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.