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small orange square Milestone: with this entry, "What I Do?" has been up exactly six months. Like on the 7th of last month, I was tempted to shut down on the anniversary, but there's just so much to say, I can't stop now!

small blue square Last night, another of these singles dinner parties arranged by an organization which I joined a while back. As ever, no dating prospects, but I enjoy the restaurants and the discussion (to a degree). Due to a cancellation they were desperate and called me at the last minute; although I dislike driving all the way up to the City on a weeknight I agreed, since the age spread was younger than I usually get and I wanted to try the restaurant <1>. Just like the one I attended last Saturday (sorry no Journal mention but there was nothing to say, really), as soon as we all met I could sense the each individual's unspoken assessment and rapid dismissal of each other (and I did the same) - George Castanza's observation that "If I like her, she doesn't like me; and if she likes me, I don't like her" applies here. Sigh. But it was a good dinner; when I announced that my work was with an ATC system, one of the guys looked at me and said sincerely "I hope you're really smart." (This comment briefly paralyzed me.) I gave a real short description of what it's like, really, then conversation focused on the displeasures of air travel for a good part of the evening. That was fine, and the food was great, but afterwards the chat shifted from movies to the kind of enthusiastically entrepreneurial abstractions which turned me off completely, so I excused myself early. It was just way to "yuppy" for me, I had to flee! Earlier they were talking about being with people even younger, and about how all they talked about was drinking, playing bar games, like "quarters" (tossing a quarter into a glass, if you make it you either do or don't have to take a drink) and "Cardinal Ruff-Ruff" (a precise description for which I was unable to get; but some finger-tapping was involved). This didn't actual make me feel old, but it was certainly alienating. A common characteristic I've observed in these dinners (last night was my fifth) is an extroverted "alpha" individual tends to dominate, very swiftly monopolizing conversation. Others (omegas?) tend to dummy up completely, just listening and sitting very still. Naturally I see myself as somewhere in between, trying to resist my shyness by participating in the conversation (it's good exercise for me). There were several alphas at this one, competing for the spotlight in a non-hostile way. One of the women, who was in the middle like me, described a painful dinner she'd attended where nobody talked but her (kind of like those G experienced with his co-workers when he was out here). Theoretically I think I'd welcome that situation in a singles setting, so I could dominate and direct the conversation, but the reality might be very different - emotional stress might be my undoing.

small yellow square On my way home I heard a bit of BBC whimsy on the radio, about the history of the first giraffe in France. Apparently she was captured in the Sudan, then taken by boat to Marseilles where she was walked overland to Paris (no railway in 1827) to be presented to the King. Zarafa, by Michael Allin, is the new book about her story; I think I'm going to get it at once. <2>

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small cyan square Frightening disease report in today's paper, about Hepatitis C (or HCV) - 1 in 50 Americans have it, four times the number of PWAs. No cure, a liver transplant may help, and Larry Hagman has it. (Morbid near-future T-shirt: "What killed J.R.?")

ATC - Air Traffic Control
BBC - British Broadcasting System
PWA - People with AIDS
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<1>"Indigo": many transparent and dark blue design elements within.

<2>"Zarafa" is Arabic for "charming" or "lovely one". (I got the book at the Palo Alto Borders this evening, after posting today's entry)