Marrying Mrs Heathen remains the best thing I ever did. Happy anniversary, baby.
Marrying Mrs Heathen remains the best thing I ever did. Happy anniversary, baby.
As I woke, for some reason this phrase was in my head: “It’s like a Keurig, but for porn!”
I have no idea what that means.
If it were possible to buy Internet connectivity or television from an organization that did not obviously hold its customers in such complete contempt.
“I just heard back from the mudjacker.”
I’m kinda posting this just for Erin’s benefit.
tl;dr: Corvids are cool.
You know what? If you yell at enough people for long enough, you can often get what you want out of egregiously stupid and dishonest phone providers.
It just took about 3 hours of badgering, plus the ability to make it clear to them that you would not be going away empty handed.
Cord Jefferson over at Gawker has written a really solid piece about being young and black and male in the US that pretty much everybody ought to read.
Especially if you’re confused at all about why people are upset.
Here’s a bit:
It is a complicated thing to be young, black, and male in America. Not only are you well aware that many people are afraid of you—you can see them clutching their purses or stiffening in their subway seats when you sit across from them—you must also remain conscious of the fact that people expect you to be apologetic for their fear. It’s your job to be remorseful about the fact that your very nature makes them uncomfortable, like a pilot having to apologize to a fearful flyer for being in the sky.
I’m reminded of Kiese Laymon’s amazing piece as well, which ran in the wake of Martin’s murder last year. If you’re unfamiliar with “How To Slowly Kill Yourself And Others In America”, do yourself a favor and read it too.
This morning, at a Louisville Starbuck’s, I saw this bumper sticker:
In case it’s not clear, let me spell it out for you: It says “Contradict” in the same style as the now-ubiquitous “Coexist” stickers, with the tagline “They can’t all be true.” Threatened by an America where they’re no longer the overwhelmingly dominant demographic gropu, they’ve taken a message of tolerance and turned it into a means to run around telling people their faith is superior, which I’m certain will do WONDERS for tolerance and pluralism.
Via Wheaton’s tumblr:
Chris Oliver, via Bobbie Oliver’s Twitter: “Cocaine is like Ayn Rand: I don’t enjoy it myself, but I can see how it would appeal to assholes.”
We’re old enough now that the “they’re lazy, they’re not like us, yadda yadda yadda” crap about the next generation is actually about somone other than us, and, frankly, most of it’s shit that was said first about us, and we don’t particularly want to put up with it:
Generation X is beyond all that bullshit now. It quit smoking and doing coke a long time ago. It has blood pressure issues and is heavier than it would like to be. It might still take some ecstasy, if it knew where to get some. But probably not. Generation X has to be up really early tomorrow morning.
Generation X is tired.
In the “travel reports from far-flung Heathen cousins” category, we find this:
Marijke is my mother’s first cousin’s daughter, which I believe makes her my second cousin (but you can check my work). I went to her parent’s wedding twenty-mumble years ago, but I think I’ve only ever met her as an infant.
Her father’s a Dutch banker who’s recently taken a job in Zambia, but it’s more fun without context, isn’t it?
Here is why. Mrs Heathen and I were there at Comicpalooza for this; it was an astonishing and honest and open moment, and I would be a liar if I told you my eyes were dry by the end.
I’m glad this was captured, and I’m glad people can see it.
Ten years ago, almost to the week, Erin and I went over to Austin to see the joint AFI/Alamo Drafthouse Ten Year Reunion showing of Dazed and Confused. Most of the cast was going to go; they were showing it on a giant outdoor screen “at the moon tower,” complete with keg beer, etc. Tickets were reasonable! We had very little money at the time — I was working, but my client wasn’t paying me often or enough — but we squeezed this out by eating cheap and whatnot.
We made it a weekend, and had dinner at a nice little bistro down on the quiet end of Sixth Street, where we dined with Ol’ Mr Rob at his suggestion — which is its own story, since Rob was in the early stages of dating Mrs Norris at the time, and was sufficiently smitten in an adorably obvious way that he rushed off at meal’s end to visit her at her coffee shop job. (Erin and I ended up getting married not very long after Rob and Joanna, as it happens.)
After Rob made his exit, Erin and I walked around the little gallery-cluster near the restaurant before heading back to the hotel. They were all closed, which is a crucial bit of data, but we saw something amazing and wonderful that resonated immediately with both of us. It was a completely serious painting of a very Victorian and proper-looking otter, done in a very formal style, entitled (in our memories) “Eugenia Smelt, Spinster.”
We made a point of going back the next day, but the price was completely out of reach. I remember it being something close to $1,000, which we simply couldn’t do at all. We left without her, full of regret, and in so doing made a critical error: we did not capture the artist’s name.
Time passed. Money became less tight again, finally. Five or so years ago, I remembered Miss Smelt and hatched a plan to find the painting, or another one by the same artist, as a gift for Erin. And so I began to search online for this phantom artist. I called the gallery, which had (inevitably) changed hands, so they had only a vague idea of the artist I was trying to find. I’ve been told any manner of stories about who she was, or what happened to her in my years of searching, and none of the stories were encouraging. She quit painting. She moved to Ouagadougou. She had a nervous breakdown. No one knows where she is. Her name? Oh, no idea.
All of this sucked. It sucked more because I had a really hard time constructing Google queries that didn’t produce page after page of hits for people who paint portraits of your pets — we loved Bob, but no thanks.
At some point, finally, I figured out who the artist was: Sarah Higdon, and she was clearly still painting. Suddenly, she was on the Internet, and I even managed to find a photo of the Eugenia Smelt painting (which Higdon named “Eugenia Smelt, Unmarried” — I figure the gallery owner took liberties, because Erin and I both remember it the other way).
Here it is, for reference:
Well, with a web presence, contacting her must be easy, right?
You’d think that. Not so much. I hit a couple email addresses at various galleries, and even one or two that I thought would be the artist herself, but never hit pay dirt. I even wrote to people who had other of her works. They always either bounced, or garnered no response at all. I’d really almost given up, until this April when I thought to try one more time. Here’s what I said:
Some time ago — I think in 2004, but I may be mistaken [I was a year off] — my wife and I were dining at Cafe Josie in Austin on a trip over to see the AFI “Dazed and Confused” anniversary viewing. We remember the trip well, not just because of the fun we had on Saturday, but also because we saw some paintings through a gallery window near Cafe Josie that we really, really liked.
We visited the gallery on Saturday, and admired the works some more, but could not at that time justify spending money on art — the tech downturn was hitting our house kind of hard at the time. Thankfully, that state of affairs didn’t last, but it did keep us from taking one of the works home with us at the time. Foolishly, though, we failed to note the name of the artist whose work we liked so much.
Since then, we’ve periodically tried to figure out the artist whose work we saw then, but only recently have we made a real quest of it. That’s why I’m writing to you today: I think it’s your work we saw, and that it’s your work we want to hang in our house.
The paintings we saw that weekend were decidedly and delightfully odd: they were paintings of anthropomorphized animals in odd or vintage clothing, in the style of late-19th/early-20th family portraits. The animals are mostly, but not completely, realistic — more than cartoony, but definitely not photorealistic.
I think, at long last, that you are that artist. I first found your web site at SarahHigdon.com, but the clincher is that I think “Eugenia Smelt, Unmarried” (pictured on your Facebook page) was the painting we so fell in love with 9 years ago. Are prints available of that piece? I assume the original has long since sold, but do correct me if I’m wrong…
Sarah replied in less than two hours. When the first line of her mail was “Yay! Quests!”, I knew it was a good sign. Eugenia was of course long sold, and no prints exist, but she’d be happy to paint something similar for us on commission. Would I be interested?
YOU BET YOUR ASS I WOULD. Paypal ensued. The original plan was for this to be Erin’s birthday present — in July! — but when Sarah replied and delivered so quickly, I knew I couldn’t possibly wait.
The new painting arrived on Monday. I somehow managed to keep my mouth shut about it, and just left the box on the couch for Erin to discover when she came home from work.
Heathen Nation, please meet “Felicity Elkins, Alone with her Clam”. We are very pleased, as I think this photo makes obvious:
Yay for Sarah Higdon, yay for cool paintings, and yay for QUESTS FULFILLED.
Supposedly, this commercial damn near crashed the phone system in Alabama when it ran.
This dog is doomed to disappointment, at least for a year or two.
It’s sort of weird the degree to which I no longer think it odd that I need to coordinate business activities in any given day across more than 3 or 4 time zones.
My personal high is eight: Singapore, all four in CONUS, the UK, Vienna, and Abu Dhabi. It would’ve been nine, but by that point we no longer had an Indian subsidiary.
This is a thing of utter and complete beauty, and we should all be so lucky.
That’s pretty much it: Owls are super, super cool.
Faced with the choice, we decided this was a measure of safety and not in any way creepy:
It may not be immediately clear what I’m talking about. Let me help.
Yup. The world we live in.
Or sitting, or whatever. I rode the 100 on Saturday, and 66 on Sunday. I rolled into Austin at about 1:00 yesterday afternoon — inadvertently well ahead of most of my team, from whom I’d gotten separated. I lost too much time stopping on the long Saturday ride, so on Sunday I only hit one official rest stop to refill my water bottles; that turns out to be the secret to getting in ahead of everybody else.
It was: intense and amazing. I said as the weekend approached that I didn’t think I’d do it again if I did well this time around; training and preparation took so much time this spring that we missed or gave short shrift lots of activities we’d have liked to do. I’m not exactly sure when I changed my mind about that, but it was somewhere between Erin’s cheers at the century finish line and the intense team greeting we made a point to give all of our teammates when they arrived at our tent. This, it should be noted, is not universal — I didn’t hear anybody else making NEARLY as much noise when their folks came in, on either day. I think plenty of people end up on teams that are really just shared logistics at camp and little else, but the core of the Karbach team trained together all spring, and drank beer together, and as a result we really felt like a true TEAM. There’s even talk of doing more rides together this summer, which is something I’m absolutely going to do.
I should note that it’s not just me who had a change of heart about future MS150s; the Intrepid and Awesome Mrs Heathen (2013 Cheer Champion) was pretty clearly on board by sometime Saturday night, and probably for the same reaosns; on both days, she was enthusiastically helping to welcome our riders — an activity that extended well into Sunday afternoon, since we didn’t leave until about 5. It felt good to stay, and cheer, and encourage, and high-five, and just bask in the afterglow of the ride.
TL;DR? Was it hard? Yeah. I rode my bike to freakin’ AUSTIN. Was it worth it? You bet your ass.
Despite all this feel-good tomfoolery, do I have some snarky comments for you? OH YES:
Helpful hint: Check out what certain jersey patterns mean before you decide to use them for your whole team, especially if they’re not all made of monster climbers.
I’m no hardcore biker — I’m old and heavy and slow — but I also ride a pretty normal bike. By which I mean it’s only considered expensive when compared to Wal-Mart bikes. It’s a good bike, and it’s a nice bike, but it’s not super-fancy or anything. Buying a high-end tool when you’re a beginner runs the risk of making you look like an ass. ProTip: You don’t look like a jerk if you have to walk up a hill, unless the bike you’re pushing up the hill you couldn’t climb otherwise is $8,500 worth of carbon fiber race bike.
Oh, Austin, you’re adorable. Your tour course pylon placement can best be described as idiosyncratic. I’m all about you staying weird, but don’t you think “in a straight line” has some advantages vs. “all over the goddamn road?”
As long as we’re snarking on Austin: the signs insisting that MS150 riders ride only in the 2-foot bike lanes (that were filled with debris) had all the charm, authority, and effectiveness of a hall monitor whining about tardiness on the last day of school. There were 13,000 of us; the ROAD was our bike line.
Tomorrow morning at the absurdly early hour of 6:45AM, I’ll start the MS 150. If you haven’t ridden it, you are probably unaware that there are three starting points, resulting in three different distances for the first day. I feel strong, and the weather is good, so I’m planning on doing the full 100 mile route tomorrow.
Wish me luck.
I will, after the ride, reach out personally to each of you who have donated so generously in my name. I’m incredibly lucky to count such a generous and supportive group as my friends. I am amazed and gobsmacked by the level of support you’ve given me; at last count, over $2,500 has been donated to NMSS under my banner. That’s incredible. It’s a nice bit of good news, at least, at the end of a bleak and trying week — and it’s really only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the ride. With 13,000 other riders telling simliar stories of their friends’ generosity, it’s likely the final fundraising total will be more than $15,000,000 — and that’s over and above the cost of the event.
I mentioned this on Facebook yesterday, but I want to note it again, here: If you donated in my name with a particular victim of multiple sclerosis in mind, please share their name with me, by email or in a comment here; first names only are fine if privacy is a concern. I may need a boost on that 100 mile ride tomorrow, so I have written the names shared with me so far on my race bib. This ride is for all victims of MS, but my ride is for these people dear to my own friends in particular.
(Here comes the final pitch: If you’ve been putting off donating, it’s not too late. Consider giving “to” the Karbach team generally instead of to me (we need a bit more then $6K to meet our team goal), or pick a name from that list that’s below the $400 minimum — riders who don’t reach it will have to pay it themselves, in addition to the hundreds it costs to enter the ride.)
Ok, Heathen Nation, here we are. Five days from now, I’ll be on my bike on the way to Austin. I think I’ve trained enough to make it; I’ve logged over 1,000 miles on my bike in these last few months, and deferred no end of amusing invitations that conflicted with training rides. I’ve even lost a pants size, which is pretty cool.
What I haven’t done, though, is meet my fundraising goal. I was super humbled months ago when, thanks to you, I met my minimum donation level in a matter of hours. That’s really incredible, and I can’t thank you early adopters enough. I was even more staggered when, in the hours and days that followed, I rose to the top of the list on my team thanks to the 20+ folks who gave so generously in my name. Now I want us to hit it out of the park this week.
When so many of you responded so quickly, I raised my goal from the rider minimum of $400 to a more lofty but do-able $2,000. We’re very, very close to that right now. I think, though, that we can do even better. One of the reasons I decided to ride this year actually had nothing to do with MS (though obviously it’s a great cause): I want my TEAM, Karbach Brewing, to make a big splash on per-rider donations in this, their first year fielding a team.
Karbach have been super supportive of community efforts in town, and especially bike-related events. They’re a great group of friendly people who happen to make some really awesome beer, and I think they deserve to have a great first year with the MS150.
So my ask now is actually a little more complicated than it was before. I’ll make my personal goal, no problem. I’d love it if you’d help me obliterate that arbitrary number. That’s a little selfish, sure, but I like being #1. It’d be cool to reach $2,500 or even $3,000.
As an alternative, though, you could go here and choose one of our riders who has not yet met their $400 minimum. Riders are expected to raise or donate that amount, so folks who haven’t reached that level will have to go out of pocket to meet their quota — even after the fairly high MS150 registration fees and team fees. That would kinda suck, so even if you’ve given to me this year, consider dropping another $25 on one of the folks who needs it on my team. That’ll help them, and it’ll help the Karbach Team get closer to our team goal of $40,000.
Thanks again to all of you. You’re awesome. I’m really, seriously humbled by how many of you jumped on this so quickly. It inspires me, and God knows I’ll need that next Saturday; I haven’t ridden 100 miles since Reagan was president.
Some elaborate new update to their employee back-end just showed me this warning:
Seriously. If closing a browser window can fuck up my account, I really don’t have much faith in you chuckleheads holding on to all sorts of personal information safely.
Oh, and apparently it’s nearly all fucking FLASH. WTF?
Reasons My Son Is Crying is today’s winner in the “single serving Tumblr site” race.
Two words: Tentacle chandaliers. Maybe Mrs Heathen will want one over the dining room table?
As it turns out, I really AM riding the MS150 this year. Here’s my personal page, wherein you may support my efforts. Expect periodic hassles, and some of you will be getting email.
A special to loyal Heathen, and in the style of Kickstarter, I am offering the following entirely ephemeral and intangible benefits:
For each donor at this level, I will post to the Internet one picture of me after a training ride, sun- and wind-burned, covered in road grime and sweat, and wearing cycling clothing.
Lovelorn admiration (silent).
For each donor at this level, I will remove from the Internet one picture of me after a training ride, sun- and wind-burned, covered in road grime and sweat, and wearing cycling clothing.
Lovelorn admiration (effusive, on this blog).
I will kiss you SQUARE ON THE MOUTH (no tongue)
We have returned from the mountaintop. We will now resume normal shenanigans, just as soon as our inner ears stop telling us that our townhouse is gently rolling in the blue, blue seas of the Caribbean.
This month, it has been ten years since this happened. Accompanying us on our pilgrimage was John Roderick (among other amazing artists), who performed (among other things) this terrific, and terrifically moving, song apropos of 1 February 2003:
Astute Heathen will recall Mrs Heathen’s affection for unusual lunchbox purses; one of her favorites is decorated on all sides with reproductions of some of the posters included in the story above. Our favorite is the excruciatingly correct “WHOM have you exposed to syphilis?”, but they’re all great art-deco delights despite (because of?) the subject matter.
There’s a whole other story of how Erin ended up taking this purse to a super-proper, super-fancy baby shower in Memorial soon after moving to town; neither of us clicked to where the address was, and I had forgotten that K’s parents were rich. Erin showed up in Doc Martens carrying a syphilis purse; it was AWESOME.
No, seriously. Check it out.
For your Monday viewing pleasure, I present HadleighAndFrank.com.
(Psst: Just 89 days to go!)
The HeathenCats are, as you may recall, rather younger than the Ancient Cat well documented in Miscellaneous Heathen’s deep archives. This leads to more activity, apparently.
They don’t get into MUCH trouble, really; they just have some amusing ideas for self-amusement. Cat the Smaller (hereinafter Sari) enjoys stalking and capturing small (and, occasionally, not so small) textiles. This may include socks, Mrs Heathen’s cardigans, towels, small pillows, etc. We find them, occasionally, in a trail going back up the stairs and into our room, particularly if we’ve left laundry to be folded on the bed or in a basket. She is, clearly, very fierce; the items invariably have feline puncture patterns.
Cat the Larger, who is also Cat the Friendlier (hereinafter Wiggs), has been less prone to such hobbies. She has some — the’s a little thieving magpie when it comes to small shiny things — but even that has been sort of rare lately.
Until we left them alone for a week, at Christmas, and boredom set in. It seems Wiggs — who has always been fascinated by water — has discovered that her water bowl contains water, and that if she slides it around, it’ll move in weird ways. That this results in a splattered mess if of no account; it’s a necessary price to pay, we assume, for her important research. Said research has also begun to include the introduction of a single piece of kibble into the water, presumably to test flow patterns. (No, it’s not an accident, and no, it’s never more than one.)
This is adorable and all, but standing water on the wood floor has more annoying features than just wet socks, so we’ve set out to provide alternative methods of distraction. Oh, and a heavier water bowl.
It’s in this pursuit that I realize I have just come home from the pet store with what amounts to two robots to amuse our cats. First is one of these, which automates the already delightfully futuristic fun of cats plus laser pointers. Second is a circular captured-ball toy, but with a little difference: the ball blinks and squeaks in response to motion, which in turn triggers a strong magnet inside the centerpiece that encourages further motion.
It’s safe to say this one is also a success:
I’ve always found it astonishing that the private schools some of my friends attended started hassling them for donations while they were still making student loan payments.
On, and another winner, from the sidebar of that very page: Gorilla Sales Skyrocket After Latest Gorilla Attack.
Older dog teaches puppy how to climb stairs. No, I’m serious. Seen on Twitter.
Found on Reddit; h/t to Jay Lee on Twitter.
Recently, businesses that have my cell number have decided it’d be okay to text me.
I disagree. Texts are fine if you’re my friend, or co-worker, or know me in some legitimate way. However, I am in no way okay with receiving automated texts of any kind.
So far, the only actual recourse I’ve found is to insist that these businesses delete my cell number. It’s apparently now a given that, if they have that number, they’ll generate automated texts. There’s no opt-out, short of zapping the number, which is annoying — if they want to call me, that’s fine. I just don’t want the texts.
It turns out that there ARE ways to block some kinds of automated texts, but I’m not 100% sure this will work — the culprits for me are reservation or appointment systems, but it does seem possible that they’re using the same internet-gateway type approach.
This set of interactive data visualizations is pretty amazing. You can filter by gender and by causes or groups of causes (say, communicable vs noncommunicable disease), with each change showing you the “probability that a 15-year-old in that country will die [of the displayed conditions] before reaching age 60 if mortality trends in that country remained the same.” It’s really a fascinating tool.
Via io9, who quite reasonably ask what the hell is up with the poison boom?
This was forwarded to me on Twitter a few days before Christmas:
And in those days Caesar Augustus decreed that all must return to the town of their birth, that they might sort out their parents’ computers.
It made me laugh. And then I got to my mother’s house, where in the course of about two days, I:
It’s a new holiday tradition!
Seriously, though, it’s good to be sure they’re properly configured, on good hardware, using good services, and that it’s all ship-shape.
PLEASE DONT GO. This one reminds me of certain Heathen-area cats…
The owner of this apartment, Mrs. De Florian left Paris just before the rumblings of World War II broke out in Europe. She closed up her shutters and left for the South of France, never to return to the city again. Seven decades later she passed away at the age of 91. It was only when her heirs enlisted professionals to make an inventory of the Parisian apartment she left behind, that this time capsule was finally unlocked.
We have, thus far, failed to give any of them a secret Narnia entrance to their playrooms.