Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Barbara Kingsolver's Animal Dreams is one of the three to five best books I've read since I started reviewing here. Great stuff. I especially found the you can't go home again stuff compelling, even if she could while I ultimately couldn't. This book falls generally into a subgenre dealing with indigenous peoples that has recurred in my reading from The List, but instead of Mexicans or Mexican-Americans, in this book it's primarily Puebloes and Navajoes. This is also one of those books about sisters, but whereas most of them just assume guys won't be able to access the relationship so they don't even try, this one actually gave some insight into all of that. It also deals with political action on global and local scale, cowardice, over-education (I perked up here), and the persistence or extinction of ancient ways. It's an excellent novel, and since the original point of reading fro The List was to read some new authors, I'm reasonably confident I will be picking up more Barbara Kingsolver.

One of these days I'm going to get around to talking about work, which could be a very long entry, but that won't come until we get a new hard drive at home or everyone at work leaves at 5:30 on a day where I'm here until 6:30.

Monday, April 28, 2003

If anyone's been trying to email me, I apologize that technical problems at home have practically kept me away from my Yahoo mail for a week or so. At work, anything involving logging on to Yahoo is blocked for virus-related reasons. At home, we have two computers. One has been volatile for a while, subject to crash every 20 minutes or so. The other one decided about 11 days ago to take its ball and go home, so we won't be on it until we replace the hard drive. So I am limited to my friend Crashy. And if that isn't enough, Crashy has been less volatile, but as a trade off decided it was no longer interested in mouse functionality. Tabbing through a Windows environment in general is not fun. More specifically, try tabbing through the Yahoo mail template and see how quickly you become one of those quiet people who ends up mowing down the neighbors. To avoid that sort of thing, I'm only reading the most pressing of emails for the moment.

If you actually want me to read and respond to email you send me, for the time being send it here.

Friday, April 25, 2003

Some random thoughts that occurred to me sometime between 5:30 a.m. this morning and just this minute:

  • Has there ever been a rapper named MC Escher? Shouldn't there be?
  • In a theoretical Craig Barker style music tournament to determine the best Dead Teenager song, I would hope the final four would be Last Kiss (not the Pearl Jam version), Tell Laura I Love Her, Leader of the Pack, and Dead Man's Curve.
  • Barring people I liked solely for breast-related reasons, Rob from the current season might be my favorite Survivor of all time. He's a weasel-y little guy with no survival skills, he's hilarious, he's the talking head go-to guy in a way never seen before except for Michael Ian Black and Hal Sparks on VH-1's "I Love the '80s", and he's playing exactly the way I've always thought the game should be played--as manipulatively and back-stabbingly as possible. That said, if he makes the final 2, he may be the first person ever to lose unanimously in the finals.
  • While I'm on the subject, this has been a great Survivor if only for this reason: in each of the past several seasons there has been a moment where some group of people got cocky about the "inevitability" of their alliance's success, only to have it all unravel. This season that has happened on at least three separate occasions!! Most notably, Deena angered the Survivor gods in a beat-the-love-goddess-in-a-beauty-contest kind of a way when at least once a week she felt the need to look into the camera and proclaim that she controlled the game. Then she tries to convince everyone to turn on her most popular teammate. HELLO?!
  • If I had to name a favorite piece of instrumental music and was barred from choosing any surf rock, I guess I'd have to go with the Maple Leaf Rag. The closest thing to music theory I've ever learned is the AABBACCDD structure of ragtime songs, and I love actually being able to pick that out.
  • If I was allowed to choose surf rock, I'd probably go with The Ventures' "Telstar".
  • OK, I love football. Not like, not enjoy--love. I used to go to high school football games and actually watch the game. For four years (and, hopefully, counting) I went to the bar at 9:45 a.m. every Sunday for a third of the year to watch Steeler games, often after watching 6-12 hours of college ball the previous day. I love football.
    That said, I may actually love the NFL draft even more. I don't study it extensively, I don't go out and buy draft guides or pretend like I know anything about guys picked in the fifth round, but I love speculating about the first round and the Steelers' strategy, and I could easily watch all 10 hours of ESPN's Saturday coverage. It's my favorite sporting event that's not actually a game, and probably in my top five overall.
    I have no idea how things will play out, but here's my best guess for the top ten:
    1. Carson Palmer--Cincinnati
    2. Charles Rogers--Detroit
    3. DeWayne Robertson--Dallas (trade)
    4. Andre Johnson--Jets
    5. Terence Newman--Houston (trade)
    6. Marcus Trufant--Arizona
    7. Jimmy Kennedy--Minnesota
    8. Byron Leftwich--Jacksonville
    9. Terrell Suggs--Carolina
    10. Jordan Gross--Baltimore

    I'm just changing up a few things from conventional wisdon to be different, but I could see all of this happening. I hope the Steelers end up with Troy Polamalu, Kyle Boller, Rex Grossman, or Willis McGahee, but I doubt it--Andre Woolfolk seems much more likely. I think Onterrio Smith will be one of the more underrated players. McGahee will go in the first ten picks of the second round. Chris Simms will drop like a rock, and pity the team that gets him. One of Kliff Kingsbury, Seneca Wallace, and Brian St. Pierre will be the closest thing to a Tom Brady out of this year's draft--the more I think about it, the more I think St. Pierre might be that guy. Mel Kiper's hair will not move tomorrow. That last thing, and Carson Palmer, are about the only predictions I'd take to the bank from all of this.
  • Though not the best player, the best name in the draft is uncontested: Nnamdi Asomugha.

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

I went to my cousin Amy's viewing last night. Since I will be at work for the funeral, in my mind we buried her last night. One of the hundred little things that made this so tragic was that Amy had been doing a very nice job of building a successful small business; last night, she was on display there.

Most funeral homes seem to have a back room, a public room I mean, but one that is away from the rooms that display bodies, flowers, etc.--a room where mourners can get away from other mourners and all reminders of the deceased for a few minutes, maybe get some coffee, and unwind a little before going back into the breach. This is a necessary and appropriate room to have. The effect, however, is lost when the diplomas, certifications, and permits on the walls of that room all bear the name of the deceased.

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

I've been seriously neglecting my book reviewing duties, so here goes:

  • James Ellroy's The Black Dahlia. I enjoyed this much more than the previous Ellroy I read, which was White Jazz. I suspect I may eventually work my way through all his books; I've already picked up The Big Nowhere, and L.A. Confidential is on The List. Dahlia was better than Jazz because it didn't get to the ridiculously serpentine level that made the latter so frustrating that I felt I should be taking notes. I like the whole hard-boiled L.A. detective genre, and of course it's always fun recognizing place names and whatnot.
  • Horace McCoy's They Shoot Horses Don't They?. The movie version is arguably one of my three favorite films, period (along with A Fish Called Wanda and Pulp Fiction, though I'm probably forgetting something). The book ain't chopped liver, but at about 100 pages it's just enough to whet your appetite without being totally satisfactory. If you have to choose, watch the movie--even though it might actually take more time. This is the story of a Depression Era dance marathon that takes the downtrodden and breaks them down even further. This movie will teach you in two hours why social historians spend years studying popular culture. The book's OK; McCoy is a second-tier author of hard-boiled '30s and '40s fiction and I'll probably pick him up again, but after seeing the movie it's a complete afterthought.
  • Robert Darnton's The Great Cat Massacre. Subtitled "And Other Episodes in French Cultural History", this book is mildly notorious in my mind for very history grad student-specific reasons. If you look at the footnotes of any sociocultural American history written (by an actual academic--I never count the stuff you'd find in Waldenbooks) in the last 15 years or so, there are 3 European history books you'll always find in the footnotes. This is one, and I laughed out loud when I saw that amazon.com's first two "Customers who bought this book also bought:" suggestions are the other two. These books are allegedly in the footnotes as methodological inspiration, but they're actually there so that the author can point to them when accused of being a parochial Americanist who never reads outside his/her own field. What else do these books have in common? They're relatively short and they're playful--and, to be fair, they do provide some methodological guidance in researching popular culture in the literal sense of the culture of the populus, especially in pre-modern times.
    The actual essays in this book seem to be arranged in order from most to least interesting to the general reader. The first essay is a fascinating look at the difference between French, German, and English fairy tales; anyone who grew up on Mother Goose will find parts of this very cool, parts of it very disturbing, and most of those to be the same parts. The second, titular essay asks why 18th-century workers in a print shop found the murder of several cats (including their boss's) and its dramatic reenactment to be uproariously funny. The methodological premise is a good one--if you don't get the joke from a pervious culture, trying to figure out why the joke was funny there and then is a good window into understanding the culture. However, the essay becomes one of those tedious efforts to find worker resistance in every little act dating back millenia. It's downhill from there--essays on the Encyclopedia and on one voracious reader of Rousseau are of little interest to anyone who doesn't study pre-Revolutionary France. I heartily recommend the fairy tale essay, and some may enjoy the cats; the rest should remain relegated to the footnotes of history (books).
  • Robert Olen Butler's Tabloid Dreams. I received this as a wedding favor at Bill and Terri's nuptials back in October, and I finally got around to reading it on the New York trip. This is a short story collection with the story ideas and titles taken from supermarket tabloid headlines. This is hit or miss--the stories about the nine-year-old hit man, the Titanic survivor reincarnated inside a waterbed, and the woman with the alien lover stand out as moving well past the premise and into interesting ground of their own right. Many of the others seem like real stretches to fit the theme, particularly the other Titanic story, which doesn't even really fit with its own title. I haven't reading Butler's Pulitzer-winning A Good Scent From a Strange Mountain, but if you're going to pick him up, I'd start there rather than here.

OK, that should catch us up--hopefully back to general interest blog mode, minus the depressing stuff, next time.

Monday, April 21, 2003

Fear not, dear readers, the Beallsvonian behind The Beallsvonian is alive and well, has not been hit by a bus*, and is back in the blogosphere for your amusement--laughing with, laughing at, laughing near, whatever. We had some alcohol-related difficulties on Wednesday, technical difficulties on Thursday, and out-of-town related absence from Thursday until late last night, but we are back and as good as ever, or at worst a mediocre shell of our former selves but continuing to keep on keeping on.

The visit to the New York side of the family was pleasant as always. We catch up and eat good food, which is nice. On the downside, no one is closer to my age than 40 or 13, and that gap causes some issues, mainly boredom. I ended spending a good part of the weekend hanging out in a group where no one else was under 59. But it's a nice quiet time, and I also got to catch up on a lot of sleep, at a rate of about 10 hours per night.

On a somber note, however, I woke up Sunday morning to hear from my mom that her sister had called from home with the news that my 2nd cousin Amy had shockingly gone into labor, "thrown a blood clot" (I'm not sure what this means), and neither the premature baby nor the mother survived the delivery. Now this was not someone any of us in my immediate family were particularly close to, but it was crushing for several reasons. One is that we are very close to some people she was very close to, and as it sunk in how hard they'll be taking this it only got more depressing. Two is that not since my maternal grandmother passed at Christmastime in 1978 had we had a surprising death in the family--anyone who has died has either died at a very advanced age or after a prolonged illness. Three is that it happened Easter morning, which threatens to cloud that holiday for years to come, just as Christmas was clouded for years by my grandmother's death. Fourth, and finally, this was the first person in my extended family of my generation to go (she was 34), which can't help but be sobering.

Sorry for the bummer, but sometimes this space is more for the writer than the readers; hopefully we'll have a lighter tone next time.

*My boss is morbidly obsessed with the idea of someone getting hit by a bus, as she constantly admonishes us to think in terms of, "If we were all hit by a bus tomorrow, would someone be able to figure out what we've been doing, and how to proceed." If she comes in late in the morning, I tell her I was starting to think this was the day the bus got her.

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

I take the "T", which is part trolley/part subway/part el, into work every morning, and one thing just kills me every day. Actually, it's two manifestations of the same phenomenon. The first part happens at the park-and-ride lot every morning. I always see people comically running to catch the train--people in serious businesswear, people you couldn't imagine running in any other context period. "Why does this kill me?" you ask. Because during rush hour the T comes approximately every four minutes. Really, people, wait it out. It'll be OK.

The second manifestation comes on the escalator when we arrive, where many people are bolting up and then practically power-walking off to the office. People, you're going to freakin' work. Take it easy. Those extra 30 seconds are not going to make or break the big deal. I first noticed this second part in DC when I interned years ago on Capitol Hill. Why do these people multiply the aggravation of their morning commute by stressing out over every last second? I actually find a few moments to gather myself on the platform or the escalator to be relaxing; take a deep breath, folks, the rest of your day will be stressful enough...

Monday, April 14, 2003

In response to the allegations of the Beallsvonian's Michigan/scholastic issues/contest coordinator correspondent, I can neither confirm nor deny my involvement in this. If asked, however, I would be willing to be the local campaign manager for Los Straitjackets for Congress.

Sunday, April 13, 2003

I worked 55 hours this week. Combine that with 3 hours a day commuting, and it's always the blog that suffers.

I spent much of the weekend with Bill and Terri, both of whom are Carnegie Mellon grads, and I crashed at their place Friday and Saturday nights. CMU's annual carnival is this weekend, highlighted by a They Might Be Giants concert and by Buggy. We failed in our efforts to see TMBG, because the show was moved from a wide open area for all to a small gymnasium for those willing to stand in a long line for a lonf time. So Friday we just went to the young alumni reception (I was a paying guest), and then went back to their place and watched Fast Times At Ridgemont High. Mmmm...Phoebe Cates.

Buggy started early Saturday morning. Bill was out of the house by 6:45, while Terri and I left at a more reasonable 7:30. Buggy is difficult to explain, but basically take a college student 5-foot-2 or less and 100 lbs. or less (almost inevitably, thus, female) and shove them into an aerodynamic engineless vehicle with an extended bar in the back for pushing. Have two people (in series, not parallel) shove her up a big hill, then have her steer down a bigger hill going around 40 miles per hour, finally have two more pushers take them in to the finish line.

In short, imagine a relay race with a human baton, and a big street luge in the middle.

The most inexplicable part of Buggy for those of us who didn't go to CMU is not the 40 mph plunge down the hill that involves narrowly missing a big public statue, but rather the incredible number of hours put in for months at a time by a team of mechanics leading up to race day. I suppose it's one of those labors of love that anyone not involved in could never understand, so I won't cast any aspersions, because god knows how many hours I spent on quiz-bowl and at The Pitt News in college.

But anyway, I went to Buggy for the first time this year, because Bill and Tom have been telling me for years to go, because the rest of the weekend sounded like fun, and because I was legitimately curious. As expected, I found one race interesting, a couple of races mildly interesting, and then the interest quickly wore off. So I left around 10 a.m., took a quick detour through a Carnegie Museum exhibit I'd been wanting to see for a while, and then went to work. I put in seven hours there, then went to dinner with Bill, Terri, and some of their CMU friends.

The day was building toward the Buggy party in the evening, where current and alumni members of the SDC (Student Dormitory Council, I think) team celebrated third-place finishes in the men's and women's divisions. To put it mildly, I got hammered out of my gourd at this party. I had been a long time since I had gotten that drunk, and I'm not sure exactly why. Part of the reason is that Bill was bartending and using big red plastic cups, so I was drinking a bit more than I realized. But I had made a conscious decision in advance that I was going on a bender. Maybe being back at a college party just got me in the mood, or maybe I was drinking because I realized just how far removed I am from college. But mostly it was a happy drunk, which is good because when I drink heavily I can go into either outgoing mode or sullen mode. This time I was basically outgoing. Some theoretical observer watching me might look askance at describing my behavior as "outgoing", but the fact of the matter is I am painfully shy in a crowd full of strangers, especially at a party, and the fact that I eventually did start talking to and even flirting with people suggests serious alcohol-related loss of inhibition.

This morning, on the other hand, was not good times. Jerry Seinfeld's vomit streak was substantially longer than mine, but I had a pretty good one going until about 6 a.m. this morning, and then a much much shorter one that lasted until about 11 a.m. in Starbucks. I would rank that purge as tall, not grande or venti, but it still counts. I am now up to a good five and a half hours, and hopefully this one will continue in the days, weeks, months, and years to come. I've also been dealing with a pesky low-grade headache all day, though a nap after I drove home helped substantially. Not surprisingly, I react worse at 28 than I did at 22 (or, OK , 16) to this type of binge.

Was it worth it? At Starbucks I probably would've said no, but I did have fun Saturday, and it's not like my sloth today has ruined any big plans. So yeah, as a once in a great while thing, I guess it was.

Of course, that could change deciding on how much Bill decides to tell the world about the evening...

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

Three quick items on my "lunch" break:

  1. Work will get more interesting in the next few days. Some deadline pressure has scrapped the current project, and I'm now doing other things. For instance, starting tomorrow I will actually be supervising other temps. Did I mention this is my 14th day here? The new person or people will have the exciting job of Bates numbering. Yes, putting numbers on pages one at a time. Eight hours a day. This, my friends, is a negative reference group.
  2. Let's all welcome Bill to the blogosphere. In addition to walking for MS and playing Burn Rate, Bill is a board game aficianado, and you can tell he grew up within 30 miles of the Mason-Dixon Line (one town over from Beallsville, in fact) because he likes both hockey and NASCAR. But don't hold any of that against him, because he's a professional writer, so I expect good things from this blog.
  3. I'm upset at The Athletic Reporter this week. Oh, sure, it's got the high-quality content we've come to expect, but this week's issue violates its pledge to make everything up.

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

I thought I'd post a little bit more about my job now that I understand the scope of my confidentiality agreement better, and now that a number of you have asked. (Yes, zero is technically a number.) The background on my case, as it has been presented to me, is this: In the 1940s and '50s and well into the 1960s, any number of corporations were unwittingly polluting the environment in any number of ways. I'm not talking about Big Steel turning the noontime sky in Pittsburgh black or anything; rather, this is the type of pollution that comes primarily from seepage away from man-made bodies of liquid that were specifically created to contain waste runoff. In the '60s and '70s environmental regulation came into being and these companies were charged with cleaning up the messes they had created or contributed to. So there were sites on company properties that needed to be cleaned up, as well as dumpsites for which no one company was uniquely responsible, but many companies contributed to polluting. For the latter sites, so-called "Superfunds" were created with companies contributing to the cleanup effort in the proportion to which they used the site.

Now, I'm sure there's more to all this, and maybe some of what I've said so far isn't totally accurate, but basically that's my framework for understanding this whole thing.

Anyway, our client Company X polluted or contributed to the pollution of about five dozen sites. Now, since corporations are amorphous, changing things, this gets complicated. Some of the pollution was done by subsidiaries, some by companies Company X bought only after the polluting took place, some of it discovered only after the relevant subsidiary was sold off, etc. etc. But anyway, as far as I can tell all the sites in question for this case have been cleaned up or are on their way to being cleaned up.

Company X is not unique in this situation, as many companies have had to clean up various sites in this way as well. At some point in the '80s, one of these companies figured out that since it did not realize that it was polluting at the time (at least in some instances), they should file a property damage claim with their insurance companies to cover the cleanup effort. Many other companies, including Company X, thought this was a great idea, and that gets us up to today.

So what it boils down to is that I'm working for the law firm that is working to get Company X's insurers to pay for all or some of the cleanup around numerous sites in many states over the course of decades. Within the last two days I have seen relevant documents from 1999 and from 1913. My bailiwick is the 1,100 boxes of documents produced by various law firms, companies, subsidiaries, et al for the purposes of this case. Assume a box contains about 2800 pages, which is about average. Now, out of those boxes, we are particularly concerned with 47 culled from the other c. 1,053, because these boxes are being shared with opposing counsel in the near future to be examined by experts.

These 47x2800 pages have been imaged onto CDs, 12 CDs in all. Fortunately, my predecessor had the almost unthinkable task of indexing these documents page by page, document by document, site by site, box by box. Now, as part of the imaging process every page of every document is given a "Bates number"--a unique identifier starting at 00000001 and going up for purposes of this case. (Some of these documents are on their third or fourth set of Bates numbers, having been through a variety of lawsuits.) I now have the only slightly more thinkable task of identifying the Bates number range for each document, and in the process double-checking the index and making sure no documents protected by attorney-client privilege have slipped through the cracks. I will probably spend about 50 hours this week doing exactly that.

The paralegal I'm working for (I thus consider myself a paraparalegal) swears that at some point the work will get more stimulating. Good lord and butter I hope so. But for the time being I'm still cruising on the whole "being downtown" euphoria; that, Internet streaming radio, and the Flavia machine will hopefully see me through.

Monday, April 07, 2003

We resort to unnumbered list format today, as we have a variety of things to get to:

  • I am excited about the John Calipari rumor. I am somewhat less excited about the Skip Prosser rumor. I like both ideas better than turning the reins over to an unproven assistant. And before you harp about Calipari's relative lack of success at his last two jobs, keep this in mind: He took an Atlantic-10 team to a number one ranking and a Final Four. Let that sink in for a minute, then read it again. It's pretty remarkable.
  • You know you're listening to college radio when it you hear, "And that was [???], a '70s Ethiopian funk band, followed by Glen Campbell with "Arkansas."" Yes, folks, that was an actual transition I heard on WXYC out of Chapel Hill over the Internet at work on Friday. I also got to hear about five-minute of William S. Burroughs reading from "Junky" on KXLU (out of Loyola Marymount) today.
  • My dad will be the proudest Syracuse alum in all of Beallsville if that game turns out right tonight. Being the only one, of course, doesn't hurt.
  • I volunteered at Pitt's high school quiz-bowl tourney this past Saturday. I enjoyed myself more this time for whatever reason, but it did not make me long to get back to active involvement in quiz-bowl. I may post more thoughts on this soon.
  • Tales of the City may not be a great book, but for something with a supposedly "cult" following, it has a remarkably wide appeal. I was really taken by it. Even if you can't relate to the pre-AIDS promiscuity and the specifics of San Francisco, you will be hard pressed not to identify with some or all of the newcomers to the big city, the jaded veterans, the bored executives, the underemployed drones, the jilters and the jilted. I could've done without the D'Orothea storyline (especially its hokey resolution), and as befits an episodic book like this one, I felt that some storylines were left hanging. I don't know that I'll rush out to get the sequels to get them resolved, but I enjoyed this enough that I may seek them out eventually. Also, this is a very convenient book for episodic reading, such as on the T.
  • I'm hoping to work 9 and 10 hour days and some 6-day weeks in order to help save up for the big exodus, so blogging may suffer for a while. Of course I've threatened a dropoff on other occasions with no noticeable changes, so watch this space...

Sunday, April 06, 2003

I've added a new link on the left to pH7media.com, which is a sister-site of sorts to the Athletic Reporter. This site has bloggish qualities, but I wouldn't call it a blog because it is clearly a more professional site than what I would put under that category. I checked out this site because it showed up in the sites referring to the Beallsvonian, and it was worth it. As you might imagine, the writing on a site named pH7 is neither basic nor acidic. It is, however, funny in places, serious in others, and smart in both. Jameson is a regular Erle Stanley Gardner. Well, maybe he's Erle Stanley Gardner, but he's not exactly...--explore the site if you want to know what that means.

I do also need to clear something up here, though. When first plugging The Athletic Reporter, I was grasping at straws to try to designate a particular relationship and I referred to Jameson (apparently to his great amusement) as a "solid acquaintance". I'm not sure where I pulled that term, but part of it had to do with Mr. Mulder's email to me, in which he said something along the lines of "My friend Jameson and I..." were putting together this new website, as if--had he just said "Jameson"--I would've been all confused, wondering who or what this "Jameson" was. In fact, I have probably had two dozen social encounters with him, some lasting several hours, some even involving Patton Oswalt. But Joe put doubt into my head about just how well I knew this fellow. Also, until I poked around his website, I didn't actually know Jameson's last name (which, to save you the trouble, turns out to be "Simmons"). These factors combined to make me refer to that duo as "a good friend of mine and a good friend of his who is at least a solid acquaintance of mine", instead of "two friends of mine" or the like.

So, once and for all, I would like to take this opportunity to clarify the actual relationship between myself and Jameson Simmons. We are not, in fact, "solid acquaintances". We are, in fact, identical twins separated at birth and raised apart as part of a complex sociobiology experiment, as should be patently obvious to anyone who has ever seen us together.

Of course, I can't prove it to those of you who haven't, because we are not close enough for me to have the password to his photo gallery.

Friday, April 04, 2003

The Beallsvonian's Chicago correspondent checked in today with a sighting of our favorite meme.

I had some software training today with our of the firm's computer-type people, Mary Mallon. This may not strike most of you as the least bit odd. However, I did a field in medical history in which I had to read this book, and so when I hear "Mary Mallon" I think of this.

We've added a new utility here at The Beallsvonian, in the bottom left hand corner of the page, if it works. Given how often I already check the "Documents referring to this page," it is, indeed, fraught.

Thursday, April 03, 2003

The dictionary definition of a mixed blessing: a five-minute walk from work, in Market Square, is a place that sells a fine gyro, a large order of fries, and a fountain drink for $4.25.

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

The Beallsvonian does have an occasional serious side, and today we'd like it if you would all email our friend Bill and give him some money because he's walking this weekend for MS, and that's a great cause. (Actually, if I have this right, he's walking against MS, which come to think of it is a much better cause.) Every little bit helps--or at least I hope so, anyway, because I only gave a little bit. So if you do, tell him The Beallsvonian sent you.

I finished another book, though it's almost not worth mentioning. I read Tony Kornheiser's I'm Back For More Cash, which is a collection of Washington Post Sunday Living section columns. Kornheiser is a good writer, funny in a variety of ways ranging from very clever wordplay and reference humor but also with some real, well, Kornball humor--and he can also get serious, as he does in some of the columns about his father (who dies in the course of this run of columns) or his daughter (who goes off to college). For me, though, I'd rather get my dose of Mr. Tony through PTI or his radio show, which is clah-ssic.

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

Besides, you know, getting paid and all, the best thing about my job may be the presence of this thing.

Two quick things I can't believe I forgot to post last night:
1. Maybe grad school didn't ruin me for life; maybe I was just born that way. Example: last Friday I came across a Dave Barry blog entry (the link for which is now broken, so I'll give this one instead) that contained the words "silly things" and "happening". As a result, for the next five hours--and intermittently ever since--I've had the theme song stuck in my head for a show I haven't seen in about 20 years. As Ben would tell me--SEEK HELP!! Then again, maybe it isn't just me.
2. Yesterday as I was walking into the building, I overheard a snippet of conversation between two security guards at the front desk. The older guy, who may be the other guy's boss, was saying to him in a stern lecturing kind of time, "You know, I've always thought of us as a good team. My weaknesses are your strengths and my strengths..." and then I was behind my little door. But I couldn't help but wondering what kind of strengths and weaknesses security guards who man a front desk could have. Is one guy good at making sure people sign in, but the other guy does a better job looking at the security monitor? One guy is always yelling at people entering the building for no good reason, while the other one actively encourages people to take weapons up to floor 21? What's the deal here?