Old Daily Shows--January 2002

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

Tuesday July 2, 2002 Impending Eliz

I was going to write down the recipe for the easy Spanish omelette I made this evening, but the damn insects are eating me alive, and so I'm going to go to bed instead. Maybe they won't find me there.

But piping was okay (we drilled out my chanter) and Eliz is coming tomorrow! Yay!

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Wednesday July 3, 2002 Eliz!

A gnomelike doll from Finland now graces my desk, just as Elizabeth graces the couch next to me as I write. So good to see her. Words don't sum it up, as everyone knows.

Sleep calls more than my desire to write.

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Sunday July 7, 2002 Farewell, again

Goodbye, Eliz. I miss you already.

Off to piping camp with me, where I'll be for a week. Cheers!

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Tuesday July 16, 2002 Nothing

And another day goes by without an update... doh... I meant to write.

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Wednesday July 17, 2002 Dentistry

Playing with a new Macintosh iBook at work today, which was fun but had a small problem of being slow with some things. Perhaps it was just cranky about the humid weather.

This morning, I had a dentist appointment, and they cleaned my teeth. You know that wonderful slippery feeling your teeth get when they're freshly cleaned? I've been enjoying that, running my tongue across them. Mmmm.

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Thursday July 18, 2002 Funeral

Today I went to a funeral for Betsy Kaplan, and it was nice.

Unrelated thought: have you ever noticed that the sound of trailing drones sounds an awful lot like Chewbacca?

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Friday July 19, 2002 Very weird dream

So much earlier than usual tonight, and yet I'm tired still. I've not been sleeping well at all this week, whatever that portends. Last night, I dreamed a strange conjunction of many recent themes:

I was in our car, driving, with my dad in the passenger seat. I drove along Pierrepont Avenue in Potsdam, ready to turn left onto Main St. right next to the fire station. As I got closer to the intersection, I began to slow down. Rather, I put my foot down on the brake, and found to my horror that the car sped up as I did so. I looked down, made sure my foot was on the correct pedal, and pressed more. Higher speed.

The traffic light controlling the intersection had just flashed me a red, and cars were moving across my path as I whipped forward at 55 mph in a 30 zone. Frantically trying to slow down, I hoped for luck and wrestled the car around the left turn, narrowly missing cars moving in the other direction. Dad turned and looked at me in the middle of it all, and said something, though I don't remember what. Once I was through the intersection, my brakes worked perfectly, and I pulled into a parking spot on the side of the road, hyperventilating, and amazed that we hadn't gone off the road--55 is a lot of speed for a 90-degree turn. I saw a State Trooper's patrol car coming in the opposite direction, but no lights, and so I breathed a little easier.

Then the car did a U-turn, put on its lights, and pulled up behind me. I guess they saw me anyway. I got arrested (not just a ticket, arrested; this was very clear in my mind) for something or other relating to dangerous driving. I pled that it wasn't my fault, that the pedals hadn't worked properly, but to no avail--they didn't believe me, and the officer chastised me for lying to him. They took me away, but I was glad that my father hadn't been hurt.

And there you have it. Strange, no? I suppose it makes a certain amount of sense, really. I've recently told the story of my horrid Driver Ed experience (not my driving, but another's), been harassed by officers-but-not-gentlemen of the U.S. Border Patrol, had a friend's mother die in a car accident, etc., etc. So maybe it's normal that I would have strange dreams combining them all. Weird, though.

Perhaps the sleeping will be better tonight.

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Saturday July 20, 2002 Presidents

Got a haircut today. Had wonderful chicken Caeser salad made by mom (and dad?) for dinner. It was fantastico. Saw more West Wing episodes, in which Mark Harmon died. So sad.

I wondered, in the middle of a commercial break fast-forward, whether the West Wing would be so popular if we had a president like Jed. I mean, I'd trust my government in the hands of Jed and Leo and the others. Is it just that I don't get to see the cuddly side of Dick Cheney and the deeply thoughtful, methodical, intelligent side of Monsieur du Byuh? I don't know. Somehow, I can't picture our exalted leader holed up in the Oval Office saying to the staffers "somewhere in Libya right now, a janitor's working the night shift at Libyan Intelligence headquarters. He's going about doing his job... because he has no idea, in about an hour he's going to die in a massive explosion. He's just going about doing his job, because he has no idea that about an hour ago I gave an order to have him killed. You've just seen me do the least presidential thing I do." Somehow I have trouble imagining that scene happening in today's White House.

In other news, I have a haircut now. Yeah.

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Wednesday July 24, 2002 Ceiling constellations

Where are you tonight, when the moon shines so eerily full in the backyard? On a whim, I looked up the tables for years past and found that I was born on waning quarter day. You were born on a full moon, and I was not in the least surprised.

Last night, as I went to sleep, it was almost bright enough for me to read by the light of the moon, but not quite, so I lay in bed reading with my light on, trying to feel tired. After a while, I succeeded, and I set down Godel, Escher, Bach, through which I am trying not to hurry. I turned off my bedside light and lay on my back for a minute, looking up in the half-darkness of the full moon at the glow-in-the-dark stars and comets on my ceiling.

So many Swatties had those on their ceilings as they grew, and nearly all of us had some realistic (or attempted realistic) constellations. I don't doubt that Rabi had a perfect star map on hers. It's strange to read that last sentence; I wrote it feeling admiration and respect, and every time I reread it it seems snide and contemptuous. I'll have to trust her to understand what I meant, with apologies if I've offended. At any rate, mine boasts a couple of legitimate stellar patterns and a greater number of rather invented ones. I guess that's one of the unifying features of Swatties: we had glow-in-the-dark stickers of stars.

My eyelids drooped, and it was time to sleep, but first, as always, a candle against less friendly darknesses than those filling my room. Where you are, I imagine, it's not dark, barely dimming a little... Somewhere between Resolute and Eureka, which describes not a scientist about to discover something but rather a six-degree stretch above 74 north latitude. You're more than 30 degrees farther north than we are here. Are you asleep?

But I lit my candle, as I'd said I would, and I will again tonight.

Today, my computer has its new sound card installed, and I can listen to bagpipes properly. Wahoo. Anyone need a Turtle Beach Montego II sound card?

Yeah, I know, I haven't been writing much lately, and you've all gotten bored. Anyone have thoughts about what I should write about? I feel sort of out-of-ideas at the moment.

I'm practicing semi-like-mad for bagpipe competition. Perhaps I'll be ready. At any rate, I'm improving, although more slowly than I'd like. Karen (P/M number two) complimented my birls yesterday up in Canada, which was nice.

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Thursday July 25, 2002 Shoes

Today, I failed to buy sneakers, and then I bought sneakers.

We went to six stores at the mall today looking for shoes, two of which specialize in footgear, and there were none that fit. What a frustrating experience. I read something the other day that espoused the belief that modern medical practices of childbirth--many hospitals do episiotomies on 100% of the women giving birth there, whether or not they're needed, and the nationwide statistic for Cesarean sections is 65%--essentially tell women that their bodies aren't good enough to have children on their own. Several sites seem to agree with that philosophy, and it sort of makes sense.

Now, far be it from me to compare childbirth to buying shoes, but my brain is functioning on the analogy level right now, and that's where it went. I felt, very strongly, that the commercial world was telling me I wasn't good enough to have shoes. There was obviously something wrong with my body that made it not fit comfortably into a 12 EE or a 13 B. The laws of supply and demand tell me that, since I want something nobody else seems to want, my demand is unreasonable and unusual. Frustration.

Honestly, if we have half-sized shoes from 6.5 through 11.5, why stop there? Would a 12.5 be too much to ask? Do our feet simply stop growing in half-sizes above a certain point, and our toes only lengthen in full-size increments? Of course, I'm making the classic blunder of assuming that my enemy is a crafty, thinking entity, rather than a formless amoeboid corporate inventory list.

Needless to say, I left Massena feeling rather down. Four things really helped. First: Randy, my shiftmate at Reachout, hired me again to play for the Clarkson University freshman convocation. She'd hired me the year before, and this was not at all unexpected, but it made me happy. She also gave me a raise, which was again planned and again nice. Second: my pipe major called me up and asked if I could take a gig on Saturday playing for a funeral that had come up. I could, and now I'll have some more exposure and a check in my hand. Third: my mother made wonderful Indian potatoes for me to eat as dinner after I got home at 10 pm from my hotline shift. My mom rocks. Fourth: we found sneakers from an online store, in what we think is my size, and ordered them, with a money-back guarantee.

So that's how I failed and succeeded to buy sneakers today.

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Saturday July 27, 2002 Slumping

I played for a funeral today. It was fun.

Rabi tells me that she's in rather a junior year summer slump, so I feel at least as though I am not unusual in being rather unsure what to do with myself or why to do it.

It seems that the rescue crews are lifting miners out of the ground in Pennsylvania. This is a good thing. Go the rescue crews.

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Sunday July 28, 2002 Thinking of Dougie

I'm sitting in my living room, listening to Dougie Pincock playing his pipes and mine in the television room of Plockton High School's hostel, half a year ago. I'm searching back through my lesson archives for inspiration on my piobaireachd for the summer, and maybe I'll get an idea for what I should sound like.

Strange to think... It was a big room, with a checkerboard floor, and if you looked out the window on the lefthand side (I think of the sides as being on the inside looking out, rather than the other way), you could literally see over the sea to Skye. It wasn't far. The Scottish weather was always uncertain, though, and so I watched sun and rain and fog rolling across the hills in quick succession. There was a counter running across the righthand wall that always had several pipe cases on it, mine often among them.

I was looking at a webpage for the Eastern US Pipe Band Association today, one that had a list of past winners in the various Scottish championships. Iain MacFadyen, my other piping instructor in Scotland, won the big one... twenty-three years before I was born. Forty-three years before he taught me. It blows my mind in a small way.

Man, if I could get my pipes to sound half as nice as Dougie's do, I'd be well-pleased. Let's hope.

People have been asking me a lot lately about my plans for life after college, and I wish I could tell them a firm answer. I wish I had any sort of answer, really. Do I want to live in Potsdam? In Swarthmore, in Philly proper, in Boston, in Scotland, somewhere else I haven't thought of? I don't know.

I love the reverent, loving way Dougie talks about a cane bass drone reed. Cane is sort of the holy grail of piping reeds. It's natural, and produces a wonderfully rich, soft, floating tone. Unfortunately, it's also among the most finicky, least reliable, moisture sensitive materials around. Consequently we're all trying to get cane sound from synthetic reeds.

Will I go abroad on some sort of fellowship? I wish I knew. Will I still be with Elizabeth? Well, that one at least I can answer with "I sure hope so!" On the others, I'm not even sure what I want, let alone what's possible.

I sometimes find it hard to remember whether I have another year of Swarthmore remaining, or whether I have already graduated and the future starts in a few weeks. How old am I? That seems to be the angst question of the summer, and nobody seems to know the answer. Aah well. Maybe by the time I really need an answer, I'll have one.

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Monday July 29, 2002 Bagpipe upgrade

My package came, and there is now only one part of my bagpipe that was ever a living thing. The chanter reed. I guess maybe the hemp. I shouldn't tell the border patrol guys about my hemp. They might suspect that I'm running bagpipe supplies.

I am excited, and tired, and I hope that the chanter reed my band gave me will get somewhat easier, or else I'll get a new one. Who knows.

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Tuesday July 30, 2002 The joy of dry reeds

Can I explain how cool it is to play for three hours and find that my reeds are dry, not just not dripping, but dry? Very nifty. I want to figure out a way to move the stocks a bit so they're more comfortable, but even so, this seems like a very good innovation. I'm now playing a set of Dunbar P2 drones, a Ross zippered canister bag, Achiltibuie Balance-Tone drone reeds, and a Dunbar polypenco chanter with Warnock, Soutar, or Megarity-Ross reeds as the mood suits. Good stuff. Now if only my fingers would relax--they were powerfully tight this evening.

I will be out of town for a day or so, so please, gentle readers, worry not. At least, I hope you won't have reason to worry.

So much to be done! So little time to do it all! Aaargh!

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