News To Me

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Maybe it is because I am reading a book on literary style, maybe it is because I am a naturally picky bastard, maybe it is because the cold weather has woken me up. All I know is that I am shocked and a little disappointed in the free newspaper Metro today for typing errors and a happy-go-lucky approach to research and contextual presentation.

In chronological order of my noticing:

The Accused: Metro.

The Case Against:

On page six, in the article on Judith Miller, 'investigating' is spelled 'investigatiing'. The story itself is another reason to be slightly disappointed for the journalistic community, but I think I would tell anyone anything they wanted to hear after three months in prison.

I quote from the discussion-style review of Capote:

The statement could also apply to the actor who gives his most acclaimed work to date in this biopic chronicling the five and a half years the "Breakfast at Tiffany's" author spent researching and writing his critically lauded follow-up "In Cold Blood."

I can see it now...Holly Golightly jets off to Kansas and is involved in gruesome murders! A blockbuster! Erm...

I quote from the formal review of Capote:

..."In Cold Blood," a rigorously reported masterpiece about a murder in Kansas.

Can the words 'a murder' be applied to more than one in this case, where it subtly implies the killing of an entire family? Has the reviewer read the book, seen the film...or even googled it?
We do not know. But where we could assume before, now we are not certain.

Verdict: Pooheads.

Yesterday I learned a lot about New Yorkers...and being one.

I arrived five minutes after the start of the library sale and I was already peering through at the books from the outside of three layers of desperate buyers.

There were the space hoggers, who were so afraid that anyone might take a book from the case they were browsing through that they stood so close that they could only see one shelf comfortably and pulled off painful-looking contortions to try and see all the titles while still blocking everyone else's view.

There were Those Who Came Prepared - standing close to the shelves and throwing book after book after book into a cardboard box at their feet.

There were grabbers with armfuls of books and expansive, blocking body language, scathing looks and enormous glasses. There were casual observers who were being competitively stamped on by the hardcore of library regulars, some of whom I recognised.

Somebody in there really really stank, and I have no idea who it was.

What A Difference A Day Makes

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Twenty four little hours. From a grey-minded day, lacking oomph and chutzphah and pazazz to a searing white hot joy-coaster with laughter and none of the sturm und drang of muh but the ringing from the hills of hurrah instead.
An evening with the missus was what did it.
Turned that day around and headed for the lush green watermeadow plains of evening relaxation and appreciation, real true great appreciation, for what we have when we talk about life.

And screw grammar and sense. I'm talking here.


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I wasn't chatting to either of them today, but I'm going to steal their meme thanks Biscuit and Krissa.

It's meant to be one of those things where you ask questions of your iPod, which it then answers with its random song choice. I don't have an iPod, but I do have iTunes with a small library. What the's not like this thing was going to be 100% accurate in the first place, right? Here goes nothing.

1. What do you think of me, iPod iTunes?
Dream Brother - Jeff Buckley
I'm going to ignore the lyrics completely and go 'Aaaah, that's nice. I feel exceptionally companiable towards you too, iTunes.'

2. Will I have a happy life?
Emergency Surgery - Gomez
'Someone call a doctor, I think I'm gonna...
someone call a doctor, I think I'm gonna...
someone call a doctor, I think I'm gonna die.'
'I need help, I need surgery. Help. Help. Help.'
Fuck you, iTunes. That's not very nice at all.

3. What do my friends really think of me?
We Are The Champions - Queen
Aaaah yeah. Now this I like the sound of.
'We are the champions, my friends.'
'And we'll keep on fighting, til the end.'
Each other? Or....oh. Not as great as I thought.

4. What does my S.O. think of me?
Oh my God.
Theme from Rawhide - Blues Brothers Soundtrack
'Rollin rollin' rollin', though the streams are swollen
keep them dogies rollin', rawhide
rain and wind and weather, hell bent for leather
wishin' my gal was by my side'
From this we can conclude that Krissa sees me as a source of leather goods, which when I consider the number of purses in our apartment, isn't too far off the truth, surely?

5. Do people secretly lust after me?
Please Take Me Home - Blink 182
'Oh no it happened again, she's cool, she's hot...she's my friend.'
That'd be a no then, although it speaks highly of the attractiveness of my friends, which is nice.

6. How can I make myself happy?
Camping Next To Water - Badly Drawn Boy
'Camping next to water
Fish infested slaughter
I feed the fishes into me
It's a misty within reason
I'm hoping I don't freeze here
I fuel the fire, I feed its glow'
Wow, that's convenient! We're going the weekend after next.

7. What should I do with my life?
Must Be Dreaming - Frou Frou
'This is the right turn wrong universe...'
Yes I know...but how do I make money out of that?

8. Why must life be so full of pain?
Fire Coming Out Of The Monkey's Head - Gorillaz
I didn't understand this song straight up - interpreting it with regard to something else involves doing more things with my head than I'm capable of.
'falling out of aeroplanes and hiding out in holes
waiting for the sunset to come people going home
jump out from behind them and shoot them in the head
now everybody dancing, the dance of the dead, the dance of the dead, the dance of the dead'
Right you are...I would hazard that iTunes is saying that life is so full of pain because some bastard keeps jumping out behind people and shooting them in the head. This is very astute. My esteem for this particular occult method is increasing.

9. How can I maximize my pleasure during sex?
Central Park - Krystle Warren
Really? Whereabouts?

10. Can you give me some advice?
The View Belongs To Everyone - Fun Lovin' Criminals
A song about carjacking and the mafia but the beauty of the city coming through all the same? Uhm. I suppose I could take that as advice. I should embark on a life of crime but maintain a sense of aesthetics.

11. What do you think happiness is?
El esencia del guaguanco - Johnny Pacheco
Apparently, according to my iTunes, happiness is the essence of guaguanco. This is less of an answer and more just passing the buck. I hereby introduce question 11a.

11a. What do you think guaguanco is?
Bemba Colora - Celia Cruz
Off again to Google Language Tools, and apparently guaguanco is 'Bemba colora' which handily translates as 'bemba colours'.

11b. What do you think bemba is?
Chicken Out - Gomez
I think these questions have fully explained everything about life.

12. Do you have any advice to give over the next few hours/days?
Who Can You Trust? - Morcheeba
It's very funky, but it's the height of paranoia. Just who CAN I trust?
Can I trust you? I don't like this at all. WHAT DO I NEED TO TRUST PEOPLE ABOUT?

12a. What do I need to trust people about over the next few hours/days?
Maybe - Stereophonics
Maybe? Maybe what?

12b. Maybe? Maybe what?
It's a Beautiful Thing - Ocean Colour Scene
What is? The thing I maybe need to trust people about?

12c. What's a beautiful thing? The thing I need to trust people about over the next few hours/days? ANSWER ME!
Bring It On - Gomez
Are you starting? Are you starting? ARE YOU STARTING?

12d. Are you starting?
Quick Fade - Feeder
Backing down are you? Good. We got a little off topic there. Where were we?

12e. Where were we?
It's Caper Time - Italian Job Sountrack
Hardly. Oh, question 13.

13. Will I die happy?
The Sun And The Rain - Madness
That'll be yes and no, then? A mixed bag?

13a. That'll be yes and no, then? A mixed bag?
Don't Leave Me This Way - Thelma Houston
I know. I know. I don't want to end this quiz either, but we've had such good times, haven't we?

13b. I don't want to end this quiz either, but we've had such good times, haven't we?
Until My Ship Comes In - Dum Dums
Er...yes. Until then.

The Umbrella Hypothesis

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There is only one street umbrella salesman in New York City.
When it is dry I'm sure he scuttles away to the dark end of an alley somewhere in Manhattan and waits.
And waits.
But the second it starts to rain the salesman splits and multiplies like an ameoba in the life-giving water and in no time at all umbrella salesmen are everywhere.
I'm convinced this is how it works.


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Krissa and I are going camping on Columbus Day weekend. The weekend coincides with my 26th birthday.

Up in Massachusetts, in Savoy Mountain Park, there are two ponds...well, I've seen the maps, and if those are ponds then I think the same misperception of scale which applies to American food portions might be in play with regard to bodies of water, but whatever they are, there are two of them; North "Pond" and South "Pond".

North "Pond" contains trout.
South "Pond" contains yellow perch and bass.

The largest yellow perch caught in Mass. weighed 2lb 12oz.
Now...I've caught bigger.

Fishing for yellow perch effectively involves the style and technique of fishing that I'm used to - I know how to adjust the length of the trace for different feeding times and temperatures, how to identify swims and have a vague idea of how to read and interpret fishsign, to about the same level of skill that I have a vague idea of how to read and interpret mandarin chinese.

(That ripple was a fish, and that symbol means something, respectively)

So; do I read up on and try out a completely different style of fishing, and if so, do I try fly-fishing for trout, or whatever-you-do type fishing for bass?

Does anyone have experience of fly-fishing or fishing for bass? How easy are they to pick up? How do you fish for bass?

Over-doing It In New York

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As I headed for the office this fine September morn, I passed two ladies clutching magazines deep in conversation. What I overheard made me slow down from my normal stride and putter along looking in store windows and examining apparently fascinating slicks of dubious fluids on the sidewalk.

"So apparently he was wracked by the tortures of self-abuse."
"Yes. It ruined his life, he said."
"Couldn't work, abandoned his girlfriend, lost interest in sport."
"That's terrible."
"I know."
"So what did you say?"
"Well, I told him that it was lucky I had called on him."
"How true!"
"And then I said that while God viewed self-abuse as a sin, for his own good he should try and seek help, and that there would be salvation in the Lord, who forgives all and welcomes all."
"Well said. What did he say?"
"He said he'd think about it."

It was Watchtower magazine. I hurried on towards the office.

Losing Your Socks In Public

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Yesterday was novel.
I remember, at 11 years of age, seeing a lanky kid called Peter run after the football when someone missed the goal. When he returned to the goal line, he held the ball behind his head as though he was about to throw-in. I'm the sort of person who is physically embarrassed by others' embarrassment, and this made me cringe. Even unsporty, socially inept bookworm that I was, I knew you didn't throw-in from the goal line.
I've never been sporty, but after years and years of sort of hanging around sport, playing a bit here and there, sometimes unavoidable, sometimes voluntary, I've gotten the hang of all the rules, a little technique, and most importantly some of the talk, which means that I can at least temporarily hold my own on the sporting endeavour front.
Take that acquisition of knowledge and experience and move it 3,300 miles to the left.
Last night I played softball for the first time.
I felt 11 years old.
My fielding was atrocious, but I plead mud and gripless trainers.
I only got the chance to hit the ball once before being substituted off as late players arrived.
Out of the park is an out, apparently.
If that's the case they should put higher fricking walls on softball parks.
Bloody stupid rule.
Oh, and we lost.

Anyway, moving onto the adventures of socks. My sports bag has long languished at the bottom of my closet next to the dirty laundry basket. Somehow yesterday...I don't know how...a dirty sock got tangled in the straps. I picked the bag out of the closet, packed it with my sports kit, and went to work, all with the sock in situ. I don't know how I didn't notice. Black backpack, black sock. I rest the case for my ignorance.

I walked to the subway, and the sock held on.
I boarded the N/W, and the sock held on.

(God knows what my fellow commuters thought. Judging by their facial expressions on the trains it was something like, 'Oh look, a sock. Tra la la. Tum te tum.')

Four subway stops; the bag taken off and left on the floor, and the sock held on.
The bag was kicked around a bit and trodden on, and the sock held on.
I disembarked at 59th and Lex, jostled on all sides, and the sock held on.

But then, in the steaming herd of descending transferring commuters from the N/W to the 4/5/6, the sock was shaken free and dropped ahead of me on the steps. I didn't see it fall from the bag, I just saw it tumble by.

'Oh look, a sock,' I thought. 'Tra la la. Tum te tum.'

Down on the 4/5 platform an announcement was made. The 4/5 wasn't running, so me and my fellow commuters dutifully turned around and began the troop back up the stairs.

'Oh look,' I thought. 'There's that sock again. Tra la la. Tum te-HANG ON THAT'S ONE OF MINE.'

But by then it was too late. My fellow commuters and I were doing the dutiful troop, and you don't back up the flow of travelling workers in New York, or New York will have late workers who will miss trains and be late and lose revenue and go bankrupt and hate and blame you eternally.
So I left the sock where it was.

I Left My Sock At Lexington Avenue

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This merry disrupted morning on the...hang, two, three, four...five trains I took to get to work, I saw one fight, two slanging matches, one person fall over, more sarcastic body language and gesturing than I can account, and to make matters worse, I lost a sock at 59th Street and Lex.

A Word In Your Ear

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I am comforted by the fact that in the past we have shown ourselves to be a gently yet continually civilising species. In the face of new practices and technological advances we have, given time, modified behaviours and laws to change the new society for the better.

Take mobile telephones.
In the beginning there were brick-sized phones, and because it was still a nascent technology it became common to see someone with a phone on one ear and a finger in the other yelling at the top of their voice about stocks and shares in the middle of Woolworth's. A ringing mobile cut across conversations. People at a distance took priority over people nearby.
Over time most of society came to realise that this was, to put it lightly, fucking obnoxious.

So people are much, much better these days. The technology is better, so conversations can be had at a volume level well below the pain threshold, and people are polite about interrupting conversations to take calls, even to the point of shortening or delaying calls to be civil.


Why the hell are walkie-talkies taking off so much? To go from a cellphone to something where the entire street can listen in on both sides of the conversation, each side being heralded by a resounding and penetrating high pitched tone, strikes me as nothing short of a big, deliberate and anti-social FUCK YOU.

It is twice as bad as the old mobile phones and then some. With the walkie-talkies you get the aural affront of two people yelling, with beeping and static thrown in for good measure.

Bah, humbug, all this were fields, young people today, raaaaa, it were better in the old days, and get off my land.

I'll take the pipe and slippers now, if you please.

Writing In The Rain

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I have a sense of invulnerability. I think you always get it; that sense that nothing can touch or harm you because despite the fact that you are a human being with a brain that can conceive of things it cannot and will never see or touch, there is something magical about shelter, something thrilling about being comfortable and dry mere inches away from falling rain. It is the same exaggerated thrill of comfort which shivers through you when you are in bed listening to the elements beating against the roof.

At the moment I am perched on a bar stool next to the open door of an Internet tea shop in Astoria - Freeze Peach, and the rain is hammering down outside. It has just gotten dark, and the sidewalk outside is orange lit and jumping with raindrops. A shuttered halal butchers flies banners for the state lottery on the opposite corner, and taxis pause impatiently next to a red brick church at the lights.

I really like it here. I think we'll be back. Krissa is sitting at a table behind me, researching a story idea. We've spent the last hour or so sitting on a sofa, reading, drinking iced tea, and discussing how great this place is. Then the rain started, and we decided to stay for the duration. It's great how we can wander off for a stroll around our neighbourhood and find a shop like this.

In New York City there's a surprise around every corner.
Five boroughs of grid system.
That's a lot of corners.

Tinker, Tailor, Joiner, Bellows-mender


Funny how patterns form, isn't it?

They're all in the mind, born of memory and coincidence in the purest form of the word, but we are hypnotised by them so...tempted, in some cases, to impart them with meaning.

You can see a pattern in clouds, or the roots of a tree, or the stars in the sky. Just because you see the pattern doesn't mean it was put there. We can paint warriors in the night sky, spin tales of woodland giants, conjure gods of weather and omnipotence, but the perception of the pattern is in you, and the origin of the pattern is in any number of a billion billion interwoven causes and everything that went into creating you and your mind and the twisting of two roots, or the rippled ice clouds, or the line of stars light years apart.

But that doesn't mean that the emergence of a pattern from all of those strands of time and objects and events shouldn't give pleasure in the recognition.

It is playing with the way we look at the world.

Yesterday lunchtime, sitting in the park eating a sandwich, I turned the last page of John Le Carre's Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.

Two people further up on the long park bench was a young man. He was wearing flared jeans, a short-sleeved Ben Sherman shirt, and loafers.
So was I.
He was absent-mindedly eating a baguette, having a little difficulty because while the sandwich was in one hand, in the other he was holding a giant John Le Carre hardback. A leather satchel, not completely dissimilar to my own, was resting at his side.

After work on the subway to meet Krissa near her office, I pulled out a bit of writing I've been tinkering with, and I was reading it over and jotting down questions and corrections in the margins, waiting for the C train to pull itself uptown. At Prince Street a middle-aged woman got on with papers in her hand, and she sat next to me. So there we were, as the stations rattled slowly by, editing our copy, side by side.

Krissa and I ate Mexican and made our way home, and now that the play is past and there's no danger of us being unduly influenced by watching it, we watched the Kevin Kline version of Midsummer Night's Dream, picking out our past roles - Krissa was watching the fairies and Aegeus.
I was watching for my character: Snout in the play within the play, amongst the other actors - the Tinker, the Tailor...

Wednesdays Do This To Me

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If Ford Prefect assumed that name when starting his research on Earth for The Guide because he thought it was a name which would help him blend in to Earthly society, why the hell does everyone else, off Earth, call him that? Zaphod in particular, who knew him from childhood.


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I'm a bloody zombie today.

I've had restless nights, I've had overcaffeinated nights, I've had nights where a snatch of tune or a phrase or a name has replayed itself feverishly in my mind and caused a state of suspenseful and unrefreshing repose, but last night I experienced insomnia.

I don't claim to have an illness, and I sure as hell hope it's not going to happen again, but I cannot imagine that insomnia is any different to the timeless and unravellable tension that kept me from sleep last night.

My mind wasn't focussed on anything, I wasn't suffering with indigestion, I am not in trouble with the police, no one is threatening to kill me, I am in no danger of having the mafia darken my door. All that is behind me now.
I just couldn't, couldn't couldn't sleep.

I got up, I went back to bed. I read, I got up, I showered, I went back to bed, I attempted to fix the air conditioning unit through repeated pressing of the available buttons. I watched Krissa sleep with a mixture of love and envy. I got up, poured a glass of water, went back to bed, got up again, retrieved the glass of water from the kitchen, and took it with me back to bed. I read some more.

In between each of these activities I gave myself a little pause, a moment where I gave myself a chance to feel tired.
I just wasn't.
And so it went.

I got to sleep at about three-thirty-ish, I think.
The alarm went off just before seven.

I'm good for bugger all today.

Alack! Aaaalack! A-lacke!

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The shop where once I bought my morning tea has closed down, suddenly and without warning.

When I'm walking along reading, my peripheral vision normally picks up the tea shop door - which is usually open and jutting out into the sidewalk. I detach myself from the person I'm shadowing* and go in. Today, I stopped just past the facade of the shop and did a double take.

Copies of Metro and flattened bagel boxes filled the windows, with one or two printed sheets; 'OUT OF BUSINESS' and 'TEA TIME IS CLOSED'.

I was standing in front of the shop when a girl walked up, took in the signs, the boxes, and the smeared whitewash on the inside of the glass. Then she tried to open the door anyway. Their tea really was that good.

As I slipped into the wake of a passing office worker and picked up my place on the page I resolved to make tea in the office. Sadly the lid of the office kettle has broken off and I can't get it to work.

RIP Tea Time.
Coffee it is.

* Reading when walking is a skill, especially in New York City. My preferred method is to simply walk behind someone else and let them do the work of parting the sea of foot traffic while I get on with my book. Apparently this is small beer to the tactics of some people, but I plead novicedom and hope that in time my technique improves.


512MB of RAM arrived on Friday, so the iMac G3 which was running, unloved and unused, on Mac OS (or similar) is now gleefully humming away on OS or 10.3 (or something).
It's great, regardless.
I'm technically minded, honest I am.
I know hexadecimal and everything.
Well...I can look up hexadecimal. I know it exists.
That's an important distinction.


The cast of A Midsummer Night's Dream descended on our apartment on Saturday night for a one-month-on cast party, and there was pizza and sangria and more sangria with sangria for afters. The specific sangria recipe whose ingredients I used, but whose specific proportions I ignored (1.5 oz of brandy per bottle of wine? I'm sorry, that couldn't have been right.) was from a book that Heather gave Krissa for her birthday. There are a lot more recipes where that one came from too, but I think we'll give our metabolic systems a bit of a breather after Saturday's party.


I finished reading David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas last night, borrowed from The Kate.
Sodding masterful.
After reading the brilliant The Time Traveller's Wife and then Cloud Atlas one after the other, there was always going to be a bit of difficulty in choosing a suitable follow-up. I settled on John Le Carre's Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.


And Things.

Friday Small Ads

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Volunteers to accompany this archivist on an expedition to the deepest, murkiest corners of the earth, and its brightest and most luminous expanses. We shall trek through uncharted forests, caravan across harsh deserts, vault mountain ranges and glide on the bow-waves of continents in the high atmospheric flows.

The purpose of this expedition shall be to avert the slight malaise of boredom I have slipped into on this here Friday afternoon. Applications are welcomed from people from all walks of life regardless of age, creed, race, hot drink preference or language. With this in mind, applicants should know that the ability to refrain from blogging about this archivist's morning habits during the course of the expedition will be looked upon kindly at interview.

Expedition is anticipated to take approx. 1 year. Applicants are encouraged to submit a brief resume, including details of any previous wild and irrational expedition experience. The application email address is in the sidebar there.

Also Wanted:

Funding for same.


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I'm having one of those mornings. The sort where you feel more tired on waking than you did going to bed the night before.

It's a sunny day in New York City mind - bright, not humid, and cool. The noises of Astoria waking up drift through our living room window on a gentle breeze, not yet strong enough to overcome the sound of the wind in the trees on the street. The buildings are crisply outlined in their shadows by light which has all of the colours of pale peach. Concrete bathes in orange and gold, brick takes on a softer terracotta tone, and the grey of the painted wooden houses is lifted and brightened.

The coffee is ready.

Will This Get Me Re-elected?

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This morning I was going to write a post about the ways in which governments act when planning for disasters.

Most of my personal commentary on the world at large is based on opinion, feelings or my own arguments, but for a change, this post was to be based on my past experience of dealing with government agencies on the subject.

Happily though, I'm don't have to write it, because Bryan Adams has said everything already. As a bonus, he is much more eloquent than I, infinitely better informed, and also presents a crystal clear layer of political logic that I couldn't have given you if I'd sat down and thought about it until Christmas.

Cleaning Up


I am in the office; Krissa is in the living room.

I am collapsing cardboard boxes, filing mail, packing away photograph albums; Krissa is on the phone.

I am sweeping the floor; Krissa is combing the Internet.

I am sipping cranberry juice left over from our cocktail party; Krissa is sucking pensively on a popsicle, her eyes are skimming across her screen.

I am collecting CDs which have fallen behind the desk; Krissa is putting together lists of phone numbers.

I am looking for a place to shove bought-in-bulk tennis balls; Krissa is looking for an old man.

I am cleaning the office; Krissa is searching for those lost in the wake of the hurricane.

And soon I will too.

It's another way you can help, people. It's Lifelist.

Fear and Panic

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I can imagine this as a tragedy exacerbated at a bureaucratic level. A paperwork level. Not just that the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing, but that there are ways and means and routings and chains of command and Standard Operating Procedures and culpability issues and legal responsibility and payment and logistics. The left hand, faced with the information and situation as it can see it, doesn't know if the right hand is doing something which would render the left hand's efforts useless. The left hand doesn't know if corporate donations need to be cleared through the elbow (as it were) or the shoulder, because of the tax situation. Can something it can pick up and do something with counteract or damage what the right hand is doing?
And at the end of the day, is the left hand going to get into trouble for this?

Mismanagement. Unpreparedness. Fear. Overreaction. Abandonment. Tragedy.

And a solid, sluggish and pigheaded lack of movement to do anything to change these things as they emerged.

Politically, I am disgusted, emotionally, I am fraught and shocked, and intellectually I am stunned that this occurence was not acted on when it was foreseen, that it was not accounted for, nor laid down in plan.

K and I have donated to the Red Cross.
If you can and you haven't, you should.

A Note From Disco Stu

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Aaaaaaah yeah.

Suits On The Subway


There was an extra suit on the subway this morning - mine.

I don't usually go to work looking smart, but this afternoon Belinda and Abe are having a disco wedding in Central Park.

Due to a slight oversight on my part, the suit is not white, I'm not wearing a black shirt, my chin is not cleft, and I'm not sure my lips are big enough to do that pouty thing that is Travolta's trademark.

It's going to have to be all in the mind.
There's only one thing to do.
Reach for the Disco Fever compilation CDs.

The Man Behind The Curtain Pushed Me Out



All right. My answer to the quizetta the other morning is: don't know.

I suppose I have more of a 'It Would Be Great To Do' List.

But now I've named it I'll have to think about it.

Hustle And Flow

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What a morning to run out of coffee.


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