PS... A Column

on Things

By Paul E. Schindler Jr.

Some things are impossible to know, but it is impossible to know these things.

I have a day job. So every word of this is my opinion, not that of my employer. This offer IS void in Wisconsin. Except, of course, that some material in this column comes from incoming e-mail; such material is usually reproduced in the Sans Serif type font to distinguish it from the (somewhat) original material.

To Pay For This Column Voluntarily
Tales of Teaching 2004
Tales of Teaching 2005

P.S. A Column On Things: January 5, 2004

January 5, 2004 Vol. 6, No. 1

Table of Contents:

General News

  • Loving Having Rae Home
  • Monday With Paul
  • Groundhog Day News!
  • From Rae's Journal
  • News From Marlow

Computer Industry News

  • Craig Reynolds' Technobriefs: None this week


  • Seasons Greetings (As Vetted)


  • Timeline
  • Triplets of Belleville
  • One From The Heart


  • The Dan Grobstein File

General News

Loving Having Rae Home

Did you ever write something, and then look at it later (or worse yet, have it brought to your attention later) and realize that it was unintentionally unironic in the literal sense--that the figurative meaning and the literal meaning were the same? Happens to me all the time. When you've written more than 200 weekly online columns, most of them with commentary on your own life, it seems like it happens all the time.

When I wrote, last week, "At least she enjoyed one day at home," of Rae --by way of introduction to an excerpt from her online journal--I intended to say, "she's enjoying every day; here's her description of one of them." But if you just look at the sentence, it appears to suggest she isn't enjoying herself. She is. And we're enjoying having her. In fact, we are among the rare, privileged few who can honestly say that we derive unalloyed pleasure from the presence at home of our adult daughter, and she feels the same about us. How about them apples? Kind of makes you feel you've done your job as a parent. Especially when the same thing is true of our older daughter, Marlow, as well.

Monday With Paul

My nephew Paul had planned to come down Sunday night for a two-day visit to Orinda. That we before someone came to a stop at a green light in front of him. Paul stood on the brakes, even pulled his emergency brake. All he got for his efforts was the separation of his tires from the pavement. In short, he hydroplaned into the back of the car that had stopped for no apparent reason, leaving the car in front with little damage, but Paul's Honda Civic with substantial damage. He wanted to be around to talk to the mechanic on Monday. Since that was the best day of Rae's vacation for a visit, she and I hopped into my car, and braved torrential rain and 50 mile per hour winds for the two hour drive to Paul's home in suburban Sacramento. We spent a wonderful day with my brother's son, talking, driving, sharing cool stuff on the Internet (like, the coolest Flash animation site I've ever seen, thank you Rae) and looking at his damaged car. We ate lunch at the Elephant Bar restaurant, where little Paul (as I call him) had his first taste of lamb. Then the three of us went to see Timeline at a second-run theater ($3 each for tickets! Tough to beat that price--especially as $3 was about all the film was worth). A visit to his mother's shop wrapped up the day.

I believe it would be safe to say a good time was had by all.

Groundhog Day News

Those of you familiar with my obsessions will recall that I went to a showing of Groundhog Day sponsored by the San Francisco Zen Center on Friday, Aug. 10, 2001, held in the Trustees' Auditorium of the Asian Art Musem in Golden Gate Park.

Tom Armstrong was one of the attendees that day. In December 2003, Tom and I were successfully able to revive a well-received Internet posting of his from years ago entitled The Ned Ryerson Conundrum. I am proud to host this thoughtful essay on a seldom-considered aspect of my favorite film.

From Rae's Journal

Partially Clips is a consistently funny webcomic. Here are some good ones:

News From Marlow

More details of Marlow's travels are here.

In the evening we finally got together for our Secret Santa gift exchange. It was actually a lot of fun, once everyone actually showed up. I'd been told 8 o'clock. So I thought I'd be ahead of the game for once and showed up 20 minutes late. I was still the first one there by 20 minutes. I don't think we were all accounted for until 10.

It was actually the nicest set of gift giving with that many people I've ever been a part of, and it did a lot to rescue my Christmas. No one cheaped out. Everyone was surprised and happy. And although we owned up at the end, most people had no idea who their secret Santas had been. I'll send the pictures shortly.

Yesterday I had my first go lesson where we used an actual board not just the computer, and I played my teacher. He gave me a 13 stone handicap, and still beat me soundly, no surprise. But he said he was very happy with where I am. For the amount I've played I'm where I should be. I even managed to keep some territory in our game, which he says many people don't do the first time. I might be joining his family for some Chinese New Years activity, but I'm not sure. He was going to check with his wife and give me a call later this week.

I think there was another earthquake last night, but since I forgot to bring it up in class I'm not sure if other people felt it, and the couple of people I've asked didn't, but I'm positive I felt it since I was just sitting in my room. It was at around 10 p.m.


Happy 2004! It feels like we were partying like it was 1999 just yesterday.

Anyway, I rang in the new year at Party Room. It was the best time I've had at Party Room actually. The place was packed. All the clubs and streets were packed. Even though Chinese New Years is the 21st and a much bigger deal for people here, or at least I think it will be, they were definitely out in numbers to celebrate western New Years as well. Supposedly there was a fireworks display at Taipei 101, but it was super crowded, and kids were lighting sparklers in the really dense crowd which irked some of the westerners I know who went.


Computer Industry News

Craig Reynolds' Technobriefs

Happy New Year!


Seasons Greetings (As Vetted)

A hardy holiday perennial, which will be funny as long as there are lawyers in the world:

Merry Christmas (as approved by Legal Department)

Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress, non-addictive, gender neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all ... and a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling, and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2004, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great (not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country or is the only "America" in the Western hemisphere), and without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith, or sexual orientation of the wishee.

This wish is limited to the customary and usual good tidings for a period of one year, or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first. "Holiday" is not intended to, nor shall it be considered, limited to the usual Judeo-Christian celebrations or observances, or to such activities of any organized or ad hoc religious community, group, individual or belief (or lack thereof).

Note: By accepting this greeting, you are accepting these terms. This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal, and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher at any time, for any reason or for no reason at all. This greeting is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. This greeting implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for the wishee her/himself or others, or responsibility for the consequences which may arise from the implementation or non-implementation of same. This greeting is void where prohibited by law.



A reasonably good Michael Crichton novel made into a barely adequate $80 million Richard Donner thriller. Not bad if you can, as Rae and I did while visiting Paul in Sacramento, find it available for $3 in a second-run theater. Otherwise, just buy the book. If Billy Connolly were a slightly better actor, I'd say it was a waste of his talents, but despite fourth billing, his role is but an extended cameo.

Triplets of Belleville

If you, like me, go to a lot of movies at Art Houses, you've seen the previews for this film. Alas, this is one of those cases where every good moment from the film is in the preview. The very best part of this animated feature is the first 10 minutes, of the triplets performing in Belleville (New York) in the 1920s; a parody of black and white Disney cartoon style, it is charming and lovely.

As for the rest of the film--well, do this. Take every aspect of Finding Nemo and imagine the exact opposite. Voila. Triplets of Belleville. The "plot" is limited (of course) by the almost complete lack of dialog. This isn't always a sin; if you notice, most Disney cartoons made before the 1940s had soundtracks which consisted almost entirely of music and sound effects; a clever move which made them much easier to sell overseas. This movie has buckets of clever, tons of art, parody, satire and French anti-Americanism. What it is short of is involvement, entertainment and showmanship. Ten minutes of entertaining highlights don't hold up an 80-minute film. I held (and am still holding) my top 10 list until I see Cold Mountain. I felt sure I'd be placing Triplets on the list, and adding it to my list of best animated films of the year, but in good conscience, I can't do either. It is too self-consciously artsy to be entertaining and not thoughtful enough to be throught-provoking.

One From The Heart

Francis Ford Coppola's famous 1982 musical flop has been remastered and is making a limited-engagement tour. In San Francisco, it is at the Castro, where Vicki, Rae and I saw it. It is a beautiful and ambitious film that uses an enormous amount of art and technology to tell a little tiny story--which was the critics' complaint about it in the first place. Still, as eye candy goes, it is quite amazing and very directorly. If you are a serious student of the cinema, go see it.


The Dan Grobstein File

  • NBC showed video of the woman who died in the bed next to Jessica Lynch, and her family's mad about it.
  • An Italian internet site today, Sharper Image tomorrow: the waterball.
  • The Guardian's Christmas roundup of odd stories proves the British are as weird as ever.

New York Times:

  • Laura Bush says the "president" didn't write the silly poem attributed to him that referred to her as a lump in the bed.
  • Be ready for the new laws that took effect Jan. 1.
  • A Marine who served in Iraq argues against get tough policies there.
  • Stepping a ways away from economics, Paul Krugman offers cogent analysis of the right and wrong ways to run for the Democratic presidential nomination.
  • The GOP is pro states rights, of course, but only when it's convenient.
  • Sending IM messages to family members. Heck, we do it when we're in the same house.
  • And they say research never produces useful results... "For those trying to minimize their verbal tics, Mr. Christenfeld also found that drinking alcohol reduces ums.

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