Sunday, March 13, 2005

A Rather Full Sunday

My weekend was rife with XML and XSL, which is really XML when you think about it, which is just used to make more XML (most of the time) - which is a lot of XML, which is why I'm sort of crabby about my weekend. I'm pretty sure normal people don't get up at 6:00 a.m. on Sunday to work on stylesheets.

But, that aside, I managed to have an enjoyable day. We caught Maria's for breakfast with my sister and brother in law - I had the corn pancake (and a raspberry pancake, I was hungry) with cojita cheese. I know it sounds horrible on the surface, but it's absolutely delicious and worth the trip all the way up to Franklin Avenue. By the way, follow the previous link – Cuban Restaurants USA has quite the write up about “a Columbia woman who came to the U.S. and became famous for her pancakes”. I noticed on the way home that the restaurant is very close to the Cedar rail system – theoretically, I could bike to the Mall or Fort Snelling and catch the train to breakfast. I’m sure that would be about as unhealthy as my discovering it’s possible to bike to a Chipotle burrito. There was live music near the end of breakfast, and Eryn was fascinated. She stared at the guitar player and would turn around only to order me to dance. I’d like to say I did, but my Minnesota reserve is a little too powerful to dance in a room full of other Minnesotans having breakfast.

My brother in law told us a good story during breakfast. He and my sister (and niece) are going to London to his aunt’s wedding. Seems his uncle-to-be was around five years old during WWII and actually had a German bomb explode in his house, killing the family on another floor, dumping their floor into the first floor, and burying them all in rubble. They were hauled out, but he and his dad were taken to one hospital and his mother to another, whereupon the respective hospitals told the respective parents that the other parent was dead. At this point you think, “Horrible! But at least you get your spouse back. That’s a relief.” Well, sure, but four to five months later! Pooteewheet knows that if I was spouseless in London for five months, I’d be remarried to Welsh or Scottish redhead before any reasonable amount of grieving was complete.

We indeed went to the Girl Culture exhibit at the Minnesota Center for Photography. It was an exciting trip there as we took a left instead of a right coming off the highway, and ended up in the scary part of north Minneapolis. I have to say, it’s very difficult to tell parts of Minneapolis apart from some of the bad parts of Chicago, right down to the take out chicken stores you can’t tell the foreclosure status on, to the numerous strip-mall type churches. It’s sort of disheartening to realize that someplace that depressing looking exists in your back yard. On a positive note, via the magic of multiculturalism, I learned three different ways to say “Enter in rear”, so if you hear me telling a boss something that sounds like “oogly googly”, there’s a good chance I’m telling him/her off. We could only stay at the exhibit for about an hour as Eryn was getting pretty twitchy, but that was enough time to do a fairly thorough tour. It was a fascinating exhibit of photographs and testimonials by the subjects of the photos. I think more than anything, you came away with a sad feeling that many, many girls in the United States spend a lot of their time worrying about clothes and looks, where to get money to get clothes and looks, how to publicize their clothes and looks and the money they have for those clothes and looks, what they’ll go through for clothes and looks and money and how they view their bodies/sexuality as a tool toward those ends. Particularly disturbing was the 19 year old talking about how she was an ideal southern belle and the skills she felt promoted that heritage, that was followed by tales about her eating disorders, exercise addiction, belief in subjection to a husband and assertion that she’d rather be a slut than ugly, and the five year old talking about how she shops at the same store as Britney Spears, how Britney is a role model, and how she (the five year old) really likes belly shirts, “Girl Power!”

The receptionist at the exhibit seemed to enjoy my family – Eryn and I sat in the entry area while Pooteewheet was finishing up, and Eryn pulled herself up into a chair and lamented loudly, “Mom lost.” I assured her Mom was not lost, but was enjoying the pictures. At which point Eryn noted, “Mom hiding.” I replied that she was not hiding, but enjoying the pictures. Eryn demanded, “Mom sneeze,” meaning she wanted Mom to sneeze so she could find her (part of our hide and seek ritual). I explained that Mom wasn’t going to sneeze so she could find her, and so we went right back to Mom lost, at which point the receptionist laughed out loud.

I read a really good article on The Atlantic on line about the state of the New World before Europe showed up, or at least right after they showed up and possibly decimated 96% of the indigenous population. It’s a fascinating article because it offers entirely new ideas (at least to me) about what life was like here before Europeans showed up, how many people might have been here (could have been more than in Europe), and that the Cahokia Mounds might be just the tip of huge environmental changes engineered on scales Europeans couldn’t begin to appreciate. If you have access to a current copy (April 2005) of The Atlantic, I also recommend David Foster Wallace’s article, “Host”. It’s done in the traditional Foster Wallace manner (check out Infinite Jest), heavily footnoted, but in this case, the footnotes are multi-colored highlights tying the whole thing together like a printed web page. The article itself is an extensive examination of a conservative talk show host, and though it doesn’t offer any truly deep insights, is just very enjoyable.

I also learned from The Atlantic that I’ve been missing out on the perfect way to exercise and, that if I had purchased the appropriate machine (the ROM) when I was 7, it would have cost me just a little more than $500 a year (not including tax and interest) to perfect my physique. I’m not sure what makes an exercise machine worth $14,615, which their company assures me is more expensive than 99% of the exercise machines on the market, but I’m encouraged to think of it like I was purchasing a Lamborghini or a Rolls-Royce. Those are bold words to wield at someone who drives a 1997 Saturn stick and leaves his wife with the “good” car - a used Ford Focus. The one thing I bet charging $14,615 ensures is that if you have said ROM, you’ll be encouraged to use it just to create a good exercise to cost ratio. And, just as a side note, I find the idea of having a current owner stop by to show you their exercise machine sort of…unnerving. Not that I’m worried they’d see me being flabby and un-ROM-worthy, but, just, well, ish.

And, speaking of things my magazines are trying to sell me, this (probably not safe for work) turns up in fully ¾ of the magazines I subscribe to – Wired and Bicycling for instance (I don’t mean anything with naked people). I’m not sure what it is about my reading selections that encourages anyone to think of me as the optimal target market, but I guess I’m flattered – someone thinks that my life of technology and bicycling is tied into a life full of sex and lots of kinky toys (or the need for those toys). I bet if I had a subscription to XML/XSL Developer Weekly, the advertisement would be on page one or two.

1 comment:

PTW said...

Two things:
(1) The saturn is a 1999, thank you very much. Geez!
(2) Why do I have the lame original if the Black Label sports wrist cuffs?!