Saturday, January 26, 2002


My big social gaming type weekend has begun on the right foot. Between last time and this time, overall I'm about five dollars ahead on poker. This time, my arrival with David (last-minute ride arrangement, though I made him BART to Daly City since I was too lazy to drive to Berkeley) led to the formation of the second table. The "slower" table, same stakes but all the deadly serious people were at the main table.

I was actually about five dollars behind on the evening when we merged the tables. In fact, I'd gone to a second ($10) buy-in very early in the proceedings and looked to be in grave danger of losing $20. So, that's about a $50 upswing from my nadir to the end of the evening.

"It's tempting to raise a dollar... but I won't."
(sounding tired) "Then I guess I will."
--when you can do that and get away with it, basically with bluffing, on the last betting round of the last hand, then it's your night.

Tomorrow a gaming social down in Cupertino. I'm not driving Cindy or any of the Berkeley people that I know of but I am giving a lift to someone named Meghana. She was in Math 55 with Joon and Paul. Math 55 is the class for the godlike freshmen. (I took Math 25, we were merely demigods I suppose.)

Friday, January 25, 2002

Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

There's something I don't like about this site but I can't put my finger on it.
Humor Roundup
Not often that multiple sites are funny on the same day.

"Don't despair. Your stolen laptop's hard drive was formatted before the thieves fenced it. No one will ever know how large your Power Puff Girls porn collection is."
-BB Spot

"After what witnesses described as an all night blinder during which it kept droning on about how it was always being bloody ignored by the whole bloody world and would bloody well stand to do something about it, Australia this morning woke up to find itself in the middle of the North Atlantic."
-Satire Wire

MH is decent today (been sucky lately), no one line quite quoteworthy

Defragmentation and Catholic Guilt
People are here to look at our water: Not only the water damage but also the possible explanations for a $900 water bill in December. (Suspicious strongly point to a problem with the sump pump.)

Scoon was fairly dour this morning. He was scrubbing the dickens out of our stove. "That looks good," I said.

"It'll look like we don't do a terrible job taking care of this."

The theory apparently is that with the people who look at our water comes the landlady. If haggling with her is a priority then I suppose impressing her is. With the latest offer at $4000/month for six months, haggling is not a high priority for me. I'll take it. Sounds like all four of us will. Two or three of them feel that this is suboptimal, that they could bargain for me. The landlady probably feels the same way. This is just the problem of bilateral monopoly, where if either side really thinks it got what it wanted (on the zero-sum side of things) then something went wrong.

I think the latest offer is pareto efficient: I see no way to make us or her better off without making the other worse off. I guess it's not quite a bilateral monopoly since either side can choose not to deal but then we'd a place to live and she'd need tenants and we'd both be going through separate unnecessary hassles.

Enough about the lease renewal. The thing is, from day to day Scoon isn't excessively vigilant about cleaning. I don't mean that as an insult, he's a far less messy liver than I am. Rather, once in a blue moon he feels the need to clean and when he does it comes out as mild agony at the very least.

Udo seems to get the urge to clean about once a week. When he does, he's very businesslike about it. Chris seems to approach cleaning the way he approaches programming and everything else in life: He puts away things after he uses them and never lets them build up to crisis mode.

Here's my contribution (apart from taking out the trash, including the trash in the bathroom). I'm not sure the deeper meaning behind any of it:

Volume (C:):
Volume size = 19,563 MB
Cluster size = 4 KB
Used space = 6,785 MB
Free space = 12,777 MB
Percent free space = 65 %

Volume fragmentation
Total fragmentation = 1 %
File fragmentation = 3 %
Free space fragmentation = 0 %

File fragmentation
Total files = 140,114
Average file size = 49 KB
Total fragmented files = 10
Total excess fragments = 82
Average fragments per file = 1.00

Pagefile fragmentation
Pagefile size = 384 MB
Total fragments = 1

Directory fragmentation
Total directories = 4,501
Fragmented directories = 1
Excess directory fragments = 7

Master File Table (MFT) fragmentation
Total MFT size = 226 MB
MFT record count = 144,938
Percent MFT in use = 62 %
Total MFT fragments = 2

Fragments File Size Files that did not defragment
10 1 KB \WINNT\system32\config\software.LOG
2 1 KB \WINNT\system32\config\SECURITY.LOG
2 270 KB \WINNT\ShellIconCache
14 1 KB \Documents and Settings\matt.BROMINE\ntuser.dat.LOG
2 216 MB \Documents and Settings\matt.BROMINE\Desktop\SQL\EN_sql70.exe
2 5,772 KB \Program Files\Rational\Rose\rose.exe
2 1,026 KB \weblogic\myserver\weblogic.log0035
2 2,256 KB \Program Files\Microsoft Games\Age of Empires II\SaveGame\rec...
2 11,097 KB \Program Files\Rational\Rose\framework\frameworks\shared comp...

Thursday, January 24, 2002

"The hardest thing for me after having my baby was not saying the f-word. It's my favorite word; I couldn't stop saying it."
--Lita Ford, VH1.

Did I really make an entire music page and leave out Lita? That's a mistake. Her self-titled album is probably the cassette currently in my car's tape deck. Next time radio starts to suck, I'll treat myself (again) to the best duet ever.
Useless Trivia About My Own Housewarming Party
(61 Bay State Road, that is)

July 1996. Without looking it up I want to say July 31 but that seems too convenient.

Six people attended, counting me: Two couples, two singles. Five of the six are male; three of the six are gay. Those three include Chuck and Mark, whose time together ended very very badly (think of how many straight breakups are messy though...) but who, just by their example, were more responsible than anyone else for my accepting gay couples as basically no different from straight couples.

The single one is Scott (not my roommate Scott), with whom I later saw Chasing Amy. That was a fun time out, since most people in the audience were men sitting in pairs, with women sitting in pairs giving male-female pairs a run for their money. Scott was the only person at the party who didn't do quiz-bowl.

The menfolk all drank beer. The woman brought her own wine coolers. I probably should have questioned her sense of taste but it never occurred to me to.

Nobody (to my memory) acted foolishly drunk. At the previous housewarming party I'd been to, the host arguably drank to excess. The host and hostess and I were the last people there; since the T had stopped running, we called for a cab. The host and I stood at the edge of the sidewalk, waiting. Occasionally he yelled at passing cabbies. We might have discussed bullshit philosophy (also known as "drunken philosophy") but not... how to put this? There wouldn't have been any issues between him and me, at least not back then. Not that we ever necessarily had issues. Nothing I say about that will give anybody a fair impression of things so ignore me.

Sick feeling in the pit of my stomach...
My entry from yesterday is crap because the single bitchiest thing ever done to me was something I'd totally repressed until now. A google search reminded me of the ugly truth. Sorry, no links. Nor any mention of that again. Ever.
The other day John Rawls came up in conversation with my roommates. You know, the veil of ignorance and so on. It did me no end of grief that everybody knows who John Rawls is and nobody knows who Robert Nozick is.

Or rather, as of this week, everybody knows who Rawls is (I'm pretty sure he's alive and well, although admittedly he looked pretty frail even nine years ago -- ah, according to Infoplease he's alive) and yet far too few people know who Robert Nozick was (requires NY Times registration).

Robert Nozick: 1938 - 2002

Nozick was among the foremost libertarian philosophers of the 20th century. To some on the Left, libertarian is a dirty word. Distressingly, based on Scoon's initial reaction when I tried to explain Nozick to him, it's also a dirty word to people on the Right, at least on my right.

There was a course at Harvard, Thinking About Thinking, lectured by a "dream team" of Stephen Jay Gould, Alan Dershowitz, and Nozick. Of the trio, Dersh had every bit the cult of personality you'd expect and even Gould had a groupie-like following. Nozick just didn't but he was my favorite and from my vantage point he was usually right.

(Although, there was no "right" per se in Thinking About Thinking. They distinguished between the searches for truth in science, law, and philosophy.)

Every Monday afternoon the lecture lasted for two hours, plus everyone actually taking the class also had weekly discussion section. This is where we read and discussed Judith Jarvis Thomson's inane concert violinist analogy (about which most of my section was wrong) and the even more inane trolley problem (about which everyone else was wrong).

<moral philosophy>
If you actually want to take this seriously... I'm not seriously claiming that I'm somehow undeniably right in both cases. I was decidedly in the minority on both problems and it frustrated me that nobody seemed willing to accept why I believe what I believe. In the first case, it sucks that the protagonist was waylaid and made to be the source of life for the violinist but them's the breaks. You endure the (relatively) temporary inconvenience, society compensates you if/as necessary, and the violinist lives rather than dies. The second case is ridiculous because it assumes perfect information, which we'll never actually have. That's also true of the first case but far less blatant there. If you do nothing then you're not the actor who causes the deaths, but if you do switch tracks then you are the actor and that one person's death is in your hands. Wouldn't you feel stupid (at best) if you happened to be wrong about the life-endangerment of the five?
</moral philosophy>

Anyhow... in theory auditors wouldn't be assigned to a section, although the class was so popular that nobody was allowed to audit. Which didn't prevent people from stealth auditing the class: All you had to do was show up on time and get a seat. Ashlie actually did this. She went every week (which I didn't even do), always saved me a seat, and took better notes than I did.

Yesterday I said vicious things about my alma mater. Even though what I said is true to some extent, the chance to meet people like Nozick more than makes up for it. Actually, for the most part your classmates themselves are wonderful enough people that your experiences with them are incomparable to what you'd get nearly anywhere else. Too bad so many of them are assholes; I suppose it's a few bad apples to be avoided among a whole bushel of awe-inspiring talent.

Back a month or two before that (spring '96) semester began, I'd actually suggested to Keshavan that he sit in on a lecture or two when class started up. He couldn't make it or wasn't interested but Ashlie could and was. If you care, I had two particular thoughts at the time about this and about her...

1. Hey, this is a neat person. I wonder if he and she are still going out... eh, probably. Maybe. Who knows? Oh well. In May I got the invitation to their "housewarming" party and that settled that. There's a story about this housewarming party that at most one of my readers would appreciate, and "appreciate" is almost certainly the opposite of the word I want.

2. (Given our respective approaches towards academia...) Why am I the one at Harvard when she's the one who works so hard and cares so deeply about knowledge? Absolutely no disrespect intended towards Boston University but I think people at either school will admit that Harvard has a better academic reputation, just as BU is far better for journalism or hockey. Point being, it seemed at the time as though someone had made a big mistake in not admitting her. I'd say a majority of my classmates were less intelligent than she. Also, a majority of them had worse personalities.

What was my point?
Oh yeah... the vague regret that I did a piss-poor job of availing myself of the intelligence and wit of the professors I had. Even my absolute favorites. There are several people who I should be staying in touch with but, one by one, I'll lose the opportunity to. Dare I even ask whether Bob Ginna (writing instructor, former editor of several news magazines, in his 90's by now) or Clark Byse (Boston Universy law professor, formerly of Harvard, also in his 90's) lives on?

Also I have a headache to go with my angst.

Wednesday, January 23, 2002

Am I Barry Bonds or Jeff Kent?
Bay Area sports fans know all about the barely-contained feud between those two. What's disturbing is that in so many organizations that I've been part of, I've managed to make one -- always exactly one -- archrival. "Mortal enemy" is way too strong a term, since we often start out on such good terms and in the end some of these people I wouldn't mind meeting some day, having a drink with them, letting the best times drown out the worst times. (Others of them can just go fuck themselves, which is a very un-Christian attitude I admit. I'll forgive them and hope they forgave me but just prefer not to deal with them. As it happens, the two college bowl versions of this fall firmly into the "have a drink" group, and the oldest of my BUCB readers should have no trouble guessing which two people.)

There actually are exceptions to this. I never had anything close to an enemy in the BU Chess Club or the Harvard Chess Club. Why would this be? Does the confrontational nature of a one-on-one chess game itself end up channeling rivalries away from real life? Clearly I overanalyze. But maybe the exceptions prove the rule.

Do I have an archrival in NAQT? Absolutely n... well, maybe. You can either mull over this or just nod and smile, depending on how well-acquainted you are with people. I'd say on balance we get along, and there was a chance we'd have become rivals but it didn't happen. We're both intense but neither of us is antagonistic enough, plus the organization needs us to both contribute the way we do. Neither of us would ever do something to tear the other one down.

It happens often enough that I should really look in the mirror and figure out where the real problem is. Then again, almost without exception, every time this has come up since childhood, my antagonist has been genuinely disliked by a whole lot of people other than me. People who alienate me tend also to alienate other people, though I take it a lot more personally than other people do. Or, for all I know, the rest hate me just as much but don't actually say it to me. But like, both of the times this came in a real world job situation, the person I didn't get along with managed to get himself fired (or at least come to a mutual parting) just based on his work ethic alone.

So given what the general public knows about Bonds-Kent, this would seem to make me Kent. Except... there's something about the two of them that makes me not trust the dominant media reports. Jeff Kent is suspiciously good at PR, if not self-promotion. Okay, granted, to some extent so am I. But still. The things that Bonds does that cause him to be hated are things that, I hate to admit, I identify with. (I don't condone them at all, rather I recognize them in me.) Also, in the absolute worst rivalry cases I've felt targeted by someone. It seems pretty clear to me that Kent is specifically gunning for Bonds, whereas Bonds really doesn't give a damn who Kent is as opposed to any other teammate.

That is to say, I think Bonds is unfairly maligned. Where this leaves Kent, I'd really rather not speculate, since I want to like Kent too.

Another thing about peer groups (rather than about one-on-one conflicts): In nearly every group I've been associated with (think of "the set of my high school classmates," or co-workers or whatever), one or both of two things has happened: I'm put outside the group or held in awe or both. (The "held in awe" part is incredibly, foolishly egotistical, but it's true. I don't mean to say that I deserve to be held in awe, just that by whatever it is that I do well, people see it and marvel or whatever.)

High school was the most blatant example of this. Nobody would ever invite me to the park to go drinking with them, it just didn't make sense. I knew this, somehow we all just accepted it. Very few people befriended me, I suppose I didn't reach out much myself either, but all these classmates (and teachers all the more so) spoke of me with this great respect that I may or may not have actually merited.

Silicon Age was exactly the opposite of this. What I love about this company (I guess it's now defunct) is that I always emphatically was "part of the group" and also that enough people were ridiculously brilliant that nobody singled me out for reverence.

Actually, while I dislike the exclusion part, I'm either ambivalent or apathetic about the respect part. Being held in awe kicks ass. The best of both possible worlds was Howe Sportsdata, where my work skills were in very high regard and yet I was still basically one of the guys. Brian, Sarge, Don, Gavin... I fit right in.

The worst of both possible worlds was the Usenet clique at Harvard. Most of this was political (as in Left-versus-Right) but this group easily set a record for number of people who think I'm an idiot. The irony being that part of what they hated about me was an alleged closed-mindness, when in fact very few things are more closed-minded than a hardcore politically correct Ivy kid.
Behold the new layout. I'd be happy to add your own blog if you'd like, just ask. Conversely if you want me to remove your blog, go ahead and ask, I won't be offended.
Being Nice To People: Surprising Consequences
The thing that sticks out about the venting below is that where I went to school was an astonishingly unfriendly place. If you're feeling bold, you might call it a stuck-up, snotty, preppy hell-hole although I certainly wouldn't go that far. ;-)

Somewhere in my unanswered mail is a SASE for my alumni donation. I should stiff them but someone actually did call me and I did tell her I'd send something. Cold-calling people, even alumni, is thankless work; the fact that this is one of Harvard's most common Work Study jobs is, come to think of it, far more appalling than I'd ever really contemplated. Harvard the Pimp: "where's my money, b*tch?"

After all, think of all the doors that place opened up to me, like in the lucrative world of baseball statistics. Or my getting myself hired by these (here the sarcasm ends, the praise is for real) brilliant genius Iowa State grads who not only were impressed by my pedigree but also actually knew how to treat people.

The first Band rehearsal of my junior year I was nice to Kevin (his freshman year) and made myself a friend for life out of it. I have to take his word that I was nice to him because I honestly don't remember saying or doing anything special. Apparently he sat next to me and I was polite and friendly and somehow managed to be light years ahead of the other people he'd run into on that campus. He still remembers this, which I find incredible.

Ashlie was nice to me my first fall at BU and apparently got a lot more than she bargained for. I take no position as to whether she was being nice to me "on purpose" as opposed to happening to come off that way. Do you understand the distinction? The English language doesn't adequately cover this, since it's not like I was nice to Kevin 'by accident.' On further review I assert that the distinction is irrelevant anyway. Ashlie was nice to me, give her a little credit for it.

As a prep school alumna, Ashlie was probably no stranger to stuck-up, snotty, preppy hell-holes. How much our respective experiences affected our personalities is an exercise for the reader.

And since I now know that I have readers who I didn't know personally -- hey, props to you by the way -- you're probably confused when I mention people's names without context. Eh. What to say about Ashlie? Words fail me. This may be a first.

WARNING: Serious Venting

Click here if you'd rather skip this entry.
Also highly gratuitous, since a lot of dead horses are beaten. More to the point, corpses are dug up from the grave and then subsequently beaten. None of this matters one whit anymore, since my pet peeve is actually people who don't forgive or who can't take an apology. (Heaven knows I have to apologize often enough.) So maybe you want to skip this, unless you feel like finding out more about me than you wanted to know.

Cast-Iron Bitches
I was going to elaborate on one anecdote from below but now I'm highly reluctant to waste words on allegedly bitchy things done to me, given just how bitchy the things are that other people do to other people. N.B. Given that I actually did end up wasting words on those allegedly bitchy things... something I absolutely hate about a lot of these rants is that the speaker makes it sound as though the world is out to get him, that none of his problems are his fault. Alas, I probably indulge in this here. If you see those tendencies, just humor me. Take it with a grain of salt and know that, yes, I know how people come off but just had to vent. It's like opening a figurative anxiety closet.

There are people who really need to be hurt, orders of magnitude beyond pop cultural transgressions, people who go out and recklessly ruin other people's lives. The obvious example is Enron: I agree with Larry Kudlow that they should all be locked up and the key thrown away. This fake drug informant needs to be deeply, seriously, repeatedly hurt, for framing innocent people by using particle board, then taking the money from the Dallas police and running.

There's another, lesser, circle of hell for knee-jerk political agitators on either side who falsely accuse people who honestly disagree with them of having the worst motives. You know the type: Republicans want to starve children and poison their drinking water; pro-lifers want to enslave all women; etc. etc. The only slur I can think of going the other way is something like the homosexual recruitment drive although I'm sure there are others. Yes, Jay Nordlinger is up in arms about both Communists and child pornographers, but they -- at least the ones who torture political prisoners and little girls -- really are that evil. So few things on Earth are genuinely flat-out evil, yet it seems sometimes like we've lost the capacity to recognize those things and do what it takes to defeat them.

So, the bitchiest things done to me in no particular order. I guess there's the airport incident (find it in the archives if you don't know what I'm talking about, although it's really not worth your while) but that one falls way way short of the malice I'm thinking of. The world has so many inconsiderate people (including me) that being inconsiderate alone isn't so despicable.

1. Paper Boy
The bitchiest thing ever done to me was an act of deliberate sabotage done with the intent of getting me fired. No, not from any of the actual jobs I've had. I hear now and then, second-hand or from Dilbert or wherever, about this trend of people sabotaging other people's work in an effort to get them fired. Supposedly it happens especially often in government bureaucracies. This is quintessentially need-to-be-hurt bitchy.

On Wednesdays I had weekly editorial meetings (for a bi-weekly publication) follwed immediately by weekly qb practice. Wednesday was also the article deadline. Well, that's not strictly true: For people who didn't require extensive editing, Friday was effectively the deadline. But enough people would turn in their articles on Wednesday that there'd be editing to be done.

When I was editor, the fact that I wasn't available to begin this editing right away caused no end of pique to one of the managing editors. After all, he was certainly available. So fine, if he wanted to do some line editing, so much the better. I suppose his response would have been that the editor should do the line editing or conversely that the one who did the line editing should be editor. Never mind that, for a bi-weekly publication that did layout and proofreading over the weekend, it didn't matter whether I did first-pass editing at 8 p.m. Wednesday evening versus 1 a.m. Wednesday evening.

Wednesday through Friday I would work my ass off. Saturday, a handful of interested parties would futz around with PageMaker (dunno why we didn't have Quark, maybe we couldn't afford it) and then Sunday we'd have all the page proofs and people would proofread the articles, ads, etc., making sure the final product looked good. Monday night we'd make any final tweaks: This feels in hindsight as though we made way too much work for ourselves but it was the process as handed down from regime to regime.

Aside: With the web ubiquitous, I see no reason at all why a publication like the Salient should even bother to publish print editions. Literal publication is astonishingly expensive, as is bulk mail. Those constituted basically our whole budget, with trivial expenses if our camera broke or to get pizza every two weeks. The pizza usually in barter for free advertising; for our part it was a bribe to nominal staffers whose sole contribution was to door-drop Salients within their own dorm. I suppose the biggest effect we had was converting various people-who-read-on-the-throne to our brand of mild conservatism. Then again, so many copies would be thrown away unread. Bottom line: Forget print, publish on line. Or at the very least update your frickin' web site. Naomi (editor two years after me) and I are both mildly worried about what the hell's up with the Salient these days.

Back to the cast-iron bitchiness: In 1994-95 I was out of town a lot of Saturdays, basically quiz tournaments. I came to find out that this underling to remain nameless was replacing my edited copies of articles with the unedited copies and turning around and claiming that I'd never bothered to edit anything. Meanwhile, yet another ambitious underling decided to lobby to get both me and my nemesis fired. And did I mention that the president of this whole operation was the frequently-mentioned Corwyn?

Doug, in all fairness, would have made a much better editor than me anyway. He did make a much better editor than me: Effective fall '95 I turned the editorial reins over to him. Or maybe he was president and Edouard (picture upper-class British accent) edited? The two of them were both involved somehow, then came the regime with Willy Jay presiding and Naomi editing, then various people I didn't know but who all seem to have ended up at National Review On-Line or Opinion Journal or both.

So Doug convinced Corwyn to request two people's resignations. The one resignation they got in an utter huff. The other, I went to Corwyn and looked him in the eye and told him what I knew and pled my case. Doug and I had an awkward moment where even though his attempted coup became obvious enough, he and I were both still in the office, gettin' stuff done.

The most important point is that the saboteur was caught red-handed, since everyone tells me he was, yet part of the plot completely fails to make sense: If they knew it was sabotage, what would the point be of getting rid of me? Well, from Doug's perspective, obviously to make this a better newspaper. From Corwyn's... I dunno. If your job is to run any sort of enterprise and things get all dysfunctional, unless you're afraid of getting sued or something it doesn't matter who's right or wrong nearly so much as what it takes to make it functional again. Or maybe they figured out the sabotage in the middle of the crisis? I forget.

2. Playa Hata
There were two extracurriculars, on each of which I spent more time than on classwork. Then there was the Band, in which I never held a staff position (never ran, never had time) but still spent more time than on any individual class. Between Saturday layout meetings and Saturday quiz tournaments it's unclear how I ever made it to any football game, though hockey was much more my thing anyway.

Every Saturday night in the fall there would be a party. I had a lot less fun at those parties than I expected to, a lot less than (in some ways) I felt that I should have had. If the rumor I hear is true then I think I know why...

One of my classmates had a lot in common with me: Computer geek (although, unlike him, I didn't do much actual programming at the time, I was a math geek), somewhat girthy, awkward sense of humor where he really wanted to say the funny thing but tried too hard to do so. Maybe this is why I made a natural foil or target or whatever.

In any case, he allegedly (for all I know the rumor is just something to make me feel better, though it would explain a lot) used me to ingratiate himself with female freshmen. Specifically, he warned them about me, even more specifically he lied about me in the course of having something to warn them about. Apparently the intended effect was that they'd be grateful to him for steering them clear of me, and then he'd behave in exactly the way that he claimed I'd behave. This guy had a series of fellow bandie girlfriends and every single one of them broke up with him on bad terms, resenting the way he'd acted towards them.

This is really awkward: Most of my audience knows me from a group in which, yes, I did some very stupid and very sketchy things on the subject of women. As a certain governor-general put it, from one woman to another, "Matt hits on people when he's drunk." (Extra credit if you know exactly to whom she said it and when.) But that warning really misses the point of the stuff I screwed up. And the stuff I screwed up would give you a vastly wrong impression of band life. Within the Band, I didn't have one of those inconvenient crushes that people find out about (how do you like that euphemism?) until my senior year. By BUCB standards this one was really tame. Hell, by HUB standards it was really tame. In any case, the woman herself didn't seem to take it personally. She ended up dating one of my closest friends in the band and for all I know they're still together.

Rather, the reputation I got in my first year in the band was not about hitting on women but rather about being hit on by men. So help me, it didn't occur to me that somebody could be bisexual. So any guy who was known to hit on and/or fool around with and/or date women was obviously straight, right? And if one of those guys in turn decided to flirt with me, he was obviously joking, right? My freshman year I inadvertently, carelessly broke this guy Jeff's heart. He's still a friend-of-a-friend, I think he's a doctor somewhere or about to become one. I apologized to him for unwittingly leading me on and we had a good laugh about it. The deal is, he's allowed to remain openly attracted to me and I'm allowed to be flattered by this and brag about the fact that a really cool guy finds me sexy.

My sophomore year, first party of the fall, my Band nemesis and I were interested in the same woman. Well, anyone at that party ought to have been interested in her because she wasn't a wuss. There was this drinking game we played, only every freshman save for this one girl decided that they'd play it with soda. What's the point of playing a drinking game with a non-alcoholic beverage? So both my nemesis and I wanted to converse with her, to dance in her general vicinity, and so on. He took great umbrage at this, great holier-than-thou hypocrisy. Because, you see, he wanted to be her friend whereas I was merely, crassly, hitting on her. Bullshit: My motives, if not necessarily pure, were vastly less impure than he claimed them to be. He, on the other hand -- the best way to put it is that everyone knew he basically wanted to get into her pants, more to the point that everyone knew much more than they needed to about the point at which he succeeded at this.

Full circle: I already mentioned that the gal I had a crush on my senior year ended up dating a friend of mine. Well, her own roommate/best friend was one of the many who dated my Band nemesis for awhile before seeing the light. Meanwhile, the one from my sophomore year eventually ended up dating a much, much closer friend of mine. As for me, I'd go to parties. I'd get all kinds of grief for the cardinal sin of dancing in someone's vicinity, for even daring to insinuate myself into any given circle of a half-dozen or dozen dancers. I'd get sick of this. I'd decide to go home, since there are much better things to do with one's time.

Ever notice just how much of a time-suck alcohol-related parties are? Let's say you take a shower around 8 or so and start getting ready and go to wherever the party is. It doesn't really kick in until 10 or 11 but say you're still raging until 2. Getting to bed by 4 seems like a reasonable estimate, only thanks to the alcohol your sleep is fitful and not so refreshing. You wake up no earlier than 11ish, still dead tired and possibly hung over. The next afternoon is basically shot.

Kevin, of course, would bitterly object to my wanting to go home. It's unclear how much of this is my contributing to his having a good time and how much is his honest belief that I'd be able to have a wonderful time if only I learned to be suave and maybe also if he helped me be suave. Oy. Kevin always meant well.

3. Cindy
Unlike the other two people, she gets a name, since she turned out to be a far far better person than this. Fall 1995, the week leading up to the "T Party" quiz tournament, I missed a lot of sleep editing packs and doing logistics and such. Around this time Cindy had suggested hosting a holiday party in her common room.

To fit the spirit of this, I proposed (on this internal newsgroup) that we have a Secret Santa, let every guy draw the name of a gal and vice versa, and get them a gift. This suggestion prompted all kinds of criticism, but none of it for what you'd expect.

My idea was absurd because it relies on having the same number as men and women, which never actually works out. A unisex Secret Santa is impossible to screw up but an explicitly gender-divided Secret Santa is all but impossible to get right. All it would have taken is somebody to be practical and point this out and I'd smack myself and we'd move on.

Okay, surely somebody would have complained about the terminology. After all, the phrase "Secret Santa" presupposes Christianity and all that. Maybe someone actually did complain about the terminology but that isn't what anyone remembers from this particular case.

Rather, the problem with a gender-divided Secret Santa was that it was so obviously heterosexist. One particular flamboyantly queeny person wrote up this very theatrical rant about everything that's wrong with me and with the world and concluded, "you can count me out." (Well, this being Usenet on Unix terminals, I don't think he bolded or italicized it. Stars, tildes, emoticons, whatever, the emphasis was definitely in the original.)

Some other guy (who since then has literally become some other girl) berated me for assuming that gender identification was cut-and-dried. Fair enough, although this person's complaint probably shouldn't have been with me so much as with an entire society that dares to separate Men's rooms from Ladies' rooms, run all-girl athletic leagues, and so on. We had about the kind of argument that you'd expect here, though comparatively nothing special.

No, it was "count me out" that set me off. If somebody's just proposing a little fun thing to do, you can participate if you want or decline to participate if you want, but there's no reason to jump down someone's throat. Hence, my gut response, word-for-word, "fuck you AND your sexuality." You can guess precisely how and why this came out wrong. People took this to be a sign of extreme homophobia.

It was certainly a terrible choice of words and at face value I admit it looks homophobic. Never mind that one of my closest friends had come out two weeks earlier and that I'd been among the many people who gave him genuine encouragement and unconditional friendship and so on.

Cindy wasted no time at all in specifically uninviting me from her holiday party. Well, that's misleading since there was never an explicit list of invitees, rather a general invitation to the peer group. Or, by decree, a general invitation to everyone except me. I was formally banned from her common room (no idea what her roommates would have thought of this: I don't think any of them knew me or vice versa anyway) for a long time. I'm really not sure what led to the lifting of the ban other than the passage of time and people coming to realize when something is absurd.

So there actually were people to whom she became the villain. Not me, not my flamboyantly queeny detractor, but her. This was a peer group that was hypersensitive to everything. For the most part I think people went to the holiday party and had a lot of fun and didn't miss me. I think a couple of people skipped it on principle, the principle being that excluding me was unfair. I only remember one particular person, whose e-mail to me about it was really touching.

Everybody basically moved on from that one. Obviously, since Cindy and Corwyn and I were the ones who I shared my cake with on my 21st birthday. More to the point everybody basically matured, especially me and Cindy. Still, this should have been a major red flag that I was in a peer group that would turn out to be more trouble than it was worth. Then again, the people I'll be at the gaming social with this coming Saturday are basically all from that same group. Well, no, these people are generally younger than that: The holiday party incident was before their time. Anyhow...

In some ways Harvard really sucked. I'd forgotten a lot of this and I really wish I could forget it again, since as far as I can tell it's so irrelevant to my day-to-day life these days.

Tuesday, January 22, 2002

Simbase Blather
I'm about to make the same mistake Corwyn made Monday night, assuming you're far more interested in reading this than you actually are. In Corwyn's case, he called me for advice on his playoff rotation, then kept talking and talking about the playoffs until I had to beg off the conversation. This is actually unlike both of us: In general he's a very interesting person to talk to, and I'm not someone who feels the need to get rid of someone, especially not (ordinarily not) someone talkin' baseball.

Corwyn (who I just noticed won his World Series opener) had already captured games 1 and 2 of his (best-of-5) playoff series. He could bring back his ace with one fatigue and go for the sweep, or get Amy Yasbeck some work against Harry Potter and use Cox at full strength in game 4 if need be. We both agreed that Yasbeck was the right choice and it worked out for him the way one would expect.

As owner of the Long Island Lolitas, Corwyn spent several years being patient and now it's paying off big. Note that if he does win the World Series this year, he plans to try to capture another ring with a penis-free ballcub. Yes, every native Lolita (that is, the ones he drafts and therefore names) is a girl but he has players he's traded for, or players he got stuck with in various trades. Jesse James and Johnny Cash, to name two. (Curiously, not counting minor league replacements for players who get season-ending injuries, every girl on his team is native and every guy is someone he acquired from me, even if that player was someone I in turn got from elsewhere. Basically every trade he's made has been with me, it's insane.)

Anyway, enough about the Lolitas (but isn't Long Island Lolitas a fun name for a team?). What I really hope is that Joon doesn't trade Peerless Price. Price was the heart and soul of the Monico Monikers. He was expected (with 75% probability) to retire after season 10 but the aging rolls came out and he'll give it another go. Except that Joon has already (once his team lost its playoff series) expressed his intent to sell off his best players.

Everyone is selling: This sucks. My team is horrible enough that I should (still) be selling, but the B's and Monikers are both publically in fire sale mode and even @!#$ Walla Walla is paranoid about what happens when its best players retire and what if it sucks blah blah waah. Basically the same paranoia Jerry Krause and the other Jerry had in Chicago with the Bulls. :-)

I'm tired of sucking but the more I try not to suck, the more I condemn myself to long-term sucking. (See Signing Chuck Knoblauch below and avert your eyes from my transaction history, which I'm vain enough to refuse to link to.) At least Joon plays the games really really quickly as commish. Year 14, the start of my window of contention, will be, oh, late spring. Compared to simbase, fantasy baseball keeper leagues now feel like they move glacially.

Come to think of it, I think I've been involved in a plurality of the simbase trades. Like, all the Long Island-Oklahoma deals I make with Corwyn. And the last two trades in the league were both y10 deadline deals of the Oklahoma-Walla Walla variety. (I gave David my two best players for youth and upside.) Three of the five currnet members of our Hall of Fame spent time with the Outlaws from back when I was in win-now, mortgage-the-future mode.
Deja Voodoo

It turns out there's actually something I don't like about the phrase, "those who don't remember history are doomed to repeat it." Namely: What if, because you do know your history, you become prematurely aware of the risk of repeating mistakes?

Ordinarily that's no biggy, right? The point of an early warning system is that it's never too soon to get that heads-up and do what it takes to prevent the disaster from happening. Then again, the more important point of an early warning system is accuracy, namely the lack of crying wolf. If your early warning system put you on a tornado watch every time you first felt raindrops over your head then over time this would become pretty damned useless.

So here's the paradox as applied specifically to me: I know all about some of the biggest mistakes I've made in my life. I'm keenly aware of how things got there and what led to what else. I'm fairly good at pattern recognition. What this means is that even beyond getting a bad feeling if I'm about to make a mistake, I already get paranoid the moment it's remotely plausible that I could make some particular mistake. And then I overanalyze everything and my paranoia either becomes self-fulfilling or else makes it a helluva lot harder to just shut up and enjoy life.

Hey, come to think of it, wasn't NO WHINING all the rage just three weeks ago? Yeah. That. Point taken. Mmmph.
Random Notes
"Paradise City" on the radio again.

I feel mild foreboding, as though my evening will be less eventful than I expected it to be. That's a silly feeling to have. I'm also inexplicably tired again: Wouldn't it suck if I had mono? For the life of me I can't think of how I'd have gotten it. Seems physically impossible.

In two of my first-year law classes I sat next to a gal named Hettie. I'm having trouble remembering her last name, which seems to preclude a good google search. I know at some point in the fall I asked her out. And for much of October and early November 1996 I got advice about her -- from Ashlie. Hearing this advice was quite fun at times.
Today's Blogback:
Crappy teen poetry: Where on Earth do people find it? I found the link here and I really don't want to know where he found it.

Spent basically all day playtesting quiz questions. This is in equal parts enjoyable and tedious.
A.C. Green is about to tie the knot. A certain peer group starts to get lonelier and lonelier, although apparently there's more than one person in this situation and for similar reasons.

I feel as though I'm about to meet someone. I have no idea where or how but there's just something in the air.

My life is too uncertain right now: Where will I live? Where will I work? Who will I hang out with? I've been surprisingly tired for several days now despite sleeping a ton. Instead of procrastinating and goofing off, I've been procrastinating and sleeping.

There should be a new euphemism: Signing Chuck Knoblauch. See, Knoblauch won't make Kansas City into a championship team. He won't even make them contenders for a post-season spot. The most he'll do is help push them towards short-term mediocrity and possibly hurt them in the long run both by taking playing team away from prospects and by giving management the impression that their team isn't in as much trouble as it is.

The personal equivalent of signing Chuck Knoblauch seems to be something like taking a suboptimal job or looking for love in all the wrong places or whatever other crap makes you feel good in the short run but doesn't get you anywhere.

Monday, January 21, 2002

(I forgot to add the link last time but you know where the Kevin!! quote comes from, right?)

We talked tonight. This has a strong chance of becoming a Monday thing, to go with my Tuesday thing. Some time down the road I'll run out of nights of the week. So be it.

Oddly enough, none of the long anecdote below made it into our conversation. I guess I didn't feel like telling him a long pointless story. I'm unashamed to write it out, since you can always skim paragraphs or whatever.

Speaking of that anecdote, a comment about my grandmother that I forgot to throw in: Whenever she came to Tulsa, one of her favorite ways to pass the time was gardening. She had a garden in Brevard that she thoroughly enjoyed. We had no garden in Tulsa but we had azaleas, either a cottonwood or a dogwood or both, plus the usual lawn grass. She'd go out in our yard in the heat of day and pull weeds. This must have looked sketchy, an otherwise respectable middle class family making grandma pull weeds like that, yet it's honest-to-gosh what she liked. People expressed similar surprise and sheepishness about making the birthday girl cook today but, again, it's what she enjoys doing.
"It's not that Lerner had no girlfriend. Lerner always seemed to have a girlfriend but never someone he could fuck." -Philip Roth, A Brooklyn Weekend

Today was fun if rather uneventful. I pulled up in front of Cindy's building at 11:55, just as the radio finished playing Paradise City (ah, classic '80s metal...). This time I was on time.

I had to admit to her my brain fart for today: There were a ton of (on-line) newspaper articles and op eds about Martin Luther King today. It didn't occur to me why until I heard Pride (In the Name of Love) on the radio and suddenly clued in to what day today was.

If you're especially observent you know that my Berkeley friends live on Martin Luther King drive. This meant that Cindy got to quote extensively from a Chris Rock routine about the paradox that MLK stood for non-violence, yet if you're on a street named after him anywhere in the U.S. then you know somewhere on that street something violent is happening. (Not so true of the Berkeley portion of that particular MLK but the Oakland portion of it seems a bit seedy.)

Cindy was still quoting from that routine when David let us in, such that the first words he heard from her were, "You can get paid for holding dicks if you want but for god's sake get some kind of job!" (The Black woman's complaint to (as Rock puts it) the 'nigger' woman.) Since David is unemployed the timing highly amused me but other than a brief pause nobody picked up on this.

The three of us talked for awhile and then Joon got there on his bike. Cindy had never met Joon before. She thought that Joon would be (as she puts it) "a New York consultant, in I-banking or something," rather than the computer geek that he actually is. Put it this way: In this circle of friends Joon has the most unpredictable sleep schedule, which given who the rest of us are says a LOT. The four of us talked for awhile and then Corwyn got there and then we realized, for lack of RSVP's from other people, that it was reasonable not to expect anyone else to show up.

(Paul and Mike are on a ski trip which apparently didn't end -- doesn't end -- until later tonight.)

After discussing the options we accepted that Cindy actually did want to cook for us and that this was a far better option than going out to eat. We settled on Italian food. She and I went to Berkeley Bowl (a kickass grocery store, NOT a bowling alley!), she to pick the ingredients and me to be the driver and pay for stuff (and later get money from the other three guys). They stayed home, David to wash dishes and Corwyn and Joon because they didn't feel like going to a grocery store. Can you blame them? We told them to pretend they were watching a football game.

"Can't you see his arm moving forward?" "Bullshit! That was a fumble!"

I parked illegally in the adjacent Walgreen's lot but wasn't towed. (Berkeley Bowl is quite busy, parking spaces at a premium.) I found a cart while Cindy evaluated produce. Pushing a shopping cart around Berkeley Bowl compares to pushing one around Safeway the way driving in downtown San Francisco compares to driving in Tulsa. There's a lot of maneuvering, some degree of gridlock, a lot of the equivalent of parallel parking. But the cart handled unusually well for a shopping cart. My "the one who drives" personality extends to shopping carts: I pushed the cart around while Cindy -- very much in her element! -- made the crucial decisions about which particular items to buy.

At some point in the store the song How You Remind Me got stuck in my head.

We went through the "12 Items Or Less" express line because we had exactly 12 items in our cart. Cindy thought at first that we had 13. When I put things on the conveyor belt I actually only counted 11 things but we discovered -- once we and the cart itself were both outside -- that we'd inadvertently failed to pay for the balsamic vinegar. Berkeley Bowl, I Owe You $2.50! Please contact me to claim it. We couldn't decide if this would make the vinegar taste extra-sweet or just bitterly wrong.

In the car (actually this happened on the way to the store, not from, but why break the narrative?) Cindy talked about some of our mutual friends, how there are people she hated in college but gets along great with now. She started to say, "well, I didn't hate you in college," except that we both realized that, yes, until the last few months there was a point when she did hate me.

In fact, one of the five bitchiest things ever done to me (despite the adjective, I count things done by both men and women) was done to me by her six years ago. I'd forgotten this until some point Saturday night, when (please don't ask me why) I was thinking to myself and it became highly relevant that Cindy was decidedly not a cast-iron bitch. Certainly not relatively speaking. Way too cheerful and easy-going to be one. But just because someone isn't a cast-iron bitch doesn't mean that they never did anything cast-iron bitchy, I guess. What, you ask, did she do to me? That's a blog entry for another time. Hard to tell the story briefly. Short version is it was a left-right political thing.

Back to MLK. Cindy went to Lee's Market to get a Diet Dr. Pepper and also to get me one. She was going to take our illicit balsamic vinegar into Lee's with her but realized that it was easily mistaken for a wine bottle. Nobody would ever steal balsamic vinegar from a convenience store but wine? They'd steal that. While she prepared the meal, the four of us guys talked about simbase, specifically the year 11 draft. It's a fun league but we talk about it way too much.

With food ready to eat but an inconvenient kitchen set-up, we fixed our plates and sat down to watch whatever Simpsons tape happened to be in the VCR. This actually meant two epsiodes I'd never seen before: Sunday, Cruddy Sunday and Lisa the Treehugger.

After the Simpsons episodes we played some Apples to Apples, the perfect game for our particular group. Then it was time for Cindy to go. This is her birthday, after all, and Justin is presumably doing something special.

Speaking of which, my "interpret people's party actions" skill is somewhat vindicated. There was this guy Geoff (not Corwyn's older friend Jeff) at the party Saturday night, with a receding hairline and what Cindy describes as an "unfortunately colored" orange shirt. He was extremely talkative. He was talking with us for so long at the end that we left later than we might have, partly because any move to leave earlier would have looked like we were avoiding him.

In any case I had thought at first that he was hitting on Cindy. What vindicates me now is that Cindy also thought this. So when he had pointedly ice-breakingly asked her, "WHO are you?" and she deferred to me and so he asked me, "Matt, WHO is Cindy?" I made a point to mention casually but prominently and early-on that she was the driving force behind the web developing company that her boyfriend ran. Of course, soon after that it had come up in conversation that Geoff is gay (the context was that Anaheim, California, was an unfortunate place to be gay, although I'd strongly suggest that relative to a place like Oklahoma, anyone who complains about any particular part of California just doesn't know their relative fortune). So I guess Cindy and I had both been wrong about whether he was hitting on her, but the fact that she read it the same way as I did makes me think I wasn't crazy to think it.

I'm trying to remember if I'd ever accompanied a female friend to a party before and found myself very pointedly mentioning her boyfriend to some guy who I thought was hitting on her. I want to say I have, in fact I'm pretty sure of it.

Anyway, enough of Saturday night. For that matter, enough of Monday afternoon. We'd bid farewell and wished Corwyn safe passage back to Portland (he leaves Wednesday but is busy both tonight and tomorrow) and left Berkeley at 5:45 p.m. Of course this means we took the Bay Bridge at 5:45 p.m. I'm still mildly surprised I did this. Then again, having someone to converse with during rush hour makes you forget the annoyance of the bumper-to-bumper traffic. This is something I'd actually discovered en route to a Giants game with Paul once.

Oh, before we got back in the car to return to SF, Cindy got out her flask -- the flask she'd received from being part of a wedding last fall -- and took a swig of whatever alcohol she had in it. "I'm standing on MLK, drinking from my flask." You had to be there.

While we were on the Bay Bridge and having an extended conversation about just how liberal my views on gay marriage have become (and how remarkably quickly gays have won the "mainstream acceptance" battle), that same Nickelback song that had been stuck in my head, came on the radio.

Did I ever tell you about my "Big Gay Matt" pink Banana Republic shirt? (Did I bring it the weekend of Allyson's wedding?) Seems like a vast plurality of my shirts are the same type of Banana Republic short-sleeved knit variety. Same texture, size, just different colors. This being Banana Republic, of course, none of the colors are quite the shade that you'd think of as canonical for that color. Like the shirt I have on now, not quite blue and not quite green. (It LOOKS an awful lot like the polo one that was my favorite shirt 3-4 years ago, a shirt that for all I know you remember, but it's not the same shirt because the old one wore out.) Anyway, none of mine are orange (see "unfortunately colored" above) but I do have this hot pink one whose particular shade makes me very very happy in a cheesy way.

All of the angst I've ever had about sexuality basically comes down to the fact that I'm, while completely straight by taste and preference, in disturbingly many ways a gay wannabe. Part (though certainly not all) of this is that I think I'd make a much better Platonic friend for my various female Platonic friends if I were, in fact, gay.
Elfin Beauty
You know what would be really nice right about now? A woman. A particular kind of woman. Six feet tall at a minimum. Long, thin, white-blonde hair, as though it were woven from straw. Thin, lithe, and athletic, with the grace of a gazelle. A woman of very few words but a smile to die for. A stranger, mysterious to some extent. A lot we don't know about each other but this wouldn't stop me from sweeping her off her feet. In particular I'd know absolutely nothing about the rest of her life, any boyfriends (for our purposes she'd be effectively single), any of the day-to-day crap that she had to deal with. I'd find her at some special hideout where we went to escape from the day-to-day crap.

Kindly ignore any transparent irony or ironic detachment.
David didn't call "shotgun" Saturday night. Well duh, of course he didn't, we'd picked up Cindy before we picked him up. Still, he's almost always shotgun if he rides when I drive.

There's a modest amount of driving involved for the stuff I do with the Berkeley guys. Driving to A's games, driving to Hot Pot City, and so on. David usually calls shotgun. If there's more than one car involved, he'll end up in mine and also call shotgun. As often as not with Paul in the back seat. For legroom purposes this is weird (Paul is quite tall), then again I adjust my driver's seat as though I'm several inches shorter than I actually am.

Certain people are just made to be shotgun. There are quiz bowl trips, of course, although if the most venerable member of the group is also someone who never got his license then of course he'll always be in the front seat.

More often, certain combinations of people are made to be shotgun. I spent a year riding to and from work in Scoon and Kubi's front seats. Far more often the former (Kubi went to the gym in the morning) yet I far better remember the latter. Now of course, I drive and other people are shotgun. It's odd that I went so long without a car, given that I see myself as much more of a driver than a shotgun or back seat.

As we've driven to and from playtesting, Chris has always driven (could there be a better pimp-mobile than the 2000 PT Cruiser?) and Scoon has always called shotgun, although it never occurred to me to contest this. Of the three of us, when Chris drives of course Scoon takes shotgun. I'm not sure why this is so obvious to me but there's some sociological roommate dynamic here.

Cynthia Lynn Alvarez turns 26 today. How often do you attend a gathering on your birthday at which the guest of honor is someone other than you? Corwyn is coming up to Berkeley today and I'm ferrying her across the Bay Bridge (well, not literally ferrying, *SPLASH... paddle-paddle-KICK, paddle-paddle, KICK, splash-splash*).

Useless trivia: The day I turned 21 was a Monday. The previous (Sunday) night my roommates had taken me to the Kong as soon as I was legal, foisting some Goldschlaeger on me about five minutes ahead of midnight. But Monday itself my "party" guests were Cindy and Corwyn. And anyone else who happened to come down to the Eliot House Grille. And the cake my mom had shipped. Everyone got to eat cake, which is good since my eating it myself would have been a bad idea.

"Matt! You look like you lost a million pounds!" -Jeff, one of Corwyn's friends, Saturday night. I'd seen Jeff at San Jose Sabercats games and at this one politically-themed party that Corwyn invited me to on the Stanford campus a week before the 2000 elections.

Sunday, January 20, 2002

Are the Rams Unstoppable?
I have abject fear of a Super Bowl blowout. Specifically of a Rams-Patriots mismatch that would make Super Bowl XX look close by comparison. Oddly enough, this is fear alone, without the "loathing" part.

The Rams are the type of team I should really really not be rooting for. They're so good, they're such a bandwagon phenomenon. I feel the same way as you do about the Yankees. I didn't even like the Bulls, even though there was nothing to dislike about them, just that the bandwagon there got so tiresome.

But for whatever reason my take on the St. Louis Rams is mild amusement, nontrivial awe, and -- just a little bit -- actually kinda sorta rooting for them. It's odd. Blame fantasy football. Two years of Marshall Faulk, plus I always have Holt or Bruce on some team or other.

And yes, I hated the Cowboys when they went to the Super Bowls. I -- not hated, but at least strongly disliked the early '90s 49ers. Back when it was a triumvirate of them and Green Bay, the Packers were the least evil but still not very pleasant. Now, though? Eh. The Rams run some really fun plays.
Sarah called. She's coming to San Francisco next month. Compare timestamps of this entry to last. I lied about whether she woke me up, either convincingly or in such a way that she stopped worrying about it. She's the only person on Earth with whom I would have, maybe even could have had a coherent conversation. Not even Mom & Dad: Gee, thanks for calling, but I was up really late, can we talk some other time?

Yeah, Sarah will be out here. It's kind of amazing to think how many of my friends will be happy specifically for her, happy specifically to see her. Yeah yeah, she knew Kubi from quiz-bowl in the midwest but still, he's not the only one.

In case the first paragraph wasn't clear... hell yeah, she can call me, 24/7. I've thought I felt similar sentiment about women I've had crushes on but this turns out not to be true. Or to some extent it is but it's just different -- for Sarah it's a no brainer, the hey cool this is my sister, what's up Sarah? instinct pushes sleep aside surprisingly quickly. A sister is something that not even a mother or father can be, at least if she's about your age and so basically a peer, a "we're in this together" person in all respects. Everybody's family is unique to the point that I have no idea how well I can generalize, things like whether it'd be the same if there were more than two of us (presumably close to the same but not quite) and what about a brother rather than a sister (presumably exactly the same).
Yesterday ("today" for me, until I do get to bed) marked exactly four years of my being unattached. This didn't occur to me until right as I was about to fall asleep. What's really messed-up about this is that I actually referred to the pretzel episode in conversation without realizing that it was exactly four years ago that that episode aired.

Yes, that episode figured into the breakup. Basically in that we were having The Conversation, then put it on hold to watch that episode and King of the Hill and X-Files, then picked up the conversation where we left off.

That I almost completely failed to recognize this "anniversary" is a good sign for me and becoming more like a normal person when it comes to calendar dates. Then again, if I became too normal then some day decades from now I'd forget an actual anniversary. That would totally suck. I can't even comprehend how anyone manages to do this.

Cindy's birthday is coming up. Somehow out of the dark recesses of my mind I pulled her birthdate out of my ass.
Still More News
Has this game gotten its nickname for posterity yet? I predict one will emerge within 24-48 hours. Meanwhile, compare Boston's top headline to this page 1 Chronicle story.
"Real Class"
Greg Papa -- who isn't a bitter twisted man, no, not at all -- mentioned long before the game-winning kick that the Foxboro scoreboard already listed the score as 16-13. Either he or Flores (again, I really wish I'd kept better track of who's who but I was listening and conversing at the same time) sarcastically described this as "real class" and went on to mention the premature Shea Stadium Congratulations Boston Red Sox, 1986 World Champions message.
"Fuck it. The Raiders just recovered a fumble. Game over. See you soon." --my insanely premature e-mail to Cindy, one of the people whom I transported to Palo Alto tonight.

Before the replay officials got into the act, I walked out of here in a huff, swung by the Richmond, double-parked with the hazard lights on, and rang Cindy's (known to be non-working) doorbell.

After a good 5-10 minutes she came downstairs. "Do you have the game on the radio?" This question didn't jibe with my dead certainty that I'd seen (effectively) the game end. She had to fill me in. Yes, I felt stupid. She'd seen the most recent e-mail I sent her and correctly inferred that I'd prematurely left.

We listened to the Pats' final drive. ("How weird am I that when I listen to radio play-by-play, my reaction is, this is just like Iron Chef!?") I rejoiced at the outcome. It was unclear where Cindy's rooting interest lay, though hours later she referred to the outcome of the game as "we lost," answering "the Bay Area" to Corwyn's rhetorical question, "Who's 'we'?!?"

As the game ended, either Greg Papa or Tom Flores actually referred to the Sugar Bear Hamilton play that Bill Simmons mentioned in his column.

By the way, there were supposedly some date-related factual errors in the Simmons piece. Don't ask me, I'm just passing this on second-hand.

Anyway, onward to Chez Scotton. David's roommates are on a ski trip but he was happy to come to the party and especially happy to get a ride. Hell yeah, going to Berkeley is out of my way, but I didn't want to mess around with meeting him at a BART station, circling the block a bunch of times and all that crap.

So what was this party? Yeah, that. Corwyn's Palo Alto buddies hosted a party, unclear the specific reason although Corwyn being back in town was up there. He did the bartender thing. It was indeed fun to watch. He did in fact explicitly invite me; when I asked about bringing other people, he passed along word from his hosts: Bring your friends, don't bring the neighborhood. Roomie Scott and I had a brief theoretical conversation about this and concluded that my bringing a guy and a girl was fair game but that it was at around the upper limit. I almost invited Scott too but something about the conversation led me not to want to push my karma for number of guests.

From there to Palo Alto, or rather Menlo Park. Corwyn's directions were perfect except that I didn't sufficiently trust them and missed a key street sign. Also, MapQuest for once was useless, leading me to the wrong "Florence Street."

Alas, this led us to a 10:45 arrival at a party instead of a 9:45 arrival. Sometimes that makes all the difference. This time... well, we left at 3 a.m. when we realized it was much later than we thought. I didn't see any amusing drunken behavior but my friends were acceptably tipsy.

I thought I had a fair amount to say here but it turns out this is not the forum where I want to say any of it. I idly wonder who's out there. If you're reading this and you're not one of a handful of known BUCB types then drop me a line, it's time to delurk. Kubi, this means you. (He might or might not be out there, I know he's gotten as far as Cooch's World.) Develin, this means you. (I forget why I thought he might be reading this but there was something.) Anyone else, this means you.

Cindy was sitting on the couch and falling asleep, always a sign it's time to go. I grabbed a 12-ounce caffeine fix for the road but ended up not using it because I still had some of the Diet Dr. Pepper I'd been drinking on the way down there. On the trip home Cindy riddled David with one of those questions. (This one was, "if he had seen the sawdust then he wouldn't have killed himself. Who/why?") I'd heard that question before, so it was Cindy answering in between drifting in and out, me trying to think of pointed questions that set David on the right track without giveaways, and David making his best effort in a suboptimal mental state.