12.28.2007

The Doucheoisie

The term "douchebag" made a big comeback in 2007. Whether it just became more socially acceptable to publicly refer to a douchebag as a douchebag, or whether there are just so many more douchebags out there that it became ubiquitous, I'm not sure. All I know is that hardly a day went by this year that I didn't look at someone and think, "What a douchebag."

Don't ask me why I know this, but John Mayer is pontificating on the meaning of douchiness. He should have just checked Urban Dictionary. Or he could swing by here for a visual explanation (thanks to hotchickswithdouchebags.com for the pics that obviously came from that site):

This guy is a douchebag.
So is this guy.
And this one.
Him too.
A-Rod is also a douchebag.
And Sean Hannity is like the King of the Douchebags.

Lest there be any confusion, here is a handy chart to help you spot a douchebag (click on the picture for a larger image):

Current Events

Pakistan's Interior Ministry announced today that former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated yesterday, was the victim not of a government-orchestrated hit (as alleged by many of Bhutto's supporters) but of an attack by our old friend al Qaeda. This action on the part of the Pakistani government seems to indicate that it is once again acceptable to start blaming things on al Qaeda, a refreshing change of pace from blaming things on George W. Bush (which is kind of like shooting fish in a barrel). Dip in the Dow? Blame it on al Qaeda. Airport delay? Definitely al Qaeda. Traffic jam? Lost shoe? Stubbed toe? Al Qaeda, al Qaeda, and clumsiness -- although you could probably get away with blaming the clumsiness on distraction as a result of stress and worry, so we'll go ahead and pin that one on al Qaeda, too. Whether this means we will actually start looking for Osama bin Laden again, instead of just spending billions of dollars to blow up Iraq over and over, remains to be seen.

In domestic news, anti-abortion activists in Colorado have taken a break from intimidating vulnerable teenage girls to picket the homes of construction and security workers building a new Planned Parenthood clinic. During the holidays. This from the same people who say you don't have to like the war to support the troops. Apparently it's a different story if the murdered innocents in question are American fetuses rather than Iraqi civilians.

12.19.2007

Reputations

Co-Worker Jennifer just busted into my office and we had this conversation:

C-WJ: Did I already tell you what I've been laughing about all morning?
Me: No.
C-WJ: Britney Spears' little sister is pregnant, but the best part is that her mom had to cancel the Christian parenting book she was writing! I wonder if there was a chapter on abstinence.
Me: I heard. That is hilarious!
C-WJ: I'm sorry to just bust in here like this, are you doing work?
Me: Yes.
C-WJ: (incredulously) Really?

12.18.2007

Cold As Folk

At the moment, it is 8 degrees outside in Anchorage, Alaska. Conversely, it is 81 in Asmara, Eritrea, where I'm supposed to be right now. However, given the distinct possibility of war, freezing my ass off in Anchorage may not be so bad after all.

12.17.2007

Peep This

Peep Show is hilarious. The Guardian calls it "the best comedy of the decade." In short:
Mark Corrigan and Jeremy 'Jez' Osborne are always caught up in some form of malaise, constantly at each other's throats as they struggle to find a direction in life. Jez has aspirations to become a musician, but his efforts resemble the Prodigy on a very bad day! Meanwhile, Mark is stuck in an interminable office job, where the object of his affections--co-worker Sophie--is the only thing which keeps him sane. Racked by nerves and insecurity, the lengths Mark goes to in order to impress Sophie often leaves her in a state of bewilderment. It's all presented in a subtle combination of point-of-view shots and voiced-over internal monologues, hence the title.
Season 1: After being thrown out by his ex-girlfriend, Jeremy--an egotistical wannabe pop star--moves in with his socially-backward college friend Mark. While Jeremy lives in awe of his idiotic mate, Super Hans, and their beautiful but brittle neighbour Toni, Mark is in hot pursuit of the love of his life, co-worker Sophie.
Season 2: Mark finds an obstacle in the way of his quest for office crush Sophie’s love, in the form of his macho rival, Jeff. Meanwhile, Jeremy has fallen madly in love with a confused Californian Christian named Nancy, and embarks on a visa wedding which he hopes will be 'the happiest administrative procedure of their lives'.
Season 3: Jeremy tries to get over his disastrous marriage to Nancy by embarking on a series of ill-fated relationships with women--one of whom is Mark’s sister. In the meantime, Mark has finally managed to start dating Sophie--only to discover she’s being relocated to Bristol!
Season 4: Having proposed by accident to Sophie, Mark now faces the horror of having to actually go through with the wedding. Or will he...? And when Jeremy's beautiful ex-'visa wife' Nancy unexpectedly turns up again, how far will he go to win her back?
Don't let another day go by without some Peep Show in your life. You can watch old episodes online here.

12.06.2007

Wooden Anniversary

Today is the fifth anniversary of the day I moved to Alaska.

12.04.2007

Help Wanted

Superheroes (and supervillains for that matter) tend to make their own costumes, weapons, and accessories--not to mention they pick their own trade names and catchphrases. But what if a superhero was totally inept at everything artistic, not creative, and couldn't sew? Following up on a barroom discussion from the other night, I decided to find out. I did what I would do if I was an un-artistic superhero with no sewing or graphic design skills: I posted ads on Craigslist. I'll write a follow-up post with the responses if I get any good ones.

1. Posted under art/media/design jobs:

Superhero Needs Name and Logo


I'm an aspiring superhero, but I need help coming up with a name and logo.

I'm looking for a creative person who is familiar with the superhero genre and who has graphic design and marketing/advertising experience. I really want to use my powers for good, but I feel like I can't do anything until I have a good name.

Please send a resume and digital portfolio. Successful applicants will be asked to sign a confidentiality agreement.

2. Posted under nonprofit jobs: [1]

Superhero Needs Costume Help


I recently discovered that I have superpowers. I want to use my new powers to help people--I want to be a superhero, but I don't have a costume.

I can't sew, I have no idea how to design clothes, and my tailor, Rose, laughed at me, said no, and then started talking really fast in Korean when I approached her about this, so now I need to hire someone to make my costume.

You should have experience designing clothing or have worked as a costumer. You should be comfortable working with athletic wear and/or stretchy materials, space-age (and possibly extra-terrestrial) fabrics, capes, masks, boots that are comfortable to run in, and not be shy about creating something that looks like it has the underwear on the outside.

Experience with law enforcement and crime fighting is preferred, but not necessary. A confidentiality agreement will be required and enforced (this is very embarrassing for me--most superheroes can make their own costumes). Please send a resume and digital pictures of examples of your work
___________
[1] This was originally listed under skilled trades/crafts jobs, but was flagged for removal. Probably by the guy who responded to the ad by calling me "super dork."

11.26.2007

Ex-Convalescent

Back to Alaska tomorrow night. Back to cold. Back to dark. Back to work. I don't want to go back to any of it.

Sure, I miss my friends and I have a nice little life up there, but I was ready for a trial separation from AK a few months ago when I accepted the Eritrea job. Now I've had a too-brief respite; I'm not ready for it to end.

This date five years ago I was one week away from moving to Anchorage for a three-month job working on prisoner's rights issues for the ACLU. I was busy packing and cleaning so my apartment would be subletter-suitable. I was getting ready to drive my dog to Phoenix where she would stay with my dad while I ventured north. I was excited.

This night five years ago (I remember because it was the Monday after Thanksgiving) I had dinner up the street in Noe Valley with Anita, a girl I had been dating a little bit at the time. "You're going to go to Alaska and never come back here," she said. I protested--it was a temporary job. Why on Earth would I want to stay in Alaska? I was so going to come back to SF.

She was right. I didn't. Alaska became home. But I don't think it is any more. [1]

I just told Vik that if he gives me $2000, he can have the contents of my storage unit, all of my furniture, and (almost) everything else I own that is located in Alaska--just what one needs to be an Anchorage YUP. He just needs to put my dog, clothes, snowboard, and my big butcher's block cutting board in my car and ship it down to Seattle. Now that I think about it, that's a really good deal--the Afghan carpets alone are worth more than 2K. Shit. I have to make a call.

UPDATE: He just turned it down. Tempting, he said, but all he really wants from my stash is my car and dog, so, no deal.
___________
[1] In fairness, my thoughts on this topic might be different if it was June, or if I was facing another Winter of snowboarding and playing outside instead of a Winter of handcer-related physical therapy and being careful not to land on my hand when I slip on the ice.

11.19.2007

Post-Op

I am a fantastic convalescent, I learned. A natural. In the two weeks post-handcer surgery I have taken to sleeping in, making espresso every morning, lounging about, reading, and watching movies and complete seasons of television series on DVD.

But I couldn't do it alone. My ability to convalesce with the best of them is due entirely to Andrew and Casey's generosity, sympathy, bedside manner(s), and desire to watch said DVDs with me. My younger brother and "sort-of sister-in-law" welcomed me into their home [1] and have cared for me like I was their own son (which, I admit, is kind of weird). I owe them a lot.

Andrew and Casey have taken very good care of me. They cooked for me, cleaned up after me, made sure I was comfortable and entertained. [2] Casey has had me on a great naturopathic post-op protocol which includes acupuncture and lots of supplements tailored to my injuries--I've been taking Vitamins A, B, C, and E, DHA/EPA, Calcium, Magnesium, Zinc, Selenium, and Pantothenic Acid. My twice-a-day servings look like this:

Including not-pictured anti-inflammatory and pain medication, I'm swallowing about 30 pills a day. Difficult and not fun, but I can't argue with the results: No post-surgery infection or complications. My wounds are healing well, and ahead of schedule. Thanks, Case. (And thanks too, naturopathic medicine.) [3]

Despite the time off and the ability to do nothing but R&R, the past few weeks have been tough. Though I could still use my (dominant) right hand some during the first two months after it broke, everyday tasks like brushing my teeth, bathing, buckling my belt, writing, cooking, turning off lamps, and washing dishes became mostly left-handed adventures. But for the two weeks immediately following surgery, my right hand was out of commission entirely, forcing me to not only be left-handed, but one-handed. I cannot express in words the difficulty of pulling on wool socks, flossing one's teeth, and putting on pants with just one hand. [4], [5] Complicating matters further, the sleeves of all of my shirts (save for t-shirts and an old stretched-out sweater [6]), sweatshirts, and jackets that I brought with me wouldn't fit over my cast, so I could hardly venture outside without being cold and/or wet--not good for a cast that must stay dry.

Now the cast is off , the stitches are out and physical/occupational therapy has begun. I am stunned at how much flexibility and strength my hand has lost. I can't lift anything heavier than a glass of water without pain (and I'm not supposed to for a month, doctor's orders. This is especially important for those of you who are soon going to help me with The Move 2.0 to remember.) and I can only make half-a-fist. But it gets a little better every day, and my physical therapist is really nice, despite the fact that she inflicts Serious Hurt at 11:30 am every M,W,F.

Post-op pictures are online, but again, don't look if you're weak-stomached--though these aren't nearly as gruesome as the during-surgery pics.
_____________
[1] Technically it is Casey's house, and Andrew does not live there--he has his own apartment. Since I arrived in town, however, the number of minutes he has spent in his apartment and the nights he has slept there can both counted on one hand: five, 0, respectively. Whatever the technical terms of their arrangement/status may be, I'm glad to have had this time to spend with them under one roof.

[2] Re: entertainment, Casey will do things like this:
[3] Remember, if you want more information about naturopathic medicine, or want to find a naturopath or other alternative healthcare provider in your area, check Andrew's website, Medfinds.

[4] Also, reading has been hard. I should have brought a shorter book. "Laborious" best describes the repeated act of one-handedly hoisting to a suitable reading level and navigating through the 1,100-page copy of Infinite Jest (and flipping back and forth between the text and various of the book's 388 endnotes) that was purchased to get me through this month.

[5] Though I understand that there are people who suffer through this, and much worse pain, frustration, and physical difficulty every day, and even though I am now even more sympathetic toward the handless and de-limbed than I ever was, I can't help but think that if I was permanently shorthanded (pun intended), I would have some sort of prosthetic helper device, like a hook, claw, or something with a USB port so I could at least charge my iPod.

[6] Some of you may recall the navy blue merino wool sweater I have been wearing at least 3-4 days per week since my third year of law school. Holes and all I love that sweater and it seems to have a preternatural ability to fit better and better as time goes on, adjusting to whatever shape my body might be in. A simply brilliant bit of sartorial engineering from the formerly fine folks at J. Crew.

11.14.2007

Redesign

I was bored with the look of the site, and I found myself with plenty of time to learn some coding basics, so I made a few changes. Well, my intention was to make just a few changes, but it turned into a much bigger ordeal, and a near-total cosmetic overhaul (though most of the labor is behind-the-scenes stuff). It's the most work I've done in two weeks. It felt good to do something other than read or watch DVDs of the first season of Heroes.

11.06.2007

Tuesday Night Random 3.0

Blogging has been light lately due to the agonizingly slow process of typing with one hand. But without any further delay, and continuing this semi-Tuesday night tradition, here are some random thoughts and happenings covering the past few hectic (packing/moving/working/dog-sitting/traveling/surgery) and not-so-hectic (post-surgery sitting around doing nothing but popping pain pills) weeks:
  • My adoring fans have suggested the following actors to play me in the BH4J movie: John Favreau, Mark Ruffalo, Jon Stewart, Woody Allen, Lewis Black, Denzel Washington, Robert Downey, Jr., and both actors (John Hodgman and the other guy) from the "I'm a Mac" ads.
  • Co-worker Jennifer thinks the B-Dice part will be played by a woman, and suggested Janeane Garofalo or Sara Silverman. I like this idea, but I'm going to hold out for the part to be played by one of these performers (all of whom I am dying to meet and whom I am in varying stages of love with): Maggie Gyllenhaall, Zoey Deschanel, Christina Ricci, and/or Lisa Loeb.
  • Myster thinks I should eschew Hollywood altogether: "Better yet, team up with some indie filmmaker and get your own story out there first... that way you can capitalize on the moviegoing public's clamor for the real story behind BH4J before it's sated by the big-budget version. Like the direct-to-DVD outfit that puts out things like 'Snakes on a Train' only, you know, classier."
  • I recently learned that recently-married Ex-Girlfriend Alli is five months pregnant. I'm very impressed: Around this time last year, when we were still involved, Alli told me she wanted to be married and have a kid "in about a year." I didn't want that; not with her. I'm glad she found someone who could give her what she wanted, and I'm glad I knew enough to know that she wasn't right for me. Alas, I left her for someone I thought was right for me (or who I just wanted to be), but I wasn't right for her. And on and on we go...
  • This story about the Department of Homeland Security Halloween Party Fiasco raises five questions for me: (1) What kind of a schmuck thinks "Rastafarian Inmate" is a good choice for the office Halloween party? (2) How un-creative are the DHS employees that this lame costume was voted "most original"? (3) How sheltered are the "judges" who thought this costume was in any way original? (4) Shouldn't Halloween, and its concomitant free speech undertones, be embraced by the Federal Government, regardless of whether some find it offensive? (5) Really? We're really (literally) making a federal case out of this?
  • This is freaky, but freakier still, WWTD's take on the story is exactly what I was thinking.
  • Before I left for Seattle I met someone whose very existence reminded me that no matter how bad I think things get, my life is still pretty great:
  • This is embarrassing, but I am comfortable admitting it because (a) I'm just writing it on a blog that no one really reads; and (b) I'm out of town: Last week I drove way past a street I was supposed to turn onto because I was daydreaming and singing along (loudly) to Torn by Natalie Imbruglia.
  • A word I never want to hear my mom say again: gynecologist.
  • Acupuncture is way cool.
  • Best Case Caption Ever: UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff, v.
    Ronald G. Cheeseman, a/k/a Big Cheese, Patrick Lawless, Robert Morgan, a/k/a Bear, Kim D. Diluzio, a/k/a Mr. Fun, Richard D. Cirzeveto, a/k/a Piggy, a/k/a R.C., Jeffrey Adamek, William A. Grosso, Janet Beam, a/k/a Puffy, Maureen Pompey, a/k/a Mo, James A. Harwood, a/k/a Gorilla, Martin Pulver, a/k/a Tiny, Orville Deitz, a/k/a Orvie, Robert Milhomme, a/k/a Indian, John Lofranco, a/k/a John The Baptist, a/k/a JTB, James Lee Farrigan, a/k/a The Mayor, Sandra Grieco, a/k/a Sandra Harris, Patti Milhomme, a/k/a Patti Root, Donna White, and Thomas Mulholland, 620 F.Supp. 1327 (D.C.N.Y., 1985).
  • Boyz II Men sang God Bless America at Fenway Park during one of the World Series games. For me, this historic musical event disappointed greatly: First, only three of the four Boyz were there. [fn1] Second, my favorite Boy II Man, Michael McCary (the guy with the deep voice and the cane) didn't have his cane and the song did not stop in the middle for his patented slow, heartfelt "girl, you know I love you and I'm sorrry" soliloquy.
  • Random pictures from Sarah's birthday scavenger hunt:
with a state legislator and his kids. at his house. at 10pm. on a saturday night.


canned chicken. corn dog. postcard.

kat hoisting a giant rock.

alex w/child. and bottles of booze.

human pyramid. sort of.

no idea what is going on here.
___________
[fn1] Shawn Stockman--the skinny guy with the big head--I think, was missing. Also, his Wikipedia page uses the word whilst. He may be my new favorite.

11.02.2007

Handcer Removal Pics

These pics were taken during surgery. If you are at all squeamish, don't look.

11.01.2007

Handcer Survivor

Surgery was successful. I'm a little wobbly and sore right now, and I can't use my right hand at all, but otherwise I'm doing great. And now I totally understand why Rush Limbaugh was addicted to Oxycodone; to borrow a phrase from a friend, "me likey."

Thanks to everyone for all of your kind words and support. More tomorrow.

10.29.2007

Moving: Days 16-18

26 October 2007, Friday
6:00 am: wake up to roommate MaryLou BLASTING NPR
7:oo am: wander out of bed
7:50 am: thinking it probably won't rain, decide to wear my Favorite Black Cashmere Hat
8:00 am: drive Josie to doggy day care (i.e. Geran's house to play with Arlo)
8:36 am: pick up a friend I spot wandering down 15th Ave. on her way to work
8:45 am: breakfast at Snow City [fn1]
9:30 am: work on Voting Rights Act case
10:00 am: raining
10:02 am: Jose Gonzalez' cover of Teardrop
10:06 am: Voila by Michael Tolcher
12:15 pm: 35 degrees. rain. ice.
12:16 pm: drive to storage unit, unload car
12:23 pm: cold. wet. Faovrite Black Cashmere Hat not keeping head dry
1:30 pm: sun!
1:45 pm: AK Supreme Ct issues opinion in one of our cases
1:46 pm: begin reading 52-page opinion
1:46:10 pm: we won!
2:07 pm: call T to semi-gloat about victory
2:14 pm: 40 degrees, sunny, feels like Spring
2:30 pm: load backyard furniture and firewood into car
3:20 pm: step in ten-inch-deep puddle (unintentionaly)
6:10 pm: MY3SNZ [fn2]

27 October 2007, Saturday
12:40 am: why am I still packing and lugging stuff around with a broken hand?
1:02 am: 34 degrees. icy. fog.
1:04 am: somehow manage to back my car down steep narrow driveway in between a van and a light pole without being able to see out the rear window
1:06 am: for the first time today, Kanye West's Stronger is not playing on the radio! [fn3]
1:07 am: Cecilia, you're breaking my heart, you're shaking my confidence daily...
1:34 am: start to think about upcoming surgery. nervous. scared.
1:35 am: decide to hold off on surgery-related nervousness until moving is finished
1:38 am: slam on brakes as moose darts in front of car
1:48 am: walk outside with hood over my head (i.e., no peripheral vision). hear rustling. stop. look to left. see a moose chomping on a tree less than three feet from me. walk away s-l-o-w-l-y
2:05 am: I fear inflatable mattress technology has forever changed the concept of crashing on someone's couch. Though right now I am happy to reap the benefits.
10:00 am: meet Hank, MaryLou, ten of our friends, and two U-Hauls at our house for The Big Move Out
1:00 pm: it's amazing how quickly moving goes with 13 people helping
1:30 pm: pizza party
3:30 pm: one more trip to the storage unit
6:00 pm: use Coinstar machine to cash in my jar of change: $76.85. Coinstar would not accept: 7 Rand, 1 Kwacha, 20 Pence, $1.24 Canadian, 1 bent US quarter, 1/2 a toothpick, 1 small red pill of indeterminate origin.
8:00 pm: hand hurts. exhausted. nap.
9:00 pm: Geran's home costume shop:

11:08 pm: Halloween party
11:40 pm: Ian Shenanigan Sheshunoff is dressed as Wonder Bread (The Bun in the Oven)


28 October 2007, Sunday
1:37 am: Overheard in Anchorage: "I snorted ecstasy once--it felt like my head was going to fall off."
2:16 am: some guy refuses to walk his date home because he is eating baklava. "I'll ride my bike and catch up with her." She was complaining about him earlier in the evening. This night is going to end badly for him.
3:08 am: front row seats as another relationship ends. very entertaining.
4:30 am: sleep
11:17 am: awake
6:15 pm: take last car load of stuff to storage unit. moving is complete.
this is my current home:
these are my neighbors:

6:45 pm: need coffee
6:50 pm: the dude ahead of me in line just ordered a 20 ounce sugar free raspberry skinny latte. the fall of our civilization is very near.
7:40 pm: The Darjeeling Limited
9:59 pm: eh. Wes Anderson doesn't break any new ground with this one. Of course, the music was great, and the film looked beautiful--Anderson's attention to detail is remarkable. Much like The Life Aquatic, he continues to perfect the "Wes Anderson Style," but I was disappointed. However, I really enjoyed the companion short film, Hotel Chevalier. And Natalie Portman is..., well, words escape me. "Hot" just doesn't cut it.
_______________
[fn1] I have recently been quite partial to the oatmeal at Snow City Cafe. It is light and fluffy, as far as oatmeal goes, and it comes with a mini-fixins' bar of granola, dried cranberries, raisins, and brown sugar. It is a generous portion of oatmeal, and if you add a lot of granola to it (as I like to do) the portion swells to nearly double its size, meaning you have breakfast for the next day as well (if you can stomach reheated oatmeal with mushy granola). Sometimes I will order "The Steiner", which is the aforementioned oatmeal served with a side of bacon. I giggle every time I order it because it is named after a friend of mine. A friend who (in addition to eating bacon and oatmeal so often that a restaurant named that pairing after him) I once witnessed order (and eat) bbq chicken at a strip club on St. Maarten. (I had some too--it was good chicken--and not just for strip club chicken.)

[fn2] I am beginning to recognize personalized license plates that I have seen before. This one was still just as lame as it was the first time I saw it. I need to get out of this town.

[fn3] I spent almost two hours in my car listening to the radio today. I heard that song at least 6 times. Though, I did listen to it and sing along each time...

10.21.2007

Showbiz

UPDATE: Variety is now reporting that it is official: "Paramount, MTV take 'Bong hits' "

I finally have some of my own Hollywood gossip! This is what I know (and it's not much): a screenplay is in the works and a "major" studio has purchased the option for, get this, Bong Hits 4 Jesus: The Movie. This in no way guarantees that such a film will ever be made, but it's still fun to think about. So, who's going to play me? [fn1] One of the Sklar Brothers, perhaps?

them
me
them
me
them
me

Close enough. You think K-Starr will play himself?
______________
[fn1] The role of B-Dice will surely be highly sought after as the scene where I sit in the Supreme Court and say absolutely nothing (but also, and more importantly, don't spill anything) has Oscar written all over it.

10.18.2007

The Winter Of My Discontent

I was supposed to arrive in Eritrea today. Instead, I'm still in Anchorage and am celebrating Alaska Day. Alaska Day is one of my favorite state holidays (the other being Seward's Day), but even with the day off, I'd still rather be in Africa right now. Mostly because it is For Real Cold these days (though as Myster explains, just how cold depends on where you are in the city). It is only mid-October, but my trusty old down jacket has already made its season debut and these things have shown up occasionally as well. The temperature has been dropping about 5 degrees every week, and we are losing 5 minutes of daylight every 24 hours (daytime temps are in the low 40s and it is dark at 7:30). There is frost on my lawn every morning and on my way to work I see ice covering patches of Westchester Lagoon. A few days ago it was snowing at my house--just little itty-bitty pieces of snow, and just for a few minutes, but it was still snow.

It's hard to get too upset, though, when you get to go to parties wearing an ascot:

And when you get to add a captain's hat to the ensemble and hang out with girls wearing outfits like this:

10.15.2007

Plans

10.27: Move out of my house
10.30: Fly to Seattle
11.01: Surgery
11.22: Fly to Scottsdale for Thanksgiving
11.25: Fly back to Seattle
11.27: Fly back to Anchorage
11.28: Depose state election officials for Voting Rights Act lawsuit
11.29: Id.
11.30: Id.
12.01: Move into new house

10.14.2007

Wedding Album

I'm a little late in posting these, as Howard and Holly's wedding was over a month ago. Most of the pictures were taken at SeaCrest Estate, which was the site of the rehearsal dinner, the wedding reception, and the after party. There, for four days we lived in a different world: in a mansion, on a cliff, overlooking the sea. The website provides some details (but doesn't mention that the property is owned by John J. Donovan, who sounds crazy, has a giant portrait of himself in the house, and who, according to local lore, was the inspiration behind Mr. Burns from the Simpsons):
This spectacular 4.2 acre estate on Manchester-by-the Sea's lovely Smiths Point offers the ultimate in oceanfront luxury and surroundings for your wedding, special event or family holiday, if you require the absolute best. The "main house" is a 21 room (12,424 square ft) mansion with 8 bedrooms/7.5 baths, a large indoor lap pool with ocean views, and a basketball court complete with viewing gallery. The main house easily sleeps 14 and boasts two full kitchens plus an additional caterer's kitchen. The beautifully appointed "Carriage House", perfect venue for a band/DJ and dancing, also comfortably seats. If the indoor pool is too tame, enjoy privileges to a private sandy beach, a few yards from the house. Also in the main house are a billiard room, game room, multiple wet bars, ocean front patios and decks, and a grand piano. There is a tennis court available for use that is shared by guests of the estate. Manchester-by-the-Sea is a quiet oceanfront community convenient to Boston, Myopia Hunt Club, Manchester Yacht Club, the antique centers of Essex & Newburyport, and America's oldest and most colorful fishing and whale watching communities, Gloucester and Rockport.
Even aside from the ridiculous yacht club-ish fanciness of the location, it was a fantastic trip--I spent about 10 days in Massachusetts, most of which was some much-needed just-kicking-it time with Howard and a lot getting-to-know-you-better time with Holly. I was also able to engage in all sorts of hijinks with Ian, which was long overdue, play with his two little girls (one of whom I had never met), and meet his fiancee, Erin. It had been years since I had seen Chris, Ari, and Jay, so it was really nice to see them again. It was also B-Dice family hour, as my mom and two younger brothers came to the wedding. Photos:

Worth A Thousand Words

The ceremony rehearsal was wrapping up. As they would the next afternoon as husband and wife, Howard and Holly walked down the brick-laid path that led out of the park, followed by Becca and Maddie, the flower girls. Jen, the maid of honor, and I were next. Trying to remember our cue, we linked arms and started down the path behind them.

Howard and Holly had stopped walking just beyond the park gate. As we approached, Jen poked me to make sure I wasn't missing it: They stood still, holding one other, eyes locked. They weren't saying anything, but they didn't have to. We could tell they were scared, excited, and in this, and everything else, together.

It seemed the reality of the big step they were about to take had hit them that instant, as if one had just said, "Holy shit, we're really doing this," and the other replied, "Oh my god, we are."

Planning a wedding, especially when handling the vast majority of the details yourselves, can become an aggravating, difficult, magic-less, and hardly romantic process chock full of details, arrangements, schedules, plans, and scores of problems to solve. But in this brief moment--one of the few they had to themselves during those hectic days leading up to The Big Day--all of the romance and magic had returned. And I had my camera.

10.09.2007

Tuesday Night Random II

  • There is no word for e-mail in Yup'ik, they call it "spacemail."
  • This afternoon I very narrowly (by inches and about one second) avoided what would have been a bad car accident. I was (unintentionally--it kind of sneaks up on me) listening to the Christian Rock station at the time. Did divine intervention save me? Perhaps--a few minutes later I saw this license plate: GODCENT. [fn1]
  • As far as I'm concerned, if a candy bar has nuts in it, it's a meal.
  • My office received a complaint about police "malpheasants."
  • How do you tell if it was a date or not?
  • Different perspectives:
Nate's e-mail: Great news--our budget for 2008 was approved, so we can go ahead with the Kenya, Sudan, and Malawi school building projects.
Rob's reply: Awesome! When are you going to be in NYC? Let's meet up and party.
Simon's reply (Simon is in Kenya and had recently sent an email explaining how excited he was about the well that was just built that will for the first time bring fresh water to the school construction site he is supervising): That is wonderful news. We are very blessed. Let us give thanks.
Rob to me at a bar a few nights later: I feel like such a jerk.
  • Overheard in Anchorage (because one of my friends said it): "Oh my god, I'm dating Dwight Schrute. Actually, he's a cross between Dwight and Napoleon Dynamite." That relationship ended shortly thereafter.
  • In one night last week Hank learned how may weeks are in a year, Viv learned that "the big circuit with all the courts on the west coast" is the Ninth Circuit, and I learned why south-facing windows get the most light.
  • I recently interviewed for a job working on national security litigation. I didn't get it, but I was told I was one of the finalists for the position. However, now that I know about the woman they hired, I'm amazed they even called me back, let alone took the time to interview me: She was the acting director of a major human rights organization, and before that was their deputy director and senior counsel. She has extensive expertise in international human rights law: she authored or co-authored several reports about interrogation, detention, and rendition; monitored the military commissions at Guantanamo Bay; served as co-counsel in a case against Donald Rumsfeld concerning the abuse of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan; and is an oft-quoted expert on a wide array of national security issues. She also was a writer for the NYU's Center for Human Rights and Global Justice and was an associate at a prestigious Manhattan law firm. How do you compete with that? Also, I feel like an idiot for suggesting "cooler t-shirts" in response to an interview question about how to improve their public education efforts.
  • to think it would be so much better if she was there. But I wasn't sad, and I couldn't make myself so. And it wouldn't have been better if she was there--it was perfect the way it was.
  • T-minus 18 days until I have to move. Packing has begun. Some highlights: I have two full boxes labeled "costumes." I organized all of my camping gear--how and why do I have four headlamps? trashed: 3 years worth of Adbusters magazines; saved: Grandma Sylvia's leather cigarette case (now my digital camera case); trashed: Josie's tags from 1268 Guerrero St., SF, CA 94110; saved: Peter Gabriel 1993 tour t-shirt; trashed: 2007 Alaska Oceans Festival volunteer t-shirt; saved: Dan McCarthy print that I got as a present but have yet to hang up.
  • Is it rude to describe someone as having "unfortunate hips"?
  • Alli and David got married yesterday. That could have been me, but I wasn't in love with her and I knew I never would be. So she went back to David when I said no. To the happy couple I now only have this to say: mazel tov.
  • I haven't eaten any, but somehow my breath tastes like jelly donuts. I wish it did every day.
___________
[fn1] I also saw this license plate today: CLGFND. Clog Fiend? Craigslist Girlfriend?

10.08.2007

Hook, Line, and Scissors

Six weeks ago Lea got a fishhook stuck in her leg. Dr. Meghan had to perform emergency surgery on the side of a creek to remove it using nothing but a pair of scissors. I finally got around to uploading the video to YouTube. You can watch all four short clips here.

Be warned: there is some blood. And note that this video is in the "how-to/do-it-yourself" category. But that doesn't mean you should.

10.02.2007

Tuesday Night Random

  • Really? Are people this into angels?
  • A prosecutor friend of mine committed what could be the ultimate Freudian Slip: she accidentally filed a motion to oppress rather than a motion to suppress.
  • Lost and Found:
    • Lost: digital camera case (missing for six weeks)
    • Lost: grey silk/cashmere v-neck sweater (missing for approximately 18 months; possible location: a girl's house)
    • Found: my fancy iPod headphones that don't fall out of my ears when I run and don't freeze when the temperature dips below 32
    • Lost: dog leash, black, 6' (missing for 17 days [Note: this item has been replaced])
  • Why is it that Europeans can smoke constantly and yet never smell like cigarettes?
  • What kind of a person spells out "Rad" off-center and in duct tape on the rear window of their beat-up 1987 Red Nissan Sentra and then drives 15 mph under the speed limit?
  • This is satire, but it wouldn't surprise me if it happened.
  • To the douchebag in the teal '91 Corvette who found it necessary ride up my ass on A Street earlier this evening: well, there's really nothing insulting I can say, after all, you're a douchebag with a '91 Vette with vanity plates that read "POOF."
  • Was 1984 the best year ever? Bill Simmons makes a convincing argument.
  • Kim: "Owning a house is great and makes you feel mature until you go to Alex and Sarah's place and then you think, 'Oh, this is how adults live.'"
  • I've been spending a lot of time working with Nat on our voting rights case--the Elder Statesman and The Dude (the more experienced attorneys working on the case) being otherwise unavailable, incommunicado, or bored. Thus Nat and I, the "Kids," are being sent out without adult supervision. It is a lot of fun, her office is much nicer than mine (she has stunning views of the mountains and the inlet, as opposed to my usual view of the front of my car, a dumpster, and an alley which is periodically interrupted by drunk yelling homeless people)), the experience is invaluable, and spending time with Nat leads to all sorts of fascinating anecdotes about her family, like this story about her Chickasaw grandfather who was in a Japanese prison camp during World War II: The guards tried to kill him by stabbing him twice, but he didn't die. When they threatened him again, he looked them dead in the eyes and said, "Go ahead. If you kill me, my soul will leave my body and enter yours and then I will haunt you for the rest of your life." Wow; That is intense. I am so going to use that line someday.
  • Another anecdote from Nat: a feisty old Alaska Native woman we know was threatened with arrest for helping non-English speakers vote. Her response: "Go ahead. I don't know nobody but lawyers."

10.01.2007

Just What I Needed

Winston (a friend/colleague/fellow Mets fan) and I engaged in an e-mail volley of dismay over the disaster that is now synonymous with the 2007 New York Mets. Winston forwarded our dialog to his significant other, and I cut-and-pasted her response below. Though it was not written to me, it is exactly what I needed to hear and it made me feel a lot better.

She obviously cares greatly for Winston, and she quotes one of the best baseball movies of all time; if Winston does not marry her immediately, he is a fool. But my perspective is slightly warped on this topic: I'm a sucker for a woman who appreciates baseball--or one who understands the obsession, or at least feigns interest. [fn1]
My Dearest Winston,

I write to offer my condolences for what I know must be a truly heartbreaking loss. You have invested so much time, energy and unconditional love in the Mets that I imagine you must be feeling the pain of their demise more than most fans (with the exception of your friend Jason in Anchorage, Alaska). It is a dark time indeed, but you will get through it. Though I cannot promise victory for the Mets, and I can promise another season. Remember: "The one constant through all the years, [Winston], has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It's been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past, [Winston]. It reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again."

Though my (admittedly pilfered) words can neither change the fate of the dearest Mets nor completely alleviate your deep suffering, at the very least I hope that you can find some solace in them. Please know that I am here for you - you need only yelp, whimper or squeak and I will do my best to provide you with emotional comfort and beer.

Keep your head up, Winston, and I will keep both you and the Mets in my thoughts.

Love,
C
_____________
[fn1] A couple of years ago a certain young lady asked me about baseball on our first date and she actually seemed interested in my answers, not bored when I explained that the reason that I, like her brother and father, fawned over baseball statistics was because baseball statistics are more than just numbers--they have, in the words of pioneering baseball historian Bill James, "acquired the power of language," which makes them endlessly fascinating since they tell stories as much as they reflect accomplishment:
When numbers acquire the significance of language, they acquire the power to do all of the things which language can do: to become fiction and drama and poetry…And it is not just baseball that these numbers, through a fractured mirror, describe. It is character. It is psychology, it is history, it is power, it is grace, glory, consistency, sacrifice, courage, it is success and failure, it is frustration and bad luck, it is ambition, it is overreaching, it is discipline. And it is victory and defeat.
And of course I rambled on about the smell of fresh-cut grass and of a leather fielder's mitt, of the cracking sound of a ball coming off a bat, about the fact that there was always time for daydreaming in baseball, and that the formal ballfield itself is technically infinite. Physics, the limits of human endurance, and domed stadiums aside, there is really no barrier as to how far a batter can hit a ball, no end to how far a fleet outfielder might run to retrieve it. The foul lines run on forever, constantly diverging so that no place on the planet is actually not a part of one baseball field or another. Every other sport is beset by boundaries, but not baseball. There is no limit to the size of a baseball field or what might be achieved on it.

Well, I don't think I said that much--I do know somewhat how to behave on a date and I didn't want her to think I was absolutely crazy when we had only just met. But that's what I would have said if I had time to think about it and if I had my copy of W.P. Kinsella's The Iowa Baseball Confederacy handy to paraphrase from, as I do now. Still, the fact that she at least seemed interested resonated, and I never forgot--that's definitely one of the reasons why I was so hung up on her for so long. Apparently it takes very little for me to get attached.

9.30.2007

Stunned Disbelief

Despite being in first place for almost the entire season, the New York Mets are not going to the playoffs this year.

Today the Mets completed one of the most brilliant collapses in Major League Baseball history. Few teams have fallen apart on a level comparable to the Mets' recent implosion.

As play ended on September 12, the Mets held a seemingly insurmountable seven-game lead over the second-place Philadelphia Phillies. With with just 17 games to go in the regular season, the Mets were a post-season lock and a favorite to make it to the World Series.

What happened next has left me in stunned disbelief: between September 13 and today the Mets played their worst baseball of the year--winning just five games and losing 12--while the Phillies played some of their best, going 13-4 over that same stretch. In the end, the Phillies edged out the Mets for the division title by just one game; the Phillies go on, the Mets go home.

Tim Marchman puts into words exactly how I felt recently:
For the Mets and their fans, the last two weeks have been less like a late season collapse and more like a mystical experience in which science and religion have converged and become one. Many baseball teams have lost a lead down the stretch, but few, if any, have become the center of a temporal dislocation in which the precise same thing happens at the precise same moment, every single day. Were a theologian and a quantum physicist inclined, they could no doubt plumb the mysteries of reason and faith simply by examining these two weeks minutely; those of us who do not contemplate the meaning of existence for a living can just stare on in horror.
The impact of today's loss runs deep. A win would have guaranteed at least a tie for the division title and a one-game playoff with Philly, or kept them in the running for the wild card playoff slot. Instead, the Mets threw their season away just 10 minutes into the top of the first inning--they were down 7-0 before two outs had been recorded. Such a display is nothing short of deplorable at such an important time, and it encapsulates a sea change in how fans may now view this team:

This disaster changes the Mets' basic identity. Before yesterday the story of the Mets, from 1962 to now, wasn't about how good they were, but about the way they played, and how they were always worth believing in because they played tough, ruthless baseball, win or lose. When they were great, they won the greatest victories; when they were just good, they lost admirably, and sometimes even won.
Marchman further details the team's disintegration, and how improbable and ingloriously historic it was here.

9.26.2007

Oy Vey

Based on the unanimous ruling issued by three well-respected medical professionals (and a concurring opinion filed by my mother) that I should stay in the US to get treatment for the handcer, I rescinded my acceptance of the Eritrea job. Though I made the decision a couple of weeks ago, the reality of its impact is just setting in, and I'm bummed and frustrated; I was really looking forward to moving to Africa.

The job in Eritrea was ideal--it would have given me a much needed respite from Anchorage, I was going to work on a really interesting war crimes case, it would have put me on a new career path, given me the opportunity to experience a totally different culture, I was going to argue at The Hague, travel, and earn a decent salary for a change. Another appealing aspect was that when the job was over I would have all sorts of options: return to AK or elsewhere in America; continue working in Africa; go back to school; try a different continent.

Instead, I'm stuck in Alaska for another long, cold Winter, all of the reasons I wanted to leave are still staring right at me (some even moreso than before), my hand hurts constantly, I have to wear a cast-like thing for the next six weeks, I have to have surgery and then will be in a full-on cast without use of my right hand for two months, my two most recent ex-girlfriends are getting married soon (not to each other), the White Stripes canceled their Anchorage show, I'm super-busy at work but can only type with 1.2 of my hands, and finally, and most recently, I learned that I need to move out of my house and find a new place to live by the end of next month.

It's a lot to deal with, and I think I'm handling everything pretty well, but as Grandma Sylvia would have said, "Oy gevalt."

9.25.2007

Cold Cold Heart

Daytime temperatures now hover right around 50 degrees--a full 10 degrees lower than last week. [fn1] Nowhere is this steep drop more evident than in my office, which I am convinced is cold-blooded--it is incapable of regulating it's temperature. It is a slave to its environment: way too hot in the Summer and freezing in the Winter. In response, I turned the heat on for the first time this season. Almost immediately, the dirt and dust that spent the Summer camping out in the vent next to my desk erupted in a lovely grey and black plume that blanketed stacks of papers and books and left the air flaky and gritty. I turned off the heat and put on a hat. It's going to be a long Winter.
___________
[fn1] The title of last week's post, "Please Don't Go", was in reference to the warm weather, not the KWS song by the same name, as some have suggested. Though, that was a good song.

9.21.2007

Entering the Lexicon

I invented a word last night:

Testosteroff: Method of competition used to determine manliness among two or more drunk guys; The type of fight that ensues when drunk guys get into a fight based on nothing more than that they are guys and they are drunk.

9.19.2007

DFW

I should be working on my brief that is due tomorrow. Or, I should be preparing for the presentation I am giving at UAA tonight. [fn1] Instead, I can't tear myself away from the David Foster Wallace book Viv gave me to read. Specifically, his essay detailing a seven night cruise aboard a Caribbean luxury cruiseliner. He is brilliant. I would have his children if possible.
_________
[fn1] Myster and Kim both recently e-mailed to let me know that I made it into the Green and Gold, UAA's daily online newsletter. Despite such compelling advertising, I hope no one shows up. I don't even want to go--I just want to go home and lie in bed with David Foster Wallace. And his book.

Backwards Thinking

Even with all of the problems inherent to time travel, upon occasion I find myself wishing I could go back and do something over. Act differently. Say something else. Take my head out of my ass. Really listen to what was being said to me. Not be so selfish. Pick up on the clues before it was too late. Take the hint. See the forest; forget the trees.

This is one of those times. I can't do anything about it but learn and hopefully not make the same mistake again. Fuck.

9.16.2007

Handcer Update

I have talked to several doctors [fn1] and the prognosis is good. Right now I am sporting a hard plastic shell (see below) in lieu of a cast. I won't need a cast and can continue to wear the shell so long as I am "really careful" for the next month. It still hurts a lot, but the break is healing, and in mid-October I am going to have surgery. Surgery will involve general anesthesia, scraping the tumor out of the bone, then a bone graft--packing the hollow bone in my hand with bone material from elsewhere in my body or from a cadaver (to act as a scaffolding of sorts) to assist with the new bone growth. Then I'm looking at a couple of months of healing and rehab.

Here is a picture of me with my hand armor:

I opted for hot pink velcro straps; I think the look works.

But I also got a backup set in black for a Matrix/Batman/more formal look--for occasions like weddings and court (and fighting crime).

______________
[fn1] In a strange coincidence, the husband of the woman I was going to work for in Eritrea has a Ph.D in bone biochemistry (It's a good thing I didn't make this up as an excuse to back out of the job.). He put me in touch with the head of the Department of Orthopedics at Yale Medical School. Learning that that guy agreed with my doctors in Alaska put my mind at ease.

MVP! MVP!

Those "MVP!" chants aren't just for David Wright anymore: After five years of flying on Alaska Airlines, I finally flew enough miles in one calendar year to reach MVP status. As a mileage plan MVP, I get all sorts of goodies, including earning bonus miles when I fly, the ability to check in at the First Class counter, a special phone number to call for reservations, First Class upgrades (if available, which they never are), and early boarding (in case I want to spend an extra 20 minutes in my uncomfortable coach seat). Alas, as soon as I reached MVP status, Alaska Air wasted no time in telling me that what I really want is to be MVP Gold because when you compare them, regular old MVP isn't all that great.

Please Don't Go

Though I was on the East Coast for less than two weeks, the air is perceptibly colder now than it was before I left--daytime temperatures currently eek only towards 60 degrees. The sun still hangs higher than it should at 7:30 in the evening, but by 9:00 it is dark. And the most telling sign that Fall Is Upon Us and Winter Is Coming recently appeared: Termination Dust--the first new dollops of snow taking up residence on the mountains since last Winter.


The seasons change abruptly in Anchorage, and while they are guided by the traditional Four, I count eight different climactic shifts marking the year in my little corner of Alaska:

September 1 - October 15: Fall
October 15 - November 15: Denial That Winter Is Upon Us
November 15 - February 15: Cold/Dark/Sucks
February 15 - April 1: Snow/Sun/Love It
April 1 - May 1: Breakup (Mud Season, as they call it in Vermont)
May 1 - June 1: Spring!
June 1 - July 15: Lots of sunlight, lots of bugs
July 15 - September 1: Just. Beautiful.

This Evening

9.15.2007

Rock On

Lea and MK had a housewarming party at their new place, and because my friends look for any excuse to put on wigs and costumes and play make believe, [fn1] it was, of course, a theme party. This one was a "Rock Star" party (the term of art "Rock Star" being left open for individual interpretation.). I went for the Beastie Boys Sabotage look. Here I am with the Robert Palmer Girls:

I think I did a pretty good job. Consider the likeness:

More pictures:

Britney (complete with child)

K-Fed?

Hank always wears this wig.

Not sure what is going on here.
_____________
[fn1] See, e.g., Gay, European, or Alaskan? Party (2005); Bubble Wrap & Duct Tape Party (2005); The Color Party (2004); Mild to Wild (2003, 2006); Ski Prom (yearly); Ski Train (2002-present).

9.05.2007

Bachelah Pahty

My best friend [fn1] Howard [fn2] is getting married on Saturday. I flew to Boston last weekend [fn3] so I could spend this week with him and his bride-to-be Holly. There were some questions as to whether I would be able to spend the whole week out here because of work, the "I'm moving to Africa in six weeks" thing [fn4], and then the handcer scare. I'm glad I was able to make it. I hadn't seen Howard in about six months, and I only met Holly once before. It has been really nice to spend some time with them together, and to help them out with all of the pre-wedding details. [fn5] And, of course, I wanted to be here for the bachelor party ("bachelah pahty" as the locals say).

Though tradition calls for the best man to organize the bachelor party, [fn6] given my location (Anchorage) and lack of familiarity with Boston, Howard's friend Newton picked up the slack and organized everything. He did a great job, but even he could not anticipate that Richards, [fn7] Howard's sister's boyfriend, would turn out to be the highlight of the evening. Richards is an aspiring rock star from LA. I wish I could remember the name of his band--all I know is that it is similar to Wyld Stallyns. Also, he's in a cult. And he loooves to talk about it.

The pahty began around noon with a trip to an adult amusement park to play paintball. A few hours later the crew returned to Howard's house for lunch, showers, and beers. As evening fell we changed into our fancy clothes (I opted for the Summering on the Cape look: light khaki pants, white dress shirt, and a seersucker-ish jacket) we piled into the chauffeured van we rented and headed to a dive/hipster bar in Cambridge for cocktails. Dinner was next at a fancy-schmancy steakhouse in downtown Boston. The ride was uneventful save for one olympic-type event--Richards drank a whole beer in less than one city block!

At the restaurant, we, and Richards in particular, were loud. We got many nasty looks from the other diners including Tim Wakefield, a pitcher for the Red Sox who was seated just two tables away. [fn8] Our waiter, appropriately named James Taylor, [fn9] gave us a couple of soft warnings about our volume and language, but he didn't want to kick us out--he was having too much fun with us; he would walk by and drop little zingers (mostly making fun of Richards), which cracked us up. As a token of thanks for not kicking us out, we left him a 30% tip on the nearly $1000 check.

Four Long Islands Iced Teas (and several beers) into the evening, Richards made a touching toast at dinner. This led to the question the rest of us pondered for the rest of the night: what happened to that guy? The precipitous drop he made between Long Islands five and nine could best be described as a Will Ferrell/Frank the Tank-esque shame spiral. In addition to long discussions about his cult (I was really happy to learn that I am a good person and I have great potential), we were treated to his (loud) views on religion ("I've tried 'em all--Jehovah, Jesus, Buddha...but I've got to say, if I had to pick one, I would pick Judaism. The Jews really know what they're doing."), international politics (I like the Jews, but the state of Israel is fucked up..."), and some freshman girls from the Boston University Class of 2012 ("Freshman year rocks!" "Can we come back to your dorm?" Okay, that was me, not Richards.) That was about the point where we had to start reeling him back in, lest we run the risk of (inevitable and unavoidable) inappropriate behavior at the strip club. The Richards Containment Plan (RCP) worked pretty well, and no one got arrested.

Though no true bachelor party is complete without a trip to a strip joint, Howard wasn't really into it, and neither was I--I'm just not a strip club guy. Granted, my experience is limited--my uncle took me out to one to celebrate when I got into law school (I spent most of the evening paying the girls to go away) and my brother dragged me along when the same uncle took him out to celebrate his admission to medical school. But at Lobo's bachelor party in St. Maarten I got a serious strip club education from a bunch of guys who are strip club guys. Thus, I felt very comfortable negotiating the terrain of Centerfolds in Boston. Here are some random post-strip club thoughts:
  • Inevitably, one guy will say, in reference to a dancer, "Man, she was really into me," or "We had a really strong connection." He's an idiot and should be slapped immediately.
  • When a stripper sits on your lap and tells you that you are really cute and she "really needs to get some ass because it has been a while," that is code for "you can pay me for sex." An appropriate response (if you don't wan to fuck a prostitute): "Here's $20. Go dance for my friend over there, it's his bachelah pahty." However, if you do want to fuck her, it is best to ask how much it costs before you actually do it. Right, Ari? (Just kidding. Sort of.)
  • Something you should never say to your girlfriend's brother: "Your sister is really hot. You should see her in a thong." (I'm looking at you, Richards.)
  • A phrase you should never utter within earshot of your girlfriend's father: "My psycho girlfriend..." (Still you, Richards).
  • If your best friend's father, a man who has known you since you were 10 years old (and who once prevented your own father from killing you after you totaled your dad's car) turns to you and says, "I really have a thing for Asian women," the appropriate response is to buy him a dance from the nearest available Asian stripper. It's even better if you can get the drunk guy next to you to pay for it.
Tomorrow we are headed to SeaCrest Estate for four days. Thursday should involve some relaxation and kayaking, Friday is the rehearsal dinner, Saturday is the wedding, and Sunday is my fun day, my I don't have to run day.
______________
[fn1] Yes, that feeling you are experiencing is fontrum, and it is appropriate when a nearly-32 year old man talks about his "best friend." But, there is no other way to describe it--we have been the best of friends since we met 22 years ago.

[fn2] His name is Howard Stern. Seriously.

[fn3] To the Alaska Airlines supervisor seated next to me who tried to get me upgraded to first class and who voluntarily moved to another seat so I could have more space for my handcerous limb: thank you again.

[fn4] I had been planning to move to Eritrea for an eight-month job working on an international human rights/war crimes case. I was scheduled to leave on October 15. That departure has been delayed indefinitely pending surgery on my hand. Also, while on the subject of Africa, I should mention that I recently (as in 16 hours ago) fell in love: her name is Africa (how fitting), she is from Spain, she is gorgeous, and she is (wait for it) a professional stand-up comedian. Oh, and she is dating Holly's friend Jose, so it's probably not going to work out. But if any of you want to get me a "feel better soon" present, something like that would be perfect.

[fn5] Holly is an event planner, so there are a lot of details. A lot of details. And everything has to be perfect, not just because it is her wedding, but because her professional reputation is on display. My advice: never marry an event planner unless you really want to spend a lot of time arguing about things like the flower girls' shoes.

[fn6] When it comes to bachelor parties, I am old-fashioned. I firmly believe that the bachelor party should occur the night before the wedding and it should include all sorts of sex, drugs, and debauchery. The best man's single most important responsibility should be to make sure the groom survives the party and makes it to the wedding--if he still wants to get married. Alas, no one does it like that anymore. Or, maybe they never did and my old-fashioned ideas are based completely on the movie Bachelor Party.

[fn7] Not his real name, but an appropriate moniker given the similarities in his profession (rock star, self-described) and personality (self-destructive, self- and others-described) to those of Keith Richards.

[fn8] Wakefield's stares were not intimidating. Perhaps if he were a power pitcher, a guy with a blazing 95 mph fastball, we would have quieted down. But he's a knuckleball pitcher. He throws fluttery 58 mph pitches. That's not going to quiet down a bachelor party (even if most of the guys were Red Sox fans).

[fn9] See note 2, supra.

9.04.2007

Handcer

A few days ago I learned that the pain I have been experiencing in my right hand was due to a fracture of the fifth metacarpal bone (the bone that connects your pinky finger to your wrist). Not a huge surprise. What was surprising was the news that the x-rays also revealed the presence of a tumor in the same bone.

The tumor, growing insider the bone, had eaten away it, leaving the bone a "paper-thin" empty shell at the spot where it broke. The doctors (so far) do not think the tumor is malignant. It is likely a benign bone-eating growth called an endochondroma. Still, though I know it is best not to joke about these things, I'm calling it hand cancer, or handcer (silent "d") for short.

I'm going to get a second opinion from a specialist in Boston this week, but the safe bet is that I will need about a month in a cast for the break to heal, then surgery to remove the tumor and a bone graft.

8.22.2007

Nate's Lodge (Now With Pictures!)

Nate's Lodge

My friend Nate owns a lodge out in the Alaskan wilderness. Describing it as a lodge has caused some confusion. The term "lodge" conjures up certain images, but Nate's place does not have the stereotypical lodge accoutrements (bearskin rugs, animal heads hanging on the walls). It is decked out with pergo flooring and straight-from-Afghanistan carpets. [fn1] Still, it is definitely a lodge. I'm not going to bother checking the "official" definition of a lodge; for purposes of this blog, a lodge is a big, fancy cabin.

Nate's is, in fact, two cabins--a large one with two bedrooms, a kitchen, living room, and a deck overlooking the lake; and a smaller one with bunk beds and a loft that is used mainly for sleeping. There is also a shed/workshop, two outhouses (though one was not operational on this trip--I'm still not sure how an outhouse can be broken) and a dock.

Regardless of whether you call it a lodge, cabin, or a couple of cabins, it is a very special place. It is pretty much in the middle of nowhere and there are only two ways to get there in the Summer: a harrowing ride up the Susitna and Yentna rivers, or flying in a floatplane (you can take a snowmachine [fn2] overland in the Winter). We drove about two hours north of Anchorage to Willow and took a 30 minute floatplane flight, landing on the lake right in front of the lodge.

The lodge is hard to get to, but once you are out there you realize the effort (and cost of the flight) was well worth it. It is quiet, isolated, there is no running water, no indoor plumbing, and no electricity. [fn3] There is plenty of opportunity to be at one with your thoughts, to write, to read, to lay in the sun, to paddle around in a canoe, to swim. Also, you can shoot things.

This was my third trip out there, and like the others, the planning was complicated--this one a little bit more so than the previous trips given the need to coordinate food and flights for 11 people and 4 dogs around various work schedules. It all worked out in the end--two flights out to the lodge of Friday (Nate was already out there), one flight back to Willow on Sunday, two flights back on Monday. As for food, Jody, Viv, Hank, and I handled breakfast and lunch (breakfast burritos, bagels/croissants with cheeses and jam, pancakes; a variety of sandwich meats and cheeses for lunch: salami, roast beef, turkey, horseradish cheddar, swiss, smoked gruyere, havarti). Scott and Triple-P did dinners (smoked goose with a port-wine reduction sauce (so good) and roasted potatoes on Friday night; rib eye steak with asparagus (and more of the port sauce) on Saturday, pesto pasta and garlic bread on Sunday). Rob and T were in charge of snacks and wine and beer (Rob put his sommelier skills to work and paired about 30 bottles of wine with our three-day dinner menu. We also went through about 10 bottles of port (the highlight of which was a Ramos Pinto 20 year tawny--Nate picked up this nice bottle after winning a poker tournament during a layover in Phoenix on his way up to Alaska), a case of the champagne of beer (Miller High Life), a case of Tecate for Marlo, and two mini Heineken kegs.). We took the food and drink very seriously.

The weekend was a four-day blur of good friends, great conversation, lots of jokes, lots of drinking, lots of eating, lots of poker, lots of fishing. Fortunately for me and my possibly broken and/or sprained hand, Jody has promised to tell some stories, so I can stop typing for now. I put a link to her blog on the sidebar, so if you check it in a couple of days, I'm sure she will have something funny to share.
_____________
[fn1] Acquiring a large carpet collection is one of the side benefits of building schools for girls Afghanistan (and acquiring a small carpet collection is a side benefit of being a board member of an organization that builds schools for girls in Afghanistan).

[fn2] In Alaska, a snowmachine is what us East Coasters call a snowmobile. I was very confused when I moved here and people talked about their snowmachines: "Why do you need a need a machine to make snow in Alaska?" I wondered.

[fn3] There is a gas generator that provides electricity, but it is seldom used. On this trip we only turned it on at the very end so we could vacuum.

Updating

Just got back from: Nate's lodge

Reading: Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl

Listening to: Rachel Yamagata

Moving to: Asmara, Eritrea

8.15.2007

Alaskasized

When someone who has known you since you were a child meets your friends for the first time, what can you expect? They will join forces and make fun of you (in both the past and present tense), for sure, but some things you cannot quite anticipate. For instance:
  • Creekside Emergency Surgery: During a fishing trip, Lea got a hook caught in her leg. Dr. Meghan was with us, but because of a broken wrist, she could only provide directions as I tried to remove it. When Lea stopped trusting me, she tried to do it herself. It quickly became clear that additional supplies were needed. Dr. Meghan and Hank eventually returned with painkillers and a pair of scissors. I assumed the role of anesthesiologist, plying Lea with glass after glass of wine, as Dr. Meghan, broken wrist and all, got down to business and cut out the hook. Lea was very brave. There is video of the procedure, but it's not uploaded yet. In the meantime, here are some pictures:
Lea trying to remove the hook

close-up

anesthesia

surgery

the offending hook
  • Rage Therapy: Hank caught a salmon. Without a rock handy, I bludgeoned it to death with an empty wine bottle. I enjoyed it a little too much. There was blood smeared all over the label. It was cool.

My cousin Jody is visiting from Miami. It had been about two years since we last saw each other. We always have a lot of fun together, and this week has been no different. In between Jody and my friends ganging up to pick on me, performing surgery on the side of a creek, and Jody witnessing me beat a salmon to death, we have squeezed in some other stuff:
  • Wildlife Viewing: We have run into a moose, a beaver, lots of salmon, an otter, eagles, and (possibly) a whale.
  • Attack of the Killer Bees: I sort of wandered into a bee hive and got stung somewhere between two and six times (depending on who is counting) on my head. As soon as the bees showed up, Jody dropped everything and ran. She's allergic, which is a good excuse, but she left me for dead. Thanks.
  • Homer: A quick four-hour jaunt to Homer made me wonder why I never made it down there before. I've had plans to go two or three times in the past, but they always fell through. I'm glad I finally went. The views are stunning--the turquoise water of the bay, mountains, volcanoes, glaciers. It was a fun trip, the highlight being an afternoon spent across Kachemak Bay in Halibut Cove. The boat we took over was ably captained by my friend Mera--lawyer in the Winter, skipper in the Summer; She's got quite a nice gig ironed out for herself. Halibut cove is a sleepy, quirky, small artist community. Jody provides a good play-by-play of the whole adventure on her blog, so I will just relay an exchange I had with Diana Tilliom, a painter who works mostly with octopus ink:
Diana: I'm surprised the art community hasn't embraced octopus ink more; I wish more artists would use it.
Me: Is it expensive?
Diana: Yes.
Me: Is it hard to get?
Diana: Yes.
Me: (Thinking, "That explains it.") Um...
Diana: But you don't even have to kill the octopus. You can remove the ink with a hypodermic needle.
Me: Do you catch them yourself?
Diana: Yes.
Me: Are they hard to catch?
Diana: Yes.
Me: Is it hard to extract the ink?
Diana: Yes.
Me: Um, well, maybe all of those reasons are why more people don't use it.
Diana: Yeah, and I'm kind of crazy.
Me: Well, you do live in Halibut Cove and paint with octopus ink...
Diana: (smiles and laughs) Yeah.
Homer Spit Rd.

Not a bad view from Michael's B&B.

Captain Mera

Mera let Jody drive the boat

Halibut Cove's answer to the Painted Ladies

Homer, looking east

In addition to the aforementioned Homer post, Jody is chronicling all of her Alaska adventure on her blog. So far, there is just one other Alaska entry, but I am sure she will have a lot more to write about after next weekend's trip out to Nate's lodge near Denali with Nate, Marlo, The Chairman, Triple-P, Rob, T, Em, Hank, Viv, and three dogs.