daily preciousness

Monday, March 03, 2003


"The data landscapes..."

Zarathustra reminds, "You

must look beyond them!"

I kept muttering this to myself, amid the din of the telepopmusik playing on my iPod. It was a perfect mantra for a morning jog last Wednesday.

I live in a landscape of information, everyday, sheltered (and sheltering myself) amongst books and other data storage media. And I take people by the hand – sometimes literally – to find the "right" information for them. (At least I try to find the "right" information for them, even if I’m not always successful....)

It's a comfortable existence. But I've been challenged recently by Henry. He's got strong religious convictions. And I envy him for that. I sometimes wish that I could believe that strongly in something that abstract, that intangible.

But something precludes that in me. I’m not sure what it is. I wonder where my heart is, why I can’t rely on a feeling to invest my belief in something. I wonder where my heart was, long ago, when I attended that Baptist Church, down the street, when I first faced my feelings of utter disbelief. "What are these people thinking?!?" I remember wondering.

And still I can't believe in a lot of what the church tells us to.

Wish I could, but I can't.

So I just do the dance of the secular information diva, bowing to the overlords of data, here at work, behind the info desk.

It is behind that desk that I first read the recent news of a major accomplishment in secular faith. It’s all about this little string of pearls – Quite the accessory for your trendy biologist this season!

It's been 13 years in the making, but we've completed it. We've made the maps to our bodies, to our minds, and perhaps to other things. The little code is mapped out. Formally. Or at least 98 percent of it is....

The good news went out just last week. I read it in the Borneo Bulletin and the People's Daily online of China.

"We have succeeded in decoding all the chapters of the instruction book for human life."

And in a nice twist, it's the 50th anniversary of the discovery of DNA.

How sweet is that?

True, each base pair has only been sequenced on average four times... and molecular biologists are the type of folk who like to check their work like... ten times... not just three or four times. So we've got a little ways to go. But we're headed in the right direction.

So we're living in a Genetic World.

Sunday, March 02, 2003


I made a new logo for jblend productions last night. For inspiration, I grifted a pet shop boys single cover from 1995. Atop four saturated backgrounds, four words rest. The words Love, Passion, Sex and Money stand out above the colorful background. I took that background, darkened it and added bright blue beveled buttons in the Jaguar (OS X) style. I guess I'll bring my journal into the new year with a 10.2 style. I suspect that only big fans of Mac design (and/or pet shop boys music) will understand the homage.

Scratchy, dry sore throat has plagued me the past week. And I've been waking up with plugged up ears. It's frightening. Was that a grey hair that I saw above my forehead this morning in the mirror? I blinked and it disappeared. In a flash, I threw on my glasses. But by the time I came back to the mirror, leaned in, and tried to find it again, it had escaped. (Did it fall out? That would be an altogether worse problem. I'd rather have grey hair than no hair!)

The tin tin out mix of paninero is on my playlist, which matches my new desktop scheme quite nicely.

This morning, I browsed the press release that Mark sent me. It was the Virginia Partisan's endorsements for city council. One of the people mentioned is a Del Ray resident and familiar face. Bob Krupika (love the last name) doesn't live very far from me. He's marched at the Stonewall parade in New York, along with his wife. I was charmed at the idea of a decent family man marching for our rights. What a nice gesture! So, slumped over my duvet with sleep still in my eyes, I vowed to go vote for him in the caucus election today. Not an hour later, I happened to see him just across the room from me at the coffee shop where he's as frequent a customer as I am. I like the idea of seeing your town councilperson at the neighborhood pub.

Work has been busy for me lately. I just started a Spanish class. It's not difficult, but it takes up a lot of my time at work. So every hour I have in the office is full of work. My inbox towers and it doth truly runneth over.

Running pal Alejandro and I went to see Pedro Almodovar's film, Hable Con Ella (Talk to her). It didn't disappoint. I've really enjoyed his other films, which usually include drag queens, death or insanity. This one touched on female bullfighters, gorings and coma patient rape. In a word, charming. I mean it -- the characters were truly engaging. The story had a great flow and there were absolutely no formulas: rarities in cinema these days!

Neighbor and friend Henry and I have grown much closer lately. I've been invited to his family functions, even. His brother's birthday party was fun. We went to a nice place, Sequoia, which looks out on the Georgetown harbor. The company was good. The food was well prepared with outstanding eye appeal. My favorite dish was the breaded goat cheese salad. The little balls of goat cheese were rolled in toasted sesame seeds, poppy seeds and paprika. The salad was dark garden greens in a light, sweet vinegrette. Yummy.

Henry's become more than just a "call up and watch a movie with" sort of friend. We've been talking more. Our conversations have delved deeper. Surprisingly, the path towards physical intimacy was an easy, comfortable one to take with Henry. We had felt (or at least I had felt) an unguarded conversational intimacy with him for months now. (We met in late summer/early fall.)

With Henry, I don't have to let my guard down… simply because it's never been up. I appreciate that. For the first time in a while, I've found myself entering into a relationship that I haven't actively engineered. I haven't run the pi square analyses. The Kai squared chaos modelings have yet to be made. The future history is, at least for now, unwritten.

That's a completely new feeling for me. "To be or not to be… let our hearts discover," as Sinatra reminds us.

There's a feeling like a journey is beginning. I'm not nervous about it at all. It's reassuring and warm. And did I mention huggable? Very huggable.


Okay, let's face it. People love me. I got a great, big compliment the other day from a co-worker, Debra.

It seems that ol' Debra (I call her that b/c she *is* ancient) got a request from some woman. (We'll call her "Shaneekwa Bohbeekwa Conchita Maria Lopez" just for the sake of exposition.)

Anywho, Shaneekwa Bohbeekwa Conchita Maria Lopez asked Debra if her darling high school freshmen daughters, Lerleen and Shirley Bohbeekwa Conchita Maria Lopez, could "shadow" somebody at the library for a school project.

Now, when I heard the word "shadow," I immediately thought that the girls would be stalking somebody without their knowledge or prior consent. But it turns out that the girls have to "shadow" somebody with their full, explicit, written consent. Debra realized that I would be the "most interesting person" at the library to follow around all day.

And they chose me.

Saturday, March 01, 2003

thrill kill cult

Of course, I never thought I'd be part of what you might call a "thrill-kill cult." But, despite my good intentions, that all changed the night of Amy's mullet party.

Sipping grape juice and shoveling forkfuls of jambalaya into my hungry mouth, I sat against a background of rain-flecked porch screen. Between sips and bites, I warmed my hands over the dura-flame fire. Cool, damp night air encroached onto the small porch while I told Phillip about my life with the thrill-kill cult.

"No, Amy. I don't think it's a good idea to have a mullet party, considering what happened last time. I mean, I realize that he was homeless and everything, but I think it sort of got out of hand, don't you think?"

Amy nodded and looked circumspect. Phillip's gaze shifted from her to me. He wasn't sure what to think.

"I mean, Phillip, I'm no expert, but I think that even though somebody's homeless and everything, they still have a soul, right? I mean, they're still a PERSON, wouldn't you say? Even though he was homeless, I really don't think we should've gone through with it. It was messy. And it wasn't a good idea -- we could've gotten caught that time."

Amy nodded again and matter-of-factly chirped, "Jeffrey killed 'em and dumped the body in the Potomac!" She must've hidden her grin with a sip of the margarita, because I didn't see her smile once during this interchange.

Phillip, the soft-spoken University of Charlottesville professor, looked like he was trying to figure out whether we were telling the truth or not.

"Life," I explained to him, punctuating my philosophy with sips of my grape juice, "is not like 'Murder she Wrote.' There are no neat little endings with clever puns related to the victim's occupation.

"That shrivled up Geritol slut ain't gonna pop up in her smart-fitting trench coat and uncover the clues I've unintentionally sprinkled along my path for her. And she's not gonna indict my every misdeed with tongue-in-cheek humor or dancing penguins!"

"No -- the dancing penguins were on Mary Poppins," Amy corrected.

"Mary Poppins can't solve my murder of a homeless crack-head, Amy! What are you talkin' about?"

"You're confusing 'Bedknobs and Broomsticks' with 'Mary Poppins. It's an easy mistake to make since --'

"Well regardless of my Disney mix-up, Amy," I interrupted, waving my drink at her dismissively, "That red-headed hussy isn't going to find out what happened; we plied him with malt liquor so that it would look like he died of drink-and-drowning. And I think that's illegal in the District!" I laughed at my macabre little joke. "But that's what life with the thrill-kill cult is all about: the joy of freeing someone from their suffering. See," and I paused here for effect, "Buddha taught us that all life is suffering, so ending someone's life is the only way to stop that suffering. If that person's enlightened, then the cycle can end. Otherwise, they're just going to plunge down the waterslide of Life headfirst again."

Sadly, at this point, Phillip excused himself to go fetch another drink. He didn't offer to get us anything. Guess our little ruse worked. He'd left. We had the warm fireside to ourselves. Amy and I held up our hands toward the Dura-flame fire and giggled. It was a lovely way to spend a Saturday evening, recalling with Amy my wild life with the thrill-kill cult.

3 pairs of socks, 16 dances

Three pairs of socks should keep my feet warm. But they won't. It's in the mid-twenties today with a steady sprinkling of snow. It's the small, fluffy kind that keeps the roads a little slick but not too bad. You can see puffs of pedestrian breath as they pound through the inch or two of snow. I'm at St. Elmo's, with a small crowd of "old timers" behind me. They're sitting at the big group table, discussing international politics with the down-home assuredness of men who've seen many, many days. And they're extremely anti-war right now. They're humbled and anxious about all that's going on. I look their way and smile, as if to say, "I understand; I'm worried, too." They smile back and sip their steaming coffee.

It's been a busy week for me. Spanish class has kept me busy at work. I don't have much free time to think. Most of my time is taken just catching up. But it's fun. My classmates are cheerful and gung-ho. Even the older women have put forth a lot of effort. I'm just glad to have a venue to practice and perfect my phraseology. Sarah has been great for that. She's at a similar level, although she has an odd habit of breaking into Hindi when she forgets a word. I can relate, though… every once in a while I break out into Japanese, if only in my head.

Last night I had dinner at the Eveningstar Café with Mike Nichols. It was great to visit with him. He's got a lot going on in his life right now professionally, so we had a lot to discuss. I showed him the pictures I took of our flight together. They turned out pretty well, although I told him how I'd found a book on aerial photography the very next day. He told me that he can actually fly his plane with the cockpit window open, so we could do that next time. That sounded great to me, since I'd really like to try my hand at taking pictures of the waterways around the area.

The service before the meal was abysmal. They wouldn't let me sit down, but instead directed me to the bar. That would've been fine, if I'd been able to sit down back there. All of the seats were taken, so I had to stand with my backpack weighing me down. No fun. At least they had Harp on tap. I love that stuff. Later on, at Bar No. 9 upstairs, I tried a Pilsner. It was nastified like dung beetle piss. It was as if Snoop Doggy Dogg had drained his bong and poured it into a pint glass. It was a less than pleasurable drinking experience. After that debacle, I tried an Indian pale ale, which was much better. In fact, it was such good drinking that it makes me think about American history.

It reminded me of a story I once read about George Washington, that pale ale did. On his farm in Mt. Vernon, Washington kept a special room full of paintings of children. It was a special "screaming room." All he ever did in this room was stare at the pictures of the children and yell at them. Must've been very healthy for him. Of course, his wife always approved of this habit -- it always seemed to have a beneficial effect on his humors. One day, after spending two hours in this room, he went out into the field and danced farm animals. (No, not like that, you nasty, sick-o pervert!) He danced for the first time one of the sixteen dances. It is a little known fact that Washington invented the funky chicken dance with his roosters and his mare.

I wonder if Washington had to wear three pairs of socks during the particularly cold winters at Mt. Vernon? Speaking of that famous property, I signed up for a 10-mile run that will start at Mt. Vernon and end up… well, 10 miles down the parkway. It should be fun. It will be my first race after the marathon. I'll have to start training, of course, so that I'll be ready for it. I think Washington, if he were alive today (and not preoccupied with spinning in his grave), he would support my efforts and run with me. Or maybe he'd ride on horseback and keep me entertained with his wild stories of screaming at children's portraits. It could happen.