Wednesday, November 28, 2001

221


It's not all that impressive. It's less than ten pounds from my official first weigh-in a month ago. As my life ebbs and flows I've been known to go through 15-to-20 pound swings over periods of months or even weeks. Then again, I suspect they were just being nice the first time. I strongly believe my actual weight ended in something other than a zero.

Today has also been a where is everybody? sort of day.

(All week has been that way for my favorite chatfriend. Today I suppose it'd help if I actually had the Messenger thing on. Naah... if I'm not wondering whether she'll sign on then maybe I'll write more questions.)

First, at the swimming pool all the old people were gone. At least most of them were. The 'medium' lane for lap swimming had a faster-than-usual pace, set by these guys about my age, but there were much fewer of them and they passed me without any problems. Maybe there's this group of retirees that goes two or three times a week and not on Wednesdays?

Then the weigh-in. Afterwards I'd always eat at the mall food court. I'd always see about a dozen teenaged girls all in the same green-and-white plaid short skirts. Found out why when my parents and I went there last week: Stonestown Galleria is right across the street from Mercy High (sign on the street in front of the school: "Eighth Grade Girls Applications Due In December").

For the longest time I saw none of the Mercy skirts at all today. Then three girls sat at the table next to me while I tried to eat my kimchi. (I don't like kimchi yet but I'm a few month's worth of periodic Korean food away from acquiring the taste.) Two had the skirts, one had sweatpants and a soccer-themed T-shirt on. She was tall (for her apparent age) and muscular, with big arms. Very appealing, not in the same way as those skirts but still, very appealing.

It's embarrassing to admit this but I don't know if I'd have the self-restraint to teach high school girls. One famous BU quiz alumnus actually does this, as about half my known readership is aware of since it recently came up in conversation. "His own personal hell" was one way of putting it.

Anyway, for me... well when it came down to it I probably would have the self-restraint, since I wouldn't do something that got anyone into serious trouble. Then again, if I had any self-restrait at all I could walk past a frickin' gas station without slipping into the food mart to buy @&*! Doritos. Then again Doritos never thank you for eating them. Oh did I say something? Ignore it, since it was obviously completely inappropriate.

Reasons to be thankful I need glasses: When I was younger I swam in the pool in our backyard in Tulsa. (Hey, you can actually make out the pool: The dark gash down the middle is the creek that ran behind our house. To the left of it, very slightly below dead center of the photo, notice the tiny oval.)

Anyway, the girl who lived next door to me used to come over and swim in the afternoon, with my mom's permission. (She was 13 when I was 21. I guess that means she's 18 now. Heh.) Every so often she'd also bring a friend over. When I got home from work (some temp job, basically spreadsheet work and filing), this being an Oklahoma summer, the first thing I'd do is run upstairs, change into my suit, run outside and jump into the pool, heedless of whether the neighbor girl was there and/or any friend.

One time she had a friend over. They asked me if the ring on my finger was a wedding ring. (It wasn't.) They asked a handful of questions about me, some of which assumed ludicrous and contradictory things about my life experience. (My favorite was whether I'd kissed a girl. I'm glad I had, because if I'd had to choose between lying and saying no, I might have felt like crying.)

Don't worry, nothing unsavory ever came of this. I'm sure they looked lovely in their two-piece swimsuits. I can't fully appreciate how lovely they looked because I'd go out to swim without my glasses on. Conversely, on the off-chance that any of the venerable Rossi Pool swimmers look especially unsightly, I have no way of knowing that either.
Oh my, First U.S. combat death screams the top headline on CNN today. I guess it's a serious war. Everybody panic now, make snide comments about body bags and all that.

(Yeah, like I'm one to talk, Mr. I'm Not So Enthusiastic About The Military Anymore. :-))

What else can I riff on from CNN today?

Fact Sheet: Taliban: Mullah Omar 'safe'
...now I saw that play and he was out by a full step. This was a blown call of Orta/Denkinger proportions

New York's Christmas spirit endures
...I went to school with a lot of hypersensitive left-wing headcases who'd get all pissy if you mentioned the C-word ("the X-word"?) around December. The best part was when they'd go into conniption fits about the idea of putting up a tree in the corner of a dining hall. Don't even come near Santa references. The funny thing is, I miss all that. I was exposed to enough of it that now I secretly get all pissy at gratuitous Christmas references.

Proposition: As it has come to be celebrated in the U.S., Christmas Is A Secular Holiday.
This statement always results in two different kinds of howls of protest, first from the people who say I'm wrong about how life is, second from the people who complain about life being that way.

The best argument for why I'm wrong about the way things are: Duh. What is Christmas really about, literally? (Cue Linus in the single spotlight and thank Cooch's World for the link.) That's pretty hard to water down, and yet the U.S. has succeeded at it.

There's an oldies station in San Francisco that leapt from eighth to top radio priority on my dial-spinning during the time my parents were here. (In theory it's my car and I could listen to what I want but what's the point? Oldies are fine with me; it's less clear whether Ozzy et al would suit Mom and Dad.) Anyway, KFRC went to a Christmas carol marathon last Friday, basically all songs by singers and bands normally on their playlist. They hit all the standards: John Lennon's "Happy Christmas" ditty with the little kids going "war is over if you want it," the Beach Boys reminding us that "Christmas comes this time each year," and so on. Songs that mentioned Santa: Maybe half. Songs that mentioned Jesus: Maybe none.

And that's how I like it. There's this massive, overpowering Holiday aura that comes over the U.S. in December like low rolling clouds. People who fear religion hate it because this blatant religious message is lurking beneath the surface. Meanwhile, really fervent Christians hate it because the religious message is only beneath the surface. (Used to be the Puritans actually banned Christmas, those dorks!) And of course everybody hates having Christmas be so commercialized.

But... whatever. It's what happens in this country and I happen to think, in an offhand apathetic way, that it's pretty neat. If you disagree, I'll listen to you with a concerned expression on my face, take your grievances into account, and then probably ignore you.

After all, the only holiday that matters to me religiously is Easter. Granting that the Easter Bunny and peeps are pretty darned pervasive, still there's not much of a cultural blip registered by Easter. That's how I like it. I can spend Christmas with family, and Easter... in church? (I've actually not gone the past couple years.) "With me"? "With God"? Something like that.

Tuesday, November 27, 2001

There's a scene in the movie Son In Law in which the heroine's snotty high school boyfriend Travis, in front of everyone at a country club Thanksgiving dinner, announces that "after years of courtship" he's finally going to propose to her.

There's a 'Insider' headline on ESPN today claiming that (it's a pay feature, unlinkable because of weird smack involving Flash player) "Yanks' braintrust thinks Giambi is theirs."

How those two relate to each other is an exercise for the reader. Basically, to hell with anyone who thinks that people can be bought or owned. I'll be so happy if/when Jason Giambi shoots them down.

Monday, November 26, 2001

APRIL 2000
Back to the month-logging grind. Apparently nothing much happened in April 2000, at least not after the trip to Boston.

Silicon Age relocated to the office space of long-since-defunct incubator CampSix, a company that almost singlehandedly symbolized everything wrong with the dot-com boom. (Not to criticize them too harshly: I deeply appreciated the free catered lunches.)

Silicon Age produced some proprietary software for CampSix (this was part of the set of CampSix intellectual property rights that would later be sold at auction for $30) and also did development for some of CampSix's incubatees, including the only successful one. In return, and probably with cash going one way or the other, we got to take part on the free lunch service and work in their basement and use their conference space and admire all the gorgeous sales and marketing and office-assistant type women from afar.

The physical move to CampSix definitely happened in April because I was at that office space when I bought a ticket on-line to what would become the San Francisco Giants' first home victory. Barry Bonds homered in the bottom of the 8th inning to break a 1-1 tie. All that and we got our DSL service up and running that month. Just think, only seven months later we'd get cable TV.

Matt's 2000 San Francisco Giant Gamelog


This now, correctly, adds up to 21-3 in games for which I bought tickets; 18-3 in the subset of those games that I actually attended rather than giving the tix away.

April 29: Giants 2, Expos 1: Barry Bonds makes history at Pacific Bell Park, long before the history for which he's now known.
May 1: Giants 10, Mets 3. Estes and Pulsipher both coming off the DL, New York gets clobbered.
May 5: Giants 5, Rockies 0. Young Joe Nathan and two relievers on a three-hitter as Colorado looks overmatched.
May 8: Giants 6, Cardinals 4. Kubi (diehard Cardinal fan) and I see Mark McGwire go deep but Bobby Estalella does it twice.
May 23: Expos 3, Giants 2. My sister Sarah's in town and she jinxes the home team. Felipe Alou bores Sarah to death by over-strategizing. This was a time that closer-watching fantasy baseball junkies fondly recall as the Dustin Hermanson Era. (But never fear, check out what Shawn Estes did the next day while Sarah and I were dining about two blocks away from the ballpark.)
May 26: Giants 5, Cubs 3. SF takes a shutout into the ninth inning yet nearly blows it.
May 29: Giants 7, Philles 2. On Memorial Day Curt Schilling was twirling a gem then suddenly ran out of gas.
June 12: Giants 10, Reds 3. In much more pleasant weather than Atlanta (see upcoming June recap), SF demolishes a lesser team.
June 16: Giants 7, Astros 4. A lost season for Houston. (Actually although I had a ticket for this game I didn't go to it. Complicated work reasons.)
June 30: Dodgers 9, Giants 2. My first (and probably last) exposure to the SF-LA rivalry completely fizzles. At least there were fireworks after the game.
July 4: Giants 4, Rockies 1. Exactly a year after I went to see Jin Ho Cho versus Jim Parque, this time I was in left field behind the Canadian Larry Walker and the Mexican Felipe Crespo.
July 16: Giants 6, Rangers 4. Esteban Loaiza was traded soon after this Sunday afternoon game. The first of three in which my loyalty was split.
July 17: Giants 10, Rangers 8. Both bullpens collapsed at the end of the game but Texas got the worst of it.
July 18: Giants 5, Rangers 3. As known to SF Giant fans as the "Armando Rios" game. This is how I knew John Wetteland was done, maybe even how he knew it. Aside: This game made local PA system history in that it's the first time Pacific Bell Park every played "Who Let The Dogs Out" at the end of a game. (It supplanted the Isley Brothers' "Shout".) For the rest of the year, whenever the Giants won a home game, which happened on almost a nightly basis, the dogs would be let out again. This game was when I first REALLY heard people in the throes of pennant fever. It was also the last one I saw before a two-week road trip.
August 3: Giants 10, Pirates 2. Another crappy team demolished.
August 7: Giants 8, Brewers 1. See previous comment.
August 18: Giants 2, Braves 0. Since some Harvard alumni were in town for a get-together, I gave Kubi my tickets. A mistake? This game was a watershed for the Giants and for Livan Hernandez (despite his 2001 suckage); it also reminded many people of the 1997 NLCS.
August 21: Giants 6, Marlins 0. A game so lopsided I forgot about it when I was reconstructing these. I do remember Braden Looper getting knocked around as SF cracked the thing open. Did I really see Mark Gardner pitch well twice in a row?
September 1: Giants 7, Cubs 2. The young phenom Kerry Wood didn't have his stuff. The old coot Mark Gardner did.
September 4: Giants 3, Phillies 0. Labor Day and another typical Pac Bell Park pitchers' duel. The teenaged girl next to me and Kubi had loose, very low-fitting jeans. We came to a consensus that her panties were forest green, though probably listed as "hunter" in whatever catalogue sells them.
September 7: Giants 13, Padres 0. Apart from the fun of the sheer carnage, this game gave Ellis Burks career RBI 1000, 1001, and 1002 all on the same swing.
September 18: Reds 7, Giants 1. I just had a bad feeling about this game.
September 19: Giants 7, Reds 3. I felt a little sick and so I gave my tickets to co-worker Steve and his gf. Christie was apparently thrilled.
September 21: Giants 8, D'backs 7. With San Francisco primed to clinch, the Baja Men came to perform live.

Here's the most excited I've ever been at a ballpark, the single greatest moment in my long baseball memory. During a seesaw game, San Francisco finally took the lead for good in the bottom of the eighth inning. One run was all they needed, and sure enough when the inning came to an end, everyone in the ballpark knew what was coming. Everyone in the stands began to roar as, full-blast, came that guitar riff. ddd-ddd-DDDDD, ddd-ddd-DDD-ddd, ddd-ddd-DDDDD, DDD-ddd. Or, as the scoreboard reminded everyone, we were entering The NENTH Inning.

Post-script: Supposedly, after the events of September 11, the Giants no longer play Smoke on the Water for Nen. This is completely plausible but I'd rather not actually believe it. Unfortunately the times I went to Pac Bell Park after the attacks, San Francisco lost.
I am a sick sick person. My dieting plans are completely doomed. Holy crap, there's some disturbing junk food out there.

This is why it's anatomically impossible for me to tuck my knee completely into my chest. There's a gut in the way. I learned this at station #4 on the "Perrier Par Course" at Golden Gate Park. Even with nobody around I was humiliated. This was almost as demoralizing as the other specific anatomic impossiblity I discovered three summers ago, but I suspect that one isn't on the "Perrier Par Course" since it would be about five dozen stations away if it were. (Maybe it still works if only one person has a gut but if they both do... well, it least in this particular case it was too much of a stretch. Other people's mileage may vary.)

People who need to be hurt: Those storytelling twits in the FedEx commercials.
Whoa... doesn't this anthrax victim look an awful lot like this talk show host??? That's what CNN gets for putting a banner link on the same page as a news photo. I nearly fell out of my seat.
I think I've seen this game before...
Jay Fiedler, 1993 (last paragraph: this was such an amazing game I wish it had a greater web presence) versus Jay Fiedler, 2001.

The sucky thing about the 1993 comeback was being on the losing end of it. Then again, as few things are worth a hungover bus ride to Hanover, NH, this was one of them. The great thing about that game: The touchdowns all happened in sheets of rain. If you saw highlights from yesterday's Giants and/or Patriots games, you know the kind of rain.

At some point, likely the end of the third quarter, Harvard's band played "Night on Bald Mountain" (later known as the theme played on Win Ben Stein's Money right before the challenge round). This was a Halloween theme, since Harvard and Dartmouth have traditionally faced off the last weekend of October. Minutes if not seconds after we finished the song, the skies opened up.

My friend Corwyn is a bigtime Jets fan who despises the Dolphins. One of his favorite lab bench decorations is a photo of Dan Marino getting knocked on his ass, partly because this happened to Marino so few times. Part of the enthusiasm he has for rooting against Marino is almost certainly respect: Marino was one of the greatest QB's ever. I think his take on Fiedler is more disdain than true passion but ignore me since putting words in someone's mouth almost always leads to the wrong impression. In any case, as much as his anti-Dolphin mindset has rubbed off on me (which may not be much: the only time I really hated the Fish was when they beat Denver twice in less than a year), I do have great respect for Fiedler in that apparently only I realize just how great he is, or how great he could be. Maybe Dave Wannstedt also has that kind of faith in him.

Non-sequitur: I forgot to mention last night that the rink we went to is called Iceland. Paul told me the name of the place and my immediate reaction was, "that sounds like the name of a world in some Nintendo game." People stared at me as if I had donkey ears. Minutes later it occurred to me, hey, duh, there's an actual country by that name. It doesn't take much to make me feel like an airhead.
I locked myself out of the house today and then went ice skating. It's a long story so you'll damn well sit and read it. That's why you came here in the first place, right?

This morning (well, early afternoon, in any case it was after I gave up on the Niners-Colts game) I went to run around a half-mile track. I'd found my stopwatch again last week but these Foot Locker jogging shorts have no pockets. Figured I'd attach my keys to my watch, only my key chain is bulky and annoying. What keys on that chain do I really need anyway? Well, Silicon Age office isn't ours anymore. Not working at Vectiv. Four of my house-related keys open who-knows-what. (For household purposes I have two coppery keys and three silvery keys. One of the two coppery keys is the real house key but I forget which one. One of the silvery keys opens the gate to where our trash/recycling is. I conjecture that of the other three, one is side garage door, one is garage-to-basement, and one is... damned if I know. Maybe to the door that leads to our back yard?) Bike lock keys? Luggage keys?

Anyway I put my housekey on my primary car keychain since it's little and convenient. Since I couldn't remember which one it was, I went ahead and put both coppery keys on it. Went running, came back, everything fine. A few hours later (5:30 p.m., since NFL Primetime had just ended) I decided to go for a walk. Without thinking I grabbed my BIG keychain (now lacking the housekey and one other key), pushed in the lock thingy on the door, pulled it shut behind me... oh crap, I'm locked out aren't I? And nobody else is home. Maybe they'll be home when I get back from my walk.

6:45 p.m. Nope, roommates not home. Door definitely locked. Hmm... can I get in via the gate and the garage side door and the garage basement door? Nope: Apparently the other copper key is that garage side door. This really sucks.

Thinkthinkthinkthink... Chris's car is in the driveway which means he's home (yet he seemed not to be) or playing D&D at his friend Nick's place around the corner--but I have no frigging clue which apartment is Nick's. Weeeelll, I could sit on our front stairs and freeze awhile, or... spare car key. That's it.

So I drove all the way to Berkeley because there lived my closest friends of whose address I was dead certain. (Cindy, Harvard '97, lives much closer but it's unclear whether she's back from Thanksgiving. Also the buzzer on her apartment is known not to work: Sporadically, she says; not at all, I say.) Since three people lived there surely one would be home.

In fact all three were. Although I was surprised when a woman answered the door. She was surprised too. I saw Mike playing a video game and he saw me and smiled and said, "hey, Matt's here!" As in, seeing me was a pleasant but mild surprise rather than a shock. It's cool to have friends like that. He introduced me to his girlfriend and I told him the locked-out-of-my-house story. Paul invited me to come ice skating with them. Another friend was coming over to ice skate. Yet another friend (also yet another Harvard quiz-bowl alumnus, namely Joon) had been hanging around the house but opted not to skate. David, Paul and Mike's roommate, didn't get to hear the locked-out story until the very end. He had just assumed Paul invited me to skate with them (i.e. e-mailed or called me) and thought nothing of it.

Friends are cool.

Paul grumbled about the fact that some guy had a Dallas Stars shirt on to skate, the Stars having (by luck of the playoff pairing) become the Sharks' mortal enemy. This came up since Mike's gf hails from Texas. I mentioned how when I had nothing better to do senior year than watch the (1996) NHL playoffs, quirks of fate or who happened to be on made me a St. Louis Blues fan. (This was the year of Game 7, Blues-Wings, the 1-0 overtime dealy.) And we all talked about just how sucky the Chicago Blackhawks have been all decade (somehow there was an Ed Balfour connection here) and how Chicago should be St. Louis's mortal enemy but for lack of a good team there, instead it's pretty much a Circle of Death rivalry between the Blues, Avs, and Wings. I suspect mainly Avs and Wings, with both teams thinking of St. Louis as at best a spare rival.

Also Harvard hockey came up in this conversation. I feel old now given that I have no *@#*# clue who Harvard's goalie is. Then again I also had that feeling in 1996-97, though I eventually got used to J.R. "Fra" Prestifilippo "Lippi" and later Der Jonas. But since I was around, I'd eventually go to games and eventually see who's between the pipes. Now... I guess I could look it up or something.

Still, none of them will ever hold a candle to Emmet Eugene Tracy III. Tripp, that is. (Doesn't he have the perfect name for a star Harvard athlete?) He lived downstairs from me senior year. In Eliot House basement there is (was?) a big-screen TV where hockey fans would watch the playoffs together. There was a surprising Pittsburgh Penguin contingent, plus a NY Ranger fan or two. I can't remember if the Bruins made it in that year but if they did they didn't last long. In any case, Tripp was one of the frequent watchers of playoff hockey, sometimes with a woman on his arm.

(I brought Guy Jordan to that basement once, speaking of Flyer fans, but somehow it wasn't nearly as impressive as seeing the women in Tripp's life. Meanwhile for the love of god update your web pages people. I suppose this is just an obsolete page but damn. And hey it's Joon again.)

Which led me to mention to Paul (Tripp was before Paul's time) that Tripp is now a color analyst for the Carolina Hurricane. He has the perfect gig and also a web journal of his own to go with it. (Doesn't he look dapper in that suit? What you don't see in the picture is that he's not the world's tallest athlete. Doug Flutie has a few inches on him. Yeah, Flutie's taller than me (isn't he?), but Tripp isn't.)

Oh, here's a complete non sequitur if you've bothered to read this far:
I have two particular friends, both guys, from different spheres of my life. I'm starting to wonder, in completely independent cases, whether one or both of them might be gay. This is ambiguous in the way that it is with most people, who I suppose are assumed by default to be straight. Neither has been seen with a woman since I've known them. This is, for all practical purposes, irrelevant to me, though it's quite fun secretly to speculate about. Also, I'm pretty sure that neither of them reads this thing. (Nor do they keep weblogs of their own that I know of, just in case you were wondering whether this had to do with some "fancy" person. For idle speculation, fancy people are a whole 'nother can of worms. :-))

Anyway, what does make this relevant is that these two gentlemen have an incredible amount of interests and pursuits in common. What I really really really want to do is arrange for them to happen to see each other more often. (I've already introduced them to each other, casually, in the course of living life.) Where this gets really touchy is, I suppose if one of them weren't gay he could easily take great offense at the premise here. That would be highly awkward.

But even if they're straight, I think they'd get along really well as friends. I'll spin it that way. If it turns out my 'dar (that's one frightening link; obviously I don't own any literal device) has found a couple diamonds in the rough, so much the better. Only I guess I wouldn't end up going to their wedding unless various laws changed.

I think both of them are really cool friends. One seems especially... not sure what the best word is here... charming? Appealing in such a way that I'd be surprised and nontrivially dismayed if people aren't seeing the goodness in him. Shy, I'll admit, but the lack of women in his life suggests either gayness or extreme shyness or terrible judgment on the part of the collective of women who've happened across him since I've known him.

Once in a blue moon a guy will inspire that particular reaction in me. The "hey he's really cool" part rather than the part about worrying about his lack of girlfriends. (Gay men have seemed that cool to me; guys who have no trouble getting girlfriends have seemed that cool to me.) That led to some soul-searching in the past. I don't think they're crushes, since as far as I can tell I'm straight. (Even after probably somewhat more questioning than it occurs to a typical person to go through.)

To some extent what it might mean is that I'm not fully emotionally mature enough to appreciate specific kinds of friendship. If I get all weird that way about both sexes then at least, paradoxically reassuringly, I can claim that this little social quirk has nothing to do with sex or lust or what-have-you.

Sunday, November 25, 2001

Okay, I just had my quota of NFL football. After I turned on the TV...
The Colts (vs. SF, leading 21-20) ran a couple of plays
P. Manning overthrew a pass (unless he meant to airmail it to the free safety) and Indy decided not to bother to tackle the guy.
He... could... go... yeah, TD Forty-Niners
Flip over to CBS during the commercial, Steelers driving at Tennessee
Only the third quarter ends, so more commercials all around
Kordell Stewart throws a lame duck of an up-for-grabs-pass, literally straight up into the air and it somehow falls incomplete
Kris Brown kicks the field goal, shot of Bill Cowher's chin happy on the sidelines
Flip back to Fox, Indy has the ball back
Two plays total negative-5 yards courtesy of Bryant Young
Pat Summerall says that Young is not just a great player but also a nice guy
Marvin Harrison catches a ball and scurries, like a mouse, down the sideline and past the first-down marker
Manning throws a ball off his receiver's foot and it bounces up into the SF guy's arms
Third quarter ends on Manning's second INT in about four minutes
First play of the fourth quarter, Terrell Owens wide open on the "I'll run straight to the end zone, you get to try to catch me" pattern - another touchdown SF
(You know the one: It seems to work only indoors, specifically at TWA or RCA or HHH)

San Francisco and Indy are, in my opinion, two of the most entertaining teams in the NFL. (You have to put the Rams up there too.) If I had some DirecTV package, I think every season I'd watch a ton of the Colts and Rams. I don't mind the 49ers winning if they're entertaining. Maybe this was a little too entertaining.

The Manning family failed to impress me this weekend and my fantasy football teams all suck.