Friday, June 30, 2006

Fiiii-yaaa Fiiii-yaaaa

That's fire to all of you who are funkily challenged.

Well, we had some excitement here on Wednesday night. I have gotten quite good at ignoring pretty much any yelling that goes on outside our windows because it seems some drunk person is always yelling out there. So last night as I was also trying to ignore B's repeated calls for water from his bed (he'd already gotten some 4 drinks; it's a tactic to get someone in the room when he doesn't want to sleep) N jumped out of bed and started throwing clothes and shoes on. Apparently she was reacting to someone discussing a fire outside our window. I only reacted to N.

Turns out the roof on the building next to us was on fire and by the time my shoes were on we had the first fire truck out there. The fire may have already been out because someone was spraying up there with a hose, according to N, before the truck arrived. The fire was taken seriously though, so that the fire hydrant was hooked up to the truck, hoses were out, police cordoned off the street, etc. We got B up, since he was sitting up anyway while sirens and lights and voices went off outside his open window, and took him out to watch the trucks. He of course thought it all a blast.

The firemen wandered around and the police did things. Of course, no one ever spoke to us, but then we do only live in the building next door. After about an hour of flashing lights and hose prepping, the firemen were detaching the hose from the hydrant and seemed to be closing up shop. I asked someone who lived in the building that was briefly on fire the verdict, and he told me that it had been chalked up to a bird taking a cigarette to the roof.


There are several tall apartment blocks all around with us and our adjacent building being only two stories. One of the near buildings is over 30 and it's been very windy in the last couple days. The more logical thing to us was that someone tossed a cigarette butt into the wind from their balcony on floor 25. But who knows? About an hour and a half after it all started, we were in our apartment, the fire trucks and police where gone, and B was asleep.

In other news, I have finished three full novels this summer, two by A.A. Milne and the one I just finished 15 minutes ago being HP and the Half-Blood Prince. I declare that Snape is still innocent. Feel free to join the fray. OK, innocent is strong, but he's still on the right side. Reviews of all books likely to follow soon. And, yes, this does mean that I haven't caught up yet with Alice. I had HP to finish!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Bonne anniversaire

That's actually how you wish someone happy birthday, but it's good enough. So last Wedneday, the 21st, the summer solstice, was N and my 8th wedding anniversary. I had intended it to be some alone time for the two of us as the celebration. N likes the Japanese steak houses, so we were going to splurge and go there. Unfortunately, baby sitting never got arranged, so that didn't happen. But I believe we did have a nice anniversary regardless. I shipped some flowers to N's work for her. Somehow it always seems nicer to get flowers at work than just to have them on the table at home. N got a collection of fancy cheeses for me - a Gouda, a fancy Irish cheddar, and a French creamy blue, which I am going to call Lefebure even though I know that's wrong. I would go check the name, but sorry, it's already been eaten. Then we headed as a family to Dave and Buster's which is a chain that's sort of a bar and grill with an arcade on another level. It's basically an adult Chuck E. Cheese's. We had a fine time.

The next day a package showed up on our doorstep from N's mom and stepdad. It was a DVD they had made of our wedding back 8 years ago. I think it's just been sitting there all this time. However, they tacked on a pic of little B at the very end. If that was just a random idea or if it was added to insinuate that B is the result of all the festivities we had just watched I don't know. Either way, it was nice to see the video. So, yeah, 8 years. And 8 years of dating before that. We're getting old.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Charles Smith passes on (paca)

Kool & the Gang was founded by a crew of 8 guys in Jersey City in the late 60s. They started out as the Jazziacs and then did a bland of R&B, funk, and acid jazz in the 70s. Unfortunately, they've been losing members over the years. First was Woody Sparrow, the second guitarist, who only made it for one album. Later on, they lost keyboardist Ricky West. Robert "Spike" Mickens has also disappeared from sight, but I haven't been able to find out if he just moved on to another career or if he passed away. Sadly, guitarist Claydes Charles Smith has now joined them as of June 20 of this year. He passed away at 59.

It was possible to tell he had been slowing down for some time. Even the 2004/5 Live at the House of Blues DVD I have features a several verse long guitar solo on Summer Madness by Charles, but he is accompanied through-out the concert by a second guitarist, and it looks like Charles is having to sit and take a few songs off. He apparently stopped touring with the band completely in January of this year, and now he has moved on.

All the Kool & the Gang songs are listed as having a primary band member as the author with the whole band as co-authors. Charles was the primary author on Joanna, a #2 tune for them in the 80s, as well as several other numbers in the 70s, which is where my affections mostly lie. Moreover, it's fairly safe to say that he created and laid down the guitar tracks for pretty much all the Kool & the Gang numbers. He won't ever be a famed guitarist in history, but he really was a solid and creative player. He primarily did rhythm and his rhythm was on, again and again. He also brought a jazz guitar sense to even the funk numbers which could increase their complexity. His solo technique was subtle, but I've never seen anything exactly like it anywhere else. I call him the King of the Double Stop, because he seems to use double stops (fingering two fingers at once) throughout a solo, really quite different to me. On perhaps my favorite song, period, called Wild and Peaceful, his guitar solo is so subtle that for a bit you don't realize you are in a guitar solo. He didn't need to thunder when he played; he just played what seemed right for the song.

I will miss his music.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Observations from Montreal

Pardon. Observations de Montreal.


I found a computer at my hotel here (l'hotel de Quebec s'appelle Clarion) which has an internet connection, so what better to do with it than give you my obersvations about the plane ride and Montreal so far?

1) On the United Airlines plane de Honolulu a Chicago (which was 8 hours flying time, 13 hours with time change), my "RightBite" meal had a Gouda package. In big letters at the top, it says GOUDA. Then in small caps below it, it says, "Pasteurized Process Cheese Food - Gouda Type." Mmmmm... Cheese Food. Is that different from cheese? I am happy they didn't give me cheese non-food. On the back, we have, "Ingredients: Cheddar Cheese."

2) One movie on the airplane was Failure to Launch with Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew McConaughey. I didn't listen to a word of the movie, but I watched large portions of it on the screen. Here is my synopsis based on that: fun-fun-fun-fun-emotional blow up!! - sit-sit-sit-wait-talk - sit - friends finally do something (not the heroes) - talk - reconcile - something at the very end with a dolphin that seems outrageously far-fetched but perhaps slightly touching. My understanding is this is exactly how not to construct a screen play. Sitting and sitting and talking and sitting and doing nothing, when this is supposed to be the climax of the movie.

3) It turns out I still am afraid of flying. I don't think I've flown in five years. I used to drive from Nashville to Toronto to avoid it. Anyway, I almost didn't make it. When I got on the plane the panic button went on and I almost walked back off the plane, saying, "screw it; I just won't go and I'll be out $900, but whatever." I managed to calm myself and get in the chair. And then I discovered the secret to getting over the fear of flying. Calming your mind? Breathing slowly? Thinking of gentle waves while sitting with my lovely family? I'm sure that's fine and all, but, no, the answer is humor. Instead, you re-enact the scene from the movie Airplane, pretending you are the main person in the scene. Ahem:

"I can't take it anymore!! I've got to get out of here!!" "Calm down; you've got to calm down!!" SMACK!!!. Long line of people getting ready to knock the crap out of you.

That works. Yes, incidentally, Airplane is one of my favorite movies of all time.

4) To tease N publicly, when your husband is afraid of flying and you want to get his flight info, don't say it like this: "Make sure you send me your flights and times, so if a plane crashes, I don't have to worry about you."

5) Montreal isn't a great place to practice French, because everyone switches to English as soon as you give a little blank look. They are largely fluent, so why do they want to struggle through your French 101 crap? They don't.

6) Just like Europe, there's more sex on TV in Quebec on Saturday nights. It's not like the hardcore porn that's on hotels in France, but you do get softcore stuff. Wonens' tops come off, legs go in the air, and a guy's butt moves up and down. Not that I watched enough of it to make such a comparison. I was shocked. Shocked, I tell you! Where's that backspace button?

7) Despite the comedy of errors which was the board meeting for our journal, which is a post all its own, I think I will still have my job when I get back to Hawai'i.

8) The World Cup seems to be bigger than the Stanley Cup here. In the hotel bar, there were people sitting around a TV watching game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals, but there were more the next day for some soccer match. When walking home last night, Brazil had just won a match, and there were people covered in yellow and green screaming and honking horns and waving flags all up and down Rue St. Catherine.

9) There are a bunch of white people here! Montreal is quite multicultural and there are lots of other people too, but this ain't Hawaii. I'm used to being a minority.

10) A way I am Hawaiian now is that I entered my hotel room and immediately began shivering. The air conditioning was turned off before anything else happened, and it hasn't come back on since. 68 degrees is the temp for a cold winter night in Hawaii, not a pleasant setting for your bedroom in the middle of June.

Well, I should have more to say about Montreal, but I've spent most of my time in the conference hotel and my own hotel. I'm going to walk down a few blocks now for crepes for lunch. I will report back later.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Out for a few days (paca)

I'm headed out this afternoon to Montreal and will be back on Tuesday night. So have a good 4 day weekend, and I leave you in the llama's hands. Or clefted hooves. Or just hooves. I'm not really very knowledgeable about hoof type.


Friday, June 16, 2006

Missing Girl

I don't usually post these sorts of things, but I find this interesting in several ways. Since most of this blog's readers are in Louisiana and Texas, here you go:

I am posting this to the blog hoping this will become a viral post, and we will find this girl! Please read the link and post to your blog. This is not a hoax!

Staci Jones Missing

There is a recent photograph on this link and all the information you need.

Let's hope they find her safe and sound.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Vietnam, ever so briefly (Llama)

So I went to Vietnam for the first time last week. I left on Thursday and returned on Saturday. It was different...

I travelled to Danang, which, as I understand it, is quite a bit different from Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. So all of these comments may not apply to other places in the country.

The first thing that struck me was, pulling up to the gate, my plane was the only one at the airport. None landing or taking off, none even on the tarmac. There was a parked helicopter, but that's it. And my flight only comes three times a week... Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, which, as I understand it, is a recent increase (previously the flight only came on Tuesday and Thursday).

Danang is not a tiny place... almost a million people in population... larger than Nashville and about the size of New Orleans pre-Katrina. But the airport was tiny... one gate only. And unlike Western nations, where the airport is filled with people trying to sell you goods (currency, taxies, food, hotels, whatever), this one was empty. NO merchants at all in the airport... I had to exit the building and go to a separate location to change money.

The currency is very, very small compared to the dollar. 1 Dollar is over 16,000 Dong! The Vietnamese handle this by treating most things in terms of thousands of dong. So the smallest bill is 1,000 dong, which is about 8 cents.

Very, very little english spoken. Only older folks (who learned it back when US forces used Danag for R&R) and the hotel staff spoke English. And the hotel staff! Talk about peronal service... I was paying about $25 a night, not a whole lot. But one of the front desk women must have been taken with me because she offered: 1) to give me breakfast for free, 2) to travel out on her motorbike to purchase noodles for me, and 3) to iron my clothes for me. I took her up on the breakfast offer, but declined the rest.

Walking around the city, I saw only one other white face the entire time. I was definately a curiosity. People would call out to me, come up to me, start conversations as best they could. I felt like an attraction at Disney world. One poor women almost crashed her motorbike into another because she was staring at me.

Speaking of motorbikes... it was surreal. The streets were very nice, very clean. The sidewalks were well maintained. I had very little sense of underdevelopment... I could have been in, say, the french quarter. But there were very, very few cars. There were many, many motorbikes, but no cars. It made me seriously rethink the attachment we Americans have to our vehicles. If everyone on the road in Danang had been in a car then there would have been major gridlock... the smaller motorcycle was a much more appropriate, and affordable, mode of transportion.

Finally I'll comment about my beach time. I went to China beach, just to have a look around. People everywhere were playing soccer... in anticipation of the World Cup perhaps. Like we toss frisbies at the beach in the US, these people were kicking soccer balls. There were probably 100 on the beach when I was there.

While sitting, having a coke, and observing my Vietnames hosts enjoy themselves, I heard the sound of a jet overhead. I glanced up and saw a fighter jet knifing through the sky. My first (erroneous) thought was, "huh, still an emphasis on military power in these communist countries." But then I realized what was truly unusual about that jet... despite walking along the beach for about 90 minutes it was the first and only airplane I had heard.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

What's the Paca doing? (paca)

In case anyone is wondering what I am up to in life, the answer is basically three things. First, I am taking French. I'm doing something weird, which is taking 101 and simultaneously sitting in 201. I could probably pass 201, but it would be a D or something, and I can't have that on the old record. But I have hopes of either taking 202 in second summer session or moving straight to 301 in the fall. I took 101 about 10 years ago and have no other background, really. Well, I sometimes talk to N in French and sing French children's songs. Secondly, I still have my job editing, which goes all summer. I have been swamped lately with prepping for the annual board meeting which this year is in Montreal. That's why I just booted the office computer up at 10:00 tonight. Finally, I didn't start a novel in the end, but I am writing short stories. I think that was option 4 that I asked people to vote on a few weeks back. Actually, I'm writing not stories but story. I have this one 80 page novella that I keep revising. It really is getting close though and I can move on soon. We will see. I hope that I will be nice and bored at the conference in Montreal, because it's not really my field, and can write or read or something.

In other news, since I will be away on Daddy's Day, we did Daddy's Day today. Oh, I should say that today was King Kamehameha Day, so today was a state holiday, and we just had a 3 day weekend. N cooked up a little eggs benedict sort of thing and I got a nice gift card to Border's and some Macadamia nuts. What more can a guy ask for?

Monday, June 12, 2006

Videos while on break (paca)

Go Little TerryKohei! Virtually any guitarist can show me up, but usually they aren't nine and make stuff that my fingers would fall off doing look dreadfully easy. He's probably improvising this stuff too.
Beethoven 5

Don't mess with her - Knife Skills

Star Trek Cribs - Scotty can lay it down

Hamy Mother's Day

If the Ten Commandments were a high school movie from paramount

Friday, June 09, 2006

Blah and Blog Readers (paca)

Even though I created that nice little meme yesterday, the truth is that I've just had a hard time getting up for blogging in a while. Been two to three weeks now (hasn't it?) since I really did all that much. There are things going on, but in the end, I just feel kind of blah. Blah makes me not want to write creative or intelligent things. So instead, I will take this moment to thank all the regular blog readers. I've met several online friends through this medium, and it is truly an honor - I mean this seriously - that there are a handful of people in the world who find my writings worth reading every couple days. So I just want to thank you all for stopping by here. It is a privilege to speak with you. I hope you will keep sticking by until the blahs pass.

Now that I've said all that I am in a good enough mood that I do have a little tidbit. First look at this picture.

Notice anything? There's a typo right on the front cover of one of the most famous contemporary novels. See the typo yet? It's in the quote. Yes, it's the use of 's to form the plural. They have novel's, not novels. Apostrophe s should only be used to mark possession, never to form a plural. This is a pet peeve of lots of writers and editors, so it's considered highly amusing to have the typo right on the front cover of a pulitzer prize winning book. This "typo" however is fairly common. People do it over and over. The linguist in me wonders why, and the answer shows us a little about how we actually know more about our own language than we realize we do.

So unless you've taken a linguistics course, you've probably never heard of a morpheme. A morpheme is a chunk of a word that is supposed to have some meaning. Cat only has one morpheme. Carpool has two - car and pool. Establishment has two as well. Establish and ment. Ment's meaning is sort of weird but it turns verbs into nouns. Antidisestablismentarianism's morphemes are not completely clear. Probably, they are: anti, dis, establish, ment, ary, ian, ism, and 's.

"Cat's" has just two morphemes. One is "cat" and the other is "apostrophe s". The second morpheme means simply "possession" and it says that the next noun will be possessed by the cat. Now, when you form the plural in English, what you usually do is take another morpheme "s" or "plural" and attach it to nouns. The meaning is completely different, but the grammatical move is the same. You want to attach a morpheme "s" to a word in English? Add an apostrophe. English plural formation takes an "s" and sticks it on to the noun, so why not add an apostrophe too? So people making this error aren't just dumb. They unconsciously know how these things work, so they are extending the process from one morpheme to the next.

It's pretty rare, however, to see people do this with verbs. "Runs" has two morphemes: "run" and "s" where "s" here denotes simple present tense. People very rarely write "run's" as in "he run's to the store". Even though they've never heard of morphemes, don't consciously get the difference between possession and plurality, and don't know the difference between a noun and a verb, they actually do know all this stuff, and you can see that by the way they make errors, like on the cover of the Pulitzer Prize winner.

Here's something else you know that's really quite astounding. Which word do you think is more common: cat or orangutan? Cat, of course. We all know that. But how? Do you keep a little tally in your backpocket and put a check mark each time you hear the word cat? Well, somehow, your brain, without you asking it to, seems to. It knows that cat is heard a lot more than orangutan is. And it's not just some logic like "well, orangutans don't live in my vicinity so cats is probably more common." It can't be just this. Which word is more common: Walk or stroll? Walk. But people both walk and stroll all the time around you. We just don't use the latter word as much. It's pretty cool. Infants just a few days old can track and respond to statistical patterns like this. They can't control their bladder or support their own head, but they can build at least 2nd order probability models. Before they learn to tie a shoe, they will be largely fluent in a language. How many years did you study a language in college and then how long did it take to forget it all? Pretty cool, huh? Kids rock.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Threesomes (paca)

I've created my own meme. Feel free to adopt and change as you please. So here you go:

3 Ways I am a stereotypical father:
(insert mother, son, spouse, relation of choice here)
- I insist on believing that my wife knows the exact location of every single object in the household at all times, even if it is something only I have ever used. "Honey, where's that paper I wrote 9 years ago when you lived in a different state?"
- I have no idea what I am doing the majority of the time. "How do we get him to not panic about going potty? I don't know. How do we get him to sit at the table without a fight? I don't know. How do we fix the curtain rod? I don't know."
- I cannot, cannot!, handle it if the refrigerator door is open 3 seconds longer than absolutely necessary. This does not prevent me from using it as a nightlight when I get a drink of water at 2:00 AM.

3 Things I'd like to hear:
- "Dr. Paca?" To which I would reply, "Please just call me paca."
- "The firm of Brilliant and Southern announced the new 'eat cornbread smothered in butter and honey every day with a big bowl of chicken 'n' dumplins diet' on Monday. Studies indicate the more dumplins, the bigger the muscles."
- Overheard on the street, "Have you read paca's new book? I got it last weekend at Borders."

3 Things I'd like to be able to say:
"I won't post on Thursday because I'm going to Vietnam. Be back Saturday."
"Can you do a second verse with the trumpet here? And up the levels on the bass."
"I'm saving money."

3 Debates that shouldn't be a matter of left versus right
- Climate change models. Sure, how to deal with possible climate change should reflect political values. but whether or not the models are accurate has nothing to do with your views on the role of government.
- Is wiretapping without warrants illegal? Your political views should certainly affect whether or not it should be legal, but that has nothing to do with whether or not it is currently legal.
- Flag burning. I just think this is a matter of free speech and should fall under both conservative and liberal philosophies. No side gets to own issues of free speech.

3 People I have been smitten with in my life (embarassing or not):
(your partner, gf, mother, best friend are ruled out to keep it more fun. Yes, of course, I'm smitten with my wife. Hence, the marriage thing.)
- Christy Brinkley I remember a discussion in the school room cafateria in maybe 3rd grade, when I was 7, about who was prettier, Christy Brinkley or Cheryl Tiegs. What's weird is that I very much remember thinking girls were icky until puberty. How did I know these two weren't so icky?
- Laetitia Casta – she's a model, or was, who was most often seen in Victoria's Secret catalogues. I became smitten with her sometime in the mid 90s when N was in Seattle and I in TN. At least that's my story and I'm sticking to it.
- Heather Thomas – OK, this is just embarassing now. When I was 12 and in 8th grade at boarding school, I covered my walls in bikini, car, and beer posters. I don't remember any of the posters much anymore, but I had two of Heather Thomas. She may have been on The Fall Guy. One poster was that picture I linked to. Hard to imagine I ever found that attractive.

3 Things I wish were true:
- When trying to solve problems, people would state the problem clearly, gather evidence together for what causes it, debate the best way to implement a solution, and then test whether or not the solution works.
- I could express myself clearly when face-to-face with someone.
- I knew how to better balance work, family, and play.

3 Things I wish were false.
- I am afraid of flying. I have finally admitted it to myself, so it will be interesting to get on the plane to Montreal next week. It's very strange that this has happened. I've flown regularly since I started boarding school, earned probably a couple hundred thousand miles over time, been to Asia twice and Europe a couple more; I know the stats on safety. But it seems to be the case regardless.
- I've never published anything. It's not just publish or perish in academia. It's publish or never get hired.
- B is not potty trained. He's making progress but still not there. It doesn't stress me out, because I know he will get there, but it would be great if it was done. Good news is that I know I will get on the plane, I will publish, and B will be potty trained.

I had more, but I need to be working. See above.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Rolling Stone article about 2004 Election (Llama)

In case you haven't seen it yet... it's worth the read. It relies on first hand accounts and staggering statistical improbabilities to make the case.

Rolling Stone : Was the 2004 Election Stolen?

IMO, there's not much a Kerry presidency would have done differently in Iraq over the last 2 years, and I doubt he would have had the ability to move Congress much to the left on domestic affairs. So the idea of election fraud doens't fill me with anger over "being robbed." It does, however, make me dispair at the continuing deterioration of our democracy.

I remember my father telling me that the US was the greatest country on Earth. I agreed with him then, and for many years afterwards. I can now see problems, though, that I couldn't before. There is greatness there, no doubt, but my faith has been replaced by a much more critical perspective.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (Sticky)

Post all comments about Alice's Adventure in Wonderland here.

UPDATED Next assignment:
Let's do the next three chapters for Monday, since nothing happened while I was out. So that would be chaps 7-9, I think. Sound good?

Royalty in Love or Lust, whatever (paca)

I just saw this little news blurb on Yahoo. Apparently, Monaco's Prince Albert is unmarried and the father of at least two "illegitimate" children. Apparently, many others have made such claims but they haven't been recognized yet. Since he isn't actually married, does this mean that he cannot possibly have legitimate children? So if he begets 50 kids but never marries, he has no children still legally?

Anyway, it seems he met the mother on the Cote d'Azur back in 1994, when he would have been in his early 30s. I'm just wondering, how do princes meet women? Does he just hang out on the beach, see someone cute, and walk up to her saying, "hey, you know I own this place?" Isn't everyone watching the Prince when he says hello? Granted, I wouldn't know Prince Albert from anyone else, but you would think that he's got bodyguards or hangers-on of some sort. He's a Prince. So what this means is that he's got 15 people watching him each time he approaches someone. Talk about pressure. Or does he not need to approach people at all? Is he more like a rock star where the managers go out and find 5 cute groupies for the backstage party? And finally, being the ruler of a wealthy principality, can't he afford a pack of Trojans?

I'd hate being a prince, I think. I'd rather date attractive women than be royal or rich. The only good reason to be royal is if it helps in dating. I guess Albert's royal and gets around regardless. But I don't think I'd be up for having 50 people watch me as I try to buy someone a drink.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Ode to Secondary Sexual Characteristics

As I remember it from school, the primary sexual characteristics are basically the various organs. Genitalia, ovaries, fallopian tubes, etc. The secondary ones include everything else. More hair on men, lower voices, larger larynx, shape of jaw, etc. I've had various reasons to appreciate and appraise those secondary characteristics lately and here is a collection of those thoughts.

The attraction to these secondary characteristics is immensely strong. After all, when you think a woman is very attractive, you aren't usually thinking. "I bet she's got superproductive ovaries." No, you see a leg shape, a type of voice, etc. Of course, these secondary characteristics are supposed to be an indication of reproductive health, according to the evolutionary account. When a doe thinks "hey, nice antlers, hoo-yahhh" that's supposed to be because strong healthy males can grow huge antlers. It's intriguing that the draw of these secondary items can be so strong that for many they outweigh the primary ones. There's a fair number of men (no, I have no idea the percentage) who are attracted to Male 2 Female transvestites who looks like a beautiful woman even when they fully know what's underneath. The attraction to the secondary characteristics is so strong it just outweighs the reproductive side of things.

In my French class, there's a woman who seems to be extremely drawn to male secondary characteristics as part of her own identity. You can only tell she is a genetic female due to the faint outline of breasts that she hides under baggy clothes. Otherwise, she's taken on every stereotypical masculine characteristic she can from short hair to jeans and military outfits. She's changed her name to a male name, which we only know because at the beginning of each class, she has to have the feminine name called from role on day one before she can tell the teacher her new masculine name. She even carries a bottle for her spit. That's right. She chews tobacco as well, which I haven't seen since Tennessee. She has more masculine characteristics than me. The way to tell how serious she is is because her voice is lower than mine. My best guess is that she has started hormone treatments, but I have no clue what I'm talking about here. It's just interesting to see both the attraction to characteristics as sexual or romantic attraction, as well as the draw to them as a matter of identity.

Regarding the limitations of the secondary characteristics, however. As people may remember, I've had the stupid idea for a while of a Hawaiian Hottie Handbook, in which I ask attractive people around me about their diet and exercise routine. Yesterday, B and I went to the beach in the evening and there was a couple there that I debated for ever and ever if I should speak to. They looked to be about 20. He was covered in muscles from head to toe, but not the protein shake muscles that get gross in my opinion, but the Men's Health muscles that you might actually want to look like. His female companion was a similar cover of a magazine type except where he was big, she was small. Slender and curved everywhere. She had even grown her hair out down to her waist. I of course never actually spoke to them, even holding B as my defense, because I just don't do that sort of thing. However, when B and I were leaving, I noticed that they had started taking pictures of each other. Nothing wrong with taking a picture of your girlfriend while on vacation in Waikiki. But these weren't just vacation photos. They were modeling. She would turn to be a silhouette in the sun, with the upturned calf and a twist of the bosom. He donned stylish sunglasses and flexed. Later he literally started doing pushups as she filmed him. My reaction was:

OMG, these people are full of themselves.

Yes, they have great bodies, but they are obsessed with their own bodies. The attitude of self-absorption was so overwhelming, I was instantly glad I never spoke to them, because who wants stuck-up people as role models in a book?
My final bit is on a similar theme. It's the oft observed fact that the way you feel about someone changes how you see them. When I was in China, James, my roommate, and I hung out with a large group of Chinese women studying English. They were friends and one of my many regrets in life is that I lost contact with all of them after leaving China. This was of course 14 years ago. Anyway, there were maybe six women that we hung out with, seeing movies, going shopping, etc. What I was remembering is that one of them was tall and thin and classically attractive enough she was a local model, mostly on campus. Being male, one did notice her first. She was outgoing and vivacious, friendly and enjoyable to be around. One of her friends seemed quiet and mousy, and her body was just not that of a model. She wasn't always around laughing at your jokes and making you feel great. As time went on though, the model's personality began to wear thin. Outgoing began to seem more demanding. Vivacious could become annoying. Similarly, as one's opinion of her changed, the way you saw her physical appearance changed. Thin began to be skinny and angular. For her friend and mine, quiet began to seem peaceful. Mousy became determined. Not being around to laugh at my jokes was because she was independent and living a life. She also became more and more attractive physically as I held her in higher esteem as a person.

Thoughts for the day.