Tuesday, January 20, 2009

and so it begins...

I almost titled this "and so it ends...", but sided with forward momentum and letting this be the capital letter at the beginning of something new rather than just punctuation at the end of our sentence under bush. We have a new president!

A few quick thoughts, having tried to watch it online while doing some work. I got to see most of it, just not always synched up with the sound. I did listen to it all.

rick warren was a brilliant choice in some stupid ways, speaking in that bland hypnotic cadence that preachers are taught to use to help you nap during sermons which may resonate with a large demographic, but he remains a royal failure of style. Even if he appeals to the kind of people who can in all seriousness argue that their Christian faith informs their politics and in the next breath support bombing the hell out of people and the task Obama faces will be easier the less resistant and alienated these people feel, the fellow still lack 'umph'. He just doesn't have it. He has the charisma of a couch cushion: a fine place to rest for the lazy or tired, but why put it on a stage?

Rev. Lowery on the other hand, blew it out of the water. Perfect delivery and helped recaptivate after that boring poem.

Pres. Obama's speech was amazing. Not too long, but damn he packed it in there. Pleasant enough to not seem mean, but it had to be like a punch in the face to bush, which it should be. He should get a punch in the face every day for the rest of his life. But it is sad that it should seem like a slam for a president to talk about things that should just be the plain normal business of the position and it seem like a revolution. Nothing he said was vindictive or mean; if the last administration hadn't been such a failure (and to varying degrees, those preceding them as well) nothing he said would be pointed.

Anyway, I'll leave the computer for now and go out and enjoy the sun. What a beautiful day.

Friday, January 16, 2009

it is cold

My feet are slowly beginning to thaw. I know chucks aren't the right footgear for winter cold, but so far this season they hadn't been so bad and I put on thick wool socks this morning. This was not enough.

Our apartment is generally way too cool but today I just couldn't get warm in there. Our heat never really warms things up much, but with the extra cold outside it really isn't doing the job. But after sending off some emails this morning I didn't really have a good reason to stay in and the lack of food in my stomach was mirrored by a lack of food in the fridge so I did have a compelling reason to leave. Carefully bundled, I weighed my options. I just wanted to go sit somewhere and have some lunch and sit with my computer and type. This is New York; there are a thousand places for this to be accomplished. There are two places right beside my house perfect for this, Cafe Nijasol and Boulevard, but I had it in my head that I haven't been venturing out far enough and that I wanted to go feel the energy somewhere else.

Just going into Williamsburg seemed like copping out and it was too cold to deal with how retarded public transportation is for getting around Greenpoint. The West Village was briefly considered, but I wasn't sure of where to go and wandering in the cold looking for a pleasant place seemed daunting particularly since anything over there was also likely to be packed with college kids or tourists. Chelsea was also quickly panned, though not without briefly pausing to miss Big Cup. I never really spent much time there (not a big coffee drinker), but still it was good for what it was.

Since I wasn't in the mood for more than one train, that left the East Village. It is where I am most comfortable here, but familiarity can be decieving. Once I headed that direction it became apparent I don't know the cafes and coffee shops like I know the bars. And it was too early to go to the bar. I never actually liked AltCafe, but it was good for what it was: a place to plop down with your computer and get online. Like Big Cup, it ain't there no more. So I went with Cafe Pick Me Up as a default. I like it fine for sitting with a friend chatting, but I've never particularly warmed up to the place. This is odd because I've always ended up finding it really pleasant once I sit down and get settled in, so I remind myself that I like it and head there.

Feet already frozen, just walking the few block from the train, it seems perfect when I step inside. Nothing on the menu jumps out at me, but it is warmish inside and I don't care to search out somewhere new so I order. Before sitting down, I ask the lady at the counter if there is a password for the wifi. She looks at me like I am a crazy person and starts rattling off prices for using the internet. I look at her like she is a crazy person, which she is if she expects someone who just gave her 7 bucks for a sandwich to fork out more money for wifi access. She comments that they never had free wifi, and I suppose reading my skeptical expression clarifies that it has been at least 5 years since they did. Which is also not true, since I went there several times this summer and used it. Whatever. So I couldn't relax and write, I'd just sit and read. I do remember why I don't like the place though: the staff. I always get the feeling from them that they would rather not be bothered. The sandwich was bland (meat, cheese, bread) and not very big with a pleasant enough side salad which became the condiment for the sandwich since it had no other. Reading Terry Prachett while eating was punctuated by a fat drama student talking at her gay bff who didn't get a word in edgewise.

Taking leave of this delightful lunch (it was more pleasant than I'm making it sound), my feet, which never really thawed, are already refrozen by the end of the block. My Swedish longjohns are sort of doing their job, but most of my cold weather layers are in Anchorage waiting for me to return and really need them, so I'm looking again for somewhere warm to thaw out and type. My apartment is not warm. It is 3, so bars should be opening but the stools are still on the bar when I walk past Section 218 (and I don't know if they have wifi anyway). I start to go to Nowhere but I remember that the last few times I've had my computer there, the wifi has been screwed. Metro definitely has functional, if slow, wifi AND fireplaces. Propping up my feet in front of a fireplace becomes the most appealing thought in the world.

On the sidewalk and subway I remember that even worse than the glut of commuters pouring out of work into every form of public transportation at 5 is the glut of kids pouring out of school, though I have to say that despite popular opinion that the next generation are a bunch of rotten little bastards, lately the crowds of kids I've found myself sandwich amongst have been suprisingly polite even if boisterous. Of course when I get metro, I see the bartender leaving the bar and locking it behind him and walking off on some errand. Despite wanting desperately to toast my little piggies in front of a fire, it is too cold to wait and even if I am one of those people who shows up at the bar far earlier in the shift than any happy hour bartender likes, I am not going to be that guy who is waiting at the door when they walk up. So back to my neighborhood and my two originaly options.

I chose Cafe Nijasol. I haven't been there since it got cold, but it is small which in my cold-numbed mind equals cozy which = warm. Which is by then my number one requirement. It is a little further, but a block and a half isn't so far if I can warm up then. I can't. It is closed, according to the apologetic sign on the front just for today, but closed none the less. So back to Boulevard, which I am mainly skeptical of because it is a larger space with a big front window and where I have sat in there before is right by the door. I know I can sit in a different place, but I am that kind of creature of habit; if I like the place I sit one time, I want to sit in that same place again and irrationally assume that I won't like sitting somewhere else. I each of the places I have mentioned today I planned out where I would want to sit as I considered it. I know, kinda crazy.

It isn't closed. The guy behind the counter is friendly and doesn't look look like it is annoying for a business to have customers. There is a spot at the counter far enough from the door that I can take my coat off but not so far in the back that I feel quarentined. Most importantly, it is warm! For the first time today, I'm not cold. The coffee tastes fine to me (but I don't drink it very often so I won't pretend to have a useful opinion on this); the carrot artichoke soup is perfect.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Happy Dance: my new favorite punk rock superstar

(Originally written back in May)

YouTube - Happy Dance

On a whim, I decided to look at William Gibson's blog, which I hadn't glanced at in more than a year. Following a cryptic link about the coolest thing in second life, I suddenly find myself introduced to Amanda Baggs.

"I made the mistake of doing this sort of thing in front of a psychologist."

"He called it an 'inappropriate emotional display'."

"He wanted to get rid of it."

"He tried to get rid of it."

"Sorry, Doctor."

"I'm still quite capable of showing happiness."

"My way."

swedish hobo candle

While in Sweden earlier this year on a business trip, my father was taught a simple yet useful trick for turning an ordinary log into a sort of stove/lantern/torch. Turn the log up on end, saw several criss-crossing cuts lengthwise taking care not to cut all the way to the bottom, add a little diesel fuel to the center, light and enjoy! He calls them "Swedish candles" and was told they were developed years back by a Swedish hobo. Perfect for cooking your tin of beans on top of and huddling around during cold nights, but none of us came up with a good answer as to how a hobo might get his hands on a chainsaw to make one.

Above is a picture of one we made over the holidays as practice for the Burning Labyrinth.