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 Almost Sixty Years After Nellie Niemeyer's Funeral

P E R I O D  X  1 9 9 8

24 September 1998
Almost Sixty Years After Nellie Niemeyer's Funeral
I saw Nellie Niemeyer's Funeral 1939 at an ostensibly prestigious venue. The photograph, made by an anonymous photographer, was unremarkable except for the numbers someone had inked above the figures: 7, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. I was fascinated by the unusual sequence and wondered why the figure on the left, who should have been number one, turned out to be number seven?

I figured that any image that held my interest for the greater part of a minute was worth plagiarizing, so I did. This is also available in the PDF format.

25 September 1998
Reconnaissance Report
Going on reconnaissance is like eating raw broccoli or yoga: it's a wonderful experience I generally avoid. This crisp autumn day seemed like a perfect time to go on reconnaissance, so I couldn't resist.

I awoke well before dawn, dressed in warm dark clothes, then packed the essential equipment: a flask of coffee, two cheese sandwiches, a liter of water, a pint of whisky and a pistol and silencer. I went down a familiar trail to the tree by the bend in the stream and clamored up the branches to my usual perch ten meters over the river. I sat silently watching the sun rise on a deeply overcast day.

Nothing had happened by 11:45; that's when I ate my first sandwich. Everything was still quiet at 12:50; that's when I ate my second sandwich. I waited until exactly 15:00 to have my first sip of whisky; I consumed the last of it at 15:32. I was the beneficiary of serendipitous timing, because all hell broke loose at 15:38.

I was ready for action when I saw an enemy submarine's periscope break the surface of the stream. An untrained observer might have mistaken the periscope as a discarded plastic bag, but I knew better from bitter experience.


There must be a more pleasant experience than smelling gunpowder after the diminutive hiss of a pistol's silencer, but I don't know what it might be.

Fshht! Fshht! Fshht! Fshht! Fshht! Fshht! Fshht! Fshht!

There was no more sign of the enemy.

I put a fresh clip into the pistol, but it proved to be unnecessary. I went off duty promptly at 18:00, climbed down the tree, returned to base, and read the day's mail.

26 September 1998
My Thousandth Notebook Entry
This is my thousandth consecutive notebook entry. This would be number 1,111,101,000 in base two, 1,101,001 in base three, 33,220 in base four, 13,000 in base five, 4,344 in base six, 2,626 in base seven, 1,750 in base eight, and/or 1,331 in base nine.

Since I've a base ten type of hombre, though, this is my thousandth consecutive notebook entry. Where's the champagne?

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27 September 1998
Heavy Water Hail Storms
There are a lot of dents in the nose of the jet going to Tokyo. Perhaps those stories about heavy water hail storms over the north Pacific are true after all.

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28 September 1998
(Not) Weather Balloons
I deployed eight weather balloons at 10:21, then decommissioned them at exactly noon (local time) after they failed to have any measurable impact on the weather.

29 September 1998
Coffee and Sawdust
After a few days in the United States, this is the last day I'll have to mix sawdust with freshly-ground coffee. I should be able to drink real coffee tomorrow.

Pedro taught me the sawdust trick years ago. He said he almost became agitated to the point of suicide years ago after having one of Naomi's quadruple (quintuple?) lattes after months of drinking watery instant coffee in Bolivia. After that, he learned to mix sawdust with real coffee to make the transition bearable. (Formula: start with nine parts sawdust to one part coffee, then gradually reverse the ratio.)

Pedro's strategy works for making the transition from coffee-flavored water to real coffee. Now, all I need is a formula to avoid withdrawal symptoms when I go to the cursed lands of instant coffee. Once I have that nailed, international should be far less traumatic.

30 September 1998
No Better Athletes Through Better Sex
Dr. Mingl Jalhouwati is in big big trouble. He's about to get dumped by his publisher, but that's the least of his problems right about now.

It seems like Dr. Jalhouwati is no doctor of any persuasion, and that his popular book, Better Athletes Through Better Sex, is about to be exposed as a fraud, a hoax.

Better Athletes Through Better Sex offered incredible advice. Copulate underwater to make a swimmer. Breathe heavily before and after orgasm to create the large lung capacity needed by a marathon runner. Balance precariously during intercourse to produce a gymnast. Thrash legs wildly for a runner. Dr. Jalhouwati's recommendations were as logical as they were ineffective.

I attribute the success of Better Athletes Through Better Sex to Dr. Jalhouwati's understanding of human nature. What nicely brought up breeder wouldn't want to hear that sex is not "merely" fun, it's also productive, efficient, and, most importantly, it can be done wrong!

Irate parents are suing Dr. Jalhouwati for a plethora of reasons, including "actual dislocation of an organ." (Ouch!) The Mormons have convinced the Utah State Police to arrest Dr. Jalhouwati if he ever has the misfortune of visiting that sad state, and the new edition of The Lancet has thoroughly debunked each and every one of Dr. Jalhouwati's claims.

But Dr. Jalhouwati's real problem is that sales of Better Athletes Through Better Sex have plummeted because of blatant plagiarism. Dr. Nolan Osborne has stolen freely from Dr. Jalhouwati's pseudo-eugenics with his new best seller Making Happier and More Competitive Babies Through Low-Stress No-Hassle Sex.

Caveat emptor.

1 October 1998
Not a Jewish Intellectual
I spent last night with Paul and the twins; we had a great time as ménage à quatres go. When I woke up this morning after sleeping with half a dozen books and magazines, I told Paul I wanted to be a Jewish intellectual when I grew up.

"Two problems, Bubbie," he replied. "You're not Jewish and you're not an intellectual."

I just lied. He actually said "You're a working class intellectual, and that's almost as good." Still, I like my version better.

2 October 1998
But Who's Counting?
Marcel Duchamp died thirty years ago today. I did nothing to mark the occasion. And to mark the occasion, I did nothing.

3 October 1998
Septuple Negative Coelacanths
One of my favorite stories from my childhood was the discovery of "a living fossil." The fossil was--and perhaps still is--a coelacanth, a fish previously known only from 400 million year old fossils. Some scientists tracked one down in 1938; since then some 200 more have been found in the coelacanths' only known habitat.

Until recently, that is. Some other plucky scientists saw a coelacanth for sale at a local fish market some 10,000 kilometers away from "the coelacanths' only known habitat."


Ironically, or perhaps predictably, the new population of coelacanths was discovered in one of the most thoroughly studied parts of the ocean.

Izahia Heinrich, the senior ichthyologist at the Scripps Ocean Research Institute, was remarkably candid in acknowledging the limits of current scientific knowledge. "Shee-yit, ain't no way nobody don't know nothin' 'bout no nothin'."

I don't know what's more amazing: more coelacanths or septuple negatives.

4 October 1998
Beyond Seventeen MegaStrems
I spent most of this morning and the entire afternoon rewiring my laboratory communication station for greater Internet speeds, sort of. Most of the work involved building a computer perch near the ceiling. It's so near the ceiling, in fact, that I can now only access my computer from a prone position.

After extensive rewiring, my computer and all its peripheral attachments are directly connected to the inverted phaseloop converter on the roof. The clean monodirectional electricity now passes through platinum wiring directly in the computer. By taking advantage of the gravity boost, the electrons attach themselves to the binary dispersion engines with great speed (and thus greater efficiency). Similarly, the Internet connections now pass down through the floor to the rotary packet dispersal unit in the subbasement, from where they travel by optiwire (silver for positive packets, gold for negative packets, with a redundant fiber optic connection for packets of indeterminate charge) directly into the Internet metacable running through the underground sea canyons.

Gravity has again proven to be a trusted and valuable ally; my transmissions now regularly surpass the previously-elusive seventeen megaStrem level.

5 October 1998
Think Different, Then Think Twice
Apple Computer is soliciting volunteers for the 17 October launch of its new operating system. Apple Computer, of course, is the same corporation that's spending gazillions of dollars on its "Think Different" advertising campaign.

According to press reports, Apple Computer is dictating that its volunteers "must wear Apple's Mac OS 8.5 polo shirt with black or khaki pants and dress shoes."

I've heard it all before: all the comrades must think uniformly different.

6 October 1998
The Same Day Twice
I made an amazing discovery this evening: Sunday 15 February 1997 and Friday 6 March 1997 were the same day.

When Frederik pointed out that my notebook entries for 15 February and 6 March were almost identical, I thought it was just another of my many mistakes. I then checked my calendar for those days and they too were almost identical: lunch with Aaron, dinner with Petra. I checked the email log on my server and found I sent and received the same number of messages to and from the same people. Finally, I dug up my quarterly phone bills and saw that I made the same calls on the same day to the same numbers.

Now what? I could check with Aaron and Petra to see if their schedules matched mine; I could email the people I emailed and call the people I called to see if they had the same experience. I could, but I won't. Some mysteries should be investigated, others should be savored.

7 October 1998
Immortal Josh
Josh has an unusual strategy for attaining immortality. He is convinced that he was put on Earth to achieve certain tasks.

"God put me here to accomplish a number of things," he explained.

Josh is one of the laziest people I know; that's his way of achieving immortality.

"All those things God put me here to do? I'm not going to do one of them, not a God damn one of them. I'll live forever!"

Since Josh is much younger than me, I probably won't live long enough to see if his strategy was successful.

8 October 1998
There Is No Swatch
Gerald told me that after many tedious bureaucratic hurdles (and great expense) he'd finally been awarded patent for glow-in-the-dark safety pins.

I asked Gerald why anyone would ever want--or need--a glow-in-the-dark safety pin.

"That's what they said to Einstein and Curie and Swatch!"

"I suppose so," I replied. I didn't have the heart to tell him that even Einstein and Curie probably couldn't have come up with a use for a glow-in-the-dark safety pin. And I'm not going to be the person to break the news to Gerald that there is no Swatch.

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9 October 1998
Super Royal
Super Royal uses a different technique than most people who write their names on walls, but I'm not sure what it is. Super Royal's signature looks almost like it was done with a paint brush, or perhaps with spray paint and a fine nozzle. I like the way the paint runs.

10 October 1998
Fredonia's Threat to the United Snakes of America
Jon Wiener, a University of California history professor, recently discovered that the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation kept some hilarious files on Groucho née Julius H. Marks. Wiener is modest about the findings obtained using the Freedom of Information Act.

"Getting the files on Marx was a kind of shot in the dark. I had been a plaintiff in a lawsuit to the John Lennon FBI files," he said. "We recently settled most of the issues in that case so I thought, 'After Lennon, why not Marx?' "

Despite his investigative efforts, Wiener still hasn't got the full story on what the U.S. government knew about the leader of Fredonia. The FBI refuses to release some of its records on Marx "in the interest of national defense or foreign policy." I'm very impressed. Groucho's been dead for over twenty years, but he's still a threat to spineless bureaucrats.

I've been tempted to use the Freedom of Information Act to find out what sort of information the U.S. government has on me, but I've been too scared to ask. What if I found out I that none of my crimes and misdemeanors ever merited even a single memo? Even my ego's not up to that sort of putdown.

11 October 1998
The Blind Squirrels
Almost all of the squirrels in Golden Gate Park are completely blind, and there's a reason: fleas. There's an infestation of Honduran fleas that feed on the squirrels' optic nerve and lachrymal glands--the bits behind the eyeball.

I have nightmares about blind squirrels.

12 October 1998
Better Sex Through Chemistry
Three American scientists whose research contributed to the development of the anti-impotence drug Viagra won a Nobel Prize today. I'm not surprised: who could not applaud new development in chemically enhanced sex?

The scientists' big discovery was that the body uses nitric oxide to regulate blood vessels, a finding that may eventually help treat heart disease, shock, and other ailments. But penises come first, so the other problems will have to wait.

Brian, who's not terribly bright, decided he'd save money by using nitrous oxide--popularly known as laughing gas--instead of Viagra. Poor Brian, poor stupid Brian, didn't realize there's a huge difference between nitric oxide and nitrous oxide. Oh well, he does now.

What a marvelous age we live in: men shaped by Viagra chasing silicone-shaped women on the pill. Like crazy, daddio.

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13 October 1998
A Peck of Powerful Peppers
It's usually hard to tell what's what in this age of misleading marketing. That's why I appreciate visiting my local taqueria: most of what I eat there isn't far removed from real food. Instead of the cans of "Mexican Restaurant Sauce" that's the staple of anti-taquerias in American malls, I enjoy watching the workers chop tons of onions and tomatoes as I inhale a burrito.

Today was a special treat: the taqueria staff took delivery of a mammoth sack of chilis. I can't understand why everyone who works there still has all of their fingers. I would have thought that the digits that escaped the cleavers would have succumbed to the chili oil. I'm glad I don't work.

14 October 1998
Absolutely Crazy Insane Business
Every so often I yield to the foolish urge to make some money by working with business people. And whenever I do, I always end up with more frustration than money. Case in point: Jeremy from Seiler Solutions sent me a "rough draft of a PR concept" and told me to "make it sing!" Here's what I had to work with:

    Seiler Solutions, a Modesto-based web development firm specializes in creating database-driven solutions to business problems. Whether it is building sites that allow for dynamically generated page content, electronic commerce or integrating multiple databases to perform custom business applications, Seiler delivers.

    Our Technical Director really likes tigers. He seems to relate to their nocturnal habits and love of Indian food. Some have suggested that he is better suited for a career in the clergy, but his base sexual nature makes that too obvious a choice. His technical background is in stringing tennis racquets and stringing along country club wives. What a perfect match for the rigors of the Internet industry, eh?

    Some folks call our design team Renaissance men: others place them earlier. The sloping foreheads, the forward slant of the body as they lope and the prognathous jaw all point to the Upper Paleolithic period. But whatever their physical appearance, their graphics, drawings and paintings are unmistakably Lascaux. And their energy is Cro-Magnon to match.

    Left alone with some inexpensive malt liquor, some crates of crayons, some bales of paper and a box or two of fresh fruit, their output is nothing short of phenomenal.

    The head of Operations and Marketing likes to smear peanut butter on his naughty bits and invite his exotic toy dog to roger him roundly. They get along great. He also festers mightily from his embryonic tube remnants. His love of the English language is only surpassed by his love of complete renal failure. When it rains, he likes to lie face down in puddles.

    So, whether you are looking for application development or sales force automation, Seiler Solutions is the place to get your wick wet.

I told Jeremy to replace "to get your wick wet" with "where international problems demand international solutions" and sent him an invoice for $3,000. Jeremy sent me a check for $3,000 and a note telling me to "lick a poodle's bottom until it bleeds."

Business people are absolutely crazy crazy insane.

15 October 1998
Harriet's Rejoinder
Harriet hates television and isn't shy about saying so. And since I rarely avoid a stupid argument--especially one I can't win--I suggested that watching television was better than doing nothing.

"Watching television is worse than doing nothing," replied Harriet. "At least when you're doing nothing, you're thinking."

16 October 1998
The Supermodel Business is Getting Old
I got a call from Margaret, a photographer friend, who asked if I could serve as a supermodel for a prestigious corporation's advertising campaign.

"Does it involve gratuitous full frontal nudity?"

"It should but it doesn't," she replied. "I'm shooting an ad for some sort of videoconferencing thingie, and the art director assures me that market research shows that over a third of the people use it for some flavor of erotica."

That was the answer I wanted to hear, so I took the job. (Like most supermodels I did my fair share of gratuitous full frontal nudity early in my career, but now I'm getting too old for that sort of thing unless it pays really really well.)

When I got to the studio I remembered why I'd almost abandoned my modeling career years ago. The legion of creepy pimple-faced assistants leered at me; it didn't take much imagination to realize they were undressing me with their beady little eyes.

Meanwhile, the stylists were giving me dirty looks too. Can I help it if they have to work long hours while I sip champagne and munch caviar and crackers?

As usual, though, the art director was the worst. She kept asking me if I wanted to "discuss other propositions over dinner." I made it clear I wasn't interested in her sleazy overtures, but she figured that I was her property for the day because she'd approved my ridiculously high fee.

The worst part of the day came when the client suggested that I pose with my good side away from the camera. Margaret suggested a different pose, but not until I "accidentally" got hair spray on her new Hasselblad lens. Silly me!

I gulped the rest of the champagne; that gave me the out I needed.

"No more champagne? No more champagne! You expect me to work without champagne? This is preposterous; I'm out of here. To hell with all of you and your stinky mediocre doodads! Feh!"

Margaret took it all in stride. I knew she already had the shots she needed, so I threw the empty caviar jar at the art director and stalked out. Even though I love Margaret, I'm getting increasingly tired of being a supermodel.

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17 October 1998
Keeping the X in Xmas
It seems like the season of wretched xmas excess gets longer each year. When I went to check the price of film at an Internet site today, I was greeted by Caucasian with a bad haircut in a silly shirt who advised me that "Tis [sic] the season to shop. The holiday season. That exciting time of year when many of us are spending our hard-earned money we earned over the past year."

I bought my film from another dealer.

18 October 1998
Confusing Clues
Some things are happening again and again. When I take a shower, I sometimes remember the water from somewhere near the equator. And, when I hear a powerful bass line on a good sound system, I remember a mesmerizing concert.

Here's the problem: I can't remember if the tropical waters and the musical performance are from my past or from my future.

19 October 1998
Mad Scientist
I drank a lot at a party tonight with a scientist who bet me a hundred dollars that I couldn't precisely define Avogadro's number. I dialed 1912331098 and got Antonio's answering machine.

"Hi, this is Antonio Avogadro. I can't come to the phone now, so please leave a brief message and I'll get back to you."

And that's how I got a hundred dollars from a mad scientist.

20 October 1998
My 10,000,000,000th Entry
This is my 10,000,000,000th entry in base two. This is also the last time I'll make these silly calculations until perhaps my 100,000,000,000th base two entry on 10 August 2001 or my 1,000,000,000,000th base two entry on 20 March 2007.

On second thought, it seems improbable I'll be doing these daily entries in 2007.

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21 October 1998
Analog Sequencing
I had two hundred and eighty-eight strings of words to arrange into thirty-six groups of eight. I couldn't think of a straightforward way to do it on my computer, so I printed the words on two hundred and eighty-eight small pieces of paper and manually arranged them on the bar. It wasn't elegant, but it worked.

22 October 1998
As Fast as Popcorn
I finally saw Monica again after too many years apart.

"As we get older, the weeks just go by like popcorn," she said.

I agreed, so we went to see a film. We chewed a lot.

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23 October 1998
Big Al's Yawn
I told Big Al I saw a fire-eating belly dancer at some trendy technology company's party.

"What were you expecting?" Big Al yawned. "Wine and cheese?"

24 October 1998
A Mahoganous Relationship
If you're looking for the rainforest, you'll find quite a bit of it in Joseph's new home. He insisted that the builders use mahogany wherever possible, and they did.

Joseph's taste surprised me. Even thought I knew Joseph had inherited a lot of money, I never knew him to be ostentatious. And so I asked him where his mahogany fetish came from. Joseph told me that almost every article he read said most relationships fail without mahogany.

I wished him well.

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25 October 1998
The Perfect Cup
Dr. Arnold sent me an amazing gift: a Rainier Ale cup! And what a cup it is! It holds more than an American pint, more that a British pint, more than any pint yet discovered! The cup stands on its little legs begging to be filled, and, when it's full, sits on its bottom just as the drinker sits on his or her bottom.

And as if that weren't enough, it also works fine with cheap whisky as well as Rainier Ail! Perfection in a cup!

26 October 1998
Not as Far as Pluto
Gerrica told me she went to Pluto last night.

Gerrica's not really the astronaut type, or even the astronomer type, so I asked her if perhaps she wasn't thinking of Uranus, which is of course much closer.

"No," she said, "I'm talking about Polluto, the club off Folsom. You go there to get polluted!"

Of course. It seems like I'm always the last to know about this things.

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27 October 1998
Truck Stop Support
A number of people--including several close friends--can't understand how I can survive economically as an artist. The truth is that my art work can't support even my relatively Spartan way of life. Without the income from my distant relatives' truck stop, most of my burritos would be of the inedible persuasion.

28 October 1998
The Length of Art
The average person falls asleep in seven minutes. That's why I never make anything that takes more than six minutes to fully explore.

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29 October 1998
A Spoon in the Road
I showed Alison a spoon I found in the road.

"What did you expect," she asked. "A fork?"

30 October 1998
Photographs from the 1970s
I recently came across the book, The Banff Purchase, An Exhibition of Photography in Canada, while rummaging through a box of old publications. The book, published in 1979, features the work of seven photographers; Lynn Cohen was the only name I recognized.

The most striking thing about the work was that all the photographs looked like they were made in the 1970s. I liked the photographs, but they looked dated. The work looked disturbingly out of style, or, more accurately, they looked like they were done in the style of the 1970s. Many of them looked like the photographs I made twenty years ago.

That worries me. I wonder if the work I'm now doing will look like art from the 1990s in a couple decades? I fear the answer is yes.

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31 October 1998
A Halloween Invitation Declined
I found a woman's shoe on a street corner after a series of superbly debauched Halloween parties. I declined the obvious invitation to meet the woman who lost it; some things are better left to the imagination.

1 November 1998
The Motion Picture Association of America rating guide is 30 years old today. That's XXX in Roman numerals, XXX like pornographic films. Or so I thought.

I mentioned the XXX connection to Chester, but he wasn't impressed. Chester, who has a strange fascination with pornography, told me that there's no official XXX rating, only X. He said I should have made the correlation between ratings and Roman numerals XX years ago. That seems to be the usual story with me: a couple of decades too late.

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©1998 David Glenn Rinehart