Saturday, 27 September 2008


Nearly turning the house upside down, last night I searched and searched for my old drivers' license (some things one ought to keep in one's wallet--if for nothing else but safe-keeping) because I was told I needed to present it when I came to make a statement for the military police. It's strange how these small, important things can go missing: in the past, I felt like the metaphysical princess and the pea, I could visualize such things settled forgotten in a specific drawer somewhere, and when I did go searching, I found them just as I pictured. Now, however, I am growing more dodgy, and I resorted to looking in desparate places, no place where it was likely to be. I raking through several drawers, over-turned vases and poked into old metal tins. I came across quite a few lost artefacts, but one metal decanter especially surprised me. Inside was a stale package of sunflower seeds and container of dry oatmeal. The wafting smell brought back the memory of my bunny called Bunny. A fantastic, accidental pet, she wasn't with me for long but did grow on me. A friend that I had gotten to know through work, a quite funny and accomplished manipulator, had gotten Bunny for her young daughter at one point a few years beforehand, however, hatched a simple plan to pawn Bunny off, due to her decision to purchase a small dog, suitable for carrying in one's purse, which should not cohabitate with Bunny, a feral animal, while this pedigreed dog was being house-trained. Without obtaining prior clearance, she arranged for her young daughter to be staying at a friend's house (the day before she was to get the small dog). She then asked me if I would like to adopt a rabbit, an idea I was initially resistant to, and persisted until I gave in. With her daughter gone, exactly as planned, I came to kidnap the rabbit--as she explained to her daughter in between her noticing her pet was missing and before the new small dog showed up. "Mr Johan is not a nice person." It was during the winter when I kidnapped Bunny, and I couldn't bear to leave in the empty hutch in the barn, in the cold, twice rejected and feeling like the Bunny no one wanted. So, I kept her in the living room, where she hopped about sedately and would poo on a newpaper in the corner (Bunny would have been a good role model for the small dog, which I am sure, dribbles in that purse, untutored). Bunny seemed to prefer sunflower seeds and oatmeal beyond all else I offered. Bunny was well-behaved and only gnawed on a cable once or twice. I didn't want a pet in the first place, because I am not home so often to care for one, but Bunny turned out to be low-maintainance. She seemed to have a short, happy life but found her dead without warning one morning. One selling-point the friend used on me was that rabbits don't live so long, but I was really devastated in the end. Needless to mention, the missing drivers' license, which is another long, convoluted and cautionary tale, was not in the tin with the oatmeal and the sunflower seeds.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Bigger PeNi5 Guaranteed


Subject: Not Spam -- Important Business Offer!!!

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Yours Faithfully,
Minister of Treasury Paulson

Should you ever want to hide something, bury it in fine-print, just disguise it as spam. No one would give it a second glance.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Dumpster Driving

Over the past few days, I have been helping rearrange the offices on the fourth floor--the Penthouse. There was an embarrassment of musty, untouched papers to sort through, mostly long-retired records and false-starts at organization that were eventually folded. Quite a bit seemed to be folded projects, dox-matrix printer paper, bytes of data stored on 5 1/4" floppy disks that is irretrievable, and long-retired but sacrosanct archives. They say we are all immmortal, at least through our official signatures. It was interesting uncovering this palpimpsest, digging through archeologic tirades--that not much has changed in the interim. The lot of it, excepting the files I thought ought to be saved for the next junking expedition, was sorted and swept away. With this incidental garbage destined for the recycling bin, I wondered would future residents ever know that their busy work was nothing novel--that this or that scheme had been tried before, and it was just good job insurrance to forget. If everything in the government didn't change its name every few years, half the people in the government would not have anything to do. I tried to salvage a few choice information briefs that were eerie bits of presque vu. As I was toting the piles to their separate dumpsters, I remembered a rather depressing fact: the recycling process was much too materially intense to allow such mundane things as a plastic shopping bag be reborn as another shopping bag. Generally, plastic deterius was spun into fiber for cheap clothing and carpet, a steel chassis of an automobile paper-clips, and paper was pretty much only fit for mulching. Perhaps there was a security reason for these limitations of recycling. Office paper wasn't meant to be a slate for more of the same.

Friday, 19 September 2008


Over the past week or so, the weather has taken a sharp turn brisker. People, especially at work since it seems to be socially acceptable common-currency (co-workers talk about stuff like the weather more when they feel compelled, I think, to wilt away from the latest buzz with politics and the economy) complain, and they complain as if the seasons are a brand new phenonmenon, instead of one of the oldest inevitabilities. Personally, I'm never quite prepared for it either and this summer left me asking, "Do we get another?" What surprises me, in addition to this collective amnesia, is how people don't seem to work up to the cold. Dressing in layers is important, but should happen gradually, like one of those nested Russian dolls in reverse. First one should begin with corduroy pants and a light jacket, making a gradual curve to scarves, hats and long underwear. The dreaded overcoat and chemical handwarmers are a last-resort and gauche before mid-January.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Rain Dance

I spoke to my mother, living in Texas, to see how she was weathering the latest spate of hurricanes. She was fine, however, the several evacuees from Galveston she was providing shelter were not. They had lost everything in Hurricane Ike, the storm ramming a ferry over the canal and down the block where they lived. My mother, who was incidentally in the process of selling her home and preparing to move to Europe, said that tensions were high amongst the evacuees, a pair of whom are a gay couple, kept in limbo with FEMA (the US Federal Emergency Management Agency) responses, having lost all their worldly goods--including a fantastic little antique shop. My mother made the real estate agents angry by stopping all viewings of the house, but she didn't want these people to feel more displaced than they already were. If I felt like a refugee, I think I might like to be put on display, tell potential buyers I had squatters' rights or was at least part of the furniture. Amid all the chaos, one partner kept his focus rapt on the television, hoping to see some footage, a fly-over shot--any thing more telling than the stock-scenes replayed of the surf lapping over the floodwalls, which seem more like metaphors (cut to windswept drapes, rather than the steamy bedroom scene) than pictures of a devastated town, or fibrously water-logged beach houses. What coverage the hurricane damage did manage to garner, though, seemed like a great understatement, an uncharacteristic glossing over, and generally made him feel worse. Maybe it's the louder blaring of world stock markets in turmoil, the contest for the US presidential election (which was magnanimously already put on hold once for a natural disaster), or the fact it is happening to my mother's friends, which make it seem as if not enough is being done or at least being said about Ike and Galveston. Could FEMA possibly still betray some embarrassment? Are the pictures and personal losses too horrible to see, especially for a public not only fatigued by bombardments of disaster but also fatigued by facetious shows of unity? My mother believes that the weather is controlled by Dick Cheney. Maybe someone should tell the candidate this is what the vice-president does all day.

Friday, 12 September 2008

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition

I said to H yesterday, "You know, they did catch some actual witches during those trials." I meditated quite a bit over this anniversary of a long global nightmare. It's tragic to realize that many, many people are willing to entertain the most specious of connections and shadows of evidence. Public security has been society's weal for quite some time, but that the average, good and reasonably circumspect person is willing to buy into this suspension of disbelief, like the rapt audience of an absurdist stage play, is astounding. In a few years Iraqis and other subversives may be blamed for a whole range of misfortunes from bad harvests to difficult births. I wonder if those witches were ever blamed for what they were actually at fault for, like for being easy targets, scapegoats, objects of mass-hysteria, distracting people from their true problems, or for not being real.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Mohs scale

Having retrieved the miraculous car from the garage, I've had some time to reflect on my own injuries, lick my wounds, so to say. It's funny how we two, the car and I, are generally twained. The car is running hot and angry any longer, but, and H would agree, being in a stellar mood and of sound health should not be a prerequisite when starting off to work. Or should it? I sustained a terrible burn on my forearm, while trying the state of the boiling raditator--not that it was steaming so dramtically when I pried the cap loose. I thought I had waited long enough for it to cool down, but the cap blew off and was lost with a hot torrent of sticky anti-freeze that clung like Napalm. Of course, the burn should have been he top priority but I was not in any pain, and hours later, catching one glimpse of the ugly blister that hung off my wrist like more reverend testicles, H arranged for a doctor to see me and fix me up. Of course, after several days, it is still healing, though still without any pain. The blister skin peeled away in one great wet scale, revealing the partched, new skin below, blotchy white and pink and plasticene. The lesion, hard and smooth, reminds me of the things around the house made of Melmac and Bakelite, which I think are leagues better than modern, tawdry plastics, and Bakelite and the like are far superior in certain ways, like for insulating and heat resistance. I'll show it off, my arm, and people squirm, insisting it must hurt a lot. It doesn't though, and I wonder at my high threshhold for pain. It certainly contributes to my shoddy record of taking care of myself--I don't dislike the idea of potential pain or bad news from the doctor but moreover the bother of it all. Looking at my resined arm, I wonder if tolerance like that is purely mental, bloddy-mindedness, or is also some measure of material property. Like Mohrs scale of hardness (diamond--err, that'll be a ten and baby powder, we'll make that one), I am sure it would be very subjective.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Come Josephine in my Flying Machine

Last week H and I trekked to the slopes of the highest summit in the region and hiked about a bit. Though apparently more popular for winter sports, this turned out to be an amazingly jaunty place, like punting on the Thames and badminton and fancy, fully-equipped picnic baskets, with not only beautiful views and families flying kites and running radio-controlled model airplanes, but it also boasted a UNESCO heritage site for the nature reserve and the world's oldest glider school and a recreational airport. Sport aircraft were buzzing back and forth and towing gliders into the sky over the swarms of kites and toy planes. We see some pretty neat stuff, I must say. (Those hapless people who were messing up my shot are neither H nor myself--just my shadow in the foreground.)

Friday, 5 September 2008

Idle Fridays--Your Tax Dollars at Work

Come to think of it, I always did manage to get myself in trouble on Snow Days, and pretty much any other time I was left to my own devices. There is only a hint of a waning summer left, and I think people this afternoon have abandoned the idea of working. And at the risk of jinxing this peace, I'd venture that it is rarely this quiet. I wonder what pattern, series of insults, deadlines and mounting tasks ultimately lead to this sort of afternoon when people skip out early. I was never one to just disappear, but maybe that is the safer route, since in a more controlled-environment, one tends to become more and more creative in finding ways to incriminate oneself. There is discovering blogging, for example, and really testing the tolerance of your company's nannying software, not to mention those more ambitious projects with the inherited files and binders of uncertain provenance. It is less often, in my experience, than one would expect--certainly not every week, regardless of how routine one's job might be. It is the collusion of an appropriately spaced holiday that makes for a shorter week, the weather, a dodged bullet, and a dozen other factors coming together, that make for afternoon like this. I should make myself scarce, too, before prying into the next can of worms.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

I am so happy--in fact, I think I'll have to blog about it!

A few days ago, the miraculous car decided to give out on me, and despite my poor bed-side manners and the mental "do not Resuscitate" bumper-sticker that I had being meaning to add, I've decided to try to haved it mended. That, I am sure, is an expensive proposition, and it illustrates the strange sort of attachment that people have for their cars. I've managed to imbue with not only a sort of long-suffering personality, but more over with a kind of family of characters: the talking navigator has his own distinct selfhood, as does the little notebook where I make lists and jot down things that I might like to blog about and always forget and leave beside the passenger seat. Those accessories could only go with this car. In the interim, I can't fret over too much, and rented a bouncy little Smart, a smug vehicle that's made me a measure more daring when it comes to parking closer to my front door. I'm waiting for a Jetsons' flying car before I'm willing to put this one to pasture.