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.