Sunday, December 30, 2007

May the Spirit of Fake Hanukkah Live in Your Hearts All Year Round

Sarah had a cold and Leah had a sore throat so we had to cancel, or at least postpone fake Hanukkah tonight. Since it's more a celebration of a concept than a firm date we can celebrate it any time. Sort of like Kwanzaa or Ramadan. That's not exactly a slam on a Muslim "holy" day since the beginning and end of Ramadan often aren't known until just hours before it happens.
Which is only slightly more confusing than Easter. But even if we can predict Easter sometimes years in advance, we do have to give them credit where they really shine; suicide bombings. There they're number one with a bullet.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

While We're At It, Maybe We Should Get an Artificial Tree

We're having a Hanukkah party tomorrow night even though it ended about two weeks ago. While we were cleaning up, of course, we bickered. I told them, "In the spirit of fake Hanukkah, can't we at least pretend to get along?"

Friday, December 28, 2007

Caremark Monster Update

It appears that after all the confusion over whether or not the Caremark monsters* would fill Karen's prescription, it turns out they might. They finally called back this morning at exactly 4 am to say that they were going to fill it today and their website indicates that it might be happening as I type this. Of course, in the past, Caremark monsters have filled prescriptions then had to be begged to ship them.
In any event, today is our last day with Caremark monsters. As of tomorrow our plan will be using Medco.
So, a scorecard; Caremark monsters called at 4 am, Karen's doctor and Medtronics haven't called at all.

*Here, and elsewhere in this post, an attempt to influence google searches. I should also note (for google) that the Caremark monsters own the CVS chain of drugstores. CVS monsters(?), I don't know since we don't have CVS monsters(?) in Alaska (which is 4 hours earlier than EST where I assume the Caremark monsters skulk)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

How our Dogs See the Patriot Act vs the ACLU

Our dogs know that when we say, "Kennel up," we're going to give them a treat and then lock them up for awhile. To them, it's a no-brainer, they run to their cage.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Boxing Day Afternoon

A few weeks ago I spent my lunch break talking to Caremark and then handed the phone to Karen and she spent over an hour on the phone with them. They told us that they couldn't ship her prescription because they had been waiting for her doctor to call them back, but then the nurse had called them back so that was okay, but no wait, it was too soon to ship the order, but Karen had a broken arm where RSD was setting in so she was using more medicine, so okay they could ship part of the order, but if they did that they wouldn't ship the rest of it. If she rationed her remaining medicine and jumped through some flaming hoops they would ship the entire order on the 28th.
So she's been gritting her teeth and lashing out at us, but she's taking less medicine than she needs and we're going to make it. Except...
On Christmas Eve the lying monsters at Caremark (I want to keep using the word Caremark so that google searches might turn up Caremark especially if the search also uses the terms lying and monsters) called and left a message that they wouldn't be able to send the order because they needed to talk to the doctor. I called them this afternoon, and they said, "There's nothing we can do." I told them that should be their motto and hung up on them. I called Blue Cross and they said there was nothing they could do. I made a couple of other calls and then girded my loins (oh, that reminds me; this morning I watched a Project Runway episode where they redesigned letter carrier uniforms) and told Karen about the Caremark/Blue Cross/Sith decision. She said she had a secret number and the names of two CSRs that had approved the order weeks ago.
I called and both Jersey and Mae were unavailable, but Daisy (and here's another thing, "Daisy", "Mae", "Jersey" seem pretty made up. I bet it's like phone sex operators are embarrassed to use their real names because they're ashamed of what they do) said the order was approved and would be overnighted on the 28th with no extra charge. She practically promised us a fruit basket. I explained that that was all well and good, but who was right Daisy Mae and the other Dogpatch operators, or Ina that told us to essentially stop bothering them? She said she'd talk to Mae and Jersey and call us back.
That makes a firm commitment from Karen's doctor's office, the Medtronic rep, and now Caremark to call us back.

Boxing Day Morning

Late last night, our credulous friend Ambre came by. Somehow the topic of aural manipulation came up. I said that it had been debunked years ago by a 13 year old. She said that maybe the tester had used people who only claimed to be able to manipulate auras. I told her that was almost certainly true.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Customer Service

Last night I opened cards from my customers. They were full of flattering praise for the service they get from me; along the lines of, "Man, we sure get some customer service from you sometimes it seems like you're on our porch forever. Dude, maybe you should give some customer service to somebody else and let us shut our door."

Today we had a traditional Christmas. Our tradition is to be disappointed that we're not some other family that knows how to pick out gifts that people want, and to hide our disappointment if we don't get what we want, or talk to each other over dinner, or remember to buy milk. We finished up with a virtual monastic silence broken only by percussive stylings of door slams.

Friday, December 21, 2007

We Don't Know Who They Are, But We Don't Like Them

They say that in Chinese, the word for crisis is composed of "danger" and "opportunity". As usual, they're at least wrong, if not outright lying. Or maybe I'm thinking of Thomas Edison who might have said, "Problems are really opportunities."Unless it was someone else Whoever, I wish they'd been trying to find a way to deal with boxes of Harry and David's fruit and their insane "Protect From Freezing" demand. I'm pretty sure that the Marquis de Sade wrote that. It's pears! We have grocery stores up here now; what does it say when you send someone pears? "I think you're too lazy to get up off the couch and buy some fruit,"?
I ended up calling my supervisor this afternoon and telling him that he didn't have to feel sorry for me, but that I felt terrible having to tell him that I wasn't going to be done on time.
Also today, I got a present from one of my customers, a book about an adventurous bike rider. The blurb says it's by a 12 year old boy trapped in a man's body. I said to Karen and Leah, "A retarded bike rider, it's like I've got a twin," but then I realized they just meant he was adventurous and like that. "An adventurous bike rider, it's like I don't have a twin."

Thursday, December 20, 2007

And Not the Keisha Knight-Pullam Version Either

The temperature has been hovering around zero lately. This afternoon, a breeze came up and it began to snow. I felt like the little match girl's mailman.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Brr, Baby, Brr

Evaporative cooling is the concept behind perspiring. It worked best, I imagine, in Eden. Not as well, in Alaska, Eden's polar opposite.
Yesterday it was below zero when I went for a bike ride, so I put on layer after layer of clothes. I warmed up, then overheated, then cooled, then froze. I spent the day trying to get things and people to do what they were supposed to. First I rode to a locksmith to get our lock fixed, and then Karen and I drove over to her doctor's office. Since she broke her arm, they've been promising to put in a temporary infusion pump to cover her shoulder so she can do physical therapy and avoid (oops, too late) RSD setting in at the injury site. We call or go in every week and they tell us they'll call with a schedule. We spent over an hour yesterday, but this time we did get a firm commitment that they'd call us.

Last night, after I went to sleep, our dogs were outside and saw a cow moose and her calf in the yard next door. Notwithstanding the fact that the moose's liver weighs more than they do, they began to bark at it and wouldn't come in when Karen called, nor when the moose began kicking the fence separating them. Finally, exhaustion set in, I guess, and they came in. Karen says the moose then jumped the fence and followed them up the stairs. I slept on. When I went to work this morning, the cow and her calf surprised me when I put up the garage door, so after looking at each other for awhile with the strobe on my bike flashing at her, which really highlighted in a psychedelic way how far back she had put her ears, I decided, really, I don't have to go out the alley, do I?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Not Seen on Animal Planet

If you were a coyote, would you gnaw your head off to get out of a trap? What if the trap was in your head?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Christmas Letter

Those of you lucky enough to not be on the receiving end of our Christmas letter may be interested to know that it's approximately finished.
It includes a warning, "May cause drowsiness, don't read this letter while driving,"

Friday, December 14, 2007

If at First You Don't Succeed

At the post office we've tried the management technique of letting the lunatics run the asylum and it hasn't worked. We're going to have to try harder.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

We Have a Message For Our Customers

I delivered a card to all my customers from the postal service today. The card listed three ways to buy stamps, and not one of them involved going to a post office. We have a message for our customers, "We're busy, don't bother us."

So, when you listen to Ron Paul, his message of small government doing only what we can't do alone sounds pretty compelling. Here's my problem, though, some of his supporters are the kind of people that I would cross a street to avoid. They're the kind of people that our parents (The Greatest Generation) crossed an ocean to destroy. Specifically, they deny that the Nazi Holocaust happened, but even if it did, the Jews had it coming. In fact, the Holocaust that they want to talk about is the slaughter of Persians that Jews celebrate as Purim (pdf).

Does anyone know if Paul disassociates himself from these loathsome people?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

From Our Department of Unnecessary Skills

I was coming up a driveway today where a man teaches bagpipes. To the extent that you can ever tell what a bagpiper is playing, I think they were playing a lullaby.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Bonzo For President

According to KTUU, 29% of the people voting in their poll plan on supporting Ron Paul at Alaska's Republican caucus. That might be a little high because I doubt if 29% of the people voting in the poll are even going to the caucus. I went once. It was okay. You had to pretend to care what other people thought, but that's true almost everywhere you go.
Mike Huckabee came in second, even though according to a friend of mine he shares 97% of his DNA with a chimpanzee. I don't know why he would say that or how he could even know. I'm not sure if a chimpanzee has come forward, or what.

Monday, December 10, 2007

It's the Human Genome Project

Of course, if Gov.Huckabee can answer the question of how he came to share 97% of his DNA with a monkey, he might gain ground yet.
I received that quote in an e-mail yesterday. I'm not sure what the writer was trying to imply about Mike Huckabee, but at least the governor wasn't sharing 100% of his DNA with interns or strangers in men's rooms.
Of course, as soon as I finish this post I'm going over to KTUU's web site to vote for Ron Paul in their poll.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Riding in Cars With Dogs

Last night Karen and I went shopping. We took the dogs along for the ride because they can't be left home alone (we can't afford the pay per view of Cesar Millan). While we were driving to the store, Karen reported on each thought the dogs had. I told her that the next time we have an opening for a new dog, we're getting a hand puppet.
Thanks to the people that provided ideas for Anchorage entertainment, including the ones that came via e-mail.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

My What Far Seeing Eyes You Have Grandmother

As I was getting out of my truck today, after handing a man his mail, his dog lunged forward and bit me on the foot. Well, boot, actually. Even in this eerily warm winter I'm not delivering mail barefoot. The man said, "He thought you were getting ready to kick him."
Apparently the dog can see into the future.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

This Post Written by Me, Wardrobe Provided (for a fee) by Kirkland Clothing, Dogs Provided by Satan, Meals Provided (for a consideration) by Kelloggs

I started reading Neal Gaiman's Fragile Things this evening, and it reminded me of something else that irritates me. I had been reading for several pages and still hadn't stumbled on a story. Instead, Mr. Gaiman was explaining the origin of each story, who had commissioned it, where he was when he wrote it, etc. Maybe I'll care, maybe I won't, kind of depends on the story doesn't it? I feel the same way watching a movie; roll the credits when it's over. Why should I sit there for ten minutes finding out who the production companies were (especially since they pretty much exist to only to hide money and beat whatever creativity that was brought to bear into some formula that they think will appeal to the exact demographic they're looking to sell a video game to) before I've even seen the movie. I'll probably hate the movie anyway.
I bet some people hate long parenthetical asides, too.
I suppose instead of reading, I should have been working on the Christmas letter, but I've pretty much lost interest in that. If you're a blog reader, you already know far more about our year than you wanted to, and if you're not a blog reader, you probably weren't interested in our year to begin with.
Apparently I wasn't importunate enough asking about things to in Alaska in January. We have a guest coming and I don't do anything, so I was asking for advice. I know at least a few people read this. Some of you live here in Anchorage (I just put Anchorage in, in case people searching blogger for "Anchorage" stumble on this and have some ideas) and some of you have visited here. What did you enjoy? What about these things:
Do you think it's worth driving to Homer to see the Eagle Lady and her hundreds of eagles? It's sort of the last chance because they're banning the practice of feeding the eagles. She's been grandfathered in, as it were, but only for a few more years or until she dies.
Or going to Fairbanks to see a really short day?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

What's Amazing is I Spent Most of the Year Watching TV

So, I said that our Christmas letter would be a highlight reel from this blog, and that that being the case it would probably be short. Well, I hadn't counted on just how much I love the sound of my own voice, even if it's only in my own head (mmm, well put).
It turned out to be four pages. Every word could have been a keeper, but that wouldn't be a Christmas letter, it would be a hostage situation. Since the last couple of lines are actually about Christmas, not me, we know it would have a peaceful ending, but still.
I did it over using just facts which cut it down to one page, printed it in green, and showed it to Karen. "Pretty boring", was the verdict. I don't know what we're going to do now.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Life Imitating Art

I was trying to think of something cute to post today. It was so cold and windy and I was so hungry that I thought about writing that I was daydreaming about taking a hot bath in a tub full of oatmeal. And then I did begin daydreaming about it.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Well, I See I Was A Fool

I was going to say that when I realized that Santa and penguins weren't just a random juxtaposition, but in fact a symbolic representation of the universality of the "Happy Holidays" movement. It stretches as far as the North is from the South. About 13,000 miles. Unlike Christ's forgiveness that stretches as far as the East is from the West, an infinite and all-encompassing circle.
Or because I had hoped that my reader would provide suggestions for something to do up here. If they had, I might have done it because even though we haven't really started yet, I'm already bored with cleaning the "back" bedroom.
But now, since Lobotomy, a Memoir has been taken, at least I've come up with a title for my autobiography.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Message in a Bottle

I have been having intermittent stabbing pains in my left knee. By using heat, a brace, and lots of Advil, I have managed to move it over into a constant agonizing pain in my right knee. I don't want to complain, or maybe I mean I don't want to merely complain, but aside from, "Ouch" what can you say?
So, I'm going to go eat dinner (with an Advil garnish where Karen normally puts parsley and the julienned carrots) and toss this out: if anyone finds this post, do you have any ideas of interesting things to see or do in Anchorage, in January? The forecast calls for 5 hours and 38 minutes of daylight, and they usually come pretty close.
Of course, there's scenery; that's practically unavoidable, and the Bear Tooth, but then what?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

At First I Thought I'd Have a Stinky Post Today, Now I'm Pretty Sure

I thought I'd be stuck commenting on another triumph of style over substance today. Someone wrote "Don't Trash Alaska" on pieces of copier paper and stuck it up near the elementary school. And now they're blowing down the street.
I wasn't very impressed with that observation though. It seemed just a little too obvious. Then I had what I thought was a clever idea for a one-liner, but I forgot it by the time I finished my route.
I thought I might tell you how ironic it was that Paul Harvey was suggesting shooting hijackers in my last post since he once stole an airplane himself, but I couldn't find any reference to that, so I'm not sure it's even true, although this is the internet, so I'm not sure that matters anyway. In researching the stolen plane story, though I came across this Paul Harvey quote:
"I can't look down on the commercial sponsors of these broadcasts," he explained to CBS interviewer and fellow Chicago broadcaster Bob Sirott in 1988. "Too often they have very, very important messages to put across. Without advertising in this country, my goodness, we'd still be in this country what Russia mostly still is: a nation of bearded bicyclists with b.o."

It's like I have a twin.

Monday, November 26, 2007

A Modest Proposal

Back in the 80's our mayor declared Anchorage a city of lights. He encouraged everyone to put up clear strings of lights, and many did. Flying over Anchorage at that time was breath-taking. Then the Anchorage Daily News began running maps of the most beautiful Christmas displays and for awhile that was nice too. We even had a tradition in our family of going out on Christmas Eve and looking at the displays. Mostly they were bright, but serene, shining into our long dark nights.
But, as my mom used to say, nothing succeeds like excess. Now the displays have become ever more garish and unattractive. Manger scenes have given way to inflated snow globes with Santa and his penguin. The quiet white lights have been replaced with flashing snow flakes and displays that have all the subtlety of a sign over a bar flashing, "Cold Beer" or "Girls"
Many cities have instituted bans on selling spray paint to teens in order to cut down on graffiti which makes urban life so jarring and unpleasant. It may be time to rethink our liberal policies on Christmas displays.
During an earlier spate of Muslim hijackings, Paul Harvey suggested that hijackings would drop to zero if they issued a gun to everyone on the plane. A well -armed populace is a polite populace. In Anchorage, they actually do issue spray paint to anyone who will promise to use it to cover graffiti. What if they gave out strings of lights to people who would promise to use them responsibly to cover their neighbor's ghastly exhibits.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Fair Warning

Karen says we're going to have a Christmas letter this year, and that I'm going to write it. Since Christmas letters are essentially just highlight reels, and I've already chronicled our life ad nauseum in this blog, I'm guessing our Christmas letter is going to turn out to be a "best of" clip show from this blog. Based on that, I'm guessing it will be short.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

And Now for Something Completely Different; Good News From Afghanistan

Sarah Chayes was an NPR reporter who stayed behind when the Taliban fell. She formed the Arghand Cooperative with Afghan farmers and others. They are selling soaps made from ingredients from Afghanistan. The idea is to give people a way to make money (and soap) that doesn't involve killing Americans. There are several retailers around Boston and around the country.
Granted, it's a small project that only affects a few people, but, and here we revert to our normal blog style of complaining and smug self righteousness, small changes add up. At work recently, someone was complaining about high gas prices and saying the government should do something. I said that I only bought gas once a month or so because I ride a bike, and that we all could do things to use energy more wisely. Yeah, that's individuals, he said...And here I see I've also abandoned quotation marks. I think because I'm getting pretty bored with this post and I just want to get to the part where I tie in the noble Afghans with the American bike rider.
"No one snowflake," I quoted, "feels responsible for the avalanche."

This is What I've Been Trying to Tell You

No, this is what I've been trying to tell you.

This Post is Sort of a Lie, I Had a Great Time Riding to Work.

Do you remember what my "new favorite thing" was last winter? Of course not, and I don't mean to put you on the spot. It was riding on the ice at Westchester Lagoon. Riding to work today should have been fun because a chinook wind has turned all of Anchorage into a giant ice rink, but it was as if the giants were curling, using cars for stones.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I Heard Two Things Recently

I was watching TV (big surprise) and a priest on a police procedural told a man, "God's inside all of us," That's what liberal Hollywood thinks, but is so the opposite of Christianity. Hey, if Christians believed we're all one big happy family, can't we all get along, people'd love us. No you're a wretched sinner, get over yourself, loser. That may not be exactly what Calvin said, in the Institutes of the Christian Religion. but, hey, haven't you ever heard of paraphrasing?
That's one thing I was holding back in case I needed a post. Here's another little thing that happened a few weeks ago; I was coming out of the restroom at Kinko's and an employee was going in. I said, "Hey, you're out of soap in there," he said, "Yeah, I noticed that this morning,"

Monday, November 19, 2007

Giving Thanks for the Kleenex Holiday Collection

When Leah was away at school, and all alone, a church group came by with a Thanksgiving dinner for her. Knowing that their recipients were likely to be sad, they included a box of Kleenex. This year we're not having anyone over, and no one's having us over, and, we have to buy our own Kleenex.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

A Virtual Infestation

Just like they say that you can't have one mouse, apparently you can't have just one cockroach story either. There was a story about cockroaches in today's Anchorage Daily News. Note, that's "Your Good Morning Newspaper," not "Your Appetizing at Breakfast Newspaper".
This invites the question, just how filthy are American laboratories that they always seem to have rats and cockroaches around to experiment on? Today's article explored nature vs nurture, well sort of; cockroaches are social, I'm not sure how nurturing they are. The scientists wanted to know if they could use peer pressure to get cockroaches to do things like hang out in well lighted areas that they normally wouldn't do. It turns out that using tiny robots dressed as cockroaches (or at least smelling like cockroaches) they could influence them. About 40% of the time, though, the robots themselves succumbed to cockroach peer pressure. That's unsettling, but it does explain why our Roomba scuttles under the couch when we turn on the lights.
If I can just mention one other cockroach fact, the researchers in the first article said that not only could cockroaches live without heads, their heads could live without bodies. They said that normally cockroaches have good memories, but that without their bodies they couldn't learn anything. I don't know how they could tell, but it does make sense. If nothing else, they might be a little distracted. I mean, you don't see many people in the ICU learning Latin declensions, do you?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Consider the Ant, or If the Ant's Busy, Consider the Cockroach

I went back to work today after 4 days off. I got much less accomplished than I expected. I did manage to clear out some of our Netflix backlog, and read a Scientific American. They report that Vitamin D not only makes for strong bones, but prevents cancer and brightens moods. Also they investigated the lifestyles of cockroaches that have had their heads cut off. Researchers (at the Mengele institute, no doubt) report that as long as some predator doesn't eat them, they'll just stay quiet and sit around.
It's like I've got a twin.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Vroom, Vroom

I've been embarrassed to tell you that after our light dusting of snow in October, which melted, we have been snow free until this weekend. Yesterday we set a record for snowfall on the 11th of November, but it was a sad little 5 inch record, although we did set a much more impressive record for the number of car accidents in a day. I believe that road maintenance should not be a faith based initiative; we shouldn't just hope that snow melts.

Yesterday I downloaded a Harley logo and altered it to look like this for the Hardly Davidsons. It's not anything much, and it may be illegal. Because it's pretty lo-res, if we did use it, it would have to be pretty small which is probably a good idea; we wouldn't want to offend another team like the Heck's Angels.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Before I Finished This Post I Remembered That It's Veteran's Day

This week I read two articles about blogging or three if you count the most true one which was actually a T-shirt at Despair.com that said "More People Have Read This T-shirt Than Your Blog" Despair.com now allows you to upload your own photos and turn them into posters, although I don't think they're real posters, but rather just little desktoppy things. Still it's kind of fun. Now that having fun has been completely outsourced to EA and the internet, I uploaded a picture of myself to Burger King a few months ago and they simpsonized it. Then I uploaded that picture to Despair.com and they posterized it. Here it is.
This sort of illustrates the tension between the two other articles I read. One said to update daily to keep the blog interesting, and the other one thought you should keep it interesting by only updating when you have something interesting to report. You can decide for yourself which course this (yawn) blog is taking.
Speaking of other things that aren't that interesting, what is up with evangelical leaders endorsing candidates? I get so irritated when people presume to trade on their faith to tell me how to vote. Here's a quote taken out of context and then redacted,
Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes His aid against the other... but let us judge not that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered; that of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has his own purposes... Fondly do we hope--fervently do we pray--that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue... as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether"

With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan--to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

High Wind Warning: Blowhard Blowing

I went for short ride after work today, hoping that Hurricane Bill might blow over before I got home, and it almost worked, he was still bloviating when I got here, but he's winding down now just sort of sputtering , "Rosie, bad."
I'm thinking false choice, false choice; just because Rosie O'Donnell is awful doesn't mean Bill O'Reilly
isn't a jerk.
Which brings up the fact that we've been watching a lot of TV lately. I was watching when Ellen had her complete dog meltdown. Sarah hadn't even heard about it, which I thought was kind of surprising given that even with all the other political and war news competing for our attention the Ellen story had been so big that it briefly drove Britney off the radar.
Part of my ride involved stopping at Costco. I noticed that along with all of their traditional decorations for celebrating the birth of Jesus; snowmen, reindeer, igloos; this year they also have penguins. Penguins, for Christmas? No wonder the Arabs hate us.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Never Again. And Again.

The other day, I meant to take a break from feeling sorry for myself, or at least from blogging about it. Though it's a hard habit to break, I'm going to try for at least this one post.
On Friday night, Karen and I went to hear Adrian Hong from Liberty in North Korea. He gave a woefully under-attended speech at the Anchorage Museum.
The entire nation of North Korea has become a post modern Auschwitz, an absurdist concentration camp. As always, though, others are complicit as well. Because North Korea's neighbors, particularly China, forcefully repatriate refugees in violation of human rights treaties that they have signed, fleeing North Korea often leads either to returning to a death sentence or being sold as slaves in Central Asia.
Now, I know that you never wrote to your congressperson about electronic tax returns (that's okay, I didn't either) but here's a link to a template of a letter that you can send to the Chinese embassy in Washington. The work of Amnesty International shows that attention from the outside world can have a real effect.
Whoa, whoa, come back here. You were about to leave without printing that letter weren't you? You send the letter, and I promise my next post will be just as snarky and self-indulgent as ever.

Monday, November 05, 2007

"Everything Empties Into White"

Do you remember in one of the Harry Potter books there was a scene in the room of requirement where it had been used over the centuries as storage for all the worthless things in the castle? Things that were too ugly, or too useless, to ever even have existed in the first place? Things that were bought for craft projects for babies that are now in school, or to cover couches that we haven't owned in years? Okay, fine, I lost the thread of that metaphor somewhere in there, although if you need thread, we have miles of it in our paradoxically named back bedroom (paradoxically named because it's the only bedroom in the front of the house).
The theory in biology that ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny that I was taught in school (by Darwin) has now been discredited, and it apparently has nothing to do with this post, but man, I understand why when my mother left this house for Seattle she wanted nothing but chrome and white, empty space.
Oh, bad news for someone; a particularly hideous object is "for our little girl."

Saturday, November 03, 2007

" Sure, a hundred-person choir gives you a choice of voices, but they're all singing the same song"~Ted Turner

There was a shooting yesterday in College Village, the neighborhood where I deliver mail. On the news that night, they said it was College Gate, a neighborhood about two miles east of there. One of the reasons it's so easy to distrust big media is that whenever you know something about a story they always have the details wrong. For example, when I was in a story a few years ago in the Anchorage Daily News, I looked like a pathetic geek.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

So Much For Japanese-Like Modesty

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a psychiatric anxiety disorder most commonly characterized by a subject's obsessive, distressing, intrusive thoughts and related compulsions (tasks or "rituals") which attempt to neutralize the obsessions.

So after performing this "task or 'ritual'" masquerading as a game at freerice.com seemingly forever and scoring 49, I posted a very discreet link to a screenshot of my high score. It seemed like a modest seeming way to solicit wild compliments on my, you know, vocabulary or whatever. I'm assuming no one noticed the link, because alternative theories for the lack of response make me kind of sad. Anyway, I'm abandoning any pretense of modesty now that I've reached the sartori-like state of 50.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Knock, Knock, Knockin' on Heaven's Door

Years ago we used to attend a church that made a big deal out of celebrating Reformation Day, not Halloween. As you probably know, this holiday commemorates Martin Luther's nailing his 95 theses to a church door in Wittenberg on October 31, 1517.
I was explaining this to my friend, Rich, back then and he said, "Well, no wonder they didn't answer the door, they thought it was trick or treaters."
By the way, do you still not believe in coincidences? As I was getting ready to type this post, Rich started knocking on our door.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Sympathy for the Devil

When we were out Saturday night, I noticed that the schools were having Halloween carnivals even though Halloween is tomorrow. I think that some people have lost sight of the true meaning of Halloween and that some Satan worshipers are just in it so they can wear costumes and eat candy.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Happy Birthday, Lather and Repeat

By yesterday, it was easy to tell that Karen grew up on a dairy farm by the way she milked her birthday.
On Wednesday we went to friends' house, on Friday, her actual birthday, we went to a new restaurant with the Johnsons, Saturday, Little Italy and yesterday, Henry's.
The new restaurant is called Suite 100. It's across the parking lot from Borders Books. I was slightly disappointed because... wait, let's back up a second.
On Wednesday, I'd called Mumbo Gumbo to order biscuits to take to the Seitz's house, but they had closed for that evening. On Saturday, we were going to eat at Mumbo Gumbo, but now they're only open Tuesday-Friday for dinner.
...I was slightly disappointed in Suite 100 because the review I had read had raved about their bread pudding. They use croissants instead of bread and I had hoped it could be my new favorite thing since the MG biscuits are getting harder and harder to get. It was okay, but besides the bread, they had replaced the raisins with chocolate chips. That's not what I call bread pudding. The rest of the meal was great. It was awfully busy, though and loud.
In case you aren't busy, here's a link from Sarah's blog that should basically suck the time right out of your day.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

If Death Had a Little Sister

The weather here has been hovering around the freezing mark. The sidewalks are either coated with ice, or ice with a thin film of water on top. Either way, it's treacherous.
I don't have the panache or bravado to do anything really death defying, but walking up the slippery driveways today was at least owie defying.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Lobotomy Update

Two updates, I guess if you count me telling you that the patient wrote the book himself about 40 years later, as an update.
I've put the lobotomy book down for a short break that's lasted a couple of days. I had just gotten to the part where he described the ice pick being inserted through his eye sockets and waved around when I thought of something else I had to do. Anything else, actually.

California's On Fire, Do You Have an Emergency Plan?

In about 18 months, our family will have lived in this house for 50 years. When our girls were little, their teachers told them that every family had to have a plan for emergencies. They needed to know how to get out of the house in case of fire, and to have a rallying point so we could all be accounted for. When Sarah asked what our plan was, I told her that since our house was so old, it was built before Anchorage had building codes. There was no sheetrock; all the walls were wood. Our plan was to die when the house burned to the ground in minutes. She wasn't reassured even though she was going to a Christian school.
Last night, I had occasion to think about an emergency plan for the city. There are two roads leaving Anchorage. One goes south to Tom Bodett's "End of the Road" in Homer. Their bumper sticker declares them, "A quaint drinking village with a fishing problem."
The other road, the Glenn Highway, goes north, and if you have gas, patience and a passport to get through Canada, you can arrive 5 days later in another state.
We went to dinner at friends' last night. According to google maps, it was a distance of 3.7 miles and should have taken 8 minutes, but because of an accident that reduced the Glenn to one lane, it took over an hour. This despite the fact that we weren't even on the highway; traffic trying to enter the highway backed up onto virtually every major street on the east side. It did give us time to listen to game 1 of the world series. I'm a Boston fan, but it was hard to listen to the Rockies being drubbed. I would have felt sorry for them if that part of my brain wasn't tied up feeling sorry for myself.
Anyway, I now realize that Anchorage's evacuation plan matches our family's. No wonder we feel at home here.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

How They See Me

I told one of my customers that I'm reading My Lobotomy, A Memoir. "Too bad," she said, "now you can't use that title for your autobiography."

It's That Time of Year Again

It's a couple of weeks later than average, but we got our first dusting of snow this morning. On a related topic (things that are frozen in October) here's a quote from today's Anchorage Daily News
The discovery Saturday came exactly three years to the day after the last time a body was found in an Anchorage freezer.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

What A Difference A Day Makes Part II or Biking Through Xanadu

After dinner last night, I rode my bike for the first time since Karen's accident. I rode along the Chester Creek bike trail in the dark.
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.

The creek, lit by the moon, filled with India ink, was
A savage place ! as holy and enchanted
As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover !
It was just below freezing as I sped along the creek and under the roads, past the warning signs, "Ice in Tunnel".

those caves of ice !
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware ! Beware !
His flashing eyes, his floating hair !
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.
A little too much? I guess, but I really enjoyed being back on a bike.

What A Difference A Day Makes

Yesterday I was bored with nothing to read. Today, The Atlantic Monthly's 150th Anniversary issue arrived along with two completely unexpected books from Title Wave, a movie and some light bulbs I bought on eBay. Also our friends from Homer, arrived to help take care of Karen so I can go back to work on Monday.
Such a surfeit, now there's some danger I'll be overstimulated. Here are the signs that my pediatrician says mean playtime is over and I need a break:
• Closing eyes
• Turning away
• Tensing up, arching her back
• Avoiding your gaze
• Irritability
It's like he was looking right at me when he made the list.

Friday, October 19, 2007

If You Want Something Done

It turns out that there's a reason I didn't go into one of the caring professions. I'm not very good at it. I've stayed home all this week to nurse Karen. There are long stretches with nothing going on. Or worse, Karen sleeps through one of her HGTV shows* and then the promise of DVR is turned on its head so instead of fast forwarding through bad TV we rewind it and watch it again. Karen's sleeping now and I'm bored. I've got nothing much to read. I had this idea. If I've finished all my books, why don't I write something amusing for myself to read. Flights of fancy, word play, the exact bon mot. It turns out though, that just wanting a flight of fancy doesn't get you a seat on the plane.
The good news is that an episode of Law and Order CI that I've only seen twice before is on.

*They're all the same show, people take an ugly space, spend some money to make it pretty for now so that in a few years when the Waste Makers change everything, they can do it again.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

More Medical Information That HIPAA Wouldn't Let Me Release

Okay, so Karen fell down and broke her arm lengthwise, but this is kind of vindication for her new doctor who said that tests revealed that she had a severe rickets-like vitamin D deficiency. She also said that north of Atlanta, there is not enough sunlight to make vitamin D from November to March. We live north of Atlanta year round, and I bet you do too. Are you getting enough Vitamin D3?
After my last post, I told Leah that Sarah had provided a link that let us know that the "unicorn" we'd seen wasn't a goat with a horn glued on, but a goat that had been surgically deformed to have a single horn. "But that's worse," she said.
Ha, who's the myth killing monster now, Stheno?

That's Not Funny, Even If They Call It Humerus

Last night at the Emergency Room, Leah was saying that the knot on Karen's head looked like a unicorn horn. She said that she had seen a unicorn once at the circus. I told her that Sarah had just been to the circus and blogged about how I had ruined it for her when she was a little girl by telling her, "That's not a unicorn, that's a goat with a horn glued on."
"What, that wasn't a unicorn?", Leah said, "Why are you always doing that?"
It turned out, though that the doctors weren't that impressed with the knot on Karen's head, but the fact that she broke her arm right below the shoulder caught their attention. Who knew that walking a dog could be so dangerous?

Monday, October 15, 2007

So Easy, I Didn't Even Do It

A paradoxical consequence of getting a new bike this summer was that I rode less after work. In the past I would often take a short ride before coming home. This summer, I continued to commute on my old bike. Each day, I would imagine that I would come straight home, change clothes so that I didn't have to ride in my mailman costume, and head out on my sporty new bike. In fact, as anyone might have predicted, I rode straight home, changed clothes into something appropriate for watching TV and then ate dinner. That pesky law of unintended consequences.

Now, however, it's icy in the mornings and the trail is covered with leaves, so I know I won't be taking my new bike out. Especially since the tires are inflated like a foil fish balloon at 35,000 feet*. So, today, I took my old ride through Russian Jack Park on my old bike. Riding my new bike was like driving a sports car. Fine, it's a mid-level Novarra, so it's like driving a Suzuki sports car, but still, riding my wide, knobby studded tires on my much heavier Cannondale was like dragging a sports car, maybe a Hyundai Tiburon. I was glad enough to have the studs on the slippery wet leaves, but they don't do much good when the surface they're digging into isn't attached to anything. This is exactly why you shouldn't build your house on the sand.

*An experience our family has been through, but feel free to make it your new overinflationary catch phrase if you want to.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Vox Populi, Vox Dei, But This Post Doesn't Even Make Sense

A neighborhood church just put up a steeple. Presumably to hide a cell tower so that people can talk to each other. God is light. Apparently in the 700 MHz range.

We're Not the Daily Kos

This hasn't been a particularly political blog because our mandate has been to report on things that irritate or amuse me. Politics is irritating, but I don't think about it as much as, say, the MoveOn people. By the way, isn't it ironic that they're such a case of arrested development?
I mean I have opinions; I still think Al Gore is a pompous twit, even though he is now a Nobel Peace Laureate just like that other great peacemaker and hijacker, Yasser Arafat.
But, I listened to an interview with Ron Paul, and why aren't we supporting him?

Friday, October 12, 2007

And Why is There Never Order in the Court of Public Opinion?

I get that things happen that we didn't plan on. For example, apparently bike helmets attract cars, but does there really have to be a law of unintended consequences? Couldn't it just be like a suggestion and then we make up our own minds?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Now For Something Completely Different

There was an odd little man at the small group we went to tonight and for once it wasn't me.

Enemy of the State Secret

Yesterday the Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal of a German man who was picked up by the CIA in Macedonia, taken to Afghanistan, tortured and then dropped off in remotest Albania. Oops, mistaken identity. He wanted some compensation and an apology. He had lost in lower courts because our government said if the trial went forward they would have to reveal state secrets.
You watch, eventually it will come out that the state secret they would have to reveal is that they are transporting people around the world to be tortured.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Tragically Hip*

Our cat has liver cancer, actually based on relative sizes, our cat's cancer has a liver.
I was going to post something about that earlier, but I hadn't told Sarah and I've learned to my chagrin that the internet is a terrible place to store secrets.
I've learned so much to my chagrin that I'm thinking of putting it on staff.

*Because Tragically Hip is a band that recorded a song called Chagrin Falls.

Monday, October 08, 2007

It's a Blessing; It's a Curse

Back in 1973 all of us Governor's Youth Interns got some trophy that commemorated the special quality we brought to the program. Oh wait, did I ever tell you that I was a Governor's Youth Intern? This was when it still seemed I might have a future, although it might be telling that all the little interns that went on to important careers got trophies for their genius qualities and I got "Most Humorous".
Now, I'm a bitter curmudgeon that likes nothing more than to be left alone with a good book. It's a sad confession that it's usually not the Good Book either. But that whole "Oh, he's so funny" thing continues to haunt me. Our church is having small groups discussing The God Questions. The leader is going to be out of town and his wife asked me to help her lead the discussion. "Why?", I said, "You know I'm not really any good at that sort of thing." "I just like your sense humor," she said. Another fine mess it's gotten me into.

Last night, emboldened by fixing that squeal on my road bike, I switched my mountain bike tires over to studs. Although it appears that I switched the tires successfully, it's ironic that I got the confidence to do it because I fixed a squeal that I now realize I caused by overinflating the road bike's tires like Donald Duck did to that car in Kids is Kids.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Oh, And Another Thing That I'm Irritated About

Have our politics become so trivial that now we are discussing whether Obama wears a flag pin? In case you're not following this debate, the answer is yes.
It's possible to agree or disagree with him (I do both), but are we so ovine that we'll decide who should be our next president based on pins? Not how to extricate ourselves from Iraq, or okay, this rant is getting pretty predictable, but pins?!
People get the officials they deserve; apparently we deserve officials that wear pins (and probably play with stickers).

Clarification and Then Something Else That I Now Realize Only Interests Me. Luckily, It's My Blog.

Every three months the Alaska District Manager of the Postal Service sends us a letter reminding us of the policy regarding sexual harassment. We're against it. Well, of course, sexual harassment is evil and we're against it. What's galling, or infuriating, whichever one means the most irritating, is that these letters began arriving after a supervisor asked a female letter carrier to give him a lap dance. According to our policy, he should have been disciplined, perhaps even fired. Not promoted. So yeah, I don't appreciate getting these frequent reminders.
Just as it's infuriating, or perhaps galling, that the manager of the all the stations, besides being a moron, shoved a clerk down without consequences.

Yesterday I started to ride over to the library, but my bike began making a rubbing sound. As I tried to figure out what was causing the noise, it got louder and louder, becoming finally more of a squeal. Tonight, I took the brake off, removed a bracket, put the brake back together and rode to the library. I know, that's not very interesting, unless, you realize how proud that makes me given the fact that I not only took the brake off, but also put it back on, and could still ride, and stop the bike.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Potter Postscript

After our ride last night along Potter's Marsh, Rich and I went to Mumbo Gumbo to check out rumors that it had finally closed. Like early reports of Mark Twain's death, these reports were premature. I watched Rich eat his first meal there. Pamela, the owner came out and asked why I wasn't eating. I explained that her biscuits were so powerfully addicting that if I let myself get started with them without the proper safeguards in place I would end up in a gutter with crumbs dribbling off my chin.
The takeaway, or rather, takeout message is Mumbo Gumbo lives and if you live in or near Anchorage, I urge you to support your local Gullah restaurant.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

At the Corner of 154th Avenue and Eternity

Generally I prefer bike rides that take longer to accomplish than the drive to them. This ride, though, was too beautiful for words. I don't completely get that, either. We all pretty much have access to the same vocabulary, but I am completely flummoxed.
I could throw some words at you, blue skies, yellow leaves, white swans, gunmetal colored water, snow covered mountains, but how to convey the feeling of speed, the light, the freedom? I think words alone can't do it, it would take music. Cue the Vivaldi. Why, I wonder, does an experience like that cause such a feeling of loss, even while you're enjoying it. When the Pevensies got a glimpse of the mountains beyond Narnia, well here, let Lucy tell it.
Lucy could only say, "It would break your heart." "Why," said I, "was it so sad? "Sad!! No," said Lucy.

Or Solomon,
"He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end."


Whatever, speaking of things that might not be eternal, but have lasted a really long time, I got called up to the front of our little postal stand-up today and the Anchorage postmaster gave me a letter from the Alaska District Manager commending me on my 30 years with the Postal Service. It was accompanied by a pin and a brand new coat with a patch that says 30 years with the Postal Service. To keep things in perspective, though, when I got my mail today I had another letter from the Alaska District Manager reminding me not to be a sexual harasser.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Psycho is for Kids

I'm about 15 minutes into Away From Her, and my pulse is pounding and I can barely breathe. This is, so far at least, the scariest and most depressing movie I've ever seen.

Vain Repetition

You'd think I would take Matthew 6:7 to heart and stop writing about this, but if you did think that, then you never really knew me at all. I just wonder if you're singing a song and you have to repeat "I am a friend of God." 16 times in a row, who are you trying to convince?

I did feel bad in church yesterday that I started taking notes like Clive Barnes or somebody, instead of absorbing the message of the music and spoken word. But honestly, if God is telling you specific things like don't go surfing, or call your mom, why is your life so screwed up? I mean my life is no particular advertisement for faith or even works but I don't go around telling people that when I had God over for coffee last night he told me to sell Amway or something.
Hmm, so I started this post this morning, and while at work, I realized once again, that self-righteous screed notwithstanding, the song I should be singing is that old spiritual
"It's me Lord, it's me, standing in the need of prayer."
Now, here's an ungainly transition, but it's tough to dance gracefully with these big robot feet.
Speaking of humanity, did I mention that the last vestiges of it have been removed from our workplace? When we got our new scanners a couple of weeks ago, we were given bar codes to stick to our ID badges, now when we come to work in the morning we scan ourselves like the prisoners in Alien 3.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Sort of Like "I Went to a Fight and a Hockey Game Broke Out"

I was out visiting today, although if pressed, I would give people their mail. I was talking to the mother of the young man who starred in a recent post. Apparently inadvertent eye contact runs in the family. To be fair, she would have had trouble avoiding eye contact since I was like, "I see you in there."
She said that her son wanted the URL of this blog. I was sort of embarrassed. I told her that it was kind of puerile. Then I realized how irritating it was that I know words like puerile (also penultimate) and when I blog, it still is puerile. Wow, there's a post right there. This thing practically writes itself. I was hoping, though, that it wouldn't be so obvious.

Friday, September 28, 2007

More Stories With the Word "Dog" in Them

Part I
They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks, and maybe they're right. I was too embarrassed to tell you last night, but as I rode up our driveway, I couldn't unclip and once again, I fell right over. Since today I felt a dog motif developing, I thought I 'd have to mention it. They also say things are as easy as falling off a bike, and boy howdy, that's pretty easy.
Part II
A story we tell in our family has my Uncle Art saying to me when I was about three, "You know you love me, David." and me responding, "Then why am I kicking you?"
I have a little dog on my route that barks and barks at me when he's in the house, but he's always been friendly when he's out. Today, he was out on a walk with his owner. He was barking and barking at me, but I walked over to him and said, "You know you love me, Theo." and he jumped up and bit me.
In a way it was a relief. I knew I'd probably get a post out of it.To paraphrase the GEICO gecko, you have no idea the pressure I feel to get these posts out.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

I'm Not the First Person to Notice This, But It's True

I'm watching an old (the only kind, as it happens) episode of Naked City. There's a robber running amok killing policemen after killing the people he was robbing. And he's wearing a tie. Criminals back then were just classier.

Just Like the Laffer Curve Doesn't Make You Laugh

When I got my new bike this summer, I spent more time picking out the bell than I did the bike itself. I wanted it to be friendly, but to let people know there was a bike coming up behind them. Tonight as I was riding along the trail, some people didn't move over, but as I passed them, I heard them say "bell curve". Man I know where they'd be on a bell curve.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

I Bet He Learned His Lesson; I Learned One Too.

An unwary young bicyclist rode by me today, not wearing a helmet. He inadvertently made eye contact and I asked why he wasn't down in Seattle going to school. He told me that he had temporarily left school and gone to work on an oil rig. I gave him my standard lecture about dropping out of school. It's a variation of the whole Road Not Taken thing, you know,
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I showed him the symbol of my servitude the scanner that I must use so I can be tracked and he was horrified. Having shown him the scanner I remembered as I sometimes do, that I had work to do, so I told him that I was sorry; he probably wasn't looking to be lectured by his mailman. He hastened to assuage my concern, "No, I loved hearing your pearls of wisdom. I even used to ride the bus in Seattle so I could get pearls of wisdom from homeless people."
Nice to know how I'm perceived by my customers.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Who Knew That the Recipe For Healthy Life Involved Grinding Up a Pig's Glands? And Can I Get Seconds?

Karen went to see a new doctor today. She was young and idealistic and spent over an hour listening to and observing Karen. She talked about Karen's constellation of symptoms which really makes them sound prettier than they are.
She seemed to imply that the most disabling, and frankly, most irritating symptoms Karen has might not be specifically caused by her CRPS. Now, Karen has long complained that doctors don't listen to her. This new doctor seemed to imply that if her other doctor's had even looked up from their magazines they might have noticed that although her tests results did barely stay within normal values, she presented clinically as a textbook case of severe hypothyroidism. To illustrate this point she got a textbook and showed us before and after pictures of hypothyroid patients. For years I've said that Karen was a sub-thyroid, but I was just being mean. See, there's a grain of truth in humor.
The life altering medicines she prescribed came to $4.99. It sounds too good to be true that for $5.00 a month we could clear up the symptoms that have made Karen's life (and everyone's * around her) so hard. We'll see.
*The spell check suggests that "everyone's" is wrong and recommends Efrain's. I want to know who Efrain is and what he's doing with my wife.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

If Conrad Hilton Had An Auction For PBS

Can something be true and deep and trite? Some of you have heard me say (over and over) that things become trite because they are repeated so often.
At church today they sang songs with generic melodies; it was hard to tell when one song ended and another began. The verses weren't particularly objectionable, expressing as they did, the laudable goals of surrendering to God and that He was worthy of that surrender. But, they weren't particularly inspiring as such things go, and they were repeated about a million times each. Mentally, I checked out early and often.
And then a skit.
But then, a sermon about how to reach your fellow humans with the good news about Jesus. They even suggested writing down the name of one particular human that you were concerned about.
That was probably a good idea, because if you take the mass of humanity it's hard to care about each of them. Especially the large mass of humanity that was shopping at Fred Meyer's today. I mean, come on, who counts out 87¢ in the express line? Like the bumper sticker says, "Jesus loves you, the rest of us think you're a jerk."
Additional reading:
Here are some lyrics that put a lot of theology into each verse, and they rhyme.
Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature's night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray,

My chains fell off, my heart was free;
I rose went forth, and followed thee.

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in him, is mine!
Alive in him, my living head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,

Bold I approach the eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through
Christ my own.

Here's some more, with a link to a quick summary of the prophetic verses alluded to in the entire song.
O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

This Space Formerly Occupied by One of the Worst Posts Ever.

That's not to say I've got really high hopes for this one either. We've been enjoying (that's right, you heard me, enjoying) crisp clear weather. Hmm, see in the former post, that phrase led into something stupid, but here, it doesn't go anywhere at all.
In spite of what you just read, I thought it might go somewhere, but I've been typing and deleting for a while now, wait, Karen just came in on a Viagra commercial and started talking about priapism. I told her that her parents told me that one of their friends that died of cancer had that. She couldn't believe they'd say that, "How did that come up?"
Too risqué? Sorry.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Six Degrees of Separation

After the last post, there was some talk that I normally don't get confused with Mike Dukakis, but rather with Christopher Lowell. To illustrate this, Sarah began sending out that picture of him. I was talking to her on the phone, and explaining how I don't do that with my hands, but as I described what I do do with my hands I realized that's exactly what I do.
At the State Fair, a stranger told me I looked exactly like Miguel Ferrer. I patiently explained (waving my hands a little) that no, I look like Christopher Lowell. She said, "I don't know who that is, but you look like the boss on Crossing Jordan."
While we were talking, Sarah and I went to the same site, and sure enough, I do look a little like Miguel Ferrer. I think the common denominator is that we're three bald men with beards. Since Rosemary Clooney was Miguel Ferrer's mother, and using the six degrees methodology, I'm practically George Clooney. I can sort of see the resemblance now myself.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Today, Giddy Not Witty

At one point today, I said right out loud, "I'm glad to be alive, and, I'm happy to live in Alaska." I know, it's as if someone has hijacked the blog, but that's not it. Today we drove down the Seward Highway to the perfectly named Hope Highway where we parked. We asked a tourist from a bus to take our picture so you could be jealous of us. From left to right are a bunch of people you probably don't know. I'm not smiling in this picture because I've learned that for some reason, when I wear a bike helmet and smile I look like the illegitimate spawn of Mike Dukakis and Alfred E. Neuman. The road runs down the other side of Turnagain Arm from where I rode with the Fed-Ex team a couple of weeks ago to the small town of Hope. Here's a shot of me looking back across Turnagain Arm. Well, obviously I'm not looking across Turnagain Arm, but the shot is. To summarize here, the weather was cool and clear, the scenery was breathtaking, the other riders were excellent company and the length and topography of the route made for physical exertion that was demanding but oh, so rewarding. Seriously, who is typing this, Endorphin Boy?
The day had gotten off to a somewhat inauspicious start. The cat woke me up at 4am and it seemingly took forever to fall back asleep. When I did, I dreamed that I forgotten stuff and had to go back over and over eventually missing the ride altogether. Luckily dreams go by opposites almost. In real life, I made a weight watchers-friendly lunch and snack. I was sort of disappointed to realize that I left it home. I made the best of a bad situation; I had a bacon cheeseburger instead.


Friday, September 14, 2007

Another Bonus Post

I'm sitting here watching Meerkat Manor and a commercial for Crest White Strips came on. They said that your time is precious; use it wisely. Now that's just mean.

Random Thoughts in Search of a Post

The future has let me down again. Besides the no flying cars, the promise of easily accessible information has proven to be a hoax. Right here I was going to type (and in fact, I still am) "This morning 'the sky rolled back like a scroll' to reveal snow on the mountains."
I was going to add a link to the lyrics of the song "Are You Ready" in case you didn't get the reference to a song on an album that's been out of print, or whatever vinyl albums are out of when they're not available, since the early 70's but, alas, it was not to be. I could find a track listing, and even the album art, which brought back a lot of memories from about 1973. Ugly clothes played a large part in these memories, but as I typed that I realized I met Karen on my birthday in 1973, so that was fun, although I bet I was wearing something ugly.
I heard the phrase, "Alas, it was not to be." about 40 years ago when an Israeli diplomat was speaking in Anchorage. She said that they had paid for planes from France, and expected delivery, "But alas, it was not to be." I don't know why, but the phrase stuck in my mind and I've been saying it ever since. A lot. I used to say, "What better sauce than a good appetite?" until my friend Bob, who introduced me to Karen in the paragraph above, threatened me if I didn't stop.
To paraphrase Jack Handy, would we be so quick to kill time if it screamed? Maybe, if it always screamed for no good reason. I mention this because my supervisor told me they wouldn't need my help after I finished my route. I started the day, then, with time on my hands. By the end of the day, I had killed so much time that I felt like I had blood on my hands.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Don't Forget to Change the Date on Your Checks

Happy New Year
Can you believe it's 5768 already? Where does the time go?
I had really hoped for a little better post today, but all of my energies have been spent getting to Level 31 in a game called Eight Letters in Search of a Word. I've tried to make it up to you by making some letters bigger and bluer.
Moments after typing that, I went back to the game only to discover that while I was gone it had reset to zero. You might think that would inspire a post, but no, apparently not.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Can Self-Fulfilling Prophecies Be Wrong?

I heard a song today that said that
"Smilers never lose and
Frowners never win"
It was so preposterous that it made me smile.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Bonus Post

Apparently as the polar ice cap melts because of climate change caused by burning fossil fuels, nations are racing to drill for oil in locations previously inaccessible because of the ice. To me this is the same as sending diabetics to work in a cane field so they can inject syrup.

Excelsior

If I understand it (a phrase that in this blog is always followed by the disclaimer, "and I don't") excelsior is a word coined by those wacky neologists of the 18th century, at least when it is used as an exclamation.
It sprang unbidden from my lips Saturday afternoon when, at last the hot water heater was finally installed. It took much longer than it should have mostly because the attempt to save time by not replacing the faucet meant doing everything twice including going to Home Depot for the ferrules. It also took a little extra time to find out which part was leaking when I had Karen turn it on, because down where I was, the water came out with the force of a fire hose and then bounced off all the obstacles under the sink, which were mostly my face and glasses, obscuring the source, which unsurprisingly was the the part I had taken apart since I wasn't replacing the faucet and put back together, sort of, when I was.
One thing I realized while I was laying half in and half out of the cabinet for two days is that Pilates is for weaklings and mama's boys. If you want to really feel the burn, lose the soft girly ball and balance your arched back across a wooden right angle. Water dripping down your arm and into your eyes and armpits can enhance the process in a way that has been declared legal but aggressive by the Justice Department.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Quotes I Started Writing Down While Watching Mozart and the Whale

You're missing my point. No I'm not, I just never know what to say.
sad but credible
primes are hot
she said a lot of beautiful things, the fact that she didn't mean them only makes them nicer
Are you trying to get yourself killed? Maybe later.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Later That Same Day, Carpe Noctem

I decided to change the faucet after all. I did it in a trice, with a hacksaw.
It didn't seem to make much difference. The stalactites continue to descend. Or ascend, whichever it is, they're making it hard to put things away. Tomorrow morning I'm going to start again, after I have a cold cup of coffee.

Caveat Lector, That Is, I've Found a Web Site Full of Latin Phrases

I've spent most of this morning spelunking under the kitchen sink. Our instant hot water heater failed recently, and I've been working on replacing it. To save time, I'm only replacing the tank, and not the faucet. I should say in the attempt to save time because, of course, there are always complications. I had two compression nuts in the basement. I have no idea where they came from, or what happened to the first one I brought upstairs this morning. I also don't know why I would have bought them (if I even did, and they didn't come with the house) without the little thingy they compress against. I went to Home Depot. To be clear here, I don't really know the difference between copper, plastic or even Will ferrules. I chose copper for $1.13, but I think an assortment of various types; copper, plastic, wood, mithril, mist might have been better. We can be pretty sure that copper was wrong. So, another trip to Home Depot, another trip into the dripping cavern and so on ad nauseum. In the meantime, I have discovered, or as I think more likely, caused, a new leak from the hot water line to the faucet. This is a lot of bother to shave 45 seconds off the time it takes to make instant coffee

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

2 Random

On the other screen, I just started a crossword puzzle. The first word fit, but just barely.

I had a pleasant thought today; it's getting less and less likely that any diagnosis I receive from here on out is going to include the phrase "early onset".

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Almost Killed With Kindness.

Today I did ride with the FedEx team from Indian to the lodge at Alyeska. It was about 35 miles round trip on a trail along Turnagain Arm*. They were very welcoming. It turns out that being better armed isn't as big a deal as being better legged, or maybe better biked. As I was flying up a hill, one of the other riders caught up with me and said, "I couldn't figure out how you could hit it so hard with that bike, but then I saw your legs." I wish that hadn't been the exact moment that I began to faint. I was wearing two layers so I pulled over and took off one t-shirt, splashed some water over my head and waited for it to pass. While it passed, pretty much everybody else on the trail did too. After that, though, the pressure was off, and I had a lovely ride, and I didn't finish quite last, so a grand day all around.
And then, Karen made a 2001, A Space Odyssey reference. Talking about Blue Cross's denial of her prescription, she said, "It's like dealing with HAL." After all these years she can still surprise me.

*I didn't take this picture, but this is right where we were riding.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

September 1st, It's Not Exactly Christmas Is It?

Today was a gray letter day so I came home and took a nap. I actually fell asleep which isn't always that easy. You can't just will yourself to sleep no matter how fiercely you try. Here's a corollary for you; no matter how much you want your child to fall asleep, you can't yell a lullaby.

Tomorrow there is a training ride for the FedEx team that is riding the MS Ride next weekend. I may go along and show them what USPS riders are made of. I hope they don't laugh. I bet they don't. I was just looking at a web site that purports to have the top 10 rejected slogans for USPS. Number 3 was, "Better armed than FedEx.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Clothing For John Q In This Episode Provided By Cruella

I noticed on my little retirement countdown counter that if I bought a dalmatian every week, starting today, then when I retired I'd have way too many dogs. I can retire in 101 weeks from today. But in the meantime, I'm spending my free time working the phone.
Last night I called Caremark, our pharmacy benefit manager. I talked to a young man named Tom, who I would guess spends his free time studying for the GED. They've had a prescription for Karen for two weeks, but say that the doctor has to call Blue Cross before they can fill it. Notwithstanding the fact that the doctor called them on Friday. If I have any other questions, I need to talk to Blue Cross.
So today at lunch I called Blue Cross. Their first response was to tell me that I needed to talk to Caremark. A little research, however, revealed that there is a shadowy group known as the Prior Approval Cabal. They have already denied the prescription because it's similar to another one that was filled recently. Apparently the judgment of people who graduated from high school (maybe) can be substituted for actual doctors. So we're currently stuck in some pharmacological limbo, awaiting the Reformation of the health care system. Hopefully in the next few weeks before Karen runs out of her medicine.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

I Almost Had a Camera This Time

I went on a long ride today with the touring division of the Arctic Bicycle Club. I intended this to be a short post. I was going to illustrate why it would be short by searching within The Hobbit for a quote about how hard it is to make anything interesting out of something that's really fun and beautiful. Once again, however Amazon has let me down.
So instead of quoting somebody insightful, let me just say, blue sky, sun glinting on Turnagain Arm, the Club in a line, undulating through curves, and endorphins flowing like wine.
There was a near tragedy, when one woman's bike slid out from under her on some leaves on the trail (fall is just beginning here, and will be ending in a couple of hours probably). Tragedy was averted when the rider right behind her was able avoid running over her. She was injured, but was able to walk a few blocks to a parking lot where her husband retrieved her.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Why Is There Always Money For Bubble Shields and Plasma Turrets, But Not For Love?

Monday was perfectly funereal. It was dark, rainy and Karen went to a funeral. It's kind of hard to be flip about funerals. Actually, of course, it's easy, but I don't want to this to be that kind of blog.
Last night was lovely, though. I went for a short ride. It was a short ride because I'm still a little tentative about clipless pedals and the bike trail was full of people walking, walking their dogs, pushing strollers, and even riding bikes. It was harrowing, so I turned around at Westchester Lagoon and rode towards home. Just before the duck pond I met a classmate of Sarah's from Sonrise who was skiing or whatever it's called when you have short wheeled ski-like devices attached to your feet.
We ended up talking for quite awhile. She had been to the same funeral as Karen. The lady that died had looked at her cancer as a sort of blessing because it gave her a chance to tell doctors and nurses and whoever about Jesus. What a contrast with so many of us who look at even a hang nail as a chance to complain. Well, especially those really bad hang nails that sort of start to tear. Man, I hate those.
She, Sarah's classmate, has just finished school and starts a job in her field on Monday. She's ready to start looking for a steady boy, but there don't seem to be any. She asked me if I knew any nice boys. "No, they're all playing video games, as far as I know,"
It turns out, according to Wired Magazine *that, as far as video games go, women, living women, at least are competing with Microsoft. Well, duh, but, Microsoft is really playing hardball. No, wait, that's Electronic Arts.

*here's a highlight from the article:
...because it is owned by Microsoft, which launches dozens of Xbox and PC games every year, Bungie has access to one of the most advanced game-testing facilities ever built. Pagulayan and his team have now analyzed more than 3,000 hours of Halo 3 played by some 600 everyday gamers, tracking everything from favored weapons to how and where — down to the square foot — players most frequently get killed.
Bungie doesn't just test its own games this way. It also buys copies of rival titles and studies those, too, to see how Halo matches up. "I've never seen anything like it," says Ian Bogost, a professor of digital media at Georgia Tech, who toured the testing lab in the fall. "The system they've got is insane."
It might seem like an awfully clinical approach to creating an epic space-war adventure. But Bungie's designers aren't just making a game: They're trying to divine the golden mean of fun. They need to create an experience that is challenging enough to thrill the 15 million existing hardcore fans of Halo — yet appealing enough to lure in millions of new players.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Shout Out to a Long Time Reader

I bet you thought we were done with the whole college topic. I know, I did too.
But while waiting at the dentist's* for Karen to finish up, I saw that Newsweek has named Smith the hottest women's college in America. How cool are you, Megz?!

*The hygienist told me I was doing a great job. I said, as I often do when praised, even for something as mundane as flossing, "That's going in the blog."

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Me and Mark Twain Have the Same Tailor

I had a chance to be the Voice of the Employee today, but I passed. If I'm going to be crying in the wilderness, I'd like there to be some point to it. It did give me a chance to listen to my supervisor for awhile as he explained the procedure. Sometimes he came so close to using the right word that I almost flinched.
As Mark Twain said*, "The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is the difference between the lightning and the lightning-bug,"
Oh, I was thinking of Mark Twain the other day when I took that ride out to Eagle River. I was wearing my leotard/bike pants. When the narrator in the Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court jousted, he wore that "simplest and comfortablest of gymnasts costumes... tights," although he had little blue silk puffings about his loins.
Later he had bicycles built and 500 mailed and belted knights rescued King Arthur. I was on a bicycle and I deliver mail! Coincidence?
*Unless it was Lincoln or FDR who together with Twain make up the triumvirate of quotable Americans. Playing second fiddle to their trio is Ambrose Bierce and on kazoo: Yogi Berra.

Pensive? No, Reflective.

It looks like I'm going to have to start wearing my Amphipod vest again to ride to work.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

A Ride Where I Was Second to None. None Was A Lot Faster Than I Expected.

Last night I girded my loins and went for a longish bicycle ride. I went out to the middle of the bridge over Eagle River. It was lovely, beautiful, exhilarating.*
On Friday we watched Meerkat Manor for the first time. It was very similar to Big Brother which we also watch except that the contestants are cuter, didn't lie as much and the prize is to not be eaten by the other players.
Right now, we're getting ready to go up past Palmer to visit our friend Art. He moved to Seattle recently, but he's back for a few days. We're going to his cabin. Obviously, I'm not getting ready; I'm just typing any random thought that comes into my head. Karen is having sort of a rough morning. She said she wasn't sure what was going to happen, but she was going to try taking a shower. I told her to knock herself out, but she didn't think it was funny.

*Did I ever tell you about my father? He was a superlative salesman. I'm embarrassed to tell you how much he got from Best Buy.

Friday, August 17, 2007

What If We Agreed That Not Every Post Needs a Title

I know I've whined excessively about what a failure I am and how it began with dropping out of school. Partly it's because it's true, and partly, I imagine because of the generic zoloft. Last night I decided the problem I was having wasn't that I was short of breath, it's that I was worried about being short of breath. I decided to look for brand Zoloft. I rooted around in the cupboard like an addict looking for his fix. Well, I don't know about "like" an addict, but anyway I found some and took it.
Bingo! This morning I was short of breath and realized I've been short of breath for years, forever really. My doctor (who has moved again!) was right 20 years ago; it's tension, tension that's been relieved for the last few years by the zoloft. Now, I need to figure out how to get real zoloft when I just got a 90 day supply of generic that's probably really lead coated sugar from China.
Anyway, to get back to the original topic of this post, I'm a college drop-out failure. Big deal. I'm not the college drop-out that's on the cover of the September Atlantic Monthly under the heading, "Lessons of a Failed Presidency". That's auto-didact Karl Rove. If only he had embraced failure as a youth. Together they could have had a life of quiet desperation, but no. Like a spurned love, failure waited for him biding its time until vaulting ambition became a mouthful of ashes. Like it always does.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Leave Me Breathless

I've been feeling short of breath lately. Karen wants me to see my doctor about it. I told her that I already did and he told me it was nothing to worry about. Admittedly it was about 20 years ago, but it was the kind of undemanding advice I like.
I would like to not be short of breath. Okay, if I had said that instead of typing it, it would have been a complete waste of breath, but besides not wanting to be short of breath ever, I specifically don't want to be short of breath while I get ready for a Tour of Anchorage bike ride that's in a couple of weeks.
It probably worked out for the best that I ditched the MS Ride. Our little group didn't want to organize a team so they've joined the FedEx riders.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Consider the Ant

Yesterday morning I was off, so I went for only the second bike ride I've gone on this month. The first was the night before. Both rides, though not that long, left me exhausted. I had never felt older. Of course, I never had been. Until now. Not that it matters particularly. I've decided to skip the MS Ride next month. I can't really justify the expense. Maybe I'll just go out to the garage that day and sit in my brand new antique chair.
Today, it rained and the weather matched my mood which spanned the spectrum from gray to blue. I'm not really asking you to feel sorry for me. If you want a job done right, do it yourself, and I've got this one covered.
I've been reading Piano Lessons. The author interviewed Tori Amos. She described her piano as her best friend. She loves just being alone at the keyboard. As I'm noodling away here at my keyboard, I can't help thinking, "It's like I've got a twin!"
No, really, I can't. If I understand the latest science on emergence, and I don't, then complex systems arise from the interaction of simple rules. Ants are not intelligent, nor are they guided by leaders, but they create complicated and hugely successful societies. In the same way, our billions of neurons are not guided by a central "me" they are just firing away, although so far, nothing in my head has created a complicated and hugely successful society.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Dear Mr Proctor

This probably isn't an original idea, but why does red dye that bleeds into white clothes, not bleed right back out instead of acting like, you know, dye?

Friday, August 10, 2007

It's Better to Have Loved and Lost

Or at least it's a lot less likely to lead to a lifetime of buying other people's cast off furniture. That's all I'm going to say about that, at least until I think of something else.
Last week I was writing about my pump. I can report that those of you who believed in me and thought there were two pieces to the pump, were vindicated as were those of you that thought I was a dork. I took the entire pump into REI and showed them that the piece they sold me didn't fit into the opening. The REI guy showed me, how if you took out the "missing" piece that was jammed in incorrectly it would all fit just fine. He took the pump in back to consult with the technicians how it should go together. That's what he said, anyway. Leah (who works in retail) explained that he took it in back so all the technicians could have a laugh at my expense. No charge for that actually; he gave me back my dollar.

Limits on Noise Canceling Technology

My iPod speakers have noise canceling technology built in. I had them turned up loud enough to induce seizures this morning, and they still couldn't drown out the voice in my head. "Why, oh why," it kept repeating, "would my wife buy enough 'antique' furniture to fill the garage when we have no money or space?"
I am working overtime delivering mail in Mountain View (a former All American neighborhood, where the most recent shooting was one block from where I was delivering) to pay off a Visa bill that coincidentally is the same as my social security number* and we're spending money on broken down furniture that even its owner didn't want? After buying two recliners last weekend?
It's not just my collar that's blue today.

*I read a similar line in the National Lampoon back in the '70's so I know it's funny.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Two Aha Moments

I had two "Aha!" moments today. Actually, I had the same "Aha!" moment twice. Two different times today, I was chatting with my customers (and their brother in one case) when they said they had to go, and I looked down saw my uniform and realized "Whoa, I'm not a visitor here, I'm a mailman!"

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Part II: Reunion Indeed

Saturday I accompanied Jody to the Peanut Farm, a local bar, where part two of her reunion was held. People were moving and talking when we arrived, so it was much more welcoming than the night before. There was another man there that wasn't from the class of '67, so he and I started talking. He had worked for the Anchorage Times while it was still operating and also for Fred's Bail Bonds. He had fascinating stories about the intersection of news and bail bonds. His wife hadn't known about the reunion and he had surprised her. She was furious with him, and in tears because she hadn't put on makeup or dressed for the occasion. I was soothing and comforting, so much so that she asked if I was gay. "No," I simpered, "but I do have a Pomeranian."
Then I saw a woman that had been in my kindergarten class, taught by renowned Alaskan artist Joan Kickbush. She, Ann, not the renowned artist, had married a man from my sister's class at East. We had some catching up to do. That bald statement doesn't begin to convey how exciting it was to have someone walk out of my childhood from nearly 50 years ago. Hmm, neither did that one. Well, here's the thing, Saturday I was not only excited to see Ann, but about how fun and funny this blog post would be. Boy, are you as let down now as I am?
Sunday night we had a barbecue for my birthday. Jody and I stayed up until way after dark, and then last night she went home.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Reunion Report

We went to the Snow Goose, which is a former Elks lodge, where my sister's reunion was held. We entered the lobby and headed for the large room where there was a group of happy people wearing name tags. There was a waitress serving drinks and music in the air. As we approached the table by the door the woman handing out the name tags said, "Are you East?"
We smiled, "Yes,"
"This is West," she said, "East is upstairs,"
We went upstairs and found the room, or cell, really where the East reunion was being held. We'd arrived fashionably late, we thought, but it turned out that this was a sit down meal and they'd crammed three tables into a small closet with no room for latecomers. We would either be placed at the end of some random table or be the only people standing in a room stuffed full with the handful of people that had come. My sister asked me if I was ready to go, and I thought she meant that she'd seen her friends and didn't need me anymore, but no, she didn't want to be there any more either, so we slithered out and came home. What hurt the most wasn't that West's reunion looked so much cooler than East's but that the West people could so easily identify that we didn't belong.