Monday, February 28, 2011

New glasses

Just got some glasses with progressive lenses, i.e. multifocals.  It is a whole new way of life.  Palpably impresses the fact of aging upon me.

Yes, they are in fact styling, and yes, they do make my vision different.  But they do call for adjustment.  Mostly they bring home to me the fact of how messed up my vision was beforehand.

Reading, however, is harder than it was with reading glasses, in some ways.  Certainly it is very different, and enervating.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Wrong Side of History

It's very depressing to watch events unfold in the Middle East and learn how the US has been in bed with nasty repressive regimes.  Part of the depressing part is the fact that I'm just learning about it. I mean,  I subscribe to the Economist, The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, Newsweek, and god knows what else, and I really do read all the time, all day.  I do try to stay informed.

But I'll confess that I generally skip the parts about Africa and the Middle East because, well, it's freaking depressing and intractable so much of the time.   And yes, it is inspiring, like 1989, to watch people shake off dictators and get psyched, but then you realize that they largely freaking hate us, and for rather good reason.

And yes, there is a dread of Islamic fundamentalism.  Who knows where things go from here?  I stood on 5th Avenue on 9/11 and watched those towers burn. What if Israel gets stepped on and things escalate?

And I hate being in a position in my life that I worry about things at that level, but I do.  I've got a job and am trying to fund a renovation and send kids to camp and college and all that, and perhaps even (dare I say it)... horseback riding lessons, so I do watch the portfolio and get concerned at that level.  And I hate that, that earning money makes you yearn for stability and have a vested interest in a shitty status quo ante, even when I know it's just wrong.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


After years of being standoffish and pre-tweenie (by now full-fledged pre-teen), Natalie is getting more and more active on both giving and receiving back rubs and on hugging.  Today she even let me put an arm around her waist.  She likes to put her feet on my legs when I sit on the couch with her.

Alas, actual puberty is just around the corner, so I suspect this is an Indian summer of childhood sweetness and cuddliness. But I'll take it, most gladly.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


Every time we move we promise ourselves we'll never move again. And then we move again.

This time, it's to a rental, and only a quarter of a mile from home, in preparation for what we will affectionately come to call our own Big Dig.  We will hope that our own cost and time overruns will be mellower than Boston's.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Compostable plastic

Those insanely noisy bags of Sun Chips claim to be compostable, as do the plastic cups from Evos.  Well, having just relocated a compost pile, albeit one that had been in the crappy compost pin sold by the town of Chapel Hill, I can tell you this:  they don't compost quickly at all.  I'd like to know what their half life is.

However, I can tell you that the so-called "air-baked chicken strips" from Evos are, in fact, delicious. One has to wonder what kind of air they are baked in.  If it is, for example, infused with saturated fat.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Driving home from Tae Kwon Do

Came back on Ephesus Church Road.  As we approached the light at 15-501, I found myself half-blocking the exit from the Ford dealership, and could have pulled forward so that I would have been blocking the entrance/exit to the strip mall where the Food Lion is.  As one is not supposed to block entrances and exits, I pulled back so a guy could get out of the dealership.  He pulled forward in front of me and blocked the exit to the strip mall, which almost made me miss the light. This pissed me off.

Crossing the parking lot where Trader Joe's is, I passed the hippy mom of a classmate of Natalie's with her daughter in the back seat.  She looked typically blissed out, and I thought that, on the one hand, it would be nice to be like that, but, on the other hand, how out of it she is (she thinks she's gonna trade in a condo to buy some acreage in the Chatham County with room for horses and move her daughter to the lesser school system there, so she'll be where the air is cleaner).  For no reason, some guy in a Mercury behind me honked.

Then, by the TCBY, some octogenarian woman with big headphones on stepped into the pedestrian crossing.  She had right of way, so I let her cross.  As she shuffled across nonchalantly, I missed the green, and said, with Graham in the back seat:  "What the fuck are you doing?"

Such is the delicate dance of introspection and ideology.  On each occasion, I did the correct, rule-abiding thing, and I got hosed.  And then I got pissed off and cussed in front of my 7-year old, and felt bad about it.  Meanwhile, two people took advantage of me.  One of them did and out and out wrong thing.  The guy at the Ford dealership shouldn't have pulled out in front of me if he was doing the same thing I was.  He didn't have a blinker on, so I didn't know what he was gonna do.  He should have pulled out if he was turning left or going straight.  The old woman at the crosswalk technically had right of way, but she should have looked at the light and realized that she shouldn't have exercised it right then.  She should have let a few cars go by.  But she wasn't paying attention at all.  She had headphones on, which is absurd for someone that old, who should be using what reduced sensory data they have to make good and informed decisions.  They both operated out of a sense of entitlement, which is not the way to go.  There are laws, and there are norms, and there's good decision-making which optimizes the competing claims of the two, and the three things are quite different.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Boarding pass

I sometimes wonder whether airlines and Expedia, etc., have co-marketing agreements in place with printer and cartridge vendors.  There is so much color on the damned pages for when you print out your boarding pass, so if you forget to print it black and white, you're hosed.

I know that the truly savvy fliers probably print their boarding passes at the airport so as to pawn off the printing costs onto the airline, but I like the security that comes of having the boarding pass tucked neatly away in my briefcase the night before I fly.  Perhaps I am soft.

Friday, February 04, 2011

District 9

Tonight we watched District 9, a campy South African sci-fi allegory of apartheid.  Mary had a hard time watching it, and said it was the most disgusting movie she had ever seen. And it was, in truth, gross. But I couldn't turn it off. In the end, it was a true triumph of the human/alien spirit.

Watch it.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011


Every time we move, we swear we'll never move again, and then we do it yet another time.  This time, at least, we're not really moving, we're just moving out into a rental in preparation for the renovation to end all renovations.  And I mean that literally, this will be the end of it.  Unless we can't afford the whole thing, in which case it won't.

I've already moved 70 boxes or so to the rental or my office, but it hasn't really made a dent in the amount of crap here in the house. It's probably rank idiocy for me to be moving them rather than pay some a crew of 4 guys $75 an hour to move them, but, then again, I'm of Scottish descent, and thus cheap and stubborn.

More importantly, by carrying things out of the house, I'm continually reminding Mary that we are in fact moving soon, and should therefore be preparing.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

55 and 54

My mom used to say that the McDonalds at this intersection had the highest volume of all the golden arches in the nation. I don't know if it was true, but this seemingly arid intersection remains a deceptively good place to have lunch. Today I went to a caribbean place that shares tables with a Taqueria. Got styling baked trout with peppers and onions and platanos from the steam table.  Marley was playing.  When I got to my table I realized I needed some sauce so I went back up to where the line was. The big guy back behind it says to me in a deep Jamaican voice:  "you want some gravy for that?", and then takes my plate and roots around in the bin with all the shrimp and hooks me up with some yellow curried sauce.  Awesome.

On Saturdays there is reggae with a "live DJ." We gotta bring the families out here.