Archive for January, 2003


Friday, January 31st, 2003

It would be cool to be a cartoonist, the trouble is that I’ve only come up with two good ideas for cartoons, an average of one per decade. The first is from my radical environmentalist phase in high school. At that time, the first George Bush wanted some protected wetlands to be undefined as such because they were only wet part of the time, or something. So one of my cartoon characters (the characters were the NG people, who were anthropomorphic drops of natural gas) was running for president, and proposed that many “trees” should not be defined as such because a “tree” is a tall, leafy plant; while many so-called trees are only leafy during part of the year, while others aren’t “tall” at all. It should have ended with a witty comment by one of the other characters, but I could never come up with one.
The second would be titled “Harry Nilsson with a banana in his ear.” The first panel would show Harry Nilsson with a banana in his ear, and a friend would come up and say, “Harry, did you know that there’s a banana in your ear?” Harry would say, “What?” This would happen a couple more times, and in the final panel, Harry would say, “I’m sorry, I can’t hear a word you’re saying, only the echoes of my mind, because I have this banana in my ear.” Ha, ha.
More recently I had an idea for a bumper sticker that would read “I’d Rather Be Preserving Ma’at,” however I can’t remember if this was my idea or Andy’s, or maybe somebody else’s. I frequently plagiarize other people’s catchphrases and witticisms without really being aware I’m doing it.

unintentional hiatus

Wednesday, January 29th, 2003

I’m not totally sure what I’ve been doing the last 8 days, but probably not much interesting enough to write about. School stuff, of course–I’ll be spending a good deal of this evening finishing up a map assignment for tomorrow. I’m a PhD student, and I’m working on a map assignment. I feel very fulfilled.
Last weekend, Andy and I met up for a short visit. We talked about some wedding stuff, and I’ve gotten a couple of other wedding odds and ends done. I’m kind of ashamed to say that I watched most of a show called “Bridezillas” the other night. It was worse than I expected, made me feel guilty for watching it, and bored at the same time.
It snowed yesterday, and it looks pretty outside. The sun came out today, which was kind of startling. It’s so much brighter than I remembered!

“see you in hell, dinner plate”

Tuesday, January 21st, 2003

Nothing very exciting is going on around here. We had to cancel a Michigan visit due to snow, so I spent the time mulling over wedding stuff. I think I may have over-mulled, though; I’ve driven myself nearly mad pondering china patterns and bridesmaid dress possibilities. I’ve attempted to foist off the dress decision on my matron of honor, and think I’ve finally come up with a china solution. Nobody seems to like cobalt blue anything these days; it’s all freaky mint greens and lavendars. I think it might be the Trading Spaces effect.
It’s cooolllld outside. The ancient steam radiators in my apartment are keeping the place a temperate 79 degrees inside though. The temp isn’t by my choice, I don’t have control over the radiator level, but I am enjoying it.

that’s why they call it “work”

Friday, January 17th, 2003

I was counting up recently and realized that I

wedding mania

Thursday, January 16th, 2003

Somehow, the bridal industry has gotten hold of my name and location. I’ve been receiving wedding-related junk mail, telemarketing calls, and spam. I’ve “won” so many valuable prizes in the last few days that I must have single-handedly smashed the laws of probability all to bits. I just hung up on some woman who wanted to tell me I’d won…something, I couldn’t figure out exactly what, but apparently it was the result of “the survey” that I filled out at “the mall.” I’ve spent approximately two hours in a mall since last summer, and I don’t recall filling out any forms while I was there. “Maybe a friend filled it out for you?” the lady suggested. Now there’s a creepy thought.
Yes, I hang up on telemarketers. Usually before they say anything, because on those computer-dialed ones there’s that irritating pause between your first “hello” and when they get around to picking up the phone on their end. I don’t think this is disrespectful, first because I consider somebody calling me on the phone trying to sell me something to be nearly as intrusive as someone forcing their way into my home and making me listen to their sales pitch; and secondly because there is absolutely no chance I’m going to give any money to some anonymous voice on the phone, so the sooner I hang up the sooner they can move along to somebody that will. On the other hand, I don’t want to browbeat the telemarketer. I’m no good at browbeating people, for one thing, and more importantly they are probably just regular people who need the money. I myself have interviewed for two “telephone survey” type jobs. One was with Gallup, it was a telephone interview with lots of deep psychological questions like “Do you like the sound of your own voice?” and “Do you ever “get tough” with people?” I didn’t get the job.
I did make some calls of my own today for various wedding-related goods and services. I was reasonably polite on all of them, and so were the anonymous telephone voices. See how much better it is this way?


Wednesday, January 15th, 2003

The other day I looked at my calendar and noted that I had put a heart sticker on the 14th. At first I thought, “What’s so gruesome about Tuesday?” Then I thought, “No, that’s something else. Tuesday is our third dating anniversary.” If anyone had told me while I was snoozing through Hebrew class all that time ago that someday Andy and I would be planning our wedding, I would have been surprised (into wakefulness, perhaps), but pleased. It has been a wonderful three years, and just keeps getting better.


Sunday, January 12th, 2003

I didn’t get to see Andy this weekend, but I did get to spend a lot of time in my advisor’s lab, a small windowless room in the basement of the OI. I’ve been doing various data entry type things on the Ashkelon excavation database. The room also contains a DNA lab. This is enclosed by a lumber framework covered with semi-opaque plastic, through which can be seen the dim outlines of a lot of incomprehensible equipment. Everyone who works down there had to have DNA samples taken in case (I don’t know how this would happen) our DNA somehow drifted in with the ancient stuff. So I guess if I ever want to have myself cloned I can find the sample down there somewhere. I really don’t, though.
Someday, I would like to start treating Sunday as the Sabbath day and not working on that day, but so far it hasn’t happened. In fact, I kind of wish we as a society still had a day of rest, doesn’t matter which day of the week it would be, but just a day when people are supposed to rest, without the option of catching up on work or housework or roaming around the mall. One thing that is really special to me about Christmas is that it is pretty much the only day of the year when everything shuts down, the streets are quiet, everyone is at home relaxing and not busying themselves with the millions of things we busy ourselves with. It might be nice if we had a day like that every week, which respected our need (which we usually don’t respect for ourselves) to have time just to think and reflect and rest. Going back to the old practice of everything shutting down on Sundays probably wouldn’t be that great an idea, but I would like to start honoring the Sabbath myself–I do take time off during the week, but the structure of one day per week (either the day or sunset to sunrise, whichever) is cool in that it provides a structure for the week, and begins the week with worship and rest, which seems like a good way to start a week.

just another day

Thursday, January 9th, 2003

They are building an extension to the school which is visible to the southwest from my apartment window, over what used to be part of Nichols Park. It seems to be going well, they have the steel framework built. Over on the other side of the school they are building something else, presumably another extension; the steel framework over there is covered with huge sheets of plastic, which whips around in the wind making it look kind of like a big ghost building.
A couple of years ago there was a bit of a flap about tax credits being offered to businesses in Hyde Park. HP is not what they call a “blighted” neighborhood but did qualify as “at risk” and the tax credits were supposed to keep businesses in business so that HP wouldn’t turn into part of the wasteland-like area it is surrounded by. The flap was due to the fact that HP is considered to be a rich neighborhood in comparison to a lot of the rest of the south side, and people were annoyed about “the rich” getting tax credits. They have a point, a lot depends on how HP is defined; the area right around the University and Kenwood is pretty rich, but if you treat the area north of 47th St. or west of Cottage Grove as part of HP it makes it look much closer to “blighted,” though I don’t know the technical definition of that term.
There’s a newspaper called Streetwise in Chicago, which is sold by homeless and other disadvantaged people, the purpose being to help people learn job skills and so forth. It’s an interesting paper, and definitely represents a different point of view than the mainstream media, but sometimes it’s hard to know what to do with that. For example, a lot of the people living in the projects really didn’t want to move when the city started planning to tear them down and create new, smaller-scale subsidized housing interspersed in middle-class neighborhoods. I can understand not wanting to move and leave the community of people you’ve become familiar with; but on the other hand the projects were terrible, terrible places to live and the new plan at least had a hope of being better, so, as I say, it’s difficult to know how to resolve that, but fortunately I’m not in charge.
Anyway, Streetwise had a big article about this tax credits thing, filled with cleverly photographed pictures of the upscale businesses on my own beloved street. For example, they managed to get a photo of the health foods store, without getting the “Harper Beverage Mart” or “Valois: See Your Food” in the frame. If I remember correctly there were also some photos of the stores in the Harper Court complex, which look nice, but seems to always have several empty stores in it; and the photos managed to exclude the dismal looking storefronts right next to it, which include a now-defunct movie theater (I think it was operating then, but just barely).
Apparently, I don’t have much of a point to make with all this, just going over my mental landscape. HP is such a strange place; when I moved here the custodian in my first building assured me that it was a relatively low-crime neighborhood, and the police statistics seem to agree; but there are muggings in broad daylight here practically every single week. Some people think it’s a rich neighborhood, some people tell me they would be too scared to live here. I often wonder how Chicago got like this: why does so much of it seem to be full of abandoned, boarded up buildings and sketchy-looking businesses? Why is it still so segregated? Why do so many people seem to think Lincoln Park is so great, anyway?
Anyway, I’d better get back to ancient Anatolia where I belong, at least for a few more weeks.


Monday, January 6th, 2003

Today was fairly dull, work and class–though I had some fun finding the class, since it was at Cochrane-Woods Art Center which is completely off the beaten path for NELC students. The prof is new this quarter and asked if we called it CWAC; I certainly hope so, that would add some levity to my MWF middays. I consulted with my landlady about getting out of my lease early, and sent some info to an apartment locater thing, so it’s starting to look like this moving thing might actually happen. This has been a good place to live, despite the above-mentioned Subway bread machine issues and so forth. Tomorrow, two more classes and more work at the Social Sciences office.

Our little corner of the world

Sunday, January 5th, 2003

I’ve returned from what will probably be my last multi-day visit with Andy for a while, which is kind of depressing. Classes start tomorrow, and Chicago is lapsing into its damp, grubby, winter mode, when the sky, buildings, and streets take on a uniform steel gray shade and Christmas decorations either disappear or take on a dismal neglected look. However, I like my atmospheres bleak, and I’m still feeling pretty upbeat. After all, this is the year I’m going to get married, leave Chicago, and move to fabulous western Michigan, which gives me a lot of reasons to stay positive.
Andy and I watched Donnie Darko this weekend, and it was very good. Andy and I discussed it for quite a while but didn’t come up with a totally coherent theory, but I’m leaning toward thinking that the movie wasn’t supposed to make total sense. There are a lot of elements of different things going on, but the movie as a whole is supposed to represent the “whole gamut of human emotions,” so that while nothing is totally clear-cut or reasonable, it is still possible for Donnie to be able to make a decision about what to do at the end, and somehow it’s the right decision. But, I’ll have to do some more reading about it, and probably find out I’m totally wrong.
The title refers to my new Gilmore Girls soundtrack, which I’m listening to now. It has a lot of different music that I don’t know anything about on it, but it’s very enjoyable.