February 2008 minutiae

  • It is annoying that my computer doesn't have a hard shutdown switch. When it locks up I have to unplug it and yank out the battery to get it to power off.

  • A message I heard before an audio clip: The following is brought to you by the all-new 2009 Toyota Corolla. 2009? Why not just skip straight to the 2023 model?

  • The power of muscle memory: I was walking down Channing Way in Berkeley, lost in thought, and happened to pass the dorm building I lived in seventeen years ago. And I started to go in until I snapped out of it and thought, "Wait, what the hell am I doing?"

  • In my USSR class the professor plays a lot of songs. In the lecture about the NEP, he played a song from the period that featured a girl singing in Russian, and he provided simultaneous translation:

    (something in Russian) "Unwashed"
    (something in Russian) "Cold"
    (something in Russian) "All by myself"
    (something in Russian) "Bagels"
    (something in Russian) "Bagels, rubles"
    (something in Russian) "Rubles, bagels"
    (something in Russian) "Fortunately, in Russian 'rubles' rhymes with 'bagels'"

    The story of the song was that a bagel salesman had hired an orphan girl and she had run off with all the bagels.

  • Lately around Berkeley I have been seeing a lot of stencilled graffiti with uplifting messages like "BREATHE YOU ARE ALIVE" and "YOU ARE NOT ALONE". I find the uplifting messages astonishingly successful at being uplifting! If all graffiti were like this it would be a much awesomer world.

  • So, the price of a stamp is going up again, from 41 cents to 42 cents. Come on! Just go to fifty cents! Go to fifty cents and leave it there for a while!

  • Sign in front of a Castro Valley church:


    What denomination is that?

  • I know that there are at least a few professors out there who ban the use of laptops at lectures. I wish they'd all do it — if it's bad for them, it's worse for those of us who can actually see the screens with all their blinky whirly bits as the students totally ignore the lecture and surf the web. In my USSR class there was a girl who spent a big chunk of the period looking at cuts of meat.

  • I love California, but I have to say, this state has some seriously shitty roads. I-880 northbound through Oakland really can't be resurfaced soon enough. There are probably dirt roads through Angola that are smoother.

  • At the Oakland airport I got yelled at by one of the rent-a-cops out front because after I dropped Elizabeth off at the curb and took her suitcase out of the trunk I actually took five seconds to hug her goodbye, despite the signs saying it was a "HIGH SECURITY ALERT". Seriously — five seconds, and suddenly there was this man in a reflective vest shouting, "You can't do this!" Note: it was six in the morning and there weren't any cars trying to pull in or anything. I had to laugh, because it was just so twisted and over the top. I mean, seriously? Six-plus years after 9/11 and our response is to have guys at the airport yelling at hugs? Why don't we just go all the way and outlaw rainbows while we're at it? Sheesh.

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