Friday, January 04, 2002

WEIRDEST FICTIONAL BASEBALL GAME EVER
First one listed in this auto-generated recap page. Here's the full game log and here's the box score.

And Joon's comment in his one-paragraph roundup: "some horrible, horrible games. yuck. oklahoma gets back to karmically even with totally absurd 17-15 win over springfield after being down 15-3; [...]"

Here's what you have to remember: We the GM's send our instructions to the commissioner. (Since the start of season 9 that's been Joon.) Our instructions can be really precise but basically just amount to the lineup, priority order for pinch-hitters, any particular double-switches or defensive replacements to make, starting rotation, and bullpen priority order. The commish then plays all the games on a computer program. This means Joon voluntarily played a bunch of games after celebrating his birthday.

Sad to say for his health, my debacle of a victory was one of them. Not that it helped much. I've run this damn team into the ground but it's fun I guess.
WEIRDEST COMMUTE EVER
Bay Bridge: Fatal construction accident on the lower deck an hour or two ago (middle of the night here). Ah, it's no use; the web won't update stuff like this quickly enough. They're still hung up on that day-old 78-car pileup but KCBS was all over it. As you might expect, when four out of five lanes are closed on the highway connecting the peninsula to the East Bay. (Bostonians, think of Mass Ave. crossing the Charles, only now imagine if the Longfellow Bridge and Western Ave. didn't even exist.).

January 3 was Joon Pahk's nth birthday for some value of n. 2002 - 1979 = 23. QED. A group of us went to Hot Pot City (this has long since become routine). This means I hung out at Paul and David and Mike's place both right before (caught the end of the football game) and right after, since HPC is the place with the post-10 p.m. discount.

Shortly before 2 a.m. I headed off. Got stuck behind a very slow-moving truck on Berkeley city streets (Ashby, if heaven forbid you know and care), finally passed it. Highway basically empty, three Bay Bridge toll lanes open but no waiting. Sped up to around 60 in the left lane, heading up onto the upper (westbound) deck. Noticed that I'd driven past a cop on the median (Speed Limit = 50 on the bridge) but the cop didn't seem to care. Saw another cop as I went past the center island but at 60 I was the slowest car of the sparse westbound traffic. Just started to think to myself, "man, 2 a.m. is exactly the time to make this crossing, there's nobody around, it's smooth sailing.

That's when I noticed that, coming from downtown, EASTBOUND WAS A PARKING LOT. It looked just like the 5 p.m. rush out of work, only at 2 a.m.. That's when I flipped to my traffic station. Thanks to the accident they're making 5 lanes merge into 1.

Oddly enough this was the second time in one round trip that a major accident on the lower deck had coincided with my needing the Bay Bridge. At some point around 8:30ish there was a big wreck, not the 77-car one but an (apparently) smaller-scale wreck, once again at the "center island." (This is one of those terms that only people who drive that road on a regular basis would know or car about, basically it's where these exits are (Treasure Island, Yerba Buena) between the two big-ass spans. I noticed coming in that traffic entering the bridge was way backed up compared to normal and seemingly not moving until they cleared the thing away. You've never lived in a big city until a drive that typically takes half an hour lasts from 9 a.m. to 10:20 a.m. Bah.

Nobody seemed to mind that I was late. What the hell, given that I have exactly 20 hours left on my current contract, and given that I'm still up, and especially given that the lower deck will still be fucked in the morning when I actually have to take it, this'd be a good time for a four-hour day, so that the old contract ends at the end of a day and transition to the new one (assuming there is one) makes more sense.

Thursday, January 03, 2002

Howdy
In the unlikely event of new readers, welcome. Don't be scared. I don't bite. I've tried to stop being so neurotic.


A cowboy is riding across the plains of the old west, when he is captured by Indians. The tribe puts him on trial for crimes against the Indian Nation, and he is found guilty.

"You have been sentenced to death," said the Chief, "but, as is our custom, you have three wishes to make as your last requests."

The cowboy thought for a minute and said, "Well, for my first wish, I'll need my horse."

"Give him his horse," said the Chief.

The cowboy whispered something into the horse's ear, and the horse took off like a shot across the prairie. Twenty minutes later, the horse returned with a beautiful blonde woman on its back. The cowboy looked at this, shrugged his shoulders, and helped the young lady off the horse. He then took her into the woods and had his way with her.

"Second wish," said the Chief.

"I'll need my horse again," said the cowboy.

"Give him his horse," said the Chief.

Once again, the cowboy whispered into the horse's ear, and once again the horse rode off over the prairie. Thirty minutes later, the horse returned with a beautiful brunette on its back.

The cowboy looked up and shrugged, helped the young lady off the horse, and went into the woods, same reason as before.

"This is your last wish," said the Chief, "make it a good one."

"I'll need my horse again."

"Give him his horse," said the Chief.

The cowboy grabbed each side of the horse's head, and put his face right up to the horse's.

"I said POSSE!"

--old old joke, I first heard it in high school but thanks to google I found it here instead of having to type the thing out

Wednesday, January 02, 2002

Another Wedding Puzzler
Assume you get to the ceremony, sit down, and listen to the beautiful organ music at your leisure. There will be two types of members of the wedding party, from your vantage point: The ones who aren't part of the procession, and so you see them milling about until the procession actually takes place. The few minutes right before a wedding are a convenient time for the audience to ponder: Riff through the program, look over the other people in the pews, try to decide whether the groom is nervous...

And then there are the dozen to two dozen members of the procession, who -- even though the procession is meant to be slow and majestic -- will still seem to end up at the front of the church in a flash because all the excitement of Holy cow, it's actually happening, a real live gosh-darned wedding! causes time suddenly to go ten times as fast as it had been going.


Not that I'm acting defensive or anything. :-)
Fashion Thoughts
Revisiting the wedding portion of the "October 2001" recap... having already complimented the groom and his brother I must say the bride looked elegant, and I'm not saying that just to keep my hetero cred. (If that's what it was about, I could have mentioned Sorah's dancing ability or Meg's spaghetti-strap dress or the mysterious woman who seemed not to be wearing any underwear.)

There are various related things I don't get about fashion, though, something that makes me not gay but rather absentmindly male. Specifically, what's up with female formalwear? In no particular order:

High Heels. Not part of the bridal outfit that I know of but apparently mandatory for women at awards ceremonies, even basketball players accepting ESPY awards. They look like some sort of bizarre punishment inflicted on an entire sex.

Elaborate Hair Care. Again, guys have it easy: Shower. Comb. Maybe mousse if it's that kind of style, though I'm more of a windblown person. Women in formal wear always have fantastic-looking hair, though always the kind that you know much have been a labor of love. These same women would also look stunning wearing her hair down.

Dress Material. I have no point here. But this one's an excuse to admit something that probably makes me weird. Men in drag do nothing for me that I know of. Women in evening formal wear look good and all but I swear, have you ever seen a woman in a tux? I have once in awhile and without fail there's something inexplicably yet irresistably (if only to me) sexy about them.

(When men look good in tuxes, I'm not smitten the way I am when women look good in tuxes; no, for the men I'm just envious. I'd like to look good -- check that, I'd like to look better in a tux. It's impossible not to look good in a tux, if you have even a rudimentary ability to keep it neat and if you avoid 1970s-style crimes against taste. Even I look reasonably good in a tux, if you get over the fact that I look like a penguin even without one.)
I could sure use a little Aussie bloke-ism. Australian Family Association: "Why can't we stick to the old ways of a bottle of whiskey..."
If you thought real life was messed up, I don't know what to make of this. It's unfair. "Evil" isn't quite the right word; "sadistic" puts it too strongly. "That's just wrong," sort of covers it.


Ever played fan tan? Once I was in this four-game, where the seven of spades came from the hand to my left. That is, I'd end up playing last. It looked like everyone would get rid of all their cards, something that almost never happens in this game. Except that I saved this one king I had to the very end, making Mike Develin burn his ace. "You bastard!" he exclaimed. (The ace cost him not just 14 points, but octuple that because three players went out. 14 * 8 = 112, just brutal in those 500-point type card games.) I thought of this only I can't reapply it, because Lynn Johnston is a "she" and because, at least these days, "bastard" has a comic -- or at least harmless -- overtone that the other "b-word" doesn't have.


Obviously Liz and Anthony still care for each other. So? For all we know this Therese woman is perfect for him, we don't get a chance to see. Where is the Point of No Return? I honestly don't know. Sometimes people make mistakes; if you come to realize you're engaged to the wrong person, better to face up to it than waste your time in a marriage that you know won't work.

What I hope doesn't happen is readers somehow think that Liz and Anthony are uniquely right for each other. Under different circumstances, they might have had something, but that's not what actually happened. He made a life with Therese and with any luck he'll have no regrets about it.

None of this translates well to blog, so to hell with it. And did I mention "No Whining"? I don't read the funnies for dysfunctional relationships, I read them for feline slapstick.
No-Whining Zone

Dear Diary,
I woke up in a strange bed this morning. Showered, got dressed, saw this well-built friendly guy on the couch reading the paper. He made sure I had all my stuff, then on my way out the door, we were exchanging pleasantries and he handed me something. "Here, Shelly wanted me to give you this." A $10 bill. For services rendered, I guess.


(Is that when the "adult video" bassline kicks in?)

There are basically two kinds of blogs, personal and political. I could do the latter but that's not what you're here for. As for the former, it's time to make mine more like the ones I like most: shorter and funnier, with more debauchery.

And no whining.

Tuesday, January 01, 2002

Caffeine
I inadvertently went a whole week, almost two whole weeks, with no caffeine at all. This started at home. Mom offered me a Snapple once and I drank it but for the most part our drink of choice was water. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday went by with my never getting around to procuring caffeine. Last night at Picante I just as arbitarily broke the streak. Since even sober drivers can be tired drivers, a Diet Coke seemed appropriate. Today at lunch, more Diet Coke.

<politics>
Caffeine is highly addictive, I'll readily admit. I'm unwilling to draw any conclusions about my time without caffeine. Caffeine is also cheaply, universally available. People who need it to function, get it, with seemingly no major loss of quality of life.

Compare this to pot. In practice pot may be readily available (I've never tried) and low-quality weed may even be cheap. The good stuff definitely isn't. Buying or selling or using marijuana is risky, precisely because it's illegal. Going to jail really messes up your life. But why on Earth should going to jail be the consequence of buying or selling or using weed, when it's not what we do to people who buy or sell or use caffeine?

Yes, there's a correlation between drug use and ruined lifes. No duh, given the risk of jail alone. More importantly, people mess up their lives over drugs because drugs are too damn expensive. If you need something and that thing costs money then you find a way to pay that money. And if the thing you need is already illegal then why worry about doing other illegal things?

It angers me that the Bill Bennetts of the world focus on a harmless (ought to be harmless) individual pursuit when there are so many other immoral things being done by people to other people. It angers me that people who want or need -- merely people who happen to enjoy pot (it's a free country, right?) -- have their lives ruined, when if the damn thing were legal their pot problem would be no worse than my caffeine problem.

I've never tried marijuana. Maybe someday I should. I intend to before I die, if only to see what it's like. Maybe I could spin it as my patriotic duty? Hey, why are we giving the bad guys an undeserved monopoly on various drugs, when instead we ought to be cutting into their profits and, for heaven's sake, if the trade is going to happen anyway, taxing it?

Here's the link I almost used above, except the story turns out to be a crock of shit, about what you'd expect from CBS. Their assertion that the Taliban cracked down on heroin is flat wrong; rather, the Taliban cracked down on whatever heroin they couldn't profit from. Bastards.
</politics>

What Happens When Techies Mate?
Autism, apparently. Cindy mentioned this article to me. The people we all know on-line (I stopped reading or posting for lack of time but she still does) discussed this article. One person in our circle of friends had been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome (mild form of autism), yet several other people actually scored higher on this test than he did. (28 for me, though I've heard about people getting as high as 40)

January 1
I promise that before long this won't have the ponderous-diary format. Life gets less interesting for everyone after January 1; people go back to work and stuff.

Cindy e-mailed me the evening of the 31st, asking if I wanted to either go running the next morning or have lunch, depending on the weather. Between today's steady rain and how late I was out, lunch was the obvious choice. I wrote back asking her to call me early in the afternoon in case I needed to be waked up. :-) (I did.)

While I was in the shower, my sister called. It turns out she too had a very interesting New Year's Eve. The problem, of course... well, see my complaint below about how you can't really tell anyone what other people do at parties.

Cindy, who likes to cook, made a tasty lunch involving drumsticks in a sauce with carrots; seasoned rice; and a salad. Justin (her boyfriend) joined us for the meal; we talked about various gambling experiences, Las Vegas versus Foxwoods and so on. After lunch he retired to another room to do work or take a nap or both. Cindy and I watched recently-taped Twilight Zone episodes on their Tivo.

Between my time spent with Cindy and Justin and my airport run for Chad and Shelly, this is truly my day of interacting with couples. In Cindy's case, more her individually I guess.

For overanalysis purposes the archetypical difference between time spent with Cindy (and possibly Justin) and time spent with Kubi (and possibly Shelly) should basically be that Cindy's a girl and Kubi's a guy. I'm actually going to shut up now for lack of a real point. I'd still feel more "normal" if I had a significant other and two pairs of people did things together than I do when I individually hang out with non-single people. Bah.

This happens to everyone in their late 20's, right? Many people pair up but not everyone, so couples and singles just end up interacting. Every "single" probably feels weird about it at some point but that's just how things work. I think I'm fine with it all but it's scary how is it is to psyche yourself out of being fine with it. So no duh, just stop talking about it already, eh?
This is so Unfair
When you're the (relatively) sober person among unabashed drinking, you see and hear things that are very amusing but that everyone else may have forgotten by the next day. I know stuff but I can't share it here. Not even necessarily that it has to do with anyone you know but, the Internet being what it is, why take any chances? Besides, as we've long since established, I don't tell secrets. Certainly not in this forum. Hope I live to tell the dirt I've picked up; more likely than not it will merely burn inside of me.

If you care, Heather and I did go to Picante and onward to the party. When we got there, David and Joon were in the main room playing Philanthropist, my roommate's obscure art history board game. (Yes, I remembered to take it home with me.) Some people were in Paul's room playing You Don't Know Jack. Two men and two women sat on Mike's bed, passing a champagne bottle around and talking about old relationships and theoretical romance questions (e.g., is it possible to achieve "good breakup" or are they all doomed to be bad?) We joined them, sitting on the floor. These were Harvard '00 people talking about incidents involving people they knew, people who I mostly didn't know and Heather entirely didn't know. Still, she seemed to enjoy the conversation and make a good initial party-type bond with the two women in the room.

Then Paul asked if anyone in the "gossip room" wanted to play Apples to Apples. So I played. Heather watched at first, then joined in. This is an example of the kind of game at which I suck, although not quite the same weakness as other games I suck at.

Then we saw the tape-delayed (GO WEST COAST!) dropping of the Times Square ball on New Year's Rockin Eve. Then a group of people began spontaneously playing Set at my feet.

I can't decide if I'm good at Set or suck at it. I'm relatively good but I think I ought to be better. Signs of apocalyptical geekdom: R. has specifically cited common interest in Set as a reason to date someone. There are also people who like Set and want to be good at it but just aren't. Then, I suppose, there are people who just aren't interested. As more Set ensued, Heather sat off to herself. When one of the women offered her champagne, she mentioned that she was tired. (About 12:45/12:50 a.m.) My cue, I guess, at which point: (There's a right answer for what did happen but unclear what's right or wrong for etiquette.)


A. She walked to the nearest BART station, five blocks away.
B. I drove her to the nearest BART station.
C. I drove her to the Walnut Creek BART, about 20 minutes away by highway, to the lot where she'd parked.
D. I drove her to her place, down the road from the Walnut Creek BART.


If you said "C" then you win... something. Driving back from Walnut Creek I realized that the party was right on my path homeward. Well, I'd have to get off the highway but still. I also realized that the Philanthropist game was still there, as well as the Settlers of Catan set I'd brought that night. So what the hell, why not see if the party was still going?

Of course it was. People expressed ("It's MATT!!") not surprise so much as pleasure that I stopped by again. Drunken revelry abounded. David and Paul went through the motions of playing Set but they were well past the mental acuity needed for optimal play. People told other people, unexpectedly loudly, how cute they were. Menfolk expressed their deep admiration for me as a friend, which I guess is not quite as uplifting as women telling me I'm hot but I'll still take the consolation prizes.

At some point a group of people left, including the conspicuously-admired women. The soberest of the group was also the one who could drive a stick shift.

Various of the last people still there (the three guys who lived there, a couple more guys, and me), all guys, lamented how things had turned out in their social lives over the years. I witnessed the gradual sobering-up process of people who mostly didn't even need to be sobering up. By omigosh 4:30 I too went home.
Trivia Questions
1. A man receives a severed human arm. He shows it to another man, who nods. They bury the arm. Why?

2. Who lives further from the San Jose airport, me or Kubi?

My car's gonna be so confused by the time I get home from work tomorrow: I'll take the Bay Bridge westbound without first taking it eastbound. Then again, this makes up for last July 4 when I took it eastbound to get to an A's game but drove up north to avoid taking it back because of fireworks-related traffic.

2002



There were some drunk people tonight. None of them was me. With all the driving I had to do I got to be sober and become amused by the lushes. What's weird is the degree to which people's drunken conversational outbursts inspire sober people to be just as loopy. To be honest I wasn't totally sober: Had a few sips of champagne around the 9-10 p.m. PDT hour, then one last sip to participate in the midnight proper.

Lame: Nobody kissed at midnight. A wise friend suggested to me that what it takes for this to work, if you're in the same room watching the ball drop with a bunch of other people, is that either everyone ends up doing it or nobody ends up doing it. That sounds about right.

So, I've still never in my life kissed someone at midnight on New Year's Eve. I guess there are other things in life that I've never done.

By no means was I the most bitter person tonight, though. I actually had a good time, and then at the very end of the evening got to watch various people lament their past failure to hook up with various other people.

Monday, December 31, 2001

2001 TOP 100
Boy they work fast...

Glaring Omissions: Cake. Also, where is that "Take It All Away" song (actually "Blurry") and what crack was I smoking that made me think it was Nickelback? Last but not least, "I Wish You Were Here": How could some OTHER Incubus song make it and not this one, arguably the best alternapop ballad ever?

And yes, what you read is true, I don't know of any song by Destiny's Child or by Jessica Simpson; with any luck I can keep it that way

Okay, total blank on the entire top 5.
I know "Thankyou" only because of "Stan."
Took me a couple seconds reading the lyrics but I do know "How You Remind Me" by Nickelback, those Canadian hoosers. ("This is how you remind me of what I really am...") They should have another song on this list coming up somewhere...

"Hanging By A Moment" is a reasonable alternapop song. Not great but never bad enough to switch stations on.
"Drops of Jupiter" is the same way but officially inferior to "Hanging By A Moment." Those songs all blend together

"Jaded" actually got nontrivial airplay on The Bone but didn't deserve it. At what point should serious rock fans have given up on Aerosmith? For me, it was somewhere around the "crying when I met you, dying to forget you" song, like a decade or so ago.

Dude! "Turn Off The Light." I guess I'm not as hip as I thought, since everyone else loved this song too. (#22 overall)


...followmefollowmefollowmedown, downdowndown...


Rock on!! "It's Been Awhile." "But I can still remember just the way you taste!"

Furtado again, with "I'm Like A Bird," only that one became annoying after awhile.
I loved "Everywhere" the first time I heard it but it got old quicker than expected. Hey, between Michelle Branch and Nelly and Nickelback, it's starting to become a little of an invasion, eh? No? Well take off then, hoser.

"Beautiful Day," a nice U2 song by a band that's aging really well. Go U2!

Something about "The Space Between" bugs me but I can't tell what. Someday I'll come around and really like it. Good ballad.

Okay, "When It's Over" is quintessentially Sugar Ray. Bah.

Oh, that's "Drive." Man that song sucks. "With open arms and open eyes and open ass..." Just like with the Nickelback song, I knew I knew the band but the wrong song was the bigger hit.

"What Would You Do" is a reasonable song. It makes me think of KFOG type music, what they'd call "recent releases." Would you like some Adult Contemporary with your drive time?

I probably know "Be Like That" but I'm not thinking of it and I'm convinced it's not worth it.

I definitely don't know "Ride Wit Me," maybe I'll go to a Tower and buy Whoa, Nelly if it doesn't cost like $20. But since that's what CD's run these days I probably won't. Huh? Oh, so Nelly and Nelly Furtado are completely different? Never mind then.

"Dig In" falls into the "Be Like That" category, maybe I know it but do I care?

Um, Britney? Song titles like "I'm A Slave 4 U" aren't exactly subtle. I've never heard this song but now against my better judgment I want to.

"Breathless" was a fine song until mainstream pop culture drove it into the ground. How many previews for TV shows did I hear it on? Corrs are cool though.

Screams of agony for the dreck that they call "Yellow." Whoever made Coldplay a pop culture icon must die.

The Alien Ant Farm cover of "Smooth Criminal" is inane but amusing.

BON JOVI has a top-100 hit that I didn't know about? I should turn in my credentials now and walk way.

Ah, those wacky Smashmouth covers. What will they do next? I want "Eve Of Destruction."

I think I know "Bad Day." Fuel is yet another of those alternapop bands that all sound alike.

Last but not least, it's KFOG poster boy David Gray. Yeah, I'm making fun of him but it's actually a cool song.


"Bablyon" is the kind of music that I'm going to realize some day that I really like it and also realize at that point that I'm disturbingly close to turning 30. Then I'll switch stations and crank up the Ozzy but it won't be the same any more, and some AC/DC song will come on that I used to be neutral towards and somehow inexplicably came to hate and then I'll feel really really old and... okay, yeah, 2002, see you then.
TOP 100 Songs
Not sure if any list is out yet for 2001 but here's the 2000 one for all you top-40 people.
Songs I even recognize:
"Bye Bye Bye", from those pop icons 'N Sync. Skip.
"With Arms Wide Open", a pleasant surprise as the #2 overall; I'd have sworn "Higher" was a bigger hit. Go Creed!
"I Try," Macy Gray's anthem since co-opted for NFL/United Way ads.
"Kryptonite" I'll reluctantly admit vaguely remembering.
There's a Madonna song I completely don't know...
Actually a whole buttload that I don't know...
"Otherside," Chili Peppers, has three things in common with "Kryptonite": Both big hits, both songs I know, both suck to the point of my switching stations on 'em
"Take A Picture," the first good song on this list since "With Arms Wide Open." ("Hey ma, what do you think about your son now?")
"Wonderful" sounds like every other song Everclear released.
"Amazed" (our token country crossover!): This song always used to come on Kubi's favorite stations; we both thoroughly adored this song. To this day it makes me tingle, the piano intro and everything.


Moment of utter humiliation: At both the 2001 Berkeley Mirror and QuESADILLA, there were music recognition rounds modeled on Charlie Steinhice's K-TEL Hell. The former was much more structured, with a written round and then top ten finishers buzzing. Pennington and Joe Wright schooled us all. In any case "Amazed" by Lonestar would have been my best buzz, on the very first NOTE of the piano intro, only I brainfarted and gave Bryan Adams/"I Do It For You" as the dumbest quiz answer I gave all year. UGH.


KID ROCK had a top-100 hit and I didn't know about it?!? Does SF radio just not play Kid Rock? Boston sure as hell did. He was like the 'BCN poster boy.
Ah, "Thong Song," you one-hit wonder you.
"Then The Morning Comes," by those infectious riff-driven Smashmouth dudes. If that song sticks in my head I'll scream.
"Everything You Want" has vaguely depressing lyrics that I tried to make fit a particular saga of my life once, but it's too rough a fit
If "Falls Apart" is what I think it is, I had no idea that was Sugar Ray
Okay, there's "Higher" - deeply underrated by the charts. Creed should have dominated the top 10. I'm a fanatic about this

...screams of agony...

THAT'S THE KUBI SONG. "That's The Way It Is" by Celine Dion. EVERY TIME IT CAME ON HE'S TURN IT UP FULL BLAST AND I'D WANT TO CRAWL INTO A HOLE OUT OF EMBARRASSMENT AND SCORN. I don't think I ever told him how deeply I loathed that song. Apparently it's a "special" song for him and Shelly, so no biggie.

Huh, "The Real Slim Shady" was a bigger hit than "Stan"? I don't believe 'em.
"Rockafeller Skank" was so 1999, I guess it it hung around long enough though.
"Learn to Fly" was lame but the Foo Fighters have disappointed me in general. Kurt Cobain, come back to life already.
"Cowboy" is the Kid Rock song I do remember.
Madonna's "American Pie" cover I'd managed to repress. Damn.

The Baja Men are conspicuously absent from this list. Did their 15 minutes not last long enough or were they relegated to some special "dance" chart?

2001 in General



Great Months: Basically the summer. March maybe. Being unemployed actually had its moments. Seeing my parents, both for Thanksgiving and Christmas, counts for a lot in a year that not much else went right. All the more so seeing Sarah (March, December).

Lousy Months: By definition a terrorist attack and a layoff make September and October 2001 among the worst I've lived through, although the wedding is a major saving grace for October. Still, the kind of disappointment was what I've felt in previous bad Octobers, aside from the layoff itself. April was also pretty stressful.

Job: Start by getting paid more than you've ever made in your life. Then get laid off. Then start making three times as much as you'd been making yet with no idea how long it'll last. Ask me in a year what I think of all this.

Home Life: The apartment is still wonderful. Without any disrespect for Boston, I love it out here. Except maybe if the rain keeps coming down for weeks on end. But even then, in moderation I actually like the kind of rain we get here.

Women: More went on than in 2000. Nothing that would be too embarrassing (I hope) to recount. I guess the year isn't over yet.

Music: Also much more than in 2000. Driving my own car gave me more leeway here. Off the top of my head, Creed and Staind were huge. I started really getting into the teen male angst as an unemployed 20-something male (basically just Linkin Park). For alternative, non-angst division, the big catchy tunes for me were Short Skirt Long Jacket and Turn Off The Light. More to the point, for both 2000 and 2001 the San Francisco radio dial helped me get back deeply into the heavy metal (not hair bands, just old school metal) and release my inner Ozzy fan.


Quick: Name any Boston station that plays Ozzy. The only one that occurs to me is 'AAF and I never lived anywhere with decent reception. Tulsa certainly didn't have any Ozzy-loving program directors.


I completely forgot to metion Poison! I was supposed to see Poison and Warrant on August 15, at a resort a three-four hour drive from here. on a weeknight. Great concert idea, lousy tactics. The concert was cancelled though, along with all their other tour dates, thanks to Bobby Dall's back problems. I really really need to remember to mail in my tix for that refund.

Final Wrap: The copout answer for a weak year is to point out all the cool things that might happen in the upcoming years. But I'm nothing if not a foolish optimist. 2001 was a setback but you can visualize particular good things for 2002. Worth watching:

Will we still live here? Chris and I were talking about this. We'll need to find out what SCoon thinks, whether Nelson and Udo can work it out so that Nelson stays on. Big question is how much rent relief we'll get. If the landlady doesn't want to cut much then we may find better options down the street.

Where will I Work? I might be mildly disappointed if it's Vectiv, though much happier depending on salary and/or specific features accomplished. Come to think of it, whatever happened to my getting back into baseball? Before Afghanistan became a rout, that took a back seat to the Army, and the contract work came up right as I was having second thoughts about the military.

The future of NAQT? I think we need to get back a contract like what we had for the MSN gaming zone.

Women... 2002 will be an unusually successful year on that front if I have a steady girlfriend. It's dangerous to think that way, because then you start to focus on the institution of having a Significant Other rather than the particular person herself. Also, it won't be that unsuccessful if I end up not. It'll just be a lot like so many other years.

Physique... 180 pounds or bust. (Somewhere in my room in Boston, from May/June 1998, I had a list of daily affirmations (inspired by Scott Adams and independently by the mother of someone I knew), written-down promises of two particular achievements. One was to weigh 180 pounds. The other appears impossible to achieve now and isn't worth mentioning.

Sarah... The big untold story is my sister's well-being. This is one of those that doesn't blog well but she's seriously, maddeningly underpaid given her intelligence and her skillset. It's unclear what anyone else should do about this but I'll silently root for her to succeed and give whatever moral support works best.

Specific Goals for 2002
conspicuously avoiding the "r" word...
Exercise daily.
Send a job application to google and possibly also Yahoo.
Learn to be patient in life in general.
Learn to be patient specifically in teambuilding.
For heaven's sake, try out for Jeopardy! already, while the double money lasts.
Acceptable substitute is Beat the Geeks but why not both?
Start getting back into the chess scene, not just on-line but over the board. Weekend Swiss tournaments. There's one in Las Vegas in a couple months.
Be much nicer to my Mom, specifically by calling her once in awhile.

...okay, let's party, see you in 2002...

December 2001



Vectiv took me back on for contract work and then I went home for Christmas. Tonight I go to a party that, for all I know, will be what I end up remembering most about this month.

If it looks like I've lost a ton of steam, well yeah. It's hard to keep cranking out that many words. I don't envy anyone honestly trying to read through this. If you pick and choose you won't miss much. There are novelists, some of my all-time favorites, where you can get away with that.

Also we've reached the part that you can just read through. There's no narrative I have to worry about filling in and even the analysis is pretty straightforward. Career thoughts? See the entry on picking Chris up at the airport. Thoughts about women? Nothing that you couldn't figure out.

Late October/November 2001


Unemployment...

Dex had exhorted us to do useful things while unemployed and not to sit on the couch. Alas, I think I basically sat on the couch. I was supposed to write a bunch of quiz questions, every now and then I did. I also got hooked into online chess and Settlers of Catan and fretting about fake baseball.

Corwyn made his big road trip to Las Vegas and the Four Corners area around this time. In hindsight I ought to have joined him. This recap would have been far more interesting.

I spent more time chatting on-line than a human being really should, although that part I'd do all over again.

I set up a blog, this very blog, deeply reducing the utility of my explaining anything from this time period in much detail.

I contacted the Army and Navy and Air Force and heard back from the first two. I started exercising more seriously and doing a weekly weigh-in.

My parents came for Thanksgiving; you can read all about it in the archives. Kubi and Shelly invited us over for dinner.

Downward Spiral


On October 11, Jake wanted to meet with me about something, one of the defects I think. An especially annoying defect. We both kept being slightly busy, so the meeting delayed. Around 11:00 it looked like we'd talk soon and he said he'd get back to me when he was ready. At some point I realized he never had.

Some time in the middle of the day Dex gathered us (Silicon Age folk) into a conference room and gave us the news: Layoffs. One third of Vectiv hit. Not much warning. The only recent change to the financial situation was Apple payments dragging out, in turn related to bugs specific to the combination of the IE browser and Mac OS X platform. All week we'd been working to track down any Javascript bugs related to supporting Netscape. But now... people leaving completely, other people reduced to 60% time. Very quiet office, nobody wanting to inadvertently offend anyone else. And, of course, Silicon Age ending its work on Monday the 15th. No new contract. Not four people, not two people. Zero people. Do all the documentation we could do, make sure we left the project cleanly and so on.

On October 13, Paul and I saw Oakland lose 1-0. Why didn't Jeremy slide? I'll tell you why: To everyone in the stands it looked like he'd be safe without a play, then somehow someone (Jeter it turns out) managed to get the ball to home plate. It was almost as though there'd been an extra trick ball. Just out of nowhere.


Kubi and Shelly made their own provisions for tickets. Now that he was living with his gf rather than half a country away, it made no sense for him to tag along to playoff games with me. Before Sept. 11, we'd actually agreed that I'd sell my Division Series tix to him at cost, since the Mondoux-Harper-Nixon wedding stood to conflict with Oakland's home games. But then everything got postponed.


On October 14, Corwyn and I saw the ugliest postseason game imaginable. It's a bad sign when you're up two games to one yet suddenly feel lost as of early in Game 4. Also it was incredibly hot, as happens in the East Bay in October. Now, we did end up seeing my friend Don from Howe Sportsdata and his girlfriend Liza, since they were making a California vacation. After a bit of a wild goose chase we hooked up with them at the Steelhead Brewing Company on the wharf. The four of us sat and talked, Don and Corwyn both having a major interest in football. We caught the end of a tight Raiders-Colts Sunday nighter. Don, who I remember as the most skilled/conscientious summer intern of '99, now is partly in charge of the Night Crew. Liza still worked at the hotel across the street. Corwyn was about to leave grad school. I was no longer on the project I'd been on for over a year but hey, I still had a job.

On October 15, our weekly company meeting was postponed for a day. We went to Vectiv as usual but we unplugged our computers and hauled everything across the Bay. I reclaimed a prime piece of cubicle in the Silicon Age office. Didn't feel like setting the computer up right away so I went home. The partners, Dex and Tim and R., went off to dinner, no doubt to figure out what our next "internal project" would be, right?

While I drove around and listened on the radio and prayed and cajoled and cursed and finally caught the end of it here in my bedroom, the A's gave up the ghost. Angrily I listened to my Staind CD.

THREE MONTHS TO LIVE
On October 16, Tim broke the news at the rescheduled company meeting. By three months from then, Silicon Age would be no longer viable, unless we could get ourselves staffed again. Not one or two or three of us but roughly two-thirds of us. Office space isn't cheap. Computer developer salaries aren't cheap. The choices were either to give up right away and take severance, or spend two of the three months trying feverishly to get new business and make a judgment call from there. People needed 24 hours to talk to loved ones, think things over, and so on.

On October 17, by a 6-4 vote, we gave up the ghost. (Three people abstained. I was one of them, although had I not abstained, I'd have voted to give up anyway. The people who wanted to press on almost but didn't quite convince me.) Kubi and I went out to Walnut Creek, to his place, and drank tequila and watched baseball playoff games.

Early October 2001



<wedding>
Since everyone in my known audience was at this wedding, typing much about it would be an ears-burning experience. But that didn't stop me?! Seeing all y'all was fun. The wedding party looked perfect, especially the groom and the best man. It was fun to think of the ushers as bouncers, big dudes. It was especially fun to see the Beezer.

So... redeye from SFO to JFK, turboprop to Greene, rented a car and experienced the fall foliage on 495 with bleary eyes. The gal at the desk when I wanted to check in was very helpful and very conversational. After I got in, she called the room to ask if there was anything else I needed. I seriously thought of flirting with her but she'd mentioned her boyfriend in passing before.

Saturday night, went to Boston, had dinner with Kevin and his brother. Went to the Boston Beer Works across the street from Fleet Center. It was eerily, depressingly empty. This was during the post-Attack entertainment lull. There was even a game going on, the Bruins losing when we left but later winning on a fluke goal.

Got back to the hotel, phone rang, Coen's room. Four of us (two Mark's, Sarah, & I) hung out and watched the Cal Ripken love-in. There followed some documentary about Las Vegas gamblers and then we all went to bed.

The night of the wedding, the same four of us retired to my room after the reception, plus Cooch and Meg makes six. Watched NFL Primetime and SportsCenter and scarfed down a pizza. It was the first time I'd seen an American-born WASP pizza delivery person (female too) since living in Tulsa. The next day a group of us (back down to four, though Cooch and Meg were fun while they lasted), not at all rattled from almost getting lost between the wedding and the reception, tried and failed to find good breakfast accomodation in downtown Milford, settling on an Applebee's closer to the hotel. Fun times.

Kevin and I did something Monday night, although I'm completely drawing a blank. Oh yeah! We took the T to Kenmore Square to check out the latest construction, then walked to the Newbury Street TGI Friday's. This was a place of excellent memories for me and Kevin, good food, good conversation, excellent service, a couple of waitresses of note (one of them actually knew the Boggies from when she'd worked with Jen at Bennigan's). Tonight, none of that. A surly waiter in a nearly empty restaurant. Times change.

I caught the end of a dismal Monday night blowout, slept a couple hours on Kevin's couch, then drove insanely early to catch my flight back across the country. Had to check through a bag, because the FAA changed regulations on me that weekend.

This was, of course, when we first began bombing. The four of us had gone to a Dunkin Donuts before getting ready for the wedding. I flipped through channels, saw Tony Snow instead of J.B. and Terry. Saw Bush speak, etc.
</wedding>

<work>
With Apple in acceptance testing, those of us on the Vectiv project started developing in two-week iterations. Partly because this seemed like the correct thing to do to stay on the same page with the client, partly because technically the contract ran out at the end of September and even though it would automatically renew every two weeks, there was talk that they'd want two of us staffed instead of four. Or maybe three. It kept changing.
</work>

In any case, the A's were in the playoffs and I'd exercised the option to have two tickets apiece to every home playoff game all the way through to the World Series, possibly to the first Halloween MLB ever and first November MLB ever. Oakland stunned the Yankees twice. So even in a country shaken up a month ago, I'd just seen two dear friends get married. I had a job I loved and was about to see a local team make it to the ALCS, possibly on to a title. All in all I think I went to bed very happy the night of October 10th. Concerned about events in Afghanistan but happy.

Damn. It's not such a clean break. Game 2 wasn't until the 11th. You get the general idea though. The 11th was a weird day. Also, of Oakland's two wins, I watched exactly one inning of each on the big TV in the main room: Both 9th innings, Jason Isringhausen's saves. The rest of the time, roommates were watching Star Trek or Buffy or whatever people watch.
September -> October 2001
On September 30, Paul and I went to see a very expensive Giants game. Specifically, $100 plus $10 handling fee per ticket, a purchase I'd made via the Giants Double Play Ticket Window (season ticket resales) on the day that Bonds hit three homers in Colorado. Pre-Sept. 11 this felt like a steal; in reality it was probably about fair value. Fun game, mildly disappointing that neither Bonds nor Rickey reached the milestones they hoped to reach, to say nothing of the Giants losing a game they desperately needed to win. Then again, Tony Gwynn's farewell alone may have justified the ticket price for me. (Lots of Padre fans had bought tix months in advance because of Gwynn.)

On either September 26 or October 3 (probably October), Chris Nolte had a bachelor party.


By the way, what were the non-Vectiv Silicon Age people working on? Well, a lot of them had an internal project using MapInfo software and extreme programming methodology. Tim and R. were their "client." They had a big crunch-time around Labor Day when the Hentzels flew to Turkey, a trip that badly coincided with 9/11 and left them stranded for a couple days in the Frankfurt airport as they tried to get back onto U.S. soil. Anyway, some were trying, at gradually increased levels of urgency, to get us new business. At one point we had an agreement in principle to redo and optimize the Miller Lite Virtual Racing League site, of all things; unfortunately, the people who wanted to hire us were bought out, and some sort of merger or acquisition resulted in Miller suddenly having an internal team to rely on. Rumor has it the app still sucks.


In any case, the same night as Chris's bachelor party was a celebration at the Pyramid in honor of our completing some important work for the Apple deal. (The big hold up was one feature that Vectiv's full-time developers had been working on; Silicon Age was fixing defects, documenting, and partially spinning our wheels. The Pyramid outing ended up being rescheduled twice that week.) My plan was to go to the Pyramid, then straight from there to the bachelor party.

At the Pyramid I inexplicably had an attack of the shy's. This isn't like an anxiety attack; it's difficult perfectly to explain. Rather, I was sitting listening to other people talk and watching the cowardly Astros pitch around Bonds (so yup, October 3). Things upset me, without my really knowing what. Couldn't relax, couldn't just settle down and talk to people. Marissa was into a monologue about her post-graduation trip to Europe and some guy she was seeing. Quietly I slipped into the Men's Room. Even more quietly I slipped back out of the place.

Instead of going straight to the Silicon Age office to guarantee that I'd meet up with people who knew how to get to the bachelor thing, I diddled around at my computer at Vectiv until I had to leave to get ot the thing on time. Only I couldn't find the place, some restaurant on a fictitious alley of a street in downtown San Francisco. I drove around and around and around as 7:58 became 8:15 became 8:30-something. I went home and cried for no apparent reason.

The bachelor party went well; Chris expressed regrets that I couldn't make it but no hurt feelings.

End of September, 2001



You already know the news stories: The stirring words of Bush and Rudy, the anthrax letters. Worth mentioning that when Bush gave his speech to Congress, I was at work, as were probably most techies in the Pacific Time Zone. Lots of people started streaming the speech at the same time. Depending on relative computer speeds and quirks of bandwith, this caused an echo effect.

WARNING: <POLITICS>
Something I didn't expect to hear, but did: catcalls about the speech. There are people at Vectiv who, while otherwise being fine people, are hardcore dyed-in-the-wool Left. I had no idea until the night of the speech. You'll hear the strawman sometimes of the Right-wingers who spend all day listening to various radio talk shows. The critique always seems to involve the word "hate." Well... not to deny or excuse that element of conservatism, but you've never heard bile, you've never heard resentment, until you've been around people who can't or won't support any response to terrorism basically because they never got over the 2000 election.

The oddest part is to hear them express sanctimony over holding opinions that they suppose are no longer okay to hold, as though they're bucking a dangerous trend of conformity. Well, no and yes. Their right and privilege to think and say what they darned well want to is a huge part of what makes this country great. That doesn't make their opinions any less silly. These aren't people I've ever been in an argument with: In a contracting situation that would feel inappropriate to me. (And they are people from whom, down the road, a recommendation might come in handy.) It's more the case that they'll say what they say and I'll grit my teeth a bit and keep my mouth shut.
</politics>

Cindy had her first two soccer games. Back in August she and I went for walks together sometimes, when I started going for long walks. (The practice went into hiatus in September, then came back as a walk/run combination in late October.) We were going to try to find a coed soccer team but first she stumbled into an all-women team that needed people. Her first scheduled game was cancelled; given that it was September 15 and the weather was clear and gorgeous, presumably this was to mourn. She was disappointed not to get to play yet. The next two were fun to watch, close games. Both losses but the team was just gelling. I have no idea how they did after that, since I fell out of the habit of going to watch 'em.

WARNING: <SPORTS>
Corwyn and I went to a sports bar on September 23. This was when he was getting major burnout in Palo Alto. It was my first NFL Sunday in a sports bar, with several TV's tuned to every game being played. By chance, the direction I faced gave me the best view of the Colts annihilating Buffalo ("Peyton Manning, Edgerrin James, and Marvin Harrison played brilliantly as usual...") and the the Bears rallying past Minnesota. Behind me, the Falcons nondescriptly beat Carolina (Corwyn nudged me in time for the big run and for Vick's TD) and about a dozen Detroit Lion fans were deeply let down by Ty Detmer's pickfest ("STOP RUNNING THAT PLAY... IT... DOESN'T... WORK!!") Their team was getting embarrassed -- by the Browns -- but they stayed to the end, unlike the Bills fans one table over from me.

On TV's to my left (Corwyn's right), the NY Giants won an "emotional" (but boring) game that never managed to be worth looking closely at, while Jay Fiedler got a game-ending touchdown even a large group of Raider fan was loudly dead certain he'd been stopped short. There must not be much AFC Central following in San Francisco, given that I don't remember where the Titans-Jags TV was (this game felt like an upset). I do know that I could catch Cincy stunning the Super Bowl champs only on my way to/from the bathroom.

There was one corner of the bar where Cowboy fans saw Dallas lose and moaned a little about it.

In late games, Corwyn and a newly-arrived group of Jets fans (their baseball caps all were either Mets or FDNY) saw their team gut out a win at Foxboro. Corwyn was initially unhappy with Herman Edwards, citing inability to stop the run and inability to beat the Pats by more than a touchdown. At 0-2, with Bledsoe hurt, didn't New England look done? (Meanwhile, as of that weekend, the Steelers were at the bottom of the AFC Central at 0-1.)

Exactly one guy in the bar, wearing a Jeremiah Trotter jersey, cared that the Eagles whipped Seattle. A whole lot more people cared about the Rams-Niners tilt, a game that turned out to have meant a lot. I remember seeing Marshall carry the ball with six minutes left, with four minutes left, with two-and-a-half... and then ballgame.

The game everybody in the bar cared about was actually a baseball game. The crowd roared for Bonds #65 and went nuts for Bonds #66.

Oh yeah, and that was also the day the A's clinched. Never has a playoff spot been clinched in more obscurity, since between the football and the Bonds chase, there was no local TV coverage.
</sports>

DID I FORGET QUESADILLA?!?
Damn, this breaks continuity, since August 25 is clearly pre-Sept. 11; oh well.
The rest of the world sure did. Jason Paik has it as the last tournamet result but no hyperlink. Berkeley alone has the right subtitle but no results link on the page. Caltech has an out-of-date page.

Anyhoo, R., SCoon, Chris, and I played together but did not drive together. Chris and I took 580 from Berkeley and stayed in L.A. with Patrick Friel, onetime Swarthmore player of note. The other two went from SF and stayed with Richard and Maribeth. The only time I've ever played on a team with R., and alas:
1. No Kubi to complete the effect
2. We didn't even win the thing
R. was by far our top scorer but regretted his rust.

September 11, 2001


as if I could have fallen asleep without this

(Words can't describe, narrative will have to suffice.)

...sleepsleepdreamsleep...
THUD-THUD-THUD
"Get up!!"
oh shit, how late? but it's just 7:40, why's SCoon mad? power outage?
(I must've mumbled something)

"We are under attack."
oh crap, ants? neighbors? what the hell, it's too early. noise... garbage truck? attackers?
(apparently I giggled at the expression, thought it was a figure of speech or something)

"I'm dead serious. The World Trade Center has been destroyed."
(which was not yet true but would be soon enough)
mind goes completely blank. chill. who? Chinese? sounds like tanks outside. or just a garbage truck
(here I finally turned on CBS 740, previously best known for traffic every 10 minutes)

I wonder if this means the game's cancelled tonight?

Simulcast from WCBS in New York. "This just in... Primary Day has been cancelled."
What kind of school names itself... oh, that primary! The mayoral election! Damn. - and, once the magnitude of the attack became clear, some highly impolitic thoughts about the Oklahoma City people getting some perspective.

You know the rest. Trade Center. Pentagon. Rumors (false) of a State Department car bomb. One plane unaccounted for. Local to California there was also a truck that jacknifed on some highway spilling hazardous chemicals. Coincidence? Unknowable. Then the plane crashing in Pennsylvania.

I called my sister and parents, took forever to get through, phone lines jammed, left messages. I called Kevin in Boston. I got ready for work, since I was the last person in the country to clue into why nobody would be going to work if they hadn't gone already. Chris, early bird, had already gone. It took longer than I'd have liked to get confirmation that he was safe.

In any early fit of denial I planned to clean my room, maybe write questions, actually use the time off to do the things I'd meant to do. Instead, like an entire nation, I spent the entire day glued to the TV.

A whole week without sports sucked; I thought that went longer than it should have, since everyone other than athletes went back the next day to the various things we do to make a living. Then again, looking back on it nobody's really going to second-guess how it worked out. If they'd come back sooner you know someone out there would, to this day, be second-guessing.

At some point in the TV gluing I felt the anger that everybody else felt and decided that, while I had very strong opinions over what to do about it, if I was ever going to be outspoken about it then I should back it up by joining whatever it made sense to join. (Speaking of which, from CNN: Army relieving Marines at Kandahar.) Basically I anticipated the same objection that Reason made three months later. But look at me now. *shrug* Then again who knew justice (to the extent we've gotten it) would be so swift?

I already mentioned the Neil Young song, right?

September 1-10, 2001


I really really need to go to bed but this was about as far as I wanted to get tonight.

At work there were a lot of issues to resolve surrounding Apple's first "real" data load. All four of us basically spent September fixing bugs. At some point Marissa had been moved to a different task, more of a long-term planning role, leaving Seiken to handle QA. He automated a bunch of scripts so that computers could do basically everything that Accenture summer help had previously done. (Go Seiken!)

Seiken and Rob (Helmer, not Hentzel)... a "malicious user" and a UNIX SysAdmin. They sit at adjacent computers now (December), in a room that used to have a dozen people but now is empty save for them. By late August there were bug meetings with Marissa and Dex; this obviously became Seiken and Dex with the changeover. And Jake, prod dev rep. I never did write about Jake. He was the juniormost of the four prod dev people and the one who got hit by the October layoffs. He and I got on well, partly because he's into baseball. And I found him to be the most no-nonsense of the four in terms of expecting and getting good results.

Something else I didn't write about: Had my annual review in July. At a meeting with a couple of prod dev people I mentioned in passing that I'd be going to SF that afternoon for my review. Three people subsequently sent unsolicited testimonials about me to Tim. He was quite impressed. I suppose this worked well for me, though it's unclear how the end result of the review differed if at all from what would have happened anyway without the testimonials. Speaking of "testimonials," if you listen to the radio much, don't you think this search should yield more than one hit?

Speaking of baseball, I had tickets for four games in an eight-day span and went to three of them in a seven-day span. This is what I had trouble remembering many many posts ago in those lists o' games. There was this weekly phone conversation, see, that had been Tuesday but then moved to Wednesday for awhile but then went back to Tuesday. I think I took a raincheck on it to see the September 4 game but I'm also pretty sure I'd forgotten to mention that I'd be going to a game the next Tuesday also. This actually occurred to me as I was trying to fall asleep the night of the 10th. It's completely unclear how I planned to resolve this.

Four games in eight days is an awful lot and the Rangers were sucking so my desire to see them had gone down. Then again, the same guys (Joon and Mike) with whom I'd seen the Devil Rays Friday and the Rangers Monday, we'd left the ballpark Monday night assuming we'd be back there in 24 hours. I was either going to beg off the baseball game or dash off an e-mail postponing the phone call. It's now unknowable how I would have resolved this.

I also did something unwise that Monday night that, alas, I don't think I'll ever mention again. No, it didn't involve Ashlie, shut up. Too much information would be involved but suffice to say I fell asleep unhappily and may possibly have had nightmares, although that's probably just hindsight embellishment.

Since I really hate ending on this note of foreboding (you're not stupid; you know why I left off here and what comes next), I'll remind you (more like remind me) that in, oh, 14 hours, I'll be on... maybe "date" is too strong a word. We'll see.
<heather>
On August 8 she and I went to an A's-Red Sox game. This was the day the Coliseum walk-up sale record was set, and also very close to the time when Oakland passed Boston in the wild card race for good. Thanks to the throngs of day-of-game people, I had trouble fighting my way through the BART crowd and also was one train later than I'd expected to be. She forgave me for the lateness, I think. Hope.

This was explicitly not a date. So we made smalltalk, and then we both took BART for as far as we were actually going, then parted ways. On the way out of the stadium she expressed shock at some of the highlights of California that I'd never actually been to, surprise that one could conceivably imagine would eventually lead to her acting to correct my sightseeing deficiencies.

Except that from that point until, basically, 15 hours from now, either one or both of us would be busy or one or both of us would be feeling introverted. We've had reasonably good on-line chats (entirely of the clean variety), although I'd have trouble telling you what-all it is that we have in common. At the very least there's The Simpsons, which was our early common bond.
</heather>
<avynne>
WARNING: More information than you may need. If so then skip to big "August 2001" header just below this entry.
There was some day on which I'd invited Anna to something but to no avail. Monday, August 13 seems like a reasonable guess. On second thought make that the 6th. I got a Yahoo! Message, more specifically my 'adult' alter ego did. (Unlike on AOL, if you're signed onto Y! Messenger then all your avatars are also simultaneously treated as being on-line and someone could send a message to any of them.) My alter ego gets a ton of spam chats ("check out my web site!") but almost never real messages since it's not something I give out to people.

PREFACE
Exactly once before, sometime in the spring(?), my alter ego had been chatted up. My first 'cyber' came from a woman who, now that I look at it, is still on my Y! friends list. She's changed her profile pic (WARNING: explicit adult photo) since the last time I saw it, but I still don't think either pic is "really her." More power to her if she's who/what she says she is, although so help me I remember thinking she types like a man. (Other verbs may also apply.) If you read enough text erotica, at some point you can tell whether most of the authors of the stories are male or female. Like, before there was Usenet, there were Henry Miller and Anais Nin, and you can usually tell those two apart. Having said that, I'll cop to my own adult prose being described as "feminine" in the distant past.

(For one thing, unlike a few of the guys who used to post sex stories to Usenet, I see no need to add an early paragraph that says, "by the way, here's what they look like. He's 6'2", she's 5'5"...")

Anyway, Kathryn was very direct. Think of the on-line sex chat equivalent of Nick from It's A Wonderful Life when he says, "Hey look, mister, we serve hard drinks in here for men who want to get drunk fast and we don't need any characters around to give the joint atmosphere." I guess that's not entirely true... she was a teacher (I was confused at first, not sure if she was saying she actually is a teacher or just really really quick to get in character), although that didn't end up having much to do with the plot. Her outfit was central to her persona, which involved some combination of a see-thru blouse and stiletto heels and just enough leather that a lot of guys out there would be really turned on. Not quite my thing, though.

Pretending to have sex on-line is exhilirating, at least. I guess the "real" way to do it involves masturbation, but not if you're at work. I can truthfully say, at least, that I've never combined the two regardless of where I was. After that time, I even sent Kubi an AIM to the effect of, "hey, I think I just had my first cyber!" Or somesuch.

THE PART THAT MATTERS
So I got this message, to my adult alter ego and from an unfamiliar handle, asking if I did roleplay. Why, uh, yeah, sure. (In my alter ego's profile, Roleplay is the first item under "My Interests"; presumably at some point I joined a Club and hit a checkbox I didn't mean to hit in the signup process.) Probably not immediately asking me that, I think there was a "good morning" and a "how are you?" and so on. But astonishingly soon I found myself asking, "have you been a good girl today?" (maybe) "have you been a BAD girl today? ;-)" (yes) From there the first scene went really really well, surprisingly intense but also surprisingly easy to know the perfect thing to type. I felt really inspired.

The best part was, I managed not to lose any productivity out of it. Don't ask how. But know that when someone comes to your desk with a question or discussion point, even though they'll think nothing of seeing a blinking chat button on the button bar (since that's how we communicated across the Bay anyway), all the same you can't get back to it until you've taken care of what they came over there for. And this did come up. (Remarkable thing about this day: Ben was in town, so I had someone at the desk next to me when I normally wouldn't have.) For 15, maybe 20 excruciating minutes I did work and listened to Ben have a design discussion with someone and studiously avoided going back to the chat window.

Of course by that point she'd long since left, right? Well, actually, she was still there and wrote back. And after the scene we chatted a little as ourselves. She'd been around the world as a military brat and now was back in Hawaii. We talked about places she'd been and I tried not to be too much of a computer geek. Every day that week she signed on and started chatting with me. After the first scene we tended to be teenagers, high school classmates basically, onetime childhood friends who in essense were now discovering another side to each other. In real life she was playing a lot of sports and kept mentioning injuries she'd get on the field. At some point maybe I'd kiss her ankle or her black eye and make it better.

One day, early enough that we didn't yet have much preconceived notions about each other, I told her something about my tending to get real-life crushes on "tomboys." This definitely surprised her and seemed also to please her.

The end of the World Series coincided with when we did some really heavy-duty chatting, just in terms of hours spent. This is about when I found out her age (19 assuming she's trustworthy), favorite football team (Rams), and other details that aren't worth sharing but basically what made her a person all her own, as opposed to whoever she'd play. In our longest running recurring set of characters, I played a high school quarterback named Cale. She picked the name. What's disturbing about this (remind me to ask her about it sometime) is that in real life, one of the greatest high school quarterbacks in Oklahoma scholastic history is also named Cale. (As an OSU fan I'm partial to his brother Mike.)

Twice we went through periods where I didn't hear from her: A couple weeks in October, and then all through December. I got an e-mail from her a week ago though. Maybe since then, too; I go way too long between checking my hotmail account. You can guess how much spam builds up.

Anyway, I had almost described that first gal Kathryn as "unimaginative." That's not quite the right word, and even if I found exactly the right word there's no way what I recounted here would support the assertion. I can't explain what's appealing about Avynne as a friend or a chat buddy or a "cyber" partner without telling more about our specific exchanges than I feel is right. In short, the best way to put it is that we're on the same wavelength.

There, I guess it wasn't that much too much information, although that one gal's profile pic is awfully, um... Um seems like the best word for it. Oh hey yeah, the other bit of TMI: Later that week, after work I stopped in at the Good Vibrations store in Berkeley. Misleading reputation aside this was the first time I'd ever been in an "adult" store. Just browsing, of course. ;-) Then again... well, were I to buy something at a place like that, I assume everyone in my known audience would prefer not to know.
</avynne>

August 2001


or, how the Metreon could have changed my life but actually totally didn't

In other August news, baseball had a bunch of deadline deals that yielded mixed results; and Barry Bonds continued his home run chase. George W. Bush gave a speech on stem cell research that, at the time, looked very much like the defining moment of his early presidency. ("Hey, remember stem cell research? Remember the lockbox? Ah, the politics of an innocent nation...")

At work... well, I already mentioned the Apple punchlist. Key figures in getting that stuff done were me, Kimberly, and this Accenture woman Christine. (Google search on her fullname wasn't empty but was too lame to bother with a link.) I never really worked with Christine but Kimberly spoke highly of her work. She was also pretty, in a tall/big Scandinavian way. At some point in November Accenture rolled her off of Vectiv and onto a project in Beverly Hills. The distribution on her thanks/goodbye message ended up reaching Silicon Age developers, presumably by happenstance.

<anna>
The Metreon is what reminded me of Sarah's second visit, recapped below. It has something in common with Great America and also with the movie Shrek. Well, I guess Great America doesn't perfectly fit the profile. The Metreon was a place I wanted to invite Anna to but never did.

One weekend I supposedly was going to Great America. That I did invite her to, only I garbled my syntax and inadvertently made it a Saturday-specific invite. Supposedly there would be a D&D campaign that Saturday, which she'd participate in even though it had been years since she'd taken part in Rob's campaign. The D&D turned out not to be Saturday after all, although whatever day it actually was (Friday?) she did indeed take part. But, the invitation was sufficiently vague that her parsing it as Saturday-only, declining it on those grounds, and so on... you don't need a Magic 8-Ball to know when to quit.

I'd made various feeble efforts to chat (on-line) or interact with her (in person) that month, without much result. Oh, but we did play some really neat Settlers of Catan games in group settings. I guess that counts for something. Seriously, this is an awesome game, and August seemed to be the peak month for playing it among Silicon Age folk.

Between the baseball game and the gradual petering out of whatever ambition I had on that front, we had the cookout. This was my idea. Timed it to coincide with the weekend Ben was back in town. Nearly all of Silicon Age came and, taken at face value, the thing worked out massively well. SCoon and I bought a lot of meat and we cooked it all up and everyone had a blast. As previously mentioned, Tim even took pictures, although I can't show them to you until he fixes his link.

At some point during the cookout, Anna and Luoi were making smalltalk. This is not at all remarkable: Any two people at a party will talk and probably ought to. Rather, I was dismayed at how irrationally jealous I felt inside. In fairness to my irrational side, the two of them did later plan a kayaking trip for the weekend before she went back to school. Stands to reason that you'd choose to hang out with someone closer to your own age, right? (He just graduated, so say he's 21, maybe 22. I could find out but I'm lazy.)

Somewhere around that time there was a second sushi run. Coincidentally this also left me as her best choice for a ride home. (Don't think that way. There was no connivance either time. In both cases the path of least resistance would have had her ride home with Carmen, who did offer both times, although by sheer luck I was the one who'd be going far less out of my way.) On the way to where I parked I made some stupid comment about how nice her hair looked that day. (What, compared to other days?) Deafening silence ensued, to the complete non-surprise of every close female friend (both of them?) to whom I later recounted this. We sat quietly in the car. The path I took was not at all the best route, although actually maybe it was. Either Dolores or some street parallel to it has a buttload of stop signs. We'd get to a stop sign. I'd look left, she'd look left, I'd look right, she'd look right, we'd drive on in silence.

At some point I got to a traffic light just barely too late to catch it before it turned red, and uttered a very quiet "Yar!" (Silicon Age catchphrase, almost always misued by people who actually meant "Arr", then again if you work with R. then it makes sense to avoid confusion.) She laughed and then from that point on we made reasonable smalltalk.
</anna>
Almost As Egregious Omission
In the Department of Women: I'd put an ad on Craig's List in February, looking for women to bring to baseball games the upcoming season. Actually I think I placed it right around Valentine's Day because I was out of sorts about spending it alone.

The one substantive response I got was from Trina, a former Indiana University softball player. (As you might have guessed from google's "feeling lucky" link.) We had one awesome phone conversation, traded some e-mails, almost ended up meeting... and then I got insanely busy at work and lost touch.

Crap: Apart from our schedules working out I can't think of any reason whatsoever why we couldn't have met at some point and seen how it went. As it happens she's, I'm not going to remember the entire combination, part Mexican and part Filipino and part Alaskan/Inuit. Various dark-skinned ethnic backgrounds blended together. And if I remember right she loves Scrabble and South Park. Heck, I have a folder full of e-mail from her. Well, six messages worth, compared to nine of Gina. What do you think, should I drop her a line? You never know what's happened in a year, maybe she's engaged or something.

Egregious Omission



"Hey, I never wrote about Sarah's second visit!"

That's because it had totally slipped my mind back when I wrote about February and March. "Birthday passed without incident," my ass! I should be ashamed of myself!

(This is why year-blogging takes a bit of time, you want to ponder and make sure the highlights aren't lost to the sands of time. Or just blog as you go but then you can't see the forest for the trees. Imagine going back to read about the day I found out Kubi just got engaged, it'll be like drinking from a firehose.)

Anyway, yes, Sarah timed her visit to coincide with my 26th birthday. Also, this happened to be about when her vacation-needing level of burnout happened. Thursday night I picked her up at the airport. We ate at the same Thai place that I'd taken Ashlie to on her Thursday night arrival six months prevoius. Friday I had to work but she took care of herself, possibly at a spa somewhere. It had to be a place she could reach by public transportation. Saturday we went on a long bike ride and then took a ferry back from Sausalito. That night she ventured by herself (at her wish) into the Castro, although she returned early. She may be the only person in the history of San Francisco to go hang out in the Castro and come back complaining about seeing too many straight people.

Sunday was my birthday. We went to the Metreon that afternoon and then, basically as her present to me, saw The Vagina Monologues. How I managed to fail to remember this is astonishing.

What I'm having trouble with -- maybe it'll come to me -- is what we did the 12th. Did I take the day off to spend with her? Did she fly home that day? Actually I think she did fly home that day, I remember seeing her in the morning and finding out she'd visited the San Francisco office. (Kubi sent me an AIM when she dropped by.)

Still in shock that I'd managed to forget this...

Take Me Out to the Ballgame


All in all I probably placed far too much significance in that game. I had nearly two weeks to look forward to it. I obsessed over it, never to my roommates or our mutual colleagues but rather to people like Cindy.

We met just outside the BART-side Coliseum entrance after I drove from Vectiv and she took BART from San Francisco. Because attendance was shameful for a gorgeous Friday night with perfect weather (officially 14,413 at 61 degrees, clear), our general admission bleacher seats got us to the third row out in right field. Problems with the sun for the first two innings but then it ducked behind the home plate arc of the third deck. Heavenly.

Cindy had warned me that girls tend reflexively to decline food in these situations, that the trick to getting her concession food would be to (a half-inning or so after the initial offer) make clear that I was going myself and could get her something. Cindy predicted (correctly in this case) that this would lead 90% of women to get something, often (as in this case) just to come along to the stand and decide there. I got a pretzel; Anna got nachos, musing that she hadn't eaten nachos in a long time. In general, ballpark food. I may even have gotten a hot dog (but not a sausage, which I'd frequently get by myself), I don't remember for sure.

(Actually, the top-secret best food item at the Coliseum, nowhere near as famous as the garlic fries at Pacific Bell Park (second question on the link; Oakland also pulled a copy-cat on these, but (while I can't speak to the SafeCo ones) the Coliseum doesn't have them nearly as good as Pac Bell), is the Round Table Pizza. Yes, Meg is absolutely right about this West Coast phenomenon. But you don't get all clever for food when you're with a relative ballpark newbie. Plus the only Round Table concession is by home plate, around where the only Legal Seafood is at Fenway; sometimes this vendor comes around the bleachers with Round Table, sometimes he doesn't.)

Noteworthy things about the game itself, other than the obvious Mulder shutout: Kansas City batted a historically inept 1-2 punch of Neifi Perez and Rey Sanchez, in the heady week or so that both were teammates. Now as any stathead (or hardcore stathead with a God complex and an attitude problem) could tell you, the big problem with Neifi and Rey at bat is that they're hackers. They don't take pitches. So you know that if your seatmate starts jokingly whining about the pace of the game as soon as one of them runs a 1-1 count, she's probably not one to get into the habit of repeated ballgames.

But she lived. The game actually went incredibly briskly for an American League game, the downside being that a 1-2-3 inning has really nothing to offer a baseball newbie. Oakland broke the game open in the bottom of the 6th and we cheered and stuff. The game was over so quickly that it seemed perfectly appropriate for me to go to the ace in the hole and invite her to Jack London Square. She was game for this. Harbinger of things to come: I missed the exit the first time around and had to double back. On the way there she asked me a lot of really good questions about baseball, in particular the draft and the minor league system. Insightful questions about an unfamiliar topic are typical of R., less so of Tim, but definitely something where you could see the R. in her.

(Anna was already here for the 2000 internship the first time Sarah visited. I remember my sister asking her and Tim whether they ever wanted to be called "T." or "A." and being very relieved that they would never do such a thing. Only R. would.)

At Jack London Square we walked around and around a lot, almost got lost in various square blocks, but kept walking and talking and engaging in animated conversation, mostly satisfying my curiosity about her life growing up, adjusting to always having classmates so much older than her, just her take on everything. We kept walking and talking and joking around and walking and talking and laughing at random things and then it was time to go home. All in all it was a wonderful time, walking past the waterfront and all the people and the Uno's and the Friday's and the huge container cranes that inspired the Star Wars walkers. It's just there was something missing, something that always seemed to be on the verge of happening but that the moment never quite worked...

No, not that!!! (Although if you must know, none of that either.) Rather, we managed never to have dinner. I think I made a motion towards either Friday's or Uno's and she was lukewarm on the idea and we ended up not going in any of the times we walked past. Not ever. Yes, Cindy had warned me (as above) that girls turn down food but I hadn't expected to have to know my way around this after the successful concession stand scene. I guess I didn't know quite how to ask again and also was worried about feeling awkward if I went and ate something and she sat eating nothing. That would suck.

The very beginning of my suddenly realizing just how imperfect this evening was -- how imperfect I was -- happened in the parking garage after we'd decided to go home. I'd gotten out the claim ticket right as we got in the car, and then suddenly in an instant I'd lost it and couldn't get it back to save my life. Eventually I found it. Then for the life of me I couldn't get back on the @#(*!(*#)( highway, which turns out to be astonishingly hard to do in Oakland. So we drove around and around a bit and I actually stayed calmer than I expected to. Then no matter what the climate control was set for in the car, I always seemed to be either burning or freezing so I futzed with it periodically.

For all this, we were still having a very fun conversation (everything from the bleak finances at Iowa State to whether, if she were a baseball player, they'd ever let her beat up her opponents) when it came time to drop her off at the Hentzel apartment. (Useless trivia: R. was in Chicago that weekend. He'd left a phone number to reach him in case of NAQT-related emergency. Shockingly, such a thing did come up, either that or Craig just worries a lot. :-) It turns out he'd brought Anna's cellphone with him, since after dialing the number I heard her voicemail, hours before I'd see her, and this left me basically speechless. In any case R. was out of town and Tim was out on a date.) Drop her off I did, since any of the alternatives seemed inappropriate or unachievable or both.

She got out of the car. I watched her turn the key, open the door, walk in the door, and close the door. I drove off. I parked a few blocks further from our house than usual, given the lateness of the Friday night. I did my best Sammy Sosa bunny hop from the car to the house...

QUIZ BOWL IS EVERYWHERE
...where Joe Wright, Richard and Maribeth were all crashing so as to play in the Berkeley Mirror of the Chicago Open! So they and SCoon and I got to chat animatedly about quiz stuff. Chris and Steve had been a twosome for the Friday night portion of a double round robin. I'd originally declined to play in this but decided to join them on Saturday, both for the rest of the Open and for the trash that followed. And then even for the single's tournament. (5th place coming out of the seeding rounds, then I lost one game by 5 points and one on the last question in a disappointing double-elim showing, gone in three rounds)

Anyway, Friday night. I was very excited about how things had gone, but also felt this hunger, this urge to go back in time if only a couple hours, and do whatever it took to make the evening have whatever it was that it missed. Which, looking back on it, was definitely the food. Damn I was hungry, come to think of it so hungry that I probably had eaten only a pretzel and not even a ballpark dog.

DEJA VU?
It was (at least) the second time in my life that I'd hung out with a Member of the Appropriate Sex and, despite an otherwise really good time, completely failed to arrange for us to eat anything. The more I think about it, the more similar these two particular outings were, although you have way too much to read here already without me going off on some tangent.

In any case, nothing romantic resulted for that young lady and me, which works out anyway since she later ended up with the absolutely perfect guy for her. I could see something similar happening to Anna. If we were closer in age and had more occasion to be in the same place apart from Silicon Age (and, at that, me working on-site and her in the SF office), then conceivably we'd hit it off well as friends. She seemed to respond well to that and also politely to ignore anything aside from that.