html xmlns="" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: May 2007

Thursday, May 31, 2007

other than that lets just hang out

I have to say, it was a fine morning in the Sacramento Craigslist ads.

These two are back to back, and I wondered if they were the same person:
Rich Farmer Seeks Special Lady - 59
Reply to:
Date: 2007-05-31, 8:08AM PDT

I have a beautiful farm in the middle of the California Delta. It is an absolute paradise. I live here alone with my Kitty Tahoe Toy and Reno, and my Worthless doggie, my show chickens, one Barbados Ram, and a peacock. I'm seeking a very special lady who wants to just have some fun and not have to deal with any of the normal BS a "modern man" has to offer. I am world famous. I recently retired as a recording artist in Nashville, and I have web sites on me all over the Net. I am an open book, so I am not ashamed to share pics, nor am I afraid to tell you my story. I'm a world-class chef. What I think would be fun would be for you to join me at my magnificent home and let me cook you a 4-Star meal! I have not posted a pic, but I assure you, I am very good to look at! Contact me if you have the courage, class and style!

* Location: Isleton
* it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

Older Man Wants Younger Woman Friend - 101
Reply to:
Date: 2007-05-31, 8:04AM PDT

I am an extremely successful and wealthy man, and I have been a bachelor longer than you have been alive, perhaps. (If you are under 30!) I live on a huge piece of property outside of the city, and it is a Paradise. I'm not into the "Kinky" thingie! I appreciate a woman for her beauty and talent. It's just that at my age, it is difficult to find a woman who is younger on the typical dating services. I am an extremely knowledgeable man, world traveler, food expert, wine expert, musician, sportsman, retired businessman, and Northern California born and bred. If you would like to meet me and have the time of your life, be treated like a Million Bucks, and perhaps become a real friend to me, and me to you, then take the chance. This is a first time experience for me on this list, so nothing ventured, nothing gained. OH, btw, I am in perfect physical condition, not a damn thing wrong with me.

* Location: Northern California
* it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

Don't they sound like the set up for a romance novel?
She read and re-read the ad. It sounded too good to be true. She'd made her way in the city, but inside, she knew she was a country girl, with lots of love to give to the right man and his pets. So perfect! Wealthy! A chef! A musician! World traveled! Not kinky! The mouse trembled slightly in her hand, but she resolutely moved the arrow over to Reply To, and clicked.

And then, I totally want the second guy to be 101! A hundred and one! And looking for chicks on Craigslist. He was born in 1906! Wow. He just missed both World Wars. And not a damn thing wrong with him!

This guy, however, confesses to being "a little hurt":
In Shape Nice Looking White Male and Very Honest and a Little Hurt - 41
Reply to:
Date: 2007-05-31, 9:01AM PDT

Hello just want to connect now or a little later but I just want to hold and kiss a woman and be with you to just talk about life and if we click hold each other and make each other feel good I just want a REAL CONNECTION is anyone out there want the same its not all about sex but if it happen fine I'd really love to go down on you if you would like me too but other then that lets just hang out and see how it goes.

* Location: Sac
* it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

We're all a little hurt, my friend. And it isn't like I can criticize anyone for run-on sentences, which are, like, my oeuvre. But, um, we were just going along, all sincere and open and BAM!! How did we get to oral sex already? Good to put your preferences out there, and I hope you find a REAL CONNECTION with someone with the same priorities. But your ad cracked me up.

Two bad plans.

This reality show, about a dying woman choosing which of three contestants will receive a kidney, sounds like a horrible, horrible idea. You know what I do not want to do with the last of my life? I would not like to meet a bunch of pleasant people with poignant stories and have to pick only one of them to restore health and comfort to. It is all great for the person you pick, but then there's the looking at the other two and being all "Dude. Sorry. The other guy? His kid was cuter. And they all cried and shit." Seriously, that sounds AWFUL. Why knowingly put yourself in that position? If I were truly faced with that choice, I would immediately start flipping coins to get out of it. And I would flee from the emoting, and I would surely never put it on TV. I hope the donor gets what she wants out of this, but it sounds like a fucking disaster to me.

You know what else sounds like a Bad Plan? This Craigslist ad:
Beautiful Secret Agent? - 30
Reply to:
Date: 2007-05-31, 1:20AM PDT

Psst... Are you smart, kind and beautiful? Please, consider cheat-proofing my man. If you choose to accept this mission, please reply and we can work out the details. Thanks

* Location: Downtown
* it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

Now, see, that sounds like a Bad Plan. That strikes me as introducing trouble to a situation where trouble didn't previously exist. I can think of very many ways it could go wrong, and only one where it could go right. Why seek out those odds and bring them home? Home to your boyfriend! BAD PLAN.

Watching the margin.

My work has someone who clips every California newspaper story that says the word ‘water’ and sends them to us. I read them every day, that being my profession and all. Every month I see two or three stories like this one, about a small housing development up near Redding that is looking at new water bills of $3,000 per year. Or this one, where a pumping station at Lake Castaic will cost $600,000 per year more than expected to pipe water to the Santa Clarita Valley. Or this, where the Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District is raising rates by about $20 per month to pass along increasing costs of electricity, imported water and operations.

I watch these stories with mixed feelings. I can’t help but worry for people who are about to see their cost of living go up. I simultaneously hope the price increases are enough to make people use less water. I wonder if prices are going up enough to convey to users the full costs of the resource use, and want all those externalities captured in the price they see. Mostly, though, I think that these stories are ones that show us what “unsustainable” will look like in the next few decades, as our standard of living contracts1.

The practice that I am calling unsustainable in these examples is development beyond the limits of local resources to sustain that human population, especially as we’re about to enter a period of increasing variability in weather, shifts in distribution of water, and mostly likely, less water overall2. People who grew up since World War II grew up in a time of extraordinary wealth, much of mined from low-entropy stocks like huge timber trees and easily accessible groundwater and easily accessible oil supplies. We’ve blown through those, scattered them in the form of plastic crap and things, but we’ve come to expect the lifestyle that wealth supported. It is a reasonable expectation, what we have always known. But “not sustainable” is coming due, and what they’ve always known is getting more expensive.

People bought those ranchettes up in Redding3 because they wanted a house on a few acres of land in a remote area. The Santa Clarita Valley is full of people who are willing to trade hours of commuting to LA for a big new house. Same with Riverside . They wanted this dream, lots of people do, but we have reached the end of the cheap supplies. This same dream that was available for the past couple generation will now cost more, especially for them, but for all of us. We are approaching the physical limits of our ecosystem, and we’re going to start to see it in small trickles of increased costs. Then large increased costs. I think this is the mechanism that will slowly constrict our standard of living to about what our grandparents had when they were young. If it is slow, it’ll take a while to notice, but I think stories like these are the leading edge of a very hard readjustment.

It is happening first in the places that were always resource poor. Antelope Valley? Santa Clarita? Both Southern California arid valleys; they have negligible local water supplies and they are last in line for the developed supplies we move around the state. They can get more. For lots of money, you can always get more water. But you’re buying the next increment of developed water, and you’re paying for pumping costs, which are steadily increasing. Maybe a household can absorb those new costs, a surprise extra few hundred dollars for water per year. But their own electricity bills are likely going up as well. And the gas to drive to LA and back every day isn’t getting any cheaper. And the cost of food is rising as well, ‘cause transporting food is getting more expensive. Those increasing costs will eat into standards of living, and places that require lots of external support will feel those costs first4.

That’s what I think climate change and unsustainable development will look like for the next couple decades: steadily increasing costs on all fronts. Water bill higher. Property taxes higher by a few hundred dollars for better levees. Property taxes higher for increased fire protection. State taxes higher to pay bond measures for protecting infrastructure. Electricity bill higher and more need for thermal regulation. Gas more expensive. Everything that is transported a little more expensive. Because of climate change, in twenty more years it will be considerably more expensive to maintain your current level of comfort. Climate change will cost us, but the bill won’t be a lump sum labeled CLIMATE CHANGE. It’ll look like those decisions to raise rates, a little at a time. If people’s budgets are fixed, they will have less of everything else. And that is before the occasional large-scale catastrophe.

There are some options. Perhaps price pressures now will force people to use less energy. I don’t see enough of that now, though. Maybe the magic cheap, non-carbon dioxide emitting energy source will show up soon. The magic free energy would solve a lot of this, once we convert our systems to use it. But, you know, I usually bet with the Second Law of Thermodynamics, so I don’t want to count on the magic cheap energy. Maybe there will be a lot fewer people, and any gentle way to get to that should be strongly supported. Maybe, in a burst of thoughtful planning, our society will re-design our transportation systems to greatly reduce emissions and people will spontaneously want less crap and want to live in smaller, denser housing and consume and waste less. That would be great. Any amount of that would be cheaper than what is coming our way if we don’t.

1For several years I hated the word “unsustainable” because it didn’t seem to mean anything more than “something my hippie friends didn’t like”. Amongst ourselves we still use it to mean “most of the conventional practices of mainstream consumerist America that we last thought about in undergrad while we ate quinoa and made bodypaint out of turmeric”. Since lots and lots of conventional practices of mainstream America are, in fact, unsustainable, it works out OK. Still, I mostly try to describe exactly what I mean instead of using the “unsustainable” shorthand (depletion of stocks, exhaustion of sink capacity, accumulation of toxins until they reach dangerous thresholds, for example). But here, unsustainable – in the form of “can’t keep going like this” – is exactly what I mean. So I’m stuck with the word.

2The only story I can tell with confidence is the water story. But I’ll speculate about how it will show up other aspects of the environment later.

3There is simply not water enough under that Redding sub-division for two hundred households. They drank down what was there and now the water is below their wells. There is no more, yet people live there. What to do? I see this happening in lots of ways in lots of places and I can’t figure out how to avert it. Who is responsible for this situation? The homebuyer, who moved into what looked like a regular house? Should the homebuyer look up the rate of groundwater depletion under her new house? Whether her new house is in a natural river sink and doomed in the next big flood? Whether it is on soils with naturally occurring asbestos? On a faultline? There is simply too much information for a homebuyer to process, and truth told, most don’t know how or want to.

So who? The city or county? The water district? When Contra Costa County approved an 11,000 house subdivision, East Bay MUD told them that the water district didn’t have water for 11,000 new houses. EBMUD tried to refuse service to the new development, but were forced to take on the new houses by an act of the state legislature. (The state legislature also passed a law saying that subdivisions of 500 houses or more must get a will-serve letter from their water district, which led to a lot of 499 house subdivision.) So a water district cannot announce that they are at the limits of their water and prevent further growth. Cities and counties do have that authority, yet they have countervailing incentives (like new houses paying new property taxes) and they are demonstrably allowing building in places with foreseeable shortages or dangers. So it doesn’t seem like there is anyone to say NO. No. We don’t have water for them. No. They’ll be twenty feet under water within six hours of a levee breach. No. Their children will get sick from the soils. NO. No.

4The rest of the state won’t be coming to help them out, either. The rest of the state is going to have its hands full in the next few decades, what with the billions of dollars in levee repairs and the highway repairs and the costs of keeping the Bay Area above the new sea level and the new reservoirs for the new hydrology and the more severe floods and fires.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


With a big full moon rising, and

With the green beans I picked from my garden tonight which are the first green beans I have ever grown, and

With bouquets of gardenias in both our bedrooms, and

With myself for turning right into the alley and then an immediate left onto the sidewalk with no hands because I have been trying that S-curve for several months now, and

With my new technique for poaching eggs in every dish I make with a sauce, so that the eggs are yummy and rich and taste like the sauce.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The start of summer bliss.

DUDE!!! Stonefruit are here! I will buy stonefruit from the summer market on my way back from lunchtime lap swim!

LAP SWIM starts today and I woke up with a huge smile because lunch lap swim is the very best and today I can start my serious efforts to get rid of two years of racerback tan line that burns like acid on my back. Gotta go!

It was everything I hoped for. The water was cold and swimming felt so good. Margie and Bill were there, so we could gossip on the kickboards. Margie objectified me in my bathing suit, and I objectified her and then we both objectified Bill when he wasn't listening.

I love when you see your friends every day, so that saying bye isn't difficult. I don't have to wrap up topics with Margie or promise to send her something or figure out when we'll see each other next. I'll see her tomorrow. If it was important, we'll remember it then. Just a sweet and easy bye and a walking away, sure that the conversation will take up again tomorrow.

Following up on that last post.

Maybe the whales wanted to go look at the ancient Chinese junk buried in a sandbar in the Sacramento River up near Chico! That's the story, that there is a 15th century Chinese junk buried up there. I heard about it when I was working on farms in the Sac Valley, but the guy whose property it is on is top-secret mysterio, so his farmer buddies wouldn't tell me where it was.

The couple weeks working near Chico were pretty good. It was two solid weeks of undertree sprinklers on almonds, which are my favorite irrigation system. Almonds aren't a great orchard to work in; weak shade and the trees are grabby and scratchy. Walnuts have the best shade of any tree I've ever seen. You guys know that when you're out in ag land, almond rhymes with salmon? People will know you're not a local girl if you pronounce the 'l'.

Since we were talking about cows, I would like to take this opportunity to explain that I AM NOT EITHER SCARED OF COWS. I am naturally wary of any animal with that much mass and such a tiny little brain. Little tiny brains, the size of walnuts and so much cow to control. How are you going to negotiate with a tiny little walnut, explain that we have common interests and can work out mutually beneficial arrangements where no one needs to charge anyone with all their tons of pounds?

Although, I'm not sure I like cows any better if they are smarter than I give them credit for. At CalPoly I personally saw two bulls work together to up-end a watering trough so they could scratch their horns on the legs, which I figure is exactly one step away from them figuring out the latches on their stalls, coming into my classes and competing with me for the top of the curve. I don't need that.

So, I am a trifle... cautious about cows, and I don't think it is necessary for the funnier Megan and Jason to notice this and point it out when we are in the same meadow as cows, who could well overhear us and exploit that weakness. And for all that the funnier Megan was all "Hah hah, you're scared of cows and I am not", don't think I didn't notice that she always arranged it so I was between her and the cows and NO, I DO NOT NEED TO CONFRONT THOSE FEARS. I am not afraid for one, and for two, I do not come to terms with it because I nearly never encounter cows.

Besides, I have too been around cows enough. We learned surveying in the cow pasture at CalPoly, which was oh-for-two, because I hated surveying as much as any subject I've ever taken. And then! The summer I worked on irrigation systems, there were two days of wheel-line on pasture and there were lots of cows in the pasture. It was just coincidence that those were the days they weaned and removed the calves, so the cows were all jumpy and would crowd us when we approached the gates to get back to their calves. I quietly explained to them that I was the vegetarian and my colleague was the one who ate steaks all the time, and if they had any issues to take it up with her first. They only trampled her, so I guess you can talk to them.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Goooooo Hooooommmmee!

Megan: Dude, were you in Sacramento this weekend?

Chris: Yeah, I went back to Berkeley on the 4 o'clock train.

Megan: I went up to Sac on the noon train. Hey! Did you see the whales?

Chris: YEAH! They were right by the bridge!

Megan: YEAH! They were there this morning, too.

I didn't actually see the whales, but I saw where the whales were.

Megan: Did you think we should have gone to all that trouble to herd them downstream?

Well sure, I guess.

Megan: But maybe they went up the river for a reason, and we should have left them to it.

Chris: I don't know. I don't think they have reasons. They aren't that bright. Whales are basically descended from cows.

Megan: Oh...

Chris: They aren't all smart, like dolphins, who are descended from... from...

Megan: From people!

Chris: RIGHT!

Thursday, May 24, 2007


I got this email from a Florida friend, and it is far better than my two pissy lines in the post below deserve. In the first place, it is poor form to be mean about someone's place. If you can't say anything nice and all that. Now I feel bad that I wrote mean things about Florida and I am sorry I did. In the second place, this would be a thoughtful note even if I hadn't been rude, so I'm even more impressed with his generous response.
We're about an hour south of Venice, in Ft. Myers. I've been in Florida for nearly 50 years (which makes me old, of course), and I think there's no place in Florida that's awful (altho I can understand how a Californian might think so - we keep threatening to move to L.A., but we won't).

Despite being a devoted reader of your blog, I'm not sure what might strike you as not awful. Florida is not particularly scenic, especially compared to CA, there's no real capital C Culture, there is, I do confess it, a lot of mindless sprawl and overdevelopment, and yet... I continue to love it here. There are no breathtaking vistas, but a lot of pretty places, there's lots of wildlife even in relatively urban areas (we have hawks, ibis, herons, ducks, pelicans, osprey, alligators, possums, rabbits and lots of other critters just in our little neighborhood), and it's hard to beat the weather, altho YMMV. And the restaurants get better every week (but for a vegetarian, maybe not so much).

You know, it isn't the lack of dramatic vistas, or the lack of capital C Culture that bothers me about Florida. Please, qualify all my next sentences with 'what I've seen of Florida - Venice, Sarasota, Tampa, Orlando'; for all I know, other parts of Florida are great. But the parts of Florida I've seen are just... indistinct and not reflective of the landscape or revealing of a local culture or tuned to a human scale. The streets are too wide and the parking lots are huge and the strip malls don't have interesting shops*. There's lots here that is the worst of American development of the last forty years and nothing I can see that is very Floridian. I am totally willing to believe that Florida is subtle and you'd have to be here a while to see it. But from the road, man... I can't catch it.

And Florida especially kills me because it seems like such a waste. It could be lovely here. I'm typing this at midnight and it is still warm and velvety out, and there is no one to be seen. Everyone is inside, in air conditioning, because they're so trained from the hot days that they haven't noticed that it is gorgeous out. At home, on an eighty degree night, everyone in Midtown would be on the porch, still saying "evening" to the people walking home. People'd bike by in small flocks on their cruisers or fixies. But there is no one else out to feel this amazing night, because there aren't porches. For all that Florida should be so incredible, the architecture that I've seen doesn't tie in to the climate or the landscape or the water or anything. Houses aren't open for breezes, or on posts for hurricane surges, or facing the water or anything. It is just little ranch houses, and you drive into the garage and walk into the safety of the air conditioning.

So I would love to see a different Florida. Part of me wants it to be all sentimental and some garbled version of the South I put together growing up far away in the West. I want to see some remnant of the Florida in Their Eyes Were Watching God, and it is not fair to ask a state to stay frozen for seven generations. I'm nostalgic for the idea of it, though. Last visit, my Grandpa took me to Cracker Barrel, and I understand that Cracker Barrel is a kitchy replica of some version of some part of the South. But we sat on rockers on the wrap-around porch and played a game of checkers while we were waiting to be seated and they piped in Hank Williams, whom I listen to at home all the time. And even knowing that Cracker Barrel is deliberately trying to sell me an artificial "Southern" experience, there was an echo of what it must have been like. Like maybe the experience of an afternoon sitting on a porch on a muggy afternoon, playing checkers with an old man who wants to tell you his stories is so authentic that it can even break through the god-awful self-aware kitsch of Cracker Barrel.

So what would be "not awful" for me would be anything that showed me what the locals love about Florida. What is here, in Florida, that is not a few hundred miles to the north? What are you happy to come home to, when you get back from a trip? What kept you in Florida that you can't get elsewhere? because friend, there is a ton of ugly American overdevelopment in lots and lots of places. I want to see that Florida, so I can give it a fair try.

*Chris and I used to get in big fights over strip malls. He swore they were all the devil and I swore that in LA, strip malls were where you would find all the new immigrant stores and restaurants and they could be a really neat collection of stores. Way better than the mall malls. Now Chris thinks that you need cheap buildings to have lots of local stores instead of chains. He says those should all be tasteful old buildings and who wouldn't prefer that? But if you don't have the legacy of tasteful old buildings, strip malls where you can get pho and your unfinished furniture and a comic book store and a sari and also chaat are better than nothing.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Back Monday

Hey folks. I'm off to Florida, for my great-aunt and uncle's sixtieth wedding aniversary. I can't really predict my posting frequency, although the potential posts themselves are predictable:

Why Florida is a horrible place.
Ode to old people.
Fear of becoming old.
Reflection on sixty years of marriage.
Traveling with small nephews.

If I can come up with something that isn't a cliché and can sneak away, I'll post it. Else, I'll see you next week, when I come home for days and days and days of not having to travel and going to Farmers' Market and going to the park and seeing the friends I've neglected and starting Conditioning Night back up and the opening of lunch time lap swim. It sounds like heaven.

Hmm. This is a long shot, 'cause I haven't seen much of Florida in my site stats. But, anyone close to Venice want to hang out? Meeting a blogfriend would be a nice break from family. Perhaps a local could show me somewhere in Florida that isn't awful.

Also, any requests for posts?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Still reserving judgment, 'cause I don't un-decide things.

At any party in Northern California, you can always talk about the Bay/Delta.

In the comments below, Francis finally prompted me to tell y'all why I am this close to writing off television news reporters.


I was so lonely when I first moved to Sacramento. My then-boyfriend had just left for a year in another country; I liked my co-workers but they were all grown-ups with families; I wasn't playing Ultimate yet, so I didn't know how to meet people. I was painfully lonely. I knew it would end when school started in eight months, but for a few months I had no one on the weekends. I used to go on five hour walks, just so I wasn't sitting home lonely.

I joined my garden and met a very nice couple of exactly the sort of people I like. I was so thrilled when they invited me to a party, which I assumed would be with more people of the sort I like! I could make friends! I went to the party and forced myself to talk to people. I know y'all think I'm the extrovert, but even for me, chatting up strangers at a party is hard work. So I was trying. I was being friendly and following up on small talk and walking over to people standing alone. It was hard, really hard, but I didn't want to miss the chance at local friends.

I was eavesdropping on a circle of five or six strangers when one of them mentioned CALFED, the agency working on Bay-Delta issues. This was IT! I was IN! CALFED? I can talk CALFED. Shit, I was working for the FED half of that at the time. So I said, all friendly like, "Oh, are you guys talking about CALFED?". The pretty woman standing next to me turned, said in a scornful tone "Don't ask me to explain CALFED to you." and stepped in front of me to cut me out of the circle. It was astonishingly blatant and Heather-esque.

That was the end of the party for me. I just left. Anyway, she'd been introduced to me earlier and she was a TV news reporter. So that was strike one.

Strike two came years later, while I was waiting for a friend at a sushi bar. The super slick, super image-aware guy who'd struck out with a couple girls came over to sit by me. I don't think he was really hitting on me. I'm not polished like the other women he'd tried for. I think it was just habit for him to chat up women, keep his hand in. So he was alternately telling me how very much he was paying in rent for the new trendy apartments upstairs but it was so worth it to be in the scene, you know, and chatting up the bartenders, who all knew him. One was pissed at him for getting an underage girl a drink, but the guy said he didn't know she was underage, man, he just came upstairs and she was all naked in his bed! and what could you do, you know? So he bought her a drink after. Hey, did the bartender get her name?

He also told me that as a student at an international school in Switzerland, he made friends with a guy whose father was a diplomat in South Africa, which is how he got to be there when Nelson Mandela was released. It was deep, you know. Just... so... deep. Like, to be there, at history. He said he's in the background of pictures of Nelson Mandela's release from prison, and he'd blown one of those pictures up past life-size and it was the wallpaper on one wall of his apartment. I was inclined to believe him; I certainly had no doubt that he would turn such an incredible image of human hope and resiliency into a vanity project. I was glad when my friend showed up, although a trifle curious what other tool things the guy'd have told me if we'd talked longer. Anyway, he was a TV reporter too.

My only two encounters with TV reporters were both extreme, and while I don't want to rush into any decisions, one more like that and I'll be done with TV reporters.

Optional 2a: "You can't predict what'll happen if you mess with it."

I was slumming with the fish biologists today; we went to see a presentation on how roads affect streams. It was part of a Road Ecology seminar series and it confirmed my firm belief that there is only one talk in all of ecology. I've been to dozens of ecology talks, and every last one of them comes down to:

1. Scale is very important.
2. The system is very complex.
3. My species is a keystone species.

Monday, May 21, 2007

You wouldn't understand.

Anand and I were hanging out on Friday and we were talking to this guy at the bar. Turns out, this guy does really neat work! I was all excited for the neat work, so I asked him more about it and he reluctantly mentioned a couple projects. I knew some about that, so I tried to ask him how exactly his models worked, and he looked at me'n'Anand and said "It's really quantitative." Only, instead of that being a come-on, as it obviously should be, he said it dismissively! As in, dismissing our ability to understand! We tried one more time; I believe I said encouragingly "We like numbers.". But he stayed a tease.

I was delighted. I've mentioned before that it cracks me up to be condescended to, because I love the contrast between what I know of myself and the condescender's assumptions. But even better than being condescended to is watching Anand get condescended to! That is SO GREAT. He's, like, Dr. Anand, from Charles River Tech. He is not scared of quantitative; he is a close friend of quantitative. Anand and quantitative have made out before. The rest of the night, whenever Anand asked me something, I told him the answer was too quantitative for him. "No, sugar. I can't explain. It's really quantitative." He'd hold up his hand to count on his fingers, but I would gently shake my head. It's quantitative, Anand. Not for you.

Friday, May 18, 2007


Aw man. I had an incredibly productive week and I have superfun plans for the next couple days. But I want to be home so much. You make a huge tray of nachos, and your own pico de gallo and you go heavy on the avocado and you use a good salsa and black beans and sour cream and cheese and everyone sits around and picks at it and washes it down with some lime-based drink and I MISS MY PORCH.

Have any of you ever gotten good results with a strawberry pot?


Thursday, May 17, 2007

Warning! Spoilers!

I saw Spiderman last night. I’m not really qualified to do movie reviews, since I see, like, three movies a year. So it isn’t as if I have a wide body of knowledge about movies and can compare technique or craft or anything. But even I could tell that the Spiderman movie needed a LOT of help.

For one thing, they put the talking in all the wrong places! Seriously! They had all this time with Aunt May talking incredibly slow, and they could have spent that time in Peter Parker’s physics class. I caught a glimpse of a matrix, and I was never good at them, because they’re representations of spaces and I don’t think I ever once in all my years taking math had a good spatial representation of what we learned. But I bet Peter Parker does, both ‘cause that’s what he is good at and because he spends all that time swinging around. The movie could have spent so much more time in physics class, or even just a dynamics class. Force diagrams, people.

And then! They never did any talking when it would have really helped. I swear! Spiderman just arrives, sees someone who doesn’t fit his conventional heteronormative white-privileged idea of what people should look like and starts punching! Dude! Way to leap huge buildings to get to your conclusions! And there were times when a little talking would have averted a lot of getting thrown around. Like, when he first meets the Sandman and the Sandman is all “I don’t want to hurt you.” That was such a great opportunity for dialogue and communication. Why didn’t Spiderman ease his stance a little and say “What I’m hearing from you is that you don’t want to hurt me. Can you tell me a little more about that? What is going on with you, my friend?”

See, and that was especially frustrating because I bet that if the Sandman and Spiderman could have just gotten away from their positional stances (“I need to take money” and “I need to catch crooks” respectively), to their underlying interests (“I need to help my little girl” and “Dude, I’m all about helping the people”), they could have found some common ground. There was opportunity there, and it could have saved a lot of expensive plate glass and I-beams and cars being thrown about.

I do think the Sandman didn’t open his mind to lot of options that became available to him when he got particle-ized. I understand that you do what you know, and he had conceptualized himself as a thief and a fugitive. Maybe those were his most lucrative options when he was a man, but as Sandman, I don’t think he had to be an outlaw to make a ton of money. Considering his strength and versatility, I bet any construction firm would have hired him in a flash. Since his primary motivator was health care for his daughter, maybe a Public Works department would have been a better fit, what with the better benefits and all*. The dude needed to gather some friends to do some brainstorming, prioritize some potential options and look into those.

So much of that conflict and needless misunderstandings and punching people could have been averted by talking, and don’t even get me started on Mary-Jane’s stomping out of Harry’s house when a calm explanation could have prevented all sorts of memories becoming un-suppressed and going back to being evil and more fighting! Seriously, the lot of them need to take an Alternate Dispute Resolution class so we can all get back to physics class.

One more thing I noticed. I nearly never notice camera work, ‘cause I’m just not looking that hard. But there were a couple places where the camera work was so bad that it was distracting. Like, when Peter Parker was in the shower. Why they chose that close-up of his face being all emotional is completely beyond me. The scene clearly called for a much wider taller shot angle and lots of panning and zooming.

I don’t want to give a completely negative review. I really did love the parts where Peter Parker is strutting down the street like the bad boy he is. I need to add more finger guns to my repertoire.

*I bet the idea of working for the public would have appealed to his need to pay back society, although considering that society turned him into sand, perhaps we could call that even.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Hi. My name is Megan and I'm writing a book.

In the summers between 6th - 9th grade, I took this summer school class called Imagineering. We built canoes one year; aquariums made out of film another year. Did all our own construction. If I weren't so tired, I'd pull some clever stories out of that and tell you about my friends Rosa and Kohji. We learned how to keep lab notebooks and meteorology and rough engineering sketching. I guess some of that was useful later. I can't trace much back to it. Except for one thing. One day the instructor pulled me and Rosa out of class and made us go over to the office and cold call a bunch of engineering firms to send us film samples. Cold calling is still hard, but I think that may have been the most useful single lesson I have ever gotten.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Old school.

Ernie says it better. Until we get to genuine respect, political correctness really is an improvement.

Update: It is always a good time to link to the blackface flowchart.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Afterwards, I won't remember. Right?

My hosts are watching the Bachelor, which I haven't seen since the season when an acquaintance was on it. It makes me desperately afraid that when I fall for someone, I too will be mind-bogglingly inane. I won't notice, though, right? I will be lost in his eyes, which show the beautiful soul of my prince, right? I won't even hear myself giggling and repeating him, right? It'll just sound natural to me in my infatuated state. He won't notice, because he'll think everything I say is devastatingly witty and charming. It'll be OK. We'll pull through. Together. With my prince.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

That's cool. How much fun can you have spending $300 anyway?

The car I’m using on my trip got towed. Well, it didn’t just “get towed”. The asshole neighbor called the tow company, to have it towed because it was in the road! There were no signs about parking, and I had been very careful to not park on his lawn. I pulled my right tire up to the edge of his lawn, and that meant the body of the car was on the street, which is apparently not legal here in this small town where they don’t have sidewalks or gutters and I guess being on the asphalt is not where you are supposed to park even though I looked carefully for signs and it is actually quite common in civilized countries to park along the side of the road. The towing company bent me over; $300 dollars later, I got the car back. My impression was that the neighbor enjoyed the process; I can only hope that he gets back the love and friendliness he puts out in the world.

I called Chris and Anand to tell them what happened and use profane language. Chris asked if I broke into the impound lot and stole back my car. What? Yeah, Chris said. Remember that guy from our old co-op? Remember how his car got towed, and he broke into the impound lot and stole it? And then sued them for the value of his car? And then sold his car in Nevada? I don’t think I ever knew that story, but right now, that guy sounds like a combination of Einstein and Robin Hood. I never really liked or disliked him, but today he’s my hero.

give short, sharp corrections to get attention

You know what was really, really convenient when I found out about my towed car? My new magic phone. Yeah. My cell phone. I finally caved. Last weekend. For a bunch of reasons. Back when I was nagging Anand to move to California, I swore that I would get a cell phone the day he moved here. He moved, so I had to make good. And there have been times when I was going back and forth to Oakland that it would have been really handy to have a phone. Well, I have one now.

I’m still not sure about it. There’s a lot to learn and I don’t want to. There are lots of menus and choices, and I pretty much hate them. Anand made words appear on my phone the other day, which was kindof neat. But they weren’t words that required any action of me, and I already knew Anand thinks of me occasionally, so I don’t know that getting them was any different from not getting them. If they had been “MEGGIE! THE BLACK HELICOPTERS!! THEY’RE GETTING CLO--” , I would have known what to do, but it was something about his travels or something.

He called me Friday, but my phone was off. When I called him back, he asked if I’d turned off my phone. “Why yes!” I said brightly. “I didn’t need to call anyone, so I turned it off!” “Oh no, Meggie. That’s not how it works.” “It isn’t?” “No Meggie. You leave the phone ON. Does the prisoner just take off his shackles? Does the horse step out of her hobbles? No no, Meggie. The tether stays ON.” Oh.

There are some things I don’t want to adjust to. I WILL still remember everyone’s phone numbers. I don’t know what to do about the fact that the cell phone will also tell me the time, in direct contravention of the oath Teddy and I swore in 11th grade to never wear a watch. Teddy says his cell phone isn’t a watch, but I say the point was that we wouldn’t be slaves to the time and not all of us are big fat oathbreakers. Teddy. I am, however, looking forward to the actual talking on the phone. Oh friends of mine who hounded me for years, I will talk on the phone. I will talk on my shiny red phone all the time. I will talk on my cell phone in your car and in your living room and at the restaurant and the café and in the movies. I will call you, too. I know you are looking forward to that. I will call you. I will call you and my half of the conversation will go like this: “Hi. Oh, nothing. Just walking. In the parking lot. WHOA! A car just passed me. A blue car. It is parking now. Next to a tan car. A guy is getting out. Now I’m at the door. I’m inside now. I guess I’ll have lunch. It is lunchtime, after all. I don’t know. I haven’t really decided. Maybe a sandwich. A salad sounds good. Remember when I had that salad I really liked? I might get that. Or a sandwich. What sandwich do you like – huh? No a salad, I think. They have ranch and vinaigrettes and blue cheese. Maybe blue cheese. On the side, or on the salad? On the salad, I guess! Living large, hah hah. Maybe I should get a brownie for dessert. What do you think? Or no brownie?” You made me get this phone, my friends, and I will call you.

Monday, May 07, 2007

You. You personally. Step up.

I just got another big link and when I clicked over my first thought was "Thank god there's no comment section." I still feel bruised from the last two rounds and from some of the stuff that was left in my comments. Maybe I shouldn't. Maybe they're just pixels, litter left behind by imaginary people. But they meant it when they wrote it and I can't help but feel there is a new animosity in the world, directed at some collective idea of Megan non-McArdle. (I should also say that there was a great surge in kindness too, and I appreciate your many sweet emails and good wishes.)

Most of you, of course, wrote nothing. The comments were from what, eighty or ninety people of the many thousands who read that post. Most of you didn't feel moved to write directly to me. But you know what only a VERY FEW OF YOU did? Maybe half a dozen people spoke out against ad hominem criticisms of me. Now, I do not want people defending me on the merits of the post (which are there for all to evaluate and do not need additional elaboration), or much worse, using equally unpleasant stereotypes to attack men or women. But part of the reason that women feel so attacked on the internet is that people see the attacks and criticisms and let them keep going.

Lots of you read what people wrote. I completely understand that by internet standards, it was mild stuff. By the standards of how I always talk with people, it was unusually mean. Some of you hosted sites where people wrote mean comments about me. Me personally, not the content of my post, not women in general, me. You were tangentially involved, and you did not say "It isn't OK to talk about people that way. That is not acceptable in civil discourse."

You don't have to say why the things they wrote are wrong. You don't have to list specific reasons from my post why the mean assumptions aren't founded. You shouldn't make up reasons based on your experiences with other people. You should not return nastiness with accusations about their character; that just feeds the emotional rush and need to sting. All you have to say is "It isn't OK to talk about people that way.", which will be right in almost all cases, regardless of the virtue of the original poster. And you SHOULD say that. You shouldn't let nastiness go unremarked, even though you don't want to get involved or draw attention to yourself. You are allowing this uncivil environment to keep going. I don't care if it IS a futile struggle. If you do not voice your disapproval (especially if you host a site), you are complicit. You. Face your responsibility to our community. Act better and demand better of the people you share the internet with.

Fall in! NOW!

I was reading this article on a mass photo shoot of 20,000 naked people in Mexico City. In keeping with my hippie roots, it all strikes me as sweet and natural and a powerful experience for the participants. But what really struck me as I looked at this picture is how incredibly hard it is to get people to line up straight.

Seriously. When I taught tkd, it was all pseudo-military, and I probably spent two hours over the course of the semester teaching people how to stand in straight lines. Teaching people how to move in unison was harder; there is technique for it, which took people about a couple months to learn. That picture is particularly frustrating to me because they are in a tiled square! There were lines on the ground! Visible guidelines! I bet the photographer told people about them and they still didn't follow instructions. It was easier for me, because there were only eighty people in class. I would tell them to look left and right and put their toes on the same hardwood plank as the person next to them. Then I could walk the lines and move the people who couldn't manage that; a few classes later and most people could put their toes on the same line as their neighbor. Berkeley college students, y'all. The harder lesson was to make people understand that if they are standing in a straight line, they will only see the back of the person in front of them. That's right. If you step a few inches to the side to see the front, you are no longer in line. I swear it took weeks to teach people to get in formation quickly.

Teaching them to move in unison was the next step. Always move at the pace of the highest ranked person in the room, who'll be in the front right corner. Use your breath as an audible guide. When you get good, your uniform will pop, so you can tell if you're in sync with your classmates. I drilled this and drilled this, and eventually they could do it with their eyes closed. But I am always blown away by those martial arts movies where they have hundreds of blackbelts arrayed in straight lines and doing Long Fist in unison. Straight lines. Unison. Long Fist is the easy part.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

What if you didn't know what type of push-ups you hated most?

I was talking to this kindof big guy yesterday, and he mentioned that he had lost thirty pounds in the past three months. I asked him how, and he said, well, you know, eating less and exercise. I prompted for more and he said that he’d always been a couch potato, but he’d decided to pay more attention to his health. He said that he used to always eat tons of pizza and burgers, but now he was trying to eat them, but less. He said he’d been trying to eat vegetables and he likes some of them.

He said he was exercising more, so I asked him about his lifting routine. I honestly wasn’t trying to be snotty; I just thought that people know to start lifting when they want to shape up, to build muscle that burns calories. And it is so exciting when you first start lifting, because your numbers go up so fast. So I asked him what he does to lift, and he said, oh, nothing like that. Now I walk places, more than I ever did. The weight is just falling off.

I’ve been fascinated by this since talking to him. I should say first, full props to him. What he’s doing is awesome, so I want to make it clear I’m not making fun of him. I just can’t imagine being at a starting place where your body would be so responsive to changes like that. I see those magazines where they’re all “Lose five pounds without noticing! Easy food substitutions you’ll love!”. And then the article says “Instead of using a full cup of sour cream and a full cup of buttermilk when you make ranch dressing, use two cups of lowfat yogurt!!!” I could never figure out who those were directed at. I don’t know anyone who eats like that. My whole diet is whole grains and veggies and protein. I could make changes that would cut two hundred calories, but that would mean not eating an ice cream cone. But I knew what I was choosing when I decided on an ice cream cone, so I’m not going to un-choose it after.

I asked him if he’d ever played a sport; he said no, he’d never been active. So right now, by walking, he’s finding out what his body can do. That must be so exciting for him, to watch the weight fall and be able to do more every week. If someone does get him into lifting, he’s going to see all these new ridges on his body. He’ll feel totally different. I wonder if he’ll ever learn to love to sweat. That would be so amazing, to have new personal bests show up every week. To have the shape of your life be now. The problem with training so hard in college is that I both know how it feels to be in that shape and know that I’ll never feel that again. I’ll be dicking around at forty to seventy percent of that shape for the rest of my life, because it isn’t worth those last ten hours in the gym per week. You can know that and choose that and still feel a little sad that you’ll never be that fast and strong again.

So a very small part of me is jealous of this guy. I would never trade, because I would never give up my last two decades of moving around. But he’s on the threshold of a whole new way of living, with entirely new feelings and an incredibly rich subject to learn. I hope he takes it far.

I hope he's happy.

I was trying to think if I am equally ignorant in any fields that could be as transformative and rewarding. Parenting crossed my mind, but I’ve had more exposure to parenting than he had to exercise and nutrition. I bet musicianship would be a good analogue, though. I know nothing about making music, so my early progress would be comparable to his initial weight loss. And you could get deeper into making music for your whole life; that field is infinitely rich.

Also, typing that up reminded me of my high school friend Paul. Paul was a swimmer, but always a bit heavy. Smart, especially at math. He was always a little obnoxious in groups, but I really enjoyed hanging out with him alone. Alone, he was a great listener and good company. He was dating a good girlfriend of mine; there were not secret crushes. He and my girlfriend went to college and spent a miserable two years together where they gained a good deal of weight. They finally had the overdue break-up and recovered to their not-miserable selves. They each dropped the weight, and Paul took weight control and lifting very seriously for the first time in his life. He shaped up and got confidence. Then he got slutty and then he got arrogant.

Paul turned real rude. I’d come home from school and when we hung out he’d talk about himself for hours straight. He wouldn’t even tell me about math. He got a Camaro and meant it, so he really needed straight talk from an old friend. I stopped calling him on my weekends home when he explained to me that he could maybe meet me for a lunch, but he couldn’t give me an evening because those were for women who put out. I understood the logic, but it wasn’t like he wasn’t scoring regularly or that he valued these relationships, so screw him for not prioritizing old friendships. I gave up on him for good when he got sloppy drunk as the best man at a wedding and made a very public scene with an engaged bridesmaid. The last I heard of Paul was that he fell hugely, helplessly, head-over-heels in love with a woman who cured him of his asshole ways right quick and then married him. I hope he’s reverted to the Paul I liked so well, but I don't think I'll find out.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Thanks for all your patience, folks.

How do you manage the interaction of plants and animals in a large water system? What problems do plants and fish cause in the canals, and how do you take care of them? What about beaver?

Plants and animals?!! HAH HAH HAH HAH Hah Hah hah hah hah!! Take care of PLANTS and FISH in your canals!!!! HAH HAH HAH hah hah hah hah ha ha ha. Oh holy shit that was funny. HAH HAH HAH hah hah hah. Oh ho. Operate your canals for fish. HAHHAHHAHAHHAHHA. Hah hah hah. That cracks me up every time I think about it.

We don’t do that. Well. I mean, barely, some people do. But mostly we don’t do that. You tend the fish and plants with pesticides is what you do. Beaver? I believe you meant to say vermin. What you do if you encounter an endangered fish in your system or giant garter snakes on your canal banks is you SHUT YOUR MOUTH and hope no one else ever sees it.

From what I’ve seen, district level water systems and natural systems within a district are thought of entirely differently. Natural systems are, like, cricks. They’re all pretty, so you go fishing in them with your boys and shoot the waterfowl. There is some fair respect for any remnant streams and concern for wildlife in them. However, you will simultaneously have a separate and parallel controlled system for getting water to every field in your district and drainage ditches from each field*. Friends, those are incredibly extensive; every agricultural field in the west is reachable by a rudimentary road and by one or two ditches.

The built system is built for irrigation and that is the purpose district operators use it for. Introducing a secondary purpose, like acting as habitat for fish and wildlife, compromises how well the system can accomplish the first purpose. But it is undeniable that the canals and ditches serve as habitat by default. There’s so little else left out there. There are fish in canals; they are frequently fished**. Plants grow on the banks; those can transpire noticeable amounts of water. They’re usually mowed or killed by herbicide in the summer. One district I visited last summer gets non-native aquatic mosses in the summer; he said they take up over half the capacity in the canal. They can’t poison the moss (the herbicides would damage the crops that water is later applied to), so they spend about a third of their O&M budget on chaining the canals to shake the moss loose. Imp*rial Irrig*tion D*strict controls the plant growth in their canals by stocking them with sterile grass carp. But the district I visited can’t do that because the carp could escape in flood flows, and who knows if they could revert to fertility like in Jurassic Park and become velociraptors. Whether a canal has plants in it is a standard design question; the extent of the plants dictates the way you have to screen your pumps or gates or whether you can install propeller meters.

The drainage ditches end up doing more work as habitat. They aren’t managed for that, either. They carry sediment, pesticides and fertilizers in them. A real pollutant, actually, is heat. Water warms up in fields before it enters the ditches. Warm water holds less oxygen in it and can drown fish that aren’t adapted for it. But for all that, drainage ditches are fairly neglected and that neglect may be the best option fish and wildlife have.

I wish I could tell you more about how natural systems and water districts interact. I wish I knew more about FISH SCREENS and FISH LADDERS. I wish I had a friend who designs that stuff and tells me my blog is boring when I talk about dating. I sure wish she would come on here and tell us how the pumps at the Red Bluff diversion dam work, since they were designed by Archimedes and everything. Or why installing fish ladders would make those four dams on the Klamath more expensive to keep than to pull out.

*I know you’ve wondered. Tilewater is water that has percolated into your field and is collected in a system of pipes a few feet beneath the ground. (You have to be careful not to rip up your tilewater system when you plow.) I think those are mostly pvc now (with holes in the side, so water in saturated soils will enter the relatively low pressure pipe and be drained away), but they used to be ceramic tile pipes. They collect water and drain it to a sump or drainage ditch. Depending on the soil, it may be fairly salty or selenium-laden (for example).

Tailwater is water that runs off the surface of your field into a drainage ditch. You get tailwater re-circulation systems that’ll pump it back up to the head of the field (if water is more expensive than electricity in your area). Tailwater may pick up some sediments, but it probably won’t be much saltier than the incoming irrigation water.

**My awesome irrigation professor taught us to design all canals with safety haul-outs, so that people who fall in, primarily from fishing, can get themselves out. You can see the ladders in the California Aqueduct. The other primary use of canals in ag districts is as make-out spots; you regularly find nests of empty beer cans and used condoms on the banks. My professor also told us that if you design water projects for third world countries, you MUST include shelves for doing laundry. It is unavoidable, he said, so build facilities so that people don’t drown trying to wash their clothes.

Lying on the couch, talking quietly at the afterparty.

Phew. My stats are calming down, which makes me think that rush of guests is past. The place is simply a wreck, compliments and nasty assumptions about women and men all strewn about. I'm going to have to burn some sage and go on a cleanse to get it back in order. I thought about throwing some of those comments in the trash, but there were flashes of thought in there and I hate to get rid of thought.

Some observations:

Considering that my comments policy is fairly obscure, I thought people did OK here. Certainly the comments were worse at the other high-traffic sites; framing matters.

I was shocked at the misogyny. I know I shouldn't be. I should know it is out there. But I don't encounter that in my real life. I just don't. I spend time with incredible, brilliant, openhearted, sweet-natured men, who want all the people in their lives, including the half of people who are women, to be every bit as incredible and brilliant and fulfilled and happy. The mean comments and emails I got would shock them as much as they shocked me. I was a little afraid I was wrong about my men friends too, so I asked them. "Bill," I said as we sat down to lunch. "Do you have a secret streak of seething vicious hatred for women that you never show me?" He paused to check, then confirmed that he does not. I didn't think so, but it is good to get that settled. I concluded that I live in a sheltered little cocoon of bright and generally happy people, and I LOVE MY COCOON! I hate cracks in my cocoon that make me see a harsher world.

While I was getting attention, I wanted more attention. I wanted more hits, more comments, more sites to talk about me, me, me. I didn't even like the things people said about their construct of me, but I couldn't look away and I wanted more. This is ridiculous on so many fronts. When I don't get big attention, I don't want it. I want to joke around with my friends. I didn't like the negative comments I got; by and large they missed the mark, which means nastiness AND not useful. But I wanted more of all of it. Couple more big references and I'd have been stepping out of limos with no panties just to keep the attention going. I am a big hypocrite for telling people to turn away from the emotional rush of Virginia Tech. I didn't do better. I don't know how people who get actual real attention instead of faint imaginary attention ever make it through.

The urge to refute was really strong. I wanted that rush of smart zinging cleverness, even though I don't think cleverness is a good way to talk about important things. Worse than that, I wanted to refute along the lines of the criticism. "Your assumption about the results of my whorish ways is wrong because I am, in fact, a madonna." But that's not right. Right is that I don't agree with the biases that inform your assumptions, and your assumption often doesn't manifest in the world I see. I still wonder if I should illustrate and refute some of the nastiness I saw. Except I don't want to be in conversations with people who think like that.

Finally, new guests who like the looks of the place and want to settle in. You are more than welcome. Few things. I hate generalizations about men and women. There are three billion of each and they do everything. Stereotypes substitute for thought and don't match what I see all the time. You will not impress me with arguments based on stereotypes or generalizations. Also, before you go making suggestions for how I can date, could you please read the archives? We've been doing this for a year and I was trying to date before that. I'm a competent person who has covered the basics. Offer advanced technique; we can all use that. But I have thought about online dating. And, we don't talk about gender and dating all or even most of the time, because there are lots of other interesting things in the world. On the good days we talk about bicycles or water policy.

Added later:

I also noticed that the profanity really bothered some people. That surprised me too. I really enjoy swearing, so I won't stop. But I'll re-calibrate my expectations for how people will react to it.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Darling irony, I am so sorry.

I am so sorry I brought you into this situation. I didn't understand it was just another chance for people to ignore you or worse, kick you around again. When I introduced you to this mess, I thought we were among friends who would see you and chuckle lovingly. I thought they would bring their own small imps, playmates for you in the comments. I didn't think they could overlook you, knock you down and trample you with their big heavy ideas.

You've had a rough time of it, and I put you in harm's way once again. I'm so sorry. I didn't understand what you face out there in the world. I am even more sorry that I will probably do it again. I will forget and I will do it again. I will think that I am holding you up, to shine your light on appreciative faces. But I will be wrong and you, sweet irony, will suffer for it.

If there is any consolation for you in all this, please know that the people who see you love you very much. They want you around. They know what you add to our conversations and games. They know you are the secret to our saying hard things and communicating several layers of thought at once. When they see you, they know they are among likeminded friends. You beckon to us, telling us it is OK to joke about hard things, giving us a way to say even true sad things. Sparkly little irony, I will dust you off and kiss you, and I will put you back out into the world. I am sorry, seeing what you go through. But I have to. Your light calls my friends to me and shows me who they are.