Thursday, August 30, 2007

Movies You Can Watch Over and Over

Over at Dean's World they're discussing movies you can watch over and over again. Among several I could list, here are trailers for two of my favorites:

The Matrix:  If I had to name a single favorite movie of mine, this could well be it. I have watched it dozens of times.

"The Matrix is everywhere, it is all around us. Even now, in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window, or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work... when you go to church... when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth."

Kill Bill, Vol. I:  Again, I've watched this movie so many times I've lost count. Especially the wondrously surreal sword fight scene. Uma Thurman against, oh, about 80 opponents at once. Amazing. Just amazing.

Not Kill Bill, Vol. II: that one, I find watchable but not especially rewatchable. But Vol. I really is a work of wonder.


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

As Summer Draws to a Close

Here we are, coming up on the end of August. By my calendration, summer ends either with the end of August, or with Labor Day weekend. So I gear up once again for the faster and busier season of the fall...

I've lived with this rhythm, summer slower and the rest of the year faster, for most of my life. Because, you know, I've spent most of my life either in various school settings or in various church settings. In either case, things slow down in the summer, then speed back up again for the fall.

As it now stands, I'm gearing up for the rapidly approaching Missionfest, and then the beginning of Confirmation classes, and so it goes.

I was going to read some books this summer; and maybe I did, though don't ask me to name any titles; but I certainly didn't read as many books as I'd been planning. I was going to sort through two large closets of boxes full of old papers, but that's become something of a joke, every summer I say I'm going to do it and every summer it never happens. I was going to relax this summer... well, yes, I did relax.

Seems to me life is best when there's a rhythm to it. Slower in the summer, faster the rest of the year. So I gear up for the coming of the fall season and the fall schedule...

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Yes, more rain in what has long since become the wettest month on record. Yes, more flooding in areas round about. Yes, more water in my basement, several inches deep.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


In first grade they taught us to print. Then in second grade they taught us cursive handwriting. I caught on, though from the start my handwriting was messy. Also I didn't much care for all the loops and whirls in the standard style of handwriting we learned in school. Writing all those loop-de-loops drove me crazy.

So, starting in fifth grade, I began experimenting. Designing my own style of handwriting. Lose those loops. Try out different styles of letters and ligatures. It took me a while, and then it took me a while longer to become adept at writing in a strange new way. But by the time I was in seventh grade or so, I was very much at ease with writing in a self-designed style which bore little resemblance to any cursive mode taught in school.

A handwriting of my own. It mutated over the years. For a time in my teens, very messy. Here and there, a letter changed: I can still remember the day, late August or early September of 1982, when I changed the way I wrote capital L.

What emerged by age 20 or so was a style of handwriting that looks something like the chrome lettering you see on automobiles. Still somewhat messy, what do you expect from a lefty? Two different ways of writing small f, depending on context. Two different styles of small x. At least five or six radically different ways of writing small t. "O" in "of" written unlike "o" in any other word, clockwise instead of counterclockwise.

I see other peoples' handwriting, sometimes they depart more or less from school-taught handwriting. But rarely do I see anyone who has departed as far, or as deliberately, as I. Part and parcel of living in a self-designed world of my own.

Oddly enough, I continued to use the old school-taught writing alongside my own style of handwriting, on into my mid 20s at least. Often wrote in the school-taught way when I was writing school assignments, or sometimes for others to read. But it's been years, and I doubt I'm fluent in the school-taught handwriting any longer. It's my own style of handwriting or nothing nowadays. When I'm not using the keyboard, which has become ubiquitous in the lives of many of us as never we once would have dreamed.

Monday, August 27, 2007


Tired. Worn out. Exhausted. So, this being my day off, I'm going to take the day off.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Black Boiling Fuzz

Last night I was browsing through The Letters of William S. Burroughs 1945-1959 and I ran across the following rather arresting passage:
What is happening now is that I literally turn into someone else, not a human creature but man-like: He wears some sort of green uniform. The face is full of black boiling fuzz and what most people would call evil—silly word. I have been seeing him for some time in the mirror. This is nothing, of course. But when other people start seeing him without being briefed or influenced in any way, then something is really there. So far, Brion has seen him (or it). And so has Stern. But Stern left at the wrong time, since it is just in last few weeks that he comes through so clear that people stare at me in restaurants. Enclosed picture will give you some idea.
Somehow this reminds me of back when I was in my early teens, and there was a large mirror on the wall down in the basement, and I would go down there and stare at myself in that mirror. I would stare in the mirror until I began to space out, and things fuzzed out, and then in the mirror my facial features would start winking in and out, disappearing and reappearing one at a time. It was freaky, like some form of self-hypnosis, like an alteration of reality. No black boiling fuzz, though.


FM Morning Shows

Aiieeeee!! I just turned on the radio to FM, and was reminded once again of why I never listen to FM radio before nine in the morning.

Because morning shows on FM are simply intolerable.


Thursday, August 23, 2007


After a dry July, we've been getting an incredible amount of rain around here in August. Just since Saturday morning, I've had 7 inches, and that includes 3.6 inches in 24 hours from Saturday morning through Sunday morning, and 2 inches Tuesday night. Now there are supposed to be more downpours on the way today.

But my little corner of northeast Iowa has gotten off easy compared to some other areas around us, not too far away. Southeast Minnesota has seen flooding like nothing else in living memory. Some places getting over a foot of rain in 24 hours from Saturday morning through Sunday morning. Flash flooding. Mudslides. Roads washed out. Houses washed off their foundation. Whole towns evacuated. And, sad to say, several fatalities. News photos here, here, here, here, and here. No surprise that, with more than a week to go yet in August, this is already the wettest month on record up in La Crosse.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Over at Dispatches from Blogblivion, Jay and Deb are the proud parents of a brand new baby boy, born Monday August 20 at 7:57 AM, weighing 8 pounds 4 ounces, and 18 inches long.

And Sadie and Valerie have a brand new baby brother.

Welcome, Henry!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Unrelated Facial Expressions on Movie Posters

movie poster
This is something odd I've noticed about movie posters now for years. You ever notice? They'll show the actors in the movie, and the actors will all be standing there with odd expressions on their faces. Some of them perhaps rather extreme expressions, as if they're mugging or grimacing.

And all the facial expressions are completely unrelated to one another. There is no interplay of body language or expression among the actors. It's as though each actor is isolated and coccooned off in his or her own little disjoint bubble of space-time.

As though the actors are not really present to one another.

It's not only movies, either. I first noticed this practice in ads for upcoming TV episodes in the pages of TV Guide, way back 30 or 35 years ago. We're talking 1970s. The same deal, odd facial expressions, and all unrelated to one another.

What, is this some sort of longstanding custom or practice in Hollywood? What's the point of it all? I don't get it.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Rid O' Jerk

Rrrrrriinnnngggggg!! Rrrrrrrinnnggggggggg!!!

The phone jolted Jack awake at... he glanced at the big bright red numerals on the clock 7:18 AM. Who in the world could be calling him at this hour of the morning? And on his day off, yet??!


Jack reached over to the nightstand, picked up the phone. He struggled to shake off the cobwebs of sleep as he said, "Hello?"

An angry voice bellowed at him from the receiver: "Taylor, what the hell are you up to? You're late for work again!"

"Sorry," said Jack, "you've got the wrong number." Taylor?! Who in the world is Taylor?

"Taylor!!!" The voice barked like a drill sergeant. "Don't you play games with me! You were supposed to be in to work by seven this morning! That's the second time this month!"

"I'm sorry," said Jack, "but you've got the wrong number. I don't know any Taylor, and at any rate this is my day off."

"Don't give me excuses like that!," shouted the voice. "I'm your boss, and you're going to be in here by no later than quarter to eight, or YOU'RE FIRED!!!"

"Look," said Jack, "I have no idea who you are, what outfit you're representing, or who this Taylor is..."

"RRRRRAAAAARRRGGGHHHHH!!!!!" The voice howled like an enraged wild animal over the phone. "TAYLOR!!! Now you listen... you just shut up... you obey me... you come in to work... you lazy, shiftless, worthless—"

"All right," said Jack, "I've had more than enough of this." Careful to hold the receiver far away from his ear, Jack reached over and pressed the bright red Rid O' Jerk™ button on his phone.

Even at arm's length, the sound of the explosion on the other end of the line was almost deafening. KABLLLLAAMMMMM!!! The sound of the explosion, as the jerk boss's head detonated and blew up like a bomb.

Now there was silence over phone. Silence, until several seconds later came a piercing shriek. No doubt a worker walking into the jerk boss's office, and finding the headless body sitting there. Finding blood and bits of brain and skull fragments sprayed all over the room. That's one worthless jerk of a boss who will never harrass or abuse anyone again. Never again wake a complete stranger out of a sound sleep early in the morning on his day off.

Jack hung up the phone and settled back down to drift off to sleep again.

Rid O' Jerk™... guaranteed to work on any jerk! Guaranteed to work on jerks and jerks alone! Available in regular and anti-telemarketing models. Rid O' Jerk™... it sure works!

The Latest on

Well, so after a summer of slower-than-dialup DSL service, my small local mom 'n pop Internet Service Provider,, finally restored my connection to normal less than a week before I left on vacation. And (I think not coincidentally) just a few days after I called yet again to complain to them. Said connection worked beautifully for about three and a half days, then reverted to problem-ridden molasses connection, just a couple of days before I left on two and a half weeks of vacation.

I returned from vacation last Wednesday, still a molasses connection. Ah, but this time I have with me a second computer, brought back from vacation, and running under Windows XP! No longer can shuffle me off on the grounds that my main computer uses Linux, and "we don't support Linux."

Busy those first few days back from vacation. Then, over the noon hour Friday, DSL connection mysteriously returned to normal again. Remained normal, over either of my computers, for the rest of Friday.

Saturday the connection was all over the map, sometimes good, sometimes so-so, sometimes slow as molasses. Though always the same on both computers, exploding's beloved excuse that "Maybe it's something on your computer."

Sunday morning about 7:30 AM, my DSL connection cut out completely. No connection at all. None. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Talked with some neighbors, they were experiencing the same outage. Still out Sunday noon. I gave up on it until this morning, when now I find service restored, with a pretty good connection. Good connection over either computer, of course.

If we continue to have further problems, I'm going to phone This time armed with my new ace in the hole, a computer that has Windows on it, so that they've got to give me customer support.

Give me customer support and get this problem fixed, or else. As in, or else satellite Internet, here I come!

Friday, August 17, 2007

59° Fondly Fahrenheit

Amazing. After a summer which has generally been hotter than usual, the temperature this morning is 59°. With a forecast of "highs in the upper 70s."

Seems to me at some point several months ago, we took a jump from "highs in the 50s" to "highs in the upper 80s." And it's been mostly "highs in the upper 80s" and "highs in the 90s" ever since. Now if only we can avoid frost warnings before Labor Day. ;-)

As a native of the Midwest, as one who has spent most of his life in this part of the country... look, most things about the Midwest, I love. But the climate here does leave something to be desired. Scorching summers, deep freeze winters, and not much in between. Global warming, a new Ice Age, move to the Midwest and you can enjoy both of them every year.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Lewis & Clark Corps of Discovery Blanket

I got home from vacation late yesterday afternoon, and here at last is a picture of that wool blanket I ordered and received while on vacation.

See, while I was over in Wisconsin at my folks' place on vacation, my mom got a catalog in the mail, no idea how she got on their mailing list. Some Monticello catalog, everything having to do with Thomas Jefferson. That of course includes the Lewis & Clark expedition, and they had in the catalog several Lewis & Clark items, including this 100% wool blanket.

Well, I'd been looking for a new blanket for the wicker sofa in my living room— when I just flop out and crash there, don't you know— the blanket I've had on the sofa is some old ratty threadbare army blanket. When I saw this Lewis & Clark blanket, I knew it was just what I'd been looking for. The catalog said it was made by Pendleton, so I went online, found it even cheaper at the Pendleton website, and ordered it over my folks' computer. Several days later UPS delivered it, and I got to test drive that blanket, so to speak, the final week of vacation.

Very handsome and yet at the same time a marvel of simplicity. Heavy wool blanket. Off-white, says Pendleton; I'd say more like a light tan, or perhaps "camel" is the color-name I'm reaching for. Indigo stripe on each end of the blanket. Three "points" on one edge of the blanket, indicating size and trade value. Edges rough and unfinished, as was customary on blankets in those days. This is the kind of blanket which was widely sold and traded in North America by the Hudson's Bay Company and other outfits.

And you know me, I have a thing about wool blankets and all things woolen. There's something about wool which is honest, simple, natural, organic. Wool is just hippy-dippy back-to-nature. I use wool blankets even in the summertime.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Lunch with Richmond

This noon I got together and had lunch with Richmond, of One for the Road. I've been reading her blog for ages, and she's been reading my blog for ages, and when she read that I was on vacation over in this neck of the woods, she said, "Hey, why don't we get together for lunch while you're over here on vacation?"

So we shot plans back and forth by email, and this forenoon I took off for somewhere in the environs of East Towne— only had to stop once, at a convenience store, to buy a Madison city street map!— and lo and behold, we met at the restaurant at half past noon, and ate and visited together for over an hour and a half.

And Richmond turned out to be every bit as delightful and funny and crazy in person as she is on her blog. It really was a privilege to meet her at last!

We visited. And we talked. Till long after the usual lunch crowd had finished up and cleared out. We talked about riding horses— Richmond and her family had been horse riding that morning. Horses, and life amidst the bluffs and hollows of northeastern Iowa, and the joys and challenges of the house that Richmond and WxMan and their girls Sporta and Computa are moving into— this led to my life history of moving 25 times in my first 25 years out of high school, followed by eight years now in my present locale. And on to antique hunting, and slide rules, and books, and Foxfire 5 which is the only one of the Foxfire books I'm missing now. And St. John's Church Council and Mt. Hope Session and Episcopal Vestry, and Richmond being editor of her church's newsletter and also now being on the search committee for a new priest. And doings in our respective families. And the craziness of city driving. And politics, and the dullness of the current presidential race, and the polarization of the country. And Karl Rove's resignation. And the bridge collapse in Minneapolis. And the space shuttle. And Japanese Chess otherwise known as Shogi, and how I latched onto that board. And how Richmond will be catering for two events coming up this weekend. And how amazing the blogosphere is in the way it brings people together in defiance of the ordinary barriers of space and time.

Yeah. That really is one thing that impresses me more and more about the blogosphere, and the Internet in general, the longer I hang around. The ways people can network nowadays, in defiance of space and time, like nobody would ever have imagined 40, 30, even 20 years ago.

Thus two bloggers who have long read each other in the cyber-environs of the blogosphere can end up meeting for lunch. To quote a line from my favorite Japanese anime series, "So, Shinji Ikari, we meet at last!"

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Vacation Asleep

Now we come to the part of vacation where once again, as at the beginning, I just lie around and sleep most of the day.

You Won't Find These Action Figures Anywhere


Villainous Dr. Goodbye in his shocking pink leisure suit, about to hold the Moon for ransom, from the James Bond movie Doctor Good-Bye starring Keanu Reeves as James Bond Agent 007™. And lovely but villainous sidekick Virtual Parker Forever, ready to abscond with the ill-gotten winnings from the nuclear lottery in her cadmium-lined purse— but can she survive betrayal by her computerized alter ego Virtual Parker Forever 2.0?

Fully jointed and poseable action figures, about 12" tall. Relive the thrill of the rogue lunar module flying across the vast enclosed empty spaces of the space dock. Can Agent 007™ survive explosive decompression in the hard vacuum of outer space? Keanu Reeves James Bond Agent 007™ action figure sold separately.


Friday, August 10, 2007

Slide Rules, Peach Pie, and Up North

Mr. UPS Man arrived Wednesday afternoon with that wool blanket I ordered, more on that when I get back over to Iowa, including a picture— somehow I didn't think to bring my camera with me on vacation.

Then over to visit my friends David and Mary, and we spent a pleasant Wednesday evening together. David and I are both slide rule collectors, and he was showing me some of his latest finds. We had supper out on the back deck, chicken wings, vegetable pizza, salad with blueberries and raspberries, organic tea, and amazing peach pie.

A hummingbird flitted around us as we discussed the growth of Chinese industry, problems in today's Catholic church, the difficulty of putting yourself back into the mindset of earlier historical settings, the bridge collapse in Minneapolis, water in basements in Seattle and elsewhere, the liabilities of Cartesian philosophy with its illusions of universal control and its lack of a place for the knowing subject, the ways philosophical positions have worked themselves unbeknownst into popular culture, shopping online, Google, Linux, the kabbalah and premodern views of magic, family get-togethers, Carl Jung, the historical prevalence of warfare and mass slaughter, do-it-yourself projects, working third shift, ethanol, and the rise in housing prices.

Then yesterday it was up into central Wisconsin, me and my folks with me behind the wheel, up to visit my grandmother, who is 102 and still just as clear in the head as you or me. We visited for a while, my grandmother was remarking on my resemblance to her father, which (I've seen photos of my great-grandfather) truly is amazing. Talk about various old relatives and how they were related, what I've been doing on vacation, the horrors of Hillary, our Lions Club and its various projects including the big Fourth of July event, my new wool blanket, and various other doings of late. Then back and stopping off in Westfield along the way.

Slept last night beneath my new wool blanket, now I'm up this morning and will be heading out and around today with my folks and my brother. So vacation proceeds apace. I'm finding I'm much more active this vacation than I've been on many vacations in years past.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Golf Clubs and Chimichangas

So that computer I needed... my brother came up with a computer, minus the monitor. And my friend Greg came up with a flatscreen monitor off a fellow who owed him a favor. So yesterday afternoon I headed back down to Greg's warehouse, where we got the computer with monitor up and running (along with some extra RAM that Greg had lying around), and hooked up to Greg's network along with his other computers.

And I sat there the afternoon, installing endless Windows updates. Also installing anti-virus updates, Internet Explorer 7, newer versions of Sun Java, Adobe Flash, Adobe Acrobat Reader, Windows Media Player, and whatnot. Scanning the hard drive for viruses. Defragmenting the hard drive.

After watching YouTube videos of Iron Chef and some Japanese dude playing Shogi to lose, Greg and I headed out to some golf shop across town. Greg is getting into golf, he got some clubs and other items. Then over to Best Buy for a few items; I got 300 on DVD for myself, and A Scanner Darkly on DVD for Greg, seeing as he wouldn't take any money for the monitor. After that it was back through a dizzying web of roads and shopping centers to a Mexican restaurant, where we had a late supper of chimichangas, plus the obligatory (in this hot summer weather) iced tea.

Out after that to Woodman's. Greg worked there at one time, and he was explaining to me the order in which items were restocked in the produce department. Then back to the warehouse, where I tinkered a bit further with the computer before loading it into my Jeep, and then back to my folks' place.

And I slept hardly a wink last night, and the wool blanket and other items are due to arrive by UPS today, and I have yet another social engagement this evening. In the meanwhile, I'm just sitting around resting. May take a nap this morning. This is, after all, vacation time.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Ball Games That Never Were

The first game started coming to me when I was ten or twelve. I would see dim glimpses of it in my mind's eye as I was drifting off to sleep at night. Brief glimpses of a game played on a long narrow grassy field, played with a ball somewhat larger than a soccer ball.

Played on a field with three or four large posts, like telephone poles, running down the center of the field from one goal to the other. In some views, these "trees" or poles were actual trees. Three or four of them down the center of the field. Then two or three poles somewhere on the left half of the field, and two or three on the right half.

Treeball. Poleball. Trébol. Players running, kicking the ball. The ball ricocheting off the poles. It was a foul for a player to touch a pole, or knock another player into a pole. But sending the ball caroming off a pole was an important part of the game. And sometimes a player would even take the ball in his hands, and throw it so it bounced off a pole.

For many years the rules were not at all clear to me, I would get only glimpses of the game. A playing field studded with poles like an obstacle course. Viewed in sudden glimpses when I was halfway asleep.

The second game started coming to me in my early twenties. A ballpark in New England, in the America of some alternate history. A ball diamond, or rather, not a diamond but a hexagon. Not four bases but six. First, second, third, fourth, fifth, and home. And sometimes there were other bases further out, into the outfield, beyond first or third or fifth base.

Glimpses in my mind as I was drifting off to sleep, unclear how the game worked. Pitcher throwing the ball underhand. Batsman with a flat bat like a boat's oar, like a cricketer. Hitting the ball as in baseball, as in cricket. Then running the bases. More than one way to run the bases. Running to any of the other bases in the hexagon and then back home again, that was the simplest way to score. Higher scores for running triangular patterns, home to second to fourth to home. Or for running out in a straight line to bases in the outfield, running out to third base and then to "further third" base, back down to third and home. Or running around the hexagon, all six bases.

Often there were half a dozen men or more on base. Each running his own intricate pattern. Men with mutton chop whiskers, flat-topped caps like ball players from 1900.

And other odd touches. Pitcher throwing a player out by knocking wooden bits off posts behind home plate. Bonus points scored by hitting the ball through wire wickets in the outfield. Fugitive glimpses in the dark of night, there was more to this ball game than I could fathom.

Lately it's been a third game flitting through my mind's eye as I'm halfway asleep. A game played on a vast flat field, in the frozen lands of the Great White North. Men in heavy suits, some of them wearing big padded gloves running up their forearms like gauntlets. Others carrying big rackets strung with sinew, like snowshoes. Well over a dozen men on each team.

Running on the field, chasing the ball. And the ball is a dark crimson leather ball, near large as a softball, with a long knotted tail streaming out behind it, a tail with feathers on it. Ball flies through the air, a man will catch it in his gauntlet, run with it, throw it. Or swing it by its tail and send it flying. A man will catch the ball in his racket, whirl around and send it through the air, or run with it balancing on the racket. The ball is dead if it touches the ground, then referee throwing it aloft, players rushing in with rackets or gauntlets as if in a scrimmage.

Goal the netted goal cage, ball streaks in, goalie let it through, the crowd goes wild! This is the game that was played in Winnipeg, in Medicine Hat, in Moose Jaw, back in 1922. People coming to see the game, riding in two-wheeled wooden oxcarts, over rutted dirt roads frozen hard. And down south of the border, in Mandan, North Dakota, and in Miles City and Bozeman, Montana. The Polar League versus the Plains League. Spectators on splintery bleachers shivering beneath Hudson's Bay point blankets at the North American championship match, held in Regina. Announcers barking over the loudspeaker in English, in French, in Gaelic, in Michif.

Dark blood-red ball flying through the air with its feathered tail streaming behind, like a little comet. Still not clear just what the rules are. I see it in brief snatches and glimpses, more than half asleep, in the watches of the night.

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Saturday, August 04, 2007

Orange Chicken, Paladin, and Pat McCurdy

So yesterday I finally got together with my friend Greg. Drove across Madison to his warehouse, and only ran into road construction once, and that not where I'd been expecting it.

Greg was finishing out a not too busy day of orders, and afterwards one of his workers produced a dice game called Piccolomino, or Pickomino, or something like that. Dice, only with worms in place of the sixes, and rolling to win tiles with numbers on one end, and one or more worms on the other end, whoever ends up with the most worms on tiles wins. A cool game, inasmuch as I grasped it.

After that on this lazy Friday Greg and I headed into Madison and ended up eating supper at a Chinese restaurant on Regent Street. We got orange chicken and pepper steak, very good, especially the orange chicken, which was rather hot. I also downed two large glasses of iced tea.

Afterwards back to the warehouse, where we farted around watching conspiracy videos on YouTube. General Smedley Butler, habeas corpus, Skull and Bones; but where was Jekyll Island?

Then back into Madison, downtown, and we parked in the Kirsopp Lake Memorial parking ramp, just off State Street. (Well, okay, actually the Lake Street parking ramp, but that's what I've always called it.) Wandered around on the State Street Mall, which had been taking over by some street preacher with gigantic loudspeakers, his flunkies all wearing identical T-shirts, and he was telling some long rambling and interminable story about the time his son broke his favorite picture; immediate point of the story not evident.

After a while Greg's friend Lorene showed up, and the three of us hit a bar called the Blue Velvet, not far off State Street. I think this is the bar that used to be called Jocko's Rocket Ship, which I always assiduously avoided in my student days for reasons which will be evident just from the sound of its name; but the Blue Velvet is now much more like a Blue Velvet, and known chiefly for its martinis. Also lots of blue lighting inside. And we got there early, when the place was almost empty.

I got some lemon & lime martini, and we got off into who had starred as Paladin in Have Gun Will Travel, and after a while Greg remembered it was Richard Boone. This one bartender who had been over at our table talking with us checked it out for us by googling on his iPhone. Sure enough, it was Richard Boone. Then we got off into how the bartender had gotten his iPhone on a visit to New York City, and he declined to stand in line endlessly but just walked into the store the next day instead, and sure enough, everyone had said they'll all be bought out, but there was one iPhone left, and he bought it.

Then back down State Street, by this time the street preacher had decamped from the State Street Mall, and over to Memorial Union on the shores of Lake Mendota, where Pat McCurdy was performing outdoors to a packed crowd. Pat McCurdy is a Wisconsin institution, and if you've never heard what country music as sung by Jamaicans sounds like, you don't know what you're missing. After a while we drifted indoors, into Memorial Union, in search of restrooms, and then in search of Coke or cheese curds or somesuch. Back out to listen to Pat a while longer, and by that time we were about ready to call it a night.

I got in something past midnight, and slept soundly the rest of the night. Greg and I will be going and looking Tuesday to see if we can't get me a cheap second computer (I think this has to do with UW surplus), long as it has Windows XP on it and is able to go online, and mainly dirt cheap, which ought to force's hand in their disinclination to help me with my recurrent DSL problems as they'll no longer have the excuse of "Oh, Linux, we won't touch that with a ten foot pole"; and then either they'll have to fix things, or I can cut free and go with satellite Internet.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Carbon Footprint and Chinese Restaurant

So yesterday morning I went out and hit a used bookstore in Madison, came away with a few books including one interesting old book on the endgame in Checkers. Funniest part of visiting this bookstore was, the owner asked one of his flunkies to turn down the air conditioning another few degrees, and she said, "Oh, I really don't like increasing our carbon footprint."

With a straight face. Only in Madison, the Berkeley of the Midwest!

Then I visited an antique mall in the same shopping center. I've been visiting this antique mall for probably going on 20 years now, it's had its ups and downs. They seem to be on the upswing at the moment, though I didn't find anything that really tempted me. Still, a pleasant place to spend a quiet hour.

By now it was getting on toward noon, and I'd been vaguely thinking of going to a Chinese restaurant. Well, you know, there is a Chinese restaurant right next door to the antique mall, noticed it all these years though never ate there. So I stopped in— gigantic place inside, very Chinese in its decor— and had their buffet for lunch. Good food, may stop by there again while I'm on vacation.

Back to my folks' place, spent the afternoon reading through that Checkers book.

I've been thinking of getting a wool throw for my wicker sofa downstairs. Yes, wool, you know me and wool. My mom got a catalog in the mail, in it I found just what I was looking for. Went online, found it on another site (Pendleton) for cheaper than in the catalog, ordered it online. It will be shipped here and hopefully arrive while I'm still on vacation.

Slept soundly last night. Then got up this morning and had a migraine. One of my famous migraines. It's passed over now, but I've spent most of today flat on my back in bed, and had to postpone till tomorrow a visit I'd planned with a friend today.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Chrome City, and Other Vacational Oddments

So here I am on vacation in Madison, Wisconsin, and it's a bright sunny summer day, and I'm driving around Madison, and I notice what I don't often notice living on a gravel road way out in the countryside. Namely, all the chrome on motor vehicles in traffic. Chrome bumpers, chrome trim, chrome whatever.

And it's like photic arrows right in my eyes. Stabbing, bright, sharp. I know, chrome is bright, chrome is decorative. But where did the idea ever arise to decorate motor vehicles with all this mirror-shiny chrome that reflects the sun, blinding bright, right into your eyes as you're driving in traffic?

I'm just wondering.

Speaking of vacationing in the city, and continuing on my curmudgeonly trajectory, ahem, I was tooling around with my folks in my Jeep, and we stopped at a McDonald's, and at the drive-through (or is that "drive-thru"?) I ordered three large vanilla shakes. I spoke clearly and distinctly into the grille: "three large vanilla shakes."

After we got home, we discovered that they had given us three large chocolate shakes. Not vanilla, but chocolate.

This being the city, and this being McDonald's, somehow I'm not surprised.

Oh well. Chocolate shakes, not gonna drive 10 or 12 blocks back there, I'll survive. :-) But still. What part of "vanilla" didn't they understand?!

On the more upward side of things, I've been catching up on my sleep, as is my wont these first few days of vacation. Sleeping like a log day and night.

We also hit a restaurant out on Cottage Grove Road, American Dairyland, or American Dairyland Family Table Restaurant, or somesuch. As usual, my appetites do not range far afield from a hamburger and fries.

I brought my Shogi materials with me, and have been playing through a championship game from 1938 or thereabouts.

And I've been hanging out with family. Don't get to do nearly enough of that, living over in Iowa.

May go out and hit a used bookstore today. Or not. We shall see. This is vacation.