2005 Notebook: Weak XXIV
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11 June 2005
No. 7,236 (cartoon)
Tell me your secrets.

My secrets are lies.

12 June 2005
There Are No Burritos in Chicago
I was surprised—shocked, actually—when Madeline told me she’d never ever had a single burrito in San Francisco. I decided to correct that unfortunate situation immediately, so I hopped on my bicycle and zipped off to an excellent taqueria. Twenty minutes later I was back at the lab with two fine examples of my favorite tubular food.

“There’s rice in here!” Madeline exclaimed after her first bite.

“And the sun rose in the east this morning,” I replied.

“In Chicago they serve rice with the burrito, not inside it,” she explained.

“There are no burritos in Chicago,” I corrected. “They may have burrito-like foodstuffs, concoctions falsely sold as burritos, and various other con jobs and hoaxes, but there are no burritos in Chicago.”

Madeline didn’t argue; it’s pointless to argue with a San Francisco burrito.

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13 June 2005
Another Encoded Photograph
Brian took one look at the photograph on my computer monitor, then asked me why I was making “such tedious, bullshit, abstract crap.”

“It’s a long story,” I replied.

“Do tell,” Brian said.

“It’s a long story that’s none of your business,” I continued. “It’s one of those indecipherable, inside references that only one other person understands.”

“Damn,” Brian declared, “It’s even more wearisome than I thought.”

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14 June 2005
Official Façade
Another decade, another passport, another passport photograph. Although I generally don’t like to make self-portraits, I enjoy creating a benign façade that suspicious government authorities will scrutinize for the next decade. Like the stories I tell nosy immigration and customs police, my image is a calculated lie.

15 June 2005
Digital Burying Analog
A couple of days ago I read that Agfa was going out of business. I would have been upset by the news years ago when Rodinal was my favorite film developer, but I’m done with chemical photography. Today, I shrugged my shoulders when I read that Kodak will stop manufacturing black and white photo paper in the near future. Kodak will continue to make black and white film, but I doubt that will remain a profitable venture for long.

Even though I’m surprised by the rapid decline of analog photography, I’m not at all saddened. I’m actually enjoying the collapse of The World As I Know It. I appreciate such change and uncertainty; it helps me stay alert.

16 June 2005
United States in a Tube
I’m on United 893 headed to Korea, and I must admit I’m rather unhappy with the way my latest fiasco is evolving. First, the erstwhile flight attendants can only offer watery American “beer,” and are under orders from their corporate overseers to be stingy with the mediocre wine. That’s not much of a problem; I anticipated the miserly attitude, and packed a flask of decent whiskey for the twelve-hour flight.

No, I experienced the real disappointment when it was time to eat. I was anticipating some Korean food like barbecued puppy-on-a-stick, or at least some some kimchi. Instead, I was offered a choice between rubber chicken and pasta-flavored cardboard. Damn; I’m trapped in a pressurized tube of generic America. I guess I’ll have to wait until I land in Seoul to get even a hint of what Korea tastes like.

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17 June 2005
Oh Boy, OB!
I’m having an exceptionally wonderful time on my first visit to Korea. I’m in the middle of Seoul, or at least I think I am. The megalopolis goes on forever; it’s one of those centerless sprawls with rows of little shops lining the bottoms of the labyrinthine canyon walls formed by the towering high rises.

I’m even enjoying the pollution; it reinforces all the visual and aural information that I’m in a strange place. The air is so thick with diesel exhaust, industrial spew, and stifling humidity that I could almost see the wake from rivers of traffic. Since Seoul’s this good, I can’t wait until I get to Ulsan, described in a news report as, “an industrial city where the noxious fumes of petrochemical plants drown out any whiff of sea air.”

I could only walk around for a couple of hours before the stinging in my eyes and raspy throat (I was coughing up little balls of tar!) forced me to return to my hotel. Before I did, though, I made the prudent move of popping into a grocery store for some kimchi and a bottle of beer.

Ordinarily, I’d get more than one bottle of beer when the need for self-medication is so unambiguously clear, but OB is no ordinary beer. OB, short for Oriental Brewery, comes in a four-hundred and thirty-two dram bottle, a reasonably adequate amount for clearing the toxins from my throat and quenching my thirst as well. And what’s more, each bottle comes with a free packet of peanuts!

OB, oh boy; I like Korea!

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©2005 David Glenn Rinehart