I suppose I am in training now…

I got a note earlier this week that my 20 year high school reunion is tentatively set for three months from today. I suppose this means I am in training. Yep. Got 90 or so days to turn myself into someone who looks like they can finish a triathlon. Just because looking good is the best revenge.

Ok, it’s not as desperate as all that… but it still would nice to good back looking good.

hippies in the dust…

For every Southern boy fourteen years old, not once but whenever he wants it, there is the instant when it’s still not yet two o’clock on that July afternoon in 1863, the brigades are in position behind the rail fence, the guns are laid and ready in the woods and the furled flags are already loosened to break out and Pickett himself with his long oiled ringlets and his hat in one hand probably and his sword in the other looking up the hill waiting for Longstreet to give the word and it’s all in the balance, it hasn’t happened yet, it hasn’t even begun yet, it not only hasn’t begun yet but there is still time for it not to begin against that position and those circumstances which made more men than Garnett and Kemper and Armistead and Wilcox look grave…
– “Intruder In The Dust”, William Faulkner

I happened to catch the Summer Of Love documentary on American Experience on PBS the other night. The quote from Faulkner above came to mind. In the big media memory of the Baby Boom generation, it seems to be every Boomer’s birthright to recall the Summer Of Love as that great untarnished moment when great goals were laid down and a revolution, however imperfect, was set into motion. Every Boomer can go back there and think this is how it should have been.

This sort of nostalgia generally makes me sick. I know how the revolution came out. Yes, there are aging hippies still fighting the good fight, and I applaud them… but what is culturally left from that summer 40 years ago? Cultural artifacts. Drug culture. Music. Tie dye.

The rest of the revolution got diluted. For all the talk of rejecting materialism and living in harmony with the earth, the United States still consumes something like 80% of the world’s consumer goods. Remember that the next time you see some 50-something yuppie driving down the road in a Hummer and living his or her 2500+ square foot McMansion. We produce more greenhouse gas per person than any other country in the world. For all the talk of integration and peace, the Boomer generation still voted for Reagan in the 80’s and Bush in 2000, coasting on a sense of white anger and materialistic empowerment. Where is all that issue driven zeal now? Oh wait…that’s just what you do when you’re young, can still enter the middle class on a Unionized blue collar salary, and live off the fat of a society living on a 30-year post war economic boom.

I suppose that this generational bitterness and cynicism comes from feeling like being the good younger sibling in a house where the older one went wild. Mom and Dad act different. How can you ever live up to that? The Baby Boom generation lived through a period when nearly half the nation’s population was under 25. My generation gets to live in a nation where over half the population is older than you… or their kids who are younger than you.

Part of the rejection is also personal. I spent some of my college years in a college town full of aging hippies. One of them was the manager of an apartment complex where I lived. I can recall him telling me, with his beard and braided pony tail down to the small of his back, that “We just expected that your generation would just take up where we left off with the protests for peace and civil rights. It just seemed like what you were supposed to do.” Sorry. After (at that time) living through 10 years of the worst Federal budget deficits ever seen to that time… I was just more worried about making sure I had a few dollars in my pocket when I retired, and hoped that we could lower the divorce rate.

No, if there’s anything I see in the generational resolve of Generation X, it is a desire to clean up the mess left in the wake of the excesses of the Baby Boomers and their summer of love.

taking care of my This Old House jones

It’s been a pretty heavy week around here, what with some personal turmoil related to my last entry and the health problems of some people near and dear to Mrs. Geek and myself. I’ve been feeling the need to escape the seriousness, even only for an hour. Fortunately, our local cable company has decided to pick up the DIY Network and that network has picked up the rights to reruns of the Masterpiece Theater of do-it-yourself programs This Old House(TOH). That has provided some of the relief I’ve been looking for.

Both of my parents are veteran do-it-yourself-ers. They put up a two story addition to their house that included my bedroom back in the 1960s. Then they bought a plot of land by a lack, had a contractor do all the rough framing, and finished it themselves. So, it’s only natural that I’ve been fixing or helping to fix plumbing, electrical, and carpentry problems of one kind or another most of my life.

It is also only natural that I am a fan of TOH. My Dad and I started watching it together on the local PBS station back in the early 1980s during the later Bob Vila era of the show. That lasted all the way through high school. I started watching on my own through college and grad school during the Steve Thomas years, and now into Kevin O’Connor’s tenure on the show. The show has sentimental roots that reach back over 20 years with me.

That kind reach is exactly what I’ve been looking for. With DIY Network, I am able to get a full hour of TOH every evening in prime time if I want it. I am glad to get it.

me and my big mouth

I discovered on Tuesday that things I said in an entry here hurt two people who Mrs. Geek and I both care about. The entry was poorly written and not fully thought out (if you are being overly generous) and insulting (if you aren’t). Some thoughts should not be spoken aloud, much less be put in a blog. Yet, that is what I did, not fully informed of the facts and definitely speaking with the poorest of manners… without giving any thought to the possibility that someone would read my words and be hurt.

I wish to offer my most sincere apologies for what I said and how I said it.

the harri3t mix covers

Sorry that I’ve been a little out of it this week. The web server at Mrs. Geek’s school decided to come close to collapse last weekend. It didn’t quite die, but rather more of a case of “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up”. I was able to effect some surgery on Tuesday night that at least stabilised its condition. The rest of the week was spent putting together a replacement. That was not horribly easy for reasons that I will probably document here or over at Geeks Of Doom at some point. Suffice to say, I feel like I’ve been working two jobs for the last week.

In the meanwhile, I will put up the cover art I put together for the Harri3t Mix(described here and here) that I put together and sent to harri3tspy.

I put this cover art together using iTunes. I only recently discovered that iTunes was capable of this sort of thing — but then again, this really was the first mix I’ve ever burned from iTunes. I had to digitize some of the CD cover art used in the images — the CDs are out of print and iTunes did not have the art on file. I used paper stock from Memorex to print these images out. That too involved some fancy footwork, because iTunes wanted to print the CD art in a format not compatible with the Memorex product. All came out well in the end though.

I am especially happy that Harri3t really seems to like the mix. That was my fondest wish when it came to putting the mix together. I feel like I put a little bit of myself in a mix CD when I am putting it together… and I find it a little nerve wracking while I wait to see how that bit will be received.

easter in slovakia

Today was a nostalgic Easter, in some ways. After attending a Roman Catholic Easter Vigil Mass (the mother of all vigils for the queen of feasts the Mass program proclaimed) that lasted two hours and fifteen minutes last night, I found myself at loose ends for a lot of the day. As today is also Easter in the Orthodox Christian Churches, my thoughts drifted back to the Carpatho-Rusyn Easters we used to celebrate with my mother’s side of the family when I was small.

There are several things that I remember about Easter with my maternal Grandparents. One is the classic call and response. People greeted each other with “Christos Voskrese!” (Christ is risen!), which elicited the response “Voistinu Voskrese!” (Indeed he is risen!). Another was the unusual foods we used to eat. No cooking was traditionally allowed on Easter Sunday, so all food was cooked ahead of time and served either cold or at room temperature. There was hrudka which was essentially a large, round, cold scrambled egg made from milk and eggs that had been hung out to dry for a few hours. There was Pascha, a special decorated Easter bread made from a Challah-like egg dough. The decorations consisted of braids and fish-shapes made of dough. There was ground beets and horseradish (I hated to be in the house when this was made because the horseradish would stink up the kitchen). There was ham, kielbasa, and veal roast, all served cold. Finally, there was butter — in the shape of a small lamb.

The meal was in so many ways religious.All of it seemingly had some kind of symbolic value. Most of this food was generally loaded into a basket during the days before Easter to be taken somewhere to be blessed by the local Priest (at my grandparents’ it was a house about half a block away). Articles on the web tell me that this is because Lent is completely meatless in the Orthodox Church, and that it seemed important for the first meats consumed for 40 days to be blessed.

My web researches also unraveled the meaning of another memory from my youth. My grandparents always seemed to have pussywillows in their house. I discovered that this is because the Orthodox Churches of Eastern Europe gave these out on Palm Sunday instead of palm fronds. I wonder if I could find some around here — it seems like an interesting way to remember them.

easter lilies

I went out and got an Easter lily on my way home from work yesterday. Mrs. Geek’s reaction when I brought it into our apartment was not wholly unexpected: “Uh honey, why do we have a large Easter lily?”

This has a lot to do with our respective family backgrounds. For me, the scent of an Easter lily (along with the smell of burnt beeswax from making pysanky) is one of the smells I most associate with Easter. Mrs. Geek’s family operated a funeral home, and all lilies fall into the category of “death flowers”.

I don’t really have the time, space, or empty peanut butter jars (we always seemed to use empty glass peanut butter jars) to start making pysanky, but a bit of that Easter lily scent wafts my way as I sit at my computer… and it smells heavenly.