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Tibetan Yak Cheese
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June 2, 2004

Spring tends to make me nostalgic and I'm not sure why. Most people get nostalgic in the fall (hint of death, long shadows, etc.). It's a bit like having Seasonal Acquired Depression in the summer, to which both I and J. are both susceptible. We need our shades and shadows, ambiguity, pools of mystery. I have nothing against the beach on a perfect day in August, I just couldn't live there long. So I was thinking about Pilgrim Lodge in Maine where I was sent for a week once. I must have been no older than 11. I think about how I lost my glasses on the first afternoon, having dived into the lake with them on (well, of course - do you know how blind I am?). Looking back I think it's something of a miracle that I survived the week, with everything a murky watercolor. I was thinking about Ardis Manzetti and Monica McCleod, whose birthday, October 22, I think I still remember for no reason. I think of Tina Holt from Ellsworth too, she had good hair and a cool sister. I do not remember my little temporary boyfriend (except that he was little - meaning much shorter than me) but nice enough and since I couldn't see him, I guess it didn't matter what he looked like. I remember paddling in canoes to a tiny island that had nothing to recommend it save an overwhelming amount of bird shit. I mean the island was essentially made of petrified bird shit. Kinda cool.

The camp, I suppose, was run-down and a bit creepy then (and probably still is). At the time I didn't mind that it was Christian; it was still an adventure. I'm surprised my parents, though, sent me to a Christian camp, as they knew I was devoutly agnostic, even at that age. (They let me quit Sunday school at nine, thank god.) It still exists, dear old Pilgrim Lodge. Some nice photos and a couple creepy shots with the Blair Witch cross here.

I guess I have little more to say about this, except that it's funny the things you recall after decades and decades.

More reminiscences soon; it'll be long summer.

* [and no, I was NOT there in 1960, if you're wondering]

May 15, 2004

Whoops, fell off the map there for a while. Went to Maine a few weeks back for a lovely mini-vacation. The highlights included kayaking thanks to P. Contrary to my expectations - ouch, work! sore arms! - I loved it. The close connection to the water and the feeling of being able to escape under one's own steam was powerful. I'm addicted. of I took off ahead of P. and J. and didn't stop until I was about half a mile away. We went around one of the little ubiquitous islands off Boothbay Harbor, had lunch right inside the kayaks (crabmeat salad sandwiches). I'm now looking for a place to learn how to roll. I know I can take short runs from the Boathouse on the Hudson. Summer looms ahead promisingly.

I'm now the proud owner of a textbook signed by Dr. James D. Watson, Nobel Laureate who brought us the double helix of DNA. We saw him on a fascinating panel on the science of science fiction in moves, part of the Tribeca Film Festival. Dr. Watson is quite the loose cannon, and funny, profane, irreverent, irascible, contentious and just plain likeable. I see now why Cold Spring Harbor Lab wouldn't let me promote him and his new textbook (he is also a Pearson author).

March 21, 2004

"Preserved in Amber"
Thank you 60 Minutes. Richard Clark blows the lid off the current administration's ineptitude and its dangerous and quite probably criminal war-mongering, comparing the Bush administration to bugs preserved in amber from the prior President Bush's cold-war oriented milieu. Dick Clark (not to be confused with the other Dick Clark (who does seem to be preserved in amber), told Lesley Stahl, well, all. Now let's just see if anyone listened...

Saturday's Global Day of Action got little coverage, naturally, but was a jolly good time for the reported 100,000 of us, even though the NYC police changed the publicized starting point (at the last nimute) of the anti-war march by nineteen blocks. C. participated with me, finally, and asked a group of protesters if he could have one of their signs. So we walked the 27 or so blocks with him carrying a tall pole with a single white cardboard dove on it. He was very popular and much-photographed.

Much of the time, C. amused himself by spotting supposed secret agents. He'd say, "Hey, spook alert, seven o'clock." I had trouble doing the seven o'clock thing and naturally they were gone by the time I looked, apparently spooked themselves by the way I whipped around and stared. Sign reading is the primary diversion along a long, slow march and there were some good ones (mine was a boring United For Peace issuance). We spent much of the day coming up with new slogans, although by the end, tired and hungry, the discussion devolved into the final slogan (reminiscent of the "I'm With Stupid" variety) of "Start Small. Stop Her." Meaning me. I think took it pretty well.

Hello and goodbye Asteroid 2004 FH.

February 23, 2004

Current reading: The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles, by Haruki Murakami. Such a joy - enveloping, intruiguing, harrowing by turns. Whimsical and philosophical, funny and sad. Can't wait to read his other books. I also made a valiant attempt (which means 100+ pages) at Master and Commander, about which so many of my family members are completely gaga. No dice, for me. Too much, just ... too much. And this from someone who devoured nearly every extant circumnavigation tale and knows how to tie a square knot*.

Beautiful music from Germany and Russia via Israel. What a lucky girl. The perfect surprise for what might have been a perfect weekend, except for... read on...

A Hair-raising Experience
My singular goal for the weekend was to get my hair cut. Those who know me well know that I would rather go to dentist every day for month rather than get my locks trimmed. It just kills me to pay upwards of $100 for a marginally better look. On a whim, I decided to try a barber-type place. All I really need is someone with a really sharp pair of scissors who can discern a straight line. There's a little hole-in-the-wall place on Spring St. that I pass by often. In my mind, it was warm and welcoming, and where the old guy is a coiffing genius merely disguised as an old-time barber. I poked my head in and he said he'd take me in 40 minutes. I went home and asked C. for advice. He told me to go for it. So I did. When I went back to the place, I was dismayed to see three or four men in there. I was hoping the barber would say something like "So, what brings you to our fine establishment? Then I could say I had lost a bet or that it was an emergency and all the other shops were closed or booked. No such luck.

I also almost keeled over from the smell. I think it's still in my nose and I don't know exactly what it was - shaving lotion, cheap aftershave, something rank and old-man-smelling. Yuck. But I took a seat and started looking through the magazines. When I noticed that most of them were Playboy I started to feel a little nauseous. I bet I'm the only woman to ever entertain the idea of cutting her hair here. Once in the chair, things did not improve. I focused on not breathing through my nose and on the amazing dissimilarities between the places I usually go - and this. First of all, no modern techno-dance music, just a tv in the corner showing some movie with some woman on a bed about to have sex (that much I could see out of the corner of my eye. Not the kind of thing you want on a sunny Sunday afternoon). Instead of the neat, clean shelf with funky hair products (Bedhead, Tea Tree, Bumble & Bumble) this not-so-clean shelf held a kitchen timer, some manly shaving brushes, some hair, more hair, Brut 33 and other delightful things. Instead of a nice shampoo and deep conditioning, I got sprayed like a dog with a bottle of cold H20. Instead of complimenting me on my unique and clearly homemade haircolor, he noted that I "needed a touch-up." Hey, hello, first semester Beauty School rules dictate no making fun of the customer! As he clearly didn't have any hair clippies, he had to just sort of throw the twisted spirals over the other side of my head, where of course they wouldn't stay. I will say he was quick - the five requested millimeters were gone in a jiffy and he was blow-drying me - thwapping my face with the cord and then burning my neck and scalp. I finally jumped up and said we were done. I put my damp hair quickly into a ponytail, threw the man a twenty and peeled outta there.

So, you ask, was it worth it? Well, I saved between 60 and 100 dollars, got a perfectly fine trim, and something to write about. But no - I miss the pampering and music and the smells and the product array of my half-dozen other salons and I'm pretty sure I will never step foot in that toxic Hair Box or Hair Bin or Hair Hoppers or Hair Hell or whatever it was called, again.

* not true. February 14, 2004

Happy Valentine's Day

February 9, 2004

Funny article proving something (don't know what exactly) about red-heads (which I'm not one of anymore, of course, having discovered L'Oreals's #57 "Golden Brown" which turned out to be, basically, dark blond. Woo hoo. I've already lost 47 IQ points but am having way more fun.)

The article I found by way of a referrer page (yay), some interesting, funny, cryptic guy at this site. Thanks, man. I mean it.

A perfectly hilarious and perfectly British response to the inanities going on down South (our South, naturally) in which a Georgian superintendent intends to rid the curriculum of any occurences of the word "evolution."

Too hard to hate them, and it's hard, too, to loathe a group of people quite so innocent in the ways of the world, so sweetly premodernist, that they can't yet do irony and thus fail, delightfully, to appreciate the rich layers lying behind the fact that the people in this world who are most fervently opposed to the idea of evolution are so often the same ones who will most benefit from it when, one fine day, they grow opposable thumbs. I appreciate, too, that it can be mighty hard to go to the zoo, watch some blue-nosed simian whacking off in a bucket of dung and then make the instant link to humankind, unless, of course, you're visiting Cromer, but I have to assume that Darwin was absolutely right, if only because he had such a damn good beard. - Euan Ferguson Sunday February 1, 2004, The Observer

In other news (to me), Kim reports that horses can't throw up. Something about the sand they ingest while eating hay and the attendant psyllium that acts like gelatin. Something like that.

I'm sad about the girl with two heads dying during the attempt to get rid of one of them. OUch.

For some reason I remembered hearing Ezra Pound read aloud his Cantos XLV in his inimitable, sonorous voice and I searched and searched and finally found an audio file of it on salon.com. Yay. My need to hear him railing about urusa might have been brought about by a news item in which our company struck an historic deal with a major credit-card company - the very one that has me in debt into perpetuity. Don't know if this link will work, as my speaker's blown...

I just love the way words like "CONTRA NATURUM" and "murrain," and phrases like:

"... with usura the line grows thick
with usura is no clear demarcation
and no man can find site for his dwelling
Stone cutter is kept from his stone
weaver is kept from his loom ...

If only his subject had been a bit less wierd and dry. Like if it were about war or love or something. Anyway.

A shout-out to Norway. Thanks for reading this sorry log and for letting me know you liked it.

January 10, 2004

Happy New Year. We're in the deep freeze here in New York.

Here are the illustrations I mentioned below from the 1960's "Simple Cookery" series of books.

December 27, 2003

It's been a while; following is a rather disjointed account of my Christmas in Maine.

Topping the list was meeting my new niece Alice at Bruce and Betsy and Lily's lovely home. She is fierce and beautiful one-year old Chinese girl who is sure to set the world on fire.

We were actually celebrating the solstice (the weekend before the 25th) with a huge bonfire on Spring Hill, a great mix of parents' friends and the most amazing seafood lasagna and my not-so-great mulled wine/Gluhwein /hot sangria. Highlights included trying to light the bonfire (the pressure!) and pretty much failing, and then accidently putting on one of the guests' boots to go for a tromp outside with Jeannie, coming back to find everyone at the coat area frantically searching for the boots. Sorry, Casey. How rude of me. (But the boots really did look just like my mothers'.) I was also, I believe, mistaken for a servant by a British couple, as I handed them cups of mulled wine. I went to shake their hands and they had already turned away. Hmph.

I drove my father's new (but very, very Model-A-like old) tractor up and down the road, feeling very powerful at my top speed of seven mph.

Getting to Maine is always a challenge: this time I had to crawl up and over the barriers at the Newark AirRail terminal because their computers were down and I wasn't about to miss my flight. It was a very awkward, public climbing with AirRail personnel behind me yelling "No! You can't do that!"

My favorite present may be Simple Oriental Cookery from Peter Pauper Press, illustrated by Ruth McCrea. A simple search reveals exactly ZERO examples of Ruth McCrea's amazing illustrations, which makes me crazy. Just before opening presents I was pulling books at random from the kitchen window (as opposed to the library with thousands of books) and came upon Simple German Cookery, with the same beautiful wood-cut illustrations in fuschia and teal and black and white. I remembered the artwork vividly from my childhood and hadn't seen the book in over thirty years, probably. Then lo and behold, Jeannie gives me a first edition of the "oriental" one from 1960. Wow. A scanned cover will be available here shortly. (Note to Peter Pauper Press: get a real Web site already!)

I happened to google "Spring Hall Farm Maine" and found a site dedicated to the gravestones and lineage of the Dodge family, of Dodge Road, off of which is our own Spring Hill Farm Road. Amazing to see a photos of the very headstones I had stumbled across as a child, deep in a wooded ravine about a quarter mile from our house. There were less than fifteen graves there, with many sad, small child headstones. They all died of diptheria - or maybe I made that up. Apparently the Dodge's have a serious sense of their family history - I'm terribly impressed. The only Dodge I knew was a cranky lady at the end of our road who would reluctantly take us in when the bus was late and our Bean boots failed to keep our toes from freezing.

Now it's time for laundry. I'll be updating more frequently if anyone cares.

November 15, 2003

Gadzooks.

You've all been clamoring for an update, so here it is. Had a big birthday with a very nice full lunar eclipse and a box filled with lobsters and a nice chardonnnay and an artichoke. Bruce and Betsy and Jeannie sent it. I didn't want to tell them, but one lobster appeared deadish. The cats were nonplussed. MeMe hissed. Pete sniffed. The lobsters were very lethargic.

So we cooked them up but quick and later made lobster rolls. Yum. Then the Guggenheim and a stroll through CP and a heart-stopping look up at the new Time Warner AO-what-the-fuck building, which is stunning. Great from the ground and then rather terrifyingly large and looming. Nice critique in this week's NY'er. How topical for me.

The artichoke languishes in the fridge, wilting but eminently appreciated.

Weirdly windy week to herald in the real start of Fall. I mean really windy. Down by the WFC, I walked out after work and was spun around and my scarf wrapped itself around my neck and tried to strangle me. Scary.

Many, many birthday books... and I can recommend a couple in particular. Disgrace, by J.M Coetzee. Close to the bone, philosophical without being pendantic, sexy and voluptuous and spare and spartan all at once. Hey, don't take my word for it; it won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

I also highly recommend the new Joy of Cooking. Yes, I had it before, but it mysteriously disappeared from this sucking black hole disguised as a New York City apartment, as did my new Calphelon frying pan and those new $98 black Ann Taylor pants. Oh yeah - the other good book was Robert Littell's The Defection of A.J. Lewinter. Look out Graham Greene.

October 20, 2003

Go Yankees. I'm trying to get into it but - case in point - tonight I started watching Game 3 and during a commercial turned to C-Span which, on our fucked-up cable system, is one channel up. A Senate Committee hearing on something about taxation droned on, and several ex-employees from my former employer, Levi Strauss & Co. were testifying, nearly tearfully, about how they had been whistle-blowers and had been subsequently and summarily (they used that word a lot) fired. I couldn't stop watching. What does this mean? I continued, riveted, even when the they turned to companies I had never heard of, and tax laws that were essentially meaningless to me. I parsed each word, marveled at the courage of the testifiers, tried to understand the jargon until I got a headache. What does this mean? Do I need to go to law school after all? Would I be happier?

I'm still obsessed with people who refuse to walk down or up the escalator. I have visions of pushing them down or trodding on their heels going up. Must breathe more.

Autumn in New York. I've been paralyzed by work (fortunately not AT work) and have had little time to think, breathe, or write.

I continue to try to infiltrate the world of punctuation with my ".." which would be a godsend for composers of emails - and the ambivalence they feel at the finality of their sentences or missives.. The comma, period and semi-colon have their places, but the need for a ".." grows stronger in me every day. Here's the deal: it's strong than a semi-colon - implying even more hesitancy to end a thought - it offers an elegant deference to the reader with its very velleity. It's the punctuational equivalent of the non-verbal shrug, encouraging further discourse while declaring, well, the end of it.

As for the upcoming holidays, I can't do it. Thanksgiving is coming too soon, Christmas too far away. I need to get to Maine but don't want to deal with finding a cat-minder (as C will be away as well) or being one of a million travelers on an arbitrary weekend. To hell with the couple of extra vacation days. I've informed my family that I'm inventing a new holiday just for them - it will fall somewhere between Thanksgiving and Christmas and could be called Thankschrist if that works for them. Whether gifts will be involved ( I say, YES!) - that will be determine based on any upcoming Macy's sales.

Top of the fourth, NYY down one, must go support the team.

October 7, 2003

Reading J. Lethem's Fortress of Solitude. It's positively transporting. A ticket to the Brooklyn of my false (but not so far off the mark) memories, cadged from some other book or movie. Brooklyn in the Seventies, with honeyed sun filtering through the trees that line the streets where kids play arcane forms of ball and struggle to define themselves in an unforgiving and ultimately too-forgiving urban landscape. A ranging novel not nearly as funny as Motherless Brooklyn.. EATMEBAILEY! But, really, better and deeper and more satisfying.

Hey, whatever did happen to the Biosphere, anyway? I'll have to research.

I'll let you know.

September 16, 2003

[Experiencing severe aphasia]

Don't worry, it's not catchy.

Oh, equally as depressing as my 192 visitors so far this month: Not that I care, but clearly most people are finding this receptacle of drivel by way of a dead page entitled "Late For Work Excuses," which isn't even really live any more and unless they go to a cached page will lead them to this inspiring page, which won't endear me to anyone... The other was a work-in-progress and a mess of my own excuses (which by the way I don't use anymore, logging at least 45 hours a week for the past while). I realize it must be frustrating for the #2 google search entry (me! me! me! well, if one types in "late for work excuses" with the quotation marks) to get reprimanded so I will be reconstructing them from memory soon. They really did work -- using a smidge of real-life, too-wierd-to-be-a-lie logic with a dose of flat-out pity-party bathos. Coming soon...

September 2, 2003

Maine pics

No one really wants to hear someone else's vacation stories, so I'm going to try and keep it short. Labor Day Weekend, Coast of Maine, 2003. Highlights included an amazingly wierd fettucine with mussels, serious lemon (we're talking entire slices) and red sauce invented, I have to believe, by my mother ... as well as gobs of good food including way too much lobster (yes, it's possible).

I'll get the bad spots over with: stubbing my little toe while while on the most amazing sailing trip so hard that it turned purple and black and I cried out and grimaced without an ounce of playacting for the family and friends. It's still slightly ruined-looking, as is my last pedicure of the summer (Chinese Red). Having my new (from flea market) 11' cast iron frying pan confiscated at the Portland Jetport and having to fill out lengnthy forms to have it held for J. to pick up at her earliest inconvenience - while the imminently qualified, middle-aged TSA officer let me carry five brand new forks on board no problem (???!). He also had to regail me with his understanding of the value of cast iron cooking, what with his own 12-quart stew pot and 12' fry pan.

My happiest moment was the vista of Lake Sherman coming into view once more along Dodge Road, on a most perfect pre-Indian summer day en route to Damariscotta and the promise of bloody mary's and crab cakes at King Eider's Pub. The cows lowed (I imagined) and formed a professional football-type huddle IN the water, which I had never seen before. A powwow of cows. A cow powwow. A cowwow.

Other highlights included a seminally meaningless but strangely fulfilliing, slightly drunken evening in the greenhouse with J., T., and C., reminiscing about our childhoods and ending up recounting every single TV show (extra points for singing the theme song) since about 1963. Sure beats charades and Stratego, let me tell you.

Reading material included a truly awful Ridley Pearson mystery and a somewhat entertaining Cause Celeb from Helen Fielding (Bridget Jones' Diary). Paul Theroux she is not, but she does have a flare for the dramatic and Britishly-funny.

All the cool people are going on vacation now while we working stiff suckers ramp up for back-to-school season (no matter that none of us are in school or have anything to do with school, with a few notable, and noble, exceptions like L.) S. is now in France, and boss is soon to be touring (or walking, due to the drought in Europe) the Danube, no doubt enjoying those strange new sights of previously sunken Nazi war ships.

Already broke my vow to reinvent myself after Labor Day by watching For Love or Monkey on tv last night instead of beginning my novel. Help me.

Pictures (sailing, my injured toe, my toe next to the insanely wierd orange fungal growth on one of our biggest maple trees, no cows, of course the dog, Molly, no cats, and I'm pretty sure me hugging a tree) available on Friday if you are interested.

August 23, 2003

The perks of my job are few and odd.

August 20, 2003

NY Times Gets Scooped by yours truly. Not that it's really worth anything, but I think I can say that I have my finger on the pulse of the gustatory zeitgeist. Please note my last entry re: Yak cheese. Now, today's NY Times featured a Florence Fabrikant article extolling the virtues of, yes, yak cheese. You can read it here or if not registered, excerpted here:

Tasting the Himalayas in a Bite of Yak Cheese

Unless you read the label, nothing about this lovely new semisoft cheese suggests that it comes from Tibet. Or that it is made from yak milk. The cheese resembles Gruyère, though a little less nutty and a bit muskier. Nomadic groups milk their yaks, which feed only on the natural grasses of the high plateau, and take the milk to cheesemaking factories, where it is made into 13-pound wheels, cured with red salt, aged six to nine months and sent to the United States. The project is sponsored by the Trace Foundation, a New York nonprofit organization that works to strengthen the culture and economy of rural Tibetan communities. All profits go to health and education programs. Yak cheese can be nibbled plain, layered in a sandwich or baked in a casserole or in a quiche. It is about $13 a pound at Whole Foods supermarkets, Ideal Cheese, Citarella and the Garden of Eden, at 162 West 23rd Street.

Please note the reference to the very store in which I discovered the yak cheese. Coincidence? I think not. Fabulous Florence clearly reads my blog. And I must go now and get back in touch with my nomadic tendencies.

August 17, 2003

Tibetan Yak Milk Cheese, purchased in Hour 21 of the Great Blackout of 2003 as I hobbled home from a search for cash and sundries after hearing a rumor that there was power "somewhere in midtown," for me, made the entire blackout ordeal worthwhile. As is my wont, I inadvisedly defied the 90-something temp and high humidity to check out the partially blacked-out city under the pretense of having an errand to run (needed D batteries for the wonderful Maglite that Kim had so thoughtfully given to me as a Christmas present).

"Black Thursday" was quite a kick, I must say. After walking down 48 floors at work, my legs were jello and as I made my way gingerly home I tried really hard to work up sympathy for the masses roaming, stuck, confused and hot all the way up Hudson Street. Caught a great fight between a woman in a car trying to get into the Holland Tunnel after the cops told her to just park her car and wait. All the cars behind her were honking and people were screaming at her and she finally acquiesced and started forward, then wheeled her car to the left and into the tunnel traffic. The original cop went ballistic and called over other cops to write her up. Still, she had garnered a coveted spot to the hell that must have been the route to NJ.

Nearly GOT into a fight when a couple of goons from a sports bar restaurant who were giving away free ice-cream and exhorting each patron to "remember where you GOT it, UH!? YOu tell 'em where you got da free ice-cream, right, eh?!" When it was my turn, I kept saying, "Yeah, uh, Breyers, right? Breyers?" - reading the label of the big ice-cream tubs. That was not well received, so I kept going.

Thursday night was unforgettable: movie-set scene with gypsies across the street opening the fire hydrant and setting up a charcoal grill... stoops filled with neighbors, radio blasting the latest. A very communal feeling. At nightfall, it sucked because it got hotter and hotter. We ended the day and night at Pescadou, which with all the people drinking outside, spilling into the darkened street, candles glowing, seemed to be the center of the universe.

The best part of the blackout was meeting our neighbors, musicians and longtime residents. Very cool, funny, normal and wise.

More on the blackout: why the radio couldn't identify exactly where, on Friday, power was working, I'll never know. Buses were free, so I easily caught an uptown one on Sixth and Houston and sat there, astonished, as it got progressively full, then beyond full, then ridiculously packed, and more and more people were left on the sidewalk, hot and chagrined, at each stop. I got off at 50th because the ATMs around 42nd - which was the cut-off point for the blackout by 2:30 pm - had lines of twenty people or more. I easily got cash at a bank at 49th, and bought some damned heavy D batteries, three godawful paperbacks, water, and a camera. I walked to Seventh Avenue intending to catch a free bus downtown, but there were none. It was now about 92 degrees out. I started walking, switching my bag from hand to hand, getting hotter and hotter, as usual (I have a tendency to overheat). Below 42nd was a virtual ghetto of powerlessness. Doormen types lounged in chairs outside, and at each (progressively cut-rate) hotel, sweaty people with luggage amassed. Not a pretty sight. At 23rd Street, a Garden of Eden was open, selling stuff on the sidewalk for cash. Inside it was dark and creepy, candlelit and hot. I mosied about the cheese section, grabbed some spinach and the aforementioned Tibetan yak milk cheese, and kept going down Sixth. I wisely bought a big bottle of red wine at 18th Street and then nearly passed out at 15th Street, but suddenly, below 14th, the streetlights were working and power was on!!!!!!! The D batteries seemed much heavier.

Bob Dylan
I felt sorry for the Dylan fans that missed the August 14 concert due to the blackout, though I laughed when I read later that a bunch of diehard fans had waited outside Hammerstein in the dark heat convinced that Bob would still go on, acoustic. Ouch. We had chosen, arbitrarily, the Wed. night show, thank god. It may be my last concert, or at least my last Gen'l Admission floor show; I'm way to old for that. I saw Bob, though, or at least his head (his hair was messed up and crooked) and enjoyed most of the songs*, which, unfortunately, I couldn't identify until the encore. Bob is... Bob. Elvis Costello sat in the mezzanine and did not join in, to my utter disappointment. A good night, though, and the beginning of the end of a wonderfully wierd week and weekend.

1. Tombstone Blues
2. If You See Her, Say Hello
3. Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum
4. You Ain't Goin' Nowhere
5. Things Have Changed
6. Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I'll Go Mine)
7. It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding) (acoustic)
8. Highway 61 Revisited
9. Desolation Row (acoustic)
10. The Wicked Messenger
11. Every Grain Of Sand
12. Honest With Me
13. Don't Think Twice, It's All Right (acoustic)
14. Summer Days
(encore)
15. Like A Rolling Stone
16. All Along The Watchtower

Certifiable Neighbor
One last thing: we apparently have an insane neighbor in our midst. I smelled something burning - like paper - last night and after running around the apt. like a mad woman trying to find the errant cigarette or knocked-over candle, poked my head out my window to see a young woman in the dark back garden sweeping burning paper into a huge fiery pile. I asked her, politely, what she was doing and she said, "Oh my shredder isn't working and I'm burning some important papers." As pieces of flaming paper flew up into the dark and into the trees, I just said, "Oh. Well that's probably not such a good idea." She said, "Yeah, I know." Then Chas came home and we debated calling the super, the fire department and the police but in the end did nothing.

August 11, 2003

A new [dubious] milestone: got my first-ever ... Parking Ticket!. So what, you say. Well, considering I've never [legally] driven a car, it's a big deal. Of course, it was a rental, and it was C.'s fault, and it was only $65 but I will not be paying -- just filing it lovingly away with my other tickets... to date: Jay-walking in LA (crossing PCH between lights - probably shouldn't have cracked up when the CHIP guy informed me it was illegal -- ooh, shades of Giuliani-time in 1985); "Bud on Beach," delivered by two shiny black mens' dress shoes on Long Beach, as I nursed (yes) a Bud after my friends bailed; and "Turnstyle Jumping," by which they really meant "following a bunch of idiots through the wide-open subway gate-door-thing" - I handed the cop my token (sigh) expecting that would be that, but no, he held me and two other reprobates with no ID for two trains to make sure everyone knew we were loser scofflaws.)

Obviously, I haven't had energy to write (or air to breathe) this being August. New job, and all. Yeah, well, the honeymoon is over, but I'm not complaining. I function quite highly as a glorified cog in a wheel.

Dad bought yet another new boat, but this time, I believe, managed to swap out an old one: bidding adieu to the never-properly-monikered Lighting in order to get a very small Blue Jay. Could be a lot of fun, teaching Mom to sail over Labor Day. Hmm.

Other flotsam via email: someone in Brazil wants to sell me www.kitlab.com - only $70! Yeah... well... no.

Over the past three months a lot of people have come out of the woodwork, usually via email. To 97% of you I say: go back! go back! While I'm touched, actually, by whatever wierdness in your life made you think of me five, ten or twenty years after you knew me, just because you discovered the power of Google does not mean you've been a) forgiven or b) forgotten. And I mean that in the most charitable way.

Let's leave it at that.

July 15, 2003

Would somebody please break into my apartment and steal and/or kill my cats? I haven't slept in weeks and I don't speak cat language so I don't know why the $#%@ they must mewl and whine at 4 am until I feed them. [don't even start in on that; it's something new I can't control].

At the risk of sounding like Carrie Bradshaw... Why is that other people's life-changes affect me more than my own?

A couple of things first: I hate people who don't walk down the escalator. Or, for that matter, UP. What's up with that? Why so blatantly lazy? Exceptions, of course, apply: multiple people, in conversation. Really huge, practically non-ambulatory people. Women in shoes that hurt (that was me today). But otherwise... jeSUS. The other thing; yesterday as I was walking home, up West Street toward Tribeca, a nice young woman asked me if I knew where the Borough of Manhattan Community College was. I said I was happy to know that bit of information for once, laughed, and promptly pointed her towards St. John's University in the opposite direction. I realized my mistake when I reached Chambers Street, four long blocks hence, and stood immobilized -- right in front of BMCC -- in horror for at least ten seconds: what to do? What to do? I finally turned around and started running back toward her, now a speck in the far distance and kept going, waiting at lights, watching the people in traffic going uptown watching me running absurdly the other way... I caught up with her as she was finally asking someone else and I insisted I had been wrong... sorry, sorry sorry etc. She smiled politely and thanked me and we parted. Does this mean anything at all in the scheme of either of our lives? I hope she gets accepted at BMCC or hired as a professor or met her boyfriend at the entrance or whatever she was destined to do. I hope I can get a sense of direction soon or accept this as a sign it's time to go...

I walked home today with a huge lump in my throat, all the way to Reade St. where the spice store was closed at which point I burst into tears behind my sunglasses. I had been planning to buy both black and white sesame seeds to "encrust" some fresh salmon. Oh well.

My sister once wrote a poem that began: "My sister called to tell me she's writing a book..." On so many levels, a moving confessional, a revelation, a lament, that touched me deeply. That that "book" hasn't exactly reached fruition is all the more affecting. Ouch. Now I get the phone call.... whoops, don't have sign-off on that yet. Cripes.

On another note, Welcome, Alice Jun Tai Thompson, to the Thompson family. Her name means "outstanding talent... safe, peaceful, tranquil." She's also a Scorpio like me, which can only mean good things. She joins Lily Hai Bei as her "mei mei" [little sister].

All beautiful things... so you can see why i'm depressed as hell.

Catch me tomorrow; it's sure to be better.

This helped a little: [thanks, NY Post, and Stephen]

1.Open google
2.Type in "weapons of mass destruction" (don't use quotation marks)
3.Hit the "I'm Feeling Lucky" search button

Ha. Ha ha. or just go here. If you're LAZY.

July 1, 2003

Sailing down the East River from City Island and up the Hudson to Chelsea Piers... a dream of a boatride on a hot day in June. Uniquely indescribable, so I won't even try. I got seasick for the first time in my life, had to eat some candied ginger and dramamine, which actually worked, after I fell down on the deck and snoozed for a while. A week later, with third (?) degree burns peeling off my shoulders, I have to say it was worth it. Thanks, Dad. For being so brave and devoted to sailing one more time the many miles to my adopted hometown. Mooring at Liberty Landing (NJ) was a breeze - notwithstanding the fact that I'm pretty sure Dad never parked in a slip - just like a man, he had to back in -- instead of just nosing in -- which caused a little trouble in nearly ripped the outboards of a couple of puny motorboats.

More details to follow. Pics here

June 24, 2003

Fried Rice! I made fried rice. Quite a production, with about 45 ingredients including the dreaded fish sauce (nam plak) which smells so nasty it will curl your hair but which is actually an essential flavor enhancer. No really. It's made of anchovies, salt, and sugar. And I guess a smidge of water. Yum!

Mom and Dad sailing trip update: Got a message saying they made it to Newport, RI (la di da) but encountered "dangerous weather." They are heading for New York Harbor anyway, probably by the weekend, the plucky mariners. No GPS, no satellite phone, no ship-to-shore whatever, and NO CELL PHONE. Okaaaay...

Found an amazing article by Arundhati Roy, the Booker Prize-winning Indian author (God of Small Things). She pithily hits so many of the issues about which so many left-minded people are concerned, but which - if we collectively actually thought about them all at the same time - would make our heads explode. I'll indulge in a few excerpts but you must read the article, entitled "Seize the Time," which I'm afraid I can't find right now but which was adapted from a speech sponsored by the Center for Economic and Social Rights at Riverside Church. Anyway:

"Democracy, the modern world's holy cow, is in crisis." Remembering a comment by the first Bush, after the U.S.S. Vincennes missile cruiser accidently shot down an Iranian airliner and killed 290 civilian passengers, who when asked to comment said, "I will never apologize for the United States. I don't care what the facts are," Arundhati muses, "What a perfect maxim for the New American Empire.... Perhaps a slight variation on the theme would be more appropriate: The facts can be whatever we want them to be... When the United States invaded Iraq, a New York Times/CBS News survey estimated that 42 percent of the American public believed that Saddam Hussein was directly responsible for the 9/11 attacks..."

"Insinuation, auto-suggestion.... outright lies circulcated by the U.S. corporate media... that hollow pillar on which contemporary American democracy rests." She ends the speech, exhorting us to action: "I hate to disagree with your president. Yours is by no means a great nation. But you could be a great people. History is giving you a chance. Seize the time."

My ellipses bastardize her brilliant speech but you get the drift. And I'm preaching to the converted, as far as I can tell, so I'll stop now.

June 13, 2003

Today marks, for me, the slow ending of my first real vacation in years. Vacation in the sense of no pressure to work, sleep, travel or move. Three weekdays of simple reflection and introspection. I caught up on my reading (New Yorkers, Harper's, The Economist, The Atlantic Monthly. Ahhhh.

The kind words and thoughts I received from colleagues and friends upon leaving Pearson Education was incredibly gratifying. I feel lucky that transition for me is rarely a sad thing - and quite frankly, seems to be necessary every 17 months or so. With luck, I'll be able to embrace my new company for a while longer. At least until I finish that novel and/or win the lottery. I walked past my new building last evening, taking a run (ok, a long walk) down the Hudson after a long, hot, sticky, muggy day of well, okay, shopping. The river and the foggy twilight sort of blended and everything was gray. There was a ghostly gaff-rigger lolling between Manhattan and Liberty Island and, while beautiful, made me suddenly fearful. My dad is en route in his 32' wooden gaff-rigged ketch from Maine to New York. He didn't have time to call me before he left on this 2 or 3 week journey. He's not exactly young and had just undergone a painful and invasive medical procedure. So he'll be on the water somewhere south of Cape Cod on Father's Day. And, with luck, here in New York by the 27th.

Speaking of Harper's, its Index contains some items that made me laugh.. and cry. Here are just a few:

  • Number of presidents Argentina has had in the past TWO years: 6 (Apropos of very little, my cousins Kevin and Erik, their wives and children, still live there.)
  • Amount of the $106,185 price of a Hummer H1 that businesses may deduct under the propose Bush tax plan: $88,722
  • Minimum number of Latin American residents whose personal data the U.S. government has bought since 2001: 100,000,000. (!)
  • Years by which the 1831 invention of the electric dynamo preceded the first documented use of the word "boredom": 21 (Not sure of the significance of this, but I like it. It would probably help to figure out what "electric dynamo" means. I might have to buy one.)
  • Number of Grateful Dead concerts attended by columnist Ann Coulter: 67 (Proof positive, finally, that second-hand marijuana affects the brain in a negative manner)

  • June 3, 2003

    Updated faves page.

    Memorial Weekend in Maine. Early spring there, still, with uncountable shades of soft green playing over the landscape. Lots of rain, especially during record-setting drives up and back (6.0 and 5.5 hours respectively). Edgie was the same as always; we spent our time by the fire, playing Stratego, drinking wine, having desultory conversations. Jeannie and I did manage to locate what must be the world's best beef seller (meat market? cow purveyor? butchery?) way way way up on Route 90 past Walderboro in Warren. Looong way to go for steak, but it was worth it. We also experienced a very strange timewarp on the drive home. We essentially hopped through a space-time continuum that thankfully allowed us to bypass all of Walderboro's endless slice of Route 1 and jump from Warren all the way past Moody's Diner and back into Damariscotta in approximately ten minutes. The drive to Warren took 45. Very strange.

    A highlight of the trip was seeing niece Lily (and Bruce and Betsy, too of course), future doctoral supermodel.

    May 21, 2003

    Reason to hope from a compelling and somewhat heartwarming (if perhaps overly optimistic) article from the Washington Monthly.

    I was happy to see my old friend Hannah Holmes' award-winning book The Secret Life of Dust on the front table at my local Barnes & Noble. I had caught her on NPR a while back, I guess when the book came out, and thought she was great. I haven't seen her in a very long time, which is unfortunate, but think about her from time to time. I think back to sunny days at the Holmes' and Dean's in my childhood Maine, the swimming in a brackish pond, fort-building in the barn on River Road, the many sisters: Kate, Joan, Becky, Martha, and Ellen. Hey, Hannah, where's your website, anyway? And when is your next book out?

    May 20, 2003

    Goodbye 1185 Ave. of the Americas. Goodbye Casual Corner. Goodbye larger-than-life Arrogant Brown atop Moe's Diamonds. Goodbye Fox News. Goodbye Rock Center tourists. Goodbye felafel man. Goodbye overpriced deli. Goodbye Thomas Pink. Goodbye Bryant Park. Goodbye educational publishing.

    And no, I won't miss Midtown West. No siree. Hello Hudson River. Hello Hudson Park. Hello WFC. Hello new job, hello new life. I was offered a great opportunity to pursue a career in online communications (read: sell out to hugely successful corporate behemoth) wherein I will be able to merge my dubious Web skills with my love of communication (read: remain a loquaciously voluble geek).

    May 15, 2003

    This is very disturbing: "Fully 90 percent of each of the world's large ocean species, including cod, halibut, tuna, swordfish and marlin, has disappeared from the world's oceans in recent decades, according to the Canadian analysis -- the first to use historical data going back to the beginnings of large-scale fishing in the 1950s." Read more from the Washington Post. It's really rather heartbreaking, especially since I just learned how to make sushi. On a more macrocosmic level, I'm ready to take up arms to get our fish back. And this from a Maine girl who certainly has some vestiges of empathy for the toiling fishermen. Fisher people. You know what I mean.

    May 9, 2003

    Silkworms Survive!  Another quasi interesting story to which I am personally if tangentially connected. Our company sponsored the Los Angeles County Science Fair (the largest in the nation) a couple of weeks ago, and one of the classes was recognized for their experiment with silkworms which was chosen by NASA to go up into space in the shuttle. On the very day of this recognition, it was discovered that the silkworms had survived the shuttle explosion! I'm so happy for the little buggers. Such a bittersweet thing.

    May 6, 2003

    The Old Man in the Mountain is gone!! Occasional visits from coastal Maine to Grandad & Sara's in Littleton, NH in the seventies are now for me distant, muddled memories of Siamese cats, large plaid beanbag ashtrays, the cousins' walls of horseshow ribbons, King the scary German Shepherd who loved my grandfather and also my ankles; Mr. Potato Head up in the attic of the house on Forest Lake; skiing at Cannon - and the Old Man looking down from his perch high in the White Mountains. Long before I had ever seen or heard of Mt. Rushmore, the Old Man looked down on me and my family and embedded his big rocky face deep into my young dreams. I hadn't thought about him in nearly twenty years. Goodbye, Old Man. Sorry I didn't visit more often.

    Old Man timeline

    April 29, 2003

    I'll be closely following the Battle of the Wedge wherein our two protagonists, architect Daniel Libeskind, winning designer for the new buildings at ground zero, whose work has been described alternately as "brilliant, complex, radiating, emotional, spastic, genius, embarrassing, towering, lovely, sick, astonishing, plagued, quintessential, incomprehensible, simple, elegant, and fatuous" and architect Eli Attia, who designs very big, shiny, rather cold but slick and elegant buildings, as they battle over the idea of sunlight. Yes, the idea of sunlight. I'm going to try to sum up the controversy in their own words. Or something like their own words.

    Mr. Libeskind: The sun will shine without shadow.
    Mr. Attias: That's a lie.
    Mr. Libeskind: The effect is not linear but a three-dimensional phenomenon about the ambience of light and the reflections of light between the buildings.
    Mr. Attias: [It's] a virtual smorgasbord of narrow-minded incompetence in urban planning and architectural design, garnished with a rare blend of political propaganda
    Mr. Libeskind: harrumph...
    Mr. Attias: ...a figment and a sham memorial in which the defining image and metaphor is shadows conquering the light
    Mr. Libeskind: This is about radiating light, reflecting light, the atmosphere of light
    Mr. Attias: It's a national embarrassment
    Mr. Libeskind: It's not about tricks of light but about how light behaves when you look at the sun in three-dimensional form

    To be continued...

    ............................................................................................................

    "Maine Yankee's reactor vessel will be leaving the site of the closed nuclear power plant under the guidance of the same man who brought it here about 25 years ago, Eliot Winslow. Winslow, a well-known tugboat operator/owner, from Boothbay Harbor, guided the reactor into the Maine Yankee site in 1969, and will guide it out from Maine Yankee's barge slip sometime next week." - Wiscasset Newspaper
    Not sure I'd want to make this common knowledge, but I like the historical aspect. And I'm sure if met him, I'd like Eliot Winslow. April 29, 2003

    Caught the Matisse/Picasso show at MOMA on Saturday. Very impressive - and all the more so for being out there in industrial Queens. Long line notwithstanding, I breezed through relatively quickly, parents in tow, and left with a lighter, happier feeling of possibility, despite the distracting trope of compare/contrast. I was sad to not find a print of my favorite painting of the show, Henri's Lorette in Green Robe, Black Background

    April 20, 2003

    Watching people watch other people is much more interesting than just watching people. Mission: catch someone watching someone watching someone who's watching someone.

    April 9, 2003

    Spiderman II was shooting last night near my street (actually on Sixth and Carmine, at the corner pizza joint, just up a ways). How terribly enervating.

    Time to change my website name, I think. I'm not even sure where "Kitlab" came from, and now it's getting on my nerves. Now, I'm not one to Google myself or my Web site URL, nor do I have the time, being the busy professional woman that I am. However, it has come to my attention that the unfortunate Kitlab moniker attaches itself to:

  • A Brazilian dating site (might be a porn site, I'm not sure)
  • A military airplane model site of indeterminate national origin (the typeface looks Cyrillic, but what do I know)
  • Laramie County Community College (where I might go one day, just start my life over again... maybe I will become best friends with the fembot gracing their Web site)
  • A Czech applications provider whose pages I'm not authorize to view
  • Squid Statistics
  • Reading: Ayn Rand's We the Living
    A harrowing tale of a woman trapped in the nascent USSR. Her "most autobiographical" according to book jacket. I recommend it for anyone who's bemoaning their current fate. Not that it makes one feel any better about our weasly government or out-of-control economy... Two days ago I was reading The Lake of Forgotten Languages, a sort of poor woman's AS Byatt's Possession

    Work Related
    Pleased to see a book of "ours" -- The Elements of User Experience" (New Riders Publishing) on
    kottke.org.We had a copy in the supply room so I'm surrepticiously reading it here at work. Meanwhile, after futzing with design for nearly a year, our site is finally almost ready to make its debut. Too bad it's been bastardized (is that the right word?) I mean corrupted, diminished. Worked over by committee and less than stellar design sensibilities. It doesn't look so so bad, but isn't exactly cutting edge art either. Nor commerce for that matter. It's all good.

    April 9, 2003

    It's raining cats and dogs. My window, 26 floors above 46th Street, offers a distorted cubist view, through the pelting rain, of the twin building across the way. This week ends in a whimper, weatherwise, but all in all has been a good one, full of surprises and wondrous synchronicities..

    Breaking news: B&B will be going back to China to adopt a sister for Lily. My new future niece!! "Alice," as her name might be, should be ready in four months or so - they'll be notified when they can come and get her. Hard to imagine - they know she's there, waiting for them, but have no idea at this point where in all of China she might be.

    I need a vacation and am thinking Hong Kong might fit my travel budget, but after floating the idea to friends and relatives, I don't think I'll get much support.

    I'm thinking of going back to my old favorite, Cinque Terre, in late September, where I can look out over the Ligurian Sea from hills studded with lemon trees and tessellating vineyards, where the wine is local, delicious and cheap, and beach chairs cost little more than a cup of cappuccino.

    I hate this font. Will someone please help me pick a better one? And I forgot how to use the CSS, lost my macromedia homesite disk, so I'm hopeless anyway.

    April 8, 2003

    Now I know why I'm depressed. As a preternaturally architecturally-sensitive girl, I was appalled to read this. Guess it's official: I work in one of the top ten UGLIEST buildings in NYC. Can someone PLEASE find me a job in the Chrysler Building please??

    Other "winners" included 60 Wall Street (doesn't look that bad), One Astor Place, which is pretty gross, but so big, I guess, I've never even noticed it, and the New York Telephone Building which is truly monstrous. I'll be posting a pic of the not-so-pretty domicile of my current employer soon. Yeesh.

    April 5, 2003

    A very bad day for journalism. Michael Kelly, the editor at large of The Atlantic Monthly and the chief editorial advisor of National Journal, was killed on Thursday night while on assignment in Iraq. You can read the statement from the Atlantic Monthly. I am very saddened.

    March 31, 2003

    In a highly unfortunate confluence of history, geography, and the spotlight of war, newscasters, strategists, retired generals, and even Katie Couric, are all at heightened risk of - as has already been witnessed - accidently melding "Kurds" and "Turks" on-air.

    "Turd" count = 1 CNN, 2 NBC

    Another thing - my newscasters' "If you will" count meter has blown up. It's a plague on the airwaves, and I'm pretty sure Wolff Blitzer started it. "This war, if you will..." "The skies of Baghdad, if you will," "My inability to make formulate elegant sentences without using 'if you will,' if you will..." Well, I'm WILLING it to stop. {It's not working}.

    I forgot to thank Laura and Stephen in my last post. We were supposed to go to the Guggenheim on Saturday to take in the Cremaster Cycle but the call of the peace march down Broadway proved too much a lure. They were gracious enough to accompany me and make the whole experience that much nicer.

    Finally, last week I met an astronaut. Probably the coolest astronaut ever. And it was through my job, go figure. We brought him to a small inner-city Philly elementary school for a media event - and for once the media actually showed up. That's the key to PR, folks: kids and astronauts.

    March 25, 2003

    A march definitely beats a rally. Pictures here

    March 21, 2003

    If something actually happens, for god's sakes cover it. If nothing is happening I see no reason to show cloudy skies, sans missiles, over and over and the same view from that one hotel. I also find my mornings ruined by the combination of Matt Lauer with his federal prison haircut and that very odd Peter Hairnet, er, Arnett live from Baghdad.

    March 19, 2003

    My own mental horizons*seem to be expanding like a slowly spreading pool of ...? Oil? Honey? Molasses? Blood? Toxic slime? Milk? Soy drink? By day I consume an overabundance of news, breaking news, political analysis that quite frankly is usually a few inches over my head; email alerts, siren sounds, threats of increased "security" and low-grade flashbacks to Rector Street on Sept. 11, 2001. All of this serves to expand my already stretched-to-the-limits sphere of consciousness beyond the boundaries of my small office on Sixth Avenue, beyond my boss's corner office, beyond Lord & Taylor's and Macy's (sale today, focus, focus), over the Atlantic to France (how is Carmella, native Mass. girl and now expat married to a Frenchman and living south of Paris feeling these days?) to Germany (what is Jochen thinking?) and beyond to Greece (and Nicole, and if the map in my head is accurate, that's even closer to the danger zone) and on to Turkey and then to the Kurdish lands (where I no no one and fear for all) and into Iraq where the stuff of nightmares are just hours away from happening. I reel myself in, and feel so small and helpless and so very, very angry.

    Interesting interview on cowboy George on the Atlantic's website with historian Richard Brookhiser.

    *  "... Brookhiser explains, Bush's worldview is extremely rigid, circumscribed by the good-versus-evil religious convictions to which he has adhered since his recovery from alcoholism seventeen years ago. "Practically," Brookhiser writes, "Bush's faith means that he does not tolerate, or even recognize, ambiguity: there is an all-knowing God who decrees certain behaviors, and leaders must obey." While this clear-cut belief structure enables him to make split-second decisions and take action with principled confidence, it also means that he is limited by "strictly defined mental horizons." [my emphasis]   More...

    March 17, 2003

    Hell in a Handbasket Whoa holy cow where've I BEEN?? Well, I've been busy using the impending war as an excuse to not do any writing, that's for sure. And now, probably starting within 72 hours or less, I can use the actual war as an excuse not to write. Though now that the weather has changed I'm doing that butterfly chrysalis thing and slowly emerging from the winter funk. Bought a RIO mp3 player yesterday and am thrilled with it so far. Hands free jogging, hands free gym workouts - brilliant. And no more excuses ("I can't use my discman on the ellipticalizer machine thingy so i'm just not going to the gym today") either. I went yesterday and kind of jumped the gun on doing the machines (I was going to wait for 2 weeks and just do cardio in the meantime) and I think I sprained my inner thighs. Do not make jokes. It hurts. The new flu epidemic is really scary - war-scary - "Prime Minister Helen Clark of New Zealand asserted today that some World Health Organization officials believe the new illness could be as deadly as the influenza pandemic that killed 20 million people worldwide in 1918 and 1919." Peachy.

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