January 10, 2004

The New Book on Bush -- A Smoking Jetliner?

The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O'Neill by former Wall Street Journal reporter Ron Suskind, looks to have some very interesting tidbits, including the O'Neill's rendition of events on how the planned invasion of Iraq for oil exploration (oh, yah, and to get rid of saddam) was in the works from day one of the Bush Dadministration. (dadministration is my word, not O'Neill's.)

In other words, we were going in with or without 9/11.

Which makes you go hmmmmm.

Here's some of what's in the book, according to the article:

"There are memos," Suskind told the network. "One of them marked 'secret' says 'Plan for Post-Saddam Iraq.'"

Suskind cited a Pentagon document titled "Foreign Suitors For Iraqi Oilfield Contracts," which, he said, outlines areas of oil exploration. "It talks about contractors around the world from ... 30, 40 countries and which ones have what intentions on oil in Iraq."

In the book, O'Neill is quoted as saying he was surprised that no one in a National Security Council meeting asked why Iraq should be invaded.

"It was all about finding a way to do it. That was the tone of it. The president saying 'Go find me a way to do this,'" O'Neill said.

Well, someone did. And now they can't find the guy.

Makes you go hmmmm.

Eighth Floor Gulf View

Eight floors up
the balcony
wraps around
the stucco framed
like two small arms,
a child's hug.

You can see
the sun stretch
awake at dawn
if you stand
in just the right spot
at the left edge
where nothing
blocks the rush
of wind.

It's dusk,
move around
to the other side
push the forest green
lawn chair
pocked by cigarette embers
up against the cool rough wall
lock your heels on the edge
of the railing,
watch the sun kiss
the gulf goodnight.

Halley's Gotten into the Merchandising Business?

Call me crazy, but I think I found a book cover for Halley in my spam.

This wonder drug lets you have sex up to 20 times a day.

I wonder what happens if you go for 21?

one year ago

One year ago here I was blogging up virtual pizza.

two years ago

Two years ago here, I was writing about Cixous in posts I still like very much.

January 09, 2004


Okay. Well. There's no telling where your blog will wind up. So. Then. I have a confession to make to anyone who finds my blog through this page. You can probably guess what my confession is. So I'll keep it to myself. Until I have some good news to report. Soon.

Skot does a snowday

Nobody does it better.

There was also, naturally, some typically lo-fi attempts at snowman construction; we passed one that was about three feet high, with a jaunty scarf and a carrot nose that, due to the slight melt, had fallen out of his face and landed in the thing's hands, giving the little guy the look of an albino dwarf suddenly stunned with the discovery of advanced syphilis. It was delightful.

Of course, skipping the trip into work might have been better.

It ain't Stevenson, but it works, or, More writing advice

The Rabbit gives the Rambler some writing advice, and I think they're both so super swell I want to squeeze them to pieces.

Some real good advice from Rabbit: "You write what you can write about in specific terms and leave the vague, big feelings for people who write and write and don’t get distracted by pizza constantly."

I couldn't have said it better myself.

Dervala, Ooooh she's so good

Dervala writes in her glorious style about migration's effects on the locals in her town in Ireland and about her own experiences as a non-resident alien in the U.S.

Griff Speaks

Gordon Cole has added another section to Griff's story on Electric Edge. Report #6 is here. If you haven't read through Griff's writings, you should. It's a piece of history captured through the art and the journaling of a gifted storyteller.

I find a beautiful sea snail shell and stow it for my little girl's cabinet, back in New York. Snow puts on his goggles, wraps our blankets tight about us, and we are off again at 55 m.p.h., all having the same unspoken feeling of wanting to Get the Hell out of here. Run through empty valley with high ranges of Sinai Mountains on either hand. Climbing all the time through the drifted wastes that some times sweep like tides across the black tarred road. 1430 reach the border of Palestine at El Auna Sbeita.

How Gordon hasn't been swooped down upon for a book deal on the life and legend of Griff, I don't know.

Timeless Advise: "For the one rule is to be infinitely various"

In blogging, as it is writing, we would do well to consider this instruction by example from Robert Louis Stevenson in The Art of Writing and Other Essays:

"Communication may be made in broken words, the business of life be carried on with substantives alone; but that is not what we call literature; and the true business of the literary artist is to plait or weave his meaning, involving it around itself; so that each sentence, by successive phrases, shall first come into a kind of knot, and then, after a moment of suspended meaning, solve and clear itself. In every properly constructed sentence there should be observed this knot or hitch; so that (however delicately) we are led to foresee, to expect, and then to welcome the successive phrases. The pleasure may be heightened by an element of surprise, as, very grossly, in the common figure of the antithesis, or, with much greater subtlety, where an antithesis is first suggested and then deftly evaded. Each phrase, besides, is to be comely in itself; and between the implication and the evolution of the sentence there should be a satisfying equipoise of sound; for nothing more often disappoints the ear than a sentence solemnly and sonorously prepared, and hastily and weakly finished. Nor should the balance be too striking and exact, for the one rule is to be infinitely various; to interest, to disappoint, to surprise, and yet still to gratify; to be ever changing, as it were, the stitch, and yet still to give the effect of an ingenious neatness."

I have to turn this from prose into poetry, becuse I can't help myself:

Communication may be made in broken words,
the business of life be carried on with substantives alone;
but that is not what we call literature;
and the true business of the literary artist
is to plait or weave his meaning,
involving it around itself;
so that each sentence, by successive phrases,
shall first come into a kind of knot,
and then, after a moment of suspended meaning,
solve and clear itself.

In every properly constructed sentence
there should be observed this knot or hitch;
so that (however delicately) we are led to foresee,
to expect, and then to welcome
the successive phrases.

The pleasure may be heightened
by an element of surprise, as,
very grossly,
in the common figure of the antithesis,
or, with much greater subtlety,
where an antithesis is first suggested
and then deftly evaded.

Each phrase, besides, is to be comely in itself;
and between the implication
and the evolution of the sentence
there should be a satisfying equipoise of sound;
for nothing more often disappoints the ear
than a sentence solemnly and sonorously prepared,
and hastily and weakly finished.

Nor should the balance be too striking and exact,
for the one rule is to be infinitely various;
to interest, to disappoint, to surprise,
and yet still to gratify;
to be ever changing, as it were,
the stitch,
and yet still to give the effect
of an ingenious neatness.

Now that's georgeous. Thanks to Project Gutenberg and Marek.

Really Smart Boy

That celebrated American political pundit and Pole, Marek J., has been giving us a literature lesson over on gonzo engaged. And I almost missed it!

Boys are SO smart!

Aren't they? Thank goodness we have them blogging and shaping the world of Politics for us Girls.

A Maid for Everyone and a Chicken in Every Pot!

Bush turns on the love juice for foreigners (the ones he doesn't want to kill) with his new immigration reform plan, which lets illegal immigrants legally work and live in the U.S. as long as they have a job that no American wants. Comments from political pundits have been mostly supportive:

Sean Hanity:
"Yes! Yes! Let's import the underclass! The more lackeys the better!"

Al Sharpton:
"You damn well know none of us will run drugs for Rush Limbaugh. That's right. Let them bring in Mexicans to do that job."

Rush Limbaugh:
"I've been looking for a new housekeeper to do my errands--the cooking, the cleaning, the scoring...."

Howard Dean:
"Trippi, check that blod thing--is it blod?--and let me know what I'm supposed to think."

Wesley Clark:
"I'm a GENERAL, dammit. A four-star GENERAL! Want to see the waistband on my new briefs?"

Dick Cheney:
"We have intelligence that leads us to believe that Mexico is harboring Bin Laden, and we're pretty sure he'll try to cross the border disguised as a construction worker. The key will be to screen every immigrant for kidney problems and dialysis machines."

Chico Melendez:
"I'm not scoring drugs for Rush Limbaugh or cooking Hepatitis Fajitas at O'Charlies. I'll stay here."

From the land of the SUV

I hadn't seen this press release announcing Ford's newest SUV on steroids, the Exorbitant, before. The Exorbitant comes with a spare Explorer, for all those times you need a spare car in your car.

It's a hoot.

Thanks for pointing it out, Anthony.

January 08, 2004

It's hard to reinvent an iceburg in frozen waters.

On the seeming inability to bring Eastman Kodak Company into the future, Tuesday's article called Photo Finished on Slate hits several nails on the head. I wish it hadn't.

Among other things, the article says that Kodak never achieved leadership in the digital film era because It would also have required some imagination, which seems to be in short supply in Rochester.

Ouch. Sometimes the truth doesn't just hurt, it stings for a good long time.

As a former Rochesterian who spent nearly four years at Kodak, I can say this:

You had to be there.

It's difficult to describe the cultural phenomenon in that town that gave birth to and/or nurtured giants like Kodak, Xerox, and Baush and Lomb, and then failed to sustain those powerhouses into a connected world, a connected economy. It's tough to explain to outsiders. It really is. The reason for the resistance to progress isn't so simple. There are many layers, including the culture of Western New York, which bosts a population of hard working, resiliant citizens who still save for rainy days, of which there are approximately 362 each year.

Slate isn't new at Kodak bashing, and they're good at it. But they lack that thing I mentioned--an understanding of what made industry tick in Rochester for a very long time, and an understanding of the dynamics beyond statistics and strategies that have made them flounder.

For one, they never spent six months dragging themselves to work in six feet of snow and 20-degree weather. But that's not what I want to talk about in this post.

I will tell you one secret that Slate won't: The Kodak spinoff mentality of the mid-1980s was really ahead of its time.

Creating the venture capital arm called Eastman Technologies in the mid-80s meant that Kodak generously funded some innovative startup companies, like the one I worked for, Edicon Systems Division. The entrepreneurial design teams for the (dozen? I think--can't remember) venture companies were made up of thinkers, hard workers, scientists, patent-holders, and really brilliant, mostly passionate people. The brainpower and spirit of innovation at Edicon and the other Ventures in the late 80s and early 90s was real. I saw it. I felt it. There was, in truth, a dot-com spirit pre-dot-com, in those days. Ventures were staffed by the brightest and best from in and (more importantly) outside of the company in the beginning. Out-of-the-box (pun intended) thinkers who thought they could make a difference in the world, or at least in the world of technology and digital imaging.

If Kodak had launched Eastman Technologies ten years later, something would have popped for the old red and yellow box. I am 97-percent sure of that.

As it was, not a single one of those original venture companies lasted beyond the mid-90s. During my years at Edicon we had the distinguished honor of being the sole remaining Venture company. And when George Fisher took over--I remember meeting in the big conference room on State Street for his company-wide address when he joined--things got much worse. I remember when he came to Rochester from Motorola, he had to buy a house in Rochester.

Although none of the CEO-recruits wanted to live in Rochester, it was a requirement. Fisher sold his house in Chicago to move to Rochester only to find he couldn't find a house that cost enough initially to save him from capital gains. It's hard to find a house in Rochester that you can dump a couple of million on. That's not how we live up there. It's not practical.

With his citified ways, Fisher was a Rochester oddity who brought some fiscal discipline to the company at the expense of any remaining imagination, innovation, and spirit. It was innovation he was hired to bring, but he began with layoffs. So much for the "we can do it" attitude.

For me it was heartbreaking.

The layoffs in 1993-94 saw too many of my colleages--my friends, my collaborators, my co-conspirators--let go. Renegade GM Dave Rusin left, and in his place came Gary Clarke, a long-time Kodak insider with no good ideas I could discern.

And so, I took a job in Atlanta. In a sense, Kodak's inability to sustain or embrace change, to nurture the imagination of the talented, committed team at Edicon (where we still did care) is the reason I'm in Atlanta today.

It was clear by the late 90s that George Fisher hadn't turned out to be the panacea Kodak had hoped for.

I noticed that Kodak was giving the spinoff idea another shot in 2002 with Appairnet. I have no idea how that company is doing. But with a name like Appairnet, I have to wonder if Kodak is just now catching up with passe dot-com strategies of good ideas past. Or at least the branding.

I want Kodak to succeed. I really do.

But it's a tough culture there.

To move an inch takes, it seems, a decade.

Maybe by 2014?

Limbaugh Watch

The poor in this country aren't really that poor. And addicts in this country aren't really that addicted either, eh El Rushbo?

You know, given that 90 percent of those now addicted to prescription drugs, illegally spending tens of thousands of dollars on them each month, illegally "doctor shopping," illegally obtaining them through the black market, and then hiding them under their mattresses so their wives don't find them, lest they end up publically humiliated and ordered to rehab, aren't really that addicted.

Mirror Mirror on the Wall
Who's in the most denial of all?

Okay, yah, that happens all the time.

The entire state of Florida has just splashed into the sea of the absurd.

First, this story about a mother of four from Daytona Beach, who, thinking that the orange stains on the floor of her appartment, made by liquid dripping from the ceiling, were rust stains, completely missing the fact that there was a decomposing body in her attic, that is until three intruders ran into her attic while fleeing police and discovered the way-dead body.

Sure. Okay. Happens all the time.

Next, a 49-year-old music teacher from West Palm Beach is arrested for having a 19-month-long sexual relationship--read rape--with an initially-eleven-year-old boy.

In Sarasota, a nuclear scientist comes home to find his parents blown away, and, of course, in Winter Springs a woman is kidnapped, stuffed in her trunk, and driven around Seminole County until a call on her cell phone rouses her from her state of unconsciousness inside the trunk. She has better reception than I do.

All this while a Tallahassee Police Officer decides to play target practice with a deer in his yard, lies about it, and loses his job. He should have been shooting at this guy: a Cocoa, Florida, father who was arrested on Aggravated Child Abuse-Caging charges (Caging is a new one on me) for locking his three kids--2, 3, and 4 years old--in a bedroom by tying the door shut with a rope while he left the house for an hour or two or three or six.

In good news, a Gainseville man beat a sexual predator with an axe handle for touching his son. Unfortunately, the dad went to jail too.

If you live in Florida, run, don't walk, to the state line.

sideline pundit

I have no real inclination--not probably even a right--to talk about politics here. I live as much as possible outside of the machine of politics and government because I don't see anything positive powering that machine, nor do I see any way to change or influence that machine. To me, its dysfunction is inherent. Call me names, hurl stones, whatever. Power and Greed thrive at the hierarchical top. Commander and Chief of a mighty nation is way up top.

I liked Jimmy Carter. I still do. I believe he was the only leader in my lifetime from outside the machine who remained outside. A kind, moral leader which rendered him a fairly ineffective leader. Funny how that works.

So, from someone who has only her own impressions to go by, here's my overview of the current political race for President of these disunited states:

I don't like Dean. He uses the Net in a way that scares me--or I should say, he has persuaded others to use their online influence and voices on his behalf in a way that disturbs me. It feels dirty. Sorry Dean lovers. Plus he's shifty eyed.

I don't like Clark. I think he's insane. I don't mean his ideas are insane. I mean I think he's insane. I think that Bill and Hilary think it would be easy to pull the puppet strings hanging down from Clark's arms and legs, and that he'd be easy for Hilary to unseat as the Democratic nominee in 2008, but that doesn't make old Wes sane.

I don't like Kerry. I think he's a statue impersonating a person.

I don't like Sharpton, although he's growing on me, and that is really, really scarey.

I don't like Bush or his conservative, hawkish agenda. I think he has some serious grandiosity issues related to what he believes his role in the world theater, Biblically, is. Self-annointed people bother me that way.

I don't see an answer here. Because answers are hard to find at the top. Only down here. And please don't tell me that's why Dean's down here. Because I won't believe you.

We have reason to be fearful and disappointed.

As you were...

January 07, 2004

Excuse me, would you like to explore my rectum?

That's what I wanted to say to the shopping cart lady at Publix.

It's like 40 below here (or it feels that way to me), and I'm trying to get into Publix (that's the grocery store), and she's got this plot to block me, screeching her empty cart to a halt right in front me so I have to slow down to an inch-at-a-time crawl as I'm trying to make my way INTO the store, and so I go to the left, and I guess she's trying to get out of my way, but instead she goes to the left too, and she's looking at the sales flyer instead of paying attention to the other customers who would like to, before they freeze into ice statues, get INTO the store... And WHY is she so adamant about looking at the flyer before she even gets into the store? Can she not wait to be, perhaps, all the WAY into the store to peruse the sales? And so I go to the right, and she's like DRUNK DRIVING this shopping cart because she's too busy trying to see how much half-and-half will cost her this frosty evening, and so, of course, she blocks my way yet again, and all I want to do for crying out loud is get INTO Publix and over to the ATM machine so I can withdraw a lousy $20, which I'll now probably have to spend as a Co-Pay when I go to Emergency to have them sew back on my FROSTBITTEN FINGERS! So FINALLY, mind you AT LAST, I get around Ms. Queen of Publix, and I start making my way to the ATM machine just in time for her to be all of a sudden in a hurry and decide that the best place for her to be at this moment is ON MY ASS all the way to the ATM.

For crying out loud, Lady, get a life!

I silently wished her a terminal case of agoraphobia, got my money, and hightailed it to my car.

I'm glad to be HOME.

can you tell me why this song has inched its way to the front of my brain this evening?

why on earth did I find myself humming this five minutes ago? WTF? And why "an Indian chief" anyway?

car wash

Ooh ooh
You might not ever get rich
But let me tell ya it's better than diggin' a ditch
There ain't no tellin' who you might meet
A movie star or maybe even an Indian chief
At the car wash
Workin' at the car wash, girl
Come on and sing it with me
(Car wash)
Sing it with the feelin' ya'all
(Car wash, girl)


Some of the work gets kinda hard
This ain't no place to be if you planned on bein' a star
Let me tell you it's always cool
And the boss don't mind sometimes if you act the fool

At the car wash
Whoa whoa whoa whoa
Talkin' about the car wash, girl
Come on, ya'all and sing it for me
(Car wash)
Oooh oooh oooh
(Car wash, girl)

(Work and work)
Well, those cars never seem to stop coming
(Work and work)
Keep those rags and machines humming
(Work and work)
My fingers to the bone
Can't wait till it's time to go home (?)

(Hey, get your car washed today)
Fill up and you don't have to pay
Come on and give us a play
(Do the wash, right away)

(The car wash)
Talkin' 'bout the car wash
Car wash, girl
Come on, ya'all, let's sing it with me
(Car wash)
Sing it with feelin', ya'all
(Car wash, girl)

Whoa whoa whoa whoa
(Car wash)
Never seem to stop comin'
What'd I say
Keep those rags and machines hummin'
(Car wash)
Let me tell you, it's always cool . . .

A biscuit for Maggie

Frank had to put his longtime companion Maggie down this week. What a wonderful portrait of her he paints with words and stories. Respect, Frank. I have a fondness for pet owners who return the wonderous, unconditional love of their pets by making the kind and selfless decision that's the one of the hardest to make--deciding that it's time to say goodbye.

A Southern Whimp

It's cold here. I know, lows in the 20s and highs in the 40s doesn't sound cold to those of you stuck in the Northeast, Midwest, or Northwest. But relative to my now-too-thin-southern-style blood, it's freeeezing.

When did I turn into a whimp? I can't pinpoint it. It happened when I wasn't looking.

I think it was sometime during the summer, maybe around June of my 9th year in Atlanta. Swimming and sun were the order of the summer, and suddenly for the first time in my life I didn't get hot in 80-degree weather. It felt pleasant. Warm. Nice. Soothing. Sometimes even chilly.

Growing up in Western New York, making human chains with neighborhood kids so we'd get to first grade without any of us falling into a seven-foot snowbank, left undiscovered until May, I liked the cold, the snow, the layers of clothing, the three pairs of gloves so one dry pair was always waiting, the standing on the heat duct itching the hives on my legs which plagued me after a morning of sledding.

But no more. I've turned Southern. It's just a fact. The heat's been on 75 all winter and I still can't get under enough covers. I'm dreaming of a retirement villa in Florida. Or better yet, a lotto win and a year-long reservation here, with home schooling in the mornings and an endless supply of nannys and friends and water and sun and fun for Jenna.

You want to go too. I know you want to go. So who's buying the lotto ticket this week?

Last one into the pool is a rotten egg!

January 06, 2004

Span the Monkey with Breast Feeding Moms

No, not a spam headline. This is from the land where truth is stranger than fiction.

Over on Monkey Span there's some creative advice you Corporate Comm types might want to consider.

Now, the guys at Monkey Span think the creative of the breast feeding mom with one arm cradling the babe and the other hand on the keyboard isn't the best way to market a Web hosting business. I suppose it really depends on what demographic they're going for. Unless they're going for the overworked, overtired, milk leaking, diaper changing, web surfing, ear-plug wearing, thirty-something women, I think the monkey spanners might be right.

However, for blogging software, the latest nursing bras, or for the world's first new-mom laptop -- which has a swapable breast pad dispenser/CDRW for the CD-ROM bay -- the ad might be just perfect. At least, that's what I was thinking when I was in that particular new-motherly state.

Denise, any thoughts? ;-)

All About Augusten

All About George's recently de-locked George did me not only the pleasure of reading the Running with Sicssors post below, but sending me a link to this fanfriggingtastic NYT read on my new favorite author, Augusten Burroughs, which details how he quit smoking.

Like everything else about this twisted (Augusten, not George, err... well... skip that) writer, the story is richly witty and funny, and a little bit frightening. All the more fuel to my firey craving to keep reading him this evening.

I have no idea if the story is behind the annoying NYT firewall or not, so here's the text, just in case.

So sue me.

Possessed: Getting Even With Nicorettes

January 4, 2004

Thinking about quitting?

It's not easy, in case you haven't heard. The latest news is that nothing less than a trinity of aid - an antidepressant, nicotine replacement and some form of counseling - gives the best odds of helping a smoker quit. Still, the North American common smoker is a suspicious creature, notoriously difficult to domesticate and wary of cures devised by humans. Take the patch. It may steamroll one's nicotine levels into a nice even line, but it does not address what happens when a smoker wants a cigarette anyway. Now.

After all, addiction is an antidote to monotony, not vice versa.

When the writer Augusten Burroughs decided to quit smoking, the patch didn't stand a chance. "I used two of them," he said, recalling his maiden voyage into the sea of nicotine replacement. "But the patch is passive. It administers the medication, and I want to do that." Mr. Burroughs, who recounted his experiences getting sober in wicked and dark detail in "Dry," published last spring, knows all too well that much of life today, addict or no, is about honing one's flair for that modern art known to press agents as damage control.

And so, five years ago, when Mr. Burroughs met Nicorette, he started chewing and never stopped. It is now his favorite thing on earth. "You're supposed to start with a certain number of pieces a day and taper down," he said. "I did the opposite."

Now he goes through three 168-piece boxes (at $53 each) a week, or 72 pieces a day. If that sounds like a lot, bear in mind that by age 33, when he quit, he had been smoking for 20 years and was up to three packs a day. (Mr. Burroughs's teenage smoking is one of the more wholesome adventures detailed in "Running With Scissors," his best-selling memoir about his bizarre childhood.)

Beyond the gum's fairly obvious advantage - you can essentially smoke in airplanes, theaters, bars and other places where lighting up is verboten - there are other aspects that Mr. Burroughs fetishizes. "There are three flavors," he explained. "There's orange, which tastes like a mix of Bayer aspirin and mercury - it's like a dessert gum. Then there's mint, which has a soft, passive, slightly refreshing flavor. That would be good for preschoolers."

The flavor he prefers, though, is the one he calls Original Chemical. "It's the taste of DuPont," he said.

Like a wayward cat that, having been declawed, finds more perverse routes to mischief, Mr. Burroughs rejoices in the peculiar ways that the gum, devoid of the Bogie and Bacall allure of cigarettes, can still set off smoke alarms of a sort. "I'll be at a party," he said, "and someone will say, `Oh, is that Nicorette?' and I'll say, `Yes, do you want some?' They'll say, `Oh, I don't smoke,' and I'll say, `Try it anyway.' There's this excitement and curiosity, and then on about the fourth chew, this look comes over their face that says, `Oh God, why are you giving me lead?'

"It's like prank gum. It's like going to kiss your grandmother and finding her tongue in your mouth."

And much like the little cliques of smokers that spring up outside restaurants and bars or the tobacco chewers who can spot one another by the circle the tobacco tin wears through the back pocket of their jeans, there is a secret society of Nicoretters. "You'll see people chewing, and you can just kind of tell," Mr. Burroughs said. "You'll say, `Nicorette?' and they'll nod. Then you say, `How long?' and they'll say `four' or `five.' It's never weeks or months they're talking about. It's always years."

Studies have yet to demonstrate serious adverse effects to chewing the gum longer than indicated, but even if that were not the case, Mr. Burroughs said he would not quit. "You get a little reason to live every few minutes," he noted cheerily.

It bears noting that for all its staid and upright associations, the word sober comes from the Latin for, simply, "not drunk." There is nothing about "not twisted." So when it comes to giving up your old bad habits, it's best not to aim for perfection. Just make room for some new not-so-bad habits.

It's what they call progress.

when you want to eat a book

Running with Sicssors by Augusten Burroughs is the kind of book you want to eat. You want to rip the pages out and chew them, read the book from your stomach outward.

How often do you read this:

We were young. We were bored. And the old electroshock therapy machine was just under the stairs in a box next to the Hoover. "C'mon you guys, it'll be fun," Vicki said, pulling at the stuffing that was leaking from a hole in the sofa's arm."

What an amazing tale, I'm sure some fiction some non, despite its "memoir" moniker, that is blended and sewn together using rich metaphors and bizzarre events as threads. Burroughs, whoever he is (and who is he?) writes in a way that tickles and abhors simultaneously -- the kind of thing very few writers can achieve. Ever. And he does it page after page.

Quick--someone buy me his next book, which looks ultimately as fascinating and well constructed.

Gotta love a writer who can really write.


amazoneurosis--a cure for the one-click illness

It's an illness in reverse. You know, the one-click phenomenon. I think I've spent a couple thousand dollars on books the last two years, which to some won't seem like a lot, but because I've probably read four of them, actually comes out to around $500 per read. I can't resist finding everything I need or think I need or never knew I needed on amazon. It's way too easy. One click, a visa debit, and that's all she wrote--or read.

So last night I took Jenna to the big public library by the YMCA we joined. I remember posting two years ago about walking into a library and being amazed at how I'd forgotten the beauty and simple joy of a library. The dot-com-gimmes wiped away all previous recollection of walking in the door to the public library, smelling the books--old and new--, spying the volumes of newspaperes, feeling the smoothness of those plastic book jackets, thick and crinkley, the way it feels to open a fat hardcover, the sound of the platic cover bending at the spine--like opening the best present in the world.

And it's free.

How did I forget?

Where have I been when walking into a library feels like walking into a time capsule? LOOK at all the books! Everything, right there, touchable, readable, and yours for the taking. Videos, audiotapes, research volumes, kids' books galore. Cubicles--remember them? I haven't sat at a cubicle since New York State Regents exams, when we took our tests in wooden cubicles with tall wooden edges, students lined up like bookends to keep us from cheating.

I had to update my library card. I almost had to pay a $30 fine for losing the Sesame Street "To tell the truth" video which we apparently checked out from another library in 2001. But we went home, scoured the house, took every video out of every shelf, and finally we found it. Off we went back to the library, where they were nice enough to charge us a $5.00 extended late fee charge. Only $5.00 for being three years late. I wish my creditors were that understanding.

I love those people at the library. They get to open and close dozens, maybe hundreds, of books each day. Taking the little cards out, putting the due-date card in, and thumping the cover closed. They smile and talk softly. Very calming. I paid them $10 and bought a "Friends of the Library" tote bag.

You can have 75 items out on your library card at one time. 75 items!!! You just can't beat that.

Go to your local library.


January 05, 2004

ken's journey

Those of us glued to the net to make a living know how it feels to long for a journey of substance on dusty back roads and railroad tracks, to want to untangle ourselves from this Web, unhinge our minds and begin feeling again, feeling not with our heads, but with the soles of our feet.

That's how it was walking on the sand last week. Even though it was COLD sand, it was delightful simply to feel.

Health Insurance Woes

Ring around the double bind, the monkey eats the weasel......

Went from Primary Select - $950/month, rising to $1,300/month for 2004...

...to Blue Choice PPO at around $504/month, plus added a rider at $117 a month, for a total of $621/month.

Used the first savings to join the YMCA....

...only to forget we have a $500 deductible.

Went to the pharmacy for my antibiotic and paid $98 for ten pills.

felt sicker.

P.S. yes, I finally got paid

Just before New Years. Better nate than lever. Money already gone. Looking for a great writer and messenger of all things strategic? You know where to find me.

Actually I had two assignments that took a lot of work to get done last week. So today, I'm a vegetable.

from the land of the working-from-home-indie-consultant-writer-type mom

I really enjoyed this post from netwoman on blogging moms. I haven't had a chance yet to follow the bouncing links, but am excited about tomorrow, when Jenna returns to school ((yes, they have a student holiday/teacher "work" day today--WTF?--after being off since 12/19) and I have a free second and a half.

It's been nice sleeping in. I'm no good at getting up at 6:50 and find it fascinating how quickly the whole household went back to late nights and late mornings over the holidays. Tomorrow will be a rude awakening to the cadence of the rest of the world, which I do a pretty good job of forgetting about and avoiding every chance I get.

We joined the local YMCA over the holidays and have been having fun swimming. Mostly that's all I've had time to do since Jenna loves that best of all. I'm so happy to be back in the water, and the WHIRLPOOL, and the SAUNA that the rest of the place with those fancy exercise machines could disappear and I don't think I'd even notice.

Look for us. We're the ones using the elevator. Let's not get too carried away with this idea of getting fit.


January 04, 2004

water water everywhere

To be six on the beach

build sandcastles, take pictures, gather sand in a bottle, sprinkle like salt, run in and out of the waves, make sand angels, watch the clouds come in, at dusk watch the sun sit on the horizon, almost forever, pulling red and yellow down behind the water, the moon sneaks out from behind the clouds, and you say: I saw it! I saw it! I never saw the moon rise before! Wake up before daylight for more, more autumn wind ripping the surface of the gulf into walls of wet sea salt and foam.

to be six on the beach.

warm you up

Some pics from Sandestin, Florida. Warm up, warm up. Actually, it was cold, but that didn't spoil the scenery....

come. take a walk with me.