Thursday, January 31, 2008

Miami Livin' (Blimp Edition)

When I was first moving down here to Miami back in August, I had some questions for myself about what living in a place without winter would be like (hey Jack, what are the rules for capitalizing seasons? I feel like I have some lingering impulse to capitalize the "w" in winter - is that a correct impulse or something that used to happen, back in, say, 1991, that doesn't happen anymore?). I've never had particularly terrible problems with Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD (I love that its "SAD")), but I figured whatever seasonal affect (hard to separate, I'll admit from my "general affect") I did have would be greatly challenged by the absence of cold weather.

Indeed, when the sun shines in Miami, even in almost-Feburary, it feels hot. It's been probably the most beautiful week yet in Miami this week - mid-to-upper 70s everyday, mostly sunny. I've spent it mostly being kind of grumpy and sleeping a lot. Seasonal affect? Hard to say, really. I think part of it has to do with the grind of teaching at 8 AM three days a week catching up to me a bit, and also, though I hate to admit this, it probably has to do with the fact that I have two formal poems (poems with metrics and rhyme) due in my two classes next week. That and there's an insane amount of noise around my apartment currently due to there being a fresh construction site right next door, and a second one right across the street (just behind the Target), so I can't really keep my windows or balcony door open to enjoy the weather because its just too damn loud.

But I didn't start this post intending to bitch about how beautiful in Miami it is. I started this post because I see a blimp every day. Starting once I got back down here after New Year's, I have seen at least one blimp literally every single day. Over the weekend, I actually saw where the Goodyear blimp lives - just up the road from me really. Actually saw it parking in its hangar. But there's also a Met Life blimp and I think one other that hasn't been close enough for me to see what it's advertising. I guess this just has to do with it being tourist season in Miami. Having been here in the late summer ("S"ummer?) it's hard to remember that this is still pretty hot compared to most of the country, but still it's hard to imagine that there are that many people on the beach.

Blimps used to signify something special to me - at least in Pittsburgh, I don't think we even got blimps on a weekly basis for our sporting events. It's sad to think that by spring ("S"pring?) blimps won't mean anything at all. The only thing I can hope is that with the increased mileage on these things, that the blimps eventually wear out and have to be retired, and that somewhere in Everglades there's a special plot of land where blimps go to die. (Sort of like the School Bus graveyards that are dotted all through rural Pennsylvania (and I imagine many other places as well).)

Sunday, January 27, 2008

There Will Also Be Blood in This One

I got around to watching No Country for Old Men today, and I'm not a fan. I understand that it's a well-made movie.

But you've got a movie that's basically two things: one one hand, a parable about moral depravity; and on the other hand, a suspense-driven chase movie with a lot of carnage. I think these two aspects are well matched. The problem, as I see it, is that No Country doesn't really have anything to say about moral depravity, so the fact that the movie's soaked in it (or at least that Javier Bardem is) just starts to feel manipulative after a while. The fact that you, the viewer, are disgusted by moral depravity becomes this button the movie pushes on in order to make the suspense-driven chase part more harrowing. I don't like that; it seems cheap.

That the movie is so well shot, acted, and otherwise executed just makes this uglier to me. The story doesn't make any realistic claim about the way the world really is; you've basically got a bad guy dialed up to 11 and set loose in an otherwise realistic setting. Why? Makes for a harrowing suspense-driven chase movie, that's why; and I think that's it, even if the movie maintains a blackly somber atmosphere and otherwise acts like it's maybe saying something. It's not really, it seems sick after a while, and I don't like it.

(I recognize, though, that a lot of this reaction comes from my personal disinclination to watch movies where characters are SPOILER ALERT constantly being shot in the head. I trace this sensitivity to onscreen violence back to the first scene of the original Transformers movie in 1986. But I didn't cry at No Country, I hasten to add.)

I guess the movie does have one thing to say about moral depravity: that it's enough to make an old small-town Texas sheriff look upon the world with pained and weary eyes. So it was a good idea to cast Tommy Lee Jones here. Other than that I think you're better off just watching Fargo again.

Lobby Going Going Gone

In what may be the concluding outing to the Cinemas in this recent kick of watching-movies-in-the-theatre that I've been on recently (No Country for Old Men (twice), Juno, There Will Be Blood, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (all of which were awesome (although, perhaps due to its levity, Juno seems somehow a bit less awesome))), I went and saw Cloverfield over the weekend. It was okay. Basically Godzilla meets The Blair Witch Project (only with a single handheld video camera and no pretenses of a we-are-making-a-film in the characters as there was in Blair Witch). I'm still a bit stumped as to whether it was good or not - parts of it were very affective, but other parts seemed too planned or something. It may be that I'm just not well versed in monster/horror/thriller movies, so not sure what exactly was being tweaked in the filmic grammar with the handheld camera treatment. Or maybe it really wasn't that good. Part of me really wants to like it, mostly because I've liked all the other movies that I've seen in the theatres since mid-December, and this let down is... well, a let down.

Not that we're all that careful about blogging about movies we've seen, but it'll probably be a while now, for me, to mention any others. I'll be too busy blogging about my awesome new American flag hat anyway (once Nate mails it to me) to bother blogging about lame-o movies. And I had to watch Juno and There Will Be Blood and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly without my glasses (which were temporarily holed up in an obscure drawer of my parents' china cabinet since Christmas Eve), and it kinda sucks that my welcome-back-glasses movie wasn't, like, totally awesome.

I'm sitting here now, trying to think if I've seen any other monster movies. Does King Kong count? In any of its iterations? What about Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein? I don't think I've ever actually seen any of the Godzilla movies. Hmmm... Anybody out there remember watching any monster movies with me?

I've Been In This Town So Long, So Long To The City

I'm sorry about my latest long blog absence, but in a nutshell: I'm moving from fair NoVA to Portland, Oregon so I'm in the process of leaving my current job, finding a new job, and selling off most of the stuff I own. My last day of work for a (hopefully) little while is this upcoming Friday. I'm targeting driving cross-country with whatever possessions fit in my Civic during the week of February 11th. I'm excited about the move; from what I've seen of it Portland is a really likeable city. Pete used it as his own sort of personal sleepaway camp for three months last year and I'm looking forward to following up his list of bar recommendations.

The reason for the move is that my old college chum Kyle lives in the Portland area; she and I have been dating for a little while now, which you can totally learn from our Facebook profiles. The idea is that my being there will allow us to date in a more functional way, as in actually being able to go out on dates regularly.

From here out I'm going to try to share regular updates on my progress here. I doubt I will be able to avoid making Oregon Trail jokes throughout.

Anyway -- I think it will be good. I've been explaining my basic planning approach to people as a two-step process. In the first step, at a remove of a few months, I make some rational decisions about what to do and how to do it. In the second step, I go about implementing that plan. The second step is the one where I freak out. But then I tell myself, "This will be fine; this is what you decided on when you were being rational, so now just do that." So then it works out. I mean, hopefully.

Also, to aid on craigslisting my larger material possessions away and documenting my migration, I just got a nifty little point-and-shoot digital camera. I haven't actually pointed it at anything I can sell yet but a couple items are below. They're the first items going into the box of stuff that I'm going to ditch on the free table at work later this week. Unless anyone reading this wants them or something.

(Clockwise from upper left: Willie Randolph promotional bobblehead doll; super patriotic baseball cap; "Team Up For Success: Building Teams in the Workplace", which came in the orientation packet I got at my first job.)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

There Will Be Strident Microtonal Glissandi

"There Will Be Blood" has an amazing soundtrack, most of it composed in an avant-garde vein for string orchestra by Jonny Greenwood, the lead guitarist from Radiohead. Long stretches of the beginning of the film are nearly dialogue-free expanses of 1890ish prospecting and derrick-building scenes, underscored by sliding or churning strings. If you like atonal music, this will warm your soul.

The NY Times ran a couple of recent articles about Greenwood's string music, which showed up in concert a week or so ago in the guise of a work called Popcorn Superhet Receiver. The reviews say it's the real thing; I'd say the Blood soundtrack backs that up. Greenwood seems to have a straw reaching across the room into Krzyzstof Penderecki's milkshake.

Why is this not nominated for a Best Soundtrack Oscar? Who knows?

Some savvy orchestra should program Greenwood's piece with Arvo Part's "Fratres" and the Brahms Violin Concerto, both of which also make prominent appearances on the soundtrack. Actually, I'm curious to see whether this music gets picked up into circulation at all.

Oh, the movie itself. Yeah, that's really good. Didn't, ah, see that ending coming.

* * * * *

My college friend Dan, who's a musicology student at the University of Michigan, has started a blog called ThoughtLights about music, film, and culture. Apparently, speaking of the current Best Picture contenders, "Atonement" has an interesting soundtrack, too.

Moving Pictures

So I was in New York City over the long weekend (well, actually, I was there Thursday - Sunday, so I engineered my own long weekend ahead of the actual long weekend for Martin Luther King Jr. Day), and it was chocked full of culture!

The highlight, of course, was the Boulez concert that Jack briefly mentioned in his post. I'd been looking forward to his concert since I first heard about it back in late August, so my expectation level for it was incredibly high. To have it pay off so thoroughly is just amazing. A truly exhilarating concert experience. Also notable that the music was played by members of the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, and therefore all younger than we gentle bloggers here. I don't know how old the alto was, but she had an incredible voice. One of those things you notice from the first note. And not an easy part to sing either.

I also went to see the NY Phil play Friday night, which was a mighty fine concert, but after the awesome chamber works the previous night, the music just couldn't compete. Every time I see the New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center, it blows my mind that an orchestra as good as they are plays in such a terrible hall. The last piece on the program was Scriabin's Poem of Ecstasy, which spends quite a bit of time being rather loud, but in Avery Fisher Hall it just sort of had the timbrel quality of something that is loud without actually sounding, physically, acoustically, loud. Bummer. The first half of the concert was Brahms's Second Piano Concerto, which is a big piece, and was played confidently. The first movement especially features a pretty French horn part, and it's always a joy for me to hear Phil Myers's playing. He was a good friend of my recently deceased horn teacher (as was Howard Wall, the NY Phil's 4th horn), so hearing them play for the first time since Dennis died carried that additional meaning as well (especially given the additional context that long-time associate principal horn of the NY Phil, Jerome Ashby died in late December). I imagine that it must be very difficult for Howard and Phil to have two other horn players that they were so close with pass in a short span of months.

Saturday night, I went with Jack and Mandy to Jazz at Lincoln Center to see Randy Weston's Afro-Cuban jazz sextet, which was quite good, if a bit short in length. The rhythm section especially, were pretty spectacular. The bass player played in a way that I never seen or heard before, where he used all of his fingers in something of a strumming pattern often to very good effect. I don't know that the vibe at Jazz at Lincoln Center is to my liking, and I was probably one of the youngest people there (and the only one that was dressed like a janitor), but I suppose it's good that such venues exist. Not all jazz happens in smoky dives, I reckon.

So lots of good music across three genres! Also wandered to the Whitney Museum, which was mostly a let-down, except for Kara Walker's exceptional silhouette murals. I don't want this post to get overly long, so I'll hold off on much of a description of them (I'm actually banking on the fact that Jack will step up and write his own post about the Whitney, since I'm losing steam here on mine (and I apologize, additionally, for the absence of hyperlinks from this post)).

And, as a final note, Jack & I went and saw Julian Schnabel's The Diving Bell and the Butterfly at the movies, and it was quite good, if a bit bleak and depressing (but I guess maybe a little bit hopeful?). Between this film, No Country for Old Men, and There Will Be Blood, I've had some of the finest movie-watching experiences in years with this batch. Hurray for the Cinema!

The best thing about Diving Bell, though, is that the term "dirty weekend" is used a couple of times in one of the scenes. I always love it when "dirty weekend" is said in a movie (the last one on record, for me, was actually in a deleted scene in The Life Aquatic (Angelica Huston's character mentions to Owen Wilson's character that she had once had a dirty weekend in Kentucky). I used to play in a band by the name of Dirty Weekend (2000-2002, 2004, 2006-2007). Great term. Great band name. Great band.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Boulez Sez

I'm up too late (and going into NYC too early tomorrow) to write anything substantial about this, but the Pierre Boulez concert Pete & I saw on Thursday night was pretty spectacular. Boulez conducts with his bare hands in this kind of air-calligraphy; "Le Marteau sans Maitre" is a spellbindingly spare thing, and the mezzo involved was phenomenal; "sur Incises" provides an unexpectedly invigorating experience closer to observing awe-inspiring natural scenery than to hearing most other kinds of music. (short description = 40 uninterrupted minutes of 3 pianos, 3 harps, 3 mallet percussions pouring out this unbelievably vivid atonal sonorousness. this is good, good stuff.)

Tomorrow thru Monday I'm staying in the extra bedroom at Chez Ex and unwinding the long weekend Not In New Haven, including Saturday and early Sunday with Pete, who's still in Manhattan for the time being. Everyone else, happy long weekend in the meantime.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Hawaiin Adventures

I've been in Hawaii for nine days now. It's pretty cool. I surf every day and when I'm not surfing I watch other people surf. When I'm not watching other people surf it just means there is nobody out on the particular wave I'm watching. I've watched people tow-in surf, wipeout on 50 foot waves, and rip 30 foot waves. It's fun. Last Sunday I sat on the beach from sunrise to sunset, looking at 30-40 (occasional 50+) foot waves. The conditions were stormy, so there weren't any surfers, but I still was happy to sit there and watch, and watch...and watch. These pictures are from the three different days I went up to the North Shore. Spray from the wave hitting the reef went well over 100 feet into the air.
Looks fun, eh?
There's a guy there if you look close.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Oops, Missed It

A few years ago, I remembered recently, a guy going out with my roommate-at-the-time noted that he was going to have a party that year not for his birthday, but rather for his 10,000th day. Which I thought was a neat idea then, and still think is a neat idea now. Looking back on it I figured the guy was about 28 at the time, and I thought Hey, I can do that this year. 10,000 days, good deal. Well, I calculated my 10,000th day using The Internet and it was August 6, 2007. So, oh well.

I'm kind of miffed that I wasn't watching when my bio-odometer turned over. My 9,999th day I have a good memory of; according to the present blog it was a really lazy summer day of river-tubing and barbecue-having. But as far as I can ascertain from my old emails, on Monday, Day 10,000, I celebrated by having a laundry night. And probably I stayed up as it got dark, reading Toni Morrison's "Jazz" with the box fan running in the window. Which was perfectly fine, as I remember it.

I guess I could try celebrating the less interesting 11,000th day, which will be May 2, 2010. Likely as not I'll still be in New Haven. Doing laundry.

Today, on my 10,161st day, I celebrated by going to work, then out to drinks with a couple of people under the auspices of that one social MeetUp group in the area, where I also caught up with Stu for the first time in the new year. Good enough! Bring on 10,162!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Friday Night Ice

I went to a university hockey game last night with a few work friends, and I wouldn't have guessed how much fun this would be. Down close to the ice it's an exciting sport. Lets out some of your aggression, vicariously.

Neat soundscape, too, the whisk of skates upon ice and the slap of stick upon puck, and the recurring resounding thump of some guy getting mashed up into the boards. Plus a recording of stadium-organ filler they'd put through the PR system between plays.

My friends and I were largely drawn to the game out of an interest to actually go inside the rink, which is a distinctive campus landmark designed by Eero Saarinen in the 50s. It is a legitimately neat building. That undulating design is as obvious from the inside as it is from the outside, so there's a rare transparency to the construction. The walkway around the bleachers undulates in similar motion. I like watching hockey in a space with a sleekly economical modernist design to it. I had a hot dog too.

So our side took on those stuck-up Ivy League bluebloods from Princeton, and despite dominating the shots on goal in the first two periods, they lost 4–3. So that was a bit disappointing, though better than the last university sporting event I watched with a few work friends, which was "The Game" back in November at the end of the football season. Unfortunately, on that occasion our side was flat-out dominated by those pampered Ivy League legacy kids from Harvard. And we had to move after a guy threw up in the stands right behind us. But they sold these pretty good sausage sandwiches at the stadium, so I had one of those. That was pretty good.

(rink photo courtesy The Internet)

Kidz Activities' Corner!!!

Hey kids, sharpen those geography pencils! Can you find the name of the United State cities hidden in each of these sentences? Here’s an example:
You can find Timmy on the baseball diamond every spring, fielding grounders.
(answer: Springfield)
If you know what state the city is in, write that down too.

Okay, ready? Here we go!!!
1. Will you give Mom a hand with cleaning the living room?

2. “Rambo” is Eric’s favorite movie.

3. Tomorrow’s the big mac & cheese cookoff, so Janet will be cubing ham tonight till late.

4. I reckon my Aunt Talla has seen it all, at least in terms of self-destructive live-in boyfriends.

5. The 2004 shareholder report landed Bill eight months in a federal penitentiary.

6. Some “friends” of mine say you’d better have that rent on the first next month.

7. Could a CIA-backed military putsch oust one or more leftist South American governments?

8. After a couple of wine coolers, Sheila was pretty far gone.

9. “Yoko H. Ono,” Lulu swore under her breath.

10. Todd never knew Yorkshire terriers could bite that hard.

11. Get out of my garage, and take your little rock band with you.

12. “So,” the general asked the appraiser, “how much is the fort worth?”
Extra Credit: Can you find each of these cities on a map? You don’t actually have to go get a map, just answer yes or no.

Bonus!!! Canadian “Provinces”
Canada is another country on the continent America is on, where they call the states “provinces.” Can you find the Canadian “provinces” names hidden in each of these three sentences?
1. On tar I often get my feet stuck, while walking.

2. Did you see the little vial of her own plaque Becky brought back from the dentist?

3. “At times I think my psychological growth was arrested during my preadolescent years, leading to insurmountable sexual neuroses in my adult life and an inability to form healthy relationships with women,” Albert admitted.
12 to 15 points = GOOD
8 to 11 points = FAIR
0 to 7 points = OKAY

See you next time!!!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Dept. of Nonbespectacled Edification

Despite having subscribed to cable for, oh, three months now (I really am considering turning this off) I still do most of my TV watching at the gym. This bothers me, not in that I feel like I should be watching more TV at home, but in that I don't like watching TV at the gym, since all the screens are usually tuned into CNN. The sound is always off, but it still bothers me. It's worse now that I'm wearing contacts; Lou Dobbs was slightly less of an unwelcome sight when he was a blurry orange-ish presence. (The show was always a predictable sequence of shots: blurry Dobbs, blurry border scene, blurry detained illegal immigrants, blurry Dobbs, maybe blurry trucks rolling down the highway. As far as I could tell, before I had contacts, they just popped in the same video every night.) Now I just have to avert my eyes.

I recall a Saturday morning back in '03 where I spent a 25-minute treadmill session in a gym in Astoria watching the Columbia space shuttle disintegrate, blurrily, over and over and over again. I really am not a fan of CNN playing at the gym. Eventually I joined the New York City Sports Clubs, which would show network TV and crappy music videos. At least these had the potential to be occasionally hilarious.

I went to the gym late on Saturday morning and they had half the TVs tuned to CNN, and half the TVs turned to cartoons on CBS. I decided the least irritating programming was a cartoon called "Dino Squad," which is apparently teaching our nation's preteens some terribly inaccurate things about DNA, in particular its potential to take mutated forms that allow teens to morph into dinosaurs. Also, the theme song (which, mercifully, I only experienced via closed captioning) starts with the line "From 25 million years in the past," which the careful viewer might note refers to the end of the Oligocene epoch. Did an early write of the show had the teens morphing into early baleen whales and ancestral elephant-like mammals? I guess it's a moot point, since mutant DNA can't make you do that either.

The last couple times I've been at the gym, they've been piping in classical music. I'm generally OK with anything they play that isn't "My Humps," but there's something less than inspiring about listening to a tinny version of Respighi's "Pines of Rome" with everything except the trumpets and violins inaudible.

* * * * *

Part of the reason I'm not watching cable at home is that I've been plowing through DVDs of the British version of The Office, which Nate got for me for Christmas. Not much of the show is quotable, since it's based on slow comic timing and bleakly hilarious awkward moments; this appraisal meeting set piece is a little gem, though. I think this may also be the only scene in the series where Ricky Gervais isn't playing the most obnoxious character in the room.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Weird Ducks

I, it would seem, have plenty to blog about. The weather in Miami is beautiful. I would say January in Miami, thus far, reminds me of April in Portland. Except, now the the cold spell which had drifted over Miami for much of December and early January has lifted, and it may in fact be a bit too warm to make that Portland comparison particularly apt. And now that my life is free of online writing tutoring (having exchanged that job for the new one of actually teaching college writing), I took a very pleasant bike ride this afternoon.

On the new-to-me hand-me-down road bike that I brought back from Pittsburgh as a Solstice present from my parents. Originally my Uncle Tom's bike, the gears on it were of the wrong ratio to be usable by my father in hilly Pittsburgh (perhaps, the first really legitimate evidence that I've ever accepted that Pittsburgh does, in fact, have hills, and more hills than other places in the Northeast (knowing enough to not compare Pittsburgh's hilliness to, say, Iowa's hilliness)), but the bike's gears, ratioed for "power biking on flat surfaces" (according to my father) are in fact perfectly suited to my needs here in flatter-than-flat Miami.

I'm still too unsteady on the road bike to, like, bike on roads with it (especially in North Miami traffic), but I did ride it around a couple of times in a broad circle encompassing a small side road, the bike path around campus, and the driveway-road that leads into campus. I also upgraded my own personal street-cred (I mean the amount of cred that I give myself) by managing to tighten the rear brakes without resorting to going to the local bicycle repair shop. I thought I needed a 9mm wrench, which I don't have (I have wrenches in just about every other size between 7mm and 18mm, just no 9mm (not having a 9mm, I suppose, should lower my street cred again, but I digress)), but I found another bolt or two to twiddle that seemed to have had the desired effect.

So, I was riding my bike around campus, musing to myself as I often do. Of particular note, I think, is my curiosity as to whether I feel the way I do about dead trees because of the vultures that roost in them. Or, if what vultures see in dead trees that cause them to roost in them is actually the same thing that I see in dead trees that make me not want to do whatever the human equivalent of roosting in them would be. I'm also, speaking of the vultures, still not entirely convinced that all of the numerous vultures are American Black Vultures - I'm pretty certain there are Turkey Vultures around as well - I've definitely seen some red-headed vultures around, which is a sure sign of them not being Black Vultures.

And in other bird news, some new ducks showed up around the bike path today. Weird looking ducks that I've never seen before. This is no officially the second time that I've come to think that maybe I should look into finding a "Birds of Florida" book. They have brown circles around their eyes. Mostly white/off-whiteish bodies. And they're not afraid of bicycles. This, of course, is the worst part about these new ducks. Worrying about running over iguanas and Super-Fund Glow-in-the-daylight crabs is bad enough; now I have to worry about weird ducks too? Terrible.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Blogger's Block

Apologies to Pete and, er, whomever else reads this, for not writing anything recently. It's not because I have a job, Pete, exactly; it's more that having said job prevents me from doing anything interesting most days, and therefore writing anything interesting about it.

(Accomplishments over the weekend: 1. bringing back a word game and a Barnes & Noble gift certificate from a Yankee swap party; 2. having three friends over for the Steelers game; 3. going to the gym twice in two days. See? Also I'm watching a lot of the British version of "The Office" on DVD, and becoming somewhat disturbed at how funny I find these people's misery, even if they are fictional.)

At work today there was a quarterly office meeting that presented the Press's "Five Year Plan," which always strikes me as an unnecessarily Stalin-ish way of putting it.

So, yep, life in New Haven, Connecticut. Wheeeeee.

Blue Shirt, Khaki Pants, Blue Shoes

What better way to decompress from my first day of teaching college English than blogging about it? None, say I. Or actually, now that I start to blog about it, it actually seems like a terrible idea. Let's talk about something else. Before class, though, since my two reusable water bottles have been full and in my fridge untouched since December 10th or so, I opted to not use them today - I think I'll wash them first. Since I don't necessarily wash them on that regular of a basis, it seems like there's a good chance that some interesting mouth germs have propagated therein in the past few weeks. However, after biking in to campus, and before going to my 8 AM class, I decided that I was mighty thirsty, so I condescended to purchasing a bottle of water from a Coke machine - something I hate to do, and don't do very often. There's something interesting to me, though, about the fact that Coke's Dasani water says on the bottle "enhanced with minerals for a pure, fresh taste." I think that's a relatively new thing - it amuses me that their water used to be too bland. I assume their water bottling process at this point involves taking municipal water, distilling it, etc. and then adding back in these proprietary salts to define some specific watery taste that is, now, in fact, "Dasani" water. Since I feel like I should probably reuse this 20oz bottle several times now before recycling it (especially given my general distrust for the recycling program at my apartment complex), so that means I'll put off washing my other designed-to-be-reused bottles even longer. But hopefully it won't involve any further purchasing of vending machine water.

Jarring, how the semester forces one back into some kind of productive life so early into the year. Or maybe that's a silly reflection, since most of you out there have, like, jobs. Nate and Jack (Jack and Nate) obviously have, like, jobs, since they, like, still haven't blogged in '08.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Cold Snap

I was waiting for Nate or Jack to restart the blog for '08, but, before all you readers out there forget about us do to the lack of fresh content, here I am to save the day. It's not that warm in Miami. Only in the 60s right now. It was 22 when I left Pittsburgh, I was hoping for at least 70 down here, but no such luck. Although, I must admit, that it still feels very much like Spring, and I saw as much blue sky today as I think I did in 10 days in Pittsburgh.

I did see a couple interesting things in Pittsburgh, though. Most notably, I suppose, would be the newly redesigned dinosaur fossil exhibit at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Well done, for sure. A bit disappointing that the T-Rex and Triceratops won't be open 'til the Spring, but if nothing else that means I'll be heading right back to the Museum next time I'm back in Pittsburgh.

The second-most interesting thing, I must admit, was probably seeing white-tailed deer mating in the backyard. Deer make very regular appearances, but this is the first time I've witnessed this particular deer activity. At first I just noticed that there was a deer with antlers in the backyard, which is a rare-enough occurrence as it is, but then I also saw that it was chasing a smaller deer around in a circle of relatively large circumference. "Why is that big deer chasing that little deer?" I asked to myself, and soon enough I had my answer. "Oh," blushing to myself. In the amount of time during the chasing and before the mating, I had conjured several "just-so" stories that explained the behavior of the two deer, and I did not even guess mating ritual. I thought that was more of a Spring-time thing?

Speaking of things that are in pairs, and referring back to the top of this post, I had a brief, but interesting conversation with Jack and our mother while home about whether, as a twin, he felt that he was always the second-billed. Some other twin that Mom knows was apparently always listed second, on cards, cakes, introductions, etc. and actually resented that fact. Mom was curious if Jack had had a similar experience. Jack had not. And I was thinking about it, and I think that's correct - in listing Jack and Nate, I don't think a set order was ever utilized by our family. Depending on the rhythm of the sentence, I guess. Maybe Steve Pinker could help analyze the particular reasons for using "Nate and Jack" versus "Jack and Nate." I guess the next step would be looking at archival photographs of birthday cakes, and see if the names were always in the same order or not.

Either way, its of mild interest, I suppose.