Thursday, March 30, 2006

Nice Life

I get to work today and make my coffee and go upstairs go check the email. I see LAURA.

LAURA: Good morning, Ryan. How are you?
ME: I'm great, Laura. You?
LAURA: Oh, I'm sooo stressed out.
Long pause.
ME: Oh?
LAURA: You see, last night was "special dinner night" at my house, and we had some friends over, and the dinner really posed a challenge for me. I've got the jitters just thinking about it.
Long pause.
ME: And?
LAURA: And I was serving a maple-and-Calvados glazed pork crown roast with this really great, homemade apple-chestnut puree. It takes me all day to make, because you have to soak the roast first in salt water, then in a brine, and then finally in the maple/Calvados glaze. It's really tiring. Anyway, I took the whole day off work to do it - that's why you missed me yesterday - and I really really really wanted to impress my friends, because she's a purchaser for Neiman Marcus and he's a chef, I think. But I had a really hard time picking the wine.
ME: Right.
LAURA: Because you have to admit that a dish this complex deserves a wine of equal complexity, right?
ME: Absolutely not.
LAURA: So I wanted something earthy, because a kind of brown, dirty characteristic would be a great foil for the maple and chesnut. And I wanted something with a little citrus to pick up on the apple fruitiness.
ME: The fruitiness. The apple fruitiness. Word.
LAURA: Exactly! And this wine HAD to have an underlying acidity. That's just a must when you're trying to balance the richness of a meat like roast pork.
ME: Right on.
LAURA: So ALL DAY I was worried about what wine to get, and still, even now, I'm shaking just thinking about it.

You are insane, Laura.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Dirty Words

Today is Tuesday, the day we write about language and words (starting, um, now). As a preface, we're not trying to be another Language Log, which is very good already.

Rather, we envision an irregular, irreverent feature, noting funny and weird and interesting and stupid things about what people say and how they say it. Okay, so it sounds a bit like Language Log, but trust us it'll be different. Really, I promise.

* * *

"SNAFU" is a great word. I love it when people explain away some minor mishap by saying, "Oh, well, there was a SNAFU..."

Deploying SNAFU = Instant Absolution

You can say "SNAFU" at work or school or even in the library (quietly, of course). You can use it with your grandma (or other people similar to your grandma). SNAFU offends none.

And yet, the meaning of "SNAFU," as it was originally coined, is: Situation Normal: All Fucked Up.

So use "SNAFU," and use it liberally. It's a great way to drop a hidden F-bomb in an otherwise-benign setting. And it gets you off the hook, pretty much everytime.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Wardrobe Contest!

Our Sunday-night fêtes are notoriously zany, but last night we had teams. Ryan and Matt wore matching ensembles, and Beth and I broke out the horses.

Team A:

Team B:

Saturday, March 25, 2006

The American Student

This past week at work was intense, to say the least - every day was a long, busy, frustrating day - and at about 5:30 on Friday I found myself in serious need of serious relaxation. I could have achieved this in a number of ways (I have a lot of moonshine). What I chose, however, was to drive to Richmond, to my parent's house, and instigate a seething and personal debate about the role "education" and "higher learning" plays in the retardation of American intellect.

So, I drove to Richmond and ate dinner with the rents and decided that we should talk about how "higher learning" (which will henceforth not be in quotes, although it should be) and "schooling" in general, in America, has caused us to lose any semblance of culture and passion and open thinking. Duly noted, also, that both my parents either are now or have been teachers or professors.

Anyway, my argument::::

French children, as an example, read, among other things, Voltaire, Constant, Balzac, Baudelaire, Proust. They all read these. It is a constant. It is not considered "smart" or "extracurricular"; it is just what they read. The French interns that I work with, for example, consider all Americans to be "Cartesian" ie. followers of Descartes' rational, mathematical viewpoint of the world. I say to them, "Fine, but what are you?" and they say, "We are "Pascalian." We are followers of Pascal. We are passionate, faithful. We weave the fabric of souls." For the French student, Descartes and Pascal represent the two possible ways to view the world. Of reason or of revelation. My point is not any of this. My point is that French students use these authors - Descartes and Pascal - in their natural, everyday speech.

Now before you say, "Oh, well I've read Kant. I understood most of it. I use it in my everyday speech. I'm smart, too," you have to consider that, were you to jump on a bus to D.C., you could not have a discussion about Kant, probably, with any of the passengers, and I'll bet they all graduated high school, and probably half of them graduated college. They are not stupid, by any means, just as a New Guinean who hasn't read Romeo and Juliet is not stupid. They just haven't read the same things you've read. Secondly, the fact that you think reading Kant makes you "smart" is fucking ludicrous.
We're you to jump on a bus in Spain, though, and I think you could talk to someone about Kant.

So, the French like them some French authors, yes? Like the Germans like them some Wagner and Heidigger and Dante and Goethe. Like the English, I guess, like them some Shakespeare and whomever it was who wrote The Importance of Being Earnest. They like him a lot. He's pretty funny.

And it's not a question of QUALITY. I am not suggesting for a moment that any of these authors are either good or bad or readable or unreadable, I am simple suggesting that these other cultures have a literary framework on which one must stand to be considered "educated." They have these books that everybody reads, and maybe understands. These books are part of their culture, like, I guess, anyone from my generation can talk with great knowledge about almost all of the shows on TGIF in the late-80's, early-90's.

So what is the American literary framework? What literature do we all have in common? As a public school student in America, I would say the only literature we all read, and study, and feel is the cornerstone for our country, is the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States (this is one) and the Bible (this is two). From henceforth we will concentrate on the Declaration/Constitution, because we're not legally ALLOWED to read the Bible in school, but that is not to say that most American children cannot quote them some Bible if need be, and do not think that it has had a remarkable impact on our ways of life.

Anway, the Constitution/Declaration are great pieces of literature, written at a time of optimism and original creation. They are wonderful, extremely influential documents to study.
Two considerations:
1) I would not consider either of these documents to be passionate or awe-inspiring or of the ability to "weave the fabric of souls," as my French friend said. They are rational, to-the-point (for the most part), and scientific in that they use words to convey a concrete, resolute truth. The Const/Dec, by nature, is a Cartesian document. It had a goal (people are free, let people be free, free the people) and it tried to prove that goal. Nothing flashy. Very impersonal.
2) Because WE ARE ALL SO SMART, we have, over the years, decided that these documents are racist, and classist, and written to further the wealth of the aristocratic government who wrote the documents. We have cast remarkable doubt over two of the only documents that every student is forced to learn.

So where does that put us? We don't have any though-provoking, beautiful pages to stand upon and enter colleges and the workplace with. We have these seemingly fraudulent, poor-intentioned, rational, cold Dec/Const, and then the Bible (although, granted, America is one of the only nations that actually READS the Bible for itself, as opposed to living off the interpretations of other (although, granted, obviously we don't read ALL of the Bible, just the parts in accordance with our ways of life, because, man, have you ever really READ THE BIBLE? It's fucking crazy.)).

That leaves us, I think, with students with a more rational, unpoetic view of education. That leaves us with students who don't stand upon any concrete culture when positioning themselves in life. That leaves us, worst of all, with the "select" students who think they've invented the wheel when the read, and think they understand, Plato's Republic. These are the students that I am worried about, because they are not standing on anything when they make grandiose claims about the ways of the world, the intentions of dictators, what's right for "the people."

My point, in the end, is simply that it's the really passionate, outspoken, "honors" college students who are not thinking for themselves, because they've just recently discovered this world of amazing information and thinkers and novels and great, wonderful documents that say things in a way that these students have never heard things said before, but they (the students) have not been taught to stop, and step back, and look at themselves as they eat this information, and consider where they are, and what they're doing, and what culture they come from when making these statements.

And of course none of this should ever stop anyone from arguing and yelling and making their crazy statements. It's just, like, eating away at the intellectual fabric of the United States. That's all.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Bow, Wow, Woof

Recently, I won this at work:

And I'm not sure what to do with it.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Indie, uh?

I don’t understand the confusion about the Bush administration’s policy in Asia (and the [British accent] Indian subcontinent).

We’re surrounding China with nukes. North Korea can have them, fine. But they’re friends with China. Hm. Well, hey, now our friend, India, has a lot more of ’em, too. And you know what China? See our other friend, Pakistan. We don’t give a fuck what Pakistan does. And they’re like, right next door to you, too, bitch.

And, insofar as I’m willing to overlook the failure to control nuclear proliferation and all its senseless costs and risks, I actually agree somewhat with this policy. Bush-Cheney: woo!

Saline Solution

When the air at work gets really bad (we have a mold problem), I reach into my desk drawer, where I keep extra condiments. Among the ketchup and soy sauce (you never know when you'll need some and it's a waste to throw them out right?) I find a salt packet and report to the nearest bathroom.

Cupping my left hand I pour in the salt packet, careful not to lose any. I turn on the faucet and let the water get warm. Into my cupped hand dribbles warm water until I have a milky white solution staring back at me. I turn off the faucet. I insert my nose into the cupped hand. And I sniff as hard as I possibly can.


Saltwater surges through my nostrils and then crashes down onto the back of my throat. It burns like holy high hell, and I'm overwhelmed by a fit of uncontrollable coughing. The spasms and nose-mouth-drippping drool and chaos and disaster seem to last a full hour, but it's probably more like 30 seconds.

I blow my nose hard -- really hard -- and I wipe my eyes. Looking up into the mirror I think: "There, now doesn't that feel better, honey?"

Monday, March 20, 2006


Apparently, when Jonny Blaze turns twenty-one, I wake up at noon and put on a wrinkled suit. It smells of cigarette smoke. As I walk home through Belmont, I sip on Spudnuts coffee and munch on a cherry-and-cinnamon bearclaw.

Thanks, Jon.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Weakened or Weekend

Okay, photo post time! Beth-style!

Last weekend, we drove to the woods:


Le Girl La Femme tried to lift this old chimney, but alas she could not:


Another time, we had a picnic:


See those olives up there? They were delicious. They really were. But then someone read the receipt and informed me I had paid $23.21 for those olives.


Yep, it's no $100 cheesecake, but I was downright irate about my olive-purchase injustice. Clearly the cashier screwed up, placing her hand on the scale or something. Enemy! Vile enemy!

After the picnic I went back to the store, receipt (overcharge highlited in blue) in-hand:

Blue highlighter!

I was prepared to make it a confrontation if need be, but the customer service guy acted quite routinely. Just another refund for him. He seemed bored with his current career direction:

I'm not even supposed to be here today...

He gave me a copy of the receipt, demonstrating my refund in full for $23.21 (plus tax). I borrowed his yellow highlighter:


Then I went home and ate more of the (now-)free olives.

Realistic Tears

It's not so much that I really love old, white 'fro haired, pink and glittering Cape May New Jersey sweatshirted and smelling of cinnamon and Old Spice old grandmom ladies, it's that old, white 'fro haired, pink and glittering Cape May New Jersey sweatshirted and smelling of cinnamon and Old Spice old grandmom ladies really love me back. They honestly cannot get enough of me. It's amazing. Two examples:

Example 1) We'll call her GRANDMOM MARGARET. She used to work in the same building as me. Her husband had a lot of money and she was heavily into The Phantom of the Opera and ABBA and Germany and, when I'd visit her home (not entirely unheard of), she would walk me around her garden, which stretched around the house and included all these rare, exotic plants that she smuggled from distant, foreign lands (I kid you not), and she'd tell me about the plants and get excited and, trust me, I would be thoroughly engaged, and I would ask about a plant, and smell another, and life would be good. Then she'd make me lemonade and we'd listen to NPR. She always tried to set me up with her daughter, who, as of now, I have still not met.

And it goes without saying that GRANDMOM MARGARET liked me. A lot. Last Christmas she gave me a metal candle holder with a white candle and told me if I put it in my bathroom I'd get all the ladies. Then, when her daughter got sick, she put me in charge of housesitting for her house. And her dog, which was worth more than most everything I own, did not like me, and would not come inside when I screamed, and I had to pick the thing up and carry it inside and, seeing as how it was a show dog and of better genes than myself, I was worried I might break it, and then be killed.

Example 2) We'll call them THE WOMEN'S AUXILIARY GROUP. There are hundreds, possibly thousands, of these women, and they rule. They're all really old and fond of shiny pink sweatshirts and candy and they're a social club, so they do trips to see plays and historical monuments and the like, so it's not odd that I find myself giving a tour, with a mass of WOMEN'S AUXILIARY GROUP ladies behind me, giggling and telling secrets, and they are the most fun to give tours to.

They always have pictures of granddaughters in their purses and these are pulled out early in the game, and shown to me proudly, and THE WOMEN'S AUXILIARY GROUP says, "You're about the same age as my granddaughter here. Her name's Molly. It's funny, but she lives right here, in town, close to you. Isn't she pretty?" and I smile and say "yes" and tell them that I'm nothing but trouble and bad news, but they don't care, they want me all over their granddaughters. Always.

And then I give more tour and they're interested but mostly giggly and amused by everything and they want to get pictures with me, because, you know, that's how it is, and sometimes one of them squeezes my ass, which is fine. I don't mind. They're always laughing and smiling and they never want the tour to end, because that means they have to walk up two flights of stairs, which tends to be seriously disturbing to most of them.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Dead to me

Ryan has convinced me that I should be writing more. Writing fiction, specifically. So I think of stories. I think of fictional versions of situations that I'm actually in. I'm sitting there in the back of the car and everything's normal (well not normal, 'cause we're laughing at a New Kids on the Block song that's on the radio, oh, and there's a dead man in the trunk).

Yeah, there's a dead man in the trunk. There's always a fucking dead man in the trunk.

. . .

Today's recipe:

M o d e r n e F i c t i o n :

1 Social Situation

1 Dead Guy

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Lame Soup

This morning, as I drove to work, I was actually aghast a local radio news piece about this recipe.

For those of us who know and love Progresso® soup, this woman's recipe is a crock. Basically:

  1. Open a can of delicious Progresso soup.
  2. Add some crap.
  3. Take full credit.

Horse shit! This recipe is mere soup hijackery. This woman must be stopped, lest she sully further the great name of Progresso. Onward, fearless soup eaters!

Saturday, March 11, 2006

General Pick Up

Today has been ruckus. Chock full of phone calls about last night's fight (which I mostly don't remember, so there is no point in asking, but I do have this strange, purple mark on my lower back, and my right elbow is sore) and lots of phone calls about the hitchhiking hippies that I picked up because I thought they might have funny drugs (they didn't, but they were in the news today because, apparently, they had kidnapped a young couple a few weeks back, and everybody called to tell me that they'd been caught and yes, I gave kidnapping hitchhiking hippies a ride to 7-11, and no, nothing bad happened.) They seemed nice at the time. A guy and a girl, fairly young, very crunchy. We talked about music and Charlottesville. Then I dropped them off.

Anyway, because of last night's events today has been ruckus with phone calls, which is new to me, because generally nobody ever calls me because generally I never bother to pick up.

Bonus note: I am still flying high because Beth told me I was svelte.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Diego means "James"

I just got off the phone with a British gent calling from the island of Diego Garcia, which I didn't even know existed till he called. A fascinating place, really. And a reminder of how work and wikipedia can sometimes entertain me for a full 20 minutes or so. Most interesting to me:

  • It can be profitable to produce Copra, a bi-product of the coconut. This fact bodes well for any future plans to move to an island with coconuts.
  • We (Britain and the US) made the island's (sort-of) native population of Ilois go away, which is not a very nice way to say "Thanks for all that free labor your grandpa gave us."
  • It seems like replacing the native folks with nuclear weapons is a pretty damn-near-certain possibility. I suspect that China is less-than-pleased...

Chips 'n' Salsa Sleep

Any number of things grabbed my attention today, but this shot was too goddamn adorable to pass up:

Monday, March 06, 2006

Mog is my co-pilot

While I could dignify Ryan's post (below) with a time-stamped summary of the weekend, there are really only two pertinent facts to be relayed. Namely:

Why sleep, I ask? Why?

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Apparently I'm allergic to figs

It's only 6:13 p.m. and today has been an ultraproductive Saturday, starting at

5:30 a.m., when Brandy (the dog) went apeshit, barking insanely at nothing (or was it?) waking me and Adam up from our respective slumbers in completely opposite sides of the house. Later, we both confessed to thinking, "Soon enough Jordan will wake up and deal with it." Little did we know, Jordan was not home. Nobody dealt with it. I was angry, and, as I learned later, Adam was scared.

6:15 a.m. Brandy (the dog) went apeshit again, barking at nothing(?). I got up and looked out the window, to see if her barking had scared off any potential robbers, but there was nothing. Unless they were already inside and not scared of a twenty pound dog. I went back to sleep.

9:12 a.m. Same thing. This time I didn't get up. But still, I am thinking "Soon enough Jordan will wake up and deal with it" as well as, "it would be funny (ha-ha) if I got up and found our TV missing." Adam is thinking the same thing.

9:47 a.m. Brandy (the dog) comes upstairs and sits down outside my door. This is rare. As in, I don't think it's ever happened before. I am nonplussed.

9:48 a.m. I get up. Shower, shave, teeth, read a bit, and suddenly it's

11:15 a.m. and Adam and I go to the bank, where I deposit some money as well as cash $3400 and $35 checks that I got for catsitting for a ninety-three year-old bald lady and working my day job, respectively. I immediately give roughly $500 to Adam, who is standing behind me, pretending to hold a gun to my back. Adam intermittently says "at gunpoint" and "don't make a scene" under his breath and Kenneth, our teller, just doesn't give a shit. Actually he laughs a little.

11:27 a.m. We get coffee and talk about how neither of us have had coffee all week and how much we are anticipating the otherworldly buzz. Adam tells me he thought there were ghosts in our house, and that's what Brandy (the dog) was barking at. He says he heard something running down the deck stairs.

11:45 a.m. Adam, Jordan, and I load up what ends up being 1,700 pounds of trash and other useless shit into a truck and the van as per the instructions of the City of Charlottesville Waste Management, which threatened our landlord with some erroneous fines, as well as jail time, if we didn't clean up the quaint "trash heap" in our backyard, like, pronto. They even came and took pictures and talked to Dana, who didn't tell anybody until today.

12:07 p.m. We drive trash to the dump, and dump trash at the dump. For those of you who've never been, THE DUMP IS FUN! They bury all our trash underground, so we can't see it from planes. And probably because it's safer underground. Keep it out of sight and in our eventual water supplies, says them.

12:34 p.m. Adam makes me eggs and toast and I love him for it.

12:45 p.m. Adam, Jordan, and I clean the house, top to bottom, side to side, making full use of both the SWIFFER QUICKER PICKER UPPER and a water hose dragged inside and expertly aimed away from running electrical devices. Again, this was at the instruction of the landlord (not the water hose thing, but the cleaning in general), who wants to start "showing the house" and needs it to look normal. We thought about taking down the Christmas tree, but in the end, it's still there. So is the extensive keyboard station and a lot of wine.

3:15 p.m. Jordan and I celebrate our cleanliness with fig, strawberry, vanilla ice cream, and some sort of liquor smoothies. Then we play foosball and my game is way off. He kicks my ass, very badly. Twice.

4:00 p.m. I shower again because I smell like the dump mixed with fig and some kind of household cleaner.

4:20 p.m. I read some of Birds Without Wings, by an author whose name escapes me at the moment (hint: he's French. Or something like it.)

5:00 p.m. I do laundry, blog on THE NICE JENKINS site, take a short nap, and floss my teeth (seriously). I also find out that one of Stanley's bands, Q-Black and the Whoppers, is not playing tonight, as I had been thinking and looking forward to. I am distraught.

5:58 p.m. I watch TV for three minutes.

6:01 p.m. I take some meat out of the freezer, so that it will be thawed in seven days. I try to decide what to eat.

6:11 p.m. I decide to blog, partly because Stanley said, last night, that I couldn't hang out with him until I blogged again, because he's done like five in a row. I did not point out, however, that all of his blogs are four lines long, and, in effect, just links to other interesting sites. I did not point this out. I did not.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Go West (then East, too)

Wow, I've got a lot more to cover (and I'm finally a red-stater!):

create your own visited states map

And even more here:

create your own visited countries map

(hat tip: Bitch Ph.D.)

El vino vino a Virginia...

If Ryan ever returns from wherever the fuck Ryan has been, he (and the rest of you) should start reading this Virginia wine blog.

Nothing breathtaking, but it seems to be in-touch.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Hot Date

Blazin' contest going on over here.