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October 2000


Sunday, 1 October 2000, 5:25 pm

It appears that, on weekends anyway, I'm going to get an afternoon nap whether I want one or not. I can't remember being this tired in years, and it's not like I've exactly overexerted myself today scrubbing a couple of toilet bowls, while it's not much fun, is not the sort of thing that leaves you exhausted. Unless, of course, you're scrubbing toilet bowls in a frat house.

Or maybe I was just tired after a prolonged squawk.

Monday, 2 October 2000, 6:15 pm

Once again, a blast of hot air from the Southwest. (No, this isn't a slam at George W. Bush.) Temperatures crept up into the middle 90s again, and the danger of wildfires has gone from high to preposterous to "Don't even wear corduroy pants". Remember when friction was our friend?

The Sex test at advises that, contrary to my ongoing beliefs, I will snag at least and, for that matter, at most one more partner in this lifetime. What's more, they say, this relationship will be liberally (so to speak) marbled with all that gooey emotional stuff I never seem to grasp. Then again, this same site predicted my demise by unspecified causes next August.

Tuesday, 3 October 2000, 5:30 pm

It would be hilarious if it weren't so disgraceful. Before the Supreme Court today, the city of Indianapolis, backed by the usual baying hounds from the Clinton administration, argued with a perfectly straight face that it was utterly reasonable to set up roadblocks around town so that their drug-sniffing dogs could stick their cold, wet noses into the business of random drivers.

Exactly one of the presidential candidates could be counted on to throw a cold, wet blanket on this kind of Constitutional abuse. Needless to say, he's not invited to the debate tonight.

And on an unrelated note, Modern Humorist suggests this spiffier brand name for Mifeprex, the drug formerly known as RU-486: "I Can't Believe It's Not Surgical". Don't look for ads during Ally McBeal any time soon.

Wednesday, 4 October 2000, 5:30 pm

"It's getting to the point," admitted Mr Stills, "where I'm no fun anymore." Of course, I don't have a Judy Blue Eyes of my own to nod knowingly at this sort of observation, but somewhere during the day's drudgery it occurred to me that the standard "get a life" advice is mostly meaningless to me; even when I had a life, I really needed to get a life. Then again, at my age, perhaps it's just as well. When lustful and loaded, I come off mostly as ludicrous.

One more day of sizzle, and then the Canadians will be happy to share some of their less-than-warm air. I'll be digging out the ice scraper by the weekend.

Thursday, 5 October 2000, 6:25 pm

Add to the list of Questions Unanswered the following: If a transcript is furnished, how can a quotation therefrom be "out of context"?

I am starting to get myself into a suitable frame of mind for giving up this flat and finding a free-standing shack of my own. The process will be long and torturous and expensive as what process isn't? To those who were asking "So why now, after all these years?" I have no real answer except that maybe it's time someone put a burr under my behind.

If you're visitor #40000, thanks for coming. And even if you're not.

Friday, 6 October 2000, 7:10 pm

How much would it cost to bribe 538 people? After the Vice-Presidential debate, I am more convinced than ever that both the Democratic and Republican tickets are bass-ackwards; Lieberman and Cheney ought to be the standard-bearers, rather than Tweedledum and Tweedledumber. Of course, the GOP has had a tendency for some time to favor easily-manipulable lightweights, and the Democrats aw, hell, who knows what goes through their minds? Only the Electoral College can save us now. Or a sudden epidemic of common sense among the electorate, in which case all four of the (ahem) Major Party Candidates will be sent home.

Okay, maybe the Electoral College is not for sale, but the Boston Red Sox can be bought. I do hope that whoever acquires the club has (1) a sense of humor and (2) the burning desire to avoid moving the franchise to some place like San Jose or Charlotte.

Saturday, 7 October 2000, 6:45 pm

There's a short story by Carol Shields (The Stone Diaries) called "Weather", in which there isn't any, because the meteorologists' union has gone on strike. So each day is pretty much like the last "a bland width of grayness with day after day of neither heat nor cold." Were it not for the ubiquitous Oklahoma wind, she could have been describing this weekend. There will be a touch of cold tonight, though we're expecting the first freeze of the season, and if we get it, it will be the second-earliest on record. (The earliest fall freeze, before you ask, was on the 7th of October, 1952; the average is the 4th of November.)

To my great delight, my standard fall jacket fits me slightly better this year than last, so apparently my small weight loss has been in an area that could stand to lose it.

Sunday, 8 October 2000, 3:40 pm

Well, the threatened freeze has been postponed 24 hours, and we wound up with a textbook-perfect late-November day, a mere six weeks early. The sky is some shade of blue that exists only up above, and the occasional clouds look like they were pulled out of God's own aspirin bottle. (No doubt we land-dwellers cause quite a bit of celestial headache.) There's a bit too much wind, but there's always a bit too much wind.

Finally, a new No comment today, in which Salon columnist Cintra Wilson explains the real function of pop music. My own contribution this week, alas, while it may be real, is not all that functional.

Monday, 9 October 2000, 6:35 pm

The journey to 42nd and Treadmill starts with scraping the ice off the windshield, a process that, at least for its relatively short duration, has few rivals for sheer drudgery. It is easier than carrying hod, but that's scarcely a recommendation.

Last week's Oklahoma Gazette, one of those "alternative" rags, had a nice feature on Normal Bikers, as distinguished from the usual stereotype. I'd give you a link to it, but the Gazette's "literally virtual" Web site reproduces only a few paragraphs of the story; for the rest of it, you'd have to get your own copy, which costs...well, zip, if you live around here. I guess it's of dire importance that we see all those ads for Painfully Average Restaurants and Semi-Artistic Plastic Surgeons in their natural habitat.

Tuesday, 10 October 2000, 6:30 pm

Frosty Troy of the Oklahoma Observer scores with this shot at an Oklahoma legislator:

"Republican Sen. Mike Fair of OKC is bidding for another term, but Democrat Herb Giles would be the better senator. Come to think of it, so would my dog."

Now you and I both know that there are some splendid public servants in the ranks of the GOP. Why the hell can't we get any of them in Oklahoma? Apart from Bob Anthony, lone voice of sanity on the Corporation Commission, which regulates utilities and whatnot, the most distinguishing characteristics of a Republican officeholder in Oklahoma are a level of sanctimony worthy of, say, a TV preacher, and a level of crassness worthy of, say, a TV preacher. The Democrats, petty, venal and insipid, look almost acceptable by comparison. I don't know about the rest of Soonerland, but here in Dustbury, I've had it up to here [gestures skyward] with the lesser of two evils.

Today's bank statement, along with the usual bad news, contained a complaint about customers whose checks don't contain the correct routing numbers (that first batch of MICR characters along the bottom). Apparently merged banks (and this one has gone through more changes than David Bowie) don't feel compelled to inform check printers of any new information other than the one with whom they have their sweetheart deal, of course.

Wednesday, 11 October 2000, 5:55 pm

JCPenney, trying to position themselves as Too Fashionable For Words, have at least staked a claim to Too Fashionable For Numbers. The new Penney's credit card, which arrived here just in time for me to make a run to Eckerd's now that's fashion has a front that is almost solid red (no, not a maroon), which contains a small JCP logo and a huge initial H, and nothing else. No cardholder name, no account number, no nothing. All that tedious identification stuff is on the back with the fine print. I suppose if you're going to swipe the card yourself through the terminal at the cash register, it doesn't matter a whole lot, but this definitely runs counter to the trend of putting the cardholder's actual photograph on the front. Maybe they suspect me of being a closet contrarian; I can say only, "What closet?"

Virginia Campbell, editor-in-chief of Movieline, reflecting on one article in her November issue:

"Doing an article about 'The Ten Most Intelligent Actors' not unlike doing a piece on 'The Ten Most Beautiful Physicists.'"

If Al Gore persists in acting like a common scold, he's done for. However dumb you may think George W. Bush is and while he's not exactly seething with clues, he's not Alfred E. Neuman either the public will not take kindly to seeing the kid dumped on for no reason.

Wednesday, 11 October 2000, 9:25 pm

Not that I needed a facelift on this page, but what the hell.

Thursday, 12 October 2000, 5:00 pm

Full moon and Friday the 13th coming up. Now that's ominous. Then again, the usual troublemakers in the Levant didn't bother to wait for it.

Apparently some prankster decided to put the IRC network EFnet up for bids on eBay; it was pulled quickly, but I have to wonder what the alleged "seller" was thinking.

Our congratulations to Governor Bush, for having studied foreign affairs, and to Vice-President Gore, for having studied etiquette. Let's see how much of this cramming actually sticks.

Thursday, 12 October 2000, 9:25 pm

"Anyway," he said, apparently still trying to conjure the shade of Ned Ludd, "there's nothing on the Web worth reading. And I don't mean just your shabby little site, either. I mean, it's all artifice and no art. I see the kind of stuff you read. You can't tell me that this is anything other than eye candy, with an occasional jalapeño. Show me one page just one lousy page that actually deals, first and foremost, with human feelings."

Exhibit A, bucko.

Friday, 13 October 2000, 5:40 pm

And the rain arrives, just in time for the weekend, but no matter; we're hard up for moisture in these parts, so to speak. It should let up some time Monday night, or Tuesday if I manage (as usual) to lose my umbrella.

If we've learned one thing in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing, it's that while high-tech threats get all the headlines, low-tech attacks do most of the damage.

The first comment on the redesigned front page was "What did you change?" I guess I must be doing something right.

Saturday, 14 October 2000, 5:10 pm

Received Wisdom at the supermarket today: "Do not, I repeat, do not, let a woman do your hair, girlfriend. They always have something in the back of their mind and they take it out on your head." This wasn't addressed to me; then again, while a woman does do my hair, it's not like she has a great deal to work with, regardless of what her agenda may be.

More useful, at least from my point of view, was the return of the "10 percent off all the frozen food you can stuff into this bag" promotion. If you can't get $60 worth in there for $54, you're not trying. (I didn't try that hard, and wound up with a mere $21.60 um, $19.44.)

Rolling Stone has weighed in with its official editorial endorsement of Al Gore, complete with the unbearable lightness of a Jann Wenner interview. I'm starting to think Wenner should turn the whole shebang over to Rob Sheffield Pop Eye is one of the few consistently readable items in RS these days and concentrate on Us. Fawning over celebrities, at least, has a precedent.

Sunday, 15 October 2000, 12:00 am

I still can't figure out what Equity Broadcasting, a group from Arkansas, is going to do with their TV facility on channel 30 (or their DT facility on channel 29). Right now, what visibility they have in the Okay City comes from a low-power station that carries the music-video programming of The Box; their Web site (warning: requires Shockwave Flash) mentions other stations in the general area, with a hint that they may ultimately be formed into some sort of statewide network, but there's no mention at all of KQOK, the call letters assigned to their channel 30 facility, despite the fact that KQOK, unlike their smaller properties, packs a 5-megawatt punch and presumably will reach a lot farther than their Box station, which I can barely receive halfway across the county.

Sunday, 15 October 2000, 3:10 pm

After a mere fifty-one weeks of procrastination geez, is that Godot coming over the horizon? I have finally gotten around to updating the various Stillsane pages. About 60 people a month wander over here looking for Carolyne Mas information (up from two or three when I started Stillsane in 1996), and I do hope they're happy with the new material.

I caught a Honda Odyssey ad on the tube last night with the following scintillating dialogue:

Kid in back seat: "Are we there yet?"
Dad: "Nope."
Kid in back seat: "Good."

This strikes me as slightly implausible; most people end up having to resort to devious means to anesthetize the little carpet-crawlers.

Sunday, 15 October 2000, 8:45 pm

I admit sometimes I'm actually willing to boast that this particular Web design, while about as up-to-date technologically as your dad's 386, is at least functional, and it loads with something resembling speed. For the exact antithesis of such considerations (our thanks, if thanks they be, to, try By a considerable margin, this is the most irritating page I have ever seen worse than Bud Uglly Design, worse even than B1FF#S K3WL H0M3 PAG3. At least Bud and Biff were funny.

Monday, 16 October 2000, 6:15 pm

It appears to be time to put Molly out to pasture, after a mere 25 months. The perceived problem torque converter lockup doesn't unlock, causing stalling. Not that I'm an ASE-certified mechanic or anything, but I do have a certain amount of insight into these transmissions. Of course, the warranty is up, not that it matters.

Needless to say, this pushes the Stress-O-Meter way off the scale, since I owe more on this car than it could possibly be worth in trade, and a hefty repair bill doesn't help. It's getting to the point where the best I can hope for is a massive myocardial infarction. You may think I'm overreacting. On the other hand, if you're at all familiar with the rest of this site, you're probably surprised I don't have a revolver against my temple already. We are all born under a sentence of death; some of us, it appears, are fortunate enough to be able to look forward to it.

Tuesday, 17 October 2000, 7:00 pm

Any notions of trading Molly for something newer and/or less temperamental flew out the window during the trip downtown; even the densest Daewoo dealer wouldn't take this poor little creature in trade in this condition. So she's boarded at the Expensive Care Unit, and in the meantime I'm getting some seat time in a Ford Focus.

This hypernew compact accent on hype is actually a pretty nice ride, despite its ungainly proportions. There's plenty of room for four, maybe five if three of them are utterly inseparable and/or joined at the pelvis. Some of the plastic bits inside were apparently filched from the Fisher-Price parts bin, but the arrangement is mostly sensible, considering that it's a Ford. I took the long way home to check its credentials, and while the Focus this is the El Cheapo base version, of course doesn't have quite the tenacious grip of, say, the Mazda Protegé (yes, Dr C, they do spell it that way), it's happy in its role as More Than A Mere Econobox. The blue-oval guys did all right with this one. I just hope their Japanese protectorate learns something about transmissions in the next few years.

Wednesday, 18 October 2000, 5:50 pm

George W. Bush now admits that the wealthier you are, the greater a benefit you would derive from his tax plan. Well, duh. Who paid in most of those taxes? Sure, I'd like to get a $50,000 tax break, but since I don't make fifty grand a year, let alone pay fifty grand in taxes, it's highly unlikely I'm going to get one. Under the Bush plan, I'm promised a comparative pittance a couple hundred bucks or so. Then again, Al Gore's "targeted" tax cuts won't give me a dime.

By the way, if you followed that link and read the article, you may have seen this line: "More than one of three Americans on the Forbes 400 list are self-made men." Ignoring the trivial gender issue that this line invites, you might still conclude, as I did, that somewhat less than two of three Americans on the Forbes 400 list are self-made men, which doesn't at all help the author's argument that wealth is one's deserved reward for productivity and enterprise. Not that I take it personally, of course so long as they pay their taxes.

Thursday, 19 October 2000, 8:10 pm

The service manager was baffled. "We are unable to duplicate the symptoms you indicated," he said, and sure enough, Molly was running just as nicely as ever.

Not wishing to go through this again, I hiked across the street to the sales department and basically traded my life away for Molly's younger sister. So far, Sandy seems nice enough it does run in the family, after all.

As for Molly, I'm sure she'll find a good home somewhere. And she dropped her trunk lid on my head while I was retrieving my possessions. Temperamental to the last, she was.

(Note to Barbara at Fred Jones: Computers, like I said, are hardly ever as reliable as they're supposed to be.)

Friday, 20 October 2000, 5:15 pm

My apologies to anyone who hasn't been able to get to this page since last night; the Web server, somewhere in deepest San Jose (no, I don't know the way), was unwilling to accept anything resembling actual data uploads through the usual FTP methods. What's worse, it overwrote the files to be updated with, well, nothing. Of course, there are those who consider that to be an improvement, and my apologies to them for depriving them of blessed blankness.

Saturday, 21 October 2000, 4:00 pm

How much is that entrée in the window? My old friend W. (not his real initial), whom you may remember from an earlier story, was regaling us today around lunchtime, in fact with ghastly gastronomic tales of the Pacific Rim. And while he was fairly certain that he'd at least once dined on dog (on a stick, yet, and I don't mean the stuff you see in the mall) during his days in Malaysia, he did draw the line, he insisted, at those places where you select your pooch from the puppies in the backyard kennel, much like the way you'd pick out a lobster at a seafood place. While the Basic Food Groups don't really distinguish between canine and crustacean, I am duty-bound to report that we were all thoroughly grossed out, and my subsequent mental picture of a dessert cart stuffed with Bichons Frisés and Yorkshire Terriers and such didn't help matters any. Of course, some Asians may be just as horrified at the thought of KFC.

Normally I do my grocery shopping on Saturday. Today, for some reason, I'm not in the mood.

Sunday, 22 October 2000, 5:20 pm

The Yankees and the Mets in the World Series. That ought to thrill all the baseball fans in Dubuque.

It was pointed out to me today that not everyone is as squeamish as I am about, um, unconventional diets. Then again, I pride myself on never having bought a burrito at 7-Eleven.

Oh, and happy birthday, BB. I promise not to mention your name to Horace Deets.

Monday, 23 October 2000, 6:40 pm

A neighbor was burgled today, and it's reported that the thief made off with stuff from the bedroom, ignoring other rooms. Shortly thereafter, a thugling was nabbed by the police; apparently a woman was chasing him with some serious cutlery. Could this be the same guy, trying to cram in one more heist before calling it a day? And since the thief confined himself to a single room, not unlike the chap who kicked open my door a few weeks back but I'm getting ahead of myself. A largely African-American crowd gathered to watch the pursued one being hauled away in a squad car, and they seemed quite pleased to see him go; just in case you hadn't heard, black folks, with a few media-hyped exceptions, don't like thugs either.

The entirety of the summer's precipitation deficit was made up last night, and then some. Most of the rivers running through here are close to or at flood stage. Needless to say, they're predicting rain through Thursday night at least.

Tuesday, 24 October 2000, 8:20 pm

Sandy went downtown today to be fitted with some new, um, fittings; of the three options requested, only one was actually available at delivery. While she was occupied, the dealership sent me off in a massive Ford F-150 Crew Cab pickup, straight out of Herman Melville. For those of us who grew up with the notion that trucks were purely utilitarian devices, this beastie is a poke in the eye with a blunt instrument. But dammit, it was sort of fun to drive, even if city streets seemed suddenly narrower, and though I've been spending my time with high-winding DOHC engines, there's still no substitute for torque. And yes, trucks still ride like, well, trucks, but at no time did the CD player (!) lose its place.

Wednesday, 25 October 2000, 7:20 pm

Someone suggested today that I give HTML lessons, which sounds to me like asking Phyllis Schlafly to demonstrate Kegel exercises you figure she probably knows, but somehow you just don't want to hear her tell you about it.

A Presbyterian pastor from around here, observing the weather pattern: "Next time you pray for rain, it might help to be a little more specific."

Thursday, 26 October 2000, 8:40 pm

"Am I hot or not?" Some of us, alas, already know the answer. For those who are willing to commit their pictures to the stern eye of the madding crowd well, some eyes are evidently less stern than others. I looked at exactly 200 pictures this evening, and somehow I rated 198 of them higher than their current score, by an average of 1.1 (out of a maximum of 10 possible) points. Exactly what this means, I'm not entirely sure; I may not want to know.

Come to think of it which I do, every chance I get I do know someone who rates way off this or any other conceivable scale, but there's an outside chance that my judgment in this matter may be something less than entirely disinterested and impartial.

Friday, 27 October 2000, 6:05 pm

Uh, yes, it's raining. How kind of you to ask.

The trick next week will be to see if I can get the powers that be at work to spring for an upgrade to my PC. The only thing actually wrong with it (apart from the fact that it's a Pentium-166, a prewar DeSoto among Chrysler Hemis) is a sprung floppy-drive release button, but for the amount we'd pay IBM for a new floppy, we could probably buy most of a new PC from Someone Else. (The alternative giving everyone else a ZIP drive is even less likely than buying me a PC.) Still, this shop has always been loyal to Big Blue, with the exception of the DTP people, who will give up their Macintoshes only when they pull the (one-button) mouse from their cold, dead fingers.

Saturday, 28 October 2000, 7:50 pm

If anyone ever doubted that the true religion of this state is football, those doubts might well have been erased today. I dropped by the dealership to finish off some paperwork relating to the car I bought, and they'd set up a home-theatre rig right in the showroom to watch Nebraska vs. Oklahoma. Probably the best seat in the house was in the Mazda MX-5 Miata, but I doubt they let anyone sit in it.

After the completion of that errand, I got to my usual style shop, which had posted a Closed sign an hour early. I started to pull away, but one of the owners came dashing through the door yelling "Come back!" Apparently they had done no business all day; everyone who wasn't at the game was watching the game on television except, it seems, for those two women and me.

Of course, that other religion you know the one I mean keeps rearing its ugly head, most recently to accuse a high-school girl of casting a spell on a teacher. What would Jesus do? In a sane and rational world, he'd sue the asses off these so-called "Christian" churches for trademark infringement. Fortunately for the asses, this world is neither rational nor sane.

Oh, and there's a second centerfold in the December Playboy: one Lianne Cartman, of South Park, Colorado. Yeah. Eric's mom. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but Mrs Cartman proved to be more of a mood-killer than even Carmen Electra, and that's going some.

Sunday, 29 October 2000, 10:45 am

What? No rain? "Mommy, what's that big orange ball in the sky? I can't even look at it, it's so bright."

Under the heading of Not Quite So Bright comes a tirade from Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers, broadcasting from the "Americans Are Stupid and Absorb Uncritically Everything in Television Advertising" Department at Car Talk Plaza. The Magliozzis took Nissan to task for a tongue-in-cheek ad for the Frontier pickup truck, which contained the following line, uttered by retired Nissan design chief Jerry Hirshberg:

"The new Frontier makes a statement. I believe what it says is 'Get out of my way.'"

Click and Clack, apparently having had too many toruses of tofu masquerading as proper donuts, reacted as though Hirshberg had suggested collecting roadkill by driving through the middle of the Westminster Kennel Club show. According to the brothers, this ad promotes "rude, selfish, despicable behavior on the roads." I know only one Frontier driver, and while I don't pretend to know what kind of rage builds up inside her very little of it has been vented upon me lately, anyway I'm reasonably certain she's not going to take it out on some granola-eating Magliozzi-approved Volvo driver doing 42 in the left lane on the Belle Isle Bridge. God only knows what will happen when they see a Mazda "Zoom Zoom" ad. If I were the sort of person who could afford a whole garage full of vehicles (unfortunately, I can barely afford one vehicle), this would be the sort of thing that would drive me to my nearest Nissan dealer, checkbook in hand. Geez, Tom, Ray, get a grip. I hear Firestone tires have great adhesion.

Sunday, 29 October 2000, 7:45 pm

I have never been able to come up with a really persuasive argument in favor of the death penalty.

Others, however, have.

Monday, 30 October 2000, 5:50 pm

Apparently my circadian rhythms are going to be off no matter what time adjustments are made; I still wake up groggy and distinctly unrefreshed. Since it's not likely I'm going to be posted to an assignment on Deep Space Nine, which follows the 26-hour Bajoran day, I suppose I'll have a few more months of this before DST messes me up in the other direction.

Meanwhile, she walks in beauty, like the night, and the night is coming earlier and earlier these days but she can draw no nearer.

Tuesday, 31 October 2000, 5:20 pm

Two personal notes today:

Happy birthday, Paul. Long may you grumble.

And farewell, Steve. If there's anything to that afterlife business, this could be the start of something big.


 | Copyright © 2000 by Charles G. Hill