How Does the Piggy Eat…?

Well, it looks like poor Spenser might be fully on the road to recovery.
Temperature running steady at 48 degrees, new video drivers and patches for the
motherboard… maybe we are home free. Although who knows, we could freeze
up at any moment here. I keep having paranoid thoughts about that as I
write this. Stay on target… stay on target…

Thanksgiving week was excellent. Not only is Thanksgiving really my
favorite holiday of the year, I managed to get in at least four
homemade meals in a row this year. Always a good thing when you’re a
peanut-butter-on-a-spoon consuming bachelor such as myself.

  1. Tuesday night I went over to Brian Gee’s, for some homecooked
    Chinese food. The thing to understand about Brian is, he’s one
    of those guys who moved to the Silicon Valley and was shocked,
    shocked to discover that it’s sometimes kinda hard to meet nice
    girls around here. “Evan!” he’d cry. “This place is a

    Well, this year I arrived at the door to his palatial new
    San Francisco pad promptly at 7pm, to find Brian in the kitchen,
    surrounded by at least five or six reasonably attractive
    young women. Clearly Brian is not doing so badly for himself.
    Of course he is handsome, intelligent, funny, ambitious, a good cook,
    blah blah blah, so go figure.

    Anyway, it was refreshing to see Brian. I hadn’t actually hung out
    with him for a long time. How long? Well, when I mentioned to him
    that Amber and I had broken up, his sympathetic, heartfelt response was,
    “Ummm… Amber who?” Somehow I forgot to mention to him that I had been dating
    this very nice woman for the last ten months in the first place. Ooops.

    Apparently he feels this is a sign I need to be
    a bit more communicative about my social life in the future.
    I’m investigating blast-faxes.

  2. Wednesday night I had dinner with
    M’ris and Mark and
    Tim. And she served angelsuppa (“angel soup”, I think), which is a
    Norsk dessert of berries (“cloudberries”) and cream. Or for American
    palates, berries and ice cream. Good stuff.

    After dinner, Tim and M’ris and I got into a discussion about Harry Potter.
    Tim and M’ris pointed out that Harry Potter and his friends are all pretty
    one-dimensional — they’re basically good kids, they don’t go through any
    major internal struggles, and they all fit various boarding school stereotypes.
    They’re right — I had noticed this with the unredeemably nasty Draco Malfoy, but for
    some reason I missed it in the other characters. Anyway, on further reflection,
    I think the one exception is Snape. He started out a Death-Eater, but
    had a change of heart; he hates Harry Potter passionately, but dives in and
    saves him when necessary. That’s worth some points, I think.

    Tim also pointed out that J.K. Rowling snubbed
    this year’s Hugo Award ceremony for
    Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. If so, that’s pretty tacky.
    I certainly hope Rowling isn’t one of those authors who thinks she writes
    “lit-rah-chah”, as opposed to that blight on our civilization, speculative fiction.

  3. Thursday night was Thanksgiving. This year I decided that it was time for the
    younger generation to learn the family Thanksgiving secrets. I made the stuffing,
    made the gravy, and prepared, stuffed, and carved the turkey. The one thing I didn’t do
    was cook the turkey… so if Dad gets hit by a bus next year, his secrets
    with the Weber die with him.

    The meal was excellent (if I do say so myself). We ate with cousin David and
    some family friends, Susan Hennings and her daughter Anna.
    Anna is two weeks older than Sarah, and about a foot-and-a-half taller.
    They’ve been friends since they were crawling around on the floor… which
    pretty much puts me and Eric to shame.

  4. Friday night was Son of Thanksgiving. We finished most of the turkey, although
    we had to invite yet more cousins to do it. And their girlfriends.
    I made pumpkin pie, but unfortunately I misread the recipe and used 1/4c of
    brown sugar instead of 3/4c. Tee-hee! Everyone was polite about it though.
    “Mmmm, yes, you don’t want to oversweeten the pumpkin pie. It tastes sooo
    artificial.” Some of them even waited a full 90 seconds before reaching for the honey.

    I then went and dragged Nancy out of the house, and we hung out at a bar in Campbell
    (Katie Bloom’s) with Randy and Don and Nicole and Monica and Monica’s Boyfriend Who
    I Can Never Remember the Name Of, Even Though He Can Remember Mine Just Fine and
    Seems Like a Very Nice Guy.

All in all, a mind- and waist-expanding week! I suppose I have plenty more to prattle
on about, but I might as well save it for the near future. I’m afraid I’m going to start
sounding like Liz Smith, or maybe
Jackie Harvey, anyway.

Birthday Math

Every birthday, my Dad would come up with something special about
the number.

Nine: “Three squared!” Ten: “Double digits!” Thirteen: “A Fibonacci number!”
You get the idea.

Clearly, I was doomed from an early age.

Even when I had moved out of the house, he would come up with something during
the traditional Birthday Phone Call. Sometimes he had to reach a bit.
Twenty-three: “A prime number… and you won’t be prime again for six more

Last year was a bit tough. To get anything significant for twenty-six, you have
to turn to Gematria,
the ancient art of Hebrew numerology. Twenty-six figures
prominently throughout the Torah: among other things, it’s the numerical
representation of the name of God (YAHWEH), the number of generations from Adam
to Moses, and the number of lines that it takes to list the Ten Commandments in the
Torah (I bet you thought it was ten).

Well, this year Dad didn’t have to work too hard. “Three cubed!” I was a bit
concerned about next year, until my cousin pointed out that
twenty-eight is one of those rare
perfect numbers,
the next one being 496.

A perfect number! So much to look forward to…


A friend of mine emailed me this last week. It’s a memo
from his company’s CFO, regarding their upcoming holiday party.
(Emphasis mine).

This luncheon probably seems like a major
extravagance relative to the state of the economy and
all of our cost containment programs. Many of you are
probably thinking that if you don’t go to this
luncheon you can save us some money. I appreciate the
sentiment, but, I need to give you a little background
on this event. We booked the Hotel *** early in
this year for our Holiday Dinner/Dance on the evening
of December ***. The process of booking required a
deposit. As the economy started to erode and we
started to slow our spending, we attempted to cancel
the Holiday Dinner/Dance. Unfortunately, everyone
else in the Valley is trying to do the same thing. We
were able to cancel the evening party, but the Hotel
refused to refund the deposit. They also refused to
convert the deposit into rooms for our next sales
event or consider any other creative solution. Renee
and Caroline looked at the size of the deposit and cut
a deal with the Hotel where we can have a nice Holiday
Luncheon for just our San Jose employees and use the
deposit as payment. Based on the circumstances, I
view it as your corporate and patriotic duty to attend
this luncheon and eat everything you possibly can eat.

I plan to starve myself for a day or so and then
start with the most expensive foods. I won’t fill up
on starches. I won’t drink any water. I plan to wear
loose fitting clothes. In order to get maximum bang
for our deposit, we need you to show up and EAT. I
believe that this is a buffet, so, as long as we
continue to eat, I would think that they have to keep
bringing out food. Caroline will publish the menu in
a follow up email, so you can start to plan your
eating strategy before you get there. Thanks.

Historians take note: if this isn’t a perfect snapshot of this place
and time, I don’t know what is.

Tragically Hip

The National Book Award for fiction went to
Jonathan Franzen this year. Makes me wonder, was that just a little “fuck you”
from the National Book Foundation to
to those who are not proper members of the high-art literary tradition? Hmmmm.
Regardless, I have to admire Franzen… he’s clearly a lot savvier than I initially gave
him credit for. No such thing as bad press and all.

But Franzen is not the only budding young genius in America today. Take Randy.
Randy had a great idea this week. We’re all going down to Santa Cruz and a place
called Zelda’s for breakfast Saturday morning. It’s a bit far to go, but Randy
pointed out that there’s nothing better than coffee and cigarettes on a brisk Saturday
morning by the ocean… except maybe if the coffee is served by attractive young
women in small T-shirts. Who can argue with logic like that?

Perhaps I’ll bring a chess set.

There is another place we all used to go to for a Long Breakfast — Crepes on Cole, which
just happens to be a crepes place on Cole St. in San Francisco. As a bonafide
weenie South Bay person, I used to feel very cool driving up to San Francisco
and twisting through all these side streets to get to this nice little
restaurant. Of course, it was pretty crowded. Which meant it probably wasn’t
obscure or hip enough, but what the heck? It made me happy. I have low standards,
and more importantly, so do my friends.

Problem is, I always let Pat drive. Which meant that last year, when Rachel and Ben
were visiting, I tried to take them to Crepes on Cole. And you guessed it — I missed
a turn and we got lost. Bam! There went all my SF hipness, gone in a flash.
Fortunately, after we goofed off most of the day, Rachel insisted that we drive the
Golden Gate bridge. I was a bit dubious. But Ben was no help at all, and Rachel…
well, let’s just say that if that girl wants to cross a bridge, ain’t nobody stoppin’
her from crossing that bridge.

So we crossed the Golden Gate at sunset and the bridge performed on cue. Spectacular.
San Francisco saves the day (and my hipness) once again! Although I could have sworn I heard it
snickering as we drove out of the city. Or was that Rachel in the back seat? Hard to say.

Evan’s Sense of Snow

The Florida vote count is in. Looks like by any criteria you choose, Bush would
have barely won, unless you hand-count the entire state, in which case Gore
edges him out.

Two conclusions that spring to mind:

  • If Bush had accepted Gore’s criteria (just count the four disputed
    Democratic counties), Bush would have emerged victorious. On the other hand,
    if Gore had not played it too-clever-by-half, and instead
    insisted on counting the entire state, he would have won. Conclusion:
    both men were chicken-shits.

  • The election was decided by a margin of a few hundred votes.
    The total number of votes was on the order of a hundred million.
    To determine the results accurately, our measuring devices would have
    had to get the count right to better than one part in a million.
    Conclusion: If you want accurate measurements, A) think carefully
    about the parameters of your experiment and B) be prepared to shell
    out for some better hardware.

Anyway. It looks like I’ve managed to
annoy M’ris.
I should have known better. Marissa has been fighting the good fight,
defending the Midwest
against all snooty East Coast and West Coast comers… it was only a matter
of time before I got caught in the crossfire. Just a flip comment about
“visiting snow”. Damn.

As far as I can tell, the reasoning goes something like this:

  1. Evan said he likes to visit snow, but afterwards, he likes to go home where there is no snow.
  2. The Midwest has snow.
  3. Therefore, Evan’s opinion of the Midwest is, at best: “Nice place to visit, wouldn’t want to live there.”

Which is actually not that far off from the truth, although I certainly don’t
single out the Midwest in that respect. The Midwest absolutely seems like a fine place to live.
As far as I can tell, there are plenty of interesting things to do and people to meet over
there. But right now, I’d rather not live there. California suits me just fine.
Others have said this far
, really.

Marissa points out that when you’re used to snow, it changes your food, clothes, leisure
activities, and thought processes. Kewl. So does living in a Mediterranean climate.
She also mentions there’s a kind of “sharpening,” an “intensity to January” that
I am missing out on. Yup! Okay by me.

And then, out of nowhere, she gets it all wrong:

Visiting snow is like saying, “Oh, I’ll spend the weekend in Atlanta, and then I’ll know
all about those wacky Southern families.” It just doesn’t work that way.

No, no, no. How to say this…? I don’t visit the snow so I can
draw uninformed conclusions about Midwestern culture. I visit the snow
to throw around a few snowballs. Maybe ski a bit. I don’t take snow seriously.
I can even go years without it. For me, Snow is Just For Fun. That’s all.

On a related note, I did spend a few minutes scanning her text for a hint of the
old “weather wimp” argument. You know, the one that goes, “Pu-ny Californ-ian!
That which does not kill you, makes you stronger!” Usually punctuated with a
hearty “YEAARGH!!” and the waving of battleaxes. However, though the needle
on the detector moved a bit, the results were negative. So she managed to
narrowly avoid pushing one of my buttons. Nimble as always.

Technological Impropriety

We must be in a downturn. Tech support is even harder to find nowadays.

I’m still trying to get my SoundBlaster’s EAX drivers installed. The drivers
are inexplicably not on the CD or on the website. The mountain of tech tips
and FAQs (“How can SoundBlaster’s technology enhance my gaming experience?”)
didn’t help so much either. So I finally broke down and tried contacting
Creative’s tech support.

Do they make this difficult? Boy howdy. There’s no email address. There’s
not even a web form to fill out. No, you have to create a user account
with them and file a service ticket. (The user account is one of those
amusing forms where, if you make a mistake, the form spits back at you
with all the “Send me promotional material!” checkboxes re-checked. They
almost got me with that one, but fortunately I made a *2nd* error, and caught
it just in time.

I don’t hold out much hope that these bozos will be helpful. I can’t find
my receipt (will I never learn?), so returning the card is not an
option. But at the very least, I’ll have the satisfaction of tearing the
card from the slot and snapping it in half. “Let this be a warning… to all
of you,” I’ll say, shaking my finger at the chassis.

Anyway, I managed to catch the SJ Rep’s “Ctrl-Alt-Delete” with Shauna on Friday
night. It’s a spoof on the dot-com boom, with a surprisingly upbeat ending.
It was… OK. Not “In the Bog of Cats”, but not bad. The couple sitting
in front of us brought their seven-year-old daughter, for what I think was
her birthday. A bit of an odd choice, but if they feel their daughter is
ready to see a beefy man pull a sock from his leopard-print speedo underwear,
who am I to criticize?

By accident, we found the bar where the actors usually come to hang
out after the show. Good stuff to know, since I have two more shows this season.
I probably shouldn’t have bought the whole package, but I was living
in different times back then. “Hey hon, guess what? I got us almost the full
season of tickets to the SJ Rep!” Who knew all those Good Boyfriend Points would
go to waste?

High-Art Literary Tradition

Apparently Jonathan Franzen has decided that he is not above marketing
his literary masterpiece,
The Corrections“,
to the middlebrow Oprah plebes.

Franzen says he feels ‘awful’ about feud

My first reaction was HAHAHAHAHA.

Then I tried sympathizing with him. Maybe he was surprised by the announcement
he was going to be in the Book Club. I figure they would have asked his permission
first before going public with it. But maybe it went something like this:

(Franzen’s cell phone rings)

“Johnny! Guess what!” his breathless agent exclaims. “You’ve been picked as
the next member of Oprah’s book club!”

“Oh shit,” Johnny thinks. “There goes my street cred.”

So, a bit panicked, Franzen ends up saying that the Oprah logo makes him feel
“uncomfortable”, and that “I feel like I?m solidly in the high-art
literary tradition.” As opposed to all those other schlubs on the list who

Now, why exactly does one turn down an award?

You do it because you find the award so offensive, that you would
rather insult the people granting you the award than accept it even
grudgingly. That’s a pretty strong statement. I mean, can understand rejecting
an award from, say, the National Alliance book club. But why waste your
ammunition on all those nice ladies who watch Oprah?

So far Oprah is refusing to speak with Franzen, and is presumably moving on.
All I have to say is, you go, girl.

One last unrelated bit: Par Botes forwarded me a link to Maybe the funniest thing I’ve
seen in a couple of months. Be warned, there’s sound.

The Laws of Thermodynamics

For Halloween, we had a whopping four trick-or-treaters. One small child, three
teenage girls. At least they all wore costumes… I heard that in
Sunnyvale, kids were just wandering around in street clothes. Is Halloween
getting worse every year? Is anyone even trying?

We saw “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and “Sleepy Hollow”. I hadn’t seen
“Sleepy Hollow” before… not a bad flick. Is it just me, or did both of
the scarecrows in “Sleepy Hollow” look like Jack Skellington (with and without
pumpkin head?) One thing bothered me… Ichabod Crane struck me as
a bit inconsistent. I mean, in one scene he’s in hand-to-hand combat with
an invincible headless ghost. And a few scenes later he’s up on a chair, frightened
of a large spider. What gives?

Anyway, we had Nancy’s chili and Don Little’s garlic tri-tip. And plenty of
leftover Halloween candy.

As for my birthday, that went… ummmm… rather well. Friday night we
went out as planned. We went into the back room of La Bodeguita del Medio.
Everyone bought me free drinks. And I smoked a cigar. It was very Gentleman’s
Club (but not the strip-club-with-plush-chairs variety). Then we went
to F&A’s. Mental note: if you decide to regress about seven years and
drink past your limit, make sure you have lots of good friends around to
apologize to Security and haul your sick, sorry butt home. Woo! Do I still
know how to party or what? Sad, sad, sad.

Well, presumably the next time this happens, in another seven years, it will
be for a more noble cause. “Drink all ze mojitos, Señor Goer…
or ze hostages die!”

The BBQ the next day went on, although I was thinking of cancelling it up until
about three hours before. Renee King showed up briefly! She was on her way to a wedding
reception. And she seemed unimpressed by the fact that there were only two other guests
when she arrived. Well, Renee, if you’d only come an hour and a half late like all the
cool people… Boy, that lady knows how to kick a man when he’s hung over
and down. That husband of hers, Whatshisname, is clearly a bad influence.

I should mention that due to my
weakened condition, I specifically requested “Number” candles on my cake, rather
than lots of little ones. I hope this is not a sign of things to come.

Fortunately, although I did not make it to the store, my friends covered for me
admirably. Barbara showed up right on time with piping hot baked potatoes
and all the fixings, just when I was thinking, “Damn, we need a starch.” I
don’t know how she managed to keep those potatoes hot all the way from
Campbell. That woman defies the laws of Thermodynamics.

Hmmmm… better add “defies laws of Thermodynamics” to The List.