2005 Notebook: Weak XXVIII
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9 July 2005
No. 2,135 (cartoon)
I hope you get what you deserve.

That’s very kind of you.

Not at all!

10 July 2005
Rural Australian Academia
Donna moved back to Australia after an improbably long series of misadventures in California. Not surprisingly, she reports that the culture of rural Australia is rather different from San Francisco. For example, she told me that her local TAFE (community college) brochure offers courses such as “Cattle Mustering” and “Certificate III in Sheep Sharing.”

The name of the last class is particularly interesting, since it’s supposed to be “shearing,” not “sharing.” Curiously, the typographic error hasn’t been corrected even after being reprinted year after year.

There’s a lot about rural Australia with which I’m unfamiliar. And, when it comes to sheep sharing, I think that’s a good thing.

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11 July 2005
My Etching
After dinner, I invited Sylvia back to my lab to look at my etching.

“That’s an original line,” she sighed.

“That wasn’t a line, that was an invitation. Would you or would you not like to come back to my lab to look at my etching?” I repeated.

“What etchings?” Sylvia asked.

“Etching,” I replied.

I then explained that I only have one etching because that’s all I’ve ever made. I was at an open house at a print studio; the proprietors offered guests the opportunity to make an etching.

So I did.

I scratched the word “FLAW” along with an arrow pointing to a blemish on a copper printing plate. Having completed my piece in less than a minute, a studio assistant inked the plate and pulled it through the press. She took one look, then confused me by calling me “a clever boy.” I didn’t realize the basic principles of a letterpress, and so “FLAW” came out reversed, a mirror image of the word.

And that’s the story of my one and only etching. I kept the copper plate in case I want to make more prints, but I doubt I ever will. I like having my entire output of a single medium on one sheet of paper.

Finally, as an aside, Sylvia declined my invitation to see my etching.

12 July 2005
Tipping the Burrito Man
Bethan and I went out for burritos tonight; we stopped in at one of my favorite places that’s literally a window in a wall. We handed money to the burrito man behind the window, and a couple of minutes later he cheerfully passed us a bag bulging with with two juicy, humongous burritos. I ostentatiously slipped a couple of dollars in the tip jar.

“You tip well,” Bethan commented.

“Not really,” I replied. “A truly good tipper wouldn’t have waited until the burrito man was watching to pretentiously stuff the dollars into the jar one at a time.”

“I suppose so,” Bethan agreed.

“I wasn’t even being generous,” I admitted as I put the last of sixteen small salsa containers in the bag. “I just didn’t want to get into a discussion about why I was taking so much guacamole and salsa.”

13 July 2005
Sydney Smith’s Questionable Advice
Alexis passed along a curious bit of advice from Sydney Smith (1771-1845): “In composing, as a general rule, run a pen through every other word you have written; you have no idea what vigor it will give your style.”

That didn’t seem to make much sense, but since I occasionally have an open mind I decided to give it a try using both possibilities on Smith’s quote.

    “Composing a rule a through other you written have idea vigor will your.”

    “In as general run pen every word have you no what it give style.”

Smith’s technique doesn’t appear to work, but maybe there’s something I’m missing. As Smith also observed, “What you don’t know would make a great book.”

14 July 2005
As I’ve mentioned at length if not ad nauseam, I had a wonderful time in Korea. One of the many reasons for the pleasant experience was the relief at returning to San Francisco’s cool, dry, and relatively clean air after suffering the Korean heat and humidity.

After a few weeks, though, I failed to appreciate the idyllic weather after clear blue skies punctuated by the occasional bracing fog became the norm. I decided to do something about it, and so it is that I’m in Buffalo, New York.

Buffalo is everything I expected: hot, humid, grey, and flat. It’s just as I remembered it.

I haven’t been here since 1979, when I was doing photo stories on toxic waste for Greenpeace. That was a long time ago. Most people have forgotten about Love Canal (the site of my first arrest when I illegally entered the evacuated dead zone with my cameras), and Lake Erie is no longer flammable.

Still, the region is rich in toxic waste. That’s why I brought half a case of wine with me to tide me over until I find a local source of potable beverages.

What a delightfully wretched place; I love it!

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15 July 2005
Masterpiece Sushi
I entered into a discussion rich in erudition with my learned friends here in Buffalo regarding the region’s cultural geography. I maintained that Buffalo is in the midwestern United States, regardless of what any map would suggest. Take Masterpiece Sushi, for example.

Masterpiece Sushi is advertised as, “authentic Japanese sushi” prepared by “oriental master chefs.” That may or may not be true. What I do know, thanks to a sake-fueled conversation I had with Yoshi a few weeks ago, is that Masterpiece Sushi is a company set up by Taiyo Fisheries to sell the fish rejected by discerning Japanese buyers. The fish of dubious quality is shipped to an automated food processing factory in the industrial port city of Yokohama. There, the sushi machines operate constantly, grinding out enough sushi to fill a huge container ship every four weeks.

Once a month, one of Taiyo’s refrigerated container ships leaves Yokohama, passes through the Panama Canal, then steams up St. Lawrence Seaway to Cleveland, Detroit, Milwaukee, and Chicago. And, as of May, Buffalo too!

Although Masterpiece Sushi is indisputably Japanese, no one could persuasively argue that month-old sushi is fresh. For the midwestern palette, that’s not a problem. My Buffalo friends report that Wally’s Diner serves a delicious Masterpiece Sushi dinner—with melted cheese, French fries, and cole slaw—for less than the cost of a Polish sausage dinner.

Masterpiece Sushi represents good value in an archetypal midwestern city like Buffalo.

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16 July 2005
Tedium and Twaddle
I went to a huge exhibition of abstract art at the Albright-Knox Gallery tonight. The curators dedicated all available space to the show, and it was immense and comprehensive. Or, more accurately, it was immensely and comprehensively boring. The entire experience was like walking into an old, yellowing art history book and examining the dusty, desiccated specimens. As I understood it, the premise of the exhibit was to display famous signatures accompanied by the relevant art work.


While I was walking through the galleries in a vain search for art that still had a faint pulse, I saw a poster admonishing me to see and hear “Tree Wave.” The sign advised, “Go, or you’ll be sad.”

I foolishly followed the instructions, and found that “Tree Wave” was two Texans making mediocre music to accompany their mediocre video projections. Their gimmick was to use twenty-five year old computers, thus making their their work stylishly retro-twaddle instead of the more common techno-twaddle.


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©2005 David Glenn Rinehart