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May 31 1998, Sunday



ince I'm here in Nancy and Brian's place all by myself, I think nothing of walking around completely nude. Today the neighbor came to the door while I was in the computer room, and I knew my trousers were in the bathroom. I decided to just hide under the window until the persistent knocking went away. He came later in the evening and politely told me to move my car off his grass. Then, in the midst of casual small talk, he asked how I knew Nancy. I explained, without deliberation, that I'd met her via the Internet. Just the sound of me saying such a thing seemed instantly to paint me as some kind of lunatic. The idea of people meeting on the Internet is still regarded by most people, and indeed, by the culture itself, as evidence of mental pathology. I wanted to explain that I was really not "one of those Internet psychos you read about," but that would have been impossible and besides, I'm sure the damage had already been done. And beyond that, based only on my behaviour, I really am a psycho, the kind of guy from whom you hide your wives and daughters.


t took me a while to pry myself away from Pyoot, the machine that would normally be used to upload the latest entry of Nancy Firedrake's journal

instead of this one,
     and instead of what ended up being her entry for today.

I eventually biked down to Bethesda Avenue in downtown Bethesda. It was a warm, windy Sunday evening and there were few cars on the street. I've noticed something strange about Bethesda. There aren't many old cars in this town. Most of the cars you see look very new and shiny. My Dodge Dart would stick out like a sore thumb if I were to park it on Bethesda Avenue.

Since there are so many new cars in Bethesda, I'm given the opportunity to see the latest in car fashions. Do you remember when new cars could be bought painted pea green? I don't, but it must have all come to an end sometime in the mid-70s. The only pea green cars you could find were big old American gas guzzlers. But not anymore. Pea green is coming back into vogue. It's not precisely the same as that old repulsive colour, but it's close. I was amazed yesterday when I saw the colour on a new car, and today I saw a few more instances of it. In a way it's kind of sad to think that humanity has to keep walking in circles over the same old terrain.

I took my digital camera with me to Bethesda, but there was nothing worth photographing. I would have even taken a picture of a spectacularly beautiful girl if I'd encountered one. Carrying an expensive piece of electronics is a lot of bother, even if it's very small, and I wanted the bother not to have been experienced in vain. (In truth, there were several attractive young women lounging in front of the Barnes and Noble, looking up from the books they pretended to read at each approaching pedestrian, but I didn't want to give them the satisfaction.)

In the Barnes and Noble I found myself reading the latest copy of Wired Magazine, especially about the low-budget sub-experiments that comprise the planning for the mission to Mars. In one experiment, people are subjected to isolation in little capsules for long periods as experimental machines attempt to recycle their wastes using as little energy as possible. Since our metabolism removes only a little over two kilowatt hours of energy from a day's worth of food, the theory is that feces can (ideally) be made back into food with an investment of only a little more than that much power (there's always a certain amount of loss, see). I wouldn't want to have to eat that recycled poo, but future Mars explorers might have to. Quite apart from the diet, however, is the issue of isolation and loneliness. It kind of reminded me of my situation for this week of house sitting, though I have considerably more space, better food, easy access to global communications, and the possibility of meeting complete strangers. Oh fuck it, I don't know what point I was trying to make.


ight now I'm experimenting with vodkatea. I'm using Plantation Mint, which works very well with vodka. Other teas don't work quite so well. Here's a brief review of the vodkateas you get from steeping various kinds of tea bags in vodka:

  • mint teas - very good, reasonably strong, dissolves well even in ice-cold vodka
  • ginseng - very good with vodka
  • citrus teas - these usually work very well, especially orange flavours
  • Constant Comment - very good, and the caffeine adds something to the drunk
  • echinacea teas - good, but tastes like medicine
  • Red Zinger - good colour, but generally too strong and sour
  • Cinnamon Stick - cinnamon is not a good combination with vodka
  • Jasmine - the Jasmine flowers tend to overpower the black tea flavour; their spirit is evidently more soluable in alcohol than is that of tea
  • Earl Grey - too weak and too bitter
  • cheap black teas - far too weak

other views on South Asian nukes via email

"I wonder if perhaps a lot of white folks realize that the bulk of the earth's human population occupies the area of the earth that is now entering the nuclear age? If India starts exchanging nukes with Pakistan and China, Iran will support Pakistan - and they have the money to make many nukes. In the end, the over population of the earth may be eased some. Some white folks may consider this a good idea."

to which I responded
"hmmm, except most of the white people i know think it would be better if they became christians before they died."

"Probably the reasons that the underground nuke testing didn't raise a big ruckus was that they were underground, events were out of our hands, and neither country was covered by a "nuclear umbrella" so even if they nuked each other it wouldn't escalate into WW3. I don't notice a lot of resentment against people of India and Pakistan who have moved here because they tend to be of the educated class and tend to be well mannered."


o you know why no one cares about the South Asian nuclear war potential? The prospect of little brown people nuking each other on the dark side of the planet just doesn't frighten Americans. Those folks are regarded as ants. People in this country have no favourites; the inhabitants of the subcontinent are the same vermin who end up on our teeming shores and take away our jobs. Indeed, the thinking goes, if those cow-worshipping, pig-shunning, monkey-tolerating towel-heads were to have a real nuclear war, maybe teevee would become a little more interesting and we'd never have to hear the phrase "Monica Lewinsky sex scandal" ever again.


ltavista officially sucks now. The new layout is an abomination. There is no reason to enclose the search results in a slow-loading table. I think there's an axiom to be learned here: "All good things one day shall suck."


one year ago
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