Archive for January 2005

Public Service Announcement

We all, from time to time, have to open documents in Adobe’s .pdf format.  The Acrobat reader has been available as a free download from Adobe, and I’ve been fine with that arrangement until I was forced to upgrade one day to Version 6 of the reader.  All of a sudden, a nifty little tool had become this bloated guest at my digital feast, taking up too much space and taking WAY too long to pass along whatever dish I wanted.  Now, when you want to view even a simple document, the Reader yawns, scratches its ass, and takes nearly a minute loading all manner of modules that are probably completely extraneous to your task.

It had gotten to the point where I was consciously avoiding opening pdf files that people mailed to me, and as a result I was missing some important stuff.  Today, faced with working with a whole subdirectory of client documents delivered in pdf format, I did a desperate Google search and found a terrific little program that opens in a heartbeat and seems to be compatible with all the documents I’ve used so far.  It’s at  It’ll add hours to your life.

That Explains It

If you didn’t get a Christmas gift this year and hadn’t garotted any cats or poisoned any puppies, you might be interested in this.

Fortune’s Fool

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Work and travel, anyway - we’ll see about money.  I’m sure the fortune cookie gods meant for this to represent an attractive prospect, but travel in the pursuit of money has me pretty gassed right now.

Bait and Switch

Does it occur to anyone else that, in all the hand-wringing analysis of how various nations will interpret W’s inauguration speech, we’re missing the point of it entirely?  In my view, the speech was almost wholly designed for internal, rather than international, consumption.  The administration has never cared much, if at all, what anyone else in the world thought, and still doesn’t. 

But, faced with declining support for the Iraq war in the U. S., and having quietly admitted the previous week that its major justification for precipitously and unilaterally going to war (WMDs) never existed, they needed to replace the lipstick and mascara on the pig of the Iraq war and try to get US citizens to keep sleeping with it  So they washed off the WMD foundation and replaced it with the messianic bullshit of Bush’s florid speech.  

If this speech was actually meant to articulate a Bush Doctrine, it’s dead on arrival, or, rather, still dying in Iraq. If this is the laboratory for it, we’ve bankrupted ourselves producing the prototype.

We’ll Leave The Light On

Saturday night we joined about 200 people for a NARAL-sponsored candlelight walk around Greenlake to commemorate the 32nd anniversary of Roe vs. Wade.  Saturday seemed like an odd night to schedule these festivities, but I guess it was important to do it on the actual date of the decision.  Still, it occurred to me that those who will benefit from Roe vs.Wade in the coming weeks were probably too busy engaging in the activity engendering that need to participate in our celebration on a Saturday night. 

My wife mentioned that she hadn’t participated in any sort of protest march since 1969 in Pittsburgh.  I don’t think I have, either, if you don’t count our attending Hempfest to hear a band we liked.

In the course of the 2.5 mile walk, we encountered a spry 70-something African American woman, a retired English professor, who shared quite a bit of her life story.  She grew up in Montreal, and told how her parents at one point tried to enroll her in an all-French-speaking school, and how she’d sandbagged her interview with the Mother Superior so she’d be rejected.  She described how she would craftily design her course syllabi in order to discourage “bible-beaters” who were wont to discourse about things like creationism, without having to explicitly forbid it.  As we walked along at a pretty respectable pace, I asked if she read or wrote at all since she retired, and she said she was in the second draft of her memoirs, and participated in a book club on Middle Eastern literature.  No moss was about to grow on this lady yet.

The tenor of the walk was extremely laid-back.  I overheard a lot of earnest discussion of politics and media, but there was none of the chanting, singing or speechifying that you expect to hear at rallies in Seattle.  While there’s little reason for ebullience among pro-choice folks, I wouldn’t say it was dispirited, either - just dignified, and determined.  I’m hoping our absent beneficiaries will have the opportunity to light a candle and enjoy such a ruminative walk in the coming years.

More Evil On The Airwaves

Dr. James Dobson, the Secretary of our newest branch of government, Focus On the Family, was speaking at an inaugural gala last week and took the opportunity to inveigh against the latest evil that “the culture” has visited on children, the cartoon character Spongebob Squarepants.  Seems that Dr. Jim sees Spongebob as promoting tolerance for the gay lifestyle.

Since our kid is an adult, but we’re not grandparents yet, I have little exposure to kids’ programming, and the Spongebob phenomenon would have bypassed me completely had not my nephew from Idaho been visiting here once and asked to see the show.  Curious about how the show’s ingenious creators could turn a contraceptive into a beloved cartoon character, I watched along.  It’s a very clever show, with lively dialogue and characters.  I never picked up on the “gay” vibe, however, even though I’m an urban liberal humanist and supposedly susceptible to it.  Leaves me wondering why these evangelist creeps always have a better ear (?) for it than I do.

The show’s network, Nickelodeon (”Nick” for short… hmmmmm….) could conceivably diffuse this dustup, as Michael Jackson’s handlers did with the “wedding” to Priscilla Presley, by arranging a play date with The Little Mermaid.  Of course, this will raise the issue of whether there is feminist subversion afoot in promoting a female character whose purpose is apparently not the bearing of children (as Bette Midler, in her role as Delores DeLago, said, “The question before us is ‘Where’s her clitoris?’”).

Plus, if Spongebob really IS a contraceptive, the playdate is impossible because his milieu is not some pristine tidepool, it’s a murky anatomical backwater where crabs are an occupational hazard and legions of God’s elite sperm die in droves wherever he goes, more casualties of “the culture’s” war on the family.  So, however you spin it, Bob’s in for a rough ride in the tsunami of this administration’s mandate (”man date”?).

Some Light Reading?

OK, I think I like the sounds of this author, Susan Jane Gilman:

“Sexually, boys were about as complicated as a Pez dispenser,” Gilman writes. “You showed them a nipple, they got an erection.”

I can always be bought with clever, sassy, snarky prose.  The Times article bills her as the long-awaited “female David Sedaris”.  Hmmm.  I might have to pick up Gilman’s book - she’s on tour promoting Hypocrite In A White Pouffy Dress.

In Sic Transit Again

It seems like I’ve been working nonstop for a couple of months now, although it’s not really true, I ‘ve mostly taken weekends off and had a nice long Thanksgiving break. It’s just that I’ve gotten so many projects going, I’ve started to be haunted by them, and feel like no second is totally my own. Which, I realize, is a fuck of a lot better than not having any work, and I dig it when I do my billing.

Still, I haven’t had much mental space for reflection, and these pages have fallen a little fallow. Just, coincidentally, as I euphorically told several neighbors about the blog at a New Year’s Eve party, and just after my mom got DSL and started developing an appetite for internet content, and looks expectantly at Perils as the jumping-off place for all good things with an IP address.

As I do every month, I’m just finishing up a week working in Milwaukee. The week started in a deep-freeze, going to 8 below on Monday night before warming up to a balmy 20+ the last couple of days. It started snowing in earnest about an hour before my plane left for Minneapolis, a snowstorm that had actually hit MSP first, so that, as we approached Minneapolis, we were slowed down, sent to a holding pattern, then on final approach waved off of the runway because snow removal equipment hadn’t quite finished clearing it. The upshot: a 40-minute flight ended up taking 2 1/2 hours, maybe longer because, once we landed, we waited another half hour or so as the gate areas were plowed.

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Ice berglets forming on Lake Michigan as I flew into Milwaukee Sunday.

Benevolently, my Seattle connection was also delayed, and I believe (and fervently hope) that there was even enough time to transfer my luggage, so I’m aloft and headed for a 1am arrival home.

One benefit of the elongated flying schedule is that I’ve read over 100 pages of a book I’ve been carrying around and making empty promises to for a week or so - My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk. It’s a selection of the
online book group I belong to, and I might have gained enough traction and momentum to actually join in the discussion. I’m a really slow reader, and undisciplined at that, so I seldom finish a book in time to lend my peculiar brand of erudition to the discussions. That would be ok if it were just my own interests I were disappointing. However, I’m also a flagbearer of sorts for the male sex in this venue, and my protracted silences serve to dash the hopes of those in the largely woman-dominated book clubs that there actually exist men who read and appreciate literature. Of course, when I DO participate, those same hopes sustain equal or worse violence.

So, the weekend approaches, although delayed and truncated.  I have a slug of work to do, both for deadlines approaching and deadlines I’ve missed, but I’m gonna take a little time for personal decompression as well.  The trick is always to use the time well, so that I actually feel like I did something pleasurable or meaningful.  Since, in my purview, blogging falls within those categories, watch this space!

Quest for Music

Overheard at Sonic Boom Records in Fremont Saturday: “I’m not drinking until March.”  In like a lion, I guess.

While there, we picked up a cd of a group we’ve been hearing a lot on KEXP called the Blue Scholars.  It’s hip-hop/spoken word, with catchy beats and thoughtful lyrics.  You can listen to a live studio performance at KEXP here.

While walking down to Fremont, we came across this pickup with Matchbox trucks festooned all over the cab roof.  I think someone’s mom made him clean out the attic:

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Words May Come Back To Haunt You

When you’re on the phone with someone and they put you on “hold”, you conclude it’s because they don’t have the wherewithal, at that moment, to listen to you, right?  Turns out maybe they do.  Here’s a sort of chilling article detailing how the smack you talk about your correspondent, his company or her personal shortcomings while on hold might be going straight to tape.  Once you assent to the message “this call may be recorded for quality assurance purposes” or similar verbiage, the entire duration of the call may be recorded.  And, you might suspect, even if you’re not so alerted.

This might not be such a big deal with some anonymous business transactions such as cell phone help lines, etc., but what if you’re talking to someone you have other dealings with, like a doctor, co-worker or tax authority?  I know I’m going to be a lot more circumspect while a connection is live from now on.