Open thread o’clock.

Ta-Nehisi is around, but no open thread appears to be forthcoming! And so, I give you one here. Have at it, baybees!

Standard FYI clause: My rule of thumb is that I wait for 2 hours after Ta-Nehisi would usually open a thread (roughly noon, EST), and if none is forthcoming, I put one up here.

UPDATE: The last day of Passover is a full holiday, and I’m out — until Saturday night, as it happens, because then it’ll be Shabbat! Feel free to open thread away all you like, though. Ciao, bambinos!

170 Comments

  1. thank you all so much for your kind thoughts and prayers for my Fluffy marshmallow. She came home last night.
    R got home from his gig (which is a TED gig, how frakking cool is that?) at 2am, heard a rustling, jingled his keys and whistled and *pop* out from under the front bush she came. His theory is she crossed the big street to the Target side and got trapped there when traffic started up at 5am.
    I’ve never seen her so clingy. She was from an abusive situation, partly feral when I adopted her. Letting me hold her was a slow process that took nearly a year. Last night not only did she let R hold her, but she practically curled up into my chest, which is very unusual. This morning she didn’t even make a move to be let out, preferring to follow R up to bed and sleep on my sweater where she could be near her humans and their scents.
    But enough about me and my crazy cat problems. Blogflogging time!
    http://anibundel.wordpress.com/
    There’s Idol stuff and Britney Spears joining XFactor stuff, plus pics from Dr Who shooting in NYC’s Central Park.

    • caoil

       /  April 12, 2012

      OMG! So, so so incredibly glad to hear this (for all of you!). Poor terrified muffin! As the catmum of two semi-ferals who hide on me when we even go to the vet, I am not surprised she stayed so close to you.

      • She’s not big on people. It took forever for her to get used to me. R was convinced she would always hate him. We have a running joke that she treats us like her favorite diner–sometimes as R lets her back out after dinner, he’ll say in his best Apu “Thank you, come again!”
        So to have her curl into me like that was a big deal.

        • caoil

           /  April 12, 2012

          Yay for unexpected cat hugs, although boo for the circumstances that led to it.

    • Electronic_Neko

       /  April 12, 2012

      Oh, good!! Sounds like she had a scare. I’m glad she got home safely!

    • socioprof

       /  April 12, 2012

      Yay!!! I was worried.

    • David L

       /  April 12, 2012

      Cats are curious things, but they’re very attached to the familiar as well. Mine will start violently objecting if I bring in new furniture or start moving the existing furniture around.

      • That’s HisCat. You would think moving was literally the end of the universe.

      • Oh yeah. Furniture moving is like death. Esp. when you’re cleaning and they’re like “Do you really have to do that?”

        • Look, they worked Really Hard to get all that cat hair shedded Just So, and now you’ve got this roaring monster sucking up all their hard work. It’s almost too much for a cat to handle, you know?

          • Guybrush sits there, watching the vaccum, and when you turn it off, starts yelling at you for having used it.

            • if Roomba is running upstairs, ctas are downstairs. and vice versa.
              if i’m vacuuming the stairs, the cats are on the cat tree. and vice versa.
              If i’m running the carpet cleaner, the cats because lumps under the couch blankets in pure terror.

            • efgoldman

               /  April 12, 2012

              you sure he’s not yelling at you for having stopped it?

              • caoil

                 /  April 12, 2012

                Or critiquing – “Hey! There’s more dust over there! You missed it!”

          • It’s not even like I clean all the time . . .

          • wearyvoter

             /  April 12, 2012

            All I have to do is walk toward the vacuum cleaner, and teh kittehs scatter.

        • caoil

           /  April 12, 2012

          I…hold running conversations with the cats while I’m vacuuming. As in, “It’s okay, I’ll only be in this room for a couple of minutes, if you stay up on the bed you’ll be fine.”

    • JHarper2

       /  April 12, 2012

      I kept checking your twitter feed last night hoping that M had come home. I was so relieved when I saw the pictures last night of her home and eating, watched by the confused other cats.

      • The Kitteh Committee did not approve of this off hours feeding that did not include them.

    • SWNC

       /  April 12, 2012

      Yay! So glad your family is complete again!

    • Ian

       /  April 12, 2012

      So glad she’s okay.

    • Bookwoman

       /  April 12, 2012

      So glad to hear this!

    • taylor16

       /  April 12, 2012

      I’m so glad she came home!!! I checked your twitter as soon as I came into the office this morning and was so happy to see that she’s okay.

      • And this is why I tweeted those photos. Much to R’s confusion, I might add.

        Well, no it’s why I tweeted the picture of her eating. The picture of the disapproving kitteh committee was because I looked over and they were all sitting there looking *so* put out.

    • Thank goodness! Poor baby.

    • scone

       /  April 12, 2012

      Whew. I checked your twitter first thing this morning in hopes that there was good news. And there was!

    • doginajacket

       /  April 12, 2012

      I AM SO HAPPY TO HEAR THIS! (Sorry for yelling, I am emotional about pets right now.)

    • helensprogeny

       /  April 12, 2012

      Just want to add my voice to the shout of joy at the return of the prodigal. Lost kitties are so hard to deal with. I’m happy she’s back!

    • koolaide

       /  April 12, 2012

      very glad your kitty returned home safe.

    • Dex

       /  April 12, 2012

      So glad to hear the kitty’s back.

    • Darth Thulhu

       /  April 12, 2012

      Awesomesauce! So glad she’s back with you guys.

    • efgoldman

       /  April 12, 2012

      Is this your car?
      Cthulhu License Plate

    • wearyvoter

       /  April 12, 2012

      So glad she’s back.

  2. David L

     /  April 12, 2012

    For the writers in the Horde: Am I the only person who wishes sometimes that it wasn’t quite so easy to back to go back and revise endlessly?

    Some days, I have the urge to invent a word processor that works like a typewriter so that it’s more work than it’s worth to completely re-write a paragraph from scratch just because I want to see if I can improve the wording.

    • I do, every once and awhile, pull something apart so fully that I realize I’ve lost whatever good was once there — and there’s just no going back to it any more. That is a pain in the ass.

      But I remember typewriters and white-out, so mostly I’m cool with it.

    • When I feel like editing that much, and don’t progress in the text at all, it usually means there’s something wrong with the overall structure and flow. When I’m going, I’m *going* and the words just pour ouf of my fingers like magic. I mean, the paragraphs are sometimes in the wrong order and it takes a lot of assembly to make all those sentences go back together the way they’re supposed to, but I don’t get hung up in the constant revision of every sentence, phrase, and word.

      When I do have trouble stringing more than three sentences together without stopping to revise, it generally means that something I’m doing just isn’t sitting right with me. (Though in the course of my daily work, it often just means I’m not confident in what I’m writing, which often happens when I have to tackle a story I just don’t know enough about or when I’m writing about a genre, game, or company I’m not personally familiar with.)

      • David L

         /  April 12, 2012

        What I run into is when I’m not in that state of flow (the programmer term for what happens when the rest of the world just disappears into whatever you’re concentrating on and it becomes effortless), my perfectionist streak gets the best of me. Particularly when I’m having to be careful about my tone or trying not to use jargon (both of which come up frequently in my job, being a programmer who has to deal with non-technical end users at times.) I’ve been known to take 45 minutes to write a one-paragraph comment or e-mail.

    • “There’s going for perfect, and then there is going for done. If you ever hope for a paycheck, aim for the latter.”

    • carlos the dwarf

       /  April 12, 2012

      As I’m sure you’re well aware, procrastination is a great anti-revision tactic. Very few of my college papers ever got more than cursory editing, because I rarely had time before the deadline. [I had reason to go back and re-read some of those papers last night. A few gems amidst oodles of sloppy prose. How my GPA survived my epic procrastination skills, I will never know.]

      • David L

         /  April 12, 2012

        I am very familiar with that technique. Procrastination among computer programmer types is endemic to the point of it being a part of the culture. I’m not sure why, maybe it’s just something in the mindset that makes a good programmer. A CS professor I had once joked that if he taught a course in procrastination, it would be the easiest A any of his students ever got.

    • Someone (I believe it was Sting) once said that you know you’re done with a piece when you can’t stand to look at it anymore. That’s usually my approach. I do some editing but basically feel like there’s no point in dragging it out.

    • Ask me after I unblock over this current story I’m stuck writing…😦

  3. socioprof

     /  April 12, 2012

    http://agronsy.tumblr.com/post/20915003926/a-photoset-of-smiling-owls

    I needed a smile after watching Trayvon Martin’s parents’ interview over at the Khan’s place.

    • SWNC

       /  April 12, 2012

      I am both sleepy and grumpy (two dwarfs for the price of one!) and I needed that.

    • Ian

       /  April 12, 2012

      We had a boreal owl sleeping in a tree by our kitchen window on Sunday. It wasn’t smiling, but it was cool to get such a long look at it.

    • Well my gosh, how awesome is that? Thank you…!

      I don’t know yet if I can bear to watch the interview. Maybe after the kids are in bed and I can just let my husband hug me.

  4. cofax

     /  April 12, 2012

    Recent reading: if you enjoyed I Capture the Castle, The King’s Speech, or the recent revival of Upstairs, Downstairs, hie thee to your local bookseller of choice and pick up A Brief History of Montmaray by Michelle Cooper.

    It’s the story of an imaginary island kingdom off the coast of Spain, inhabited by a dozen people, three princesses, and a mad king. Things are quaint and copacetic as they garden and fish and write long letters to the prince at school in England, until one day the Nazis show up, and everything goes to hell quite suddenly.

    It’s an odd mixture of YA domesticity, costume-porn, and historical adventure, but it does work, and the characters are marvelous. Highly recommended if you’re in the mood for that sort of thing. (And there are two sequels, only one of which is yet published in the US, boo.)

    • SWNC

       /  April 12, 2012

      Sounds awesome. Thank you for the recommendation!

  5. I believe I’ll be adding a little note to my About Commenting page to the effect that if a comment is rude, insulting and/or hostile, it will be deleted unread. I mean, I know most trolls won’t see it, but I want at least a few to know that their finally crafted nastiness got binned and was never, ever read.

    (There haven’t been a ton, but between the GOP-how-babies-are-made post and writing at Open Zion, there’s now a steady trickle. Wheee!).

  6. The 90s are officially vintage. You are officially old: http://www.etsy.com/listing/74823114/vtg-90s-leather-clog-sandals-wooden

    • I was old before it was cool.

      • JHarper2

         /  April 12, 2012

        I was old before you! But not before efgoldman.

        • Bookwoman

           /  April 12, 2012

          Yeah, that guy is ancient.

        • efgoldman

           /  April 12, 2012

          Goddamn right, whippersnappers! GOML!
          [Do you hordeniks think that sometimes we have become like the old men in the old joke, who just call out numbers for the joke/punchline and then fall down alughing?]

    • I would like to think that this has more to do with the current semi-mystical power of the word ‘vintage’ than anything else. But it probably just means that I’m getting older.

      • 1990 was 22 years ago. It’s not just the allure of “vintage.” Welcome to the olds.

      • mythopoeia

         /  April 12, 2012

        I overheard a pregnant woman say recently that she wanted to give her future child a “vintage” name.

        Have I mentioned that I live in Brooklyn?

        • JHarper2

           /  April 12, 2012

          Tell her Ephemera was a vintage name, for a short while.

        • efgoldman

           /  April 12, 2012

          Horatio/Hortense
          Fiorello/Fiorella
          I guess Oliver/Olivia came back lately.

          • Ethel?
            Mildred?
            Edna?
            Gladys?
            Minnie?
            Blanche?

            • koolaide

               /  April 12, 2012

              Clothide.

              • Fanny!

                • koolaide

                   /  April 12, 2012

                  Lavinia.

                  (and I inadvertently left the “l” out of Clothilde)

                  • mythopoeia

                     /  April 12, 2012

                    Oh man, if Clothilde hasn’t already made a comeback in Brooklyn, it will soon. Vintage AND French!

                    • koolaide

                       /  April 12, 2012

                      I may or may not have recently viewed a Miss Marpel on netflix w/ a character was named Clothilde.

                    • stephen matlock

                       /  April 12, 2012

                      This is a reply to koolaide – but yeah, it was Lavinia and Clothilde and Anthea.

                      “Nemesis”

                  • Lavinia’s actually a candidate for resurgence, since it was used on Downton Abbey.

            • efgoldman

               /  April 12, 2012

              Doesn’t say that the future urchin is female.

          • Olivia never went that far away; I graduated high school with three in my class and I met a few more in college. I’m seeing more Oliver for boys now, though, and Olive for girls. (One of my co-workers has a daughter named Olive. She has the most epic, squeezable pudgy baby cheeks ever, from the photos I’ve seen.)

        • caoil

           /  April 12, 2012

          I would have been sorely tempted to point her in the direction of the Domesday Book.

          • David L

             /  April 12, 2012

            To bring in a discussion we had yesterday, little Ethelred would definitely be the only one in his class with that name…

            • JHarper2

               /  April 12, 2012

              And I bet he would never have his homework done, or be ready to make a presentation. Ethelred the unready.
              And he would be charged an extra danegeld at ikea.

    • mythopoeia

       /  April 12, 2012

      Semi-relatedly, I’ve been turning over in my mind for days why the era ~20 years before yours is frequently so appealing, at least in the modern US system wherein each decade is considered to be very different. I am a perfect example of this: I was born in ’88, and the ’80s have a perennially magic appeal for me. Case in point: I am currently listening to the Dream Academy on headphones.

      The closest I can get to is that it’s the time just before yours, the most recent time that still offers a (seemingly) completely different way of looking, thinking, enjoying the world, being a human. Whole new trappings and some things that go a little deeper than trappings. It’s a fantasyland in the strictest sense of the word, analagous to the imaginary life you can have in a fantasy story in another time in another world. But it’s a fantasyland that is so close you can practically touch it. It’s perhaps the first fantasyland you learn about that seems like one you might have a chance of living in.

      My cohort–say those born ’82-’92–have a huge affection for the ’90s because it’s when we were children. (Seriously, ask any of us about Nickelodeon.) But it’s very different from the way teenagers of today, kids born in the mid-late ’90s, have started romanticizing the 90s. It’s their time before, their time when everything was so close to how it is now and yet so utterly fantastical.

      • It was fantastical…I mean, consider: Pagers. Dialup. Beanie Babies. CD walkmans.

        I was a whole different universe

        • Ian

           /  April 12, 2012

          I have a pager sitting in front of me as I type this. I have been tasked with finding whomever the hell we’ve been paying for this service for the last 30 years and then terminating said service. It fills me with sadness. We’ll still call it “Beeper Duty,” but fifteen years from now who will remember why?

          Also, I worked as a bike messenger right when radios were replacing beepers. I had a beeper, which I preferred for boring reasons of delivery-on-commission strategy–it’s better if I don’t get into it. Also a pager is a much nicer thing to have clipped to your bag. When I moved to the west coast nobody was using beepers out there, and the radios killed the fun for me. End of an era.

          • By radios, you mean nextel right?

            Man, I still get PTSD shivers from the Nextel beep.

            • Ian

               /  April 12, 2012

              Big, heavy Motorolas, typically. Mid-90s models.

          • wearyvoter

             /  April 12, 2012

            We had an on-call engineer for one of the TV stations where my husband and I used to work, and engineer guy was supposed to keep the pager on at all times. He did. But sometimes he would store it in the refrigerator, so that he could truthfully say that he didn’t hear the beep.

            • Ian

               /  April 12, 2012

              The pager has been replaced by an iPhone. For a while we ran them in parallel. Not hearing the iPhone is not an option. Luckily duty week only comes around every 6-8 weeks.

      • selenesmom

         /  April 12, 2012

        When I was a child in the 1970’s, we were aware that we were being swamped with more or less ersatz nostalgia for the 1950’s coming from the baby boomers behind us (many of whom had been kids, not teens, at the time), American Graffiti, Happy Days, Clap For The Wolfman etc.

        We resolved to Never Do This. Ha ha.

        There is a little wedge of boomers between these American Graffiti – generating boomers and me (I will argue and argue that I am not a boomer) that used to get drunk when we were still not old enough to drink in public, and sing the theme song from The Patti Duke Show. That would be the Jay McInerny cohort.

        The other day I learned that all these years, I have had a mondegreen in Clap For The Wolfman. As a kid, I didn’t know about DJ’s rating records, payola or any of that. It was way before my time. I thought that line in the chorus went, “He’s going to reach a record high.” This makes some sense. Wolfman Jack is a crazy guy who is always trying to reach a record high! It’s actually “He’s going to rate your record high.” If you clap for him, that is.

        If you don’t know the song, “Clap For The Wolfman,” it’s by the Guess Who, and Wikipedia beckons as far as who was Wolfman Jack.

        • Bookwoman

           /  April 12, 2012

          That would be the Jay McInerny cohort.

          You rang? The general consensus seems to be that the boomer generation is 1946-1964.

          As for ’50s nostalgia, it seems to have started here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2OxLyts-zE

        • efgoldman

           /  April 12, 2012

          Or som of us remember watching/listening to Wolfman Jack. Don’t need no steenkin’ Wikipedia.

      • efgoldman

         /  April 12, 2012

        I was born in 1945. Trust me, there was no nostalgia for the 30s or early 40s.

        • David L

           /  April 12, 2012

          However, 30s/40s nostalgia in terms of visual design seems to be pretty popular these days. Just look at the success of the “Keep Calm and Carry On” poster. Or the scanned, 1936-copyright book I saw the other day that looked like it could have been churned out last week based on the fonts and visual design.

          • efgoldman

             /  April 12, 2012

            Well, Raymond Lowey and his influence is cool in any era.

  7. Has anyone seen or read The Crimson Petal and the White?

    • cofax

       /  April 12, 2012

      I read the book. I thought it had a brilliant concept at the beginning but Faber dropped that shortly and never returned to it, which really disappointed me. Still, plenty of other people really liked it.

      I’m afraid I don’t recall enough of the plot to discuss specifics, though–I must have read it 8 years ago or so.

    • Lizzou

       /  April 12, 2012

      I own it and’ve read it 2 and a half times. I co sign what cofax said – the beginning is kickass and really sucked me in. Then… I can’t even tell you what really goes on, by the end. I think The French Lieutenant’s Woman is better.

  8. dmf

     /  April 12, 2012

  9. So I’ve been having an absolutely ridiculous run of good luck in the last week. Last Wednesday I interviewed for a server position at an Italian restaurant and got hired on the spot. The last day of my increasingly terrible cafe kitchen job is a week from Saturday.

    Then on Friday, within minutes of each other, I got two email and phone responses to theatre internships that I had applied for, both inviting me for a phone interview. I did the first one yesterday, and it went really well. There’s a good chance I’m going to spend the summer in Massachussetts. And THEN, yesterday, I received two more simultaneous responses, one for another internship, and another for a lighting design gig for a festival, both of which I’m phone interviewing today, in just a short while.

    Tomorrow is the last of the interviews (thus far!). My head is still spinning at how fast everything seems to be turning around.

    • That “Festival” wouldn’t be DC fringe festival, would it?

      • Source Festival, actually. For their 10-minute plays.

        • Ok, that’s not bad. I just know Amber&Brian who quit the Fringe fest, and believe me, their horror stories will stand you hair on end.
          I like Source, except that one time the designer accidentally gave us the plot 180’d from reality.

          • Yeah, I’ve heard mixed things about Fringe in general. Their ticket prices seem pretty outrageous.

            • Fringe is a really good *idea.*
              The problem is the execution of said idea.
              Let me know when you meet Marianne Meadows. Whatever you do, don’t call her “Muffin.”

    • SWNC

       /  April 12, 2012

      Go, you! That’s fabulous!

    • socioprof

       /  April 12, 2012

      Whoo-hoo!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Bookwoman

       /  April 12, 2012

      Wonderful!

  10. Just to let people know, I will be at the Local Authors event in Wesley Chapel at the B&N bookstore from 2 – 4 pm this Saturday. Send everyone you know in the Tampa Bay area to attend. Support your local authors!

  11. David L

     /  April 12, 2012

    Newman has lately started talking back to noisy household things. Not the vacuum, but he will tell the smoke detector that, yes, we get it already, and he will occasionally respond to my phone when it rings.

    • David L

       /  April 12, 2012

      Apparently, the Disqus elves have gotten to WordPress. That should have been a reply to K_Cox.

    • I blame the cats. They leave shit everywhere.

      • selenesmom

         /  April 12, 2012

        Cat Volkan waits until I am in a dozy state of dreamy fading-to-black in my recliner. Then he leaps into my chest, all 25 pounds of himself, purring like a freight train and scaring the dogs.

      • I just wish I knew where that whiffleball R stuffed with catnip went. That was the best toy ever to watch them attack.

    • Purrbot screeches when she wants attention.
      It’s startling loud.

      • wearyvoter

         /  April 12, 2012

        Our tortie has decided that she really, really, likes the mouse on the fishing pole toy. So she brings it into our room at 2:00 o’dark and makes the “mom, look what I captured” meow noise. If that doesn’t get our attention, she brings back the other three mouse toys. By 6:00 am, there’s a stack of toy mice.

  12. dmf

     /  April 12, 2012

    any interest out there for a Tony Judt “Ill fares the land” ee-otan reading group?

  13. Neocortex

     /  April 12, 2012

    The UC Davis task-force report on last fall’s infamous pepper-spraying incident, is out.

    “My fear is a long-term occupation, with a number of tents, where we have an undergraduate student and a non-affiliate, and there’s an incident,” John Meyer, vice chancellor for administrative and resource management, said in an interview with staff from Kroll, the risk-management company. “And then I’m reporting to a parent that a non-affiliate has done this unthinkable act with your daughter, and how could we let that happen?”

    There are a bunch of things wrong with those comments. But what I’m wondering now is how he felt having to report to a parent that the university sprayed your daughter in the face with unauthorized high-strength pepper spray at close range, and how could they let that happen.

    Seriously, I am so sick of these jerks who concern-troll about the safety of women in Occupy, and use that as a pretext for brutalizing Occupiers, including women. I’m a woman and an Occupier. Stop using me for your goals that I oppose! You don’t give a crap about my safety! You just want to use me as a weapon against my own friends! I don’t consent to that!

    • selenesmom

       /  April 12, 2012

      Oh goodness, do I hear you. This dumb meme has been around since anyone can remember. “Oh noes! Look out for the little lady! Hey, little lady! If you really understood what you were getting yourself into, you would have stayed home where you belong! Now everyone listen to us sensible grownup menfolk and go on home!”

    • dmf

       /  April 12, 2012

      “non-affiliate” o’lordy we are well down the rabbit-hole of orwellianlegalspeak, risk management indeed…

      • David L

         /  April 12, 2012

        OT in the OT, but this is reminding me of something I saw yesterday: My old fraternity’s insurer has apparently a dictated a policy that defines an event that falls under the jurisdiction of the national organization as any time or place in which Brothers from two different Chapters are in the same place at the same time.

        This has caused the couple who met at an inter-Chapter event and eventually got married (we have been co-ed for close to 40 years, although I don’t know whether that’s pertinent to this particular couple) no end of grief as it theoretically includes their home and any time one of them is around people from the other one’s chapter, and nobody wants to put it in writing that they don’t count.

        • dmf

           /  April 12, 2012

          there are times when i sympathize with the conservative worries about unintended consequences of legislation/policies and big bureaucracies.

          • David L

             /  April 12, 2012

            It gets worse. As I read the policy, if I were to go to a UT football game and there was one Brother there who is a current student (alumni don’t count unless there are current Brothers there), all 100,000 people in the stadium (including the players) would be required to sign a waiver indemnifying the fraternity and we would be required to scan and submit all of those signatures electronically within 24 hours, even if neither one of us knew the other was there.

  14. stephen matlock

     /  April 12, 2012

    Just so you know: our Word Jazz / Poetry Slam went very, very well. We had a literary contest (short story, 1500 words, $100 CASH PRIZE for the winners) and 10 readers read their works (short stories and poems). I hosted, so of course the commentary was witty, en pointe, and loved by all, as was I.

    Next fall promises to be even better.

  15. watson42

     /  April 12, 2012

    Guys, I am Not Doing Well. A couple of days ago, everything that is going on in my life kind of hit me all at once and I am……not coping. Not even sure why I’m telling you guys; it’s not like I want my hand held. I guess it’s more that I want company so I don’t feel like I’m completely lost at sea. Act like things are normal and I can usually wrestle things back in their boxes. But I don’t have much to say, so I’ll sit here in the student lounge and sip tea and listen to the conversation.

    On the plus side: It has actually been raining here today. We really need it. We could use several days of nice, soaking rain. Having lived in CA, the lack of precipitation over the winter here in MA has seriously creeped me out. Who would have thought besides earthquake preparedness and burrito craving, extreme awareness of seasonal precipition would be a legacy of living in CA?

    • caoil

       /  April 12, 2012

      If it helps in the slightest, I am sitting on the student couch with you, holding your hand.

      • watson42

         /  April 12, 2012

        Thanks. Would you like some Darjeeling?

        • caoil

           /  April 12, 2012

          I most certainly would! Milk and sugar would be lovely.

    • cofax

       /  April 12, 2012

      I’m sorry you’re not doing well. Would you like a Pony?

    • Bookwoman

       /  April 12, 2012

      Here’s a nice pastry to go with your tea. Hugs to you.

      • watson42

         /  April 12, 2012

        Oooo, no more pastry. I made cream puffs as part of Easter brunch and I ashamed to admit I spent the next two days snacking on the leftover vanilla custard cream. Didn’t bother with the pastry shells. It was yummy, though.

    • Dex

       /  April 12, 2012

      Hang in there. I have always found that the darkest hour is just before dawn. I have vented here to people several times, and they’re a remarkably helpful and supportive group (not that I expected anything different). Please stay in touch, if even just to say hello, so that we know you’re doing okay. I’m rooting for you.

      • watson42

         /  April 12, 2012

        Thanks. I am hoping my ability to cope improves. It had better. From the timing perspective, I’m not even close to the darkest part of all this yet. One example: barring a miracle, I am pretty much guaranteed to lose at least one person I love within the next year. My brain isn’t helping either: I’m a scientist. I’ve worked in oncology. I read the damned SBA and all the clinical parts of the NDA for the drug they hope will help my cousin. My bloody fucking scientist brain has assessed the data and is coldly realistic about the outcome and is Not. Fucking. Helping.

        Gah. I want to talk about something normal. Maybe I should vent about how my lovely billet that I spent weeks on was ruined the other day. Long story. At least I have the other half to work with. I will have to drop in occaisionally if only to report on how the metal is working out. 🙂

        • Ian

           /  April 12, 2012

          Recently I spent about 80 hours building a ukulele that I am, at the very least, going to pull the neck and binding off. I need to re-carve the neck, replace the fretboard, fix the neck-to-body joint, bend and install new bindings, sand and re-finish the entire instrument. I could leave it as-is (it sounds fine and would look fine to most people), but it doesn’t make me happy in its current state. I’m weirdly not upset about it. I’m coming to terms with the fact that ruining raw materials is something I’m going to be doing a lot more of.

          Cut three neck scarf joints last night, one with a kataba and two with a nice western backsaw. Conclusion: I really don’t know how to cut with a Japanese saw. Nothing that can’t be fixed.

          • watson42

             /  April 12, 2012

            I can’t tell you how much steel I’ve wasted in my time. Not to mention the number of metal splinters, burns and cuts. Plus the rare slip on the belt grinder. My hairdresser a few weeks ago commented on the tiny burn on the top of my head: weld splatter that bounced up over the mask. I started wearing a hat. 🙂

            I know what you mean about not being happy with something. Once I mentioned to Dex that I was so annoyed with something I had spent a lot of time working on that I put it in a vice and snapped it into pieces.

            Re cutting scarf joints: Sometimes the only way to figure something out is to fuck it up. In my case, sometimes repeatedly.

        • I’ve discovered that getting used to that feeling is one of the keys to doing synthesis. You end up with intermediates that you spend a lot of time and effort building. Eventually you have to do chemistry that might or might not work on them. You could wind up with product. You could wind up with a round bottom full of crap. Taking the risk is hard, but necessary. If it was easy, someone else would have already done it.

          • watson42

             /  April 12, 2012

            True. And even when something works, then one has to explain percent yield to the management team and that yes, a 12-step synthesis means I do indeed need 30 kilos of starting material. Because even if every step is 95% yield AND non-chiral…..

            One reason I’m disappointed about the billet is that I am/was going for a very specific pattern and effect that is sufficiently complex and out of the ordinary that I really want this to work. Plus it’s for a gift.

        • wearyvoter

           /  April 12, 2012

          May I offer a chai latte?

    • selenesmom

       /  April 12, 2012

      Just saying out loud that you are not at your best is a step that keeps you out of the Very Worst Place.

      • watson42

         /  April 12, 2012

        Thanks. Sadly, I’ve been through harder times and I know human beings are nothing if not resilient. I know I just have to find that equilibrium point again; I’m just fumbling right now.

    • Ian

       /  April 12, 2012

      The way you’re feeling is natural given the stuff you’re dealing with. FWIW, it’s good to see you here. I’ve enjoyed talking to you about sharpening and stuff lately. I know that when one of my loved ones was near death (she pulled through), what kept me going was small, detailed physical stuff that I liked to do. Working on bikes, practicing guitar, stuff like that–possibly because it demanded my full attention. It’s hard to get started, but once you do it can get you to a better place.

      • watson42

         /  April 12, 2012

        It’s good to be here too. It’s actually the first day in a few where I am feeling willing/able to communicate with the outside world. I’ve got to get over this; there are jobs I need to apply for. 🙂

        You will laugh: I got into a discussion with someone at the shop last week about the relative merits of stones vs. emery paper for finishing edged tools.

        • Ian

           /  April 12, 2012

          Heh. Did you call him a moron and then storm out?

          • watson42

             /  April 12, 2012

            Oddly, no. 🙂

            Hey, that reminds me: do you have an opinion on the best things to use for finishing tool handles? Usually I’ve done just a few coats of tung oil. A friend does oil then Ren wax and I like the effect. I’m working on a couple of fairly intricate pieces that will also (I hope) get some serious use/wear. Also, these are gifts so it’s not like the recipients have tung oil on hand if they want to touch up the finish after a while. Recommendations?

            • Ian

               /  April 12, 2012

              I’m a near novice when it comes to finishing. I’d probably use tung oil for myself, but your concern about using it for a gift makes sense. I’ve heard of people using gunstock oil for tool handles (http://sport.birchwoodcasey.com/Finishing/FinishingDetails.aspx?ProductID=b0628cbd-5cd3-48c0-8d42-5b1b8a3f180e), which should be more durable. Wouldn’t be expensive to get some and try it on a scrap.

              • watson42

                 /  April 12, 2012

                Gunstock oil is a good idea. I might try that.

                Confessions of a geek: I have been tempted, though I don’t own any, to get into gunsmithing. It’s precision, takes a lot a of skill, the people who do it know some *serious* history about guns, their use and the craft of making them. I’m a little afraid of going down that rabbit hole.

              • watson42

                 /  April 12, 2012

                You know, once I get a job, life calms down, I get my head together, etc. I might have to start making gifts for the Horde. You could always use another chisel, right? I admit to wondering how a Damascus banhammer for the Khan would look…

                One reason I’m upset about the billet f-ing up is that it’s getting so I can’t afford shop fees without a job. I need to get as much hot work done as possible over the next 5 weeks.

                • Ian

                   /  April 12, 2012

                  We’ll talk about it if you ever reach the point where you have the time and energy. Yes, I could always use another chisel. Or a carving knife of some kind. I’d probably use a marking knife more than anything. I’ve actually been thinking about the Horde as a possible dumping ground for some of my practice builds. It’ll be a few years before I’ll make anything I’d feel good about selling.

            • Dex

               /  April 12, 2012

              I’m not sure if this appeals, but I saw a great tip in an article espousing the awesomeness of an oil finish (I have some of the finish and have found it kinda meh, but I loved the tip). The guy builds furniture for a living and when he sells a piece, he ends up giving the client a tiny repair kit that consists of a small jar/bottle of the finish as well as some sandpaper. Tung oil is appealing in that way in that it’s easily repairable. I kinda think the whole point of tools is for them to get used and develop a patina, so I’d think that tung oil or something similar would be great. (And I say that as someone who also loves using waterborne poly to preserve the raw appearance of wood in some cases.)

              • Dex

                 /  April 12, 2012

                Realized my first sentence makes little sense. The guy was singing the praises of a particular oil finish: Tried & True. It’s nice in that it’s got almost no VOCs, but it’s gummy and tends not to dry properly.

              • watson42

                 /  April 12, 2012

                I’m totally with you on the tools-should-have-their own patina thing, but I get the feeling only tool geeks feel that way. 🙂

                As I mentioned to Ian, once things get better, I might have to start making things for the Horde… I’m no Ken Onion, but I could probably make a left-handed knife you’d like.

    • koolaide

       /  April 12, 2012

      Here’s a soft, fluffy pillow & blanket for your seat in the lounge.

    • JHarper2

       /  April 12, 2012

      1. Watson, hang in there, and work through.
      2. When you need to vent, to get rid of the pressure that is building up, then that is what is necessary to do.
      3. I know, from my experience, there is no better place than this group to come to when troubled. They will hold your hand, laugh with you, cry with you, sooth your forehead, and divert you with talk about other things, and unless asked, will not tell you what you should do.
      But you already knew that.

      • watson42

         /  April 12, 2012

        Yeah, I did know that. Thanks. As someone mentioned before, your grace in the midst of chaos is humbling. And inspiring.

        In all honesty, I’ve kind of freaked myself out the last couple of days. One problem, that I alluded to above, is that what/who I am is working against me right now. And as I’ve discussed in the Trayvon Martin threads, it doesn’t help that every time I walk out the door I have to fend off yet another racist comment. All my energy right now is going into just maintaining, you know? Casual dehumanizing hand grenades are not exactly helping.

        • stephen matlock

           /  April 12, 2012

          Sorry, man. Nothing said here can really do much. Maybe it helps to know people around you listen to you and respect you helps? It’s good to have a safe place to vent and to be heard.

  16. Ian

     /  April 12, 2012

    I think I just received the most callous email ever sent. Last week I forwarded to my group a flyer for a fundraiser for an international student who was critically injured last month in a car accident. She spent almost three weeks in a coma and will need extensive facial reconstructive surgery. 21 years old. I’ve met her. My wife knows her fairly well. It was not at all certain that she would live. We just learned that the doctors had canceled the brain surgery because she’s doing much better than they expected. Today, our lab’s resident dickwad replied to my email to complain about the size of the attachment.

    • koolaide

       /  April 12, 2012

      wow. glad that the student is improving enough to not need the brain surgery but it sounds like a terrible situation for her. Sending healing thoughts that way.

      • Ian

         /  April 12, 2012

        We’ve gone from hoping her family could be with her if she didn’t make it (last month) to her writing last week (she can’t talk) that she wants to stay and finish school. It is a bad situation but impossible not to feel good about it right now. I’m also relieved for the students who were with her. The car only had four working seat belts, and she chose not to be belted. Nobody else was hurt, so I’m sure they’ve been dealing with a lot of guilt.

    • selenesmom

       /  April 12, 2012

      Dear Resident Dickwad,

      Thank you for your note kindly informing me that the attachment to my e-mail of this morning, which was a flyer for a fundraiser for student _______ who, as you may know, was critically injured last month in a car accident, was too large. You will be pleased to know that it is now expected that _______ will live and that her brain surgery has been canceled! I am sure you will share with us and all ____’s many friends in celebrating this great news! Of course, since she has spent almost three weeks in a coma and will still need extensive facial reconstructive surgery, we will go ahead with the fundraiser. We will be posting flyers on ________ so please be on the lookout.

      best, Ian

      • Bookwoman

         /  April 12, 2012

        You win the comment-of-the-day award.

      • Ian

         /  April 12, 2012

        That’s good.

      • efgoldman

         /  April 12, 2012

        And thn I would attach the wort two theses you have ever seen. Three, if your email system will support it.
        But then, I’m a spiteful old bastard.

        • efgoldman

           /  April 12, 2012

          :::sigh:::
          then…
          worst…

          EEEEDIIIIIIT!!

    • watson42

       /  April 12, 2012

      God, people can really suck sometimes.

      Tell the student I am sending good thoughts her way, and not to get discouraged. I went through a serious car accident while in school – hit so hard the engine block cracked. For a long time the doctors thought I would never be able to be fully functional again, mostly from neurological damage. It was a long road, but I recovered.

      • Ian

         /  April 12, 2012

        Wow. I’ve never been through anything like that. I’m sure I’ll be seeing her again next semester if not this summer, and I’ll tell her your story if it seems like something she’d like to hear.

  17. wearyvoter

     /  April 12, 2012

    I’m taking the night off from the seasonal gig. I had lunch that did not agree with me, and I think that had I gone in tonight, logging off the system every 20 minutes to visit the loo would not have gone over at all well.

    Of course, 45 minutes after I called in, things calmed down. On the other hand, it’s nice to be home tonight and catching up on laundry. I’ve been grading ESL tests at night for the past two months. It’s a pretty good gig for what it is. Friends who know that I do this wonder why the kids can’t just type in their answers and have a system scan things. You really can’t. When you have students coming in from several mother tongues, many of which do not use the Roman alphabet, letter formation sort of counts toward the skill level.

  18. ACK!

    It’s very nearly the holiday (last day of Passover = full holiday) and I’m out! I really hoped I’d be able to chat with y’all at least a little today. Daggummit!

    Anyway – open thread away all you like! I won’t be back on line until Saturday night, but I think we’ve proven that I’m not really a requirement for this particular party.