Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

18 Mar 2001, 12:06 p.m.

Questions (unanswerable?), and answers to non-questions

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2001 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

The Phantom Tollbooth
My mom (not *your mom!*)
Books I got for free
What to do with an old monitor and keyboard I can't use?

The Phantom Tollbooth anecdote: When I was in my junior year of high school, I walked in to my first-period honors U.S. History class [with Steve von Berg, the bomb (a good thing) of a history teacher] carrying Tollbooth, which I was rereading.

Amber Hoover asked if that wasn't a kids' book.

I replied that it was.

She asked if I hadn't read it, then, when I was a kid.

I replied that I had, and that I was rereading it.

She asked, "Why would you read a book twice?"

I don't think she was joking.

My mom: She's visiting me this weekend. She's cleaning as I speak. Yes, in my home. (sigh) She's a force of nature. You don't reason with the tides. Or a hurricane. You just name them. Hurricane Mom.

I showed her around Berkeley, which was fun. A very nice day! And we only got scared by one loony.

Correction/update: In a previous entry, I referred to "Brian's" funny bit about Arab/Jew buddy cop movies as the solution to Middle East tensions. His name is Brian Sinclair, and he's a Squelch writer/contributor at U.C. Berkeley. I figured you all should know his last name.

Soon I'll update y'all with info I received from Seth Schoen about corporations-as-persons, Judge Marilyn Patel, and political systems under alien domination. Stay tuned!

Books I got for free: There was a big ol' sale on Thursday and Friday by the Slavic, Celtic, Italian, and Scandinavian departments (I may have missed one) at Cal. But I arrived after the sale, and thus I got stuff for free! Lesson: Ask for exceptions to the rules, and you'll be rewarded. (If you'd like to read the "fractally weird" (thanks, Neal Stephenson) conditions of my free-book-gettin', comment below.)

  • Sakharov Speaks by Andrei Sakharov (Soviet physicist and dissident). Neat combo. "Between LeConte and Barrows..."
  • The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling. Why did they have this? I don't know. I swore I saw bodice-rippers, too.
  • Yevgeny Yevtuschenko: A Precocious Autobiography. One of my favorite poets. His poem "When Your Face Came Rising" changed my life in tenth grade.
  • The Image of Chekhov:
    Forty Stories by Anton Chekhov
    In The Order In Which They Were Written
    Translated, With an Introduction by Robert Payne

    Was all this so important that it all had to be in large type on the front cover?
  • Some book by Boris Pil'nyak. The whole book is in Russian, and the title is something like "Conversations." My Russian teacher told me he's great. Maybe in ten years I'll be able to appreciate that.
  • Six Soviet One-Act Plays. Edited/selected by Ludmila A. Patrick. Actually an intermediate Russian textbook, with a glossary and everything. Think this would freak out an audition audience? "Come in with a three-minute monologue." "Does it have to be in English?" What's a good answer to that?

What to do with an old monitor and keyboard I can't use? The Used Computer Store at Shattuck and Haste doesn't want either. "Too obsolete" and "glut" were the reasons, respectively. Donation bins anywhere? I hate to throw stuff away. Blame my Puritan ancestors.

Originally published by Sumana Harihareswara at