Archive for 'life'

End of an Era

I first met Sugar, our golden retriever, over ten years ago, when she was just a little puppy, days after my future wife had adopted her. I remember going to her apartment in Foster City with some friends (who worked with her). There was this tiny, friendly, playful golden retriever who no one could resist playing with. I had no clue she would one day become a part of my family.

Sugar as a puppy

Four years later, when we met up again, one of the first “dates” my future wife and I went on was taking Sugar and her roommate’s dog, Nellie, for a walk down in Half Moon Bay. And from then on Sugar was a part of my life, representing a constant partner and friend. I never had pets growing up, but have always loved both cats and dogs — so it was wonderful to be adopted by such a wonderful dog. When we lived in Belmont and my home office had a separate entrance, I knew every day wasn’t complete until Sugar would come down and climb up on the futon in my office to spend time with me, waiting for my wife to get home.

While many of our friends have one enduring image of Sugar: the lazy dog sleeping in the corner, we remember her as the dog who loved swimming more than anything (as I look through old photos of her, they all seem to involve trips where she went swimming). We remember the dog that couldn’t wait to go for a drive and a long walk in the morning, dancing and leaping around as we’d pick up a leash or keys for the car. And, it’s impossible to communicate the joy you could see in her face when she’d sniff out a rabbit hiding in the brush out by the swamp behind Oracle, giving her something fun to chase.

Sugar swimming

Sugar after a swim

She was an incredibly expressive dog — and you could almost always read what was in her mind (though, all too often her “logic” didn’t make much sense to us). I remember soon after I started dating my future wife, we were heading out for an evening, and left Sugar sleeping on her bed in the living room. Soon after getting to the car, we realized we had left something in the apartment, and went back up the stairs. We opened the door, and discovered that in the minute or so since we had left, Sugar had moved from her own bed, into the bedroom — but as soon as we opened the door, she walked back to the living room, giving us an amazingly guilty look, as though we had “caught” her sneaking into the bedroom.

I remember how much fun it would be getting up on a weekend morning and taking Sugar out. She’d dance around and run out to the car, waiting eagerly to get in the back seat… where she’d immediately flop, as if her initial excitement was totally forgotten. Then we’d drive down to Oracle, and as we got close, she would get excited again, sticking her head out the window and eagerly smelling the air. We’d get there, and she’d immediately run to one of the fountains to swim around, before climbing out and rolling ecstatically in the grass to dry off. And then we’d be off going for as long a walk as possible. She’d sniff out rabbits, scare off ducks and even chase some squirrels. And she’d always want to keep going. We’d say it was time to go, and she’d give us this look that said “no way, I’m gonna keep going further and further.”

Sugar wants to keep on hiking

Sometimes, if our walk took us over the footbridge bridge to Belmont, she’d end the walk in the fountain on that side of the bridge. She would climb in, rub along the edge of the fountain, and then settle down in the water, with her head perched directly on the ledge looking over the bridge — with a pathetic look on her face. She had learned, correctly, that no one could walk across the bridge and see her head plopped there looking at them without coming over to pet her.

Sugar in the fountain

Pathetic Sugar

And, like many dogs, she loved being pet by anyone and everyone. If we had people over at our house, she’d go from person to person waiting for them to pet her. She had an uncanny ability to look at a person when we were out on walks and determine whether the person was a dog petter (worth going over to) or not (not worth bothering).

Then, of course, there was her “welcome home” routine. After spending a long, difficult day sleeping on our couch, when we’d get home, she’d come wait for us at the door, and start whining as loud as possible, rolling over to expose her belly, demanding a belly rub as an apology for leaving her alone for a day. In the last couple years, if my wife and I would hug and kiss before rubbing her belly, she’s make sure to bark (about the only time she ever barked) to express her feelings.

After dinner, if we sat on the couch to watch TV, the second we’d sit down, she’d make sure to climb up to join us, demanding that we’d pet her while watching TV and before taking her out for an evening walk. Often, after eating her own dinner, and getting a good brushing, her and our cat would play with each other. Our cat would come over and “attack,” grabbing Sugar’s leg and biting. Sugar would stand over her, and the two would begin a complex slow motion “dance,” where Sugar would jump up and down a bit, bobbing her head at the cat as the cat would weave in and out and jump at Sugar. Eventually the cat would give up and my wife would usually declare Sugar the “winner.”

Sugar and kitty playing

Sugar and Kitty playing, part 2

Back in July, I took her out for a walk, and she was in one of her “long walk” moods. She kept pushing us to go further, but as we started to get back towards home, she suddenly stopped, and lay down in the middle of the road. I finally convinced her to get up and we moved to the side of the road, and sat there, petting her and letting her rest. We eventually made it home, but she was limping pretty badly. We took her to the vet and discovered she had a torn ligament in her leg. In August, we brought her in for surgery to repair the ligament — and we were happy (and relieved) to get back the results of her blood test that suggested otherwise she was in good health.

In late August, we took Sugar on our road trip to Chicago. We had to be in Chicago twice in about a month, and figured no one could care for Sugar better than my wife’s parents. Plus, Sugar loves being in the car, loves roadtripping with us and hates airplanes. So the easiest thing was to drive to Chicago, leave her there and then drive back with her later in the year. The roadtrip was fun, and even though Sugar’s leg was still healing, she seemed to enjoy the ride and the sight seeing. We left Chicago the day before Labor Day, saying goodbye to Sugar, figuring we’d see her again, just five weeks later. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be.

Sugar in the car

My brother-in-law called Friday evening to let us know that Sugar didn’t seem to be doing that well. She wasn’t really moving and looked a little swollen. We sent over some medical info and Sugar went to the hospital Saturday morning. My sister-in-law was out here visiting us, with plans for a red-eye back to Chicago that night anyway. We had planned to go up to Pt. Reyes for a hike and some oysters at Drake’s Farm. As we drove up, we got updates from my brother-in-law and it didn’t sound good, with the vet suggesting that she was deteriorating quickly with a variety of problems. We got the oysters for lunch, but realized we were out of cell phone range, so we headed back into town, and sat in the car, talking things over, finally deciding that we’d try to fly back to Chicago to see Sugar this morning. We got back and discovered that there was only one seat left on the plane — which my wife got. I took my wife and her sister to the airport last night and they flew home.

Unfortunately, Sugar didn’t make it through the night, as my wife was told on landing at O’Hare. My wife got to go to the hospital for one last chance to see Sugar, and said she looked peaceful. Meanwhile, I’m here at home, being consoled by our cat, who we’d already been noting seems to miss Sugar’s presence (especially in that another local cat seems to have moved in on our property, no longer scared off by Sugar). I’m watching the very last game at Yankee Stadium (I have another blog post in waiting about my last visit to the Stadium earlier this year) hearing all these stories about an “end of an era.” Yankee Stadium sure means a lot to me, but the only era ending event I can really think about today is that I won’t be greeted by my dog like that ever again.

That said, Sugar gave my wife ten great years as her best friend and personal guardian. I got to share six of those years. The end may have come suddenly and somewhat unexpectedly, but I wouldn’t give up those six years for anything. My mother in law says that Sugar was my wife’s guardian for 10 years, and now that she knows there’s someone else to be the guardian (me, apparently) she felt comfortable moving on. While I appreciate the vote of confidence, I wish she could have chosen a better way to express it. In the meantime, I’m grateful for the time I spent with her, and even though I miss her terribly, I’m thankful for what she gave me.

Sugar, 1998 – 2008

Sugar at Mt. Shasta

Fast Food Potluck: Flagship Burger Tasting Event

Okay, so I still (yes, yes, I know) have a bunch of other posts I’m planning to put up, but here’s a quick one. Our friends Kai & Ingrid (newlyweds, congrats) are moving up to Seattle, and so we all decided to have a bit of a going away event for them. Mike Ho misremembered an idea that Kai had and decided that should be the event. Here’s Mike Ho’s version (which is what we actually did):

Every attendee goes to a different fast food burger joint and picks up a signature burger, fries and a shake. We bring them all back to one location and we split up everything so that people get to taste a bunch of different burgers/fries/shakes.

In actuality, it was a slight variation on this, as Ingrid actually doesn’t eat beef, so Kai & Ingrid got some chicken as well (Popeyes & KFC) and Hersh picked up some chicken at McDonald’s also. Also, James was running late and couldn’t find a Burger King (his assignment), so he showed up with Taco Bell instead.

In the end, we had food from McDonald’s, Wendy’s, In-N-Out, Carl’s Jr., KFC, Popeyes and Taxi’s (local burger joint, which is one step up from fast food). I think that was all… And we brought it all back to our house since it was somewhat centrally located. It was awesome:

Mike, Kai & Hersh agree that this is awesome

So we cut up everything and ate:

Burgers ready to eat

Anyway, it was a lot of fun, and the consensus (surprising!) best bet if you want a completely good fast food meal: Carl’s Jr. (which I think is now Hardees on the east coast). They had, hands down, the best fries. They beat everyone else’s fries cleanly (to be fair, we didn’t have any Burger King food, and Hersh forgot to get fries from McD’s, so perhaps that was unfair). Also, the Carl’s Jr. burger was arguably the best of the bunch (though, there was some disagreement over that). So, there you go.

If we ever do this again (and we wouldn’t for a looooong time, even though it was fun), we’d probably make sure that Burger King and McD’s was fully represented. Also, we’d probably either refrigerate or freeze the shakes. We left them all out on the table too long, so by the time we dug into the shakes they were all pretty much melted — at which point they’re rather disgusting. Oh yeah, I had also picked up some grapes at Safeway, realizing that having some sort of fruit would probably be appreciated and it was, by almost all present. So, having some fruit on the table is not such a bad idea.

And, oh yeah, we also discovered that this wasn’t actually what Kai had been thinking about when he had suggested it to Mike Ho many years ago. Kai’s question was how would you craft a “fast food tasting menu” in terms of creating the best five-course fast food menu out there from any combination of fast food eateries. Of course, perhaps Mike was closer than we realized, since the only real way to craft such a menu would be to do something along the lines of what we did… Anyway, we had a blast. It was a fantastic idea by Mike and everyone had a bunch of fun (and a belly full of greasy fast food). Hope it was a fun sendoff for Kai and Ingrid! Enjoy Seattle and visit us often!

One Year In…

So it’s been one full year since the wedding, and for our anniversary I could write up a long post about how wonderful married life is and how awesome my wife is, but since me sitting at the computer rather than spending time with her isn’t the most effective way of showing her how much I appreciate and love her, I’ll just say: married life is wonderful, and my wife is awesome. Year one was fantastic, and here’s looking forward to many, many more that will be even better. Happy first anniversary…

Cats, Dogs, Mass Hysteria

Last Friday evening, I had mentioned on Twitter that we were preparing to dogsit for two rowdy dogs for a week — joking that I wasn’t worried how our dog would handle it (seeing as she’s incredibly lazy and prone to ignoring other dogs), but more about how the cat would handle it. Little did we know what was to come. Our cat has learned to live with strange and rowdy dogs in the past when we’ve done dog-sitting for friends, but we know that Max is a bit more rowdy than most rambunctious dogs. We’ve dog sat for him in the past, but always at his own home. This time, he was going to stay at our place, with another dog, Daisy, as well. Daisy is a nervous dog, but she pretty much follows whatever Max does.

We decided not to clip our cat’s nails for a little while, so that they’d be extra sharp in case she needed to teach Max or Daisy who was boss. This was a bit of a pain, because for the past few days leading up to Max and Daisy’s arrival, any time our cat would walk on us (often) she might poke us with her claws as well.

Anyway, Friday evening showed up, as did Max and Daisy. Our cat was in my home office at the time, and decided that was probably a good place to stay, hanging out on my desk behind my monitor. We took Max and Daisy around the house, and they didn’t even notice Kitty sitting up there on the desk. All good, we thought.

Then, we go out to take the dogs for a walk. I took Max for an extra long walk, hoping to tire him out so he’d go to sleep without causing too much trouble. He was actually fine on the walk, and I was thinking that maybe it wouldn’t be so difficult to take care of Max this time around. I got home, and the wife was already back with Daisy and Sugar (our dog). Apparently, she’d even introduced Daisy to our cat, and, while they were keeping their distance, they seemed to tolerate each other.

That all was about to change.

I brought Max into the house, and undid the leash. Hearing everyone else upstairs, he raced up the stairs at full throttle, and encountered our cat in one of the bedrooms immediately. There was a lot of noise — barking, thrashing, hissing, scurrying — and I raced up the steps yelling. And then, in flash, I saw a dark object fly by me at super sonic speeds. Our cat, apparently, though, at that speed I honestly wasn’t sure. Half a beat later, there was Max in rapid pursuit. Right back down the stairs past me.

And like that, the cat was gone.

We had just installed a cat door a few weeks ago, and our cat loves the free reign to go inside and out — and obviously was thrilled to be able to quickly make her escape. Of course, what we didn’t figure was that she would then never be interested in returning.

Since she’s an indoor-outdoor cat, we don’t get too worried if she’s gone for a little while. She knows the neighborhood, and likes to hang out outside quite a bit, but usually in a few key spots where we know we can find her. And, when it’s time for us to sleep, she’s always back, and always curled up with us in bed, so we figured it wouldn’t be much of a problem. We blocked off Max and Daisy so they couldn’t get to the cat door if Kitty decided to come home and figured that she’d come back during the night.

But, come morning, still no cat. I spent parts of the day, wandering around to all her hiding spots and calling her, to no avail. Then, we start worrying. What if she got injured by Max on the way out? What if she was so scared she ran outside her comfort “zone” and didn’t know how to get back? What if she was just too scared to come back? What if she hated us for bringing Max into the house?

It wasn’t much fun.

We figured if she still wasn’t around by Sunday morning, we’d alert the neighbors and maybe put up some signs. In the meantime, we decided to follow through on our Saturday evening plans.

We’ve been living in this house for about nine months now, and I’ve already mentioned how nice the neighbors all are. We share a driveway with our neighbor across the way, a woman named Frances, who’s lived there for about thirty years. About a month ago, while both of us were taking out the garbage, she’d invited us over for dinner, which we thought would be nice. While we’ve been living across the driveway from her for nine months, we hadn’t socialized at all, beyond brief chats across the driveway. Last night was the night that we’d planned to get dinner.

So, across the driveway we walked, and we had a nice time chatting with Frances. Almost as soon as we got there, Frances mentioned how beautiful our cat is. Frances also has a cat, Gracie, but she’s exclusively an indoor cat. We told Frances the saga of the missing cat, and she said that we shouldn’t worry — she was sure that our cat would return. Anyway, we had a very nice dinner that Frances made. We were sitting in her dining room around her table. I was seated at the head of the table, looking towards her sliding back door onto Frances’ backyard.

Just as we were finishing up dinner, telling random stories, I saw Kitty crawl out from under one of the bushes in the backyard and start to walk across. It honestly took me two beats to realize what was happening. One to notice something was moving — and the second to realize it was our “missing” cat. We ran to the door, opened it, and the cat immediately ran back away. My wife went out and called to the cat — who responded — but wouldn’t come near us. She crawled under a fence and into the drainage chute that runs along the far side of Frances’ house. I ran around and tried to come up from the other side. It’s a narrow cement drainage area, with the house on the left and a fence on the right — so no easy place for the cat to go, other than back into the back yard.

Instead, the cat came running right for me. At first, I thought maybe she was happy to see me — but it was more that she was hoping to dart by me. She faked left, then right, and then dove under a set of wooden steps leading to Frances’ garage. I was right there, blocking her exit, and went to pick her up.

Remember how we decided not to trim her claws?

Yeah, so my loving cat, who likes nothing more than to cuddle with me every night, decided to show me what her claws can do. I got two nice gashes across the back of my hand, another on my upper arm, and (for good measure) a little slash across the neck… and off ran Kitty.

Still, it was good to know she was still alive (and moving quite well). Frances gave us some salmon that we put on a little plate to try to attract the cat (assuming, correctly, that she would be hungry). After one failed attempt to bring her back into our house, we actually lured her into Frances’ house. I ran back to our house and got her crate. With a little effort we got her into the crate (briefly introduced her to Gracie, as well) and then took her home.

Since then, we’ve been living in a bit of a warzone. The pet door is now shut. The dogs are living downstairs. The cat is hiding upstairs, in a state of constant alert — sort of the kitty equivalent of Anne Frank (sans diary) — moving from one hiding spot to another. The stairs are a sort of demilitarized zone. The dogs have made it up a few times, with a few minor flares, but for the most part, we’ve avoided a return to all out cat/dog warfare. We’ve tried a few times to “introduce” Max to Kitty, but so far, all that’s done is get me a few more scratches.

Such is life in our household these days…

our cat

Post script: Having now written this up, I’m realizing that back in the early days of blogging, the mocking phrase that the mainstream press used to put down the concept of “bloggers” was that it was a bunch of people writing about their cats — and I vaguely recall promising myself that I’d never become one of “those” bloggers. Oops.

High School Nostalgia… (Part I)

“True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country.”

— Kurt Vonnegut

I went to a fun gathering last weekend, put on for Jonathan Zittrain, the founder of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard. The occasion was Zittrain’s new book The Future of the Internet… And How To Stop It. I’ve known Zittrain’s work for a while, but never met him, so jumped when I got an invite (thank you, Kara Swisher) to the come to a party for the book. The party itself was put on by Arianna Huffington and Melanie Ellison, who I guess you need to refer to as “Larry Ellison’s wife.” That meant the party was at one of Larry Ellison’s homes, on Billionaire’s Row in San Francisco, where pretty much all of the neighbors are billionaires, and the view is magnificent.

Meeting Zittrain for the first time was cool. He seems like a nice guy and I look forward to reading the book (of which I picked up a copy). The Ellisons’ house was incredible (well, what I could see of it — there were security guards guarding every door), and there were plenty of rich, famous and beautiful people in attendance. Beyond both of the Ellisons, Zittrain and Huffington, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom was in attendance as was former governor (and former presidential candidate) Jerry Brown. I also got to talk with Craig of Craigslist fame for a while, which is always nice. He explained to me why he doesn’t want to sell Craigslist (not that I asked). Kara has a nice writeup and short video that includes me failing to come up with something interesting to say:

They also handed everyone a cookie with the book cover from Zittrain’s book on the cookie. I had no idea you could do such things, but apparently you can (I ate half the cookie after dinner — not bad). It’s too bad my wife is out of town, considering that Larry Ellison is her boss’s boss’s boss’s boss… I’m sure she would have enjoyed seeing the house.

However, I’m actually not writing this post about all of that — but about high school and nostalgia. When I got to the event, I actually ran into Zittrain right after I walked in, standing in the entry hallway, before the big living room where most of the people were. He was talking to Dan Farber, who I know and who introduced me. We asked Jonathan how it ended up that the Ellisons were throwing the party for him, and he told us that he actually went to high school with Melanie, and they were friends back then. So, now that the book came out, she agreed to hold the book party.

Arianna told a slightly different story, saying she was having dinner with the Ellisons, and brought along an early version of the book, saying she thought it was something the Ellisons should read, and Melanie surprised her by telling her that she had gone to high school with Zittrain. In introducing Zittrain, Melanie mentioned how she had known him since 1984, and she knew right away that he was “cool” to which Jonathan replied that it was certainly “a very well kept secret” that he was ever cool.

It got me thinking, because I’ve been going through a bit of high school nostalgia myself lately. It’s been 15 years since graduation, which seems like a long time — especially since it still doesn’t really feel all that long ago. But, suddenly I’ve found myself in touch with a few folks from high school that I lost touch with long ago, partly due to Facebook and partly due to randomness.

“Everybody in high school feels like the geek. If you are ten years out of high school and you say ‘damn, those were the best years of my life,” then I don’t want anything to do with you. You scare me.”
— Stephen King on “Wait, Wait… Don’t Tell Me!” May 4, 2008

I lost touch with almost everyone I knew in high school. This was just as the internet was catching on, so only the super geeks had email addresses prior to going off to school, there was no instant messaging or social networks, so it wasn’t as easy to stay in touch. Sometimes I wonder if that’s still the case today. With email, social networking and instant messaging, it seems like it’s much more difficult to “lose” touch with people. But, without those, I lost touch with most folks within about a year.

Even the kids who I thought I was close friends with pretty much disappeared once I got to college. Perhaps this wasn’t that surprising. I don’t think I was ever really that close with people from my high school anyway. I don’t remember my high school being particularly cliqueish, though, in retrospect that may have just been me being oblivious. I knew lots of different people, and while I did have a group of regular friends, I also was pretty friendly with a pretty diverse selection of kids. So, based on that, I don’t think I really ever spent too much time with any one set of friends — and I always had this thought in the back of my head (which I’m thinking may be quite common among high schoolers) that maybe my friends didn’t actually like me very much. So I always made sure that I was friends with a bunch of different groups, just in case one group woke up and realized that they didn’t like me, I could just spend my time with a different group.

Every so often I would do Google searches online to see if I could dig up info on what happened to this or that friend from high school. Most of them weren’t findable, which was weird for me since I’m… rather findable on Google these days. It’s because of that findability that I occasionally get emails from folks.

Just a few months ago, I got an email from Rusty. This goes back beyond high school. Rusty went to elementary school with me, and I remember that he was the first kid that the bus picked up (the furthest from school) and I was the third stop, so he always got the best seat on the bus. I also remember him teaming up with Pedro to beat me up when I broke Pedro’s gold chain in a fight on the junior high bus (that was fun). Rusty still lives in Huntington and is a DJ (he DJ’d our high school “ska & rave” — yes, we had a “ska & rave” in high school). He’s married with a kid. And here’s the best part: he totally didn’t remember that I went to high school with him (apparently, the speech I gave at graduation wasn’t that memorable). He only remembers me from elementary school (I didn’t ask him about the fight in junior high). He sent me the photo of our second grade class, and I actually remember the names of most of the kids, including Joe Anchundia, who was working in the World Trade Center and died on September 11.

“Hey Michael, it’s me, Job….”

That was the message I got when Ryan added me as a “friend” on Facebook earlier this year. Ryan was a cool kid, but for some reason, I don’t remember being all that friendly with him. I remember that he was friends with most of my friends… and I remember thinking that he was really nice… but I just can’t remember hanging out with him that much. I also absolutely did not initially get the reference to Job, until he reminded me that he played the role of “Job” in a play I had written in high school called “A Day in the Life of God.” I actually co-wrote it with Brendan Gray (who sorta appears later in this story).

Huntington High School held a competition between the grades each year called “Playfest” where each grade put on a play. Some classes license a real play, some have a student write a play. Brendan and I teamed up freshman year to write a play, but we handed it in a day late, and so they licensed some play instead. I think Brendan was the funniest guy I knew in high school. Don’t ask me why I remember this, but I remember meeting him the first day of junior high school as we were both walking to shop class, and he just saw me in the hallway and started talking to me like we were old friends (we had actually met a year earlier on a field trip between elementary schools, but I don’t think that’s why he spoke to me). I used to like hanging out with Brendan because he was so funny that by the time I walked away, my brain was racing faster and even I was funnier (not for very long, though).

Anyway, for sophomore year, the two of us teamed up again and wrote the play “A Day in the Life of God” and handed it in on time. Our class advisors loved it and brought us on to direct, though Brendan rarely showed up, leaving the directing to me. There was a bit of controversy over the subject matter. The (not very original) “joke” of the play was that it was God as if he were a corporation CEO with Satan trying to run a hostile takeover of heaven. The jokes came pretty easily with that (though, our class advisors wanted us to add more characters so we didn’t have to cut anyone who wanted a part, so I went scouring through the bible to find bit players… like Job). The best actress in the school was a girl named Jillian, and we gave her the role of Satan… until her mom read the play, freaked out, called us blasphemers and demanded that Jillian quit the play. She moved to a new school soon afterwards.

That was fun.

We also got into some trouble for a line that I didn’t write. Ari played the role of Abraham, and at one point God (played by Dan Brenner — who recently connected with me via LinkedIn) got mad at Abraham, and Ari ad libbed a line to explain why he was having trouble paying attention: “But… but… but… I can’t find my foreskin.” It got the biggest laugh of the night and a stern warning from the principal that if we used that line on night 2 we would be disqualified from winning the “best play” award. Figuring the laughs were more rewarding than some dumb award, Ari and I agreed that he would still do the line.

I did Playfest (sans Brendan, unfortunately) the next two years as well, and in looking through my high school yearbook (which I just pulled out after having written all of the above), I’m realizing that a lot of folks connected me with those plays, as some of the signatures I got all refer to various plays. I guess that’s not the worst thing to be remembered for — though I’m not sure it’s going to get any multi-billionaires to throw a party for me any time soon.

Anyway, this post is getting long enough, so I’m going to stop it here and post it as “Part I,” soon (hopefully) to be followed by Part II — which includes recently meeting up with some long lost high school friends, and random other bits of nostalgia and thoughts on high school.