Saturday, June 29, 2002

Things I learned at a birtday party last night
Some of you reading this know Joon well. Others know him only from this weblog, or know him from seeing him at New England area quiz tournaments. I'm always surprised by his extroversion and more to the point his empathy. Just a great human being.

Eating too much junk food doesn't make me feel very good. Then again I already knew that part.

It's possible to have a stereotype among your arsenal of personas, maybe a stereotype that it turns out you don't like all that much. One of the best ways to free yourself from that pigeonhole is to be at a party where someone else fits that pigeonhole even better than you do. Bless his heart. The downside is that our ever-increasing Blank White Cards deck is now a little bit too X-rated. I know exactly which cards people will falsely blame me for. :-)

Getting back to Joon, his Korean soccer fan outfit is stunning, in that it makes him look like a gang member, especially the bandana.
If you really want to know who's being derivative...
Even if you haven't heard the Aaron Lewis cover of "Black", you've probably heard the Pearl Jam cover of "Hide Your Love Away", right?

Lewis brings "Black" to a whole new level of pathos. It's in the same style but makes it sound as though the song fits his own style even more appropriately than the original. Good choice of material for that effect, predictable performance.

Pearl Jam's cover doesn't try to emulate the Beatles sound or to make the song fit their own but rather seems to find a third way. Or you can call bullshit on this paragraph and I won't have any good response.

In any case, I'm waiting for the surviving Beatles (damn, is it just Paul and Ringo now?) to get together for their version of It's Been Awhile.
Things I learned while socializing with co-workers at the end of the Friday workday
Our accounting maven is moving on to bigger and better things. Now instead of accounts payable, accounts receivable, and human resources being combined into one person's job, they could theoretically be done by zero people. Clearly they'll hire someone, or maybe three people. Probably not three.

She likes poker and trivia. I like poker and trivia. She may be about to quit her job but she's probably not about to quit smoking.

Great quote from our Unix sys-admin: I used to work with an elevator mechanic named Cletus Wu. Every part of that sentence is priceless, both the "elevator mechanic" part and the name. You know that elevator emergency button that you press when you're stuck and a person comes on the other end to help you? Rob was that person once. A dispatcher. The road to systems administration is an eclectic one that -- given Rob's youth but expertise -- seems to do without college just fine, thank you.

Jake likes the Beastie Boys. He loathes Creed. It turns out Creed is wildly unpopular among my co-workers. Jake doesn't believe me when I tell him that U2 is a Christian band. Maybe I argued the point too ambitiously, since Scott Stapp talks about his faith far more than Bono does. Still, I guess my point was that Jake was wrong to dismiss Creed simply for being Christian, if that makes sense.

He also knocked Creed for being "derivative" -- I've heard this enough that I didn't have to ask him who he thought Creed was stealing from. I wait with bated breath for Eddie Vedder to write a song half as good as Higher or for Pearl Jam to produce even remotely the sound of Human Clay. I'll give you My Own Prison as derivative, I guess.
Ode to an Executive Assistant
She sits at the front desk, like a gate-keeper
She sees who comes in at eight o'clock
and who staggers in at 10:15 as if hung over
She notices who goes out to lunch with whom
Her job is to be aware, to know things
She pointed out that my right rear tire was low on air
Her keychain has a lot of keys on it
but not as many as our Unix sys-admin's keychain
She has discreet, tasteful tattoos -- feminine tattoos
Her name is Jody and she used to live in Boston
She even does customer support
If our executive assistant doesn't know the answer
Maybe nobody does
Quote of the Day
One of the reasons I was an unsuccessful writer in Prague was that my friend and I spent so much time in Czech casinos. And the reason we spent so much time in the casinos was on account of our Americanness. The manager of one establishment, a South African who'd worked in casinos all around the world, explained to us that Americans were great for business — but not because we were big spenders (we weren't). Most Europeans gamble as if their kidneys were on the line. You see: It's a Very Serious Affair, wagering. Americans gamble like teenagers in a rumpus room. European gambling culture arose in hoity-toity men's clubs, the manager explained. Gambling in America, meanwhile, took root in saloons and cowboy towns.

For this reason — or maybe because my buddy and I were drunk idiots playing with money only marginally more valuable than seashells — the manager liked to have us around because we made the place more fun, we'd yell "bada-bing!" every time we got a card we liked, and we'd jokingly demand "even money" payouts when the dealer got blackjack ("No, no, I take your money now," the confused lady blackjack dealer would explain. "No, if we were in Italy, that would be a blackjack. But since we're in Prague, you pay me," we'd respond).

Our uniquely American buffoonery gave the room a buzz and got the high-rollers to bet bigger, which is why the South African guy fed us free drinks and free food whenever we showed up (and why the regulars cheered our arrival like we were Norm from Cheers).

--Jonah Goldberg

(It's from an op-ed, so if you're resolutely avoiding politics -- or avoiding my politics -- you're forewarned.)

Friday, June 28, 2002

Read the June 19 entry here (she doesn't use permanent links) and tell me what it says about parenting these days. Or rather, parenting ten years ago.

Sometimes the most messed-up people have children. What they do to those children is... unfortunate. Mind that I'm talking about a person who I don't even know, though I know who her daughter grew up to be.
If I ever completely disappear
Consider looking for me in the sewers of Las Vegas.
This is Gay Pride
Not a bad setlist. I caught the beginning of the Timbuk3 tune as I was pulling into work. Note song #10: That made me chuckle.

Twenty minutes earlier I heard a radio ad for a personals service that contained the line, "do you know the Bay Area contains the highest percentage of single people in the nation?" That doesn't surprise me. But, as I yelled back to the radio, That's because we're all fucking guys!

Which, I suppose can be read either way.

My roommate pointed out when I got home Wednesday night that the gay pride parade was this weekend. I think I completely failed to note the derision in his voice because my reflex response (I was running to the bathroom at the time) was, It's all you, Scoon! Hope he wasn't offended.
Just call me the Dan Quayle of codegeekery
Also on my mind: If your old boss vacates the position and the position goes unfilled long enough for you yourself to assume more and more of the duties of that position, at what point do you claim to hold that title in cocktail parties?
The more I think about it, something ClearChannel got right...
Going back to the Mike H-L faux pas I have to wonder: Why does a local station in bufu Springfield have to worry about rolling its own footage for that sort of thing. Without meaning any insult to people who work at local stations, since this is a national story, wouldn't it make more sense for the network to make a national feed available?

Key words there are, I presume, the network. If you're at an indy station all bets are off.
More from the Pink video
Hey, she's not pink anymore! What's the point of that?
Useless Vin Scully Trivia
(This actually relates to both the entry below and to Mike H-L's latest. The relevance is an exercise to the reader.)

At the last Baseball Prospectus pizza feed I went to, they had the Oakland A's TV producer as a special guest. He told great stories about broadcasters he'd worked with.

Apparently Vin Scully, for all his greatness, had a cavalier attitude towards factual perfection. He'd shoot a pregame segment -- actually the 15-second "stay tuned" blurb -- and say something clearly factually wrong about the previous night's game. The producer would want him to reshoot to get the fact right but Vin would just wink and say, "oh, they won't notice."

As frustrating as this attitude is, in the 90% case he's right.
Aaaaaaauuuggghhhh!!! Fingernails on a blackboard!!
In the intro to the new Pink video, there's this piano sequence.
A (white key)
F# (black key)
D (white key)
E (white key)

So in the video they show a piano playing itself for the middle two of the notes. I hadn't paid much attention to this until I noticed that on the D, the piano actually plays a D. But on the F#, the piano plays an F.

Things like this drive me crazy, or maybe just illustrate that I already was.

Pardon me. I'm shocked in hindsight that I was never autistic.

Thursday, June 27, 2002

(sound of blocks busting)

In other news, take the photo accompanying this column about the fight. Isn't that clearly Shawon Dunston in the foreground, playing peacekeeper? Ellis Burks, you too are surely missed.
Quite the homepage you got there...
That's why I still enable comments. I'd forgotten all about The Gerbil, despite hearing it mentioned twice this weekend. Got some catching up to do.
Mmm... namesake...
The Phillies have some sort of payoff inning in which each Philadephia batter "hits for" a lucky contestant. Right now, Terry Adams is batting for... Terry Adams, of Reading, PA.

Harry Kalas was quite surprised by this.
Phillies-Marlins it is, then
My condolences to all you in the rainy Eastern Seaboard. Had trouble finding an in-progress game just now, what with the delays.

This has been a great day for baseball listening. Started with Rick Reed getting slapped around in Minnesota. Like the first game of an NCAA basketball tournament, this one was compelling but not overly dramatic.

Caught the ends of both Kansas City's win and Cincinnati's comeback. Cardinal fan Kubi and I have determined that my listening to any Reds game gives Cincy incredibly good luck, especially with the longball. At least in Wrigley Field.

Onto the "West Coast Afternoon" portion of the schedule, with an error-prone slugfest at Pac Bell and a stunning walk-off grand slam (by Gregg Zaun!) to prolong BH Kim's agony.
Public school bathrooms are awful
This guy is right on, despite Romanesko seeming to want to make fun of him.
Baseball Morbidity
You probably won't hear as much about this tragedy as about Kile but it's still sad.

This things actually didn't used to affect me; now they affect me too much. Somewhere there's a happy medium.

Being relatively recent to this whole "frightened by my own mortality" thing, I have to wonder: How do other people do it? How do you get through? I had problems enough as it was when I didn't fear death.

If you wanted to get really morbid you could say that if I'm afraid of death then I certainly am not tempted by it. :-)
And you thought I was long-winded?
Dang--now my brain hurts.

So (cue the obligatory Accenture employee in my reading audience) has Pud ever posted about that company and not used the headline, Pronounced ASS-Enter?
Remind me that I don't like peppercorns
In February I (re)discovered the hard way that I don't like prime rib. Tonight the same thing happened with peppercorn, this time on swordfish.

I'd had peppercorn on steaks before, in meals served on international airplane flights. (First Class? Possibly.) I'd disliked peppercorns then but forgotten what the word meant until it was too late.

Maybe my palate isn't designed for fancy restaurants. It's a very unfortunate ratio of price to personal culinary satisfaction. I do love things like the scallop meal I got at the Beach Chalet last November, just not fancy-restaurant meals that taste exactly like banquet dinners that in turn taste exactly like overambitious airline food.

Pepper just isn't the best spice. Something I got on my flame-broiled beef from the Afghan place (within the Emeryville Public Market food court) Monday night may work as the best spice.
Dude! If I may steal a premise from the Daily Show, this web site is my latest on-line zen moment.
My two new favorite hotties
Vanessa Carlton was on some sort of CNN/People profile on late-night cable TV Saturday. It occurs to me that cable TV (or, on airplanes, satellite TV) is something best watched when you're a captive audience. It's not something I do voluntarily much, unless some specific show (usually sporting event) is on, yet I enjoy those random Iron Chefs and E! true stories all the same.

The thing about someone like Carlton is that I'm far too easly won over by flashes of talent and substance. My opinion of her is probably strongly influenced by the best case scenario of what and who she is. So be it.

Lisa K. Montgomery. If you knew without clicking the link what the "K" stood for, you're either really good at trivia or somehow read my next most recent entry before reading this one. I like her sense of humor and I don't find her fashion sense any worse than the mainstream. She fits my Tina Fey fetish, or maybe it's the other way around.

I understand that she's despised by many -- and really, what successful MTV VJ isn't? (Hey, remember when MTV used to play music?) -- but I can't see her deserving nearly the rants and pans that a Carson Daly type deserves.

Speaking of right-thinking VJ's, did I ever mention that Adam Curry has a weblog? He lives in the Netherlands too.
Sunday: The Voyage Home
Traffic wasn't bad but I was dead tired.

Perhaps the most memorable part of the westbound trip was when Matt played Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. I'm convinced that the phrase "improves with each listen" really means that it sucks the first time you hear it but gradually stops sucking. Maybe that's too cynical.

I also wonder what the point is of Wilco when the world already has Radiohead. Then again, I noticed that "Heavy Metal Drummer" is now getting airplay. From my vague memories, this would be the first song to strike A&R folk as radio-friendly, being so much more upbeat than the rest of the album. It's hard to think of an analogous Radiohead song.

I still haven't listened to my own copy of YHF (partly because it seems not to be computer-friendly) but maybe in the long run I'll be glad to own it. Could go either way.

We stopped at a rest stop for last minute caffeine and also to have the requisite amount of gas for the rental return. Someone in the parking space next to us was about to pull out with a McDonald's cup on the roof of his car before I got his attention.

Matt returned the car maybe half an hour late but appears to have gotten the grace period. I asked him where he fell along the tired/hungry axes. Given that he was far more tired than hungry I fended for myself for dinner. When he asked what food I was looking for, burritos popped into my head but despite his directions to such a place I soon realized that getting a burito in New York is almost as absurd as getting pizza in San Francisco. Therefore I got pizza at this place, likely a tourist trap, at 42nd & 8th.

Watched a dismal Cardinals-Cubs game on the plane, part of the time of mourning I suppose. Felt the pain of loss. Couldn't take SportsCenter anymore but caught some interesting movies and game shows. The rules behind Friend or Foe (f*ck the dickwad who posted the featured IMDB user comment) are intruiging, as are those behind Greed. (Hey, I knew this guy in college!)

It shouldn't be too hard to guess which people will choose which on Friend or Foe. At least, I correctly guessed each person's decision that I saw. The people who don't trust each other and who turn out to have double-crossed their friends in the past? They get jack. The people who click as a team, who smile and look each other in the eye during the final segment, who are so squeaky clean that Kennedy's "dirt" on them is painfully labored? Smiles, hugs, and a split paycheck.

I'll tell you right now that I'd take Friend every time, in spite of the game theory conventional wisdom that Foe is a better pure strategy. Kant would say to always, or almost always, choose Friend. My expository/persuasive statement would be: Because I'll tell you right now that I'm about to choose Friend and I'm a man of my word. Also because if you choose Foe, I'll hunt you down and hurt you. Can't decide whether that would make for good TV.

Anyway, the plane landed safely and I went home and fell asleep.

Wednesday, June 26, 2002

Which narrative do you want?
I have stories to tell for each of the past few days, except maybe Monday. That Monday was kind of boring. Let's do them in order...

Woke up in plenty of time Saturday morning. Rode with Sarah and Matt to go pick up my teammate, the lovely and talented Robin, at a commuter rail (MBTA?) station.

Robin likes hockey and death metal. She knows scads of pop culture and she's laid-back. What more could you ask for?

We had breakfast with us (those fattening muffins) in the trunk of the car but also stopped at Dunkin Donuts because apparently in New England when one wants coffee, that's where one goes. Well, this sucks. In preparing a link for this section I just now found out that @&*)#!@ short-sellers have reamed my portfolio. Bastards!

In any case, I think my taste in food preceded my vested interest anyway, but I feel strongly averse to DD. Their donuts are, in my opinion, vastly overrated; your mileage may vary. Their coffee... I don't drink hot coffee but I'll admit that the Coolata is a neat concept. I got a vanilla bean Coolata, after eventually reaching the counter. Apparently a DD is a gathering point for little children. They seemed to multiply in front of my eyes like the rabbits in that one credit card commercial.

Back to the tournament site. Waited for all teams to arrive. Waited for my other teammate... and kept waiting. This was partly my fault. He did arrive early in round 2, which happened to be our bye round.

There were seven teams at this tournament, of whom I thought going in that two were clearly better than us and four weren't. We were 0-3 against the "clearly better teams" and 5-0 against the others. The only really close game was a loss we took on the last question in a game we should have lost by much more, but for the other team's negs. They tried to hand us the game but we wouldn't take it.

We played as Manhattan Gay Men's Chorus (a Will & Grace reference inspired by the heavily gay-friendly content of our pack). Robin took the name Owen, not knowing that the team name arose from an off-hand comment in which I'd compared myself to Owen. That left me playing Jack.

I wonder if that's the sort of trivial thing that leads to actual sexual identity choices. Like, if two years from now I've somehow become a happy gay guy, whether I could point to that random chance and say, "well, once I had to be Jack I couldn't be straight anymore." Nah. Amusing though.

Allyson, who pinch-hit on my team for a round before having to go to a baby shower, rejoined the group at Mark's place but first we had time to sit around, shoot the breeze, and be stunned to hear about the death of Darryl Kile. This was one of those "I'll always remember where I was when I heard about it" events. Had a nice conversation with my mom via cellphone on Mark's back deck. Rode with Matt and Sarah over the town line to get liquor, Wellesley being a dry town.

This weblog already has suitable comments about both Friday's and Bertucci's so suffice it to say we did a fair amount of drinking Saturday night. Saw Sir Ian McKellen host a Saturday Night Live rerun. Overall a good show but this one sketch, a fake Turkish talk show, was so bad that it singlehandedly ended the party.
Where do I begin?
Yet another installment in links that need no comment.
Hulk 1, Porn Star 0
It finally happened. Finally happened in public, I should say. "Everyone knows" that's neither the first time nor the last time with these two.

But read the whole thing and tell me which one you'd rather have on your team. I think the choice is clear, but you already know what I think.

Tuesday, June 25, 2002

Some more narrative from Friday
Curiously, both my flights this weekend left half an hour earlier than I thought they did. In one case I misremembered my printed itinerary and realized the problem just after hitting the road. In another, I actually got to the airport and found out there that my itinerary itself was off.

For a 7:05 flight I got to the line for the Oakland airport security checkpoint at 6:20 a.m. Imagine my dismay when I saw a sign predicting that I was 30 minutes away from the security apparatus itself. Fortunately the line sailed through in less than 5 min; some people were just straggling I guess. I had just enough time to wait in line for my boarding pass, then grab a breakfast burrito, then get on the plane.

On the DirecTV I watched Sportscenter twice but by the third time it was pointless since I knew the plays and the lines before they happened. With occasional stops on the Game Show Network, I settled on a Scooby Doo marathon (Boomerang, brought to you by Cartoon Network) despite my mild dislike for the show (and pathological hatred for Scrappy). Fortunately there were but one, maybe two, of the Scrappy episodes to surf around. After that, guest appearances by Sandy Duncan and Sonny and Cher.

Things in any good Scooby drinking game would include but not be limited to:
Scooby's laugh
Scenes of Scooby or Shaggy being gluttonous
Taking the villain's mask off
Polite sips any time Scooby corrupts some random consonant (or non-consant) to an "r" sound
Any time Velma finds a clue or takes the logic a step further
Any time the gang splits up, conveniently leaving Fred and Daphne together
Any shot of the "Mystery Van"

Upon landing I realized that I had neither my sheet of paper with Matt Boggie's address on it, nor actual memory of his address. (This is embarrassing given how repetitive the numbers in his address are.) I vaguely rememebered his living by Times Square and knew that the A train would take me there from JFK so (after more waffling than really necessary) I left a message on his cell and made my way via free shuttle to the nearest NY subway stop.

This moment of unexpected feeling-of-security on big city public transportation brought to you by Rudolph Giuliani. God bless you, Rudy!!

Matt had returned my call right as I prepared to enter the subway stop; we agreed that the A train was the way to go. The limiting factor still turned out to be when his wife got home from work, albeit not by much. We picked up our car and a pie for the host, then set off. A stop at McDonald's for dinner, where the new chicken strips aren't too bad. The fries were McDonalds' usual. Got into a big snarling delay in Connecticut where construction made three lanes into one lane, then got lost several times after the exit from the Mass Pike.

Of all the states I've driven or ridden through, Connecticut is still hands-down my least favorite, for a variety of reasons.

At long last we found Mark and Sarah's place, chatted a little (Sarah had already turned in), grabbed an adult beverage from the fridge, watched the end of a vaguely disappointing Red Sox game (Shea Hillenbrand rocks; Eric Gagne looks like he should be part of Barenaked Ladies); and turned in. I got the futon within a private bedroom, albeit no frame. Matt got the couch rollaway.

Saturday's narrative forthcoming. But first, back in real time, I hang out with my friend Corwyn and other cohorts.
Heard the very first song of 10@10 this morning and thought it sounded like the quintessential "'80s Dance" song. Contrast to Monday, with the mystery set of songs that I tuned in at "My Perogative," immediately knew 1988, but also knew just as intuitively that this isn't the 1988 I remember. Where were the hair bands?

Monday, June 24, 2002

Ever just feel like calling a fatwa?
Not that I'm advocating anything, especially since I don't think I'll make it to St. Petersburg any time soon, but if I were in a dead pool I'd be tempted to put this guy in as a dark horse. Contrast to these people.

(And Romenesko's kind of evil for putting them back-to-back on Monday.)
Back on the subject of food
Here's a parody of the Southwest airlines flap, which I first heard about Mark's weblog.

One of my most embarrassing moments happened at Great America, when I almost was too big to fit into my seat for a ride. It was this wooden rollercoaster where the seat belt /restraining apparatus was almost too small for me. That was a sign, to me, that I needed to shrink a bit.

On my flight to NYC I sat next to a very tall guy. He needed part of "my" space for his leg to fit. I was using just about all my space from the waist up, for the wide hips/abs. I may have needed some of his space. I'm sure we both found each other's intrusions vaguely annoying but what do you do?
Sarah and No-Name
(Let the weekend narrative begin...)

By leaving so early Friday I got to be a (passive) part of San Francisco radio history, without expecting to.

Well, first, Thursday night I played Scrabble with Cindy. Then got home, did some laundry, watched Brazil beat England. Took a two-hour nap, almost overslept, scrambled to pack, wanted to see some of USA-Germany but my travel schedule wouldn't allow it.

In the car, not one but two alternative stations played Hella Good in a five minute span, further cementing that as my unofficial theme song. I didn't bother to check the third of SF's three alternastations because I assumed that it'd just be Howard Stern. Wrong assumption given that it was a half-hour before they'd even start playing him (three-hour time zone related tape delay).

But while Howard begins at 6, the Alice Morning Show starts at 5:30. And Friday was the first day for their new morning show co-host. It's impossible to relate just how incongruous the new pairing is to someone used to, say, Boston radio. The closest pairing I could come up with was something like Chris Kennedy (former WFNX jock) and either Opie or Anthony. In any case, the DJ Who Has No Name used to be (until less than a week ago!) a fixture at rival Live 105, actually the only local DJ from that station who I'd have a chance in hell of identifying by "name." Obviously that makes his pseudonym all the more ironic.

In any case, Sarah and No Name blended together better than I would have thought. I'm pretty sure I caught both his Live 105 swan song and his Alice debut in a span of a few hours, since he was on during my mad dash from Vectiv to Cindy's place. (Said dash ended with my getting an amazingly convenient parking spot, though that's neither here nor there. Well, actually it was about a half-block from "there" but anyway.)
Speaking of the Braves radio feed
Mark Lemke has a much deeper voice than I would have expected. From Lemke's presence I infer that Don Sutton is still recovering from surgery.
"Boy has the game changed."
Skip Caray points out, with typical Skip Caray dry wit, that Sammy Sosa might have an off year in that he's on pace for "only" 55-56 home runs. Then he suggests that "boy has the game changed" when you can say that about a player.

No Skip, it's not the game that's changed. It's that Sammy really is that good.

As much as I like to root for the underdog, I hate it when the best players in the game don't get the credit they deserve.
On the flip side of the food dilemma
TGI Friday's represents a lot of what I admire so much about this country. Granted, I don't go there much anymore. I've been exactly once to the one on highway 280, mainly because I'm so lucky to live in a city that has so many better options. Not everybody is so lucky, since cities like San Francisco and New York are almost unique within the U.S. -- hell, within the world.

Saturday night a group of us ate at Bertucci's, which I always think of as local to Boston even though apparently it's a regional chain. Italian-style food, ostensibly a step above Olive Garden but in my experience really not. The service was terrible! It's possible that this was a problem unique to that franchise or even that waiter. Still, it was one of life's little disappointments.

By contrast, four of us went out for brunch Sunday afternoon. I have no idea what the best places are to eat around Wellesley, Massachusetts. Our hosts had no particular places in mind, but one great thing about TGIF's is that you can be pretty sure of finding a local franchise no matter how suburban your immediate surroundings actually are.

This particular one had a very large parking lot, about 2/3 full of cars. I feared at first that there would be a wait but there really wasn't. Rather, the place was huge. If it weren't for the little partitions surrounding the booths in each row and the rows within a restaurant, you could have almost pictured it as a mega dining hall. Despite that, our table had relative privacy. Just us, and the people across from us with the toddler. One time the toddler screamed and I blurted out "GOOOOOOOAAAAALLLLL!" in about the same pitch and tone as the toddler's scream. Somehow I managed not to draw attention from other tables.

The TGIF's menu is about the size of a novel. I know there are people who would actually complain about this, the same people who complain that Amazon has too much selection and isn't "quirky" enough, but I like having that kind of selection. It presents a good kind of dilemma. Just wish they wouldn't revise the whole presentation so much. The menu I saw yesterday looked nothing like any TGIF menu I could remember seeing, even though the selections were mostly the same.

The food was very good. Everybody got something that looked enticing. For me, the "classic sirloin": eight ounces of tasty meat to go with a huge serving of their "signature mashed potatoes," which melted in my mouth. Not just the food, but The service was fantastic! Our waiter was prompt and informative, kept the free refills going, and in general showed this (here are my biases) uniquely American combination of efficiency, ingenuity, and all-around on-the-ballness. I left him a massive tip (I picked up the tab, as a thank-you for the crash space and the ride) and walked out of the restaurant feeling extremely happy on a warm summer day.

Now, when I was in Boston I used to go to TGIF on about a weekly basis. At some point the utility to this diminished and diminished. But now that I'm only an infrequent visitor, I can truly appreciate it.

In fairness, this might not be unique to TGIF. Last October, under extremely similar circumstances (my last morning in the greater Boston area, a group 75% the same as yesterday's group), we went to Applebee's, where I encountered service nearly as good and food maybe even better.
California Dieting
Everybody is thin here. Either that or everybody is thick elsewhere, take your pick.

A friend of mine left California in February. When I next saw him, in June, he was definitely heavier than he had been just four months earlier.

Several of the people I saw this weekend were bigger than I remembered them being. This applies to both friends and... is "acquaintances" the right word? In some cases maybe they've gained weight but the bigger factor might just be that I'm used to seeing people of a certain size and that my latest perception of normality stems from what I've most often seen lately.

In any case, I saw so much girth this weekend, including on myself, that now I worry about people. If you think I mean you... well, if you can't tell for sure then I probably don't. If you're certain that I do mean you, don't take it personally. In some sense we're in this together.

For my part, at lunch today I had a meal of very modest proportions (quarter pound of "Brazlian chicken" pasta-like mix, quarter pound of beans that I somehow got despite asking for rice) along with a jumbo-sized Crystal Geyser Natural Alpine Spring Water. My mind and my stomach think that the water part of this is an excellent way to start getting into shape. (Note also that until lunch I'd felt really really dehydrated going back to my arrival in New York yesterday.) Unfortunatey, my bladder thinks it's pure evil.

So I'll drench my system with water for a few days and see how it goes.