Old Daily Shows--July 2000

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

July 31, 2000

"I believe in aristocracy, though--if that is the right word, and if a democrat may use it. Not an aristocracy of power, based upon rank and influence, but an aristocracy of the sensitive, the considerate and the plucky. Its members are to be found in all nations and classes, and all through the ages, and there is a secret understanding between them when they meet. They represent the true human tradition, the one permanent victory of our queer race over cruelty and chaos. Thousands of them perish in obscurity, a few are great names. They are sensitive for others as well as for themselves, they are considerate without being fussy, their pluck is not swankiness but the power to endure, and they can take a joke." -- E.M. Forster, "What I Believe"

So, it's late, and I'm going to write very quickly.

I put my chair together today. It was pretty easy.

I've been reading the Jargon File. This prompted me to remember where I picked up the "It's a Good Thing" habit. It's hacker jargon. It's also just sort of generic programmerese, which is where I got it, as I have no claim to the hacker title.

Practiced the pipes a bit today, failed to get much accomplished. Missed people but didn't do much about it. Wrote directions for Heather and Kira to get to Potsdam.

July 30, 2000

There is no music or pleasure in the harps of music,
Poets and poetry are in gloom without a sound in their hearts,
All beings are grieving every day,
Since the lively lad went away from us.

-- from the Jacobite song 'Mo Ghille Mear', trans. Jim McClosky

That's the song I've been listening to the most over the past few days-- a tune written about Bonnie Prince Charles Stewart. Wish I spoke some Gaelic so I could translate it, but I'll have to live with what I've got. Near as I can tell, the title is something like 'My Dear Boy' or 'My Bonnie Lad' or something. Who knows?

Movies and conversation with Shye this evening. Thank goodness for both. We watched Get Shorty, The Opposite of Sex, and As Good As It Gets. Very fine films, with lots of cute people, though some were sort of sad. Hunh. Just sitting here thinking about it, I've noticed that two of those have heroes or lead characters who are openly gay. Neat. Must be good that our culture is beginning at least to treat the issue in film.

Shye loaned me Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone to read. Should be fun; it goes on the pile with all the other things I haven't read. Sigh. I finally finished Flatland. Enjoyed it quite a lot, but found that its ~150 pages are somewhat less than a quick read. Robin McKinley next, perhaps?

Dad made hot cheese soup for lunch today, an old favorite of his from the Recipes for a Small Planet cookbook. I tried it and, for the first time in my life, liked it. Yum. Good stuff, and somewhat spicy. Yay!

Scampi's tormenting a moth on the windowsill. I imagine that's pretty exciting. There was a damn huge spider in my window this afternoon. It met with the Terrible Vacuum Cleaner of Doom. Mom, Dad, and I were in there futzing with curtains and curtain rods. Taking down the old blue and green flowery curtains that have been there for 15+ years, taking down the curtain rods, putting up café rods, and beginning to hang the white tab-tops my mother made for me. Fun stuff.

Blah. That's how I feel.

July 29, 2000

I mailed things today--money to Jim Moskowitz, tapes to Julie Gregorio, and presents to Kyla. All three had letters enclosed.

Got a new chair to replace the one that broke. Haven't put it together yet, but it should be really really nice.

Have been feeling kind of sad all day. I think it's that having spent so much time writing to friends, and making things for them, I feel their absence more acutely. I really hope this goes away soon, as I don't really need it right now. Maybe if someone other than ex-friends would call me...

We made chicken piccata for dinner, along with risotto with feta and onions from the Moosewood Low-Fat cookbook. Yum. Gotta make more stuff with risotto. It's neat.

Sigh. People recognized me today while out and about, and pointed out all the wonderful things I've done. Yippee, I'm an Eagle Scout. Take the medal and a dollar, you'll get a cup of coffee. Maybe not even that, with the lamentable stupidity of Scouting lately with respect to homosexuality. Woohoo, I got a 1600 on the SATs. Wish it felt like that wasn't just luck. I'm sorry. It's way too late at night for me to be writing, and it's been a stressful day.

On the other hand, I was at Wal-Mart today, and I smiled at a girl who was working there, and she smiled back, so things can't be too bad, right?

We'll see. This too shall pass, the poets say. They will be gone, ere break of day. And so ends the Shakespearean scene of my scribblings today. Yo, gentle reader, kindly judge my play, y'heah?

July 28, 2000

The details of my life are quite inconsequential.

Actually they're not, but I'm rather too tired to write about them.

Things are going in the mail tomorrow to three different people. I'm terribly proud of myself.

That's basically the news from Lake Wobegon.

July 27, 2000

I had the most random dream last night. I'm sure it would yield all kinds of interesting things if I were to analyse it.

So, I went on this long odyssey all around the world, paddling through jungle rivers, riding on an ocean liner, and generally ending up in suburban Schenectady, NY. Don't ask me how that works; I'm as confused as you are.

My faithful (someone who wasn't identified) was always by my side throughout all this, though I never saw him/her/it. So anyway, I get to suburban Schenectady, where it turns out I've been booked to perform with a string quartet whose second violinist has just suffered some sort of accident. I dunno. Anyway, for some reason, my name has been given to these people as a totally awesome chamber violinist, and here we are. Gig is coming up very soon, and I haven't played the violin since 6th grade. I told them that. They were less than pleased with me.

Among the things we were going to play were "The Complete Works of Pablo Casals" and "In The Spirit of Tchaikowsky". I don't know if either of these exists, but they were perfectly rendered in G. Schirmer style. Weird, weird shit, man.

On the way to Schenectady, we had all kinds of misadventures--missing our boats, going through rapids in whatever jungle river we were on, etc. Somehow we survived. One scene that I remember was being on the pier when another ocean liner was about to leave, and running frantically along the pier to get on it somehow. I did, though I don't remember where it was going.

Back to violinistry. When the other three quartet members found out the truth about my violin skills (or ample lack thereof), their reactions were quite different. One, a gentleman a bit younger than I was, was all for canceling the gig, throwing me out, and charging me the fee they would have earned. One of the ladies was for letting me stay on, and seeing how it went. The final woman didn't want to make a decision, and suggested we play through all the music and see how I did.

The details after that will have to remain hidden, because I woke up. Doh.

Reading through all that, I find lots of things that could be absolutely pregnant with meaning, but I'm hesitant to analyse them, because I'm aware that it could be me projecting my thoughts into my interpretation. If you, gentle reader, want to play the Analyse My Dreams game, please email me.

Okay, so that was this morning. When I wrote that, I mean. Probably also the dream.

Anyway, now it's way late at night, and my hands are tired. This is because I just spent the last three hours making a bookmark. Celtic zoomorphic panel in style. I think it's nice, and hope it'll be appreciated.

So, yeah. That one feels like it should be a lot more exciting than it seems to be. A pity, that.

Mom is apparently in Watertown for the night. She mentioned this as she leaving for work today. Far be it from me to track the whereabouts of my mother--not like she always wants to know where I am, or anything.

So... I had an artistic day. Did this goofy calligraphed address label for the thingy I'm sending to Julie. Excellent. Then the bookmark. Fun.

I basically did nothing of great value today, though. I'm not sure exactly what I did do, but it seems not to have been overly momentous. I helped Shye out with a tech support thingy. I helped my neighbor get his computer running again after it had died for some reason. I... swept the kitchen floor.

I wrote a big ol' long post to Swat2003. That's it!

July 26, 2000

Willa Bandler '01: "The Irish have never really been accused of sanity." Just got off the phone after three hours with her. Fun.

I am rather tired. Reachout picnic and going-away party for Jill Dixon was tonight. It was good. Nutjobs were calling in great numbers. They were less good.

My chair broke. I am very unhappy.

I sleep real soon now.

July 25, 2000

The exciting news from today relates to the 26th of August.

More specifically, it relates to the piping competition to be held in Almonte, Ontario, on that date, and the fact that I will be playing in it.

At lessons today, Brian asked me if I was interested in solo competition this year. I said yes. He apparently thinks I'm good enough (or will be) to compete. I hope he's right, as it would be embarrassing to us both if he weren't. On the other hand, I haven't ever known Brian to say anything he didn't mean, so it's probably all good.

Stop that, Hollis. So, I had all three drones going at practice tonight, which meant about two hours of playing for me. Oh, the lips are tired. We futzed around with my reeds, too, which was good because my drones aren't cutting out anymore. Wahoo! Right, so: Almonte, me, August 26, Grade 5 Solo Piping. Last year at about that time it was me in Novice Practice Chanter, in which I won a lovely bronze medal. It was lots of fun, though I played rather poorly. Part of the learning process, I guess.

I played Omar at work today again. Today I was calling national self-help agencies. The Darwin Award for the day goes to the Council of Better Business Bureaus, whose entry listed no email address, web site, fax number, or telephone number. Lovely. Better Business Bureau that can't be contacted. What will they think of next?

So, driving back from piping was interesting. I was pumped up, because of lessons (I got to play with the band a little bit!), and my mind was working overtime on a bunch of things. One of Kyla's mix tapes was the soundtrack for my thoughts.

If I had to pick one thing that represents the way I've felt this summer, I'd be screwed, because that one thing doesn't exist. If you asked me to name some of the more common emotions, though, one that would probably come up is the feeling of not knowing how old I am.

As I drive across the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority bridge from Canada, a beautiful New Mexico sunset on my right, I'm wondering what I'm doing, again. I mean, a lot of this summer has been characterized by blatant need for my school friends, since they seem to be a safe fixture to work from. That need, and my reaction to it, show me as painfully young and naive. There are lots of things like that: driving too far when coming home from the conference, myriad stupidities quickly forgiven but not entirely forgotten, the fact of how many things I should know that still elude me.

On the other hand, I occasionally get the gift of perspective, to see how I've progressed. I suppose I think I'm a better person than I was two years ago. I'm more at peace with most of my life--Swarthmore has been good for me in that respect--and I think I'm becoming more competent at some of the things that matter.

It's scary as hell to put yourself in a position where someone else has incredible power over you. At home, at least among friends my own age, I never let anyone in too close. At Swat... there are a bunch of people in here with me.

Most of this is the standard post-freshman-year-of-college hunting of the self that has been so well publicized. I'm looking for a handle on things, a way of making my world make sense, and I see most of my friends doing the same thing. What I haven't seen yet is how (if?) this all ends. Does one eventually become comfortable with things? If so, is it because everything ends up all right or because you just get used to things the way they are.

Every once in a while I'll do something I'm proud of. I did a few of them this weekend; I did another tonight. Rather more often, I do things of which I am ashamed. This bothers me a fair bit, as I'd like to think of myself as a basically good person. The thing that's marginally comforting is this: at least I've learned to be ashamed of some things. I guess it's better to recognize the stupid things we do, so we can act to change them.

Lots of philosophizing tonight. Odd, since I'm exhausted. Let's see... what else can I write about? Reachout summer picnic is tomorrow night. We're saying goodbye to a co-worker's wife, who has accepted a teaching job in Las Vegas. Time to give her a rousing sendoff; call up the volunteers, fire up the grill, and away we'll go!

Well, I didn't sleep well last night, so I think I'll upload this and then head for my bed. Descend into the arms of Morpheus, if you're an AWADer. Hit the sack, if you're a traditionalist slang user. Flagellate the bag, if you're a rebel slang user.

In other words, I'm going to bed. G'night.

July 24, 2000

So, I'm home from Kildare. It was fun to be there; I definitely got a taste of the high life. Wasn't entirely comfortable with it, which is good.

I wrote stuff down in my journaly thing with the lovely purple ink while I was at Kildare. Stuff like a letter or two, and also like the following:

22 July 2000

Written in purple ink in a bed in the Mahogany Room at Kildare.

Duck for lunch. Really good french fries and chocolate mousse cake with dinner.

Talking to Abs.

Finding that some of the staff are from P-dam, Massena, St. Regis Falls. Ms. SRF knows Ryan LaBounty, who is apparently in the Armed Forces now. Cool.

Finished Silver Chair. Good, though I didn't like it so well as the others. Started Flatland.

Learned to play Fluxx.

Saw bears at the dump.

Lots of folks here. Harry Potter is everywhere.

Playing with bass drone reed.


Kildare Club, 23 July 2000

Written seated before a fire in the living room. Abs has gone to bed; Bob is still up reading.

Much ado today--lots of pool. Learned (relearned?) to play gin rummy. Played some Fluxx. Nearly everyone left--we're down to the staff, me, Bob, Sandy, Abs, Daniel, Adam, Drew, and Chris. Just spent a while trying to figure out the identity of this song that was playing earlier--near as I can tell, it's from the Get Shorty soundtrack.

Lovely risotto at dinner--Ruth (the chef) amazes me. Abby and I went canoeing (canoing?), and later I went out in the Funyak. Good fun, though I probably got sunburned. Then, before dinner, soccer with Adam, Drew, and various younger staff members. Great fun except that I played in my Tevas, so I got that annoying broken-toenail thing from one play. Fun anyway though. Melted a penny in the fireplace.

Kildare Club, 23 July 2000--p.2

It took a really long time to get through the introduction, but I've finally gotten into Flatland, and am enjoying it immensely.

Saw a fawn while canoeing (faun? Too much C.S. Lewis). That spelling thing reminds me of something. At the bookstore, I saw a book by Octavia Butler, and it reminded me of Otavia, whom I know; and Alastair, whom I don't. Apparently Alastair once wrote something like the following (Note: this is apocryphal, and probably mistold. Mistakes in retelling are my fault) on Otavia's board: "I found a 'C' on the floor. It belongs in your name."

It's weird--I feel sometimes like I never talk to people about anything of importance when actually talking--only electronic communication. Seems like chat and email are more forgiving of the topic shifts necessary to move from pleasantries to meaty conversations.

Enough for now--thank you notes to write.

So, that's that. I was going to elaborate on that stuff, but I've decided basically not to.

Thus, ecce homo. I have done some stuff today, like calling volunteers about our exciting party. I have also forgotten to fill out my timesheet, etc. Truly exemplary behaviour. Oh, I also confused some young Boy Scouts by talking about the BSA vs. Dale case.

No more Abs for me. Sigh. No Swatties until Heather and Kira. Oh well--an exercise in survival. Whee dawg.

I was gonna write all sorts of good stuff, but my brain is flowing out my ears, so I'm going to just quit here.

July 21, 2000

SCCS has fixed kestrel! Woohoo! This means you can read my scrawlings again. Aren't you excited? I know I am.

Today I went with Mom and Shye to the NYSAIRS Board Meeting in Syracuse. Hooboy. That was a trip, right there, in both senses of the term. People-watching, shopping, driving, getting myself lost; all of the above contributed to an interesting day. Oh yes, also getting up at what my friends affectionately call "the buttcrack of dawn."

Three hours in the car later, we got to Syracuse for the conference thingy. Watching the NYSAIRS board (New York State Alliance of Information and Referral Systems; Reachout's a member, and Shye's on the board) interact is very exciting, fascinating, etc. Unfortunately, most of them don't know too much about by-laws, which sucks, because they're all great people. Grar. There are people who should be in charge of laws and regulations, and then there are people who shouldn't. These are the shouldn't category.

Exciting news flash, though: this morning (during our meeting) the FCC approved the 211 proposal. A little explanation is probably in order. You know about 911, right? I thought so. Well, 911 is an n11 standard that connects you to emergency services wherever you are. 211 is a proposal to connect you to human services information and referral wherever you are. Big changes in our business are coming down the pipe. We aren't sure how it will affect us, but affect us it will. Woo.

Went to the bookstore at the Carousel Mall after the conference was finally over. Bought too many books, but it'll be good. The day's purchases are:

  • Edwin A. Abbott - Flatland
  • Beginning Java 2 - Ivor Horton
  • Taliesin - Stephen R. Lawhead
  • The Wind From Hastings - Morgan Llywelyn
  • The Horse Goddess - Morgan Llywelyn
  • Finn Mac Cool - Morgan Llywelyn
  • 1916: A Novel of the Irish Rebellion - Morgan Llywelyn
  • Beauty - Robin McKinley
  • The Outlaws of Sherwood - Robin McKinley

Theoretically, I'm headed back to Kildare tomorrow, to see Abs and keep her company amid her plethora of relatives and hangers-on. We'll see how it happens. I would have called her tonight to clarify, but

I am sometimes less than clever.

Driving home from the conference, we stopped in Watertown for dinner. Driving home from Watertown, I missed an exit while talking to people and got to drive an extra 22 miles on the Interstate for it. Fun! That combined with other delays led to us getting home rather later than we intended.

Last night, we watched Brigadoon. Lovely cheesy 50's musical, if . I was watching it and thinking of how much movies like that have influenced my (our?) understanding of love and romance. "True love conquers all" is all well and good when you're wearing a flowing dress or what have you, but it's kind of unrealistic and leaves a large chance for unhappiness when life doesn't turn out like Brigadoon. Oh well.

I put purple ink in my pen. I'm about to fall over because I have been ~awake for approximately 21 hours. G'night.

July 17, 2000

"Thickest night, surround my dwelling! . . . western breezes softly blowing, suit not my distracted mind . . . the wide world is all before us--but a world without a friend." -- Robert Burns, "Strathallan's Lament"

I had a chicken Cordon Bleu bagel for lunch today. It was pretty exciting. Mom and I made enchiladas for dinner. We were curious, so we decided to try making the tortillas ourselves. Interesting, fun, but slow. Oh well.

I want to include the word leitmotif in my journal today, though I'm not sure why. Oh well. Maybe it'll become relevant. Probably not.

Got an email from Kyla today, saying that it probably won't work to do a visit this month. This doesn't really surprise me, given how late it is. Oh well. Guess we'll wait until August.

Dangit. Willa sent me an internet postcard months ago from the Dixie Chicks website, and now the Chicks have decided to keep me on their mailing list for ever. Hrm.

I'm totally reaching for things to write about. I think this is because I wrote a book yesterday.

I found a site about pronouncing Gaelic. If you care, it's at znet.com.


July 16, 2000

Thank God for good music. Planxty is the band of the moment, at 6:26 pm, Eastern Time. I'm listening to an Irish band covering an American's song about being an immigrant. "I Pity The Poor Immigrant" is the song, written by Bob Dylan, sung in this case by an unidentified member of Planxty.

I've found, incidentally, a rather interesting publishing goof in the album notes for this CD. The album is Planxty's Words & Music, as the liner says. The front and back covers of the 4-page notes are correct. Open them up, however, and you get the following:

My idea of a good folk band is one that can balance their vocal and instrumental talents without letting one side dominate the other. To exercise good taste and still use all of their talents to advantage, when they possess the combined expertise of Silly Wizard, is the mark of collective brilliance. Their playing can blow effortlessly from the delicately woven filigree of song accompaniment to the strong, driving pulse of dance music. The atmosphere that they generate during the narrative ballad with the blend of voice and instrument, is an important part of their undoubted appeal. Add to all of this their sympathy with the music's origin and tradition and you have the exception rather than the rule among folk bands in Britain. I'm sure that the fact that each member of Silly Wizard is still developing individually will mean that their input will continue to build on the firm base of sensitive and powerful originality found on this record. ARCHIE FISHER

Whoa. Hold on there, Archie. Aside from the numerous errors in English--hey, I make 'em too, but then, I'm not paid to write copy--what the heck is a set of album notes for some arbitrary Silly Wizard CD doing inside my Planxty? Erk? Score one for the proofreaders at Shanachie Records. I'm actually kind of irritated, because I haven't got any Silly Wizard, and I want to hear some of the songs listed here. Hrmph. Maybe it's not a mistake, and is actually a clever marketing ploy to make me want this other album. Hrm.

So, I was watching the U.S. Olympic Trials for track and field today. Yes, I was that bored. Jackie Joyner-Kersee will not return to the Olympics. Anyhoo, Laurence Johnson won a bid in the Men's Pole Vault. He was a favorite. After his winning jump, the crowd was strangely silent, so he started raising his hands and signaling them to clap. At this, the (whiter than I am) commentator decided to channel LoJo, and shouted "How 'bout some love? Come on! Gimme some love!" This calls to mind that TV thing that Shye was talking about-- things white people say that they think will make them all cool and such. Anyway, I'm about the most uncool guy on the planet in that regard, and even I know better than to start shouting "How 'bout some love?" on national TV.

Went to church today to help out with coffee hour, which my parents and I ran. Turns out it was also the baptism of Sarah Elliot's daughter, Nancy Ashlin. That was pretty neat. Very well behaved baby, in marked contrast to the children of some other people in the parish. Always fun to watch the social dynamics of small-town religion. Anyway, George Gilchrist goes to our church, and is interested in piping, so I brought my pipes. Alas, he was in England, so he missed out. Somebody found out that I had brought them, and pretty soon an impromptu concert was demanded. I was just going to show them, but what the heck. Twenty minutes or so of playing on the front steps. Terrible mistakes in technique, but the listeners didn't really care. Probably most of 'em didn't notice.

Actually, I'm pretty sure they didn't notice, since a bunch of them told me I'd be ready to compete on pipes at a highland games in three weeks. Not. We'll see what Karen and Brian have to say about that... or maybe we won't. It'd be cool, but it's not going to happen.

I played my first game of die Siedler von Catan last night. Finally found some people online who would play with me. Fun game, though I got my butt kicked. Jackhammered? Some sort of belligerent verb.

If you count by date rather than by day of the week, Kyla and I have been dating for eight months today. That's really pretty cool. If you count by day of the week, we've been dating for 35 weeks, since it's now Monday the 17th.

Talked to Jennifer a little bit today. Talked generally means chatted or IMed, lately, since most people don't call me on the phone here. Anyway, she was intrigued by my suggestion that she should fly over here from Belgium so that she could go to a Highland Games with me, but decided it probably wasn't possible because she's going to have a Swat friend visiting her in Bruxelles at the time of the games. Pity. Must be nice to be able to fly anywhere in the world for free. Yay military perks.

Anyway, we talked a little bit about music. She was disturbed by my perseverence at sightreading things. I laughed. She laughed. It was fun. Evidently she recently bought an oil lamp at an antique show, and we talked about that for a bit as well. Unfortunately, though, she has to pay by the minute for Internet access, so we cut the chat rather short.

I've been thinking a little bit about this whole journal thing. In most ways, it seems that instead of writing a journal in American style, I've been writing a French journal. Rather than discussing my secret crushes and which one of the Spice Girls occupies my dreams*, I've been mostly recording the events of my life, with liberal commentary sprinkled throughout.

I don't have a problem with that, actually. I think this has moved a bit outside the realm of personal writing, and has become a sort of general letter to friends. You know the type--your grandparents probably write one and send it to all the family at winter holidays.

I found my copy of Fred Eager's Italic Way to Beautiful Handwriting. Yay. This means I can start working with it again, and get my handwriting slightly better into line again. Woohoo.

Planxty quote: "And I'm too old to change, and I'm too young to die; I wonder what will become of my old wife and I." It's from the song "Aragon Mill", in a medley with "Accidentals". Really nice whistle playing on this one, as well as elegant guitar.

Hrm. Linguistic chameleon time again. I've noticed that I've left the pronunciation of "tune" that's native to Potsdam ['tun] in favor of an approximated British [tjun]. Funky. I don't always do it though, which is weird. I'm picking up some of the Canadian accent as well.

Nori is several kinds of excited because of having gotten her dream computer on eBay. As Tiffany would say, "Nori, I salute you!".

I just got reminded of one of those great NHL commercials they used to have. Great things--earnest sounding narrator, good shots of clean hockey, and good music. God, I lived for those things sometimes. Hockey's a great sport; it's a pity it's been turned into a gladiator sport in so many ways. I always loved the fact that you're penalized for playing safer hockey--if you wear a face mask, and you get into a fight, you get extra time in the box. Ostensibly this is to keep people from granting themselves immunity with the masks, but it also keeps players who don't fight from wearing them. This has a direct effect on the kids who are beginning to play. If you don't believe me, ask a kid in junior hockey who Gordie Howe was--the pros are important when you're just a newbie.

I finished Prince Caspian last night. I'm beginning the long, slow process of kicking myself for leaving the Narnia books on my shelf for so long. What was I thinking? It's been far too long since I re-read them.

I begin to see what people talk about when they mention the Christian imagery in Lewis's work. It's pretty much there. Given some of his other work, I wouldn't be surprised if among Lewis's intents for Narnia is the creation of a vehicle for the teaching of some Bible stories.

What continues to elude me is why people find it so offensive. So it can be used to teach Christianity--big deal! Chemistry can be used to teach terrorism; history can be used to teach all sorts of political agenda. The fact of the story's utility for one thing does not affect its value for another. The tale of Narnia stands on its own as a great work of fantasy.

One thing that might relate: in high school, I wrote a paper for sophomore English about J.R.R. Tolkien's work. More specifically, I presented an analysis of Middle-Earth as an allegory to the political climate of the times. If you look at it, you'll find a lot of correlation between the world of the Lord of the Rings and Europe of the 1930s and 40s. Evil Empire to the east and south, evil folk who speak a harsh, guttural language, stalwart northern warriors fighting it out when nobody else will join the fracas--each of these could lend credence to the idea that Middle-Earth is really pre-WWII Europe. I argued in favor of it in my paper.

All that said, I don't think of Europe and the second World War when I read The Two Towers. The story, though it can contain the historical data, is good enough on its own to stand out.

Well, now that I've beaten that point through the floor...

Found a neato site: The Session. It's a really cool site that sends out one tune a week, free of charge. They're trad songs, mostly, some more well-known than others. If such things interest you, it can be found at http://adactio.com/session/session.shtml.

Mom and I spent a long time at the kitchen table this evening talking about our work. More specifically, we talked about various certification programs Reachout participates in or is eligible for. Mom and Shye are both certified by the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems as Information/Referral Specialists. Reachout doesn't have the AIRS certification, mainly because it's stupid and biased toward big city hotlines. One thing that might happen at some point is certification with the American Association of Suicidology. Their standards are a novelty--they actually make sense! What a concept!

I continue to have too many letters to write, and too little to say in them. This is problematic, because I feel like a bastard for not writing, but I would feel just as badly if I were to write saying little more than "Hi, I have nothing to say, seeya soon, Hollis." So I'll procrastinate a little longer, and the people who get letters later rather than never will just have to realize that I love them and would like to have something to say to them first. Hrmph.

Okay, I must find and learn this tune. Táimse Im' Chodladh. So now I have tunes to learn from William Coulter, Lúnasa, Planxty, Local Hero, Chris Layer, and a few others too.

Oooh! Excitement. Chris Layer is coming and playing again at the community arts series my grandfather runs. August 10th and 11th, Chris and some other musicians (I don't know yet who they are) will be staying at grandpa's house. I think I may be wending my merry way over to Chateaugay that day. For those who don't know him, Chris is a really, really good piper. Also plays whistles rather well. He's part of the band Local Hero that Jennifer and I like.

I'm very sad, because I seem to have lost or misplaced the bookmark that Jennyfur made me for Christmas. This is not good, as I have found myself needing a bookmark of late. Der. It was really pretty, too--nice ribbon bookmark made with fancy brocade-like ribbon. Damn.

Nori and I are already planning our triumphant return to playing Scottish music in the atrium of Lang. Last semester I taught her Mhari's Wedding, and we stood in the stairwell, two kids with viola and smallpipes, and played that sucker. George came running out of the library and informed us that Lang is not soundproof. This is something with which Nori and I were unfamiliar, because neither of us spends any time at all in Swarthmore's music building. Not like anyone cares if it's loud in the library anyway--the librarians are always playing music on the CD player, and people talk at volumes quite unlike the standard for libraries. Anyway... I'm thinking.

English dance band last semester was basically: Hannah Schneider, flute; Melissa Running, piano; Josh Burdick, fiddle and occasional whistle; Jennifer Tyson, fiddle; me, whistles and recorder; Jenny Beer, piano and recorder; Will Quale, occasional guitar and melodeon; Larry Miller, occasional whistles. If I've missed anyone, it's because I hate you and am out to besmirch your good name by leaving it out of my scribblings. Really. It's intentional.

Anyway, Hannah went and graduated, leaving us down a player. I wonder if we'll get someone new. Anyway, we basically play Barnes literature in the band, with occasional ventures to other books, but it's pretty much English dance music. We played some Scottish at the ball and the dance parties, but that's basically it. Will's talking about getting a sort of Tannahill Weavers-like group together sometime--I think it'd be cool. We'll see if/how it works out.

Gotta email Abs to see when she's gonna be up at Kildare again--maybe I can trick her into coming up to Potsdam. That would be fun. Muahaha.

I think I'm running out of steam on this one.

No sense in fooling... we're covered in dreams, having too much fun flying to land. -- Men Without Hats, "The End (Of The World)"

*: This was a joke. I don't have a thing for any of the Spice Girls. That just seems to be the sort of thing written about in most of the journals one hears about. Just watch a movie or catch a TV show, and you'll see what I mean. Go on, get outta here, go back.

July 15, 2000

Oh god. July is half over. That is totally not allowed to happen.

Lameass short post because it's 1:30 and I have to go to bed so as to be human for church at 9:30. Gaah.

Soldier is a truly horrid flick. Gah.

I... uhh... I moved some books around today. I... sat around and did not much useful. Der.

July 14, 2000

Happy Bastille Day, y'all.

Gah, it's late. Sajida's terrified of things, and I spent a while trying to calm her down, without much success. Oh well.

I played lots of Irish music today, and found lots of neat new (old?) tunes. Also, I identified one that I've loved for months... Ever seen The Secret of Roan Inish? Well, it has this lovely whistle/flute theme in it... I assumed it had been composed for the film, but no--it's The Butterfly, by George Potts. Anyway, lots of jigs (woo, they're fast), hornpipes, reels, and a few marches and strathspeys on the Scottish side. Also found lyrics to a bunch of Scottish trad songs, including one about Donald and his kilt and how the ladies love him for it. Its final stanza discusses how he finds his kilt convenient when he needs to blow his nose but has no handkerchief. Weird.

Nori has a stalker. Interesting.

CodeWarrior is taunting me, and I don't appreciate it.

I'm rereading Narnia, starting with Prince Caspian, since I read Lion et al over the winter break. Fun stuff, though I'm getting the weirdest sense of déja vu with Prince Caspian because the lead to the story is very similar to a different story my father used to tell me. More like a story frame, actually-- he'd just make up a new one at bedtime. Great stuff, too.

I'm trying to find all the Christian imagery that people claim is so offensively obvious in the books. Maybe I just haven't gotten to it yet, but it seems like there isn't much material to support that independent conclusion. Certainly there are things in the story that could fit with a Biblical tale, but that's true of pretty much anything up to and including my progression to Swarthmore and the rise of Amazon.com. I guess I'm taking issue with the fact that I could make the facts fit the hypothesis, but not without assuming the hypothesis as true and interpreting in light of that.

July 13, 2000

Several months ago, a friend wrote me a letter. Lots of things were in it, including one thought that might interest you. She said that when writing letters, she usually pictures what people will look like, how they will respond, when reading the letters she writes.

As part of the daily update process, I always read through the previous day's entry to figure out what to call it. It's funny, but I always picture other people hearing the words rather than reading them. You know, the gimmick that every film and television show has used, where the character whom we've come to love, unfortunately absent, writes a note of some sort (OMT: pens) and leaves it to be found or sends it through the mails. When received, his voice, sounding slightly more lovable than we remembered, reads his words to those left behind.

Well, that's how I feel sometimes when I'm writing this stuff. Like y'all are just hearing me talking rather than reading it. Interesting that I'd choose to devote three paragraphs to it, no?

Yesterday was pretty interesting, though I don't feel much like writing about it. That will probably change as time goes on, but for now I'll give you the basic details.

Worked at home, trying to wrestle with CodeWarrior and get it to play nicely with JDK 1.3, which it doesn't want to do. Grar. Anyhoo, I went running*, played pipes outside for a bit, and then went to my hotline shift.

Stayed there for an hour, then got permission to go to Jen's goodbye party. She's off to Australia at 3:00 am Friday. The party was lots of fun.

Got back to work and found out that the phones had been ringing off the hook while the other volunteer was there alone. Erg. So anyway, I start getting the phones, that's all well and good, and then I get this lovely situation. To make a long (mostly confidential) story short, I got to talk to 911 about this situation. Not exactly a low-stress evening. If you want details, ask me, and we'll see.

So it's now Thursday night, Friday morning really, and I'm bored. Keep trying to write letters to friends but then I realize that I don't really have anything interesting to say. Der. At work today I came up with a new nickname for Liz: Sarcazmo. It's her superhero title. Her superpower is blistering sarcasm.

I was watching PBS this evening, and they had a neat story about Around Alone, the sailing race around the globe that allows one person per boat. Beautiful boats there to see, plus some nice human interest.

Got me thinking, though. One of the things I've noticed is that since going to Swat, a lot of the things that had previously been "mine" have been mentally transferred to other people. Things on which I had been the expert, things that I enjoyed doing--a lot of them belong to others now.

An example, Maestro. Well, okay, boats. I used to be Mr. Boats. Used to race 'em, have a bunch of trophies, blah blah blahdee daa. Kira owns the boats now. She lived on one for a semester. That beats silver, hands down. I was once the celtophile of note. That's been passed to a bunch of people, notably Jennifer and Kyla. Hannah Schneider owns illumination. Jennifer got calligraphy.

Way too many people to count took computers. Various musicians have the whistles. Friends have music theory dork status. Eileen has massage. Heather took Person With The Most Insane Hours. Various people seem to be better in-person counselors than I am.

I could go on, but I'm pretty sure I've beaten the point through to Malaysia by now. The weird thing is that it doesn't really bug me as much as it might. I guess there's a couple of things I know more about than most other people I know at school: bagpipes, a cappella arranging, probably some other things. Other than that, I know a little bit about a whole bunch of things, which is annoying at times. It sometimes seems like I'm mediocre at a truly staggering number of things, but not really good at anything. Oh well.

I miss my friends. This is aggravated by the time I spent this afternoon with my "friends" from Potsdam. Lovely time, really, though none of them has yet figured out how truly antisocial they can be as a group. Grr. Nothing pleases me more than being called a cheater, or a liar, or whatever else.

Better still is that one of them took the opportunity of our social interaction to complain about the "bad service" she'd recently got from Reachout. Any question about the actual quality of service aside, it's really inappropriate. Coming from the people who yell at me for being at work too much, it seems funny to hear complaints in a social setting. Grr.

Oh, I love guilt trips, too. Mmm.

Rant over.

I'm attempting to learn how to play die Siedler von Catan over the net. An interesting proposition, that. We'll see how it goes.

So, yeah, I was gonna write letters. I was gonna make pretty facing pages for my piping binder. I was going to clean my room some more. Meh.

*: Running is sort of an overstatement. Going out, walking a bit, running, getting all nasty in the hot sun, wanting to die, stopping running for a sec, turning around, repeating in inverse order--this is closer to the truth. I keep trying to convince myself that there isn't anyone out there who actually runs non-stop when they've just started. I'm sure they actually do, though. Yay, rationalization. Back.

July 11, 2000

Today was 7-11. I hope you all appreciate it.

Sitting here looking at a map of Scotland, I'm reminded of an interesting thing I learned at that orchestra concert I wrote about a while ago. The Susquehanna String Band did a medley of Scottish and Canadian tunes, which included Loch Lomond for the Scots (Loch Lomond, I've learned, is about 23 miles west and 18 miles north of Glasgow). Anyhoo, the refrain to the song includes, in varying degrees of Anglicization, "Oh, ye'll take the high road an' I'll take the low road." Mr. Susquehanna String Band claims that taking the low road is coming back home in a box to be buried. I have this feeling that I'd known that before, but it was interesting to hear it. Weird memories associated with that tune, now, thanks to Swat and my own annoying perfectionism; sorry, guys. We'll do it at a ceilidh some day, perhaps. If not, maybe I can foist it off on Mixed Company. It's a good tune, though it's rather overdone. Maybe I can do Scots Wha' Hae instead for the ceilidh. Hrm.

Okay, I just spent rather too much time looking at a big world atlas we have. Dad got it at a library book sale for $5. The thing's bigger than my table. Anyhoo, I now know lots more about where things are. I know where Tesuque is; where to find Inveraray; how to get to Lesvos from Tirana; where you'll find Cairphilly, and a whole bunch of other random geography stuff. Did you know that you can go hundreds of kilometers off Scotland without hitting water more than 100m deep, but you can sail 5 km off most parts of Greece and be 3000m above the bottom? Weird stuff.

I'm going to be in pain tomorrow. Too much exercise. I added another five pounds to my weights, too. Feels good, but it's going to hurt in the morning. Oh well.

Fun with reeds today on the bagpipes. Rehemping some of them, deciding that the Slagle chanter reed they gave me isn't very well in tune, replacing it with various other reeds, settling on one, getting strange looks while playing on the stone wall out by the road. Woo, nothing like seeing a piper while driving over the crest of the hill. Fun!

Omar das Telemarketer was my job at work again.

Liz, a fellow volunteer at Reachout, is taking her driving test tomorrow. Good luck! As a fun pre-test thing, she and Shye went out driving after work today. They followed my mother and me on our way home. We saw wild turkeys in quantity standing in a field. Shye and Liz saw our faulty tail-light. Doh.

I read Irish Laws today. It seems to be a sort of translation of the Irish Brehon laws. Interesting stuff. All sorts of interesting laws in there, regarding everything from roads to sex to music.

July 10, 2000

Bagpipes arrived in the mail today. You might be surprised how heavy 14 pounds of bagpipes feels after three miles of walking it home.

Fun stuff. The cat is much disturbed by this addition to the household. She wants to have nothing to do with it, thank you.

I had Earl Grey tea this evening. It was quite yummy.

Bounce bounce bounce. Bagpipes!

I had fun creating curses in Irish with the random Irish curse generator thingy on the web. "May Monica Lewinsky suck your manly part" is one of the options given.

Many stomach crunches of diverse kinds. Yick. Also pushups and (shortly) weights.

I was going to write letters this evening. I had so much time in which to write them, and it just disappeared. Ack!


July 9, 2000

It rained today, and then it was nice. Potsdam weather is weird like that sometimes.

I had this really long bizarre dream last night that took three hours real time. I'm not sure of the details, other than that I had a bunch of close friends, none of whom were people I actually know in real life. I keep thinking that there was something about a shark named Peppy, but I'm quite sure that's just a memory from a dream the lead character had in the film Airborne.

Saw the film Polish Wedding this afternoon with Dad. Went to Shye's for the final movie night before Jen goes away to Australia. Consequently we watched Strictly Ballroom, with the very enjoyable Paul Mercurio. Also on the playbill were The Jerk and Citizen Ruth, an enjoyably wacked out film about the abortion wars.

We had a new addition to our crew this evening--Elena came and watched with us. Perhaps we will have a new deranged child to make up for Jen's absence. We shall have to see.

I talked to Jennifer today, and we debated the presence of snaps in Scottish music that isn't strathspey in character. She holds that the snap ("tachum" is one kind, in piping) is found only in strathspeys, whereas I was pretty sure I'd seen them in other kinds of light music as well. Sure enough, I found a snap in Blue Bonnets, which is a march. For the initiated, a snap is a sixteenth note followed by a dotted eighth note, and is fairly unusual outside Scottish music. It seems to be my purpose in Jennifer's life to educate her about arbitrary Scottish grace notes--so far we've covered tachums, taorluaths, and grips.

July 8, 2000

Seven-league boots are out. There's a Russian out there. Actually, there are several of them. One of them has invented gasoline-powered boots, which let you run at 13 feet per stride, which evidently works out to about 25 mph. Read about it at ABCNEWS. The only thing I can think of is that it must really be bad when you trip.

For part of the daily randomness quotient, visit IMDB's biography of Wes Craven. Bet you didn't know that he went to school in Potsdam. Read about it here.

I've been flipping through Peter David's Imzadi, a Star Trek: TNG novel that's among my very favorites. I finally got a copy of it at the library book sale--chances are, it's the same copy I read the first time so very long ago. It's about Will Riker and Deanna Troi. Good stuff, and like all of David's stuff that I've read, I love it. "He took a step in the direction he was sure she had gone . . . but then stopped. Because he knew, beyond any question, that this was the way she wanted it. And somehow, somewhere along the way, what she wanted had become more important to him than what he wanted."

I saw a pair of movies this evening--Antz, which I'd seen, and Wild Wild West, which I hadn't. I enjoy Antz quite a lot--good voices, nice visuals, and halfway decent music. Wild Wild West, on the other hand, was less than stellar. I like all the major actors, but something about the show left me without any real satisfaction. Sigh.

Lots of exercise and stuff today. Walked into Potsdam, got the mail, wandered about at the summer festival. Got a ride home from Dad. Went back out on bicycle, rode into town, rode around town several times, rode home. Exciting things. While I was in town at various points, I saw: Dot and Bob Dow, who are great people and old friends of the family (they were presenting at the craft show); Dan, Abby, and Tyler Mills, who were working at the Trinity Fair; Dave Crowell, an old friend and coworker, who was working the craft show; Lorien Eck, a decidedly funky friend who was dancing around; and Kate Palermo, her mother, and Ryan Greene, some neat people who are incredibly artistic and nice folk. Lots of others, too--it was good to see people.

Finished reading Heinlein's Orphans of the Sky, which is very nice indeed, though short. Good science fiction, set this time in the future when a regression of sorts has occurred.

While at the church, Dad (the Junior Warden) and I went up into the bell tower to fix the clock. Beautiful piece of machinery, that. It works, pardon the pun, like clockwork, except when it doesn't, which includes earlier today. For some reason the pendulum was stopping its swing. We have no idea why. But we went up there, stood around and looked at it, reset the clock, freaked out everyone in Potsdam by making the clock ring 12 noon at 1:14, and came back down. It's always good for me to make myself go up there, in part because it's about conquering a fear--heights over open spaces, in this case. To get up there, you have to go up a long iron ladder that's exposed and feels very unsafe. As usual, it was fine, but good to have to make myself do it.

I've been listening a lot to Lunasa, lately. They're a neat Irish band of four guys who play bass, guitars, whistles, and fiddles of various kinds. Good stuff, plus they have some good low whistle tunes.

I'm hoping my pipes will come soon, in part because they'll distract me. I'm in the "my friends all live far away from here or have moved on from needing me" part of the cycle, and it sucks, frankly. So y'all want to pray for the pipes to come, because then you'll stop having to read my drivel about being lonely and bored :)

I reorganized my piping binder today, and found that it has gotten itself broken more seriously than I had thought. I had noticed that it catches on pages when turning--closer examination reveals that the spine was bent about 25 degrees from straight, as well as having the rings bent out of alignment. So I'll probably have to replace it, which is more annoying than anything else. Anyhoo, I divided it into K Exercises, Band Tunes, Other Tunes, Misc., and Paper. Figure out a way to hold a pencil in there, and I'll be all set.

Mom is out of town visiting various people, so Dad and I are baching it. Hunh. Slang that doesn't transliterate very well. Pronounce that "batching", as in "being bachelor-like". I have no idea when she's coming back. She just decided on Friday that she needed to go out of town.

So, I've been cruising the web looking for piping information, and it occurs to me that there isn't much out there in the way of describing what piping is like to learn. So it strikes me that I might start writing up separately a page about piping as a student, sort of charting my progress and things that have been harder or easier for me than I expected. I don't know if I'll go through with it; if you have a strong opinion either way, please let me know.

So evidently one of the music teachers I used to work with has terminal cancer of some variety. Secondhand, not much information to be had. This is bad, because I want to know. Mrs. Laraway, evidently, is in a coma, or something. I really hope that's an urban legend.

July 6, 2000

Today, as well, I played Omar The Telemarketer at work, calling up human services agencies and asking to update their information. Today, again, my bagpipes did not arrive. Today, again, my Sluggy Freelance Quatrix T-shirt did not arrive.

Went to see Repercussion Theatre's production of Romeo and Juliet in Ives Park this evening. Shakespeare In The Park--a good thing, though it was a bit hard to see. Evidently they're the only touring Shakespeare In The Park-style company in North America. Interesting. I didn't like their delivery of some of the lines, but it was far from the worst performance I've seen, and I enjoyed it quite a bit.

During the intermission, I saw a bunch of old friends: Tyler, Cassandra, Ranah, Jolene, and Kristin. It makes me feel rather old to note that they'll be seniors this year. Wow. I guess it's partly because I still sort of think of myself as a HS senior that it seems really odd that other people hold the position. Weirdness.

I went out running this morning--it felt pretty good, though I didn't do anything approximating an impressive distance. We'll see if I can keep it up.

Mild disappointment at work because I had to tell a caller that she basically had no options, since she refused the ideas I gave her. It's always sort of frustrating when that happens.

The Bagelry is open for lunch again. This is happy at work, since it expands our usual delivery choices by quite a bit. Yay. I had a pizza bagel on everything for lunch today. Yum!

I seem to have stuck my foot into an anthill on the CHAT list again. Someday I'm going to learn to just stay away from discussions.

For some reason, I have very little to say right now. I think this is because the journal tends to be mildly cathartic writing, and I don't need it right now. I had a really good conversation at Kildare with Kyla, and pretty much feel good.

July 5, 2000

Short entry tonight because I just spent forever composing a response to the chat thread regarding the Supreme Court decision about gay Scoutmasters. You can read my response here.

Got to call lots of people at work today, and talk to them about their update forms. Pretty nice folks, mostly, though I got tired of having my ears blasted off with fax machines.

Quite a tame hotline shift this evening--nine calls.

I may get to go visit Boston later this month. Woohoo!

I'm missing my Swatties a lot right now, which means it's time to take Kyla's advice and go to bed. Night all.

July 4, 2000

Hoo boy. I read that previous entry. Um. Glad I don't feel like that anymore.

Happy Independence Day, y'all. I took a few days off and went visiting.

Went to Abby Friedman's summer place in the Adirondacks. Damn, it's gorgeous, and staggeringly huge. Oh, it was good to see people. Abby and her high school friend Liz, Kyla, Kyra Jucovy, Ben Newman, BDan, Abby's brother Daniel and his friends Bart and Chris made up the motley crew I joined.

While there, I read Tuesdays With Morrie, by Mitch Albom. Tears in my eyes--a beautiful human story, and well told. I also read Diana Wynne Jones's Howl's Moving Castle, on loan from Kyla--man, DWJ is a good writer. I'm impressed, again. Rounding out the entertainment field were several books of Sluggy, part of Ben's book on the fourth dimension, a viewing of Kevin Smith's Clerks, and a few other things.

Went swimming in the lake, as well as going "eavesdropping" with Abs, Kyla, and Liz. Eavesdropping is a rainy day activity in which one puts on swimsuit and such, wanders around under the eaves getting dripped on, then goes and dives into the lake. Fun fun fun. Plus I got to be all studly and carry someone around. Excellent thing.

Dunbar mailed my bagpipes on Friday, so they should be here sometime soon. This is a picture of me, being excited.

We got eaten alive by flies, mosquitoes, and other varieties of insectuous life. It was kind of sucky. On the other hand, time with friends is good.

I seem to be dealing reasonably well with the post-friend depression that comes after seeing Swatties. Singing along with mix tapes in the car while driving home from Tupper Lake was... emotional, but I've mostly recovered, I think.

The Kellys are moving away from Brockville. This means that I will not see them anymore at piping. Sadness. Good luck, guys.

Apparently I get to play Omar the Telemarketer at work tomorrow. Ugh. Calling agencies and saying "you didn't return your agency update form. Grar." is bound to be exciting.

Kyla mentioned something to me--that when you click on old entries and go to look at some specific one, the process fails and takes you to the last entry. I haven't been able to duplicate the problem. Anyone else?

Had all sorts of exciting stuff to write. Got talking to Heather. Stuff will have to wait.