What’s All the FFFFUFFF About?

Fifth Friday footnotes, follow-ups and far-flung fripperies:

• Outside the Hult Center this week, a well-dressed man passed me carrying two folded-up umbrellas under his arm. What made the moment so quintessentially Oregonian was that it was raining. He must have been keeping the umbrellas dry for out-of-state guests.

• Why doesn’t “quintessential” mean “important to five people?”

• To appreciate the architecture of Eugene’s downtown library, you have to watch how people move around in it. There’s hardly ever a space that’s too crowded or so vacant that it feels uncomfortable. Making the furniture fit is easy. Making the users fit is hard. Unheralded but important is how willingly — cheerfully! — patrons use the central staircase instead of the elevators.

• I only wish I could settle in my mind whether or not to sit in James Ulrich’s “reading islands.” I suppose that tension is central to the artist’s invitation.

• Will envelopes continue to be pushed when things rarely arrive in one?

• I learned a new word at Very Little Theater’s production of “Three Days of Rain”: flaneur. I want that title on my next business card.

• We have several talented iPhone app developers in town, so somebody please revive the slam. Cell phone users have only one way to end a call: touch the red “disconnect” button. Ma Bell once gave us the option of ending a call, shall we say, emphatically. Some conversations should end with an exclamation point!

• Every warlike incursion will by definition lack a sufficient exit strategy. The intended tumult cannot have predictable consequences, or the opponent would plan for them. The resulting chaos can’t help but cripple prognosticators on both sides.

• Beware success. It forms the box you’ll later have to think outside of.

• Is the “big picture guy” always somebody who needs reading glasses?

• I sat last week with a retired journalist. He lamented that politicians no longer fear reporters. Democracy is a delicate cultural ecosystem, and lawmakers have lost their only natural predator.

• Not original, but worth remembering: “Seek work, find rest. Seek rest, find boredom.”

• Dave Perez and the Eugene Y have recognized that political viability in Eugene can be measured in lawn signs. They’ve helped their Civic Stadium proposal immensely. No out-of-town consultant will ever suggest that strategy. It’s Only In Eugene.

• Organizations often have a steering committee, when what they need is a propulsion committee. Steering hardly matters if there’s no movement.

• Notice how we ask for a high “quality of life” and then grumble at the corresponding high “cost of living,” as if the two aren’t ultimately related.

• Here’s the simplest measure to track the success of President Obama’s reelection campaign. Notice the first three words for every daily newscast. If those words are “President Obama” followed by an active verb (e.g. announced, selected, authorized, declared, challenged), then his campaign advisers earned their pay for the day.

• I worry that the self-esteem movement has replaced the esteem movement.

• There are two kinds of people in the world: those who empty the dryer lint screen before running a load and those who empty it afterwards. It’s best they not cohabit, much less interbreed.

• Recipes printed on the side of a box usually taste pretty good to me.

• Cell phones once were used only by inmates.

• I believe humans could fly if only we made shoes red enough.

• Ever have one of those days where you seem to walk on water, only to have observers suspect that you can’t swim?

• Do less better.

• It must be great to be an auspice. You’re never alone and everything is always under you.

• I’m sad that no one in the early 1990s thought to shorten how we say “www” to “triple-w.” That would have instantly reduced the tongue-twisting phrase from nine syllables to five, and by now it would have been shortened to “trip-dub” or maybe “trub.” Think of the efficiency lost over two decades of excess utterances.

• Why can’t men be vivacious?

• We complain about everything under the sun, including the lack of sun to complain under.

Don Kahle (fridays@dksez.com) writes a weekly column for The Register-Guard and blogs.