Thursday, August 28, 2003
This time, it's creepy.
Exactly two weeks after the U.S. East coast experienced a major blackout, the lights went out in London and other parts of England. Authorities in the U.K. say they don't believe sabotage was involved. You know what I think? It's either:
- all the hot weather the globe has been experiencing his summer, with air conditioning taxing power grids
- a convenient distraction from the Middle East crisis, or
Tuesday, August 26, 2003
"What's next? Is there going to be a salmon tax to pay for literacy programs?"
-- Robert Nelson, president and chief executive officer of the National Coffee Association, in response to a proposed local Seattle "espresso tax" that would tack 10 cents onto the price of "any beverage prepared for immediate consumption containing half an ounce or more of espresso regardless of caffeine content, whether served hot or cold" to benefit school and day-care programs.
Read in AlterNet:
"The media is fickle. It has the attention span of a spoiled child. But the taint of its intrusion lasts, like the smell of skunk." -- Osha Neumann
While you're there, check out Jennifer Holladay's 'A Queer Girl's Top 10 Gay Myths' - inspired by a backstage moment outside an Alabama "Ten Commandments" courthouse protest. No, it's not an exercise in titillation; it's a clear look at an oft-distorted and emotional topic.
My two cents on the "Ten Commandments statue" issue? How about a bumpersticker, a la "It's a child, not a choice":
"It's a courthouse, not a church."
August was certainly the month of travel...here, there and everywhere. But we're back for good now, so you may actually start seeing regular blog posts on farkleberries again!
In addition to travel, there's been another interesting theme in recent days: reconnecting with old friends, some whom I have not seen in many years. Some live on the East Coast, some on the West, and some - like me - live betwixt and between. Ten years is a long time, and it never ceases to amaze me how our lives transmute and transform...sometimes to the paths previous generations took (despite protestations that their lives would be different) and some entirely other.
After three years in the Midwest, Plattsburgh, New York and Burlington, Vermont look like placid, comfortable places where life moves along at a much slower pace than Chicago...I had to catch myself a few times in interactions with people, not to come across and snappy and urbanely impatient.
Example: when the driver of the car ahead of you doesn't floor the pedal one millisecond after the signal turns green, that's not cause for using the horn. When you're in a store, or just purchasing something from a private seller, be prepared to engage in unrelated small talk and not fret because the transaction is taking longer than a minute or two: it's a different way of living, but one that's probably better on some level for the human spirit.
The visit reminded me, above all, that time passes all too quickly and one needs to be mindful of its rapid flow. Don't forget the people in your lives.
A note to Rapierbat (one of the old friends from New York who has resurfaced!): wonderful to hear from you! Unfortunately, my e-mails have bounced back. Could you double-check the return e-mail address, and try sending your message once more via the farkleberries feedback? Many thanks!
Wednesday, August 13, 2003
You would've been forgiven for thinking it was a block party.
Dozens of people - some with strollers, dogs and young kids in tow, and beverages in hand gathered to see the flashing lights and smoke of this loud, colorful gathering. They came on foot, on skateboard, or scooter and bike - because the street and alleys were blocked off for last night's event.
What caused all this ruckus?
The house two buildings down on Winthrop Avenue caught fire at around 9:30pm last night. The Chicago F.D. set up a bus-like Command Van right outside our apartment window so we had a perfect view. About 7 fire trucks arrived, not including ambulances, fire SUV's and police cars. That's a lotta brass for our narrow residential one-way street, only wide enough for two rows of parked cars, one traffic lane and one bike lane usually occupied by cars with their blinkers on ("temporary parkers," who couldn't find a space).
Oddly, the mood was cheery and almost circus-like. I saw neighbors chatting, kids laughing and riding bikes only feet away from swollen hoses and red, gold, and blue strobing lights. Every few minutes another fire truck arrived announced by its harsh, blaring horn and siren, discharged black-and-yellow-clad firefighters, then added its mighty diesel thrum to the massed cacophony.
I don't think anyone was seriously hurt...we did see one firefighter with what looked like an eye or facial injury being taken into a waiting ambulance.
I could never figure out that house, the one that burned...it's adjacent to our gated parking lot, rather dark and Victorian looking...we never see people coming or going, only the sounds of occasional windchimes and the sight of incongruous orange and magenta holiday lights (it seems odd to just call the "Christmas Lights" any more, since they come in all colors for any occasion).
Someone next to us on the sidewalk said that someone had seen a person running out of the building a few moments before the fire broke out, but you know how that goes...he said somebody said that someone else said, so I'm not about to chalk it up to the neighborhood arsonist.
But, you just never know what extremes people will go to for kicks.
Monday, August 11, 2003
If I'd known I wouldn't be updating farkleberries for almost two weeks, I certainly wouldn't have left the below post as the most visible one for such a long period of time. Forgive me; how silly of me.
So, where have I been all this time? Everywhere.
Nine states. Nine days. 3800 miles.
Seriously. We went on a wonderful, half-planned half-improvised trip trip out West that took us to locales as colorful as Denver and Boulder, Colorado, the Navajo Nation and Roswell, New Mexico...I'll tell you more about in the days to come, but we're still recovering from this amazing adventure that took us through cornfields and deserts, mesas, prairies and mountains.
I just wish we'd had more time to savor each place. Oh well...next time. I'm sure there will be a next time.
Friday, August 01, 2003
I'd been debating for two days whether to post this link, but the overwhelming reaction I've gotten from friends has swayed the decision to "yes!"
You've heard the old saw about British cuisine lacking flavor, color, or nutritive value...well, perhaps it used to be true, but as in the U.S. immigration has somewhat spiced up the English national menu. However, this classic dish from the "Black Country" region of Olde Englande is in a category all its own:
Mr. Brain's™ Pork Faggots, in a Rich West Country Sauce!
Yes, Virginia, they do eat faggots in England. One hundred million every year!
Don't freak out, thou tender of ears. Pork faggots are merely an English variety of pork-liver meatballs (which remind me of German leberknodel, or liver dumplings). But how on earth did they get get such an outrageous name? As the Mr. Brain's™ parent company, Hibernia Foods (which also owns the UK subsidiaries of Sara Lee™ and Entenmann's Bakeries™, among others) explains for the benefit of nonplussed Yanks, the name comes from the "Latin/French word for bundle."
Personally, I'll try any food once, and since I won't be within planeshot of the U.K. in the near future I may have to try making some pork faggots at home. A cursory web search produced product reviews of the faggots and a promising recipe, from a reader named "Dave" on Ciao.uk.
Don't forget to check out the Doodys (Frederick, Janet, Lewis and Grace), the Mr. Brain's Faggot Family!
Note that the website dutifully acknowledges that each member of the Doody family is quite athletic; dad Frederick jogs, mum Janet loves gym class, Pilates and yoga to maintain her girlish figure...even little Grace goes to gym and takes tennis classes.
The 'rents and Grace will probably do just fine in the future. It's sensitive-looking bookish son Lewis I'm worried about. He's sole sports holdout, with only bowling to mitigate the deleterious artery-clogging effects of eating pork faggots on a daily basis. Someday, grown Lewis may plop his considerable faggot-eating frame on the analyst's couch, revealing that he and his family once traveled the UK as the Mr. Brain's Faggot Family to promote the wider consumption of pork-liver-and-suet meatballs.
I can't take it anymore, Doctor. Every night it's the same dream...pork faggots in rich western sauce chasing me down a dark hallway, and all me mates laughing at me..."Ay, arn'tchoo that Faggot Family chap?"...I want to kill them, kill them all!
Shout out to Lileks for the tipoff in yesterday's Bleat.