Dear Uptight Seattleite,Maybe if you drove places you'd have time to write your own column.Diego (via Facebook)
Dear Diego,The University of Washington has a building called Sieg Hall. They could have called it the Sieg Building or Sieg Center, but they're showing how they're so totally and completely NOT Nazis that they can even give one of their buildings a name that sounds like a Hitler salute. "Where should we meet?" school administrators say to each other, luxuriating in their non-Naziness. "I don't know, how about...SIEG HALL!"And that, Diego, is the level of confidence I have in my status as a non-utilizer of ghostwriters. If you really have any doubts, Diego, I suggest you attend one of the author events for my book when it's released next month, and see who actually sits in the author chair. (I mention the book only because it's relevant to what we're discussing, and will otherwise refrain from commercializing this space in any way.)I'm already looking beyond this "controversy" toward my second book. It's going to be a kind of pan-spiritual exercise guide. I'm snipping tasty morsels from all the world's great wisdom traditions, tossing in a few of my own observations, and slow-simmering up a batch of lifestyle consciousness. To give you a quick little sample-chunk of my stew, I'm going to explore how some of the same body movements that build balance and strength—repeatedly raising one's palms to the sky, for example—are gestures of beseeching in many religions. And that other exercises are more like a bird flapping its wings. So on the one hand there's beseeching, and on the other there's flapping...actually, I'm still working on that one.No takers on my proposal so far, but that's OK. The publishing world seems to be a little gloomy at the moment, but I'm sure they'll eventually see that it's exactly something a little "out there" that will help get us out of here.Dear UTS,I was making plans with some friends to lunch on Sunday. One couple says they're going to brunch that day, so can only attend if we schedule a "late lunch." And now we ALL have to wait to eat because of them.Isn't it the case that once you commit to brunch, you're excluding yourself from all mid-meals that day (leckfast, dunch, etc.)? I can't imagine these people are even going to be hungry, so they'll probably sit there nursing ice waters while we're trying to enjoy our food.Alice Colère
Dear Alice,I'm seeing a Venn diagram that takes shape over your weekend mornings. Overlapping circles represent all possible mealtimes, and your friends are points within these circles. Each segment of the diagram is labeled, according to rules known only to you, either "OK" or "Not OK." I think the intricacy of this pattern gives you secret pleasure. And you know what that reminds me of? Schadenfreude guilt. That's when you feel bad about feeling good about something bad happening to someone else. It's better to flatten that whole rickety structure and just feel good directly. Which is why I think you should take up knitting, Alice. Knit for your multiple-midday-meal-eating friends a welcoming spirit as complex and lovely as your diagram of prohibition.Does the thought of doing this raise an objection to your lips? It could be that you don't actually like these people. In that case, hooray! Now that you know that, you don't have to make any further efforts to hang out with them at all.Dear Uptight Seattleite,Why is "cane sugar" suddenly better than other kinds of sweeteners?Relatively Sweet Marie
Dear Marie,I know that some people make the argument that the only real difference between one sweetener and another is perception. When you hear "high-fructose corn syrup," you see chemical labs, Big Ag, and enormous vats of evil goo destined to further clog the colons and fatten the bellies of an already overweight nation. But "agave nectar" makes you see pink clouds, goddesses, and fruit orchards. I'm still more of a rough-grain brown-sugar man myself. It feels closer to nature. It's like sand. Sand made out of wood. Really delicious wood.My point is that it does in fact matter what you see when you choose a sweetener. Of course, there's nothing like good ol' honey, backlit by the sun as it drips into your afternoon tea.Questions? Write firstname.lastname@example.org.