Tuesday, October 10, 2006

"Here Lies Peperony and Chease"

Last Friday night Mr. Future Marital Property and I spent one of the nerdiest nights in history at home. First, we watched an episode of NUMB3RS in which Charlie totally solved an international art heist/murder/Nazi looting case with... calculus!

Then, as though that weren't nerdy enough, we found an online link to the game of my childhood, Oregon Trail. In eighth grade, when I was taking math at the high school, I would return to my junior high in the middle of second period. I and my fellow math nerds were confined to the library until third period started. Everyday, during that interim we played Oregon Trail.

The site we found emulates the colors on the screen, the music when you visit the landmarks on the trail, the hunting (darn those skittish squirrels and our pathetic ability to carry only 100 pounds of meat), and the insanely slow speed of the old game. It brought me right back to that musty, Anwatin library with the seventies carpeting and dingy books. In this nifty new web version, instead of crawling along at a snail's pace, you can select to play the game at slightly faster paces. This feature makes for some very speedy ventures across the territories. So, go on, be a carpenter, shoot some buffalo, and ford that river!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Animals, Associate-land, and an Agitating Event

Howdy-doo potentially still faithful readers. I've been more remiss than (possibly) ever before about posting to my blog. This time, I offer no excuses. I'll just launch right in. Stream of consciousness.

It's no secret to my friends (or to readers of this blog (see 9/30/05 entry)) that I don't like animals. However, I've realized in the past few days that I might need to keep this information more private.* I'm guessing that some people don't have the same poodle-phobia as I do. Perhaps I've even mentioned how poodles scare me in the presence of a poodle owner. Some people probably even think that it's cruel and disturbing that I don't like animals.** Sort of like how I find it strange when people say they don't like children. Heck, animal rights activists are surely disgusted that I drink milk, or (gasp) eat beef. Anyway, I'm going to try and keep this distaste more private from now on in conversation.**

In other news, I've started work. For now I feel like I'm pretending to be a lawyer. Pretending to be a grown-up. It feels eerily similar to when my sister and I used to play "school." Generally in those days, because I am the elder sister, I would play the teacher. I didn't really have much to teach, nor did I have any training whatsoever, but I assumed the responsibility. I guess it's time to do the same thing now.

Finally, I've shared this story with a few people but thought I'd put it out here in case there are any other comments or viewpoints I haven't yet received. The other day I was waiting to cross the street on my nearest corner to catch the bus and head to work. At the corner, where there is a saloon, a man was standing outside the door to the bar. I've seen him around before. He is evidently homeless and possibly schizophrenic. I make these assumptions because he's usually talking to himself, his clothes are worn, and he doesn't have shoes.

On this particular morning, this man said "Hello" to me and then started repeating "Hello, Robin." [Why "Robin?" Who knows?] I smiled, in his direction, and then turned to cross the street. Adjacent to me, but on the other side of the street I had noticed a police car. To avoid jaywalking in the presence of the police, I patiently waited to cross until the light changed. Just before I was able to cross, and as my bus was approaching, an officer came out of the car and started yelling at this man. With profanities omitted for my dear reaaders, the officer told him to stop bothering me and to get out and move on his way. Understandably, the man on the corner was startled and intimidated. The situation/power imbalance, worsened when the other officer came out and started saying the same things.

In part because I needed to catch my bus, in part because I was dumbfounded, I crossed the street and left the scene without saying anything. I don't know exactly what I would have said. I also don't know what had transpired earlier that day. Perhaps this man on the corner had actually created problems in the neighborhood.

What it looked like to me though, was a show of force to sweep "unwanted" people off the streets of our rapidly gentrifying neighborhood. It appeared to be a tactic whereby the police would incite a reaction from the person they were targeting, allowing them to arrest the person or remove them from the area. No matter what, it was deeply unsettling. Have I over, or underreacted?

* Note the irony: I'm publicizing my dislike on the Internet before shutting up in regular conversation.
** See exception for baby beluga whales below.