Postings are in chronological order, with the most recent entry at the top.

Oct. 2001

I've been surfing up articles and trying to make some sense out of all of the hell that's broken loose around us. I'm consolidating the links I've found onto a separate page...

Click here for info links

I couldn't resist this link... You know how some people are always using those field guides to spot various things? Birds... Mushrooms... Check this one out, very practical.

click here

I woke up with this heavy, lethargic feeling in my brain. I had an information hangover.

Hey, there's a live action tv show of "The Tick" starting in November on Fox. I imagine that it'll be dreadful, but I can't resist. Ume and I are huge Tick fans.

Speaking of culture... I saw "Iron Monkey" again last night. See it on the big screen if you can, it's a gas. The choreography is stunning.

I'm looking forward to "The One".

I'm looking forward to the "X-Files" season debut too. I think I've watched one full episode over the years, but we all know why I'm tuning in now, don't we?

In the hunt for laughter we went to see Margaret Cho's show. We near expired from lack of oxygen.

While I'm on about entertainment and funny stuff, I'm listening to David Sedaris' "Me talk Pretty One Day". I like books on tape. I usually avoid anything abridged, but he reads this one. It's hysterical. I'm feeling veritably normal as I listen to this man's stories about his family. He's bloody brilliant.

I'm having trouble locating the definition of terrorism that they're using for the anti-terrorism bill that just passed. Is it defined as someone threatening national security? Anyone know? I took a look at the ACLU site, but I'm no lawyer.

Click here to go to the a Washington Post article on the passing of the bill in the House. And yes, Virginia, there is a sunset clause!

Curious about hawalah? It's not your average banking system. It's come under heavy scrutiny because terrorists and drug dealers make use of it to hide their money. I'm still finding it hard to believe that a banking system based on word of honor actually works. And then, of course, there's the irony of a system that depends on honor being used by terrorists and drug cartels...

Radio Free Europe article.
click here

"Hawala: or the Bank that Never Was" by Sam Vaknin on
click here

They say that life is stranger than fiction. They may be right. This article on the Guardian site is certainly surreal...

Click here for the Guardian article, "A Long Way From Ambridge".

I ran out for groceries this afternoon. Nothing like dodging rush hour traffic on my bike to get me in the mood.

     Speaking of moods... I noted that it's getting dark earlier. This brings on my seasonal bout with SADD. This is not to be confused with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), brought on by shorter days and less exposure to sunlight or some such. SADD (Sassy After Dark Disorder) is similar in that it's seasonal, but has different symptoms. It's been in my family forever. I got it from my mother who was especially sassy after sundown in the colder months (I'm sure that it had nothing to do with the fact that she was a transplanted southerner or with what she was drinking either...). So if you sense a change, a subtle shift, a certain je ne sais quoi you hadn't noted before - it's nothing serious and should pass with time.

We've misplaced another hubcap. How common is this kind of thing? I remember my mother losing her glasses all of the time, I remember my father losing his favorite pen repeatedly, but I cannot recollect loud outbursts about hubcap loss. I'm just wondering about this because it's the third one to go AWOL in a year.

frass - (n.) Debris or excrement produced by insects.

Three guesses who I got this from...

I was stunned while out driving today. Probably not the best place to get stunned - behind the steering wheel of a car. Someone stopped and let me make a left turn across their lane of traffic. This kind of behavior does not, I repeat, does not happen in my neighborhood. I mean, it could happen, say if, the person behind the wheel of the other car was preoccupied by a pedestrian that they were cussin' out. It could happen then. Or maybe, maybe if they'd spilled their coffee in their lap and had to pause to scream (most everything in my neighborhood is accompanied by yelling of one kind or another).

     I didn't hear any shouting coming from that car, so I was stunned. I made the turn. I really don't know what to make of this heightened level of civility. It's unnerving. Pleasant, but unnerving. I've heard New Yorkers saying that they'll feel less out of sorts when people start being rude again. I guess the drastic change in behavior makes all of the differences that much more palpable. A constant reminder.

     Me, I'm a big believer in civility. One of the reasons I am so looking forward to not living in my neighborhood is that I seem to be alone in my belief. I say seem, that's because I'm sure there are people here who are as polite and friendly as can be. Much more so than I am (no big feat really...). It's just that we commute on different schedules and so I haven't bumped into them in the last ten years.

The world keeps turning. I'm still on for the ride. No anti-American zealot has mailed me anything deadly. I did receive a suspicious package though. I hadn't ordered anything. I stood in the hallway staring at it. I asked myself, "What's the likelihood that anyone's tryin' to knock you off Brulee? Open it." A friend thought this was a good moment in history to send me a surprise gift (good gift too). She's a nut, this friend of ours (redundancy?), she's in Italy on vacation. She said that if she's going to die, she'd rather it be while on vacation... I'm still working on that logic. I could understand someone saying, "I'm not going to let them terrorists run my life. To hell with 'em, I'm going to Italy." Or even, "We can't let them win, so I'm going on vacation." (Also dubious, but I can wrap my head around it.) Her fatalist approach threw me.

     And here's something else I can't understand... Women getting all hyperventilated over Jackie Onassis's clothes. Would someone please explain this to me? There's a travelling show of the woman's clothes. I listened to two women gush incoherent half sentences about sinching and patterns and all manner of textile whatnot while making broad gestures. I don't have that gene. I couldn't afford it so it's all for the best really.

     This enthusiastic exchange was followed by the equally baffling "ring display". Another thing I'll never comprehend. Women showing each other their diamonds. Happily, my partner is equally nonplussed by this behavior. We're mutants.

"Tiny wasps are known whose larvae parasitize the larvae of still other kinds of wasps that live inside the bodies of the caterpillars of certain species of moths that feed on certain kinds of plants that live on other plants." E. O. Wilson from "The Diversity of Life"

My girlfriend is grossing me out. She's sadistic too. Telling me about mites in my eyebrows, living in my forehead - what's up with that? I may have to hide her library card.

More infolinks on what's going on...

You'll need Real Player installed if you want to listen to these Teri Gross interviews with Karen Armstrong and journalists Jeffrey Goldberg and Ahmed Rashid (Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia). Good stuff.

     Karen Armstrong (History of God) - she gives awesome insights into the history of the conflict of modernity and fundamentalism. She's very cool. She's extremely sharp. I've found her insights unbelieveably helpful.

     The Goldberg interview straightens out that fatwah and jihad terminology. Helpful. And interesting info on social interaction in repressive fundamentalist groups. Fascinating.

     Rashid interview has excellent insights as well.

To listen to these articles you have to follow a couple of steps. Go to:

For the Armstrong interview look on the right side of the page and choose the date, Oct. 18 2001

For the Rashid and Goldberg interviews. Choose: Oct. 11 2001

There is an older Rashid interview about his book, Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia. Search: April 12, 2000 or click here.

More good stuff. Fareed Zakaria's article "Why Do They Hate Us?" in Newsweek (15 Oct. 2001).

Cognitive disconnect.

Question: Why has the FBI directed local police departments to photograph people at peace rallies?

     In Worcester, MA a woman was seen photographing people at a peace rally this week. When she was asked why she was taking them she refused to answer and left in a police vehicle. When the police were asked about this, they said that the FBI had told them to.

     Are they that threatened by the five percent of people in this country who disagree with them? Are they putting these faces on file for later use? For later intimidation? Are people who voice dissent the enemy now? If you're not with the war are you with the terrorists? Will peaceful demonstration be seen as abetting terrorism?

Ume asked a friend from Belfast, Ireland, who's working in the states for a while, what she thought of the American flags that had appeared everywhere.

Her response was, "They clash with the pumkpins."

We were on our way to walk on the beach and check out an Audubon spot yesterday, when we heard that we'd attacked Afghanistan. It's one of those things that's so surreal about living in times that you know will end up in history books. You think about all of these things going on and the fact that you might as well just go for a walk because there's not a hell of a lot you can do about foreign policy of a Sunday afternoon - if at all. So we did.

     I don't know if it's indicative of anything in particular, but we didn't see many birds at the bird sanctuary. Saw a couple of squirrels and some ducks... Tried the pishing thing and had some success at it, only, if you're in lush foliage, yer not going to be able to see the results so much as yer gonna hear them.

     We stopped for pizza later and I saw a bird flit by the window followed closely by something that kind of looked like a falcon. "Weird," I thought. "Probably not." A moment later, two feather's floated down... I'm getting pretty good at this birding thing. I'm suggesting to Ume that we spend more time in pizza places.

     We went for a walk on the beach later. The striped bass were running. Cool to see. Lots of people fishing, having a grand old time plucking them from the water. Throwing them back too.

     We arrived home to the sound of explosions. It seems that the town next to ours thought it was appropriate to shoot off fireworks midst rampant fear of terrorist retaliation. I think you can probably guess what I thought of their idea.

Reality, real life, that place where shit happens... It's been rather difficult for me to switch gears and write for this page lately. Spending a good deal of my time shouting at the radio - effective, I know - glaring at the newspaper - constructive, to be sure - and occasionally getting work done. Oh yeah, making a living, remember that?

     I started writing this page last year as an escape, a place to fart around and be silly. Not a whole lot of that kind of energy in me these days.

     We need to know what we're doing, why we're doing it, and what the likely LONGTERM consequences will be. Are we prepared to accept them? We do have to live in this world. So I'm reading and listening. And finding that even though I've listened to the BBC on and off over the years, I know exactly squat about the middle east. From listening to the BBC over the years what I do know is that there's been some major corruption in the international cricket world. That information hasn't proven useful in the last few weeks. Maybe I should have been paying more attention to the middle of the programs and not just the end part when they talk about sports. Not that I care much about sports scores, but that part of the program comes on just before the program that I do pay attention to so... I have gaps. I'm trying to fill some of them now.

     If I fill them, I may have a better chance at grasping how and why it is that a handful of people flew three planes into buildings, killing thousands, to make a point, to start a war. And why it is that we're laughing at press conferences at the lack of sufficient targets for our 'smart' bombs in one of the poorest countries in the world.

Ume has been reading Josephine Tey. She's absolutely loving her books. They're mysteries from the 40's. They're gentle and just the thing for her to escape into these days. She's been so enthusiastic, I thought I'd pass on the recomendation.

The characters of Tey's books have lead Ume to speculate on Ms. Tey's sexual preference. One of her early works was, Miss Pym Disposes - takes place in a school for gym teachers... need I say more? Well, yeah, but I won't. I'll let you check it out for yourself.

Here's a little Tey bio if you're interested:

Not sure why, but the back of one of J. Tey's books intrigued me (old edition from the library). So post WWII English.

FYI - Ume is the big reader in the family. Woman's always got her nose stuck in a book, while resting her feet on the stack of volumes she's going to get to later.

While rooting around for Tey info, I found this page at It never occurred to me that people might want a category of mystery like "cozy" - and me, a huge Dorothy L. Sayers fan, shows what I know.

I heard a woman from the Henry L. Stimson Center on the radio who put a lot of my fears about biological and chemical attacks into perspective with good old information. She studies this stuff for a living. She didn't say people shouldn't consider it, but she did say that she's a commuter who uses the subway and she hasn't bought a gas mask. She has no plans to do so. She was more concerned about the state of our public health system in case of an emergency.

A good FAQ page:

More in-depth information:

I find that I've been having moments of clarity, others of exhaustion and here and there a few sparkling moments of levity.

     The other day we were in a Sushi restaurant. A family with two especially well behaved children came in. The older child looked over the menu, the younger (3, maybe four years old) was engaged in an earnest discussion about his Batman comic book with his mother. I'm always curious when I see kids in Sushi restaurants - what are they going to get? When the waitress walked over he looked up at her and asked, "Do you have fish?" It floored me. I was still amused after he'd asked it ten times.

Nuclear Orchids...

Ume brought me some orchids a couple of weeks ago. The cut flower variety. You know, snip off the ends, place in fresh water, enjoy for several days, then out they go? That kind. Well, they're still here. I'm tellin' ya, the little suckers are radioactive or some such. They won't quit. I threw some of the greenery away, thinned out the flowers that were less than fresh, but these orchids, they must have grown 'em at three mile island or possibly they're imported from Chernobyl.

They don't glow in the dark though, I've checked.

I was up last night, couldn't sleep, so I sat on the couch and watched a PBS program on agriculture intensive societies.

I have this to report:

Our couch is a superbly sophisticated, exquisitely calibrated torture device.

Déjà vu - Sept. - August - July - June - Misadventures- April

Compassion Fatigue Entries - 2001

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