Meet Tubby

Meet Tubby

This is Tubby, our new cat. We acquired him from my sister, who is afraid he might eat her new son or something. At any rate, Tubby spent the weekend settling in and talking up a storm.

We keep accidentally calling him Toby, which will probably eventually morph into
Tobias Walton.

Away To Germantown

Away To GermantownHad to toodle up to Germantown today for a client assessment. I expected it to take longer, so I have an hour to waste. Luckily, there is a new Federal Statute that demands that no two square miles of our fine country suffer the sadness of an absence of Starbucks (with wireless).

It took me less time to get here (from Greenbelt) than to get to Tysons Corner most work days.

This fine sculpture, located outside the Starbucks, is not enough to keep the old folks down on the farm. The place was swarming with an older generation of people gathering their hot chocolates and waiting for a bus to take them to see the Christmas decorations in Norfolk. Good luck to them.

All Thumbs

All Thumbs How about that? The thumb drive was sent through both the washing machine and the dryer. Water and heat. I carefully started my laptop and inserted the thumb drive...

It immediately powered up and all of my files were accessible. I quickly copied them to the laptop for safekeeping and stood in awe at this little device's resilience.

The thumbdrive is pictured here on my new notebook. Boy, my handwriting is terrible.

Out of ConText

This blog contains material about Taleswapper's Life. Taleswapper's Life is a theory, not a fact, regarding the entertainment of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered.

Good News, Bad News

Well, the good news is that my notebook really was at headquarters and is now safely with me again.

The bad news is that I left my thumb drive in my pocket, and said pocket was washed and dried. Stay tuned to see if the thing works or not. I haven't tried yet, but I'm betting not.

Oh, Great Googly-Moogly

What Did Taleswapper Forget Today?

If Blogger had that organizational feature I see on some blogs (the one where you create categories of entries that can be accessed from one page), I'd have to create a folder for my lamentable forgetfulness. Right after bragging about buying a new notebook, I left said notebook in our headquarters office yesterday. At least, I hope that's where I left it. I don't know when I'll be able to get to the headquarters office again.

Dang.

Metro Continues to Disintegrate Before Our Eyes

Ugh. Don't complain to your bus driver about brats who eat on the bus or about his use of mobile technology while driving:

The bus driver then stopped in the middle of Connecticut Avenue and cussed both of us some more and ordered us off "his" bus. He used the f-word a few more times and really started to frighten people.

He then shouted at the lady that it was his expletive cell phone and that he expletive pays for it and that he will talk on it anytime he wants.


The link is to a Washington Post article. If you don't want to set up an account, go here first.

New

You probably don't care, but I bought some new stuff!

A New Notebook

Oh, and it is fine fine fine. It has orange and yellow stripes and a lion. It is the New York Public Library Student Journal:
Let's face it, student life can be a whirlwind of experiences amid a blur of activity. Inspiration can come from a chance meeting, an exciting book, or that special teacher. The New York Public Library Student Journal is a new way to record your thoughts, ideas, and memories about people, school, and life in general.
I doubt it will be that exciting, but I do like having grid paper instead of blank or lined. I just hope I don't lose it. My theory is that if I have a bright enough notebook, I'll notice its absence. Yeah, right.

A New Wheel

Tired of purchasing new spokes every six weeks, I decided to spring for a new back wheel for my bicycle. It's nothing exotic, but I am hoping it will be a little more robust. It turns out that I bought such a cheap bike in Scotland, that I have little choice in replacement wheels. If I want a fancy new wheel with special nipples and hand-threading and such, I also would have to buy a new gear-set and maybe a new chain and maybe a new derailleur. Maybe a new headlight, too, what do I know?

Right now, it's very shiny.

Friends Kabob

Friends Kabob

But will Monica and Chandler be there?

Old Europe

To say I was a little nervous about Sunday night was a lot like saying Eisenhower was a little concerned on D-Day. After my fourth pace around the first floor and my fifth exhortation to the Brunette (in my best Basil Fawlty voice) to "not mention the war!" she herded me to a dining room chair and forced me to sit.

"I know you are nervous," she said soothingly. "But it is your Great Aunt Iva's birthday, and this is what she wanted to do."

"But Great Uncle Leadbelly was in the War!" I said. I did calm down a little, though. When the Brunette plays along with my imaginary relatives, I can cope somewhat better (although when I start to think about how wiggy I must have been to get her to talk as if my Great Aunt and Uncle really exist...)The truth of the matter was that Leadbelly's service was not entirely clear, even to the extent of being sure which war he fought.

On the other hand, I was also worried about Great Aunt Iva's "playful" streak, which Leadbelly generally calls "downright nasty." I knew she picked a German restaurant just to get under her brother's skin. As it turned out, however, we made it all the way through the entrees without major interruption. Old Europe (on Wisconsin Avenue in the District) had all the tack ornamentation one wants from a German theme park -- heavy-framed paintings, hanging model Bismarck ships, cuckoo clocks, and miniature deer skulls.

Not only that, but the food was pretty good, too. The gulasch had a nice flavor and the bratwurst was delicious.

Leadbelly's good behavior seemed to be getting under Great Aunt Iva's skin. I suppose she had expected fireworks, but Leadbelly refused to oblige. Even her praise of German workmanship went unheeded. She sat with a strained smile through the last half of dinner and our round of presents. Leadbelly's natural animosity to "the enemy" was utterly non-existent.

She gave up all pretense of smiling completely when Great Uncle Leadbelly went over to sing along with the blind woman at the piano -- old German love songs and homages to drinking, no doubt. And when Leadbelly got the whole room going in a German rendition of Happy Birthday to You, Great Aunt Iva ran crying from the room, taking refuge in the ladies room.

When Leadbelly returned to the table for Strudel and Black Forest cake, I was feeling confident that all thought of the war was ought of his head. I asked if he was enjoying himself. He leaned over to me, looked over each shoulder, and whispered to me.

"Not really," he said, though his eyes twinkled. "It's just like during the war." Then he went on to whisper a long story about spying behind enemy lines. The story went on and on and on. By the end of it, I was completely bored out of my skull, so much so that I couldn't see straight. Eventually, Great Aunt Iva returned to the table and Leadbelly sat back in his chair. Iva had a mischievous grin.

"So, Leadbelly -- " she started. I immediately interrupted with a shout: "Don't mention the war!"

The Lady or the Tiger

When I saw the shelter cats licking their fur, I remembered to tell the Brunette that I had decided to become obsessive about hand washing. She looked up from the flea-specked white one whose ears she had been tickling and asked, "why?"

"Well, because of flu season and all," I said lamely. It seemed a little weird to say I wanted to have something to talk about at parties. I patted a tabby on its head. Bits of litter fell off his coat.

Some time ago, I realized that the only purpose in our daily existence is the collection of anecdotes. As social creatures, our sole duty is to gather these experiences together and distribute them to others during social gatherings. In this way, one can lead a "purpose-driven" life instead of a "tv-driven" life.

None of the shelter cats met our strict criteria (total and undying devotion and worship) on Saturday, but we did fill out the pre-approval application to ease the process in the future. The application process involves a possible house inspection, detailed interview, something about electronic tracking devices implanted in our skin, and, of course, wads of money.

"Isn't this a bit intrusive?" I wanted to know. My voice rose to a keening wail on the "-ive" bit.

"Oop, better go get something to eat," the Brunette responded. It always seems like she wants to eat right when I'm about to get wound up good and tight.

I suppose, though, I was a little hungry.

The closest eatery we could locate was the Crown Cafeteria, one of those ubiquitous DC-area sandwich shops aspiring to (but not quite accomplishing) deli-hood. The Brunette, who had washed hands twice since handling the cats at the shelter, asked if I was going soft on the OCD so soon. I looked at her with that loveable puzzled expression I so often imagine myself to adopt. What was she--? Oh, yeah! I remembered: I was supposed to be obsessing about hand washing. So, I asked the counterkeeper the location of the restrooms. She pointed down a narrow hall behind the drink cooler.

I toddled down the passage. It ended at two doors, both of which bore hand-written paper signs. One sign read "Ladies." The other sign read "Employees Only." So, I stood staring at these doors for some time, frozen with the lack of choices that fit my needs. (I promise this is the last election reference I make this year!) I couldn't find any reason to move forward, so I finally returned to our table, defeated.

"What's wrong?" she asked.

"My choices are 'Ladies' and 'Employees Only'," I told her, sad to have lost so easily.

"Oh, dear, and what are you going to talk about at parties?" she shook her head and asked.

She had a point! So, I jumped up and walked down that hall with renewed vigor. I boldly opened the door, walked in, and washed my hands. I easily overcame one fear to freely give into my newly acquired compulsion. And nobody accosted me. No alarm bells sounded.

Then, as I dried my hands, I cried out: "Wait a dad-blamed minute! I never told her about discussing my OCD at parties!"

Squuby

He does it so we don't have to.

The September Country?

I can feel Autumn coming on, with its creeping cold tendrils, especially as I sit on one of the concrete (or are they marble?) benches at the Metro station. I'm just about to close my book and move to the wooden bench in one of the enclosed areas when a short man with a crooked nose and a tattoo on his left forearm walks over and greets me as if we were old friends from Iowa.

"Bradbury always makes me melancholy," he says, pointing at the book I'm clutching in my left hand. It's a collection of short stories called The October Country.

I want to flee, but the conventions of social interaction require that I hear the man out, so as not to appear rude. I make some noncommittal noise.

"All that stuff about leaves turning and happy children and junk," he says, shaking his head. "You think you're in some idyllic middle American town with low crime rates and while you're reveling in the nostalgia, he gets you with some gruesome tick. Like that story about the bonfire --"

"I don't remember --" I start, but he interrupts.

"Sure, you know the one. There's that night of the big bonfire and the narrator's all excited. Everyone in the town came out for the fire, you know. Dad and Mom were there, of course, and all the assorted relatives of these third-generation Americans; everyone from the family is there, including Uncle Einar. The adults brought picnic baskets and "lemonade;" we kids ate hot dogs and laughed. Oh, what a night bonfire night was!

"The grandmothers all turned to the grandfathers to exclaim how pretty the flames were, while all the grandfathers reminded the grandmothers about how much better fire had been in the Old Country. 'Go on, Eugene,' Grandma would say. 'You don't remember that!' But they fell to talking about the older days and times.

"While the parents talked of earlier days or of business deals or even plans for tomorrow, we scampered and jittered, shook loose in a thousand directions, like leaves scattered when a boy jumps into a pile in Autumn, and not just any boy, of course, but like Willie Jackson, the boy who could do anything! 'Joy! Excitement!' We'd shout. 'Bonfire night, it's bonfire night!'

"Jimmy heard his parents giggling over glasses of wine, such lovely flames! The Wilkensons and their brood set up camp just across the street, with streamers and balloons and hand-carved kebab sticks from Mexico! Those sticks stuck in Ma's craw (The audacity!), but on bonfire nights, even she could get along with the Wilkensons.

"Streamers! Balloons!

"When the adults got tired of our running in circles and spilling juice, we found it prudent to organize -- if organize is not too strong a word -- kickball game. It was a continuation of the most epic kickball game of all time. On a night with a bonfire, we'd not be disturbed by our parents until really late, like 9 or even 9:30.

"The Epic Kickball Game had started in the mists of time and would go on throughout eternity, most likely. Hank Anderson was there and even Sally Jenkins was playing. Sally's little brother Jake sat with his parents and cried, over nothing in particular, he always did that! There were the Collins twins, and Jeff and Joe and I don't remember who all.

"It wasn't until midway through my first kick that I wondered where was Willie Jackson? Surely, we couldn't play the Epic Kickball Game without famous Willie Jackson, he of the golden left foot? The boy with the hottest hands in kickball? Why wasn't Willie with us? We were just getting ready to devolve into a game of 'Where's Willie?'; where a hundred town kids would run in circles shouting and laughing Willie's name, when we remembered why Willie wasn't there.

"Of course Willie couldn't play on this particular bonfire night, we laughed. After all, it was his house being burned down! And we went back to our kickball game."

I stared at the man with the crooked nose for a moment. Finally, I said, "I don't think Ray Bradbury wrote that."

"Oh?"

"It's certainly not in this book," I said.

"OK," the little man said. "I just guess it shoulda been." Then he boarded the train and was never heard from again.

Dreich

Dreich

This is the view from the office balcony today. Dang, but it's a dreary, depressing day.

Here are two links:
Conservative:Interview with Orson Scott Card.
Liberal: A unity poem.

No Joke, Broke Spoke

Just FYI: the roads in Virginia make no sense. The names change randomly. The numbers are not always sequential (or have strange intervals with groupings of numbers an order of magnitude higher than those on either side). The people drive like bats on crack.

But that last one is true of the entire DC area, I suppose.

The Brunette drove over to my work in Rosslyn last night to pick up my bike. She discovered that there are two Fort Myer Drives within a mile of each other! How confusing is that? Sheesh.

And I broke another spoke on the back wheel next to the cassette. Why don't I ever break a spoke in a place I can fix?

Bike to Work (2:10)

Bike to Work

A Commuting Report

  • 7:15 - 7:25 Ridge Rd - Southway - Greenbelt Rd (MD193)
    • Gained five minutes!
  • 7:25 - 7:55 Indian Creek Trail - Northeast Branch Trail - Anacostia Trail
    • Deer in two spots on path
    • Same elapsed time, rode further on trail (having daylight helps)
  • 7:55 - 8:25 Bunker Hill St - Perry St - 34th St - Chestnut - Vista - Franklin - 24th - Channing - 18th - Montana
    • Maybe this is the route. It was confusing. Lost some time here.
    • Crossing Eastern Ave is a pain, as is the connection of Perry and 34th
  • 8:25 - 8:32 West Virginia
    • Nice!
  • 8:32 - 8:50 K St NE - 1st NE - Massachusetts - Louisiana - 1st NW
    • First trip through a checkpoint. Nobody asked me to stop. Don't know if that's normal for bikes.
    • K Street under the railroad tracks out of Union Station is a bit dark and frightening. The marked bike path on 1st St is not worth the underpass.
    • Top of trail to Mall -- same amount of time!
  • 8:50 - 9:07 Mall
    • Was passed by a woman biking in heels
    • Gained ten minutes, somehow, by going south around the Washington Monument, instead north.
  • 9:07 - 9:25 Bridge - Path - Rosslyn
    • Lost five minutes because of heavy traffic coming into the circle in front of the cemetery
Friday night, I took the Rock Creek Park trail pretty much all the way to Silver Spring (some riding on Beech Drive). It took about 1 1/2 hours from Rosslyn.

I Don't Know

I don't know why the comment summary (on the right) isn't working.

I don't know what the weather will be like tomorrow.

I don't know why half of the country doesn't understand what the other half thinks it understands.

Siri's Elephants

So, last Friday, we dropped by Siri's Chef Secret restaurant. It looks like some place that used to serve American seafood, but now it serves a mixed menu of American and delicious Thai. Yum.

On Friday, we were early enough that we shared the place with one other customer, who sat alone, reading a paper. We admired a wooden sculpture of a boat filled with elephants bearing oars.

And he slurped.

Ugh. The man's wet smacking of his food easily carried across the room, turning my stomach. Luckily, our food hadn't yet arrived. We prayed for a larger crowd to show up and drown out the noise.

Instead, it got worse.

It's bad enough to listen to folks on mobile phones, but what is it with these Nextel people? They treat their phones like walkie talkies. Nobody wants to listen to your inane conversation! And we certainly don't want to hear that stupid bleep before and after each sentence! And we really like exclamation points! (And we miss the rants of the guy at why.i.hate.dc, because he's funnier.)

Guess what the slurpy guy did next: yep, he picked up a call on his Nextel phone.**

At this point, the Brunette excused herself for a brief bit. I was left alone to listen to the slurping, beeping, and bleating. In between phone calls, he started humming. Toneless, rhythmic humming. Around wet smacks. Are you grossed out and/or annoyed yet? I hunched over in the booth. Sloppy-eater boy started launching small pieces of food by pounding his fist on the tines of his fork (after carefully placing the bit of food on the other end). I tried to focus on a mental compare/contrast of the philosophies of Kierkegaard and Kant.

Sadly, I don't know anything about the philosophies of Kierkegaard or Kant.

From here, it just got worse. He took off his shoes. He started playing a Game Boy. With the sound turned on. He had to turn up the volume of his iPod to hear his music over the electronic gaming noises. He had to turn up the volume of his Nextel to hear it over both. He started coughing. Without covering his mouth.

When he started chewing aluminum foil, I got up, grabbed the sculpture, and started shoving elephants down his throat. One by one, the pachyderms marched into the cake-hole of this rude freak of nature. I returned to our table and smiled beatifically when the Brunette returned.

"What are you humming?" she asked.

"The Dance of the Hours," I replied, and I enjoyed my drunken noodles immensely.


** Okay, everything before the double-asterisk is true. The rest is questionable.

Red Line Accident

Red Line Accident

I imagine there is more than a 20 minute delay, since the Red Line is
closed between Van Ness and Dupont.

Rumor has it that one train drove into the back of another.

UPDATE (16:14): The Washington Post reports that it was the other way around: one train backed into the front of another.

A Link

Other people took cameras (and bears) to the voting stations.

Election Day

Election Day

This is what half the line looked like in Greenbelt at 7 this morning, just after the polls opened.

I find myself a victim of voter irregularities! Although I had my trusty registration card proving that I had indeed registered -- and I was in the correct place -- the little old lady behind the notebook couldn't find me. So, although I was about the tenth person in line this morning, I was forced through the provisional balloting process. Basically, you have to fill out the application for voter registration all over again and then fill out a cardboard ballot with pencil.

Probably, you were supposed to fill out the application in pen or something, but they only gave me a pencil.

I expect I might actually get my vote counted, but it'll be some time next March. The others in line were in and out in ten minutes. I had 40 minutes of provisional balloting (which includes time for wandering from judge to judge figuring out what to do with me but not 30 minutes waiting for the polls to open).

Guess I shouldn't have registered as "Snoopy."

UPDATE (12:25): The Brunette had to vote in Spanish. She also was not on the voting roles and had to fill out a provisional ballot. She tells me that they ran out of English ballots, though. Ah, modern democracy.

Exclamation

I realized this morning that I haven't obsessed over punctuation for some time. Then I heard about this exciting breakthrough for international punctuation respect: Quebec has a town named Saint-Louis-du-Ha!-Ha!