Wednesday, July 31, 2002

Tableclothmania is hereby declared ended.

Tuesday, July 30, 2002

Baking a pound cake doesn't really seem to heat up the place--it must be the low temperature of the oven. Using regulation chicken eggs instead of eggs from guinea hens made it easier, too.

Monday, July 29, 2002

Last night the Insomnia Book Circle enjoyed "Deephaven." No sooner did Cranford come to mind than, just a page or two beyond, one of the inhabitants of Deephaven is compared with an inhabitant of Cranford. The only part of this Library of America volume devoted to Sarah Orne Jewett that I'd read before is "Country of the Pointed Firs," in my little Anchor edition. Somebody's gone to a lot of trouble with this hypertext "Pointed Firs."

Sunday, July 28, 2002

At the dollar movies, we kept cool with Undercover Brother, complete with soundtrack that doesn't go away. Courtesy of Utne Reader, of all places, I learned that other people always read the paper scraps in the gutter and on the sidewalk and pick up and keep small objects discovered when they're out walking, just as I do. Some of my personal favorites are glass marbles and metal toys. There are others out there who are unable to throw a book away. So far as I'm concerned, the best plan of all is never to buy a book that is not intended to be kept, but there are those books that must be acquired and are not keep-worthy.

Saturday, July 27, 2002

I hate paperwork! I don't ever want to see another carbonless form again; neither do I have any wish to see a cash-register receipt.

Friday, July 26, 2002

So, the serial number of 6753520 means that it was made in 1891. When good-looking vintage watches are available so cheaply, why would anyone buy a modern-day watch for the same price? It's better to buy a plastic-case, plastic-band five-dollar item and treat it as disposable.

Thursday, July 25, 2002

What is the big deal with the humble corn broom? Outfits selling to professional maintenance people sell nothing but those with sturdy wooden handles, but only those junky, worthless grooved plastic handles seem to be on the ones in the supermarkets these days. Those handles are slippery and not firmly attached. The last time we found some it was at Home Depot. Now I know more about broom corn than I used to. There's even an import quota that seems to affect mostly Mexico.

Wednesday, July 24, 2002

There are automatic card-shufflers. Why not an automatic paper shuffler?

Tuesday, July 23, 2002

Cracked cartilage has nothing on some kind of pulled muscle involving arm, shoulder, chest, so that even breathing hurts. It's slowly going away and I hope it never returns.

Sunday, July 21, 2002

The theory of counter-irritation may be true. There's nothing like an hour spent enjoying the tender mercies of the Cavitron ultrasonic scaler to help a person forget other pains. The sound alone must be capable of killing small animals.

Saturday, July 20, 2002

H-E-B has a cart-retrieval system complete with flashing light and remote control. The guy who's been operating it for the past month is cart-hungry and offers to help unload just to get that empty cart.

Friday, July 19, 2002

The July Esquire magazine features road trips. The guy who passed through Austin was turned away at the fully booked Austin Motel and the San Jose, resorting at last to the Clarion (former Quality) Inn, where the rooms were mostly booked by an out-of-town high-school girls' volleyball team. He saw more of the real Austin and the real Texas anyhow. He should've eaten at Luby's to receive the full effect.

Thursday, July 18, 2002

Being barely able to move gives a license to catch up on periodicals: now run through are all the juicy, junky, pictorial ones, so there's no longer a backlog of house-porn and food-porn mags.

Wednesday, July 17, 2002

The Pride of Barbados is going wild after all this rain, and looks beautiful in all lights.

Tuesday, July 16, 2002

La canicula is upon us.

Monday, July 15, 2002

For once, a day of pure irresponsibility and no paperwork--Aces Go Places III, All's Well (Family Happiness), and Peking Opera Blues--probably inspired by at last finding "Hong Kong Babylon" on the library shelf. We sure do still love Maggie Cheung and Brigitte Lin

Sunday, July 14, 2002

Club Desvelado zipped through "Canicula: Snapshots of a Girlhood en la Frontera" by Norma Elia Cantu and "The Shape of Snakes" by Minette Walters. Norma Cantu was born Azucena Cantu in 1947, and this was a very evocative memoir. "Snakes" is a page-turner and an unpleasant one. The main branch of the Austin Public Library isn't satisfied by deaccessioning as many books as it can; it has now devoted quite a bit of space to a large Coke machine, a large snack machine, and four tables with chairs, right in the middle of the main floor. We checked out Chango's for the first time yesterday. Manuel's black beans are served there, a big plus, as is the great taped music.

Friday, July 12, 2002

Are there any postal branches open on Saturday here in town these days? We're sure going to miss the downtown branch, our mainstay after South Fifth closed.

Thursday, July 11, 2002

The Desvelado Book Club tore through "American Towns: An Interpretive History" by David J. Russo, a survey, and one badly edited for repetition, a common failing these days, it appears. Nonetheless, it has some good maps and photographic illustrations, and touches upon a lot of the places we know.

Wednesday, July 10, 2002

The Desvelado Book Club, courtesy once again of the Austin Public Library, has raced through "Mexico City: a cultural and literary companion" by Nick Caistor, which, though a bit repetitive in places, has the best nutshell political history of the Mexican Republic I've ever found, along with more about Posada the engraver than I've ever known before and some fine reminiscences of living in the Federal District before the population was so large.

Tuesday, July 09, 2002

The Insomniac Book Club cannot recommend "Uphill with Archie" by William H. MacLeish. Though it was interesting to me, I suspect it would be interesting to very few. I thought he'd never mention "alcohol," but eventually he did, so I suppose he isn't so deluded about his family life as one sometimes concluded from reading most of the book. I did like seeing switchel mentioned in print. The only on-line recipe I find has molasses, but ones I know about are, as mentioned in "Uphill" made from water, cider vinegar, and maple syrup, with perhaps a bit of fresh ginger juice squeezed into it.

Monday, July 08, 2002

We're really tearing right through the supply of postage and envelopes; and we've never had long-distance telephone bills like these.

Sunday, July 07, 2002

In one day, the solid-waste crew destroyed our 60-gallon trash can and our bin. The cover's ripped off the trash can so that the rain and the flies enter without hindrance. Each corner of the blue bin is ripped nearly down to the ground. So we stopped by the firehouse to get a new recycle bin. South Congress station was out, but someone kindly called several other firehouses, eventually locating a bin at the Riverside station. . Evidently, the City is very low on replacement bins now. The firefighters are eager to chat but don't like having Solitaire seen. I've always thought that people required to be in a state of readiness need some liberty and I've always told people that quiet occupations on the computer are to be preferred over, for example, personal telephone calls. Some statoins have more than one giant-screen TV; others don't bother much with TV at all.

Saturday, July 06, 2002

Since these days I used the same ftp commands over and over again, I tend to forget about the ones less frequently needed or confuse them with DOS commands. But I remembered everything needed, it turns out. Whew!

Friday, July 05, 2002

At last we have the glass cabinet knobs that should always have been there to match the existing ones. Good-bye to the ugly ones. The vendor promised all hardware, but perhaps should have sent a washer with each, along with the bolt and nut. At any rate, a paper-punch and some cardboard for a shim took care of the problem.

Thursday, July 04, 2002

I tout two accomplishments for the credit side of the ledger: restoring the glass shade to its proper place in the kitchen and cleaning the top of the refrigerator. With 11- or 12-foot ceilings there's a lot to dread about trying to get a shade back on. Those three little screws into the flange just don't seem to be a trustworthy way to secure an item that heavy. The catalogues never seem to mention the weight of these items.

Wednesday, July 03, 2002

There's really no beating the Marion Cunningham pound cake from the Fannie Farmer Baking Book: half-pound butter and four eggs. Of course, there weren't enough of the usual eggs, so two guinea-fowl eggs were substituted for each usual one. Those shells are hard to crack! Our pound cake has it all: vanilla, lemon juice, and mace, the sine qua non.

Tuesday, July 02, 2002

Packing peanuts are not cheap. Despite the fact that they seem to attract odors, one would think that someone would want them for reuse--perhaps one of the private shipping centers of post offices. Somehow one has fonder feelings for bubble packing. It's a wonder that all those kids who delight in festooning toilet paper over tree limbs in people's yards do not seem to have discovered yet the havoc that could be wrought by dumping a few cubic yards of peanuts in a strategic location.

Monday, July 01, 2002

The Insomniac Book Club has raced through the following: "One Man's Mexico" by John Lincoln, "On Persephone's Island: A Sicilian Journal" by Mary Taylor Simeti, "Garden in the Hills" by Elizabeth West, "The House by the Dvina: a Russian-Scottish Childhood" by Eugenie Fraser The authors of "Persephone" and of "Garden" are both earnest, but Persephone is highly entertaining and informative, while "Garden" is truly the insomniac's friend. The partner of the "Garden" book is revealed to be somewhat unpleasant as a person, and one suspects that friends or partners of John Lincoln may find him heavy going at times; his book paints him as the type of male personality of which not much has been seen so openly since the 'fifties and early 'sixties. "Dvina" is a window on a world unfamiliar to most of us. I'm going to be more interested in White Russians (always a running joke in movies of the 'twenties and 'thirties) and Archangel. I don't remember ever before hearing of the "allied intervention," but now that I have it'll be appearing everywhere. These four books were found as neighbors at the Austin Public Library when the book being sought was not to be found where it belonged.