Elisa's Blog
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
It was little over a year ago that I started this randomly documented collection of thoughts. All good things must come to an end, and, somehow, a year and the month of December seem to be, for this kind of thing, particularly fitting.

I don't know what statement of finality should accompany occasions such as this. Reflecting on the past in a bittersweet reminiscence of nostalgia is always foolish unless you have something truly profound and revolutionary to say. Perhaps instead, signing off on a note of hope, passing on the torch to younger generations, seems to be just about the appropriate and poetic (for isn't the whole point in life to be able to see the poetry of things?) thing to do, so that then my end....becomes
a new beginning.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Heh. I quantum-tunnelled my way into a co-worker's cube the other day.

Boss walks in, hears me talking, asks: "Where are you, I can hear you, but I can't see you?"

(I was actually under the desk, switching the monitor connection between 2 computers).

As I rose up from under the desk all I had to do was say: "That's because I hadn't fully materialized yet."

And then Boss (he's a smart one!) says: "Ah, of course! Quantum tunnelling!!"

I tell you man, me and quantum physics, we mix in very strange ways.

Sunday, December 04, 2005
Oh, and the other day I also thought:

To womever doofus came up with the saying: "Trust is earned."

I say: "No, trust is given."

Remember this.

Friday, December 02, 2005
Hmm....when the holiday season comes, I tend to wax philosophical.

Yesterday I was reading a book, when it suddenly occured to me, you know the age old question: "Why are we here?", "What is our purpose in life?", etc. etc. that has been answered, throughout the ages, depending on religion, country and culture, with various and sundry answers such as:

A: "To do what God's will is." (religious fanaticism approach)
B: "To experience life's pleasures." (hedonistic approach)
C: "Who knows?" (clueless approach)

D: "Who cares? Figure it out for yourself!" (existentialist approach)
E: "It doesn't matter." (nihilistic approach)
F: "Whomever dies with the most toys wins." (80's approach)
G: "To help the needy and underpriviledged." (liberal, peace-corps granola approach)
H: "To become immortal via win the Nobel prize/write the niftiest play/invent the coolest microchip." (delusions of grandeur approach)
I: "To be happy." (illusionary approach)
J: "To spread our genes." (scientific approach)

K: "To spread our memes." (sociological approach)
L: "Life is short and the question complicated." (sophistic approach)

etc. etc. etc?

Well, you know what comes next, right? I get to inflict upon the unfortunate reader my answer of the moment. Cool huh? (Blogger privilege. Are you jealous? ;P).

Yesterday I thought: "Perhaps the whole point in life is to bring to this world children that are truly loved, and nothing more."

(And the cool thing is, they don't even have to be your own children)

Monday, November 28, 2005
Seen in one of the science internet forums:

Cause I said so. § < - > 11/27 01:09

There can be no scientific basis for this § <statement> 11/27 13:14

You aren't Simon § <mrmystery> 11/27 17:37


Sunday, November 27, 2005
You know, I think I figured it all out about pop radio stations.

All pop radio stations own a collection of a total of 10 CDs (not the same collection for all radio stations, obviously). Periodically, oh...about once a year or so...one of the CDs in the collection gets replaced with a new one, mostly obeying to the whims of what's popular at the moment and more or less what matches the station's style, with the result that the whole of the collection only gets replaced about once every 10 years or so, on the average.

That's why you keep hearing the same songs over and over again when you turn on the radio on your car, even two or three times per day, if you're lucky (if you're unlucky, you'll hear the same song placed twice in the same hour). Radio stationing must be a very ungrateful job: not much pay from advertisements to expand the CD collection even to the number 11, that much is quite obvious.


Friday, November 18, 2005
This morning I came across the following passage from Günter Grass's Mein Jahrhundert ("My Century"), which is a collection of short sketches about life in Germany during the past 100 years as described from many different viewpoints (a housewife, a soccer star, a laborer, a doctor, a child, a journalist set to interview Remarque and Ernst Jünger, for instance, among many others), with each chapter depicting one each of the years in question.

The following passage is from the chapter corresponding to the year 1991:

"You don't see any dead people. All you see are wobbly gun sights and then hits. Bull's-eyes supposedly. It's like a game...."
     "Right. Because CNN's got the TV rights for this war---and the next one after that..."
     "But you do see oil fields burning...."
     "Because that's what the whole thing's about. Oil and only oil! Any kid knows that. That's why they're out in the streets. Leaving their teachers, leaving whole schools empty. In Hamburg, Berlin, Hannover. Even in the East---Schwerin, Rostock. They're carrying candles again, like two years ago...."
     "But when we marched against the war in Vietnam and napalm..."
     "Don't give me any of your '68 crap.While you're sitting here on your ass, those kids..."
     "It's not the same. We had our own perspective, a revolutionary concept, you might say, whereas these kids with their candles..."
     "But comparing Saddam to Hitler, that makes sense, doesn't it? Isn't it clear what's good and what's evil?"
     "It's more of a metaphor.We should have gone on talking, negotiating, used an economic boycott the way we did in South Africa. Pressure, not war..."
     "But this is no war! It's a show put on by CNN. A co-production with the Pentagon. The consumer can turn it on and off at will. Fireworks in the comfort of your own home. Nice and clean. No deaths. A science-fiction extravaganza. Just add pretzels..."
     "But you do see the oil fields burning and missiles falling on Israel. There are people in basements with gas masks on...."
     "And who's been arming Saddam against Iran all these years? Right. The Yanks, the French..."
     "And German business. Here. Look. A long list of choice goods: missile accessories, poison kitchens with recipes..."
     "I guess that's why that Bierman guy, who I always thought was a pacifist, I guess that's why he's for the war. He even says..."
     "He doesn't say shit; he just blasts the people who don't agree with him...."
     "Know what he calls the kids marching with the candles for peace? Crybabies..."
     "Because they have no goal in mind. No broader social perspective, whereas we..."
     "What about 'No blood for oil!' Doesn't that say something?"
     "Not enough. When we marched against the war in Vietnam..."
     "Look, 'Ho! Ho! Ho Chi Minh!' is not what you'd call a brilliant argument. And now it's a bunch of kids out in the streets. Munich, Stuttgart. Over five thousand of them. Play-group kids even. They march a while in silence, then burst out with 'I'm scared! I'm scared!' That's a first for Germany---public confession....If you want my opinion..."
     "Who needs fucking opinions! Look at those kids, will you? What isn't Adidas is Armani. Spoiled brats, scared their designer clothes are in jeopardy, whereas in '68 and later---when we marched against the Frankfurt airport expansion and the Pershing II in Mutlangen---that was the real thing. These toddlers and their candles..."
     "Look, isn't that how it began in Leipzig? Every Monday we met at the Nikolai Church for a peaceful march. Every Monday till the bosses got the jitters..."
     "It's not the same...."
     "But Hitler and Saddam. They go together, don't they?"
     "The oil fields are burning...."
     "And in Baghdad a shelter packed with civilians was..."
     "You don't see that on CNN..."
     "Of course not. This is the future. TV rights will be auctioned off before every war. And the time to start pre-production is now. Because there'll be another one soon. Somewhere else if not in the Gulf..."
     "In the Balkans? The Serbs and the Croats..."
     "No, only where there's oil..."
     "And where you don't see any dead people..."
     "And only the children are scared..."

Thursday, November 17, 2005
So yesterday I went with a friend to the Symphony, and listened to Shostakovich's 4th.

Aaaah, what a beautiful work of art!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Ooooo! Guess what!?

I just got an email announcing that Henle-Urtext is having a 50% discount sale on all Mozart and Schumann scores, on occasion of the holidays and the happy circumstance that it is Mozart's 250th anniversary and Schumann's 150th memorial. Wow, such an occasion doesn't come every day you know....

What's more, the sale is going on through December 15th!!

So, hint hint, for you people that need things to be super clear and blatant: If you have no idea what to get me for Christmas this year, and are planning to (hey, I've been a relatively good girl this year, as my blog can attest!), a copy of Schumann's Kreisleriana in a Henle-Urtext edition (get it at 50% off!!) would be really, really nice.


Monday, November 14, 2005
So, in Mary W. Shelley's book, "Frankenstein", all it takes is one look, shortly after he's done with his painstaking stitching together of skin, muscle, and tendon, for Victor to fall prey to a violent loathing for his own creation lying on his worktable.

Not too long ago, I was arguing with a family member, about whether if, assuming it is true that we were created by an omnipotent God, who doesn't need us (since he's omnipotent), it can be possible for him to love us. How can you love your creation, if it is akin to a software engineer loving his program, or a mechanical engineer loving a robot he builds, or a clay artist loving the vase he molded, or a writer loving a book he wrote. It makes no sense at all. You could be proud of your opus, but love it? Hardly.

Anyway, back to the point. It took just one look for Victor, and his subsequent hatred (just brought about by one look at what he thought was an abomination!) eventually makes the monster become so sad and lonely that the only way to express this is by murdering everyone left and right and this finally brings ruin upon himself and others, thus condemning both himself and his creator to a lifetime of suffering. A veritable disaster. Great Halloween story it is indeed.

But then I thought, if it really is true that we are some omnipotent God's creation, and he is, at least at first, like Victor was, rather proud of and full of hope for what he's done, what if, one day, after the next bomb we drop on innocents, or after two friends become sworn enemies, or a parent raises his hand to a child, or the next time the teenager down the street kicks a dog, or who knows what other insidiously evil yet mundane thing that we tend to do, all of us, every once in a while, He decideds He doesn't like us, that we're not what He thought we'd be, and abandons us? Hmmm? What then?

Sunday, November 06, 2005
To whomever smarty-pants that came up with the saying: "Actions speak louder than words."

I say: "Yes, but the motivations behind the actions are important, and you can only discover those through words."

Friday, November 04, 2005

So my company is in the process of moving to a new office. Of course this then produces a frantic panic among the engineers what with trying to fit the packing of their prized possessions, toys, the loads of junk and experimental unfinished projects in the labs, the personal documents, tidying up unsaved software work, etc, all the while trying to cram in the usual work hours, so the office these days is a hubbub of activity.

Right outside my cube is a huge 3-meter cubed box labeled "TRASH". 2 hours ago, one of the managers came by and dropped 5 or 6 CDs worth of commercial software in there. By now, the box is almost full, containing, as said manager pointed out, over $100,000 dollars worth of equipment, including: 3 debuggers, several computer keyboards, a fully functional 4 MHz analog oscilloscope, 2 survey-grade GPS receivers, assorted serial and antenna cables, antennas, chipsets, and various other electronic parts, most of them, though old, still perfectly functional.

An old friend of mine just recently mentioned to me that he was glad that he lived in a plastic, "throw-away" society. I can see his point: if one is able to live in a society where the cost of buying something new is less than the cost of repairing something old, or the profits gained from selling something you no longer need is smaller than the savings in transportation, time, and effort you'd get from just throwing the unneeded stuff away, then one is living rather well off indeed.

Still, that was not enough to prevent me from staring wide-eyed and incredulous at the huge box outside my cube.

And I thought about Mexico.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005
Heh. I just got invited, then uninvited, to a hockey game.

The exchange went something like this:

Person "inviting" me: "Oh, by the way, I've got an extra ticket to the hockey game tomorrow, but...I'm assuming given it is you that you wouldn't be interested."

Now, let's think, why bother inviting me, then uninviting me in the same sentence, and then insulting me, high-school style, as in "nerds like you who'd rather go to the symphony than a sports match with a bunch of rowdy male coworkers wouldn't have fun at this cool event I'm going to, you'd probably have a lot more fun staying at home reading your encyclopedia". Hmmm? Probably, my guess, is just to flaunt the fact that you're going to some event that you think is cool, and excluding someone from the event with an added implied insult gives you, apparently, an even greater "coolness" factor.

The situation, you must admit, is rather comical, and what better way to make a comical situation better, than to exaggerate and amplify it, so I exclaimed, adding a little studiously contained jump masking as a candidly innocent bright-eyed bout of hardly-controlled enthusiasm:

Me: "Oooo, hockey game! I've always wanted to go to one. Who else is going, the rest of the [male coworker] gang? Cool! Oh, yeah, thanks, I'd love to go! By the way, would you be terribly offended if I brought a book along?"

The look on the guy's face when I said that was priceless. ;)

Thursday, October 27, 2005

This morning I was at the cafeteria vending machine, when I ran into Ulrich, a guy from our company's site in Germany who was visiting this week after one of our company's user conferences in nearby Las Vegas.

We chit-chatted for a bit, exchanging the usual polite pleasantries, when as luck would have it the potato chips I was trying to purchase got stuck in the vending machine panels. When our exchange came at an end, and partly as an excuse to exit gracefully, I mentioned my quandry to my friend, and announced I was going to fetch another $0.75 to purchase my chips again.

Without any hesistation, he said, in heavily accented English: "Shall I borrow you something, so that you don't have to walk?", and immediately produced a dollar bill.

My cube is only 10 meters away from the cafeteria, so I expressed my thanks and declined the offer, but all the way to my cube and back to the vending machine (where my chips got stuck again for the second time, by the way), and then back again, I smiled as I thought that, with the broken English making it all the more endearing, how nice it was that in some countries guys still know how to be gentlemen.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Life is now.

Yesterday I was bored after work, so I went home and read Book I of Rousseau's Social Contract.

Monday, October 24, 2005
Coming back to the US I found my senses were heightened. I could see more, hear more (my piano at home needs re-tuning), and, paradoxically after the strong spicy mixed smells of the markets and food of the Maghreb, I could also smell more.

Upon returning, the U.S. smelled like brand new plastic.

Saturday, October 22, 2005
There are lots of very old bills in circulation here. They must be at least ten years old, judging by the age of the coins in my pockets (coins always last much longer than bills) and the state of the bills themselves, crumpled, thin and soft as tissue paper, torn and broken and often mended with scotch tape, a bit like Mexican bills were about 20 years ago.

This must mean something in terms of economics, you know, the rate at which a bill is replaced must reflect something about the economic state of the country, but I don't know what, never having taken an economics class in school due to my aversity for the subject. Perhaps someone here can tell me in the comments (Carlos, give it a shot for me?), for I am quite sure that in the US a dollar bill circulates for a couple of years tops before it is replaced by a bank somewhere (and this is true now in Mexico too, not counting the new 20 peso note that is made of plastic, precisely to make it last longer, but without tears and the "tissue-papering").

Just like in Mexico 20 years ago, too (before the NAFTA and consequent influx of cheap repleaceable stuff from the US, a la "Walmart"), everything seems to have several lifespans here, things are very much recycled, but not in the "granola" sense: old medicine bottles, used shoelaces, cassete tape cases (that is, cassete tapes without the actual tape inside), vaccum tubes, metal pipe fragments, and all manner of odds and ends is sold and re-sold at old city souqs, typically near or at the outside of the walls, away from tourist eyes, and the clientelle for these goods is vast.

I asked a 26-year old from Rabat, how long did he think it would take for "things" (and I was deliberately vague when asking in terms of designating what exactly "things" were) in Morocco to get better. "I don't know," he said. "It may not be during my time, or my children's time, or my grandchildren's time, but in the meantime I will do whatever I can, because it is up to me, to make a better life for my children and those that come after me, even if I don't live to see the benefits."

Thursday, October 20, 2005
Started in 1987, and at a budget of about 800 million US dollars, the majestic Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca took only 6 years to complete....

The rest of Morocco is in a perpetual state of continuous, unfinished construction.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Djemaa El-Fna at night. Remember this.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Sunrise calls to prayer delayed two and a half beats in time at Largo, sung in two separate monotones perhaps an augmented 4th apart in the darkness of 5 o'clock in the morning off two separate Minarets in the Marrakech medina with an alarm siren wailing in the background.

Eerie, but strangely beautiful.

Saturday, October 15, 2005
Combine milk, avocado, and a little bit of sugar in a blender.

Surprisingly delicious!

Thursday, October 13, 2005
Hassan, our guide, weaves in and out of the labyrinthine corridors of the souqs of Meknès, and we hurry to keep up without losing sight of him, until eventually he just passes, reconsiders, and then returns to suddenly stop in front of a, to us random, door flush with the white old city walls. The door happens to be ajar, and from where we stand we can see the marble floors and elaborate tilework of the walls inside: it is a typical medina house, it seems.

"See here this floor," he says, "it is Italian marble, imported from Carrara. We import marble from Carrara since we don't have it here."

"What does Morocco export to Italy in trade for this marble?" I ask, already marvelling at the sure cost of these particular floors.

"Sugar," is the reply.

But then he adds after a short pause, as if in afterthought, in what we've come to perceive as a characteristically Moroccan pride and sense of humor: "We export sugar to the Italians, and we get this beautiful Carrara marble in exchange. But you see, Italians eat the sugar, and once it's eaten...poof! it is gone, but we...." (and here he gestures back at the white marbled floors) "we keep the marble."

Wednesday, October 12, 2005
We drive alongside the walls of the old city of Fès (the petit taxis are red here, in case it one day happens to be the $64,000 question for you, unlike in Rabat, where they are blue, or Marrakech, where they are beige, or even Tangier, where they are green, but like Casablanca....enough detail for you to win the game, you think?), and pass the unmistakeable golden arches of the empire of McDonald's, this particular locale decorated in green tile, the color of Islam.

With a hearty laugh replies our cab driver, upon being asked whether he ever eats there: "Americans already have lots of money. No need to give them more."

Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Olives, in order from least to most flavor: yellow ones, light green ones, dark green, black, dark red, pink, and (not dark) red.

The best ones are the pink ones.

Monday, October 10, 2005
Heh. :) I travelled back in time yesterday. I think it is the first time I've managed to do that successfully: leave Madrid at 12:00 p.m, arrive in Tangier at 11:20 a.m.

Cool, huh?

Sunday, October 09, 2005
Approaching Tangier from Gibraltar, after landing, the first smell of Morocco that reaches my nostrils is that of Diesel and horses.

It is only later, in the late afternoon, strolling through the deserted cobblestone streets of the old Medina, that the month-long smell of Ramadan hits you: it is the mysterious and spicy aroma of warm bowls of harira being served deep inside the hidden Riads.

Thursday, October 06, 2005
"Hi, my dear, would you like to join me for dinner on Friday?"

"Ah, sorry, darling, but on that day I'm flying to Tangier."

Heh. I've always wanted to be able to say that to someone. :)

Saturday, October 01, 2005
Today I woke up and after I showered, breakfast, etc. I sat in front of the piano and basically played Bach all day.

Sometimes I pity my neighbors.

Monday, September 26, 2005
So this weekend I went bathtub racing.

That's right. Cool, huh?

They were basically these tiny go-carts that were shaped like a bathtub complete with shower head and everything. You crawl in and you're kind of hunched over with your knees bent up above your shoulder level as you crouch to reach the steering wheel and accelerator, which is surprisingly powerful. So here you have me going round and round about my friend's company's parking lot chasing after my friend in her bathtub and some other unknown kid in his while trying to pass them with my bathtub.

It was some rather wholesome silly fun. :D

Wednesday, September 21, 2005
So here I am at work doing some rutinary something or other when all of the sudden I see this pair of arms rotating over my cubicle round and round about all helicopter-like.

I stood riveted incredously contemplating the strange sight for a moment until it dawned on me that it was probably one of my coworkers coming by to tease me as usual.

So as I murmured a "What the..." and started chuckling as I stood on my chair to look over the cube wall lo and behold it is not one of the usual coworker friends who tease but my front-cubicle neighbor who is in fact taking a break and doing his stretching/tai-chi/helicopter hand motion exercises.

Glad I managed to stop myself and quickly pop back inside my cube before I said anything.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005
Seen on one of the web forums:

mass extinctions were cause by time travel
< plothook > 09/19 12:31:20

time travel is possible and everytime someone invents it, they go back and accidentally step on a butterfly. everything dies. time travel becomes uninvented and we have to learn all over again. that's what happened in all the previous mass extinctions.

It gave me a good five minutes of chuckling, that one.


Monday, September 19, 2005
Rather flattering, isn't it, when your boss's figure pops over your cube and calls upon your attention by addressing you as: "O brilliant one..."

Saturday, September 17, 2005
Stinson Beach, mid-afternoon.

The white sun rays bounce perpendicular to the water making the waves look silver in a sea of molten metal.

You lie close enough next to me that your arm just barely touches mine, and for a long time we're both silent and terrifyingly immobile, you never saying what my brain screams ceaselessly inside my head in torment, and after an eternity that is somehow too short-lived, "Let's start heading back...", is all I hear you whisper.

Friday, September 16, 2005
Starting since September, 1993, up until a couple of years ago, this day was always filled with, depending, varying degrees of nostalgia.

These days though, one barely seems to remember why this date is important.

And, maybe, realizing this is a lot more lamentable than any kind of nostalgia that may still miraculously linger.

Thursday, September 15, 2005
Uuuuuygh, you know what I suddenly got a huge craving for?

This shotgun pasta soup that my aunt and grandmother used to make for us for dinner during the hot Italian summers. It is a very simple dish, just chicken broth and the tiny drops of semolina, but oh so delicious, with freshly grated parmesan on top, which melts upon touching the soup still steaming, and makes strings from the plate to the spoon, and gets stuck to the comparatively cold metal....yum.

Strange, however, that I get this craving at 11 a.m. on an autumnal morning. Maybe that's a sign that I should stop skipping breakfast.... ;P

Thursday, September 08, 2005
The other day I read a letter to the editor in a magazine, where the writer, a high-school teacher, mentioned that one typical assignment she gave her class was to analyze the lyrics of Gwen Stefani.

Is this what American students are reduced to these days, instead of reading Milton?

Monday, September 05, 2005
The bright-yellow hills of California are pierced by the rounded mossy green rock and volcanic red spires of The Pinnacles. The trees, leaves almost turning now, orange and brown in this mottled landscape, sometimes appear ghostly in the ravines, white-grey leaves dried and hanging.

Everything is the opposite color from what you'd expect here.

Except the sky. That one is blue and cloudless, as always.

Thursday, September 01, 2005
For you trend-searching statisticians:

No, it is not intentional, that all Half Moon Bay posts seem to pop up on Wednesdays.

Happy now?


Wednesday, August 31, 2005
Nighttime, Half Moon Bay.

Sometimes memories have meanings, that the moments themselves do not.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005
I don't know why everyone says that New Jersey is so horrible.

Last week when I was visiting my brother in New York, while driving from the Newark airport into the City, I remember thinking: "Huh, New Jersey is kind of pretty.....in a rather industrial kind of way."


Monday, August 29, 2005
Aaah, today was a good day.

There was a quite a bit of laughing and lots of general good-natured cheerio.

Especially for a Monday.


Wednesday, August 24, 2005
The other day while we were riding on the bus my younger brother asked me: "When, do you think, do people get old?"

And I chuckled, a bit due to the sheer innocence of the question, a bit too perhaps at the anticipation of the facetiousness in my reply, which went along the lines of: "Oh, I don't know, around the time they turn 65, probably."

But as I said this I already recognized, that there are a lot of 25-year olds jaded and bitter after having chosen, sarcastic, unforgiving, distrustful, and angry at artificial exaggerated hurts, to carry the weight of a world on their shoulders, and as said this I also already knew, that at 65 I would still be much younger than they.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005
I have a friend who says, no, claims, that given that one sees only a few people every day throughout one's lifetime, and the fact that they tend to be the same people most of the time, and given also, for instance, the dearth of population that strolls through the downtown streets of any of the desert towns here in Silicon Valley on any given day, plus the 100 or so people one may see on the TV news footage that live in other countries (for the people of the movies and Hollywood aren't even real anyway), plus/minus another 50 or so that you hear about from your friends and acquaintances, and so forth, there really are only about 1000 people on this planet.

But when I came back from New York this weekend (I had gone there to visit my brother who for some strange reason has chosen to make that city with its packed subways and streets teeming with people like ants around a honey drop which make walking along the sidewalk against the current an impossible task his home), I thought: "Nah, my friend is wrong, there must be something like....oh, mmmh, maybe two thousand."

Thursday, August 18, 2005
Hmm....the other day, through a very random and rather roundabout way I came across the following piece of music:

Vienna Teng: Lullaby for a Stormy Night

Listen, particularly carefully, to the lyrics.

It is beautiful, isn't it?

Wednesday, August 17, 2005
I used to have a very admirable, remarkable literature teacher, who once said: "I don't so much want to be loved as I want to be understood."

When I remembered this the other day, I couldn't help thinking, that my teacher got it backwards.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005
So today I had to go visit the land of HR, which is always, at least for me, a decidedly surreal experience.

On this particular occasion, I dropped by to inquire about a rutinary payroll issue, and was cheerfully greeted by L., who asked me if I had enjoyed my Saturday.

Of course, I always enjoy my Saturdays, so (it being a Tuesday the question had seemed a little strange to me) I replied with an amused, "Yes, of course!", to which she beamed and commented on the gorgeous weather we had had that day, and how lucky that everything had turned out great.

At around that point I realized, that she was referring to our company's picnic, which took place on the Saturday in question and which, as it happens, I did not attend. As the inevitable chuckle, excuse and explanation followed, she replied with: "Are you sure? I thought I saw you there..."

Now, this was quite refreshing, for if you recall the past instances where my existence has been denied (refer to documented evidence here and here), and the resulting distress and existential crisis that inevitably follows, in this case it turned out that I was actually present somewhere where I was not, so I figured the universe, after all these months, was finally turning around and balancing out correctly the way it should do, this conclusion then producing the expected serenity and peace of mind which one always appreciates especially on dreary, rainy Tuesday mornings.

Still, it is a little worrying, that the laws of quantum physics seem to bend a lot whenever I am (or in this case am not) around....

Monday, August 15, 2005
So there's this sequence on one of the Calvin and Hobbes comic book panels, where Calvin announces that he's in a bad mood, so his mother makes him lie on the couch and brings him peanut-butter crackers and a stack of comics to make him feel better.

Now, the only reason I know this is because yesterday morning I was feeling kind of glum so I went to the local bookstore to read the comics, and thus came across this one.

Which is kind of recursive, if you think about it.

Friday, August 12, 2005
So I just happened to catch a short section of a popular kid's cartoon called "Dragon Tales" on TV the other day.

In this short snippet, the two apparently 4 and 6 year-old human sibling protagonists are helping their 3 dinosaur friends because one of them has somehow managed to get himself trapped inside one of his own soap bubbles.

Yeah. Strange, huh? But hold on. The idea at this point is to freeze the bubble so that they can then break it and release their friend, so to this end they tether the floating dinosaur-bubble to a cord and fly, dragging their distressed bubble-trapped friend in the process, over to some snow-capped Himalaya-like mountain region.

As the bubble freezes, though, it acquires some weight, so it lands fairly softly onto the cushioning snow and all seems fine until the moment where it starts slipping downhill, at which point the only thing that one can hear from the TV apparatus is 5 child-like voices going on a quite prolongued, dramatic "Woh!!....." that chirps first to high and then to low frequencies in a sing-song backgrounding the images of these 2 kids and 2 and a half dragons (for one of the dragons is two-headed, so it is one dragon, but it is also two dragons...which averages to one and a half as far as I can tell) skiing in tandem behind their friend in liquid-like snow with what appears to be a half a meter high white wake....

I didn't get a chance to finish watching the episode to tell in the end whether poor Ord (the blue bubble-trapped dragon) was relieved of his dilemma, since I was in a hurry, and just caught this fragment in passing, and the short minute or two of story-watching was enough to make me wonder at how bizzare and depraved stuff is on TV these days.


Thursday, August 11, 2005
Nighttime, Half Moon Bay.

We drive silently along the highway with the brume hugging the pavement and the headlights reflecting orange, like the start of one of those low-budget horror films. Disembarking on the county beach parking lot, closed to visitors at this hour, for it is very late, past midnight, the fog envelops me completely, and a sharp, cold, small needle-like droplet hits my cheek. "It is raining!" I exclaim to my companion, who laughs and corrects me: "No, it is just the mist."

We walk along the darkened sand, me vainly looking up searching for the faintest trace of starlight, it is new moon and sky-watching conditions would be ideal, for we are in a clearing away from city lights, if it weren't for the wretched mist, which blurs all the surroundings and still reflects orange from the town of Half-Moon Bay already 10 miles north. Up front, the froth of the waves moves capriciously, we turn our flashlight off and in the darkness it looks like the elaborate lace of a ghost's poufy skirt, but still in this blurry darkness it is hard to tell how close you are to the water, and the clammy touch of cold on my now naked feet comes as a surprise.

I search the skies in vain for signs of the Pleiades and Perseus, which will give me the bearings necessary to locate what we've come here to see, but the sky is whitish gray, not a single cloud, just the hazy dispersion of unpolarized light on small water droplets, impossible and imperturbable. "Come, let's walk a bit", says my friend, as there is not much else left to do now, for the silence and the loneliness creeps up on you and engulfs you if you stay still for too long, despite the traces of ancient human presence in the faint smell of dying embers of an abandoned, unseen fire that reaches us sporadically in whiffs, or maybe, even, precisely because of this.

And it is then, that I see them. At every step, the sand sparkles silver under my weight, illuminated, just like those kids' sneakers that light up red when the child runs. Tiny crystals big as sand grains remain momentarily glowing under my footsteps, and after I play and dance delightedly for a bit in the moist fluorescent sand this friend chuckles and says "It is fun, walking behind you, because you leave these little shiny trails...".

And I approach the water again, and swirl the waves with my foot, and see that they too, leave a little lighted imprint of my movement, and the disappointment at the impenetrable sight of the night-sky and its absent stars vanishes immediately. "It must be some kind of algae", he, the Biologist, reflects.

But I smile to myself and think, no, it is here where they are, what we had come to see. The Perseids, the shooting stars debris of Comet Swift-Tuttle, tumbling across the sky every summer, for years and years and years every single August throughout the eons, end up here on this beach. We were just looking in the wrong direction.

Saturday, August 06, 2005
Overheard on ICS channel:

ravaneli(24): dump the guy already, u been partners 30 min!

ravaneli(24): thaz long enough!

Taken out of context, this is pretty funny!

(For those of you who are already letting your minds travel into the gutter, channel 24 is the bughouse channel, and ICS is the Internet Chess Server)

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