2005 Notebook: Weak XIII
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26 March 2005
No. 3,864 (cartoon)
Why did you do that?

Ignore everything my fingers say.

27 March 2005
One Hundred Minutes Off the Grid
I enjoyed the hundred minutes I spent without external electrical power at the lab last night. The computer’s backup power kicked in immediately, so I had enough light from the monitor to find the candles and matches. And, since none of the corkscrews in the lab require electricity, I had no problem in opening a bottle of wine. I turned on the battery-operated music player, put on some headphones, and got back to work.

The only problem was that our POTS (Plain Old Telephone System), which doesn’t require external power, was working. Ordinarily that would have been a welcome feature, but tonight people kept calling with some variation of the question, “Is the power off at your place too?”

Although I enjoyed the candlelight, I was glad when the main lighting system powered on and the phone stopped ringing.

28 March 2005
Lost on Mount Tamalpais
Although I’ve been in and out of San Francisco for some thirty years, today was the first time I climbed Mount Tamalpais. At seven hundred and eighty-four meters, it’s not much of a mountain, and not much of a climb. I enjoyed a pleasant walk with three friends on mostly unmarked trails until we reached the parking lot and vending machines at the summit.

The trip back down proved more interesting in that none of us remembered how to get back to the car. Each of the hikers we asked provided helpful but contradictory directions, and we ended up at the wrong trailhead. And after a few kilometers walking along narrow Mill Valley roads, we finally concluded our little adventure as the sun was setting.

Although I was a bit annoyed at the detour, I nevertheless found the farce amusing. I’ve been hiking in real mountains for decades, but never got lost until hiking on a suburban hill. Who doesn’t like cheap irony?

29 March 2005
Eric Clapton’s Sixtieth Birthday
Doctor Sawyer told me that tomorrow is Eric Clapton’s sixtieth birthday. For some reason, the first thought that came into my mind was that when John Lennon was that old he’d been dead for many years.

30 March 2005
Rosemary Klavitz Memorial Quote
It all started with Rosemary Klavitz, who wrote me a nasty little note 6 February 2002 admonishing me for repeating the same Martin Mull quote twice, even though the citations were at eight-hundred and sixty days apart.

And so, for reasons that make no sense at all, I’ve taken to repeating the same observation at that same interval. I don’t really see the point; I suppose it really is just as Martin Mull said, “None is so blind as he who cannot see.”

31 March 2005
Pointless, Not Hopeless
Reina was playing a Bach etude when she stopped and broke down in quiet sobs.

“What’s the matter,” I asked?

“Music,” Reina replied between sobs, “it’s hopeless.”

“All art is just pointless,” I assured her, “so don’t worry if it’s hopeless.”

Even if she heard me, I doubt she believed me.

1 April 2005
Wrong Number at the Saint Stupid’s Day Parade
As I do almost every year, I marched through San Francisco with a lot of other idiots, morons, and imbeciles in the Saint Stupid’s Day parade. It’s a joy to publicly celebrate a lifetime of work with peers who are equally dedicated.

I was particularly impressed with an older, balding businessman in an expensive suit with a pink tie. He was mimicking a telephone by sticking his thumb in his ear and his little finger in front of his mouth; he was screaming like a lunatic.

“Listen!” he shrieked, “When I talk I want answers and I want ‘em now. Don’t pretend you can’t hear me; I know you’re listening. Tell me what it’s going to be this very moment! You can’t fake that you’re not there; I can hear you breathing!”

The crazy man in the suit was sweating as his face turned red; he was clearly enjoying being in the Saint Stupid’s Day parade.

Or maybe not.

When all the marchers turned off Market Street, the man continued walking in a straight line, ignoring the rest of the stupid people on parade.

That’s the thing about stupidity, I suppose: some people who are apparently stupid aren’t, and some people who seem not to be stupid truly are.

2 April 2005
Cue Applause: the Pope is Dead
I listened to a radio news bulletin today announcing the pope’s death. When Leonardo Sandri announced the death to the thousands gathered outside the pontiff’s apartment, the crowd broke into applause!

“It’s an Italian custom,” the announcer quickly explained.

The passing of an old man who did all he could to discourage people from using condoms wasn’t of much interest to me. On the other hand, the knowledge about the Italian practice of clapping when someone dies will certainly come in handy. The next time someone gets offended when I clap at the death of a loathsome person, I’ll just explain that it’s the Italian in me!

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©2005 David Glenn Rinehart