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small white square Today I'm forty-five years old. It's not a date I care to fuss about - the attention makes me aware of time's passage and I feel myself aging. Famous people born this day include Virginia Woolf, Robert Burns and Antonio Carlos Jobim. I had lunch at the Sushi House, part of a place called "Town & Country Village" which was awash with the youth from Palo Alto High, just across the street. On my way out I gave a tangerine to a lost soul standing with his hand-written sign at the exit, and he blessed me in the name of his deity. Bonus: I got to goof off most of the day since our system was down at work.

small yellow square I've been playing around with this - it's the walk/don't walk traffic light of the Eastern Zone, and now I know its name: "Ampelmännchen". Was of a sudden intrigued when I saw it on a business card at "Words"; but I've got a snapshot here of one I took on the streets of Leipzig in 1994, and I remember being amused by their designs when I first saw them in East Berlin in 1978. The odd texture is the surface of the lens visible beneath the stencil. animated Ampelmannchen I snagged the imagery here; further research has so far produced a bunch of German text, but no images of the more common Western versions for comparison. Apparently they're replacing the old Eastern hardware and there's some outcry. Finding this page too challenging for my own limited capabilities I ran it through the Babbelfish translator and put the bewildering result here. What do you make of it? "Something's happening here; what it is ain't exactly clear."

small blue square Eaters and Shitters

Somewhere recently I read somebody griping about people who come in to work and head to the rest room first thing to take a dump. He thought that was personal business which should be dealt with before coming into the office. I myself find the reverse annoying - the employee who arrives with breakfast in a bag and proceeds to fill at least the day's first half-hour with desk-eating. All the usual irritants - the smell of something tasty (or alternatively, something with a vile stench which lingers), the disgusting sounds of someone eating (when I'm not), and the noisy conclusion: the rustle and waste of the packaging being wadded up and discarded - it's a major distraction. <1> On the contrary, the Theory X in me has no problem with an employee grunting away in the rest room - the ideal company would provide courtesy copies of today's newspaper in there, rather than leaving that duty to the more generous workers. In fact I recall conversations with previous co-workers - I remember finding common ground with one who, like me, tried to keep his bowel movements scheduled regular, so they occurred on company time; and the tale of another (F) who was chastised by the well-conditioned old women in her office (at corporate headquarters) because she was taking too much time in the ladies' room.
    This paragraph has now come full circle.

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<1> You're really on my wavelength if you're already reminded of the scene in Buñuel's "The Phantom of Liberty", where the guests at a fancy dinner are seated at toilets around a long table, and individually visit a tiny room for eating.