Old Daily Shows--May 2000

May 31, 2000

I want a style manual.

No, really. I want to write good, yo. I would like for my writing to be above ridicule by SWIL's chat list. I would like to be proud of it. This, incidentally, extends to my handwriting. Note to self, keep working with Fred Eager's book.

So anyway, I've been perusing Amazon's listings, looking for interesting and relevant books. So far I've picked out three: Chicago Manual of Style, Strunk and White, and "The PC Is Not a Typewriter", which appears to be rather more a manual on practical typesetting than a guide to manuscript style, but that's okay. So anyway, I'm also considering The Dark Lord of Derkholm and The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, both by Diana Wynne Jones (and, equally important, recommended by Kyla), and October Project's eponymous CD. We'll see if I find the chutzpah to buy this stuff.

So, I had my first Reachout (crisis hotline) shift since coming home. It was pretty good - I took three calls, and dealt reasonably well, though two were about pretty nasty situations. Sigh. Kind of puts one's own problems into perspective, it does. I mean, hey, at least people aren't trying to kill me.

So, I decided eventually on reading Dogsbody first. It's another DWJ novel. Yum. I wish I could read at the voracious pace of some other people I know, but for the moment I'll have to content myself with my relatively lethargic rate of reading. Dogsbody's progressing well; I really like DWJ's style of writing.

Sajida says that I'm arbitrary, and that this is key. Key to what, I'm not sure, but I'm sure she'll enlighten me eventually.


See paragraph above paragraph above.

Right-o. So, I'm beginning really to miss my simple proletarian life of Swat. I knew my place, it was good, I earned my daily Sharples bread, life was complex, but predictable. Now I'm here, and it's all weird. All of it. Everything, I tell you!

So, I did it. I ordered the style manual thingies. Terribly exciting, really. This'll be good, though, because now I'll get something in the mail, yay. For any of you that were thinking of mailbombing me, no, this is not the way to my heart. If you were, say, to send me a complete set of Arthur Ransome's Swallows & Amazons books, you'd make a fast friend of me. But then you'd lose me because I'd go hole up somewhere and read them all. So you're probably better off saving your money for something else.

My shirt smells funny. I feel certain that this probably qualifies as arbitrary. Perhaps I can convince it to stop smelling like J.C. Penney's and start smelling like me, grar. Or rrarrarrarrr, as Katie would say.

Evidently I may be going to Boston next week to pick up Yevgeniy. The timing's been moved up rather a lot. So tomorrow I must call Kyla and ask about that, as well as calling Kira and giving her directions to East Bloomfield. Wacked in the head, all this phone callage. I like affixing -age to nouns. It's fun. Mr. Adams will always have the best -age creation, with the Dilbert "dorkage."

It's just occurred to me that I think I stole "grar" from Kyla. Hrm. Linguistic chameleonity is such a fun state to be in. Almost as good as Pennsylvania. Hrm has always been mine, though. Also the "well good, then" locution. Hrm. I'm sure there's a lesson in there somewhere, but I'm getting high off my shirt right now, and I can't find it in there.

Damn moths and stuff need to stop attacking my monitor. No, really, it's not a lightbulb, it's not a candle, it's not anything else you'd like to fly in front of, so back the f*** up, muthaf***a! Sorry about that. You'll have to excuse me. I get kind of irritated when I can't read my writing because of visual pollution.

Fucking slic has kicked my internet connection. Again. Piece of shit ISP. I suppose I have no real right to say that, given that I'm not the one paying for it, but eight times in an hour and a half seems a bit of an excessive lack of service.

So, apparently my skills are needed for a directory project at Reachout. That'll be fun, probably, and it will actually have an appreciable, concrete output, and also a finite time span, unlike most of my other work. So that'll be neat, probably. Of course, it'll probably also mean that I get to know way, way more than I'd like to about the AIRS Taxonomy of human resources. Oh, wait, I'm there already.

Oh, dammit. I opened Eudora to check for an AWAD word, and checked my cc mail by mistake. Dammit. There goes two weeks on my total time of having forwarded mail. Dangit all to heck.

Anyway, I was checking up on something from a while ago, which is this: time for me to fall into the arms of Morpheus, after some DWJ to read. Good stuff. We like it very much. Catch you on the flip side, folks.

May 30, 2000

I have rediscovered The Onion. This is bad for my productivity. Luckily, I've only been looking at it while talking to people.

I like the word lagomorph. It makes me feel special to know what it means. If you'd like to feel special too, and you don't already know what it means, look at this. Aah, the virtues of electronic reference materials.

Went to Reachout today, had Pizza Hut pizza. It was terribly exciting. Then I went to the public library and returned Stranger In A Strange Land, renewed my four Diana Wynne Jones books, and saw a couple of people, including Ed Hildebrand (old family friend, went to college with my Dad), and Pam Whalen, who is Kate and Dan and John and Megan's mother. Talked to her a little bit about the wonderful state of affairs in our local school district. For those who aren't in the know, our new superintendent of two years is leaving (thank god), after having referred in the local papers to upstate New Yorkers as hicks. Also good is that our new high school principal (tenure: one year) has resigned, after a number of... embarrassing incidents, including the ones where she got caught DWI... twice.

Anyhoo, then I was bored, so I went back to high school. Exciting stuff here. I saw my guidance counselor, Mrs. Robinson, and her daughter Brooke. Sat and shot the breeze (bang! bang!) with them for a while, then headed upstairs to speech and debate meeting, wherein I found lots of people including the aforementioned Kate and Dan. Stayed and chatted, cooed at Mr. Foisy's baby (hellooooo biological clock. Scariness.) After that, I walked with Dan in the general direction of his home/my Reachout before diverging. It was a good thing.

Yet More Cleaning! I have a floor, and fewer dust lagomorphs. Also fewer things from childhood, like the little viking ship I built out of aircraft balsa and pine. No more scary cardboard file cabinet thingetythings! Yay! I have, apparently, a floor. Soon I may even have walls. If you have a strong feeling about what color they should be, email me soonish. Also if you want a large supply of Domino Rally schtuff, I'm your huckleberry.

Heather logged on from home today. The seniors are gone. I was on merlin tonight for a while when there were only two people other than me on. Depressage, let me tell ya. Need to get directions to East Bloomfield so I can tell Kira how to get there. Note to self.

Talking to Katie Tunning is a good thing. She suggests to me that I ramble on about special hamburgers. Okay, here goes. Special hamburgers are hamburgers that my mom makes. I/we call them special by long tradition, probably because they've got seasonings in them and aren't just beef pancakes. So anyway, they're really good. I like 'em. They've got onions and garlic, which are sizeable points in their favor. Also bread crumbs, egg, ketchup, pepper, and probably some other stuff. Originally they're taken from a recipe in The Art of Cooking For Two, but my mother's made some alterations. Another note to self, put the recipe on the recipes page when I get around to it. So that basically covers the special hamburgers bit. Other than that we had them with a zucchini thing and also with pyazhwale sookhe aloo, which are these lovely spiced Indian potatoes with onions. Yum yum yum. So that was dinner.

I realized today that one thing separating Swat from Potsdam is that in Swarthmore, people are rarely verbally abusive and crass about it. Sure, you might hear people being mean to one another, but they're generally polite about it. There was a guy at school today, name of Ben Warburton, who for reasons that escape me has never liked me. Anyway. I was standing in the doorway talking to people, and he wanted to get into the room. Now, there was plenty of room to get by me, and if there weren't, there would be the logical statements of "Excuse me" "I'd like to come through." "Pardon me", etc... Ben, whom I'm going to try hard not to insult, came up with this one: "Hollis, move your ass." What a sad commentary on the youth of our times. Freshman. Muahahaha. His punishment will be three more years in that high school. Okay. Enough of that.

Katie has informed me that people like it when I make up words, and that I should do it more often. The word in question was ramblage, n. meaning the output generated when one rambles. Just thought you'd like to know.

So, I finished The Ogre Downstairs, by Diana Wynne Jones, today. Lots of good fun about kids and their chemistry sets. I want some Peter Fillus for my life, please! Yeah, that'd be good. Next on the reading plate is one of the other three DWJ books I have out (Dogsbody, Charmed Life, Power of Three), or Nancy Bond's A String In The Harp, or something. Haven't decided yet.

Reachout shift tomorrow night for me, 5 to 10. This will, unfortunately, keep me from going to Artistic Endeavors at the high school, but that's all good. The Onion has some things to tell you about teenage drug use. Read it. Laugh. It does a body good. Like milk. Only more so. And less problematic if you're lactose intolerant. Like most people, if you believe my piano teacher.

May 29, 2000

Sad songs and waltzes aren't selling this year. - Cake, "Sad Songs And Waltzes"

What is selling, evidently, is beer, salt crystals for water softeners, frozen eggplant parmigiana, and natty little Disney toys from Wal-Mart. Today we went to the mall in Massena, 45 minutes from home. It amuses me that the closest major shopping center is that far away. Also that the closest cities to my home are in Canada, but that's another story. So, yeah, the things people will buy always amuse me. Stairmasters at Sears are another good one. Some girl checked me out while I was walking to Electronics Boutique. It would have been really exciting if a) I were single/not entirely attached b) I had a clue who she was c) I were into that sort of thing d) I hadn't been headed to look at computer games (hopelessly uncool, probably). Anyway, it was still nice to be noticed. Oh well.

Went over to Grandma and Byron's house for dinner. Sausages and hotdogs; pretty much standard summer cookout fare. Mosquitos ate us alive, Dad took pictures with the new Nikon camera he got; it was a good thing. Afterwards, we looked at evidence, photographic and otherwise, from Grandma and Byron's recent trip to see neat architecture downstate and in Pennsylvania. It was pretty much a good thing. Also, I got to play Grandma's piano, a privilege that I never really appreciated 'til having had some piano lessons. Her piano has very nice action, much nicer than the piano we have at home.

Came home and watched Galaxy Quest with Dad (yes, for those as are counting, that does make it three times in as many weeks that I've seen it. Give me a break :) While doing that, I was beginning the update of the books page, de-commercializing it, etc.

Mom managed to freak me out by sending me, totally out of the blue, a link to a page about hantavirus, a rather nasty hemorrhagic fever that's carried by certain kinds of rodents. This freaks me out because there's a mouse that's been going into one of our cupboards, and also I've been cleaning a lot lately, stirring up lots of dust. Plus, the ironic bit is, I just cleaned up a lot of "nesting material" today. Yeah. In my closet, I had lots of Lego manuals, a few books, etc...

I'm pretty sure one of the cats is the perpetrator of this crime, given the other evidence. Something shredded the Lego manuals, the dust jacket for a hardcover book, and part of the cover of a softcover r/c airplane book, into pieces ranging from 1" by 1" to 5" by 6". Didn't do anything with them, near as I can tell, but just shredded them. Mystifies me, it does.

Anyway, enough freaky stuff. The room is coming along, I think. I actually fixed my closet doors - they're still too short for me, but at least they open and close properly now. Amazing what a flashlight, a screwdriver, and a replacement screw can do. Anyway. I'm probably going to repaint it at some point; most likely after my mom finished painting the study downstairs, so I'll have a room to escape to when mine's filled with toxic fumes. Heh. She used "low-odor" paint. Right. That's a joke, right there. Oh well. I'm probably going to end up replacing my couch-bed thingy* with a GRINDA sofa-bed thingameer from IKEA. It'll be all good, I promise. Plus it'll be slightly larger sleeping space than what I have now, but have a smaller footprint because of the lack of nesty retaining-will thingamajigger. This is not entirely a good thing, but we'll deal as best we're able.

Talked to Kira, and set up the whole visit thing. That'll be fun, then. Plus I'll get to go practice being exhibited to friends before I do the same thing with Kyla in July. So yeah, people graduated. If any of them read this, they should know that they rock, and stuff. Yeah. A little barely hidden sadness there; okay, really not hidden; okay, not really a little, actually... But that's life, and we give thanks for the time we have. So many people I want to have another day to screw around with, hindsight being 20/20 and all. Oh well. Anyway, Kira. So yeah, I'm going to go downstate with Mom, and Kira's going to come fetch me, after I deliver the line (via telephone): "Kira, I'm stuck in East Bloomfield. It's podunk hell. Please get me out of here, and take me to urbane, cosmopolitan Wellsville." It's like that 50's TV show where the guy's always saying "Mr. Wizard, get me out of here!" Except not.

Among the things I didn't do today are: sleep for more than 6 hours. buy the neato little piezo-ignition butane torch that I saw at Wal-Mart. buy anything at all, really. finish cleaning my room. fail to get eaten alive by mosquitos. Fortunately, however, tomorrow will be coming shortly, and then everything will be all good. Oh, yeah. I finished Stranger In A Strange Land, finally. Lovely little Messianic tale there, at the end. I'm trying to think of a way to work in the Word A Day for today, but it's not coming to me. Alas, that too will have to wait for another day.

*: It's this neat sofa-bed thing that's made all out of foam. Ugliest off-white cover you ever saw, but it's a neat bed, because there's a queen-sized sleeping area surrounded by this little retaining wall on all sides. This would be useful if I ever folded it up; at the moment, it's rather more useful because it's great for stacking books and things on. Yay books in bed. Unfortunately, however, the thing was made sometime before the dawn of time, and it's getting worn out. The halves of the bed proper are uneven, and the fabric hinge between them keeps ripping out. So perhaps a GRINDA is in order, after all.

May 28, 2000

Cats seem to be the defining force of today.

I had some sort of weirdish dream about cats, I think. Anyway, it was bizarre, and one of those dreams that's so strange it can't help but feel real, if that makes any sense at all.

Anyhoo, Scampi was around all day at home, being helpful. She likes to drink water from our kitchen robinet, when we let her. Another favorite cat trick is to make me stand and open/close the kitchen door for her several times while she decides whether or not to go out/come in.

Mom and I went out shopping during the middle of the day - went to our usual haunts: the Potsdam food coop for food and stuff - I got these neat "peanut sundrops", which are peanuts coated in some chocolatey thing that we think has sunflowers in it; Ames (pronounced ah-MAYZ FA-shun de-PART-ment store) for paint rollers and such; and P&C for various and sundry groceries that couldn't be had otherwhere. I saw Brooke Robinson, Missy Warburton, Jessica Pletcher, Krista Russell, and Katya Czerepak there - of these, Brooke, Krista, and Katya actually seemed pleased to see me, so maybe things are looking up :)

Home for a quick hosing-off, and then off to Shye's house for movies with her and Jen Gotham. Shye's an old friend, 10 years older and my immediate boss at Reachout; Jen's another volunteer there. We watched American Pie and Bowfinger, and I left just as Dogma was starting. Decent movies - last week we watched Being John Malkovitch and Galaxy Quest. Bowfinger and Malkovitch seem to have something in common, at least in the "putting yourself in someone's life without his permission, and giving him the wig" vein. American Pie is... itself.

George, Shye's cat, is an inveterate play-cat. She seems to have almost as much energy for playing as I do. The multitude of cat toys caused a bit of a sensory overload at times, but that's the hard life of a feline for you.

Back on the home front, the resident felix semidomesticus had gotten into my room, and knocked over a pile of stuff that was sitting on my bed in the Great Cleaning. Nothing damaged too badly, although a bunch of things got folded a bit - amateur radio VE session sheet, some Eagle Scout things, a program from All-County Show Choir in high school. So much stuff still to be sorted and thrown away or stored. Ugh.

Maybe if I feel really goodhearted, I'll get up tomorrow and go support my high school music department by going to the Memorial Day parade. I had to play in that damn thing three times (got to avoid it my senior year by being at Speech and Debate Nationals), but it was always more fun when there were actually people there.

Graduation tomorrow. Life will change again - no more easy contact with Heather, for one, and many fewer nice happy seniors pretending they're not scared. Sigh. It'll be good, though - people are coming to see me.

The cat is probably sleeping on my bed, though it's currently without sheets. She's probably on the bagpipes, actually (the ones I'm building, not the other set) - they're likely warmer than the mattress.

Want to buy a duck?

May 27, 2000
So, today was the IKEA trip. Two hours north in the sedan with the big 'ol blue trailer behind it to Ottawa, Ontario. Mom, Dad, me, Terry de la Vega, her husband Dale Hobson, their daughter Elena (they're all old friends of the family). So we went up and spent our day puttering around at the Rideau Centre (big, 200+ shops mall), Ottawa Folklore Centre, and Pinecrest Centre, wherein one finds IKEA (big, Swedish, yellow and blue, sells furniture and stuff), a bookstore, an art supplies store, computer store, etc. Dangerous place.

My purpose in going was mostly to look at/acquire furniture - in this case, a dresser to replace the old one that needed to go away. So I finally picked a Visdalen double dresser that I thought would fit well in my room and still leave room for important things like lights and waltzing with Kyla. All is well until we go to check out, at which point it is discovered that the dresser is not in stock. Bummer.

They'll probably have more in stock next week. Unfortunately, the only time we might be able to go up and get one is on the weekend, which won't work because a) Dad's going to the Diocese of Albany Convention (he's Junior Warden of our church) for the entire weekend, b) Mom's going to visit Alden, an old friend, and c) I'm probably hitching a ride downstate and going to visit Kira.

Kira, who will be a new graduate of Swarthmore College. Gawd, that's a scary thought, isn't it? As I write this I'm chatting with Julie Gregorio '03, and we're contemplating the thought of Mixed Company without Joel and John, who are graduating, and Vale, who isn't. Scary stuff. So many friends going away. One hopes we'll stay in touch.

Anyway, back to the trip. We went to a rather nice restaurant in Merrickville called the Gad's Hill House or some such thing - anyway, it's Victorian in style and is based on the life and works of Charles Dickens. Lovely place, very dark, full of atmosphere. I had soupe a l'oignon gratinee and an Irish stew with Guinness. Definitely a good thing. On the way to the restaurant, we stopped at this lovely little chocolatier & bakery in town, and got cheddar bread and various roulades (little chocolate and such pastry things - they're good). Anyway, these things are good, and phenomenally inexpensive - $.85 Canadian each. For reference, current exchange rate is $1.00 US = $1.48 Canadian, which puts these things at around 56 cents each. This is a Good Thing.

Well, it's getting late, so I should probably pull things to a close. I'm still working through Robert Heinlein's Stranger In A Strange Land. Good book, but damn, does Heinlein ever go weird with the whole sex thing!