Areas of Unrest
25 July 1999 - My Life As a Newspaper
This is yet another gimmicky way of organizing an entry, but it's another one of those bits and pieces entries, so why not?
World News: To my utter embarassment, I looked at an atlas and discovered that I have been wrong for ages about where Samarkand and Bukhara are. Well, not wrong about where they are, but wrong about what country they are part of. They're in Uzbekistan, not Kazhakstan. This would be a matter of insignificance except that I pride myself on my mastery of geographic trivia. In the course of uncovering this blunder, I also learned that Tashkent is the capital of Uzbekistan, Almaty is the capital of Kazakhstan and Ashkhabad is the capital of Turkmenistan.
None of which qualifies as news as this has been the case for several years, but it was news to me. On the other hand, the death of King Hassan of Morocco does qualify as news and gives me the excuse to mention that there is no other single country with nearly as many magical place names, names that just reek of exoticism to me. Tangiers! Rabat! Casablanca! Marrakech! Fez! Tetouan! Essauoira! Agadir! Any one of thes conjures up images of Islamic architecture, crowded and crumbling market squares full of spice vendors and snake charmers, all of the squalor and splendor that makes Third World travel so enticing. Damn, I need another three or so years off so I can see all the rest of the world.
National News: Robert and I had an interesting discussion about the Kennedy plane crash. Basically, he thinks that private planes are just a way for thrill seekers to endanger the population at large and should be banned. Except in places that are really big, like Alaska and Montana. I claim that if you live a very public life, I could understand the appeal of a private plane and not having to deal with crowds at airports and all. Of course, it's only now that I really figured out that what I should have asked was why the same argument doesn't apply to private ownership of automobiles?
Local News: I came home from Alabama Wednesday night, unpacked, packed again on Thursday night to go up to the Bay Area on Friday. Now it is Sunday night and I need to unpack and then pack again to go to Colorado tomorrow. This qualifies as local news because it's my excuse for my apartment being such a mess.
Sports: While it's very nice that Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France, I just learned today that his sponsor was the United States Postal Service. So they can raise the price of stamps to pay for a guy to ride a bike in France but we have to sell lottery tickets to pay for the infrastructure for our schools? Am I the only person who sees something wrong here?
Business: The reason I have to go to Colorado tomorrow is that I got another responsibility added on and am now the point of contact for our backup ground system. Robert has gotten a promotion (from "lecturer" to "reader"; he assures me that this is a good thing) and my brother has actually gotten a permanent job offer so it looks like everyone is doing well careerwise. My mother, however, is looking for something to do with her time and has narrowed down her career options to two - writing a book or robbing a bank. I suggested that if she wants a life of crime, keeping it on paper is far more desirable in the long run.
Book Review: Po Bronson's The Nudist on the Late Shift was interesting largely for reminding me that Silicon Valley is now about money, not technology. David Elliot Cohen's One Year Off was more obviously something I could relate to, but I quickly found myself reacting primarily with gloating that I've been to so many of the same places for a fraction of the price.
Food: Robert and I had dinner Friday night at Breads of India. I managed to avert a potential major fight by pretending not to notice that he was trying to tell me what to order, which is something that always drives me nuts. It's one thing if we're going to share entrees. But this was just a matter of his preference for vicarious adventure over the real thing. I wisely kept my mouth shut and didn't say "well, why don't you order the pickled vegetables with mango powder" and went ahead and got the cauliflower and spinach dish that I thought sounded better. And it was quite nice, though he refused to believe that. I'm glad I didn't make an issue out of it, since we actually managed not to fight over anything else either.
Living: There are more garage sales per capita in Alameda, California than in any other place in the known universe. I mention this largely because, despite living within 15 minutes of that town for over five years, until doing a Volksmarch walk there on Saturday, I had actually never been to Alameda before. The walk was 10 kilometers or 6.2 miles and averaged four garage sales per block, not one of which had a single item I would ever have contemplated purchasing. My brother, however, has been redecorating and would have loved the fine opportunities to purchase paintings on velvet and the like.
Education: I saw an advertisement for a class titled "Finding the Inner Serpent: Becoming a Snake Priestess". I have nothing against snakes, but I have no desire to either worship them or be worshipped by them.
Fashion: There was an NPR story this week about a Punjabi man who has adapted very fully to Scotland, naming an island he owns in the Hebrides after Robert Burns and commissioning a tartan. The next time you order a kilt, instead of Dress Campbell, Royal Stewart of Black Watch, you might consider the Singh tartan. I wonder if the dirk tucked into the top of the socks qualifies as the dagger that Sikh men are supposed to carry?
Classified: An actual advertisement in the East Bay Express (under the Family Network heading) reads "Nanny Goats. Few people know that goats are some of the smartest and (at times) the most tender beasts in G-d's kingdom. Who better to leave the care of your infant with? And diapers are disposed of easily, as they become the caregiver's lunch. Bonded and insured."
Some things are beyond satire.
Comics: I have become annoyed with Dilbert. I just want to grab every character by the shoulders, shake them and say "You pathetic twit! If you're so damn miserable, leave your job!"
Horoscope: Almost every day for the past two weeks, my horoscope has claimed that the day was at least a 7 (on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being best) for love. The exception was Friday, which was a 5. Guess when I got to see Robert for the first time in months?
Travel: I really do have to go unpack and pack and get some sleep. I just wish that I were off to, say, Antananirivo instead of Colorado Springs. I shall just have to relax myself by repeating my mantra ("frequent flyer miles, frequent flyer miles") a few hundred times.
Copyright 1999 Miriam H. Nadel
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