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The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head
Mon, Aug. 9th, 2004 04:50 pm

At some point, some genius decided that the entirety of San Francisco International Airport should be outfitted with wireless internet. This is clearly a great idea. You can almost get over the fact that you're stuck in an airport bar for four hours due to beauracratic incompetance if you have the ability to contact the outside world and complain about it properly. Plus, it's kind of hip. You can plop down in the middle of baggage claim and check your email. Not really practical, but think how cool you feel. People in Chicago aren't checking their email while the baggage handlers finish opening their luggage and stealing the duty free alcohol. People in Miami aren't surfing the internet while the customs officials check their luggage for Cuban midgets. Nope. Just here. Because we're San Francisco and we're just swank like that. San Francisco is clearly full of modern, fast-paced, connected people who live on the cutting edge of the digital revolution. We embrace technology. Hell, we invented most of the technology. No where is there a city that better understands the newest and best in the electronic revolution. Gosh, I'm proud to live here.

I'd love to go on, but I have to go find an electrical outlet. I hear there's one in the next terminal.

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Tue, May. 18th, 2004 05:31 pm

In my spare time, I dance. Not, generally in the Club Scene sense of the word, or if so, very rarely, but more in the Ginger Rogers and Fred Astair or possibly Dirty Dancing sense of the word. Ballroom Dance is a strange, strange world which Strictly Ballroom, for those of you who've seen it, really didn't get far wrong. But fortunately, I'm no longer dancing at that level.

The thing about Ballroom Dance, which everyone who's tried to dance at a wedding or prom or whatnot knows, is that someone has to be in charge. Traditionally, and let's temporarily leave out the lecture on feminism, sexism and the perpetuation of feminine servitude through apparently innocent everday activities (oh, please lets) the person in charge is the man. It doesn't have to be the man, per se. But, in general, the whole thing is designed to be led by the person going forward and this person is generally the man.

When I was dancing in Las Vegas they always taught the Lady's steps and the Men's steps and then put you together so you could all practice. This was fine. San Francisco, however, is a much more politically conscious arena than Las Vegas and we _do_ have a population of gay people who are perfectly open about being gay, unlike Las Vegas, and they like to dance too, so in San Francisco what they teach is the Leader's steps and the Follower's steps. This is also fine, they're the same steps. But there's something inevitably upsetting about spending two or three hours being called a Follower while so-called Leader get instruction on how to make you do what they want. After a while, the whole thing begins to sounds like some sort of Evangelistic Cult Leadership Seminar.

"Now Leaders, what you need to do is encourage your Followers to stay close to you. If they're not close to you they can't do what you're telling them to do. If they're not close to you, your instructions won't be communicated. So the first thing you need to do is pull them in, with strong arms, until you have them in a position where you can easily Lead them.
Now, once your Follower is close, it's not hard to get them to go where you want. All you have to do is make sure they don't have any other options. If your Lead is unclear, and there's more than one way the Follower can move, you're going to lose them. So your Lead has to be very, very clear."

That's more or less a direct quote. And it's all perfectly relevant to leading a Waltz turn. It also sounds like something straight out of David Koresh's Religious Cults for Dummies Guide.

Don't get me wrong. I don't have a better idea of what to call everyone. We could be Pushers and Pushees but then we'd all sound like drug dealers and their crack addicts. And Those Who Go Forward vs Those Who Go Backwards just lacks a certain something. In the end, I think we should all be Ginger Rogers or Fred Astairs. Surely, no matter what sex you are, you don't mind being compared to Ginger Rogers?

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Mon, May. 17th, 2004 02:22 pm

I feel that the Democratic Party would be a much more powerful and effective force in the American Political Scene if they could just stop themselves from doing shit like this:

http://www.allheadlinenews.com/cgi-bin/news/newsbrief.plx?id=1084669836&fa=1

And I though the Republicans and Arnold was sinking low.

Can you imagine Jerry Springer's approach to international politics?

"Alright now, ya'all, listen up. In this corner we have the ferocious Maidens of the PLO and over here are the Jewish Mothers for Israeli Independance. Here today in the first ever mud-wrestling for freedom death match!! To the winner goes the West Bank!!"

Canada just keeps looking better and better.

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Mon, May. 3rd, 2004 04:58 pm

For those of you who have any interest in the weather channel, or have caught glimpses of the situation on the local news, you know that for the past two weeks the weather in San Francisco has been absolutely beautiful. Regularly in the 80s with stunningly clear skies and overflowing beaches. All the tourists, in their cargo shorts and I Love San Francisco T-shirts are suddenly dressed completely appropriately. Residents are digging through their closets for resort clothes left over from long ago trips to Hawaii, trying to find something cool enough to survive the heat. It’s lovely, miraculous, flawless weather.

And it’s all wrong.

Imagine, for a moment, the black sheep of your family. Almost every family has one. Some aunt or uncle who lives far away and visits only occasionally but sends exotic, hand-made presents that always arrive two weeks after your birthday. You may have some vague and colorful memory from childhood of a larger-than-life figure that spoke too loudly or wore green and purple at the same time. The one of whom your parents always spoke of with some degree of dissaproval but your older cousins thought was ‘the coolest.’ Now imagine that this figure shows up to Thanksgiving dinner one year, wearing a cashmere sports jacket or a string of pearls and discussing the latest improvement in their golf game.

This is the weather in San Francisco for the past two weeks. And it has got to go.

Let’s get this straight. San Francisco is one of the greatest metropolises in the world. One of the smallest, granted, but in terms of beauty, culture, accessibility and style absolutely one of the best. Unlike LA it actually has a city center and almost no smog. Unlike New York you can take a cab without direct fear for your life and ride the underground without danger of asphixiation. Unlike Paris you can order a drink without the waiter spitting on you…and so forth. As I said, one of the best.

But San Francisco is also a microclimate and a somewhat strange one at that. Unlike the Central Valley, which is scaldingly hot in the summer and freezing in the winter, and LA, which is simply seventy degrees all year round, San Francisco lives in a little bubble, within which the temperature flucuates between 50 and 75 degrees almost every day. And because the Central Valley is hot and the Pacific Ocean is cold what San Francisco gets most is fog. Lots of fog.

The fog in San Francisco serves the same function as rain in Seattle. It’s both a part of the landscape, a principle component of local identity and a citywide denizen with its own personality. Down in what are disparagingly referred to as the ‘tourist areas’ of the city they sell solid grey postcards with ‘Greetings from San Francisco’ printed on them. Others, more realistic, show the downtown skyline peeping up from a blanket of fog like Collette’s Castle on a Cloud. To live in San Francisco is to be accustomed to wearing layers of easily donned or shed clothing. You can wake up to low, breathy fog outside your window, take the BART downtown and emerge into glorious blue skies and go out for dinner on the waterfront to watch the fog creep back under the Golden Gate bridge like a hungry cat. Those who have recently moved to San Francisco watch the weather channel addictively, trying to puzzle through the seemingly arbitrary climatic shifts. After a few months they realize the weather channel is virtually useless in San Francisco and learn, like everyone else, to simply grab a sweater on the way out the door. Driving south out of San Francisco, along the I280 you can watch the fog pour over the foothills, cresting along their peaks in frothy waves of down. It looks comfortable, warm, like hot chocolate and pillows. You can utterly forget that when it reaches you the temperature will drop 20 degrees with additional humidity and wind chill and you will swear once again that you meant to move to Santa Monica.

Some do. But many, a surprising number, do not. The weather in San Francisco suits its populace, somehow. In its capriciousness, its grandious panoramas, its utter failure to fall in which surrounding climates. San Francisco is occasionally ridiculed for its oddball politics and reputation as a gay mecca. But within the city itself all this strikes the resident as neither defiant nor rebellious, merely factual. San Francisco breathes liberal yuppies and conservative drag queens. The Folsome Street Fair and the headquarters of Bechtel. Nude beaches set next to army bases. No, it doesn’t make any sense. But it works. San Francisco wears green and purple at the same time and talks too loudly. San Francisco ignores the sneers of the neighbors with blithe disregard and occasionally puts flamingos on its lawn just to see their faces. San Francisco is moody and serene. Dreary and lively. Foggy and tantalizingly sunny. It is not clear skies in the 80s all this week and more sun next week. Strange as it may seem, the sun has got to go.

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Thu, Apr. 22nd, 2004 12:41 pm
The Surrealist Compliment Generator has gifted me with this gem...

The seared runes crossing your divided consciousness do speak of contemptuous cardinals setting a spanish villa ablaze.

Oooh! It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.

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Wed, Apr. 21st, 2004 02:03 pm

We have a new Foster Litter of kittens from the SPCA. Their eyes aren't open yet so they don't do anything but wiggle and squeek but in a week or so they'll be up and about and actually develop personalities. And then they'll need names.

In the past we've had...
The Evil Dictator litter: Mussolini, Napoleon, Mao, Eva, Che and Hannibal.
The Mafia litter: Bambina, Francesca, Sophia, Vinny and Guida (we thought she was a boy).

So for this litter we are thinking of one of the following:
The Cocktail litter: i.e. Mojito, Martini, Cosmo, Marguerita and Hennessy
The Horror Movie Litter: i.e. Van Helsing, Nosferatu, Carrie, Mary Shelley and Vampira
The James Bond Litter: i.e. Moneypenny, Pussy Galore, Goldfinger, Elektra and Dr. No
The Hair Band Litter: i.e. Skid Row, Motley Crue, Tesla, Cinderella, Kiss and Twisted Sister.

Opinions?

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Fri, Apr. 9th, 2004 03:54 pm

Like so many other young professionals in this fair city, with its highest-property-values-in-the-country real estate, I have roommates. Five of them, to be precise. Yes 5. Although it's a very big house, so everyone has their own room. And for a manageable amount of rent we get the added benefit of room for the pool table and the hot tub and generally are spoiled rotten.

The twenty-something years not being the most settled and stable period of life, there's a certain amount of turn-over as people go to grad school, travel around the world, take jobs across the country, etc. Right now, the house consists of three boys (Well, 24,25 and 30 but I still think of them as boys), Sharon, me and my little cousin Lindsey.

Ah, Lindsey. Lindsey was accepted to USF, but had to have jaw surgery and so started off-cycle in the Spring. The aformentioned real estate values being what they are there was thus no room in the dorms for her. You could just see my mother's family, twenty or thirty of them, from all over the country simultaneously turning to look at me and say "But of course, she'll live with you." Now, I'm not all that close to most of my mother's family. Most of them are east-coast-old-school-presbyterian-and-by-the-way-all-the-men-served-in-some-branch-of-the-armed-forces enough that we stick to topics like the weather (exciting!), the state of the family (generally fucked), and when I'm getting married (ha!). My mother has always been looked on somewhat strangely as being the 'hippie/yuppie/democrat' of the family and raising two kids who are a) "spoiled", b) much too independant and c) dangerously liberal. So I'm not entirely sure about the logic that led to them sending my 18 year old cousin, youngest child of 4 from suburban Maryland to live with me and four other people between the ages of 24 and 30. Lindsey is a cute kid, don't get me wrong. She's smart, a little nerdy, with glasses, braces, a black belt in some martial art and an obsession with japanese animation. The first time she saw two men walking down the street holding hands you would have thought Elvis had just landed. So, cute. But sheltered.

In the three months Lindsey has lived with us, she has gotten a tatoo, had red streaks put in her hair, participated in a topless photo shoot and determinedly pursued one of my house mates until he got over the 6 year age difference and started dating her (yes, I know. please don't say it. I try not to think about it too hard.) The boys are having great fun teaching her to play Edward 40-hands and the electric guitar and appreciate the finer points of riding a Ducati. I taught her how to wear high heels and drink wine and gave her my old drivers license. My friend Katt has taught her...actually, I don't want to know what Katt has taught her. Plausible deniability is all. The most common refrain, even from us, is "what were your parents thinking!?"

I'm probably going to get a very disapproving phone call from my uncle some day.

Heh, heh, heh.

Current Music: Joan Jett - Bad Reputation

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Wed, Mar. 10th, 2004 07:05 pm

March 2, 2004, California State Primary Election Ballot
Proposition 56: “Permits enactment of budget and budget-related tax/appropriation bills with 55% vote. Legislature, Governor forfeit compensation each day budget is late. Fiscal Impact: Varying impacts from lowering the vote requirement for budget-related measures—including changes in spending and potentially significant increases in state tax revenues in some years. Impacts would depend on the composition and actions of future Legislatures.”

I’m sorry (and I genuinely am) but a general populace which includes individuals arrested at WalMart while trying to pay for toilet paper with a million dollar bill seems biochemically incapable of passing qualified judgement on an economic proposal of this magnitude and subtlety. Even after a degree in social sciences I didn’t want to touch that one. Although, on the general principle that anything you’re not willing to work hard for can’t really be important, I think the esteemed members of our legislature ought to stick with the 66% approval rating. Milling around trying to convince each other of things is what keeps them busy.

Prop 56 also includes this little gem of a provision: “[Prop 55] Prohibits a legislator from punishing or threatening to punish another legislator for a budget-related vote.”

My problem with this tidbit shares its origins with the warning on my roommate’s curling iron which reads “Do not insert into any orifice.” We can now infer that somewhere out there is a) a woman who apparently mistook her curling iron for a Q-tip, if not worse and b) a 70-year-old senator beating Leland Yee over the head with his walker and screaming “I told you to vote FOR the tax cuts you moron!” I find neither of these images salubrious to my faith in humankind.

Current Music: De Conversa Em Conversa - Joao Gilberto

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Mon, Mar. 8th, 2004 05:10 pm

“[The city of] Ankh-Morpork has dallied with many forms of government and it has ended up with that form of democracy known as One Man, One Vote. The Patrician was the Man; he had the Vote”

He also had a very pragmatic view of humanity. One of the worst things about crime, he reasoned, was not that it was immoral, per se, but that it was extremely disruptive. Crime was always with us, he reasoned, and therefore, if you were going to have crime, it at least should be organized crime. Ankh-Morpork therefor has the unique distinction of being the only major metropolis beauraucratized crime. To whit: all the usual classes of “criminals,” including thieves, assassins, prostitutes, lawyers and religious leaders, are organized into Guilds. The Thieves' Guild is actually responsible for theft in Ankh-Morpork, with annual budgets, forward planning and, above all, rigid job protection. Thus, in return for an agreed average level of crime per annum, the thieves themselves see to it that unauthorized crime is met with the full force of Injustice, which is generally a stick with nails in it.

This method has several advantages, one being, of course, the increased tax revenue and the other, in close second, is that under the Patrician’s rule if something is going to be stolen, it’s jolly well stolen right. You don’t get very far in the Thieves’ Guild by failing such elementary rights of passage as ‘how to steal the ancient artifact of enormous cultural value without being seen by the little old lady giving the tour.’ And of course, properly qualified thieves have fulfilled such core class requirements as The Proper Attire for Theft, Mystification (or How to Lock the Door Behind You) and Cleaning Up After Yourself. In short, while Ankh-Morpork certainly has a crime rate, it a rate that could probably be clocked at a slow amble. Perhaps an after dinner stroll, assuming the obligatory stops to exchange polite greetings with the neighbors.

Assuming my vague and somewhat inchoate plans to take over the world ever come to fruition I do believe this is the first reform I shall implement.

After all, I’m a well educated, pragmatic young individual with at least an average dose of what may be termed sanity and as such I refuse to believe in ephemera such as ghosts, Santa Claus and World Peace. I’ll accept that classic forms of criminality such taking things that don’t belong to you will always exist in human society and like most fellow denizens of the human race I’ve learned to live with this in a mature, if somewhat resigned, manner. What I cannot accept is why people do it badly.

Let us take, as the merest example, the incident of my car stereo. Now, not being an audiophile of any particular degree and lacking obscene amounts of money my car stereo is nothing special. It doesn’t double as a DVD player, receive satellite signals from bands that haven’t been born yet or communicate with Mission Control. It just plays CDs. One at a time. If you program it correctly, little dancing men will dance along the display screen more or less in time to the music but this is not, I feel, the height of electronic sophistication. It’s a $200 stereo brand-new and I bought it two years ago. So let us assume, though I am not completely conversant with the ins and outs of the black market, that if you managed to steal all the relevant parts to said stereo and resell them to some, shall we say, unofficial source, you might receive about $50 for it. What does $50 get you on the streets these days?

Regardless, the real point here is that had the individuals so desperate for that $50 been applicants to the Guild of Thieves they would not only have been turned away but sent to the Jester’s Guild with a glowing recommendation. My car was clearly the target of the most incompetent stereo thieves on the West Coast. I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, an auto mechanic but my roommates play with their car stereos like a kid with a box of legos and from my admittedly second hand experience it doesn’t look that complicated. Stereo slides into little open space A, wire 1 connects to jack 1, ditto wire 2. A little plastic harness to keep it in place and Voila! Sinatra on the I280. How is it then that the process of stealing said stereo could involve broken windows, burn marks, holes in the dashboard, two inch dents in the trunk, the destruction of the center console and the permanent loss of the electronic status display? What were they using, a crowbar? A blowtorch? I've never thought of my stereo as particularly violent, but perhaps it put up a fight? At what point in the basic procession of a) pull out stereo, b)cut wires, c)leave did they get lost and decide to improvise? Perhaps they left home without the proper tools? Were they reduced to chewing through the data lines? Perhaps next time I should leave them a pair of wire cutters and a diagram just to help them along?

Suffice it to say that my car was in the shop for a month and a half recovering from this little incident. 54 days. For $50. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why crime should be left to the experts.

Current Music: Sweet Dreams - Eurythmics

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Thu, Mar. 4th, 2004 02:58 pm

Let us start with this confession: I wear high heels. No, perhaps that understates the case. I always wear heels. Somewhere in the depths of my closet is a pair of sneakers left over from my stint on the varsity tennis team. They're hiding back there because they feel left out; they are the only pair of shoes in my possession on which the entirety of the sole actually touches the ground. They also don't get out much; I think they're sulking.

One of my good friends once hypothesized that a predelection for high heels was actually implanted in my head by some innocent as a form of belling the cat. Certainly, enough people have told me over the years that they know it's me not only by the sound of my heels but the rhythm. You can't go very fast in three inch heels so I don't bother trying. I have a tendency to saunter, which in heels has a nice easy click click to it. A slow waltz, maybe. Or the blues. I've also been told that it sounds rather threateningly deliberate, but I can't be responsible for what the sound of my walk does to a guilty conscience.

I'm used to the rhythm, of course. The same way I know my sister from a distance, not because her hair is generally the color of a fruit stand in Chernobyl but by the way she inclines forward when she walks. One of my roommates has quick nervous steps, like a sandpiper. Another sounds jaunty, almost a chuckle. Then again, we have hardwood floors. You can learn a lot about a person's posture listening to them walk down a hardwood hallway when you're trying to sleep.

Unfortunately, I recently bought an iPod. Don't get me wrong, it's the new love of my life. I am now surrounded by music all the time and I don't know how I ever lived otherwise. Bobby Darrin professes his undying love to lure me out of bed in the morning, Outkast apologizes profusely for making me go to work, Paul Schwartz approves my saintliness in not killing anyone while there and B.B. commiserates with me all the way home. I have a soundtrack of my very own.

And therein lies the problem. Because, of course, I already had a soundtrack, albeit one which consisted of a single percussive line, and I was used to living with it. Now I have a different rhythm every three minutes and I'm actually developing muscle pains. Either my soundtrack is drastically out of sync with my walk or my walk adjusts to the music and suddenly I'm swaggering down the street like Captain Jack Sparrow. It's ridiculous. I've actually contemplated putting together a playlist specifically for when I need to walk more than three blocks: one with a lot of blues in it.

In the mean time, my stride is all wrong. The other night my roommate nearly attacked me with a baseball bat because she said it 'didn't sound like me' coming in late at night. I can't figure out how long it takes to get anywhere because I never walk the same speed. I nearly fell over yesterday when the music switched from the White Stripes to Mozart in under a second. I'm not worried about driving with headphones on, I'm going to kill myself just walking down the street.

Of course, my coworkers find this hilarious. With the wrong playlist, I apparently resemble an episode of the Flying Circus involving funny walks and I'm resonable sure they've taken to hanging out in the lobby before work just to watch it happen. Normally, I would be upset about being laughed at but fortunately, I can't hear a thing.

Current Music: Riding With the King - B.B. King

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