Ex Bibliotheca

The life and times of Zack Weinberg.

Wednesday, 13 February 2002

# 8:15 PM

existential infinitely recursive guilt

What do you do when you want clean sheets but you don't have time to go to the laundromat and wash your sheets? (The washing machine downstairs cannot handle sheets.)

Well, one obvious thing is to go buy a new set of sheets, so that you have two sets and can just swap the dirty set out. However, when I went to do just that, I discovered that Ross carries no sheets which (a) contain no synthetic fibers, (b) are properly sized for my bed, and (c) are not made in Pakistan.

I'm not sure how much I should care about that last. My knee jerk reaction is, I don't want to be supporting Pakistani industry when a fair chunk of the horrible things that have happened in that part of the world in the last fifty years are directly the fault of their government. My slightly more considered reaction is, it probably wouldn't be a country run by dangerous reactionary extremists if it had a twentieth-century economy (never mind twenty-first), and therefore buying legitimate goods (i.e. not drugs) from them is probably a Good Thing, since it will inject hard currency. My reaction on zooming out a bit is, of the $15.99 that the sheets cost, probably only about $5 is going to wind up in Pakistan, and most of that is going to make some plutocrat type richer, which doesn't help any. And my reaction to that thought is, it's basically impossible to buy anything made of cloth without supporting some plutocrat or other.

One could go on in this vein forever, and that's not the way to live. However, take a look at this rant from Transmetropolitan: I Hate It Here:

We live in a monoculture.

What does that mean? Well, go out to your street corner. You'll probably see a Long Pig stand, SPKF on a screen somewhere, an Angry Boy Dylan's Gun Store...

Go out onto a street corner in London and you'll see the same thing. Same in Prague. Same in São Paulo...

This is the future. This is what we built. This is what we wanted. It must have been. Because we all had the fucking choice, didn't we? It is only our money that allows commercial culture to flower. If we didn't want to live like this, we could have changed it any time, by not fucking paying for it.

Is what Spider's saying true? Here we are, living in his past...do we have a choice? And if we don't, what does it say about the world we live in?

I bought the Pakistani sheets.

today's cooking lesson

I have fettucine, I have green onions. I think, hmm, fettucine alfredo would be nice. But I don't have butter or milk; and alfredo sauce is basically heavy cream. What to do? I do have a whole lot of cheese. Hmm, maybe I can just melt the cheese over the pasta? Well, if you've ever done anything much with cheese you know you can't "just melt" it, it turns into a sticky mess, then it becomes glued to the bottom of the pan and burns.

The solution, at least in broad outline, is obvious once you think of it: Dump a cupful of water into the pan first. Then the cheese does not melt so much as dissolve, giving a thin broth that doesn't stick to the pan. Unfortunately, if you render it down to the point where it is suitable for use as pasta sauce, it starts sticking again.

I'm not sure what the right thing to do at that point is. I did manage to get most of the sauce out by pouring all the cooked pasta into the pan with the sauce and letting it soak it up. Unfortunately the cheese would rather stick to the pan than the pasta. Further experimentation is needed. (Or I could just read a cookbook... nah.)

# 10:30 AM

I needed to do emergency laundry, went down to the basement, and discovered that the washing machine's cold-water hose was leaking all over the floor. Called the washing-machine company, and was initially told that they didn't have any machines at that address, what was I talking about? Perhaps the owner of the building had bought the machines outright? For a horrible moment I thought they might be correct. I've previously been told by the owners that they were not in any way responsible for the washing machine, but I wouldn't put it past them to lie outright.

It was rapidly cleared up once I produced the machine's bar code number; I think the customer service woman misheard the address. I've also been assured by the owners that someone will show up and clean the laundry room (which is filthy) Real Soon Now, but they have said that before. I am willing to give the washing machine company, which is a national concern with a good reputation to maintain, the benefit of the doubt here; not so the landlord.

# 8:30 AM

Two very strange dreams. In the first, I was getting a haircut, except that instead of hair I had big fat green plant stems growing out of my head. I remember being rather disturbed by this and having the hairdresser assure me that it would go back to normal when it dried out. Then she set up some mirrors so I could see the top of my head, and there was a centipede crawling along between the plant stems. At this point I woke up in a cold sweat.

In the second dream, I was preparing to go on a dogsled race, or maybe it was just a long trip. I was packing far too many books, and having to take them out again. One of the books had come unglued and split in half and I wasted a great deal of time trying to repair it. In the end I went off on the dogsled without any books and was convinced that I would be lonely and bored all the way. But then someone who called herself an "ice dryad" came out of the woods and kept me company so that was okay.