Barely Working

My sinuses are clogged. I’m kind of dizzy and disoriented. I’m blowing a lot of snot. And the cold seems to be wanting to take up residence in my chest. When I inhale really deeply I can feel a rattle deep in the bottom of my lungs.

I’ve got a doctor’s appointment for tomorrow.

So why am I even at work today? I was just bored with lying around the house, and I’m pretty sure Xy was getting tired of me too.

I’m pretty sure I caught this damn bug from her. But she kept plugging — never missed a day of work — and though she’s still blowing snot, she’d pretty much over it. It never moved into her chest. Which makes me wonder if my strategy of taking it easy and getting lots of rest was somehow counterproductive. After all, it seems that when I was favoring my knee back in January, it just made it worse. It didn’t get better until I started walking on it normally.

AI Rail

I had a strange dream last night. I don’t remember too many details, but an artificial intelligence figured prominently. In form it appeared as a great, golden, glassy globe, encompassed by a hollow disk, so that it loooked something like a ringed planet. It may have been extraterrestial in origin. I spoke to it at length. I don’t recall much of our conversation, except that I believe we discussed insect life at some point.

But the strangest thing of all was that it was mounted on a wheeled chassis which in turn was mounted on railroad tracks, and this was how the thing got around: on the railroad tracks that crisscross the land.

Perhaps it’s the cold medicine.

Sick Day

Went home early yesterday, and took today off, because I’m just not feeling that great. Xy had a cold for three or four days earlier this week, and I’m afraid I’m coming down with it. My main symptom has been a sore throat — only it’s not my throat exactly but more the nasal passage that comes out just behind the roof of the mouth. What is that called? The pharyngeal orifice? Eustachian tube?

I slept most of today, and now I’m starting to feel more congested. Sucks.

But the weird thing is that Emaan just called from Free Speech TV and confirmed that they are interested in licensing approximately 19 episodes of ROX. She’s sending a sample contract for us to look over.

The reason this is weird is that the last time she called I was also home and feeling poorly.

$150 Phone Call

The timeshare company stuck us with the wrong dates for our condo! Then they said if we wanted to change, we’d have to pay the $150 fee again.

That chapped my ass. I really don’t want to be at Table Rock Lake on July 4th. Then again, the only reason we’re even going there is the “free” condo. It starts to get a lot less appealing if we’ve got to throw money away on ridiculous fees.

So I had Xy call them up and pretend to be her grandmother. (The condo belongs to Grandma.) Then she handed the phone over to me and I went to work.

At first the rep was entirely unsympathetic. She warned that I’d have to forfeit the $150 we’d already paid, with no guarantee of being able to get the dates we wanted.

I stayed calm, reasonable, polite — but persistent: “Well, could you check please? Well, I really don’t think we should be charged a fee. Well, is there any way you can waive that? Well, I really wish you could make an exception in this case.”

Eventually the rep put me on hold, for a looong time, and when she came she said they’d make a one-time exception.

New dates, no fee.

It seems absurd, but this made my evening.

Morning Rage

Seems like there’s always something in the morning paper to make my blood boil.

This morning it was a story about a legislator from Slidell who wants to get “gay books” out of the children’s section.

The book that sparked this particular episode is King and King, which seems to have provoked a federal legislator to propose similar legislation on the national level.

I’m not sure what angers me most about this: the silly waste of time and energy, the encroachment on the free exchange of ideas, or the sheer hatefulness. I think it’s the last. I’m really frightened by the increasingly strident homophobia in American society. These misguided people need to stop hating gays. They need to recognize that same-sex love has always been with us, always will be, and there ain’t nothing wrong with it. It’s just another facet of life.

But Rep. Crowe’s insipid resolution makes me so mad, I hardly know what to do about it. Write a letter to the editor? Buy a copy of King and King? Or maybe I should make a TV show about it…

Gert Web

The university where I work is located on the edge of a neighborhood called Gert Town. Back when I lived Uptown, I used to ride my bike through Gert Town every day. Some people said I was crazy to do this. Gert Town is an economically depressed neighborhood populated almost exclusively by African Americans. I stood out like a sore thumb, but I was only harassed occasionally (“Hey white boy!”) and I never felt genuinely threatened.

For a while the local Greens had an office in a warehouse in Gert Town, but no longer. Since we moved to Mid-City, I’ve had little occasion to venture past the main campus and into Gert Town, except to go to the university’s new Art Village. But the neighborhood is still very much on my mind. It has a fascinating history, but it’s also clearly in a state of crisis. A variety of faculty that I work with are engaged in various projects such as collecting oral histories in the neighborhood. Last summer Xy did some volunteer work at the Gert Town Family Center.

All of which I mention as context.

Yesterday morning I went to the Gert Town Family Center myself for the first time and met Sharon Alexis. We talked about getting a website going for them. In thinking about this idea in advance, I’d come to the conclusion that what they really needed was a blog. Blogs make web publishing easy, even for people who don’t have any web authoring experience. I think it’s the perfect model for a community-based organization like this.

So she told me about the many, many things going on at the Center, and then we talked about blogs, web hosting, domain names and the like.

It turns out that gerttown.com is already owned by GNO Communications. They’ve had it for five years but aren’t doing anything with it. They’ve also registered lots of other local neighborhood names. Maybe they have legitimate plans, but it looks like cybersquatting to me. Who knows? Maybe they’ll give it up for a good cause. If not, there are plenty of other names available.

I wanted to show her Blogger, but it seems they get their internet connection via the Archdiocese of New Orleans, since they are a Catholic Charities program — and their filter is blocking blogspot.com. Huh. How do you like that? Just like China.

But one way or another I think this is gonna happen, and it strikes me that blogs are particularly well-suited to community-based organizations.

Splenda

I take my coffee black — no cream, no sugar.

(Actually I don’t take my coffee at all at the moment. After two and a half weeks without caffeine of any kind, I’m back on the iced tea. But that’s a subject for another post.)

Xy, on the other hand, takes hers with enough sugar to kill a horse. She used to use a load of cream too, but she’s cut back on that recently.

We’re talking an insane amount of sugar, so that her coffee becomes more like a thick sludge than a liquid. I’ve encouraged her to use less, because all that sugar isn’t good for a person. She says she can’t live without it.

But this morning she tried Splenda for the first time.

“I can’t believe I’m saying this,” she said, “but it’s not bad.”

Splenda is the trade name for sucralose. It has no calories at all. But is sucralose really a healthful alternative to sugar, or does it present dangers of its own? I understand that, even though it’s made from sugar, it’s chemically more similar to DDT. That doesn’t sound good. So what is the truth about Splenda?

Table Rock Lake

It’s official. We’re headed to Table Rock Lake for the first week of our summer vacation. Kimberling City, to be precise.

I’ve got a few misgivings. I don’t really know much about the area, but the more I learn, the less I like. This wouldn’t have been my first choice. Or my second. Or my 1000th.

For one thing, it’s in the orbit of Branson, MO. I’ve never been to Branson, but I’ve heard stories. It really doesn’t sound like my cup of tea. In fact, there’s a website where you can put in your dates and get a listing of all the shows that will be playing when you’re there. And there are a bunch — like 60 or so. Yet not a single one of these shows looks even slightly appealing to me.

For another thing, my boss said the area is “crawling” with people in the summer months. And you know what kind of people these will be: Americans on vacation. Just like me. Ugh.

I’m afraid this may be the Myrtle Beach of the Midwest.

So why are we going there? It was just about the only place we could find an available condo this late in the game. Such is the nature of hand-me-down time-shares.

And maybe it won’t be that bad. The lake itself certainly looks nice, from satellite. There might be some good hiking and canoeing. The resort has a pool (an absolute requirement for Xy) and tennis courts and so forth.

But if anyone has any suggestions on what to do — or what to avoid — I’d love to hear ‘em.

Hot Juice

I went to the Farmers’ Market in Mid-City yesterday and picked up some cilantro pesto for dinner. It was good (but pricey at $5.50).

I also got a bottle of fresh-squeezed juice: apple and lemon and habanero pepper. Wow! It was delicious, ice cold and spicy hot.

I’ve never had spicy fruit juice before. In fact the only spicy drinks I’ve ever had have been Bloody Marys. I’ve not seen spicy beverages on the supermarket shelves. Why not?

Outta Sync

Even though I don’t teach, I still experience the mood-shift at the end of the school year. It’s time to pull the nose up off the proverbial grindstone, step back, take a deep breath, relax a little, and reflect.

Since Xy does teach, she experiences this even more deeply. However, we’re not quite on the same schedule. University commencement was last weekend, whereas Xy won’t be totally finished with school for another two weeks. And the last couple weeks of school tend to be the most nerve-wracking of all.

So, we’re out of sync.

This was driven home to me forcefully when I tried to wax philosophical in our conversation last night. I’m wont to wax philosophical at the drop of a hat, just about any time of year, but especially now. You know, I just wanted to talk about life, the universe, and everything. Especially life. Especially my life, and Xy’s, and what we plan to do with (what’s left of) them.

Xy wasn’t really prepared for that. We were at cross purposes. And we were just plain cross with one another. Finally we decided to table the topic until she’s done with school.

Shorts

Classes are over. Commencement has come and gone. It is now OK to wear shorts to work. This is my official policy.

Did I mention this is my favorite time of year? The atmosphere on campus is mellow, the weather’s heating up, and all the promise of summer lies ahead.

I love summer. It’s my favorite season. It bears some heavy symbolic freight. Summer to me means life itself.

Of course I have childhood memories of summer vacations which seem to stretch on forever. I have a soft spot in my heart for stories that capture that spirit, like the wonderful Half Magic by Edward Eager.

As for our summer vacation, we’re in the odd position of knowing when but not where. We’ve got a week of Xy’s grandmother’s timeshare condo. We wanted to go to Austin, but alas, nothing’s available there. And now we’ve waited too long to be picky. We’ll find out about our options later this week.

Still, I enjoy thinking about the possibilities. Draw a circle around New Orleans, with a 500 mile radius. Now draw another one with a 1,000 mile radius. Exclude the ocean and the coasts. I imagine we’ll end up between these two circles somewhere. Maybe the Ozarks?

NYC 40

The radio alarm woke me up Thursday morning with news of bombs going off at the British Embassy in Midtown Manhattan. And I thought to myself: “Shit. That’s where I’m staying tonight.”

A few hours later, I was in New York. I checked into the Vanderbilt YMCA, just a few blocks away from the British Embassy. No further explosions, though.

As for the Y, it was perfectly adequate. My private room, though small, had a color TV, a refrigerator, an alarm clock, a towel — everything, really, except a private bath. For $75 a night, it’s a good place to flop.

I had dinner with Phil and Jen Thursday night, and with Ed the Meat Poet Friday night. And of course I attended the Share, Share Widely conference, which was the whole reason for the trip.

Everything went smoothly, and I think that may be why the whole trip seemed kind of unreal to me: no friction, no pain, no proof that I was really there.

All told I spent 40 hours in the city. I observed the following:

  • People walk faster.
  • I wasn’t panhandled, not even once.
  • I only saw two homeless people.
  • Everything seemed very “safe” — plenty of hustle and bustle, but no dangerous edge, none of the tension I remember from previous visits.
  • Chain stores have taken over.

It was unpleasantly and unseasonably cold in New York, so I was glad to return to New Orleans. Xy was supposed to pick me up from the airport at 9:45 yesterday morning, only she thought that was New York time, and so she added an hour and was planning to be there at 10:45 — never mind the fact that arrivals and departures are always given in local time, not to mention that she should have subtracted, not added. Well, she got me eventually, but damn, what a ditz!