Chattering Magpie Past Web Log
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July 2002
July 30 2002
Transformations.
Lots of changes around the household. My room is in the process of being transformed into a real, working home office. This weekend we (and by "we" I mean "E") bought a computer desk. A really big computer desk. It sits in the corner and wings out 6 feet on either side of me. Plenty o' room for monitor and scanner and printer and all the crap I like on a desk. I had to give up a futon and a desk. We traded out a narrower bookshelf for the one I had previously. Books and papers are still in boxes as I shift things around, but it's all coming together. I think I've got things set up pretty ergonomically, too, which is better than any place I've ever worked. I even got a funky kneeling computer chair I've had for years hauled down from the attic.

July 27 2002
Beervana.
This is my favorite weekend of the whole year: the annual Portland Brewer's Festival. Aah, beer. Proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

Apparently though, beer is sometimes not enough. E conspired to get me to El Gaucho for a cocktail concocted by Matt the bartender, just for me. I named it liquid sushi: ginger-infused vodka, lime, pickled ginger juice and wasabi, garnished with pickled ginger and tuna. Surprisingly it was pretty darn good.

My latest project has been a web site for the Mo Duk Pai Association, my kung fu system. We've whipped up a basic site (contact info and "About"). Great feedback so far from association members. It's not live yet, so you can't see it, but you will, soon.

July 25 2002
Back in the USSR.
Citizens! Do your duty to the state! Watch for suspicious behaviour among your neighbors and report to the Department of Justice.

War is Peace :: Freedom is Slavery :: Ignorance is Strength

July 23 2002
Why Americans need to study foreign languages.
My favorite "Bushism" making the rounds:
"The problem with the French is that they don't have a word for entrepreneur."
George W. Bush, discussing the decline of the French economy with British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
I'm just enough skeptical to question whether Dubya actually said this. But I do dearly hope so because it's so deliciously funny. Was it Bush the Elder or Bush the Younger who proclaimed himself "The Education President"?

Rearranging my life. We have decided to make my little room into a functional home office. Yet I still need my dresser, wardrobe and cedar chest, not to mention bookcase. I'm rearranging. I'm not happy. It looks better on paper. The wardrobe has suddenly become huge.

July 20 2002
Ding dong.
We have achieved doorbell. I am so glad. The computer is in a little room way in the back of the house and I can't hear if someone is at the front door. Now I will. The doorbell is a rather horrid tinny sounding cheap thing, but it gets the job done.

We had our first green-and-above kung fu class this morning. It wasn't hard physically but I found it emotionally challenging, working out with black belts who can wipe the floor with me if they so choose. Not that they would of course, because they're all really nice. It's a matter of training on a different level where I really have to stretch myself.

I've got a couple free tix to the Portland Highland Games, held today out at the Mount Hood Community College campus. E is off with a friend of his for a few hours and I can't raise any relations on the phone. I'm considering just going out by myself, wandering around and looking at stuff for an hour or so. It's too nice a day to stay inside in front of this monitor.

July 18 2002
Little changes => big results.
That's the lesson I've been living lately, in multiple areas of my life. In sparring class Sifu has me moving my feet, taking little steps, making short sharp angles and it's made a big difference in my sparring. I'm harder to hit, I'm able to see openings and land punches better and I'm having more fun. I've just begun the daily practice of tidying up the house before I settle down to work at the computer. It doesn't take long and I feel good when I look around me and see a nice tidy house. That visual and emotional distraction is gone and I can focus on real work. I even got talked into bringing fresh flowers into the house. Wow! What a big improvement that makes for a relatively small effort.

July 17 2002
I'm a fairy godmother.
Yesterday I did nice things for people. I hooked up a friend with someone who can lend him something he needs. I discovered information about killing weeds without pesticides and sent that off to someone who was asking. I was a sounding board for a friend who is going through a bad patch. I (and by "I" I mean "E") even figured out how that friend could get information necessary to collect money owed.

I feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

July 15 2002
Intermittency.
These web log entries seem to be getting fewer and farrer between. I admit, I just made up the word "farrer". You know what I mean. Friday I got a massage, finally using the gift certificate I was given three years ago. It was fabulous. Nothing so wonderfully indulgent and relaxing as a full-body massage. Over the weekend I fretted and fussed my way to mapping out an on-line portfolio. Coming Soon! I am my own worst client.

My big thrill for the weekend was buying a new oscillating sprinkler, the kind that throws the water back and forth like a big wave. I like those better than the ones that just throw the water around in a frenetic circle. So meditative to watch. The old one was a cheap plastic piece of crap that wouldn't oscillate unless the water was at maximum pressure, leaving me to water the asphalt. The new one works like a champ. It didn't cost much, either.

July 11 2002
Too darn hot.
No more complaining about rain, now we're having our glorious summer heat. It's not so hot here in the back room where I'm working on the computer. That's right, I'm working. I did a little design consulting early this week, then a major web site update and now I'm generating logo concepts for a new client. It feels good to be working. Busy. That's why no web logging for the past few days.

For summer reading I recommend "Charlie Bob's Fan". Unfortunately, it's out of print, so you'll have to find it at a used book store or borrow my copy. It's a powerful, moving tale, full of suspense and drama, with a surprise twist ending that will leave you with the satisfaction of knowing that there is justice in the world. It has no words.

July 7 2002
It's summer it's fall it's summer it's fall
We're having this weird weather pattern where days alternate between 90° heat and cool rain. For example, yesterday was just blastingly hot. Today we had rain and even thunder. Of course, since I water the garden every other day, guess which day I end up watering on?

Right now I'm just waiting around for E and his buddies to come home from their road trip to see The Who. They took nephew Joey with them. I hope they bring him back in one piece. He's not even 20 yet.

I made fried chicken. I know E will want something to eat when he comes home. We've got leftover salads from the party, too. I hope he comes home soon. We're supposed to go to his folks for dessert around 7pm.

July 5 2002
We cook for armies
In celebration of the Fourth, we had family and a few friends over for grilled burgers & hotdoggies. As usual, we had twice as much food as we needed. This was a last-minute affair, more casual and less stressful than the parties we pulled off in previous years. E pronounced it "pleasant".

I damaged my toe. The middle one. It's all purply and swollen, the bruise extending up into the foot. I don't think it's broken. I was working out with nephew Joey the other night and threw a jumping front snap kick. Instead of hitting him in the chest as intended, I hit his hard bony elbow. Very embarrassing. Six years of training and I'm still not pulling my toes back correctly.

This morning when I got up and surveyed a reasonably clean kitchen, I felt good. Food was put away, counters wiped up and disposable plates were disposed. It's the American Way. Which got me to thinking about the perversion of patriotism in this country. It's considered unpatriotic, un-American to question whether we should be using so much disposable goods, merely for our own convenience.

I'm not so much a fool as to think an old-growth redwood died for my Chinettes. I'll not shed a tear for pulpy farm-raised cottonwoods. But a lot of energy goes into creating my paper plates, energy that's dug out the ground or extracted from shale. Nasty by-products, that have a bad habit of ending up in groundwater, are produced.

I can accept the economic argument that our consumer-goods culture creates jobs, jobs are good, jobs mean working families enjoy a decent standard of living. What bothers me is the argument that it is The American Way, What Made This Country Great, What America Stands For. And of course, there's the corollary argument that challenging the culture of consumption is anti-American. It's as if the forces of capitalism (you know, the ones that are going to hire me someday) have co-opted patriotism.

We, as Americans, should reserve our patriotism for fundamental freedoms outlined in the Constitution, not the Joy of Pepsi.

July 3 2002
Oh slave boy!
Cherz will be your slave boy
click me, master
In an effort to fund his upcoming trip to Burning Man (Don't ask me to explain Burning Man - it's too weird and complex. Yes, that's a copout.) Cherz is offering to be your slave boy. Details here. If you are in the Portland, OR metropolitan area (or are willing to pay Cherz's airfare & lodging) take him up on it. He's so adorable. Get him to make one of his fabulous desserts. Surely that's worth something.


Which Buff Girl Are You? Find out @ She's Crafty
Slay me. On a whim I took the Buff Girl challenge. I had trouble with the last two questions which had to do with which "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" girl I most liked and most identified with. I picked Buffy because I had no clue as to who the others were, never having watched the show. Still, it's nice to know I am The One.

July 1 2002
Positive ID.
Identify this flowerThanks to everyone who helped me identify the Utah Mystery Weed I have growing at the bottom of my driveway. Sydney came up with Gaillardia aristata, and Cherz's Uncle Bill confirmed it. I looked up Gaillardia aristata on the Google; the pictures looked like what I got. I'm going with "Indian blanket" for the common name.

I finally got off my tuchas and added section links to all the secondary pages. What? You haven't looked in the other sections? Well there's some nifty stuff in there. Go explore!