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August 23rd, 2010

~Monday~  The 8:15 city bus arrived driven by a man, air-conditioned, but bearing the "Man-up Revival" ad, so I know it's the same bus that Stagnant Driver usually drives.

Someone around me coughed with a hacking cough that made me think, "Somebody's got consumption."

An older, totally gray-haired lady in a totally turquoise outfit sat up front in the center-facing seat on the side that had her facing the driver, with whom she was in conversation most of the way. When we approached Western Boulevard, she started talking about the Raleigh man robbed, shot while walking home from the store, which had happened nearby overnight.

She said about the robber, "Yeah, he must have had a small caliber gun. He wasn't aiming for his head." I know she got the second part from the story, which said he was shot "in the buttocks." I'm not sure what tipped her off to a small caliber gun. I don't even really know what a caliber implies about a gun and I'm not at all interested in looking it up. It did, however, make me wonder how this little old lady knew so much about the topic. Prolly from Judge Judy.

A man took a seat in front of me and he had this slogan on the back of his t-shirt, "Friends Don't Count Chromosomes," and under it the web site: www.triangledownsyndrome.org

Li'l Dino got off the bus in front of me, but then slowed down to let me catch up to her as we both headed in the same direction. When we were side-by-side, she said, "Did you hear about the groundskeeper that committed suicide last week?"

I hadn't and said as much, and then I asked a couple of people at work, and none of them had either. After some Googling, I think she's talking about this suspected suicide, which I had seen in the news. I think somewhere in one of the several articles I read it said that at one point he was a groundskeeper at NC State.

She made it sound like it was one of the current groundskeepers, and I thought about the game Telephone, also known as Chinese whispers, Grapevine, Broken Telephone, Whisper Down the Lane, Gossip, Arab Phone, and Silent Post. Who knew?



I spent a good portion of my day working on something fun, which was completely redoing a page on the topic of "General Computing Information" that's published in the Campus Phone Directory, which is still printed annually, and sits in great stacks around the campus, as everyone uses the online directory to find people nowadays.



I can't even begin to articulate the fun, fun, fun we had at Salon tonight. Etta bowed out, Kim was Skyped in from Salt Lake City, and Anna, Sarah, Brad, and myself met at Anna's house. Anna had baked most delicious homemade pretzels, and I brought some Velveeta to melt and use as a dip. Sarah brought cookies.

Tonight's agenda, with my answers interjected, was as follows:

Salon XIII Agenda


1. What's to be gleaned, inferred, deduced, induced, or otherwise learned from the response to me emailing the which-nerd-idol-would-you-rather-do poll rather than posting to the Ning. (Anna)

I'm interested in other peoples' criteria for doing this. To me, it's when we're going to discuss a topic that's only of interest to a subset of the group; for example, changing a Klatch location that only three of us RSVPed to attend.

2. Everyone is to bring in a sample of their handwriting. John will provide a phrase for everyone to write. (All)

"Handwriting is still very important. It is a symbol of who we are as people."

3. What are the first 5-7 things you do, preferably in the order you do them if they're ritualized, when you get into a hotel room? (Assume you are traveling alone.) (John)


  1. Look down the hall in both directions and count the doors to an exit.
  2. Choose a bed if there are two; usually the one closest to the window if there is one, and throw my shit on the other one.
  3. Turn the A/C on if it's summertime and it's not already on.
  4. If I have stuff for a fridge, and there is one, put my stuff in it.
  5. Hook up / plug in / power on all my gadgets: laptop, iTouch, phone.
  6. Look for the free pad of paper and pen and put them in one of my bags if I'm not going to use them.
  7. Get ice.
  8. Make "test runs" to any locations I might be visiting the next day.

4. What is your writing process (academic/professional/corporate, not personal/journal/blog)? Where/how did you learn it (if you remember)? Has it evolved over time? Have you ever tried to change or improve it?


  1. I first make sure I can articulate to myself: audience, context, and purpose of whatever I'm writing. If I can't, I ask colleagues to help me.
  2. I think about two things from the book "Made to Stick" that have stuck with me:
  3. The elements of stickiness: Simple, Unexpected, concrete, credible, emotional, and stories.
  4. Not to bury the lead: Message in a communique to students: "All faculty and staff will be attending an off-campus continuing education session on Thursday." The lead should have been: "There will be no classes on Thursday."
  5. I make a mental outline, but rarely, if ever, write it down.
  6. I edit it to death: "There are no 'finished' publications. There are only 'published' publications."

5. In response to the TED talk Sarah linked us to, how would you answer Conley's last question? What can you count in your life as a means of measuring your happiness? John can lead off... :-)

Affirmations, particularly implicit ones. And to this I'll now add congruence.

6. When something "life contemplating" happens what are the top 2-3 places you go to be alone to think? (these can be "exact" places or "type" places -- an example of an "exact" place being Duke Gardens, with a "type" place being gardens in general)


  • An empty Catholic church
  • Cemeteries
  • Hiking in the woods
  • The beach

7. Musical interlude: A digitally mediated piano performance by Kim.

8. $650/night for six weeks in France: What John did, who paid, and why


  • September and October of 1989. I was 32 years old and had been married for 11 years.
  • IBM sent me to work on a product whose development was done in La Gaude, a few short files from Nice. I stayed at Le Meridien Nice, which is on the Riviera.
  • While I was there, in addition to Nice and La Gaude, I visited: Monte Carlo, St. Tropez (nude beach), Grasse, and St. Paul-de-Vence.
  • I totaled my rental car while, there, and I got pick-pocketed by an adult using Gypsy kids as a distraction. I didn't lose much cash, but did lose a sentimental money clip, and I almost had a very expensive watch that I'd recently bought in Switzerland stolen off my wrist.
  • Looking back on this trip, the funnest thing was using my French, and the most amazing thing was that I didn't venture into a gay br while I was there.
9. Naming John's signature drink. All ideas entertained. Prurient ideas entertained in style.

My question was whether the plural is "bourbons and diet" or "bourbon and diets."

10. "Where are you at?" and other annoying phrases with potentially extra, redundant, superfluous words in them.

Just hear that all the time now on cell phone conversations. "Where are you?" would suffice.

11. What do you re-read? And why?


  • I rarely, rarely, rarely re-read.
  • A Prayer for Owen Meany comes to mind as one that I have re-read, and I re-read The Turn of the Screw, because I wanted to give it away as a gift to my 515 class, and I was going to see a play of it.
  • I may have re-read one or two books over the many years I've been in book club, but only because they were assigned books that I'd already read, but didn't remember enough of to be able to participate in their discussion.
  • Some books that I think about re-reading, but haven't yet: The Mayor of Casterbridge, The Pilgrim's Progress, Perfume, Crime and Punishment, and The Fountainhead.

12. Trip reports -- Anna on Vienna and Brad on Canada

Anna filled the room with a plethora of condoms and other STD-protective accoutrement, each carefully selected for a particular Salon member. She'd even mailed Kim her carefully-selected items. At some point, someone had put their banana-flavored condom over a banana and fellated it. We laughed and laughed and laughed.

13. Characterize the following languages (Kim’s responses noted in parentheses.)

Note: I know many, if not most, of these responses sound stereotypical or even racist. These are not my answers. I did a Google search on, "What does x sound like?" where x was each language, and these are some of the responses people actually gave.

German: (Dirty)
  • Aggressive, rather deep, to spit, barking, yapping, not melodic, rough, commanding, peremptory, not emotional, dashing, boring, expressive, cold, from body not from nose.
French: (Sexy)
  • It basically sounds like the person is about to gag while they are talking. Like they're talking from deep in their throats while puckering their lips at the same time. It's also quite nasal. So it sounds like throat congestion mixed with a stuffy nose through puckered lips. It's still a very pretty language though.

Russian: (Bad-ass)
  • It just sounds like another language that I don't understand.
  • It is very pretty and less brusque than German.
  • It can sound sweet or demanding.
  • Russian people sound cool. I really like their accent.
  • I wish I could sound Russian. It sounds kool.
  • It kind of sounds like French, but not really.
Chinese: (Scolding, even if it's not directed at me)
  • Y'all know Chinese just sounds like pots and pans being thrown down a flight of stairs.

Italian: (Breezy)
  • The succession of vowels and consonants, added with the harmonic tone variations are a delight.
  • To me it sounds like Spanish only slightly better sounding.
  • To me, it sounds as if someone in the Mafia was trying to speak Spanish.
  • To me it sounds very warm, rapid and full of temperament, if you know what I mean, a very interesting language.
Hebrew: (Lugee)
  • Like math for people who can’t do it

British: (Snobby, doesn't mean I don't like it)
  • British accents have a clipped tone to them.
  • The hard core British accents like, "'Ello, 'ave you seen my 'ouse" sound kinda funny, but they're also kinda cool. The softer accents like they have in the Harry Potter movies are nice to listen to at first, but I had a teacher with an accent like that and her voice started sounding boring to me after a while.


Early in the evening, Robert called to alert me to a full moon, and all of us ran downstairs and out into the parking lot to see it. Thanks, my sweet!

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