Tag Archives: Just Add Photo


For the First Time

Categories: A Day in the Life, Just Add Photo, Primary Sources, The Long Tunnel, Tags: , , ,

I am doing my dishes
for the first time
taking care not to nick, chip, scratch
the shiny new colors
as they turn in my yellow-gloved hands

The sink is smaller now
the light harsher, more grim
but my hands are just the same
holding the plates and bowls with care
that you seemed to disregard

It is stormy outside
like that day in the Badlands
the picture you chose to define it all
your new paradigm, status, independence
a day with me, and we were happy

I can see your reflection
in the plate’s concentric circles
glinting light off the o’erhead fluorescent
like the cloudbent sun on your glasses
that tumultuous day

I hope you’re happy now
but you’re not, and I’m not sure I mean it
it’s something people say
when they mean it and don’t
and I understand, oh I understand

I love you and hate you
like these dishes
you helped me buy

Your parting gift
as you turned your head, walked away
toward a future you long pictured
but never bothered
to truly see

A sequel to For the Last Time.


Picture This

Categories: A Day in the Life, Just Add Photo, The Long Tunnel, Tags: , ,

Today had a good energy, at least at the outset. I want to capture that feeling, that sense of purpose and excitement that I began the day with, without compromising this post to say how I feel right now. The difference was made when I hauled out the camera to upload the photos I took this afternoon, held and beheld some of the implications of the camera in my hand, and almost had to throw up. I should’ve given this camera away, not kept it, gotten the new one. I have been too magnanimous.

It is impossible to write about the energy then without reflecting on the roiling anger and frustration now. It is unfortunate, perhaps, that this cannot be the simple story of a simple walking tour in search of furniture. Perhaps we shall begin again to try to go back to that moment, for that moment was real and is captured, in part even on film. Just as the moments captured so often before on film are also real. Before before. No matter how poisoned or sullied they all have become, how washed in the hot blood of betrayal. This is not getting any easier.

A line is a good way to begin again, no? This morning I decided it was time to get some furniture. Oh, I have plenty of furniture, don’t worry about that. But I lack some living room accouterments, specifically a couch and a nice comfy reading armchair. I have been wrestling with the idea of getting Craigslist to fulfill these needs, daunted by the twin threats of bedbugs and my own lack of a truck or ability to haul seriously large furniture toward my domicile. Surely Craigslist is infinitely more affordable in its offerings, but would the delivery and warranty of a new couch be worth the extra cost? I have yet to decide, but thought walking to various furniture stores in the region might help set my mind in order.

Thus, I headed out on a clear fall day, clear and getting colder, but not yet frigid. It was frigid a few days ago and I got sick, but things are much improved and reminiscent of good days in San Francisco. My first stop was in Highland Park, just around the corner from me, a place so close I’d been surprised I hadn’t noticed it on my first few trips into the quaint downtown in my new town. 212 Raritan. As I approached, I became more and more certain I should’ve seen this as a furniture store until, just then, I saw it was… now a bookstore. In fact, the same bookstore I’d idled in a few days back. Nighthawk Books. Formerly a furniture store, now quite different. So it goes.

So I turned around and crossed the Raritan, this time meaning the River and not the Road. The view across the river looked like this:

And my own walk across looked like this:

There are these strange buckets of flowers that drain naturally onto the pavement of the bridge below, permanently soaking the shadowed areas of said cement with something between a puddle and a pond. The flowers are bright and cheery, but the water is annoying enough to make me question the effort at beautification. Or at least prompt a larger effort at drainage.

In any event, the walk was bright and sunny and I soon concluded I didn’t need the extra (third) layer I’d brought just in case. Periodically I stopped to observe how New Brunswick looks in the daytime as I approach it.

For example:

Note the Rutgers banners lining the lampposts all along the avenue. It’s almost required for any place of business in either NB or HP to carry a logo or sign or some indication of their support of the institution. I’m not sure if it’s because all of their income comes from students or people directly related to the university or what, but it inculcates a good bit of school spirit for my adopted debate program, if nothing else.

Anyway, I kept trudging along, eventually passing the train station wherefrom I may someday commute:

On my way to the designated cluster of furniture stores whose addresses I’d carefully copied, I was almost tripped by a consignment shop with little bits of furniture out front. My eye was caught first by a nightstand, then by a small chest of drawers, and five minutes of negotiation later, I’d acquired two pieces of furniture I’d not set out to get. Still, it seemed like a good omen and I was very satisfied with the price. I promised to come back with the car by day’s end to pick things up and quick-stepped toward the cluster.

The first of the places proved to be under renovation, recently vacated by its furniture-bearing former occupant. So I was 0-2, but with the unexpected bonus of the place I hadn’t researched. The next place was intimidating just to walk into, but I persevered anyway, overwhelmed by lavish displays that seemed sorely out of place in the largely immigrant neighborhood in which the store was situated. I felt the fabric of a couple couches, somewhat wistfully, well aware that the lack of price tags indicated the old adage… “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.” I hightailed it out of there before the staff could ask me what kind of an impostor I thought I was.

The next place, just a bit up the road, was so intimidating I didn’t set foot. Not so much because the items looked overpriced, but rather they looked frilly. And overpriced. The whole place seemed assembled by a rejected Disney princess who was consoling herself on her dismissal with an abundance of floral antiques. Not a pretty sight. There may have been a couple reasonable looking lamps, something else I’m in need of, but it just wasn’t worth the risk of being attacked by the overall atmosphere of stepping into the middle of a dainty doily.

And thus I booked it home, passing back under the overpass on the way to the bridge:

And arriving home to pick up the Prius:

(My place is the front-right corner of this building, ground floor.)

I paused just briefly to reflect on the lush greenery of my new neighborhood:

And then drove through the middling traffic to retrieve my new wood items. But not before jotting down the address of one more place, a discount furniture place in nearby Edison that seemed to have relatively reasonable prices on nice new living room material. After the quick pick-up in NB, I headed once more back across the Raritan, followed the directions, and wound up in an industrial area of my greater region only to find a for-lease sign on the building I’d been directed to. Yup. Three of the five furniture stores I’d sought today were permanently closed.

When my Dad came out here a few weeks ago, he’d been impressed by how much wealth and success and prosperity seemed reflected in the entire east coast and especially parts of central Jersey. He’d commented on it repeatedly, noting the construction and newness of many of the buildings, especially those associated with the school or the hospitals nearby. But it takes an exercise like today to realize that things here aren’t exactly peachy. I see plenty of commercial real estate boarded up, lots of subtly shuttered places here and there with Princeton phone numbers vainly calling for new enterprise. But the turnover of so many places still listed on the internet map as functional locales with numbers and even websites, this puts it into relief. Maybe furniture is disproportionately affected by the recent change in economic climate, which would certainly make sense, but maybe it’s most everything.

By nightfall, I was home and unloading my new nightstand and drawers, not yet to the point of sudden rage at the indignities of this particular camera and all I have been made to endure. I was exhausted, a bit of a backfire to my new plan of walking a lot and improving my general fitness. Heartened to see that the last of the dishes had shown, that things were coming together, if ever so slowly. I still lack soft furniture on which to flop. I still lack a feeling of being home.

Miles walked today: 3.8



Categories: A Day in the Life, Just Add Photo, The Long Tunnel, Tags: , ,

“There’s got to be someone we can trust
out here among us.”
-Wallflowers, “Three Marlenas”, as heard at Home Depot today

Yesterday was almost an okay day. I couldn’t tell you why. I guess part of it was that Emily and I weren’t bickering over e-mail as we have been wont to do lately. Today is harder, for reasons again mostly inexplicable, but perhaps in part related to our correspondence. Emily chose today to contact a lot of her friends and a fair number of mine to state in a very detached way that we were “going our separate ways.” It was a hard e-mail to read, mostly because of how emotionally vacant it seemed. It also left out any mention of the guy who’d been the catalyst and centerpiece of the whole question. I know she thinks that this isn’t about the guy, but to tell the entire story without there being another guy just seems to make the whole thing even more cavalier and capricious than it already actually is.

Whatever. Ultimately, everyone tells themselves a story so they can sleep at night. Me, I cut my hair.

It’s a complicated issue, this one of the haircut. Obviously my hair has a lot of symbolic import for me and it was important to mark the occasion of mourning and loss with a physical loss that reflected the kind of sacrifices I’ve been told I have to make against my will. It’s also a little bit about someday being able to attract someone else, getting my hair back to the length that turned the most heads back in late high-school and early college. And more than even being in a position where I might be able to actually attract someone else anytime soon, it’s largely about feeling like I could. I feel so profoundly unlovable right now that any small glimmer of hope or confidence is an incredible boon.

So now my hair looks like this:

Ariel and Michael accompanied me and held my hand (and my hair) through my first professional haircut in over two decades. I was insanely nervous, but was very pleasantly surprised by the demeanor and approach of the woman who actually took the scissors and clippers to my head. I’m really pleased with the results and could have even gone a little bit shorter perhaps.

Largely because of my nerves and my caution to get it right, I didn’t end up donating the hair. Many people have asked about this already. I wanted to, but found the hair donation centers to be remarkably picky about how they want their hair delivered and precise stipulations. That’s their right, I guess, but they have to understand it’s going to deter a lot of marginal hair donation. Anyway, the hair instead ended up on the floor:

I am overdue for an actual shower where I think my hair will start to wave and bounce up a little and take its more permanent shape. It’s such a little thing in some ways and yet feels like such a big deal. I guess everything feels like a big deal, part of reducing the scale of the horizon down to a day or even a few hours at a time, just trying to muddle through and find the next thing to look forward to, the next thing that isn’t totally desolate and bleak. The days may just alternate for awhile, struggling between really arduous and surprisingly not awful. Fish’s car died today and I can sympathize. The energy it takes to go, to try, to move, to be, is just overwhelming.

At least I’m still capable of contriving a way to give looks like this occasionally:

So it goes.


Multimedia Bonus Coverage

Categories: A Day in the Life, Just Add Photo, Let's Go M's, Primary Sources, Telling Stories, Tags: , , , ,

Consider this an addendum to my earlier post today. Go read that, because I think it’s more interesting than this one will be. But this one has videos! Feeling strangely prolific today, like all my energy from traveling has been stored up and is ready to be unleashed.

In hell, you can watch all the baseball games you want, but every single commercial break between innings or for pitching changes carries the exact same sequence of commercials. And in the ninth circle, the commercial sequence in question leads off with a horrifically over-masculine aggressive commercial for a new planned-obsolescence rollout of conventional shaving apparatus. You know, like this:

Unfortunately, I live in hell, masquerading as a place called “New Jersey”. As Robin Williams said in one of the twenty greatest films of all time, “I found you in Hell – don’t you think I can find you in Jersey?” So this is my experience with MLBTV. It makes me a lot more likely to exit early from a game the M’s are already losing 8-3, but might also make me cut bait on a game where the score is reversed. I have never moved so fast for a mute button so many times. Ugh.

I really need to update my favorite films list. It may include this:

Yes, I am telling you all about seventeen times to see this movie. You need to listen.

Seriously. You can watch the whole thing on YouTube in twelve parts. Do it already.

Also, this:

That one’s available on Vimeo. In one take. People are just giving away thought-provoking cinema, people. Take advantage.

Finally, I’ve used the appellation “Tiny House” so many times lately that I realize I may never have explained the origin of same. It’s not just because the house is small; it’s also a reference. To this:

I have to agree with the YouTube commenter who expressed anger when he realized that this was just a spoof commercial and not an upcoming reality series. That is, I felt that way until Em & I began our own personal reality series last August when we got here.

If you missed it in the last post, please let me know if you want to read The Best of All Possible Worlds and you haven’t done so in some way already. Eight people signed up on Facebook already. Don’t risk being the thirtieth person on your block to read this book or something. And by “your block,” I mean “planet Earth.”


Thursday Round-Up

Categories: A Day in the Life, Just Add Photo, Let's Go M's, Metablogging, Politics (n.): a strife of interests masquerading, Telling Stories, The Agony of the Wait is the Agony of Debate, Tags: , , , , , ,

From time to time, I feel the need to post a rambly cattle-call of happenings in my life and links around the web. I should start designating a day to do this and making it something like a regular feature, but that would probably require me approaching this blog with the discipline of a professional columnist.

  • It seems I don’t write much about politics here anymore, largely because of the twin forces of Duck and Cover and TMR getting first crack at my political musings. I almost cross-posted this commentary on Obama’s lack of Socialism here, but instead I’m just linking it. Enjoy.
  • As promised yesterday, I recently put up the APDA Nats brackets for 2010, complete with results of submitted brackets from current APDAites. (Those distant from debate should note that this is not how APDA Nats is actually structured, but a hypothetical based on the NCAA basketball tourney.) This hasn’t generated as much discussion that’s gotten back to me as I expected, but I’ve heard rumors that people are still enjoying it from afar. Given that I’m on a bid to become Tab Director of Nats 2011, this will probably be the last of these I do for a while… it seems a little weird for people involved in the Nats tab staff to publish a ranking of debaters partaking at that tournament, which is why I didn’t do one in 2007.
  • The last two M’s games have been amazing. I missed the Tuesday game because I was doing prep work with the Rutgers team for Nats, but yesterday’s was a real gem. I am a huge fan of the new additions to the team, including the fact that Milton Bradley seems to be happy and ready to produce for this team. But Chone Figgins is threatening to become my favorite Mariner. Between the steals and the walks, he reminds me of Rickey Henderson so much it’s ridiculous. And I loved Rickey Henderson. But he seems to have even less of an ego than Rickey, which was the latter’s one annoying trait. Then again, Chone isn’t exactly contending for the all-time steals title.
  • Did, in fact, get our taxes in on-time, yesterday. We do owe both states a little money, and TaxAct scammed us out of more money than they should have. But it’s done and the Feds owe us a lot.
  • I wonder if the West will characterize this bombing as “freedom fighting” while everyone else utilizing these methods are “terrorists”.
  • My mental state and health have continued to be somewhat subpar in recent weeks. The main issues seem to be a general feeling of dissociative malaise and surreality that may just be endemic to April, and also migraines. I’ve been averaging about 4 migraines a week, an astounding spike in frequency that seems inexplicable when observing normal triggers and factors. This combines uncomfortably with this dreamlike sense of reality that’s overtaken much of my last 2-3 weeks, which may partially be related to the subject matter of the current novel I’m working on. (Though I haven’t been working nearly as much as I’d like, but I’m mostly doing plot work to enable really cramming on output in the next month or so.) I feel largely like I’ve been looking at my life from 30,000 feet, or at least 30 feet, watching myself live instead of actually being in a first-person view. It’s strange and makes me sound completely nuts. I’m not completely nuts. I just feel more like I’m living through a filter than that I’m actually fully here. I sort of feel that this reality is all illusory anyway and that life’s core realities are a little like our souls playing a video game (but with meaningful consequences) on this planet, so maybe I’m just more aware of that reality.
  • The other explanation for the above issues, of course, may be that there’s something seriously wrong with my brain. I’m inclined to think otherwise, but it’s good to keep all the possibilities in mind. I’ve told Emily to keep an eye out for me behaving really erratically or out of character, which would be indicative of a possible brain tumor. I’m not actually that worried, though, because the migraine symptoms have been so classic. (Though such symptoms also mirror those of tumors and aneurysms somewhat.) The other factor that I entertained was that I was somehow drinking decaf coffee – that the batch of Folgers I’m working through is either mislabeled or contaminated somehow. Because honestly, foggy worldview, increased tiredness, and more migraines could all be explained by caffeine deficiency too.
  • Debate Nationals this weekend – always one of the most exciting times of the year. I’ve attended 7 of the last 11 nationals prior to this one and this weekend will make 8 of 12. For all that I probably should feel a little strange about being so old and having seen so much on APDA, I really feel nothing of the sort. I think I’ve been in the work world long enough to understand just how meaningful and valuable I find the APDA community to be, to treasure how rare its intellectuality is. I’ve been thinking a little about how much work I’ve put in to the Rutgers team, all unpaid, and realizing that I don’t see any of it as a chore. I think this is what it would be like to really love one’s job, because I do it all voluntarily. I’ve worked for organizations I truly love before, but never felt this way about the actual work. If the writing doesn’t work out, I need to figure out a way to swing professional debate coaching. Possibly in Africa.


Zimmy Wins First BP March Madness Challenge

Categories: A Day in the Life, Blue Pyramid News, Just Add Photo, Tags: , ,

Congratulations go to Adam “Zimmy” Zimmerman, the grand prize winner of this year’s first-ever Blue Pyramid University Quiz March Madness Challenge. Zimmy wins an Amazon gift certificate and the adulation of hoops bracketeers everywhere.

Zim-Zim the Mayonnaise Man

News of a new set of brackets, namely that involving APDA’s 2010 National Championship if it were a 64-team single-elimination tournament, is forthcoming sometime early tomorrow.


A Thousand Words

Categories: A Day in the Life, Just Add Photo, Politics (n.): a strife of interests masquerading, Tags: , ,

It’s not exactly people bringing down the statue of Saddam Hussein, but this kind of image is being levied to the American people as a sign of the grand liberation they’re bringing to a backwards and otherwise hopeless land in “the good war.”

But let’s let this picture speak for itself a little, shall we?

First off, we have a major offensive into a town/city that’s been described as ranging from a population of anywhere from 50,000 to 125,000 people. Presumably this is the town square, a patch of green field that may be what fallow poppies look like. If you’re going to have a ceremony for a city this size, it’s safe to say you’d pick a place reflective of the grandness of the city itself. This is a place that makes abandoned pueblos in New Mexico look like thriving modern metropolises.

Where are they hiding all those people?

If you look up Marja, you’ll find a hastily assembled Wikipedia article with no images and a discussion of the 2010 offensive, a vague 1950’s reference, and the latitude/longitude coordinates of 31°31′N 64°07′E. Plug those coordinates into Google Maps and you get an image of a dirt triangle in the middle of green fields like the one in the image above, revealing enough housing for at least 5,000 people scattered over an area the size of a small county. Where did all those people go?

Scroll around a bit and you’ll find an actual city, Laskar Gah, in the northeast of the region. But this is not the city of the offensive, not the site of the resistance, not the area in dispute. South of that is an actual fortress, the ancient stronghold of Qala Bist with its famous arch and corresponding inspirations.

This is not being billed as the war for Laskar Gah, though. It’s a war for poppy fields, like those depicted in our ceremonial flag-raising above. Look at all the guards on each side of the tiny ceremony. Surely they have to guard a formal ceremony in a land known for suicide bombings, right? This makes sense. But, uh, why are they facing toward the crowd rather than away from it? How does that make sense? They’re not guarding against a marauding individual who comes careening in to spoil the party, but rather preparing to gun down anyone in the dense packed crowd who makes a false move.

Which, frankly, doesn’t make any sense either. After all, with the crowd this closely packed, you couldn’t even see into the middle of the crowd. And that’s where a clever suicide bomber would be. With this density and proximity, they’d probably be able to wipe out the whole thing with one explosive. The fact that this didn’t happen indicates there was probably quite a perimeter and possible strip-search at the gates of this gathering. Which makes sense, but then why the inward-pointing guards?

The message of this picture seems clear to me. There just aren’t that many people in Marja, at least not that many who want to be associated with the ancient flag. The flag is fringed with gold, tinged with the blood of civilians who died for an uncertain future, liberated from their lives made miserable by the same invaders who ended it all. Is it any wonder you can’t get more people to come to this party?

There may not be stars and stripes on this flag, but there are wreaths of wheat. The flag waves over the amber waves of grain in the distance, planted to cover up the opium, cover up the still warm bodies of the dead. What if they threw a flag-raising and nobody came?



Categories: A Day in the Life, Just Add Photo, The Agony of the Wait is the Agony of Debate, Tags: , ,

I didn’t think I’d make it to thirty. For a long time, I felt fairly confident about that. Over the weekend, I proved myself wrong. And I’m pretty happy about that.

Since the Princeton tournament ran till 1:30 in the morning on my birthday proper, we ended up putting up some of my Rutgers team that had planned on going back to New Brunswick when the trains were still running. Em tipped them off that the day was significant, so after the tournament they went out and got cupcakes, a book I’d been meaning to read, and two hats, including my first-ever beret and a wool bear hat which is truly amazing and fits neatly in my collection of somewhat ridiculous headgear.

Em and I went out to dinner at the infamous Tortuga’s that night, I got a migraine, and was actually asleep at 2:56 AM Eastern on the 21st, the moment (11:56 PM Pacific on the 20th) that I turned 30. Would not have predicted that.

The next day, Em had said there would be a small gathering of people, but totally misrepresented the size and schedule, creating a pretty hefty surprise party that started at Chipotle! It went on to bowling, wherein I notched a 198 high game after bowling a so-so 443 series. We had time for so many games because the entire party save four people (Fish, Beth, Em, and I) ditched after just one game of bowling. It was still great that so many people came out though.

Here are some obligatory pictorial depictions of the event:

30’s a big number:


How did I get to be so old?

Resisting the temptation to faceplant…

A lot of people came from Philadelphia and Jersey:

The opening frame. Note the lack of pins in the lane!

55% of our lives and counting:

I’ll have something about the deeper reflections of what it’s like to actually be thirty sometime later. It feels remarkably different, remarkably weird. As I’ve stated frequently, I’m really glad I finished American Dream On to ward off feelings of failure and insignificance that are still wafting in a bit. Today, I also maintained a February/March tradition by creating a mix CD, my first since last March. Entitled “Triple Threat”, it mixes themes of three decades, the state of the world, and creativity. Like being thirty itself, I’m not entirely sure what I think of it yet.


Snow Day – the Rest of the Story (or: Chronicle of a Fort Foretold)

Categories: A Day in the Life, Just Add Photo, Tags: ,

Yesterday was one of the best days in a good long while. It snowed all day, with total fall probably somewhere over a foot, tacked onto the 4-6 unmelted inches from the storm over the weekend. I came in and out of the house as often as I dared under a strict rubric of refusing to get sick for a third time this winter. I’ve finally figured out how to stay suited up sufficiently and when I have to come in. I think. I’m not feeling 100%, but I’m certainly not sick either.

Anyway, for those who prefer things visually, here are ten more takes on the day that was…

When Em got up and I told her class was cancelled, we decided to make an impromptu breakfast that wasn’t cereal:

Back to work on the fort:


Emily made a snow-person. For reasons that remain opaque, she dubbed her “Fraulein Francesca”:

The snow was really coming down:


Almost a containing cave:

This was actually us both in the snow fort:

Substantial wall additions:

The beginnings of a tower, with a window on the side:

Epilogue: When I went out this morning, the new window-wall side had collapsed, mostly because of the weakness of the window. I worked on rebuilding it for about an hour. When I just looked out the window about five minutes ago, I saw that the entire roof has caved in, leaving just some walls. So it goes.


Snow Days (or: Why New Jersey Isn’t So Bad)

Categories: A Day in the Life, Just Add Photo, Telling Stories, Tags: , ,

We are living right now under a swirling Nor’easter that reminds me why Emily was able to convince me to move back to the East Coast. My love for snow simply can’t be underestimated. Really can’t. I am just walking around in a state of euphoric bliss as the precipitation accumulates. It even figured heavily in the short story I wrote last night, the second in a week.

Here’s ten quick pictures to get you started on the storm of last weekend and the much bigger storm underway now…

On Saturday, it snowed!:

I finally made good use of our fancy new scraper thing:

We made a plan to meet some friends in the afternoon and play in the snow. I immediately set to work on a snow fort that wound up looking a little mazey:

Emily made a snow angel, her first ever:

Obligatory artistic shot:

When we got home and a day or so had passed, I missed my snow fort. So I started another one in our yard, with a much smaller footprint, but aspirations for greater height:

This morning, as dawn broke, it was deja vu all over again:

This tree is right in front of our house:

I had worked on the fort last night as it started snowing again… there’s some real potential brewing here:

The Prius was ready this time. If by “ready” we mean “prepared to look silly”:


Well This is New

Categories: A Day in the Life, Blue Pyramid News, Just Add Photo, Tags: , ,

Back when I had a really popular website, I used to get e-mails almost constantly, e-mails that criticized or questioned certain decisions I would make in my quizzes. The epicenter of this feedback crystallized into three key critiques which I summarized as the top three Frequently Asked Quiztions.

But today I got a new one – totally unprecedented. Something that almost reminds me of my meeting-people gimmick of challenging them to come up with an original play on my name as they’re digesting its similarity to a word they use daily. It is presumably from someone in China… while the e-mail address is inconclusive, the hold on English and the sentiments expressed are not:

date Sat, Jan 30, 2010 at 10:21 AM
subject what’s problem with your quiz?

To whom it may concern,

Today I took a “what country are you” quiz on your web and it says I’m the country Taiwan… Huh?? when did Taiwan become a C-O-U-N-T-R-Y???!!!! WTF with your web????

Taiwan has always been a part of territory of China!!

Taiwan is only a province of China!!!

Don’t ever forget this!!!


If only they’d used a couple more exclamation points, I might really never forget this. Although I highly doubt they expected me to record the verbatim transcript of their e-mail. Here’s your shot at immortality, friend.

The Internet is so liberating.

Speaking of the Internet, the big meme going around Facebook is to find your “celebrity doppelganger” and make said person your profile picture. I am hardly so cavalier about said picture, but I was reading the best article about David Foster Wallace since his death the other night, so I figure he might have to do:

Of course, that may just be the most authentic celebrity who looks like me, or the person I’d most like to be compared to. After all, we all know that reality shows have produced the people who really look the most like me:

No matter how much long brown hair they grow, though, none of these people ever seem quite as thin as I am. Ah well.


First Snow

Categories: A Day in the Life, Just Add Photo, Telling Stories, Tags: , ,

Today I was reminded why I came to the East Coast. Sure, I may have written 3 chapters in the last 24 hours and be capping the officially most productive writing period of my entire life (the amount written here has surpassed the entire length of Loosely Based in a slightly shorter timeframe), but this is what I really came for…

Snow!: the view from our porch.

Watching snow makes me happy:

Who needs a Christmas tree?

Starting to stick…

Starting to accumulate…

Pandora is unimpressed:

The world transformed:


Words, Words, Words

Categories: A Day in the Life, Just Add Photo, Metablogging, Telling Stories, Tags: , , ,

So, there’s this thing called Wordle that I just discovered on Facebook, which allows you to analyze any piece of writing or webpage for commonly occurring words. Then it spits out something like this:

Pretty neat stuff. My big complaint is that it doesn’t draw on the whole history of the blog, but only the very recent history, which is why this thing reads mostly like a schizophrenic recap of my last substantive post.

I am wholly torn between my temptation to plug in the entirety of American Dream On and the concern that it would somehow find a way to capture it or just fail to function under the weight of 76,000+ words.

Maybe trying Loosely Based would be a good compromise…


The Sojourn in Pictures: New Jersey

Categories: A Day in the Life, Just Add Photo, Summer Sojourn 2009, Tags: , ,

Part 16 in a 16-part stately series pictorially documenting the Sojourn.

Thursday: Pennsylvania

We missed the entry sign for Jersey amidst construction. However, this is almost as good – the other half of the sign (not pictured) says The World Takes:

Our crooked rusty corner sign:

The Prius made it in good shape:

Tiny House!

Inside Tiny House – it’s tiny:

I had not intended to grow facial hair on the trip, but my razor broke on the second day. This is thus a follicle chronicle of our journey:

Em was tired, but had time to come up with the brilliant idea of pool floats as mattresses while we waited for our stuff (and did a puzzle):

That’s it for the Summer Sojourn – hope you’ve enjoyed this pictorial odyssey. Next up will probably be some rendition of the India & Nepal 2008 Trip, which I was doing a decent job of posting about right after it ended, then was unable to keep up during new day job obligations at Glide. The daily content/series thing is fun, though I wonder how relevant it will feel almost two years after that trip. That, at least, has words and pictures together, since I kept an extensive journal on that trip (which didn’t exactly materialize in this year’s domestic venture).


The Sojourn in Pictures: Pennsylvania

Categories: A Day in the Life, Just Add Photo, Summer Sojourn 2009, Tags: , ,

Part 15 in a 16-part stately series pictorially documenting the Sojourn.

Tuesday: Ohio

I think this highlights the problem with putting gubernatorial names on state entry signs:

PNC Park!

We had amazing seats – the closest I’ve ever been to a major league field – for not much dough… I guess it helps to set a record for consecutive losing seasons:


The Pirates may be the only major league team with two mascots. Some teams don’t even have one:

Cool out-of-town-scoreboard with game situations:

Tony LaRussa!

The Duquesne Incline – the best little city attraction you’ve never heard of:

First one comes up in the red incline car:

Then looks at the amazing view from the top:

Then starts on the descent:

View from the bottom after going up and back:

Next up in Pittsburgh, the Carnegie:

This picture fails to capture the epic size of the diplodocus pictured:

Storey with stego:

Em with triceratops:

Em contemplates what it would be like to encounter this giant sea turtle in the wild:

Return to the fabled cafeteria at Dickinson College – it hasn’t changed a bit:

The emergency exit door I shattered with a baseball at CTY and had to pay to replace:

Hershey’s Chocolate World, where I asked to Em’s embarrassment why they didn’t have M&M cookies:

The highlights of the tour are these singing animatronic cows, espousing the virtues of MILK! chocolate:

The real factory (no admittance):

Philly at night:

Waffle House in NE PA:

World’s largest crayon or fake plastic filler?

Cozy day of reading in Ariel & Mike’s new place:

And last: New Jersey


The Sojourn in Pictures: Ohio

Categories: A Day in the Life, Just Add Photo, Summer Sojourn 2009, Tags: , ,

Part 14 in a 16-part stately series pictorially documenting the Sojourn.

Sunday: Michigan

The only Lt. Governor to get their name on a sign in America?

Faint moonset over our hotel in Cleveland:

Cuyahoga Valley “National Park”, in its one very pretty view:

Tiny toad!

Much larger dragonfly:

The rushin’ waters of the Cuyahoga:

Bikers are the most common wildlife in this Park:

Tomorrow: Pennsylvania


The Sojourn in Pictures: Michigan

Categories: A Day in the Life, Just Add Photo, Summer Sojourn 2009, Tags: , ,

Part 13 in a 16-part stately series pictorially documenting the Sojourn.

Thursday: Indiana

If only they were the “Good Lakes”:

Mmmm… baseball….

Those are some fierce cats:

In case you were wondering where we are:

Emily attempting to high-five the Tiger:

Nifty whale mural in the distance:

This guy convinced me he was real and waiting for the People-Mover, at least at first:

The Ren Center:

Inside the stadium:

Pretty cool scoreboard:

And a run comes in:

The only place in America where the sports team supports a company rather than the other way round:

The bright lights of Detroit:

The Pepsi Porch area looked neat from a distance:

The tigers’ eyes light up when the team scores a run:


Next up: Ohio



Categories: A Day in the Life, Just Add Photo, Tags: ,

I talk a lot about the 85% rule, which states that at any given time, 85% of all people are idiots, or mailing it in, or both.

But rarely do succinct manifestations get mailed to my door:

[portions redacted by recipient]

I’m not sure we should be so hasty, PSE&G. Do you really want to take this out of Unknown Unknown’s name so quickly when they’ve been such a loyal customer?

Also, what exactly is your current mailing address on file for Unknown Unknown? Arlington National Cemetery, perhaps?

Which begs the question of why you would send this notice to the old mailing address. I look forward to next week, when I will receive a bill for $3,521.89 at this address, representing the total accrued costs for Unknown Unknown’s use of electricity.

I am tempted to call them and claim to be Unknown Unknown, requesting service in my new location. In the meantime, I should go frame shopping.


The Sojourn in Pictures: Illinois

Categories: A Day in the Life, Just Add Photo, Summer Sojourn 2009, Tags: , ,

Part 11 in a 16-part stately series pictorially documenting the Sojourn.

Yesterday’s Post: Iowa
Actual Previous State: Wisconsin

They’re really into the whole Lincoln thing in Illinois:

I, on the other hand, am really into that whole Ray Bradbury thing in Waukegan:

Emily liked the space-age swingsets:

The ravine from Dandelion Wine:

Really nifty explanation of the renaming of the park for Ray:

Skyline of Chicago:

Skyline from US Cellular Field (frmrly New Comiskey):

I’m not exactly clear on what the pinwheel thing is on the South Side, but they seem to be into it:

Right after some home-run fireworks:

You can putitontheboard – yes!

Blue tower near the Magnificent Mile:

A river runs through it:

Emily was unconvinced that this building was all that tall:

I can’t believe they’re trying to rename the Sears Tower – it doesn’t seem to be sticking with any of the locals:

The Sears/Willis Tower was really a fan of the 2016 Olympic bid, though:

I’m pretty convinced – it’s tall:

Guess what – another Union Station!

Emily with her namesake, or at least one rendition:

Perfect blue buildings?

I’m pretty sure these were in the establishing shot for the Bob Newhart Show:

Tomorrow: Indiana

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