Friday, February 28, 2003

I've tried several times over the last twenty-four hours, without success, to sum up neatly my feelings over the death of Fred Rogers. I am amazed that this passing has hit me as hard as it has. Clearly, that shows the power of the man and his message.

I have posted some thoughts to a couple of different places online, including over at MetaFilter, where a wonderful sharing of sorrow and memories took place yesterday. Those thoughts, though not as polished as I would like them to be, will have to serve:

I turned on the TV this morning to check road conditions and saw Fred Rogers in an interview he did with Katie Couric not long ago. Just seeing his face made me smile. Then I heard the words "survived by," and my heart sank.


I feel like a kid again. The loss of Mr. Rogers feels like the loss of a personal friend, and my sadness strips me of my adult veneer of control and safety.

And yet, even as these feelings overtake me, in the back of my mind I hear a familiar, calm, gentle voice reassuring me, telling me that it's okay to be sad and that everything will be alright.

Goodbye, Mr. Rogers, and thank you.
Posted @ 11:10 AM

Wednesday, February 26, 2003

My friend Gina pointed me toward PoshTots, a purveyor of high-end children's gifts, playhouses, clothing, and other kiddie stuff. I'm equally offended by and jealous of the items available to the offspring of the upper-class from this company. Seriously, does any kid need a $40,000 minicar or a play fort that costs as much as a 3 bedroom house in Ottumwa, Iowa?
Posted @ 3:00 PM

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

An excellent article in today's Morning News has finally spurred me to get off my lazy butt and add that site to my Daily Reading list over on your left.

"What Lies Beneath" deftly illustrates the differences between the subway systems of New York City and Washington DC, and both accurately and succinctly summarizes what those differences say about those towns.

Sociologist Robert Merton, coiner of the terms "role model" and "self-fulfilling prophecy", passed away on Sunday at the age of 92 (NYT link). It's odd to think that such ubiquitous phrases were invented by someone who was still drawing breath until this weekend. I'm always a bit astonished when I realize how many practitioners of the younger sciences like sociology, psychology and astrophysics are alive and, in many cases, active to this day.

Merton was also the disappointed father of the focus group. Knowing that Merton thought of his creation-gone-wrong the same way Billy Joel thinks of "Just The Way You Are" absolves him of any sin in its constant, consistent misuse by politicians and conglomerates.

Godspeed, Mr. Merton.
Posted @ 10:57 AM

Friday, February 21, 2003

defective yeti's Matthew Baldwin gives us his take on the "George W. Bush - Super Genius" concept, previously pioneered by The Onion, in a piece from yesterday's Morning News entitled "Schrödinger's Iraq".

The Morning News also has the second installment of Kevin Guilfoile's "Madelyn Murray O’Hair in Hell" series up. This one's subtitled "The Mystery of the Antenoran Chant". I haven't read it yet, but with an opening line like "On the evening of Walt Whitman’s Super Bowl party", it promises to be even better than the witty, engaging first chapter.
Posted @ 9:49 AM

Thursday, February 20, 2003

Okay, so Peter O'Toole has backed off from his very cool honorary Oscar deferral request. He loses a few style points for that.

We'll just have to see if he can pick them back up with his acceptance speech. I'm betting he'll more than make up the difference.
Posted @ 3:48 PM

Science has a wonderful way of putting things into perspective. Case in point: as the snow-weary denizens the East Coast impatiently wait for the heavy white blanket left by this week's blizzard to melt away, we can take comfort in the fact that this will happen on a terrestrial, rather than Martian, timetable: a study announced yesterday by NASA postulates that gullies on the surface of Mars were formed by a dense snow pack that slowly melted over five millennia.
Posted @ 9:04 AM

Monday, February 17, 2003

Just found two excellent speeches against the coming war given last week by the Dean of Congress, Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia. These are powerful, persuasive words. I hope enough people hear them.
(Thanks to and Common Dreams for pointing me toward these speeches.)
Posted @ 11:12 AM

Sunday, February 16, 2003

Looking out the window this morning, I see what must be at least nine inches of snow already on the ground. Things aren't supposed to let up until sometime tomorrow night.

I don't think I'll be going anywhere for a couple of days. Time to make some popcorn, curl up on the couch, watch some great movies and read a book or two.

It's heaven to be stranded in a warm and cozy place.
Posted @ 11:37 AM

Thursday, February 13, 2003

While doing a work-related search just now I stumbled across Froogle, the beta test of a new Google service to help folks "find information about products for sale online."

Taking this thing for a spin, I plug in "Converse Chuck Taylors," because my old ones are nearly dead and I need to buy a couple of pairs. At the Converse site, a pair of Chucks will run you $38, plus $6.95 shipping. Froogle finds them for only $30.99 with a three buck ship charge at Sneakerland, a place I've never heard of before and likely never would have otherwise.

I don't want to sound like too much of a corporate shill for Google, as they hardly need the help. However, if Froogle can regularly help me save 25% for fifteen seconds' effort, I'm going to use it every single day.
Posted @ 12:08 PM

I just did a quick morning scan of my usual sites, seeing what's up in the real and online worlds. It suddenly hit me that there's a semi-truck load of stuff whizzing by me at the moment. Normally, I feel pretty plugged in. Just now, I'm way out of the loop.

There are two main reasons. The first is the subject of the announcement I hinted at a few days back (see, I do come through with these things every now and again). After months of uncertainty and weeks of looking, I've finally found an apartment, into which I'll be moving tomorrow.

It's my first place entirely on my own. In my nearly thirty-three years I've never lived alone. I've always shared my living space, be it with parents and siblings, roommates (both friends and strangers), a wife or a girlfriend. Needless to say, I'm excited and anxious about what this new experience, this most basic experience, will bring me.

The other attention-sapping thing in my life is the new show I'm in. A couple of weeks back I got the lead in The Music Man at the McLean Theatre Alliance. Usually at this point in the process, ten weeks out from opening night, rehearsals would be light and sporadic. However, we've already begun them in earnest on this one, which I'm for all the way. The more rehearsal I get, the better I feel.

What this all means is, at least for the immediate future, I'm not going to be as informed about general goings-on as I normally like to be.

And what a time not to be up to speed! We've determined the age of the universe (as well as how and when it will die), the US is days away from war with Iraq, the government is imploring citizens to take up makeshift bomb shelter construction as a hobby, yesterday was Darwin Day (when did that one spring up?) and Wil Wheaton is having a crisis of confidence (hang in there, Wil!)

Once I've finished this move and settled into the new place, I think I'll be able to regain my grip on the world situation. Until then, I'll just have to let events take care of themselves for a few days without my attention, catching up when (and I've never been able to say this so literally before) my house is in order.
Posted @ 9:45 AM

Tuesday, February 11, 2003

Lightningfield's David Gallagher points us to the Total Information Awareness Gift Shop. The store features items bearing the original, quickly removed logo of the TIA Office and the motto "Be a good American. DON'T ASK QUESTIONS!"

I won't say whether or not I approve of this sartorial satiric endeavor. I will merely mention that my birthday is March 31st, and my t-shirt size is XL.
Posted @ 2:46 PM

Sunday, February 09, 2003

Superhuman Returns in Comic Book Market? Reuters ponders whether comics make for a good investment alternative in today's sluggish economy, and comes up with a definitive "maybe."

My answer, after twenty-five years of reading comics and watching the back issue market? If you're very lucky and stumble upon a pile of comics from the 40's in your grandparents' attic, enjoy the windfall. Otherwise, save yourself the time and effort and put your money into something with a little longer track record, like gold.
Posted @ 12:06 PM

Saturday, February 08, 2003

Today brings the second in my personal, ad hoc series of "where the hell am I on this coming war?" think pieces. The first was from Tim. This one, which takes up the other side of the debate, comes from the New York Times (registration required) Op-Ed page and is titled "The I-Can't-Believe-I'm-a-Hawk Club."
Posted @ 10:01 AM

Thursday, February 06, 2003

The pain and loss felt over the deaths of the Columbia crew is mollified, in some small measure, by the comforting thought of all the wondrous beauty they got to witness first-hand in their journey around the Earth.
Posted @ 10:29 AM

Tuesday, February 04, 2003

Hey, at least it didn't take them three and a half centuries this time: the Vatican says there's no heresy in the Harry Potter books, and praises the series for its clear moral message.
Posted @ 9:49 AM

Saturday, February 01, 2003

Posted @ 10:14 PM

In online conversation yesterday, a good friend of mine (Hi Jennie!) labeled me enigmatic. Only once before in my life have I been taken so off-guard by a characterization. Not that I was offended in the least. It's simply that "enigmatic" is perhaps the last word I would use to describe myself. I've always thought that I was extremely scrutable.

When pressed for an explanation, Jennie cited my tendency to make cryptic announcements along the lines of "Big news on this front, I'll tell you all about it shortly." I'm especially prone to doing this here on the HoC.

I was forced to admit she had something there. But what Jennie and others, who have subsequently backed her up on this, see as enigmatic, I chalk up to writer's block (not wanting to say Something Important until I can get the phrasing just right) coupled with attempts at showmanship. The fact that I fail to actually make the promised announcement more than half the time I blame on laziness.

With this new-found insight, I considered swearing off the tactic. It's superficially clever, it's hackneyed, it's too cute by half.

But then again, who am I to disappoint my public? That said...

Big news on this front, I'll tell you all about it shortly.
Posted @ 9:54 AM


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