In Which We Search For a Unified Theory

21 May 2003

What we have here looks remarkably like a season change: it's warmer, and it's sunnier, and the newspaper forecast is predicting we'll continue to have it that way for five days at least. (For whatever that's worth.) Now, granted, warmer doesn't mean hot; this is the Bay Area, after all. But it's warm enough that we could open the windows. Warm enough that I could hike in shorts and a tank top (and SmartWool and boots). But not warm enough that we wanted air-conditioning; not warm enough that it was uncomfortable hiking, even in the sunny bits.

But it's so loud. We've had to adjust to this three times now -- which seems weird, honestly, that this is the third May I've lived in this apartment -- and it annoys me every time. Some of our windows open facing the local large streets, and others open facing the courtyard, where our neighbors scream at each other off and on throughout the day and night. (They're thoughtful enough to vary the hour and pitch of the screaming, in case we got bored.) We've gotten used to it each of the last years, though, so I'm sure it'll be fine.

Talked to Ceej last night, and we came to several important conclusions, including "waiting is frustrating" and "strawberries are good." So if you ever wonder about this sort of thing, you now know who to ask. The open window/screaming neighbor was enough of a problem that I altered part of my pacing into sitting in the closet so that I could actually hear C.J. talk, which would be, y'know, the point of a phone conversation and all. It's a walk-in closet, and it has recently been cleared of all Goodwill-related bags, so there's somewhere for me to sit in there. But it would still be preferable if the neighbors would stop yelling.

I finished A Scattering of Jades yesterday. I think one of the major problems I had was that I didn't get a good feel for the Aztec gods involved. But it was still a pretty decent book, just not one of my all-time favorites. I also started Class Warfare, which has a long subtitle about how education is screwed up now. It was on the new nonfiction rack at the library, and I figure it'll get my blood pressure up whether I agree or disagree with the author. (And I have generally low blood pressure, so that's a good thing.)

And I worked on the Not The Moose, of course, and it was good stuff, and I was happy. Good story, huh? Yeah, I thought so.

I'm working a little less chronologically on it again this week -- I'd been writing in order for awhile, but not really so much this week. I'm almost done with Part 1 (which may become Parts 1 and 2), and I've been trying to figure out whether I want to try to edit it before I go on to the next section. I wouldn't consider it a final edit, of course, but it'd be closer to the end result. I would then have something pretty firm to go on. And then if someone said, "Hey, what are you working on now?", I could say, "Why, this!" and send them Part 1 all shiny and nice. But I don't know what the likelihood of that is, and my default guess is somewhere between rather low and nil. Also, I'd like to do another run-through edit on Reprogramming, and have printed it out for that purpose. I haven't started into it, though. I don't know if I'm asking too much of myself to do 2-4K words/day and figure out new plotty things to do to the outline and also edit a different book and also do all kinds of family/friend/household things, or if I've just been too peevish to get into that mode yet. I have a hard time with the concepts of "enough" and "can't," so right now I'm going with "some" and "haven't." We'll see.

So today...I don't know about today. We decided to play it by ear with Timprov being sick. If he wakes up feeling wonderful, off we go to the baseball game. If not, then David may come down and go looking for books with me. I should probably fetch groceries soon, but whether I actually do or not will depend on how the rest of the day goes.

I don't have anything deep and important to say about the orange terror alert. But when I see headlines like, "U.S. Fears Iran May Be Haven for Al-Qaeda," I cringe a bit. I'd like to be able to trust my government, but it feared that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, too. Bad things happen when this government says that it's scared.

Sigh. Timprov's aunt and uncle are still in Saudi, and evidently they intend to stay there awhile longer (like a year or two) if they can. Better them than me, but...better not them, either, if you know what I mean.

Ah, yes, and now I remember! I knew there was something I was going to ask you all. Yesterday in Measured Extravagance, Peg was talking about Southern names and nicknames, and she linked to a page of Southern naming conventions that discussed the modification of nicknames. It allowed that you could have, for example, Bubba and Crazy Bubba. Where I'm from, at least, "Crazy" is a much more acceptable modifier if it's applied to a relative of yours. Crazy Aunt Gert, for example. And even if you'd usually just call your cousins by their first name, if you're cousins with Crazy Sonja, she's Crazy Cousin Sonja. (It is, however, bad form to continue with this reference if Crazy Relation Of Your Choice is diagnosed with an actual mental illness. That's just tacky.)

Which brings me to my real question, which is, why do so many of us have at least one Crazy Uncle Bob? What is it about Uncle Bob that brings out the Crazy? I know a couple of more or less un-Crazy Bobs, but most people I know have a Crazy Uncle Bob. (One of my Crazy Uncles Bob -- Crazy Uncle Bobs? This is like Nielsen Hayden, I just don't know where to put the plural -- got that appellation in the 1960s when he went and bought up a bunch of land that you could never graze dairy cows on. Nobody in the family at the time could figure what he wanted all that earthquake-prone cow-free land for. Crazy Uncle Bob! According to my address book, they call that useless area Hillsborough, California. Homes worth several millions of dollars -- or at least, homes for which people paid that much. That Bob, what a nut.) Anyway, there are even a couple of guys I know from college who are one sibspawn away from being Crazy Uncle Bob themselves, if their sibs haven't provided that opportunity already. They came pre-Crazied, just so the next generation will be sure to have a C.U.B. Why?

I asked Mark, who said, "You know what They Say." I had no idea what They Say, but that's one of the things he's good for; he obligingly repeated, "Bob's your uncle." Indeed They do. But that doesn't really address the Crazy. So what I think I need here is a Unified C.U.B. Theory. What is the significance of the Crazy Uncle Bob? How does it happen, and why? What other forces is it related to? And can you tell, until you measure it, whether you will have an Uncle Rob, who is more or less a decent guy, or an Uncle Robert, who gives good presents and lets you drip ice cream in his hair on outings, or a Crazy Uncle Bob (who may be a decent guy, give good presents, and be all right with the ice cream dripping, but will still be Crazy)? Or is it like a photon that way, and you don't know what it's up to until you check? If I knew a kid named Robert in the second grade, is there any variable I could have measured to determine his uncle trajectory?

Inquiring ex-physicists want to know. I googled and found 43 results on "Crazy Uncle Bob," which is fewer than I expected. But "Crazy Uncle Ted," "Crazy Uncle John," "Crazy Uncle Jim," and "Crazy Uncle Charlie" all had a third of that number or less. And the aunt results were just pitiful. Also, I'm wondering: if I was not a native English-speaker, what Crazy Uncle trend would I have noticed? Do the Finns have Crazy Uncle Niko? Is it Crazy Uncle Carlos in Mexico and Crazy Uncle Prajeet in India? Or are those the normal ones, and it's Antero, Jose, and Vimal who are Crazy?

Let me know what data you have, people. You came through for me last year on the cow question. I'm counting on you not to let me down this time.

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