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November 27, 2002

Wittgenstein's Poker

This is my latest library experiment (see the link in the title for the complete first chapter). The subject refers to a meeting between Ludwig Wittgenstein and Karl Popper at a session of the Moral Science Club at Cambridge in 1946, where one version of events has Wittgenstein becoming so upset with Popper that he threatened him with a fireplace poker.

I have surprised myself by covering a third of the book so far. I was expecting a rather overblown puff piece, given that the central topic can be exhausted in a chapter or two. And indeed, the second chapter is devoted not to the central topic, but to life and culture in Cambridge, post-War. It's fair that the authors dwell on the background of the participants of the meeting that day, so that absorbs another passel of pages. But they are in danger at every step of devolving into an epsiode of "In Search Of...", or "History's Mysteries".

What may be the saving grace of this book is how the authors use the central conflict as a springboard for exploring the schools of philosophy and politics of the time. This is what I was 'promised' by one review, and I continue to read with that expectation. I'm nevertheless 'impressed' that I've read this far, since usually I grab books like this from the library exactly because they are useful only for browsing and a quick skim.

That's been the fate of several books I've not bothered to mention here, the latest being The Hunt for Zero Point, by Nick Cook. That book, by a former editor of Jane's Defense Weekly, purported to be a investigative report into the government cover-up of secret anti-gravity research. The book was full of plates showing napkin sketches for secret engines and fuzzy photographs of delta-wing planes. Anything that could be construed as proof of something unconventional. It harkened back to the days of my youth when I read such books as Flying Saucers: Serious Business, by Frank Edwards. I had a few good laughs, but didn't bother plowing through it.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:09 AM

November 26, 2002

Mickey Lives

That title may be a bit premature. I took Jean's 25-year old Mickey Mouse watch to Ray's Watch Repair on Saturday, before going to NOVA. He was sitting in his little kiosk, reading the sports page, oblivious to myself and another customer. I tapped on the counter and got his attention, explaining that I wanted to get the watch working if possible.

He popped the back, and said "it's running now." Huh? Jean said the hands didn't move. I assume he wound it just before opening it, and that the movement was okay, if sluggish. It just doesn't translate to the hands moving. He said that the watch was in better condition than similarly old ones he's seen, so it might just work after a cleaning. He won't guarantee the work, since the watch is such a cheap one.

Anyway, I've got my fingers crossed. I asked him to put a new crystal on it as well. The job will supposedly take two to three weeks. Because, you know, he has to finish the sports pages.

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:46 AM

Botany Trip

We all went down to my office this weekend, so Jean could run some errands. Kelly stayed with me, and noticed that the plants in my office had some dried leaves and wilty parts. So I gave her some scissors and let her prune them. "But don't touch the fern!" I said. I even explained why it would be a bad idea to touch the fern. She insisted that there were some dry stems in the pot, and I told her that if she could sneak the scissors in and snip them without touching anything else on the plant, she could have a go at it.

Today I'm looking at a moribund fern. I'm wondering if I should try to nurse it back from the brink of death, or just make a field trip to the Wilsonville Garden Center. I'm leaning toward the latter. But I'll probably keep the dying fern until it's clearly hopeless...

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:39 AM

November 25, 2002

New Foods

I'm now a confirmed squash eater. Butternut squash last weekend, acorn squash this weekend. Yum. Also, given the success of the trout-for-lunch experiment last Saturday, I picked up some basa for lunch this weekend. The fish guy didn't know what it was, just that it 'tastes good'. Probably just the standard sell-it spiel. Only after I got home did I look it up on the Internet and find it was Vietnamese catfish. Nice sweet fish.

Hmmm. Is there an insult lurking in there? "You squash eating basa lover!"

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:44 AM

November 24, 2002

We're A Bad Trip

You know, you really shouldn't take yourself so seriously.

If you want to know why, it's cuz no one else does.

Somewhere along the line someone told you you were deep and sensitive

but you're not,

no you're not

Came to the party, drank all the beer,

cause we're a bad trip, yeah we're a bad trip

Camper Van Beethoven, circa 1986.

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:48 AM

November 23, 2002

Kelly In The Light

Jean got totally sick of looking at the Uwajimaya picture in the banner, so I dug around in my shoebox of photos and scanned in one of Kelly. Sorry, the banner only links to the full-size scan, not a gallery. I've been rather too busy to do more. Later!

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:58 PM

November 19, 2002

Milestone Made O' Fat

Another milestone. This morning the scale saw 194.5 lbs. I know that this will be short-lived (I shall return!), because I've been feeling sick, and I tend to drop the discipline and go for the carbo's when that happens. Today's lunch included corn tortilla chips and spicy tuna sushi, so I expect an evening reading of 200 lbs. or more. I keep telling myself that it's the trend lines that matter...

Posted by dpwakefield at 04:53 PM

More Time Tales

Kelly and I hit the mall on Saturday on a Christmas mission. She needed to locate Peer Gynt "for Mom", and I needed to find out if we could repair her two broken watches. Both are Mickey Mouse watches, of different vintage. The battery-powered one is from our trip to Disney World about a decade ago. The mechanical one is from Jean's childhood, and has sat in a box on it's own homemade denim wristband for years. It's 25 or 30 years old.

Back at the Sears watch repair shop, the same lady easily replaced the battery in the newer watch, even putting a new strap on the wristband. But opening up the wind-up, she declared that it was a 'single-piece' movement, too difficult to work with, built cheap for childrens' watches, lo these many years ago. Okay, so I'm batting .500, better if you count the fact that I've got a G.I. Joe wind-up watch in the mail for Jean's stocking.

We went up to the food court to see what Kelly wanted for a treat, but stopped in the record store first to look for Kelly's present "for Mom." After a brief search we found it, but getting Kelly out of the store was like pulling teeth. Every little thing grabbed her attention, and she kept hauling me back into the store by the arm (she's strong for a seven-year old). I don't know if you have been into a Sam Goody's store before, but it is CDs, DVDs and videotapes, T-shirts, posters, 'toys' based on comic-book heroes, in other words, a honeypot for kids. We eventually got out of there, and headed to get some ice cream.

By now we were at the other end of the mall from where we parked, so Kelly had to eat and walk while I 'broke trail'. In a bit I noticed that her two-scooper was listing to one side, and I suggested that we sit on a bench until she finished it. She got a chair, and I stooped down beside her. While she reveled in the sensory pleasure, I reveled in the stream of people.

I've always enjoyed this aspect of the mall, and indeed any large gathering of people. I love watching them float past, remarkably varied even for the monoculture of Oregon. Now, some fifteen years after we arrived in Oregon, the crowd mix in the mall is even more varied than then. Black, White, Asian, Latino, young, punk, yuppie, rural, urban, it really is all over the map. As people walk by in clusters, I can see them talking animatedly, catching snippets of their conversation, embellished by their body English. Some stories are playing out as they walk past. Next to us, a grandmother tries to convince her 3 or 4-year old granddaughter to take her hand. After some cajoling she stands straight and marches down the hall. The child jumps as if shocked by electricity, and scurries after Grandma.

I think I could do this all day. In my many and varied careers, I worked in a mall bookstore, and it was there I picked up the habit of entertaining myself by immersing myself in the babbling brook at the mall. It was fun to do it again. I don't usually go to the mall, maybe twice a year.

Update: I've since called a watch repair shop (not Sears kiosk style, but a full-blown watch-smith) and he says that the watch may be of a sort that can't be repaired, but that he is equipped better to try. So for a baseline of $50, we're going to try to restore Jean's heirloom watch to function. Funny, in my reading on the web, I'm told that you should really have a mechanical watch cleaned and repaired every two years. If this watch was as cheap as all that, does it make sense to spend $50 every two years to maintain it? For that matter, the G.I. Joe watch is only $40. Are we going to 'maintain' that one? 'Time' will tell. In the meantime, I'm saving up for a Poljot Shturmanskie (just kidding).

More cruft gleaned from the Internet in the great watch hunt: remember automatic watches? They use tiny counterbalancing wheels to wind up the mainspring when your wrist moves about. This saves you the drudgery of actually having to wind the watch once a day. I suppose it could also reduce the number of gears attached to the stem (setting time, winding the mainspring), but I've read it requires more gears to handle the counterbalance. Anyway, maybe an automatic watch is still too unreliable for you. What if you leave it on the dresser for a few days? Then you have to waggle it about until it's wound. Or you could buy a watch winder, a case with a wristband mount that rotates, to wind your watch up when you are not wearing it. And the Regency model (single watch only) costs a mere $380! Wow! God I love those Yankee inventors!

Posted by dpwakefield at 04:45 PM

Lo Fi

I had to pick up a prescription today, so while waiting for them to fill it, I picked up One Beat by Sleater Kinney. I guess I shouldn't be too surprised that Fred Meyers carries them, as they are a Portland band (by way of Olympia, Washington). I doubt their indie fem-rock cred buys much with the Fred Meyers purchasing agents, though.

More to my surprise was that they had Sigur Ros (the same album I have, ágætis byrjun). What's going on there?

Anyway, back to Sleater Kinney. Sorta thrashy, fast and loud, with some musical virtuousity layered over it all. I'm not sure I actually like it. I'll give it another listen in a day or two. Right now the medicine is turning my stomach, so I guess I'll go with something familiar: Do The Collapse, from Guided By Voices. It's a measure of my musical isolation that I wasn't aware that there was an entire 'historical' movement in which GBV was embedded. NPR had a history of the Lo Fi movement, in which artists recorded their work on sub-$200 four-track audiocassette decks, producing low-fidelity demo tapes to sell and trade at concerts, bars and so on.

More evidence of musical cluelessness: Do The Collapse was a conscious attempt to break into polished studio production, with Rik Ocasek in the producer's seat. The linked review above calls it a terrible disappointment, and suggests Alien Lanes instead. Me, I just picked up the only GBV CD in the rack at Tower Records, having heard good things about them at the time. In any case, I've listened to the album a dozen times, so I can pick out the familiar riffs I enjoy through the nausea. Wish me luck!

Posted by dpwakefield at 03:51 PM

November 14, 2002

Another Edvard

Coincidentally, another Edvard came up in our morning routine. Kelly was humming thirteen notes over and over. They were from the opening phrase of In the Hall of the Mountain King, by Edvard Grieg. It turns out that some ad agency had lifted it for a Christmas commercial, and Kelly was referring to it as the "mystery of Christmas."

So I explained where it came from, and that there were more notes , and Kelly suggested I purchase it "for Mom." Nice indirection there. I guess I'll be looking for a cheap CD of the Peer Gynt Suite this weekend...

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:14 AM

Spoon Holders, Pop Culture and High Art

This morning Kelly noticed a spoon rest on the stove, and wondered aloud "why is the lady afraid?" I tried to explain, Reader's Digest style, about Edvard Munch, Impressionism, and the historical context of the original painting (yeah, right), but she just wanted a quick story. In the end I brought up a web page, and pointed her to the original picture. She was totally unimpressed.

It was only after we had left that I realized. Jean's going to come home after a hard day at school. She's going to prepare for doing homework, then sit down at the computer to do some writing before picking up Kelly. This is how she describes her normal routine. The computer will be asleep. She'll tap a key to wake it up, sitting patiently while the phosphors begin to glow. And there, full size on the screen, will be The Scream. Wish I could see her reaction.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:58 AM

November 13, 2002

QOTD

This manages to achieve a flavor similar to a clove-turpentine-banana smoothie with a twist of agony from both the awful flavor and the idea that liquid bugs are now circulating to every cell of my body.

James "Kibo" Parry

Posted by dpwakefield at 05:01 PM

Dekkagar

Remember this post? Bet you never thought I'd get around to telling you what I think. Well, I've been listening to the CD for not quite a month now (on and off, in rotation with other stuff I've had for a long time), and I am happy I got it. One review called it a Curtis Mayfield pastiche, but really, that's perhaps two songs on the album.

I can't think of a single song on this album which I don't like, though some have insinuated themselves into my brain more than others. Right now, I'm listening to the second song, "feather clip", and it is like listening to an old David Gilmour album, which is a good thing. Elsewhere on this album, there are traces of Grateful Dead, Phish (is this redundant?), Lennon (John, Sean, Julian, take your pick) and the Tower of Power mellowed by a Sunday afternoon.

I probably listen to a fraction of the music that, say, Eliot Gelwan does, and my knowledge is not encyclopedic. So usually I'm reduced to "I may not know what art is, but I know what I like." Since I'm not trying to convince you to run out and buy this or any other work by National Trust, I guess that's okay. But conversely, if you like to play the "if you liked this album, you'll love ----" game, then by all means send me your suggestions, especially if you liked Yankee Hotel Foxtrot by Wilco, or Dekkagar, of course.

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:45 PM

Lead Balloon

My weight is gradually going down (maybe as slowly as it went up?), but my body fat monitor scale says I'm bouncing along at 21-22%. On a bad day, 22.5%. Now that's better than the 25% I measured when I started using that doohickey, and the chart that came with it puts me just under the ceiling for a healthy fat percentage now, but I'd like to get it lower.

I'm not willing to become an ascetic, and in fact I've changed my eating habits considerably already. I exercise at least three times a week and walk on days I don't. While I appreciate seeing 197 lbs. on the scale in the morning, I wish I could find the magic combo of diet and exercise which I can sustain that would make that 21-22% become, say, 19%. Ideas, anyone?

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:40 AM

Splitting Hairs

I'm not a religious person, so maybe I can be accused of being dense here. Perhaps some of my religious acquaintances can tell me if I'm missing something. On the way in to work today I heard on the news that Catholic officials are putting the final touches on how they plan to handle sexual abuse charges against their priests:

"Our position has been that we will remove from active ministry all priests who have ever offended against a child sexually," said Daniel E. Pilarczyk, archbishop of Cincinnati. "In doing that we also need to be aware of the demands of our own canon law" that provide justice to the accused, he told United Press International.

But isn't sexual abuse a crime? Do not the secular courts exist to try and decide justice? The only reason the church seems to be worried about unjustly dismissing priests is that it doesn't seem to occur to them to actually report alledged abuse as a crime:

Civil law supersedes canon law in every jurisdiction in the United States. Let the laity work to ''keep the faith and change the church.'' Let the lawmakers of this country work to change the laws and keep the churchmen accountable.

Eileen McNamara, Globe Columnist, 11/13/2002

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:17 AM

November 12, 2002

New Fish on the Block

I forgot to mention that we did indeed stop by the pet store and pick a new goldfish with Kelly. Her first fish, her first pet, Rose, lies peaceful in her grave, and her new fish, Lily, has survived since we took her home Saturday morning. Her home is the classical one-gallon fishbowl, so we are supposed to change her water once a week. That means her first environmental shock since we brought her home happens next weekend. Keep your fingers crossed. I don't want another funeral...

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:45 AM

November 11, 2002

Play Taps

Wah! I just ate my last Honeycrisp apple. The grocery store didn't have any, and the last one on my shelf at work is now in my tummy.

Posted by dpwakefield at 02:11 PM

More on RSS

I know Pascale understands when I say "the RSS link is in my sidebar" but I realized that others might not. I think I've got an audience of maybe three regular readers, but on the off chance that anyone cares, you can find a brief introduction to RSS news aggregators in this John Udell article in Byte magazine online. John goes over a number of Windows apps which read RSS, none of which I can use, being Mac-centric at home, and Sun Unix at work.

The 'link' I was referring to is the little orange 'XML' icon on the left of the front page of Terebi II.

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:08 AM

Best Made Plans

On the note of upgrading my iBook to Mac OS X 10.1.5: I originally did it so I could run Fallout 2, which wouldn't run on Mac OS X 10.0, my original installation. So it's rather ironic that I haven't played Fallout 2 more than two hours since I got it. OS X 10.1.5 is so much improved over 10.0, that I've been spending all my time using the iBook on programming and Internet projects, so there's little time left over for games.

In fact, I'm generally having to force myself to go to sleep by midnight, or I'd never get any sleep. In a silly bit of social engineering, I've taken to keeping the older battery in the iBook, since it only holds about three hours of charge (the newer one is good for five). Now I can rely on the computer telling me to go to bed when the battery runs low!

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:47 AM

Low Tech Feed

My weblogging acquaintance Pascale Soleil sent me a note recently asking if I had an RSS feed for my weblog. She probably thought to ask as I've begun linking to NetNewsWire Lite in the sidebar. Since I recently upgraded my iBook to Mac OS X, I've been able to use this news aggregation tool and I've actually changed my weblog browsing habits, using it whenever a decent feed is available. Only a few sites that I read regularly don't have an RSS feed at all, and a couple have RSS feeds that are inadequate (listing article titles, but not providing any description is a sin of this sort). I think I'll be adding back a link to Follow Me Here, as his RSS feed is of this weak sort.

Alas, my answer to Pascale had to be "no." I use Greymatter as my weblogging tool, and it doesn't include RSS generation out of the box. Noah Grey has retired from developing this tool, and deserves the break. So further development is left to third parties. There are two RSS solutions that I've found for Greymatter, and both of them commit the sin I've described above, so I won't use them.

In the intervening period, I tried to set up a minimal installation of Movable Type, another weblogging tool, to evaluate it. It is said to have built-in RSS support. Whether it commits the sin described above I'd have to find out during evaluation. However, installation didn't go smoothly, since there were conflicts with Perl libraries at my ISP. I could ask him to update his Perl installation, and he might even do it, as he's a nice guy. But I've already asked a favor of him regarding authenticated SMTP, so I want to wait awhile before begging another one.

So that leaves roll-your-own. This weekend I began tinkering, reading the tutorial on RSS 0.92 linked above, running hacky perl scripts on my iBook.When the output of my tests validated, I was ready to go public. I'm currently running this script manually when I post an article or two. Eventually, I'll try to wedge it into the Greymatter cgi's so that it happens automatically. What it does is just scrape the front page for articles and stream them out in appropriate RSS format. I simplified my scraping by adding some comment tags to the front page template.

I reserve the right to retract this functionality at any time, but for now, the link to my 'feed' is in the left sidebar. Enjoy!

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:25 AM

Search Engine Fever

At the bottom of my weblog is a script supplied by Stephen's Web, which puts a mini referrer-tracking system inline with my weblog. It tracks how people got to my page. If you just enter the path in your browser, there's nothing to track. But if you arrive here by following a link on somebody else's page, and more than one person does that, it shows up at the bottom of the weblog. Neat huh?

Well, this site is very low traffic, so I usually only see a couple of links from, for instance, Weblogs.com, which I ping whenever I write an article. But last Thursday I posted a quote about a certain famous 'singer', and lo and behold, I have over fifty hits from Google! I mentioned this to Jean, and she said, "teen boys looking for pictures." I think she hit it dead on.

So if I needed flow, I guess I'd just start referring to all the hot MTV teen idols? J*stin T*mb*rl*k*, anyone?

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:02 AM

November 07, 2002

QOTD

In reference to Britney Spears:

She makes me all anxious. Like Bugs Bunny in drag.

Random Slashdot Poster

Posted by dpwakefield at 01:07 PM

November 06, 2002

Juggernaut

garret also points to an editorial letter section on the NYT Website covering peoples' opinions about owning the Hummer:

Hummer's general manager says, "The people that buy this product, they're daring." What's so daring about driving a military vehicle to do errands? Riding a bicycle is daring.

Cute quote, but don't confuse the Hummer representative with owners. Most any owner of an SUV I've ever spoken with chose their vehicle not because they thought it was daring, but the exact opposite. They perceived that that mass of metal gave them a greater safety margin than a small commuter car (like the Honda Civic hatchback I drive). Still self-centered, but more practical than the letter implies.

[And yes, I do know about the high incidence of rollover with SUV's. Others discount that risk, it seems.]

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:24 AM

Wind-up Wiggle

It's always nice to see feedback from other sites. garret p. vreeland, of dangerousmeta! fame, shares his experience as a Seiko Kinetic watch owner...

if i haven't worn the watch, i have to sit for a few minutes winging the watch around to get some tension in the spring. it gets to be habit, but can annoy those in your general vicinity.

Not to take things entirely out of context, he does like his Seiko. If I were more of a watch geek, I could see myself getting one of those, and a wind-up. Maybe the Poljot Shturmanskie? "On the 12th of April 1961 the first cosmonaut Juri Gagarin took the wristwatch "Shturmanskie" into the space during his historical flight."

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:15 AM

November 05, 2002

It Even Plays Reveille

Turns out that the low-tech, inexpensive, style-challenged GI Vietnam Era Type Wind Up Watch is totally satisfactory for Jean's needs. Guess there'll be some olive drab in somebody's stocking this Christmas.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:51 AM

Doctor Smith Gone

Via dangerousmeta: Jonathan Harris dies at 87. Sure, Lost In Space was corny, but not everyone knew this. When Gene Roddenberry was still alive, he toured colleges with footage of early Star Trek episodes and bloopers. I saw him at Michigan Tech, where he related that when he was trying to sell the show, CBS told him "we already have an adult science fiction show." Still, I had a king-size crush on Penny Robinson, and Dr. Smith was always fun, even though the 'comic' version was not as much fun as the first few episodes.

Ironically, Harris died of a blood clot while receiving treatment for back problems (Dr. Smith's perrenial excuse from work).

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:36 AM

November 04, 2002

Wind-up Watches

A couple of follow-ups on the wind-up watch story. Dunno if Jean is going to be interested, but I found a few places sell Seiko Kinetic (self-winding) watches for under $200 (seiko-kinetic-watches.com; princeton watches; Invicta, Poljot). Still steep, but doable. Less stylish is the GI Vietnam Era Type Wind Up Watch. Only $40! But olive-drab?

Posted by dpwakefield at 12:17 PM | Comments (4)

March of Time

Went to the mall yesterday, on a mission. Jean needed to pick up pre-filters for the air filters we use around the house, but more importantly, I wanted to find out if any store still carried wind-up watches, as Jean wanted one. I needed her along so she could explain exactly what she wanted, and pick styles.

I'd done an earlier search on the web, and found mostly Rollex and other high-end brands which are way over our price range. So I decided that I might have better luck if I could actually talk to a human being. Turns out, the web search was representative. None of the mall jewelry stores carry winding watches. The one specialty store, Watch World, had an 'automatic' watch, what I used to call 'self-winding', but they wanted $350 for it. Ouch. The guy also tried to sell us on solar-powered watches as somehow equivalent to wind-up watches. Huh?

So we went to buy the filters at Sears, and I saw the watch repair shop inside the store. I went over and asked the repair woman about wind-up watches.

"We don't have any," she said.

"Do you know where we can get one?" I asked.

"How much you want to spend?"

Jean pitched in with what seemed like a generous ceiling price. "Under $200."

"No." Just a flat-out denial of the possibility.

"So we'd need to spend more than $200 to get a wind-up watch nowadays?" I asked.

"A lot more. Try a pawn shop."

So there's a pawn shop near where NOVA usually holds it's meetings, and next weekend is a meeting. Guess I'm going to a pawn shop. And looking for a watch repair shop near home which can fix broken old wind-up watches, since that's what started all this.

I'm guessing that it's pretty cheap to make a reasonably accurate watch using chips, crystals and batteries, especially given economies of scale. The vast majority of people are satisfied with these battery-powered, electronic watches, and in fact find them somewhat more reliable and maintainance free than old-fashioned mechanical watches. As a result, sometime over the last couple of decades, the market shifted away from the old springs-and-cogs versions, so much so that they became specialty items. No economy of scale, limited market for an item requiring skilled engineering to produce reasonable accuracy. This all translates into those high price tags we were seeing. I'm hoping that doesn't mean repairing Jean's old Mickey Mouse watch will be expensive...

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:53 AM

Wish Fish

Kelly was so taken with the fishing game they had at the Tigard HS haunted house (notwithstanding the loss of Rose), that she invented her own version. She took her favorite stick (yes, she has one), tied some string on the end, with a clothes pin attached, then hid behind the couch with a stack of post-it notes and a pencil. Jean and I took turns 'fishing', and the 'wish fish' would gift us with various pithy homilies, such as 'luv yur family' and 'fede the pore'. The best part was when we got a treasure award and Kelly would come rushing out from behind the couch to lay a smooch on us.

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:33 AM

November 02, 2002

Grief

It had to happen. Kelly's fish, already named Rose, kicked it yesterday. Belly up and all that. I had taken the day off as Kelly had no school, and Jean needed to work/study. We went to see The Santa Clause 2, which was painless and at times actually fun. Then Kelly and I went to Gameswitch to pick out a couple of Gameboy Color games for her Christmas stocking. When we got home, after those two cheerful field trips, we received the baleful news.

Kelly really took it hard. Perhaps more dramatically than the event required, as she'd had the fish for less than 24 hours. But I remember being broken up quite severely by the death of a moth when I was a kid, so I gave her the big shoulder to cry on. And cry she did. It was really painful to watch.

I then cut up some honeydew and pretty much hand-fed her, as all she'd had since lunch was popcorn and Halloween candy. After that I got her some noodle soup, and she began to feel better. She was still sad about the loss, but it was no longer that "why did Rose have to leave this Earth so soon?" theatrics.

This morning Kelly had a funeral for Rose, digging the grave herself, holding a eulogy, and marking the grave with a popsicle stick cross. I struggled to keep a straight face when Kelly was making the cross, as she was humming a funeral dirge to herself while she worked. But she was clearly deadly serious, even though the immediate grief had receded.

Now that afternoon has arrived, she seems to have put it behind her, though she's already asked for two fish. I'm guessing the operating theory is that each fish can look after the other, or keep it from dying of loneliness. I dunno. But I guess we'll be stopping by the pet shop tomorrow, since we are going to the mall to hunt for Christmas presents.

Posted by dpwakefield at 04:07 PM

November 01, 2002

Halloween

Ye gods! It was cold last night! When Kelly and I went out, I was wearing two jackets, my pullover sweatjacket, and my winter coat. But I'm getting ahead of myself...

I took Kelly in to school this morning, and she wore her costume, Peter Pan, makeshift from a green shirt with a lace-up collar and green shorts. We got her green socks as well, but she decided that Peter Pan didn't wear socks. This whole costume sprang out of whole cloth (ar, ar) when I brought home a cheap Rheinlander hat from work, where it was a gimme at the Oktoberfest party. Kelly saw it and immediately decided that she didn't want to be a cat after all. Anyway, her school encourages kids to come in their costumes on Halloween day, so here we were. I think she told every third person on the way in "I'm Peter Pan!" She was completely thrilled that no one else at school seemed to have thought of that costume.

I didn't participate in most of her day. Jean's gonna fill me in later. But she apparently had Halloween activities after school, including at her daycare, and then with Jean at the Tigard High School, where the highschool kids were putting on a haunted house. I got home by 6pm so I could be available to take Kelly around the neighborhood, but they didn't get home until after 6:30. I had time to eat something before we went out into the cold, cold night.

Kelly really cleaned up this year. I guess the spoils really do go to the brave. We passed the occasional brave soul, but I think the cold weeded out a lot of the weaker folk. In fact, at several houses, small kids were handing out the candy. I've got two big pockets on my winter coat, and Kelly filled both of them with overflow from her rather large bucket.

Last year her attempt to connnect briefly with the givers of candy was to ask them about their pets and children. This year, she seemed to have three repeating strategies. "You have a beautiful house," was one. The second was a history lesson: "I'm Peter Pan! Peter Pan was first played by a girl. But he was a boy in the movie!" And finally, in some cases as she was walking away from the door, she'd comment, sotto voce, "he's a very bright fellow!" After that we were dividing households into those where the occupants seemed to enjoy the spirit of the holiday, and those who merely went through it for form's sake. As to the dark houses, well, they contained the irredeemable.

Almost forgot, Kelly has a goldfish now. She won it at the haunted house. So while Jean and I have been debating if she had the maturity to take care of a pet, fate overrode us. We'll see how long it takes for Jean to have to start caring for it, since I'm certainly not going to.

Kelly and I wrapped up the Halloween evening watching a 'classic' show which has been enjoying a revival recently in Canada, the House of Frightenstein, with "Billy Van, Billy Van, Billy Van, etc., Fishka Rais as Igor, Guy Big as Count Munchkinstein, and special guest star Vincent Price". It is an old, extremely corny kid's show, hosted by a friendly vampire, and for Halloween, the host of the linked site made available an entire episode. Kelly was ready to watch the entire series after that, but alas, it is not available.

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:55 AM