2/23/02, 2:28 pm
On a plane in Southeast Asia, I came across an amazing article in an English-language Thai newspaper about an Italian-born Chinese peasant. I tore it out and have been passing it around friends. I just found the article online
2/23/02, 1:45 am
Another busy day at work, and some fun volleyball tonight. After volleyball, I went for a few drinks with some of the folks I played with this evening. A woman that works as a project manager for an internet division of a company, (great passes and sets), a L.A. native who works as a financial analyst (great blocks), and a guy in glasses that Rebecca hit it off with (awesome serves that he attributed to the PopTart® he had before playing).
The project manager was nice, and works with a former coworker of mine, Gabe. She's quitting smoking though, and could only hack being in a bar without a cigarette for so long, and left after a bit. So it was mostly me and the L.A. guy rapping over a couple of beers. Interesting conversation. He's a philosophical guy, something I don't expect when i think stocks and bonds. We talked about God. I pulled out Richard Feynman's theories
of atheism, [see also Feynmania
] which seemed to challenge him quite a bit. We also talked about hypnosis, volleyball, California, New Yorkers, women, the East Village, and various other topics. A good conversation.
He commented that I had good energy about me (I told you, he's from L.A.) and that I smile a lot. So I told him the story of the month that I stopped smiling, which I don't think I've ever written down. So here's a goodnight story...
Summertime. I was in fourth grade or so, may be summer between fourth and fifth grade. Mom sent us to the YMCA day camp that summer. It was probably pretty inexpensive. It was also sort of shitty, as you'll see.
Our all-boys group had two counselors. At the time they seemed old and large. Thinking about it now, they were probably scrawny fifteen year-old boys.
There was one kid in the group that was the coolest and the toughest. I only remember his nickname. "Rolls." We called him that because, even at that age, he was a little chubby (That somehow contributed to his toughness, maybe in a preadolescent Hell's Angel-ish kind of way?).
One day, we're walking to the swimming pool for lessons. We're in our bathing suits with towels hanging over our shoulders.
I'm smiling. Why? I don't have a reason. I've always smiled. I grew up smiling as a baby and I'd smiled all the way through my short life to that point. I liked life. I liked smiling. And everyone seemed to like seeing me smile.
Everyone, that is, except Rolls. That day. on the way to the pool, Rolls told me smiling wasn't cool and that I smiled too much.
So I stopped.
I've always been eager to please, perhaps to a fault. Rolls was cool. If he thought it wasn't cool to smile, it wasn't cool to smile. And I wanted to be cool. That skinny, spiked-haired vegetarian formerly smiling kid really wanted to cool.
I didn't smile at camp for about a month. Rolls seemed to respect me more. I felt cool. I can't remember if I smiled at home during that time. I imagine that I must have.
Then one day, one of my camp counselors dared me to trip Rolls. Yep, you read that right. He dared me to trip one of the other kids in the group. The toughest kid in the group, in fact, which I guess was the point. Maybe he figured I wouldn't do it.
The counselor was cooler than Rolls though, in my mind and so, I went down a trail into the woods where Rolls was, stuck my foot out and pushed him over my outstretched leg onto the ground.
I headed back to the clearing where the counselors were, and after a minute, Rolls came tearing after me. He accused me of knowing judo, and claimed that I flipped him.
He put up his fists.
I looked to the counselor for help. A way out.
The counselor yelled, "Fight!"
Kids circled up, and I didn't know what to do. I'd been raised in a hippie household and knew that fighting was wrong, that it didn't accomplish anything. I had some instinct, though, that said that getting your ass kicked didn't accomplish much either.
So I blocked his first swing and swept his legs. And then I did it again. And again, until he gave up. Fat kids get winded easy, I guess.
There were only two weeks left in camp. For those two short weeks, I was the new tough kid. I was called "Spike".
I don't what happened to Rolls. Rumors had it that he was transferred into the older kids' group, and they tied him up in a lawn chair and roasted him next to the fire.
I do know this, though. I've been smiling ever since.
2/21/02, 10:52 pmUgghh.
This is atrocious. Sad, and atrocious. Daniel Pearl has been murdered
2/21/02, 10:30 pm
Yay! Jessica is safe and sound
And, umm, I'm safe and sound in New York. It sure would be fun to be in Bolivia with Jessie. I'd like to try playing one of those charangos. Yeah, I bet playing some charango and chewing on some coca leaves would be just the thing for my blues. I wonder if they play volleyball there...
Work has been interesting lately. Very, very busy, with lots of interesting technical architectural decisions and foundations to be laid down.
Do I have anything else interesting to say? Yeah. [G] [D] [G] [Asus2]
02/22/02, 1:20 am
If you're anywhere near New York City, plan on attending "Fast Blood
." a play at the Lark Studio. It's on Thursday - Saturday, Mar. 7-9 at 8pm, Sunday, Mar 10 at 2pm and 7pm, and Monday, Mar 11 at 7pm.Fast Blood:
"Against the backdrop of American slavery, a couple cuts down a lynched man and begins a journey of enlightenment."
My step mom wrote the play, and probably that blurb, too. I've read an older version of the script and it's great. I'm so excited to see it produced. Come out with me and see the new play by Judy Tate!
I worked late tonight, and had a nice chat with my dad about using zen techniques to get through difficult times. "I notice that I'm feeling pretty crappy." "I notice that I'm wondering if I'll ever feel good again." He recommended Everyday Zen
, by Charlotte Boko. I worked on the song I started writing last night and played around recording it a bit.
Now, I sit and listen to a car alarm fade into the back of my brain. "I'm noticing I hear a car alarm." "I'm noticing it's really friggin' annoying."
2/19/02, early am... too early2/19/02, early am... too earlyPhotos from my trip
are finally available on this site. Elbert's are mixed in there chronologically, as well.
Special thanks to Matthew Kendall, author of Slooze
, an exceedingly well-designed and well-documented photo-album tool written in PHP.
Today, the glamour was non-stop: slept in, cleaned my tub, put away laundry, shopped for groceries, played volleyball, and got immersed in photos, perl, and PHP. How will tomorrow ever top it?
Oh yeah, it's already tomorrow. Crap.
2/17/02, 7:48 pm
Hung out with Mary in TriBeCa yesterday. Went to Bubby's
, where I used to bus tables. Mary used to work down there, too. We talked of love and relationships. A frequent theme for me of late.
Afterwards, I headed out to Long Island to help my stepdad celebrate his 45th birthday. I had the inspired idea of buying him a great bottle of balsamic vinegar for his birthday. He's Italian, loves to cook... perfect present! At BuonItalia
, I found a bottle of the good stuff -- aged eight years. It turned out he got three bottles of balsamic vinegar for his birthday.
It was my grandfather's birthday today. We don't see him much and stopped by to wish him a happy one. Conversation doesn't always flow between us, but I tried to get it going, asking him what his favorite book was. He thought for a bit. "The one I wrote," he said. Turned out he wrote a book about international labor negotiating. I never knew.
I want to start collecting these stories about my, umm, elders. In a different conversation this weekend, I happened from my grandma that my great-great-grandmother left Lithuania for "the Americas" in the middle of the night against her parents wishes! I feel like I should know this stuff and be able to share it with the next generation. The world can use some more legends.
Geek project of the day (non-geeks feel free to stop reading here and help me not embarass myself): If my home computer is playing an mp3 on iTunes, the front page of this site will now show you what song is playing and the artist it's by. If I'm not listening, or there's a connectivity problem, the feature won't appear on the page. I currently have the artist name linked to a search on that artist on RollingStone.com
. I would have preferred AllMusic Guide
, but they don't make it easy to plug into their search.
How it works: a cron job runs on my home machine (Mac OS X on a G4) every 5 minutes and asks iTunes what's playing via AppleScript. If something's playing, the script securely connects to a CGI running on this site and tells it the artist and song. The CGI script writes that info to a file. At request time, this page instantiates a PHP object that knows how to access and parse the artist and song info from the file and asks the object if it has fresh info. If so, the page displays a floating css div with the info, otherwise the blog posts flow right along uninterrupted.
The toughest thing to overcome was osascript's inability to communicate with iTunes when being called from cron rather than an active Terminal session. The workaround I came up with was to make the AppleScript do a remote call to the same machine and that worked. Performs more slowly, but it's only running on my home machine, so it's OK for now.