Sunlit Water

August 31, 2006

Aw, Shucks

Filed under: Personal — by teofilo @ 11:43 pm

Stanley links to my post about my father and praises my eloquence.  I appreciate the kind words, but I actually prefer the way Stanley subtly indicates what his grandfather is like through anecdotes and little things about him to my straightforward description of my dad.  I feel like I get more of a sense of what the man is like from that post than most people probably got from mine.  And that’s a sweet story about how he met his wife.

I’m hesitant to tell detailed stories like that about my parents, even though I have some good ones, because going into too much detail would compromise my pseudonymity a bit more than I’m comfortable with.  This isn’t really a major concern since I have no particular need to be pseudonymous, and several commenters already know my real name anyway, but I want to be careful to safeguard the privacy of my family members and I also just like secrecy for its own sake.  So no entertaining stories for you!  Sorry.

(Just one more week until I have home internet access.  My blogging will probably pick up a bit then.)


August 29, 2006

The Sound Of Silence

Filed under: Personal — by teofilo @ 10:50 pm

I recently mentioned on Unfogged that I own no music. This caused some amount of bewilderment among the commenters who own and listen to vast quantities of music, as well as recognition from those who don’t. The reasons I don’t own (or generally listen to) music are actually rather complex and I figured I’d spell them out a bit here.

Briefly, the reason I don’t listen to music is that I just never really got into it in a big way when I was a teenager the way a lot of people do. I would listen to Beatles records (on vinyl) with my sister, and various punk/ska bands when I was with my friends, and I even went to a few concerts, but those were all for me primarily social rather than aesthetic experiences. I never had any particular desire to buy a cd (this was before mp3s) and listen to it myself; music in and of itself just didn’t grab me like that.

There’s more to it than that, though. One of the main things keeping me from buying music was the knowledge that I would have to choose a particular kind of music to buy, and in so doing I would become the kind of person who listens to that kind of music. For a self-conscious teenager with difficulties fitting in socially the risk of choosing the wrong kind were too great. Even if I had just chosen the same kinds of music my friends listened to, that would put me into the category they occupied in the great high school music fan ecosystem, and I was worried that that would change the way people outside my immediate peer group looked at me. Music is never just music; it is both created and appreciated within a social context. When I tried to explain this on a previous Unfogged thread the music lovers thought I was crazy.

“What kind of music do you listen to?” is a very common small-talk question in high school, and I always replied, “I don’t really listen to music.” It usually required some further explanation, but it was better than being pigeonholed.

I didn’t listen to the radio either, but that was largely because the music available on the local stations was so awful. Also, my truck doesn’t have a radio, which cut down on the time I could have been listening anyway. I could have put one in, but that was just way too much money and effort given my general indifference to music and hostility to talk radio (including NPR).

Later on, of course, I graduated from high school and moved on to college, where music was no longer so important socially, and at the same time downloading became all the rage, which removed the expense involved in listening to it. Theoretically I could have started fresh and become the kind of person who listens to music, but I had been set in my ways, and generally pleased with my music-free life, for so long that I just stuck with my life of quiet contemplation. It feels so natural to not listen to music that I can’t really imagine starting now.

I like my music-free existence; it fits well with some of my other neuroses, such as differentiating myself from my peers and not wanting others to notice me. I’ve also come to associate listening to music with being around other people to such a degree that listening alone now seems unutterably sad, like drinking alone.

So that’s what it’s like to not listen to music. It’s really not so bad.

August 19, 2006

September Seventh

Filed under: Personal — by teofilo @ 2:13 pm

One of the disadvantages of attending a large school in a small town is that this time of year sees a massive influx of people moving into new places and scheduling internet installation from the only provider around.  On a related note, I will not have home internet access until the eponymous date.  Since I must now prioritize my scarce internet time, blogging and commenting will be intermittent for the next couple of weeks.

August 16, 2006

It’s Been Great

Filed under: Personal,Urban Living — by teofilo @ 5:21 pm

Much as I’ve loved living in the city this summer, my time here is at an end.  Tomorrow I will be leaving and returning to school in a decidedly non-urban area.  I don’t know when I’ll have consistent internet access set up, so I may be offline for a bit.

August 15, 2006

Honk If You Hate America

Filed under: Urban Living — by teofilo @ 6:13 pm

On the way to the grocery store this afternoon I heard someone honk at the car in front of them for waiting a couple seconds to start going after the light turned green.  It reminded me of something that I’ve been meaning to post about: honking.

Shortly before this past Super Bowl the Washington Post had a front-page feature article about Seattle and how bizarrely nice and polite people were in that magical far-away land.  Among the characteristics the article identified as being typical of Seattle (some of which really did seem unusual) was the fact that no one ever honks, which was presented as an integral part of the unique niceness of the city.  The problem with this reasoning, as anyone who’s ever been outside the Northeast can attest, is that people don’t honk anywhere outside the Northeast.  That is, DC is the outlier here, not Seattle.

Since I come from one of those many honkless areas I hate honking with a passion; I find it obnoxious, rude and generally pointless.  It’s not like banging on your horn is going to make the traffic move any faster.  And yet people in northeastern cities do it all the fucking time.  It’s one of the most irritating aspects of living (and particularly driving) in a city.

I don’t really have a larger point here; I do like living in a city, and this is a very minor drawback.  Still, this is as good a place to rant as any.

August 14, 2006

Yes, I Dressed Up

Filed under: Culture,Urban Living — by teofilo @ 10:42 pm

I went out to an opera-themed restaurant for dinner this evening.  The walls were covered with pictures of opera stars, and the waitstaff consisted entirely of students training to be opera singers.  Every once in a while one of them would get up and sing an aria.  It was an unusual experience.

One thing I noticed was that the waitresses were considerably less slender than in your average restaurant.  Going to a place where the hiring criteria are explicitly based on things other than looks makes you realize just how much looks matter in other contexts, even when they’re not supposed to and people insist they don’t.

Strange Bedfellows

Filed under: Culture — by teofilo @ 2:14 am

I’m back from the shore; it was quite nice.  While I was there I watched a bit of television, which I haven’t done much this summer since I don’t have a working TV here.  One show I saw a little of was The McLaughlin Group, which I ordinarily can’t stand (that kind of shouting-oriented political talk show is totally not my thing).  What struck me about it, and I see this as an indication of just how strange the past few years have been, was how much sense Pat Buchanan was making.  He was ranting about the absurdity of the term “Islamofascist” and how it doesn’t adequately describe any of the groups it’s applied to, and I was like, “Yeah!  That gets it exactly right!  Wait, what the fuck?  That’s Pat Buchanan.  I’m agreeing with Pat Buchanan?”  It was weird.

August 11, 2006

Down The Shore

Filed under: Personal — by teofilo @ 12:01 am

I will be internetless on Long Beach Island, New Jersey from Friday until Sunday.  Have a nice weekend, everyone.

August 6, 2006


Filed under: Culture,Personal — by teofilo @ 4:39 pm

BitchPhD has a post about nudity in locker rooms. I haven’t been in a locker room in years, so I don’t really have an opinion about nudity therein, but I was interested in the note she put at the end. She links to this, then says:

[T]he “oddly arousing” thing makes me wonder–and wish–that more men would write honestly about sex and sexiness. The only time you see guys writing about sex is when they’re playing stud, or bragging on how hot some 19-year old model is. And it’s tiresome, because in private (comment threads, chats, conversations) these same guys talk about women who look *nothing* like 19-year old models in ways that demonstrate real appreciation of, and love for, real women. But in popular culture we continue to perpetuate the idea that all men find 19-year old models to be the creme de la creme of female attractiveness.

She’s said stuff like this before, and it always makes me want to fill the niche she sees for men who talk honestly about sex, but usually my total lack of sexual experience leaves me with nothing to say on the topic at hand. Attraction, however, is a subject that everyone can talk about, even lonely virgins like me.

There was a time in my life when I worried a lot about finding a hott girlfriend who would impress my friends and raise my social status (this was in high school). Some of my friends were real jerks with absurdly high standards of feminine attractiveness, so it was a tough order to find someone who would impress them, and I never really managed it. It did cause me a lot of trouble, worrying about whether a given girl was attractive enough in a conventional way, and it was just a huge pain on top of the other difficulties I had with dating.

I don’t think that way anymore. Over the years, I’ve realized that limiting myself like that is pointless; the people who would look down on me for not having a hott girlfriend are jerks whose approval I don’t need. Now I find a much wider range of female bodies attractive, and I don’t worry nearly as much about it.

August 5, 2006

What I Learned This Weekend

Filed under: Personal — by teofilo @ 3:49 pm

New York is a very walkable city. Jersey City is not.

The Gingerman hates children.

Jackmormon has a lot of energy and hates the Gingerman waitresses with a passion.

Scott Lemieux has a remarkably loud voice.

Adam Ash is significantly less polemical in person.

Washerdreyer talks very fast.

Carl is an awesome guy who should comment more.

Tia is not at all intimidating.

47-year-old balding men are hott.

That third beer was not a good idea.

People who live in New York don’t understand the subway system either.

Taxis are plentiful at the Hoboken train station at 2:00 AM.

Drivers on the New Jersey Turnpike are bizarrely resistant to either giving or accepting space to change lanes. They also drive on the shoulder a lot.

Blog people are every bit as wonderful in person as they are online. Meeting them was a pleasure.

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