Faint

Xy’s been feeling poorly lately. She has a cold, which as usual turned into a sinus infection, which as usual causes recurrent migraines. She’s also had her first real period in a year or more. (She’s on some crazy birth control medication that is supposed to make her have a period every three months, but I think she messed up the dosing schedule.) So she was cramping really bad. Then (Sunday night) she had an emergency diarrhea panic attack and actually passed out and fell off the toilet! She woke right back up, and within ten minutes she was feeling much better, but she had me scared for a little bit.

Kneecap Recap

My right knee, which I twisted in December, is getting better every day. I had been favoring it, limping, and generally trying to stay off of it. Seems that was the wrong approach, as my sister pointed out to me. It just got stiffer and weaker. So I’ve been trying to walk normally, and it really seems to be helping. I’m still strapping on the knee brace for my bike ride to and from work, but I’m about ready to dispense with that.

So, in honor of my rapidly improving right knee, I’m proud to announce the release of “My Left Knee,” which I scraped up in October. It’s a 1.9 MB QuickTime video, not optimized for the net, so you’ll have to download the whole thing before you can watch it. (On my Mac it plays with nifty dissolves, which are missing on my Windows machine.) The concept was inspired by Rick Dietz.

Watch out for the big scab in the middle. Bonus points if you can identify the music without googling.

Co-op

I’ve learned a few things about Whole Foods. Apparently their cramped and idiosyncratic little store in Mid-City is very much a thing of the past. Apparently their newer stores are all big box WalMart-like monstrosities. I’ve never set foot in one, but I’ve heard stories.

And I just got this via e-mail:

Hello. As many of you know, Whole Foods on Esplanade is closing in April. In response, people in the Mid-City area and the larger New Orleans area are banding together to open a cooperative grocery store. To make this happen we will need a united community effort. Please be a part of this exciting opportunity!! The New Orleans Food Co-op is hosting two upcoming events. On Jan. 26 at 7 p.m. at 625 North Rendon there will be a community potluck. On Saturday Jan. 29 upstairs at Fairgrinds Coffeehouse (3133 Ponce De Leon) from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. there will be an important planning meeting and gathering. A cooperative grocery store will serve our community, because it will be owned by our community.

Wow. That would be so much cooler than Whole Foods. Knee-jerk reaction: It seems too good (and too quick) to be true. I hope I’m wrong. I would love to buy my food at a co-operative grocery. I hope this takes off, and I hope it’s a real co-op and not a fake one.

Fire Hazard

The only heat in our bathroom comes from this old electric heater:

Heater

When it gets cold, this thing just turns on all by itself. Something wrong with the rheostat, I guess. The door to the bathroom is blackened on the inside from being up against the hot coils. By strategic positioning of a magazine rack, we’ve rigged the door so it can’t open all the way, to avoid the possibility of it catching fire.

Still, if our house burns down, this would be prime suspect. I really need to have an electrician look at it. Plus we blew a circuit last week and it won’t reset; flipping the switch at the circuit breaker doesn’t have any effect. Definitely time to call an electrician.

Death

The girls across the street don’t live with their parents. Dad’s in jail, and the girls are being raised by their paternal grandmother. I don’t really know Mom’s story. Her name’s Danita. She lives in the Calliope, a housing project not too far from here. She comes around occasionally.

But I should use the past tense. She used to come around occasionally. She won’t be coming around anymore. Yesterday, she was bathing her youngest child, her son Will, who’s still just a baby. And while she was bathing him, she died. No one seems to know exactly what happened. I guess she probably had a heart attack or an aneurysm.

She was 32.

Lightbulb

I purchased a General Electric Longlife Plus 3-Way Soft White 100 Energy Saving Bulb a couple weeks ago from the local hardware store. A sticker on the package says it’s guaranteed for eight years; the fine print specifies 10,000 hours. The bulb cost $15.79. Wow, that’s a lot. But the package also claims it will save me $71 in energy costs. Supposedly it uses less than half the energy of an incandescent bulb and lasts five times as long.

I like the idea, but I’m a little skeptical. We’ve bought a few of these “long life” bulbs since we got our house two years ago, and at least one has already burnt out.

Furthermore, the extra-fine squinty print says that if it doesn’t last as long as advertised, “return bulb, proof of purchase, register receipt and your name and address.” How many people will have a receipt and proof of purchase for a fricking lightbulb eight years down the road?

Me, that’s who. I’m putting this in my files, in the folder marked “Machines,” and if it burns out before January 2013, General Electric will be hearing from me.

Yes, I’m really sticking it to the man today.

Plagiarizing the Dream

Xy assigned her students to write a short essay reflecting on Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. One student turned in a neatly typewritten sheet. He claimed he wrote it himself, but the fact mere fact that it was neatly typewritten was enough to tip Xy off. Turns out it was the very text of the “I Have a Dream” speech itself. Xy confronted the student, but he stood his ground, insisting it was his own. She was really pissed off at the time, but when she told me, I thought it was hilarious.

Donika Studies

Tonight I helped Donika, one of the girls who lives across the street, with her math homework. Normally Xy does this, but the subject was triangles, and Xy’s not confident of her geometry skillz. I’ve always found geometry easier than arithmetic and a hell of a lot more interesting.

I was intrigued by the fact that Donika writes at a complete 90 degree angle. She’s the third or fourth person I’ve met in New Orleans who writes this way.

Donika Studies

Anyway, when Donika was deep in concentration working on a problem, I surreptitiously took this picture, and I really like the way it came out.

It took almost two hours to finish sixteen problems!

By longstanding tradition, she gets a pickle when she’s done.

Two Words

David and I were discussing an NPR story about untranslatable words this morning, and it reminded me of two words from Norden that I hadn’t thought about for a while: the Finnish word sisu and the Swedish word lagom. They’re both reputed to be untranslatable, so you’ll pardon me for not explaining what they mean. I think Finns and Swedes also embrace these words as capturing some essence of national identity.

Cold

The reason I hate winter is days like these. It’s cold. I’m cold. I gather that it dipped down to freezing for an hour or two last night. But that’s the temperature outside — what about the temperature inside? In my home office, as I type this, it’s 63 degrees. And that’s with the heat cranked up to the maximum. We can’t get it much warmer in this old house without insulation or central heat. I talked to my sister in Indiana last night, and she assured me that her living room was a toasty 72 degrees. Meanwhile I can’t keep my fingers and toes warm. I’d like to curl up under the eiderdown and dream of summer all day, but instead I’ve got to ride to work.

At least my office there will be warmer.

XXXVIII

My birthday. 38 is the first number I’ve hit that sounds old to me. And given my game knee, which doesn’t feel any better after two days of rest, I’m feeling kind of old too.

Today is also Martin Luther King Junior Day, but of course MLK was born on January 15th, not the 17th. You know you’ve arrived at icon status when they celebrate your birthday on a different day each year.

Benjamin Franklin was born on this day, as well as Al Capone and Muhammad Ali and Vidal Sassoon and Eartha Kitt and James Earl Jones and Jim Carrey and Kid Rock and lots of other famous people. Ladan and Laleh Bijani were born on this day, seven years after me. They died in 2003. That kind of puts thngs in persepective.

Wedding

Xy & I went to Sean & Dawn’s wedding. (Sean is Xy’s partner teacher, and they have a great working relationship. I’m grateful to him even though I hardly know him personally.) I love weddings, and this was a great one, and interesting in a number of respects.

The ceremony was held at St. Peter Claver Church, a black Catholic church in the 6th ward. The church is an old-fashioned cathedral from 1852, built in the European tradition, but decked out with lots of African decorations, including Kwanzaa banners. I was a little surprised when the priest turned out to be a white man, but I gathered that he’d been serving there for twenty-five years or so. There were only a handful of white folks present; being a minority in such social situations is an experience which I always find intriguing and instructive. It was quite possibly the biggest wedding I’ve ever attended; certainly the wedding party was huge — there were six groomsmen, two best men, six bridesmaids, a maid of honor and a matron of honor, plus flowergirls, ringbearers, and so on.

It was a religious ceremony, which lead me to reflect again on where I agree and disagree with the church. For example, I don’t agree with the notion that a wife should be subject to her husband, but I feel that, in some sense, two people can become as one. It feels funny to do critical filtering in such a context, but I guess that’s the lot of thinking people in a pluralistic society. In any event, I generally had warm fuzzy feelings of love and a renewed sense of commitment to Xy. I’m the sentimental one, so I was way surprised when she expressed the same. Cool.

The wedding party was so large that, in addition to a traditional stretch limo, they also had a limousine bus. And of course a police escort.

The reception was uptown, at the Fine Arts Center. Great food, several open bars, a rockin’ DJ — this was a party. And there seemed to be hundeds of people there.

Unfortunately, my damn knee has been bothering me again (the right one, which I twisted on Dec. 12th) so I wasn’t able to bust a move on the dance floor.

I didn’t take a camera to the wedding. I would have liked to take a picture to remember it by, but I felt awkward enough hobbling around on my game leg without juggling a camera too. But when we got home, since we were dressed up, we took this picture.

B & Xy

It’s a little overexposed, but note the freshly repainted hallway!

For the Record

I sent the following query to Computer Chronicles via the contact form on their website:

I am trying to research the question of the first television show broadcast on the Internet. I have found a number of references indicating Computer Chronicles went online in 1995. Is any more information available regarding this event? In particular, I am looking for the actual date, the technology used and the people involved. Please let me know, and if you don’t have any information, I would appreciate if you could drop me a line just to confirm that you did receive this message. I tried asking this question with this form once in October and again in November and never got a response.

As noted, this is the third time I’ve posed the question. If I don’t hear back this time, I’ll assume they’re just not going to answer me.