Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Just Received

But unfortunately I'm not the implied subject of that verb (or the implied object of the implied preposition "by" following the past participle, if you prefer to read it that way).

A week and a half later, the status of the book-on-CD version of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows at Seattle Public Library has finally been changed to "Just Received." Until now it's been "On Order." At least now it should just be a couple days (assuming they rush through processing, as they darn well should, with 480 people waiting) before I get my copy--I'm number 23 on the list and there are 23 copies.

I would have finished the book a week and a half ago, along with the rest of the English-speaking world, if I weren't so cheap--refusing to fork out twenty bucks to buy the book myself--and for that matter, picky. At one point I was number 12 on the SPL waiting list for the print version, but I listened to the first six books and I was determined to listen to the seventh book, so I switched over to the audio version as soon as it was available for placing holds. Little did I know that while the library is quick to process the books and get them on hold shelves the day of release, the same doesn't apply to the book on CD.

Sigh. One of these days I'll be cool.

In related cheapness, I've been holding off on ordering the latest album from my second-favorite* rapper, Common, until I get the Amazon.com reward certificate I'm supposed to be getting from my Amazon.com Visa credit card. The album came out today, though, and I still haven't gotten the reward certificate in the mail, so I think I'm going to commit a Fob family transgression: I'm going to stop at Barnes and Noble on the way home from work, and if they have the CD in stock, I'm going to PAY MONEY(!!!) for it.

Forgive me, Foxy, for I'm about to sin.



*After Lauryn Hill, of course.

Mr. Fob the Prescient

In honor of Ingmar Bergman's death yesterday, I cataloged one of his movies on Friday.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Inevitable

I think it's a stupid word. Few things are really inevitable, and in many cases the fact that you recognize something's likelihood is exactly what makes it evitable. More often than not I find the word becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and/or an excuse not to do hard things. This is a complicated world we live in, and people are complicated; if you think you've got human nature figured out to the point where you can declare the inevitability of any human action, you're painfully underselling the human race.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Ahead of the Game

I totally just turned in an assignment that's not due until 11:59 tonight. I'm so on top of things.

Contact!

Thursday afternoon I went to the eye doctor and picked up the first pair of contact lenses I've worn in three or four years. I had chosen this eye doctor specifically because they advertise that they can find contact lenses that will work even for people who've had problems with contacts in the past, and that definitely describes me. In middle school I wore gas permeable lenses and couldn't stand them. I felt like I had little rocks in my eyes all day long. In high school I switched to disposable soft lenses, which were way better, but they seemed to suck my eyes dry. So for the last few years I've just worn glasses, but still my eyes are always red and dry. I think most people assume I'm on crack.

So I talked to my new eye doctor and he told me that (you'll never guess...) I have dry eyes. Which makes contacts problematic. As I've experienced before, my eyes don't have enough of a protective tear layer to make hard lenses comfortable, and soft lenses dry up the little moisture I have. Because I'm vain and stubborn, though, I'm trying soft lenses again anyway. I just can't wear them for more than seven or eight hours at a time (though I might work up to longer stints) and I have to put rewetting drops in about every other hour. They're fine for most everything except staring at a computer screen... which unfortunately is what I spend most of my time doing.

It's not that I don't like glasses per se. The frames themselves don't bother me at all; it's the lenses that reshape my face because they're so darn strong. They shrink my eyes down to little itty bitty dots, which especially next to my big nose look oddly proportioned. If you can't picture what I'm talking about, just compare these two pictures of me, the first with glasses and the second without:



Saturday, July 28, 2007

Traffic

One of the many things I obsess over is the number of people who visit my blog each day. Yesterday I had 156 hits, which is about one-and-a-half times as many hits as I usually get on Mondays through Thursdays and about twice as much as I usually get on Fridays. My hits over the last few weeks have been a bit higher than usual, actually. This is due, I think, to a number of factors, all of which have to do with FoxyJ. Last week, Foxy included a link to my blog on a comment she left on a post about homosexuality over at Feminist Mormon Housewives. The week before that, she wrote a guest post at Northern Lights, which brought to her blog not only NL's regular readers, but also readers of Times & Seasons and Exponent II, where her guest post and blog were noted by admirers, and many of these readers ended up hopping from her blog to mine. In general, though, I think a lot of the rise in hits has come from the vague and untraceable Big News effect that caused my hits to spike when we announced the separation in April, surpassing even last August's numbers, when the Fobcave was linked to from the Salt Lake Tribune. Our reconciliation has not caused so dramatic a rise in numbers, but there do appear to be curious people checking in. Which, I'll be honest, I'm happy to have people checking in for any reason. I'm vain like that.

The 156 hits yesterday has little to do with all of that, though. As it turns out, about half of those visitors came from a search engine query for simpsonizing. Right now I'm fourth on Google's results for that query, but yesterday I was third. Simpsonizing, as it turns out, is not a very commonly used word, and Google doesn't appear to stem the word to search for simpsonize, which yields 50 times as many results and actually gets you the site you're probably looking for. And the cool thing is that I don't even use the word Simpsonizing in the post that's showing up on the results page. But the thing is, that's not how search engines work. They don't care so much about the words you use as the words people linking to you use. And it so happens that FoxyJ wrote a post the other day in which she used the word Simpsonizing to link to my post about Simpsonizing.

So thank you, FoxyJ, not only for sending readers my way, but for helping them to find what they're really looking for--and ultimately, what we're all looking for--a way to make ourselves look like famous animated people.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Priorities

Things I've Not Done in the Past Month or So
  1. Devote as much time and energy to schoolwork as I should.
  2. Focus on the things I should be focusing on while at work.
  3. Go to the gym as much as I'd like.
  4. Devote as much time and energy to my friends as I'd like to.
  5. Devote as much time and energy to my non-immediate family as I'd like to.
  6. Write (other than blogging, and this is true of much more than the last month or so).
Things I Have Done in the Past Month or So
  1. Go to the zoo with Foxy and the kids.
  2. Pick blueberries with Foxy and the kids.
  3. Go to the store (actually, many stores) with Foxy and the kids (and spend way more money than we should).
  4. Go for walks with Foxy and the kids.
  5. Go to Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix with Foxy.
  6. Stay up late talking to Foxy (well, a few times--we're far too practical and I'm far too sleepy at night to stay up late very often).
I'm in this weird place where I can't really complain that I don't have enough time--I have all sorts of leisure time and I enjoy it--but there's so much I'm not getting done. It's important to me that my family be my first priority, and that they know it based not just on what I say but what I do. And spending all this time doing fun things with them feels almost like--dare I say it?--a real live summer vacation.

The hard thing about priorities is that the things that are less important are still important, and it hurts to neglect them. I don't think it's a matter of finding more balance, either. I think it's a matter of accepting that some things just aren't going to get done, no matter how important they are, and then choosing which things are going to get done.

I'm happy with my choices.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Fobvlog: Avocado on the Issues

Like all my good ideas, this one is inspired by my friends Theric and Avocado.



Coming next week: Avocado Girl vs. Obama Girl.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Q&A with Mr. Fob

Boy, those mailbags are piling up here at the Fobcave! Let's see if I can answer a few of my faithful readers' questions:

Dear Mr. Fob,

Here's a random question not related to the current post. I notice that as the subject heading for "Fob," you've got this:

610 27 Fob (Friends of Ben writing group) |2 fob (11)

I have a question about the 2nd indicator. According to OCLC Bibliographic Formats and Standards, the 2nd indicator should be "0" if the subject heading comes from LCSH, but doesn't LCSH not include proper names, with the exception of fictional characters? Is a proper name considered to be part of LCSH if it's authorized by that venerable institution (even if it doesn't make it into ClassWeb or the red books)?

Also, I always thought that FOB was capitalized . . .

Sincerely,

Mentally Ill in Illinois

Dear Ms. Ill,

I was pretty sure I knew the answer to this one, but I checked with OCLC just to be sure. The rule says that a zero in the second indicator means that the heading conforms to LCSH, which means that it might be found in an LC authority file (which includes not only LCSH but also name authorities), or that it is "construed following AACR2." Technically speaking, Fob (Friends of Ben writing group) is construed following AACR2--it's formed exactly how an official LC name would be formed, and if there were literary warrant it could be submitted to the name authority file. But I'm pretending there's a Fob thesaurus and if there were then all the variations of Fob would certainly be in it.

As for capitalization, FOB and FoB are both acceptable forms when referring to the name of the writing group (but not when referring to the family name or the term designating members of the group or the verb describing what members of the group do), but I like to think that the name has transcended the letters from which it was formed and so I treat it as a proper noun rather than an acronym. In this sense, Fob follows the lofty tradition of such normalized acronyms as radar and snafu.


Dear Mr. Fob,

That was an excellent post in a series of...how do we count? four? five?

Love,

Conthused


Dear Conthused,

Well, that depends on what you're counting, and honestly I'm not sure what you're counting. Usually I start with one. All the same, thanks for the compliment.

Dear Mr. Fob,

I say you're "neosexual." ;-)

And if anyone has a problem with you staying married, screw 'em.

Yours truly,

Profile Not Available


Dear PNA,

That's an... interesting solution, but I'm not sure how my wife would feel about it. And frankly, I'm not sure I'm up to it. (But I do have a friend who's rumored to have accomplished a similar feat.)

I'll consider the neosexual thing, though.

Best wishes,

Mr. Fob

And that's all we have time for today, folks. Keep fobbing!

Monday, July 23, 2007

No More Fishing for Compliments

I really didn't mean to write yet another post about why you should comment on my blog in order to boost my self-esteem. I started out writing a post about how I like to think of myself as this open-minded sort of person who loves a good discussion when in actuality I just want people to agree with me, but then somehow it turned into another post wherein I beg for comments. Really, I have no right to beg because (a) I get plenty of comments, and (b) I hardly ever comment on other people's blogs. So my new non-Lenten vow is not to fish for compliments anymore.

Except when I feel really needy.

Angel of Faith

Today is my sister Anela's birthday. Anela is the fourth oldest of my sisters. She has a degree in math and teaches dance. She and her husband live on the Big Island of Hawai'i and their two sons are bilingual in English and Hawaiian.

'Anela is the Hawaiian word--I assume a borrowing from English--for "angel." I have always found this an appropriate name for my sister, as she strives to be true to the Greek origins of the word as a messenger of God, whether bearing testimony of the things she believes in or acting in God's name by serving the people around her. In the past couple years she and her husband's dance class has performed in local dance concerts and competitions and the routines they've choreographed have centered around messages that are important to them, like the sanctity of marriage and the need to be conscientious in the media we allow into our lives. I respect them for standing up for what they believe in, particularly in a state like Hawai'i that isn't known for its conservativism, and I also really like how they use the art form they're so talented in--dance--to express their faith.

Anela is not only faithful to her religion, but she is also faithful to her family--or perhaps better put, she recognizes that being faithful to her religion goes hand in hand with being faithful to her family. Considering the fact that my religious paradigm and values don't match up very well with hers, and knowing how zealous I can be in voicing my own beliefs, I've often worried that our differences would drive us apart. A couple months ago, though, in response to something I'd said here about assuming my family and friends didn't want to be publicly connected to me, Anela wrote me an email to clarify that despite our religious and political differences, "I am not ashamed to be publicly connected to you." I am proud to be publicly connected to you, Anela, and to your example of faith.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

A Confession

It is not because I want to have lively discussions about my thoughts that I put them on my blog. I realize that many people do blog for precisely this reason, and I kind of like the idea of lively discussions, but mainly I put my thoughts on my blog so people will say, "Mr. Fob, you are so brilliant!" or "Wow, I wish my thoughts were as innovative and awe-inspiring as yours."

I also enjoy--though not quite so much--an honest "Hm. Interesting. I'm not sure I agree," followed by a post on the commenter's blog wherein she or he shares her or his own awe-inspiring thoughts on the matter.

I enjoy to an even lesser degree comments that say, "I think you are wrong because...." This has something to do with my aversion to confrontation, but even more to do with my aversion to being wrong.

That said, my least favorite kind of comment is no comment at all, mainly because I assume that silence equals disagreement (or worse, boredom), which in turn equals contempt for me and everything I represent. So if you have thoughts in response to mine, whether they're the kind of thoughts I want to hear or not, please do share them. I'm listening.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Fobs

The Simpsons movie site links to a site where you can upload photos and turn yourself into a Simpsons character. The site is kind of buggy and annoying, but the end product is way cool.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Transorientation

Modern gender theory distinguishes between sex and gender, defining the former as "the physiological, functional, and psychological differences that distinguish the female and the male," and the latter as "sexual identity, especially in relation to society or culture." Sex, in other words, is something you're born with, while gender is a lot more mutable. We refer to people whose gender identity (man or woman) is not the one traditionally associated with their sex (male or female) as transgendered.

I would propose, and I'm not the first to do so, that there is a similar relationship between sexual orientation and sexual identity. Like sex, orientation--what sex or gender you are attracted to--is something you're born with; you're heterosexual, homosexual, or whatever, and that's unlikely to change, short of some kind of as-yet-unknown orientation reassignment surgery. Sexual identity, on the other hand, is more like gender in that there are many ways to express one's sexuality and these do not necessarily correspond to one's orientation. We might call an individual who is born homosexual but for whatever reasons identifies as straight (or, for that matter, one who is born heterosexual but identifies as gay or lesbian) transoriented or transorientational (I'm undecided on which term I like better).

I have never had any question about my gender identity. I was born male and I identify as a man. I have spent much of my life, though, figuring out my sexual identity. For many years I did not call myself gay because of the LDS Church's counsel that people who experience same-sex attraction should not identify themselves by those feelings. Then a few years ago, even though I was still actively LDS and married to a woman, I began to call myself--both in private and in public--gay. The words "I am gay," this self-identifying speech act, relieved me of years of built-up pressure from refusing to acknowledge this important aspect of my identity. Some people questioned the prudence of putting so much energy into building a gay identity while trying to maintain a straight marriage, while others questioned my right to call myself gay when in fact my actions and lifestyle were completely straight, but I insisted that the word could mean whatever I wanted it to, and when I called myself gay I meant that I was attracted to men, nothing more, nothing less.

I still maintain that language means whatever the speaker intends it to mean (or, conversely, whatever the listener understands it to mean), but in the past month as I've rededicated myself to a marriage to a partner who happens to be a woman, I've begun to question the value of identifying myself as gay. There is no doubt that my inborn orientation is homosexual--I am sexually aroused by men. But the life I live, for all intents and purposes, is straight--the only romantic or sexual partner I've ever had or intend to have is a woman. Still, I'm not comfortable calling myself straight. Beyond the fact that I'm attracted to people who have a certain kind of reproductive organs, I feel that much of my inner life, my thoughts, and the way I experience the world are more like those of a gay man than those of a straight man. I have found, for example, that I tend to relate better to gay men than to straight men (with some notable exceptions).

One of the strongest arguments against homosexual people being in straight marriages is that we aren't being authentic to our true selves. Many, indeed, find the sacrifice of authenticity too much to make the marriage worth it. To be clear, I'm not staying married because I'm stronger or nobler than anyone else, or for that matter, because I'm less authentic; I'm staying married because I realized that for me, the sacrifice of giving up the marriage was greater than the sacrifice of giving up what I might have had otherwise. I believe FoxyJ feels similarly about the sacrifices she's required to make to stay in the marriage versus the sacrifices she'd have to make to end the marriage. Other people consider the same options and come to different conclusions. Every individual has his or her own values, priorities, and life situation; I can only act according to my own. La Agrado, a transvestite character in Pedro Almodovar's All About My Mother speaks beautifully of the more literal cost she's paid to become a woman: "Well, as I was saying, it costs a lot to be authentic, ma'am. And one can't be stingy with these things because you are more authentic the more you resemble what you've dreamed of being."

My motivations for choosing a straight life have been called into question before because by birth I am a member of an underprivileged class and I am trying to pass, as it were, for a member of the privileged class. Perhaps it is for this same reason that while society tends to view male-born women as amusing, female-born men tend to be seen as threatening. Rest assured, my class-conscious friends, I have no interest in being part of a privileged class; I'm much too enamored of the idea of Mr. Fob the Oppressed. This is, to be honest, one of the less-than-noble reasons I cling to the label gay. What it comes down to, though, is that the person I'm in love with, am married to, and want to be married to is a woman.

Perhaps more than anything, I feel that to call myself straight without any qualifiers would be to pretend I'm something I'm not, to ignore the fact that, like a male-born transsexual in the process of becoming a woman, I'm a work in progress. So I won't call myself straight, but I'm not sure gay accurately describes me either. I'll try transoriented on for size and see how it fits.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Eight Things That Infuriate Me

To appease the chain blogging gods while appeasing my need to write a vague and complainy post:
  1. Social injustice. (Not enough to do anything about it, just enough to get all righteously indignant.)
  2. People who care more about principles than about people.
  3. Lack of curiosity.
  4. People who tell me I'm wrong. About anything, pretty much.
  5. Children (mine) who ignore me when I tell them to do something.
  6. Poor customer service.
  7. Target employees who don't watch where they're going while dragging a chain of twenty shopping carts behind them and then glare at ME when I honk just in time for them to jump out of the way before said chain of carts smashes into my (stationary) bumper.
  8. People who write vague and complainy posts on their blogs.
And while you do not infuriate me, chain blogging gods, still I calmly refuse to feed your madness, and so I do not pass your curse onto eight fellow bloggers.

Another Fob Family ER Adventure


Last week Monday S-Boogie got several mosquito bites while picking blueberries. She's been scratching the bites all week, despite repeated applications of anti-itch cream and our best efforts to convince her not to scratch. The bites have been looking pretty bad, and yesterday they started to form red rings around them. This morning she woke up complaining that her hand hurt, and sure enough it was swollen up like a boxer's face. FoxyJ and I have heard enough stories of infections going bad (as in fatal) quickly, so we took her straight into the emergency room at Children's Hospital. They sent us home with a prescription for an antibiotic (which Foxy is still trying to get filled, three hours later, thanks to insurance weirdness) and a warning that if the infection gets worse we are to bring her back in immediately so she can be hooked up to an IV. I'm hoping the purportedly yucky-tasting oral antibiotic does its job quickly enough that we can avoid an overnight stay at the hospital.

(The lines on S-Boogie's hand, by the way, are there so we can easily track whether the infection is getting better or worse.)

Monday, July 16, 2007

Where Do You Buy Your Running Boots?


You've heard of the Flash, right? His superpower is that he runs really fast. Wouldn't it make more sense, then, for him to wear, oh, I don't know, running shoes? I mean, have you ever seen an Olympic athlete running in boots?

At least the current Flash's boots (and the rest of his costume, for that matter) look more aerodynamic than the original Flash's:


But then, everyone knows that putting wings on your boots makes you run faster.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Antepenultimate Chapter of Superfolks

A note on authorship: The bulk of this post is not written by me; it was written by Robert Mayer in 1977.

A note on aboutness: It is about me.

A note on copyright: I suspect that reprinting an entire chapter of a novel on my blog does not fall under fair use. I hope Mr. Mayer will forgive me.

A note on objectionable content: The following passage contains at least one crude metaphor and at least two offensive names of planets.

A note on spoilers: If you plan on reading Superfolks and don't want to ruin the mystery of the plot, you may want to stop reading now. By which I mean...

now.

A note on fictional context: Superfolks, as I've mentioned before, is about David Brinkley, who was once the world's greatest superhero, but has now been retired for the past eight years and living a suburban life with his currently-pregnant wife and their two children. Though his powers have been waning for years, Brinkley goes back into action to combat riots and crime sprees that prove to be part of a larger conspiracy. This conspiracy, as it turns out, stretches back over a decade and its target is Brinkley himself: Brinkley discovers that the reason his powers have faded is that his enemies have managed to lace the infrastructure of modern civilization--the water in our faucets, the air in our air conditioners, the metal that holds up our buildings--with Cronkite, the one substance that can kill him. Even without his powers, though, he manages to make it out to space, where, free of the deadly Cronkite, he feels his superhuman strength return.

A note on personal context: I read this chapter about a month ago, after I'd learned that the Cronkite that had been slowly killing me for years was inseparable from the planet I'd been living on, and I'd managed to escape that planet's gravitational pull. Now I pondered excitedly the universe of opportunity that lay before me. Like Brinkley, though, I now hovered in space above Earth, an umbilical cord holding me in place, awaiting a sign while aware that none would come, knowing I couldn't hover in place much longer.

The smile was gone. Brinkley was alone in space. More alone than he had ever been.

He looked down at Earth, glowing like a blue-green marble far below him. The familiar emerald and turquoise swirls were as inviting as a freshly made bed. He wanted nothing more than to return there; his home. To sleep a good, long sleep; without dreams.

Tears began to well behind his eyes. It was not fitting for a superman to cry. But there it was. The planet Earth below a blue-green dollop of poison, infested with Cronkite; for which there was no antidote. If he returned there, it was unlikely he could ever again escape its atmosphere. He would be weak, barely able to fly. And would grow weaker day by day, month by month; until in a year, or five, or ten--there was no way to say exactly--he would die.

He pulled off his mask, to wipe away tears that had filtered beneath it. And put it on again. Pamela was there on Earth; and Allison; and Jennifer. Perhaps even a new baby now. Would he ever see it? And how could he explain?

Earth was his home, the only home he had known. Chosen for him by his parents, Archie and Edith, in the last days of Cronk. Chosen not even by them, but by higher powers; by the Lord Gods Nietzsche and Namath, who guided their hand. He had come to feel almost more Earthling than Cronker; albeit a bit special.

And now?

The choices were spread before him, invitingly, like the spread legs of beauties; out there, in the distant galaxies. The six other planets that harbored human life. He could take up residence on any of them, and resume his role as a superhero, unhindered by Cronkite, cheered and honored by the populace. He could start a new life, a new family. He could live through eternity, never aging, doing his good works.

He could go to the planet Nudj, land of the long-stemmed rain. Or Bazoom, where strange myths grew on trees. Or Wop, or Kike, or Nigger, or Elvis.

Or he didn't have to commit himself to any one. He could travel among them, stopping now here, now there--an itinerant hero, beloved throughout the universe. A girl in every port. It wouldn't be a bad life. Battling monsters, subduing criminals--the life he had been created for. Maybe he would take up the guitar.

There was no other choice. That's what he must do.

And yet, down on Earth, there was Pamela. Allison. Jennifer.

They were his. They needed him.

It's not so, he told himself. Suppose he had died during this long night of combat? Life would go on for them. Pamela would marry again. The children would grow, would become independent. It might even be better for them.

. . . While far out in the universe, their father would become a legend, his name synonymous with all that is good and brave and true . . .

There was no other choice. Here from the perspective of the cosmos he could face without flinching the accumulated sadness of his recent life on Earth. The times each day when there would be a weight in his chest that would move up back of his eyes, until he wanted to lie down in private and cry himself to sleep, for no reason at all. That was the hell of it. For no reason at all. He would look around and see a refrigerator bulging with food, a wife he loved who loved him in return, two little girls growing up bright and true, a job he could keep for the rest of his life if he wanted, that would take care of all the bills--he would see all this and still he would want to cry; would awaken in the middle of the night sometimes and stare at the ceiling in the dark, at the ghostly circle of light cast by a street lamp, and he would recall the world-saving exploits of his youth as if they had been performed by a stranger. He knew he could not come close to performing them now, and would question whether he ever really had. Either way his wish would be the same. He would wish he could fall asleep again and never awaken.

Each time, of course, he would not fall asleep till the gray of dawn burned out the lamplit circle. Then he would be awakened by Pamela and the children stirring. Light would be knifing in beneath the shade, or a new winter snow would be falling, and his despair of the dark night would burrow deep beyond reach into his soul, whitewashed over by the mechanics of the day--till without warning in midafternoon at work it would peep out again like a gopher, and he would walk to the water fountain or down the hall until it passed.

Each time he would review the litany of his blessings. And each time the same answer screamed inside him: It was not enough.

But he didn't know what would be enough. What would satisfy him. What would fill the emptiness.

He had no complaints. Except . . . everything.

Sometimes he thought they should move from Middleville. He should quit his job, and they should go to Savannah, or Missoula, or Santa Fe. Someplace with a pretty name and a pretty view, where the beauty of nature would swallow up human grief, and paint it o'er with unity, oneness, peace.

Other times he knew it would do no good. He was a Cronker amid Earthlings, and always would be. No one would ever know him. He would never know another person. He was an alien, alone in the universe. It was his fate. Cursing it made his fate neither better nor worse.

Now that he knew the cause of his physical weakness--the spread of Cronkite through the arteries of civilization--he knew that moving to another town, another country, would make little real difference. Cronkite was everywhere. The days when he could ever again have a sense of mission . . . down there . . . were gone.

And yet he was not streaking away from Earth, away into the stratosphere, into a new superlife. He was hovering in place; looking down at the emerald-turquoise swirls; wistfully.

He felt like a balloon, flying high, but still held down by a string; an umbilical cord; a cord he would have to cut.

The cord of love.

Above waited a physical--even a spiritual--rebirth. A challenging new career. A full new life.

Below was his family. Three human beings. Perhaps, at this moment, four.

He remembered a small incident from a picnic the previous summer. They had gone to Mystic Seaport to see the old sailing ships, and afterward he had tumbled in the grass with the girls while Pamela grilled hamburgers. An orange-breasted robin hopped near them, and then lit for a distant treetop. Jennifer, her small arms draped loosely around his neck, had said, "Daddy, wouldn't it be nice to fly like a bird?" He had replied that he imagined it would be very nice indeed. But that if people could fly, then birds would no longer be special.

He hadn't thought the answer would satisfy her; but it had.

Now, alone in space, hovering, he found himself waiting for a similar answer himself. Some sign. Some revelation. Knowing there would be none.

Finally, unable to hover in place any longer, he shed his paralysis with a wrenching motion. He kicked his legs, like a swimmer; and filled his lungs with the pure heady ozone of free will.

He thought Good Thoughts; a ritual; as if crossing himself.

And soared off into space.

Toward the North Star he streaked; and circled it, and continued on beyond. Through the Milky Way; out toward the scattered stars of the distant galaxies, twinkling pure silver in the blue of eternity.

He passed the golden door, through which he had blundered earlier. And continued soaring outward; till he neared the invisible wall.

He paused there, looking down, the entire universe spread before him, gems in a blue-gold setting, exquisite, perfect; creation of the Original Jeweler, the Master Craftsman who had preceded all the others; whom subsequent gods had not been able to match.

He filled himself with the beauty of it all, like a parched wanderer prone beside a stream. The symmetry, the precision. His blood felt purified, his limbs invigorated. The exhaustion of the night's battles had vanished. He felt as powerful as he had ever been.

He switched on his supersight. He scanned the distant universe, until his eyes picked out the tiny blue-green marble, adrift like all the others, yellow, or brown, or red; planets of every color.

Even now he smiled at the sight of it.

Slowly, he flew to the left. To the place in space where Cronk had once been. It was a vacuum now. A black hole. He hovered there, solemn. As if he were visiting a grave. For one last time.

Then he flew on, without tears.

Down and down he flew; his eyes not roaming now; looking neither left nor right; determined not to see the myriad suns, the stars, rushing by. His eyes fixed, unwavering, on his destination. On the blue-green marble growing ever larger below him.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Breaking News: Prostitute Found Dead Outside Fobcave


The naked dead body of a prostitute was found this evening outside the Fobcave, home to local celebrities Mr. Fob and FoxyJ. The as-yet-unidentified young woman was discovered by Fob, who then notified authorities. "I think she must have picked the wrong trick, you know," said Fob. "This is a pretty rough neighborhood. There are all sorts of sickos around."

"We don't know she's a prostitute," said J.

Witnesses were quick to point out the resemblance between the body and Fob family member Gril Fob (pictured to the right next to sister S-Boogie). If Gril knows anything about this pale-skinned lookalike, though, she's keeping it to herself--she has not yet said a word in response to police questioning.

If you have any information that might help identify the victim pictured below or otherwise aid in the investigation of this heinous crime, please contact the Seattle Police Department.

The Adult Version of Cataloging

This afternoon I cataloged a movie called The Adult Version of Jekyll & Hide, in which a man finds the famous Dr. Jekyll's notebook and makes his own potion, which manages to turn him into Ms. Hide (not Hyde). He then proceeds to have sex (in both his alter egos) with lots of women, kill a bunch of them, and castrate a man. In the course of the title credits--which I watch in order to catalog--there are like three sex scenes. I can't say I've ever watched porn at work before, and I can't say I ever want to again.


In case you're wondering, I chose the following subject and genre headings:

600 10 Stevenson, Robert Louis, |d 1850-1894 |v Film and video adaptations.
650 _0 Murderers |v Drama.
650 _0 Sex crimes |v Drama.
650 _0 Transgenderism |v Drama.
655 _0 Erotic films.
655 _0 Horror films.
655 _0 Feature films.
655 _0 Feature films |z United States.

Cream Soda With a Kick

My new mouthwash is vanilla mint flavored. It tastes like cream soda. Cream soda with 21.6% alcohol, that is.



DISCLAIMER: I don't actually know what "alcohol (21.6%)" in the ingredients list means. Does that mean that 21.6% of the liquid content is alcohol? Is that a lot? Not that I'm hoping to get drunk on mouthwash...

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Procrastination

I have several friends... well, a handful of friends... okay, I have exactly three friends--I admit, I only have three friends--who are awaiting an email in response to emails they've sent me. I cannot allow myself to write those emails, though, until I finish my part of the group paper I'm supposed to be working on. Somehow, though, the random conglomeration of contradictory rules I call logic dictates that while it is not okay to procrastinate said paper by writing said emails, it is okay to procrastinate said paper by spending three hours, while working at the reference desk, redoing my blog post labels and then blogging about it. And then blogging about said procrastination.

Meanwhile, my fellow group members hate me because they've already written their parts.

Fobheadings
OR
The Extent of My Geekiness

The observant among you will notice that I've updated my post labels, which I refer to in the sidebar as Fobheadings. I did this because I'm a geek.

The subject and genre/form headings all come from the Library of Congress Subject Headings controlled vocabulary, except for a few headings that are specific to this blog--these exceptions are noted with "|2 fob" after them, as is the standard form of noting non-LCSH headings (and technically, I could put "|2 lcsh" after all the LCSH headings, but in practice that's usually assumed). The first three digits are MARC fields, referring to the kind of heading it is:
  • 440=Series title
  • 600=Subject (personal name)
  • 610=Subject (corporate name)
  • 650=Subject (topical)
  • 651=Subject (geographic name)
  • 655=Genre/form
In other words, 600-651 say what or whom a post is about, while 655 says what it is.

The two digits following the first three are called indicators; they are codes that tell us something else about the heading, depending on what kind of field it is. A "0" in the second indicator slot, for example, often means that the heading comes form LCSH, while a "7" often means that it comes from another thesaurus that will be named in subfield 2. (Technically, I could have put non-LCSH headings in a 653 [Index term--uncontrolled] field, but in a sense I am using my own controlled vocabulary here, and besides I just like it that way.)

In a real library catalog, of course, you don't see all these codes; they get translated into text like "Subject headings" and "Genre/form headings." But I'm not using the codes so much for their functional value as for their nerd value.

The hardest part of all this has been finding LCSH terms that corresponded to all the labels I had. I'm particularly proud of the one I used to replace Metablogging: 650 _0 Blogs |v Blogs. The first part means that the thing we're describing is about blogs. Subfield v is a form subdivision, meaning that the thing in question is a blog. A blog about blogs. Which, you'll notice below, is what this post is.



Note: Fellow library geeks are welcome to outgeek me by pointing out errors.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Addendum (A Fifth List)

Reasons FoxyJ and I Have Decided to Keep Working on This Marriage Thing
  1. Because we want to.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Northern Exposure

FoxyJ has a beautifully-written guest post up at Northern Lights. You should read it. Really.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Eckhart Tolle Quote of the Day

"The situation either needs to be dealt with or accepted; why make it into a problem?"

Things I Liked About Church Yesterday

  • Little Dude came with me. I'm not hoping to convert him--we were just giving FoxyJ a break for the morning, and we headed over to her church afterward to hear S-Boogie give a talk in Primary--but until now I've attended as a single man, and it's nice to connect my new church to my family life.
  • As usual, the minister began the service by reminding us that all are welcome--believers, seekers, and doubters. Not that I wouldn't be welcome if she didn't specifically say so, but it's good to be reminded every week that I don't need to be anything to feel welcome.
  • One of the hymns we sang emphasized the femaleness of God as well as his maleness.
  • The rabbi and Qur'an scholar visited again.
  • The Jewish, Christian, and Muslim sermons were all about how God is in everything and everyone.
  • The Qur'an scholar told a story about a well-meaning monkey who wanted to live the golden rule and so plucked all the fish out of the river in order to save them from a watery grave.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Transformers

I have to agree with this review (from my new favorite blog): the movie is good-looking but stupid. Not quite as stupid as I was expecting, though--my expectations were pretty low, so I was pleasantly surprised. The acting was actually decent, I thought, and most of the humor worked, and all of the action worked. My main problem was the dramatic moments, none of which worked. I just had a hard time caring whenever the cheesy music came on and someone tried to look all heroic and someone's girlfriend tried to say something poignant. I was also bothered somewhat by the look of the robots whenever they were in robot form; not that they didn't look exactly like they did in the cartoon, but that they were hard to distinguish from one another, which made some of the fight scenes hard to follow. But still, fun to watch. As is the case with many people I come across, I wouldn't want to have a long-term relationship with Transformers, but its nice to stare at it for a couple hours.

Friday, July 06, 2007

650 _7 |a Clergy impersonaters |z Italy |v Drama. |2 Fobheadings

(That title is for you, Katya. I don't think anyone else will get it.)

Today I cataloged a video of an Italian movie called Acqua e Sapone. It's about a janitor who poses as the priest who has been hired to teach a beautiful fashion model. I was having a hard time deciding on a Library of Congress Subject Heading to capture the idea of posing as a priest--I had Impersonation, False personation, and Impostors and imposture to choose from, but I was disappointed not to find a heading specifically referring to the act of impersonating a clergy person, as this seems to be a common theme in film. Off the top of my head, I can think of a handful of others:
  • Sister Act and Sister Act II, where Whoopi Goldberg plays a showgirl posing as a nun.
  • We're No Angels, where Robert DeNiro and Sean Penn play criminals posing as priests.
  • Nuns on the Run, where Eric Idle and Robbie Coltrane play criminals posing as nuns.
  • Suits on the Loose, where Brandon Beemer and Ty Hodges play criminals posing as Mormon missionaries.
Surely there are others? Maybe if I get enough titles, I'll convince my supervisor to submit a new heading to LCSH.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Fobclectic

Because it's just like me to be proud of odd things, I am proud of the eclectic nature of my music collection. And because I think you should care, I am now going to prove said eclecticism by telling you about the last eight CDs I've acquired:

Soul: Back to Black by Amy Winehouse has quickly found a spot on my list of ten best albums ever. Winehouse is a British soul singer often compared to Lauryn Hill, but I think a better comparison that is also often made is that she is basically the Billie Holiday of the 21st century. If you have little people who listen to your music with you, as I do, I recommend you buy the clean version of the album.



Reggae: Mind Control by Stephen Marley is Marley's first solo album, but he has been making music for years, most notably last year's Welcome to Jamrock by his half-brother Damian, which Stephen produced. Just like Jamrock, Mind Control is the perfect blend of the classic Marley family reggae sound and modern hip-hop.

Vocal Jazz: Unlike some friends of mine, I am not in love with Michael Buble. I did enjoy his last album, though, so I was curious about his new album when it came out a couple months ago. What convinced me to buy the album was a positive review I read on Okayplayer.com (a progressive hip-hop site, so reviews of white jazz vocalists are not all that common) combined with my curiosity to hear the song in which Buble collaborates with, of all people, Boyz II Men (who knew they were still alive?).

Pop: I've been wanting for a while to get a good Elton John collection. A good one came out this year. I bought it. I like it. The only song I wished were on the collection but isn't is "Levon," which I know only because a mission companion used to belt it in the subways of Madrid. I found the song on a download site and bought it there.

Hip-hop: Another artist I've come across in my never-ending crusade to satisfy a craving for more Lauryn Hill music that Ms. Hill is not likely to fill herself anytime soon is Ms. Dynamite, a British rapper/singer. I got her album off Amazon.com Marketplace for $0.01 (plus shipping) last month, and she's not Lauryn Hill, but she's good. I like her lyrics and her voice--she does this interesting thing where you never know whether she's singing or rapping--but the music itself seems kind of unoriginal to me.

Hawaiian: Another good deal I found on the Marketplace is The Best of the Ka'au Crater Boys. I bought the album because I really wanted their version of Van Morrison's "Brown Eyed Girl" and couldn't find it anywhere else--legally or illegally--but I'm glad I bought the whole collection. I was surprised to find so many songs I recognize, not only because these are mostly all Hawaiian-style covers of rock and country classics, but because these are the versions of those songs I grew up listening to. A nice little piece of nostalgia for me, and I imagine you might enjoy it even if you didn't grow up in Hawaii.

Gospel: During the intermission of the Seattle Men's Chorus concert I went to a couple weeks ago I made an impulse purchase. I absolutely love gospel music, see, and there was an album of gospel music called Soul Full featuring the Men's Chorus along with the Northwest Girlchoir, Urban Rhythms, and the Total Experience Gospel Choir. I was disappointed when I got home to realize the album is a live concert recording, as I much prefer studio recordings, but it's grown on me since then. I particularly like the combined choirs' rendition of "We Shall Not Be Moved," as the Civil Rights anthem gains new significance when sung by a gay men's choir.

Christian Rock: The most recent addition to my music library came this evening when a very kind friend gave me Jason Morant's Open, which is my first contemporary Christian rock album. I'm listening to it for the second time now, and really digging it.

Moral of the story: Gifts are always welcome, and I'm enamored of the idea of Mr. Fob the Eclectic enough that you probably can't go wrong with music.

Living Between Wednesdays

Yesterday I was checking in on the comics news site I read regularly and came across a guest column about superhero friendships. Not only is the column well-written and laugh-out-loud funny in spots, but it captures perfectly the reason I love superhero comics: I couldn't care less about how Superman uses his powers to defeat Lex Luthor; I read to see Clark Kent go out for drinks with Bruce Wayne after the fight and talk about Wonder Woman. As the author says:
I like television more than movies because I like to get invested in characters. I like comics infinitely more than television for the same reason. With television you might get a few years of character development. With comics you get decades. Batman and Superman have been friends for decades. They have been through it all together, and that, my friends, is the basis of a good drama.
I checked out the link to the author's blog, where I discovered not only hours and hours of her entertaining musings on all things comics-related, but links to a whole blogosphere of comic book geeks. So now I have a new way to waste time (whose effectiveness in that regard I tested for two hours last night) and on top of that a newfound sense of nostalgia.

See, the title of this post and the blog linked above, "Living Between Wednesdays," refers to the fact that new comics arrive in comic book shops on Wednesdays. For a good ten years of my life I really did live between Wednesdays, looking forward each week to the trip to the comic shop to pick up the latest installments in the lives of these brightly-clad people I'd come to know and love. A couple years ago, "Wednesdays" became the day every other month or so when the weekly comics I now ordered through an online store reached a collective cost high enough to earn free shipping, but still it was fun to get that box in the mail and read through the thirty or forty new comics. Then last year budget restraints required me to drop all but a handful of monthly titles, so now it takes several months to reach that free shipping mark and I feel like I'm missing out on the ongoing lives of the characters whose comics I no longer follow.

I miss living between Wednesdays. Oh, to be teenaged comic book geek again...

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Midterm Report

We hit the halfway point of 2007 the other day, so I figured it's a good time to, I don't know, remember that I have goals I'm trying to accomplish this year. So here's my report:

1. Cut down to 15% body fat. I haven't actually measured my body fat since the beginning of the year, but I have to say, subjectively speaking, I think I'm doing okay on this. I've incorporated cardiovascular exercise into my more-or-less regular gym routine, and a positive side effect of living alone is that I haven't had so many snacks in my kitchen, which has cut down on the eating-out-of-boredom thing. Also, I've been weighing myself in the locker room every time I go and I've gone down from 175 to 170 in the past couple months.

2. Make five writing submissions, or one successful submission, whichever comes first. Basically, I suck. I had a lot of grand ideas at the beginning of the year but none of them have come to fruition. Fob (the writing group) sort of stopped happening a few months ago, and without that regular motivation to write I haven't been writing. I do have a research paper I plan on polishing up and submitting somewhere, which isn't quite what I had in mind with this goal, but it's something. I should at least give myself a deadline for that. How about if I haven't submitted that paper somewhere by September 30th, you all threaten to stop reading my blog? If nothing else, vanity will motivate me.

3. Read at least twelve leisure books. I'm pretty sure I'm on track here, but I haven't been keeping track very well. Let's see, off the top of my head, I've read (or listened to):
  • Superfolks
  • The Power of Now
  • Stillness Speaks
  • Fun Home: A Tragicomic
  • It's a Bird!
  • Up on Cloud Nine
  • Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
  • Me Talk Pretty One Day
  • Barrel Fever and Other Stories
  • The Amulet of Samarkand
So yeah, I'm pretty sure I'll far surpass this goal, especially considering that Harry Potter 7 is coming out in a few weeks and I'm #23 on Seattle Public Library's waiting list for the book on CD, of which they are purchasing 24 copies.

4. Read the New Testament. Um, yeah, I'm doing about as well with this one as I did with the Old Testament last year. I would still like to do this, and it's certainly not too late.



How are you doing on your goals? If you've all but forgotten them, like I did, or even if you didn't make any in the first place, there's no reason to wait until next January to set some new ones.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The Result of Continually Reminding S-Boogie How Smart She Is

S-Boogie: Look! That bus is a sixty-five bus!

Daddy Fob: You're right, that is a sixty-five.

S-Boogie: (Giggling) I'm so smart!