Why I Haven’t Been Posting

[Originally posted January 8, 2006]

In case anyone’s wondered…

I refuse to post to any blog unless people comment on what I’ve posted. I have no interest in diaries or lecturing, only in starting discussions.

The response here and on “Luncheon Ex Machina” has been a bitter disappointment to me, and I have therefore abandoned them both. You want me to talk to you, you’ve gotta talk to me, and it’s gotta be substantive.

Everything Old is New Again

[Originally posted December 15, 2005]

Julie and I attended a party last night, in honor of Harvey Mudd College’s fiftieth anniversary. (There’s a little more about it at “Luncheon ex Machina”.) Had a very pleasant time — and I realized that one reason I liked it so much was that I got to tell a bunch of my standard stories to a new audience. Julie even encouraged me in a couple of instances!

It helped that our hostess was a linguist by profession; that meant I could trot out lots of old tales about dealing with foreign languages: the Cancun cab driver, dealing with various Italian dialects, the Danish “Star Wars” story (which isn’t really mine, it happened to a friend, but I tell it anyway), our encounter with various “Who Wants to Be A Millionaire?” editions, and so on. I even dragged in my father’s Grand Tour.

Someone mentioned the Manhattan Project, so I brought out the HTG copper story and the thing about the War Department owing my mother a day’s pay.

I even got to tell about why my grandparents got married in Halifax. That’s a favorite.

I’ve told most of these stories a dozen times, but it’s still fun to present them to a new audience. I wonder, really, why it’s so much fun telling the same old stories over again. I never get bored with them.

My kids sure did, though.

Girl Cooties

[Originally posted December 5, 2005]

I have a full beard. It’s going grey. It’s going grey in a pattern that looks, well… stupid. It’s grey on the sides, with a still-brown stripe partway down the middle, as if I’ve been drooling tobacco juice.

So Julie suggested I might color it, not so much to hide my age as to make it look less like I spilled gravy on it. By coincidence, I got a coupon for Just For Men hair color in the mail the other day, so today I went to the local pharmacy and looked in the hair-color aisle.

No Just For Men; no Grecian Formula; nothing aimed at the male consumer. Hundreds upon hundreds of brightly-colored boxes showing women with hair in assorted colors, including many never seen in nature; nothing for men.

After a moment’s thought, inspiration strikes — I ask a clerk where the shaving supplies are. She directs me two aisles over, and sure enough, amid the Mach3 Turbo razors and other machismo-drenched products, I find a decent selection of Just For Men.

The fact that it’s hair color is less important than the fact that it’s for manly men, who wouldn’t ever set foot in the girly-girly, cooties-infested hair color aisle.

Sigh. Humans are so silly.

[Original comment page is here.]

The Rest of the Story

[Originally posted November 10, 2005]

If you got here from the link on my webpage promising some of my musings, you may be wondering, “Where the heck are they? Why isn’t there anything here but beer reviews?”

The answer is that I’m in the process of re-arranging things. My old (very old) weblog, “Strange Days,” didn’t allow comments — yes, such a thing was possible once upon a time — and wound up more or less abandoned as a result. It was boring posting stuff there and getting no response.

So I’ve started this new one, which does allow comments, to see whether that works better — and at the urging of some denizens of my SFF Net newsgroup (see “Discussions”), I’ve also started a third blog, “Luncheon ex Machina,”, on LiveJournal.

The theory is that this one will run to mini-essays, while “Luncheon ex Machina” will be geared toward casual chat — though of course it may not work out that way. I expect some duplication between them.

So the number of places for me to waste my time online, instead of writing, has multipled — there’s “The Mind Control Lasers Lied to Me” here, and “Luncheon ex Machina” over there, and the old reliable newsgroup discussion, and of course my Guestbook.

[Note, 9/9/06:  Strange Days has been relocated as a category here.  All entries have been preserved.]

Beer Log, March 2005

New beers tried this month:

Dead Guy Ale, from Rogue Breweries — see here.

Dead Guy Ale is a bock, but if I hadn’t looked it up I wouldn’t know that; it just tastes like a good hoppy ale, nothing tremendously special, but nice. Bought a bottle on a whim in Palm Springs, mostly because I liked the label; the name comes from it having been invented as a seasonal beer specifically for the Day of the Dead.

Hellas Pils, from Hellenic Breweries of Atalanti, SA.

Got this with dinner at a Greek restaurant the other night; light, clean taste, more like a good Mexican beer than anything else European* I’ve ever tried. Or maybe a bit reminiscent of Kirin, the Japanese beer. In any case, clearly intended for a warm climate. Went well with chicken shish kebab. Online reviews indicate it doesn’t age well at all, though, so do check the “sell by” date on the label.


*I’ve tried Italian and Spanish beer; this isn’t like them at all.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Hi. I’m back. After well over a year, I’ve added a new entry here.

I’m not sure whether I’m going to keep it up, but I’ve been posting more stuff to my SFF Net newsgroup lately, about various subjects, and it occurred to me that some of it should go here, too. Just in general I seem to be writing more, both pay copy and online rambling, lately. I’m not sure why.

From September ’03 to May ’04 I was on medication that made it difficult to write, which would explain part of the slump, and the present revival might just be finally really getting that all out of my system.

Or not. Human biochemistry is insanely complex and finicky; so is creativity.

Whatever the reason, at the very least you can read my love letter to my car.

“I’m in love with my car,
Got a feel for my automobile…”

Thank you, Freddie Mercury, for putting it into words.

For the past couple of weeks we’ve had several rounds of minor car trouble — flat tires, dead batteries, and so on. It seemed as if my car, Ariel, was always either in the shop, or being used by my wife because hers was in the shop. But we finally have everything fixed.

I went out to run some errands today. In my own car. With nothing needing repair.

It was lovely. I’d missed her.

I mean, Julie’s Buick is a perfectly good car, Julian’s old Lincoln gets you where you’re going in reasonable comfort, but Ariel is just more fun to drive. I opened the sunroof and the windows and cranked up the CD player — neither other car has a sunroof or CD — and just enjoyed movin’ down the highway.

One isn’t really supposed to feel this way about a minivan, especially not one that’s six years old. Consider this a love letter to Honda’s engineers for building my baby, and a paean to Isuzu for selling her to me.

I’ve driven a lot of cars since I got my license back in 1971, and the only ones that have come close to suiting me so well, in their very different ways, were Lorraine Wells’ ’64 Mustang and my own ’57 DeSoto Firesweep. (If Julie’s ’71 Toyota Corolla, Harry the Dirty Dog, had been a little roomier it would be a contender. At least, before the engine block cracked.)

There have been other cars I liked (Daphne the ’72 VW bus, or that Kia Sportage I rented in Providence), and cars I hated (Doris McKenna’s horrible little Ford Escort, the Kia Sephia some lying rental agency stuck us with, Neil Harris’ Mitsubishi minivan that gave me a backache just from riding to Baltimore), and cars I was indifferent toward (Julie’s ’86 Chevy Spectrum comes to mind); there have been cars I had a love/hate relationship with (like Pig, the Nissan Altima we rented for a week in California, which was powerful and responsive and comfortable and cornered so badly that Kiri learned some new obscenities when I tried to make a U-turn on a six-lane street on Coronado). I don’t think there’s ever before been a car I got this attached to, though.

I’d been thinking, awhile back, that once the kids are through college it would be time to replace our cars — but the more I think about it, the more I’m unable to think of any car I’d rather have than Ariel. She’s what’s made those twice-a-year drives to Iowa not just tolerable, but enjoyable.

So here’s to you, Ariel, my 1998 Isuzu Oasis LS! My silver-painted baby, with silly blue decals we put on so we could tell it from the other silver minivans.

I love you.