Old Daily Shows--December 2001

Find the archive of past entries at archive.htm. Today's entry is at daily.htm.

Monday December 31, 2001 Saving conversations

I went through some of my old AIM conversations that I've saved today, and re-organized them. Sorted them, sat with them, read a few of them, bathed in a bit of history.

Saving them is part of the same aesthetic that makes me write the DS--I want to look back at where things were, and remember what it felt like. I want to remember which lines to read between, and it's harder to do that when no lines have been preserved. And, in truth, it's worked pretty well. I've really enjoyed going back and reading some of the things that have happened.

And embarrassed, of course, by some of them. Evidence accumulates of past times, not merely of past successes and brilliant conversations. I read a lot of dorky statements I made, and was a bit chagrined. Ah, well.

Went up to Brockville Ontario tonight for a Spencerville pipe band concert. It was nice, and I recorded it with the MiniDisc recorder. We'll see how well it came out. Saw a bunch of people I've missed. Cool!

Please size your window so this bar is the same width as the white table
Sunday December 30, 2001 Pastry hedgehog

Farewell, Elizabeth! Have a safe trip and a good time with relatives.

What a good visit. Yay.

I have a recipe for making a pastry hedgehog. This will definitely be happening at some point in the future. Watched Chocolat with family today, for the first time. It's really good. I would like to have been an extra on that set.

Lots of reading and general sort of snoozing about today. Nice.

Please size your window so this bar is the same width as the white table
Saturday December 29, 2001 Elizabeth visits

So, SCCS had a power outage, which kept me from writing on one night, and then I was out of town the next night, and then I was entertaining and anyway I've forgotten to write.

Exciting things have been happening, though. Elizabeth is here! Yay! And though she's leaving tomorrow, it's been great to have her here. Seems to get along beautifully with all my family, and they with her, which is always a plus. We took her along to my Grandpa's house in Lyon Mountain, where she was subjected to many, many new faces, both human and canine. And I was most impressed.

And I'll stop gushing so that those of you who've complained about it won't be too displeased.

Tonight, my parents and I made Indian food, lots of Indian food, and it was really good. Maya's potatoes, TVP kheema, spiced cauliflower, and naan! So nice. And we all ate in our dining room, by candlelight, and looked out at the snow in the backyard, and the Spare Oom lamppost found therein. Nice.

I wanted to show my parents Eddie Izzard's Dress To Kill, which is this incredibly funny comedy show by an incredibly funny British transvestite, and so I went to the video store to get it. Turns out that we did get Dressed To Kill, but the Basil-Rathbone-cum-Sherlock-Holmes version, rather than the comedic one. A "Greatest Classic Film", as the tape label informed us, this is one that's definitely not to be missed. Riiiiiiiiight. I defined the difference between the two DTKs as "One is funny because it tries to be, one is funny because it tries to be serious." I'll let you meditate on which is which. But it was good fun anyway.

My MiniDisc recorder came, and it is bloody awesome. More about that later, but it's scary how good the sound recording is. Amazing.

Please size your window so this bar is the same width as the white table
Tuesday December 25, 2001 Christmastime!

And Christmas has come and gone, and it's been wonderful, as usual, in a different way, as usual.

Mom was on call for Reachout, and I helped out a little, and I found myself wondering if it's a full moon, because every nutso person in the area needed our assistance this evening. Now, normal callers are not nutso. The nutjobs are a special category. And most people tonight were connected to one. Ah well. But Grandma and Byron were here, and we had lots of dinner, and it was good, and we talked, and it was nice. I find myself wondering what it is that makes bonds so much stronger between some people than others. For example--why do I feel so much closer to my grandparents, whom I see with relative rarity, than I do to some students at Swarthmore, whom I see almost daily? I have thoughts about this, but I'm curious to see what others think.

To that end, no, I don't have dotComments or a guestbook, but I do now have a mailto link at the bottom of the page, so if you're dying to tell me about something and can't remember my email address, you're all set now. All one of you.

I'm listening to the Simon & Garfunkel Columbia Studio Recordings 1964-1970, which my grandfather Byron gave to me for Christmas, as I write this. I got wonderful things this year, some things that suprised me, others that didn't, and it was wonderful. More than the gifts themselves, though, I liked the look in their eyes as they watched me open and enjoy the things they'd given. I imagined the feel of that look in my own eyes as they opened mine, and it felt nice. I wonder if I'm beginning to get it. My mother asked me the other day if I'd found for myself, as she has, that giving gifts is often as much fun as receiving them, and I think I have, for once.

I never thought to own a Crock-Pot, but I've got one now, and my mind's already racing with potential uses for it back at school. I have already enlisted the help of some friends in reminding me to use it semi-regularly. So that will be all good.

My mom's got a dumbek now! How cool is that? A dumbek, all shiny and very much full of dum and bek. I haven't checked what key it's in... I wonder. I hope my mom will have lots of fun with it. And Dad's got a really nice cable-knit sweater my mom found for him, and a book on Buddhism that I found for him, among other things. And I think we were all happy. Yay.

And I don't wish that I could be Richard Cory, even though the song about him is pretty cool.

My plot to get part of Elizabeth's Christmas present continues in new channels. Perhaps I will not be foiled this time.

Merry Christmas, all of you that celebrate it. For the rest, be well and peaceful. Cheers!

Please size your window so this bar is the same width as the white table
Monday December 24, 2001 Christmas Eve

It's Christmas Eve, and I had lots to write, but then other things demanded my time, so I'll just wish y'all a merry Christmas, and go to sleep.

Please size your window so this bar is the same width as the white table
Sunday December 23, 2001 Baking bread at home

So today was fun. I woke up, decided to stay asleep, woke up, decided to stay asleep, woke up, looked at the clock, and almost screamed. My heart pounded and said "ACK! I don't have time to have slept this long! I've got work to d... wait, wait... hold on... wait, I don't have work to do. Cool." And so I got up and lounged around wearing my red pants all day.

Dad made nifty chili for dinner, and I spontaneously made bread to go with it. Do you know how nice it is to be able to say "I feel like making bread right now" and actually do it? It's awesome. I love being home, in part because I know where things are. I can cook in our kitchen without wondering if X thing is here. Various people have suggested that home is where you don't have to think about doing various random tasks, and I think maybe they've got something there.

Tomorrow I will wrap things and read and probably cook and sit around and play with the cat, who's still knocking things off the tree, and chat with my parents. Break is good.

Please size your window so this bar is the same width as the white table
Saturday December 22, 2001 Homecoming

And here I am at home, after a day on the road with the parents. Stopped off in Syracuse to shop a bit, then again in Watertown to eat dinner, and the thing I kept noticing is that my stars are visible again. Black sky!

And the local P&C was selling habanero peppers, so we bought some. Scampi is getting used to me again. And home is good.

Please size your window so this bar is the same width as the white table
Friday December 21, 2001 Finishing up

Tonight was Perdue's, with me, Susie Petrov, and Susie Lorand. It was okay, though I was frustrated by the out-of-tune piano and the fact that all the tunes for the dances were in whistle-unfriendly keys. But they paid us (!) which we weren't expecting, so that was cool. And it was nice to see some people.

I finished my philosophy take-home at about 5:00 this morning, and so I'm done with academic work and (mostly) with packing. In the morning, I must take down my computer and pack it, wash some dishes, pack my toiletries, pack my CDs, and put the stuff in the car, but other than that, I'm pretty well packed. Kind of cool.

Today I was all responsible and stuff, too. I went and paid my phone bill, cashed my latest paycheck, and scoped the bookstore for a couple of things I was hoping to find. No dice, but we'll stop in the Syracuse Borders tomorrow and it will be all good.

I got a phone call at 5:15 am and it amused me a great deal.

It was so nice to see my parents tonight! We went out to dinner at the Iron Hill Brewery in Media, which I highly recommend. Wonderful pizzas.

And now I'm almost falling out of my chair laughing because it's 6:45 am, and my random shuffle MP3 playlist has put, as the last song in the playlist, Barenaked Ladies's Who Needs Sleep?. Yay for serendipity.

Please size your window so this bar is the same width as the white table
Thursday December 20, 2001 No more algorithms!

It's now 6:45 a.m., and I haven't slept. But algorithms is done.

Please size your window so this bar is the same width as the white table
Wednesday December 19, 2001 Goodbye, some friends

After far too long of letting it slide, I have fixed the archiving of the DS. So if you're interested, you can go through and read November, October, December, whatever fits your fancy.

I suppose that it's good for me to have to name every single entry that goes into the archives--it's a good thing, because naming has always been hard for me. When you name things, you're labelling them, and saying what they are, and that's sometimes tough for me to do. Good practice, I guess.

Hung out a lot today, got a fair amount of coding done for the backend of my CS41 project, saw Elizabeth and Ami off to their respective destinations, worked as a substitute in Underhill, had some Bearitos Blue Corn chips with Green Mountain Gringo Roasted Garlic salsa (yum!), was disappointed by Sharples, and made some new friends!

Please size your window so this bar is the same width as the white table
Monday December 17, 2001 Silly credit cards

I was going to write a bunch of stuff today about being at Swat and being terrified and paralysed with fear and all sorts of other stuff, but Rabi's said it all already, and as usual, she's said it better.

And then there's the hair-pulling frustration of trying to buy things over the internet with a Franklin Mint Federal Fuckup Union MasterCard. I won't get started on that right now, because I have a CS22 final in 7 hours and I'm up past the bedtime I creatively started setting up for myself. And I originally typed that as being up past my deadline, which has disturbing parallels to my work life. Alas.

Please size your window so this bar is the same width as the white table
Sunday December 16, 2001 Looking for beauty

Another day of not enough work, but I got a package of MiniDiscs and a microphone from eBay, which was good, and I have finally made myself a schedule of what I need to do, when, for the rest of the week. Keeping myself to it will be hard, so I hope you guys will help me with it.

But there's still beauty in life, and I am not going to forget that, even if I don't get any work done this week and I fail out of Swarthmore and a plague of locusts comes and sits on my head. Parents sent me gorgeous pictures of snow from home and boats that we used to sail, and it's wonderful. Spent a while talking today about appreciating that sort of thing, and whether it's okay.

Really--because nobody pays your wages to sit and appreciate the world. So why do it? Is it worth the effort? Is there a point? Not entirely, I guess. But to not notice it, for those of us who want to notice... that's not any good either.

My room is my space again, despite being shared at the moment. I cleaned it, removed some things, put some things back in, and it's mine. My three-way lamp is back out, throwing a little more light on the situation, and I took apart the ceiling light to try to coax some silent light from it. It has this habit of giving light but remaining so excited by the experience that it hums and clicks and ticks and thwocks and buzzes until you turn it off. A bit distracting sometimes, and so I tried to fix it. No dice, but I tried. I hung up another wall decoration.

So I'm looking around, and I've got the overhead light off, with my desktop halogen and my tabletop incandescent lamp casting a warm glow on the room, a contrast to the cold computer screen light. Hanneke Cassel's CD My Joy is playing on the CD player. Hanneke's great--such a trip--and maybe I'll get to see her again someday. My fan and necklaces from the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead party last year are hung on the wall behind my door, along with a card my parents sent me. More cards adorn various walls here, mostly from my parents. The Irish blessing print my mother bought me hangs on the door between my room and David's; a Ryland Loos etching hangs over my bed, of the lakes where I used to race sailboats and learned to swim. Elizabeth is asleep on my bed right now, on top of the quilt my mother made for me--Mom dyed the fabrics herself, too--and underneath a fuzzy deep blue Vellux blanket that's been lent to a great many people. Red fabric covers my bedside table, next to the white refrigerator. Above all that hangs a leaded crystal, suspended from a flowerpot hanger. Bookshelf is, of course, overflowing, as is the dresser-of-clothes-and-dishware, but it's all good. And in the middle? Space! Floor space! I even swept, and to celebrate the occasion, I sat on my floor, and fell over, and rolled around on the floor.

Never let it be said that I am not on crack.

Please size your window so this bar is the same width as the white table
Saturday December 15, 2001 Cleaning and party

I cleaned my room, finally! Swept the floor, even, washed all my dishes, cleaned the science projects out of the fridge (though Tupperware doesn't entirely lose the scent of what was stored in it, alas), dusted some things, threw out some stuff, moved things hither and thither, and put up the Christmas tree. Decorated it. Put up a few more Feng Shui affirmations. Was generally good.

Jesse and Eleanor came over and Eileen and David threw a holiday party with them. I ducked in and out while cleaning my room, and it was great fun. Krispy Kreme donuts, silliness, and Eddie Izzard!

Please size your window so this bar is the same width as the white table
Friday December 14, 2001 Dorking

It's late again, dorkily. Tomorrow I will get up early and go play bagpipes for the karate folk in Germantown, and it will be lots of fun, I hope. Yay camaraderie.

Tomorrow I will clean my room. It will happen. Oh yes!

Should I buy the MiniDisc recorder to take with me to Scotland? I can (mostly) afford it, but I'm dickering about trying to decide. Oh, my computer is happy happy with the 512 MB of new SDRAM I installed in it--it's got 640 MB now, and is happily purring.

Please size your window so this bar is the same width as the white table
Thursday December 13, 2001 So I gave her a rose

So many different colors of exhausted, and for stupid reasons.

But I went to Worth today and they gave me Claritin and an albuterol inhaler, and though I've had a nasty headache since starting them, I'm going to hope it's related to something else. Albuterol, incidentally, tastes like hospital. If you've never had it, picture going into a hospital and licking the walls.

But on the way home, I stopped in the flower shop and bought a long-stem red rose for Elizabeth, who had been having a bad day, and the world was all okay.

Please size your window so this bar is the same width as the white table
Wednesday December 12, 2001 Terrifying dream

Reading period is now halfway past; they call it, without a trace of the necessary irony, "reading week". It would be nice to get a little bit of reading done, but I think a lot of us have needed the first day, at least, for nothing more than sleeping a bit late, trying to take some stock in ourselves, and breathing for a moment.

Me, I slept late, and had a nightmare that I actually remembered when I woke, trembling. It went something like this:

I was in my room, in ML. Except that it wasn't an actual room in ML. But I know clearly where it was--first floor, in the corner, one room down from my frosh room, with a view of the trees and flowers in the front of the building. It was a suite, actually--something that doesn't exist at Swarthmore, at least not for singles.

And in my room were a number of demons or something, with little black wings hunched over their backs. They were fighting--with each other, I think, or it might have been with me, it's hard to remember this long afterwards. Somehow they weren't fighting any more, and I was at karate practice, on a deep green lawn in front of a Japanese Greek temple. White marble, with columns (corinthian? ionic? doric? phrygian? mixolydian? :>), and a big portal. We practiced for a long time, and finally practice was done, so Adam and I (he's a friend from uechi-ryu, and another new yellow belt. we all passed) went through the doors to change.

And suddenly the open archway was a revolving door, and we were in a bustling corporate headquarters building--very trendy, done all in black marble. There were all these raised observation kiosks strewn about, with security guys in them, and they watched us. For some reason, we were headed to the top floor. So we turned a corner, hopped into an elevator, and went to the roof. Oh, by the way, "we" is now me and Dave Mister--when we went through the revolving door, Adam was transmogrified into Dave.

We got to the roof, where there was another black marble kiosk thingy, like a square, and raised. We couldn't get in because something had happened to the stairs, but we pulled ourselves over the edge and got inside. There had been some huge boy band there earlier in the evening, and they had complained about the difficulty of getting inside--they suggested shooting the marble, as if that would help provide footholds or something. As I climbed into the square, I looked over the edge of the building, straight down an impossible number of floors, hundreds of them, and just beneath me, a window-washer's carriage.

And then every computer monitor in the place flashed to CNN, blaring the headline "EMPIRE STATE BUILDING COLLAPSES", and I looked up and to my right--it was night--and saw the building, high above me but just across the street, starting to lean. Straight toward me.

Dave and I knew there would be no chance of getting into the elevators or the staircases from there, and so we headed for the window-washer's thing. The air was suddenly full of smoke, and we couldn't see, but we knew where we were going, so we kept moving. The carriage was about a floor below the top of the building, so we had to jump. I hung off the side of the building to make the drop shorter, and the smoke cleared, just as I got there, showing the carriage nowhere in sight. My fingers started, with agonizing slowness and clarity, to slip. The Empire State Building's top broke off and started coming toward me, and my fingers lost their grip and I fell.

Straight into my bed, where I woke up disoriented, shaking, and terrified.

But the karate party tonight was good.

Please size your window so this bar is the same width as the white table
Tuesday December 11, 2001 Watch the stars, see how they run

I spent a long time looking up at the stars from the amphitheatre tonight, and it was better than school, so much better. It was cold, though not bitterly, and when you're in the shadow of the trees, the stars pop out of the sky. It's not properly dark like it is at home, but it's still good to lie on your back and watch them, talking quietly, or staying silent.

The jamborees went well, both nights. People said we sang beautifully, and lots of people complimented me on my arrangement. I hope we can find a time when it will be appropriate to sing it again.

I got a budget allocation from SBC for Uechi Ryu, which means we can afford to buy some equipment and stuff for the club. Yay! And I found that I have absorbed some useful skills from class this semester--suffice it to say that someone knocked me over yesterday while I was bending over, standing on one leg (I was putting on a shoe), and I thought, in mid-air, "Oh. I'm falling. Guess I'll roll." And then I rolled across the hard carpeted floor and came up properly and was uninjured and unfazed. It was great.

I found that I will miss 19th-century music, and (surprisingly) algorithms.

I like it when I make time to look at the stars.

Please size your window so this bar is the same width as the white table
Monday December 10, 2001 Jamboree II

In the last 43 hours, I have:

  • Gotten two and a quarter hours of sleep
  • Written one six-page philosophy paper
  • Performed in two Mixed Company concerts
  • Failed to complete my CS22 homework, despite trying hard
  • Stayed up until 5:45 am writing the paper
  • Not relaxed

I feel burned out by school right now. I hope it goes away. The burned-outness, that is.

On the other hand, Jamboree was happy good.

Please size your window so this bar is the same width as the white table
Sunday December 9, 2001 Jamboree I

It's 5:15 am and I am tired of writing about Sandra Bartky and feminist consciousness and constructions of the body and why our culture is so bloody screwed up when it comes to appreciating the wonderful beauty of the human form.

But Jamboree, Take I, went well, I think. People liked my arrangement. More tomorrow, I hope.

Please size your window so this bar is the same width as the white table
Saturday December 8, 2001 Belt test

Today was the belt test. It went well. People think we passed. I had a great deal of fun. Wahoo! And Sasha is here, and yay uechi-ryu, and stuff.

Please size your window so this bar is the same width as the white table
Friday December 7, 2001 Kicked in the groin

Contra dance was tonight, and though I didn't dance much, I had a really good time. Yay dancing, and facilitating dancing!

Earlier in the day, I had karate practice, which was not so ideal, mainly because I managed to be injured three times in about ten minutes--first my toe, then my shin, then a nice hard kick to the groin, which (stupidly) was not protected by a block or a piece of plastic. Oh well--nothing damaged, lesson learned, at least for the moment. It was interesting, though. Remember that entry a while ago when I talked about the world sparkling? Well, when you get kicked there, it doesn't sparkle. It abruptly shifts. Everything changed colors and I got this weird (and, in retrospect, kind of cool, though not to be desired) sense of synesthesia. Suddenly everything I saw was variegated purple and angry red and pink and purple, rich deep purple like the robes of kings and the construction paper I found the other day, and I heard purple, and tasted purple, and felt purple. I don't remember what I smelled. But it was all strange and really quite amazing. How does that happen, biologically?

All that was overshadowed by the contra, which went flawlessly. And some of my heroes were there, and they know who I am now. Bob Pasquarello, John Krumm, and Mat Clark. Freshman year, these guys were untouchable gods. Now I've been invited to play on stage with them a few times, and was again this evening, though I had no instruments with me. But Bob's cool, and I've played with his wife Kathy, and John said I was the best dance partner he's had in a long time, and Mat remembered the time last year when I taught him a little bit about playing bagpipes. And they knew who I was, and smiled at me, and we talked shop a bit, and I felt like a musician.

Please size your window so this bar is the same width as the white table
Thursday December 6, 2001 What Cat Are You?

According to the Webkin Online: What Cat Are You? sorter, I am a Best Friend.

I dislike having the beginnings of the Hacking Cough of Doom.

I did Sanchin practice tonight, and practiced Filipino kali fighting with bare hands, with tanto, and with escrima. It was good. My back hurts, though, because someone jumped on me in the lounge last night, and it wrenched my lower back. Ah well.

As per normal, I had all sorts of things to write about, and they've all fled. I went to the Education office today, and found out that my professor for Ed. 14 next semester will be Diane Anderson; don't know anything aobut her, but I do know that my class was not lotteried, and that thus I will be able to take it. No news about my other classes, but there's always hope. No news is good news, or something?

Gradual cleaning continues, but I'm just so very tired.

Please size your window so this bar is the same width as the white table
Wednesday December 5, 2001 Consciousness-raising?

I am, from time to time, disturbed by the state of things at Swarthmore. Today was one of the times when I was.

Philosophy lately has been about Sandra Bartky, a feminist philosopher of the 70s and 80s and (perhaps?) the 90s. We've been talking a lot about conception of the body, and lots of theory words have been bandied about.

So today, we were talking about styles of dress, and how people enforce their ideas of socially-appropriate dress on others. I didn't buy into this at Swarthmore, and provided an example of something so laughably unlikely that it couldn't possibly give offense. I wondered if people were coming up to my classmates and telling them "god, you're ugly, I wish you wouldn't dress so shabbily." Now, I can't even imagine saying that to someone--I keep trying to figure out what the sensation of having those words roll off my tongue would be, and I can't do it--and so I was shocked when my classmates, one by one, said that it happens to them, here, on an almost daily basis.

The first thing that sprang to mind was that they should obviously find different people to hang out with. Seriously, though--what's up with this? Am I really so incredibly weird and liberal and whatnot? I thought of myself as a mainline moderate Swattie. What's the story?

Disturbances aside, I had my last piano lesson of the semester, and it was passable. I played some more of the Haydn piano sonata I've been working on, replete with a few small variations I've composed. Not perfection in performance, but then, I'm not a concert pianist and never will be. I napped in the sunshine this morning on the stones outside Sproul (CS building) whilst waiting for Elizabeth, and it was nice--warm on my face, but not too much so.

I got a wonderful compliment from my karate instructor via email today, and that was most excellent. We did stick fighting with Randal(l?) in class tonight--yay kali! Afterwards was the ML tree-decorating party, so I hung "mistletoe", really purloined holly leaves and berries, and made a holly ornament for the tree. I cleaned my room somewhat.

I took care of a bunch of friends today.

Please size your window so this bar is the same width as the white table
Tuesday December 4, 2001 Eating chicken soup

And I'm up until 2:15 again, after being up until 4 last night, and this is getting really, really old.

Early September worked much better in F# than in G, so we're probably going to keep it there.

Normal sleep schedule, I miss you. Health, I miss you. But I ate lots and lots of chicken soup today, and for a while, I felt human.

Please size your window so this bar is the same width as the white table
Monday December 3, 2001 Parsley by mail

I crack Nori up, and that's a good thing.

I also write Brahms papers (three pages and change) until 3:33 am, at which point I die and go to sleep, hoping not to sleep through my 8:30 class.

Parents sent me an incredible package, including a Christmas tree and a package of savory herbs that enables me to sing once more.

Please size your window so this bar is the same width as the white table
Sunday December 2, 2001 People with perfume...

How'd it get to be December already?

Winner of the most random AOL Instant Messenger conversation entry award is "Metalic Hollis", who IMed me out of the blue saying "you suck" followed by an array of the letters dfg printed in an ever-growing font. Exciting!

Brahms concert tonight, which I left early because there were so many little old ladies in it wearing noxious effluvia of perfume. Forget Afghanistan. Someone ought to take these women's perfume away as a humanitarian relief mission. It always bothers me when events at my college are made inhospitable to me by people who don't even realize that they're killing me. Mutter. I love how people write it off, too--"oh, you're just allergic." Yeah, like a bullet in the skull just kills you or hotline callers are just suicidal or whatever. I sometimes feel like that use of 'just' should be stricken from the language--it's misused so often.

But I oiled my flute tonight, and that was most excellent. This morning was great. The moon last night was beautiful. Life is good when Swarthmore doesn't get in the way.

Please size your window so this bar is the same width as the white table
Saturday December 1, 2001 Happy birthday, sweetie

Today was Elizabeth's birthday. Yay! We went into Philadelphia with Ami, and had Greek food at South Street Souvlaki. Among the three of us, we shared chicken kabobs, spanikopitiropita, baklava, bread, pitas, baba ghanoush, and saganakiopa, to which I introduced them. I was disappointed by the local presentation of saganaki--the Detroit Greeks do it much better.

You order saganakiopa, which is a cheese dish, and you wait for it to come. It takes a while, so you fall back into the course of your conversation, and though the fact of your order stays in your mind, it doesn't really occupy a front burner. And then, your saganaki's arrival is heralded by a wonderful smell and an insistent sizzling sound.

And then they hit the sauteed cheese with heated brandy, your waiter proclaims, "Opa!", as do any initiates nearby, and then, just then, they light it on fire.

Now, flaming cheese has to be one of the coolest ideas on the entire planet, at least if you're a cheese-obsessed pyromaniac like me. I wish I'd come up with it. So this wonderful cheese concoction sits and flames for a while on its little chafing dish, and then they put the flames out by squeezing a fresh lemon onto it. It continues to sizzle, but not for long, because very quickly it's been sliced, knifed onto fresh bread, and eaten. All gone. I've never seen saganaki last longer than a minute or two.

As I said, the presentation here was a little less impressive--they did the flambéage in the kitchen where you (almost) couldn't see it, and there was no lemon action, no theatre. And yet, still the pyrotechnic magic of it remains. I find myself wanting to get some feta or kasseri and make saganaki for my friends here at school. I'm almost weird enough to do it, too.

This morning, I went with Malik and Yelena and Sensei Jim to Germantown karate class--lots of fun, and my first experience with that dojo. I now have my uniform and a patch to sew onto it. Lots of sparring practice, and I learned that I have some habits to train out of my system--grabbing kicks high among them. People throw kicks at me, and my instinct is to grab them, jam them, and do something while immobilizing them. The problem is, as I was told today, that this is against the rules for sparring matches. Doh!

On the other hand, and the other foot, I learned a new kick today. And had fun looking at pretty inks in Pearl Paint. And wandering South Street with two friends is an experience that, now I've had it, I can honestly say is not to be missed.

And then we watched the Shawshank Redemption, and while I'm not going to get into why my entries lately have been more sporadic and less informative than they have been at some times in the past, I will say that this is one of my favorite movies, ever, bar none. It's just that good. And to Dan, who believes that the last five minutes of the film are extraneous, erroneous, and annoyeous, I say "you're wrong."

Happy birthday, sweetie.

Please size your window so this bar is the same width as the white table