2011.01 minutiae

  • In December I grew a beard, just because I've been putting in long hours on my current work-for-hire project and didn't leave the house for a week, and then when I finally did have occasion to shave and get dressed and stuff I got curious about what it'd look like if I just let the scruff grow (Photoshop was unconvincing) and I wanted to freak Elizabeth out at the airport. She made me get rid of it posthaste, which was fine because it was kind of annoying, particularly where eating was concerned. The problem was that while I looked kind of weird to myself while I had the beard, after I shaved it, my face looked wrong — apparently I had broken my ability to recognize myself either way. Weeks later I have mostly grown reaccustomed to my face when it's completely clean-shaven, but a day's worth of stubble now looks grotesque to me: it's like an uncanny valley between bearded and beardless.

    (For those who looked at the picture: yes, that is all that grew after I quit shaving for five weeks. I'm not very testosteroney.)

  • Elizabeth flew in for her 30th birthday, for which I gave her the marvelous gift of waking her up at five in the morning, marching her to the BART station in the cold, proceeding to the airport and then sticking her in a middle seat in coach for five hours. But at the end of it we were in Hawaii, so I guess it sort of balances out. In the air I couldn't help but notice an extra button on the armrest:

    left: summon flight attendant right: KILL FLIGHT ATTENDANT

    My Hawaii travelogue is currently on my Pictures page, but here are a few extra notes from the trip:

  • The Hawaiian crow is extinct in the wild, and I was astonished to see that its niche — intelligent generalist bird well adapted to human habitat — has been filled in Hawaii by, of all things, the myna bird, which I had never seen outside of a cage! They're frickin' everywhere, man! I also saw a red-crested cardinal, which is actually a tanager and is from southeastern South America. (I didn't bother to photograph the zebra doves, which were also new to me but are also pretty dull.)

  • It turns out that Hawaii is a very dangerous place. For one thing, it's apparently quite slippery, which is particularly troublesome if you're on top of a cliff or standing underneath one while someone above you is slipping. And if you think the land is dangerous, let's not even talk about the water. Go out too far and you've got problems. Don't go out far enough and you've got other problems. Go out exactly far enough and... you've still got problems.

  • When I was planning this trip I ran across a post from someone who was considering a similar trip but was worried about the language barrier. People replied that, ha ha, Hawaii is one of the 50 states, everyone speaks English, did you really think that all the signs would be in Hawaiian or something, etc., but I did find that there are a few Hawaiian words that you see and hear everywhere and that are therefore helpful to know. Some examples:

    "thank you"

  • Listening to Hawaiian radio, two questions occurred to me:

    1. What's with all the reggae? Wrong islands, mon!

    2. Did all the Valley Girls migrate to Honolulu en masse and get jobs as DJs? I knew Hawaii was in its own time zone but I didn't realize that time zone was "1982".

  • At a scenic viewpoint on the Pali Highway I saw several people taking photographs of their parking spot numbers. Because, y'know, how else are you going to remember "5".

  • I've noticed a sudden upswing in the extent to which the ads I'm getting link to sites I've visited. This is annoying because the fact that I visited those sites of my own accord ought to suggest that I don't need the hard sell. I look at those ads and think, "Uh, I already booked tickets on your airline! I already made reservations at your restaurant!" The ads make me less inclined to reward these companies with repeat business.

  • After getting back from Hawaii I had to turn right around and go to L.A. for work. I have to say, L.A. is a great food city — I'd wager that there's more great food there within a given distance than there is here in the East Bay. The catch: change "distance" to "travel time" and the East Bay wins big. I'm always astounded by just how phenomenally bad L.A. traffic is. There was a bakery I wanted to try that was less than seven miles from my hotel — getting there and back took an hour and a half!

  • At one point the hotel called in a panic because the cleaning staff had found no luggage in my room — had I checked out in a huff for some reason? No... I just... hadn't brought any luggage. I was only staying for a week.

  • A few years ago I had a sort of action movie dream in which I was helping to stop some sort of calamity. Well, maybe "helping" isn't the word, because really I was just kind of stand around while this scientist and his daughter did all the work. The key was to somehow utilize the Ouroboros principle to get the disaster to turn against itself.

    Anyway, so this month I had the exact same dream again! Moment by moment, scene by scene, right up to the point that I was in the lab with the scientist and his daughter, and we were standing around trying to figure out what to do. Except that this time I remembered the previous dream. "What about Ouroboros?" I proposed. The scientist looked at me with awe. "That's brilliant!" he cried. "Let's get to work!" The daughter seemed really impressed too. I thought I might have a chance of getting lucky with her but I woke up first.

  • On the way back from Berkeley Bowl I found myself driving behind a car with the license plate CTH♥LHU.

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