January 29, 2006

Sympathy for the Desk and Miscellaneous Peeve

Andrea loathes her behemoth of a desk. I loathe my desk also:

What you cannot see in the photo: That this desk is put together entirely with dowels and wood glue, is 100% pressboard, and weighs roughly 37 tons. In other words, it's neither easy to move nor to dismantle. I need a team of hulking woodsmen to come over and chop it for kindling. That's what I need.

You also can't see the wood crate into which I piled most of the detritus that covered the desk up until 2 weeks ago, when I broke down and dusted this place.

You can, however, see some of Moebius Stripper's awesome pottery to the right of the monitor, holding about 64 writing implements, 17 of which may actually write stuff when you need them to. (It is not that she deliberately fashions pre-chipped pottery, by the way--for the damaged lip of the pencil holder we can thank, I think, the U.S. Postal Service. Have you seen the way they just chuck things around?)

Also, the boyfriend photographed the highly-reluctant-to-be-photographed Sally again. I think he may have been mucking with the camera settings, because it's a little fuzzy. The important thing is that the cat is still furious with him over it.

And finally, an idle question for you: Do you get annoyed when someone makes the argument that because two things are "on a continuum" with each other, their differences are of so little import as to be easily dismissed entirely?* I can't be the only person annoyed by this, especially as the "on a continuum with" argument is basically non-mathese for "two points on the same line" and come on, nobody really understands what to do with those now, do they?

What I mean is, "gentle spring showers" are on a continuum with "Hurricane Katrina." But would you ever say, "Light rain, Hurricane Katrina, what's the diff?" Of course you wouldn't. Yet I read a sentence just today by someone I respect enormously, and that sentence was, "Bush, Hamas, what's the diff?" (I can't link it because it's since been deleted--I would like to say "because its author realized the asininity of that sentence," but in fact I don't know the real reason for it.) Anyway, this is why every time I get close to telling the Republican Party to just go shtup itself with a fistful of born-again Christian tracts I, well, don't. Because there is no more room for me on the left than there is on the right.

I can only take so much of this continuum business before I lose all patience. Listen to me: It is not enough that things be on a continuum with each other. What matters a bit more is the distance between them on that continuum. Otherwise you're stocking up on drinking water and cleaning out the freezer every time it looks like rain.

UPDATE: The post I cited has returned. I'd particularly like to know what Meryl thinks of this:

What’s creepy is that Hamas isn’t philosophically all that different from the Bush administration, in terms of both godbaggery and terrorosity. Godbags-in-chief manipulate their peasantry to accept oppression by rewarding unenlightened fundamentalism and punishing iconoclasm. Bush, Hamas, what’s the diff? Godbags are godbags. It’s only a matter of degree. The US oppresses and maims and kills more people in a day than Hamas has even dreamed of oppressing and maiming and killing.

That aside, when I said I respect the weblog author enormously, I wasn't kidding; she's a terrific writer even if I don't get down with 100% of her opinions. So don't head over there and be nasty--not that I really think you would, but you know how it is: If I don't say anything, and someone does go leave a nasty comment there, with my site as the referrer, I'm just gonna feel all kinds of crummy about it.

UPDATE II: Now the Israeli government has been placed on the continuum with Hamas. You know something? Whatthefuckever. This is a useful reminder to me (not that I ever really forget it): Just because someone knows something about some things doesn't mean they're competent to opine on everything. It's why you don't see much macroeconomics discussion on The Superficial, nor much fashion advice in the pages Scientific American.

Anyway, you see why I usually stick to telling you dumb stories about my dumb days. I'm only trying to write what I know here.

*Please note: There are times the continuum argument works, I think--most often when you are not using it to imply two issues require exactly the same amount of outrage to be leveled against them. I don't mind, for example, feminists noting that both the burqa and the bikini qualify as oppressive clothing, designed to confer second-class citizen status on their wearers, provided of course they keep in mind that no woman in a democracy is ever required to put on a bikini, whereas the burqa has not always been so optional.

I am not always against noting that two things are on a continuum, but it is important to me that they be within, say, lunching distance of each other. If instead you have to drive several days to get from one thing to the other, if you're attempting to go from spring showers to Category 5 hurricanes in the blink of an eye, then, no, I'm not really a fan of the continuum. Sorry.

Posted by Ilyka at January 29, 2006 01:06 PM in i don't know you tell me

ARGH ARGH ARGH! I wrapped it up in like five layers of newspaper! I had a "fragile" sticker stuck on it! I've sent things in the mail a dozen times without problems, and...

Argh. I swear it was intact when I packed it. Were the chipped pieces come off cleanly, or is it in a million pieces? If the former, I have had excellent luck with Shoe Goo, if you can get your hands on a tube.

Posted by: Moebius Stripper at January 29, 2006 04:58 PM

Alas, it was the latter, or I'd have set to work with Super Glue immediately.

My local USPS is so bad that the Las Cruces Sun News recently did a lengthy article on how disgusted everyone is with them. Mail from Dallas, Texas, arrives here in anywhere from 5 to 10 days. Mail from farther away than that (it's about 700 miles from here to Dallas), well, it's anyone's guess how soon or how late it will arrive.

Just this week I received a note from my grandmother that had the bottom torn off it; she'd included a check and I think someone was trying to extract that when they got caught, perhaps. Who knows? It's really lousy postal service and thus it is totally not your fault about the lip destruction, is my point.

Posted by: ilyka at January 29, 2006 05:06 PM

Oh, I know you weren't blaming me; I just get rather attached to my babies, is all, even when I send them out into the world.

But now I'm really curious: did the postal folks play baseball with the package or something? Because - true story - once I packed up a mug to send, and wrapped it the same way I wrapped your pencil holder - same box, same fit, lots of newspaper - and then, right when I was about to send it, someone bumped into me, I fell, and the package went flying and landed on the (hard) floor. So, I unwrapped the whole thing, figuring that it was probably at least chipped - but no, it was *fine*. And mugs are more fragile than pencil holders, because of the handles. So this was more than just a simple "not heeding the fragile sticker" - "smashing with a hammer" seems more likely. The hell? So I'm mostly just puzzled.

Posted by: Moebius Stripper at January 29, 2006 05:15 PM

I have ceased leaving driveby slap-comments on blogs I've never visited before. I'll just say, good writer or no, I don't think this agnostic will visit again a blog where all religious people are lumped under the term "godbags." Yep, Methodists are just as oppressive as fanatical Muslims. Whatever. Life is too short, and I've got a desk to clean and drag outside and chop into little pieces and burn.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at January 29, 2006 08:05 PM

What Andrea said.

I can't take a person's argument seriously when they mouth (or pen) things like Godbags, Bushitler, tree hugger, Greenfreaks, or feminazi*. It is an instant indicator that somebody is too far attached to a position emotionally to be logical in their arguments or conclusion.

* Though I've been known to accept "Hildebeast" because, let's face it, that shit is funny.

Posted by: Jim at January 30, 2006 03:27 AM

"Just because someone knows something about some things doesn't mean they're competent to opine on everything."

Oh man, do I ever complain about that. The thing is, the smarter and more educated one is, the more one ought to realize how ignorant one is, and that is often the opposite of what happens. I was sitting in a meeting with my advisor during my last year in graduate school. The University had brought in a businessman to talk about commercializing an instrument designed in our lab. My advisor observed that designing the business plan was almost as hard as solving the many body problem. Uhh, professor, just what does your ability to solve complex equations describing quantum systems have to do with getting someone to take a risk on a technique they’ve never heard of? Oh right, nothing, but it makes you feel better about the crime of not knowing something and having to learn from someone who – gasp – does not have a Ph.D.

Posted by: John at January 30, 2006 06:57 AM

I can understand wanting a smaller, more streamlined desk. Space is at a premium with me. Eventually you'll move, and someone's going to have the joy of dismantling the workspace and setting it up again.

It's worthwhile to invest in a comfortable chair, however. I bought a "Mid-back Manager's Chair" for $50 at Staples. It's quite nice. I was disappointed I didn't find a "Vice President of Something Insignificant Chair," however.

Posted by: Anne at January 30, 2006 02:53 PM
I'm mostly just puzzled.

So'm I, because the box didn't look especially beaten from the outside. Weathered, maybe, but not beaten. Not "used in an impromptu game of badminton," anyway.

My best guess is that the top portion of the box got squeezed or crushed somehow, because I don't think merely being dropped would have done this to it. Even if it had been dropped and landed top-side down, the newspapers should have been sufficient to cushion the blow; whereas, if hit towards the top, from the side, maybe that could have shattered the lip. It had to be something pretty violent, because what came off the lip upon opening the box was almost powder.

I am sorry this happened to your beautiful baby. :( He remains, however, a most excellent pencil cup, discharging his pencil-holding duties with dignity and grace.

Posted by: ilyka at January 30, 2006 04:28 PM

the only cotinuum i might be on would be with hermit; would be why continuum sounds like a catch phrase from another world..but organized
religions are probably continuum material..bikini
and girls gone wild video participants all live
in democracy, but so did slavery, segration, and
all kinds of folks who had to fight for their right to vote in said democracy...not an overly
educated person, but a recently retired postal worker, you have no idea. once handled a package
marked "please throw underhand" and figured the mailer was a postal worker..best you could hope for?..i used to get "loaned" to an office where
the thoughtful co-workers would yell "down" before hurling parcels across the building...and
in transport? you have no idea..i asked at a meeting if they employed body builders to heft the heaviest items to the top of the containers at the processing center..i have pictures of containers of mail that arrived in my office with
flattened boxes at the bottom under bundles of magazines and bushels of fruit..as i am a techno-wennie i have no idea how to get them onto this screeen so you could see them..always pay the xtra for postal insurance,but only if you have a receipt or some proof of value...that's the catch

Posted by: rj at January 31, 2006 11:12 AM

What Meryl thinks of that is the the writer is anxious to prove how few synapses actually work in that brain of hers.

I'm sorry, but that's the kind of argument I refuse to engage. It's lacking in a reality base. You can't have a discussion with someone who thinks that Hamas and the Bush Administration are on a par with one another.

And I strongly suspect she'd devolve into a "Blame the Jews" argument before very long. That type usually does.

Posted by: Meryl Yourish at January 31, 2006 06:24 PM

I also blame puppies.

Posted by: Twisty at February 7, 2006 08:03 AM