Monthly Archives: February 2008

Bob tackles the subject of soul mates:

The idea of a soul mate is a Noble Lie. If you are single, you are not seeking the one, single, solitary person who is right for you. You are seeking for someone who is right for you. Once you find this person, declaring them to be your soul mate merely gives you the confidence to actually go through with the deal and marry the person. It also dissuades you from looking around for something better. It is a lie, but it has a noble purpose. That’s what makes it a noble lie.

One of the most interesting conversations I’ve ever had was with Evangeline. She believes in their being “the one” and I don’t. I believe in God and she doesn’t. The bending of the arguments around one another and how the beliefs in soulmates and God are expressed in such similar manners (as are the counter-arguments) was a real learning experience. Someday I’ll have to try to reproduce the conversation for a Ghostland piece.

I think that the mistake of the notion of “soul mates” is that believing that there is a single one. The idea of their being hundreds or thousands of potential soul mates out there almost negates the meaning, but not quite. I believe that a soulmating is something that occurs over time. I believe that there are many potential soulmates, but that only one can be cultivated and be formed at any given time.

It’s sort of like pregnancy in that regard, I guess. Lots of sperm, but (usually) only one can become a baby at a time. Sometimes none do.

How does a soulmating cultivate? After people spend enough time with one another, they start growing together. Those aspects that are completely incompatible with their partner either become compartmentalized or phase out entirely. You let another consciousness enter your mind. You start seeing the world the way your lover sees the world. That’s not to say that you start thinking exactly the way that they do, but you find other ways to look at the world in addition to your own. You feel their pain in a way far more empathetic than the sympathy you might feel with a friend. You grow into a unit of sorts. Individuals, but connected by something.

And if such a relationship ever dies, a part of you dies with it.

This thinking gets tricky when it comes to widows and widowers. My temptation is to say that only one soulmate can be cultivated over a lifetime, but in case of the death of a partner I don’t see why another can be found. I’m actually not a huge fan of the seeming rush remarry after becoming a widow or widower, but I wouldn’t banish those unfortunate enough to have a spouse die to forever being alone.

That actually leads into another idea for a post that’s percolating in my mind: How can one fall in love again when one starts off loving their partner considerably less than they love someone else? Check back at some point in the next week or two*, different bat-time, same bat-channel.

* – Actually, check back quite frequently cause I enjoy having people read my writing because I’m vain that way.

Category: Coffeehouse

On a lot of TV shows, they make a big deal out of the 100th and 200th show. Sometimes they’ll put something in to mirror the event, like Frasier which placed his 1000th radio show on the show’s 100th and so on. Sometimes they’ll have a flashback to before the series got started or something like that. Sometimes, though, they make a big deal out of the 100th show by making it suck. They’ll just have flashbacks to episodes that we’ve already seen or they’ll interview the cast and they’ll all laugh at jokes that even a laughtrack would have trouble with.

So in honor of a stupid television convention, I’m going to make this post suck. I’m going to do flashbacks to important moments in this blog.

On February 22, 2005*, I sat in front of a keyboard and wrote the first post on Hit Coffee, which was then hosted on blogspot. Close your eyes and imagine me doing that.

On April 10, 2005, I sat in front of my keyboard and wrote the first post on the new WordPress-powered Hit Coffee. Much like this Very Special 1000th post, it said absolutely nothing of consequence.

On April 12, 2005, I sat in front of my keyboard and wrote the 100th post. It actually dealt with anniversaries, so was not entirely inappropriate to the occasion.

On January 29, 2007, I sat in front of my keyboard and wrote the 500th post.

On February 27, 2008, I sat in front of my keyboard and wrote this post, a useless 1000th post detailing the exciting and dramatic** life of sitting in front of a keyboard and writing posts. I hope that you all are duly excited.

* – Ironically, I’ve been mulling over a retrospective on the Hit Coffee and the directions it’s taken over the last three years because of a meme I got tagged with a couple months ago. That might have made a more interesting post and a more useless one (is there anything less entertaining than a blogger talking about his blogging?), which would have made it triply appopriate. That would have taken too much time, though, and so you got this. If I’d thought this through more, I would have done a third anniversary spectacular and a 1000th vote special and have driven away every last reader that I have.

** – Also ironically, this blog can be very dramatic at times. This site has caused quite a bit of drama recently.

Category: Theater

9:00: Wake up

9:30: Contemplate breakfast, decide to make a quick trip to Wendy’s rather than go downtown for Las Migas and the best breakfast burritos around. Wendy’s stops serving breakfast at 10:30, though, so I decide to get a move on.

9:40: Leave house.

9:50: Arrive at Wendy’s. Wendy’s is closed until noon for some parking lot renovation. Head for Migas

10:10: F Street is closed, have to take detour

10:20: Detour lands me all the way back at the freeway. No Las Migas for me. Head south of town to McDonald’s.

10:31: Arrive at McDonald’s. McDonald’s no longer serving breakfast. Head to International House of Pancakes

10:40: IHOP paking lot is full and the line figuratively goes around the building. It’s the post-church crowd and it looks like there’s probably a 45 minute wait. Decide to go to Happy Burger for some of their outstanding breakfast burritos.

10:55: Get in line at the Happy Burger.

11:01: I get to the counter, the breakfast menu is closed. Would I like a hamburger? I would not. Say “screw it” and go back to IHOP

11:10: Put my name on the list.

11:35: Get table

11:55: Get omlettes for breakfast lunch

12:10: Finish lunch

Category: Kitchen

I ask one thing of Harvey, my 1998 Ford Escort: Hit 200,000 miles. Interestingly enough, I hit 100,000 on a road trip from Colosse to Almeida, Estacado, the town where I now work. It is my hope that I hit 200,000 miles driving to Almeida for work.

It’s been pretty obvious for the last 15,000 miles that Harvey doesn’t have much left in him. I’ve had to put in $100 here and $100 there for repair, each time wondering if this is the time that I don’t get him fixed. One of the tough things about a car is knowing when to throw in the towel. One almost hopes for a $5,000 repair so that the choice becomes easy.

I hit 199,000 miles a couple weeks back. I can feel the 200,000th mile coming. I can also feel the car’s reluctance to cross that threshold. Lately there’s been a grinding sound when I put my foot on the accelerator. So I’ve been asking myself if I bother getting it fixed for the last 1,000 miles when I’m not going to be taking the car up to Cascadia when I move up there later this year. How much do I commit to spending per mile for that meaningless-except-to-me mile mark? It would be nice if, in addition to passing 200,000, I could hold on to the car until the move. Crayola, the car that I’ll be getting from my father as soon as Harvey passes on, is a lot less comfortable. Maybe I’ll get used to it, maybe I won’t.

I decided to go ahead and take it in to see what that grinding sound was. I worked it out with my coworker Pat that she would pick me up at the auto shop yesterday. Wouldn’t you know it that as I was driving to work, the transmission started slipping. I’d change gears and hit the accelerator and nothing would happen. Then there’d be this jerk and pop and I’d be moving. I’ve experienced this before and it typically meant that the car was on its way out. I crossed my fingers and hoped that I would get to Almeida so I could get to the auto shop. Partially so I could hit 200k, but partially because I didn’t want to break down in the middle of nowhere.

The car made it and I got the news that I was hoping for. The transmission could be cleaned out and it’d stop slipping for at least a little while, but the transmission was going to need to be replaced sometime relatively soon. The griding had something to do with the wheel bearings, and that would need a new something-or-other, but I’d be fine for the time being. So I was able to spend $200 to get the transmission cleaned, the oil changed, and the turn-bulb replaced, but I have about $1,500 worth of repairs right around the corner. The car is not worth $1,500 to replace… so when that happens, my question of when “enough is enough” to keep the car is answered for me.

200,000 and a breakdown and then that’ll pretty much be the end of Harvey.

Category: Road

The New York Times has a couple articles of interest and my reaction to both is surprisingly caustic.

The first is about sexy wedding dresses. My initial thought was to be grumpy at the commenters over at Half Sigma as they suggest that girls that do this sort of thing are the kinds of girls that either nobody wants to marry (which, considering that it’s an article about wedding dresses is kind of inane) and that they’re the kinds of girls that will naturally leave the men high and dry because they’re not human beings with thoughts no less egotistical or self-centered as blog commenters but rather objects to be reviled for daring to think that they’re special and/or for flaunting what they have to offer.

Then, on second thought, I don’t really disagree with their appraisal and think that the urge to hippify and modernify all our traditions is aggravating and often tacky. Mumble grumble.

Then there’s another NYT article with an irritating “Move over boys, the girls are in town!!!” feel about how women are taking over the Internet:

On the contrary, the cyberpioneers of the moment are digitally effusive teenage girls.

“Most guys don’t have patience for this kind of thing,” said Nicole Dominguez, 13, of Miramar, Fla., whose hobbies include designing free icons, layouts and “glitters” (shimmering animations) for the Web and MySpace pages of other teenagers. “It’s really hard.”

Nicole posts her graphics, as well as her own HTML and CSS computer coding pointers (she is self-taught), on the pink and violet, a domain her mother bought for her in October.

“If you did a poll I think you’d find that boys rarely have sites,” she said. “It’s mostly girls.”

Indeed, a study published in December by the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that among Web users ages 12 to 17, significantly more girls than boys blog (35 percent of girls compared with 20 percent of boys) and create or work on their own Web pages (32 percent of girls compared with 22 percent of boys).

By “web sites” I assume that they mean the atrociously tacky and unoriginal world of MySpace pages and the self-absorbed world of LiveJournals. Let’s leave aside for a moment the self-centered self absorbed self-expressive nature of this site that makes me an utter hypocrite. The New York Times can cite all of the anecdotes that they want about girls that offer HTML pointers. Take a look at the people that actually code the websites and develop the applications that the girls make their cute little frilly animations and graphics on and then let’s tally by gender.

Pioneers? Please. They’re second and third wave giggly dilettantes that think that filling out a form and selecting a template is creative while what boys do is laugh-worthy.

See? What did I tell you? Grum-py…

Category: Newsroom

Different jobs take up different percentages of your brainpower. A job that takes 100% of it 100% of the time will tend to burn you out pretty quickly, even if you only work 40 hours a week. A job that takes 10% of it 90% of the time are often too boring to survive unless you can find something to do with the remaining 90% of your brainpower. I typically define something taking 80% of your brainpower if you can’t talk to anyone else or listen to anything while your working because it will prove too distracting. In the 60-80% range you can listen to music, but anything with words might mess you up. In the 30-60% range you can listen to music while you do it though you don’t necessarily need to be doing something else (though at lower levels it helps). In the 0-30% range, you need something else to keep your mind occupied while you work and you can even be doing more contemplative things while you work like thinking about world events, watching television, or talking to a coworker.

My current job only requires 5-20% of my thoughts 70% of the time. This would be miserable, except that they let me listen to things while I work. They let me do the same in Deseret, where it was 20-40% of my brainpower 95% of the time. In both cases, keeping the rest of my mind occupied helps keep me on task because it prevents me from doing something that takes too much attention away from my work, such as surfing the Internet.

This past year or so has really worked out very nicely for me, given the givens. I don’t like my job all that much and don’t get much in the way of personal satisfaction through it, but it gives me room to do things that make my day a lot more entertaining than it might be if I was at a job that required more of my brain. A year or so ago I bought a Pocket PC as a stand-in for an iPod solely so that I could listen to stuff while I worked. I started with music, but before long I figured out that I could listen to television shows and podcasts of the audio and video varieties.

It has turned into a marvelous investment. So much so that when it broke, I had no problem justifying the purchase of another. Not only do I get to listen while I’m at work, but I can also listen while I clean up around the apartment, while I’m going shopping, and while I’m doing anything that doesn’t require all that much of my attention. It makes a lot of boring stretches in my day go by faster and it allows me to “watch” television shows that I’d otherwise never get to see (or at least wouldn’t get to see starting at the beginning all the way to the ending).

You might be surprised how many television shows you can just listen to. Most sitcoms are listenable unless they’re gag-oriented. Most humor is in dialogue and even when there is something funny that’s not dialogue, you can picture in your mind what’s going on. Dramas are a bit more spotty, particularly if there’s a lot going on. The Sopranos, for instance, is far too visual, as is science fiction like Battlestar Gallactica. Thus far I have only had to abandon two shows due to it being excessively visual. About halfway through the first season I stopped listening to Las Vegas. When I don’t have anything else to listen to I’ll give it a shot, but about half of the episodes there are stretches where I really don’t know what’s going on. the same is true for Third Rock From The Sun, which is more visual than I would have thought. I can follow the plot, but I’m missing out on more of the humor.

I know that I’m missing stuff on other shows, too. The toughest one that I’ve gotten through was Homicide, Life on the Street. I managed to get through it, but sometimes I’d realize about halfway through that someone had died or I’d missed some big event. Nonetheless, it’s surprising how my mind is able to put a lot of it together. Music helps a lot. I can never see characters kissing, for instance, but I can often tell by the music alone.

Every now and again there will be some episode that I will have to skip. This happens particularly in sitcoms. There was an episode of Frasier where no one spoke for the first twelve minutes, an episode of Two Guys and a Girl where no one spoke at all, a couple episodes of How I Met Your Mother where subtitles are used extensively, and an episode of The Drew Carey Show where the characters are speaking gibberish and what they mean is on display on comic-style bubbles. There are also various points at which something other than English is being spoken, though most of the time you can figure out what’s going on regardless.

Sometimes I feel bad knowing that I’m missing some visual gags or there’s something going on in the episode that I am missing, but for the most part it’s unlikely that I would get the opportunity to watch these shows all the way through if I didn’t do it this way. It’s better to catch 90% of a show than miss out on it entirely. Sometimes after listening to an important episode, I’ll go home and watch it.

Below is a list of all of the shows that I’ve listened to more-or-less in the order that I’ve listened to them in. Sometimes I’ll have two shows going on in parallel because I’ll want to switch to a comedy because I’m having a depressing day but once I am in a better mood I want to go back to a more gripping drama. Also, when about to finish one show, I’ll frequently start another show before the last season so that when I finish the first show, I’m already entrenched in the second show. For instance, I started listening to Just Shoot Me prior to watching the last season of The West Wing.

NewsRadio (All 5 seasons)
Frasier (All 11 seasons)
Cheers (Half of first season)
SportsNight (Both seasons)
The West Wing (All 7 seasons)
Just Shoot Me (All 7 seasons)
Profit (All 9 episodes)
Two Guys and a Girl (All 4 seasons)
Friends (All 10 seasons)
Seinfeld (First 3 seasons)
The Practice (All 8 seasons)
Boston Legal (Up to current)
Ally McBeal (Seasons 1-4*)
Las Vegas (First seventeen episodes)
Homicide, Life on the Street (Seasons 3-7*)
Felicity (Two episodes)
Brothers & Sisters (One episode)
Third Rock From The Sun (Much of first two seasons)
The Drew Carey Show (Up to Season 6)
Spin City (Still in Season 1)

* – I watched the first two seasons of Homicide on the exercise bike before switching to listening to it at work. I had to watch the fifth and final season of Ally McBeal because they were in a format that wouldn’t play on my Pocket PC.

Category: Office, Theater

-{This is the expanded version of the opening of a post that I wrote for Bobvis}-

There were three serious Democrats running in 1966. The first was progressive former governor Ellis Arnall. The second was a young state senator named Jimmy Carter. The third was Lester Maddox, a three-time loser in electoral politics that got a lot of publicity for closing down his restaurant rather than be forced to serve blacks. As was commonly the case, Republicans did not have a seriously contested primary. Uncommonly, though, they had a chance at winning the election in the form of Bo Calloway, the first Republican congressman since reconstruction.

The Republicans felt that Calloway had the best chance of beating the inarticulate radical Maddox than the Arnall or moderate Carter, so Republicans one and all decided to vote in the Democratic primaries to serve up the weakest Democrat to face off against what they hoped would be the first Republican governor since reconstruction. Carter was bumped off in the original election and though he won a plurality in the first round, Arnall was put out to pasture by Maddox with the help of the Calloway voters.

The Arnall voters, however, weren’t ready to call it quits. Maddox was an embarrassment and Calloway himself wasn’t good on the issue of segregation, so they hatched a plan of their own. They sponsored an Arnall write-in campaign. Though they knew that they couldn’t win with a write-in candidate, they reasoned that they didn’t have to. If they could prevent either Calloway or Maddox from getting a majority of the vote, the winner would be determined by a vote in the state legislature. Since the legislature was Democratic, they figured that they might be able to get enough Republicans and anti-Maddox Democrats together to pull off a victory.

Arnall ended up with 7.01% of the vote, managing to keep both Calloway (47.07%) and Maddox (46.88%) from getting a majority of the popular vote. By an overwhelming majority, the state legislature tapped Lester Maddox as the next governor of the state of Georgia. Governor Maddox surprisingly turned in a moderate record as governor as far as race issues in the south went, appointing record numbers of blacks into state office and integrating various state agencies, though never renouncing his staunchly segregationist views. He later ran for president under the banner of George Wallace’s American Independence Party.

Arnall never for public office again and Calloway left Georgia in the 1970’s. Jimmy Carter succeeded Maddox as the governor of Georgia, serving from 1971-1975, and went on to run for higher office.

Category: Statehouse

Sometimes nothing can make you laugh like a tragedy and nothing can make you sadder than a comedy. When I look at the movies and shows that have hit me the hardest emotionally, almost all of them have been comedies or at least a weaving of comedy and drama. The thing about a drama is that you expect it to tug at your emotional strings. You’re prepared for it. Just like The West Wing gets laughs out of jokes that wouldn’t work as well on a bona fide comedy, sitcoms can smack you with a sudden seriousness because there is a laughter that’s stuck in your throat.

Comic book writer Peter David said the following of his writing (on X-Factor specifically, though it applies to his work on Young Justice and Supergirl):

The humor in the book will arise naturally from character interaction. Also, it will serve to set up the serious moments. Alfred Hitchcock said the best type of laughter from an audience is the type that catches in their throats. So although there will be snappy dialogue and such, be aware that sometimes we’ll be in the midst of what seems like a humorous moment and then, bam, something unexpected happens that leaves the reader going “Whoa. Didn’t see that coming.”

I’m including two examples in this post. The first is a scene from Frasier that I have actually commented before. The first time I saw it I was slightly inebriated, making the funny scenes funnier and the sad scenes sadder. I wanted to yell and throw something at the TV at the close of the episode.

The set-up is thus: When Daphne breaks up with her boyfriend, Niles is about ready to make his move. He holds off for a day at Frasier’s urging and that night Daphne meets a man, Rodney, who could pass for Niles’s twin. The actor for Rodney was amazing in his ability to duplicate Niles’s mannerisms. If Niles had only made his move, he could have caught the woman of his dreams. Niles moves on and meets Adelle, but not long after discovers that Rodney and Adelle have fallen for one another. This scene takes place towards at end, when Niles shows up to tell Daphne about Rodney and Adelle.

The second is from The Drew Carey Show, which I only saw recently. I actually listened to this before I watched it, but I happened to be at lunch at the end of the episode, so I got to see the all-important closing of the episode. After catching the end, I watched the whole episode through when I got home.

The set-up is thus: Several episodes before, Drew met a real estate agent named Nicki and they (eventually) started to date. Though she’s thin when they met, Nicki revealed to Drew early on that she had previously had a weight problem. She gains weight as the series progresses, but Drew doesn’t care and he proposes to her. This episode opens with Drew and Nicki filming a sex video. It forwards to the next morning where Drew informs his parents that “something happened” and he decided that he didn’t want to marry Nicki anymore. In this scene, he’s coming home from the bachelor party.

(note: there are some jokes in the first 40 seconds that you may not understand. They involve Drew’s father finding out about Drew’s cross-dressing brother and his attempting to feign depression to get out of yard work)

Category: Coffeehouse, Theater

There is a movie theater in Santomas that plays episodes of Lost and 24 live when they’re on the air. They legally can’t charge for entry for TV shows, but you get in with a $5 food voucher. This is one of those theaters where you can order food (popcorn, pizza, nachos, etc) and drinks (soft drinks and bottled or draft beer) from your seat. If you’ve never been to one, I recommend it. I never want to go to a regular theater again.

The problem is that the theater is in a very confusing part of town. It was a good thing that I left straight from work, because it took me about 90 minutes or so to get there. Some of that is because I was trying to use backroads during rush hour and I was driving a car where changing lanes to the left was really difficult because my turn signal was out. I should have known better. I got there at 6:30 and wouldn’t you know it, they were “sold” out. I thought about catching a movie while I was there, but wouldn’t you know it all four screens were sold out for the next two showings. On a weeknight, no less. If I could invest in these theaters, I would.

I got a burger at a nearby restaurant and headed home. I don’t know about you, but one thing I hate, hate, hate when driving is turning around and going the way I came. My drive home started with my being in the wrong lane. Any sane and rational person would have turned their butt around because I knew that by missing that turn I was going to head into a weird intersection where I was forced to take a right and would have to double back around to get back to the Interstate, which I knew that I would never do because I am somehow incapable of just taking a U-turn because I always think that I can navigate my way home.

So I went straight. Then I took the forced right. Then I took a left at a street that I knew lead to the interstate. Then I took a right at a road that I thought was going to lead straight to the Interstate. Somehow this right-left-right combination ended me up right back at the theater I had left forty minutes earlier.

This time I took the left that I needed to take, took a right on Interstate A and then another right on the interchange to Interstate A to Interstate B, and got home.

Without doubling back even once.

I rock.

Category: Downtown

From The Daily Mail:

The golden rule of getting away with a bigamous wedding must be this: Don’t invite anyone who was there the first time round.

Sadly, this small yet crucial detail escaped Randolf Edge, 54, in his haste to marry a woman 33 years his junior.

A guest who had also been at his first wedding tipped off King’s Lynn Register Office in Norfolk.

And a quick check of the records proved that Edge had tied the knot with 21-year- old Patience Carey while still married to his estranged wife Edna. He was quickly arrested.

A lot of people out of Deseret think that the (non-FLDS) Mormons secretly approve of or engage in polygamy, though in truth I’ve never met a group so preoccupied with denouncing it (in current day) than when I was out there. As was pointed out about the Republican primary, the only candidate that ran that had only one wife was Mitt Romney (until Huckabee entered the race).

As luck would have it, I did know of a polygamist while I was out there. After getting married and divorced a couple times, Carol Goddard’s father decided that divorce was too expensive so he got remarried a couple times without one. His previous marriages were functionally over, but not legally. The federal government eventually caught up with him. The FBI didn’t care, but the IRS did.

So here’s a question… was what Mr. Goddard did all that wrong? Could we replace the current system with one where a new marriage nullifies an old? Having never been divorced, I’m not sure what the full ramifications of that would be.

Category: Coffeehouse