fun. I could gush, but I'll save that for later. As I'll save for later the stories about part of the reason I broke down on Monday, which include two of my friends vanishing forever soon. Time to continue my BREAKNECK LIFE, full speed ahead!
now: 1:50 AM
wakeup: 7:40 AM
work: 8:30 AM
Wish me luck!