MAY 2002

Saturday, May 25, 2002
Long week/weird week/bad week. Off to New York for next week. Back June fourth-ish. Need hiatus/hibernation/a decent slice of pizza and maybe a potato knish with mustard. 'Til then.

Tuesday, May 21, 2002
Came home from a good dinner with friends to learn that my neighbor died, just six weeks shy of her 88th birthday. When I went over to check on her on Saturday, she had her tomato plants in her kitchen and was hoping to plant them today or tomorrow. This was her favorite time of year, and she consistently had the best garden on the street. People on my street would take their cues on when to plant based on when she planted. So I'm wondering if someone will let me into her house so I can put her tomatoes in the ground for her.

Monday, May 20, 2002
More thoughts on NASA: When you think about how many millions of dollars are poured into the national space program, and then think about how a substantial chunk of that money goes to fund technology that is several decades old, it's a little staggering. I'm all for space exploration, and it just isn't in me to turn down cheesy sci-fi and all of its 1950s-ish futuristic charm, but when I hear that NASA is hunting down 8086s...oh hell, I can't even finish this. It's late and I've been on my feet all night. But the point I'm shooting around (yes, Amy, we kind of get your point, but please tell us anyway): 8086s bad. NASA need new computers. Fly me to the moon. Homer sleep now.

Saturday, May 18, 2002
This past Sunday's New York Times included an article on NASA's ongoing search for Intel 8086 chips because they still use them. These chips are an integral part of the computer system on NASA's space shuttles, and NASA has never upgraded them to even 486s, let alone Pentiums or Pentium 1s, 2s, 3s, or 4s. According to the article, it is becoming more and more difficult to find functioning 8086 chips, and so NASA has resorted to buying them in bulk from sellers on the web through sites like eBay and Yahoo auctions.

Needless to say, this is alarming. I have enough trouble getting on planes, mostly because many the planes in the fleets of commercial airlines look exactly they way they did 25 years ago. Cars look different. Bikes look different. Trains are starting to look different. Planes? A 747 is a 747 is a 747 (to paraphrase Ms. Stein), whether I'm flying on one in 1982, 1992, or 2002. I have an easier time stepping on a plane knowing that it rolled off the assembly line within the past three years (those new minijets are kind of cool, actually) than I do, say, getting on a 727 manufactured during the first part of the Reagan administration. A space flight always sounded fun to me, but NASA's aging technology -- especially the fact that the chips on their shuttles are exponentially clunkier than the little iMac on my desk -- is making me reconsider. I always thought Russian space vehicles looked disturbingly outdated, but 8086s? I wouldn't touch one with your hands.

Wednesday, May 15, 2002
Is it me, or is Al Roker losing weight?

For some reason, I've been going through today thinking it's a holiday or something. But it's not (is it?). The date just seems significant for some reason. I'll think of it.

Tuesday, May 14, 2002
Why I hate my gym, reason #23: So I get there this evening all set to work out, and all of the treadmills except one are out of order. All of them! For the past month or two, at least half of them have been broken every time I go in, but this time almost every single one was off! I angrily did my quick weight routine, and as I was walking out, it occurred to me that although I don't lift enormous amounts of weight, plenty of people in there do, and it's probably not a good idea for the gym people to piss off their exceptionally strong and fit clients. I hate the managers there (they owed me money for three months, but that's reason number one why I hate my gym), so I'm hoping one of the resident jar necks gives them hell.

Sunday, May 12, 2002
File under Murphy's Law: So I finished the bike ride -- all 34 miles of it. I was in a sour mood yesterday, and my biking friend brought her boyfriend along, so I left them in my dust and rode off ahead of them. It was kind of cold and overcast, but not too bad. My legs started burning after about 20 miles, but I was still okay. What was really pissing me off, though, was that the gears on my bike kept slipping, which made for a frustrating ride. (I think I swore a few times, once when an elderly couple was passing me. Ooops!) Then, with eight miles to go, the rain started. I was wearing a sweatshirt, which got completely soaked, and my socks were all squishy (though somehow my t-shirt underneath stayed dry). There was mud everywhere. I finished the ride shivering, wet, and in a fair amount of pain, and there was no shelter to stand under while I waited for my friends to catch up. But there was a trailer that belonged to an amateur radio club that was volunteering for the day. They were total geek/dork radio stereotypes, but were nice enough; they let me come in to stay out of the rain and gave me a dry sweatshirt to wear. After an hour, my friends finally show up, but I find out that my friend's boyfriend didn't have the keys to the truck we were going to ride back to Kalamazoo. (At this point I was really pissed.) So we got the amateur radio nerds to drive us to a "downtown" area, bought dry socks and sweatshirts at a five and dime, and drank hot tea at a pub until a guy my friend's boyfriend knows showed up with his truck.

Today, I am surprisingly not sore.

Saturday, May 11, 2002
I somehow agreed to do a 34-mile bike ride this morning. I'm in relatively good shape, but I haven't biked much in the past few years. This should be interesting, to say the least.

Thursday, May 9, 2002
Just 50 miles north of here in Grand Rapids, a toxic gas cloud caused all sorts of problems earlier today. It wasn't as catastrophic as Don DeLillo's Airborne Toxic Event (from White Noise), but the photos are incredibly scary looking.

Saw the Taylor Eigsti Trio earlier today. Eigsti is a jazz pianist whose wonderful playing is overshadowed by the fact that he's only 18 years old. And, I got my ticket for free. And my boss gave it to me, which means that I didn't only get to skip out of work a little early, but my skipping out of work was actually encouraged by my boss. Totally rad.

Tuesday, May 7, 2002
Five questions they never ask at job interviews, and my responses:

1. What kind of soap do you use?
Glad you asked. This, I believe, is an important question, since I've always felt that a person who takes meticulous interest in his or her own personal hygiene will take meticulous interest in other matters, like a job. I use Dove, mainly because it was my family's soap of choice, and once you get used to Dove, all other soaps feel kind of sticky. Sure, Dove gets all melty and doesn't last as long as, say, Zest, but I feel the cost of frequent bar replacement is well worth it.

2. What kind of writing implement(s) do you prefer?
I like those Le Pens -- they're kind of like markers, but super thin. Ball points are fine, if not a little common. I make a mess with pencils, and I think those gel glide rollerball deals are way overrated. Cross pens are nice, but they seem to run out at the worst times.

3. How do you make a really good omelet?
I like cheese in my omelets. American or cheddar, but especially feta. Maybe some onion, maybe a little shredded potato. But my secrets? Use a spoonful water instead of milk in the eggs (for light fluffiness), and add a few drops of Italian salad dressing in the eggs too (for a remarkably savory yet virtually unidentifiable flavor).

4. Who is most true: John Lennon, Brian Wilson, or Elvis Presley?
Brian Wilson. Elvis was given superhuman status before he weighed an ounce over 130. Lennon spent way too much time in bed for peace; good idea, too idealistic. Brian Wilson was ill-equipped to deal with reality. That's representative.

5. When did you realize you weren't going to be an Olympic athlete?
Hey, it could still happen. I've got my eye on the 2004 rhythm gymnastics gold, baby. I can wave a ribbon like nobody's business.

Monday, May 6, 2002
I've been eating Chinese food since before I had teeth. I've tried just about everything on the menu at most Chinese restaurants, from the more obvious (like General Tso's Chicken) to the slightly more adventurous (like the wiggly squid thing I tried once). I've eaten my fair share of carry-out, burned my mouth on bowls of hot and sour soup, and shared more than a few plates of shrimp and lobster sauce with my mom. I don't like those fried fake crabmeat things, and I don't eat beef anything, but I'll devour just about any other selection off a Chinese take-out menu (especially mu-shu). A friend of mine from high school used to have a joke about the ubiquitous love Jews have for Chinese food. It went like this: Every Jewish family in our suburb has their favorite Chinese restaurant, and at 6:00 pm on Sunday, that's where they are. So yeah, I know about Chinese food.

So how come no one ever told me about Szechuan Eggplant until a few weeks ago? And how come I grew up around ten thousand temple-fuls of Jews who eat Chinese food more than Chinese people but had to hear about how wonderful the Szechuan Eggplant is from a friend of mine who grew up in backwoods Louisiana and probably never had Chinese food until she went to college? Please: Pass on the chow mein next time, and for the love of all things over rice, try the Szechuan Eggplant.

Sunday, May 5, 2002
Spring Cleaning, Day 1

10:00 am: Wake up. Think about how today will be the day that the house gets clean.

10:20 am: Go to gym. Do a few miles on treadmill and think about how nice a clean house will be.

11:30 am: Return from gym. Shower. Get dressed. Make turkey sandwich. Look around at dirty kitchen and realize how much work it will take to get just the kitchen clean. Decide to concentrate on the kitchen for today and give it a good cleaning, and then do the rest of the house throughout the week.

12 noon: Sit outside and read. Make promise to self that cleaning will commence at 2.

1:30 pm: Realize that 2 is fast approaching. Change cleaning commencement time to 2:30. For real this time. No more postponing.

2:35 pm: Start to rip insulation plastic off windows and look at all the dust this activity creates. Think about how all that dust needs to be cleaned up.

2:50 pm: Take a break after all the plastic ripping. Resolve to get back to cleaning at 3:30ish or so.

3:00 pm - 4:00 pm: Do unmemorable stuff not related to cleaning.

4:15 pm: Go to grocery store to run an errand for elderly woman across the street. Pick up six pack for myself as reward for all the cleaning I'll be doing.

4:55 pm: Look around kitchen and mentally create plan of attack. Clean range and dust off high shelves that I don't use. Wipe down counters.

6:45 pm: Eat pasta salad that nice woman next door gave me because it's got feta cheese in it and her kids won't eat feta cheese. Check email. Fold laundry that's been in the dryer for a few days. Think about how folding laundry is contributing to the overall cleanliness of my house.

8:00 pm: Watch The Simpsons. Drink one Mike's Hard Iced Tea. Paint toenails. Resolve to finish the kitchen as soon as the show is over.

8:30 pm: Check email. Send a few.

8:40 pm: Call friend. Chat for a while. Talk about how I'm cleaning my house.

9:10 pm: Finally finally finally vacuum kitchen. Even use hose attachments to suck up all the dust along the edges and between the wood slats in the floor. Feel impressed with myself for being so good about the details.

9:25 pm: Take quick break. Watch tv. Eat ice cream sandwich (mint chocolate chip flavor).

9:35 pm: Get out the wood soap and mop. Meticulously wash floor, removing all stains of strawberry jam, contact lens cleaning solution, and unidentifiable stuff, possibly food, possibly not. Marvel at how brown the water in the bucket gets.

9:45 pm: Rinse bucket and mop. Feel somewhat satisfied that the kitchen is currently spotless. Resolve to clean the rest of the house tomorrow.

Friday, May 3, 2002
Long day/week. Tired. Bad mood.

Thursday, May 2, 2002
Had a dream last night that I was in my basement and there was water getting in. Not a huge amount, but definitely more than there should have been. Woke up at 3 to rain and noticed that our power had been knocked out earlier in the night. Reset the alarm clock, then lamented how if I hadn't noticed the outage and reset the clock, I might have been able to sleep in a little later.

Wednesday, May 1, 2002
There's a huge piano festival taking over town all of this week and all of next week. If there's an event going on in Kalamazoo between now and next weekend, it's probably a part of it. I'm planning to student-ID my way through the shows I want to see, since students can purchase tickets an hour in advance of any show for only five bucks. My ID isn't really valid anymore, and it's not from a local college, but I think I can still make it work. I'm practicing my line: "I know my ID's from Maryland. I'm working on my thesis here because rent is expensive in the DC-metro area." Tonight, however, a friend of mine scored me comps for the Chucho Valdes latin jazz concert, and man was it good. The rest of the concerts don't have quite the same hip factor -- actually, Dave Brubeck does, but that show's already sold out -- but with performers like the Juilliard String Quartet, you really can't complain.

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