Friday, November 18, 2005

Better living through chemistry ...

There are neon colored bubbles in your future ... hmm, make that Zubbles. And they have names.


Saturday, November 12, 2005

Addictive Reading

Allow me to commend to you all the posted Kitzmiller et al vs Dover School Board trial transcript (aka "Scopes II").

It's got everything a body could want from a reading experience -- high stakes courtroom drama, politics, religion, and an absolutely fascinating science lesson.

But Beware -- it's long and addictive. I was up till 2AM reading last night.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


I know I've said that I'm not much interested in writing about politics, but forgive me if I take a moment to hop from foot to foot and clap my widdle hands at the way the good people of my home state have bitch-slapped the governator.

All eight of the ballot initiatives he favored have gone down. Even Prop. 73 -- the creepy "parental consent" anti-abortion measure, which was really a back-door effort to change the state constitution to define abortion as murder, and which I was sure was going to pass (earlier polling said it would), was narrowly defeated.

Indeed, every proposition on the ballot was voted down, which proves what so many of us have been saying for months -- this special election was not needed, and was a waste of money.

The one mixed feeling I have is about Prop. 77 -- the gov's redistricting effort. My wife and I had a long talk about Prop 77, because both of us
were torn between wanting to see the gov get his head handed to him and
a sense that the actual proposition was maybe a good idea.

Finally, after reading the nonpartisan legislative analysis, we both
agreed that it was very fairly written, with a number of checks and
balances built in to keep any one side from grabbing all the power,
while at the same time reducing the chances that the two major parties
could get together and gerrymander the state into nothing but safe
seats. We ended up voting yes, even though we knew it was a likely loser.

I wonder how many other people actually read the proposition and voted
for or against on the merits. I'd like to see something similar become
the law here some day.

Still, it was good to see the left -- and working folk in general -- go out the polls in force. Plus I hear that Virginia has a new Democratic governor.

As Peggy Lee once sang -- "It's a good day for losing the blues!"

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


Browsing through the SY archives, I came across an item headed "Essential Items for a Satisfactory Living Experience": in which Algy listed clear night skies (bright visible stars), clean air, a quiet environment and organic tomoatoes as essential for his own happiness, and Tess added bittersweet chocolate.

It was a good way to get to know the authors of this effort, so I thought I’d throw in my own list of essentials by way of introduction. What was interesting, as I thought about my own essentials, was that so many of them are not purely pleasurable, like stars in the night or delicious chocolate. Most of my essentials are more along the lines of bargains that must be maintained. They are:

1) Exercise. I’ve never been a great exerciser. Not big on sports. Never been a fan of the gym. But the fact is that everything good in this life: eating, sex, work, play, gets better if I’m exercising regularly. And on the other hand, when I’m not exercising I start to feel like crap. What’s odd, though, is that the crappier I feel, the less I want to do the thing that will help – exercise! Thought about this today as I dragged my lazy ass off to the Y after several weeks of stewing in editing rooms.

2) Writing fiction. I’ve only a few times made money off of my stories. And between working and maintaining a home, I really have to schedule carefully to get any writing done. Also, like exercise, writing is something I am often "not in the mood" for. You have to concentrate, to write well, and that just seems like work a lot of the time. But damned if I’m not a lot happier after I’ve written a few pages. And when I finish a new story, the whole world seems like a better place.

3) Live music. Any genre. Nothing lifts my spirits like music played well, in a small venue where I can actually get the feeling of sharing a space with a performer.

4) Adventure. I don’t mean going to the rain forest here, I mean occasionally being in over my head. My friend Steve says "it isn’t an adventure unless, at some point, you wish you were home," which is maybe a bit too cynical a view, but basically I’m with him. I find I am happiest when, from time to time, I’m doing something so big and complicated it scares the crap out of me.

5) Access to the culture. And I don’t necessarily mean highfalutin stuff like opera. I just mean art and music and plays and movies and books and poetry – ideally live and in person. Which for the most part means I’m a city boy. I guess this is what Algy was referring to when he meant paring the list down to essentials. If you forced me to pick between stars visible in the night sky and access to culture (which basically is a choice you do have to make, given the nature of cities), then I will choose culture. Not with out a sigh and a last, longing look at twinkling brilliance before I walked into the Basquiat exhibit, but choose I would.

6) Lazy Sunday mornings. Taking my time with the newspaper. Cooking a fresh, hearty breakfast. Spending some quality time with the wife. I love my Sunday mornings. We’re gearing up to adopt a small human, however, and I understand that quality time takes a serious hit when you invite little people into your life. On the other hand, adoption would add seriously to the adventure side of the ledger. And also, I bet I could train this new person to like lazy Sundays too – fresh pancakes can be a powerful inducement!

Friday, November 04, 2005

Just a quick observation

I spent the first half of the day in a semi-dark mood. Not miserable or anything, but residual crankiness from ongoing work (for a difficult person) and ongoing frustration at the larger state of things.

I was waiting for some network notes, so I couldn’t work. Instead I put away Halloween decorations. This year I had repeated a simple outdoor decoration where I hung about twenty five plastic Jack-o-Lantern style trick-or-treat buckets from the big oak tree out front. (On Halloween I put glow sticks inside them). In the daytime they sort of look like what Christo might do for Halloween, the way the very artificial plastic interacts with the organic form of our big live oak.

All of which is a lot of set up for a small point. The last part of my clean up was climbing the tree and untying all of the orange plastic pumpkins. When I was done I just sat there. It’s a nice perspective in a tree. Just a few feet off the ground, really, but you can see the roof and the tops of cars. The leaves all around rustle in the wind. It’s comfortable there. I stayed for another 20 minutes -- doing not much besides watching and being.

Nothing so all-fired new in that, but it's easy (at least for me) to forget how nice it can feel to become very still in the world.

Sitting in the tree made me feel better. I recommend.