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08/01 Direct Link
It was good of them, I thought, to poison the pond. They say it keeps the algae out, and it eliminates that fishy smell caused by the fish that used to live there.

The surface is calm; unspoiled by ducks or vicious hissing geese. Somehow it looks more natural this way.

The tiny children of the neighborhood, who are not born expecting to find their world pre-poisoned, crawl over to play and splash each other. The older folks gather, throwing bread in the pond to watch it bubble and dissolve.

The poisoned pond is the center of our community.

08/02 Direct Link
Ian and I were walking through the park on our lunch break when we saw some kids gathered around a picnic table. They were sewing tomatoes inside of colored felt.

Ian demanded to know what they were doing.

"We are leaving these here as gifts for time-travelers who may visit our park," said the tall one.

Instinctively, Ian and I picked up the largest rocks we could find and started hurling them at the group. Admittedly, neither of us understood Surrealism, but we knew that we hated the Surrealist Club. They scattered and fled as we taunted them, laughing.

08/03 Direct Link
I stood still for a moment, watching them run.

"Ian," I said, "explain Surrealism to me, would you?"

Ian knew everything.

"Don't tell me you're going soft on them now," he said. "They devote their spare time to a hollow art form and they were in our lunch spot. That's all you need to know."

"Yeah," I said, "but did you see that girl with the striped sock?"

Before I had started throwing rocks at her, I noticed she was working with the blue felt. I walked over to inspect her work, which was addressed to "Mme. Simone de Beauvoir."

08/04 Direct Link
TEENAGE CLEVERNESS UNLEASHED!

We were taking a trip to see this well-known bakery, and my Aunt asked me if I liked bread. Sure, I said, I probably liked a good loaf more than the average person.

A second later I realized that could be taken two different ways, and I announced that I meant them both.

My Aunt said that was a terrible thing to say, and most people were very nice if you got to know them, but for the rest of the day I looked around and noticed that everyone I saw looked doughy and under-done.

08/05 Direct Link
Is there such a thing as too much rotini? Tonight I discovered that yes, there is.

I paid for this knowledge with my discomfort, and I wish I could write enough words, and write them well enough, to pass on this knowledge to you. Unfortunately, like most lessons, this is probably one you'll have to learn for yourself. If we could learn from each other's mistakes more effectively, our lives might not be such awkward disasters.

Anyway, get yourself a mess of rotini and go to town. Now repeat with every other shape of pasta. You're growing as a person!

08/06 Direct Link
Just to explain, Ian can give a perfect encyclopedia definition of Surrealism, but he doesn't really understand it. I didn't know that when I asked him to explain it to me, and it is why, I think, he deflected my question.

At best people treated the Surrealist Club with a disdainful tolerance while they were around, but now we sort of miss them. Whether they disbanded because of abuse from benighted oafs like us or because of some internal struggle I'm still not sure, but while they were operating in the park they made life here a little more colorful.

08/07 Direct Link
I am a firm believer in finding small things on my desk and putting them in my mouth to find out whether or not they are treats.

Often they are small pieces of plastic or lint, and when I am unable to identify them as such on sight, a simple check for flavor and texture helps me to reveal the truth. It's important!

Less often they are completely unidentifiable by any method, and I am forced to spit them out and say goodbye to what might have been either a bit of ancient popcorn or a disgusting piece of filth.

08/08 Direct Link
Recently there has been a shift in my language.

At work I used to say "you," as in "you have a problem with the server," but now "you" has become "we."

I hear myself saying "we," and it sounds wrong. Have I really become a part of this group?

I have absorbed the office lingo (I don't say that equipment is "broken," I say that it is "bonkers," which is not something I would normally say), and I've joined the water club. I guess I'm in the family now. Our server is bonkers, and I guess that's not so terrible.

08/09 Direct Link
When you think about it, eight hours seems like a long time to be asleep. Why do we need to sleep for a third of a day? Evolutionarily speaking, this puts us in danger of becoming the unwitting victims of bobcat attacks, so we'd better have a good reason for doing it.

Huston Smith says when we are asleep we're actually communing with the divine, and we need to maintain that connection to stay sane. But if that's true, why do I spend my sleep-time dreaming about nonsense and monsters? WHY, huh?

I am a man searching for answers.

08/10 Direct Link
I knew better than to ask her about the other guys she spent her time with. Her one rule was never to have a serious discussion about anything.

She seemed content to spend almost every weekend with me, and I liked to pretend this implied a certain level of commitment on her part, but I knew it wasn't true.

One of these other guys would sweep her off her feet and away from me forever some day. This made me treasure the time I had with her, but it also made me sad and miserable, even when we were together.

08/11 Direct Link
Sometimes in a quiet, comfortable moment, I would ask her a question to prompt some measure of introspection on her part. Each time her reaction was instant and powerful revulsion, and she told me to stop being "weird."

Getting her drunk didn't change anything, nor did asking my questions while she was talking in her sleep.

It wasn't that she lacked an inner life, it was just that she was terrified of sharing it with anyone. I desperately wanted her to know that she could trust me; that I wouldn't hurt her, even though ultimately that's exactly what I did.

08/12 Direct Link
I KNOW VERY WELL HOW I GOT MY NAME

A Chinese friend once told me:

Every year for the Chinese New Year my whole family would get together to make dumplings. We all got involved, sat around the table, talked and laughed, and then ate the delicious dumplings.

Now we can get dumplings in any restaurant whenever we want. We can buy them frozen in the supermarket. I sometimes eat them as a snack! It's nice and convenient, but they are no longer special. What is special any more?

For some reason, I think about this story almost every day.

08/13 Direct Link
I have my theme song, my logo, my catch phrase, and I am in the top ten. Polls show that I am an important person. I am a celeb! I am an instant classic.

I mostly stay locked in my bedroom, my webcam follows my every move, and I expect that you are watching. I expect that you are reading what I write.

We can't really have a discussion, because just as I have my own opinions, I have my own facts, and mine are more accurate than yours. Your stubbornness is puzzling to me, sometimes.

Back to me, though...

08/14 Direct Link
Yes, welcome to Solipsism Club.

You know, way back when, clubs and societies were all the rage. There was a club for everything, and people got together (in person!) to share their various enthusiasms.

They followed rules of order about who could speak and for how long, they shared responsibility for the direction of the club, and underlying it all was a shared notion of common decency and community. Records of the time show that inter-society shootouts were rare.

Some day the world will be mended and they will become popular again. Which club do you want to join?

08/15 Direct Link
Some day I will be made to pay for the way I sit in a chair.

Mostly I fold my left foot under my right knee with the bottom half of my body perpendicular to the keyboard, and the upper part twisted to face it. Also, I sit a foot away from the computer, so I have to fold myself forward to type anything.

While I sit like this there is usually music playing, so I twist and shake and try to gyrate, and no joint or vertebra is spared.

It isn't even comfortable, I just think it looks cool.

08/16 Direct Link
Of course, I meant intra-society shootouts above, not inter-society, although both are interesting to think about.

Imagine the Albany Gentlemens' Beard Society taking on the Capital District Mustache Club, for instance, over a perceived slight.

Or the Ladies' Fruit Crumble Appreciation Society, the Pandowdy League, the Brown Betty Bunch, and the Cobbler Crew throwing down to see who will rule the regional dessert scene. (Some of those actually sound pretty tough, and I actually forgot to mention Grunt Club, which has a truly vicious reputation.)

(I did use a thesaurus for this one, in case you were wondering.)

08/17 Direct Link
It was actually kind of cool outside today, so I told my friend he might want to put on a light jacket.

"Yes, mother," he sneered, and walked out in his T-shirt.

Earlier in the week I stopped a different friend from making an unwise purchase.

"Look here, on the lid," I said, "this jam went bad two months ago!"

My friend said it looked like it would have been really tasty jam, gave me a bad look, and put it back on the shelf.

Next time I will express my affection by giving them kicks in the shins.

08/18 Direct Link
I was going to buy some of those crunchy rice crackers, but I put them back because they reminded me too much of her.

After saving my friend from that jam disaster, I realized that jam also reminded me of her, and so did everything else, so I went back to get the crackers.

I can make an association between her and absolutely any animal, vegetable, or mineral, except for the ones that remind me of someone else. The only thing I can do is to just keep on livin', man. Just keep on crunchin' those rice crackers, you know?

08/19 Direct Link
Bad news from the world of science today -- NASA's JPL says the universe will expand forever. Eventually it will run out of energy, and everything everywhere will be cold, dark and lifeless.

Who's responsible for the structure of reality? I hate to play the blame game with you, fella, but it seems you sort of screwed the pooch in this matter.

Our investment of time and effort in this universe has been meaningless! I'm having a fifty-gallon drum of tequila delivered to my house and I'm going to spend the rest of my life on my couch in protest.

08/20 Direct Link
"Yes, well, look, when I talk about love, I mean love. It's not the same thing as hanging around one specific person because you don't like going to the movies by yourself."

"Well what do you think I mean? Just because I'm not a poet who worships the moon do you think I don't have real human feelings? I don't just use 'love' as a code word for 'horny', despite what you may think. When I say that I love her, I mean that I love her, in the most selfless and... loving way possible."

"I know, man. ... I know."

08/21 Direct Link
The first immigrants to the United States reported that the supernatural beings who lived in their homeland were unable to survive the sea voyage to the New World.

Life here was difficult but refreshingly different. Still, they felt the loss of the little men who mended their shoes and churned their butter at night; the vampire melons and mischievous pixies added some spice to what might have been a dull existence.

I can confirm that such creatures do not exist here. Now, teenagers in Romania stab each other for American sneakers and they're tripping over each other for our hamburgers.

08/22 Direct Link
YOUNG LADIES

between the ages of twelve and twenty-nine!

You, too, can become an

UNDEAD ABOMINATION,

abhorrent in the eyes of

GOD AND MAN!

Mysterious powers await you!

Reports indicate mysterious eyes and pale, porcelain-like skin among them.

If hunger for the blood of the living becomes difficult to ignore, consult your doctor.

Renounce God, stab a crucifix with a sword, and drink the blood that comes out of it if you don't feel like waiting around for a

SEXY SPARKLY VAMPIRE MAN

to bite you

AS IF HE WOULD --

you are not as hot as you think.

08/23 Direct Link
I'm a little bit afraid of turning into a curmudgeon, especially when I look back and read what I have written here. Sometimes I am genuinely surprised and alarmed.

What's the remedy? I have tried petting more dogs for a start, and giving money to the homeless guys in the park, even when I can't really afford it. I could put a dollar in the "don't jar" whenever I am curmudgeonly in thought or deed. Do they still make hair shirts?

(This is just one of my little projects -- I'll get bored and give it up in a few minutes.)

08/24 Direct Link
There's a cricket out there, man, he's crickin' out a rhythm like, crik! crik!

You hear that, cat? You hear the chops on that hip crazy jive cricket?

Is that the North American Brown Reticulated Cricket or... what do you think?

crik!

I just can't get enough of this, dig that sound, that warm, crikky tone he's getting out of those crazy crikkers, man, he's just making those other crickets look crikked-out down there tonight.

crik!

Yeah, crik it up you jumpin' cricket!

I gotta get down there and get some of this on my reel-to-reel, man.

08/25 Direct Link
I'm still looking for a real job. I think I have an interview later next week, but it is in the middle of Jerkwater, U.S.A.

For the past few hours I've been researching this place online. It seems to be a town without a Chinese restaurant, a bowling alley, or a bar of any kind. (Is that even possible?)

From the looks of it, there are two fun things to do there:

* Go to church
* Join a jug band

(There is a long string of cuss words here, but they would take me over my 100-word limit.)

08/26 Direct Link
I just watched one of those movies in which a little plastic alien puppet is chasing everyone around, making unearthly screeches as it goes.

Earlier I'd heard an interview with a person who has autism, and she said she was surprised to find that her friends changed their facial expressions to mirror the expressions of the people on TV or in movies. I had never noticed that before.

So this little critter is running around tearing up the place, spilling fake blood everywhere, and the people are terrified and screaming aaah, shoot it, and I was grinning the whole time.

08/27 Direct Link
If I like you enough to remember your birthday, I'll make your birthday card myself. The sentiments on the cards you find in the store are sometimes chillingly bad.

[There's an exasperated cow on the front, and on the inside it says have an UDDERLY delightful birthday]

If I could learn how to draw or paint it would be nice, but as it is I just doodle something personal and send it out, and I haven't been kicked for it yet.

[The grim reaper on the front, and BOO you are almost old enough to be dead on the inside]
08/28 Direct Link
I sometimes have dreams about the future.

(Really, this is true.)

The problem is that they never make sense until the thing they have predicted has already happened. This means it is hard to prove, and that it is a fairly useless ability.

Just now for some reason I remembered a dream I had a long time ago about two people who were being separated. One of them was standing on top of a hill, and the other was being lifted into the air, and it was important that they help each other, but they were strangers.

Who are they?

08/29 Direct Link
When I first set eyes on the great Corning Tower,
The year was aught-seven, and life it was fine,
Today I am packing my meager belongings
and leaving to work in a Jerkwater Mine.

Fare thee well, fare thee well,
Sweet ladies of Al-bany,
I do hate to leave you, I wish I could stay,
But bad times compel me to move far away.

Hep-ho, get along, I'm heading out East, lads,
Come load up these boxes and drink up my wine,
It's arrah go on, I'm goin' to Massachusey,
I'm leaving my home for a Jerkwater Mine.

08/30 Direct Link
Just pretend you are Woody Guthrie when you sing that song, and you'll be fine. You know, noodle around on C, F, and G, and maybe do a yodeling interlude.

I have been miserable lately thinking about having to leave Albany. It isn't a sure thing yet, but it is my policy to take every opportunity to be miserable.

I have a cool apartment in the middle of the falafel district, right next door to a wood-fired organic bakery that makes vegan pizza, and... why do ninety percent of my reasons for wanting to stay here revolve around food?

08/31 Direct Link
My new dumpling factory has moved into the old boathouse. With my cutting-edge equipment I can make three million dumplings in an hour.

My dumplings are filled with all-natural ingredients, but somehow in the process of making them we produce lots of toxic waste, which we dump into the neighborhood pond. Community activists say we are creating two different kinds of pollution. What do they mean?

(See, I brought it around full-circle style so I can pretend I had a theme this month. The theme has been me. It has been real. It has been intensely personal.)