June 2007 minutiae

  • The next time I shop for an alarm clock I think my main criterion is going to be a really big snooze button. Having to hunt around for the right button defeats the purpose of electing to continue sleeping!

  • Here is a sequence of events that would have seemed preposterous not so long ago. I'm driving in a town I've never been to, trying to find a particular restaurant, and I get lost. What do I do? Find a gas station and buy a map, or at least ask for directions? Nah. I pull over, take out the tiny telephone I carry around, turn it on, and call... the restaurant? 411? No again. I call Canada. "Can you look up something on Google Maps for me?" Because we live in a world where it is easier to bounce a radio signal off a tower and get someone in another country to tap into a global information network and pull up a satellite image of your location than it is to find someone to ask, "Where's First Street?"

  • I found myself driving behind a car that had a dog in it. The dog was sticking its head out the window. This wouldn't have bothered me except for the fact that it was the driver's window. I mean, I don't mind if a dog wants to drive a car, but c'mon, keep your eye on the road.

  • When I pack to go to the airport I can't help but picture what the things I am packing will look like strewn around the crash site.

  • cnn.com reports that the average teenager drives about 9,307 miles a year. I like the "about." I guess the writer felt guilty about leaving off the mantissa.

  • While in Canada I read an article in an old newspaper — 19 July 1969, to be precise — about Air Canada offering reservations for its first flight to the moon. Air Canada's PR guy admitted that it was a tongue-in-cheek stunt, adding, "We're dealing here with 30 years. By the year 2000 the aircraft we're flying now will be virtually unknown. We'll be flying wingless, tailless supersonic vehicles that could carry up to 1000 people." Holy crap! And to think that I flew up on a regular plane with wings and everything like a chump. Air Canada's been holding out on me.

  • I've been spending a fair amount of time in Los Angeles lately. I wonder whether I will ever stop boggling that this nexus of boutiques and museums and good restaurants and seemingly the entire entertainment industry was sitting so close to where I lived for twelve years and yet I wasn't even aware of it. Like, I knew Los Angeles existed, but I thought it was all like, y'know, Bellflower.

  • There is a certain indefinable something about the way the shape of a place impresses itself upon your psyche. So much of the feel of Los Angeles vs. the Bay Area has to do with the fact that the one fills up an enormous basin while the other is a ring of settlement around a body of water hemmed in by mountains. When I'm stuck in traffic in the Bay Area, it feels like being trapped in a line that snakes around the corner, through an alley and up a staircase. When I'm stuck in traffic in Los Angeles, it feels like sitting in the world's largest parking lot.

  • cbc.ca: [...] giving birth alone is unsafe, since up to 15 per cent of all births involve potentially fatal complications. For example, a woman can hemorrhage a litre of blood every four minutes [...] Man, I guess it's a good thing the US never switched to the metric system.

  • Democratic Unionist Party leader Ian Paisley on Tony Blair's last day in office: I just want to say to the prime minister this one word: He has entered into another colossal task. I guess after he said "He" he realized that he needed to supply a little more context.

  • Sketch Ice Cream on Fourth Street in Berkeley makes probably the best ice cream I have ever eaten outside of Gramercy Tavern, but its selection is fairly limited, its hours are even moreso, and the proprietors insist on serving the ice cream with a flat wooden spoon that makes the ice cream taste like wood. Last November I finally decided to do something about the last of these problems; when the girl put the wooden spoon in the ice cream, I said, "Can I have a plastic spoon, please?" and she gave me one. I went back a couple of days later for more ice cream and she gave me a wooden spoon again. "Can I have a plastic spoon, please?" I asked. "Oh yeah," she said.

    Then I didn't go back for seven months because I never felt like ice cream when I was in the area. The end of June rolls around and I miss the turn for the freeway and end up on Fourth. "Buh, guess I'll get some ice cream as long as I'm here," I think. I go in and order a cup of burnt caramel.

    "Plastic spoon, right?" the girl says.

    Gah! I hadn't even realized it was the same girl.

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