This is Zach's personal blog. If you're looking for his movies, please click here. Otherwise, have fun!

Thursday, October 31, 2002

Happy All Hallows Eve, as oh-so-clevah folks like me are wont to say.

Wednesday, October 30, 2002

Mark my words, we're short on turds. When I was in London for a theater program in college, we saw many plays at the National Theatre; one of them was Square Rounds by Tony Harrison (funny how you can remember the bad ones best). It was a play in rhymed couplets about World War One, or to be precise, about the weaponry of World War One and how England's mastery of the water closet may have made it difficult to harvest a prime component of explosives and gas--i.e. solid excrement. Yes, it was literally a play about shit.

I could not for the life of me figure out why on earth anyone would produce, perform, or attend a play about shit.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to clean up after the dog, refill the cat litter, and change some diapers before I go to bed.

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

I wonder if the percentage of misanthropes is higher in the blogging community than the world at large?
Plbt, somebody wrote about 24 before I did. Ah well. Can't scoop 'em every day.

And I love Enterprise.
High drama! Fox TV's show "24" had its season premiere tonight. I've never watched it--and didn't tonight, either--but I've always thought it was a cool concept. Every episode unfolds in real time, one hour after the other, until by the end of 24 episodes you've been through a full 24 hours. Last year was the first season, and I'm told the crises were so severe that most of the characters stayed awake for the whole day.

I wonder if they picked up exactly where they left off, and filmed a bunch of episodes of Kiefer Sutherland sleeping, getting up to use the john, cursing himself for working too hard, sleeping again...
Those people who say "It's so much easier with two kids than one" should be sent to the special hell right alongside folks who drive too slow in the fast lane.

Monday, October 28, 2002

Remember about those jobs I hated? Periodically I get calls from theaters wondering if I'm available to hang a light, build a set, et cetera, et cetera.

It is so satisfying to say, "I'm retired."

It isn't quite so satisfying to stop myself from saying, "And I wouldn't work in tech theater again for a thousand dollars an hour, so don't ever call me again unless you want to pay me more than that."

But I do manage to stop myself, even if they call at ten o'clock at night, when my kids and wife are trying to sleep.

(I shoulda said it...)
That entry would be a lot more interesting without the final word of the fourth sentence.
Be Your Own Boss! Yeah, I long ago reconciled myself to not being the breadwinner. And, yeah, all the paying jobs I've had were only "paying" in the broadest sense of the word. And, yeah, I hated most of them, even the ones that weren't legal temping. And, yeah, taking care of the kids is the most rewarding job I've ever had.

Still, it's kind of depressing when the first check you've seen in months with your own name on it is only forty dollars... and it's just a rebate check for some software you bought a while back.

Sunday, October 27, 2002

Oh, yeah, and the clever boldfaced title was supposed to be: About a Book.
A summation of my last post that didn't happen because of VBScript errors:

My mother, when she visited last weekend to look after the kids, brought along a copy of Nick Hornby's How to be Good. I read it this afternoon and it was very good but I didn't understand the last sentence. Help, please.

(The post was a little better written than that originally.)
I had a post, but Blogger lost it.

Saturday, October 26, 2002

Breathe. I suppose at some point I should write about the arrest of the alleged snipers, being that I was right here at the center of the mess and all.

I'd love to be full of bravado and say "Oh, I was never frightened, I knew they'd be caught" but the truth is, I was pretty well terrified. I knew, certainly, that many more people died from other causes in those 22 days... but the sheer randomness of the shootings, and how unusual they were, really did a number on my rational side.

Naturally, it wasn't a white van or truck. Nor were the killers shooting from where I was looking out for them (the top of a building, behind a tree, et cetera). So all the "preventive" measures I took were for naught anyway, except possibly the one about not gassing up near the interstate.

I think I'm most glad that Halloween will happen as usual.

"Walk in the sun, Washington..."

Friday, October 25, 2002

More adventures in parenting. So today we went straight from picking K up at work to eating dinner at Applebees (sorry, Constant Readers who have better taste in restaurants, that's the best we can do). Throughout the ride there--it was a spur-of-the-moment thing, understand--I'm getting the nagging feeling that I've forgotten something.

When we arrive, and sit down in the booth, the aroma we smell is not that of food--and that's when it hits me: the diaper bag.

Yes, they both took advantage of the situation. So off I walked to the CVS next door (where I found only JUMBO packages of diapers) and then back into the bathroom. Incidentally, why are all changing tables in restaurants (at least those few that are in the men's rooms) designed for midgets? How am I supposed to change a baby that hangs out at knee-height?
Narapoia... the fear that you're following someone. Now I know someone's talking about me.

It must be well-hidden, though, because if I told my friends I was egocentric, they'd all fall down laughing. Self-piteous, yes. Fishing for compliments, sure. Egocentric? That's like saying Mike Tyson teaches anger-management classes.

If only they knew.

And on another note, E HAS THE BEST SMILE!!!! :):):) Ahem.

Thursday, October 24, 2002

This was good for a chuckle:


My thought was correct. It had nothing to do with me.

I think narcissism is a hell of a lot better than what I have, which is... what would you call it... grandiosity? The thought that when anyone makes an elliptical comment, they're referring to me? It's not paranoia, because it applies to complimentary statements as well. It's a hellish delusion to have, running around convinced that the whole world has an opinion about you.

They don't... do they?

Anyway, my curiosity is satisfied. And I also feel very small. And there's no one to blame but me, so don't feel guilty. (Not that anyone would, anyway.)

Could I be more unclear...?

This is kind of an apology, by the way. I should mind my own damn business.

Wednesday, October 23, 2002

About nothing, really. Forget I mentioned it. I'm always curious when people delete things.
Thanks to Molly for turning us here at Rooster Spice on to The Raving Atheist.

Still and all, I have to disagree with one of his Basic Assumptions, namely the proposition that atheism is a "provable" religious theory. (In fairness, this isn't an Assumption per se, but a sentence within an explication of an Assumption--say that five times fast.) If you can prove that atheism is true, I'd love to see that proof. It would make my life much easier when the Jehovah's Witnesses come knocking at my door.

I mean, come on, I'm an atheist myself, but I would never argue that atheism is "provable"; just that there is no evidence that there is a God. (Potatoes shaped like the Virgin Mary are not evidence.)

Monday, October 21, 2002

I guess there's no surreptitious conversation happening after all. Pity.
Computer terms get my motor runnin'. I found out today that you can use an NSData object as a wrapper for any C byte buffer, and I also made closer strides to understanding the NSTask architechture, where you can run another program from within your application. The question is, do I use NSTask, or re-write to cut out "main(argc, argv)" entirely and use the NSData wrapper around both the .txt and .pdb file buffers? And as for parsing the Users file to get at the appropriate folder names... the mind boggles. It depends on whether I go straight MVC or document based, I guess.

Wait a minute... didn't you major in Performing Arts?

Sunday, October 20, 2002

Remember that the fantasy is always better than the truth...

I wish I wish I knew what it meant.

(oh, shut up, Squelch, it's got nothing to do with you...)
The Map Turned Upside Down. We went to a wedding yesterday. The groom was a friend of ours--I'll call him "Tony," because that's his name--and what with him and his now-wife both being Catholic, the ceremony was well over an hour long. Full Mass and everything.

It was somewhat more lengthy than my own wedding, where K's uncle's rendition of "Ave Maria" was longer than the entire rest of the ceremony and some of my friends missed the whole thing because they arrived ten minutes late. (I guess they were Catholic, too.) I think our ceremony was so short because the minister was late for a bingo game or something.

As an atheist (please don't take out a fatwa on me, Jerry Falwell!) it was simultaneously unnerving and liberating to not join in on the "Thanks be to God"s and "And also with you"s. It was also discouraging to find out that the only way to love is by loving God. (Man, if I had known that I woulda gotten a cheaper engagement ring!)

God was not with whoever wrote the directions from the church to the reception--they said to go north on a certain route when they meant south. The newlyweds arrived before many of the guests. Not quite the welcome they were hoping for, I think.

Friday, October 18, 2002

All politics is local. Bang! Okay, what's he really trying to say?

And on another political note, I fully expect to hear the war drums start beating against North Korea, since they're on the Axis of Really Really Evil and they have nukes. Well? Anyone? Bueller?

Oh, right... our president won't bother North Korea, because it was one of the few countries Poppy didn't invade...
Okay, now the permalinks are really fixed. Argh!

Thursday, October 17, 2002

Argh! Just found out my permalinks were all mucked up--no wonder no one's been using them. They should be fixed now, and no longer pointing to September and only September.
Thanks for cheering me up. There is a lovely philosophical entry on Anti-Linear Brain at the moment about the concept of being thrilled. (Tuesday October 15th entry, with the fortune cookie... not archived yet so I can't do much better.)

I remember the best thrill in my entire life happened eleven years to the day of that entry, coincidentally enough. That was K's and my first kiss. It still thrills, thinking about it...

There is nothing like that first flush of love: the jumpy, queasy feeling in your stomach; the wondering what will happen next; the joy of knowing someone feels the same way about you.

And another thrill happened that same date, but just this year, two days ago: I got E to laugh for the first time. I picked her up and bounced her while K drew her bath, and for some reason she thought that was funnier than Sid Caesar. It was great, that little newborn laugh. Still not the same kind of thrill, I grant you.

I like knowing that someone who loves me is always there for me, will always want to hug or kiss me, will smile at me when I come home, or will always want to cuddle. But is there a way to recapture that old thrill, when everything was new and unknown? Even if I don't want it, I have to admit--not knowing what to expect was thrilling. Alongside the new puppy love was the angst, self-doubt, worry--it all fits together. Can you have the thrill without the worry?

We will never leave each other--I know that like some folks know that Jesus saves (Satan spends). But we'll also never be nineteen and twenty, living in the same dorm, discovering ourselves and each other day by day... what a beautiful time.
Tense... maybe it's the tetanus booster. Does anyone else feel the need for personal alone time? Where if one more person clings to you, you'll scream? Where a few moments before bed away from the family are, despite the seeming callousness of it, a necessity in order to keep your sanity, even if it robs your spouse of cuddle time?

And then what if cuddle time is what your spouse needs to stay sane?

Note to self: advise your friend, whose wedding is this weekend, that the key to a successful marriage is negotiation.

Then remind yourself of the same thing...
Area Residents Showing Signs of Stress

And once again, the Post scoops the competition and reports on what OTHER papers would deride as "too obvious"!

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

The Umbrella Stand has dropped me from the REAL Blogs of Note but put me in the "smallprint." I wonder what it means. Maybe I'll write and ask... naaaahh...

Serial driver.

I had a big scare today. I took E and D to Target to get a few things. It was only nine or so in the morning and the shopping center was pretty deserted. You have to understand, of course, that even for supremely rational folks like me, getting gas or going to a shopping center is a somewhat uneasy experience. Not because of the likelihood of getting shot by this workaday sniper, but because of the sheer randomness.

Anyway, when we got there, I saw neither a solitary white cargo van nor a white box truck, both of which have been described as leaving the scenes of the murders.

I saw a white cargo van with a box-truck-like trailer attached. It even had pale lettering on the side of the box, just as described.

Big deal, you say. But wait a minute. This would be a somewhat likely explanation for the conflicting reports. Either the sniper is using two different vehicles, or the witnesses saw an unfamiliar thing and fixed it in their minds as something more familiar--say, a box truck if they saw it from behind, or a van if they saw it from the front. Before you throw up your hands (and why were you eating your hands to begin with?), remember that in the heat of a moment, memory becomes very unreliable. That's why eyewitness testimony is never as damning as forensic evidence.

In any case, being the good, cautious citizen that I am, I circled the vehicles and committed both their tags to memory, then went and found a parking spot. (I looked for a pen with which to write the numbers on my hand in case I was taken out--damn it, if I had to die at least I could help the cops--but I couldn't find one, so my posthumous heroism would not be.) I took D and E out and put them in the stroller as quickly as I could, then went into the store, never more conscious of the steep, high, tree-filled embankment next to the store and directly behind me, where the van and the trailer were parked.

That wasn't the scary experience, though.

That was when we were on our way home. I was in the left lane, preparing to turn onto my street and going maybe fifty miles per hour. When suddenly, the prototypical Old Man in a Buick decides to turn into my lane from another street. Except he's going only twenty miles an hour, and OK, he's just stopping at the divided highway, he'll let me go, oh no he won't, he's continuing to drive like I'M NOT EVEN HERE, OH SHIT, LEAN ON THE BRAKE AND THE HORN, THERE'S PEOPLE BEHIND ME, PLEASE PLEASE DON'T REAR-END--

It was then I was forcefully reminded how much more likely a traffic accident is than a shot in the back. (We didn't get hit, but The Old Man in the Buick never noticed the human drama playing out behind him. Or my horn, for that matter.)

Monday, October 14, 2002


Worry not, gentle reader, everything is fine. No one in my family has been shot by the sniper, and no one I know has been shipped to Iraq, either. Things have been quiet simply because I've discovered a new hobby.

Yes, Squelch the lapsed computer science minor has re-discovered programming! And it's so much easier in Mac OS X. I love it! I'm currently, as an exercise, working on an implementation of John Conway's Game of Life. Remember that one from computer camp? (Yes, I went to computer camp.)

Excuse me, Squelch, your geek is showing. Whoops! How embarassing.

Friday, October 11, 2002

This actually happened to me. K doesn't believe me, though.

Thursday, October 10, 2002

I'm glad, don't get me wrong. But I wonder why Rooster Spice is cool. (Check the left side of the page.)

Hey, I'll take it! Thanks for noticing.
Why don't they love me? There was another shooting last night in Northern Virginia. That's where I was for band practice. Technically, I was in a different place altogether, but when the police are looking for a white minivan that the shooters allegedly drove, and you're driving a white minivan, Northern Virginia suddenly seems like a very tiny area.

Several cops passed as I was driving home, most slowing down to examine my Chevy Venture closer. I saw one white van pulled over. But they never stopped me.

I was slightly hurt.

Monday, October 07, 2002

Heard at the library.

Squelch: Hi, I'd like to renew a book, please.
Clerk: Do you have it with you?
Squelch: I'm afraid not. I was just passing by.
Clerk: We need the book in order to renew it. Sorry.
Squelch: Ah. That's okay. (Starts to go.)
Clerk: You can renew them over the internet.
Squelch: Yes, I know. That's why I figured you wouldn't need the book--
Clerk: If you renew it over the internet you don't need the book.
Squelch: But you do if you bring it to the counter?
Clerk: Yes.
Squelch: (Pause.) You know that there are internet terminals right here in the library, right?
Clerk: Yes.
Squelch: And, in fact, you don't even have a card catalog anymore, just computers that access the catalog online?
Clerk: Yes.
Squelch: And I could log into one of those computers and renew my books myself, right here?
Clerk: Yes...
Squelch: But you can't do it at the counter unless I have the book with me.
Clerk: No.
Squelch: (Nods.) Well. Glad we cleared that up.
Clerk: Have a nice day, sir.
Squelch: You too.

Screw the statistics!

I pride myself on having rational responses to crises--or at least knowing when my responses aren't rational. For instance (though it didn't stop me from running to Silver Spring to rescue K), I knew that even after 9/11, the chances of being killed by terrorists was far less than being killed in a car accident.

Nevertheless, with these shootings happening in my proverbial backyard, a little paranoia is probably healthy.

I'm scared. There are no leads on this bastard. How can we get any? I hope, at least, it's just one nut. If it's two, as some of the early reports had it, then it's a conspiracy, and anyone who could convince someone else to join him in shooting innocent people is twice as dangerous.

D's afternoon preschool is cancelled. I hope we're safe in our home.

Sunday, October 06, 2002

Out Parading.

K and I watched A Hard Day's Night last night in a "very clean" DVD copy (I had bought it on Friday--there was no way I could resist once I saw it). K had never seen it before, and I was a little nervous that maybe she wouldn't like it, or wouldn't get it... she likes the Beatles, but not nearly as much as me. (My admiration of the Beatles is about on par with my lack of admiration of myself, so you get the idea.)

To my surprise, she was laughing out loud, and more often than I was the first time I saw it. So I guess I'll keep her.

It's somewhat embarrassing for such a rabid Beatles fan as myself, but I actually didn't see the movie 'til last year when it was re-released. I got a lot of grief about that from an old friend (you know who you are). But that does mean I'm one of the few people of my generation who saw it first in a theater.

Beatles trivia question for the day: what is the last Beatles song that features harmonica? (Turn this blog upside down for the answer.)
How the tree got into outer space is left as an exercise for the reader.
I'm happy! What the hell happened? It's such a strange, unnerving feeling. I don't quite know what to do when I'm actually in a Good Mood. Suggestions?

Saturday, October 05, 2002

No one can hear you scream... or laugh, or hiccup, or...

Usually on Friday nights I have band practice (rock 'n' marching, baby!) but yesterday it was a no-go, and so K sucked me into the new show from Joss Whedon (creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Firefly. It's a science fiction adventure story, in a far future where people zip from planet to planet, kind of an anti-Star Trek.

It has potential as a series, but for me, the most interesting and satisfying thing about it is that when you're out in space there are no sound effects. This is the only television series I've seen that handles the lack of sound in outer space accurately! Sound waves cannot be transmitted through the vacuum of space. If something explodes you wouldn't hear a bang. (If a tree falls in outer space, it doesn't make a sound.)

It was somewhat disconcerting at first, but boy, was it refreshing. I can only think of one other work of science fiction that did this, and that's 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Friday, October 04, 2002

Oh, shit! Someone went searching on Google for my father's name and wound up here. I'm suddenly hoping I never wrote about those parties I threw when he was away on business.
Everyone should use the word "Ahoy" in normal conversation. Did you know that Alexander Graham Bell suggested "Ahoy" as the preferred word with which to answer the telephone?

Thursday, October 03, 2002

Why do only the entries where I lay bare my depression in the worst possible way get responses from people?

(Nonetheless, thank you, Jen.)

I'd institute a comment system, but facing the zeros every day would be even more depressing than my entries.
The horror, the horror! (Laugh track.) Ahoy. So today there was a major tragedy here at chez Squelch. It sent us into paroxysms of fear, pain, weeping and wailing and so forth and so on. In fact, it may destroy our marriage, drive K to suicide, and send me to the loony bin (I hear St. Elizabeth's has nice beds and damn could I use a new pillow).

The tragedy? The new baby in the television show Friends is named "E."

But please know that we thought of the name before this fictional baby was born! And we don't even watch Friends! K had simply turned it on while I was out buying diapers! I mean, sure, back when we lived in Hyattsville with Doug our life seemed like a sitcom (and we would joke that people who came to visit were "crossovers" to boost our ratings), but today, we're strictly a costume drama on Masterpiece Theatre! (Excuse me, that's Exxon-Mobil Masterpiece Theatre now.)

Wednesday, October 02, 2002

Today my adventures included fixing the dryer hose, cleaning dog shit off my shoes, figuring out whether to give D lunch or trust that he had a huge snack at nursery school. Not necessarily in that order.

And now, I sit here with a very awake E in my arms, typing this blog.

Wouldn't it be neat if I could use this blog to describe everything that I'm doing in real time? Of course, I don't have a laptop, so it would go something like this: "I'm sitting at my desk, typing this blog. Now, I'm sitting at my desk typing this blog. I wonder why nothing interesting is happening? Now I'm still sitting at my desk, typing this blog..."

E smiles far more than D did at this age. I wonder if D would have smiled more if he had been able to see. Or maybe it's just temperament. She has a wonderful smile, though. D has K's smile, and while that's a wonderful smile, too, I think E has mine. Which is nice. Of all the physical things about me, my smile may be the only thing I actually like.
Wow! A blog on the Supreme Court of the United States. I may well be checking there a bit.

Tuesday, October 01, 2002

About twenty minutes ago.

So, I'm watering K's plants in the back yard, one of which is a hanging spider plant type thing in a pot about six inches in diameter. I'm about to pour when I notice something furry inside the plant.

Being a coward, I call K over. We gawk for a moment, and K tips the plant toward her for a better look.

The furball moves. "Oh, shit!" I cry.

"Hello, little guy," says K; the furball was in fact a featherball, a small bird who is now poking his head up, blinking like an infant awoken from a pleasant nap.

Suddenly present of mind, I say, "Camera." And immediately (I guess it was shutter-shy) the bird disappears, flapping away into the trees.

God, that would have been a beautiful shot. What a great way to end the day.
Clarence, you're a very wise man, you fucker. :)
Ack, it's time to cry again. What a worthless, talentless, piece-of-junk asshole I am. What a motherfucking dickhead I have become and what an incredible number of dreams have wound up discarded around me on the trash heap of life. What is wrong with me that I need this affirmation? Why am I so envious? When will I love myself as much as (I assume, I hope) others love me, and indeed I love others? No, screw all that; why haven't I achieved what I set out to do in life? What happened to the eighth grader who, the night after he acted in his first play, lay in bed and said "This is what I want to do with my life."

(Are you wondering what brought all this on? Take a guess.)

Happy October, if there are any of you left reading.

Yesterday was a bad day, but then Mondays always are. As I've explained before, D goes to two different schools on Mondays, and is usually pretty grumpy by the time he gets home. Yesterday, however, E was, too, so for at least an hour (I think) life was screaming and whining and throwing things...

Today was better. D's napping now (not a surprise since he awoke at 5 A.M.) and E napped most of the day. Now I just have to make dinner.

What a bore this must be to all of you. Sorry. If you want entertainment, go watch Buffy tonight.

This blog is just therapy for me anyway, but at the moment, the therapist is yawning and dropping its notebook, saying "I don't have time for you; take two Zoloft and call me in the morning."