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Archive: 2000

Tuesday, 26 December 2000

Ever tried to count your blessings and then realized you didn’t have the energy to bother?  Just wondering.

Christmas at the folks’ house was nice as always, and this year we had the super-special added bonus of clear skies over north central Ohio.  That meant that we could enjoy the sunlight glinting off of (and refracting through) the hoarfrost and the snow, both of which dazzled throughout the morning.  It also meant that we could observe the partial solar eclipse around noontime, using a pinhole camera I constructed out of some gift boxes that happened to be lying around.  Pretty nifty.

Wednesday, 20 December 2000

Thanks to the addition of another negative review on Amazon.com, my book’s approval rating effectively dropped to 90%.  If I were a politician, I’d no doubt be wetting myself, but as it is I’m feeling downcast.  This morning’s radio show, which was plagued by technical problems and good-old-fashioned boneheaded mistakes on my part, didn’t much help.  In the grand tradition of my countrymen, I’m going to assign blame for my glum mood on external factors:  the approaching holiday, which almost never fails to depress me; and last week’s long-awaited resolution to the electoral situation.  It’s not for me to judge to the outcome, but my reaction to the players and tactics used in the whole long process were almost uniformly negative (I grumbled about this at the beginning, and things only went downhill from there).  Lord knows, I wanted to find someone to respect in the whole thing.  Only at the end did I get it, and that was while watching Gore’s concession speech.  So in other words, the only thing which gave me any hope was the loser’s exit speech.  Oh, that’s just great.

Monday, 11 December 2000

Not much has been going on in life recently.  I mean, sure, we got a Christmas tree and decorated it, and we put up lights all over our front porch and got light-sensitive electric candles to put in our windows, and we’ve been having friends over for impromptu (and not-so-impromptu) gatherings in front of our fireplace.  But beyond that, nothing.  Except for the hilariously flaming play we went to see over the weekend, which was not only thoroughly enjoyable, but filled with killer outfits to boot.  So except for that, really, nothing.  Wait, did I mention the emergency plane landing on our street?  Just kidding.

Actually, I wanted to draw your attention to two things.  The first is a Web site which will allow you to get more closely in touch with the realm just beyond this world: Heavens-Above.  It’s not a cult, it’s a way cool predictor program.  Trust me, give it a whirl, because it’s too cool for words.  The second thing is the conclusion to a review of a video game, if you can believe that.  I’d played the demo, and I fully identify with the reviewer’s emotional reactions to the game.  While clicking a mouse and staring at little colored dots on a monitor, I was suddenly given insight—sharp, deep, and painful—into what fighting a war demands of the men who must do so, and of what it means to be a soldier.  Just playing this game brought that home to me in a way nothing ever could—and yes, I’ve seen Saving Private Ryan.

Monday, 4 December 2000

Well, I’ve learned something today.  What I learned was this:  when your ham-and-provolone-on-white-bread sandwich suddenly begins to taste like a banana, it’s time to throw it out.  Now I share this lesson with you.  No, don’t thank me—that’s just the kind of guy I am.  I basically can’t help myself.  (Neither can anyone else, I suspect.)

I’m starting to get back into the swing of article-writing, with two new articles in front of editors as I type this, and another two or three pieces brewing on my hard drive at home.  Whether or not those simmering pools of language ever see the light of day is another question, of course; sometimes a piece which starts out full of tasty promise ends up being the fallen soufflé of writing, if you follow me.  All the ingedients seem correct, and the cooking process is roughly the same as all the other dishes I make, but nevertheless I occasionally end up with something that, if writing results may be equated with food taste, closely approximates a cigarette-and-coffee omelette.  Or worse.

At any rate, I keep getting Election 2000 stuff in my mailbox, but recently it’s swung from being solidly anti-Democrat to become sort of a turgid bipartisan mix of shrill laughter masking pessimism, vitriol, and bleak resignation.  It’s kind of like hearing the body politic whistling past the graveyard, and the tune is just as fractured as you might expect.  So if you’ve come across any particularly funny election-related humor in e-mail, do me a favor—delete it, will you?  You’ll feel much better.

Monday, 27 November 2000

I hope your Thanksgiving was as convivial as ours.  We had over both sets of parents and siblings and their partners, a cousin, and some friends.  We may have missed our first Halloween in the new house, but I think we more than made up for it with our first Turkey Day.  And major thanks to Alton Brown for giving us the secret to crowd-pleasing turkey.  Even Dad was impressed.

The extended weekend was useful in some other ways as well: I got more work done on my next book, and wrote (or started to write) some new articles.  It turned out that I’d been away from writing too long, and pounding the keyboard for a few hours (okay, it was probably close to 20 of them) did me a world of good.  Does this mean I’m becoming a Writer?  I hope not—it would break my poor mother’s heart to know I’d gone so wrong.

Monday, 20 November 2000

Some thoughts on the ongoing electoral fun:

“…don’t assume that no matter who wins and no matter what happens, it’s going to be bad for America. It might be quite good, because it might be sobering for the country to realize we’re in a completely new era, nobody’s got a lock on the truth, we’re all trying to understand the future.”

Wise words from Bill Clinton in a recent CNN interview.  Of course, in observing that nobody has a lock on the truth, he’s espousing a very liberal point of view.  As far as conservatives are concerned, they do have a lock on the truth, and anyone who doesn’t agree is either morally corrupt, weak-willed, or just plain dumb.  This from the ideological camp which gave us Rush Limbaugh.

Things are settling down at long last.  Kat and I have no significant travel plans for the near future, which in its own way is quite a relief.  It’s nice to look at a calendar and know that (barring unforseen events) we won’t be leaving the state until 2001 at the earliest.  This blissful state of affairs will let us concentrate on things like properly configuring the steam radiators in our house, for example.  Or try to figure out which painting or other piece of art should go where.  I’ll be able to set up a regular writing schedule for the next book, and even play the occasional video game to relieve my frustrations at Word 98 for being… well, for being Word.  Kat and I can go on dates, even have friends over for parties and family over for the holidays.  It’s all so domestic, we can hardly stand it.  (Don’t worry, I’m sure we’ll figure out a way to survive.)

Friday, 11 November 2000

We’re back.  Again.  Not that twelve days in San Francisco and Ragged Point is anything to complain about, really, but we discovered that we miss home after a while.  This even though the weather during our trip was as close to perfect as one could possibly ask, and the venues were nothing to sneeze at either.  My talks and other activities at Web2000SF were what scientists call a “huge peck o’ fun,” but even better was meeting and greeting so many cool people.  Some I already knew well via e-mail, like Molly; and some I’d met before, like Tantek and Jeff and Sherry (from Terry!); but many others were effectively met for the first time—Bryan and Lori and Jennifer and Steven and what seemed like dozens more.

In a way, I felt bad about the situation at “Real World CSS,” my Wednesday presentation.  I didn’t have any network access, so the presentation suffered, and the room was packed to overflowing (and fire code violations) by interested audience members.  The interest was profoundly gratifying in an ego-centric fashion, but it wasn’t the best job I could have done, and the environment was less than ideal for those trying to find seats.  The Friday talk was less of a hit—especially among those who didn’t want to hear that the user controls the browsing experience—but there was very good attendance without the need for sitting in the aisles, and a lot of appreciative comments and exclamations from the audience, so that was good.  It was interesting to be giving a talk called “CSS For Anarchists” while the President of the United States of America was giving a speech a floor above me.  As I’ve always said, timing is everything.  I don’t know how many background checks got run on me, but I’d like to know.  Fortunately, the Secret Service decided to not arrest me for seditious activities or some such thing.  In sum, I don’t know about others, but I had a darned good time.

So did Kat, who got to play tourist and jaunt down to L.A. without me to see various college friends.  It was a short jaunt, and she got back in time for the election.  Being on the West Coast, we could watch most of it unfold without the massive sleep deprivation which the network anchors, all based in the east, were obviously suffering.  We were watching ABC when Florida was moved back into the “undecided” category for the second time; the sense of history-in-progress was fairly palpable.  Or else we were starting to experience sleep deprivation ourselves.

I’m not going to comment on the election process beyond this: the whole situation is intellectually fascinating, and I’m very ambivalent about how I’d like to see it resolved.  In process terms, I mean; I know who I’d like to see win—but if you think I’m going anywhere near that particular bear trap in a public forum, you’ve got another think coming.  The closest I’ll come is to say that, as I write this, I’m finding that every time a campaign spokesman from either side opens his mouth, my opinion of him drops.  Every time.  That’s just, you know, depressing.

Just a side comment: the format of these posts has shifted from “third person objective reporting” to “whatever Eric feels like saying, generally at some length.”  You probably noticed that already, but I thought I’d mention it explicitly.  Mostly because I can.

Friday, 27 October 2000

Another month, another lack of updates.  Our house is coming along quite nicely, although it’s nowhere near where we want it to be.  I’m told that’s how it goes.  As my friend Bruce D. told me, “Now you have a kit which is never finished and to which you’ll never have all the parts you need at any one time.”  The big challenge now is trying to find bedroom furniture to match the ceiling fan we bought.  Salespeople give us really odd looks when we tell them this.  Kat’s recovered completely from her surgery, which is great.  I got back from Vancouver a week ago; nice city, but lots of rain.

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