Thursday, October 28, 2004


[This is perhaps a bit atypical of posts to this blog, but it kind of deals with a form of contemporary insanity, and I'm in a sharing mood, so you get to hear it anyway. Plus the metaphor is just too good to keep to myself]

I think I understand how Jack'O'Lanterns feel. I would go so far as to say it's the most appropriate way to describe my current state of being. I've got this kind of warm glowing feeling, this sense of shining with friendly promise. At the same time, though, it's a bit drafty - as if everything that actually belonged inside me has been completely scooped out, as if I've been scraped clean and left empty. It's a very curious feeling, to be spilling over with light and yet completely hollow, and I'm not sure I'd recommend the experience. It's got its pluses and minuses, but it's got them at the same time and that's a bit tricky to deal with. I can, of course, deal. I know this because I've felt this dichotomy before, I just didn't have such a good name for it at the time. Now I do, though, so that's something... I can and I will deal, and in the future I'll be much more sympathetic to the pumpkin plight.

Also (and this is the one place where this feeling differs most from that experienced by the Jack'O'Lantern) it makes me feel tremendously alive, not tremendously pleasantly alive, but very alive nonetheless, and it's been too long since I've felt that.

Sunday, October 17, 2004


I have just created another blog. "But Rob" I hear you say, "You never update this blog, why do you need another one?" Well, dear reader, I'm adding another blog because it's a completely different concept. The posts here are meandering musings on the oddities of life (often of my life in particular, but not always). What I intend to post over at this new blog are the little pieces of fiction that pop into my head on a near constant basis. My muse works pretty hard to get these ideas to me and its about time I shared them. I've started trying to write something new every day. I don't actually hit that mark, but I'm trying. Some of them have inspired new ideas for stories, some of them come from story ideas that I cannot yet figure out how to assemble.

Now that I have a decent backlog, I'm going to start posting them for other people to see. At my current rate, I feel comfortable committing to producing three a week (and the backlog will serve as a nice buffer to keep that rate constant). I do not think it will slow my posting here. I would say, given the evidence of the past month or so, that it has actually accelerated my posting here. So no worries on that front.

Check it out, let me know what you think. This is as much for my practice and growth as a writer as it is for your entertainment (probably moreso, if I'm going to be honest about it) so anything you have to say good, bad, or indifferent will be appreciated. It's called "Leaves from the Tree" and you can find it here.

Saturday, October 16, 2004


My parents do not buy food or other various necessities unless it is on sale. Then, when it does go on sale, they buy large quantities of the discounted item. This is a pretty sound practice. It is also self-supporting. By buying enough when things are on sale, they never run out of any given necessity. There's always a box or two stored in a closet somewhere. Since they never run out, they never need to get a specific item and therefore do not get trapped into paying higher prices. They can afford, in terms of time, to wait for the sale. It generally works pretty well for them and, I believe, saves them a good deal of money.

It helps that they have free reign over an entire house in which to store what they’re not currently eating. I do not. This is one of two reasons I get into trouble when I attempt to put this practice into effect. I share a house with three others, all of whom insist on storing their food somewhere in the house as well. If they could just agree not to keep any food here, we would all be happier. Well, I would be happier, they would be hungrier. Since they continue to take up space, I have very little room of my own in which to store what I am eating, let alone anything extra I wish to put aside for another day.

The other reason I have difficulty when attempting to follow my parents’ example is that while I have a good grasp of the generalities I tend to muff the specifics. Specifically I often neglect the importance of the fact that I am only one person and I only eat as much food as one person can eat. It’s not that I don’t know this, I do know it, what I get wrong is failing to appreciate how my limited rate of consumption relates to terms like “perishable.”

In other words, I do not always make the best decisions regarding which food items I choose to store. Take, for instance, Ranch Dressing. It comes in a small bottle as do most salad dressings. This makes it easy to store and, given its relative volume, it seems on first impression like something I would go through pretty quickly. If this were true, it would be the ideal candidate for my parent’s bulk sale purchase policy. One does not go through a food very quickly, however, when one only uses small amounts with each use, does not often eat salads, and tends to prefer Italian dressing anyway.

I am, as you may have guessed by now, referring to a specific incident. At dinner this week, one of my guests requested Ranch Dressing. I happily retrieved the bottle I had been storing in the top cabinet for just such an occasion. I’d been meaning to open it for some time and was delighted to finally have the opportunity. When I brought it into the light I noticed it was what can only be described as a light tan color. This did not alarm me, partly because I tend to operate on wishful thinking and partly because this particular bottle had been that color as long as I could remember. It did, however, alarm several of my guests, who decided it might be safest to check the expiration date before actually applying this substance to their food.

I was surprised, not realizing salad dressings even have an expiration date. I tend to be of the school of thought that if an item is sealed and unopened, it should keep indefinitely. This, as I was about to discover, was not a correct assumption. The bottle did indeed have an expiration date. It was three and a half years past. As one of my guests pointed out, that’s just when it expired; it is likely I have owned that bottle longer even than that. At the very least I have carried it with me through three separate moves.

Of course, we had to open it up to see what it looked like. I’ll relieve the suspense right now: not pretty. After everyone had gotten a look, I threw it out.

I wish I could say that this is the first time such a thing has happened. Thinking about it as I write this, I seem to recall a bottle of French Dressing with similar problems. Maybe I’ll learn my lesson this time. Maybe I’ll be more careful in my choices when it comes to buying extra food I do not intend to eat right away. Right now, though, I think I need to go through my cabinets and take a close look at all those things I’ve been saving for later.