June 2008 minutiae
- I wonder whether Courtney Love told her plastic surgeon "I want to
look like Joan Rivers" or whether that's just the inevitable outcome of
- I was at a laundromat and a hockey game between the Detroit Red Wings
and Pittsburgh Penguins was on. It was sudden-death overtime, so I watched
it while my machines were going. An hour and a half later, my laundry was
done and it was still sudden-death overtime. Neither team was able
to score even a single goal in that time! Lesson:
sports with goalies are awful! The
presence of the goalie erases the vast majority of what the team on offense
accomplishes. It's like an art contest in which every painting has gallons
of black paint splashed onto it and then gets judged on whatever fragments
of colors happen to have made it through.
- Of course, basketball has its own problems. There's been a big
hullaballoo about a former referee declaring that Game 6 of the 2002
Lakers-Kings series was fixed... which anyone who saw that game already
knew. The problem is that on any given play there are at least a few
incidental fouls, so if the referee wants to call them all on one end
and not on the other, he can. Some say that this means we need to
ensure that the referees are fair. I say that any sport in which there
are several fouls on every play needs to be completely rethought.
- Much to Elizabeth's chagrin, I don't like dogs. But I do like almost
all other canines: wolves, foxes, coyotes — one of my students has
a vineyard in front of her house and this month I saw two coyote pups
padding around in it. Adorable.
- I drive a Honda Insight, a 60+ mpg hybrid with
a somewhat unusual shape. I sometimes get questions
about it. This month I was at a gas station filling it up when the guy
on the other side of the pump asked, "Is that all electric?" Once again:
I was at a gas station. I was standing there squeezing the handle
of a nozzle that was stuck in my tank. What did he think was coming out?
Bolts of lightning?
- One afternoon after work I wanted to go to
Gregoire for lunch. The
shortest route would be to go up Shattuck to Cedar, but my car was
pointed east and I thought there would be less traffic if I went up
Gayley, so I tried it. Huge mistake. At first it seemed like there
was just a lot of traffic. But then, hippies. Hippies everywhere.
They swarmed out onto the street and blocked in the cars. They went
around to all the cars telling the drivers to shut down their cars
because "you're gonna be here for a while and you don't want to waste
gas." (My car automatically shuts down the engine at idle, so I was
unmoved by their concern trolling.) Fortunately, after about ten
minutes we were able to reverse out of the hippie ambush and I was
able to get my avocado sandwich before Gregoire switched to the
It turns out that the hippie ambush was about supplying the protesters
in the oak grove with food and water. For those who haven't been
following the story, the university wants to cut down a few dozen
oak trees near the football stadium in order to build a training
center. For the past eighteen months hippies have been living in the
trees to keep them from being cut down. Now, sure, I'd rather see
oak trees on Gayley than a damn gym, but I have to question the
moral calculus here. The prettiness of a city block is worth climbing
a tree and spending month after unwashed month lounging around in the
branches and shitting in a bucket? That isn't noble idealism, it's
- More driving woes: I stupidly left for an appointment without
checking the traffic map online. I can see the 880 as I head
for the onramp, though, so if I don't see cars moving I pick a
different freeway. Traffic seemed to be moving fine, so I got on...
only to see that maybe a tenth of a mile ahead, traffic was stopped.
It turned out that a truck had blown up a mile and a half ahead and
that all lanes were closed — I later heard that they had to
repave the whole area because the heat of the explosion had melted
the asphalt. It took me well over an hour to make it to the next exit
and get off the freeway. Now here's what I want to know. Why didn't I
see more backup? It turned out that traffic was being directed off the
freeway at 238, ie, one exit before my onramp, and at Marina,
one exit after my onramp. Why didn't they just close the
- And another car thing. I've seen and heard some ads for a show
at the Exploratorium about psychological blocks: can you make yourself
drink from a water fountain shaped like a toilet, that sort of thing.
Well, I hate driving behind a tow truck that has a car hooked
up to it. I know perfectly well that the car is going in the same
direction as the tow truck, but still — that's the front of
a car. Hard to beat back the instinct to swerve out of its path.
- espn.com served me the following web ad for Nivea body wash:
WELCOME TO MANHOOD
SCRUB THE SCENT OF BOY AWAY
Sorry, Nivea, but I think it may be too late to corner the lucrative
ancient Greek bathhouse market.
- I got to a student's house in San Francisco town and a dog was
heading up front walk. I thought at first that the dog must belong to
the house, but then I saw a young woman at the end of the walk who
seemed to own the dog. I figured that maybe she was a friend of my
student who had dropped by at an inopportune time. Anyway, I walked
up the walk and rang the bell. The dog inside started barking, which
made the dog outside start barking. My student came to the door from
inside the house just as the young woman on the sidewalk came up to it
from the outside. "My dog wants to visit your dog," she said. "Okay,
come in," said my student.
The young woman introduced herself to my student as her neighbor from
two doors down as her dog glanced indifferently at the student's dog
and went off to go explore the house. Eventually the dog went upstairs
and the neighbor loudly pretended that she was about to leave in hopes
that this would coax the dog back downstairs. No luck. It took some
wrangling to return the dog to the foyer. At this point the story sort
of peters out but I do wonder what the likelihood would be that someone
in a suburb would ask a total stranger "hey, can my dog come into your
house" and receive an affirmative reply.
- Another graduation season has come and gone, and I realized: if
my high school diploma were a person, it would have a high school
- I am probably the bajillionth person to point this out, but I
couldn't resist. The setup, from the Associated Press:
A teenager was decapitated by a roller coaster after he hopped a pair
of fences and entered a restricted area Saturday at Six Flags Over Georgia,
The followup, which I swear I am not making up:
Authorities were investigating reports from witnesses who said the
teenager jumped the fences to retrieve a hat he lost
- I was looking at my Paypal account information and an innocuous line
jumped out at me: the date my account was created. That date? September
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