We were hanging out the other night at our favorite bar, when the bartender mentioned he had been asked to invent some cocktails in honor of the NCAA.
As it happened, the martini I had just had him mix for me would fit right in that theme: Belvedere vodka with a splash of Clear Creek Distillery Eau de Vie of Douglas Fir and a twist of lime. I christened it The Tall Fir. The first NCAA basketball champions were the team from University of Oregon, nicknamed the Tall Firs.
We brainstormed a few more possible cocktails:
- NCAA: *N*ocello, *C*offee, *A*maretto and *A*bsolut Vanil
- Sweet Sixteen: something sweet and pink with a powdered sugar rim
- Bracket Busters: regional cocktails to honor each geographic region of the NCAA
I used to say that we lived in a no-crime zone. You could look at a map of my city that shows where crimes are reported. There’s a little blank square where nothing happens. Our house is inside that square.
This morning as I prepared to scrape the frozen frost from the windshield I noticed my driver side door was slightly ajar. I was sure I had closed it, I thought, as I opened the door.
Immediately I saw that my coin holder was missing. Not just the change it contained, but the entire holder. Plus the few random dollar bills I would occasionally tuck into the another holder between the seats (do those things have names?)
Damn punks got into my car and took my change. Now I’m mad. They didn’t take anything else, not that there was anything of value. I’ve been very lax about security, neglecting to lock my car as it sat in the driveway. I’ll be locking it from now on, I suppose, for all the good it will do.
Now what do I put my loose change into?
Is an idiot. He or she (I’m being marginally discreet) regularly forwards emails warning of dire consequences of using some product or service. “Authorities” cited are of dubious credibility if not downright fictional. Many of these emails originate from the 80s or early 90s and were debunked ages ago.
- Cell phones cause brain cancer
- (Then candidate) Obama wasn’t born in the US, doesn’t have US birth certificate
- Microwaving food in plastic containers releases dangerous toxins (okay, this has some validity, but nothing so drastic as the email suggested)
- #77 connects you to the state highway patrol (this one came with a rapist scare story to make it more … scary)
- Tampons and sanitary pads contain asbestos and cause Toxic Shock Syndrome
There’s more of course, but these are the ones that stick out in my mind.
This person is otherwise reasonably intelligent and is college-educated. But when it comes to alarmist emails, common sense just flies out the window. And clogs up my inbox.
I was all set to demo a piece of functionality to an internal customer this afternoon when my laptop computer suddenly shut down. I rebooted and it immediately began shutting down again. I begged off and went in search of IT.
Just for the heck of it, I docked the laptop and tried rebooting again. Sure enough, it shut down just about as everything had completely loaded. Everyone in IT was off helping other people, so I took my laptop to the “Vault”, a secure room where the programmers and QA work.
Let’s take a look at it. What’s it doing?
I start it up and it immediately shuts down, I say.
Fire ‘er up.
The laptop started up and loaded my startup apps.
I’m going to run the command line to abort the shutdown process. Oh. It couldn’t abort because it’s not shutting down.
I explain that I can’t even shut off the sound and reach out to press the sound on/off button.
Why are you pressing the power button to shut off the sound?
From today’s inaugural address.
On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.
We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things.
Early in the campaign, in 2007 in fact, Rush Limbaugh (no referring-link love here) tried to claim the phrase “Magic Negro” and attach it to our now soon-to-be President. He pulled it from an LA Times editorial, which I understood to be about public perception and expectations of Barack Obama.
The Magic (or Magical or Mystical) Negro, a stock character of film and literature always subservient to the needs, goals, and personal growth of the white (usually male) protagonist, is a racially-infused construction of the older mythic tradition of the Companion.
As the Hero sets out on his (or her) journey, he often acquires up to three companions, frequently possessing magical powers, who assist him on his quest. The Companion may be a dangerous wild man or talking animal, or even a wise though non-magical servant.
Barack Obama does not fit the construct of a Magic Negro. He is not a companion to a protagonist, he is the protagonist. It is as the Hero that he carries the hopes and expectations of the nation. His quest is to lead the nation.
A couple three times a year, E goes off for a weekend with his buddies. I’m welcome to come with, I just don’t want to.
Typically I take myself out to dinner in the Pearl, for sukiyaki at an upscale Japanese restaurant. I have sufficient leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch.
It’s just me and the cats. I don’t know what to do with myself.
What will I do when he’s gone?
Apparently I put on a little more weight than I thought over the holidays. It seems to take a week or two for the excess calories to fully settle into poundage.
I managed fine until Christmas, then it was all bets off. You bet I overate crab, Christmas cookies and Tom & Jerrys. And it was good. Especially the krumkake. I haven’t tried, but I bet I could eat an entire batch in one sitting.
Now it’s back to the gym, back to regualr ‘fu training, and back to eating low-calorie but filling food.
If I can just keep away from the red vines and “chocolate”-covered raisins, I’ll be good.
Our national obsession with New Year’s resolutions is ultimately an expression of optimism. Optimism that this year will be different. This year we can change for the better.
At the moment I’m feeling pessimistic. I know myself and my own indolence too well to realistically think that I’m going to improve my life. Resolutions are good for a month or so, then we fall back into our old habits.
That said, here are my resolutions for 2009.
- Get my black belt – this one is most likely to be accomplished, mainly because I’ve got a terrific support system
- Read more – I haven’t read all of last year’s Christmas books even; I can read while riding the exercycles at the gym, which leads to the next resolution …
- Exercise more – I can ride my bike to work in good months when there’s enough light and it’s not so rainy, but in the meantime I have a gym membership; but only if I can get myself there early enough in the morning, which means I have to …
- Take out the slack – I tend to distract myself, shilly-shallying and dilly-dallying, wasting time, especially on the internet (I love you, LOLCats)
- Continue weight loss – I only gained a few pounds over the Christmas season, but I’m confident those can come off if I return to my previously established eating patterns
- Buy new house
- Sell current house
- Don’t have so much stuff laying around – maybe I can start now by packing up excess stuff, getting it ready to move and reducing surface clutter at the same time; let’s start by …
- Cleaning my room and keeping it clean – file away papers right away and would a little dusting now and then kill?
- Blog more often – oh yes, we’ve seen how successful that’s been in the past; well how about this: I’ve just added Twitter – there’s a widget in the upper right of this page, read & enjoy
We did make it to the coast for Christmas eve after all. Our days of shoveling the drive to keep the accumulation down paid off. The tricky bit was getting up and down our dumb little side street. Once we got to the main road we were fine.
The drive on Highway 30 was exciting. Packed snow all the way through Scapoose. Horrible piles of slush through Clatskanie. Heavy snow from Rainier Hill to Bradley Hill.
Most amazing, snow on Christmas Day in Astoria. I never saw that in all my years on the coast.
We had Christmas dinner with E’s family on Sunday after Christmas, so our Christmas got extended. Christmas.
As per usual, we gave each other books. Lots and lots of books. I still haven’t read 1/2 the books from last Christmas. I try to come up with at least one “3rd world” author. And something suitably gruesome to suit E’s morbid taste.
Books I gave E
- The White Tiger Aravind Adiga
- Gentlemen of the Road Michael Chabon
- The Yiddish Policemen’s Union Michael Chabon
- The Tsar’s Dwarf Peter H. Fogtdal
- The City of Dreaming Books Walter Moers
- Breakdowns: Portrait of the Artist as a Young %@&*! Art Spiegelman
- The Secret Museum of Mankind
Books E gave me
- The Alcoholic Jonathan Ames
- Frida’s Bed Slavenka Drakulic
- The Spies of Warsaw Alan Furst
- Welcome to Dingburg: Zippy the Pinhead Bill Griffith
- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Stieg Larsson
- The Complete Persepolis Marjane Satrapi
- The Good Husband of Zebra Drive Alexander McCall Smith
- Rhubarb H. Allen Smith