1999 Notebook: Interval XXXII

25 October 1999
Too Hot
My father lived long enough to witness many unfortunate examples of my breathtakingly stupid pursuits. He never criticized; he never even suggested that I might consider acting even just a bit less self-destructively.

Except once.

A few years before he died, my father and I were eating at a taqueria in the Mission. After watching me slather salsa and jalapeño peppers on every bite, he expressed his concern.

"Son," he advised, "that much hot sauce just can't be good for you."

Of course, I ignored his advice. Painfully spicy food is exhilarating, not dangerous.

Or so I thought, until Glenda sent me an article from the Journal of the American Medical Association that provided a cautionary tale. A young Israeli man ate ...

... here we go ...

... twenty-five chilies in twelve minutes!


This proved to be too much for the lad's innards. Specifically, his intestines couldn't handle all the capsaicin. (C18H27NO3 is the bit that makes a pepper a chili pepper--I think.)

Anyway, the capsaicin burned through the chili aficionado's intestines. The kid needed surgery to fix his plumbing problems.

Despite such compelling evidence, and sage parental advice, I will continue to subsist on capsaicin, caffeine, Rainier Ale, and my other seven secret ingredients.

26 October 1999
Weasel Words
I'm almost convinced that the world was created about the time I was conceived. I know this isn't true; this belief is emotional, not intellectual. Nevertheless, it's why I'm mostly convinced that anything clever was invented during my life.

Or that's what I thought until I read this:

    One of our defects as a nation is a tendency to use what have been called "weasel words." When a weasel sucks eggs the meat is sucked out of the egg. If you use a "weasel word" after another there is nothing left of the other.

This words were spoken by--maybe even written by--Theodore Roosevelt in 1916.

Well, I'll be.

27 October 1999
Gerald's Werds
I have a friend who can't spell. Gerald says he can't spell because he's dyslexic, but I'm not so sure. I think his Dyslexics Liberation Front poster is just for show. ("Dyslexics untie! You have nothing to lose but your chinas!")

Gerald always spells "words" as "werds." He says it's because words are always about the past (wereds?), always about something that used to be. I don't think that has anything to with do dyslexia.

28 October 1999
Walking Fish Machine
Umberto is working on a walking device for fish. It's crazy.

The device looks like an aquarium on a tripod. Made of aircraft aluminum and hardened plexi, the aquarium itself is full of electronics, lots of sonar motion detection sensors and that sort of thing. The legs bend; they're hydraulically controlled.

Umberto has constructed a robot, a robot with a fish brain. The contraption walks in the same direction the fish is swimming. Crazy.

I have no idea why Umberto has spent most of this year on a walking fish machine. Fish have no money.

29 October 1999
Cat told me about Tennessee linguistics, words like "usedtacoulda" and "mightacoulda." And then there's "gitchuah," as in "git you a bucket." And so on.

Cat's counting the seconds until she can escape from Tennessee.

Who can blame her?

30 October 1999
An Everyday Holiday
Helen and I were walking down Karboski Street today. We saw a woman with a purple and green face; she was wearing what looked like dozens of kilograms of wet toilet paper. On one arm she had a snake, and she held a pitchfork in the other. Additionally, she was towing a gaunt young man by the nose.

This was accomplished by way of a chain. The man was balancing on a skateboard, so I don't think it hurt very much. He looked like one of those people that just likes to bark at nothing.

Helen said it looked like there should be an exciting Halloween, a holiday I'd failed to remember. After all, most days are Halloween.

31 October 1999
San Francisco Dining Economics
Yesterday, and today, a rich friend treated me to hundred -dollar-plus lunches. On Friday, though, I ended up paying twenty dollars for a plate of lettuce and two glasses of eau de tap.

Nothing is real in San Francisco, especially money.

1 November 1999
Don't Forget the Car
I saw a flashy new Mercedes with a bumpersticker that read, "If you're going to drive, don't forget the car."

I wonder why anyone would put that on their car? Maybe I'd know the answer if I hadn't gone without a car for nearly a decade.

2 November 1999
Consumed by Toys
Last week I sold my old electronic doodad that translates my handwriting into text. I sold it to a young laboratory assistant who, under the influence of whisky, mistakenly concluded such a gizmo would improve the quality of his life.

Having sold my old electronic doodad that translates my handwriting into text, I bought a new electronic doodad that translates my handwriting into text. I believe the new, improved gizmo will improve the quality of my life.

I spent hours finding the lowest price on the new electronic doodad that translates my handwriting into text, then traveling way out Genessee Street to buy it. I then wasted more time installing new software, then restoring my old calendar and notes, et cetera. And then I spent the rest of the night trying to figure out why the damn thing didn't work.

I'm very happy with my new electronic doodad that translates my handwriting into text. The small device has already forced me to be more creative. Maybe I'll write something tomorrow.

gratuitous image
3 November 1999
Rob Mooney (snaportrait)
Rob is a friend of mine.

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©1999 David Glenn Rinehart