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James Lentz
I'm familiar with the argument.
Perhaps the best thing about buying books from independent dealers through the internet is the bubble wrap envelopes they typically come in, and how happy the Dude is squeezing himself inside of them.

I miss you, Z.
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Z and I went to Powell's as part of our Friday date night. Z wanted to check out the Latin books, so we went to the foreign language section only to discover that Latin books were, curiously, kept in Classics, a couple floors down. While we were in Foreign Languages, though, I decided to see if they had any of the great books of the French canon, so I could fantasize about the day when I'd be able to read them in their original language. I found Hugo and Beckett and Proust, but the books that most strongly drew my eyes were a pair of brown volumes not even a hand high. When I took them off the shelf I realized they were a French translation of Homer's Iliad. The pages were still quite intact, though slightly yellowed, but the cover looked ancient: even the nicks and scratches that come to all books with age had been worn over smooth. I handed one to Z so she could feel.

I checked the date on the title page. It said 1796. I said to Z that that couldn't be right, and she put her volume to her nose, inhaled deeply and proclaimed it true, urging me to give it a try. I smelled the aged book in my hand. It just smelled like old paper to me, but I ran my fingers along that smooth cover, flipped through a few pages, felt something, and I believed it.

The pricetag was on a little card folded just inside the front cover. Wondering how Powell's would price such a tiny set of worn books from over two hundred years ago -- and thinking it must be little, as they relegated the volumes to a low shelf in an obscure section -- I pulled out the card. The price, printed next to the barcode on the card, said $100.00. I read it again, then read the entire card. At the bottom was printed "Locked Case."

I'd looked at the locked case earlier, a glass cabinet at the end of the aisle filled with important-looking sets and volumes that appeared handcrafted. The kinds of books that seem to be less carriers of the words inside and more the keepers of a tiny part of the spirit and history of centuries of readers whose eyes had swept across their pages. I looked at the small volume in my hand again and felt almost guilty for handling it so casually, then felt strangely proud to have added my touch to the touch of those others.

I took both volumes to the information desk in the next room over, cupping them in the sleeve of my coat.
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Z is now through with college, clutching in her figurative hands a BA in History! Go her!

We're not making any solid post-college plans, as we may have an opportunity to go to China early next year.

Which segues nicely into this: How to make a Beijing Left Turn!

Life is beautiful. Especially when it's diagrammed.
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Friday I bought a 1985 Fuji Absolute 10-speed bicycle off of craigslist from a couple who were selling their home. They'd planned to offer the bike at their moving sale the next day for $35 but posted it to the bike listings (describing it merely as "Fuji, men's ten-speed" and "well-maintained") as a sort of heads-up. I saw the listing in the morning almost as soon as it appeared and sent them an email saying I'd give them ten dollars more if they'd save it for me. They called me in the evening. I bussed over there and rode it home.

I repacked the headset bearings, a quick job requiring just a couple wrenches and some grease, then rewrapped the handlebars, finishing off the black handlebar wrap (which matched the seat and wheels, not surprisingly) with yellow electrical tape (which matched cable housing and the lettering on the red frame). Then I listed it for $195.

I sold it tonight, three days after purchasing it, for my full asking price, to a young fellow who met me in the lobby with his girlfriend. He said he'd looked up the bike on the internet, and he didn't even bother to take it for a ride -- just reached into his wallet and explained apologetically that he only had twenties. He looked relieved when I pulled out his change from my own wallet.

I told Zoë that I think he might have been embarrassed to ride the bike in front of me. Once he got it outside, he handed his wallet to his girlfriend and rode up the street with the toeclips on the underside of the pedals.

I think he'll be really happy with the bike. It's certainly a much nicer machine than the one I commute with, and I paid the Recyclery $150 to build mine back before I knew anything about building bikes. I'm going to email the guy and let him know if he encounters any problems with it that I'll help him; I want to be sure he feels good about his purchase. Because everyone should feel good about their bike!

So that's two bikes sold in as many weeks. Z and I have come to an agreement so we're both happy with the often-inconvenient quantity of bicycles rotating through our studio: any profit I make we split evenly, with her half dedicated to clothing and shoes. That way, I can have my bikes, we can both get excited about my wheelin' and dealin', and she can not feel guilty about buying "frivolous" things. Plus, I get to see her in her cool new clothes!

The only drawback is that now I'm one of those people pushing up bike prices here in Portland.

And, the other blessing.Collapse )
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I'm finally eligible for vision and dental insurance through my work! I'm dying to go to the dentist, and I'm hoping to get contacts. And maybe some spare glasses. Mine are relics that I bought right before I dropped out of my life in Austin. They've accompanied me through all my trials since then, but they've fared worse than I: the lenses are a landscape of scratches, the pieces that bend over my ears haven't matched in years, and one screw is much longer than the other, extending a good distance below the threading.

We won't get into the condition of my teeth.

An aside: Z's TV, a gift from her family for graduation, should arrive today. We have no intention of actually using it for television, but she has Dance Dance Revolution (including the necessary pad) and a PS2 game system (also a gift). She's quite pumped. And we'll be able to watch DVDs on a screen suitable for movie parties!
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Not only are they home to more shit bogs than any other state, they also have the embarrassment of representation by Patrick McHenry, who gave a speech today ridiculing the notion that bicycle use could reduce US dependence on foreign oil. Streetsblog kindly posted the entire speech. Perhaps it loses something in print (I haven't watched the video, though the guy apparently posted it to his own webpage, presumably confident that willful ignorance sells well among his constituents), but man, talk about pathetic.

If you happen to be in this guy's district, you should tell him what you think. If you happen to live in NC, you might want to write your local papers to call attention to the incompetence of this guy.

I'm very glad Z is from the Southern Carolina.
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I love selling bikes. I forget that it actually makes me feel good, so I put it off and put it off.

I just sold the AMF Hercules 3-speed I bought over a year ago for $15 at the Salvation Army (where I will never buy anything again, now that I know more about them) to a guy who's giving it as a present to his girlfriend. He paid me my full asking price, $115, which is good, because in addition to the new cables and brake pads, not to mention all the work I put into polishing that sucker up, I also left the $48(!) Schwalbe tire that I stuck on the front wheel after we abandoned our old three-speeds in Europe. Because the guy called me before I had time to swap it out after work. But that's okay, because I promised Z I would sell a bike before she got home, and I did! And she comes home tomorrow morning! Yay!
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I have been on the computer too long this afternoon. Proof: I was just contemplating my future, as I am wont to do (particularly at times when the present doesn't serve), and the question of what my kids might be like popped into my head. Particularly, whether Z and I might in fact have two boys and be stuck with no other option but to name Boy #2 Zoltan III, the dirth of suitable boys' names (after Boy #1 claims "Jude Rocket") driving us to forgo "suitable" for "amusing at the expense of our child's self-regard." And, upon having this thought pop into my head, instinct led me to click on the Google search field with the intent of searching, presumably, for the gender makeup of my future children.
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I just beat my 9x9 computer go game at 3 kyu. That's a record for me. W00t!

(And that's my second "w00t" in the last three minutes. Life must be good.)

Edit: I just beat it at 2 kyu! I must be a genius! Or this wasn't worth posting about in the first place. Sorry.
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I often hear how the worthwhile things in our society came about as a result of those in power recognizing their duty and fulfilling it. For instance, when people are discussing the current administration's lack of respect for returning veterans, the treatment of soldiers coming home from the Middle East is often compared rather unfavorably to the treatment of World War II soldiers. The image is of a contrast between an unappreciative society or administration (now) versus a grateful government fulfilling its duties (then).

But, as it so often turns out, our fair government was not in fact fulfilling its duties out of noblesse oblige, but out of public pressure and fear of an uprising of discontented soldiers. Most of the perks given to those who've "fought for our country" grew not out of appreciation for the sacrifices of those who went overseas in World War II, but as a result of the very public protests -- and subsequent marginalization by the government -- of World War I veterans seeking advance payment on their bonus certificates during the Depression, over a decade earlier: the Bonus Army that descended on Washington, DC in 1932. You can read about it on the ever-useful Wikipedia. The protests of impoverished WWI veterans led to the G.I. Bill and the formation of Veterans' Administration. It wasn't the government choosing to do the right thing; the first reaction of the administration was to call in the army to kick the veterans and their families out of DC, which they did, with bayonets bared and tear gas flying.
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