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April 2001


 

Sunday, 1 April 2001, 11:20 am

No one, except for those piddling few whose fortuitous choice of ancestors insured otherwise, is promised a rose garden. And maybe that's just as well, since the best I can reasonably hope for is a slower rate of topsoil erosion.

On the upside, I got to follow my grandson around for a day, something which doesn't happen all that often, and it's utterly charming to see youthful exuberance in full swing. I can only hope he does a better job of holding onto it than I did.

Monday, 2 April 2001, 7:10 pm

My eyes open slowly — with Daylight Savings Time inflicted upon us, even more so — but nonetheless, they do open.

The difference between the craftsman and the artist? I've been here even longer than Glassdog, but Lance Arthur is the guy with the vision. At best, I can come up with an occasional revision, a display of some level of competence. Fortunately for me, competence is very much overrated.

Tuesday, 3 April 2001, 5:35 pm

You're running — or, at least, trying to appear to be running — a business. For some reason, you have n positions, and you're trying to cover those positions with somewhere between n-3 and n-6 people. Faced with this predicament, do you:

  1. Make the effort to bring in, if not necessarily six, at least three new people?
  2. Resign yourself to the fact that things will not go quite as quickly as you'd like?
  3. Complain to your people that things are not going quite as quickly as you'd like?

If you answered "1", you're either very rare or not actually in a position to sign the checks.

If you answered "2", you're probably about average.

If you answered "3", you're a relic of the Dark Ages and should be stuffed and mounted in the Museum of Bad Examples.

Fortunately for you "3" types, the Museum is quite horribly understaffed.

Wednesday, 4 April 2001, 7:10 pm

I suppose I ought to be pleased that some people's romantic delusions are even less persuasive than mine, but somehow I don't find it reassuring.

The new thing in dental plans seems to be programs which are happy to bill themselves as "not insurance". My experience with them is limited, but so far the term is apt; most of the individuals on my Preferred Provider list are not taking new patients or not accepting some fee schedules or not scheduling appointments for the next five weeks. Why they don't get Mike Myers (as Wayne Campbell; Austin Powers obviously wouldn't do) as a spokesperson is beyond me.

Thursday, 5 April 2001, 6:50 pm

As a general rule, I don't pay a whole lot of attention to astrologers, but Michael Lutin's comments for the coming month caught me by surprise:

"In a perfect world, you would be carried through the streets on the shoulders of all the nut jobs you've had to support while you struggled to keep yourself from falling apart. In truth, though, you're still alone. When you consider how successfully you've coped with huge personal issues, with virtually no outside help, you've got to pat yourself on the back. Now, however, it is time for some serious 7th-house action, and that means crawling out of the hole of self-absorption and facing your need for a deep, committed relationship. Very, very scary."

Scary indeed. Then again, I've seen my chart, and I've got squares not even Whoopi Goldberg would get near.

Friday, 6 April 2001, 8:00 pm

Sixty hours ago, I reported to one of the landlord's minions that the air conditioning in my hovel was out of, um, condition.

I repeated the report to the actual property manager thirty hours later; she had not heard about the initial report.

Since it's not likely that this problem is going to be addressed over the weekend, I'm looking at a minimum five-day outage. Admittedly, this is April and not August, so temperatures aren't likely to reach the level of, say, Gehenna, but it's still an annoyance, and a sweaty annoyance at that. I'll post the time of the actual repair when it happens, and of course the entire sordid story will sit in a search engine for all eternity, or at least until the NASDAQ drops to 80.

Saturday, 7 April 2001, 6:00 pm

Is it really necessary to remove every last tree from a quarter-section of land to put in a housing development? This afternoon, on the road to No Place In Particular, I traipsed through something called Danforth Farms, where every other street name has an equestrian origin — Oklahoma City insists upon the retention of numbers for east-west thoroughfares, lest the fire department get lost somewhere around 197th Street — and "Farms" notwithstanding, it's about as pastoral as a GMC dealership. Besides which, there's this unwritten Law of the Suburbs which mandates bigger boxes made of ticky-tacky, though they still all look just the same. Somehow I don't remember Framingham looking like this.

The city of Edmond, on the other hand, likes trees. Loves trees. The joke a few years ago was that there was a City Council motion to ban all further street or subdivision names that contained any mention of "oak", before the entire population wound up living on Something Oak Drive. At least, I think it was a joke.

Coming back down Covell Road, I happened upon a subdivision that probably should have been called Ashford Oaks, but was in fact called "Asheforde Oaks", with a double helping of that Olde Englishe Codswallope that presumably impels people with ancestors named Martinez (such as, well, yours truly) to look elsewhere for housing.

Sunday, 8 April 2001, 1:00 pm

As this site completes its fifth year online — a virtual eternity, by Web standards — I'd like to thank the hundreds of people who have written in over those 260 weeks to exalt me for providing some necessary piece of information, or to excoriate me for some boneheaded lapse in logic, or whatever the motivation. Without readers, a Web site is just farting up a flagpole; I depend on you guys to help keep me fresh and (relatively) unflatulent.

While we crank up for Year Six, here's a display of truth in advertising I found rather striking.

Monday, 9 April 2001, 5:00 pm

It's possible, I suppose, to imagine a more worthless 24-hour period than the one just ended, but it takes far more imagination than I have.

Item: According to a report by MSNBC, the firm which hosts this Web site was hacked, and the user/password/credit-card files were duly snatched. While no apparent damage was done to me personally — no changes were posted to the site, no charges were posted to my card, and I had both password and card swiftly invalidated — this is not something that adds to my sense of well-being.

Item: For the second week in a row, the firm that recycles our waste paper at work managed to avoid picking up the stuff accumulated by my office. (How much? If you have curbside trash service and the usual plastic cart, well, in a week I generally produce enough chad, chaff and chunks to fill it twice.)

Item: The air-conditioning war continues apace. It is now 128 hours and counting. I informed the property manager's minion that tomorrow I would hire outsiders to repair the unit and send her the bill. (Side note: If you're considering renting on the eastern edge of Oklahoma City, please, please avoid this place. Its proprietors make the Keystone Kops look like quantum physicists.)

Item: On the off-chance that we're actually finally done with winter, the Major Babes have begun turning out in their spring finery, which prompted the geek chorus in the back of my head to chime in with the usual chant of "Why look? You have no chance with any of them and you know it." Yes, I know it. Is it necessary to remind me so often?

Today is the fifth anniversary of this Web site. Big effing deal.

Tuesday, 10 April 2001, 6:40 pm

I knew Cathy Keating hated it here in Soonerland, but I had no idea she hated it so much she was willing to run for Steve Largent's House seat. Of course, this makes perfect sense: Cathy wants to be in Washington, a place hubby Frank hasn't been able to get her to lately, and Steverino has far more ties to that other Washington (the one with Largent's former employer, the Seattle Seahawks) than he does to Beautiful Downtown Tulsa. Then again, Largent is making noises about a run for the governor's mansion in 2002 when the Keatings are evicted by term limits. It all resembles a game of Musical Empty Suits.

Cold front coming through, storms on the way. Was there ever a better time to get the A/C fixed?

Wednesday, 11 April 2001, 7:15 pm

Everyone knows it's windy — this is Oklahoma, after all — and everyone knows that record by The Association. So while this song started playing in the back of my head, I started wondering about Ruthann Friedman, who wrote it, and whatever happened to her anyway?

Well, she did have a career as a singer, turning up at places like the Big Sur Folk Festival, and she cut a mostly-unnoticed album of twelve original tunes for the Warners organization (Constant Companion, Reprise 6363, 1970), which I will now officially add to my want list, right under Damhnait Doyle. "Windy" was written as a paean to her boyfriend of the moment, one of the Ur-hippies of the Haight, and originally, she'd envisioned it as a waltz. Bones Howe, producer of that Association session, reworked it into 4/4, and Ruthann didn't seem to mind — after all, she sings on it. I rather think she probably also doesn't mind the checks from BMI; I'm sure it beats the heck out of, say, selling real estate in Indianapolis.

Thursday, 12 April 2001, 5:35 pm

I am always amazed at how quickly the green returns once the freezing stops. The front of our lot at work is lined with cottonwood trees, which aren't much good for lumber or kindling but do thrive in urban sprawl, and they've gone from barren to fruitful (the females, anyway) to summer green in a matter of two weeks, dropping a load of white stuff on everything in sight and inducing the odd allergy. No matter. I'm talking trees, dammit, and while I'm seldom tempted to hug them, I'm grateful for anything remotely organic out here in the Asphalt Forest.

(No, I don't talk to trees. Sheesh. Go paint your own wagon.)

Friday, 13 April 2001, 9:00 pm

Yes, I know, and yes, it was.

As I might have guessed, ever since my fax machine croaked, my need for faxing has roughly quadrupled, and running to Kinko's in the middle of the night gets old after about the second iteration, so today I bit the bullet and bought a Brother. Not quite bottom-of-the-line, but close enough.

Which of these was the dumber thing to do?

 1. Tear up a check for $960 and toss it into the rubbish heap
 2. Promise to help one of the Office Babes purchase and set up a computer

From where I sit, it looks like a toss-up so far.

Saturday, 14 April 2001, 10:55 am

If ever I had any delusions that the online world had higher ethical standards than what prevails inside brick and mortar, I'm sure they've been dispelled by now.

Sunday, 15 April 2001, 1:45 pm

While we're waiting for the stone to roll away and the other shoe to drop, I'm sitting here discovering how little talent I have for scripting. Not that this is a particularly startling discovery or anything, but I hate running up against my own limitations, especially when it's such a short run.

A word to the wise: If you own a domain registered through Network Solutions, make darn sure that you didn't give them an email address that has the slightest chance of being changed any time between now and the End of Time. Of course, if you did, it's too late to do anything about it now; God Himself can't save you. Not even Zeldman.

Oh, well, at least it's a nice day, in the purely-meteorological sense, and we don't get anywhere nearly enough of those.

Monday, 16 April 2001, 5:50 pm

Well, I think I have Network Solutions straightened out. Maybe. Certainly I'm starting to see the wisdom in opening up the domain biz to competitors. Keeping Web sites organized is far too important to be left to a monolithic, intractable entity. And maybe the competition benefits NS as well, if only because there will be fewer calls to break them up as though they were Microsoft or something.

After an initial consultation, I make my first official visit tomorrow to the New Dentist. This chap seems to be a traditionalist: instead of brandishing new and scary weapons of torture, he uses the classic scary weapons of torture. I think we're going to get along just fine.

Tuesday, 17 April 2001, 6:50 pm

It appears my gums are not just receding; they're retreating. God only knows where they plan to hide out.

Barb of the Day: Jeff Taylor, writing in Reason Express, on Bush fils and his handling of the Chinese spy-plane affair:

It is not too much to ask for the commander-in-chief to have command of his material roughly on par with that of a Dairy Queen district manager.

Ouch!

Wednesday, 18 April 2001, 6:35 pm

Which of the following is least convincing?

  1. "I am not a crook."
  2. "I did not have sex with that woman."
  3. "We're promoting one of your underlings over you for health reasons."

The Dow Jones has gained back almost everything it lost during the recent cub (not quite a full-grown bear) market, but the NASDAQ still lags badly, perhaps because that business they teach in Econ 102 about price to earnings ratio, after a couple of years of dot-com-inspired desuetude, has finally regained some recognition. I mean, what kind of P/E are you going to have if you have no prospects of E?

Thursday, 19 April 2001, 6:15 pm

Today, we catch up on some correspondence.

***

Dear T. (not her real initial):

In memory of a simpler, happier time, I've scheduled a twin-spin of "Good Morning Starshine" and "Wichita Lineman" this evening just for you. I hope you're having an incredibly wonderful life.

***

Dear Jason (if that is your real name):

This piece of, um, spam you sent me contains the following statement:

If you want to be successful you must first find someone who is successful and Duplicate what they do.

What a revolting concept. I'd rather spend three days stuck at janetrenoshowercam.com than slavishly imitate some schmuck who happens to have a few bucks — especially if he spent it on a CD full of email addresses.

***

Dear Joey (and as far as I'm concerned, that is your real name):

Dammit, man, this is no time to be sedated.

And who needs four chords, anyway?

Friday, 20 April 2001, 8:25 pm

It has always seemed perfectly obvious to me that one of the most egregious failings of this world is that the wrong people always seem to be in charge; whether this is a cruel joke by any or all of the Fates, or just the Peter Principle in action, is debatable, but no matter who gets the blame, the results are the same.

Comes now Cullen Murphy, writing in the May 2001 Atlantic, suggesting that a possible contributing factor may be simply that the "governing bodies have been given the wrong things to govern." One proposed switcheroo:

"College athletics is long overdue for a change of governance; putting SPECTRE in charge could well be the answer. To be sure, counterintelligence, terrorism, revenge and extortion account for only a portion of the college-sports industry, but SPECTRE's reputation for evenhanded enforcement of the rules would be welcome. (The notion of 'elimination' in tournament play would also acquire added interest.)"

I like it, I like it.

Saturday, 21 April 2001, 6:00 pm

Mercury isn't retrograde again until summer, but my electronic gizmos are getting into the dispirit of the season already. The clock on the fax machine is gaining four minutes a day, and despite the presence of known callers, the screen on my Caller ID box is as blank as the space above Claude Rains' collar. And lately, I'm not in the mood to go shopping, either.

Sunday, 22 April 2001, 4:00 pm

Apparently it's a wind speed of 52 mph, give or take a tick or two, that causes the shabby wooden fence along the north boundary line of this development to shake itself into Popsicle sticks.

Southwestern Bell is pushing something called Privacy Manager, which is supposed to intercept all those "out-of-area" calls that Caller ID can't read and demand some form of identification. Given my general antipathy for junk calls, this would seem to be right up my alley, but since I hardly ever answer the phone anyway, it's hard to imagine how I'd get $48 worth of use out of this service in a single year, and SBC's existing CallNotes service is flaky enough already. As Meat Loaf might have said, "Let me sleep on it."

And frankly, I hope Mr Loaf is sleeping better than I am. I'm still waking up four or five times a night, despite the sudden departure of the upstairs meth lab, or whatever the hell it was; this restlessness is starting to wear on me, and I'm too old to take a whole lot more wear.

Monday, 23 April 2001, 6:50 pm

A lesson lost on managerial types: If you're going to think out of the box, you first must acknowledge that the box actually exists.

I've been playing Led Zeppelin II to death this week for some reason. It is, admittedly, the second record I bought in college — never mind about the first — but this isn't really a nostalgia trip, at least as I understand the term; I have no urge to relive anything from the last half of 1969. What matters here is that the Brown Bomber is a damned fine album, and what's more, it doesn't have "Stairway to Heaven" on it.

Unexpected Truth From Star Trek Dept.: The building of the first transporter may have been important, but it was the building of the second transporter that was vital.

Tuesday, 24 April 2001, 6:55 pm

Some milestones aren't worth remembering. Today, with Texaco's cheap stuff at $1.559, was the first time I ever spent twenty bucks (actually, $20.55) to fill up a car. Owners of Pathfinders and Expeditions and other suburban assault vehicles will sneer, but it's not like anyone put a gun to their heads and said "You will buy something that sucks vital fluids like a three-year-old with a Silly Straw." (Before you complain, you should note that I am on record as a defender of the SUV.) Besides, if I were really going to be seriously bothered by this, I should have filled up yesterday, eleven miles and half a gallon ago.

Elsewhere on the vehicular front, I notice a flurry of activity on automotive message boards and such every time the usual suspects issue a stack of crash tests, usually pissing and moaning by people whose cars didn't get enough stars and "If you really cared about your family..." tripe from people whose cars did. For the record, I want it clearly understood that I don't give a ruddy rat's rear about crash tests, and even if I were schlepping around toddlers, I still wouldn't. You worried about pretzeling the front of your mommobile? Rule One: Don't hit things. Rule Two: Don't let things hit you. It's as simple as that.

Wednesday, 25 April 2001, 8:10 pm

Some people are astounded at the ferocity with which I respond to what, on the grand scale of things, are relatively minor annoyances. They need not wonder. Those of us whose lives are despoiled beyond redemption, for whom mere contentment is a dream beyond any Xanadu or Shangri-La, have only one goal worthy of the name: to reduce the ongoing level of frustration. When this goal is thwarted — which, in my case, averages about 32 times per week — the reflex kicks in, and it isn't pretty. And until I can figure out some way to earn a decent living that doesn't involve catering to dunderheads who couldn't pour piss out of a boot even if the instructions were stenciled on the heel, there will be more of the same. Lots more.

Thursday, 26 April 2001, 7:15 pm

Since the House of Representatives wants to make fetuses a protected class under federal law, and since birth for most of us is quite involuntary (though Mom was quite happy to see us move out of the womb, I'm sure), it seems to me that this protected status should carry right on through birth, through life, all the way up to death. On the other hand, we certainly can't have everyone in a protected class, or the whole concept becomes a travesty. It might be simpler, therefore, to declare some non-protected classes and get it over with, starting with, say, the Congress.

Friday, 27 April 2001, 6:20 pm

"Hope I die before I get old." - The Who, "My Generation"

I'm old. Now what?

Saturday, 28 April 2001, 6:25 pm

What was I thinking? Did I really expect a response of "Yes, as a matter of fact, we do design things around here to suck the very life out of everyone"?

What was he thinking? Deepak Chopra, quoted in the June Playboy:

"If you translate the purpose of business into spiritual terms, the purpose is not to make money but the service of society."

Yeah, and Timothy McVeigh was basically just a litterbug.

And my email provider has gone so far south that they can't find it from Tierra del Fuego, so I'm shifting all mail functions to a domain over which I have a modicum of control — this one. Mail links will be updated when I find the time.

Sunday, 29 April 2001, 11:05 am

Still no response from my soon-to-be former email service, which apparently has gone into terminal bit decay; its ostensible management has decided to get out of the personal mail business and concentrate on the corporate market, where the real money is, or at least used to be. In the meantime, the rotting husk of the service has been turned over to one of those two-cans-and-an-ISDN-line services that presumably has better things to do than to send me my daily ration of spam.

Of course, this left me with a definite hole in my Standard Identity, and about four hundred or so email links on this Web site to fix. And while I can't do a whole lot about my ongoing identity crisis, Mike Funduc's Search and Replace software made short work (and by "short" I mean "less than a minute") of updating all those pages. Thanks, Mike. I wasn't even looking forward to opening up WordPad four hundred times.

Monday, 30 April 2001, 6:45 pm

I was finally able to get through to the Mail Server From Hell today, or at least its Web-based interface — POP3 still doesn't work — and as expected, most of the sixty items accumulated were instantly trashable. (My wiser correspondents, of course, reopened their mail clients and forwarded their missives to the new address.) Still, it's the principle of the thing: you don't let a server stay down for five farging days, and if you do, you can't very well expect people to accept it happily. One of the few unalloyed delights of this year will be sending them a much-deserved cancellation notice. From another address, natch.

I trudged over to pay the rent this afternoon and discovered, mirabile dictu, that the landlord's entire staff had been replaced, arguably better evidence for the existence of a deity than anything Josh McDowell is likely to declaim.

 


 | Copyright © 2001 by Charles G. Hill

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