Monthly Archives: October 2006

Back to Ballet

The usual Saturday morning, with yoga at Tranquil Space. On the drive there I see a woman, hailing a cab at Eleventh and Mass, who looks like the new temp in the Education & Training department at work. A cab next to us makes a really crazy move to get to her, making at least two and maybe three illegal turns.

Later, after lunch, we pack up the car for the demi-annual household hazardous waste collection. I go up Fifteenth, confusedly thinking I’m going to Bladensburg or Brentwood Road, when in fact we’re going to Benning Road. Luckily we have to actually cross Benning Road, at which time Dawn reels me back from the abyss and sets me in the right direction.

We have the address of the transfer station where we’re going, but even better there are lots of signs on the way for the collection today. We turn in and join a long line of cars waiting. We’ve been listening like the last week or two to some classical CD of Dawn’s, and we finally tire of it and I pop in one of mine. One of my all-time favorites, the Housmartins The People Who Grinned Themselves to Death. Dawn doesn’t like it so much.

We have only paint and varnish and oily rags and the like, but we see they’re also collecting electronics. We see a man whom we only know as Tiger’s Dad dropping off some computers. We wave at him but he doesn’t recognize us, is only crabby so that we don’t cut in front of him.

Back home we pick up and clean and vacuum and all that,getting ready for dinner. Becky’s coming over. I don’t so much like doing house chores, but I sure do love the house when it’s all sparkly clean.

Then we’re off to the Kennedy Center for the Washington Ballet. First up is a piece called In the Night by Jerome Robbins, music by Chopin. I think it’s wonderful. Next is something called oui/non. It’s choreographed by Washington Ballet’s Artistic Director Septime Weber. And that’s the good news. The music is Karen Akers singing Edith Piaf. The best that can be said is that it’s live music, that Karen Akers is actually up there on stage singing. I always prefer actual live music to recordings. And hey, who doesn’t love Edit Piaf, right?

At intermission we see Dr. Claudia from St. Matt’s. We joke about Jason Hartley hurling himself around on stage.

Last up is In the Upper Room, which I positively hate. I hate the music, by Phillip Glass, and I hate even more the choreography, by Twyla Tharp. It’s all modern jogging around.

But, still, Erin Mahoney is so very tall, and I really like Elizabeth Gaither, despite Dawn’s complaints about her gawky floppy hands. And that Luis Torres is one strong man, able to toss Brianne Bland like way high in the air. Dawn moons over guest artist Sean Stewart.

ASH Kickers v. A-Bomb Kids

I get stuck at work and don’t make it to the game until 6:20 p.m., twenty minutes after start time. I hope there were enough guys there to field a team without me, without having to forfeit.

Turns out the A-Bomb Kids had only seven players show, so they were the ones to forfeit. But the teams are playing anyway, just for fun, scrimmage. It does seem a smidgen unfair that we field the full complement of eleven against them, while they’ve only got seven. But we’re not like that good either, so we need all hands we can get.

I jump in and play catcher and emcee for one half inning, then am the first up to kick on offense when that’s over and we change. I kick the first ball high into right field, and it’s promptly caught. And surprisingly that ends the game. Apparently the scrimmage agreement was to play only until six-thirty.

And that ends our season as well. Our record of 3-9-1 puts us fourteenth out of the sixteen teams in our division.

Well, I was on the math team in high school

For no good reason, the article of the day in Wikipedia today is about 0.999…, meaning a zero followed by a decimal point followed by an infinite series of nines. So far so good, as we’re all used to seeing, for example, one-third represented by both a fraction (e.g., 1/3) and as a similar decimally notated number (e.g., 0.333…) or some other representation, like having a bar over the last three.

But the point of the article is not to simply note that such a recurring decimal exists, but rather to also say that it is equal to one. As in:

0.999… = 1

Not that they’re just similar, or like really really close. No, not just that. But that they are in fact absolutely equal. They are two ways of representing the same number.

So at first I’m amused by such a silly notion. Then I’m a little distressed when they offer a number of mathematical proofs. (The simplest of which is starting with that 1/3 = 0.333… and then multiplying both sides by 3. Gets you there, don’t it?) So then I actually start to get slightly pissed off about it.

The article goes on to discuss the stress that math students feel about this particular concept and its proofs, so I’m not unique or anything in my reactions. But still, it’s like the stages of grief, you know, having to deal with this new fact that I really could’ve done without knowing.

And so then the only thing to do now is to burden you with it.


(And yet I’m still hoping that this is some sort of MIT or CalTech version of an April Fool’s joke.)

Dawn and I are walking up Mass Ave in the morning, walking to work. At some point we’re talking about tall and short or something about height anyway, and Dawn mentions that, compared to me, she’s closer to the ground.

It makes me think of, and so I immediately start singing to her, the wonderful song Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground. It was written by Willie Nelson, but I’ve never actually heard any version that he’s done. I know the Bob Dylan version. I think it was a b-side of some single in the early to mid eighties. I had a 7-inch of it, and I must have played it to death in my room that I rented in Fairfax when I was going to George Mason University. I think it was 1985.

And I had it around the time that Francois Truffaut died. It always makes me think of him. And the single that I had was misprinted, or erroneous, in that it listed the songwriting credit as Dylan himself, rather than Willie Nelson.

(Some Googling shows that Truffaut died in October of 1984. Harder to track down the song. Probably the b-side to Union Sundown, and a European release apparently. Most likely I bought it at Yesterday and Today Records in Rockville, to which we made frequent pilgrimages in those days.)

A Stirring Time for People That Have Wished to Have Powerful Self-Reliant Defence Capability One-Hundred Percent

It’s a really scary world out there with a nuclear North Korea. So we look for silver linings where we can. On that note, who can resist their news releases, with their endearingly screwy English syntax?

DPRK Successfully Conducts Underground Nuclear Test

Pyongyang, October 9 (KCNA) — The Korean Central News Agency released the following report: The field of scientific research in the DPRK successfully conducted an underground nuclear test under secure conditions on October 9, Juche 95 (2006) at a stirring time when all the people of the country are making a great leap forward in the building of a great prosperous powerful socialist nation.
It has been confirmed that there was no such danger as radioactive emission in the course of the nuclear test as it was carried out under a scientific consideration and careful calculation.
The nuclear test was conducted with indigenous wisdom and technology 100 percent. It marks a historic event as it greatly encouraged and pleased the KPA and people that have wished to have powerful self-reliant defence capability.
It will contribute to defending the peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in the area around it.

I dreamed we were there

Harper’s whole monologue:

Night flight to San Francisco; chase the moon across America. God, it’s been years since I was on a plane. When we hit 35,000 feet we’ll have reached the tropopause, the great belt of calm air, as close as I’ll ever get to the ozone.

I dreamed we were there. The plane leapt the tropopause, the safe air, and attained the outer rim, the ozone, which was ragged and torn, patches of it threadbare as old cheesecloth, and that was frightening. But I saw something that only I could see because of my astonishing ability to see such things: Souls were rising, from the earth far below, souls of the dead, of people who had perished, from famine, from war, from the plague, and they floated up, like skydivers in reverse, limbs all akimbo, wheeling and spinning. And the souls of these departed joined hands, clasped ankles, and formed a web, a great net of souls, and the souls were three-atom oxygen molecules of the stuff of ozone, and the outer rim absorbed them and was repaired.

Nothing’s lost forever. In this world, there’s a kind of painful progress. Longing for what we’ve left behind, and dreaming ahead. At least I think that’s so.