fauxklore: (storyteller doll)
Celebrity Death Watch: Marian Javits was an arts patron and the widow of Jacob Javits, who a few of you may remember from the days when there was such a thing as a liberal Republican. Joseph Wapner was the first judge on The People’s Court. Shrley Palesh played for a few teams in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Howard Schmidt was a major figure in government cybersecurity strategy. Joe Rogers co-founded Waffle House, thus saving the stomach linings of many a drunken Southerner. Rene Preval served two terms as president of Haiti. Tommy Page was a singer-songwriter. Miriam Colon was a Puerto Rican actress. Edi Fitzroy was a reggae singer. Fred Weintraub owned The Bitter End, an important venue for folk music and comedy. Kurt Moll was an opera singer. Robert Osborne as a film historian and hosted Turner Classic Movies. Joni Sledge sang as part of Sister Sledge. Robert James Waller wrote The Bridges of Madison County. Amy Krouse Rosenthal was a prolific writer of children’s books, among other things. Mother Divine was the leader of a cult founded by her husband. Royal Robbins was a big name in rock climbing but, more significantly to me, founded an eponymous clothing company that makes awesome clothes for traveling, including that green plaid shirt I am wearing in the overwhelming majority of my travel photos.

Errata: I erred. It was Jason Chaffetz, not Paul Ryan who made the stupid statement about iphones and health insurance.

Don’t Analyze This Dream: I was in Japan and upset over finding I had inadvertently taken my (work) cell phone with me. I was with another woman and we went down an escalator to exit a building with a very tall skylight. We were held up at the bottom of the escalator until there was a group of 4 men and 4 women and we all had to walk through a metal detector and send our things through an x-ray machine. Then we had to sing a song together before we could exit. Afterwards, I found out there was a side exit and people waited in line to sing, with fans of them gathered at the side of the security screening.

Story Slam: This month’s story slam theme was Womanhood, so I pulled out my "Woman of Valor" story, which is starting to get to having a reasonable ending. It went fairly well, though I finished third, so didn’t walk away with any money. I do wish, however, that this would go back to being on a Thursday night, because it conflicted with The Grapevine and I had to make an actual choice.

World Baseball Classic: Oh, well. Israel had a good run, but blew it in the second round.

Culpeper Tells / Virginia Storytelling Alliance Gathering: This past weekend was the Culpeper Tells festival and, once again, the VASA Gathering was held together with it. I preferred when we had a separate retreat, which made for a different sort of event, but I’ll take what I can get. I took off from work on Friday, intending to get some household odds and ends done and drive out earlyish. But I fell prey to the lure of napping and hit the road later than I intended, subjecting me to the inevitable slog through Gainesville. I was not all that enthusiastic to arrive at the hotel and find myself parking next to a vehicle advertising Pest Control and, specifically, "thermo bed bug eradication." Either their method works or the guy with the bedbug truck was just staying overnight at the hotel, as I didn’t get bitten by anything, but it was still disturbing.

Anyway, a bunch of us went out to dinner at Luigi’s which is mediocre red sauce Italian food. At least our server was mostly up to dealing with a big group. We came back to the hotel for a concert by Lynn Ruehlmann and Megan Hicks. Lynn blended the story of Psyche and Eros with the story of her own marriage, while Megan told a folk tale and her personal love story separately. Both were very good. That was followed by a story swap.

Megan did a workshop on Saturday morning, mostly emphasizing that we are all living history. There was a lot of confusion about when we were supposed to get into the room at the library, as well as confusion over who was signed up for what.

The actual festival started after lunchtime. There were four tellers – Geraldine Buckley, Michael Reno Harrell, Adam Booth, and Donald Davis. Each of them had just under an hour in the afternoon and then another half hour in the evening concert. The highlight of the day as far as I was concerned was Adam’s telling of "Ashton," a story from his Appalachian series, involving a coal miner's wife, and the early recordings of country music. It was exquisitely crafted and well-told. I should also note that I thought it was interesting that all of the tellers were telling more or less personal stories and there weren’t any traditional stories at all. By the way, there was also a story slam, but my name didn’t get drawn from the hat, alas.

At the dinner break, I ended up with a few people at a small place called Four C’s. I have this theory that, if you see a few ethnic items on what is otherwise an American restaurant menu, you should order from those, because it means the cook is including some of his family specialties. There were several Peruvian items on the menu, so these were clearly the way to go. I ended up getting some very tasty grilled fish that way. There’s no atmosphere, but the food was good and very reasonably priced and the service was friendly and efficient. It’s a good place to keep in mind for the future.

There was another swap back at the hotel afterwards, but it was too late for me, especially what with changing the clocks.

Sunday morning had the VASA annual meeting (which hadn’t actually been mentioned on the schedule). All I will say is that I am really glad I am no longer on the board. That was followed by "sacred stories" (not my thing) and puns (very much my thing). I told "Why I’m Not a Millionaire" to transition us between the two.

Overall, it was a reasonably good weekend. I was annoyed at various little things, but being among my storytelling tribe made up for them.

Annoying Weather: We had been having lovely spring-like weather, but it changed radically for the weekend. And Monday night was a sort of winter storm. Only sort of, as the snow total can’t have been more than a couple of inches, but there was plenty of sleet. In other words, things were nasty and icy. OPM made a bad call with a three hour delay and my company made a worse call by sending out confusing emails. One said we were on a mandatory delay in the subject line, but the body said all offices were open. Another had a subject line reading "message 1 of 2" but there was no "message 2 of 2." I had brought my laptop home and told my boss I was going to work from home, so none of this affected me per se, but it made me grumpy. I dislike working from home to begin with (too many distractions, including the fact that I really need to replace my desk chair) so I was inclined to be grumpy.

I’m back in the office today. One area of my walk to the metro was treacherous, but most of it was clear. I expect it to be worse tonight, since it isn’t supposed to get above freezing all day.

More Corporate Miscommunication: We are all getting new phones. I got an email telling me mine was ready and that I needed to go to an office 30 some odd miles away to pick it up. Since that office doesn't open until 9 and we are talking about DC metro area traffic, that would kill half my day. In fact, our IT guy came around this afternoon delivering phones for the 50 or so of us in this office. This is much easier, of course, but I would have preferred them sending out the correct info to begin with.
fauxklore: (storyteller doll)
Weather: It's March and it is 70+ degrees out right now, which is absurd. Of course, they are talking about possible snow for Friday, sigh. I'd rather we had unseasonably warm weather on the weekend, when I could take advantage of it.

Calendars: Except, really, I can't as my weekends are completely booked up all month, even if I color-coded one of them incorrectly on my calendar. (I have a ridiculously complicated method of coloring squares on a year-long calendar, with multiple highlighters intended to show everything from holidays to vacations to travel that I don't need vacation days for to local commitments like theatre tickets. This is supposed to keep me from double-booking myself. In practice, it creates an attractive product, but I still double-book myself.)

General chaos: I pay most of my bills automatically, but there are a couple I write checks for. In order to pay the bills, alas, I first have to find the bills. I used to be so organized. I think I never really got things back together when I bought my condo. Which was, admittedly, several years ago. I really need to devote some time to getting things together. I did go through a bunch of unopened mail last night, but only made it about halfway through. I will, however, note that for dead people, my parents sure get an awful lot of life insurance solicitations.
fauxklore: (storyteller doll)
Celebrity Death Watch: Richard Hatch was an actor in Battlestar Galactica among other things. Sir Peter Mansfield won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2003. Mile Ilitch owned much of Detroit or at least its sports teams (the Red Wings and the Tigers) and a mediocre pizza company. Damian was a British pop singer. Al Jarreau was a seven-time Grammy winner for his jazz and R&B music. Raymond Smullyan was a mathematician and wrote books about logic puzzles, e.g. What is the Name of This Book? and This Book Needs No Title.

Non-celebrity Death Watch: Howard Margol was a major force in Lithuanian-Jewish genealogy and responsible for a lot of the resources I use regularly. He was helpful in answering questions and teaching others how to do their research. May his memory be for a blessing.

Storytelling – The Grapevine: I made it to darkest Maryland (actually, come to think of it, Busboys and Poets might be on the DC side of Takoma / Takoma Park) Wednesday night to see Jeff Doyle and Anne Thomas tell. I also told "The Three Sisters" in the open mike. Jeff told two stories involving encounters with bears. Anne did a few personal stories about disability. Overall, an interesting night.

Storytelling – Short Story Slam: Thursday night had me back in darkest Maryland – Bethesda, to be precise – for the story slam that Michael puts on monthly. I have mixed feelings about this sort of thing, since a part of me objects to competitive storytelling. But there was plenty of good material on the theme of matrimony. Michael led off with a particularly funny piece about getting married in Communist China, including what he referred to as "emergency sex education." I told an abbreviated version of "Border Crossings." I actually tied for the third highest number of votes, but since the top two vote-getters went over the time limit, it came down to the tie breaker, and I had the shortest story so won first prize, which was exciting. Overall, it was fun and worth the exhaustion the next day.

JGSGW: I spent most of the weekend between suspended animation (i.e. catching up on sleep) and trying, not very successfully, to get some housework done. But I did make it to the JGSGW meeting on Sunday, which had a presentation on debunking myths about Jewish genealogy. I can’t say I learned much, but it was entertaining. And the time for networking was potentially useful.

Weather Whine: I would rather it were consistently cold than this annoying up and down we’ve been having. It got up to 70ish on Wednesday and then dropped to the 20’s on Friday but was back in the 60’s all weekend. This morning it was 30-something (but 25 with the wind chill factor) when I left for work. Just make up your bloody mind for a few days in a row, please.

Metro: Both storytelling events last week involved the Red Line, which meant changing to the Orange Line for the rest of the way home. That’s fine, but they were single-tracking around McPherson Square at night and things aren’t synchronized, so I had 15+ minute waits at Metro Center both nights.

Friday had a different annoyance as they turned the Orange Line train I was on into a Silver Line train. I was napping, so missed the announcement. Fortunately, I woke up at McLean, so only had to go back one station to switch, but they shouldn’t do this. Especially as they already run twice as many Silver Line trains as Orange, despite ridership on the Orange Line being several times higher.

Today started a new SafeTrack surge, which means no Blue Line service for 18 days. I had an early meeting at the Pentagon, so took a bus which was way more crowded than I’d ever seen it before. That worked, but was still annoying. In short, expect me to be grumpy for the next several weeks. It’s still better than driving.
fauxklore: (storyteller doll)
The American Crossword Puzzle Tournament deserves its own write-up, so here is the other stuff I’ve been up to.

Celebrity Death Watch: Ken Howard was an actor and served as president of SAG. His most significant role, in my opinion, was as Thomas Jefferson in 1776. Joe Garagiola was a baseball player turned sportscaster. Garry Shandling was a comedian. Winston Mosely killed Kitty Genovese.

Patty Duke was an actress whose TV show was a big influence on my youth. Specifically, I wanted to be the sophisticated cousin, Cathy, who had lived most everywhere.

Weather Whining: It is April. It is not supposed to be this cold. They are even talking about some snow potential for this coming weekend.

Ballet – Hamlet: I went with a friend to see the Washington Ballet production of Hamlet on Thursday night. Given that this was to a score by Philip Glass, I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised that it was too modern in style for my tastes. (The choreography is by Stephen Mills). I do think Brooklyn Mack, who danced the lead, is an excellent dancer, but that wasn’t enough to make up for the whole thing being somewhat incoherent. Admittedly, about all I remembered of the plot (which I read back in high school) is that everyone gets stabbed. Well, that, and (thanks to Adam McNaughton) "Hamlet, Hamlet, acting balmy. Hamlet, Hamlet, loves his mommy." At the end, I turned to my friend and said, "I was wrong. Some people get poisoned instead."

Bottom line is that maybe I am a lowbrow Patty, not a highbrow Cathy, after all.
fauxklore: (storyteller doll)
Celebrity Death Watch: Vanity was a singer and primarily known as a protégé of Prince.

Boutros Boutros-Ghali was the Secretary-General of the United Nations from 1992-1996. There were lots of questions about how effective he was, including the UN failure to act in the Rwandan genocide, but also inadequate responses in the former Yugoslavia and in Somalia. He was the only UN Secretary-General who was not elected to a second term in office.

Antonin Scalia was a Supreme Court justice and a major voice for conservative opinions. As much as I despise many of his judgements, I do admit to his intelligence and his literary skill. He was the subject of a play (The Originalist) and an opera (Scalia / Ginsburg). There is, by the way, no justification for Obama waiting for his successor to name a replacement and certainly no historical precedent. Pushing such a move should only hurt Republicans in the Senate who will be seen as obstructionist.

Business Trip: I spent much of last week in Los Angeles. The trip was largely for one meeting, but I also sat in on a review for an upcoming launch and got a firehouse of program info from my management. It also provided a good opportunity for me to meet a couple of customer folks and for me to get to know my boss better. So, as exhausting as it was, it was definitely worth the effort.

Other L.A. Stuff: I suffered a bit of weather shock. When I flew out on Tuesday morning, it was raining when I left my house, sleeting when I got on the bus to IAD, and snowing when we took off. When I arrived in L.A., it was in the 80’s. And I came home to extreme cold, with temperatures in the 20’s or below.

I also took advantage of the trip to go to Community Storytellers on Thursday night. There were a fair number of people there and some good stories, but we had to end early to avoid getting locked in. Of course, we then did the traditional stand and yak in the parking lot for ages afterwards.

Lost in the Stars: I got home, dropped my bags in my house, and ran off to the Kennedy Center to see the Washington National Opera production of Lost in the Stars. I’m not a big opera person, but this is Kurt Weill and it was an option on my theatre subscription. It does raise the question of where the barrier is between opera and musical theatre, but, frankly, I don’t think the line matters. If I enjoy something, why should I care how it gets characterized?

Anyway, for those unfamiliar with Lost in the Stars, it is based on Alan Paton’s novel, Cry, the Beloved Country. The plot involves a black preacher, Stephen Kumalo, who travels to Johannesburg to search for his son, Absalom. Absalom has fallen in with a bad crowd, which leads to him killing a white man (who is, in fact, a friend of his father’s). He refuses to lie about the matter and ends up sentenced to death. This being apartheid era South Africa there are various racial undercurrents, which are handled rather awkwardly, perhaps because the show was written in 1949. Even more awkward is Stephen’s crisis of faith, which gets resolved all too easily.

I was impressed with Eric Owens as Stephen Kumalo and with Sean Panikkar as The Leader. But the real scene stealer was Caleb McLaughlin as the child, Alex. Overall, this was worth seeing, but there are some tedious moments to sit through for things like the glories of the title song.

Jewish Genealogical Society: The JGSGW meeting on Sunday was part assisted research workshop (in which I made a bit more progress on Chaim Schwartzbard and his children, though there is still confusion due to things like his having one son named Harry and another named Harold) and part speaker program. The topic of the latter was Family Search and I thought the presentation was fairly basic, but I did learn a few useful tidbits.

Recurring Dream: Or, more accurately, recurring nightmare. Three times in the past week, I have awoken in a panic from a dream in which I was trying to check in for a flight only to discover I had left my passport at home.


Jan. 27th, 2016 11:21 am
fauxklore: (storyteller doll)
Celebrity Death Watch: I will write about our blizzard in just a moment, but first, the obligatory celebrity death watch.

Maria Teresa de Filippis was the first woman to race cars in Formula One (in the late 1950's). Glenn Frey was a founding member of The Eagles and, hence, responsible for a particular earworm that plagued me for miles after driving through Winslow, Arizona. Rabbi Ronald Greenwald was involved in a number of political negotiations, including the release of Nathan Sharansky from a Soviet prison and the recovery of Torah scrolls from Lithuania. Rabbi Eugene Borowitz edited the magazine, Sh'ma, as well as writing several books about Reform Judaism. Marvin Monsky was a pioneer in artificial intelligence.

Concepcion Picciotto led a peace vigil in Lafayette Park (outside the White House) since 1981. This is considered the longest protest in U.S. history.

Henry Worsley was trying to complete the first unaided solo crossing of Antarctica. Apparently he was distantly related to Frank Worsley, Shackleton's captain. He failed in his goal by only 30 miles. Apparently, he radioed for help and was airlifted to Chile, where he died of peritonitis, so it isn't completely clear that his death was completely related to the expedition (other than, of course, delaying treatment).

Finally, Abe Vigoda. He was best known as an actor for playing Fish on Barney Miller. The joke was that, while the character he played was ancient and at death's door, in real life Vigda was apparently quite athletic. At any rate, he was even better known for mistaken rumors about his death over the years, including an entire website devoted to the question. He took the whole thing with remarkably good humor.

Snowzilla: I refuse to use the Weather Channel names for storms, but the Washington Post Capital Weather Gang has legitimate naming rights. Hence, Snowzilla, not Jonas. Given how badly our area handled the inch or so of snow on Wednesday, I was dreading the actual storm. But, really, not going outside helps tremendously. I brought my laptop home on Thursday night and just holed up at home until this morning.

I did brave the supermarket on Thursday night, which was not quite as bad as I'd feared. Though I did forget that I was out of butter and, even though it was on my list, managed not to actually buy salsa. Neither was a big deal. I ended up making muffins using oil, instead of melted butter, and I made a large pot of soup instead of the rice with salsa and cheese I had been thinking about. (I also ate rice with stir fried surimi and veggies. I am almost, but not quite, out of soy sauce.) I still have at least 3 servings of the bean and barley soup, which is now in the freezer. And I have a few servings left of the tuna casserole I made last night. When I work from home, I cook more.

As for the storm itself, it started snowing somewhere around 2 p.m. on Friday and just kept on and on until somewhere around 10 or 11 Saturday night. Much of the day Saturday was really bleak with blowing snow mixing with falling snow, accumulating on the west side of the trees in our courtyard, which miraculously did not lose major branches. The wind caused lots of drifting, completely covering the Juliet balcony of one of the units downstairs from me. In the end, we got about 25 inches where I live; apparently there was a 30-36 inch accumulation at points to the north and west.

The western end of the Orange Line was shut down until this morning, but it was working fine when I went to work today. I worked from home on Friday, Monday, and Tuesday which is ergonomically unsatisfying, but better than trying to go anywhere. My only complaint this morning is that our contractor decided to shovel a path across the lawn, instead of the pavement, so it was a muddy mess getting out to the street.

Most annoying thing is that I had lots of plans that got cancelled, including the production of West Side Story at Signature Theatre (not reschedulable, as all other performances are sold out, so I took a gift certificate to apply to next season's subscription) and a weekend mileage run.
fauxklore: (storyteller doll)
I have other things to write about, but let me drop a quick note re: how miserable this week has been for commuting. Monday was tolerable, but the metro was running on a holiday schedule, which meant long waits at Rosslyn for connecting trains.

Tuesday, the cold weather caused a different problem. But it is best to say it in my preferred poetic form:

Cracked rail outside East
Falls Church this morning. Single
tracking. Late to work.

And, of course, I just missed my connection, so:

It is as cold at
Rosslyn station as it is
outside. Brr, brr, brr.

Was it any better going home? Well, I had an errand to run near Union Station. I got on the Yellow Line at Crystal City and then:

Someone unconscious
on train at Archives. Single
tracking, long delays.

So yesterday I had a meeting for which it made sense to drive in. (I can get to where it was by bus, but that eats up a lot of time and is only worth it if meeting is at beginning or end of the day, not in the middle.) Things were slow coming in, for no particular reason. Going home was the issue. It wasn't even snowing until I was halfway home, but it was still slow. And, once there was a bit of sticking snow, it was just a slippery, nasty crawl.

Note that we got a whopping 1.2 inches of snow and it messed things up badly enough that it took me twice as long as normal to drive home. We are expecting 24-30 inches in the storm that is going to clobber us this weekend.
I am not going more than about 200 feet from my bed.

Please, buy me a condo in Punta del Este, Uruguay?
fauxklore: (storyteller doll)
Celebrity Death Watch: E. L. Doctorow wrote Ragtime (among other novels), which was also adopted into a reasonably interesting musical. Theodore Bikel was an actor, musician, and philanthropist. I was privileged to see his one man show about Shalom Aleichem. And I own a few of his recordings of Jewish music. I realize he was 91, but I really thought he was immortal. His work is.

My Report to the World: The Story of Jan Karski: On Monday night, I went to a workshop staged reading of a new play (written by Clark Young and Derek Goldman and starring David Strathairn. I was slightly familiar with Jan Karski, whose story came out in the movie Shoah. The short version is that he was a courier for the Polish underground during World War II, escaped from a Nazi prison, and was later smuggled into the Warsaw Ghetto and the Izbica Nazi transit camp. He then went to the London and to Washington to report on what he had seen, with, essentially, no effect.

It’s an interesting and dramatic story, but was obviously still a work in progress, so was a bit choppy at times. Strathairn was a very effective performer and the (limited) staging worked well, for the most part. I do have issues with one of the things I often have issues with, namely the failure to address the complicity of many Polish people with the persecution of the Jews. (I had this same problem with the museum exhibits at Auschwitz, by the way.) The most dramatic (and appalling) moment involved Karski’s meeting with Felix Frankfurter, who just outright refused to believe him. Grr.

There was a discussion afterwards with Strathairn, Goldman (who directed the play, in addition to co-writing it), and a senior curator from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. I have to admit to not having found any of the conversation particularly memorable, but that is probably because it was late for me. Anyway, it will be interesting to see how this play develops in the future. And I should probably actually read Karski’s book.

Weather Whine: It’s a bit better now, but it was bloody hot on Monday and Tuesday. When I got off the metro on Monday night (after having walked from Sidney Harmon Hall to Metro Center and waited for the Orange Line home, in addition to the metro ride itself), I was a bit dehydrated. And I really thought I might collapse on the (short) walk home. Fortunately, I didn’t. But as soon as I got inside, I set the air conditioning to stun and drank 3 glasses of water. Can we fast forward to October?

Favorite Slang of the Year: I am reading Alexandra Fuller’s Scribbling the Cat, which has a lot of Southern African slang terms in the conversations she recounts. I absolutely love the use of the term "Henry the Fourth" for HIV infection. (I do not, of course, love the prevalence of HIV in Zambia and Zimbabwe, where life expectancy is down to about the mid-30’s.)
fauxklore: (storyteller doll)
Celebrity Death Watch: Burt Shavitz had bees (and a related business). James Tate was a poet. Ernie Maresca was a songwriter, notable for "Runaround Sue" and "The Wanderer." Omar Sharif and Roger Rees were actors.

Thing I Want to Make: I just discovered these toy animals made from sock yarn. They’re knitted in a tube and tied like balloon animals, which is just such a cool concept.

I also want to make these crocheted toys, which are done with hexagons and pentagons pieced together. The stegosaurus and the giraffe are particularly cute.

Of course, I should probably finish the three sweaters and two afghans I have in progress first. Come to think of it, make that four afghans. Or maybe five. Um, yes, I have a short attention span and a lack of time to spend playing with yarn. (I did get some stuff done at knitting group on Sunday, but I spent much of the weekend napping, reading the newspaper, doing a few chores, and did I mention napping?)

Reasons to Retire, Part 9753: The things that are frustrating are often things other than work itself. Today’s top annoyance has to do with telecommunications infrastructure, otherwise known as our internet being deadly slow. How bad? It just took me an hour and 17 minutes to get into my corporate website for long enough to enter my time in my timesheet, a task that normally takes about 6 minutes (and really should not take more than 2).

And don’t get me started on our VOIP phones. I am an old person who believes one should not ever have to reboot one’s telephone.

Weather Whine: We are in the midst of the annual block of 90/90 days (i.e. 90 degrees Fahrenheit, 90% humidity). I have, of course, set the air conditioning to stun, but it is still annoying.
fauxklore: (storyteller doll)
Goals: I normally do a quarterly wrap-up of progress on my goals for the year. But I have done next to nothing in that direction over the past 3 months. I even fell behind on keeping track of spending in April and May, though I got back on track in June. And I knitted almost all of another big afghan square (the ones that count as 4).

Most of that lack of progress has been due to a certain general malaise, largely out of feeling overwhelmed with dealing with the estate stuff. Oddly, the past week has suddenly been better, largely out of having figured out where I can out stacks of books so they are out of my way but I can still get to them to go through them. And that realization has me filled with energy, which I’ve put to use the past couple of days trying to catch up on household paperwork.

So things are getting better and will get done.

Celebrity Death Watch: Patrick Macnee played Mr. Steed on The Avengers. Sir Nicholas Winton organized the rescue of a large number of Jewish children from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia.

Sleep and Weather: There were severe storms here last night. My neighborhood was spared the worst of them, but I know there was still plenty of wind and rain, based on the wet, leaf and petal covered pavement this morning. Normally, that sort of thing wakes me up and I complain about feeling like I am trying to sleep inside a shower.

What is weird is that I did wake up a couple of times last night, but was completely unaware of this storm until this morning.

Product Mockery: There is always the Hammacher Schlemmer catalogue to provide amusement should all else fail. The most recent one includes the following gems:

  • Fish Catching RC Boat: So suppose you want to go fishing. But you don’t want to actually sit in a boat or stand on the shore or hold a fishing pole or anything like that. This lets you hold the controllers for a radio-controlled boat that does the fishing automatically for you. That sounds like all the boredom of waiting for fish to bite with none of the challenges or pleasures of actually fighting for a fish.

  • Automatic Tile Shuffling Mahjong Table: Because shuffling the tiles with your hands takes too long. At least your $1700 (plus $350 for shipping since it weighs 200 pounds) does get you a set of mah jong tiles included.

  • Identity Theft Thwarting Aluminum Wallet: The idea here is to block RFID chips. Except that credit cards don’t have RFID chips. And there is nothing that actually stops a thief from stealing the whole bloody wallet.

  • Front and Rear Roadtrip Recorder: I know people who are obsessed enough with photographic evidence of their lives that I can imagine them wanting this. But it only keeps about 90 minutes of video. I don’t know about you, but my roadtrips tend to be longer than that. (I do realize this could be useful for documenting accidents. So my mockery is a bit mixed. But, still …)

  • 12 MPH Cooler: This is, basically, a riding cooler. I’m not imagining that – the picture shows a guy straddling it and steering. Apparently, pulling a wheeled cooler is not sufficiently low effort. It has a 320 pound riding capacity, but it isn’t clear if you have to subtract off the weight of the beer or soda from that.

  • Transparent Canoe Kayak: Because … no, I cannot for the life of me imagine why one might want a transparent canoe kayak.

fauxklore: (storyteller doll)
Celebrity Death Watch: Kirk Kerkorian was a rich businessman, whose projects included (among other things) the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas. Ralph J. Roberts founded Comcast. Allen Weinstein was the Archivist of the United States for 3 years. Jack Rollins made Woody Allen (among others) famous. JoAnn Dean Killingsworth was the first person to play Snow White at Disneyland. James Horner was a film composer. Dick Van Patten was an actor, best known for his role in Eight is Enough. Susan Ahn Cuddy was the first Asian-American woman to join the U.S. Navy and became the first female gunnery officer.

Don Featherstone invented the plastic lawn flamingo. Before that, lawn flamingos were made of concrete. Even earlier, flamingos only rarely frequented lawns and were made primarily of meat and bones and feathers. Flamingo trivia: Their feathers are actually white, but take on coloration from their diets, with pink coming largely from things like krill. I have often wanted to test this and feed them lots of, say, spinach. Could you make designer flamingos, kind of how they dye flowers? Think of the possibilities!

Last Weekend: I already wrote about seeing Cabaret at Signature Theatre. I also went to a story swap on Saturday night, which meant a slightly terrifying drive home through massive thunderstorms afterwards. I had had all sorts of grand plans to get caught up at home, but most of them succumbed to napping.

When I Rule the World: Heavy rain will be limited to weekdays, ideally between noon and 3 p.m. For other weather notes, listen to the title song from Camelot.

DGS Deli: I belong to a meetup group that tried Jewish delis in the greater D.C. metro area. Our excursion to the new branch of DGS in the Mosaic District (a rapidly gentrifying part of Fairfax County) was last night. There were samples of pastrami and corned beef for everyone and I thought the pastrami quite good, albeit somewhat less peppery than I am used to. I ordered a sandwich called The Leon, which had smoked turkey, chopped liver, and cole slaw. I found it quite tasty and want to particularly commend the rye bread. The cole slaw was definitely the weak point, as I prefer a less creamy, more vinegary sort. And the accompanying pickle was so-so. Still, I would go back and try other items on the menu, which has some rather promising smoked fish offerings. I also had an excellent mixed drink called The Schmoozer, which had plum-infused vodka, ginger beer, mint, and lime. They do have a drink on the menu called The Miriam, but its ingredients were a bit heavy on rhubarb, which just didn’t appeal to me. The conversation was excellent and wide-ranging, so it was quite an enjoyable evening.

Confederate Flags and Such: I am happy to see Confederate flags being taken down and stores stopping selling merchandise with them. But I don’t think that this means much in the long run. What it takes to change attitudes is having people from different groups understand one another’s stories, so they realize the basic humanity we all share. That can’t be accomplished by merely getting rid of symbols, however offensive those symbols may be.

I will also note that I have had black friends tell me they’ve experienced far more racism in some parts of the north (e.g. Boston) than in some parts of the south (e.g. Atlanta). I am (obviously) not in a position to comment on this. (Nor would I presume to speak to other people’s experiences.)

On another note, I see various calls for removing statues of people on the grounds that they were slave owners or defenders of slavery. I do find it offensive that there is a statue of Roger Taney (best known for the Dred Scott decision) in front of the Maryland State House. But I also believe that forgetting our history is dangerous. Maybe the solution lies in what explanatory plaques are put up with the statue?
fauxklore: (storyteller doll)
Sort of Celebrity Death Watch: I forgot to mention that storyteller Steve Sanfield died recently. He told Jewish stories (including Chelm stories, though, of course, my versions are better) as well as African-American stories and other folktales. He also wrote poetry. His most significant achievement was probably having founded the Sierra Storytelling Festival. He will be missed.

Non-celebrity Death Watch: I am still in shock about Joel Ratner’s death. I grew up with him and, while I have not seen him since high school, I’ve heard that he built a great life as a music educator and family man. People my age should not be dying.

Don’t Analyze This Dream: Actually, I don’t remember enough details to write about the dream coherently, but it involved both sushi and gefilte fish. I like both, but they really don’t go together.

Weather Whining: We got about 6 inches of snow this past Saturday and another 2 or so late Wednesday night. It is really distressing to me when the temperature in Oslo is 15 degrees higher than the temperature in northern Virginia.

Deli Man: In spite of the snow, I trudged to the metro and slid down Q Street to see the screening of Deli Man, part of the Washington Jewish Film Festival. There are scenes and interviews involving many famous Jewish delis, with the main focus on David "Ziggy" Gruber of Kenny and Ziggy’s in Houston. There was, alas, no explanation of who Kenny is or was. Despite that lingering question, the movie was excellent. I laughed, I cried, I drooled. I went home and made matzoh ball soup.

Food Failure: With all that pristine snow falling, I completely forgot to collect some in a pie pan and make sugar in the snow. I have real maple syrup on hand so it would have been simple enough to boil some and pour it over a pan full of snow. Maybe next winter. (I refuse to hope for more snow so I can do it this season.)

General Kvetching: I have several annoyances with things ranging from work to the Norwegian railroad website to the likely closing of McCoy Field (home of the PawSox) to the stupid selfie crap on the new season of The Amazing Race to my own sheer lack of focus. But, you know, it doesn’t pay to dwell on any of that, so I will keep from boring you with my current state of discontent and leave myself time to do something about some parts of that.
fauxklore: (storyteller doll)
Celebrity Death Watch: Richard Sher was the creator and producer of the radio show Says You! Gary Owens made Laugh-In announcements from beautiful downtown Burbank. Louis Jourdan was an actor, probably most famous as the romantic lead in Gigi. Lesley Gore sang teenage hit songs in the early 1960’s. It’s her funeral and you can cry if you want to.

Food Pornography – China Chilcano: I went out to dinner with flyertalk friends last week at China Chilcano, which is the buzzy new place by Jose Andres. It’s an Asian-Peruvian fusion small plates place and it was really valuable to go with a big group so we could try a lot of different dishes. We had quite a variety, from all over the menu. Some of the highlights were two of the four ceviches (the classico, a slightly spicy hamachi which is pretty much what I think of when I think of ceviche, and the ceviche Nikkei, made with tuna, puffed quinoa and mountain yam), papas a la huancaina (a cold potato and cheese salad), cameron saltado Maestro Wong (shrimp with fermented black beans and mushrooms), and "aeropuerto" (a fried rice and noodle dish with 20 kinds of vegetables, so named because "everything lands in it," including carrots cut to look like little airplanes.) The latter may well be the best fried rice I have ever eaten and was worth the excursion on its own. Really, pretty much everything was excellent, though the wantan especial (won ton soup) was a bit too salty for my taste and the aji de gallina (chicken in yellow sauce) was nothing special. The drink was not as good as the food. I’ve had better pisco sours. And, while there was a lot of wine, I’m just not a big wine person. The bottom line is that I’d happily eat there again.

Weather Whining: We finally got a decent size snow storm Monday night – enough to shut things down on Tuesday. I had some work I could do from home. Except that a pipe froze and burst in the next courtyard of my complex, triggering the fire alarm. Working while huddling in the clubhouse with neighbors was not happening. And more snow is supposedly coming. As well as "wintry mix" over the weekend. Meanwhile, it is just bitter cold out.

Can we please fast forward a month or so?

A Brief Genealogical Note: I am still working on tracking down the story, but it looks like the person I think of as my "rich uncle" (actually, a great-uncle, one of my grandfather’s numerous brothers) was denied admission to the U.S. after stowing away on a ship! It wouldn’t be nearly as funny if it were anyone else. (He seems to have ended up in Toronto for a while and then succeeded in being admitted to the States.)

Amusing Work Interlude: Several weeks ago, I was at a meeting with a very senior official. (I was there in case one question came up, which my boss felt I was the right person to answer.) How senior? Well, let’s just say this person has a 3 foot-tall minion plushie in his office.

Anyway, before the meeting started, he was apologizing for running late. In the following exchange, the person labeled S is the high muckety-muck and the person labeled W is my great-grand-boss:

S: Sorry I’m late. I had to prep for this dumb-ass trip to Country X.
W: Step 1. Stop calling it "this dumb-ass trip."
S: As I was saying,this dumb-ass trip...

Okay, I am easily amused.
fauxklore: (storyteller doll)
Celebrity Death Watch: Mario Cuomo was a governor of New York. Bess Myerson was the first Jewish Miss America and later became a consumer affairs activist. Edward W. Brooke III was the first African-American elected to the Senate, back in the days when the idea of a liberal Republican from Massachusetts was easier to believe.

Weather: I know it is January. But I also know I live in Virginia. Please turn the dial back up.

Genealogical stuff: There are a lot of new vital records on Litvak SIG (on jewishgen) and they raise as many questions as they answer. There are a number of records I need to obtain and, in particular, I am hoping that the internal passports for my grandfather and my great-grandmother may address some, though the latter is what may be the most puzzling. There is ambiguity about her maiden name and potential new information about where she was born. Of course, there could also have been more than one Tzvia Nodel who was a dressmaker in Kaunas, but I am reasonably sure I am finding the right record because there is another name right next to it which I know as the name of someone who worked for her in her dress factory (and who later lived near my family in the Bronx).

But, really, the first thing I should be doing is computerizing the various notes and records I have. I’m a bit torn re: software in that it doesn’t appear that any of it really handles some of the ambiguities well. Right now, I am leaning towards Family Tree Maker for Mac but there also appear to be some pluses to Reunion. Gramps also looks interesting, especially because it is open source.

I’m also debating where the best place to publish information (aside from jewishgen, which is obvious). I want to scan in various photos and make them available to family members, so I will probably do this via a password protected website. Research info will probably go here.

Any and all advice accepted, though not necessarily obeyed.
fauxklore: (storyteller doll)
Used Bookstore Run: I did a used bookstore run this past weekend. I got rid of a total of 86 books. I haven’t counted how many I brought home in exchange (I am fairly sure it is 20ish), but I will note that the most interesting was Crasswords: Dirty Crosswords for Cunning Linguists edited by Francis Heaney. I don’t normally get puzzle books at the only one of the used bookstores that has them (McKay in Manassas) because they price them at close to their cover price, but this is something a bit different. And the puzzles are by people whose constructing skills I respect. (The price doesn’t really matter, because it’s trade, anyway. I just find it annoying.)

My plan is to get rid of the rest of the books that are ready to go out this coming weekend, with an excursion to The Book Thing. There are, alas, many many more books that need to be read (or, in some cases, reread) first. And I barely made a dent in bringing my mother’s books down here. I got all the books I could find upstairs, but only a shelf or so of what’s downstairs. And I may have missed some upstairs because I didn’t go through all of the wall unit. (Come to think of it, I know there are a couple of dictionaries in a drawer in the living room, too.)

Don’t Analyze This Dream: I woke up in a minor panic this morning after a dream in which I was unable to explain a parameter in an elasticity equation to a colleague. The equation in question was, of course, complete nonsense and, yes, I do know that the symbol for Young’s modulus is E, not rho. Such is the way of dreams.

It was also slightly less disturbing than the dream which involved a long-dead great-aunt pointing at my alarm clock.

Weather: It is only November. It is not supposed to be this cold. Please re-boot the calendar.
fauxklore: (storyteller doll)
Celebrity Death Watch: Casey Kasem probably didn’t originate the pop music count down, but is widely associated with it. Tony Gwynn was one of a handful of baseball players who remained with a single team (the San Diego Padres) his entire Major League career. Ultra Violet was an artist and Andy Warhol’s muse for more than 15 minutes.

Yemen Blues: Thursday night saw me at the DC Jewish Community Center to see Yemen Blues perform. This is a fusion band, led by Ravid Kahalani. I’m not entirely sure how one would characterize their music, which is why the "world beat" label is handy. The largest influence is Yemenite (duh), but there are West African rhythms and blues and other jazz forms. The percussion was particularly notable and there was one piece I can best describe as an intriguing battle between Middle Eastern and Latin percussion. There was also some notable oud playing. My one complaint was that the space was not really conducive to movement and this was music that demanded to be danced to. From my Israeli folk dance days, I know that the dancing of Yemenite Jews was traditionally very constrained in space and primarily up and down, with the explanation that the people did not love the land, so they danced as if their feet were on fire. So maybe that was suitable after all. (Actually, I do have another complaint. The concert started 20 minutes late. That’s a lot on a weeknight. But it was good enough that I will forgive them.)

Ordinary Days: Friday night I schlepped to Bethesda to see Ordinary Days, a musical (really a song cycle) by Adam Gwon. It was worth the effort as the show was thoroughly charming. The story involves two pairs of New Yorkers. The best of the characters is the semi-hysterical grad student, Deb, well-played by Erin Weaver. The free-spirited Warren is her foil and helps her to see that there is beauty in the small things in life. The other couple, Jason and Claire, are less satisfying characters. For one thing, he belongs in, say, Iowa and he’s really only in New York because he fell for her. But, more significantly, there is some great trauma that keeps her from letting him in and we don’t find out what the twist is until almost the end of the show. The revelation (in the song "I’ll Be Here") makes her a lot more sympathetic, but I found it hard to believe she’d been with Jason an entire year and not told him about it. But, overall, that’s a minor flaw. The music is lovely. And there is plenty of wit in the lyrics, along with delicious subtle tidbits, e.g. when Deb, who is doing her thesis on Virginia Woolf, makes a reference to having a room of her own. A show like this is a good reminder of why Gwon is considered one of the rising stars of the musical theatre world.

And, look, unlike everyone else in the greater Washington D.C. metropolitan area, I managed to write about the show without using the word "extraordinary!" (But it is.)

Ah, Metro – Last Monday night’s Red Line Haiku Version:
Metro’s web site claims
single tracking starts at 10.
Half hour wait at 9.

Ah, Metro – Friday night’s Haiku Version:
Track fire delayed Blue
Line. Had I known, I would have
taken the yellow.

Bethesda station
has the worst escalators
in the whole system.

(Yes, I understand that Metro’s priority is to get people out of the stations. But there was really no reason for both working escalators to be going up at 9:30 at night. Walking down the half mile long non-working escalator is hard on the knees of this grumpy old person.)

The Weekend: I spent much of it sleeping, though I did get some errands done. And I made it to knitting group where I showed off my "it’s not stash, it’s souvenir" yarn purchase from Italy. I have this idea for a patchwork jacket using these odds and ends I have picked up in various places. It will be a while before I start on that project, but I am already referring to it as A Coat of Many Countries. What I actually did was crochet afghan squares because I need to destash a bunch of acrylic and that is a good way to do so. And it is also brainless enough that I can do it while talking.

Moral Dilemma of the Week: Neptune needs a bath. Normally, I look for a group of teenagers doing a car wash for charity. Well, Arlington County has banned charity carwashes because of the impact of run-off on the Chesapeake. Fairfax County has not done so yet, but I do actually care about the Bay. Apparently, commercial carwashes are okay because they have ways to capture grey water. But I still feel like I’d rather have my money going to a school band or the like than to Mr. Wash.

The Prostate Dialogues: Last night’s outing was to see Jon Spelman’s one-man show at Theatre J. I know Jon and I admire his storytelling, so I can’t give this an unbiased review. It’s a brave show, with a surprising amount of humor. In addition to his experience with prostate cancer, the work deals more generally with issues of aging and mortality and what manhood is. I’m not sure how somebody under, say, 50 will react, but I found lots to relate to, even without a prostate. By the way, there was a talk-back, but I didn't stay for it because going out on a weeknight means enough sleep deprivation as it is.

Commute Miracle – the Tuesday morning haiku version:
bus to the Mark Center came at
seven forty-three.

Some Like It Hot: I like hot weather, but the current heat and humidity, which is reminiscent of Benin, is too much, even for me.

Books and Gelato: Since I was already over at Dupont Circle last night, I stopped in the used bookstore there. And I found a copy of Don Camillo Meets Hell's Angels. I didn't even know about that one. Afterwards, I stopped in at Dolcezza Gelato. The cinnamon was good, but the winner there was the strawberry tarragon, which may be the only good pink thing on the planet.
fauxklore: (storyteller doll)
Here are various odds and ends, with no theatre involved.

Celebrity Death Watch: Harold Ramis was an interesting comic actor. Sean Potts played the tin whistle and was one of the founders of The Chieftains.

Retiring Celebrity Watch: Carl Kassell of NPR is retiring. I am not sure what impact that will have on the value of my Carl Kassell doll. Not that I was planning to sell.

Non-celebrity Death Watch: Leslie Perry had been suffering from ALS for the past five years, so his death is not surprising. He was a mainstay of the Los Angeles storytelling community and a great builder of community, as well as a fine storyteller. I remember, in particular, a letter he once sent out that pointed out the need for storytellers to support one another, attending and advertising other tellers’ programs, for example. He also talked about the need for tellers to tell the difficult stories. Both of those triggered discussions that have influenced how I try to deal with storytelling. After he became ill, he had two books published, had a play produced, and was the subject of a documentary. He may not have been a household name, but Leslie was a celebrity in my community and in my life. He was a good man and I will miss him.

Weather: We got about 5 inches of snow on Monday. This had been predicted, so I had brought my laptop home and was productive. But it is proof that I don’t live in Camelot, where winter exits March the second on the dot.

Washington Jewish Film Festival: Because of the snow, the showing of The Herring Queens (a documentary about Lower East Side appetizing store, Russ and Daughters) on Monday night was cancelled. So the only WJFF event I made it to was not a film, but a Yiddish music program on Tuesday night. That featured Cantor Sara Geller and was a mix of concert and sing-along. She has a fine voice, but the songs she did started out with art songs, which are not really what I was expecting. The sing-along part was fine but consisted entirely of overly familiar songs. Can we please have some Yiddish music event someday that does not feature "Oyfen Pripitchik," "Rozhinkes Mit Mandlen," and "Tubalalaika?" The rest of the concert part was somewhat more to my taste, since it was largely theatre music. My favorite piece was "It’s Tough" (sung in English), which tells of the tragedy when Izzy Rosenstein loves Genevieve Malone.

In Other News: Between various work and non-work commitments, I am stressed and frustrated and grouchy. It is a good thing I am not a violent person.

And now I am all caught up. Of course, the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament is this weekend, so I will be behind again. And my non-LJ to-do list is the length of my arm. But I’ll take what small victories I can.
fauxklore: (storyteller doll)
This has been a fairly stressful week. I am guardedly optimistic about the weekend, but that may be entirely delusional.

Celebrity Death Watch: Sid Caesar was a comedian and television pioneer. I will admit that I had not actually realized he was still alive until he wasn’t. His role in the development of what we think of as comedy can't be underestimated.

Shirley Temple Black started out as a child star and had a second career as a diplomat. She also has some personal significance to me since I have a Shirley Temple doll, acquired in a rummage sale when I was a child. (I should note that for years I claimed I don’t collect dolls but my mother thinks I do. At a certain point, I gave in and admit collecting them.) I liked the doll mostly for the mess of unruly, curly hair – something I have tangled with forever.

Ralph Kiner got less attention, but those of us who grew up with the Mets will always hear his voice when we think about baseball. Nothing could be finer than to listen to Ralph Kiner.

Weather: We got completely socked by a snowstorm Wednesday night through yesterday. I was not expecting it to be as bad as it was. Predictions were for 5-10 inches and I was guessing on 6. Instead we got about a foot in my neighborhood. That meant the government closed down (but my company, despite having an emergency code available to charge to, expects us to work from home if we can, about which more later). OPM put on a two hour delay today. I think that’s a bad call, given that transportation is still pretty iffy. The buses that serve the Land that Transit Forgot are not running, so even if I wanted to go in, it would be hard to.

But it also meant that the reception I was supposed to go to Wednesday night was cancelled. And it has me worried about my flight tonight, though United is claiming it is on time. The biggest hassle is that I have to get to BWI. That’s something I normally avoid, but it was a lot lot cheaper.

By the way, the Washington Post is calling the storm “Snochi.” It took me a while to figure out that’s a reference to the Sochi Olympics, but once I did I decided that’s much better than the stupid Weather Channel name “Pax.” If someone has to name winter storms, I nominate the Capital Weather Gang.

Working From Home: The good things about working from home are having a supply of good coffee right at hand and the ability to do minor household chores when taking breaks. The bad side is that my back is killing me because I really need a new desk chair.

Credit Card Fraud: I got a fraud alert on my Chase Sapphire Preferred card. There’s no doubt it was (attempted) fraud – several attempts to charge $5 from a site that a quick google search suggested is used to test the legitimacy of credit card numbers. I am fairly sure the source of the compromise was Marriott, since I use that card pretty much entirely for travel-related purchases. The most annoying part is that, despite them saying they’d overnight the new card, with the weather situation, it did not get here overnight. Which means I can’t use it for this weekend’s hotel.

Don’t Analyze This Dream: I woke up in a bit of a panic on Tuesday night / Wednesday morning. I had been having a dream that I was in a hotel and I had forgotten to pack any shirts. I could plainly see my white shirt in my backpack, but I was sure I had no shirt to wear.

Travel and Bad Weather: United says my flight tonight is on time. So does flightaware.com, but the latter has a very strange and physically impossible track for the inbound flight. In short, I am reasonably sure that the plane that will become a BWI-IAH flight cannot be flying from IAD to LAX two hours earlier.

Flightaware was being somewhat flaky yesterday, too. Exactly how can an airport have 500+ flights cancelled but that amount to 0%? It didn't help that the FAA had not updated their web site either, so they were showing no delays at any of the area airports. Er, yes, I am a bit obsessive about this flying thing.

Anyway, United did change their weather waiver late in the afternoon yesterday to cover today (previously, it had only been for Wednesday to Thursday). So I tried to see if I could switch to a flight from IAD or DCA. The agent, who was less than helpful, said everything was full up and I should have called on Monday. But, had I tried to change on Monday, they would have charged me about $1500.

On a Lighter Note: The DMV sends a mobile van down to the Land That Transit Forgot about once a month. They can do various things, like driver’s license renewals and vehicle registrations. The list of services also includes hunting and fishing licenses. I understand the hunting part – pedestrians and cyclists are in season year round in Virginia. But fishing?


Jan. 24th, 2014 02:56 pm
fauxklore: (storyteller doll)
As usual, I have a bunch of catching up to do.

Used Bookstores and Spices: I finally got around to doing a used bookstore run last weekend. It was a particularly successful one, in that I left the house with 65 books and came home with only 4 of those (plus 18 new to me books, but that is to be expected). I also took advantage of the last store on my route being in that general vicinity to stop into Penzey’s and buy saffron. I will note, however, that they had no true cinnamon, at least not in stick form, but only cassia. (My issue is not the coumarin, as I don’t use it in huge amounts, but cassia is harder to grind and has a harsher taste.) They also don’t carry rosewater, so I still need to make a trip to one of the Indian stores (probably Aditi) to stock up. Actually, I should check first to see if Shopper’s Food Warehouse in Fairfax has it, since they carry some seasonings other supermarkets around here don’t (e.g. star anise) and do have a Middle Eastern section.

Game Night: My Chavurah had a game night on Saturday night. It was kind of weird, but I realize that most people would consider what I think of as a game night as weird. Basically, there was no interest in strategy games at all and complete distaste for anything that suggested actual competition. It was still reasonably fun. We played Balderdash, which I am very good at because: 1) I have a good vocabulary, meaning I don’t consider words like "succubus" to be the least bit obscure and 2) I understand what dictionary definitions sound like and can, therefore, snooker other people into picking my definition. We also played Sour Apples to Apples, which adds a silly penalty thing if your choice is considered least appropriate. In my opinion, that adds nothing to the game.

I should try to make time to go to real game nights, i.e. ones where people are more amenable to playing things with some level of complexity, thought, and feigned malice.

Knitting Group: Sunday involved knitting group. I finally found the needles, yarn, and pieces in progress for a particular sweater I’ve been working on. I even found my notions bag. So, of course, the pattern went missing. I worked on something else instead, but this is extremely annoying.

Weather: Monday was decent out, but we got 4 or so inches of snow on Tuesday, leading me to work from home. That’s a reminder that I really need a new desk chair. It’s been extremely cold since and I am feeling a certain amount of cabin fever.

Do Not Analyze This Dream: I had a dream the other night in which I stopped at a semi-rural resort / retreat center for dinner on my way to somewhere in Pennsylvania and found that several of my friends were there at a storytelling workshop. They talked me into staying for the night, during which I discovered that I had forgotten to bring my Volksmarch books with me. Much of the dream involved whether or not I should drive back home to retrieve them.

Notes to Myself: I scribbled the following in the front of a crossword book:

102 Loon Lake

105 (?) Yellowhead Lake

I am reasonably sure that there is no significance to this being in a puzzle book and that was just a handy piece of paper, suggesting I most likely wrote it on a plane or a train. If it were not for the question mark, I’d think it had to do with Volksmarch events. But, as it is, I am befuddled. Any ideas?

Make the Punishment Fit the Crime: When I rule the world, anyone who submits a document for approval without an acronym list shall be subject to drowning in a large vat of alphabet soup.
fauxklore: (storyteller doll)
Celebrity Death Watch: First, a few celebrity obituaries to note. Peter O'Toole and Joan Fontaine were actors. Ronnie Biggs was a train robber. Al Goldstein was a pornographer. Janet Dailey was a romance writer.

There are two I want to note in a little more detail. Mikhail Kalashnikov designed the AK-47, the most widely proliferated firearm of all time. He appears to have died of natural causes.

Charles M. Vest was the president of MIT a bit after my time. He is notable for having actually listened and acted on the data re: discrimination against women faculty members.

A Brief Rant re: Coffee: Coffee is a magical substance, when treated properly. Being treated properly does not include being grown in bulk in unsuitable climates. Or being burned by overroasting. Most of all, treating coffee properly does not include adding flavoring agents to it. Coffee IS a flavor and should, therefore, not come in flavors.

A Brief Rant re: Winter Storms: Winter storms do not have names. I don't care if you think they should, but they don't and you do not have the right to change this.

A Brief Rant re: Midwestern Vowel Deficiency: Actually, this may be sheer ignorance, not the lack of distinguishing vowel sounds amongst people from the vast middle of the country, but it annoys the hell out of me. When you have the bare bones of an idea and you are elaborating on it, you are flEshing it out. FlUshing things out refers to exposing them, as in sendng the dogs after the grouses you are hunting, which is quite a different metaphor. (Interestingly, someone else at work was complaining about the same thing just last week.)

A Brief Rant re: Brief Rants: Frankly, life is pretty good when my grievances are about people abusing coffee, storm names, and vowels in metaphors.


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