The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
(2-11 December 2005)

11 December 2005
[from Aspen, Colorado]
-So late last night I had the incredible treat of seeing a free concert downtown involving the reunited Gin Blossoms!  I missed the first half of it quite sadly, but I was able to catch a good 8-10 songs, including "Hey Jealousy", "Till I Hear it From You", & "Follow You Down".  They were the top band that's still together (or once again together) that I wanted to see live, & the coinciding of this trip & their visit was spectacular.  This now bumps Goo Goo Dolls into the top position for unseen bands, followed by Tracy Chapman.  It was absolutely frigid (oh yes, it was an outdoor show at night in Aspen in December), but worth it all the same.  Also, followed by fireworks as a nice touch.
-Spent more time today on the basketball court despite phenomenal soreness & a rather late start to the day.  Unlike yesterday, I proved myself to be pretty effective today, though the 25-29 squad remains loaded & I'll be lucky to be the sixth man coming off the bench in tomorrow's fabled tournament.  I'm still quite excited for the tourney, though, as it's supposedly a Really Big Deal in PIRG lore.
-Speaking of fabled tournaments, the first round of the Fantasy Football playoffs starts today & as the altogether unexpected #3 seed, I'm in a pitched struggle with Russ' team.  It's going to go down to the wire, it seems!
-I really don't like big fancy shmancy banquets.  Especially when I don't know much of anyone around.  It was one thing on the APDA circuit when I knew darn near everyone & was surrounded by a wonderful team, though even there I vastly preferred our exhausted thrown-together team dinners after tournaments in a local diner or Uno's or something.  The worst thing about banquets has to be the food that is just overdone, & inevitably involves detestable ingredients, especially in vegetarian options.  The root vegetable-based asparagus fiesta tonight was actually not bad for banquet fare, once all the asparagus had been swept to the side of my plate.  I think that these banquets also carry with them a lot of what depresses me about parties... plus pretension for good measure.  Ah well.  I'm probably complaining too much on this trip, but I've felt like I just don't fit in most of the week so far & it's hard to really connect with people who are all such exuberant schmoozers.

10 December 2005
[from Aspen, Colorado]
-Better day today, though I'm exhausted.  The condo we're in is poorly located relative to the rest of everything, so everything's a trek, through exceptionally cold weather.  Spent most of the day on the basketball court, where I learned that I probably don't have the skills to be a starter on the 25-29 team in the upcoming tournament here.  I guess I was assuming I would, but I also guess I was underestimating the fact that there are 500 people here, & only 20 of them get to start for their age-group team.  Sadly, 25-29 seems to be the most stacked.  I still had a lot of fun with pickup games, though 8,500 feet is an absurd altitude for running & jumping.  My shot was off, most likely the result of not playing for ages.  Ah well.  Maybe this can be the springboard to getting basketball back into my weekly routine, such as it is.
-I polished of I am Charlotte Simmons on the plane a couple nights ago & concluded that for all its flaws, it was worth reading.  The race card just stayed there face-up on the table as an unresolved blight on the book, as well as some poorly placed assumptions about gender roles.  But the characters were engaging & the points made were both accurate & well delivered.
-Em went skiing today, something I doubt I'll ever have much interest in doing myself.  She was apparently having a great time till someone she was skiing with ran her accidentally off a bunny slope & into an intermediate run.  Thankfully she got out in one piece, though one piece that kept falling over.

9 December 2005
[from Aspen, Colorado]
-So the good news is that I have internet access out here in Aspen.  The bad news is... everything else.  I'm a bit hard-pressed to come up with 24 less enjoyable hours in recent memory, but the 16th of May comes to mind as the only other competitive day in 2005.  Airport fights, captive audience bus-rides with National Lampoon movies, & the kind of absurd attempts at organization & management that only PIRG could bring you.  I may already be sick, but I've certainly already been forced to spend more time standing stock-still in weather in the teens than I can imagine being reasonable.  There's a part of me that wants to spend the next 10 days in bed.  But I know it has to get better than this.  I'm looking forward to playing some basketball as has been promised, & certainly playing around in the snow, but so far it's just been miserable.

8 December 2005
-Happy anniversary to my parents!
-Now I'm not a big fan of politicians, & they constantly disappoint me anyway.  Every now & then, one will do something that gives me just a slight smile at the corners of my mouth, only to screw it up the next day.  Here's the latest case-in-point.  Beyond that, this incorporates the even more horrendous practice of the auto-apology after a public figure says anything the remotest bit controversial.  This may annoy me more than anything else a politician does.  It's somewhere between lawyers retracting inciting questions after they've been objected to & politicians just straight-up admitting that they are heartless mercenaries who have no sincerity whatsoever.  No one ever means these apologies... people say what they mean 99% of the time anyway (well, most people...) & that magnifies greatly when in public or on the record.  Trying to apologize (& the media letting them get away with it!) makes a mockery of the whole process of making comments.  Now Dean didn't quite apologize per se, but he definitely pulled the "out-of-context" card which is almost as bad.  It reminds me of the absurd apology, though, & both are a lot of why I just find it hard to care about American politics.
-Heading out to Aspen this afternoon, after a few hours of housekeeping around here.  We're flying to Denver & then catching a bus over to the famed skiing area.  This is all for the annual PIRG retreat that Russ claims to be craziness incarnate.  We shall see.  Me?  I'm just glad there's going to be snow in my winter.  I'm hoping & mostly believing that I'll have periodic internet access throughout the journey, so that updates will come in from the road rather than after the event.  Either way, the updates will be here eventually.  It's a ten-day trip, so hopefully Emily will actually be able to relax by the end of it.  Should be fun!

7 December 2005
-Well it ended up being a nearly 4-hour delay all told to get on the train, so I slumped into Emeryville sometime after 1 in the morning.  Now I'm just exhausted.  At least I was absorbed in a book during the ride, though said tome (I am Charlotte Simmons still) has taken a turn for the emotionally wrenching.
-It looks like I won't be getting the University Quiz launched prior to the Aspen trip, which is a little disheartening but was to be expected.  Just would've been an ideal window to slip through, to get it out during college finals & college application season.  But the Book Quiz was launched in February to the massive record-setting it did, so a January release might be best anyway.
-Thanks to Russ, the Mep Report has managed to be listed on tens & tens of podcast directories internet-wide.  Now we have to see if we get any fans.
-In today's world, Chris Marianetti would be dead.

6 December 2005
[from Clovis, California]
-A bit of a hectic day in the RMI office, but nevertheless pretty good overall.  I designed some gift certificates that look like old railroad stock certificates, & I'm pretty happy with how they turned out, though I could've done more with a more refined graphics program.  We'll see how it all works out.
-Ack!  A freight derailment has prompted a 2-hour delay in my train.  Time to find something to eat.

5 December 2005
[from Clovis, California]
-Came down on the train again, another nice ride combining reading, eating, & a little bit of sleep.  These rides are awfully frequent these days, but at least they're infinitely more enjoyable than driving.
-The forum is taking off faster than anticipated, as we're nearing 100 members already.  How interested the folks will stay in posting remains to be seen.
-Well the big poker night was a bit of a disappointment, mostly as a reflection of my continually careening poker skills.  I was playing really well at the outset, only to falter by failing to make a call that would've knocked somebody out.  This got in my head, so I then called the bluffer's all-in when I had pocket queens only to see him turn over pocket kings.  At that point, he had about 100 more chips than I did (on a scale of about 2,000), so I was knocked out by the skin of my teeth.  Sigh.  A good crowd & good fun, but I really let myself down finishing 5th out of 8.  These guys aren't exactly seasoned veterans.

4 December 2005
-Thanks in part to Luke Stevens & his implicit linking of this site, I have discovered the following fun fact:  The Blue Pyramid is an anagram for Halt by Emu Pride.  This makes me quite pleased.
-Also pleasing is the fact that Em is almost home!  Off to SFO to pick her up...

3 December 2005
-"Derailed" just reminded me of my past.  I know that's an extreme thing to say, but there it is... I have to tell someone & at that point I might as well tell everyone.  I either loved it or hated it; I'm still deciding.  I think it was both.  It's very difficult to watch if you want to partake, but it is masterfully crafted.
-Sometimes it still takes restraint not to fire off e-mails.  Isn't that sick?
-In doing the graphics for the University Quiz, I've been reminded of how captivating a lot of these campuses can be.  I'm so glad I didn't make any decisions based on campus architecture, or for that matter even go on any college visits.  Because I know 'Deis was the right place for so many reasons, even besides the obvious draft/SS/financial aid issue, & it scares me that I would've been tempted into a shallow decision by the awesome beauty of some of these campuses.  Besides, as I was telling Fish last night, I got to spend every weekend at a different one of these campuses anyway.

2 December 2005
-Went to see HP4 again with Fish late last night, this time on the big screen at the Grand Lake.  They have nice new seats in all the theaters, which rock (literally).  I liked the movie about 5 times as much the second time, & I certainly didn't hate it the first time.  Methinks I was able to let go of exactly plotlines that were "missing" this time & concentrate on what had been done well by the film, which was a lot.  I still miss the part with the Marauder's Map & of course the house elves, but by & large, it's quite well done.
-Sometimes headaches just about sap my will to live.
-I'm reading I am Charlotte Simmons... I'm not exactly sure why.  Well in part because books I was more interested in reading were checked out of the library.  I also had a lot of curiosity to see what an aging man would have to say about the modern college experience & how much of it he got right.  I guess it seemed that a fair bit of the book's intent was similar to that of Loosely Based & I wanted to see how the relative collegiate realism stacked up.  I don't know if I've ever been more ambivalent about a book.  The way Wolfe talks about race drives me crazy... how the book hasn't been labeled as blatantly racist, I don't know.  It's books like this that make me feel like it should be illegal to identify oneself or others by race at all.  But at the same time, that's only one aspect of the book, & other aspects are insightful.  I'm loving the clash between Charlotte's morals & the debauchery of college life & I can't wait to see how it pans out.  But the journey is arduous... the race stuff, the assumption of the male psychology... the book is laced with drivel & overstatedness.  Yet it might be making a lot of good points along the way, despite being nestled in this attitude that makes it feel like a book out of the 1920's or something.  The jury is so far out that they may never come back.  I'm about 40% of the way through, so I'll let you know.
-In an editorial note of the highest meta-ness, I have finally revised the very top line of text of this page, which used to read "I'm beginning to believe that everyone should keep a diary of some kind...", lopping off the farcical "beginning" part of it.  I may ruminate on things sometimes, but it ought not take me five years to begin to believe something.  I now believe it already.  It's a more concrete statement going forward.

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