Robert Moses Comes to Winston

Posted in Economics, Winston Salem on January 4th, 2007 by Дмитрий

So Winston-Salem has just decided to level a neighborhood close to downtown to make way for a ballpark with adjacent upscale shopping, restaurants and bars. Chalk another victory for style over substance, wealthly shoppers and sports fans and alcoholics over working class families.

Is it still the 60s? I thought the idea of kicking people out of their homes for the sake of grand public works projects was something that died with Robert Moses? And is it just me or are almost all of the residents being cleared very dark-skinned? I know the church being kicked out is primarily black. How convenient that the City can legally remove a ’slum’ - no one will complain, of course, because most of those who vote for the politicans who are doing this are not poor or black.

Don’t get too comfortable in your own home, my friend. You never know when Big Brother might decide your home looks like a convenient place for a place of mass spectator combat, or an expressway to nowhere. I remember back when Santa Claus was in business - before Robert Moses demolished his workshop to build the North Pole Expressway - Moses said that Santa would be better of if he retired to Florida, and I agree that naming it the Robert Moses North Pole Expressway was inevitable. But I miss Santa.

Anyway, I wrote a letter to my City Council member, at least…

An Experiment in Amnesia Insurance

Posted in Travel on January 20th, 2007 by Дмитрий

[Written on the birth of my iWeb Site.]

This is my latest attempt at a weblog. I write this knowing that I don’t intend to make it publicly linked yet, but I will know the URL and be able to refer to it and post to it as I see fit, and will feel more inclined to write regularly. Additionally, I’ll feel I have as much time as I need to retrofit my old entries into iWeb. We’ll see how it goes.

Last night I returned from San Francisco. The western half of the country was very white. It’s been cold and snowy this week over much of the nation. The worst turbulence I’ve ever experienced on an aeroplane somewhere over west Texas. And the most beautiful view of lights on the ground somewhere above either Atlanta or Nashville… I suspect the former, but can’t be sure. It looked for all the world like the alluvial flows of an ancient river plain was injected with a trillion sparkling lights. Very beautiful indeed.


Posted in Economics, Health on January 22nd, 2007 by Дмитрий

I’m now worth as much as I make. Being self-employed means that I don’t get things like state disability, worker’s comp, health or dental or vision insurance, or free term life, which most professionals in positions such as mine would be getting as riders to their salary. Additionally, David’s been dealing lately with a very unwell uncle who had no children and did not exactly make solid arrangements for his care, which is now becoming necessary as his health fails (being as he is in his upper 80s).

I’ve been working for over a month now with a broker to get myself fully insured like any normal full-time professional would be, as well as getting myself a good life insurance policy. My health, despite being an unmitigated glutton, is pretty good, and I now have a life policy and a disability policy and I’m working on a long-term-care policy for both myself and David. It’s rather expensive to obtain this type of piece of mind, and to any of you people who fail to take your employer’s benefits or feel you don’t need this kind of stuff at your age, we need to talk.

At my San Francisco client, I’m a manager of the benefits for the most part. One thing we changed at the beginning of this year when we switched benefit packages was that employees who did not sign up for anything would automatically be enrolled in our cheapest health plan (at no cost to them). A couple employees started veiled enquiries about why they couldn’t just take that compulsory compensation in cash (in so many words). Just goes to show how ‘invincible’ these young people feel.

You are not invincible. You have no wealth if you have no insurance.

Body Talk

Posted in Health on February 1st, 2007 by Дмитрий

As much as I don’t mind my extra padding, and as honest as I’m being when I say I’m happier with my body now than I ever have been, I’m not entirely healthy.

I have a family history of diabetes, and I’ve been having trouble keeping my blood pressure and blood lipids at a healthy level lately. I’ve made some pretty good changes to my diet in the past month or so, but I need to get out more and walk and stuff. If I drop 15 pounds (and keep it off, of course) most of these problems will disappear and I can count on being diabetes- and artery-clog-free for a few more decades (after which I’ll probably have to start dropping more pounds, I’m sure).

It’s either drop 25 pounds and lose my bear appeal or start using meds for my triglycerides and potentially be diabetic in 10 years. I’m sorry, I want to live too much longer for that. Basically, I need to dump some baggage if I want to feel safe in this sack of skin. It’s all I got, after all.

1 July 2009

Posted in Economics, Work on February 5th, 2007 by Дмитрий

That is the date I intend to have the means and motivation to move on from my current mode of earning a living.

It will be followed by a month-long cross-country road trip, after which I intend to reenter university to get my Econ on.

The necessary precursors to this goal are:

  • Have all debt at an interest rate in excess of my mortgage paid off entirely.
  • Have at least 6 months of cash living expenses in the bank.
  • David to have a job that can pay for our food and maybe for a few months of no-job me. 

There is of course the chance that my SF gig will dissipate earlier if they decide (as is their right with 90 days’ notice) that I am no longer a fit for the direction of the company. In that case the road trip and university plans would probably go on hold as I scrambled for local income to first get the above 3 goals achieved.

Either way, I have resolved to do it. Let’s get to it.

Taxes Taxes Taxes

Posted in Economics on February 12th, 2007 by Дмитрий

Well, I overestimated how much being a homeowner would help my tax bill, underestimated my travel expenses for work last year, and thus underestimated the estimated taxes I should have paid over the past year. I also failed completely to pay my NC estimated payments, which was just a stupid oversight for me and I deserve any penalties I am saddled with. Being an independent contractor sure is fun…

Basically what this all means is that I have until 15 April to pay more than a month of my income to the IRS. If I fail to do so, I start paying wonderful penalties and interest… Yay!

Of course, I wouldn’t give up this opportunity for anything: I think every American should spend some time being an independent contractor. You become much more aware of how much tax you pay when you actually have to write a check or pay it out of your pocket. When you get it ‘deducted’ from your net take-home paycheck, it’s just a figure on a check stub - after your first paycheck or two you budget around it. But when it’s something you pay quarterly and out of money you already have in the bank, it sure feels more real.

I’m definitely not saying I deserve to pay any less tax than anyone else - I’m only saying that maybe we’d all be a bit less passive about taxes, waste and bureaucracy if we were all experiencing the crush to taxes so directly…

States Payroll Lobbyists for Big Tobacco

Posted in Economics on February 15th, 2007 by Дмитрий

Well, not really, at least not yet. But there is this.

I think I posted a few years ago that taxing cigarettes so heavily was a big mistake for the states that were doing settlements with the tobacco companies. Sin taxes always work that way: You are ostensibly trying to discourage the sinfulness by making it more expensive, but that cash gets addictive to bureaucrats.

In California, whilst the property taxes have been some of the slowest-growing in the country, the state has repeatedly raised cigarette and tobacco taxes (and hydrocarbon taxes…). Every year or so a new measure is on the ballot asking voters to approve a raise in the tobacco tax in return for some treat like a freeway or a bridge or a school where their kids won’t get shot at as often. It’s all very cute to watch them pretend that tacking on a few more cents per pack is a viable method of revenue collection. Bureaucrats are always very good at deluding themselves.

This is one reason that many people argue that gas taxes should go only toward transit infrastructure: if a state becomes dependent upon a specific type of tax to keep up a revenue stream in its government’s general fund, it inevitably becomes an interest lobby for that particular form of consumption. In terms of gas taxes, if people stop using as much gas and the revenue stream dries up, the logic is that the infrastructure will take less of a beating and thus the funds won’t be needed as badly if that’s all the gas taxes pay for.

If tobacco taxes were being used only to fund anti-smoking campaigns or pay for health care for uninsured smokers, it might not be any more fair or rational a tax, but at least it would be logically utilized, under the assumption that if fewer smokers smoked, and thus less tax was collected, that the consequence would be less need for anti-smoking ads and fewer lung cancer patients in state-funded hospitals. That might be flawed logic to some extent, but at least it’s an attempt at logic.

The general way taxes on specific goods are managed, however, is to tack on special riders every now and then, until eventually most of the tax is essentially just contributing to the state’s general fund, and thus in order to balance the budget, the state must ensure that that good continues to be consumed.

I always wondered at what point the attrition of smokers would reach the threashold where tobacco-tax-dependent governments started to need more smokers and thus stopped insisting on anti-smoking campaigns and laws against public smoking, etc. Maybe that day is near?

What Does Marriage Mean?

Posted in Family on February 16th, 2007 by Дмитрий

It means sitting out all night in the rain to enjoy a bit of civil disobedience, only to find that the words you’re told to recite by a homo county supervisor are true, beautiful, and more meaningful today than ever before.

Thank you for sharing your life with me, baby.

“Urban” Putrid dot org

Posted in Charlotte, creative clASS on February 16th, 2007 by Дмитрий

This was a post I just made to a thread at “Urban” Planet - you know, that site which is mostly about the latest trends in high-rise downtown condo development and where Ikea will locate in Charlotte?

This post was pulled and I was banned, which I totally expected, because that’s what the faggy board owner does with anyone that doesn’t (literally) lick his ass, so I’m preserving it here. Needless to say, we shan’t be returning. Anyone want to join a new group here for those who love real cities that were built before 1990 and actually have poor people and low-rise buildings in them?

[QUOTE(metro.m @ Feb 15 2007, 08:36 PM)
I can understand that because your justification that Bank of America should be able to offer cards to Illegals because Gay sex was once unconstitutionally considered illegal is one of the most ridiculous things that I have ever seen posted on this forum.] Emplasis Mine

Of course, it IS amusing that the sodomite owner of this board is one of the few complaining about illegal immigrants. How the tables have turned in this country… Mr Metro: please remember that CAN was twice reviewed by other supreme courts and found perfectly constitutional. Law is only what the mob deems in its interest at the time. Better watch your back when I’m in charge of that mob.

But then, this forum is less about urbanism and urban theory than about the latest condo trends and preppy metrosexual posing, in a theme park where there’s a bar on every corner, an Ikea below every loft, and no inconvenient poor or brown people cluttering up the neighborhood. Sorry, my fat, sober, low-rise-loving homo ass forgot.

No wonder this is the first post I’ve made here in years… And only because my partner, OtherStream, was so putrified by this thread. Enjoy your bland, tall, class-segregated utopias, guys. I want nothing to do with them.

Global Smarming

Posted in Economics, Rants on March 1st, 2007 by Дмитрий

Good ole Al Gore. He’s back in the spotlight - now as a film producer rather than a smarmy politico. He’s making us quake in our boots about the horrible things we are doing to this floating wet rock we call home. He’s assuring us that all we have to do to stop it is give up our freedom, radically change everything about our lifestyles, and turn our decision-making over to scientists who have produced no results, only theories.

Global warming will flood your pretty city. Scientists (mostly employed by the government) are sure of it. Anyone who denies the existence of global warming is obviously a tool in a massive global capitalist industrial conspiracy to kill all mankind. The world is doomed unless we do as we are told and give up all that we have learned are the goods of a productive and enjoyable life. That’s all it takes.

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Bag People

Posted in Economics on March 15th, 2007 by Дмитрий

Ikea is going to start charging for plastic bags and San Francisco has been trying for years to tax the use of bags or otherwise control their use in the city.

The goal is ostensibly to ‘help the environment’ but that’s utter and complete bull. Aldi and Costco and Sam’s Club have had a no-bags-provided policy for years, and their reason is not about the green of trees but the green of dollars: they know they can increase their profit margins by reducing both the overhead of having this free customer service and in the case of many stores, this change has gone hand-in-hand with a ‘bag your own’ policy, which saves labor costs.

I have no problem with cutting services to cut costs. Ikea has a harder time justifying it and thus a harder time being honest about trying to boost margins, since it’s a private company. But please - companies seeking to boost margins and governments seeking to boost revenues through new taxes are not fooling anybody. This is no different than the “sin taxes” that get repeatedly tacked onto cigarettes and which many governments are starting to dubiously tack onto things like gas or fast food. It’s a money grab, and a company that spends as much money on fossil fuels to ship boatloads of flat-pack furniture across the Pacific and Indian oceans should know better than to try to paint themselves green, or to imagine anyone really cares (or even notices) about the reason their funcky-cheap-do-dad bill just went up by 25 cents.

I Was a Teenage Slash-Fic Writer

Posted in About Me on March 19th, 2007 by Дмитрий

Years before Poppy wrote her Lennon-McCartney slashfic novella, I was in 12-grade English class as an 11th-grader set to graduate a year early.

I don’t think I would have made it through that class without having had a smooshy granola teacher whom Andrea and I referred to as “Bitch Taylor”. She was a totally annoying teacher, but she encouraged and tolerated my queerness to an unusual degree in the quite conservative school I spent those years at.

One story I wrote, which I dug up some reminders of last weekend, was a slash fic piece I wrote based on the rise and demise of Joy Division. I basically renamed the members and made their timeline a story about the love affair between Ian “John” Curtis and Bernard “Mike” Sumner, with the balance of the band, Steven “Stev” Morris, Gillian “Susan” Gilbert and Peter “Greg” Hook providing a supporting cast that saw the roller-coaster creative couple through their affair and to the death of the singer.

I did this type of slash fic a lot that year. Luckily Bitch Taylor was so out of it with youth pop culture that she didn’t notice (not to mention not noticing things like Andrea turning in The Smiths’ “This Charming Man” as a poem or my closing every poetry book project with a Siouxsie and the Banshees song).

Death Isn’t My Thing

Posted in About Me on March 26th, 2007 by Дмитрий

I hate funerals. As I’ve said before, I find death totally wrong and unnecessary, and I hate the fact that our culture tends to ‘celebrate’ it with various rituals. A good quote I came across recently sums up the practice quite well:

“I do not find it respectful or dignified to allow someone to rot and talk about how wonderfully natural it is. For most, rotting is unavoidable and a dignified (and hygenic) burial is the only option, but to pretend it’s a good thing rather than the ultimate downside of the human condition is greatly disrespectful to the suffering it causes.”

I was 14 when I vocally objected to attending a funeral for the first time. People couldn’t quite understand why a black-swabbed gothlet didn’t want to go to a funeral. In any case, they thought it was a one-time thing. It was an uncle who had babysat me as an infant and was one of my closest and most loving relatives. I simply felt that a ‘celebration’ of his death was not appropriate. I felt that any affection I had for him was now rendered worthless and there really was no reason for me to go.

Several years later I went through this again. It wasn’t until a couple years ago that I consciously decided to give up on funerals altogether. I don’t want to go to them, even for very close relatives.

My Thoughts are With You, Faye

Posted in Uncategorized on March 30th, 2007 by Дмитрий

In 10th grade, Andrea had a foreign exchange student staying with her from England. She came to school with Andrea and was in the classes we had together for quite some time. We developed this passive-aggressive juvenile exchange while she was in town, because we were young, I had a thing for British anything and she had a thing for me. It was cute, looking back, especially all the drama we seemed to dredge up between ourselves over such a brief and insignificant meeting.

After Faye returned to England, we wrote to each other a lot. We exchanged pictures, called each other on the phone, and talked in veiled terms about one day meeting up again. Of course, our lives were on totally different paths and such a thing was very unlikely. But I still managed to bleat out 3-4 page letters to her every few weeks and she managed to call me every Christmas, every birthday, and the occasional other day all the way til around 1999. I knew she was in training for a military career and I was preparing for a quiet life of Homo domesticus. The last time I talked to her was when she called me for Christmas in 1998 or 1999. I didn’t think much of it. Friends and acquaintances always slip away - that’s life.

Then I saw her picture in the paper today. She’s being held in Iran as a political tool in the never-ending prick-waving which is international relations. This whole episode has smelled to me since the beginning: prick-waving between the biggest terrorist state on Earth (but also the most pivotal state in the future of the Middle East) versus: 1) a Britain that is about to have a political succession and probably soon after an election and 2) an America facing a sea-change in public opinion about its role in the world. I smell a rat. The bad kind of rat.

It’s sad they have to play with real human lives when they play these games. Doesn’t that concept mean anything to these religious fanatics (on both sides)?

The Packrat Versus the Archivist

Posted in About Me, Geekdom, Rants on April 1st, 2007 by Дмитрий

My mother in-law is a Pack Rat. She goes to yard sales, swap meets, closeouts and random stores and just buys stuff - everything: dishes, books, gadgets, containers, furniture, doo-dads, whatever - everything.

Sometimes she convinces herself that she needs it for her home or life, sometimes she convinces herself she will give it as a gift. But more than likely it will end up in her closet or shed in a box and never look at it or use it. Or she might ask David and I if we need it, even if it’s something totally inappropriate, like lace curtains or a 20-year-old deep fryer.

This is the pack rat. I am often accused of having pack rat tendencies. David is too. This is because we both enjoy accumulating things. We exhibit what most psychologists call the ‘antisocial behavior’ of collecting stuff. Stuff we don’t tend to ‘use’.

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Doctors We Don’t Hate

Posted in Fresno, Health on April 16th, 2007 by Дмитрий

The biggest single thing I miss about my hometown of Fresno, CA was my doctor. He was great: He was older (50s when I first started going to him), but very smart and up-to-date on all the latest medical journals, research AND pop-culture trends. He was really down-to earth and straight-talking. He wasn’t “directive”-based in his communication with you (eg, he didn’t just shoot off instructions and expect you to follow them unquestioningly), but he was also not a hand-holder, in the sense that if you were fat or doing stupid things, he would say so.

He was of a special breed: he did not accept any insurance plans but some insurers would reimburse a little to you if you filed claims for his bills yourself (provided you had a PPO or similar plan). Many people find this distasteful, but it meant he was not beholden to insurance company bureaucratic red tape, such as charge-per-visit copays, maximum visit duration, maximum exam frequencies, etc. He made sure all his patients had a 2-hour physical every 18 months, during which he would give you the full physical exam, in addition to lab work and EKG, then sit down with you and rattle off questions for up to a half hour about your lifestyle and behaviors. Most insurance companies don’t allow physicals to be more than 60-minutes of billable time. He could also do things like take a call directly with you (rather than just delegating this to his nurse or assistant) and if you spent 10-15 minutes discussing the funny red spot, he would either reccommend you come in, and get his money for the call that way, or tell you what to do and send a 18.00 bill for the call.

This, to me, resulted in a unique familiarity with my health that I don’t feel I’ve had in more than 5 years now. I have had very few health problems, but I never quite know how well I am. I got some life insurance late last year and was actually surprised when I got the preferred rate after my physical with them.

In any case, now I’m once again moved to a new home, and once again have another physician who I feel I’m meeting for the first time every time I go in. He has to look at the chart before greeting me to see what my name is, and when I call asking to talk to someone I’m told to come in so they can bill my insurance company for a visit in order to make talking to me worthwhile.

Does anyone know of any good online directories for physicians that accept patients without being beholden to insurance company rules or that will accept patients who want to pay cash for office visits? Maybe even a doctor who stays up-to-date on things like supplements and nutrition and such, but who won’t flinch at prescribing statins or chemo when warranted? If that was wrapped up in a doctor who would also not flinch at talk of butt-sex or boy-sex and could reccommend the best lubes and rubbers and toys, I’d finally feel that I had a doc as good as my old Fresno doctor. Alas…

Live From the Hills O’er Blacksburg…

Posted in Americana on April 17th, 2007 by Дмитрий

“…And the President told reporters that, while he is against killing people, he’s scared to say anything bad about guns for fear that Charlton Heston will shoot his ass up. Back to you, Kevin.”

Some Thoughts…

Posted in Americana, Economics on April 18th, 2007 by Дмитрий

…On the ‘Revelations’ coming out of Blacksburg…

What is it with these people having so many friends in college? I don’t think I made a single ‘friend’ in college - it’s not like high school where you get classes with people in your neighborhood and have scheduled class breaks and lunches where you’re forced to socialize. In college, you are on a campus full of people with different schedules who live all over the region and most people have jobs that soak up their non-class time. Who are these post-high-school social butterflies?

On top of that, what is it with this loser who thinks that because he doesn’t have any friends but his preppy classmates do that he’s somehow being excluded? Get a job, get a life. A social life is best left behind in high school, or you can wait til after you graduate from college when you have time to party and imbibe before the crush of debt and miscellaneous biological clocks drives you into responsible adulthood. Don’t blame still-stuck-in-high-school-mentality preppies for your lack of friends - that’s what college is about: class, low-paying jobs, and resenting every minute of it. I see no excuse for shooting up a few classes because of this.

Finally, is this going to be another witch-hunt for the loner student with no friends who writes sp00ky stories? Pardon me, but isn’t this also a high school type reaction? Can’t adults handle a few sp00ky stories, even a bit of g0re? If you’re too busy scrimping together cash to move out of your parents’ house and finish that degree before you’re 25, are you allowed to NOT be “outgoing” and “involved”?

Jane Jacobs talked once about how college had become the new high school, in that employers expect candidates to have a degree now, regardless of what field and usually regardless of that field’s relation to the degree - it’s about credentialing rather than training. She should have added that this has not only resulted in the fall of the learned professions, but the continuation of juvenile traditions, such as popularity contests, beauty pageants and clique-building from high school and into college. You just get to add alcohol to the mix.

Apple’s “Cool”. Ew.

Posted in Mac, creative clASS on April 27th, 2007 by Дмитрий

I am seriously considering switching over to all-Windows products. Why?

Because this never-ending, annoying marketing campaign by Apple has convinced me that if I keep using Apple products I’ll turn into a gross metrosexual hipster who doesn’t know how to use a spreadsheet.

How do these hipsters afford their expensive Mac do-dads when they can’t even stomach doing anything but playing with photos and mp3 files? Since when did Apple become the frontman for denigrating productive, knowledgeable people as too uncool for their products?

Push-Button Rock-n-Roll

Posted in Music on May 16th, 2007 by Дмитрий

Thank you New Order, for showing us, in “The Perfect Kiss”, that electro-pop-rock can be done live, no matter how bored you might have looked.

Thank you, Nine Inch Nails, for showing us, in “The Hand that Feeds”, that “live” electro-pop-rock can be just as convincing when done in synch rather than actually “live”.

Thank you both for proving that push-button rock-n-roll can actually be exciting, and that you don’t have to pretend there’s nothing but macho axe-grinders behind every squeal in the speakers…


Posted in Travel on June 16th, 2007 by Дмитрий

I hate flying. It’s a pity I have to do so friggin’ much of it if I want to keep my job. The past couple years have led me to have serious reservations about my ambition to travel to such places as London, Eastern Europe, and the Far North.

But I hate flying. Well, not so much flying, but I hate airlines, I hate the the waiting, the cramped quarters, the cost, the dry skin and general icky feeling after getting off a long journey, the sore limbs, the long delays and missed connections, the bad customer service and huge catalogue of excuses so quickly on-call from every airline service representative. I hate the fact that *most* flights are more than an hour off schedule, no matter what airline, where you’re going, or what time of day it is. I hate the fact that racking up 200k in frequent flyer miles over the past two years means nothing to the airline other than a couple free flights, which will also be cramped, late, and stinky. I particularly hate the fact that these experiences are all reflective of what is probably one of the better domestic carriers in the industry today…

The saddest thing is that the US Government is conspiring with the airlines to keep the skies miserable over America. Foreign carriers are prohibited from serving domestic routes, and thus domestic carriers have limited competition on either rates or service. It’s not going to change. Even if there is no collusion on prices, it’s like any other industry: start-up costs for a full-service airline are so high that all the existing carriers can safely assume that they are their only competition. They can set their rates a little higher each month as long as seats stay fairly full, and know full well that their peers will do the same.

I hate flying. A lot. I truly long for the day that I can replace this degree of air travel with nice, cushy road trips, in a spacious auto in which I’m in complete control: as many snacks on board as I want, climate control I control, stop-offs every half hour or every small town, and the choice to take the low-road and actually see what’s going by. Even a train ride is magnitudes better: more room, better food, big windows, cheap fare.

Flying’s great if you want to see the country, but it’s pretty sucky if you want any choice about seeing anything but the whole country from 6 miles away, or if you have any desire to enjoy yourself whilst doing it…

Queer by Choice

Posted in About Me, Get In My Head, Sods on June 25th, 2007 by Дмитрий

I often catch some flak from other queers when I talk about the fact that I chose my sexuality. Or rather, I feel that my sexuality is under my control.

This is not an arbitrary political statement. Rather, I don’t see that the idea of a biologically-determined sexual preference is possible or desirable. Rather, I think that the nature of desire is based on “sexual crystallization” - that time from about infanthood to early adulthood when one is learning about the world and about one’s body and how the two relate.

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Did WXII Really Just Post This?

Posted in Fucking Moron on July 19th, 2007 by Дмитрий

Near Drowning At Bolton Pool

Local lifeguards saved a toddler’s life ad authorities said that he child’s gradmother was no where to be foud. Pool officials are appealing to parents to never leave children tha young at a pool withouth adult supervision. Margaret Johnson has the story.

…Maybe faulty keyboard? I hope? 

Ready for Another Flight

Posted in About Me, Family, Friends on August 6th, 2007 by Дмитрий

I always complain and bitch here because that’s what I do, but I thought I’d spend this entry affirming that I do indeed have lots going for me and I’m not always unhappy despite the tone of this journal most of the time:

  • I have such cool friends. Especially now that so many of them work in porn
  • Despite how much I bitch about the place, I did enjoy my year in Charlotte, and it’s still a great city to have close by - without it, The Cure would’ve been much pricier a proposition next month.
  • I have the coolest house. I have about 3 gallons of preserved tomatoes in the freezer from this year’s (so far) harvest.
  • The hot weather will have ‘peaked’ by the time I get back from SF in two weeks, and I’ll be able to look forward to the first substantial time in Fall that I get to spend on the east side of the country. Mmmm… Fall colors…
  • I’m in tremendous health and I’m getting David to be healthier with me. I can count on all these good things lasting a long time.

My goals for August:

  • Do a din din with the Charlotte gang
  • Buy some new house stuff
  • Find someone in San Francisco who is up for a din din between tomorrow and the 18th
  • Find someone in San Francisco who is up early enough to do breakfast sometime soon


Posted in Economics, Home, San Francisco, Winston Salem on August 10th, 2007 by Дмитрий

This is a great tool which seems to get to the heart of what I journaled about a while back: how well does your ‘hood walk?

 The results? What I expected. My neighborhood in SF got an 85 (out of 100) and my neighborhood in Winston got a 48. I’m actually surprised my neighborhood in WS got so high a score. But then, I never much planned to be able to walk farther than my yard - thus my desire to grow ever more abundant foodstuffs on my property…

I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing…

Posted in Canadophilia on August 11th, 2007 by Дмитрий

I watched it again on the train ride to my sister’s today. It is a truly heart-warming movie. I first saw it many years ago and it’s remained one of my favorites ever since. I’m thoroughly convinced that it has played a larger part in my longing to live in Toronto than even my trip there last fall.

Ah, beautiful Toronto.

I guess I shouldn’t be so smitten for something so unattainable. My relationship with Toronto has become akin to an infatuation with a rock star: the fantasy won’t go away despite the absurdity of the reality…

Labor Unions Kill

Posted in Economics on August 15th, 2007 by Дмитрий

Proof that labor unions kill people.

Really, with the type of advanced GPS, computers and robotics technologies out there, would human beings still be working in mines if not for those wonderful “job security” protecting watchdogs?

If someone offered me a job where I was sent thousands of feet into a mountainside to blow up rocks inside said mountain, I would tell them to go to hell. I don’t care if it’s union wages. If I was really desperate to get a six-figure salary despite the lack of a high school education, I’d become a pirate or a gangster. It’s safer.

Foreign Journeys

Posted in Travel on August 18th, 2007 by Дмитрий

Whilst I’d like to see everywhere, there are 5 cities outside of the US and Canada that I absolutely have to visit one day:

  1. Singapore
  2. Moscow
  3. London
  4. BudaPest
  5. Munich

I really want to spend some time in Latin America one day, and I’d love to visit Australia and New Zealand and the Nordic countries, but in terms of specific cities that I crave to visit, these are the places I’d choose if I were going abroad before I’d try a big tour of any kind…

In any case, they’ll have to invent some way other than flying to get there economically before I go, anyway.

The Cure

Posted in Music on August 24th, 2007 by Дмитрий

Great, another ranty “In Your Face” album from The Cure. And to think they are screwing up an entire tour for the sake of it… Ugh…

After which Album did The Cure/Robert Smith start universally sucking on record?

Don’t get me wrong: I love The Cure. They were my first really big favorite band and I still collect their records (and will continue to buy the swill they churn out), but I thought 2004’s The Cure was absolute crap - it was no different than the paint-by-numbers alternacrap on every white-teen-to-twentysomething Clear Channel station today, like Robert Smith woke up one morning and said “I want to make Blink 182 sound edgy!”

Maybe I’m just an old-timer. But then, when Wish came out, I loved it even at that time and still love it now, and despite the fact that so many long-time fans abandoned The Cure for “selling out” with that record. However, when Wild Mood Swings came out, I hated it, though I’ve grown to like it years later - the important thing here being that it was the first Cure album that I didn’t totally fall in love with and stay in love with since I’d started listening to the cure and being a hard-core fan in 5th grade (really!). Everything since Wild Mood Swings (with the exception of a certain song here and there) I’ve not liked when it came out and not grown to like since. It’s sad really.

But the same risible guy is behind it all, and the fact that he’s still out there touring and playing all the old songs I love is enough to garner my timeless support.

Bank of America

Posted in Economics on September 13th, 2007 by Дмитрий

I’m not going to really complain about a bank that wants to gauge non-members with ATM fees. If one finds one needs to often use a certain bank’s ATMs, or finds that one’s own bank has insufficient ATMs in one’s area, one needs to switch banks. Being someone who travels often, I also don’t see spending a few bucks here and there in order to access cash as needed as too big a deal. Charge whatcha want - if I banked at BofA I’d assume this meant that they’re looking out for their members and trying to encourage growth in those numbers.

But as a shareholder, I would be a little freaked at being an industry leader in fees. With the withering of loan income, banks are relying more and more on fees to support their profits. That’s a real scary pattern, since the fees that banks are most likely to levy are those which are basically volitional for members or nonmembers: you can avoid fees by behaving slightly differently. It’s rare that banks raise nonvolitional fees such as maintenance fees and per-check charges on members, since this would encourage attrition. So making fee hikes a fundamental part of one’s business model doesn’t see entirely reliable a guarantor of growth or profitability.

We’ll see, I guess.

Fuck Art.

Posted in Geekdom, creative clASS on September 18th, 2007 by Дмитрий

For the record, I’d like to state that I hate anything which has ever been referred to as “The Arts”.

“Art” is something you buy. A museum is the showroom for the gift shop at the end of the tour. “Art” is not something with intrinsic value to be lauded and subsidized and revered beyond its productive and marketable profitability. It’s a product like any other. Those who say otherwise are either part of its lobby (and thus probably dependent upon the constant drip of tax dollars funneled to their particular fetish), or simply hate their own occupation or have some unrequited sense of worthlessness in their own life that they use art to fill.

I think that I was especially offended by this PSA Campaign just because I think of myself as one of the more liberal and sensitive types around when it comes to tolerating what others choose to admire or create in their lives. But I’m also a business analyst and number-cruncher by profession, and an urban planning and suburban gardening fetishist by avocation; and this campaign seems to say that what I’ve chosen to do with my life is a waste, and the only way to redeem myself is to solicit those fields which give me no enjoyment or pleasure (which seems oddly to be the only shared trait all things they call “the arts” have in common).

I just don’t see how such a group can be seen by anyone as anything but self-righteous elitists - yet they seem to be saying that they have the moral high ground, because they think “art” (meaning, essentially, performance and low-tech media art) is somehow objectively better than other vocations. Personally, when I see a clean, well-balanced Income Statement, an intricately detailed Execl spreadsheet, a well-thought-out database, a balanced and functional streetscape, or a productively diverse garden; I think of it as very artful - the person who manages that project must be talented in their craft.

Who are they to tell me that my delight in managing money and playing with maps is any less valuable than their enjoyment of watching people dance or sing or paint?

Most-Played Discs of 2007 (So Far)

Posted in Music on September 24th, 2007 by Дмитрий

  • Tracey Thorn: Out of the Woods
  • Siouxsie: Mantaray
  • Faith & the Muse: The Burning Season
  • Interpol: Antics
  • Beth Gibbons & Rustin man: Out of Season
  • A Perfect Circle: Thirteenth Step
  • This Will Destroy You: Young Mountain
  • Soundtrack to The Last Unicorn
  • Team Sleep
  • Milk for the Morning Cake: Winter Formal
  • Russian Circles: Enter

Make of it what you will. I’m thinking mix CDs will accompany this year’s Xmas cards.


Posted in Uncategorized on October 20th, 2007 by Дмитрий

So I tried going to Quickly for the first time.

Needless to say it was not a good first impression. They had a very big, long menu of a variety of Asian-inspired fast foods. But…

…They were OUT OF RICE. Yes, go ahead and make your dramatic double-take on that. This massively expanding new ASIAN FAST FOOD joint was OUT OF RICE on a Saturday afternoon.

Isn’t rice something that’s pretty readily available and quick to make? And even so, shouldn’t an Asian fast food joint which sells just about every box takeout meal with a rice side NOT be running out of such a staple?

I just can’t decide if I want to try them again anytime soon. I ended up walking 10 feet and getting a takeout box from one of the other gazillion Asian diners on the same block. At least THEY had rice…

Seriously - what are they thinking?

Your Health Is Your Life… Or Else.

Posted in Economics, Health, Rants on November 10th, 2007 by Дмитрий

I have often tried to do a comprehensive essay about my opinions on universal, single-payer health care proposals. Unfortunately, when addressing a general audience, I am likely to come off as a right-wing kook screaming about the downfall of American society. The fact is, like any welfare option, I simply dislike the idea of helping others, especially in an area of my life which I feel has required lots of work and direction on my part to get to a point that I feel secure about my own health. Therefore, what I give you here is more a disjointed rambling - I welcome comments to pull it together, but since I’m not trying to be persuasive as much as merely argumentative, this is the best I can do for now.

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San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency

Posted in Bad Design, San Francisco on November 17th, 2007 by Дмитрий

Muni, why does your tech have to suck so bad after 20 years in the heart of the tech industry?

Muni is trying to pretend that it’s becoming more customer-centric and friendly (and “cutting edge”).

So I try to buy my pass online (actually, I’ve been doing it for the past 3 months). I can do this, as long as I have it shipped to work. That’s a problem, since I arrive in SF after passes stop being sold for the month. So I have to pay for the first bus ride to work (assuming I arrive on a work day) to get my pass.

You see, their website (despite having standard eCommerce templates with 50-state drop-down menus) restricts purchasing to Northern CA zip codes. So I have to give my work address in order to get a pass at all. Strangely, they DO allow the credit card billing address to be out-of state and different from the mailing address, so they are OK with fraud, as long as it’s someone in SF stealing a CC from someone outside CA. But they’re too lazy to modify their eCommerce template to only display CA on the state list.

Muni agents have repeatedly told me I could purchase passes and have then sent to NC after I explain my situation. Apparently they don’t give much training to these agents. Three months now and I’m surprised if I’m the only one this has inconvenienced.

This is also not friendly to tourists or visitors who want to pre-purchase a pass. This restriction baffles me and is totally inconvenient.

Of course, when I use their “questions about the website” form to send them this feedback, they apparently don’t accept comments from people with “@” in their email addresses.

Dollar Distress?

Posted in Economics on November 26th, 2007 by Дмитрий

I’m not all that concerned with the Dollar’s fall. It’s been pretty steady and uneventful so far. Despite the combo of a looser dollar, higher fuel prices and further monocropping of US agribusiness, inflation’s remained fairly tame. The lower dollar might encourage more foreigners to visit the US after the post-9/11 drops, and cheaper dollars should help US companies, especially service companies like mine.

I have only two complaints on how it’s affected me personally:

First, I buy lots of stuff on Ebay, and due to my preference for prolific British post-punk bands, I’m paying a whole lot more for my favorite media.

Second, I wanted to take another trip to Toronto in the new year, but it turns out it will be cheaper for us to go to New York. Go figure.

The Seller Doth Protest Too Much Methinks

Posted in Geekdom on November 29th, 2007 by Дмитрий

This Listing is an example of a seller I would probably not buy from even if I needed the item. The bold and over-aggro warning at the top of the message has already convinced my 99% positive buyer-self that I’ll probably have some sort of bad experience with this seller - they seem very angry with the world and upset that they have to deal with buyers in the first place.

Hint: if your bold-faced disclaimer-like preamble is more roomy than your item description, you probably shouldn’t be selling on eBay. If you’ve had so many problems with buyers and transactions that you feel you need to put these sorts of aggressive and wordy notations at the start of your listing, the problem probably isn’t buyers, it’s probably you.

The Case for Restraint

Posted in Americana on December 12th, 2007 by Дмитрий

As I continue to hear about my government’s ongoing fight for its right to unwarranted surveillance, waterboarding of untried suspects, and itchy trigger fingers pointed at Persia, Russia, China and who knows where else, I keep remembering a quote I read several months ago:

Human rights are part of what it means to be civilised. Locking up suspected terrorists—and why not potential murderers, rapists and paedophiles, too?—before they commit crimes would probably make society safer. Dozens of plots may have been foiled and thousands of lives saved as a result of some of the unsavoury practices now being employed in the name of fighting terrorism. Dropping such practices in order to preserve freedom may cost many lives. So be it.

Alcohol, Socialization and Me

Posted in About Me, Friends, Get In My Head on December 16th, 2007 by Дмитрий

I’ve never been very social. In elementary school, I was a total outcast – listening to The Cure and Siouxsie and the Banshees when LL Cool J and New Kids on the Block were all 10-year-olds were allowed to like. Imagining worlds all my own at recess where I could do whatever I wanted, whilst all the other kids mocked me from their positions in carefully orchestrated, structured group play. My own intense desire not to be different in this way made me feel like even more of an outcast than my middle-class WASP peer group actually revealed.

By middle school, I was a bully magnet. I got picked on so often by so many of my peers – physically and emotionally – that I was thoroughly, persistently miserable. By 10th grade, as I started rebelling against my parents, I found myself a few fellow rebellious outcasts with whom to share my free time at school, but they weren’t very close (though at the time, being my only friends, they felt like the most important people in the world to me), and I never saw them outside of school. Once I graduated, I only saw them occasionally and casually, and never really again as friends, with the sole exception of a select few with whom I clung to despite cracks in the makeup for a couple years.

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