Today's Vent draws inspiration from (translation: "blatantly rips off") both Bruce McCall (the "Swillmart" bit, adapted from his color supplement for the legendary National Lampoon Sunday Newspaper Parody) and Bob Dylan (pretty much everything else). I mention this because someone else surely will and I hate to be last in line.
And overseeing said NL S.N.P. which, you'll remember, was the February 12, 1978 issue of the Dacron Republican-Democrat (One Of America's Newspapers), published in lovely Dacron, Ohio by the South Central Ohio Coal, Gas, Electricity, Telephone & Telegraph Communications Group was our guiding light and inspiration P. J. O'Rourke, which proves something, though I'm not sure precisely what.
I'm driving east out of the city, cruise control on solid 70, Damhnait Doyle getting hyperdramatic on the stereo, and I'm wondering what it is I have just seen.
I have just come from my father's house to mark his seventy-fourth birthday, and he is not well. This is not news. However, a man can fight the same battles only so long, and the twin threats emphysema that won't go away on the one flank, prostate cancer that never quite goes into remission on the other have clearly taken their toll. And while he never says so, surely he must know that there is only one possible ending, not so far away. Outside, out of earshot, his wife concedes that she has begun thinking of what happens when...well, when it happens. We dance around the word, perhaps fearing that if we say it, even if we see it on screen, we will somehow bring it about. And no, you're right, she says, he doesn't talk about it.
My mother died in 1977, aged forty-eight, an age with which I have at least a smattering of familiarity. I know nothing about seventy-four. Is his perceived stoicism the only way to deal with the one horrible reality that awaits us all? And will I be able should I be able to do the same when the clock winds down for me?
There are, for now, no answers. I'm not even sure these are the right questions.
Found on Slashdot, courtesy of CriticalMAS:
Smart man + smart woman = romance
Smart man + dumb woman = affair
Dumb man + smart woman = marriage
Dumb man + dumb woman = pregnancy
I spent way too much time last night trying to figure out how to do email on my cell phone not because I find it particularly edifying or useful to do email on my cell phone, but because it's one of those gee-whiz things, and as a practicing (yeah, right) male of the species, I am naturally (and probably unduly) fascinated by gee-whiz things.
"The Web brings people together because no matter what kind of a twisted sexual mutant you happen to be, you've got millions of pals out there. Type in 'Find people that have sex with goats that are on fire' and the computer will ask, 'Specify type of goat.'"
Perhaps in acknowledgment of this George Costanza observation, Chip Rowe, the Playboy Advisor himself, put together a section in the July issue of the magazine titled True Sex Tales of the 21st Century, one segment of which comprises (under the heading "The Fetish Connection") a bunch of Yahoo! fetish listings, including a directory for that most ethereal of kinks, the fantasy of the invisible girlfriend which, of course, points back here to the FIdb. It's too early to say whether this will bring any additional traffic to my site, or, for that matter, if I'll get any hits from people looking for hot goat sex.
Sometimes, a topic just drops into one's lap like so many petals on Petaluma.
I mean, it's been a while since I got a letter from James Carville, and while I've always had a soft spot for the little Louisiana weasel, if only because I envied his ability to capture the heart of a Major Conservative Babe, something far beyond my capacity, I've also always found that a little Carville goes a long, long way, and three and a half pages of shilling for the nascent William J. Clinton Presidential Foundation is way more than a little.
Getting stuff like this in the mail, of course, is part of the price I pay for being a registered Democrat. And while it would be most unkind of me to speculate as to what sort of "historical material", as Carville puts it, will be on display in the new Clinton library or, for that matter, whether I should save up my kids' old coloring books for the Bush fils library in 2005 I recognize that presidential archives are all the rage, and probably will remain so until someone turns up a copy of James Buchanan's dance card.
Well, I suppose I can go ahead and uninstall Netscape now.
And while I'm doing that, I'll reflect on a curiosity.
When I was a teenager, I had a cousin who was a source of inspiration; she was two years my senior, and very much the free spirit. Today, her spirit is no less free, but now she's two years younger than I am.
Yesterday's Netscape link, which called up a page at Reuters, is already obsolete, so I replaced it with a link to a patented Jamie Zawinski rant, which is just as pertinent and a lot more personal.
The really disappointing aspect of the, um, repositioning of Netscape, though, is not that it drops most of what's left of the browser market into Microsoft's lap; it's the blithe assumption on the part of its proprietors your friend and theirs, AOL Time Warner that "Netscape" is nothing more or less than a brand, interchangeable with and indistinguishable from "Sports Illustrated" or "Foghorn Leghorn". For a company that did as much as anyone to build the Web, this is a high-speed, broadband, almost-standards-compliant descent into ignominy, and ultimately into Pathfinder-level oblivion.
"Clearly," says Zeldman, "God gave humanity the snapshot camera to teach us humility." For all I know, he may be right like I have any room to talk.
Are there tornadoes in Texas today? I have a sister turning thirty-nine (I can almost swear to this) on this date, and she has always claimed that no matter where she might be, there is always threatening weather on her birthday. Not that this meteorological marvel has impelled her to move to Ecuador or anything.
And now Suck.com is down for the count, its corporate parent of the moment flushed into penury. Then again, it's not like they haven't died once or twice before.
Still alive, though, is California's Bitter Hag, an actual addition to my daily reads. The Hag is engagingly surly when she has to be, which is usually, and suffers fools hardly at all. What's more, she actually drives a Mazda.
Perhaps the best thing about the music CD is the jewel box, a small, elegant container that packs in its modest volume a decent amount of graphics, enough room to thank everyone from the person whose artwork you pilfered to the Lord of All Creation and everyone in between, and, last but not least, one or two Compact Discs.
Perhaps the worst thing about the music CD is the jewel box, a fragile, flimsy contraption of cheap plastic whose hinges last on average two hours or three box-openings, whichever comes first, and which retains glue from store and distributor stickers with a tenacity worthy of an Arctic explorer.
Lately, the latter view has pulled into the lead. Last month I ordered half a dozen CDs from Varèse Sarabande, a highly-reputable West Coast label, and three of them, despite more-than-reasonable care in packaging, arrived with damaged jewel boxes. Roughly one-third of all the discs I buy at CDNOW come with broken boxes. Today I bought twenty-two replacement jewel boxes for these and other injured albums; only nineteen were actually usable. I hate to sound enthusiastic for those crummy paperboard boxes, but I have yet to see even one of them fall apart in my hand halfway between chair and CD player.
While living alone has its painful aspects, it doesn't have a dress code either, which makes compensating for the heat a trifle easier. Not that I'll be able to justify going out to dinner in this state of garblessness.
No Sense of Timing Department: An aged Cadillac is parked at the next building, sporting a soaped-onto-the-windows For Sale notice, a price ($275), and the warning: "WON'T BE HERE TOMORROW". As of today, it's been there a week.
Brand-name gasoline has dropped to below a buck and a half at some stations here, which suggests that the Chaz World Tour next month may be a smidgen less expensive than allowed for in My So-Called Budget. Maybe even a smidgen and a half. Not enough to justify running off to Rio de Janeiro or anything, but I'll take whatever breaks I can get.
I haven't quite become too lazy to cook, yet, but some combination of summer heat and apparent boredom seems to have whittled my variations on the dinner theme down to a manageable but really dull half a dozen dishes. Probably a tributary of the same rut I've been stuck in for a long time.
We are now at 70,000 visitors including a handful of regulars and I thank you all.
Oh, and Timothy: You're dead, fercrissake. Get off my freaking television already.
So you've just failed to make reservations at Expedia. Do you now hop on the voice line and browbeat someone in customer service at Travelocity?
You don't, I'm sure. But one of our dumber customers (a phrase on tautological par with "one of our damper lakes") pulled an analogous stunt today, bending the ear of one of our staff members, who was sufficiently disturbed by the experience to call in the IT cavalry which, in this context, meant me. I wasn't quite sure whether to be amused or outraged, so I opted for both.
Have the reports of Netscape's death been greatly exaggerated? I don't know for sure. But I do know that I can hardly wait for Navigator 4.x usage at this site to drop below 10 percent or so, which will give me the opportunity to ignore this browser without guilt.
Signs of Summer Dept.: While the high today was a mere 91, the dew point was an appalling 74, and the interaction between the two produced our first triple-digit heat index of the year, more than a week before the official start of the season.
What really marks the beginning of summer, though, is the sudden reappearance of fireworks vendors on the edges of town. In most cities and towns around here, selling these incendiary devices is strictly forbidden, so the dealers park themselves just beyond city limits. Around the 30th, some of the more anal-retentive suburbs will post a squad car just inside their limits and wait for someone to depart the fireworks stand with a pocket full of rockets. With the discontinuance of the state's vehicle-inspection program, I expect to see more of this; there are almost always elements within any given police department and, presumably, among the civilians who call the shots who delight in the easy bust.
Some people you know who you are consider grey days in the summertime to be rude anomalies, an insult to all that is warm and sunny and vacation-y. Not me. If I could have 65 degrees every June afternoon (and it was 80 at dawn today, before the cold front moved in and dropped some rain on us) without having to move to Labrador or San Diego, I'd love it.
One of today's spams was sufficiently heinous to crash Outlook Express 5.0, so it gets singled out for abuse here. "I WAS SICK OF BEING FAT!" screams the title. The alleged sender is <email@example.com>, although replies (which would presumably include such things as futile REMOVE requests) are routed to <firstname.lastname@example.org>. Someone named "Angela Martin" signed this egregious plugola for some product of an unnamed "American Nutriceutical [what?] company" called BerryTrim Plus; there is a note at the bottom indicating "BerryTrim Affiliate# 3b224392011bf20b". Well, 3b224392011bf20b, if that is your real hex number, I have but one question: Have you ever considered getting a real job?
Sometimes I get hyperbolic, and not in the trigonometric sense either.
From my outgoing email (and my apologies to the recipient, should she object to seeing it here after seeing it in her inbox):
I am really starting to believe that the cultural mavens and the moralists and the vendors of myth have conspired to foist upon us a system whereby almost everyone winds up with the wrong person (or, in some cases, with no one at all). Apparently it is deemed good for the soul to spend one's time in anguished longing for what should have been, and heaven forbid we should ever get exactly what we desire.
Then again, this may be just an advanced stage of romanticism run amok.
More Signs of Summer Dept.: The arrival of June means the arrival of the Saturday street-corner car wash: a business, usually one closed on weekends, donates the use of its parking lot and its outside water faucet, and a school or church group will take a stab at getting the accumulated crud off your car in exchange for a small donation to the cause. My errand loop this morning took me past nine of these enterprises, sometimes two within a mile of one another, and while various chromosomal tugs urged me to go to the one staffed seemingly entirely by cheerleaders, I finally wound up at a legal office sporting a mixture of adults and pre-teens.
How did they do? Not great, but better than I usually do on my own the single greatest advantage of multiple washers is that B sees the spots A missed and while the parking garage would have done the job excellently for fifteen bucks, I didn't feel like driving 30 miles to and from the parking garage, and presumably the kids needed the money. And how much shine can you get out of plastic wheel covers, anyway?
Speaking of things automotive, gasoline prices seem to be in a temporary tailspin. I caught sight of a Texaco station today vending the 87-octane stuff for $1.309, which was startling, not least because I had just paid nine cents more at another Texaco two miles away.
So far as I can tell, the sole purpose of America Online 6.0 is to facilitate shoving "content" at you whether you want it or not. The interface isn't improved to any significant extent, the functionality is mostly unchanged, and in a rare display of demonic unity, bringing up AOL now also brings up RealPlayer; the closest equivalent in Real Life is catching the flu from the rattlesnake that just bit you. Not everything about 6.0 is appalling I actually called up a non-AOL Web site through 6.0 and got all the graphics, which is a first but since I do no significant surfing on AOL (the site in question was accessed through another one of those links that AOL persists in labeling "On AOL only" despite obvious evidence to the contrary), this is not what I consider an advantage. Admittedly, I get my AOL service at a discount. But I would gladly pay extra for a front-end that would give me access only to the AOL functions I use email (for spam trappage) and chat (never you mind) without cluttering up my system with contractually-required or advertiser-sponsored detritus. While corporations indisputably dominate the Net, I'd trade everything in AOL Time Warner's broadband basket for a handful of DiaryLand or LiveJournal pages.
When I'm not wondering just what I'm doing to myself with breakfast, I'm continuing to futz around with various aspects of this site's ostensible design as Siobhan once said, I do have a tendency to tweak and while it will never, ever be truly professional, it will never (I hope) be embarrassing either.
Well, East Coast girls are hip I really dig those styles they wear but West Coast girls actually write me once in a while. (I do get the occasional forward from the Land of Low Numeric Zip Codes, but somehow it's not the same.)
The Big Booger Buick is gone! I wasn't here to see it go, so I couldn't tell you if it left under its own power or as a result of the kindly ministrations of the tow truck, but the ol' MucusMobile has left the premises. What's more, someone slapped one of those big red adhesive move-this-piece-of-crap stickers on the Dodge Carrion next to it, so maybe the new owners are finally getting around to cleaning house.
Only three weeks before I hit the road. If the road hits back, well, at least you'll know where the updates went.
For a change, it appears I was right. The decaying Ford sedan and the Dodge whatever-it-was have been removed from the premises, and good riddance.
And to follow up on Sandy's recall notice: Apparently the Official Notifications came out about the time the first dealer unloaded it upon the second dealer, and each assumed the other would take care of it. As it happens, I do not have the defective part, which took about 15 seconds to confirm, half of which was spent opening the hood.
Am I too repressed? I didn't think so, but what do I know? If you have an idea one way or another, with your thoughts. (I do have a tendency to ask for trouble.)
Whom the gods would destroy, they first scare spitless.
I got a nice case of dry mouth trying to get home from work today, on the sensible basis that any time you have a fire engine blocking your path, it's a good time to be apprehensive. During the time it took me to do three-lefts-equal-one-right, I managed to go from uneasy to downright panic-stricken, and matters weren't helped much when I saw that the building being hosed down was mine.
However, the mere fact that I'm able to do an update today should tell you that I managed to slide by with an incredibly tiny amount of destruction. (There's a light coating of sooty dust or dusty soot on the kitchen floor, and the faint smell of char-broiled furniture from the opposite end of the building pervades the place.) I've called my insurance agent, but it's not like I've got $500 worth of damage to fill up the deductible or anything, so here I sit, waiting for the promised thunderstorms tonight to cool things off.
I just wonder how many more bullets I'm going to get to dodge before the deities start taking umbrage.
The story, as given to me, was that our perfectly adequate snack vendor was booted earlier this week in favor of a relative of someone on staff. So far, the nepote has yet to install a single machine, further evidence of a long-standing contention of mine: trying to keep the business "in the family" is efficient only if your business is a small subsidiary of organized crime. And while I'm not prepared to argue criminality here, there's no way anyone can make me believe that this bunch is organized.
Meanwhile, the gods were reviewing my file from the last year, and they were not pleased. "Jesum Crow, Chaz, look at this! Every last polyp was benign; you didn't have to pay an extortionate rate for that auto loan; and how hard would it have been to let your whole house burn down? What the hell, if you'll pardon the expression, do you want now?"
I told them, and storm clouds began to build. "Didn't we tell you to forget about that? It's not going to happen. Not now, not ever. Now go open your windows and do something about that stench. The high today was only 80, so you've got no excuse."
So I opened the windows, started beating the crud out of the air filter standard sizes are unknown in these parts and as they faded into the branches, I thought I heard one of them muttering, "Effing ingrate."
The standard treatment for that subtle scent of Burned Everything seems to be an aerosol that replaces the stench with a different stench. I don't consider this artificial-floral-plus-detergent stuff a major improvement. The gas is back on, so I can cook real (as distinguished from microwave) food again; however, the cable connection is pretty much melted into slag. Had I a cable modem, I'd be screaming about now, but being deprived of Larry King Live isn't exactly depressing.
The gods paid me back for yesterday's insolence with a heavy dose of downers; today's 9.25-hour shift, by my internal clock, took somewhere between two and three weeks, mostly just barely this side of tearful. I suppose if I were omnipotent, I'd be spiteful too.
The dustbury.com log has now completed one full year, and its comparative diversity of topics has made for some truly bizarre referrer-log entries. "Peyronie's" and "operation" and "pictures"? Now there's a mind-bender, so to speak.
Even for a practiced procrastinator such as yours truly, enough was enough, and so, swallowing equal amounts of dust and pride, I hied myself unto the optometrist, and, as I had long feared, he spake unto me the B word.
So it will be bifocals from this day well, from July 3 forward. In an effort to ease the pain, I ordered all manner of options: stainless steel frame (I thought about titanium, but I have my limits) by one of those hyperstylish Italian outfits instead of the usual pot metal from Burma; progressive lenses; some futuristic anti-reflective coating. Including the usual spiff for the state and deducting every discount I could wangle, the damage was $258. I can't help but wonder if I could have forestalled this further by staying the hell off the computer once in a while.
(There will be a brief pause so that you can grumble under your breath, "Yeah, right.")
I am starting to understand what the city planners mean when they gripe about an "aging infrastructure".
Quote of the Day: Adam Sternbergh, Fametracker's estimable Man From F.U.N.K.L.E., on five actors you'd immediately recognize, except that you probably wouldn't:
"Rarely has our, or any, generation seen five actors who were so generically similar and so similarly generic all appear at exactly the same time."
Not to mention the fact that three of them are named Bill, a fact which I will not mention.
The needle on the carefully-calibrated Stink-O-Meter here at the disaster site has diminished from "Yecch, get the United Mine Workers in here already" to "If you have to take a deep breath, go outside", which is a small improvement, but a welcome one.
Motor vehicles have been on my mind a lot lately, perhaps because I'm about to spend three weeks in a sedan I'm not really the sport-utility type and I rather expect I'll see a lot of them during that period. There is no shortage of SUV detractors between here and, say, Consumer Reports, and most of them want to know why anyone would buy such a tall, tippy, thirsty, costly device. And while it might seem that the real motivation is subliminal messages delivered through the Web Ford, after all, sells both an Explorer and a Navigator the answer, I believe, lies in that atavistic American yearning to inflict some sort of damage on the next guy's keister. It matters not a whit how big an engine you shovel under its nose, how many nifty tricks you can do with the seats, how many high-tech gewgaws you can incorporate; absolutely no minivan, regardless of badging, pricing or styling, kicks ass.
Has anyone in the history of the world actually bought a pink-sheet stock just because some snippy little piece of email said it was about to rocket upwards? I get about a dozen of these per week, usually with prices around four cents and "target" prices straight out of Dreamland, and I duly file them in the bit bucket, but somebody must be going for these things, else the spammers wouldn't be shoveling them out left and right.
Speaking of wasting time, the phone company has called me thirteen times this month (I answered once, just for the hell of it) trying to sell me an options package I don't want and which, if I took it, would boost their revenues hardly at all, since picking add-ons à la carte, as I did, tends to be even more expensive than buying the lot. The heat in San Antonio must have addled their brains or something.
There aren't many Maseratis around this neck of the woods, so when word got to me last night that I might be getting a wholly-unexpected chance to see one of the purebred Italian classics up close and in person, I probably should have jumped for joy. Then again, I'm one of those people who assumes that just because there's a silver lining, there must be a dark cloud right behind, so you can be sure that my hang time for this jump would have been annoyingly brief.
Up front, I admit that my expertise with this marque is decidedly limited. As a boy, I was wont to dream about such things; as a man, I learned that dreams had this irritating tendency to stay tantalizingly just out of reach. Certainly I don't envision filling my parking space with such exotica, now or ever. But you don't pass up an opportunity like this, even if you're someone like me.
Of course, there will be no test drive I don't meet the specific licensing requirements, and the owner is no doubt understandably protective so whether she'll do 185 or not, I'll never know for sure. Still, by any reasonable standards, my Maserati-less life's been good to me so far, and it would be most unseemly to treat this event as some sort of watershed. I think.
When they say "scattered" showers, they aren't kidding. Given the number of storm clouds that gathered this morning, the high volume of thunder, the ominous posting of flash-flood warnings for remote areas of the county, and the sheer ferocity of the wind we're talking direction changes you could actually see through the nearest cottonwood tree there wasn't enough actual rain to sweep the bug residue off one's windshield.
I got my first cell-phone bill, and with it a lesson in rounding. Now I read fine print, and I know that a call lasting 62 seconds is recorded as two minutes of air time, but multiplying this effect a dozen times over results in major brain collision, especially if you're one of those anal types (like, well, me) who checks the phone's built-in timer on a regular basis. The gap between actual time and billable time was a healthy 15 percent, a figure that wouldn't impress any practicing attorney but which suggests strongly that I should interpret my 600-minute-per-month quota as something down in the 450-minute range. Not that this is difficult; I seldom spend seven and a half hours a month on wired phones. (Dial-up access, well, that's a different story.)
For some years now, I have suspected that clothing itself is merely a secondary player in clothing catalogs. Way back in 1997, I wrote up my reactions to the Coldwater Creek catalog, which devoted as much space to lyrical descriptions of where the garments might be worn as to the prosaic details of the garments themselves. To be honest, I found it fascinating, which I suppose demonstrates that I'm a sucker for high-quality mystique.
Today I got my first look at the A&F Quarterly, published by L.L. Bean wannabe-turned-Banana Republic wannabe Abercrombie & Fitch. In one respect, it's Coldwater Creek in reverse: while Coldwater Creek shows you clothing with no individuals, A&F devotes quite a few pages to individuals with no clothing. For a clothing vendor, this takes a certain amount of, um, cheek; I am reminded (though not much) of the early Infiniti ads that never showed any actual cars. And it's not like A&F is plowing new ground here, either; a couple of years ago, Sports Illustrated bestowed upon us a swimsuit issue in which more than half a dozen suits were actually painted on the models. Nor was that the ultimate, either; in a later spread, the toothsome (and this time paint-free) Rebecca Romijn-Stamos was shown with two suits. Said suits were hanging on a makeshift clothesline, and not on Rebecca.
If there's a lesson in any of this, it's probably as simple as "What the hell, go ahead and take your clothes off. There are worse things you can do." Some people, of course, will go into conniptions if you do, which (un)suits me just fine.
Someone named Ludmilla Carson (8753 Stoneybrook, Brooklyn, New York, an address which the US Postal Service disavows) is listed as the owner of the domain emailisfun.com, established nine days ago. I mention this because I have received seventeen pieces of low-grade spam claiming this domain as origin, and because if I were Ludmilla Carson and a domain of mine was being used for spamming, I would be taking serious steps to protect my good name by declaring war on this worthless, bandwidth-sucking drivel.
Heather Havrilesky, the writer formerly known as Polly Esther at the late, lamented Suck.com, turned up in an audio commentary on All Things Considered this afternoon, and for some reason it struck me as sort of tragic that so smart, so funny, and so gorgeous (okay, I don't know that for a fact, but smart and funny are usually good for at least 15 gorgeousness points) a woman was still unemployed. Smart and funny didn't keep Pamie from having to shut down Squishy, either, and for pretty much the same reason: too much expense, not enough revenue. I mention this because most of the people who try to prop up what they perceive as my sagging self-esteem take pains to assert that I possess mass quantities of S. and F. No gorgeousness points, though.
Justin Hayward would certainly never say so, but a newcomer picking up the Best of the Moody Blues compilation, issued by The Label Formerly Known As PolyGram in 1996, might well conclude that the Moodies were basically Hayward's backup band. For some reason, this air of Justincentricity bugged me. Admittedly, Hayward and/or John Lodge wrote most of the group's hits, but the two-year period before Hayward and Lodge replaced Denny Laine and Clint Warwick produced a bunch of worthy 45s, the second of which "Go Now!", a cover of Bessie Banks' 1963 American R&B ballad made the US Top Ten and remains the band's biggest hit in Britain. While the Best of... set does include "Go Now!", and Hayward makes it clear in the liner notes (an interview with John Peel) that he had nothing to do with it, the casual listener could easily assume that nothing happened with the band until the Days of Future Passed LP.
To the rescue, the Dutch label BR Music, which has issued a two-CD set with the unwieldy title the singles + (BS 8123-2), snagged by yours truly today at a Best Buy store for a meager $15. On hand are all the UK singles (including a couple of B-sides) from the 1964-1966 Laine/Warwick era, the two flops that followed (one by Hayward, one by Mike Pinder), and then the Usual Material with, unexpectedly enough, the 45 version of "Question", which diverges wildly from the version on A Question of Balance. It's not gloriously remastered like the PolyGram set, and the packaging is not entirely cheese-free, but as a representation of the historical record, it's a must.
Speaking of historical records, the August Playboy showed up today, in which Go-Go's stalwart Belinda Carlisle shows up in her birthday suit. I honestly don't know what she expects this to do for her career, or for that of the group, but damn, she does look nice, and since Playmates have generally tended to be about twenty years old or so, I make it a point to applaud, and to appreciate, pictorials of women twice that age. Not that I have any better chance of seeing them in real life, either.
| Copyright © 2001 by Charles G. Hill