Saturday, November 10, 2001

It's raining in San Francisco. I can't remember how long it's been since the last rainfall. Not sure when it'll stop raining, probably around March.

There was a cable car on the sidewalk at 47th and Lincoln just now. A cable car. I have no idea how it got there or why, Outer Sunset usually isn't served by cable car routes. On my way back I saw it turning left onto Great Highway. (So it wasn't a true cable car, in that it had wheels. Call it a trolley painted to look like a cable car.)

On my way to the grocery story I realized that at least a half-dozen people could stumble across that last entry and wonder, "is he writing about me?" Well, no, actually I'm not... then again, I guess it applies to you too. Maybe even, "good grief, is he writing about me again?!, well first of all stop writing about me and then we can talk."

The person it's actually about probably wouldn't say that. No, if she found this she'd say, "what the hell? It's been less than 24 hours, dude! So I got booted again, get over yourself already." (Not that she'd necessarily use bold, but she'd at least stick her tongue out at me.)

Yes, I'm one of those chatters. I have an alternate handle, no less. I created one to join those adult Yahoo! Clubs somewhat anonymously. This was before Yahoo! committed a heinous blunder and shut down the explicitly adult sections of the clubs oracle. For what it's worth, what makes this a heinous blunder is that all the picture traders took their warez to the not-officially-adult directories that best fit their needs. This is why it's almost impossible to find a club in Teens or Teens/Girls that isn't all about the dirty pictures.

Anyway, my alter ego. Its name comes from a minor character in Bard's Tale III: Thief of Fate. A few years ago I was using a similar handle to post X-rated stories to Usenet. Those stories are on floppy disks somewhere but my friends will never see them, at least not on purpose.

Yahoo! has profiles. I went ahead and fleshed out the profile for my adult handle. It's embarrassingly cheesy. Maybe there are people out there who get a kick out of it.

When I started using Yahoo! Messenger, both me and my alter ego would get spam chats. My alter ego got a couple non-spam chats. One of those became recurring. That is, we'd chat on a regular basis. That's all I'm gonna say for now because I have a burrito feed to go to. I vaguely wonder how any given person found me though.

Oh, one time I accidentally sent a chat message to this one particular friend as my own handle. I was humiliated. The same accident happened a couple more times though. I figure she probably could find out exactly who I am if she wanted to. (Maybe even read this? *blush*) Unclear whether she'd care enough to do so.
1. Start to take any given inter-human reaction more seriously than you probably should have taken it.
2. Screw up. More to the point, feel as though you screwed up.
3. Lose touch with someone.
4. Worry more than you have any business worrying.

The best part is, you can't decide which is worse, how badly you might have screwed up or how badly you might have overestimated the situation in the first place.

Friday, November 09, 2001

"If it were Clinton I'd want to burn it." -anonymous, reacting to my relief when I saw the set of framed pictures on the wall of the Moffett Field navy recruiting center and the one on the left was GW Bush's.

In some South American countries soldiers are not allowed to vote. This may be true worldwide but I first noticed it reading a CNN piece on Venezuela last year. It's possible that in lands where democracy is not assured, soldiers' interests may differ from civilians or whatever.

But in the U.S. of all places I sometimes wonder what life would be like if *only* soldiers voted. And their grown children I guess. Basically anyone who's lived the military life and so knows what defending this country is all about. The winning theme would probably be "common sense," a moderate-right tack without any of the religious or economic extremes that people on the left fear. My biggest worry might be civil liberties but we'd just have a somewhat liberal Supreme Court to balance that. Never mind though: As a civilian I claim this is a good idea; if/once I became a military person I wouldn't have the guts to advocate it.

If you're ever in an interview with the Navy, just remember that the cliche about joining the Navy to see the world really is true. Don't be afraid to answer that way. It really is what they want to hear -- basically, you'll be happy in the Navy only if you love to travel -- and I almost psyched myself out of saying it.

"What do you think life as a sailor is like?" It's the sort of question people ask when they're looking for a particular answer, and yet the harder you try to figure out what they're looking for the more you'll miss the blatantly obvious lead.

Wednesday, November 07, 2001

I had a tune stuck in my head all week but hearing the Run DMC cover of "Walk this Way" must have flushed it out. KFOG ("World Class Rock") has a daily 10@10 feature where they play "ten great songs from one great year," in this case 1986. The sound effects for this feature make heavy use of "Time Warp" and Don Pardo voiceovers. Sometimes I come close to planning my life around 10@10.

Speaking of Rocky Horror, guess what the theme was of the "Behind the Music" I saw over the weekend? They had Riff-Raff (actually the guy who wrote the thing) and talked to some of the old cult followers, like the woman who spent years imitating Tim Curry's character. Dori Hartley her name is, just one "r" in her name.

Back to the song that was stuck in my head, the Rooster snuffing song. It's all John Wayne's fault. Actually, it's this guy's fault. Say what, the link works?!? Okay never mind, if spring training is done then I have better things to do than blog.
By the way, I lost only 1.5 pounds this past week after losing 4 the previous week. Blame the Broncos or the crackers or Hot Pot City (Mongolian BBQ place in Berkeley) or maybe even Taco Bell. Guess the workout regimen gets cranked up a notch?
Apparently there was a musical Buffy last night and people enjoyed it. Aaron Spelling must be appalled.

By the way, That 70s Show was hilarious last night. Great series, great characters, humor in tune with what I like. It's almost like the Cheers of the turn-of-the-century.

"Ohhhh! Man and wife I pronounce you now, hmm?" -Yoda, Treehouse of Horror XII. R. Robert Hentzel, possibly the biggest Yoda fan on the planet, sent out an e-mail today mentioning his upcoming trip to the Midwest to see "present and future family members." Given the recipient list of this message, Chad and I thought this showed incredible audacity.

R. wrote a Boggle program to play against his friend despite their distance. On a somewhat but not really similar note, I've been directed to Lenny Walkabout.
For whoever cares, the previously-mentioned Smart & Final is at University & San Pablo in Berkeley. It is an enormous building with an enormous parking lot. In that parking lot, as if the one tenant who refused to sell their land, is Everette & Jones BBQ. Mrs. Allyson Harper-Nixon recently complained to me that the B.B. Wolf's in Boston had gone shockingly upscale. Everette & Jones, while really not a dinner place (go in the shack, order your food, eat it at picnic tables outside), has quite good ribs. You get to see them (bunch of siblings, their mom founded the place in 1970s) chop up your meat with big ol' knives on a slab. I should have gone there more often and the Cheesesteak Place a little less often. Or both places less often and been two weeks closer to being fit enough for basic training.
Here's my obligatory Coochian/Seinfeldian rant that people can care about without knowing more than they want to about me:

Chef Jamie Gwen

She comes up ALL THE TIME in commercials for Smart & Final, a warehousey store place that may be national or may just be local to California. They have this jingle that exhorts you to "save time and money, shop like a pro." The jingle is annoying enough. The chef herself - what can I say? She has such a grating voice, and says such grating things, that even beyond switching stations on her I find everything about this stuck in my head. "Chef Jamie GWENNNN here," she says, perkily if not smugly, and I picture basically the sorts of things that my roommate Chris pictured when that guy in Vectiv marketing would bring his Dalmatian to work and the dog would keep barking and sniffing people. (Chris really, really, really doesn't like extroverted dogs.)

I've been inside a Smart & Final exactly once. I had a "date" that night (one of those that after enough hindsight could go either way, I'm going to file it under "not-a-date" if you're nitpicky) and in the interest of overpreparing for it I wanted mouthwash and/or breath mints. I ended up buying exactly one item, a SIX-CANNISTER package of Altoids for some single-digit dollar price. Turns out they were selling Altoids in single containers at the cash register impulse-purchase shelves.

Went through those Altoids astonishingly fast over this past August and September.

The not-a-date "date," if you care: Mark Mulder shut out the Royals at Oakland Coliseum, in a game that went very quickly. My guest, who had complained that baseball games were boring, seemed not to be bored by this one. It went so quickly that I recommended going to Jack London Square. We walked around for awhile, me secretly hoping for the Perfect Moment to happen, only either it never did or it did and its significance sailed over my head.

Alas, the single lasting impression from the evening will probably be my driving, everything from lack of any sense of direction (Oakland streets are awfully confusing) to climate control ineptness. I'll say here that this is the possibly the smartest female I've known. This seems ridiculous since surely I've seen enough absolute geniuses of both sexes in my life. Professors, for example. Still, it's a family for which the superlative is actually plausible.

I'll probably write more about her in my paper journal. Anything else here would just be unbecoming. Suffice it to say she's much more appealing to me than Chef Jamie Gwen. (Who is probably a fine person and all but just happened to make annoying commercials.)
A meta-point about blogs and journal entries. (Yeah yeah, by the time anyone other than me sees these it'll be like a firehose.)

A relative of mine keeps a journal now so that she can write what she feels in the present so that with the passage of time her good memories don't go bad. Honest to goodness, it's something that happens to people. Imagine if every time something happened in your life, no matter how good or bad it felt at the time, you were incapable of looking back it and actually remembering that you felt good (only remembering that you felt bad). To me that would profoundly suck. Anyone who can live through that earns my undying admiration. Anyway, the idea is even if she _thinks_ months after the fact that she had a bad time, she can go back and her own words will show the truth.

My journal entries haven't *quite* worked that way. If you write in December what you thought you were thinking in August, then looking back on that 5-10 years from now you see the view from months after the fact instead of the view from literally then. There are times in my life that I, being self-absorbed here, would love to know what I was thinking RIGHT THEN as opposed to what became magnified in a small passage of time.

In December 1989 I was an adolescent wreck because Oklahoma had a severe cold snap and I'd humiliated myself in front of a girl, a (high school sophomore) classmate I had a crush on, a girl who turned out to prefer guys already old enough to drive. With my sick cat keeping me company I spent almost a week writing page upon page of observations from earlier that year, how great a year it was: darn near winning a national quiz-bowl championship (semifinals, three years later we'd win the whole thing), getting a swimming pool, getting a new kitten (not the one who kept me company), seeing the Cubs win the NL East, spending three weeks in a program at Duke University where I met a wonderful-seeming Tennessee girl who never wrote back to my pen-pal letters.

(Actually she did write once, maybe twice? The point was I'd written vastly inappropriate/ambitious things to her that the three days we spent showing interest in each other in no way justified.)

That was a year of ulteriorly-motivated journal entries. 1996 was a year like that. Other years, if I bothered to read them the summaries would probably feel rushed, pigeonholed. Time taken to rattle off names of co-workers at a summer internship, "theme songs" mapped to months of years.

("Tonight Tonight" was July 1997, four-plus years before it was the Fox 2001 playoff theme.)

Sometimes the rushed years were good years that I'd been too busy to stop and admire. Sometimes they were blah years and I wanted to see the good in them, to ask "was that all there was?" but discover, in the act of trying to remember, that there'd been more. Every year seems better when I write about it than if I'd tried to give an off-hand impression of it.

2000 (I'm still ambivalent about whether to type specific thoughts here or write them down) was a great year for me but a lot of the detail will be lost. Just as well? Maybe I'd grown up and become so much less self-absorbed, then gone and ruined it all by blogging it. Okay gang, thoughts on sun chips to come, I promise. ;-)
Sweet. Blogger e-mailed me my password in plaintext. That's okay, it's not my "really really secure" password or the one I'd been using lately for work stuff.

My Yahoo-and-stuff-like-it generic password comes vaguely from a Queensryche song. It's amusing but I can't explain further or I'd have to kill you.

There's a certain long weekend in late September, early October 2000 whose recounting should probably go in the handwritten journal. Then again anyone who'd bother to be reading this blog is probably someone to whom I gave too much mind-numbing detail about that time anyway. We hosted a party last Friday (November 2) and somehow a couple friends of mine asked me about that weekend. It's a small circle of people who know entirely too much about my life. Well, actually, they don't know names or faces. Check that, Paul knows names and faces because he played quiz-bowl at Harvard. David doesn't know names or faces though.

Was David not home when we dropped by his place on that one Friday? I don't remember seeing him. Oh wait, he was there. We played some Nintendo game. Picture this, you have a friend in town with somewhat... how to put it... upscale tastes in life. She wants to study the humanities in grad school, she's going to spend the weekend being treated to dinners even though there's nothing between you. (In fairness I have no memory of who picked up the checks, we probably split a lot, I was and am apathetic.)

Clearly the thing to do is take her to a baseball game. Actually that was her idea, sort of. But even beyond going to a baseball game, take her to your friends' apartment, a place you'd never been before, a place that has almost no furniture but good 'net connections and better video games. A place occupied by a physics grad student, a math grad student, and (at the time) a CS undergrad who now... David's still there but I forget what he does. Three roommates, all baseball fans (David less so, though his simbase team kicks ass), all geeks. Like me. We were all geeks together. I felt at home. She seemed unimpressed. Rarely for that weekend, I didn't care.

Oakland took over first place in the AL West that night, beating Texas even as Seattle lost. Jason Giambi hit a convincing, momentum-shifting home run. My Rangers were playing out the string.

Crap. I sort of violated that rule. Ah whatever. It's not like I'm giving eye-glazed 10,000-word essays about Jeffrey Maier catching that "home run" the night Louis Anderson cancelled his Boston appearance, or the Stephen Wright/B.B. King concert followed by the trip to the Cafe Lompara that became a Pete's Grill that became a 99 that became a something else.
Hi. My name is Matt and this is my blog. If you found it then you probably already knew that.

Coincidentally I bought a new notebook on Monday to keep journal entries. That is because I had not updated any sort of journal since 1999. In between then I got a job offer, accepted it, moved to San Francisco, became a java developer, saw the tech industry boom and crash, lost my job in October 2001, decided to (probably) join the military, and did nearly two year's worth of living.

It's bad enough to go an entire year without writing and then try to gorge yourself with memories on one of the last days of December. What happened in 2000 was that I remembered I'd promised to write a set of trivia questions, so I spent New Year's Eve doing that instead. I hope Subash liked the questions.

The last time I did anything like this, in January 1996 I wrote some web pages (good old raw HTML, viewed on Netscape 1.0) including my thoughts on the year 1995. The two things I most remember from that effort:
1. I carried on at great length about this young lady from New Zealand with whom I'd been trading messages. She came up to Boston in mid-February but her seeing me amounted to all of a half-hour's coffee. She wasn't at all how I thought she'd be.
2. This carrying on at great length earned me congratulatory comments from one Shawn Pickrell, well-known quiz-bowl personality, the very first time I ever met him. Apparently he'd found my page and read what I had to say.

I guess that means my social life is off-limits to this space. :-) (Either zero or one people probably rejoice at that.)

Let's see how this looks and maybe starting tomorrow you'll find out more than you ever wanted to know about the last 20 months of my life. Or not.