My son and I hopped a redeye last night to the place he calls “the land of excessive school spirit”, Columbus, OH. I’m here to play with the Ohio State alumni band (aka TBDBITL) on Saturday night when OSU plays University of Washington. Coincidentally, my son is a student at UW, but there’s no big football rivalry - he pays virtually no attention to sports in which he doesn’t participate. I’m dragging him along because it’s a rare chance for him to hang with his uncles (my brothers) and my parents.
The OSU band reunion is different from class reunions in that it is “vertical” rather than “horizontal” - it spans a wide range of ages. The oldest participant (attending and playing) is in his 90s, and the oldest marching participant is in his 80s. At the other end, last year I sat behind two women who had just graduated the previous year. One leaned to the other and whispered excitedly, “I’m pregnant!” There will be around 650 alumni band members participating.
The game was played at night, an infrequent occurence at Ohio Stadium, and the atmosphere was celebratory and electric - you might get a sense from the picture above. Since they erected that scoreboard with eye-candy video in the south stands, it’s really weird to be marching up the field and look up and see yourself as you’re performing.
Archive for August 2003
Embracing a Social Complexity
A week or so ago Susan Paynter, a columnist for the Seattle P-I, wrote this piece about the arcane protocols of men hugging men. The catalyst for the article was a front-page picture of two cops hugging at the funeral of a fallen peer. Paynter interviewed various men about appropriate times for guy-on-guy embracing (most seemed reluctant to comment, even off the record), but the consensus seemed to be “deaths and sports championships”.
I’ve never been a real touch-ya kind of guy, regardless of whether you’re man, woman, gay or straight. It just doesn’t come natural, I can’t be both this snipe-and-run conversationalist one second and be clinching and squeezing the next. I’m probably even more careful with women and touching, having attended many HR seminars where harrassment is explicated, and, here in Washington, watching the stunning demise of Senator Brock Adams and the sorely-missed liberal warrior Mike Lowry as a result of unwelcome grippings and gropings (of female staff, not each other). Plus, my wife just climbed Grand Teton (the mountain), her blood’s overstocked with hemoglobin, and she’s capable of breaking my arms in such a manner that I couldn’t squeeze the Charmin, even if in dire need.
So I encountered a sort of hugging conundrum when we were in Wyoming. My wife and a climbing friend had hired a guide with whom they had been acquainted in Seattle, who was now guiding Teton climbs professionally. I had met her only briefly in Seattle. After arriving in Wyoming, we headed over to the guide station to meet up with her and get scheduled. When we espied her, happy hellos ensued, and she hugged first my wife and then her climbing partner, and as she approached me I was taxing my underpowered male social processor chip with the calculations - they knew each other well from before, they were fellow (!) women and women hug anyway, she was gay and perhaps any wan cordiality towards me would only be professional courtesy (half a step away now) and the answer flashed across my dim pixel-poor intracranial display: “Handshake, non-emphatic”. I began to extend my hand just as she began to open her arms for a (probably spontaneous, generous and uncalculated) hug. It was reminiscent of the old “scissors, stone, paper” game - we both hesitated for a second, then seemed to agree that, like paper, the handshake wins in that instance. Then came the recriminations - what if she thinks I hesitated to hug her because I knew she was gay?
Later in the week I accompanied the three intrepid climbers partway up their approach hike to the mountain, and the guide and I had a delightful 5 mile long conversation, despite the altitude and 3,000 feet of elevation gain, and we all parted in a marmot-ridden meadow, I to return to delicious Snake River Pale Ale, an elk chili-burger and a warm cabin, they to freeze-dried cuisine and a cramped and crowded hut at their base camp at 10,000 feet.
The next night when they returned from summitting and then a grueling downclimb and hike out, we greeted them at the trailhead with cold pizza and watery margaritas. We dropped the guide off at her office, and in the roseate afterglow of their feat, there was no calculation or hesitation - we embraced and I calculated nothing except gratitude for guiding my wife to the undisputed high point of her year. Now that I think of it, it qualified as a sports championship, so that’s at least one green light I didn’t misinterpret.
Well, this blog has crossed a boundary of sorts. No, not the improvement in content or energy or even its merciful disappearance that you might have hoped for. No, through an overexuberant burst of technical advice on blogs I gave someone, my wife wrinkled her (porcelain and otherwise scantily experienced of wrinkles or other blemish) brow and asked, “So, do you have a blog?”
Deer in the headlights time, and maybe three seconds to decide. I haven’t told her, or anyone else I know, that I was blogging, simply because I wanted to determine what it was and where it was going before I stirred up any expectations beyond my own that I would feel obligated to cater to. Well, as my grovelling locution above suggests, I acknowledged to her that I had, indeed, been toying with one and told her how to find it. I was tempted to point her to something terrific and polished like How To Save The World or the Preacher, but it’s certain she would believe in neither the erudition of the former, nor the faith and general good-heartedness of the latter, so in the end I just owned up.
The advantage is the guaranteed hit statistic - maybe multiples if I really piss her off with something; the disadvantage to you, dear reader, is the suppression of further tales of my wild erotic life and my career as a Formula One racedriver. I quickly deleted all such prior references, and will post no more until I can get another blog started under another pseudonym.
I don’t know what the blackout-beleaguered easterners are complaining about. I posted the entry below using my laptop on batteries plugged into my cell phone. Sure, the connection was at 14.4 kb, and MyPictures wouldn’t post the picture through at that speed (had to repost it when I got back to my cableconnection). But, come on, people, show some ingenuity and desire!
In their absence, I will have to end my sabbatical and, as if responding to a blood shortage, roll up my (already short) sleeves and donate some o-positive content to the slogosphere. It’s been sort of a hectic week, as you might expect after being gone for 10 days. On top of that, I started working with a new client this week, upgrading their accounting software to a new version. Upgrades are always so much fun, like a root canal is fun - no matter how slick the upgrade scripts are, there are always rocks below the surface. Like, why would they keep the same data table structures, but rename the fields? So what if they’re more descriptive? My client will never see them, and the custom reports that refer to them get royally screwed up.
Sticker espied on a Vespa scooter today: “Every time you masturbate, God kills a kitten” Sort of a convoluted way to “get” pussy, but if you’re desperate…!
Multicultural Dining in Seattle - Across the street from my new client’s, in the heart of what used to be a Scandinavian enclave, is a new lunch spot featuring Australian fare (Miyi - The Great Australian Bite). An interesting switch from the tired cavalcade of Subway/TacoBell/Schlotzky’s or whatever, they feature Shepherd’s Pies and some other grub, with an Aussie flag and other wall mementoes of the world’s weirdest continent. It being Seattle, at least one pie is vegan, another merely vegetarian. While I was waiting for my pie the other day, I noticed a thing hanging on the wall called a Barbie Rack. Just for a few seconds, owing to its size and construction, I decided that it was a torture device for the clothes-horse doll from Mattel, and began to wonder what else Australian kids did for kicks, and if another hotbed of hatred for American society was developing. Then I remembered that “barbie” was short for “barbeque”, and that the device was meant for grilling succulent shellfish. (Talk or else…)
Show us your…
“Slow Blogging” this week as we are vacationing in Grand
Teton National Park. My wife is climbing the Grand Teton peak as I
write, and we’ve had a week of outstanding hiking.
Bandwidth here is nearly non-existent, as our cabin does not have a
phone. The reservation office will allow me to take my laptop in and do
a dialup connection, but my on-the-road ISP does not have a local
number for Jackson, WY. I have resorted to using my cell phone to
connect and pull down my email, and that provides a nominal 14.4 k
connection. Anything graphical is painfully slow to download, and I
swear I can see dollar signs flying out of my USB port. I am curious to
see what the Userland upload will take - don’t know whether it
publishes just the changes, or if it publishes the whole damn blogsite.
I’ll find out soon.
For August in a national park, the hiking trails really aren’t that
crowded. This may reflect the fact that most of them involve a lot of
elevation gain, and the trailheads start at about 6,500 feet above sea
level. For once, I am sort of happy to see other hikers occasionally,
as it lessens the chances of a surprise bear encounter.
We did see a small black bear off the trail on one of our hikes, but
he paid no attention to us hikers. However, the sad state of affairs in
our national parks is that privatization, franchising and outsourcing
has accelerated under the Gale Norton regime to the point where one
can’t simply snap a picture of an animal. You must first contact the
animal’s agency in Beverly Hills and negotiate a royalty. Fortunately,
they’ll accept your credit card number over the phone. I did get a
picture of the bear on our hike. Because the bear was merely grazing
instead of charging at me, the cost was reasonable. Another picture I
took of a moose was more expensive, particularly because it was a bull
with a full rack of antlers. I hope not to have to deal with either a
grizzly bear OR his agent in my remaining days here.