Sunday, February 26, 2012


Since the real Leon has returned, he has reverted to form, staying elusive and reclusive during the day, maybe hanging out with Natalie on her bed, but generally being a scaredy cat. Then at night, after the kids are in bed, he becomes attention seeking. Last night he came up on our bed and just begged to be petted, then lay down between me and Mary and purred.  So we're sure it's him.

Rascal, however, doesn't recognize him, and has been very territorial and dominant.  The first few days she would always position herself on a bed, chair, couch, table, something elevated, and look down at him. There has been a fair amount of hissing.  Apparently, with him having been gone for six odd weeks, he's like a new cat to her.

They have, however, been spotted sitting closer and closer to one another on the couch, and have today had a couple of little nose kisses, though afterwards Rascal swats at him a little, not quite ready to give in entirely.

Chicken and waffles

Chicken and waffles seem to be popping up on menus in lots of places around here. Yesterday I was in downtown Durham and this place that serves them had a line out the door.

I had never heard of chicken and waffles till I read James Cain's Mildred Pierce some years ago. When I read about chicken and waffles back then, I must confess that, as a confirmed low to middle brow eater, it sounded good. As I noted in my original musings, it's a good book, offering a lot of texture about what it meant to persevere through the Depression. When I read it, it was 2006, and nobody was thinking about the Depression.

Now we are, and presumably that's what got Mildred Pierce made into an HBO miniseries last year (I just found out about that when I googled it a few minutes back). And chicken and waffles must be to 2011 what meatloaf was to 1991, a return to lost roots.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Post-Renovation stress

So, after thinking for months that getting done with my renovation would remove my stress, I found instead that it made it worse in certain regards, as the removal of the immediate financial demands of the seemingly bottomless whole of remaking the home now leaves me standing naked -- to paraphrase Steve Jobs' eloquent Stanford graduation speech -- before the rest of my life. So I've been going to more AA meetings of late. Tonight I was at one describing my predicament and I kept confusing "rehab" with "renovation."  There was much belly laughter.

I was talking to my mom about my issues and she suggested I read some management books, so I picked up The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, mostly because it is one of those books whose title is so repulsive to arrogant intellectual snobs like myself that I knew that just picking it up would be a good act of humility. And, lo and behold, it's a good book. I've been reading it with breakfast instead of reading the paper, which I'm having trouble focusing on anyway.

I will give myself a smiley face sticker.

Sunday, February 19, 2012


I've been a little stressed out recently, so when I was looking for someone on the dominant social network while laying on the couch with my son I started scrolling through people's faces (using a tablet from a certain computer company) --  and was somehow overcome with joy looking at all these people from various phases of my life, all of whom having selected a picture of themself which they think represents them best to the world -- an excellent smile, or a picture of them with kids.  And I was, truth be told, thankful to Mark Z. for having put together this pretty cool platform.

It's not that I'm not conscious that users of fbook are lambs to the slaughter of marketers.  I get that and find it a little discomforting too.  But at the end of the day, the platform has its uses, and it does a good job putting and keeping people in touch.

There was an article in the Times somewhere recently on the death of the cyberflaneur, the early promise of the web to promote random strolling and serendipity in the style of the heros of Walter Benjamin's and Charles Baudelaire's visions of the great avenues of Paris back in the day.  And it's true, one doesn't do much of that.  But if your network on the platform which must not be named is fat and random and inclusive enough (i.e. you're friends with people of opposite political parties), you can still get a reasonable degree of randomness out of it.

In any case, the overwhelming feeling I had looking at all those smiling faces was that I'd love to see so many of those people more often.

Friday, February 17, 2012

It gets better

So a couple of weeks ago I told of how our cat Leon had run away, and was now living in our basement. Well, this evening at work I got a call from Mary, who tells me that she is at the vet with.... the real Leon, which means that the cat in the basement is.... you guessed it, an Impostor!  The nerve of the cat. We had a definitive ID on Leon from the microchip he had implanted in his neck.

Truth be told, I had thought that the cat looked a little different from Leon and even meowed a little different, but I figured he had been off in the wild for 5-6 weeks and so he had changed a little, manned up, as it were.

And now Leon is back and is so much friendlier and more trusting than ever he was before, and all are overjoyed. Except for the poor sweet woman who had been feeding him for only the last 5 days, had been in fact plying him with eggplant parmesan, which she said he had taken a shine to (indeed, what's not to like with a nice eggplant parm).  She apparently was moved to tears when it became clear at the vet that Leon was lost from his former home.  We will have to have her by.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The fall of the ACC

The Wall Street Journal today ran a story about declining attendance at ACC basketball games.  Here's what the commish had to say:

John Swofford, the ACC commissioner, said in a statement that the conference's "proud and storied" basketball history has "captivated fans over five decades." In recent seasons, he said, the league has experienced "transition in coaches and membership including eight coaching changes in the past three years." Swofford said the ACC's conference tournament has the highest average attendance of any in the country. He added that TV viewership "remains strong and we are on more platforms than ever before." With Pittsburgh and Syracuse scheduled to join the conference by 2014, he said, "the future couldn't be brighter."
With all due respect, what has the man been smoking.  The league has been bastardized beyond recognition for the sake of football revenue.  Miami and Boston College already make no sense -- and not just because the BC bus clipped and killed CHHS legend Harry Alston --, Syracuse and Pittsburgh even less so, with no disrespect to Boeheim for taking Dean Smith's place on the all time win list or for harboring pedophiles.  Florida State was fine, even Virginia Tech. They are from the same general region with similar institutional profiles. Even with the mass murderers and all. But leave the freaking Big East teams out of it. The reason people don't go to watch games anymore is that it's harder to sustain rivalries if you don't get the home and way thing. It's not organic anymore.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Met with some guys today in a rather dour office somewhere in Research Triangle Park.  I had met with one of them a year ago (along with a guy who passed away in the interim), and they told me about this great software they had.  All they needed was a client. Checked back in with them today, one year later, and the song remains the same. All we need is the one "pilot" client, then everybody will clamber to get on board.

Monday, February 13, 2012

A new low, a new chanteuse

What with having a first name that occurs most often as a last name, and a last name that occurs most often as a first name, I'm really quite used to name confusion. People call me by my last name all the time. Even my good friends often call me by my last name, though they do so advisedly and often rhyming with "your boy."

But yesterday, on Facebook, someone I went out with in college called me Troy. Admittedly it was a brief thing almost a quarter of a century ago, but by God it felt significant at the time. That was kind of a slap.

On the positive side, I caught wind of this young singer Sharon van Etten yesterday on Last Hotel or whatever the evening show on WUNC.  I like her, particularly when she harmonizes with this Charlotte Rampling looking person whose name I haven't yet figured out (3/2/2012 -- Turns out her name is Heather Broderick). They are each the kind of young ladies I would have courted when I was younger, and I would hope that, had I succeeded in wooing them, that they'd keep track of my fricking first name.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

updates from the crib

When we started on our renovation a year and change ago, I thought that maybe I'd have one of those renovation-centric blogs with lots of before and after pictures and stories about travails of working with contractors. Somehow it slipped my mind. The renovation took a long time and there was definitely before and after (and there's some of that over on Facebook), but basically it was more a grind than a drama. I think I wrote some about liking our rental, and, in truth, the rental was just fine, if a little tight.

Now, we are back in our real house.  There have been some traumas since then, like when one of our cats (the always skittish Leon) meowed all night once we moved back in, then high-tailed it out of the house when our house-sitter was in here while we were up north. We found him after he was living in the wild for 5-6 weeks and was being fed by a couple of eccentric cat ladies about half a mile away, and he was nearly feral, hissing at us and whatnot when Mary brought him back in the house in a cage she had borrowed from the local shelter.

But it gets better.  So Mary closed :Leon in Natalie's bathroom, so he could get re-acclimated, and he spent a couple of nights in there and seemed to be getting better, recognizing us and meowing a little. Then, Thursday or Friday morning, Natalie goes into the bathroom and Leon had pried the grate off of the duct in the floor and, as she came in, he dives down and disappears into the duct. I kid you not.  So I'm having visions of dead cat smell in our HVAC system, but we had to call in a couple of heating and air guys and they opened up the duct where he was stuck and had to push him out.  So now he's in the basement for the weekend and Mary will try to trap him on Monday and get him to the vet or whatever as we try to figure out whether to try to bring him back into the house or maybe find a nice barn for him where he can chase mice.

You can't make this stuff up.