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small green square Last night I crossed a line - I gave out my credit-card number for the first time, over the Internet! Made a small CD purchase - not with the powerhouse CD-Now, but with their upstart competition, CD Universe. Let's hope it works out.

small yellow square When I previously discussed the troubles I have in public restrooms, I mentioned my disapproval of conversation therein, especially at the urinal. "There's two kinds of people in the world: Those who talk in elevators and those who stare at the numbers." <1> A long time ago I got the (silly) notion that conversation in the men's room, of any type, might be construed as a homosexual come-on. I'm sure some men find this notion utterly ridiculous, and others agree. The logical extension of the latter attitude can be found in The Caves Of Steel, where Isaac Asimov describes a future where everyone on Earth lives in hive-like cities, and the shared restrooms are called the Personal. Women talk among themselves in their Personal, but in the men's it's different. The story's main character is a detective named Lije. He's been assigned a robot-partner, R. Daneel, who can pass for human. This robot was built off-world with superior technology, where customs are different - robots are feared on Earth, yet nobody would expect one as human-appearing as Daneel. At one point they're going into the Men's Personal - Lije says "And listen, don't talk to anybody and don't look at anybody. Not a word, not a glance! It's a custom." It's a projection into the future that I find easy to believe.

small cyan square Matt Keller, the protagonist of Larry Niven's A Gift From Earth, has a unique Talent: when he's upset he does something to people's eyes such that they can't see him. He has the worst adolescence because of this; whenever he feels awkward around girls they really ignore him, and he can't figure out why, until he learns the nature of his psionic power. Once he learns to control it, he is able to effectively vanish. Sometimes I think I have a similar power, only mine works on other people's urethras - when we're lined up at the urinals in the men's room, a situation where my bashful bladder asserts itself and I can't "go", I can tell that some men nearby are having the same problem and I wonder - could my stressful vibes be contagious; could I affecting them?

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<1>U said this once, he may have been quoting someone else; perhaps not. Back