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September 29, 2004

Expires 2009

Three vignettes from yesterday's driver's license renewal.

Vignette #1: She of the light-and-dark hair color gave her temporary license an ironic smirk. What was she thinking as she walked out of the office? Was it being legally able to drink, which is ironic since she was in AA? Was it the blank stare she had in the picture? Or was it that for the next five years she could taunt her straight-laced mother with a picture that included the large gold hoop in her nose?

Vignette #2: "Ooh, I think my eyes were closed there." She leaned in over the guy running the digital camera and shook her head at the monitor. "Can I get a retake?" SNAP. "Er.. I still don't like it. I look too old." SNAP. "Am I squinting there?" Finally, one of the six people in line behind her lost his passive-aggressive control on his rage. (Bad Seattleite!) "You know, SOME of us have places to BE." One more retake, one she was less than satisfied with (but one that the rest of us would have gladly settled for), and she was out the door, perhaps off to ask the Tully's around the corner to make and remake her venti soy latte.

Vignette #3: She looked young. He looked 16. She had black-black hair, pale skin, and a quilted (or woven) bag with a bunch of buttons on it advertising the general and specific memes of youth. She looked awfully cheerful through her wire frame glasses, boyfriend in tow. 20 minutes, she was at the counter, glasses off, making a tearful scene in front of DMV. "It's not fair!" she said to everyone and herself, fragile. Last I saw her, she was still verklempt, parting the crosswalk, baby boyfriend toting behind.

Me: Had birthday, license expired. Off work and up to Greenwood. Take number. 20 minute wait. Same address, yes to organ donor. 20 more minutes reading theories of typography underlying CSS. SNAP. Neutral picture. Temp license, they'll mail the new one in a week. Back to work.

Posted by dylan at 11:02 PM | Comments (4)

September 26, 2004

Frog on a cake

To summarize:
My 8th birthday cake had a frog on it. Not a real frog, an icing frog.
My middle brother Ryan puked all over it.
Ryan has a long history of puking on holidays and special events. Food poisoning germs just love taking their holiday in him.
I rarely get sick on holidays. Last time I can remember being sick on a holiday was Thanksgiving Friday 1984. I only remember this because I saw Flutie-to-Phelan in between visits to the toilet.

And now you know way more than you wanted to when you started reading this.

Posted by dylan at 09:48 PM

September 22, 2004

Two to the fifth

Our youth is fleeting
Old age is just around the bend
And i can't wait to go grey

And i'll sit and wonder
Of every love that could've been
If i'd only thought of something charming to say

-- Death Cab for Cutie

(And if you can't figure it out, yes, it's my birthday today.)

Posted by dylan at 12:45 AM | Comments (5)

September 20, 2004

Raining (Manhole Covers) in Baltimore

If you didn't notice (and hey, none of you who aren't blood kin didn't), this site was down for most of the day today. While this website is based in Seattle, the server is in Baltimore (and the company I pay to run the server is in San Diego). This morning, there was a little fire in Baltimore. The fire, luckily, didn't take out the data center, but it was nasty enough that the fire marshal and the power company ordered the power turned off to all the servers so that no one working on putting out the fire and restoring power would be in any greater danger than they already were in. The site was down for about 10 hours.

The Internet has brought us to a place where your website doesn't open because of a fire 3000 miles away and cuts off power generated two states away to a server built of components fashioned half a world away, meaning that your mother halfway in between you and the server sends you IM messages to tell you that the server is down.

Posted by dylan at 08:24 PM

September 16, 2004

Six more shopping days

Hope you all aren't getting crushed by the sheer masses of shoppers trying to beat the Dylan's birthday rush.

Susan gave me my present early. She gave me this. I have a wonderful wife.

If you have any interest in taunting my wish list selections, then be my guest.

Posted by dylan at 11:07 PM | Comments (1)

September 14, 2004

The war drops by the house

My nephew (Susan's brother's son) has been informed that he will be deployed to Iraq come January. He's a lieutenant in the National Guard.

I hope he gets through in one piece. He's a good, upright Christian kid. Trained to be a teacher. Married. Upbeat. And thanks to Dubya, he's off to deal with IEDs, Shi'ite mobs, Ba'athist terrorists, and a big, hot country with negative pressure in its governmental zone.

Mind you, I always supported getting rid of Saddam; heck, I knew the confrontation was inevitable. I always thought, though, that since the UN started the war, the UN should have ended it. We could have arm-twisted a real coalition together, maybe even built an occupying force with our European allies and Muslim armies. Instead, we ended up with the current morass and the political handwringing and excuses.

Yet another reason why I'm not voting for Dubya despite my natural Republican tendencies. Fighting war for the sake of war without a plan to fight for peace is always a bad, bad idea. It's bad enough that we're fighting an open-ended war on terrorism without goals and objectives and a focus on the roots of terror; we do it while invading a country that had nothing to do with terror other than a lunch date in Prague that apparently came to nothing. And now we're stuck with this commitment for at least another five years no matter who gets elected (OK, Nader would pull the troops out, which makes as much sense as Crystal Pepsi).

So now, my nephew joins the next wave of Guards, er, people heading over there trying to keep Iraq's fragile democracy alive. Godspeed to him.

Posted by dylan at 10:38 PM | Comments (2)

September 12, 2004

One last 9/11 thing

You can mow the lawn, but the weeds come back. You can till up the lawn, but then you kill the grass... and the weeds come back. If you mow the lawn, then hit the roots of the weeds with RoundUp, you won't have weeds for a while. Still have to mow and 'cide consistently, though.

Posted by dylan at 05:42 PM | Comments (1)

September 09, 2004

9/11

I would like to hereby demand an end to the use of "9/11" as a metaphor. It is overused and confusing, and it is bleeding the meaning out of the American dies horribilis.

The final straw for me was the recent terrorist attacks in Russia. First came the twin plane bombings on August 24. This event was immediately branded as "Russia's 9/11." Then came the Labor Day weekend horrors in Beslan. So, what do the media call this event? "Russia's 9/11." So... which one is it? Are the plane bombings now "Russia's USS Cole?" Or are they the "Russia's First WTC Bombing?" And what about the Moscow apartment bombings in 1999? "Russia's Oklahoma City?" And away we go down the reducto ad absurdum logic stream.

I know it's a nice shorthand for writers, but it's a moving target. What happens if Al-Queda blows up a Moscow subway stop tomorrow? Does it become "Russia's 9/11" if the bombing kills more people than the atrocity in Beslan? Or is it bigger because it's in Moscow -- implying that a life lost in the city is worth more than a life lost in Russian flyover country? You're unwittingly quantifying life if you do. All the while, you demean not only the victims of the attack but of all attacks. It's as if there's a high score each terrorist has to shoot for in order to become a country's "9/11." And it doesn't stop with terror. An F5 tornado destroys a major Midwestern city and causes massive disruption... now it's "Kansas City's 9/11." A distraught man walks into a small-town diner and shoots up the place... now it's "Drumright's 9/11." An oil spill wipes out marine life on the West Coast... now it's "Puget Sound's 9/11." And, now, it's a meaningless cliche that minimizes the horror for the sake of expediency.

On September 11, 2001, over 3000 people died in a three hour span due to cowardly and vicious actions by pseudo-religious extremists. Two of the tallest buildings in the world were left a pile of rubble before the West Coast had their first cup of morning coffee. The Pentagon, symbol of the American military-industrial complex, was the scene of physical and human destruction. In rural Pennsylvannia, a crater was all that was left of a fourth plane that was brought down when the passengers got wind of the plan and fought back.

Now look at that above paragraph. Do you see anything about "school," "bombs," "hundreds of dead children," or "Chechnya?" For that matter, do you see anything about "bombs" blowing planes out of the sky? No. You don't. This is because the Beslan atrocity was a completely different event from the twin Russian plane bombings, which was a completely different event from the Madrid train bombings and the Bali nightclub bombing and the African embassy bombings. Yes, they are all cowardly acts of terror, but they are not 9/11, and comparing attacks like these to 9/11 is a callous shorthand that quantifies human life.

Terrorists quantify life. Decent, religious, ethical humans qualify life. Stop trying to compare, because there is no comparison.

Posted by dylan at 12:20 AM | Comments (1)

September 06, 2004

Movie time

We were able to procure not one but TWO babysitters for the weekend, so we went to our second and third movies of the year. (You have a kid and suddenly you're not going out on Saturdays to see movies.)

Movie one: Vanity Fair. Take a 900 page book. Make a two hour movie out of it. How do you do it? You rip out 70% of the plot and make the movie a super-majority of Becky Sharpe, then elide over all the context. It's an absolute muddle of characters and plot. It does have some nice Bollywood dance numbers, though. This is a book that should be a 6-8 hour miniseries, not a 2 hour Cliff's Notes of a movie.

Movie two: Garden State. It really felt like a different place and age for me. It's where I was six or seven years ago, when I was 25 or 26. Now, though, I don't feel the kind of angst and emotional flatlining Zach Braff's character does. I have completely different angsts. So, where Samantha thinks it's the bee's knees, I think it's OK but feels more like Gen Y's movie about growing up, and I, unfortunately, am not Gen Y.

But then there's Natalie Portman. Wow. Her acting is effortless. If she doesn't have an Oscar by the time this decade is over, either something tragic happened to her or the Academy set a high-water mark for stupidity. Her acting makes this movie lovable. You're sitting there thinking, "She's playing the exact same character she played in Beautiful Girls," and then it sets in that she's legal and she has matured.

There are some damn funny lines in the movie that aren't repeatable on this family blog. Oh, and the ending was tacked on, and I didn't like it, but that's because I'll be 32 in 12 days and feel old and curdmugeonly.

Posted by dylan at 10:50 PM | Comments (2)

September 05, 2004

5/7

Yesterday (Saturday) was our fifth wedding anniversary. Tuesday is the seventh anniversary of when we first met. I am still satisfied with my choice, even if she is smarter and better looking.

Happy anniversary, dear.

Posted by dylan at 12:40 AM | Comments (1)