Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Yikes

In the final run-up to the wedding, which this is getting to be, it is probably foolish to expect me to be sensible. It occurs to me that there is still a lot we need to decide on - like our first dance and elements of the service. Time to cut the gordian knot, surely, but what with? Still some loose ends too, of course, and this means hassling people to ask them what has been done, and what the plan is. Of all my bridal tasks this is certainly the most wearisome, and one that I dislike deeply. It often seems more work harassing people than actually doing all that stuff. This is of course not true, but still.

Meanwhile, yes Practicing Idealist, I did have a lovely birthday, thanks largely to the lovely Spouse who elaborately cooked and gave presents. I miss celebrating with my family, but it has been so long now that I almost forget what it is like...

Well, back to tea, meetings and craziness.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Note


UPDATE: I forgot to mention that a representative of my employer hummed Happy Birthday to me and gave me a card. This was also nice.
A year has passed since last time. This is a good time to reflect on the good things in life, like being able to eat without excruciating pain, and being with one's partner. Who has gotten up at an ungodly hour so as to properly start one's birthday. Like messages from family and friends.

I am, then, having quite a happy morning.


Monday, January 29, 2007

Tea

Today, as on many days, I really have no time for this, but anyway. It occurs to me that after that long post I can be a little more leisurely, even if life isn't at all leisurely. Today is Politics Day at work, so it'll be a long day. The things one does for no money at all. Tomorrow should be fun, a bit more leisurely and with some more quality time with the Spouse.

Ok, I need a cup of tea now, apologies for the disjointedness, I promise I'll do better tomorrow.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

A nice friendly discussion

Well, I told you I would be conferencing, and so I did, and presented and all of that. I am glad it's over.

Here's one thing I didn't count on - one the first evening, I am having dinner with my boss in a nice Indian restaurant, and we're talking about all sorts of things, and it's all pleasant enough. She is much more conservative than I am, but a very amiable lady, so we get along. There are, though, things that I should not talk to her about.

I am stupid you see, and I had foolishly extrapolated from many conversations with Christians that their beliefs are always in some way comprehensible to me. This is not actually the case, as I might have known, particularly in the US. So my boss and I are talking about the Bible, an interesting enough topic, and one I have gone over many times with even the most conservative and Christian of my friends. I am pretty mild-mannered and diplomatic about the whole thing, nor do I hold many absolute views on the topic.

There is one subject, I discover, which I had never even thought could come up in this kind of conversation, and it blindsided me completely. I am talking, you my have guessed, about evolution. Ye gods, I work for a creationist. I know, this is not news in the US - but I promise I have never met one, and told her as much. They are a very, very rare phenomenon in Europe. It was a bizarre experience to be quizzed and challenged about evolution as if it were some new and exciting topic. My supervisor remained perfectly charming throughout the whole thing, while I got more and more angry (though hiding it fairly well).

It is very hard for me to believe that there are people who genuinely believe that there is some massive conspiracy to con them into believing they are descended from apes. I find it even harder to understand that they cannot face the consequences of their beliefs, and can be involved with the forms of technology and science that suit them, but reject the massive evidence for evolution as some kind of malicious mistake.

It never even occured to me that some people might think there was a contradiction between science and religion, not since (most!) Christians have accepted that the Earth is, indeed, not flat. To think that my boss - who is a good boss, and a nice person - is one of them is mindboggling. I was kind of aware that such a thing existed, but always thought of it as a remote subject, something happening in small villages in...Kansas, whatever.

Yikes.

There are very few things that I am not willing to discuss, and I thought I had found them all - racism, homophobia, that kind of thing. These are things that I do not want to have debates about, for the simple reason that to me it is so obvious that they are wrong that I cannot, and do not want to, see the other side of the debate. I don't want to understand what it is like to be a racist. And now this, this ludicrous subject of the literal truth of the Bible.

Maybe I should have the discussion - surely my manager would like me to. Maybe I should talk to the racists and homophobes, the holocaust deniers; but I am not sure that I want to spend my energy trying in vain to explain the obvious when we are surrounded by evidence every day. Somebody who has the capacity to deny all that, can surely ignore a simple rational (and if it is coming from me, fairly muddled) argument.

I am as critical as the next person of the arrogance of science, and its limitations; but in all things practical, it seems at least to have stood us in better stead than religion (alone). With all my superstition and mixed-up spirituality I still think it is the best tool we have for finding out about the world.

The difference between a creationist and a racist is this, though -while being a racist will always make a person morally suspect in my book, I don't really know what to do with a creationist. It makes the person...what? Misguided? Not responsive to reason? Unscientific? I don't for the life of me know...

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Warmer


Yes, posting. Well folks, I am going to let you down for the most part today, today is a bit crazy.

I may not be posting over the next three days, or rather it depends on my access to internet. I will be at a conference in milder climes, and be put up in a hotelroom that is twice the size of our apartment. On my own, so I can be extra lonely when I am not in the pool or attending Fascinating Talks. It would seem that I am also co-presenting, which personally, considering the context* I think is rather funny.

*I feel like a stock broker explaining bathing suit design to swimmers. In fact, it is very like that.

Monday, January 22, 2007

The Queen


Apart from going to see ice hockey, the Spouse and self also saw The Queen last weekend. Now of course I see the Queen on a regular basis, what with being odd and possessing a portrait which occupies a place of honour in our household. In fact, a random cable person once mistook her for my mother (who of course regularly wears crowns). I am, however, on this occasion referring to the critically acclaimed film with Helen Mirren.

One has to love Helen Mirren. Not only is she a splendid actress and has she managed to age gracefully, she just seems rather nice as well. Anyway, the movie is good, and manages to make a potentially spectacularly boring topic (the royals in the week after Diana's death) compelling on a personal level. Considering that the person in question is Elisabeth II Regina, as private a person as ever was public, that is no mean feat. Oh, and there is Michael Sheen, who does a lovely job of playing the People's Prime Minister. He too, had won my heart earlier, but my devotion has proven to be justified - he shows us the early Blair (how we miss him!) in all his spin-doctored fervour and fundamental Englishness. Good job folks. Top notch.

Registry items

Main Entry: fuzzy logic
Function: noun: a system of logic in which a statement can be true, false, or any of a continuum of values in between

Fuzzy logic, while more cute & fluffy sounding than regular logic, still seems like an odd thing to use to operate rice cookers.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

I don't even have hockey skates


"You said you didn't give a fuck about hockey and I never saw someone say that before"
(Tragically Hip, Fireworks)

Yup, folks, today was the day of my first ever hockey game. I like hockey, but then I was in Canada I also had no money, so I didn't see any. This game, I might add, was not a good game, but it was fun. Huzzah for quality hockey time. And now, of course, I have one of the Tragically Hip's many hockey songs stuck in my head.

Friday, January 19, 2007

TV


I am covered in snippets of papers and am trying not to get splinters in my fingers, and generally am trying not to injure myself with sharp or heavy objects. It is an arts and crafts sort of day at work, which has its pros and cons. Soothing, yes, the zenlike calm of repetitive manual labour. It does me good right now.

I was going to blog about Jon Stewart, that's right, and the Daily Show, that beacon of hope for the non-extreme. As I was watching the show yesterday and Dear Jon was enjoying poking fun at what essentially a dying old man for having surgery, I realised that he annoyed me vastly. Not just because of the Castro thing - that was incidental - though I never find that kind of joke very funny, no matter who they make the butt of it. No; I realised that I was expecting to really enjoy this show, this moderate wonder. Instead, however, I find it mildly entertaining at best, and always, always too damn smug. Now I could just about put up with affected smugness; but no, this, this is the real thing. Moreover, Stewart has a tendency to over-finish the joke. He makes the joke, we all get it, then he goes back and laughs at himself some more. Besides, nothing dangerous or even really controversial is said. In political comedy, this is not a good thing, nor is it funny.

Can someone give me recommendations for a better, funnier show? The man is just too self-satisfied for me.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Not a nice person

It can be so hard to feel sympathy sometimes. I have a long way to go as a human being, that's sure. At work, a colleague has just experienced something truly, unmitigatedly terrible, one of those insurmountable life disasters. I don't like her, and that's ok, I don't have to. When I heard about it I wanted to do something - but I hardly know her, so didn't. She came back to work yesterday, and seeing her today all I could think was "how terrible she looks!"

Do I really have no compassion at all? Am I really so superficial that I can put aside someone else tragedy for my own petty dislikes? Could I not have done something? Anything at all? A card?

I wish I could say that all this will make me act differently, feel differently next time, but I can't make any promises. True generosity is hard to come by.

Appreciation day

Recently, I received from the Heimat a collection of Belgian music, as a gift from my sister*.

I had no idea that Belgian music was so good. Really. You should try it sometime.

My sister is great, and generally much underrated because she is the quietest member of a pretty loud & opinionated family. It took me a year of living with her and her family, and then another four months later on, to fully realise what a great person she is. For one thing, at no point while I was living with them did I feel at all a burden, or uncomfortable. There were never any conflicts about anything, really, which is astonishing.

I used to think that she was really generous, really kind. Turns out that she is also fun, and interesting, and gives great advice. Bizarre how it can take you a quarter of a century to find out about your family, but well worth the wait.

*Well, one of my sisters. People do get confused when I refer to one or the other as "my sister" - obviously I know what I am talking about.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Giant diamonds! Miles of lace!


After all that lengthy and somewhat intelligent posting I feel fully entitled to lapse into foolish enthusiasm. You see, yesterday I picked up my wedding dress, and not only does it look every bit as nice as I remembered it, it also fit perfectly, which meant NO alterations. For me, finding clothing that fits well is a miracle at the best of times, and on this particular occasion...well I was and am gobsmacked. Maybe it's the US, because recently I bought another dress and alterations were absolutely minimal. Anyway, I am very excited, and just waiting for the Spouse to leave so I can prance around in it. Yay.

Also let me add that all the obsessing about my relative size was justified - I will need to keep my resolutions!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Finders keepers


It has, by now, become clear, I am sure, that I am a lover of detective novels. More specifically, I love older, classic, British detective novels. Dorothy Sayers has been mentioned here more than once and yes, heavens, I do like Agatha Christie, particularly in the David Suchet Poirot series, which makes some fairly mediocre writing into a rather splendid series. I have seen every episode of Poirot at least twice and I could spend whole days watching Morse, the iconic British detective series involving lots of Oxford and a very nice old red Jaguar.

What is the attraction? I once attended a lecture on Modern (in the literary sense) detectives, and the obnoxious lecturer's hypothesis was that what people sought in post-Worl War I detectives was safety, discrete events, the reassurance of the genre that all questions would be answered and the culprits found. Following the pointless slaughter of WW I, people longed for a tight narrative structure, for a clear causal relationship.

It is only a hypothesis (as are most things in the study of literature), but it is an interesting one, particularly if you look at what happens to the genre as it evolves beyond the Modern age, and if you look at what is popular now, and in the recent past. Morse is certainly a good example - phenomenally popular in Europe, he perfectly fits the bill. Morse is brilliant, analytical, well-educated, well-dressed, a little eccentric and irreparably grumpy. On the other hand, though, he has a distinct tendency of getting involved with his cases emotionally, and that, ladies and gentlemen, is not at all done. The structure of the detective, while mostly intact, slips a little, in a tacit, discreet acknowledgement that we can no longer pretend to always be able to find tidy solutions.

Other popular British detectives like Frost and Dalziel & Pascoe go in that same direction, but they go further - structures crumble and relationships dissolve, while the solutions get messier all the time.

On the other side of the pond, my personal favourite, as well as a popular series, is Monk, a very series which sticks very closely to the traditional structure of the detective, but whose detective is completely out of touch with modern lifestyles, and of course famously obsessive-compulsive. Other than Monk, I know of few bona fide American detectives, though there is plenty of detecting going on. Perhaps I can cite House as another example. One should not be distracted by the fact that this series takes place in a hospital; it is, in essence, very much about elaborate detection. The whole point of House is that he, like, Monk, never fails - the storyline, while messy in other ways, is all Sherlock Holmes when it comes to detection.

So, based on that pitiably small sample, let me notice how interesting the difference is between American and British developments in detectives. To grossly simplify, it seems to me like the British detectives sacrificed some of their resolution rate and become a little more human; the Americans, on the other hand, seem to have kept their resolution rate, but lost quite a bit of their sanity.

Monday, January 15, 2007

The Lord is King

Now that the charming folks over at Total Drek have me humming Tom Lehrer songs, I am feeling more awake and less resentful to be made to work on Martin Luther King Day, when I work for an organisation that identifies with the civil rights movement.

Anyway.

Surprisingly enough, I do actually have a King Day story for you. Yesterday I went to a Universalist Unitarian service, at the request of the Spouse, thereby expanding, yet again, my virtually non-existant religious horizons. The service was, predictably, very much a propos of King and his message and all that. It was all very emotional, people cried, the minister cried, and we were all one happy brotherhood of man.

I know, I know, American services tend to be a little less...introverted than the European kind. I have a cultural prejudice against emotional displays in church, and organised religion makes me uncomfortable, but not as uncomfortable as singing makes me. That aside, though, this UU service did make me think. Sadly, it made me think mostly about the blanket assumptions made by the minister, rather than about anything related to MLK. The Spouse and I had a lengthy post-mortem session about our experience at the church. We disagree, and that is ok - but it was a very interesting discussion. There was a lot of politics in the sermon, as one would expect in a sermon about King. The (intern) minister was a young, white woman who had obviously done some research on the topic, and who felt very involved. She talked about the current validity of of King's message, about the similarities between civil liberties then and civil liberties now, and those between Vietnam and Iraq. Fair enough, there are plenty of similarities. It bothers me, though, to have a minister quote Barack Obama at me, and assume that UU issues and King's civil rights are automatically on the same line.

Churches can often be political in a very useful way; but being party-political in a church, well, that is just not for me. I believe that a religion/congregation's politics should derive directly from its core values, and while that may temporarily put you in one camp or the other, it won't do to become involved with one specific party beyond the support of the same issues. Even though I share the UU ideology, I find it unpleasant to have anyone tell me what party is in the right, and how we should interpret King's message. The service made me long for the democracy of a uaker meeting. What good is preaching to the converted, after all, what good is it to tell me to listen to the opposition, without reflecting any of their issues or asking any of even the congregation's opinions?

Maybe it's just not for me.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Oh ye gods, not more of that

I was reading Missing Sarmale the other day, and I appreciate how Dana lists here knowledge and achievements. Since one of my goals for this year is to develop a somewhat more positive self-image, I will follow her lead and ponder my achievements. Again, folks, I feel kind of bad for exposing you to my Quest for self, it seems like I am rather too far from the mezzo del cammin to be hunting around for Virgil*.

What did I do, other than make my dad proud with not-so-oblique references to classical literature? You know, the odd thing is that this is the year in which I achieved a lot of the things I had been waiting around for - living with the Spouse, quitting the corporate job, getting the paperwork sorted allowing me to work here. That's good, isn't it? Only I feel like in the process I shoved a whole bunch of things aside, and many of my beloved illusions ended up battered and bruised. I always expected my romantic illusions to suffer the consequences of moving in with them; but as it turns out my romance is mostly intact, I adore the Spouse as much as ever, and no number of discussions about leaving open drawers is likely to change that. Instead, somehow, my intellectual self-esteem has gotten badly mangled, and my very deliberate choice of going into non-profit feels like a step down, rather than a step in the right direction. My talent for working in business has turned into a double-edged sword, and suddenly, I don't know what I want or who I am anymore.

For the longest time I knew exactly what I wanted - a degree in English, and lots of time abroad. Well, I did that. Then they offered me some more of both, and I enthusiatically did that. Then, once that was done, I lucked myself into a first job, and when I got bored with that, into a second job, this time abroad. It all suited me well enough. And then, of course, I wanted the Spouse, and that didn't look like it was going to work out, but somehow it did. So now I'm here, with said Spouse, and that's lovely, but surely there is more to life? Sure, a house, a family, yes, by all means, but not now, now I want to do something with my slacker ambition and I am not sure that where I am is what I am ambitious about.

Again, Dorothy Sayers rings awkwardly true, really, the book (Gaudy Night - I recommend it to the lovers of smart detectives and literature) is more appropriate than is necessary. She says that you should do the thing you belong in, both practically and emotionally, no matter how noble it may be to pursue something else.

Yes. But where is it that I belong?

Who knows, but right now I need to be writing my job description for evaluation purposes. How fascinating. Instead I am breathing on my new temperature-sensitive pencil to make it change colour. Because whatever I have to do, or wherever I belong, Bright Colours and Shiny Things are always infinitely more interesting.

*Sorry, Dante reference, that's what you get for reading it at a susceptible age - Dante is all sinful and hopeless when he is lost in the woods in middle age and then he meets Virgil and that is the beginning of his rather dubious redemption. Etc.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Des duivels oorkussen

In Dutch you say that idleness is the devil's headpillow. The proverb certainly expresses a truth, and as I am examining my lack of motivation and self-esteem this morning, it is a strange thing to think about - surely I have not been idle? I have, in fact, been extremely occupied of late; and yet I know that while I have been rushing about trying to figure out what excruciatingly boring coversheet goes with what abominably uninteresting expense note, while I have been interrogating vendors and hunting down wedding details, I am not, in many ways, at all occupied. In fact, my plummeting self-esteem gets its velocity* from a feeling of boredom and a complementary realisation that I have no time to spare from my mundane activities to pursue my other interests.

My greatest intellectual pleasure at present is Dorothy L. Sayers, and as such also Lord Peter Wimsey. I miss England, which of course has not looked like Ms. Sayers image of it in sixty years, and perhaps never did; yet the language is real enough, and while there is much of England that does not fit that frame, a surprising amount of it does. Let me be a snob, and say that I miss that particularly British (and not just English) love of the language, interest in it.

As a consequence of the reading listed above I do wonder if I should identify with Ms. Sayers' "Derby winner making shift with a coal-cart"; but that is only conceit - I never was a Derby winner, nor is this a coal-cart, exactly. I am too bright, too well-educated, too lucky to be ashamed of myself, and I have been lazy, unambitious. People tell me often enough that, with the multitude of things on my plate right now, I should expect to achieve more; yet I could. I could do far more than I do, I ask much more of myself; perhaps not now, exactly, but I have little enough patience with the wait. I do not, by any means, undervalue my efforts in organising an appropriate celebration of our entry into the wedded caste. It was, and is a significant and creative investment. Only there is more than that, I want more than that, and as the period of adjustment comes to a close, I scout around for something to do that will fit the bill.

*somebody told me earlier this week that, as a secretary, I should use more long and difficult words, so for once I request that my verbosity be interpreted as an act of anger and resentment

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Brain maintenance

Yes, I didn't post yesterday, and have been having an...interesting time of it - the sort of interesting that makes you want to go back to bed and sleep. Today isn't looking any better, but I do feel more awake, and I did dream that the Spouse and I were trying to smuggle a moose into our hotelroom, which must be a good omen.

It looks like the moose, nay, the Spouse may get stuck in one of the snowier regions of the country, which is not good. I guess moose could get stuck too, but not in a way that would relate much to airplanes; besides which, they probably like it better in said snowy regions, unlike the Spouse.

Gratuitous talk of moose aside, I have been thinking.
(Gaston: "Le Fou I'm afraid I've been thinking"
Le Fou: "A dangerous pastime"
Gaston "I know")
So then I have been thinking about those resolutions and about the intellectually challenging course. In practice this means that I have been looking at the Open University site and being aghast at their prices (I know - nobody here thinks anything of courses costing 1195 GBP, but *gah*!) I know, I live right next to a university which give me a very serious discount, but they don't have the same range and flexibility and besides *sniffs* they're American. I am only partly kidding - while I have mostly overcome my anti-American prejudices, I do occasionally long intensely for real, honest British English.

Right now all I know is that what I need most of all for my head is a challenge, a reminder that while I have chosen to be a Glorified Secretary for very specific reasons, that is not all I can do with my brain. Most of all, I want to do something which serves no purpose other than to keep me on my toes, than to make me think.

Hm, the Americans have some interesting stuff. Hmm.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Resolutions

This is the time of year when businesses around the world set Clear and Measurable Goals, and since there are a few things I want to achieve this year, I am making my resolutions public at this stage. Sorry about that, but I'm hoping that the social pressure will help. Now go read something else.

So. Here is the list:

1. I must learn some positive thinking, and not convince myself that I am stupid/ugly/asocial. This goal is not very clear and measurable, but involves some specific actions:
a) I will, between now and December 31st, take at least one intellectually challenging course
b) I will join one social group of any nature and attend at least ten meetings thereof
c) I will take up at least one form of organised exercise, and attend a minimum of ten classes
Option b) may overlap with a) and c), depending on circumstances

2. Following the implementation in 2006 of Wedding Goals I, the first quarter of 2007 will see the implementation of Wedding Goals II (in addition to I, which remains active) - part I & II will become invalid after 5pm, 02/22:
a) I will forego all candy, cookies, cakes, pies, and other high-sugar entities, including, but not limited to, energy bars, Belgian chocolates, and whatever appears on the tables at lunchtime. This means that my lunchtime piece of carrot cake will be the last until 02/22, and I won't eat any of the cookies I am bringing my dinner host tonight. Nor will I eat any candy I bring for my birthday coming up soon. Excepted from the aforementioned rules are: fruit, nuts, seeds and one piece of chocolate a day. (oh bother, I have chocolate cake in my fridge)
b) I will equally forego salty snacks
c) I will nonetheless not obsess about my weight, and remain calm and zenlike, and remember that radiant health is the aim

It should be an interesting experiment. Will power! 2. is just like Lent really, and I know I can do that. Heavens, I am weird in such a pedestrian way; but I need structure, folks, I don't do complex rules.

Bother

Looks like at the very least I will have to wait for my niftier title. Oh well. No link left at the moment, spent all of it on Total Drek on a fairly disjointedpost. Meh.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Some days I am proud of myself

Yes, yes, another day at the office, and I have just more or less convinced my manager to not have my title be Glorified Secretary Extraodinaire. It wasn't even that hard to work up the courage to challenge her on it; I had a good, professional reason to do so. This is nice, as it justified my fairly fierce desire not to be officially known as Glorified Secretary Extraodinaire, although if she proposed to call me that, rather than the actual title I am transliterating, I might go for it. It has the virtue of honesty, as well as some intersting connotations.

Seriously, I hope this works out, and I get a more appropriate and snazzier title.

I always thought that I had no business/practical skills, that I was a literary type. Turns out I'm wrong about that, and that I do in fact have quite a few fun business skills. Funny how your expectations of yourself can stop you from seeing what is actually there.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Not a snob

I am not a very frequent drinker of coffee; that said I do love a good cup of coffee. Good cups of coffee are harder to come by than you would think, however, particularly in the US, and considering the radioactive sludge that comes out of my employer's brand-new, high-tech, fresh-ground coffee coffee maker I think there is malice involved. Not my employer's malice, they do genuinely like their coffee and they bought this big maching to make it better. No, I am talking big-scale conspiracy malice, the kind that creeps into a perfectly respectable Italian coffee maker and perverts it into producing only the most offending parody of coffee. No wonder people like Starbucks. The tragedy here is that the US produces some of the finest coffee in the world - Kona coffee. Kona coffee, however, is a tiny, very pricey drop in a very large ocean of terrible coffee. Alas, poor America.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Nitpicking

Surprisingly, then, the Vatican is my good books, while the BBC, alas, is not. You see, I am a lover of language and literature both, and the Beeb, the lovely, enduring, recalcitrant Beeb has gotten it wrong:

"Reports suggest heaven will be full of classical style melodies, the limbo of purgatory will be illustrated with Gregorian Chant, with hell full of more jarring music." (italics mine)

Now, whoever wrote this article obviously never read Dante, nor did he or she, for that matter, read the Wikipedia entry on the subject. I, on the other hand, have read both the Divine Comedy (years ago) and the said Wikipedia entry (just now, to confirm my misgivings). You see, "the limbo of purgatory" is a contradiction within the context of Dante's book. Limbo and Purgatory are very distinct place in Dante's geography of the afterlife - Limbo is the first circle of hell, which holds those people who were virtuous, but lived before Christ's time (comfortable and pretty, but no chance of redemption), whereas Purgatory involves the expiation of sins on a trajectory to heaven.

Come on guys, do your research.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Wat geweest is

So the new year starts, and this is the time when people pull out their old diet plans, and their long lists of resolutions. Instead, I pull out their old music, remember the past and wonder what there is to be had from it. In fact, I am thinking of Boudewijn de Groot, music I haven't listened to in a very long time. But when all of the English speakers are thinking of Bob Dylan, that's what I think of. The two singers are not unrelated, though perhaps surprisingly I like de Groot much more than I like Dylan. I like the brand of not-so-world-weary-some-amount-of-protest music. I like it like I love Jacques Brel, in a way that has little to do with taste. Like I like Suzanne Vega. There is something about all three of these that is terribly honest, terribly straightforward. It is also some of the first music I was ever really aware of, and I guess that makes an impression.

Why remember all of this now? Boudewijn de Groot has this song called "Wat geweest is, is geweest" (meaning something like "what is over, is over"), which is all about starting a new year. And I figure, by now, that he is right - for all the things we leave behind at new beginnings, we take some with us too.

That's the thing with listening to music you're too young for - you grow into their meaning, and so it is worth dusting off your old music, remembering how you used to be (in my case with a sense of great relief that things have changed), and figuring out what you want to bring into this year, and what you want to leave. Maybe I have reached that point where that song was written (it's off an album called Vrienden van vroeger, friends from before), that point where you re-evaluate your life, and see where it has gotten you. But there is no call for melancholy, and while I have no diet plan, I do have a few resolutions for this new year. You see, this year, I want to learn a few important things - how to deal with stress, how to believe in myself and how not to sweat the little things. I can do that.

A pretty good year

Just a brief post folks, no lengthy thinkings.

So this has been an intense year, this 2006. It had:
- Two cross-border moves
- A gigantic mass of paperwork
- One engagement party
- Some fairly serious burns
- Lots of moose
- One civil marriage
- Two jobs, one old, one current
- Lots of friends
- One birthday spent in bed, and in pain
- Lots of wedding planning
- More American football than I ever wanted to watch
- Not nearly enough sleep, or kittens
- Putative bed bugs (though we still hope to prove their non-existence)
- One honeymoon
- Lots of of time with, and without, the Spouse
And more, of course, not all of which is your business. The year ended, somewhat gracelessly, with a bad cold. It also ended with a Packers game, and Dick Clark, who is not so good at counting backwards.

The next year promises to be equally tumultuous, with a wedding to kick it off. I will keep you all posted, far beyond what you ever wanted to know, about life as a Spouse and Settled Person. And some random politics too, I'm sure.