Matthew & Son
(17-26 May 2003)

26 May 2003
-Tried to save a young dying bird that was abandoned on the sidewalk outside Homemade Cafe.  It was breathing heavily & almost gone when we first saw it, with any nest it may have fallen from out of reach.  Shortly after Em tried to buy some food for it, it died in my hands.
-Hippie folk tend to be very fancy with their food.  It's a long-standing link that I can't really understand or relate to.  At least Leigh admits I'm pickier than she is.
-Migraines beat the need for progress.

25 May 2003
-Went out last night with Em's PIRG friends.  It was about as good a time as I can have in the bar scene... there was a mostly-outdoor bar (I'm guessing San Fran's reaction to the wonderful anti-smoking laws in this state), which was nice for a while because it was spacious & outdoors (though it vaguely resembled having a bar in an alley), but got old fast with all the smoking & the oncoming coldness.  But there was pool!  My conclusions from the night can be distilled into:  (1) I am an alien; (2) Way way too many people smoke cigarettes; (3) There are roughly 1,500 physical human templates from which 6,000,000,000+ people are built; (4) Drinking does nothing to change someone's personality, only to grossly exaggerate their inner flaws; (5) I am an alien.
-Sleeping in, it looks like you are not my friend either.

24 May 2003
-Every Saturday, without fail.
-Open letter to vegetarians:  Though you may be inclined to enjoy the atmosphere of a teppan yaki restaurant, you probably still want to steer clear of Benihana.  It touts itself as America's most popular restaurant, & this should call to mind what America likes, which is not often compatible with vegetarian likes.  The real upside is that they make a concerted effort to avoid getting any meat on to your plate via sharing of the same grill.  The real downside is they have very little creativity & the food is marginal.  The only veggie dish on the menu is mostly cooked in a bubble of tin foil & plastic placed on the grill.  This steaming of bland vegetables is supposed to cover the "extreme health nut wackos" as well as vegetarians.  Sadly, it ends up meaning that much of the veggie meal is tasteless & has nothing to do with Japanese food.  The rest of the meal (fried tofu & fried noodles) gets a little better, but the damage is done.  You also have to order fried rice without chicken.  All in all, a very expensive place to have a pretty disappointing meal.
-In a related story, apparently one of the volunteers I work with at JMMC has a son.  She routinely calls him a vegetarian.  He regularly eats... PORK CHOPS!  When my boss tried to reconcile these accounts, the volunteer didn't understand that the ideals of vegetarianism & consumption of pork chops should be in conflict.  No wonder people still ask me if I eat chicken.
-Concord, you are not my friend.

23 May 2003
-Emily & I may have discovered the Frontier of Berkeley.  This is the most exciting & important discovery since arriving here.  It's called Au Coquelet Cafe, which sounds like a snotty bakery type place, but is much more like the Frontier with a small snotty bakery wing.  It's weaker than the Frontier in a variety of ways... it closes at 1:30 in the morning instead of never (major drawback, but there are no 24-hour Berkeley restaurants), no green chile (but they do put jalapenos on lots of things), & a much smaller variety of Mexican food.  Plus, you don't see someone you know everytime you go.  HOWever, it's got several large rooms, & serves good food (much of it Mexican) late.  & the same kinds of crowds seem to gather there.  It looks like an excellent place to write.

22 May 2003
-It's nobody's birthday today.  Actually, it's roughly (ceteris paribus) 16.5 million peoples' birthday today.  But nobody I know that well.
-Today has been a good day.  Despite smashing my toe once again on the Shower of All Suffering.  Mostly because 3 hours of work were replaced by the Library Volunteer/Employee Appreciation Luncheon.  Mmmm mud pie.  The experience was quite pleasant, even if the restaurant was pretentious & my company's expectations more so.  Ah well.  I'm not sure if I actually get paid for the 180-minute meal, but I'm pretty sure I do.  I need to get a fulfilling job.  This one's just filling.
-Just have to bring back the ol' Headlines of War gambit at least once... Bechtel Buys Corporate Sponsorship of Iraq... much as all baseball stadiums now have been defaced by being renamed for a corporation, so Iraq has announced it will now be known as "Bechtel Nation of Iraq".  The move comes on the heels of the lifting of sanctions on Iraq so that Bechtel & some smaller contractors can take possession of oil revenues on behalf of Iraq's people.  "It would look sketchy if we just pulled this move without renaming the country," said an anonymous Becthel underling, "So we had to buy the sponsorship."  With sanctions lifted, the US & UK will oversee the oil interests in Iraq.  The plan is to sell it to US & UK companies for money that will be given to Becthel to "rebuild" Iraq.  Thus the oil wealth will go to the US/UK with the profits of that wealth going to the major defense contractor.  "A clear victory for the people of Iraq today," said President George W. Bush, "Money will be freely exchanged between two Western powers within the borders of Iraq.  But they won't be able to tax it, of course!  See how we're giving Iraq back to the Bechtel Nation of Iraqi people?!  Pay no attention to the lack of weapons of mass destruction behind the curtain!"

21 May 2003
Happy Birthday to Lauren Cusick
-More & more convinced that I need a radical change in the structure of my daily work.  The idea of just switching over to much more meaningful work is like an addictive hallucinogen.  I start dreaming of all these possibilities & how days would not be something to trudge through & I can barely get back to remembering how hard it would/will be to tell everyone at my 3 jobs that I'm outta there.  Much more thinking to be done, but it just keeps making me giddy.  Thinking bout getting out...
-Today I was a little sick of my cheese enchilada combo at the ol' Carl's Jr. (discount or no) & went over to Subway instead.  The guy gave me at least 3 jokes about how odd my food taste was with the sandwich as he made it.  His concluding remark, "That's one sandwich no one will ever order again!" was just what I needed.  It was like that waitress who called out "bo-ring" at a steakhouse when I ordered side orders a few years back.  Do I tell these people that they are eating murder victims?  The big kicker for this guy seemed to be not just wanting the veggie sub, but also avoiding all condiments.  Then when I ordered jalapenos, he confirmed it 3 times & was ready for cardiac arrest.  Food is enough of a pain without people being obnoxious.
-Whoa, that got a little ranty.  But, bah!  A cheese, lettuce, tomato, & jalapeno sub really shouldn't be something to put you into shock.
-Good freaking lord.  Am I the ONLY person in the world not having my life completely altered by the conclusion of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"??  I can understand attachments to TV shows & all, but it's really hard for me to take anything that runs with that premise seriously.  Certainly not deathly seriously the way so many people I know seem to be.
-Also on TV, Em & I have watched bits & pieces of "American Idol", leading me to believe that people can vote in a much more informed & qualified way from their phones than from polling booths.  The 2 best people are actually in the final.  Maybe if presidential ballotting started off from a field of 32, we'd eventually narrow it down to someone not awful.  Of course that would require America looking a lot more like American Idol in the following key ways: (1) Actual equal time for candidates; (2) The belief that more than 2 candidates have a chance of winning; (3) Judging of performance based on merit; (4) No pre-disposed affiliations among the voters; (5) A wide range of issues (songs) being covered.  No wonder people are voting more in the show than the real elecions!

20 May 2003
Happy Birthday to Stina Robison
-Yesterday I had a pretty long dark night of talked-out realizations about how my "professional" life is pretty much the opposite of anything I should be doing.  I'm not exactly creating wrongs, but I'm sure not doing anything particularly right.  & I'm not as sure as I'd like to be on where to go from here.  A lot of people are counting on me, & I can't just flip them off & walk away without a really good alternative to this lifestyle.  So I have to do a lot more thinking & even more figuring out in the coming days.  Having Em there to listen & reply instead of the wall made all the difference, though.
-Meanwhile, my dreams have gone from horrible to only somewhat horrible.  The improved dreams from last night included driving off a bridge & killing 6 family members (Em's family &/or my own) & 3 friends.  I think I was in some awful condition at a hospital as I heard these facts in the nightmare.  Yes, that's better than what my nightmares were about the night before.  Way better.
-In political news, put down that lemon, it's time for orange again!  Anyone notice that there have been tons of attacks during yellow alert but NONE during orange?  I think the empirical lessons from this are amusing.  What would an outside culture conclude about the meaning of these alerts?
-Also, speaking of outside cultures, they're no longer welcome in this alleged country.  Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled fingerprints, yearning to touch ink.  Every non-citizen coming from a non-politically correct country will now have to have all their information recorded & scanned as they enter the US after 2004.  Think this is plunging us even deeper into a world of isolation?  But suddenly Bush's characterization of the alleged enemies of the US as "people who hate freedom" is making sense.  Look how much our fear of these folks has caused us to destroy freedom!

19 May 2003
Happy Birthday to Guen Mesco
-I eat at the Carls Jr. at the I-680/I-80 junction so often, they've started giving me a discount.  This is my standard lunch stop between jobs during the week, & everyone there knows me & chats with me when I come in.  The 20% discount has been a big unsolicited surprise though.
-In a further bout of money-saving goodwill, the person who went over the Benicia-Martinez Bridge before me paid my toll.  I've been collecting a ton of dollar-coins from the USPS vending machines (buying stamps for invites) & they're very useful since I can pay the $2 toll without going to the wallet.  But today the toll-taker explained that the person ahead of me had paid my way.  Whenever I talk to these people, I can't get it out of my mind that their job is so miserable they are known for having the highest suicide rate of any type of employee in the nation.  I think a part of me tries to treat them as though they were a suicide risk at the time I drive through.  Most of them seem in incredibly high spirits given what they have to do with their day.
-Last week blew out previous records for traffic at the Blue Pyramid.  With 43,262 page accesses, the record from January 2003 was broken by more than 6,000 accesses.  More than 83% of all traffic was in the InterActive section, which really only contains the Country Quiz these days.
-SOTW/Quiz Stats updated, revealing only the second-best week for the Country Quiz, despite overall record-setting hits at the site.  Inches from 25,000 quizzes taken.
-I think it's time to get into Bruce Hornsby.  I remember a lot of us used to make fun of Jake for liking Bruce Hornsby.  I'm pretty sure we were wrong.

18 May 2003
-Hanging out with Leigh was great fun, but also helped to remind me that I haven't made a single friend since moving to the Bay Area.  Yes, I know I work with people who are all over 40, in jobs where socializing is pretty much counterproductive.  But still!  8 months in a new town without new friends of any sort is a bad scene.
-When days off are nothing more than days to catch up on all the things you can't do the other six days a week, it's pretty sad.  When you can't even catch up on that day, it's really sad.  I bet if I drove less than 440 miles a week, I'd have more time.
-Wedding invitations are, for the most part, on their way.  Some people still need to get me their address, though.

17 May 2003
-Today was a Saturday, just like every Saturday since Nats & a good many before.  I went to work & it put me in a Bad Mood.  Saturday is quite possibly the worst day of the week for me now, & it's just something about the way people act at that campus on that day of the week.  & the 8 uninterrupted hours of work.  & the fact that people are ignoring my quitting of that job.
-Do people really like BLAND Mexican food?!

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