Sunday, July 30, 2006

keeping abreast

This post got me thinking the world needed more of my wisdom.

First of all, let me say that I fully support breastfeeding moms. I think breastfeeding is natural, right, and good. I think it needn't be done in private. I think people who get their knickers in a twist about public breastfeeding need more to worry about.

I also think that if you find breasts sexy, you'll still find them sexy when they're flashed by a breastfeeding mom. I'm not saying moms need to do something about that, I'm just saying that as a 14-yr-old boy, I did find a glimpse of a nipple on the way to baby's mouth titillating. (Get it? Titillating? Ghhhk.)

I'm not a guy for whom breasts are the One Meaningful Thing in life. I think they're wonderful and inspiring and I wholly approve of them, but they're just one item (well, two) among several about which one might wax enthusiastic. That said (and I have no idea why), I will finally get to the point of this post, which is that one must acknowledge their sexual aspects. One time a co-worker (you know who you are) posed the rhetorical question "What's the big deal about breasts, anyway? Why do men find something sexual about them?"

They answer is, because they are two things:
1) A female secondary sex characteristic. They represent sexual maturity. They say "Woman, not girl."
2) An erogenous zone.

That's why. You're welcome.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

here's a thing i found

Friday, July 28, 2006

everybody was just kidding

Our buyer dropped out yesterday. Our real estate agent said they'd been a little bit odd/flaky from the beginning WRT to their questions/concerns, so altho it was a unexpected it wasn't as big a surprise as it might have been. Dropping the price 20K and putting it back on the market today.

Oh, and one of my clients cancelled a week in August that they had booked months ago, so that's not exactly a financial boost. I had turned down four other clients who wanted August time, and these guys flake 4 days before I'm supposed to show up. I really need to include a cancellation penalty in my contracts...

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

last weekend

Went to San Antonio for the day -- River Walk, Market Square...

Listened to a lot of good music, watched the dancing, ate tacos de tripa (intestines) for the first time. Not nearly as good as my favorite, tacos de lengua (tongue).

Nothing exciting happened, after which a similarly-uneventful drive back to Austin occurred.

One might think it pointless to mention this day, but 12 hrs spent doing nothing but resting, smiling, and relaxing is a noteworthy event for me lately. I highly recommend it for everyone.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

rumors of my death...

...are not accurate. Or whatever.

Looks like we may have sold the house, which is nice. We've accepted an offer, anyway. Inspection is probably tomorrow, after which at least the earnest money would be ours to keep.

I'm in Austin this week. On Friday I fly home, then have Sat & Sun to move into a rental house that I haven't actually rented yet. (Note to self: call to see if house is still available...)

Will be traveling the entire month of August (TX and CA). Plan to take the bandar log with me on the California weeks to visit family & friends.

This is not to be confused with a blog post that's actually worth reading...

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

isn't that cute...

When my brother was about 3 yrs old, Mom painted an old dresser we had.
On the way to pick up Dad, she said to us, "Don't tell Daddy we painted the dresser -- I want it to be a surprise."
We get to Dad's workplace, he gets in the car, and my brother immediately blurts out, "We didn't paint the dresser, Daddy! We didn't paint it yellow!"

Sunday, July 16, 2006

also, there's this

In the mail yesterday I received a stamped, sealed, dated, signed, official Decree of Dissolution, which means I'm legally divorced.

What am I supposed to feel about that? Are there rules?

Regrets about lots of stuff I could have done better? Yup.

Sadness about dreams that didn't come true?
Disappointment that what I always thought would be forever wasn't?
Pain, anger, resentment?
Yes to all of the above.

The hardest part is to look back at times when (I realize now) I didn't really know what was going on. I didn't understand what Hannah was feeling, what she needed. I knew nothing about women. I wasn't aware of my own biases and insecurities. I didn't know how often we operate simply out of protecting our vulnerabilities. I didn't realize how deadly expectations are.

I'm not saying I look back and think it was all my fault. I actually think I'm a really nice guy, and pretty easy to get along with. (I suppose Hannah's mileage may differ...)

I'm just saying -- after 5 yrs and $15,000 of counseling -- that if I knew then what I know now about myself, Hannah, and how people operate, I could have acted in a way that made us much happier than we were. I'm saying that I would still be married now.

And I wouldn't be anywhere near as happy.

nothing interesting to report, so i guess that's what I'll do...

(Report nothing interesting, that is.)

Boarding my last plane flight, I set my book and my inflatable neck pillow (which happened to be new) on my seat, then popped into the bathroom at the front. When i got back to my seat, the pillow was gone. i mentioned it to a guy standing next to me, who nodded toward the back and said "Probably that guy wearing it back there..."
Sure enough, there was a young (20-ish) couple a few rows back, and the guy was wearing my neck pillow!
I walked back, smiled, explained that those pillows were not provided by the airline. He grinned sheepishly and gave it back.
I estimate the chance of it being an accident at about 3%. I'm pretty sure he picked it up just to see if he could get away with it and to embarrass/impress his girlfriend.
He got to make her hit him on the arm and whisper, laughing, "I can't believe you did that!" and appear to be a man who strides through the world taking what he wants, living large, fearing no one, swashbuckling, devil-may-care, taking large wet bites out of life.
And I got my pillow back. So it was all good.

Monday, July 10, 2006


Watched the second half of the World Cup final (Italy-France). The French captain got red-carded early in the second overtime (and he deserved it), but Italy couldn't capitalize. Went to penalty kicks, which Italy won 5-3. I felt bad for the French player who hit the crossbar and essentially lost the World Cup for his team and the entire country of France. I didn't see the first half, but I can say that during the second half France was the team pressing more, working harder, passing better, wanting it more. They didn't put the ball in the net, tho, which is mostly what they count when determining the score...

Bought a used dishwasher for $30 at an estate sale and installed it (ours was on its last legs). It's white, and the fridge & stove are black, but then nothing else matches in the house, and the dw we had was seriously crappy. Of course, the wiring was slightly different, as was the water hookup, but a little thought solved #1, and a trip to the hardware store solved #2.

Went to the lake with David and I think perforated my eardrum dropping off a rope swing into the water. Hurts like the devil even after 7 hrs. Tomorrow I'll go to the doc-in-the-box to see what up.

Bought David a bed (futon, $40, yard sale) because his is broken. The couple who sold it to me are Messianic Jews from Catalonia, which led to some interesting conversation.

Took the neighbor a 12-pak of beer to say thanks for watching David's dog last week. Pretty confident that was the right thank you gift -- he's not a difficult guy to buy for...

Came home and wrote the world's most boring and pointless blog post.


Sunday, July 09, 2006

hockey blues

Entered a weekend hockey tournament. Nobody else in our division entered, so the grouped us with the teams a level below ours.
We won the first game 5-0, but it could have been 15-0 if we'd wanted. I deliberately faked a fall so my goalie could face a 2-on-0, but the other team still couldn't score.
The other team complained vociferously after the game. And it wasn't much fun for us, either. So the tournament sponsor gave us most of our money back, and some free ice time, and we withdrew from the tournament.
Didn't say it was interesting.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Grammar apostasy

In a comment to my last (cranky) post about grammar, Unca asks:

So you're setting up your own ("the people's"?) grammar rules here?

To which I reply: ab-so-freakin-lutely. That's how it works. We develop language to communicate ideas, feelings, concepts. Language grows and changes to accomodate our changing lives and habits, generally in the direction of more effective communication. When enough people have begun to say a certain thing, it becomes part of the language, and eventually finds its way into the rule books.

Think about the very first grammar primer. It had to have been primarily descriptive -- it described how people talked, which they were doing just fine, thank you, even tho they lacked a book to tell them how to do it. Then later, in our unending thirst to tame chaos and make ourselves feel secure, we began to view grammar books as normative -- this way to talk is "right", that way is "wrong".

Now, don't misunderstand me -- there are huge benefits to having grammar rules, and I'm not advocating throwing them out completely. What I rail against is the mindset that we are to serve the rules, rather than the rules serving us. The stultifying idea that language is supposed to stay static, that the Queen's English is always the most effective way to communicate. It's ballocks, and on some level we all know it (else why the difference in written and spoken speech? if the more formal, structured, rule-bound written language were actually the most effective way to communicate in every situation, we'd talk that way too.)

I propose we look at grammar rules -- or more accurately, at instances of their violation -- in the following way:
If breaking the rule makes meaning less clear, don't break the rule, keep it.
If the breaking the rule enhances communication (or if the effect is neutral), move on with your life.

If someone says "I should have went to the store today" is there any doubt whatsoever about what they're trying to communicate? I'll answer for you: there is not. So move on.
Likewise split infinitives, ending sentences with prepositions, "This is he", and on and on.
English has no gender-neutral third-person pronoun, and it desperately needs one. Recognizing this fact, we use "they" to communicate the idea of "he or she". What's wrong with that? Now we have a word ("they") that means either third-person-plural or third-person-singular-but-gender-neutral, depending on context. And context is more than adequate to resolve potential miscommunication. English is full of words with multiple meanings. We use context to resolve them thousands of times a day.

Another thing: in German, nouns are capitalized. If you asked the Germans (as rule-bound a people as you'll find outside Japan, I suspect) to write nouns without capitalizing them, they'd probably pee their pants. But guess what? English -- and most other languages -- get along fine without capitalizing nouns.

You know what that means, people? It means grammar rules are not set by God, that language can operate without some of them! How cool is that? It means that maybe your reactionary philistine resistance to grammar change is mostly about making you feel comfortable, not about effective communication! Wow!

But guess what else: now you're free! Bryan has struck from your arms the shackles of blinkered slavish adherence to every grammar rule some wizened crone drilled into you in 10th grade -- you have a new life, one in which you are free to say "Me and Jim went to the store", even if you don't know anyone named Jim! You can say "Don't be dissin' me" and "To boldly go" and even "23-skidoo" if you want, and you can say it proud(ly)! You're welcome!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

this is also stupid

Continuing with the theme "It's Stupid To Get Uppity About Grammar" -- and believe you me, that's a deeeeeep well -- I offer the following:

Sometimes there are people (even some I know and love) who, in response to "May I speak to Mary, please", think it makes sense to say "This is she." The thinking, I suppose, is that "This is her" -- which I guess we tend to say because we usually find the object form of the pronoun after a verb -- is incorrect since technically we should be using the subject form of the pronoun.
NOTE: if none of the above made sense to you, congratulations. You have paid the right amount of attention to grammar, and God shall smile upon you.
But I digress. My point is that "This is she" really makes no more sense than "This is her." "She" is not the subject of the sentence as if we're saying "She is this" -- we're saying "[The person answering the phone] is [the person you asked for]."
And when we wish to make the point that two people or names or positions or roles or whatever represent the same person, we say things like:
  • That's her.
  • I am actually him.
  • He acted as me.
We don't say:
  • That's she.
  • I am actually he (unless we're utterly pretentious and precious.)
  • He acted as I (ditto).
So I submit there's a general grammar rule (which you may call irregular if it makes you feel better) that after a verb we use the traditional object form of the pronoun. That's it. There, now you have a rule, enabling you to say "Well, okay then..." and go back to your room and dream up other ways to grind the spirit out of young people and make yourself feel informed and superior.

It's all about expectations

Remember how I made the brilliant point about the two things that make us angry? I didn't think so. But anyway, I was angry tonight (briefly), and it was precisely because I had an expectation and it wasn't being met.
I've been in Texas for over a week, during which time agents have been showing our house, which is for sale in case anyone is interested.
I had an expectation that
a) the kids knew the house needed to be kept clean
b) Hannah would do what she said she would do (ie, make sure it was presentable)

When I got home tonight, the house had an unpleasant smell, from dirty dishes in the sink and a wet load of laundry that never got dried. If there's one thing that will make an impression on someone, it's how a house smells.
So I was angry. Hannah had been by at least once, and done virtually nothing -- there were four specific things she had agreed to take care of, and none of them were done. The kids had spent time at the house, but hadn't done any chores. Samantha had dirtied the dishes making cupcakes and milkshakes and had left them in the sink to mold (doubly annoying since it's her job to do ALL the dishes, not just her own). David had not emptied the garbage under the kitchen sink.

I'm barely keeping things afloat right now financially -- I desperately need to sell this house so I can pay back my family for temporary loans, pay off our credit cards, the lawyers for the divorce, etc etc. I'm running a small (okay, tiny) business, trying to emotionally nurture the kids, find a place to live, sell the house, and pay several thousand dollars of child support & alimony every month. Last week was a great time for people to look at the house because it was fresh on the market and no one was home for a week. But because other people didn't do what I needed (ie, expected) them to do, the house sat in a very unattractive state during all that time.

I'm over it now. I did both kids' chores, lit some candles, ran the laundry, baked a chocolate cake to make the place smell nice, and wrote a blog post complaining about all the people in my life. Tomorrow at 9am more people are coming to look at the house, so I'm going to bed now.

You might have expected me to use the space to be interesting instead of whining, but you'd be disappointed. Hope you're not angry about it.