Sunday, December 31, 2006

Friday, December 29, 2006

Physics Lessons

"In a uniform expanding universe, every observer sees herself at the center of the expansion, with everything else moving outwards from her."

I do too.
"Theory and observations suggest that very early in the history of the universe, there was an "inflationary" phase".
Current observations suggest that this is happening just (barely) inside my waistband.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Monday, December 25, 2006

Shaggy Dog Story

Leah: Could we have gotten a better dog for mom?
Me: No dog would have been better.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

The Soundtrack of Your Life

Every year around Thanksgiving, flocks of Bohemian Waxwings converge on Anchorage to feast on berries from ornamental trees . Their frantic flight and frenzied high pitched twitter reminds me of an Alfred Hitchcock movie, Psycho, I think. There were clouds of them today and their mood matched mine as I bustled to get through one last day of the Christmas rush before my vacation started. It was sort of a slow-motion panicky bustle since there has been so much snow. The birds must have a better union, though because when it got dark, they went to bed, and I went to the next street.

Lately, I have been experimenting with different foods that I normally don't eat. Don't think beakers and Bunsen burners. Conceptually, it has been more like a "How many people can we stuff into this phone booth?" undergraduate project with me playing the role of the phone booth. Last night for my research I ate some Buffalo Bleu chips. Apparently the crunchy part was salt with some potato dust sprinkled on. More investigation seems in order.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

To the Finland Station

It was dark, windy and snowy today. I felt like Dr. Zhivago's mailman.
Every year around this time, I imagine that I will stay on my diet until just before Christmas, and every year, including this one, I go off days before I want to. I always decide that working as late as I do, in weather as bad as it is, I don't want to be hungry, too. Of course, since I have no self control I just trade hunger for nausea. It makes me loathe myself, but isn't hating your life the way we're supposed to receive our Saviour at Christmas. Really eating this much is practically my Christian duty.
My motto lately (okay, I don't have a motto, but I do say this a lot in an annoying way) has been "Burn calories, not gasoline." Since I've been eating so much, I feel like a virtual National Reserve for calories. While I was typing this our neighbor brought down her annual plate of Christmas cookies. While I was talking about how loathsome I've become, I ate all the cookies. Oh wretched man that I am.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don't

I have a friend at work. Well, the kind of friend that I never see except at work, with whom I have nothing else in common. His wife is suspicious of the web, and club cards and especially RFID tags (the mark of the beast) which some retailers are planning to use to reduce or eliminate check-out time. But if prophecies must come true and the world is going to end soon, do you really want to be standing in line to pay full price until then?

Harry and David, the hoity toity fruit retailers are like a difficult spouse who asks you to do two things, two contradictory things, "Leave IF NO Response", "Protect From Freezing" Well, which is it? Maybe Harry wants one thing and David wants another. Maybe they're not like a spouse, but more like dysfunctional parents. "Clean up your room. Come out here and do your homework. Right now!" Either way you're disobedient. No wonder kids and mailmen act out.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Inevitable Disappointments

The solstice approaches and we'd be really excited if we could be roused from the torpor that sets in when it's always dark. We'd be even more excited if we didn't know that inevitably we are disappointed when it does arrive since although the days are getting longer, they're also getting colder, as you might expect on the second and third and subsequent days of winter.

I listened to an interview this morning with a singer from the LeeVees. They've released an album called Hannukah Rocks. They include a lamentation song about kugel. The point of it is that your grandmother's kugel was better than your mother's. "It's just not the same, mom." Skim milk may be fine for dieters and neurotics, but it has no place in kugel preparation.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

There's No Excuse For This

If a small sea creature dies, is there an outpouring of reef?
If you have to tell a fable in a hurry, do you do it Aesop?
What if it took a rocket scientist to hang mistletoe?

Monday, December 11, 2006

Avoid the Rush

The Christmas rush arrived at the post office today. It's like a regular rush except without the surge of euphoria. The only way I could have been more late is if I was dead.
Delivering mail is much easier than it was years ago before headlamps with lithium batteries. Now walking through the dark with just the blue light from an LED is sort of dream-like except no one gets hurt.

I suppose I should take another stab at writing a Christmas letter; it's not going to write itself. I checked.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

If Mel Gibson Were Alive Today Would He Be a Lutheran?

Today I was giving my regular smarmy Pollyanna-ish (which purported to be on TV today, but Haley Mills wasn't in it so at most it was Pollyanna-ish too) Sheryl Crow speech, "Happiness is wanting what you get, not getting what you want."

Martin Luther said* “You can’t keep the birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from building a nest there.” I was thinking about that. Fine, I wasn't thinking about that, but I might have been. I was just being irritating when I told another carrier today that it was okay to have peeves, but you shouldn't keep them around long enough to make them pets.

*You need to be careful of Martin,though. He also said this about the Jews.
They have been blood thirsty bloodhounds and murderers of all Christendom for more than fourteen hundred years in their intentions, and would undoubtedly prefer to be such with their deeds. Thus they have been accused of poisoning water and wells, of kidnaping children, of piercing them through with an awl, of hacking them in pieces...thickly, thickly, heavily, heavily coated with the blood of the Messiah and his Christians.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Here Be Dragons

Darcy the dragon bounced back into my head for a little while today. They call tunes catchy because you can catch them. After Darcy, I thought of that other dragon of song, Puff. Essentially, Puff is the Velveteen Rabbit without the happy ending.
In other Christmas news, we purchased a dead tree for Jesus this evening.

At Least There Wasn't an Actual Mare in the Night

A fairly steady procession of cats and dogs through my bed last night. It was nightmarish as opposed to an actual nightmare. An actual nightmare would have been better; at least I might have gotten some sleep.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Star to Every Wandering Bark

It's possible that there is a certain song that used to play at Christmas when you were young. Maybe you haven't heard it for awhile, but if you go to iTunes, for 99¢ you can recapture that special feeling when the world was safe and joy was in the air.
Resist, or at least reconsider, this urge. Your childhood is a foreign country. The customs are different there and you go there at your peril. Or maybe not. But I spent today with Darcy the Dragon bouncing around in my head. Sample lyric: "My fire he am no more!"
I suppose that if you drew a line to represent joy to the world, and another to represent irritations from the world, where they crossed there would be, well, a cross. In our spiritual mathematics, the cross is like the bell curve or Fibonacci's sequence. By the way, the bell curve is pretty easy to understand I mean there are smart people and dumb people, thin people and fat people, rich people and poor people, and the rest of us seething in the middle, but do you really understand the significance of the Fibonacci sequence? Probably some people do and some people don't and the rest of us kind of do, but not exactly.

Anyway, I was talking about the cross. It's become de rigeur this time of year to remind people that we are celebrating the birth of Jesus and not Q4 profits for Wal-Mart. But we should keep in mind, selfish children that we are, we are really celebrating his birth because it lead to his death and not ours. I guess Darcy had it right after all, "My fire he am no more!"

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

FUBAR in OJT, It's Totally SNAFU

After I had been asking our supervisor-in-training for weeks to have mail put back in DPS, I realized he thought I was talking about PARS* when he asked "Do you want to get me fired?" I thought, "A little."

*The post office is powered entirely by acronyms. We're all about letters.

Monday, December 04, 2006

On the Job Sonambulism

About 10 years ago, the post office introduced new uniform shirts. They were blue, of course, with red and navy pinstripes. At the time, I refused to order them; getting knit polo shirts that had no pinstripes instead, because I had pajamas that looked almost identical to the new shirts. This fall I finally got one of the new shirts now that I can do my route in my sleep.
Thinking about that made me wonder whatever became of the pajamas. Because, really, why would pajamas ever wear out? Was I such a hard sleeper that the knees wore out? “Man, he’s such a heavy sleeper that the seams just popped.”

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Living the Life Some Consider a Myth

Not one person on my route noticed that I first started there on December 2, 1996, ten years ago today.
I imagine that everyone wants to grow up to achieve legendary status. I just never thought I'd be living the legend of Sisyphus. Walking the same streets, in the same order day after day, never reaching the end of the mail. Still, there are some satisfactions to be had. I've changed the line of travel sometimes over the years. And even though, the work can't be finished, eventually I will be. I guess it wouldn't have been quite as severe a punishment if sometimes Sisyphus could have pushed the rock down the hill, or if he had a Thrift Savings Plan

Friday, December 01, 2006

If Tom Petty Went For a Ride (Free Falling)

I fell off my bike a few days ago. I hit a curb just right, or just wrong actually. Riding on ice, I need tires that bite, not suck. I never mentioned it to anyone here at home since they already disapprove of winter biking. With the reflective vest I wear and the flashing lights on the bike, I'm pretty sure that everyone else in the world saw me.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Psst, buddy, want a kestrel? Reader Alert: this post contains urine. Wait, that makes no sense, it's about urine.

If we could see UV would we be hungry or even more repulsed? In the type of coincidence that happens all the time in real life, but is so unbelievable in a blog, Sandra Tsing-Loh talked about vole pee recently during her science podcast from Caltech. Here's the transcript:
Pee Trail

Ever wonder how high-flying hunters like hawks spot their meals from so high in the sky? The mystery of Eagle Eyes has been solved, and it's....DIRTY.
At least for the common kestrel.

The kestrel's favorite food is the vole, a beak-watering cupcake-sized furball. They're like the Morton Salt girl. . . They leave a trail everywhere they go, to mark their territory.

A trail... of PEE.

Davide Csermely, from the University of Parma, Italy suspected the pee trail might come in handy to the hungry kestrel. See, piddle just happens to reflect ultraviolet light, and birds just happen to see UV.

To find out if kestrels see vole pee, Csermely released about 100 into an outdoor aviary with four different habitats: voles had tinkled in two; the others were sprinkled with water. Each was covered with a filter that either blocked UV or let it through.

The birds scanned pee-stained habitats the most, and focused on the one where UV was allowed to shine through.

Surprisingly, juveniles who'd never hunted were just as discerning as adults. Proves the birds are born with an eye for prey piddle.

Kestrel parents don't teach their young how or what to hunt, so being hardwired to tell vole urine from any old wet spot is critical...

And clever. As we like to say about kestrels: When it comes to vole pee, they're real whizzes.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Why I became a Killer

From the Anchorage Daily News October 15, 2001

Inside, they can get into drawers, cupboards and other places you wouldn't imagine. Mice can jump straight up a good 12 inches. They can scale vertical surfaces if there's enough texture for a toehold. They can even swim.

Besides the droppings you can see, mice leave behind something you can't. It seems they have no bladder control. They ''go'' constantly, leaving a trail of urine across floors, countertops and cutting boards. This is how exterminators find them, using a black light to illuminate their travels and setting traps in the paths.

"Constant renunciation of temporal goods" is good for you

We saw Flushed Away a few weeks ago. A CG rat learns the value of friendship and of friends with ships. Then we watched Over the Hedge this weekend. A CG raccoon learns the value of friendship. In Cars, unsurprisingly, it's a car that learns that money can't happiness.

Jesus preached self denial and the futility of wealth. When he did, though, he was homeless and if not a drifter, then at least itinerant. Isn't it a little unseemly that the studios, run by some of the richest people in the world, are indoctrinating us in an unquestioning acceptance of our relative stations in life. To paraphrase Jonathon Edwards (the pop singer, not the "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" preacher) they've got cards they're not showing.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Thanksgiving Warmth Lasts All Weekend

Another cold day in this coldest November in sixteen years. I stayed warm wearing my new Sport Hill pants and underneath everything else, a thick layer of gravy.

Friday, November 24, 2006


Here's a line I'my trying out for the Christmas letter.
I've been spending a lot of time on my bike this year. Or money, you can write it either way since they're the same thing.


We ate so much yesterday that even the air seemed constricting. It's been so cold and dry that putting on my sweater is like wearing a Taser.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

The sparkling cider forgotten on the porch to cool, exploded this evening. Since we have been eating for the last seven hours, it was inspiring.
I want to start collecting empty spaces.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Meeting Harry Potter

So, today I got home early enough to take my computer to the Mac store. The technician, a very young man from Bethel, waved his finger at the machine, muttered a spell, "Power Management Unit Reset" and sent us on our way.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Brother to the Wind

The wind was bitter today, and so was I. I don't know what the wind's problem was, but I had my reasons. First, of course, it was cold and windy.
But I was also suffused with a sense of futility left over from my long weekend. I had set some tasks for myself, but when I woke up Friday morning I was feeling queasy. By the afternoon, this feeling had intensified. It's enough to say that I eventually just curled back up in bed clutching a basin. By the way, it's not enough that the cat doesn't catch mice. When I got back in bed, "weak and weary", the cat snuggled up next to me and bit my arm.
Saturday, I was feeling well enough to move up to the recliner. Everyone went out, leaving me to my own devices (DVD player and cable remote).
Sunday, I felt well enough to tentatively begin my projects, but the power went off for several hours. There were two separate power failures in two separate neighborhoods, neighborhoods that have only one block in common. That's right.
When the power finally did come back on last night, my computer wouldn't; apparently the power supply was ruined.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Long Shadows at Noon

There's a proverb that when a short man casts a long shadow, the sun is about to set. Here, in the Northern Hemisphere,
we're about 5 weeks from the Winter Solstice and in Anchorage our shadows are pretty long all day. We have about 7 hours of daylight now and still have about an hour and a half of daylight to lose before the solstice. I would have waited to use this title until then, but I was pretty sure I wouldn't remember it by then. More on that later.*

I'm not sure that the rules for good writing have ever been codified and numbered, but I would guess that rule number 1 is make your theme universal; "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." See, it's about the universe.

High on the list, too, would be make your characters larger than life. Think Cyclops for example. Here's a slight digression (as if this blog wasn't just an extended digression, although from what?) In the translation I read (and be honest, don't you just love Golden Books?) Ulysses tells Cyclops he is No-man, and we know that No-man is an island.

*No, wait, rule number 1 is write about what you know. I have received comments asking me to dish on SRH, but I don't remember anything like that. She was always an angel.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

EEK, I am become death

So, it turns out we have more than one mouse. I hadn't planned on spending my leisure time devising ways kill mice stuck on glue traps, but that's how it looks. What a coarsening, soul-deadening and I'm afraid, monotonous job it's going to be, too. I wouldn't use glue traps at all if the quick snap traps (or more accurately, feeding stations) worked, but they don't. I don't know why OSHA is even designing mouse traps.
After crushing them , putting them in vacuum seal bags, or making them listen to talk radio, I'm going to run out of ideas, too. Hopefully, there won't be too many more mice and this project can be brought to a mercifully quick conclusion.
All of this avoids entirely the question of why we are killing mice in the first place. If we're going to start killing every animal that uses our house for a bathroom, then we can start with animals that are easier to catch. Ellie fits the caption of a cartoon I saw recently. "I may be housebent, but I'll never be housebroken."

Spoiler Alert

Spoiler Alert: This might be in the Christmas letter.

Karen has been volunteering with a friend at a disadvantaged elementary school. They have an after school Bible Club. It's the ancient struggle; saving children's souls from the prince of this world and trying to keep the other adults from eating all the cookies.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


I have personally seen my wife confront a bear to rescue her dog, and I know for a certain fact that she stood up to a ravening pit bull to save her daughters, so I was shocked when she called me in tears at work today to tell me that we had caught a mouse on a glue trap. She and Bernie were huddled on the couch with the TV turned up when I came home for lunch.
I pulled the plug on my mom; I wasn't going to blanch at disposing of a mouse. Okay, I blanched a little.

Later, Ellie found a glue trap and carried it around for awhile on the bottom of her foot.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Get Help

My daughter (I'm pretending that this is a blog that others, maybe even someone that isn't related to me, might read) went to talk to a counselor at UAA. He recommended a minor in nutrition.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

By the Way

I felt a lot of pressure today to think of something amusing. It was sort of irritating.


People seemed to get pretty worked up here about the election. I pointed out that this was an American, not a Bosnian election. When it's over, we'll all just live with the results until the next election. So, are we more at risk from terroists? Does it even matter? Absent an actual WMD, I bet more Americans will die in any given week from the consequences of their own choices regarding food, tobacco and alcohol than from the next attack.

Circus Act

We have a Rottweiller/Rhodesian Ridgeback mix staying with us this week. I could put my head in his mouth if I was totally sure of getting it back.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


I haven't been updating this blog very often. Since this isn't a diary, I don't feel much pressure to update unless I have something that amuses or irritates me. I guess a lot of things irritate me, so okay, the rule is, it has to be irritating and amusing.

Housekeeping note, anyone can comment now, although how bored would you have to be to comment on a blog with only eight entries?

Sunday, October 15, 2006

New Bike?

The question is no longer should I have bought a new bike, the question is should I have bought a new bike all at once, or piece by piece, the way I did it.
Thank heavens they didn't give me a boat.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Demon Lover by Canondale

After work tonight I went for a bike ride. I had the studded tires put on this week, and I wanted to see if I rode towards the mountanis, could I reach the snow, or failing that Stuckagain Heights. It turned out I couldn't quite do either. The climb was hard but at the same time as I had the tires changed I had my seven speed cassette changed to an eight speed. Oh my, the seven fold path, the eight speed climb, just another path to Nirvana, if Nirvana was a gated community on the Hillside. And unattainable.
But on the ride down, the bike and I were one creature racing down the hill. Fully alive, like a horse and rider that know together and at once, or like every person who's ever run for the joy of running. Or maybe I was having a small stroke.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Before I went on weight watchers, I was the Buzz Lightyear of weight gain, "To infinity and beyond!"

I saw one of my customers yesterday who had been ill. She claimed to have gained back the weight she had lost, but her eyes were so sunken that I believe she could see stars during the day.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

I've decided to think of gasoline in terms of soldier's blood. I think that will encourage me to try and avoid using it unless it's really necessary.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Yesterday was the 10th straight day of rain (today was the 11th). People offered sympathy to me for slogging around in the rain, but I told them, "I had to make a decision, I could be cold, wet and unhappy, or I could just be cold and wet."
I seemed quite saintly, at least to myself, so it was pretty surprising how cranky I was once I got home and was warm and dry.

Monday, July 31, 2006


"Depraved indifference murder was traditionally reserved for exceptionally heinous cases of involuntary manslaughter, where the perpetrator's conduct was so wanton and devoid of regard for human life that it could reasonably be equated with intent to kill. Some of the "classic" examples of depraved indifference murder are firing a weapon in a crowded place, dropping a heavy object from a height onto a busy street or driving a speeding vehicle down a sidewalk. "-

So, boo hoo, the so called "Army of God" which is not an army, and is not of God, hid among civilians, in order to kill civilians and as predictably happened their human shields were killed. Now, it's the Israelis that are being accused of war crimes?
This could be characterized as a clash of civilizations, if only the Muslims had one.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Bike Shorts

I got some new bike shorts last week. They appear to be made for people with social anxiety who don't like to talk to strangers. The idea is that without saying a word, you can tell the world, "I'm a dork."

Saturday, June 17, 2006

I started this blog to tell a story about an extended bike ride I took. It was a really funny story and I told it over and over, so often in fact, that I got bored with it.
Last night I took the same bike ride without getting lost, so I could make humorous, or at least conversational, comparisons to the first story if I'd ever written it down.
For an example of a non-humorous comparison, seeing wildlife is a lot more fun if you're on the paved trail and not just lost in the woods, in their woods.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

My very first post

On Monday I went to a funeral after going to the dentist. They told me that it had been 2 and a half years since I'd had my teeth cleaned. Time flies when you're not at the dentist.