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A Few Things

  1. My beard has not yet reached Tom-Cruise-in-The-Last-Samurai proportions but the day is fast approaching.
  2. I feel like a change around here. The Souzek Republic may be getting a new look in the weeks to come.
  3. There is no Thanksgiving like a Wisconsin Thanksgiving, which is why I'll be spending mine there. Eat and drink well, but heed my words.
November 26, 2003 | Comments (1)

Long Ago

Intentionally far away

Dinka and I spent over an hour last night looking through pictures from when we were dating/newly married, just like the one above. We stumbled upon them when looking through some other pictures and after the first few, we were hooked on the memories and couldn't stop. I was surprised to see that I once had a few defined muscles (although minuscule) atop my bony frame; Dinka admired her pre-motherhood figure and remembered that she once wore a bikini. We both concluded that we were quite attractive as a young couple and should have appreciated it while it lasted.

I also noticed that my face seems to have changed a bit since then, matured somehow, which is kind of a new thing to me. When I was growing up, it didn't seem unusual for my face to change because the rest of my body was still changing as well, but when I stopped growing I kind of expected everything else to come to a halt. It's hard to tell when this change occurred or what happened exactly, but it's definitely there. Is it in my eyes, my cheeks, my hair? Did it happen when I was twenty-one, twenty-two? It is impossible to quantify these things but they are no less there because of it.

Four years have passed since that picture was taken and, as always, it feels alternately like much more and much less. The enormity of what has taken place over that period of time makes it impossible to sort out neatly. When each year seems like a whole new world, how are you supposed to fit everything on a timeline? The one thing that always comes to mind when I get caught up in these thoughts and memories is that I wouldn't take a day of it back (save a few in high school, maybe). It has all been exactly right and it just keeps on getting better, which I think is about all you can hope for. Although we're losing our looks, we are happy and fulfilled like we never could have expected.

Even when you don't set out to write a post of Thanksgiving, you get one anyway. Ah well, it's best not to fight it I suppose.

November 26, 2003

Holiday Public Service Announcement

As the weather grows colder with each passing day, the time to partake of those memorable holiday feasts draws ever near. As you prepare to gorge yourself on ducks, lambs and turkeys this year, please remember one important thing, for me: never neglect the digestif. The digestif is not simply a frivolous afterthough or a "dessert drink," it is necessary medicine to help correct all the ills you have just inflicted on your digestive system. I have learned my lesson the hard way and I suspect many of you have as well: the memory of a wonderful meal, something nice to drink and a decadent dessert ruined by a sleepless night of cold sweat or a morning of digestive unrest. I am here to say that this suffering is wholly unnecessary if you are responsible enough to help your body along with a little something.

If you don't believe me, believe the New York Times, who published a timely article last week on the different sorts of digestifs and their importance. I cannot speak for all of them but I would guess than any would be better than none. Choose wisely and partake after any of the substantial meals that are sure to follow in the next couple of months; it will be a wise investment.

As for me, you will not find me without my Fernet.

[link via the morning news]

November 17, 2003 | Comments (1)

Freedom and Security

Al Gore delivered his best and perhaps most important speech to date yesterday in Washington, appropriately dubbed the "Freedom and Security" speech. I would recommend that all readers regardless of political affiliation read this speech and think about the arguments it presents. As unbelievable as it may seem, we the American working population are either unaware of the attack on civil liberties that has been going on since the Patriot Act or unconcerned, two equally alarming alternatives. Civil liberties are not just vague concepts that liberals like to whine about being violated, they are vital to what we pretend to hold so dear: our beloved democracy. With the next Presidential election only a year and a day away, don't you think it's time for us all to start becoming informed citizens? I'm guessing that, as always, history would be the best place to start.

November 10, 2003

Beards are Bad Business

Beard, day 17:

I would like to note that I received relatively little support on announcing the return of the beard. I got a lot of "Really? A beard?" and "So what, are you growing a beard?" with that look of skepticism and disdain. I was surprised by this at first but after reading the statement of purpose of the National Beard Registry and thinking about it in the context of my current situation, I began to understand their reaction.

It seems that the full beard is no longer acceptable for professionals in many fields. Sure it's fine if you're a lumberjack or park ranger but not for anything that involves working indoors. If a beard is worn by an office worker, it carries the negative connotation of being laid back to the point of indifference or disinterest, which you don't necessarily want in your doctor or IT professional. In addition, the beard is not the conformist's look. It is easier to wear a close shave and fit in than to go out on your own with the beard and stand proud in the face of convention. Nothing says rugged individualism like a full beard.

Here are some excerpts from the statement that I mentioned above:

The National Beard Registry has been established to encourage men in all walks of life, from every continent, to resist conformity, corporate culture, and androgyny by embracing the beautiful, unique and utterly personal habit of growing a full beard.

In past generations, it was normal for men to grow full beards. Images from the past are filled with men who grew full beards. Military men, men of letters, activists, politicians, judges, farmers, professors, big men, small men, great men, heroes, famous and infamous men alike grew full beards.

Today, wearing a full beard is often looked down upon and discouraged. Men with full beards are now accused of being un-patriotic, whatever that is. How silly we have become.

Like a fingerprint, a year or more of full growth on a man's face produces a one-of-a-kind appearance that defies trend, pop culture, and media driven conformity. It is a very natural and beautiful symbol of individualism, and honors the self-expressed manhood within each man.

It is our belief that by establishing the National Beard Registry, we will be supporting individual creative expression, resisting blind conformity to media driven corporate culture, and promoting the notion of a world where every individual is valued.

The National Beard Registry is based in America but the word National in its name applies to any nation. International boundaries are only in our minds. Conformity is an international malaise. Beards are beautiful on every continent.

I join in the National Beard Registry's call to every man to grow a beard (if you so desire), but be warned: you must be prepared to have only the support of your father, wife and priest.

November 09, 2003 | Comments (3)

Standards and Spam Updates

I am pleased to report that we are winning the war on non-standards-compliant code here at souzek.com. Over the past week, the sections of the site devoted to Digby and Veronika were converted to valid XHTML 1.0 strict and CSS, as was the main page. You will not be suprised to learn that the last remaining vestige of ugly, table-laden code on souzek.com is the Souzek Republic, with its self-important design and bordered tables placed just so. It too will eventually be converted to a lighter and more robust CSS layout but it's more work than I can do in one night. Perhaps one day a 'grep -r table /home/lsouzek/public_html/*' will return no results; those who understand me know what an accomplishment that would be.

Also, thanks to the good people at Adivity web hosting. we have enlisted Spam Assassin in our fight against unsolicited email. I activated it late last night and since then it has been deftly dealing fatal blows to prescription drug offers at the rate of about one per hour (just enough to be annoying); it really is an assassin, that's not just a clever name.

And finally as a public service announcement to Movable Type users, I would like to direct your attention to MTPaginate. As far as I can tell, there is no way to break up a long category archive page into pages of n entries each within the constructs native to Movable Type. Using the tags that the MTPaginate plug-in provides, you can break up a long page by words, bytes or user-defined sections and use the automatically generated navigational tools to move between the resulting pages. There's nothing like a dedicated, active development community and an easily extensible product to get people hooked (Linux anyone?).

November 02, 2003

Traversing New Worlds

Well that was fast. I finished Brave New World on Friday night, setting a new personal record for least amount of time taken to read a novel for leisure at just over two weeks. I found the premise of the book and the world it takes place in quite fascinating but I thought the plot was a bit lacking. I have the feeling that it would've been a good book to have read in high school (like everyone else).

In the next couple of months I'm going to try to tie up some loose ends by finishing books I've already started (I will finish that Simone Weil if it kills me) but for the new year I'm thinking about something Russian. Dostoevsky is at the top of my list but I have not ruled out anything yet. Cogent suggestions are welcome.

November 02, 2003 | Comments (1)