the kind of counterproductive evil
Tuesday, November 24 2015
For breakfast, Gretchen's parents had brought "cheese" danish and sticky buns from a vegan place they'd visited in Bethlehem, PA on the drive up from Siver Spring. The truth about food is not that I won't eat it; it's mostly that I won't eat it on the occasions when it is presented to me. But presented the the beginning of a meal as the meal at the beginning of the day, I will gladly eat it. I'll also eat it if I'm just getting back from something like a firewood salvaging foray in the forest. I'm not especially drawn to sugary food, but if it's ready to go and my reserves of glucose have been depleted, I'll fuck that shit up.
In the late morning, we were all sitting around the fire and Gretchen thought she saw something stuck to Eleanor's butt. She plucked it off and brought it over and I could tell at a glance that it was several dessicated segments of a tapeworm. As she threw the segments away, her mother suggested that she wash her hands, a thought that was already in my head but which I had yet to give voice. Gretchen had to work today, and while she was out, she got several tablets of tapeworm medicine. The bottle of four 34 milligram tablets of praziquantel cost nearly $40.
Meanwhile, I was still near the woodstove, now talking with Gretchen's parents about a possible path for migrating email from a Eudora client to something else that is still supported by a community of developers. I felt like I'd had this very same discussion maybe six years ago and that maybe I'd even attempted a migration. It seems no progress has been made in solving this problem in many years. I kept wanting to bend the conversation into a general discussion about feature bloat and the reality that further development on a program like Microsoft Word should end, since it hasn't been improved since 1992, but then Gretchen's father would use that as an opportunity to talk about some newish feature he actually uses in Outlook.
In the mid-afternoon, I went to the place I'd gone to yesterday and gathered 106.75 pounds (1 of which was cardboad) for immediate use indoors. The weather was cold, though again I'd gone without a jacket.
Back at the house, I found Gretchen had returned early from work and was eating some leftover noodlebake. The rest of us had a lupper of vegan BLTs which I made assembly-line style. But somehow the sandwiches got mixed up between Gretchen's mother and father, and the former ended up with one containing jalapeños, onions, and mushrooms. It turned out, though, that, despite her preconceptions, she actually rather liked this more adventurous sandwich.
Later, still in front of the fire, I decided to research why it was that most European languages (including Latin-derived ones) started referring to cats as "katze/cat/chat/gato/gatto" instead of words derived from Latin "felis." Further research indicated that "cat" may have been borrowed from semitic languages and the term spread throughout the late Roman Empire. Meanwhile, words for cat more similar to "felis" persist in Gælic and in parts of India. [Wow, it actually looks like the word for "cat" is one of three different things for all languages except Latin and just a few others: 1. a sharp word beginning with "p" to get a cat's attention ("pusa" in Flipino, "pussy" in English, or "pisica" in Romanian), 2. the sound of a cat ("meo" in Thai, "miw" in Egyptian, "maow" in Cantonese), or 3. some variant on "cat" or "kitty" ("catua" in Basque, "kitte" in Arabic, "kedi" in Turkish).]
Later this evening, Gretchen took a bus down to Madison Square Garden to see Stevie Wonder's final show on a recent tour in which he has performed all the songs on Songs in the Key of Life. Stevie Wonder is one of her favorite musicians, and she'd just learned that seats were still available at this particular show. But instead of paying $90 to get a nosebleed seat next to a frenemy whose date had bailed, she found a great seat near the stage for $260, and she bought that instead. Later I got a call from Gretchen's cellphone that was completely nonverbal, so I assumed she'd accidentally butt-dialed me. In its overdriven audio, I could just make out the familiar melody of Stevie Wonder's song "I Wish," telling me Gretchen had made it into the show. Later Gretchen would email me to say that no, she'd intended me to get that call, that she'd been having an incredible time and had wanted to share it. Too bad the bandwidth of a cellphone call is insufficient to transmit such an experience. It should be noted that last year Gretchen had bought us both tickets for an earlier show on this same Stevie Wonder tour (also at Madison Square Garden), but somehow forgot the day of the show and we'd completely missed it.
Meanwhile, I'd thought Gretchen's parents would be going to see a telecast of a performance of Hamlet in Rosendale, but unbeknownst to me, they'd already decided to bag the whole thing and stay in tonight. They didn't tell me this until shortly before a dinner of ravioli and leftovers.
After that, I went upstairs and did my own thing, which included watching a couple episodes of the new Amazon original series The Man in the High Castle, which someone on Fresh Air had been gushing about. The series imagines the United States in an alternate reality in which the Germans and Japanese won World War II and partitioned our country, leaving a buffer zone in the Rockies. So far, I can't say I'm impressed. Though the cinematography is good and the insinuations of an alien worldview into a somewhat-recognizable America are cleverly rendered, the characters are all rather flat and cartoonish. The good guys are gorgeous, wooden, and uninteresting. And the bad guys practice the kind of counterproductive evil that doesn't lead to the winning of wars or the holding of territory.
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