Archive for November, 2006

100 most influential Americans?

November 28, 2006

The Atlantic Monthly has posted a list of the 100 Americans who a panel of historians consider to be the most influential in American history.

I suggested adding five people to the list:

I also noted five people I thought could be removed:

  • Stephen Foster
  • Herman Melville
  • Samuel Goldwyn
  • Alexander Graham Bell (someone else was about to invent the telephone)
  • The Wright Brothers (someone else would have invented the airplane)

Farewell to Tower

November 27, 2006

I’m numb at the news that Tower Records is going out of business.

When I was in high school, the first thing I would do with each weekly paycheck was spend part of it at Tower Records in Concord. I still have 12-inch singles with 1986 Tower price tags on them.

Later, while taking a year off from college, I worked for seven months at Tower Books, the sister store of that Tower Records.

The bookstore in Concord closed years ago. Now the music store will be gone soon as well. That whole vibrant culture I loved — the myriad bins of albums and singles; the excitement of finding almost any piece of music I knew to look for; the smart, cynical staff; the colored foamcore band promos; the yellow-and-red bags — all gone.

I wonder where Liane is now…


November 22, 2006

I have been out of town visiting parents for 12 of the last 14 days, first on the Big Island and then on Lake Chelan.

In rough order, here is how I spent my time: Sleeping, reading, chatting, watching television, walking/sightseeing, putting together a jigsaw puzzle.

My only regret? Not starting earlier on the jigsaw puzzle.

As I see them, vacations are for relaxing. If you are so busy on your vacation that you are worn out when you get back, then what good did the vacation do you?

The last all-nighter?

November 8, 2006

I was at KBOO all afternoon and evening working on the election night coverage, and I have to go to the airport at dawn, so I decided to stay up all night. (One advantage to being decaffeinated: Coffee is highly effective when I do drink it.)

And I wonder now whether this night will be my last all-nighter. I used to do them frequently, but I have little reason to anymore. Besides, I’m 36, and the physical toll of an all-nighter affects me more now than it once did. And I have become (of all things!) a morning person.

Still, though, it is strange to think back to when I was in graduate school and did three or four all-nighters a week (fueled by my daily three-liter bottle of Diet Coke); then come forward to the present day, and realize that I am still the same person I was — I answer to the same name and inhabit the same body — yet I am no longer that person in so many ways, and could never be him again, even if I wanted to be.

An e-mail to Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR)

November 8, 2006

Dear Senator Smith,

I was a Republican from the early ’80s until 2003, and I’m sad to say that I agree with this assessment someone wrote yesterday:

“The modern GOP — or, more specifically, the axis of ’70s campus Republicans now running it — really is just a criminal enterprise disguised as a political party.

“Dirty tricks, large and small, are a sorry fact of life in American politics, but what the Republicans have done over the past few weeks — the surrealist attack ads, the forged endorsements, the midnight robo calls, the arrest threats, the voter misinformation (did you know your polling station has been moved?) — is sui generis, at least at the national level.”

I hope, Senator Smith, that you want to play a role in cleaning up the GOP. I have been horrified with what I have seen during this election campaign.

/s/ Steve Casburn

Taylor Street shaker

November 6, 2006

My housemates and I were jolted last night by a 2.6-magnitude earthquake.

Not a very big earthquake, true, but you can really feel it when the epicenter (18th and Taylor) is only a mile away.

How buildings decay

November 4, 2006

I was at a conference at the University of Portland a few weeks ago, and several of the sessions were held in Franz Hall, the campus’ relatively new classroom building.

The building and its classrooms have an attractively modern and stylish look. Nothing has been broken, and none of the built-in equipment has become obsolete. I would imagine that Denney Hall at Ohio State seemed very similar in the early 1960s, right after it had been built.

By the time I got to OSU, though, Denney Hall was aging, worn out, and dingy. Few people who went to Ohio State in the ’90s would have a kind word to say about the building or the fixtures in it.

And I wonder whether Franz Hall will be like that in 30 years.

Japanese cachet

November 3, 2006

Last year, Sudoku was the big rage among casual puzzle-solvers.

At the Deadhead Fred yesterday, I saw a book of “Kakuro” puzzles. The latest new thing.

Except that such puzzles already have an unexotic English-language name: Cross Sums. And I did my first one almost 30 years ago.

A compromise

November 3, 2006

Yesterday was both wet and cold, rather than the usual one or the other. I went out to get the mail at 3:45, and was greeted by a damp, yowling Snubby.

I couldn’t let her in because one of my housemates is allergic to cats. But I couldn’t just leave her there.

So I spent the next half an hour sitting Indian-style on my front porch with a purring cat on my lap.

Adventures in cooking

November 2, 2006

After several test runs, I successfully made an omelette today for the first time.

Then I grabbed some garlic, oregano, pepper, salsa, and cheese, and turned it into a pizza:

It was good