2009 Notebook: Weak XXXIV
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20 August 2009
No. 2,793 (cartoon)
You’re unbelievably monstrous.

Believe it.

21 August 2009
Flint Doesn’t Rust
I’m visiting my favorite mother in Flint, Michigan, and the situation here is, as it has been on every previous visit, even more grim than before.

I’m perfectly content to sit at my computer. Surprisingly, I’m able to connect to the Internet here, so I’m not as isolated in this post-apocalyptic apocalypse as I might otherwise be. Still, I felt that I should be positive, so I suggested to my mother that we go and watch something rust.

“We went over this some time ago,” she said with a disparaging glance at my wine glass. “Everything that could rust already did, years ago.”

That news seemed surprisingly cheerful, as if Flint had entered a new era. Flint beyond rust; who could have imagined such a thing!

22 August 2009
Digital Distractions Ten Kilometers Above Earth
I’m flying on Delta, a fourth-rate airline appropriately named after the fourth letter in the Greek alphabet. I’m squinched into a small seat designed for a skinny child. A few glasses of wine would be a welcome muscle relaxant, but not at seven dollars for each miniature bottle of wine-flavored vinegar. (Or is it vinegar-flavored wine?)

As if to compensate for the appalling conditions, the airline is providing wireless Internet connections to those of us flying with computers. And so, I’m finding out whatever became of that singer who was briefly popular in 1971, researching the specifications of lenses I don’t need and will never buy, looking at weather conditions in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and so on. In short, I’m wasting my time.

It didn’t used to be like this.

Not so long ago, I’d settle into my seat on a plane, pull out my computer, and work without interruption for hours, the odd trip to my toilet-cum-private bar notwithstanding. Today, though, I just piddled, twiddled, and fiddled my way back to San Francisco. By the time I landed, I’d only written perhaps half a dozen paragraphs.

So much for my last refuge of productivity.

23 August 2009
Kitten Salad
I thought of Antonia’s father today. She told me that Hendrik always took care of the animals in the morning before he even had coffee. I never met him; he died a few years before I met Antonia. Still, I always think of him when I’m housesitting and taking care of cats.

Well, almost always.

I ran into several delays en route to Joyce’s house in Oakland this afternoon to take care of a couple of ferocious kittens. I was hungry when I arrived, so the first thing I thought of when I walked in the door was Joyce’s admonition to eat the perishable food in the refrigerator.

I was hot after my bike ride, so I ate some sort of squash salad. It wasn’t very good, but I was so ravenous it didn’t matter. After my snack, I read the note Joyce left with instructions for feeding the kittens.

“They need fiber, so add squash to the mixture of cat food, baby food, and powdered milk. I mixed up a batch; it’s in the refrigerator.”

Oh dear; I ate the kittens’ dinner. That’s what I get for not following Hendrik’s advice.

24 August 2009
My Signature Drinks
Alcohol really hasn’t changed all that much in millennia. Come to think of it, it hasn’t changed at all. That’s not a problem for drinkers, who consume it for the same reason they always have. Alcohol peddlers, however, always have to come up with something ostensibly new about their timeless product.

The latest fabrication is “the signature drink.” This involves making some minor variation on a drink that’s been around for decades (if not centuries), attaching one’s name to the alleged invention, then selling it for twice the price of a similar drink.

In response to this annoying development, I’ve come up with my own signature drink, the Exquisite Red Wine Corpse. (This isn’t an exquisite corpse per se, but that’s fine in that said carcass is an exhausted cliché.)

It’s easy to make my signature drink. Just take a bottle of red wine, and tie a white piece of cloth around the neck.

Drink and drink.

Inevitably, some wine will drip down the bottle and into the fabric. When the bottle is empty, flatten the cloth and admire the wine pattern. For additional variations, repeat the process with another bottle of wine.

And then there’s my favorite signabev, the Conceptual Wine Corpse. The formula is the same used in concocting the Exquisite Red Wine Corpse, except use white wine and a black cloth.

Bottoms up!

25 August 2009
Expectoration Deviations and Disappointments
I don’t know why, but I spit a lot when I ride my bicycle. I just do.

And when I do, I usually aim at something such as a crack in the pavement, a dandelion, a piece of trash, et cetera. I always miss; I always miss by a wide margin. I’ve given by abysmal aim a great deal of thought. (I’m really not much of a thinker, but there’s not much to do on a long bike ride except to cogitate.)

After a great deal of deliberation, I figured there were too many variables to consider: the speed of the bicycle, the wind velocity, the viscosity of the sputum, the trajectory of the payload, et cetera.

I’ve abandoned any hope of developing spitting accuracy. Instead, I’ve lowered my aim (metaphorically speaking), and am concentrating on simply avoiding getting any saliva on myself. I’m doing well, although it’s not as easy as it looks pedaling into a strong headwind.

Cycling is such a joy on so many levels.

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26 August 2009
A Fish Out of Water
Eleven wee fishies live in my aquarium. No, make that ten; one was missing. S/he wasn’t missing for long, for there’s only one destination for a fish that jumps out of the aquarium: the floor. After a quick search, I found the missing fish, dead and desiccated. My reference books suggest this species of fish couldn’t have jumped out of the tank, but the empirical evidence suggests otherwise.

I have a funny relationship with fish. No, “funny” isn’t the right word. Inconsistent? Hypocritical? I shipped my thesaurus to the factory for repairs and an upgrade, so I’m literally at a loss for words.

I’m comfortable going to a party and eating a huge slab of salmon, meat from a fish I never looked in the eye. I consume some “seafood medley” dish at an Asian restaurant without giving a thought about to the myriad critters who were chopped up and cooked for my dining pleasure.

For reasons I do not understand, I put the dried escapee back in water and photographed it.

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27 August 2009
Thirty-One Corncob Horizons
Last month I photographed popcorn, this month I photographed corn again for my piece, Thirty-One Corncob Horizons.

I don’t get out much, and it shows.

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©2009 David Glenn Rinehart