2011.06 minutiae

  • Seen at the farmers' market: a scrawny old man with a bushy white beard walking around asking, in a classic decrepit-geezer voice: "Anybody want a poem or a massage?"

  • I went to Seattle to train some teachers to teach the new GRE, and while I was up there Elizabeth and I took a lot of buses. One of them had the following sign up:

    Seems to me that "getting in the know" about snow would include learning that snowflakes aren't octagonal.

  • When I returned home after a couple of weeks in the Northwest, I was surprised to find that my neighborhood was suddenly filled with empty storefronts. Guess the recession hit that second dip while I was away?

  • Checking my mail upon my return, I found a letter from my health insurance company warning me that due to that dastardly Obamacare, my premiums were being hiked — there was a long list of reasons why their hands were being forced and why if we wanted to blame someone we should blame the sassafrassin' Demmy-crats. Then, at the bottom, was the automatically generated notice detailing exactly how much my premiums were going up: negative 13 percent. Confound you, Obamacare!

  • The Pew Research Center asked a random sample of 1000 adults, "Thinking about the candidates running for the Republican presidential nomination, if you had to use one single word to describe your overall impression of this group of candidates, what would that one word be?" Checking in at #36: "Republican." /golfclap

  • Not long after I got back from the Northwest I had to hope right back on a plane and head down to L.A. While at Oakland Airport — I repeat, Oakland Airport — I passed a Kindle display and decided to check it out. The sample Kindle had the following passage cued up:

    I then proceeded to my gate and boarded a Boeing 737. I did not buy a Kindle.

  • I have become hooked on a Youtube series called "Kids React" in which kids (most of them aspiring performers, I have gathered) opine about viral videos (and occasionally other stuff like celebrity interviews). Here's the one with Keyboard Cat, for instance. I don't even know why I like this so much! Sure, some of the kids are pretty darn cute, but others are fairly annoying with their tendency to ham it up and their inability to act naturally on camera. I was thinking about this and it occurred to me that part of the answer might be that I am simpatico with these kids because they are, in a strange sense, my colleagues: when I was their age I was also on a "kids say the most goddamned things" type of show, on CBS, and good heavens am I ever going to regret this but here's a clip — skip to about 2:05. What jumps out at me here is not so much that I look like a chimp or that I have crushingly awful '80s hair or that there might as well be a neon sign flashing ASPIE behind me — I was expecting those things — so much as the accent. I had been in California for more than a quarter of my life by this point! Why do I sound like I just got off the New Jersey Turnpike?

  • Speaking of the '80s, I was gobsmacked to read that being floated for the top job at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is an apparent protégé of Elizabeth Warren's named Raj Date. I went to junior high with that guy! I've been to his house! I've played Microsoft Decathlon on his computer!

  • From the "phrases you don't hear much anymore" department: "harmonic convergence."

  • I happened across an obituary for a member of the board of directors at a local bank. Her name: Debbie Downer. No joke. Wouldn't you at least go by "Deborah"?

  • Later I was walking down Solano when I passed a storefront with a little sandwich-board out front declaring "EVERYONE INVITED" to some sort of event "TONIGHT @ 7 PM." It was a bit past seven, so I glanced through the window to see what the event was. Inside I found a bunch of people watching a movie screen on which was projected an image of a diseased foot.

  • cnn.com: The alleged East Coast mobster and his girlfriend were known as Charlie and Carol Gasko, a May-December couple living in the heart of sunny Southern California [...] But their real names were James "Whitey" Bulger, 81, and Catherine Elizabeth Greig, 60. That's not "May-December"! She's November, he's February.

  • I was in my car singing along to the song "Satellite Mind" by Metric and it occurred to me that in context I didn't even register the word "fuck" as profanity. Maybe it's just me, but I really do think that the song somehow makes it sound more innocuous than usual. (The ironic thing is that, as I understand it, the fact that it's not being used as an expletive makes it more subject to censorship under FCC guidelines.)

  • After the North Korean soccer team lost to the U.S. 2-0 in the Women's World Cup I was interested to see what psychotically farfetched excuse it would trot out, and North Korea did not disappoint: North Korea blames loss to U.S. on players getting struck by lightning. While browsing the official North Korean news web site, I happened across a couple of other gems; here's one report:

    Pyongyang, June 28 (KCNA) -- A 7.2-magnitude earthquake hit Alaska State, the U.S. on June 23.

    The epicenter was 172 kms east of a town of the State.

    A delightful mix of precision and vagueness! On the flip side, I have no criticisms whatsoever to make of this headline: Fatal Radioactive Substances Ceaselessly Detected in Japan. That's just an unalloyed triumph.

  • I went to the bakery and bought a loaf of bread. The girl behind the counter asked, "Do you want that sliced at all?" I wonder what she would've done if I'd said, "Okay, just a little."

Return to the Calendar page!