Today felt like the first day of Autumn. I couldn't quite get away with wearing a t-shirt, and now, at 7 PM, it's dark outside, and I feel sad. Listening to Elliot Smith doesn't help. In any case, I declare this to be the First Day of Autumn, equinox be damned. [ My pagan friends: is it bad luck to curse the equinox? ]
They fixed the window in my VW. Before I go on, know this: if you own a recent model year VW, either a) one or more of your windows has fallen into the door, or b) one or more of your windows will fall into the door. VW might consider adding this to the feature list on the sticker: "* Chrome Alloy Wheels, * Monsoon Sound System, * Eventually Malfunctioning Windows, * ABS Breaks . . ."
As I was driving my car away from the shop, I noticed it was running pretty rough, and the check-engine light started blinking. After a U-turn, a few days with another loaner, a replaced ignition coil, and a reprogrammed engine control module, I was good to go . . .
Until Friday morning, that is, when, as I set out on my drive home to Jersey for Rosh Hashanah, I discovered that I could no longer turn on my stereo. The NPR junky and music fan in me panicked: two and a half hours of silence!
I recently learned that, before he came up with the lyrics to "Yesterday", Paul McCartney used the working title "Scrambled Eggs". So I passed the time by writing just-in-time (JIT) lyrics for Yesterday as I drove northward. "Hyundai Santa Fe, please stop tailgating me, I'm going over 83, I hope you crash into a tree." You get the idea.
In other technology news, after approximately ten minutes the battery in my iBook reports zero charge and my computer shuts down without warning. There are apparently some things I can try, so if I'm lucky I won't have to buy a $140 replacement battery.
This morning the University celebrated Jim Henson's birthday by dedicating a statue of the deceased alumnus and one of his most famous creations, Kermit the Frog.
Happy Birthday, and thank you, wherever you are, for so many fond childhood memories.
I enjoyed the Secretary General's speech, given yesterday. Here's an excerpt:
Since this Organization was founded, States have generally sought to deal with threats to the peace through containment and deterrence, by a system based on collective security and the United Nations Charter.
Article 51 of the Charter prescribes that all States, if attacked,retain the inherent right of self-defence. But until now it has been understood that when States go beyond that, and decide to use force to deal with broader threats to international peace and security, they need the unique legitimacy provided by the United Nations.
Now, some say this understanding is no longer tenable, since an “armed attack” with weapons of mass destruction could be launched at any time, without warning, or by a clandestine group.
Rather than wait for that to happen, they argue, States have the right and obligation to use force pre-emptively, even on the territory of other States, and even while weapons systems that might be used to attack them are still being developed.
According to this argument, States are not obliged to wait until there is agreement in the Security Council. Instead, they reserve the right to act unilaterally, or in ad hoc coalitions.
This logic represents a fundamental challenge to the principles on which, however imperfectly, world peace and stability have rested for the last 58 years.
My concern is that, if it were to be adopted, it could set precedents that resulted in a proliferation of the unilateral and lawless use of force, with or without justification.
The other night I had a horrible nightmare. I'd advise you to skip this one if you're squeamish, but then again you probably can't resist your curiosity, so what the hell, just read on.
The setting is some kind of multi-purpose room with wood paneling, cheap furniture, and harsh fluorescent lighting. I'm among a group of ten or fifteen people that I seem to know. One of them, a coworker I'll call Kevin, works in the next building over. Another is a gentleman whom I frequently see eating at the food co-op during lunch. He has dark skin, and is probably in his forties. I don't know his name.
In the dream, co-op man and Kevin get into a fight. Co-op man hits Kevin in the face. Then Kevin hits co-op man in the face, so hard that he is momentarily stunned. I figure that's the end of it -- they're even. But then co-op man comes to his senses and hits Kevin in the jaw, who hits him back. This goes on, again and again. I desperately want this to end, and I keep asking Kevin, my coworker, to just stop and let it be, but he won't.
Eventually, co-op man has been beaten so senseless that he is on his knees, nearly unconscious. It is at this point that Kevin places a power drill against the back of co-op man's head and starts boring a hole into him.
I can't believe what I'm seeing. I like Kevin, and he's a nice guy. This isn't who he is. I beg him to stop, I try to make him see what he's doing. I am crying. But he won't stop.
That's all I remember. While I was driving to work the next morning I recalled the dream, and almost moved on to something else when I caught myself and thought, "Wait. That's horrific. You need to think about this."
It didn't take me long to figure it out, which is rare. My dreams usually defy simple analysis. Can you guess what it meant?
I am happy to report that, as I write this, I am not dead. To repeat, me: not dead.
Our electricity is still out, and has been since just before 4 PM yesterday, many hours earlier than I had anticipated. As such, my laundry was in danger of extreme mildew action. Fortunately Andrew and Maureen saved the day with their killer electricity and dryer combo. Andrew and Maureen, thanks for saving me from the extreme mildew action.
I'll tell you this: the storm wasn't really that bad where we were. I suppose it was windy, but trees stayed standing, with most of their branches intact. Isabel, thanks for sparing us from the extreme hurricane action.
The storm approaches! I am the only one here at work, and I'm beginning to worry that I don't have enough food at home, or enough candles, and so forth. Perhaps I'll run over to the store and see what's left.
I have five chocolate eclair ice cream bars in my freezer, and I'm more or less resigned to an extended blackout. Before the electricity goes out, should I eat all five ice cream bars in one sitting? They're very tasty, you know.
We take too much for granted. I have been bombarded with warnings, pictures, news reports, instant messages, and chit chat about hurricane Isabel for days. Perhaps "bombarded" is the wrong word: nobody is making me hit reload on the NOAA web site. But if this were an earlier age, what would I be thinking about?
I ask because it is absolutely gorgeous outside. The sun is shining, the sky is virtually cloudless, and it's in the upper seventies. There is nothing, nothing I can perceive at least, to indicate that within a day or so an awesome bundle of energy is going to wreak havoc on the mid-Atlantic.
My, what an exciting weekend.
Friday night, I returned to the Saloon to celebrate Goat's birthday. When last there, we had a heated discussion of world politics with the proprietor, the charming man I previously described. He is an Iranian ex-pat, as it turns out, and he informed me of many things. For example, I did not know that the late Ayatollah Homeini was a Freemason! He also held forth that the two largest holders of U.S. Treasury securities are the Saudis and the Israelis. With help from a friend, I found this.
Some might say I went a bit too far by bringing the proprieter a hardcopy of that data, but he smiled when I handed it to him, seemed genuinely excited, and was poring over it with the bartender when I left.
On Saturday, Andrew, Maureen, and I went to the Maryland Renaissance Festival! I had never been there, and let me tell you: So. Many. Nerds. You couldn't walk ten feet without tripping over a nerd and his nerd friends. It was all somebody as cool as me could do not to bust out laughing.
But I kid.
The caber toss was highly enjoyable, and, frankly, so was the rest of it, although my Renaissance era falafel showed just how much progress we have made in chick-pea-and-tahini technology since 1534.
Today: Brunch at Plato's, coffee at ****ingtonia, and then a 5 o'clock showing of Lost in Translation. I'll share a little guilty schadenfreude with you: as I approached the theater, one of the employees was letting those in line know the bad news: the 5 o'clock showing was sold out. With a smug grin I walked past them to the automated credit card kiosk, swiped my Visa, and waited for it to print my moviephone-purchased tickets, while the couple next to me argued about what movie to see instead. They looked like they drove a Mercedes. Suckers.
It's not a bad movie, by the way, and the opening shot was worth the price of admission (your mileage may vary).
This is pretty cool: another window regulator in my Jetta bit the dust. Once again, the window dropped into the door, and, as this conveniently coincided with the first rainy day in some time, I had to take it to the dealership immediately.
I was told that the replacement regulator will be much more reliable. They've only had to replace six or seven of them, compared to the "hundreds and hundreds" of the old variety.
If you're thinking about getting a new car, you should seriously consider a Volkswagen.
Hmm, it was the morning of September 9th. Never mind.
Brunch was fun, as usual.
One comment, though: while carrot juice with orange mixed in is tasty, I prefer my OJ neat.
[S]even in 10 Americans continue to believe that Iraq's Saddam Hussein had a role in the attacks, even though the Bush administration and congressional investigators say they have no evidence of this. Link
This is my favorite part:
Peter Bankers, 59, a New York film publicist, figures his belief that Hussein was behind the attacks "has probably been fed to me in some PR way," but he doesn't know how.
Everyday a see a new Quizilla quiz! They're so great, I decided to make my own. Enjoy!
Today is a beautiful day. There is a whisper of autumn in the air.
Another semester begins at the University. Lines are long, sidewalks crowded, and the freshmen now appear to be twelve years old.
Each time around I look forward to observing the new fashions and styles. The first thing that strikes me this year is the prevalence of what I'll call the shaggy-hipster-indie-rock haircut. Competing with the Ross and Joey look-alikes, we now have members of RCA recording artists The Strokes.
Granted, this hairstyle is not new, but it does seem to have reached critical mass. In fact, I just counted three shaggy cuts during a single Daily Show commercial break. And yet, these kids do look cooler to me than the rest. Is this just a trick of the light?
Maybe it's a trick of time.
That story? Follow it.
Today, for the first time since I signed up for my most recent Giant Bonus Card, a cashier asked me how to pronounce my fake name, David Hamelech. "Is that HAM-lich?" "What? Oh, right. No. It's Hah-MEL-e<gutteral H>." Then I felt bad and explained it was a fake name.