Thursday, September 20, 2018

Mathematical uncertainty

‘Kay, this one’s a month old, but still.

As you know, I very often walk along the W&OD Trail, dodging cyclists and hardcore runners. Occasionally there will be signs announcing one event or another. (Although there wasn’t any advance warning about a Diabetes Run that happened two Saturdays ago; first I heard of it was them setting up for it as I did my morning stagger. And a run marshal, who was unpacking his kit and lamenting—loudly—that he was missing a page of instructions. Oops.)

Anyhow, last month I was out and saw this:

I’m still puzzling over the commutative tee-shirt.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018


Yom Kippur began at sundown last night and continues until dusk tonight. It’s the culmination of the Days of Awe in the Jewish calendar, and the time for a sort of moral Spring cleaning—the Day of Atonement, when you’re meant to rummage through your behavior over the previous year, acknowledge your shortcomings with respect to your fellow humans, apologize (to those they’ve trespassed against and to God) and resolve to do better.

Then—having cleared the slate, so to speak—you’re good to go for another year.

Well, the deal is that God opens the Book of Life on Rosh Hashanah and inscribes your name in it, but doesn’t close-and-seal it until the end of Yom Kippur. You have those ten Days of Awe to get your ducks in a row.

In recent times, people have taken to issuing blanket apologies for transgressions, presumably in the hope that anyone who’s actually suffered at their hands will happen by at the time the apology emerged, and will catch it in passing. And, of course, SoMe has amplified this impersonalization of what should be a very personal act of contrition.

I have never subscribed to the one-size-fits-all approach to giving or receiving apologies, but that’s just me. I mean—in the Roman Catholic Sacrament of Reconciliation, we’re meant to hawk up actual things we’ve done, say them out loud to the confessor and accept the penance we’re given. (Toughest priest I ever knew wouldn’t give you any generic Hail Marys or Our Fathers; no, no. If I’d been pissed off at my family, he’d tell me to go back and be specially nice to them. Killed me, he did.)

Anyhow, last week, my ex-manager emailed me to ask if we could reschedule a regular Wednesday morning meeting this week, on account of it being Yom Kippur. I said sure, adding, “May you be inscribed in the Book of Life. And your family.”

He replied, “Thank you. Please forgive me for any sins of omission or commission that I have committed, whether known to me or unknown.”

I suspect he’s being smart-assed. Pretty sure he doesn’t remember this, ah, incident, although it immediately sprang to my mind.

Jury’s still out on whether I forgive him.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018


Hurricane Florence gave the District They Call Columbia a pass, but we’ve been getting a lot of rain, and it’s the tropical-temperatures kind of rain. You walk outside and your glasses steam up. Even in my house, where I’ve got two upstairs windows partway open, when you get halfway up the stairs, the bannister gets sticky.

So it’s no real surprise that fungi are having a field day around here.

For example, this mushroom growing atop one of the distance markers on the W&OD Trail:

And then I saw this profusion of little ones on one patch of my corporate neighbor’s campus:

So far no sign of a large boat with pairs of animals on it floating down the Toll Road, but I’m not ruling it out.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Gratitude Monday: bare feet on wood

It’s been almost three months since my living room floor flooded, courtesy of a gutter downspout that didn’t drain away from the house. And it’s been a month since I’ve had to live with the tarry subfloor that you can see in this video.

I won’t go right now into the whole michegoss of why it’s taken so long to complete the repairs (but if you want a recommendation on what flooring company not to use, give me a bell), because today’s Gratitude Monday, and I am so blissfully grateful that I have a new floor, and I can walk around the house barefoot.

Friday, September 14, 2018

O poverini

A couple of weeks ago I was kind of watching the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Così fan tutte. They set it at what looked like Atlantic City in the 50s.

I confess I’m only vaguely familiar with Così; the plot is 18th Century potboiling guys-brag-how-chaste-their-girlfriends-are-so-of-course-they-test-the-theory.

In other words: the usual.

Because of that, the Met’s 50s Jersey Boys construct seems appropriate.

However, I cannot figure out whether the set designer built the “Hero’s” sign on purpose to underscore the unlettered nature of the food stand’s management, whether it’s ironic, or whether the standards of the Met are so low that no one noticed.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Tremendously red sky at morning

As of time of writing, it’s looking like Florence—that tremendously big and tremendously wet hurricane swirling around the Atlantic—looks like it’s going to strike more toward the Carolinas and Georgia, as opposed to the Carolinas and Virginia. This means that I’ve got a few more days to stock up on bottled water, because they’re still predicting some rain next week.

I also have time to lay in a few bottles from the ABC store.

Here is an official image from the National Weather Service from Tuesday, depicting Florence’s approach to the Carolinas. I am not making this up, it’s a legit image from the NWS:

A couple of things: for—well, ever, really—pols in North Carolina have bashed the warnings about the effects of climate change are having on all kinds of things, including storms. (They aren’t alone, of course; Florida’s another one, and it’s discovering that climate change is real, and it’s biting them in their all-important tourism industry. Boofuckinghoo.) So they’ve not only not done anything about controlling things like carbon emissions and coastal over-development, they’ve not done anything to ramp up hurricane disaster relief or recovery.

(I’m betting that they’re going to go with their hands out to the feds for those latter two, expecting blue state taxes to pay for their reckless disregard for science and their feckless fiscal policies. The legislature is white, so I’m also betting they’ll get it from the kleptocrat’s regime. Even so, FEMA has a $10M shortfall in its disaster response coffers, since that amount was transferred to ICE to build cages for children at the border. Cadet Bone Spurs thought only brown folks are affected by hurricanes.)

The other thing is that the luck of the draw gave this hurricane a feminine name. So it’s really cool that the lost-causing, climate science-denying, racist, misogynistic goobers of North Carolina are about to be thoroughly rogered by a a Category 4 tremendously big and tremendously wet and tremendously powerful bitch of a storm.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

They seek him here

Okay, well, y’all know about #PlaidShirtGuy—Tyler Linfesty, the Billings, Montana, high school kid who stole the kleptocrat’s specious rally last week. He was placed right behind His Orangeness on the stage and reacted as any sentient being would to the idiotic claptrap coming out of that puckered mouth.

Then he got booted from the stage (along with his friends, who weren’t as enthusiastic enough for the campaign team), interrogated by the Secret Service (seriously) and tossed out of the auditorium.

Linfesty was the hero of the hour, in a week that I’m betting Li’l Donny Two-scoops wishes never happened—what with Bob Woodward’s book and the anonymous self-styled resister in the White House’s op-ed in the New York Times. No wonder his minions couldn’t stomach having the high school kids up there.

Anyhow, I don’t know why there are not Zelig-like instances of #PlaidShirtGuy all over the Internet, but so far this is the only one I’ve found:

But speaking of the Goebbels of 1600, she apparently made the mistake of showing up for one of her lying turns in an outfit that provided the perfect green screen for projecting something appropriate (sorry—you have to click to see the video):

— Maggie Resists Trump (@Stop_Trump20) September 10, 2018

And on that uplifting note, I’m out.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Natural relief

Ordinarily I'd have written something about today's anniversary, but yesterday was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day at work, in which one of my colleagues—who is very defensive about this program being her program—described me to someone in marketing as “[Bas Bleu] is helping us with [program] business planning and some marketing.”

No, honey, I am not helping you with this and that, like a sales clerk at Macy’s; I am putting together a business strategy, which includes marketing, but also things like operational timelines, with all of which you seem utterly unacquainted. I’m contributing expertise in two completely different arenas (product management and marketing), for which the company would have to hire two people were I to walk out the door. (I am not receiving the combined salaries they’d have to pay, BTW.)

At any rate, as I wait for the world and his wife to add their inputs to what should have been a reasonably simple info piece, but which has now become an endless daisy chain, I shall contemplate Nature.

Because I need something that’s not a complete cluster.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Gratitude Monday: A new year

Jews around the world gathered with families and friends at sundown last night to welcome in the year 5779. Rosh Hashanah begins with the call of the shofar at a synagogue service, and continues with a meal that traditionally includes a round challah (symbolizing the circle of life) and apples dipped in honey (for a sweet year).

(I love the way food is fully integrated into religious observation. And now I know why Whole Foods was giving out samples of both plain and raisin challah. Delish.) 

It also marks the ten Days of Awe, when Jews reflect upon the past year and consider what they might have done better. The Days end with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, when Jews acknowledge the wrongs of the previous year and ask forgiveness—from both the person(s) they’ve wronged and from God.

As I’ve written before, I think it’s a custom that pretty much everyone could benefit from. Most Christians pay lip service (literally) to the notion of atonement when they recite that passage of the Lord’s Prayer that goes, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” But there are a shedload of Christians who run through that whole prayer without giving it much thought. They also run through their lives the same way.

That may be true of Jews at the High Holy Days, too. But I think that taking entire days out of your life and devoting them to thoughts of enumerating your transgressions and asking forgiveness (as well as accepting others’ apologies) tends to focus the mind.

At any rate, I’m grateful for all my Jewish friends and their families, and I wish them all (whether in Herndon, Chicago or on a cruise around Cuba) L'Shanah Tovah.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Crazy enough

This will no doubt come as a surprise to those who know me as basically a sloth with library cards, but I’ve been buying—and using—athletic shoes since my college days. Runners, walkers, cross-trainers, soccer shoes—the whole megillah.

But in all this time, I’ve never owned a pair of Nikes. I’ve bought Brooks, New Balance, Asics, Saucony, Avia and—for the past six years—Mizuno. For some reason I never got Nike, Reebok or Adidas.

However, this changed yesterday, when I walked over to the froofy running store in the People’s Republic’s Faux Urban Center and bought these:

I’ll alternate them with my current pair of Mizunos, which are already apparently showing signs of being walked on a lot (two months old, already wear on the soles).

I bought them because of the #JustDoIt30 commercial featuring Colin Kaepernick.

Kaepernick’s been on Nike’s payroll for years, but never used due to him being a lightning rod for faux-patriotic goober hate drummed up by our Golfer-in-Chief (who, tbh, is still pissed off that the NFL wouldn’t let him buy a team in the 80s, and he lost money on his USFL team, and more money when he lost his lawsuit against the NFL; we all know that his one constancy is his ability to hold a grudge across decades) because he knelt during the playing of the national anthem at football games to protest police murders of African-Americans. When his contract with the Forty-Niners ran out, no NFL team would hire him. A company with less money in its coffers would have cut him altogether; it certainly wouldn’t have built a campaign around him. Nike’s taken a bold step with this one.

I get it that no corporation runs an ad campaign just to do the right thing. Nike is expecting to make a buck out of this—they’re expecting to make fistfuls of bucks out of it. They’re also attracting faux-patriotic goober hate, as manifested by the public shoe-burning videos making the rounds of social media. (Yes, they’re burning shoes they’ve spent hundreds of dollars on, just as they bought Keurigs to smash and Starbucks coffee to pour out in “protest” of corporate actions. They ain’t too bright, this crowd.)

I don’t give a toss about football, so I’ve been at a remove from all the take-a-knee controversy. My opinion is that this is legitimate, powerful protest, although I think the protest would start really taking off if white players started taking a knee, too. When people from the power-holding class start protesting, that’s when change comes about. Some measure of the efficacy of Kaepernick’s protest can be found in the spit-hissing rage of all the goobers, who falsely turned it into disrespect of the flag, which morphed into disrespect of the military. Wesley Clark, former NATO commander, tweeted about it a couple of days ago:

You should look at some of the replies in the thread—they’re stultifying in their stupidity.

So, no brand loyalty, no real connection to the sport, and yet I was deeply moved by this commercial that focuses on people with crazy dreams; so much so that I went into the froofy running store and asked specifically for something in the stability line, and do any Nikes fit the bill? My $130 ain’t going to take the company too far, but I felt I had to do something.

And I’m going to work on getting my dreams crazy enough.