Saturday, September 23

1) Awake before 6 AM - unjust on a weekend! - so seized the day anyway by starting a load of wash and the coffeemaker.

2) Morning devotional led me to The Complete Jesus, which I rarely pick up. A hymn from the Gnostic Acts of John fell under my eye, including these moving lyrics:

Divine Grace is dancing.
Fain would I pipe for you: Dance ye all!
Fain would I lament: Mourn ye all!
The Heav’nly Spheres make music for us;
The Holy Twelve dance with us;
All things join in the dance!
Ye who dance not, know not what we are knowing.

Makes me wish I was a better dancer.

3) Now I sit on the third floor of the Athenaeum after a haircut and errands in town, writing and knowing that I will break for lunch soon, visit Haymarket and Stah Mahket, and then NAP instead of all the serious cleaning I need to do this weekend.


Answers to Nineteen Questions

Inspired by a friend on ye Fycebykke:

19 random facts about yourself that may surprise people.

1. Do you make your bed every day? Heavens no.
2. What's your favorite number? 7
3. What is your dream job? Etiquette writer
4. If you could, would you go back to high schoòl? Only the Interlochen years!
5. What is something no one would ever guess about you? I'm pro-weed.
6. A job you had which people would be shocked to know about you? Three months behind the counter at D*****' Donuts back in 1984.
7. Do you think aliens are real? I don't see why not . . . but they're not getting the Van Buren china, LOL!
8. Can you drive a stick shift? No. As I answered on another one of these surveys, the best kind of car is the kind in which I'm a passenger.
9. Guilty TV pleasure? None, 'cause I don't even OWN a TV.
10. Tattoos? NEVER!
11. If the world ends do you want to survive? No, thank you.
13. Do you have any birthmarks? No.
14. Favorite childhood game? Gosh, I honestly can't remember.
15. Do you talk to yourself? Oh yes.
16. Do you like doing puzzles? I guess not, otherwise I'd be doing them.
17. Music genre? I refuse to be pegged to one genre!
18. Tea or Coffee? Before 1993, tea. After 1993, coffee. I can't remember why or how I made the switch.
19. First thing you remember wanting to be when you grow up? Actor.

Copy and paste. I would love to see your answers!

Wednesday, September 20

1) Last night went to my first Opus Affair meetup, for the ahtsy types, at a new bar in the Financial District, Vanderbilt. All that black subway tile made me wonder what sort of parties they have there when the shades are drawn.

1a) Interesting group of (mostly) Women Younger Than I, one Man Much Older Than I, and a Very Amusing Co-Host. I was persuaded to stay through a second cocktail.

2) John Julius Norwich's history of Venice continues to engage me. To paraphrase the late Eleanor of Aquitaine, "What Republic doesn't have its ups and downs?"

3) I need to welcome Miss Leafy Greens into my life more.

Flip Phone

An email exchange:

Me: Now remember, I only have a flip phone, so texting is kinda difficult.

Gentleman: What is a flip phone?



Monday, September 18

1) Yesterday was the kind of day when people wanted to stop in my cubicle and talk. Like, a lot of people. And that was good.

2) Near the end of the day a few of us headed over to so a stealth driveby of Strobe Alley on Bldg. 4, as a possible reunion activity for families. Serendipitously, we were approached by one of the department's leaders - who, it turns out, I'd worked with before a year or so ago setting up a reception for a class - who was able to outline a few possibilities for us. #win

3) After-work meeting with the president of the History Project to talk about the script for the October 11 HistoryMaker Awards. This is the third year Etiquetteer has been invited to emcee!

Tuesday, September 19

1) Today is the birthday of Oldest Nephew Who Must Not Be Tagged. Happy birthday, Oldest Nephew Who Must Not Be Tagged!

2) Today is also the 14th anniversary of my last day of work at B***** B*****. Wow.

3) I can tell the fall is coming, because it's darker in the mornings.

Sunday, September 17

1) This morning, quietly and innocently enjoying my coffee on the back porch when the third floor neighbors - mother and both little children, appeared in the back yard looking for some train cars that had "gone off the rails." After some pleasant chat, I heard the father's voice from their balcony above: "Robert, do you want to come up for some bacon?" BACON?! Who'd turn down an offer of bacon?! In one minute I was trudging upstairs with a fresh cup of coffee. We spent a really nice half hour together over bacon, French toast, and coffee.

2) Brunch at Back Bay Beats, aka B3, with my bestest friends. We appeared to be the only party there, which was distressing; it's a great spot for brunch, and scones to die for. Chicken and waffles with a hint of jalapeno, and an aperol spritz, since I'm reading John Julius Norwich's history of Venice.

2a) Knowing how to inhabit the corner of a banquette is a real skill, and I've mastered it.

3) Such blazing, humid weather today! A harbinger of Hurricane José?

Friday, September 15

Alumni Leadership Conference, Day One:

1) Last night I suddenly remembered that it was 20 years ago this month that I joined the Reunions staff at MIT.

2) This is my 24th ALC. How on earth did that happen?!

3) For me it really started last night with a committee meeting that went better than I deserved (whew!) Today, for me, includes one presentation with colleagues, one software demo with a colleague, sitting in with a volunteer committee at lunch, and - best of all - serving as Unseen Voice of God at tonight's awards dinner.

Thursday Morning, September 14

1) Yesterday was full of impromptu, from being half an hour late to work because of an altercation between a bus driver and a dispatcher to a delightful one-hour meeting with an out-of-town volunteer to an after-five phone call from another volunteer. It's like my impromptu tank was empty and got refilled.

2) Volunteer conference tomorrow and Saturday. Yup, there's a lot to do! But some of my favorite people are coming back, and that's awesome.

3) But dear God, my feet are killing me! And my left calf is knotted. So grateful to the colleague who told me about freezing a bottle of water and using it to roll your feet on. That is 100% fantastic.

Tech Support

Yesterday I found myself on both ends of tech support, giving and receiving - and in each situation, things just would not do what they were supposed to do, and I could not figure out why.

Over the last five years or so, "explaining the Web to senior citizens" has become a larger part of my job. I'm known for my charm. It is difficult to be charming when one is confined to dialogue like "Are you on the home page? All right, when you go to the Community dropdown menu, go to Class Notes but don't go over to that second dropdown menu that appears on the right. I know that you want the most recent Class Notes page to show at the top of that dropdown menu and that it's at the bottom now, but bear with me a minute. So click on that Class Notes link in the first dropdown menu. Do you get to a page with text that begins "It's a sunny November day . . . ?" Is that the text we've been talking about? Where did it come from?"

And as is often the case, I was unable to solve the problem or answer the essential question. The only way I could save the situation was to haul out Yul Brynner from The King and I: "Is . . . a . . . PUZZLEMENT!"*

My poor colleagues have heard me comment many times that it's a cruel irony that I, an English major, should be in the position of having to explain technology to MIT graduates. But, as one of my volunteers pointed out several years ago, "Robert, we were at MIT before there was a computer science program!"

Not long after, I found myself in my volunteer's place, completely flummoxed as to how to change a P****p***t template or layout or whatever from one custom thingy** to another. These moments - how shall I say this? - they don't bring out my lighter side. But being the supplicant for tech support is an important reminder to me that I need to bring what I can cheerfully and sympathetically when I'm appealed to for assistance.

*"Always leave 'em laughing" is valuable professional advice.

** Thingy: an all-purpose technical term that means the aspect of the device you're working with at the moment that won't do what you want it to do.

Saturday Morning, September 9

1) Hurricane Irma. I'm not a little scared for friends and family still in Florida, whether by choice or accident.

1a) I've seen posts on social media for both pro-Trump and anti-Trump rallies on Miami Beach for September 9-10, and for the record, I don't think either of them are funny.

2) Indebted to a F******k friend for today's inspirational Bible verse, Psalms 109.8: "Let his days be few; and let another take his office." But read the whole psalm. I don't think I ever have, and it's some imaginative Biblical cursing, e.g. 15-18: "Let them be before the LORD continually, that he may cut off the memory of them from the earth. Because that he remembered not to shew mercy, but persecuted the poor and needy man, that he might even slay the broken in heart. As he loved cursing, so let it come unto him; as he delighted not in blessing, so let it be far from him. As he clothed himself with cursing like as with his garment, so let it come into his bowels like water and like oil into his bones." Wow!

3) Aflame with outrage over this whole E*****x data breach and the company's criminally inept and deceitful response.

BONUS: Off to work today, having stayed home yesterday. Still ridiculously hoarse, and I need to be in good voice for next weekend's awards dinner.

A List for Tuesday, September 7, 2017

Hurricane Irma

Equifax data breach

North Korea

Facebook ads placed by Russians influencing the 2016 presidential election

What am I missing?

Provincetown, Night 1/Day 1 Part 1, August 31-September 1

1) I tend to keep to myself when I'm traveling - Mother always taught me not to talk to strangers - but when I showed up way too early for the ferry and there was only one person in line, it's better to talk. Turns out we have mutual friends, and he has a husband. (They always have husbands.)

1a) Except when they don't, like the Man Younger Than I I met on the prow, making his first trip to P'town from [Insert Name of Big City Here]. I'd gone out to see the evening light on the harbor islands (beautiful, as always), and there he was taking it all in with a big smile. We stayed out there chatting until the first big wave came along, and then we felt it prudent to return indoors.

2) Usually the ferry crossing is smooth, but this trip there was a pronounced roll, or swell, or whatever you call that vigorous up-and-down motion of a ship on the waves. It did not disturb my gin and tonic or my nap.

3) Mine Host collected me at the pier and then prepared before my very eyes a homemade steak dinner with a "Lucullan little martini," nachos, heirloom tomatoes, hash browns, delicous mountains of Stilton, and a bottle of superb red. I envy those people who make cooking look so effortless! Lord knows I love entertaining, but I don't exactly project calm in the kitchen.

4) We talked about so much: retirement, our fathers, high school gossip, the summer.

5) After dinner the conversation moved to the hot tub with a couple Rose Kennedys (basically a Cape Codder with club soda). A large moon, luminous as a fire opal behind the clouds, gradually revealed itself. It looked a little furry because I didn't have my glasses on. Where were they?

5a) Because of course if there are Mardi Gras beads on a shelf over a bathrobe, they were meant to be worn in the hot tub.

6) Alas for me, I had indulged too well and passed one of the Worst Nights Ever: violently ill and sometimes pacing the floor with a very bad headache. Robert, when will you learn that you must never ever travel with your Advil?

7) That crisis passed, but then where on Earth were my glasses? I retraced my steps, combed, the house - nada. Ils sont disparu. Annoyed, I took a cup of coffee outside, and there they were, at the bottom of the swimming pool.

8) Now, at almost 1 PM, I'm lounging by the pool huddled in a big bathrobe on a sunny but chilly. day.

Thursday Midday, August 31

1) Packed for the Cape, and then could not find my camera. Mercifully, I'd left it at the office. Expense avoided!

1a) As usual, I'm toting a couple anvils around with me.

2) Diplomacy issues abound, mostly but not exclusively at work. The need to be forthright, smooth, and conciliatory becomes a strain sometimes.


3) This evening I'll be "on the boat for P'town!"


Wednesday Morning, August 30

1) You know how you can get quotes from dreams sometime? This morning I woke up with "Never let them spoil your fun." It was delivered by a woman world leader in a blue dress.

2) Really pleased that my Walker Memorial 100th piece got picked up by MIT News for their home page today!

3) Looks like it's going to be a chilly Labor Day weekend.

Tuesday Night, August 29

Spin the GTS Wheel and you get:

1) "And rumor hath it I have a heavy hand for insolence!"

2) "You know how bitchy fags can be."

3) "England. That is my greatest and most enduring love."