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Archives > '02 to Present > March 2003

Just Like Me.

posted Mar 29, 2003, 08:09 PM | 7 Comments

For a brief distraction from work, I ran a Google image search for my last name, and was oddly delighted to see all the photos of my brethren, staring at me out of my browser. It's like reconnecting with my past and future. Well, not really. But some of them are hilarious.

The big mystery: what the hell is this... and how can I order one?

Semblance of Seasoning

posted Mar 28, 2003, 01:56 PM | 8 Comments

the breezy morning hit me bright and heavy, the blending of spring into summer. me, khaki shorts and dark tee, no glasses, carrying my weezer lunchbox (soup, bagel, carrot) and stepping into a hot car. stoplights give way to highways, news feed gives way to eclectic music.

lovely and oddly time-stamped, as usual. i miss the spring/summer elements of all the junes i've spent in new england: walking on the waterfront, croquet by the town brook, long days building the golf course (tell me what you think of the smgc site redesign, which i launched last weekend) cooking on the barbeque grill, my old rope swing, smoking in the cemetary. guitar rock floating by a swinging hammock. falling asleep after bottles of bass.

and now, at the office, the radio plays drippy bubble-gum pop songs that make me long for my ice cream truck driving summers, seafood on a humid saturday evening.

these are the same season semblance sentiments i express every few weeks, over and over. they never stop surrounding me. but it's all still important, still happening. hee hee hee... ho ho ho...

Nutty Gorgon

posted Mar 26, 2003, 03:56 PM | 5 Comments

This one gets a post all to itself, because it's effing hilarious. Thanks to =[spackle]= for the link.

Weekday Micromemes.

posted Mar 25, 2003, 11:49 PM | 8 Comments

A few clickable gems that have found their way into my browser during the last couple of days:

Dog translation device coming to U.S. Finally.
BBC News lets the world share views of the war.
Godspeed You! Black Terrorists?
What a beautiful Mezzoblue.
Big ups to the top-right image on today's Onion.
The Skyline: typing into the heat of battle.

holding my breath:
i can't wait.
i can't wait.
i can't wait.
i can't wait.

carrots and mint tea are good. thank you, dear.

Top Shelf.

posted Mar 25, 2003, 02:10 PM | 15 Comments

I love grocery shopping. I liked it when I was a kid, standing on the cart, stealing grapes and Brach's candies, nagging my mother ailse after aisle begging for Pop-Tarts and Fruit Roll-Ups. When I moved into my first apartment, the thing I looked forward to most was that initial shopping trip; we three roomates shopping, bonding, stocking the shelves of our home. That image really kept me going throughout all my time on the front lines in France... er, well... anyways I was looking forward to it.

I love looking at the colors. I love the process of choosing what I'm going to be cooking and eating. I like free samples. I enjoy grocery-store banter with other customers, usually about hard-to-find (or in my case, hard-to-reach) products, or their antsy children.

I've been making store runs for years, to stock up the cupboards of my parents house, the fridges of countless apartments... but it wasn't until this year that I've really come to understand the challenging art game of grocery-shopping, thanks mostly to my spendthrifty roomate Andrew.

When I have more money to spend, I'll buy all my food at small chains and co-ops, keeping it healthy and organic. I love the friendly folks at Trader Joe's, and all the sexy hipster girls that always seem to be wandering the narrow aisles at Whole Foods. But in the meantime, we do most of our grocery shopping at Ralph's. They make it fun over there. It's a thrilling multi-player game, it is.

First, we clip coupons. Dozens of dozens, pulled from a few weeks of Sunday newspapers. We have a special bound Coupon Organizer book, with sections indexed to corresponding to the aisles of our nearby Ralph's. It even has a velcro strap that hooks onto the handle of a shopping cart. We fill it with all the coupons we think we might ever use, covering a wide range of products. It is indeed a handy tool.

For years I always thought coupons were stupid. $0.25 off of a three dollar product? Who cares. Why go to the trouble of clipping for twenty-five cents? But coupons are different now. The savings is potentially huge. And something's gotta distract you from CNN war-coverage on a Sunday morning, so why not clip coupons? It feels like you're being crafty, the pictures look yummy...

And double coupons change everything.

Secondly, we keep our eyes on the shopping circular. Some people are against using grocery store discount cards, because of the way they track what you buy. And I'm not completely comfortable with it, either. Grocery stores already know too much about us. They know, for example, that fast musak is bad for business, because you'll move more quickly. They know that you will spend an average of two dollars for every additional minute you stay in the store. They know that items shelved just below eye-level are those most likely to be purchased. They know that anything stacked on the outer end of the aisle will sell twice as well, because of the time each customer spends staring at it, as she turns the corner. They know that when alphabetized, soup sales fall exactly 28%. I know that my Ralph's Club Card makes my household a test market, and that's fine, because I also know that it saves me money. Maybe they inflate the regular prices a little, sure. But there needs to be a game. We'll see what the future holds.

Third, all three of us go together. Roomate solidarity. We bring bottle to return, and paper bags to recycle. We cover more ground more quickly, joke a lot, talk over what we buy, and get out of the store before the flourescent lights, our hunger, and the grueling price-shopping drive us crazy. The family that shops together stays together. That's all I'm saying.

It's like a game show, and our triple challenge is this: we need to get out of the store with as much food as possible, spending the least amount of money as possible, and that food needs to be food that can be combined into meals that we all want to eat. And, hopefully, I can manage to get some fruits and vegetables included into the cart somehere.

The secret to the game? It's simple, but requires focused effort and quick-fingered multi-tasking: Buy only the products that are on sale AND that you have a coupon for.. Let me give you some examples: today Corn Flakes, Frosted Flakes, and Frosted Mini-Wheats were on sale for $2 per box. A remarkable deal in itself, yes? Yes! But with two Kellogg's coupons: one offering $1 off any 2 another offering $1 off any 3, we walked out with five boxes of cereal for $6. Talk about thrifty! We've got shelve space, and it'll keep. If we have to eat cereal for lunch, then so be it. Later this evening, in the frozen section, I realized that we had a similar coupon for Van De Kamps, which turned out to be on sale for half price. And BAM! we walk out of the store carrying 3lbs of Crispy Fish Portions for a mere $4. This kind of thing can be hell on meal-planning; generally we have to piece together meal ideas in-store, based on what's available. But everything included in the coupon spread in the LA Times will eventually go on sale at Ralph's, within a week or too. After years of the game, we eat well.

The real challenge is to wait and not buy things for which we have a coupon until they go on sale., or vice versa. "But Ryan," you ask, "What if the coupon is about to expire?" I know. It can get difficult... already you're seeing just how fine-tuned our strategy needs to be. Sometimes one of our team lets his stomach get the best of him, and compromises our team's stern principles. Pork chops and sardines often seem to be involved here, now that I think about it.

Tonight., with a savings of $83.57, our total dropped to $127.88. About $20 of that came from coupons alone. We left the store with bagels and chicken, two kinds of ice cream, cookie mix, yogurt and milk, bags of salad and pounds of bananas, french bread, Gardenburgers, juice, noodles and sausage, and plenty more. We came home satisfied and made dinner.

But that was nothing. In late February we saved $117.70 on a balance of $135 dollars. We're not effing around, dude.


posted Mar 20, 2003, 11:49 PM | 16 Comments

Daily routines, the endless radio feed.
Others have stated opinions clearly.
Articles awe me with the sad and endless complexity.
There's not much I want to say.

This will be the last explicit mention of the war here.
My site will be a place for other things, okay?

We are All Going to War.

posted Mar 18, 2003, 07:30 PM | 2 Comments

Check out the interactive world map on the Global Clandlelight Vigil for Peace division of It's one of the most remarkable intersections of web programming and shared emotional human experience that I've ever seen. Click on a specific country for regional photos and comments from Sunday's vigil... or better yet, open the page and do nothing. The map begins to scroll automatically, showing images and comments from around the globe, a bright-burning voice nexus of peace and unity.

Drive By Vigil

posted Mar 16, 2003, 10:24 PM | 4 Comments

I drove to the corner of Ventura and Van Nuys Boulevards, for the candlelight peace vigil I read about on, one of many held tonight at 7pm all across the country. I grabbed two tealights out of my bag of 100 IKEA candles and rushed out the door. I'd planned to ride my bike, but it was getting late, so I took my car to save time.

On all four corners of the intersection stood people holding candles, swaying, singing, talking and smiling, waving the peace sign at traffic, passing out flyers. Matches were lit one after another, to keep candles glowing against the calm valley breeze.

It's a busy intersection: we were continuously encouraged by the sound of honking horns. SUV after SUV drove by, beeping in support... teenagers and mothers in sportscars and Hummers passed, stopping for the red lights, waving and cheering in the spirit of peace. As a group of middle-aged women led us in "We Shall Overcome" and several off-tempo verses of "Imagine", I looked across the street towards the Chevron station, the pizza shop, the giant Anger Management billboard, the 76 station.

As the singing fizzled, I set my Dixie cup candle atop the Don't Walk sign, and strolled away from the scene. I pulled my gas-guzzler into a Shell station for a $10 quarter-tank of gas, and rolled home, peaceful.

Recipe for Such a Sunday

posted Mar 16, 2003, 12:42 PM | 6 Comments

[Begin with focused moment, thickscene wordpiles i.e. the flicker of eyelids against futon, cacophony of car-alarm-clocks and sore back muscles under angled first-daylight rays, etc]

It's a proper Sunday this morning, a 67 degree, Mother's Day in May, spring-cleaning-with-a-smile, morning after the rain, stroll to the coffe shop with a newspaper, catch up on some reading and writing sort of a Sunday. [extrapolate with usual sixfoot6entimental b.s. here, i.e. cup of tea, warm shower, kids playing in bright air, etc...]

While walking to the strip mall coffeeshop, I realized that yesterday's dark day of rain was worth it [dark how? visually dark, wet, sopping; reference obvious parallel to emotional dark/recovery, withdrawal after weekend in Austin, missing girl(s), busy visit from Mom and sister, rainy Saturday, first latesleepslop around the house in weeks, and so on] The storm had washed away the smog, and the sun had washed away the rain, and out came no cars to ruin the view, clear as New England spring. [revise; too itsy-bitsy spider Frost. i will never write again. please kill me.]

Sleeping late inside the sounds of rain was a treat. I spent much of yesterday's downpour on the phone. I saw lightning for the first time since I moved to Los Angeles. The flash was bright. And as began to describe the brightness to my phone, the thunderclap BLASTED me upright in my chair. Children yelled, and every car alarm on my street sounded for a full 30 seconds. The electric charge must have released within a quarter-mile of our apartment. [wtf? this is going nowhere. describe emptiness of rain, the weight. uncertain creativity. love, sadness, need to get a better job, whatever]

After hours and hours in my apartment, I drove my roomate Joshua to the airport. We stopped at Mel's diner for reubens, coffee and fries. He was flying back to Boston to visit a girl, again. They were in love, he told me. It amazed me how happy I was to hear it, and as I drove home on the slippery 405 I rediscovered something I had forgotten only hours earlier: there is nothing worth fearing, be it love, money or politics, and I'm going to be all right. The rainy days exist for me to rediscover that fearlessness [blah, blah, as I watch SNL and email and look at photos from last weekend, unfaltering, clear-headed, goodnight sleep, wake fresh and early in today, Sunday.]

Morning has turned to afternoon. I still haven't done my taxes. One month left. Hell. Way to ruin my carefree Sunshineday, when there's so much to be done and so much I want to do. [end with more elaborate witty / touching close, culpable but empowered].

going away and flying back

posted Mar 13, 2003, 10:46 PM

you're so young. you're so young. you're so young. you're so young, but not for long. you're so young. you're so young. you're so young but not for long.

you're so old.

desire. desire. desire all you saw.

Warning - Unexploded WWII Bomb

posted Mar 13, 2003, 08:27 PM | 3 Comments

The following is an actual email that I found in my inbox this morning:

Dear Ryan Pants, Resident.

It has come to our attention that there is a powerful (6 ton) WWII bomb unexploded underneath your residence. This does not pose a threat as so now, but we see if your offspring are living in the house in around 2100, the lack of the residence renewal MAY cause the bomb the go off. There is no way that you can prevent this, but nearer the time, we may have to use a controlled explosion to remove. You are in no such danger yet, this is just to warn you DO NOT drill lower than your floor/cellar floor or you may cause around 100 deaths. More information will be sent to the address in 50 years. DO NOT let this frighten you, for it cannot hurt anyone if you follow our precautions mentioned above.

Live a long happy life,

Julie Bornstein
Director, California Department of Housing

Nothing like a quality prank email from one of my many talented friends.

Coming and Going

posted Mar 7, 2003, 12:26 PM | 16 Comments

Funny what unexpected twists and turns a week can take. Laughter highs coupled with economic lows; stressful work and a sudden vacation.

Naturally, the same evening that I'm planning to shower, shave, and run a load of laundry before tomorrow's annual flight to Austin for the SXSW Interactive convention, the water main to our apartment blows; it wont be repaired for 24 hours. I guess I'll be up at the crack of dawn to hit up the old Coin Op Laundr-O-Mat before my flight out of LAX at noon.

That's better than the usual stuff I do the night before a trip, like A) staying up all night working on a design project, layout, or episode, then climbing into the plane cracked out and with back pain, ir B) drinking for hours and hours, then oversleeping and underpacking, or C) deciding that as long as I'll be packing for a trip, I might as well clean my entire room inside and out (which usually involves a partial furniture re-arrangement project abandoned midway through the night for two hours of box-of-memory exploration and letter re-reading.

Still, I can pack for any trip in 20 minutes. What is preparation like for you? What do you never forget?

out of thin air

posted Mar 5, 2003, 11:40 PM | 10 Comments

what a trip, the californian air. brigtly lit sky, rarely falling with condensing water, dirty with engine dust, still and dry and cool. brezzes do not blow by so often.

the thing that still gets me about living in southern california is the way smells, temperatures, and air masses combine to remind me of specific times of the year and odd blends of seasons (as they exist back in the northeast, where seasons exist). turn a corner in the neighborhood while biking with headphones, and suddenly it's a warm blooming day in mid-spring. talking with my roomates after the sun goes down, tea in hand and sweater on chest, and a cool wood-stove breeze makes it quite clear that we're enjoying a mid-november stroll on cape cod.

and yesterday morning i discovered a new one: damp ground, thinly overcast clouds, and the half-hidden rising sun all mixed together just right. suddenly i found myself in the mid to late 80s, arriving early at the eel river beach club for a long day of swimming and tennis lessons, sandwiches and sand castles. my mother and brother and i arrive before most of the other kids and parents; the staff has just finished hosing down the concrete. If the sun doesn't show more of itself, it may stay too cold to go swimming. at the pop-shop counter, i'm already eyeing the marino's italian ice sign, imagining a grilled chees and chips for lunch on top of the pump house

i set my mug on the roof of my car and keyed the door, trying to figure out if i could smell salt in the air. los angeles air can remind me of so many places. but once I'm gone, what breeze on earth would remind me of los angeles?

Relativiy is Obsolete.

posted Mar 1, 2003, 12:48 PM | 7 Comments

I propose a new reality show in which proponents of The Vortex Theory debate and wrestle the minds behind Time I think the debate fights should be moderated/refereed by mute Hare Krshnas. The last person standing (as chosen by the audience via the web) becomes a department head at Harvard and gets to have sex with triplets. All the losers fly an airship of Christian fundamentalists directly into the sun.

About this page. presents expermients in writing, design, photography, and hypertext. This weblog entry was posted by Ryan, the site's author.


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