Monday, July 31, 2006

User-created bullshit

Looking for a review of a restaurant in Vineyard Haven, am shocked by the number of respectable media outlets (including the NY Times) that recycle the same user reviews and commercial content (from Fodor's which, at least sent a reviewer). As is so often the case, there's more information delivery infrastructure on the web than there is info to fill it. Like it's so hard to get somebody to write restaurant reviews.


A spicy sausage of probably Brazilian or Portuguese derivation, found in many Mass-area breakfast and lunch treats. In the eternal war of regional pork sandwich products, this does pretty well, handily beating out NJ's porkroll.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Lookout Point Beach, Martha's Vineyard

The waves are intense today, the beach sharply sloped. Only a few are swimming, including a few 9 or 10-year olds in body suits. One 8-year old with long blonde hair, either a girl or a proto-surfer, clings to his/her father's neck as they crash the waves again and again, a couple of mini-breaks out from shore. This brings back memories. Dad and I did this many years ago, though not in surf like this.

What kind of behavior does this kind of subsidized risk-taking engender? Will this kid take and manage risk well, and rise in business, or poorly, and drive muscle cars and embrace speed and sensation for its own sake?

Back on the sound side, Natalie and Caroline ride boogie boards in the calm. Three 19-year old sunburned lacrosse-boy lunks strut out of the water, pawing a frisbee back and forth to one another with no skill, but with each movement of their chiselled delts and abs calculated to remind each other and anyone else who might be watching that they were, in fact, men (dammit!), and men who don't care what you think.

I went over to where Graham and Mary and Leslie and Joan were, and put my face in the water and blew bubbles. Graham, till now afraid of the water, came over, intrigued, and then sat with me in the bay. By the time we left, he had come out into the water waste deep. A new record.

Friday, July 28, 2006

In the woods, linked in

Running early for our ferry at Wood's Hole, we deviated off of Rte 28 onto smaller roads, looking for local color. Stopped at Catema, or some such where there was playground (too sunny) and also a nature preserve. So we walked back in there.

On bench in a clearing maybe 5 minutes into the woods, there were three teenagers whom I had espied walking in there, two boys, one girl, a blonde, in a bikini top and rolled down shorts. The girl and one boy were talking on their cellphones, sitting next to each other on the bench. The other guy, rather plump, with ragged blonde hair, sat in the dirt at the girl's feet. Ahh, high school.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

A possible hiatus

For the first time in six years, your humble scribe is headed out for two weeks of vacation, on sunny Martha's Vineyard, scourge of Kennedys, but then, we're not Kennedys, are we? In this we rejoice.

Our house there, because it is affordable, has no A/C, nor has it DSL or the like. So grousing may be a little sporadic.

Which is fine, because probably there'll be little to write about. Very little lobster, given the proclivities of Mary and her sister. Perhaps corn.

But worry ye not. If the grouse drops its frequency, it'll roar back in due time, as grouses do.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Mirrors of my waist

Getting dressed this morning, I couldn't help but notice that my pants were fitting quite loosely and comfortably, which is something that happens cyclically and/or sporadically, and is always quite a relief, because it defers once again the time that I'll have to go out shopping for more clothes. Moral hazard will undoubtedly set in, and three or four months from now, having passed through a period of stress, I'll notice that they're tight again.

In other but related news, Natalie headed off to camp today with four dollars in her backpack, with the firm intention of lunching on a hot dog and french fries, but not -- despite all her protestations -- ice cream. I wish I could have been there with her for that, standing in line in the sun at the pool, clutching 4 dollars in her sweaty little palm, in distended expectation of junk food joy.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Snoopy come home

Came home from the office the other day, and the kids were watching a familiar but long since forgotten movie: Snoopy Come Home, which I recall seeing in the theater when I was young. If it was during the initial 1972 theatrical release, that would have made me right at Natalie's age. I was immediately gripped with sadness, felt tears welling up almost, though I couldn't remember why. Mary told me that she had come in the room earlier and both Natalie and Graham were crying.

Turns out, it's all about Snoopy going back to see his original owner, but can't get in cuz of "No Dogs Allowed" signs at hospital and her apt. bldg. And she's kind of a bitch. And then he misses the whole Peanuts gang and is conflicted and wants to go home.

I can identify with a lot of that.

And I totally sung right along with the theme song when it started: "Snooooopy, Snooooopy, come home Snoopy come home."

It's one thing to re-view the classics of childhood with your kids. It's another entirely to unearth long-buried emotional artefacts.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Mad scramble

Georgian feast today in yard.
Bought and assembled new mower after destroying old one on malicious root.
Shashlyk (with Tkemali sauce)
Khachapuri (with actual Suluguni cheese)
and more.

Mary would shoot me if she knew I was blogging about it during precious prep time.
Ever the rebel.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Small value coffee

Went to the new Small World Coffee on Nassau St today on walk to Dinkie today. Nice space (thanks Kirsten!), although there's a lot of dead room up front now where they could be generating revenue.

Got an iced coffee. 16 oz, $2.50. I said large, ahem. The Starbucks Venti gives you better unit pricing, even here in Manhattan, like $3 for 24oz, and it's better than Small World, which is muddied with espresso.

Which brings us to the big question. Why? Because it's closer to my house? OK. Because it's not a chain? I used to buy that argument, but it feels more and more like arch romanticism. I want good product. One could argue that small stores provide a service not unlike biodiversity to the consumer ecosystem. But they need good product and reasonable margins. I shouldn't pay an extra markup like some moral tax for noserings. Coffee is way high margin. They could bring the price down and still rake. Or coffee could be a quasi loss leader and have good baked goods.

Just don't soak me.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Day of anger

Nasty stupid tables in Word, with some images embedded and some floating on top.

Reconstituting basic bits of my firm's experience by hand, from local and network drives and Lotus Notes directories, when we should have a searchable KM repository to just pull this stuff from.

Why do I find myself doing this crap at my tender age? I should be pontificating.

To be cheap, we hired some local Mexican guys to haul our recently purchased treadmill up to the 3rd floor, and it gouged our stairs. I dread going home to see what they did. We are morons.

I'm anxious going into vacation. Need to get some prospects to firm up or I'll be knocked back a peg, back to working on stuff that just walked in the door.

At least Zhenya has promised to pick up some Suluguni and Tkemali up by where he works, in preparation for our upcoming Georgian feast. Good neighbors.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The wisdom to know the difference

Went back to AA for the 2nd time yesterday after a 13-year absence. Technically, this is heresy, and I should have exploded.

AA is , truly, a great thing. People in there really are making a best faith concerted effort to deal with their shit and help each other. Where else are you gonna see the kind of positivity that lets a contractor eat a big old salad for lunch. I didn't even see any cheese on there. I personally am, if not a lunch nihilist, than a lunch pessimist, consistently opting for some sort of (if not the most extreme) short-term sensory dividend as against the long term wholistic total return.

The interesting thing about it is how much is over-ascribed to alcohol. Yes, alcoholics can be impulsive people with trouble managing their passions, but so are lots of non alkies, and 10 years after quitting, for most lushes the issues may or may not be causally related. What's awesome is that AA meetings are like free for all group therapy, and everybody's totally earnest and largely well-intentioned. OK, there are no professionals in the room to moderate, but that just makes you develop a healthy level of judgment. Or not, as the case may be.

When they heard me, I detected a number of "tsk tsks" over my quasi-lapsed status. Or maybe I was just projecting.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Minor revelation

I had never really listened to Meat Puppets II until I bought it recently. So I never really understood how closely Kurt Cobain had followed Curt Kirkwood's lead in his Meat Puppets covers on the Nirvana Unplugged record. The songs are hearfelt, but shameless in their fidelity to the original, as if to promulgate a new theory of soul.

Much like Swans version of "Love Will Tear us Apart". Literal, no "value-add" in consultant speak. Lame.

Compare Bobby Darin's over the top rendition of "Bridge Over Troubled Water." He takes that puppy and makes it his own, and despite all the Vegasy shmaltz it becomes something more than the Simon & Garfunkel. Something wierd, yes.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Amongst the wild flowers

Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve, Rte 32, on the Delaware

Under a WPA stone and timber structure with picnic tables, a 4-piece Bluegrass band with a Legacy Outback right behind it. Guitar, fiddle, mandolin, banjo. They're pretty good, but it's suspicious that one guy has on Bass weejuns, white shorts and seersucker. The others are closer to that than the soil, too. But what do you expect.

Down in front there's a table of special needs adult guys, some with face paintings of butterflies and teddy bears. There's a Downs Syndrome guy, an autistic guy on the ground rocking while he admires his art project, and others we would once have called retards. They appear to be digging the tunes. It's a very sweet scene.

Natalie got water lilies on one cheek and a red flower on the other.

After a fruitless insect hunt through the steamy hot fields, a downpour, but the band plays in the picnic house.

Graham makes his first art project, sticking innumerable multicolored pipe cleaners into a little pine cone like thingie (what are those things called?).

Friday, July 14, 2006

The sun-drenched city

Once more it's hot. I really can't think of a ton else to say.

Cross thru Rockefeller Center this morning was closed for some stupid superannuated band in black with pasties play on Good-Morning America. Many flatlanders had come to see these famous people first thing in the morning.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Player of the Game

The hand-wringing continues, but at this point in time it's got to be clear that Materazzi should have been Player of the Game. I don't really care what he said to Zidane: it was brilliant! He pushed the right button, and old Zizou flipped what wig he had. Materazzi thereby gave Italy the edge headed into the penalties.

And now FIFA is going to haul both of them in for a spanking? Will FIFA institute new guidelines around acceptible taunting? Will the dudes on the sidelines have to monitor bad-mouthing as well as offsides?

Time to move on.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Helicopter, fire truck

One of the services I provide for the little ones is the following: I lay on my back and pick them up by the waist, balancing them horizontally over me. I then work through a routine of vehicles. I waive them back and forth and say "helicopter, bukka bukka bukka" or perhaps bounce them and say "fire truck, reeoooreeeoooreeeooo."

I do this for Graham. I did it for Natalie, until she got too big.

Except, it turns out she was not too big, I was just too weak. Now that I've undertaken a program of push-ups to beachify myself (sit-ups come next), I find that I'm stronger, and can hoist all 6 years of her up over me, hold her vertical, and fly her around over me. And when I do this, little miss stubborn screech and pout and slam the door if there's no playdate or Graham won't share a toy or really for just any reason, Natalie has the calm, sweet expression of the two-year old that the helicopter evokes memories of. It's quite a transformation.

Monday, July 10, 2006

More on Zidane

Still no good explanation for the head butt in the morning press. The Maserati or whatever his name is say "your mother is a terrorist goat, and I fucked her last night" or something like that? At the end of the day we're talking less about a contradiction, more about two sides of the same coin. Any poor immigrant or even a rich kid who has the determination, over a number of years, to acquire that level of skill with a ball, to attain that level of anything, perforce has a degree of focus, drive and edge well above that of most of us, and sometimes that cooks up a nasty cocktail.

I don't think anybody expressed so much surprise at Ron Artest, Ben Wallace, Jermaine O'Neal et al. when they went at it a couple years back. Because they're black? Admittedly, it wasn't the world cup final. But it did cost them, esp. Artest, some large ducats.

Anyhow, the moral of the story, for us average joes, is to keep it on the DL. Don't blow.

It could, of course, be the case that Zidane was deciding to kiss off his Dar-al-Jihad future and embrace a burgeoning coreligionist target demographic that is available to him via such channels as Al Jazeerah. He's got the hair for it. It'll be interesting to see how the reruns get played out throughout the ummah.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Dumb jocks

It was pretty shocking to see Zidane head butt that guy to the ground. Not really an auspicious way to end one's career.

But maybe it's not worth being all that shocked. As Americans, many of us tend to romanticize Europe, and soccer falls right into that. We think European soccer players are somehow more sophisticated and cultured than American football players, but at the end of the day, they're just dumb jocks. Sweaty, crass, beer-swiling, alladat.

But Beckenbauer looked pretty swank in his suit, that must be confessed. Better than Barkley.

Saturday, July 08, 2006


Dunno, if I had to name a fictional country, I'd probably use a name that wasn't a variant of a real country's name -- and with something looking like a known suffix (Husserliana, etc.).

Good movie, though it went a little overboard on ambiguity. What motivates the Clooney character at the end? How does he know what he knows? We have a loose sense of the former, zilch for the latter.

All told, it's pretty cynical. And I'm pretty cynical myself.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Sarah Silverman, Jesus is Magic

Sure, we laughed. But I don't really remember many of the jokes.

Actually, there's basically only one joke: cute JAP pushes the envelope of discourse around race, sex, and dukey. At the end of the day, she's like Dave Chappelle with less volatility and less talent as a physical comic. Less volatile, in that she's never as deep, but when she goes low, she's also not as puerile as some of his copraphilia.

But she's funnier than most. Would like to hang w/her and Kimmel. Would be yucks.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Princeton Junction, 7:10 AM

Wires down on the tracks at Hamilton. All New York-bound trains boarding on the middle track, on the lower level, which is to say walking across the tracks, one at a time, under the watchful eye of the cops. Delays of about an hour.. Thousands of people stacked up on the platforms. Glee abounds.

Is this somehow connected with the state budget standoff 10 miles south in Trenton?

8:05 The conductors of one track say the next one will "platform" normally. No one believes them. The overhead announcer contradicts them. Still, a few of us press on back through the crowds.

By now, my breakfast with Ken is blown. No reason to force myself onto an insanely crowded train. Have coffee and wait, that's the ticket.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

A dream

Last night I dreamt that Natalie dove in a pool while Mary and I were standing there talking and swam all the way to the other side underwater, then pulled herself up. As she was doing it, I realized what was going on, and that it was a real development. I was very proud.

This was no doubt the result of the 3-4 pages of The Magic Tree House and the Haunted Castle that she read to us aloud in the car on the way home from Larchmont. This included such big words as "mysterious," which she nailed. We were both very proud.

Neither of us had heard her really read that much, though we knew very well that she could read. Just that morning, at 7, Natalie got up first, grabbed a Magic Treehouse book, jumped onto the bed, and leaned against me, and read for 15 minutes or so. As opposed to climbing into bed, then squirming and whining after five minutes.

Now we can perhaps start to tell her to just go read a book when she's being impossible.

But she's clearly making the transition to big girl, which is less bittersweet perhaps than it looked a year ago. If she can read, swim (she's close), and (next) take off the training wheels, I say she's earned it.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The internet is dangerous

A This Mortal Coil song from ITunes
The first two Meat Puppets records from Amazon.
BBQ from Famous Dave's to take to Karla's cookout.

It's pretty impressive how easily you can blow through cash in without lifting more than a finger.

Monday, July 03, 2006

No chords, no wonders

On the way down, the elevator stops at 5 for Career Blazers, and some lunking stubbly dude with hair like one of the Gallagher brothers or a Japanese soccer player gets in, wearing a shiny silver tie and a hipster mail bag thingie. Made me wonder what I used to look like when I went to temp agencies in grad school.

Running a minute early to lunch today, stopped in to Best Buy to see what electronics stores are selling these days. Ipods and whatnot, I'm thinking.

And there were those. Meanwhile, somewhere off to the side, I'm hearing Joan Jett playing "I love rock and roll" and younguns are gathered round what turns out to be an Xbox console. The game is an electric guitar game, some guy's standing there with a pseudo guitar with 5 colored buttons and a wa-wa pedal. The game was to keep up with some chord changes, represented on screen with colored bars.

And the kid's looking at me and he's like "It'll just take a minute, then you can go" and I'm like "why don't you just get a guitar" (you moron).

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Cash money

Lets just speak plainly here: Zidane was cold hard cash against Brazil yesterday. He was Magic to Ronaldinho's George Gervin. France was by far the most enjoyable team to watch of the tournament, the most relaxed. That's why they've got my vote.