Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Bless me, Father. I ate a lizard.

I just finished A Canticle for Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller, Jr., yet another in my recent string of post-apocalyptic novels (not sure that says healthy things about where my mind is these days?). In three acts, the book covers almost one thousand years of "history" after an all-out nuclear (or, as our President would say, "nukular") war almost wipes out humanity. On its surface, the book follows the canonization of Saint Leibowitz, a pre-war scientist whose work to preserve knowledge becomes increasingly mythologized over the centuries, leading to his eventual sainthood. On a deeper level, I think this book is about the seemingly inevitable, cyclical nature of humanity, both in its ability to grow and destroy itself, and I also think this book is about how the distance of time can create Gods from regular people.

That latter theme is one I wrestled with for a long time. When I was growing up, I got into regular arguments with my father about attending his church, an institution that was preaching absolute faith in what could, to my mind, at best be described as allegorical stories and fables. I remember asking him if, a thousand years from now and under the right circumstances, people will be worshipping the Lorax, and if entire holidays will be built around where you can and cannot eat green eggs and ham? Looking back, maybe that wasn't a very fair question, but I was thirteen, and fairness (to others) wasn't very high on my to-do list.

This book was slow at times, but the payoff was worth it. I have decided not to read the "sequel," as I worry it would only detract from my enjoyment of this novel and my respect for the author. Solid A.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Overheard on the train

On the train, going home last night:

"Oh, come on. Let me guess, she has some winning lottery tickets in her purse, too?

- Unidentified, bitter man behind me, speaking after a very attractive woman, wearing very little and carrying a big pizza box, got on the train and asked someone if this train stops at such-and-such street, because that's where her boyfriend lives.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Paying people to rub me

Over the weekend, The Wife and I took advantage of the nice weather to head up to Sonoma for some sun, wine, food, and relaxation. As part of our daytrip, we went to a spa; we have been to this particular spot a couple times before, and have enjoyed our past visits. On this particular occasion, however, several events occurred that gave me pause; I would love to hear any thoughts/ideas on how to handle such things:

  • The Talkative Masseuse: the woman who did my massage would not stop talking. On top of that, it wasn't just chatter; she wanted to have an active conversation about her belief that human society has gone too far, and all of our backs would be better if we still squatted and sat on logs, and how I should quit my job if I can't get a better chair in my office. Ugh. Instead of asking her to stop talking, I took the passive route, reducing my responses to monosyllabic grunts, which did seem to slow her down, if not stop her altogether.

  • Overexposed: it is inescapable that, during a massage, there will be parts of your body not normally shown to strangers that will be, if not outright exposed, at best very thinly veiled. I am not sure what this says about my self-esteem and/or modesty, but when there's a lot of Brendon showing, I normally feel sorry for the masseuse, rather than self-conscious. This time, based on both the breeze and the lack of fabric I was feeling, there were definite draping issues. I didn't adjust the sheet, and neither did she; I wondered if it was one of those situations where adjusting the sheet would only have served to call more attention to it, and embarrass both of us, and if we both ignored it, we could both pretend not to notice it? Tough call.

  • Tipping: I always get a little anxious about tipping a masseuse, in part because I am not sure how to calculate the tip. Are you tipping based on time, based on what type of therapy you choose, or is it supposed to be a straight percentage of the overall cost, like a waiter? I have always gone the waiter route, say 15%-20% of the total cost of the treatment before tax, and it looks like most tipping guides agree with me. Given that no waiter has ever rubbed me, I figured it would be more, but that again may say more about me than the industry norms.
I should note that none of what is described above was really unpleasant or bad enough to make me reconsider going back; in fairness, I should also say that the massage itself was one of the best I have ever received, and I guess the chatter was worth the lack of pain today. Next time: bring the iPod.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

TK421, why aren't you in my closet?

When your spouse tells you that you will be attending a wedding for one of his/her co-workers, I imagine your response is similar to mine: ugh. But when The Wife told me that we will be attending the upcoming wedding of a particular co-worker, I may have actually giggled with delight. Here's why:

This particular co-worker is marrying a nice young man...who happens to belong to the Golden Gate Garrison of the 501st Legion (the fighting 501st!), the self-billed "definitive Imperial costuming organization." I have been told that, although there may not be any Stormtroopers at the actual wedding (which there should be, if this is going to be a recognized union within the Empire), I can expect to see at least a small attachment make an appearance at the reception. You know what this means: pictures of me with Stormtroopers. Even as I am typing this, I am giggling again.

I got so exicited that I had a fleeting thought about building my own costume and enlisting...but that dream lasted about five minutes. Check out this site for instructions on building your own Stormtrooper suit. The short version: this is a long, expensive, time-consuming and potentially dangerous process that requires a LOT of money and a LOT of commitment. Of the voluminous materials needed to build a suit of armor, the only one I own is "the dream," and even that can get expensive.

UPDATE (5-21-07): The 501st made an appearance at the Bay To Breakers 12K yesterday, and a local station posted some footage of them (and others) here. Very cool!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

All the way home

I would be shocked if I am the first person to bring this up, but apparently introductions may be in order.

Please meet...

You two have a lot in common, and should be making a lot of money together. Discuss.