an armload of household items - Thursday July 12 2001
There was another offer for my condo today, this one for the same price I paid for it. So, using the company fax machines, I made a counter offer of $295,000. I also tried to shut off my Earthlink DSL service, something that is unfortunately not possible via a web form. I found myself waiting about a half hour uncomfortably on hold until I finally reached a customer representative, trying my best to edit XSL templates as I did so. At this point the guy on the phone informed me that Earthlink cannot turn off my DSL at a future date but must do so at the time of the phone call. This made no sense at all, but what could I do but hang up in disgust? I still need my DSL connection for the next two days. And what am I supposed to do about my DSL modem? What happens if I keep it? Do they take $1000 out of my credit card? I don't trust those bastards at Earthlink any more than I do the idiots at the West LA post office.
The cleanup of the condo continues. Today I took the big color television out to the alley and came upon a homeless guy pushing a shopping cart. One of the items in his cargo was an old bicycle I'd cleared out of my garage a few days ago. He asked if the television worked and when I said it did he said he'd take it. Unfortunately, in the process of rearranging his load, he dropped off a pair of broken wheels from the ratty bike and this necessitated an extraneous mission to get rid of the wheels.
At around 7pm Gretchen and I took the Punch Buggy Rust on drive into Beverly Hills to visit Gretchen's Great Aunt Claire. Actually, we knew Claire lived in Hollywood, but we made a mistake and got onto Beverly Drive instead of Beverly Blvd. and this took us into a place called Beverlywood, which was really nothing more than a fancy enclave on the southwest edge of Koreatown.
After we'd called Claire and figured out what we had done wrong, everything seemed to be going just fine but then Bam-Bam-Bam-Bam-Bam! Suddenly the Punch Buggy Rust was running a lot louder than it used to! We pulled over, got out, had a look at it, and I soon figured out what had happened. One of the spark plugs that I hadn't managed to screw in tightly enough had worked its way loose and blown out! Unfortunately I didn't have any of my tools with me and there was no way to screw it back in. We were only a few blocks from Great Aunt Claire's house by this point so I figured I'd just drive there, noise be damned.
Lucky for us there was a good collection of people either staying with or living with Claire, and one of the quieter of the guys had a whole garage full of tools, including an elusive deep-dish Punch Buggy spark plug socket. Maddeningly, I was unable to actually get the sparkplug screwed into my engine to any convincing depth. It felt like the threads around the sparkplug hole might be stripped, something I know to be an expensive problem to correct. But for the time being at least I was able to fix the problem.
Around a long table in the dining room, what we had wasn't exactly your typical family dinner. All but one us, four men (including myself) and two young women (including Gretchen) were roughly the same age. Then there was Claire, a short woman in her 70s or 80s who seemed to enjoy the company of young people. Gretchen had told me that at any given time there is at least one person staying in Claire's house. It's a big old place with a real yard and a courtyard and I'm sure it's worth a fortune now.
Dinner discussion was unexpectedly contentious in a purely intellectual way. Somehow I managed to steer the conversation into my favorite subject: the resolution of conflicting needs under evolutionary pressure. My favorite example of this is the relationship between human head size and the shape of the female pelvis. Why is the female pelvis one way and the male pelvis another way? I think we all would agree it has something to do with the female need to pass large-headed babies. Conversely, the only selective pressure on the male pelvis is for men to be able to walk and run efficiently. If the female pelvis was the better one for walking, then clearly both men and women would have it. On the other hand, if the male pelvis was the better one for birthing children, both men and women would have it. The two obviously are optimized for different purposes. Indeed, as adapted as the female pelvis already is, it's not adapted enough to prevent birth from being a woman's riskiest life process.
What made this conversation contentious was the reaction of the other young woman present to the things I was saying. Her name was Leslie, she had long wavy red hair and has, according to Gretchen, traveled widely throughout the world. Right now she is in the final leg of becoming an osteopath. Her concerns in this conversation, however, tended toward the knee-jerk feminist touchy-feely. She wasn't pleased by the idea of people calculating whether or not one skeletal design is efficient and another isn't and then forming theories to explain the data. She also made the contention that there might not be any relationship at all between head size and brain size and that we might not, after all, be at an evolutionary impasse regarding the equilibrium between head size and pelvis size. She didn't have anything to back her claims; she just made them in a quasi-ad hominem manner, which was especially infuriating given that she was clearly an articulate, intelligent woman.
But nobody else at the table was really buying what Leslie was selling, especially when she claimed that westerners only use ten percent of their brains whereas Sufis in Indian can do all sorts of great things such as predict the future. Her brother David wanted to know why the Sufis didn't play the stock market then. "They are very spiritual people and aren't interested in money," she said. "Why don't they use their powers to get money and then feed the starving then?" David demanded.
Though we were having fun, Gretchen and I couldn't stay long. We had plans to drive downtown and drop off some items at Bathtubgirl Productions. Most of these things were kitchen items, some of which Bathtubgirl and I shared back when we lived together.
As usual it was quite the scene at Bathtubgirl's place. Julian and Zero (the ill-fated Bathtubgirl lover from Holland) were doing a drum & bass webcast together while Dawn (a tall eighteen-year-old blond girl from the Bronx who lives upstairs) was hanging out with Bathtubgirl, Snow and Linda. I drank a Corona and played a little with Sophie the Schnauzer on her favorite alpaca rug, knowing I might never see her again. Linda was in a zany mood, playing around with a semi-functional motorized bubble blowing machine. Both she and Bathtubgirl gave Gretch and me going-away gifts: an Aleister Crowley tarot deck with interpretive manual and a couple bottles of genuine Bathtubgirl bath oils. There were a few tears in Bathtubgirl's eyes as I was leaving.