28 December 2002 Yesterday on our way back from Boston (Xmas with relations), we stopped, as is our custom, at Traveler's Restaurant & Books. There I found the second volume of a science fiction anthology I'd owned as a pudgy shrimp in 8th grade, as well as the 11th Galaxy Reader, which came out in 1969, when my life was science fiction. I told Deb that sci-fi helped to reinforce (if it didn't actually engender) my feeling or belief or sense that this (whatever that is) ain't what they're telling us it is -- or at least that there might be another explanation...  
13 December 2002 My dog peed on my grandmother until she died.
-- Excuse for late paper.
8 December 2002 If your eye's bothering you, BBly, go to an optimist.
-- Dear friend Rabbo
27 November 2002 Good enough is never good enough.  
22 November 2002


You want the short answer? No!
You want the long answer? No fuckin way!

19 November 2002 The difficulty with theory, however, is that it is endless.
-- Yasutani-roshi, The Three Pillars of Zen
16 November 2002 Benjamin Smoke provides a new tag to my grandfather's adage:
  • Be good.
  • If you can't be good, be careful.
  • Can't be careful, be on the news.
14 November 2002

Nevertheless, when dragons & fish see water as a palace, just as humans see palaces, they do not view it as flowing. And if some onlooker were to explain to them that their palace was flowing water they would surely be just as amazed as we are now to hear it said that mountains flow. Still, there would undoubtedly be some (dragons & fish) who would accept such an explanation of the railings, stairs, and columns of palaces & pavilions. We should calmly consider over and over the reasons for this. If our study is not liberated from these confines, we have not freed ourselves from the body & mind of the ordinary person, we have not fully comprehended the land of the Buddhas & Ancestors; we have not fully comprehended the land of the ordinary person; we have not fully comprehended the palace of the ordinary person.
-- Master Dogen, Mountains and Rivers Sutra.

15 October 2002

At the corner of Park and Sixty-fifth Street, there is a Japanese man with thick glasses trying to feed a chocolate popsicle to a pigeon with a stump instead of a foot.
-- Jessica Shattuck, "Bodies," New Yorker, 30Sep2002, 121.

10 October 2002

It is possible for a writer to make, or remake at least, the primary pleasures of eating, or drinking, or looking on, or sex. Novels have their obligatory tour-de-force, the green-flecked gold omelette aux fines herbes, melting into buttery formlessness and tasting of summer, or the creamy human haunch, firm and warm, curved back to reveal a hot hollow, a crisping hair or two, the glimpsed sex. They do not habitually elaborate on the equally intense pleasure of reading. There are obvious reasons for this, the most obvious being the regressive nature of pleasure, a mise-en-abîme even, where words draw attention to the power and delight of words, and so ad infinitum, thus making the imagination experience something papery and dry, narcissistic and yet disagreeably distanced, without the immediacy of sexual moisture or the scented garnet glow of good burgundy. And yet, natures such as Roland's are at their most alert and heady when reading is violently yet steadily alive. (What an amazing word "heady" is, en passant, suggesting both acute sensuous alertness and its opposite, the pleasure of the brain as opposed to the viscera -- though each is implicated in the other, as we know very well, with both, when they are working.)

-- A.S. Byatt, Possession, 510-11.
29 September 2002

It takes so little, so infinitely little, for a person to cross the border beyond which everything loses meaning: love, convictions, faith, history. Human life -- and herein lies its secret -- takes place in the immediate proximity of that border, even in direct contact with it; it is not miles away, but a fraction of an inch.
-- Milan Kundera, The Art of the Novel, 124.

...We are born one time only, we can never start a new life equipped with the experience we've gained from a previous one. We leave childhood without knowing what youth is, we marry without knowing what it is to be married, and even when we enter old age, we don't know what it is we're heading for: the old are innocent children of their old age. In that sense, man's world is the planet of inexperience.
-- Ibid., 132-3.

8 September 2002
High Holy Days
Kutsher's Country Club

The whishew-whishew-whishew of stockinged thighs as the alten damen make their way to breakfast before service...

6 September 2002

...It was the hypertexteers of the late 20th and early 21st century who first perceived time to be multivalent. Actually, of course, they were merely stitching together, after their fashion, disparate ideas from other provinces. Bell's Theorem, e.g., the notion of parallel universes (laughable now, of course, that we know that each moment/instant is explosive/chaotic, creating not a parallelism or even a fork, but a blast pattern....).

25 August 2002

By the time you read this I will be long dead. [Raised letters {glued? nailed} on painted wood, now bleached with age.]

What is this [bond]? Who can these [two] people be, now that the one imagined has found the one who imagined being so found?

Chill, damp morning, first light. Crickets pitched right at brain-thrum, inner & outer world one sound. I [my body] as portal, membrane, utterly transparent [sound-wise].

Then: crows shout, starlings wolf-whistle back & forth. First car shatters the peace. But it regathers, ruptured [pond] surface going calm & smooth again. Until the next one.

22 August 2002

These tools are all written by programmers driven by frightful agendas: lobbying memos from marketing, quarterly marching orders from managers, apologetic memos from marketing VPs describing overblown promises made to analysts by desperate CEOs, pet peeves, side bets on Easter eggs, crank theories, smoldering resentment over mid-year reviews, bad habits from college programming courses, and the numb, looming horror of fixed ship dates. It's a wonder any of this shit works. Ever.
-- John McDaid, Keyboard Practice, 31


19 August 2002

What does the term "quality" mean in a digital environment? When you copy a sound or image analogically -- e.g., cassette dub of vinyl original, photograph of painting, photocopy of book page -- its quality degenerates in transmission. This sense of the word obviously has no meaning in the digital realm: a digital copy is an exact copy [only if the original is digital -- ed.], "down a gen" = irretrievable arcana.

What c/would possess such a quality? Some abstraction, like design, or interactivity -- something about which it is still possible to disagree, something which is still capable of degree (which, despite its quantifiability, still operates on a sliding (not clicking) scale. Differences in kind are digital; differences in degree are analog.

12 August 2002

We have not sufficiently taken into account as yet that we need the laboratory with its incisive restrictions in order to demonstrate the invariable validity of natural law. If we leave things to nature, we see a very different picture: every process is partially or totally interfered with by chance, so much so that under natural circumstances a course of events absolutely conforming to specific laws is almost an exception.
-- C.G. Jung, Forword to the Wilhelm/Baynes I Ching, 3/e, xxii.

That old canard. See Bernstein on ConjuReader, 1998.

11 Aug 2002 Wild turkeys gleaning the harvested timothy strip at the top of the hill opposite: they read it Levantine style -- right to left, stop to ponder a particularly fruitful portion, then continue, more or less what you'd think moveable type would look like. Now they're going boustrephon, back to the right, some having dropped down to the tawny hay strip just below, but most still working the blue-green-tan timothy, more recently cut. And now they're gone: here endeth the reading.
As the sun first strikes their pen, the two Cramer dogs, male & female huskies, begin to howl. She's a coluratura, he's a baritone. Luther, the yellow lab I'm dog-sitting, joins in on the tenor. This happens most mornings -- at least when there's sun.

Not that the incredulous person doesn't believe in anything. Or he believes in one thing at a time. He believes a second thing only if it somehow follows from the first thing. He is nearsighted and methodical, avoiding wide horizons. If two things don't fit, but you believe both of them, thinking that somewhere, hidden, there must be a third thing that connects them, that's credulity.

-- Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum, 49.

1 June 2002

William Least Heat Moon poses the following:

South of Rehoboth Beach [Delaware], I stopped to eat breakfast on the shore. Even though the sky was clear, the windy night still showed in the high surf. At my back rose two silo-like concrete observation towers, relics from the Second World War. At the top of each were narrow openings like sinister eyes. A battering of starlings flew in and out of the slits, the shrill bird cries resonating weirdly in the hollow stacks. The towers were historical curiosities, monuments to man's worst war, one that never reached this beach; yet nothing identified them. To the young, they could be only mysteries. Had they come from the more remote and safer history of the Revolutionary or Civil wars, they would have been commemorated. Just when is history anyway?

-- Blue Highways (1982).

It resonates weirdly in the hollow stack of the mind to contemplate the America that Heat Moon encountered 20 years ago. Chances are good (but how do I know?) that the WWII towers that prompted his (apparently) ungrammatical question have either been commemorated or demolished by now, though it would take a considerable schlep on my part to confirm this guess: I could hop in the car and drive down there, steering by the vague bread-crumb trail that comprises his book; I could contact his agent, or some Delaware historical society -- hell, I could even look on the Web: it could be there...

But what would the answer mean, either way? What would I find out? What exactly did Heat Moon see then, that I'm seeing now in his book, that I would see a later version of should I ever get there? Where is history anyway?

9 May 2002

As I sit on the front porch to do my devotional reading (William Least Heat Moon's Blue Highways these days), I face the rising sun, which glints off the myriad gossamer threads strung everywhere between leaf & needle, twig & bud, on the rhody & pine just beyond the railing. These cables have no strength -- i.e., you wouldn't say they bind anything together, since the merest wind will snap them. And they are no use to the "body" (pine tree, rhododendron bush) that furnishes the anchor & target. But to the little critter that made the link, everything in the operation matters: anchor, target, open space between, the swing or clamber required to make the link, the road, or bridge, or flight path thus created.

The critter ?= thinker, reader, idea, thought?

16 May 2002

Buddha told a parable in a sutra:

A man traveling across a field encountered a tiger. He fled, the tiger after him. Coming to a precipice, he caught hold of the root of a wild vine and swung himself over the edge. The tiger sniffed at him from above. Trembling, the man looked down to where, far below, another tiger was waiting to eat him.

Two mice, one white and one black, little by little started to gnaw away the vine. The man saw a lucious strawberry near him. Grasping the vine with one hand, he plucked the strawberry with the other. How sweet it tasted!

--Zen Flesh, Zen Bones

5 May 2002

This week's depredation upon sense, overheard on the street:

She totally knew we were so hating on her yesterday...

24 April 2002 The weed-whacker sings in organum in the roofless nave of Our Lady of the Hidden Village...
15 April 2002

"We do what we do, and then we figure out a way to live with it."

-- Binnie Kirshenbaum, Hester Among the Ruins.

11 April 2002

In case you were wondering, these are the colors of the major keys in music:

  • A is yellow
  • D is red
  • G is green
  • E is blue
  • C is white
  • F is orange

The others I don't know.

6 April

OK, you semioticians out there, parse me this sentence:

So... she's like, whatEVerrr,
and I'm like, HellOOO....

26 March 2002

"So they were stymied. It always boiled down to money. They just didn't have any. They had proved that the business of science could run on sheer charisma for a while, a life powered by sheer sense of wonder, like some endless pledge drive. But people were still people; they ran out of charisma, and the sense of wonder ate its young. The need for money was always serious, and always there."

-- Bruce Sterling, Distraction.

24 March 2002

A friend tells me that the owner of the restaurant where we brunched today had a nagging wife. This guy comes from a culture where a man can have 4 wives, but here a nagging wife is all he gets.

So he takes out an insurance policy on her life for $1 million, then hires some fellow countrymen to perform a hit, which is successful. The hit men are found not guilty, and so the insurance company is compelled to fork over $1 million, with which the guy starts the restaurant.

Added some spice to an OK meal.

17 March 2002

St. Patrick's Day

Equinoctial haiku:

Driving at twilight
headlamp beams explode into dust:

Sudden spring snow!

14 March 2002

My first and favorite experience in samizdat was The Pick-Pocket's Packet, published by the W.P.A.O.P.P.*, Rich Kenny, President and Editor-in-Chief.

It was eighth grade, that liminal year which in other municipalities would have been the last year of grammar school, but in those days, in our proto-burb just outside the orbit of metro Pittsburgh, the only school was Peters Twp. Jr.-Sr. High, still attached to McMurray Elementary ("grade school") where I first embarked on my journey towards Upper Education. [See photo.]

Over the summer, more than half of our male colleagues had vaulted into puberty, and now towered over us, deep-voiced and hairy, suddenly dazed by the presence of lumpy girls who only months before they hadn't even been able to see.

It was a point of pride with shrimps like us (Rich & I were always in the front row in group shots) that we could travel faster in the halls between periods than any upperclassperson, whose pockets sat at just about shoulder height on us as we zoomed in and out of clumps of flirtiing hulks, and boosting a wallet was pathetically easy.

But the idea was far more intoxicating than the actual experience, which inevitably involved having to give the dang thing back, with the social awkwardness and occasional contusion that resulted. So Rich, a boy of ingenuity & grit that I could only envy (in chorus once he socked a notorious bully in the jaw when the jerk blocked his way), started writing up our adventures, with the usual dilations, on pages of his yellow pencil tablet, which he ruled off into columns, drawing "wire photos" and ads around which he poured breathless accounts of our exploits, announcements of upcoming events, minutes of executive board meetings, and subtle satire of the school administration.

I wrote the gossip column, which I didn't do very well, and so didn't do very often, but I helped copy & distribute issues to the dwindling number of dweebs like us amongst our classmates. Eventually, I think, we were shut down by humorless teachers, who I now believe took the confiscated copies home and had a good yock with their families.

The next year we both crossed the Rubicon into adolescence, and somehow drifted apart. I saw Rich again over a decade ago at the silver anniversary of our graduating class, and though I recall that he hadn't changed much (except for the mustache), I don't remember anything we said, not even if The Pick-Pocket's Packet came up or not.

I can't say my writing career began there -- I had at least ten more years of goofing off to get out of my system -- but it was a great wonder to me to watch a "piece" take shape under Rich's hand, in #2 pencil on cheap yellow paper, and I think it was then I realized dimly that somehow everything I read had been written by someone in a manner not unlike this, whatever happened to it afterward in its journey towards print that landed it, however briefly, before my eyes.

And somewhere, sometime, I said to myself: I want to do that.

* Western Pennsylvania Association of Organized Pick-Pockets [back]

10 March 2002

True teaching imparts nothing; it is merely a way of bringing others along with you.

Teaching in an institutional setting interposes a bureaucratic construct, a mere tradition or habit between teacher and student. It's quite possible -- in fact, it happens all the time -- for there to be a "good" class, but both time and space are hamstrung by the occasion -- the "learning event" -- created by administrative necessity, nothing else.

This false occasion is the reason for everyone being there: not the students' love for learning, or for their teacher, not the teacher's love for his students, or for his subject.

No surprise it doesn't work very well.

8 March 2002

So I put the Shredded Wheat on the counter before the high-schooler working the cash register. She picks up the oblong container and looks at it curiously.

"Oh!" she says. "Cereal! What a cute little box!"

Where do I begin to tell her what that did to me?

6 March 2002

A mini-reunion of writer-buddies from the Vermont Studio Center was held last weekend at Wellspring House in Ashfield, MA. Intent on making it a working retreat, we kept quiet until sundown so that "people" could get some work done. I was a good boy on both fronts, working away industriously in the Nathaniel Hawthorne room in the NW corner, proofing the draft of Wyrmes Mete that I brought home from my month in the frozen north; then, at the end of each session, I invoked the File Synchronization control panel on my trusty iBook, and while it was running went off to socialize with my colleagues. Turns out that the cdev understood "synchronize" a little differently than I did, and all my work was lost.

I felt not only frustrated but betrayed. Worse: I was reminded of Terry Harpold's dictum that data loss is not just a potential risk, it's an integral part of any information system. To paraphrase the Japanese: I always knew that one day this would happen to me, but yesterday I didn't know that it would be today.

19 February 2002


A pair of owls, alto and baritone, have begun spending the night in the pines just down the bank across from my little terrace here at the Barrax. First the alto: hoot-hootoot-hoot; after a measure's rest, the baritone responds, an octave or so lower: hoo-too-oot-hoot.

Just before sunrise they're rousted by a gang of mobbing crows, 15 or 20 at a time, who, after sending this homely duet out of the neighborhood, hang around for the sunrise, yelling: Sun! Sun! Sun! Sun!

Finally, after the crows break up their dawn staff meeting, industrious starlings take over the roof and gutters of the building opposite, their virtuosic tweedling as soothing and cheery as a music box after all that racket.

27 January 2002


Yesterday I got some mail: Marie Harris sent me some pix from her 2-week stay, which include shots from Open Studios -- everybody gets to traipse through the buildings, and artists who don't want to be imposed upon simply close their doors. But it's an edifying & refreshing treat for us four-eyed nose-in-book types, getting to see not only what our cousins-in-art are up to, but what they get up to it with.

Also on view are scenes from the regulation writers-reading party, with a rare glimpse at the embryonic house band, trying to figure out what key they're playing in....

For the sturdy of constitution, ecce two beautiful portraits of your intepid reporter, thanks to Susan Lirakis Nicolay, who couldn't get a word in edgewise during the shoot, and so was unable to instruct me to actually look at the camera like she needed. I've thrown in a bonus foto from the archives.

17 January 2002


Last night another slide show of work by inmate -- er, resident visual artists again made it clear I'm in some really incredible company. Here's what I remember best:

Linda Cummings' Slipping Series, photographs of a white slip in flight at first within human-made, often industrial environments, but eventually flying free above fields, among the trees, in the sky

Karin Stack's sequence of photographs of her pate day by day, showing her hair growing back after chemotherapy

Mee Kyung Shim's self portraits, in which she often looks like Neo coming out of his electric sleep

I'm beginning to feel overwhelmed, there's too much to take in. I want to spend hours looking at this stuff, not just the few seconds each slide is up on the wall. One feature a day would be a feast, but at least ten artists show each night.

And I've got my own work to do...

16 January 2002


We have the makings of a band among the residents here at the Studio Center (and I know at least one crypto-folkie on staff): alto sax, guitar, harmonica, bass, trap set, and penny whistle, plus a large contingent of willing percussionists on instruments of indefinite pitch. And everyone sings. Last night, after the writers' first reading (of which more anon) there erupted the third party of the week, and a jolly time it was -- my favorite moment: Norman Dreo singing the words of the Philippine national anthem to the tune of "Irene, Good Night."

The reading began with a chapter from Thomas Lakeman's novel Perfect Body, which recounts the adoption into a cult of a 9-year-old girl -- hilarious and chilling by turns. Marie Harris (the Poet Laureate of New Hampshire, as it happens) read some new prose poems that illumine so-called ordinary life with wry clarity: the pleasure is as much (or more) in what she sees as what she says. Kate Gleason followed with several moving poems, my favorite of which will always be "After Fighting for Hours," a wise take on making things work because they have to. Then Bob Cowser read the opening of his memoir Semi-Prof, which describes the bus journey home through the wee hours after his first game (his team crushed the opposition 58-7, but his car was towed). Finally, Betsy Andrews read from her novel about the famous 7 Sutherland sisters of Buffalo, New York, who displayed their collective 37 feet of hair to the curious at traveling shows at the turn of the last century -- in prose as chunky and ornate as the furniture of the period.

As with the slide show of visual artists last week, what impressed me as much as the quality of the work in last night's presentation was the sureness of expression in each writer's voice. Nothing coy or overwrought here, no showing off or playing games, not one false note. I'm honored to be in this company.

10 January 2002


The weather outside is frightful (for Vermont in January): near 50 degrees F & rainy, which on top of the snow we've had for the last couple days makes for some serious skipping from slush to pond along the roadside (sidewalks got plowed under long ago), and wear yer hard hat passing beneath any overhang.

Last night Arawana Hayashi, a dancer who lives in a Tibetan Shambala community about an hour from here, gave the first ArtSpirit talk of the new year, an introduction to meditation for artists, followed by a demo in the peerless VSC Meditation House. After half an hour's fidgety sit, about 20 of us limped across the bridge over the lordly Gihon to the lecture hall, where the first resident slide show was already in progress.

Five painters, three sculptors, a photographer, and an installation artist presented some of the strongest, most striking stuff I've seen in years -- none of it coy, all of it masterful, every one different. Most memorable were Sylvia Bendzsa's "If These Waves Could Speak" series about the devastation of her native Newfoundland and Winn Rea's harrowing installation consisting of the equipment which accompanied her mother's dying of cancer, including the mesh mask used as a grid to target radiation delivered to the head and face, which Wynn donned and then had friends pull her hair out through the holes in the mesh with crochet hooks. Brrr. Also beautiful.

8 January 2002


I'm here on a work-exchange, which means I have to appear at the kitchen at 6.45 am 3 days a week, to make bacon & eggs for my fellow artistes. A man of my experience in life is of course forbidden to indulge in such heart-attack specials, and I write best in the morning, so at first I wasn't happy about the assignment. But the gentle yet firm direction of my boss Arista, a painter from Texas by way of Louisiana, soon had me enjoying the exercise: the light comes up through the window I get to stare out of as I crack 90 eggs into a bowl, one has to admire the equipment of a well-run scullery -- especially the monster convection oven in which the trays of bacon get baked -- and there's something rewarding about feeding 60 people, not to mention the sense of accomplishment in learning a new skill.

Well, I wouldn't say I've mastered the gig just yet, but I won't have to go solo until Saturday, after one more assisted run day after tomorrow. Maybe I'll even get creative and add some spices and lumps of other food products, like onions, tomatoes, peppers, cheese -- any suggestions?

7 January 2001


This morning at VSC, I remembered badly the scheduled hour when the "sitters" were going to congregate in the meditation house, and so showed up in the dark half an hour early, just as the fat but waning crescent moon was clearing the shoulder of the mountain across Rte. 15, slicing through blustery clouds left over from last night's snowfall. Couldn't find the dang place at first, and so went to check the map in the dining hall, then returned to where it had to be, but still couldn't find the door! At last I stomped through a snow-filled garden sporting a few straggled tomato stalks rattling in the stiff breeze, and there was the front porch and door, with a broad path leading up to it from the other side. Perseverence furthers.

The kompyootr system is all set up in my new digs, though I did have to move all the furniture around to accommodate it, so now I guess there's nothing to do but actually get down to work. I knew there had to be a catch somewheres.... Good to know I'm not the only one in this frame of mind: it was the principal subject of conversation at our table over lunch -- during which excellent repast I discovered that Kenny Cole, the friendly Maine painter sitting across from me, had until 6 years ago lived not much further away on Staten Island. As soon as we discovered this, we bored everyone else at the table by going on and on about the peculiar street topography of Stapleton, the town we know so well.

What would be the equivalent of that room-clearing conversation in cyberspace?

6 January 2002

Epiphany Sunday

Today begins the first leg of BBly's Lucky to Be Here Hypertext Pilgrimage and House Concert Tour. Actually, this is the pre-game show, invited audience and special friends only, since it's unlikely I'll get to update this page here at the Vermont Studio Center, where I've alighted for a month's serious work on Wyrmes Mete, the hypertext chapbook of poems first appearing in Storyspace, but now being ported to the Web, tarted up with all sorts of JavaScript tricks from the Connection Muse.

When I left Staten Island before dawn this morning, the sky was overcast, but the sunrise over Brooklyn as viewed from the upper deck of the Verrazano was all rosy-fingered and in russet mantle clad, if you know what I mean, and slithering beneath the Brooklyn Heights promenade on the BQE afforded a spectacular view of lower Manhattan dazzled by the newly riz big orange fireball -- except for there being, as many have observed, too much sky in the west, the image of Miss America smiling sweetly at you with her two front teeth knocked out.

By the time I reached Johnson VT (25 mi ENE of Burlington, 30 mi S of Québec) 7 hours later, 2 inches of old snow on the ground was being lightly dusted by a new batch fresh from the jet stream, and the post-prandial stroll took place within a sparkling coccoon of silence, except for the gentle ticking of snowflakes on the brim of my 60s flannel Pirate cap, reclaimed from last year's wanderings for the incipit of this pilgrimage.

5 January 2002

What is it about electron lit that puts some people in such a froth? The vehemence, not to say venom, with which hypertext is sometimes dismissed is out of all proportion -- and what impresses is not so much the force of these denunciations as their nastiness.

If the audience laughed when we thought we were putting on a serious play in college, we said it was nervous laughter, as if the spectators were somehow threatened by the overwhelming power of our performance. Here, too, one explanation for the amazing ill-feeling evident in some criticism of digital literature is that it is somehow threatening -- but that can't be right: What's to threaten? What's to be threatened?

Is it bad chemistry in the body politic causing these pimple-like irruptions? Or are their authors the outriders of the spirits of darkness, who, recognizing the work of the messengers of light, must kill it in the cradle, like Herod slaughtering the Innocents?

Which reminds me: why were the early Christians persecuted with such hatred? Was it because their message threatened the powers that were, as the received version of that story has it? -- or was it, as Bernard Shaw proposes in the preface to Androcles and the Lion, that they just couldn't keep their mouth shut?

<sigh!> More head-scratching, I guess.

4 January 2002

The last suit I ever owned I bought (with my dad's credit card) at Horne's on Penn Ave in downtown Pittsburgh, in spring of my junior year of high school. It was a medium blue-gray gabardine with cuffs that looked terrific in half-break over my shiny new cordovan oxfords. The tie I wore with it was so skinny the "B" tie-tack spanned its entire width.

True, I did also own a pair of near-navy double-knit bell-bottoms a few years later, that almost matched in color if not in weave the double-knit jacket with mile-wide lapels that I inherited along with a pair of brown buckle shoes from the deceased husband of my then-wife's mother's best friend from high school.

I wore this "suit" to Amway meetings, an enterprise at which I was not good enough to get a Winnebago for myself, but was lucky enough to break a couple direct distributors in my organization before I completely lost heart and went to graduate school. So much for suits.

3 January 2002

Suddenly, We Descend is getting some attention: as the subject of a usability study in ACM's Journal of Computer Documentation, where Kim Gee of IBM Research Triangle Park subjects the Windoze version to a rigorous battery of tests -- and as the object of Jan Van Looy's ridicule in dichtung-digital.

Thanks to Julianne Chatelain for alerting me to the first instance, and to Jill Walker and Mark Bernstein for coming to the poor thang's defense in the second. I only need 1 reason not to read a review entitled "23 reasons not to read We Descend by Bill Bly," but I am grateful to Mr. Van Looy for his money.

2 January 2002

They think I'm dead. Last summer, a friend from the old neighborhood told me that when she went to her somethingth reunion at the old high school, the word was that I was dead. And just a couple months back, the same thing happened with my sister, my only sibling -- when first a voicemail from an old admirer and then an email from a dear buddy offered me condolences on my loss.

When I called Nin to check, she laughed but seemed strangely pleased. I recognized the feeling.

Sh. Nobody knows I'm here.

1 January 2002

The stuff & nonsense of legend: Origin of the New Year's Resolution = the champagne hangover. The pain is exquisite, the nausea without peer -- "Gawd, I'll never do that again!" Remorse is given a body, which is then put on the rack.

Courage falters, vision fades,
Resolution fails.
Doubt alone prevails --
Except in fairy tales!

-- Capt Nemo, "Skeptic's Lullaby"

31 December 2001

The last day of a bad year, the second in a bad millennium (unless you're one o' them purists who won't let anything start until after the year with the zero at the end is over): bad medicine, 6 months' unemployment, disorder & sorrow early & late in several sectors of the family -- and now there's that smoking gash where I used to stroll as a happy Y2K warrior, somehow putting everything in a whole nother perspective...

O hard times come again no more!

Be that as it may, I'm encouraged by Mark Bernstein's site -- by his wit, his enthusiasm, his perspicacity in matters hypertextual -- but I'm also charmed by his ancillary notes on books, movies, birds, cooking, and fantasy baseball. My favorite passage:

Definition: tsimmes: like tsores, but with more running around and shrieking.

For that perfect pot o' coffee:

  • wash entire apparatus every time
  • whole beans only -- keep 'em in the freezer
  • 1 super-heaper for every 2 cups, + 1 for the pot -- long on beans, short on water
  • grind 'em very fine
  • drink it black no sugar -- YUMM-O!
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