A lump of coal in our national stocking

This one was my least-favorite of all to write.

You better watch out
You better not cry
You better not pout
I’m telling you why
President Trump is coming to town.

He’s writing a tweet
And checking it once
Bashing Jill Stein
And Hillary, those cunts
President Trump is coming to town.

He’s terrific when he’s sleeping
He’s the best when he’s awake
He’s better than everyone in the world
So give up for goodness’ sake

His feelings get hurt
He whines to his kooks
And sics ’em on you
But now he’ll have nukes
President Trump is coming to town.

(Previously.)

Darnedest negotiation 2016

(Strangely, this one also has to do with socks.)

Jonah: Archer, can I borrow your black socks?
Archer: If… [thinks] …you give me a compliment.
Jonah: You have excellent socks.

(Previously.)

Otras palabras mías

Keeping you updated on every shareable thought that flits through my brain, since 2011.

  • Jonah did an authentic spit-take tonight. In a conversation about salt-water taffy, Andrea and I were remembering my one very failed attempt at making some, years ago. Jonah was drinking a glass of water just as I described my taffy as “a mouthful of vinegar cement.”

  • Fright Night. Total Recall. Miami Vice. Colin Farrell is the king of the unnecessary 80's remake.

  • Just received the settlement check in the malpractice case relating to the death of my mom in 2007. It isn't much, especially after lawyers' fees and other expenses, and it certainly does nothing to bring back my mom or make me miss her less.

    I'll tell you what has brought back my mom, in a way: my sister Suzanne's dogged handling of this long, slow, frustrating, bureaucratic process, driving it to completion in the face of delays and setbacks and screw-ups. The spirit of our mom, who loved to muscle her way through such hassles and proudly adopted the nickname Superpest, is alive and well in her.

  • I have only a vague notion of who Maria Conchita Alonso is, but that's not stopping her name from incessantly reverberating in my head this evening.

    It's not as bad as the Mandalit del Barco episode of 2013, thank goodness.

  • I have passed some sort of milestone in my inevitable progression to cranky old man.

    Encountering a group of 20-something coworkers having a collective smoking break outside the office just now, my reaction was not the usual nostalgic longing for a cigarette myself, it was anger. I wanted to say to them, “How dare you take your youth and health for granted like that.”

  • Elvis needs boats! Elvis needs boats! Elvis Elvis Elvis Elvis Elvis Elvis Elvis needs boats!

  • Oh Jupiter Ascending, why couldn't you be awesome?

  • Recognized a Luke Perry cameo in the end-tag of a Community episode. Andrea said, “Wow, he looks old.” Looked him up on IMDb. He's the exact same age as us. [http://www.sadtrombone.com/]

  • Grownups seemed a lot more grown up when I was a kid than they do now that I'm a grownup.

  • There once was a baby named Kade
    By Shane and by Erika made
    The news of his birth
    Encircled the Earth
    And people all over hoorayed

  • It doesn't seem like it should be much harder to eat a sandwich that hasn't been cut in half first, but it is.

  • As water cascades down onto my head
    I make a great effort of will
    And, snapping my thoughts to the moment, I think:
    Did I lather yet? Or must I still?

  • New episodes of Twin Peaks, The X-Files, and Coach are coming, as is a possible Clinton presidency. Looks like 90's nostalgia is on.

  • [On the ongoing saga of Radio Shack's imminent demise.] I seldom enter Radio Shack stores nowadays, so I suppose I'm part of the problem, but for sentimental reasons I'm still glad to see them cling to survival. I'm just old enough to remember bringing vacuum tubes to Radio Shack with my dad once in a while to plug them into the store's tube tester and replace the ones that didn't make the little light light up. Chuck and I supplied our electronics projects from there decades before anyone coined the term “maker.” My first computer came from Radio Shack, and I have as much fond nostalgia for it as any TRS-80 Model III owner; but I doubt many of them developed a crush on the recorded voice that answered the Tandy Corporation's main customer service line circa 1980. I dialed again and again just to hear some young woman thank me for calling Tandy and politely ask me to wait on hold in a perky Texas twang.

  • Today is “random holiday spirit” day at school. Kids are supposed to dress in the style of the holiday of their choosing. Archer said, “I'll wear a Santa hat. That will be my Halloween costume.”

  • Farewell, Candy Crush Soda Saga level 130. You were a worthy opponent.

  • How old does something have to be before it becomes “vintage”? How about “antique”? Or “ancient”?

  • There's a part of me that spends every waking moment tortured half to madness by two intractable puzzles: the true nature of reality; and how it's possible for any thinking person _not_ to spend every waking moment tortured half to madness by the true nature of reality.

  • In a conversation the other day with Jonah, I said something like, “You are in control of your emotions.” Jonah immediately recognized that I was unintentionally quoting a classic episode of Star Trek. So, so proud of my boy.

  • I am enjoying this interlude between the announcement of a working, reactionless spaceship drive and its inevitable refutation even more than I did the brief period we all believed in cold fusion in the 80's.

  • Jonah was playing a video game. Archer was watching. Archer jumped up from the couch and ran into the kitchen and back to the living room, saying “Good shot!” It was running commentary.

  • Just finished listening to Blueprint for Armageddon VI, the final installment in Dan Carlin – Hardcore History's magisterial podcast series about World War I. This installment was nearly four and a half hours long. The complete series adds up to over _twenty-three_ hours – and for this fan it's not enough. I would gladly listen to another six installments on the topics that host Dan Carlin admits he glossed over in the interest of time.

    I am amused that, in describing an incident near the end of the war, with just minutes left in this nearly day-long podcast series, Carlin tosses in the phrase, “Long story short…”

  • “On” purpose. “By” accident.

    Thanks,
    – Bob

  • Eight years now that the world has had to get along without Flori Glickstein. It's done its best, but it shows.

  • Final field trip of elementary school DONE.

  • By what black magic does Candy Crush Soda Saga keep me from getting sick of the tune that I've now heard over and over and over for 200 levels?

  • [On seeing the headline, “How Apple Hopes to Take A Bite Out Of The News Business.”] When I saw this headline, I got curious, and so: https://goo.gl/WIQzkC

  • Enjoyed Neal Stephenson's new novel Seveneves so much that the momentum has me now reading The Baroque Cycle for the third time.

  • [On the launch of kill-ralphie.com.] “When someone posted to Kill Ralphie, they were contributing a chapter to an ongoing story about a hapless lad who is alternately placed in immediate mortal danger, then rescued, both in the most creative and entertaining ways possible.”

  • If you're going to San Francisco
    Be sure to wear $491 dollars in your hair
    For when the City of San Francisco
    Tows your car to the impound they have there

  • Happy Canada Day
    Happy Canaday
    Happy Canad, eh?

  • The Plotkin sisters (Janet, Sherri, and Diane) are among my very favorite people to spend time with, and have been for literally my entire life. Not even an expensive tow can detract from the pleasure of an afternoon spent with one of my cousins.

  • Just realized that I was born closer in time to (the waning days of) the First World War than to today. Dang.

  • Dammit Bill Cosby. I Spy was one of my favorite things. Now I'll never be able to watch it again.

  • [On the announcement of a working Star Trek communicator.] Don't tell the makers of this item, but there is almost no price I wouldn't gladly pay.

  • Googler -> Xoogler

  • Batgirl, Batgirl!
    Batgirl, Batgirl!
    Where do you come from? Where do you go?
    What is your scene? Baby, we just gotta know
    Yeah, whose baby are you?
    Batgirl!

    (RIP Yvonne Craig)

  • Until very recently, having time to myself at home would have been a real treat, a chance to focus, catch up on correspondence, get some writing done, work on my side projects. Now I simply miss my family.

  • As a little kid, I used to watch my dad “make a left” each morning: walk down the long hallway outside our apartment as he left for work, then turn left around a corner and disappear from sight.

    Many years later, my kids would watch me from our front window as I turned left out of our driveway and disappeared on my way to work.

    Now I hand the kids their lunches and watch them disappear to the left on their way to school.

  • I wonder if I can sue Ashley Madison for _not_ containing my e-mail in their purloined account database, thereby revealing to the world what a boring faithful straight arrow I am.

  • A world with no Carl Sagan, no Jim Henson, AND no Oliver Sacks? What kind of cruel joke is this?

  • Every once in a while I'll spot a 19¢ packet of Kool-Aid at the store and buy it because childhood. Then I'll get home and remember all the other times that I bought packets of Kool-Aid on a whim, and I toss the new packet on the pile.

    Today it hit 103 in San Rafael and I made some Kool-Aid, dammit.

  • Have you ever visited a city that you've never lived in, but where you felt immediately at home? What place or places made you feel like that, and why?

    I don't mean getting to some vacation paradise, feeling your cares melt away, and declaring you could spend the rest of your life there. That's different from feeling _at home_.

    I've had this experience in Seattle and in Chicago, and conspicuously haven't in many other places, even places that are superficially similar. I'm at a loss to explain what it is about Seattle and Chicago that makes me feel that way (and what it is about other places that doesn't), but the sensation is undeniable, and Andrea has felt it too.

  • [On the publication of Wired's article “Your Body Is Surrounded By Clouds Of Skin And Fart Bacteria.”] Synchronicity:

    Last night this sentence popped into my head: We exist in a miasma of one another's exhalations.

    Why did that sentence pop into my head? I have no idea. It's not a typical thought for me to have, and nothing out of the ordinary relating to exhalations or other bodily functions took place to get me onto that topic. The thought sounded vaguely musical to me and I briefly entertained posting it to Facebook.

    Then this morning comes this interesting Wired article. The headline's a little more crudely put than my sentence, but it's the same idea, and interestingly, they're both seventeen syllables, like a haiku.

  • I thought I was old when they started rebooting movies and TV shows I watched as a kid. Now they're rebooting movies and TV shows I ignored as an adult.

  • Well, that was nice while it lasted, but it's time to go back to work. Gonna give the startup thing another go. Tomorrow I start at Chain.com.

  • Today I wrote code in Go and in Java and in Javascript and in Ruby and in Python and in SQL. Tomorrow, more of the same. Life is good.

  • San Francisco 49er

  • What's a screenwriting workshop doing in the middle of a Vegas casino?

  • It's my fault, sorry. I was just thinking Halloween needed an authentic scare, and then the Mets came within one game of losing the World Series.

  • “Fun Size” candies: what are we supposed to think about the other sizes? [Best response: “Regret size.”]

  • I've been a happy customer of dbrand's quality phone- and tablet skins for a few years. When I got my new Nexus 5X recently I promptly ordered a new set of skins from them. When they didn't arrive after a few weeks I contacted them and got back a remarkably contrite reply explaining that their shipping volume has begun to exceed the capacity of their present vendor and they're looking for new solutions; and in the meantime they shipped me a replacement set of skins AND refunded my money AND gave me a store credit AND included some extras in the replacement shipment they sent. I replied thanking them and telling them they went far beyond my expectations for good customer service, and that the only way for me to balance the scales was to worsen their shipping-volume problems by urging my friends and family to buy their fine products. So here we are: go buy dbrand's fine products!

  • What more natural, when hearing about a horrifying shooting rampage, than to imagine oneself as a potential victim?

    Having imagined that, what more natural than to imagine being able to defend oneself with one's own firearm, if it came to that?

    Somewhat less natural, apparently, is to imagine the other potential victims around you, having imagined the same things, terrified, confused, pulling out their own firearms, and looking for the threat they have to neutralize.

    You're standing there brandishing a gun. Imagine that.

  • For decades the fans have been saying we could do Star Wars better than George Lucas if only one of us got control of it.

    Well, one of us did, and WE WERE RIGHT.

  • Life tip: “hurry up!” makes people go slower; “please take your time” makes them go faster.

  • Discussing the mysterious bad smell in my car:

    Andrea: It smells like stinky cheese.
    Me: Cheese? Really?
    Andrea: Well, something's definitely… fromaging.

Santa Claus is painting the town

This one has been sitting in my “drafts” folder for a long time (unlike some others from the past).

You better shut up
You better not say
The press gets a hold of this
They’ll have a field day
Santa Claus is painting the town

He’s tossing back drinks
And taking in sights
Hitting on chicks
And getting in fights
Santa Claus is painting the town

He works so hard on Christmas
That a break we can’t begrudge
His behavior seems unsavory
But really, who are we to judge?

So if you should get
A call from the jail
Do the right thing
And post Santa’s bail
Santa Claus is painting the town

(Previously.)

The Aristocrats!

My sleeping brain has done it again.

Warning: crude humor ahead, which is surprising since my waking brain doesn’t “work blue.”

In this dream, we were visiting our friend and Archer’s sometime Shakespeare acting coach Scott at his cabin in Muir Woods.1 He told Archer this joke:

Q: What do the townspeople call the King’s fucking-cake?
A: A cake fit for a Queen!

In the dream it took both Archer and me a moment to get the joke. (I first thought it was a play on the gay-man meaning of queen, but it’s not.) But then we both did, and both laughed. I was at once appalled that Scott would tell that joke to my 11-year-old son and perversely proud that Archer got it.

My sleeping brain came up with a dirty joke that I didn’t get right away! How does that even work?!

  1. He does not have a cabin in Muir Woods. []

Shut your mug

At Google (where I no longer work, as of about a month ago) there was a thriving culture of discussion on internal mailing lists covering every topic from politics to parenting to the latest developments in the high-tech industry. Certain topics, and certain modes of expression, were forbidden by Google’s legal team for fear of some opposing lawyer making expensive hay out of a Googler’s utterance, in context or out, in the discovery phase of the lawsuits that came Google’s way almost daily. An exuberant peon could write “Feature [X] is going to crush competitor [Y]!” and suddenly Google could be looking at a serious antitrust complaint, for instance. (For more on how companies can be on the hook for the innocent utterances of its employees, see Jamie Zawinski’s classic article about the “bad-attitude” and “really-bad-attitude” mailing lists at Netscape.)

All Googlers were required to take a training course annually to reinforce the rules surrounding internal online communication, but passion, arrogance, and ignorance could sometimes undermine that training, and occasionally someone would write something inadvisable.

At times like these, a member of Google’s legal team named Doug – who seemed to do little else but read internal discussion groups – would swoop into the thread and respectfully remind everyone to “communicate with care.” On one such occasion, his remarks transformed the thread into one all about him and his polite but firm reminders. When a couple of folks contributed short poems on the topic, I composed and posted this (1 May 2012).

Doug I am!
I am Doug!
Do you like to shut your mug?

I do not like to shut my mug.
I do not like to, I-am-Doug.

Would you, could you, if we’re sued?
Could you, would you, if we’re screwed?

I would not, could not, if we’re sued.
I could not, would not, if we’re screwed.

Will you, will you, on your blog?
Will you, will you, lest we flog?

I will not, will not, on my blog.
I will not, will not, lest you flog.

Would you like to in the press?
Try it, try! Don’t make a mess.

I would not like to in the press.
I do not think I’ll make a mess.

Could you shut your mug in tweets,
In Facebook posts, and in the streets?

I could not shut it in the streets!
Not in my posts and not my tweets!
I do not think I’ll make a mess
And will not shut it in the press
Not on my blog
Not lest you flog
Not if we’re sued
Not if we’re screwed
I do not like to shut my mug!
I do not like to, I-am-Doug!

You do not like it, so you say
Try it, try it, and you may

Saaay…
I do now like to shut my mug!
I do so like it, I-am-Doug!
And I will shut it in the press
And I will never make a mess!
And I will shut it in my tweets
In Facebook posts, and in the streets,
And if we’re sued
And if we’re screwed
And on my blog
No need to flog
I do so like to shut my mug!
Thank you, thank you, I-am-Doug!

Kill Ralphie! saved!

[Cross-posted at kill-ralphie.blogspot.com/2015/06/kill-ralphie-saved.html.]

In the 1980’s, students and faculty at Carnegie Mellon University were on the Internet, but there was no World Wide Web yet – no browsers, no websites, no Google, Facebook, or YouTube; in fact, no video and almost no graphics, just text. But there still existed social communities online, organized into discussion forums on numerous topics. Usenet was the biggest of these. Carnegie Mellon had its own internal collection of discussion forums called bboards.

One bboard was called “Kill Ralphie!” When someone posted to Kill Ralphie, they were contributing a chapter to an ongoing story about a hapless lad who is alternately placed in immediate mortal danger, then rescued, both in the most creative and entertaining ways possible. I was an enthusiastic participant back then, along with many others at CMU. Writing for an audience of fellow contributors was a formative experience for me that improved my prose and humor skills from “immature” to “slightly less immature.”

Well, guess what? Kill Ralphie! lives again! I’ve taken that old pastime and turned it into a fun new website. Please check it out, contribute chapters, and enjoy: kill-ralphie.com.

2014: rYeEviARew

“Year” in “review,” get it? Some of my social media utterances for the past year.

(Previously: 1, 2, 3, 4.)

  • Growing Up Unvaccinated
    Vaccine deniers endanger themselves, their children, and (what not enough people seem to understand) ME and MY CHILDREN too.
  • I just upgraded from Fedora 19 to Fedora 20. Notably absent: teeth-gnashing; hair-pulling; garment-rending; hot salty tears of frustration. It Just Worked. I… I don’t understand.
  • Jonah, just before falling asleep at the end of New Year’s Day: “It’s 2014. One more year until hovercars.”
  • Climate-change denial. Vaccine denial. Evolution denial. I suspect a healthy suspicion of authority is behind all of them, but if so, it’s misguided, because science is anti-authoritarian. That is to say, you don’t have to take anyone’s word for it when it comes to scientific claims; you can in principle test them for yourself. I don’t think people understand this well enough. Then again, there’s an awful lot unsaid in that “in principle.”
  • Is Wolf of Wall Street Really the Sweariest Movie of All Time? A Slate Investigation.
    Scorsese strikes again. (Previously: http://www.geebobg.com/2010/09/15/wtf/)
  • There is a stereotype in WWII movies (including documentaries) of the pugnacious but lovable Italian guy from Brooklyn fighting alongside his other American GI buddies. This at a time that German-Americans and Japanese-Americans were being interned or expelled or regarded by other Americans with everything from suspicion to outright hatred. Why? After all, Italy was part of the Axis too.
  • We are Huxleying ourselves into the full Orwell
    Cory Doctorow is not your usual hair-trigger alarmist.
  • Your thought for today: You can’t spell Russia without U-S-A. You can’t spell United States of America without R-U-S-S-I-A. That is all.
  • Pancake mix: not delicious. Add water: not delicious. Drive water back out (by heating on a griddle): delicious. Can’t explain that.
  • Lisa: This show is the biggest farce I ever saw!
    Bart: What about the Emmys?
    Lisa: I stand corrected.
  • My kids refuse to watch Groundhog Day on Groundhog Day because, in their words, “It’s boring: it’s just the same thing happening again and again.” Where did I go wrong?
  • A Nobel prize! A piece of string! You know what’s awesome? Everything!
  • Wow, splendid days!
  • Andrea, on the box of chocolates she bought me yesterday: “I almost didn’t get them. They said “dark hearts.” That’s not positive!”
  • In Arizona’s defense, it’s where we saw our first and only gay rodeo.
  • I remember a lot of predictions about the future of computing from when I was younger. Some far-out ones have come true, and some obvious ones haven’t. But no one predicted that in 2014 we would call our computers “phones.”
  • According to a New Study, Nothing Can Change an Anti-Vaxxer’s Mind
    Sigh. If there ever really was an Age of Reason, it’s surely over now.
  • The Adele Dazeem Name Generator
    Awesome. My Travolta name is Brian Grizeen.
  • Pepsi YouTube preroll ad made entirely of movie quotes, you had me at hello. http://youtu.be/OCXr7ECpGQg
  • One terabyte for sixty-nine bucks. Unbelievable.
  • Grave Science
    Heard this NPR story recently and was amazed at the importance people place on the remains of their loved ones. For the record: when I’m gone, the one and only thing I care about how my remains are handled is that they present the absolute minimum of expense, inconvenience, and distress to the living.
  • How do young couples today cope with new marriage, parenthood, and job stress without having had “thirtysomething” to guide them?
  • Spring has sprung, the boid is on the wing!
    Don’t be absoid. The wing is on the boid!
    (h/t Chuck Menahem Kanafi)
  • Speaking of thirtysomething, I’ve been rewatching it on Amazon Instant Video. Like all TV shows from 1987, it was originally presented in 4:3 format, and supposedly the DVD release was in that format too. So how is Amazon Instant Video managing to show it in 16:9? The picture isn’t stretched, and nothing is obviously missing from the top or bottom of the frame.
  • I fretted for a long time about how I’d know when it was time to let the kids roam more widely, unsupervised. But as with all parenting things, when the time was right it was self-evident.
  • Scarlett Johansson is OK I guess, but I don’t think she’s as super-h4wt as everyone else seems to think. Do I have to surrender my guy credentials?
  • If you’ve ever wondered “What is the right number of Ritz crackers?” I’m happy to be able to tell you the answer is 7.
  • Happy 10th birthday to Amazing Awesome Astonishing Archer.
    (Photo: E. 59th Street, NYC, August 2006.)
  • Time is a lot older than tide.
  • Five minutes into the Laserium revival playing at the Chabot Space & Science Center, I was thinking, “Chalk up another mind-blowing thing from the 70’s that didn’t age well.” Fifteen minutes into it I was all like: whoa.
  • Each morning I start in my driveway at home and have to make it to my desk at work. When I think about all the possible places there are to end up, getting to my desk should be like finding a needle in a haystack, but I never fail. Also, millions of others _don’t_ end up at my desk. What a display of intention! I’m often amazed by how casually we all repeat accomplishments like these. Who’s with me?
  • I love these kinds of comparisons: the original Star Wars came out closer in time to the bombing of Pearl Harbor than to the present day. Do you have any good ones like this?
  • To everyone forwarding me the link about the Star Wars casting news that was burning up the Internet yesterday: thanks for thinking of me, but it’s a little like telling a woman, “Your abusive ex-husband is out on parole and has been seen with his old drinking buddies.”
  • Back in sixth grade, when I left too much work for the last minute, which was often, I would have a frustration-and-despair meltdown when confronted by how much I had still to do and how little time. Bit by agonizing bit I would finish my work and end up with something crappy, reflecting my mood.
    When Jonah leaves too much work for the last minute, which is seldom, he buckles down and gets that shit done, producing a result of his usual high caliber. Proud of that guy.
  • Bike to work day: not so challenging when you’re working from home.
  • Seven years is a long time to miss your mom, especially when her grandkids (and once in a while, her son) keep achieving things that she would have loved hearing about. She would also have loved Facebook and YouTube and Candy Crush. She would have loved the hunky star of “Arrow.”
    And that seven years is only going to get longer and longer. Sucks.
  • [Mother’s Day.]
    Andrea Glickstein:
    Two great kids = one great mom
    Thanks for parenting with aplomb
    As a mom, you’re the bomb
  • Godzilla is this year’s Prometheus: a movie on which inadequacy in the film criticism industry failed to prevent me wasting my time.
  • I am a grown man. This was my dinner tonight. I leave it to you to decide whether a contradiction exists.
  • I’m that middle-aged man who finds that a little whisky and soda helps him unwind after a difficult day at work. How did that happen?
  • I’m a mathematician, and the fact that hot dogs are sold in packages of seven and hot dog buns are sold in packages of eight makes me want to buy 56 of each at a time.
  • Looking at myself in the lavatory mirror, I can report that any long flight is a red-eye.
  • This morning my kids reaffirmed what a great dad they think I am. But how could I ever have been without the example of Eddie Glickstein? He taught me everything I know… but he didn’t teach me everything he knows. Thanks Pop, and happy Father’s Day!
  • My rule of thumb is to avoid posting on Facebook unless I believe I have something reasonably original and/or amusing and/or interesting and/or important to contribute. (You can decide for yourself whether I generally succeed.)
    This is not to pass judgment on those who use other guidelines for what to post. On the contrary, recently I read the following (at http://www.theguardian.com/news/oliver-burkeman-s-blog/2014/may/21/everyone-is-totally-just-winging-it):
    “[O]ne of the biggest causes of misery is the way we chronically “compare our insides with other people’s outsides.” We’re all […] projecting an image of calm proficiency, while inside we’re improvising in a mad panic. Yet we forget (especially in an era of carefully curated Facebook profiles and suchlike) that everyone else is doing the same thing”
    …and it occurred to me that, without meaning to, I might be projecting just such an image.
    I think I’ve outgrown my own tendency to compare my insides to other people’s outsides, but I can remember how crummy it felt. This post is to assure you that the “outside” you see here omits an awful lot of stuff from my life that is neither calm nor proficient nor original nor amusing nor interesting nor important.
  • I spend a lot of time commuting, and a lot of that time listening to podcasts. I have my podcast player set to play audio at 1.5x normal speed. Increasingly I find normal speaking speed to be unbearably slow.
  • Thanks to having a best friend in high school with a mom named Merry, when I got to college and read Lord of the Rings (none too carefully, apparently) I got pretty far into the story believing that Pippin and Merry were a quarreling husband-and-wife team until my eye finally caught an unexpected pronoun and my brain said “Wait, what?”
  • The distance between San Francisco and New York is nothing compared to the distance between what San Franciscans consider to be the very finest local Italian bread and the vastly superior stuff in New York that is so commonplace New Yorkers seldom even give it a thought.
  • We taught our dog Pepper the proper way to ask when she needs to go outside to relieve herself. But she asks far more often than she actually needs to go, so we have a hard time knowing when it’s for real. She’s the wolf who cried wolf.
  • They Might Be Giants, Jonathan Coulton, and Radiolab’s Jad and Robert all on the same installment of NPR’s Ask Me Another. Nerd pleasure overload!!
  • Blueprint for Armageddon part 1
    On this, the 100th anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, do yourself a favor and listen to (at least) the first installment of Dan Carlin’s series of podcasts on World War I. Learn how the modern world was born in blood and fire and a cascade of outrageous events.
  • [For my niece’s 21st birthday.]
    Yo! Yo! McKenna!
    You’re one-and-ten-and-ten-ah!
    I knew you way back when-ah!
    Come visit us again-ah!
    McKenna! Yo! Yo!
    Today’s your birthday-o!
    You can drink some alcoho’
    Which you couldn’t do befo’!
  • Driving through Lassen Volcanic National Park on July 4th, the car filled with the scent of millions of conifers.
    Archer: My second-favorite smell.
    Me: What’s your first?
    Archer: Justice.
  • Saturday morning: drinking coffee, waiting for the rest of the family to be ready for an outing to the Sundial Bridge in Redding. I start reading The Circle, by Dave Eggers. On page one, describing the campus of a Google-like company, he mentions a “Calatrava fountain.” What’s that? I wonder, but I have no data connectivity so can’t look it up. A short time later we’re at the Sundial Bridge. Its designer: Santiago Calatrava.
  • If your goal is to catch up on watching the best movies and TV of the past few years, your evenings are going to be Matthew McConaugheavy.
  • [For my sister-in-law’s birthday.]
    D is for disestablishmentarianism! E is for establishmentarianism! N is for noncontemporaneousness! I is for interdenominationalism! S is for stereophotomicrography! E is for establishmentarianism, I already told you, weren’t you paying attention? What’s that spell? DENISE! What’s that spell? DENISE! What’s that spell? DENISE! Yaaayyy!
  • Saw Edge of Tomorrow yesterday and really liked it. But I am so fond of Groundhog Day that part of me resents Edge of Tomorrow for co-opting its premise and structure so successfully. (It’s redeemed in part by naming its female lead “Rita,” acknowledging the debt it owes to its predecessor.)
  • I defy anyone who parrots the conventional wisdom that The Godfather Part II and The Empire Strikes Back are better than their respective predecessors to lay out their reasons why in as clear a fashion as I have explained why they are not.
    http://www.geebobg.com/2006/12/22/a-movie-you-dont-like-as-much-as-you-think-you-do/
    http://www.geebobg.com/2007/05/03/the-exegesis-strikes-back/
  • One quibble about the otherwise excellent True Detective: in a scene set in 2002, Woody Harrelson enters what looks like a modern T-Mobile store to buy a flip phone. It has a built-in camera, and trading phone pics with another character becomes a plot point. This is all anachronistic. In 2002 T-Mobile was a newly launched brand in the U.S. (it had been Voicestream) and its stores looked very different; among other things, Catherine Zeta-Jones’ face was everywhere. Cameras in cell phones was not yet a thing. For the few who did have cell phone cameras, exchanging photos by MMS barely worked. And even if it had occurred to anyone to look through the pics on someone’s phone, which it wouldn’t have, any casual user would have had a hard time figuring out how.
  • Just woke up from a dream that I was trying to adjust the aspect ratio of the picture on my TV. In the on-screen menu, all the menu options said things like, “Shocking! This setting’s value revealed.”
  • The Internet has everything. This was probably the first record I ever owned. http://youtu.be/9b6M1LqQVjg
  • Andrea: “Jonah is a self-proclaimed laid-back guy.”
    Jonah: “I never said self-proclaimed!”
  • Had a dream about S.W.A.T. In the dream I thought S.W.A.T. stood for “strategic weapons assault team.” (It doesn’t.) I was going around trying to point out the semantic difference between “strategic” and “tactical,” but they weren’t willing to change their acronym.
  • The Cluss Test
    6 out of 8! 3x better than random. How good are you at taking tests on subjects you know nothing about?
  • 21 Jump Street: aggressively offensive and unfunny, or am I just getting old?
  • Some people have never driven away from the gas pump with the nozzle still stuck in their car. Some people have. Guess which group I joined today?
  • PAPERWORK BATTLE!
    BUYING A HOUSE
    -VERSUS-
    FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL
    FIGHT!!!
  • Just saw a guy walking down the road with an actual bindle over his shoulder.
  • My sleeping brain made a joke that it took my waking brain some time to “get.”
    I dreamed I was using a fitness app called Wheat. Remembered after waking up that, in the dream, it was a stripped-down version of another app called Toast.
  • At a suggestion from Terry Gross I am re-reading The Great Gatsby and (as promised) finding it infinitely more interesting and enjoyable than I did in tenth grade, or whenever it was, when I didn’t know… anything, really, including how to read literature.
    For instance, back then I could never have understood Fitzgerald’s intention with the seemingly throwaway line about the elevator lever near the end of chapter two. http://goo.gl/N5Rl68
  • I moved to California in April 1992. Each morning I looked at the cloudy sky and wondered whether it would rain. For months it never did. The clouds burned off by 10 or 11am and the day was always sunny and gorgeous. I never failed to appreciate that, but I was missing having some variety in the weather. Paradise gets monotonous. Finally, one day in September the rain came, just like today. I was at work, in a meeting, and saw it through the window. I shouted, “Rain!” and left the meeting at once, running outside to do a giddy dance and get drenched.
  • 25 years this week that I quit a pack-a-day smoking habit. Still miss it.
  • The phrase “in one’s wheelhouse” seems to be having a moment. It’s suddenly everywhere. With luck, this will push aside all the recent abuse of the word “iconic.”
    • [In response to a comment about the popularity of the word “curating.”] There’s a small chance I’m personally responsible for the currency of “curating.” When I joined YouTube in 2008 I pitched some feature ideas to support and reward curators of good videos — those who find and share the best content on the site. That word was not in use at YouTube at the time. It was my new coinage in the context of online social media. Before long “Creators and Curators” was the name of a whole department, and people talked about video curation all the time.
      I can’t be sure the rise of the word “curating” at YouTube is due to me, let alone in the wider culture, but I can’t rule it out either…
  • Any coffee machine failure that creates a mess of coffee grounds on your kitchen counter rather than a potful of coffee ironically, and unavoidably, comes at the worst possible time: namely, when you’re needing a cup of coffee.
  • [The SF Giants won the World Series.]
    Joy in Mudville!
  • How is “trust but verify” any different than “don’t trust”?
  • [After the 2014 election.]
    My poor benighted countrymen.
    http://youtu.be/kWdfRRtAs3o?t=1s
  • Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens
    Star Wars VIII: The Force Eats a Balanced Breakfast
    Star Wars IX: The Force Is Late for the Bus
    (Rise and shine, Forcey!)
  • HBO Will Make Asimov’s Foundation With Interstellar’s Jonathan Nolan
    Two things:
    1. OMG! OMG! OMG!
    2. Please don’t suck. Please don’t suck. Please don’t suck.
  • I wasn’t having a great week. BUT THEN HUMANS LANDED ON A COMET.
  • Here is a list of ways I would rather have spent the past 26 years than with Andrea Glickstein:
  • I don’t believe in magic
    I don’t believe in I-ching
    I don’t believe in Bible
    I don’t believe in Tarot
    I don’t believe in Hitler
    I don’t believe in Jesus
    I don’t believe in Kennedy
    I don’t believe in Buddha
    I don’t believe in Mantra
    I don’t believe in Gita
    I don’t believe in Yoga
    I don’t believe in Kings
    I don’t believe in Elvis
    I don’t believe in Zimmerman
    I don’t believe in Beatles
    I don’t believe in Cosby
    (In case the reference is too obscure: http://youtu.be/nZ5PQppudHc?t=1m.)
  • Nothing like coming home after being away for a few days to realize how much your house smells like dog.
  • My anniversary gift from Andrea: the same Casio calculator watch that she remembers me wearing in 1988 when we first met! Some things never change… and then some things, like my ability to make out the button labels and display elements of this watch, do.
  • Archer is a picky eater and doesn’t give me many options for his school lunches. He does like roast beef sandwiches… but only if the roast beef is warm. What’s a source of heat safe enough for warming up roast beef at an elementary school? Our solution: a few chemical hand-warmers.
  • Hi Mom, on what would have been your 52nd 29th birthday!
    We’ll be observing your day by engaging in your favorite activity: swimming!
  • So, we went swimming the night of my mom’s birthday. It was too cold for swimming, really, so we were in the pool for only a short time. But somehow it was just the right time to see a shooting star pass directly overhead — the brightest one I’ve ever seen, so bright it lit up our surroundings, making us look up to see it. As we watched, it burst apart into a shower of glowing fragments just like fireworks.
    Mom approves of our commemorative swimming tradition.
  • Schrödinger’s pressure test.

    Both sent to the same address on the same day. One says our gas line was tested and is fine. One says our gas line was tested, leaked, and needed repair.
  • Jonah has been catching up on the Burton/Schumacher Batman movies of the 80’s and 90’s. What a laughably cringeworthy, calamitous mess they are.
  • My poor family. I just discovered a trove of high-quality karaoke tracks on Google Play Music.
  • From the depths of my food coma I still have enough presence of mind to extend endless thanks to the amazing Suzanne Glickstein for coming to visit and single-handedly preparing for us a large and very belated traditional Thanksgiving feast. It, and she, were worth the wait.
  • When the furnace in your house hasn’t worked for the past two days, and they’ve been the two coldest days of the year, and the indoor temperature has dropped to 52F, wearing layers can keep you perfectly comfortable… except when it comes to the toilet seat. Yow.

Sanka Claus

Determined not to leave shopping, decorating, or this yearly task to the last minute!

You better wake up
You better arouse
You better not drift
Or catnap or drowse
Sanka Claus is coming to town

He’s boiling a pot
And stirring in stuff
That, when you drink it
Is just not enough
Sanka Claus is coming to town

He sees you when you’re sleepy
He wants to help you wake
Though it’s hot and black, it has no caffeine
So it’s all a sad mistake

So
If you’re not alert
And need a pick-up
Politely decline
His well-meaning cup
Sanka Claus is coming to town

(Previously.)