Tuesday, October 31, 2006

rambling on and on

This comment got so wordy I figured I better make it a whole post…

The question is this: How important is it that you be intellectually/educationally matched with your partner?

Perhaps I infer too much, but I felt recent comments suggested that because I didn’t view intellectual or educational parity as an essential (ie, on a par with other qualities and types of compatibility), I was shallow or missing the boat (eg, “poor you”).

And just to declare my bias beforehand so you don’t have to waste time speculating about it: I had somewhat more education than Hannah; even more so compared to the woman I’m seeing now.

Anyway, here’s my take on the deal:

Like Stephanie (who sometimes wants to be called “Lisa”, I have no idea why), I tested really well in school. If tests are reliable indicators (debatable, yes), at one point at least, I was between 2 and 3 standard deviations from the mean in IQ. One way to interpret that data would be to infer that I was more intelligent than 95-99% of my age peers.

This leaves millions of people more intelligent than I am (I can hear my family and friends now: “Millions? More like billions…”)

But anyway, consider this:
In the US and Canada, there are something like 350,000,000 people. Let’s start filtering out that pool, shall we?
Let’s say half are women. 175M
Let’s say 20% are close enough in age: 35M
Let’s say 25% are physically compatible/attractive to me: 8.75M
Let’s make believe a third are available: 2.9M
And now let’s take the 5% who have the other qualities that are important to me. We’re down to 145,000 women on this continent. Are we really saying that I should now weed out the ones who didn't test on par with me or who don't have degrees? That would leave me to find one of 7,000 women out of 350,000,000. Yeah, I want to spend my time looking for one of those, when I already have one who has dozens of other qualities that I consider far more important.

When I was married to Hannah, there were some things missing in our marriage, but intellectual debate wasn’t one of them. Rather, it *was* missing, but I didn’t miss it. Hannah positively loathed debate about anything, but I’d have been perfectly happy with our life together if we never discussed Nietzsche or Dostoevsky or Chaos Theory for the rest of our lives. Believe me, I know what was missing; after 41 yrs of life and a failed marriage, give me credit for knowing what I want. If I want to debate, I'll call my brother, or go online.

Besides individual commitment and shared history, I think there are some core compatibility issues – temperament, attitude, shared priorities – that make a relationship last. Note that I’m not saying you have to be the *same* -- you just have to be compatible (ie, one person’s weaknesses or flaws or idiosyncrasies can’t be a huge deal to the other person.)

The things that impress me about who I’m with now are her kindness (towards me, and towards other people), her solid and realistic sense of self-worth, her zest for life, her love for her daughter. She prioritizes things that are also important to me: friendships and family relationships. She has an ability to look critically at herself, to laugh at herself, to accept her mistakes, to continue to learn and grow. I have learned a lot from her about being authentic, about being present in the moments of my life. I have learned from her how to be more honest with myself and with others about my feelings. She reminds me it’s not necessary to pretend to be perfect, nor to expect others to have the same standards I hold. She is positive and appreciative – of me, of little blessings and privileges, of life in general. She is sincere and verbal, and communicates well, in two languages.
Don’t get me wrong, she has faults like everyone else: she’s vain, she doesn’t plan very well, and she’s dramatically and predictably irritable every 28 days or so; her highs are high and her occasional lows are low. When it comes to personality traits like self-discipline, pride, honesty, being too opinionated, selfishness – she’s remarkably like me, which is to say imperfect, but improving.
But she’s fun, passionate, a fundamentally happy person, disciplined where it counts; she loves me enthusiastically, she’s gorgeous, and she cooks like a dream. She’s a great mom to her daughter, she’s patient and kind to my kids, and they like her a lot. She expresses love the same way I do: through touch and talking. She makes me very happy.

But apparently what I ought to do is ditch this relationship and spend my time looking for someone else who has all of the above plus is well-read and tested where I did in high school.
I’m reluctant to do that, which I guess could mean I’m shallow. But I don’t think so.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

happy day

Cell phone rings.

Bryan: Hi Sam!
Samantha [subdued voice]: Dad, guess what just happened to me...
Bryan [sick with dread]: Oh, no -- what, honey?
Samantha: I just bought an expensive new lipgloss and it fell out of my purse!
Bryan [delirious with relief]: Well, then, I'll buy you a new one!

Nothing like picturing school expulsion, arrest, assault, kidnap, mugging, hit-and-run, etc, and then finding out it's about lip gloss. Makes the day seem pretty happy. :-)

may as well mention this

I met a woman in Texas a while ago.

I met her after Hannah and I had decided we were getting divorced, but before we'd told anyone, or even filed the papers. (I heard a rumor recently that we'd met three years ago, which was interesting, if totally untrue. Even if it *were* true I'm not sure how anyone would know that, but anyway...)

So the point is, I've spent more and more time with her over the last while.

She's a sweet person. We fit together very well, and I feel lucky to have met her.

That is all at this time.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

so here's a question...

There are certain cause->effect pairs that don't seem too hard to understand.
If I set my alarm, I am more likely to wake up on time.
If I do laundry, I will have clean clothes to wear.
If I go to bed early, I am more likely to be rested the next day.
If I do my homework, I'll be more likely to pass my classes.

And their related pairs:
If I don't set my alarm, I won't wake up on time.
If I don't do laundry, I won't have clean clothes.
If I go to bed late, I will be tired the next day.
If don't do my homework, I won't pass my classes.

And some other general truths:
Time passes.
Gravity exists.
Entropy happens.
Life requires some measure of effort.

So my question is: what is wrong with teenagers that they think these things don't apply in their lives? It's not that they merely hope there will be an exception in their particular case, they appear to actually count on it.

They live their lives as though they've been given a special get-out-of-Newton's-laws-free card.

They choose an action A that 90% of the time results in effect B, and then cry when B happens.

When reminded of a certain cause-effect relationship, they either scornfully insist they already *know* that, or they cite a ridiculous example where the rule does not apply (Well, if I were Superman, I could fly around the earth really fast and reverse its direction and roll back time and get more sleep; or if I were a horse I could sleep standing up during the afternoon; so you see you're wrong, Dad -- you don't *always* have to go to bed early in order to feel rested the next day.")

And if *I* were a horse, you could shoot me. Aargh.

Monday, October 23, 2006

In other (boring) news

Last weekend
David went skateboarding without his helmet (not allowed) -- fell and banged his head. I watched him that day and the next for all the standard stuff (nausea, sleepiness, pain, slurred speech, trouble walking/focusing, etc) but he seemed to be fine.
The next day he went skating again and this time fell on his elbow, which swelled up a bit but didn’t seem to be excessively painful.
I delivered the kids to Hannah, left for TX.
Hannah took David to the doctor, phoned to inform me he had a concussion and a hairline fracture of the humerus. Nice work, Bryan. Not that I’d necessarily do anything different on the bumped head thing, but I think I may miss the Dad of the Year award this year.

Finally bought a new laptop. The old one had performance anxiety, a broken USB port, defunct battery, missing “C” key, and a short in the AC power connection (which means it sometimes turned off in the middle of whatever you were doing). Also it weighed about 18 pounds.
(So other than that, Mrs Lincoln...)

Got home from the airport in the wee hrs. Had a text msg from Samantha asking if I could take her shopping in the morning for a dress to wear to the homecoming dance the next night.

Spent ~6 hrs at the mall. Settled in desperation on a fancy skirt that cost more than some suits I’ve bought.
Took Sam to Hannah’s to do her hair, etc. Hannah convinced her a long black skirt and fancy top would flatter her more and look more classy. I think she was right.
I told Sam not to take drugs or have sex at the dance; she said she wouldn't.
Sam’s date dropped her back at her mom’s around midnight. I picked her up; she informed me she’d had a good time, and thanked me several times. She still drives me crazy a lot of the time, but she gets more mature and more fun to be with all the time. I’m very proud of her.

David’s soccer team got killed, 9-0. I’m a little disappointed with what we emphasize in practice, but I’m not the head coach so I just do my part. I’m really proud of the boys for playing hard every game, even tho they’ve only scored a couple of goals all year.
A young girl friend of David’s informed him that “my mom thinks your dad is hot”. Then she gave a little shudder and did that blowing through your lips thing people do when they think of something that gives them the willies. Hee. :-)

Sunday, October 22, 2006

well, ducks

Donated a bunch of stuff to the local thrift store. Actually, kind of dropped it off in the dead of night, to be completely accurate.

You’re not supposed to leave stuff outside after hours because people come and scavenge and sometimes they leave things in disarray.

On the other hand, why is the store there? It’s to make money for a charity to help out folks who need it. When people come directly to the store and pick up stuff, that seems to me like a pretty efficient way to cut out a lot of hassle and bureaucracy in the middle and get things to folks who need them.

But anyway. That’s not the point of this post.

We left a bunch of (mostly pretty decent) stuff after hrs because we were desperate and pressed for time and I couldn’t think what else to do with it and I didn’t want to have to unload it all from the truck again only to re-load it the next day. Which also isn’t the point.

The point is that when we came back to leave *another* load, sure enough, there was a couple getting ready to pull away in a dirty little station wagon half full of what used to be our stuff. Like I say, I don’t have a problem with it – these folks looked like they could use a break. So I pretended I was ready to believe they’d been *dropping off* something rather than taking stuff.

So anyway. While we’re chatting the lady opens her door, and a life-sized plaster duck falls out onto the ground. This duck had sat in our living room for years. Its head and tail had both broken off and had been glued back on. It was not a well duck to begin with. And when it hit the asphalt, it finally quacked up for good. Heh. Sorry.

So the lady’s looking at the pieces of duck, and somehow, on some level, she either knows she could be considered to be stealing, or she's too proud to admit needing to scavenge from the thrift store. Either way, something compels her to communicate to me that that duck had been in her car for a long time. She looks up at her husband and says casually “Was that Marty’s duck?” Husband acknowledges that he thought it had indeed been Marty’s duck. I pretended I thought so, too. Poor Marty. Sucks to be him, losing a good duck like that.

The good part of it all is I got to talk about the incident with my kids, and we came away with a little piece of family memory. And now if ever someone’s not being completely straightforward, or trying to make people believe something that’s maybe not technically 100% true, we smile at each other and say “Was that Marty’s duck?”

Saturday, October 21, 2006

In order to offend everyone...

My new T-shirt...

The source of the problem

At Alan's request, a picture of my blogging station. For the moment, anyway...

Thursday, October 19, 2006

what about that, then?

Did you ever notice that movies come out in pairs?

I'm not sure if it means nefarious doings are afoot in Hollywood, or if it just means that plot ideas aren't copywritable, but it seems weird to me that two different studios will release different-but-very-similarly-themed movies in the same year.

"But what about some examples?" I hear you cry. Okay, then -- here you go:

A Bug's Life


Chasing Liberty
First Daughter (both about a young secret svc agent falling for the president's daughter)

Mission to Mars
Red Planet

Rob Roy


The Wild

Van Helsing

Cheaper By The Dozen
Yours, Mine, & Ours

Major League
Bull Durham

Training Day
Dark Blue

The Longest Yard
Gridiron Gang

Butterfly Effect
Sound of Thunder
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

13 Going on 30
Freaky Friday

I grant you that some of the connections above are tenuous, but I still think it's weird.

And after having composed the above list (with the help of my son), I found this on Wikipedia...

Friday, October 13, 2006


You know how when high-schoolers write poetry -- especially serious poetry -- it always sucks? Well, I'm so used to that that whenever I read poetry written by people I know, I'm ready for it to be terrible.
This, however, was different. I think this person has an ability to communicate that should be pursued.
That is all at this time.

more miscellany

This is good, if you like soccer.

This is bad, whether you like soccer or not.

This is maybe interesting.
The quick n dirty is that apparently a *lot* of remains of 9-11 victims -- sometimes the only remains that remain, as it were -- are in the form of ash and small chips of bone. They filtered out everything above a certain size, and the rest ended up in a landfill, mixed with regular garbage.

People whose opinion I respect, plus a lot of other people I don't know, seem to agree that this was an egregious error and that there is a way to rectify the problem.

I find myself unable to muster the indignation that others have about this. I guess I've always thought that we're excessively concerned about what happens to bodies after the people inside are done with them.

The body is not the person. Why does it matter what happens to the body? It's all symbolic and therefore arbitrary, or at least under our control.

I guess since it's not my family member I don't have all the data, but I feel that while it's nice to be able to make a gesture in how we dispose of remains,
a) sometimes it's not under our control,
b) sometimes the cost/effort would be much better spent elsewhere, and
c) body disposal only makes sense to me as an *extremely* tiny part of how we might honor our loved ones, and rejoice in having known them.

What am I missing?

i'm totally unique, just like everybody else...

I feel like there are an unusual number of things that thousands (or millions) of other people seem to really like, but I completely fail to see the appeal of. Off the top of my head, the beginning of this list would look like:

- licorice
- hard rock
- The Three Stooges
- ketchup
- The Rolling Stones
- Austin Powers
- hardwood flooring
- Jackson Pollack
- cola drinks
- John Wayne
- berber carpet
- furniture made of black leather & chrome

Anything on your list?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


Dad: Sam, how'd you get in the house today?

Sam: The hidden key.

Dad: Did you not put it back in its secret spot?

Sam: No, why?

Dad: Well, you need to put it back when you use it. David left his keys in the house today, so when he came back he was locked out because you didn't put the hide-a-key back; while you were in the house sleeping, he was waiting outside and missed half of soccer practice.

Sam: This is just one of those things where you're frustrated and you want to blame somebody so you're making it like it was my fault...

Sunday, October 08, 2006


While in NJ, drove into Philadelphia for dinner one night. Guess that's all I have to say about that...

Great body!

Saw the bodies exhibition while in New York.
It was great. Not necessarily for small children, but I thot it was awesome.
Highly recommend it.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

New York, New York...

I hate that song. It's almost as bad as "My Way" and "Maggie May", but not quite.
And just today when Sam said that about a different song, I gave her a speech about how it's more spiritually harmonious and less judgmental to just say something like
"I have never cared for that song. I'm sure some like it, but it's never done much for me."
I mean, hating a song seems like such a waste of energy, doesn't it?

But anyway, I hate that song. I find it annoying and stupid and unpleasant to listen to.

Because even tho I'd never been there in my life, I always sort of hated New York.
Big cities always seemed scary to me. As a young person I was painfully shy -- being in a room with 3 strangers was difficult, much less 8 million of them.
Also, I've always really enjoyed post-apocalypse fiction, and it's a well-known fact that cities are a bad place to be after an apocalypse. So that's another strike against NY.
I hated the Yankees because they had so many celebrity fans, and so much money, and won so much.
Then there's the rude people, with their unpleasant accent.
And the fact that NYers are often so proud about where they come from, and wax rhapsodic about The Bronx, Queens, Staten Island, Soho, the Upper West Side, or whatever -- places I'd never seen and had been getting along just fine without -- and some even give the impression they think everyone wishes they could live in New York, too.
Plus, lots of people are enamoured and terribly impressed with New York. And if you want me to dislike something, just tell me everyone else loves it -- I have an immature and perverse personality flaw that makes me hate whatever it is that everyone else loves.

So because of all the above, I wanted to hate New York itself, as well as the song. But I didn't.

I spent two days in NYC on my way to my client gig in New Jersey. It was great. The people seemed fairly directed and in a bit of a hurry sometimes, but the ones I interacted with were all charming. They hardly said the F-word at all. And once I got over my fear that WWIII (or a big meteor) was going to hit while I was there, leaving me to survive in a post-apocalyptic urban jungle, I had a great time.

Central Park is beautiful; the architecture is interesting; the subway is navigable, even for out-of-towners, and the mix of languages and cultures is fascinating.

All in all, had a wonderful time. Stayed across the street from Ground Zero, where the World Trade Center was. Saw a musical. Ate good food. Walked miles around Manhattan. Came away with a whole different attitude about New York. But I still hate that song...

allrighty, then.

Late night flight from Philadelphia to Seattle. Plane is dark, most of the passengers asleep.

I'm awakened from a deep slumber by a grating New Jersey accent bellowing in my ear "PUT YOUR SEATBELT ON!"

A stocky young woman is standing in the aisle next to me, wearing headphones, shouting at someone in the rows behind. Freshly-awakened, startled passengers are staring around in bewilderment.

The woman snorts, turns around, and heads for the lavatory in first class. We all look at one another, shrug, and go back to sleep.

Five minutes later she is back, again standing next to my seat, again with the headphones on, again shouting:


And she strides off down the aisle, leaving behind a muttering, embarrassed old man in the seat behind me. Not sure if he had his belt on or not.


Boring story #1:

I found a cell phone on Bourbon St.

Tried calling a few numbers in the phone book to get it back to the right person, but no luck.

Seemed the owner (Lola) was exchanging lovey-dovey txt msgs with someone named Jack, so I called him. Unfortunately, he didn't have another number for Lola.

Then Lola's roommate called looking for her; I gave her my number and asked her to have Lola call me.

Then a different guy called me saying "This is Lola's boyfriend, I understand you have her cell phone..."

Lola herself has never called.

Tomorrow I'll give the phone to someone at the Verizon store and they can figure it out.


Boring story #2:

Lost my own cellphone at lunch on Tuesday. Called Verizon, who gave me the number of Assurion, their -- or apparently, my -- phone insurance provider.
Assurion informed me there was a $50 deductible, which Verizon hadn't mentioned when originally selling me the insurance on the phone. (BTW, didja know that with Verizon you're insuring whatever phone is on your *line*, not the phone itself?)

Anyway, the good part is that after I paid the deductible via credit card over the phone (around 6:30pm), DHL showed up at my hotel the next morning (8:45am) with a replacement phone. I thought that was pretty nifty. I lost the most recent version of my phone list of course, but all in all a fairly painless experience.


New Orleans, 2 days. Presentation went well. Not sure if work will result, but maintained connections with lots of folks who might need a consultant some day.

Entertainment was provided, and also we made some of our own. My drink had very little rum in it, they assured me. Or perhaps I asked for extra rum, I can't remember. It's all a little vague...

(I'm just KIDDING, Mom -- relax already. The silliest thing I did all night was insert myself in random pictures being taken by people I didn't know. I know, it was foolish. I regret it already. But occasionally this type of thing takes place on Bourbon St, and we all live with the consequences... ;-)

We stumbled upon a wedding ceremony about to take place in a little hotel. The groom invited us in because they had no witnesses...

The piano player at Jean LaFitte's (one of several places named in JL's honor) was about 150 yrs old. He may not have been Van Cliburn, but he was a lot of fun, and much of his audience was probably too lubricated to care.

All in all, a whole lot of fun. Nice people, great food, cool music. Also some work-related activity, but we tried to keep that to a minimum...

Friday, October 06, 2006

i'll be back in a minute

I promise to blog something interesting sometime, not sure what. In the meantime, here's the inconvenient stuff that happened to me this week:

1) My laptop continues to shed pieces and functionality; it's become a kind of Rube-Goldberg-meets-the-Flintstones monstrosity, which barely runs. Perhaps I'll buy a new one, assuming I win the lottery.

2) Stayed in 4 different hotels over the last wk; at the one where I absolutely positively had to have internet access, no one in the entire hotel could tell me the name of the wireless network. They gave me an 800 number to call; guy said he'd call me back, never did. No internet, no flight info nor mapquest for directions to my next client site.

3) No directions, then bad directions, plus some kind of police action, plus lots of other people wanting to use the road meant a huge delay driving from NY to Blackwood, NJ. Three hours late for first mtg with client.

4) Lost my cellphone at lunch.

5) United Airlines cancelled my return reservation due to a check-in/signature deadline I was not informed of.

6) Escrow check improperly made out by title company delayed disbursement of house sale proceeds a further week. Automatic payment for rent did not make it to the landlord (again); landlord called to inquire (again). Alimony payment late, nothing I could do; Hannah understandably not impressed.

The above notwithstanding, life is good. Lots of really good things happened in between the inconveniences above, but who wants to hear about those? You do? Okay, then, I'll see what I can do...

In the meantime, keep in touch and do good work. Or whatever.