30 May, 2008

on the road to portland

Location: I5 mile 59
Mood: relaxed

this is my first ever mobile blog. not even sure if it will work.

riding in the van to play first show. traffic was bad but now seems to be over. beautiful day and will get to play music tonight.

The Story of July

Location: around Boston, 1997
Mood: almost nostalgic?

So, I think I promised this story at some other point in time, and since I am sitting here, and somewhat sick, and bored, I thought it would be as good a time as any to relate it to you. Of course, according to my new "directive", this is not really a story about someone named July. I have picked that name as a substitute, to protect the identity of the person, in case someone does an internet search.

It goes like this.

When I lived in the house in Waltham with the fraternity guys, one of the guys (Ted, we'll call him - though, I am pretty sure if you go back to an earlier blog, you'll find his real name until I go back and change it) was dating this girl, July. Actually, in hindsight, I now realize that I either dated, or came damn close to dating TWO people that Ted once dated. That is absolutely in violation of my housemate's edict of "one per household" and probably explains why I didn't really keep in touch with those guys after moving. I think I violated "the code".

In my defense, I will say that I didn't really date July, and that she only briefly dated Ted, so that's not a bad one. It's Dina that was the problem - because Ted really did date Dina, and then Dina went after me in the aftermath, and I took the bait (I realize I am phrasing that in a very blameless context, which it is not, but I am telling the story, so give me a liberty or two). We can talk about Dina some other time, though I'll plant this seed by mentioning that she was a dead ringer for Courteney Cox, and she was eleven years older than me (and 13 years older than Ted). She liked the young guys.

So, Ted I guess dated July for a little bit before we met, and it was not particularly intense, and not particularly painful in any way. They sort of just dissolved into friendship, and they were very good friends. Ted had lots of girl friends, and probably lots of girlfriends too. He was Armenian, and he was perceived as very good looking by most people, and he was also quite suave with the ladies. So, Ted I think actually introduced me to July - so maybe he thought we'd be good together? I don't know.

As I said in an earlier blog, Ted and I met while working together at Raytheon, and that's how we ended up moving into the house on Goldencrest Road. And July also worked at Raytheon, but in a different department than us. I think they met through Raytheon also, but I am not sure how. So, at some point, July and me started hanging out periodically. We'd go to dinner, or to the movies, or things like that. July was not very attractive, but not completely unattractive - she sort of looked a bit like Suzanne Vega, but with lighter hair. And we would talk about work, and talk about relationships, and talk about all sorts of things. On one occasion, at a big party at our house, July and I found ourselves kissing briefly. And it was not a very passionate kiss, and there was not a lot of physical chemistry. But it happened, and we discussed how we would not pursue that any further. In spite of that proclamation though, or maybe in light of it, we did flirt quite a bit. Maybe it was "safe" for both of us.

One of the things about July that was rather curious is that she took MANY sick days from work. I have never met a human being who used more of their sick time than July. At Raytheon, we were granted an incredibly generous 40 DAYS of sick time, and I'll be a donkey's testicle if July did not take every single day that she was granted. She worked in the drafting department doing technical drawings (just remembered that). The main reason that she took the days off was because of "migraines". I put that in quotes, because I have a sneaking suspicion that July didn't even know what a migraine was. But maybe I am being unfair. She claimed that a) there was no medication that helped her, and b) that she needed to just stay in bed in the dark when she had them. But the thing that struck me about July was that she also seemed to be quite a depressed individual, and I had a sneaking suspicion that her "migraines" were actually the cover story for major depressive episodes, because nobody is going to question you for taking work off due to pain. The converse argument, of course, would be that she was depressed because of the migraines, and I grant you that possibility, but it just didn't ring true to me. Sometimes she didn't seem to be "suffering" other than just the lack of will to do anything.

July was not particularly nice, or sociable - unless she drank, which was rare, in which case she would become nicer and more sociable.

And we hung out a lot. The escalation of our friendship to "frequent get-togethers" coincided with the latter half of my relationship with Sarah, whose name I will not mask because I already wrote an entire giant blog about her, and I don't really want to cover up her name. It isn't like I told you her last name or anything. But I promise I will change all the other names. I guess I don't care if Sarah's people ever find her on here, though it is unlikely. Anyway, digressing.

So, July gave me lots of counsel on what to do, what not to do, how to salvage my relationship with Sarah. She coached me. She listened to me whine. And when it ended, she supported me, and also went with me to do that final pick up of all my stuff. She was a spectacularly devoted friend. Or so it would seem.

Then, spring came, and I was ready to move out of the house with the fraternity guys - not sure what my reason was. I really cannot recall. They were cool guys, but for some reason, I think I wanted a better place, closer in to the city. And July and I got to talking and decided that we should be housemates. So we did some looking around, and we found a house in Watertown, very cool, and rented it. If I remember correctly, I think the rent was about $1100 for the first level of a big old 2 family house. That same house is probably $2000 now! Actually I just checked and it looks like it's only about $1600... so the market hasn't gone that crazy for rentals. So, July and I decided on the place and then we were shopping for furniture, and shopping for dishes, and all that. And it started to feel a lot like we were a married couple - which we were not. And we did not fool around at all, but we flirted. And I don't know what was going on.

So we moved in together.

And the week we moved in, it just so happened that a friend of mine, Elaine, was visiting from California. Elaine is someone that I dated extremely briefly, and she was an alcoholic, who was now recovering. When we dated, she was drinking a lot, and she was not very nice at all. I remember one time Elaine got in a huge fight with me because we were making pasta, and I put salt and oil in the water - she started yelling at me, "What are you doing!" and then she told me to leave.

Over salt and oil.

Elaine and I didn't last very long. Interestingly, or not so interestingly, Elaine was also a former girlfriend of someone that I knew. There was a period of my life, fortunately not now where I did a lot of getting into mixed up situations with people's ex-girlfriends. And I think it had to do with me not knowing what I wanted, or how to look for it, and therefore I just thought that maybe I should want what worked for someone else. I have no clue. It was not something I am proud of, and I do not go there anymore.

But... Elaine had been coming to town, and part of the reason that I think she wanted to see me was because part of her 12 step program involved her making amends with me. Elaine and I had been talking on the phone a lot, and actually she's the reason that I got into the band Uncle Tupelo, which then led to Son Volt and Wilco, and probably led to a lot of my musical interests of today. So she may be formative in my life in a way greater than I could measure in simple terms. Or not.

Elaine was coming to town, and she was going to arrive and depart somewhat on her own schedule, and I think I had some type of plans the day she was coming, and I wanted to let her stay anyway because she was a friend of mine.

And July freaked out! Completely!

"I don't want you letting some STRANGER into the house!"

During that entire time, July and me didn't talk. Then July put a lock on her bedroom door, on the inside so that I couldn't come in - as if I would have!

Elaine was only around for a couple of days. We stayed in the same bed, but we weren't fooling around, just platonic. But nonetheless this tweaked July in a big way. And she would not even make eye contact with me. So it was starting to become evident that maybe July had some other type of master plan for us moving in together, which she had not discussed with me, but maybe assumed to be the case.

Then, only a few weeks beyond that, Edna and I started spending a lot of time together (we'd been friends for 6 years, and she had come back to town about 6 months earlier, but it was around this time in early summer that we started getting close to "seeing each other"). I am not using a pseudonym for Edna either, because I really cannot hide from you the identity of the longest term relationship I have had to this point, and you're all going to know who she is anyway, so let's skip the charade. If she writes me an angry message here, I will comply and change her name to something like "Edna" (I did).

Edna and I started hanging out more and more, and this tweaked July to the brink of insanity. She would storm through the room, and slam her door, and not speak to me at all. And all this was within the first 2 months of living together. And then, out of nowhere, July informed me that she was moving out. Just like that. The landlord had no idea if July and me were a couple, or what, but it sure seemed weird to them, and it was weird for sure.

And then, due to mutually convenient circumstances, combined with a new romance, Edna and I ended up living in the Watertown house together.

I never spoke to, or saw July again after that. Not one single time.

29 May, 2008

Taking the leap to cleanliness... or godliness... or both

Location: my house
Mood: feeling squeaky?

Well. I did it. Just arranged for the first professional cleaning of my house. I realize that you have all suggested to me that I could clean it myself. And that may be true. But what is possible, and what is likely, are two different things entirely. And I do not want to sit and watch as my place slowly becomes "unpleasant" because of my own unmanageable laziness.

After just a little research, I decided to go with one of the big companies - MaidPro - because they have a name behind them that holds a reputation, and they have a positive track record with things like the Better Business Bureau, and because they have a decent system for managing things like keys, security codes, and covering losses in the case of theft or damage. The person on the phone (Rebecca) was very nice, and informative, and answered all my questions, and inspired confidence, whatever that means.

If I chose Esmerelda's Cleaning Service, or some such thing advertised on the boards here at Microsoft, it may be true that I'd be helping "the little guy", but it would be at the expense of my own risk - since letting someone in your house to a) look at all your valuables, and b) touch them, and c) have the means of coming back whenever they want, requires a certain level of trust that is harder to secure with Esmerelda than with MaidPro.

Plus with MaidPro, they have a cool spokesmodel like this one:

Doesn't she inspire confidence? She looks so... clean!

I'd like to know if the person who cleans my place will be wearing a blazer, and have big transparent bubbles floating around her. Actually, supposedly my place will be cleaned by someone named Sandra, and I will meet her on TUESDAY when we get our first cleaning.

The prices are reasonable. For monthly cleaning, they charge $34/hour for minimum of 2 hours, and I think we're going to do the 3 hour plan, which will include, in this order of priority:
  • kitchen, in detail
  • bathrooms, in detail
  • dusting
  • floors
Then, they spend any remaining time (which might be very little) doing other odds and ends stuff, that apparently will be described to me on their 49-point checklist that is presently not visible since part of their site was under maintenance, but will be visible shortly.

I feel pretty good about the prospect of doing this, because it is much easier to have things passively occur, while paying money, then to actively do things yourself. It's the American Way! I am stimulating the economy! Yeah, that's the ticket! And one could argue that since I actually earn more than $34/hour, it is a valid expenditure of my time to have someone else do it.

Yeah, whatever. You don't buy that, do you?

Need to be careful what I write!!

Location: web search engines
Mood: concerned

I was looking at my little Google Analytics tool this morning, to see how many of you are still looking at my blog. I am obsessed. No I'm not. Yes I am.

And I saw that like 2% of my hits on the page were not direct links, but had actually arisen from search engines! This was interesting to me because I can't imagine how someone would search and find it. So I click on the "View Report" button to see what people were searching that brought them to my page.

What I found was mostly not that surprising or interesting:
  • "Mick Feeble Speaks"
  • "Aria Pro II CS-350" (a guitar)
But... there was one item on the list that did surprise and interest me.

"Jay S*****r" (blanking out the letters of his name)

Two times, people have hit my site in a search for this guy who was my former classmate in elementary and high school, and about whom I have written a fairly lengthy blog. And I know Jay still lives on the East Coast, and he's an accountant, and I also know he works for Price Waterhouse, which is like a really big firm.

So I Google him.

And it turns out he is some type of Senior Partner in the company - a corporate officer. And it also occurs to me that maybe he does not want people Googling him and finding out about the fist fights that he had when he was 8 years old, and about how we couldn't agree to the rules of 1 on 1 street football.

So... I think I need to go through and do a scrub here at some point. I thought that as long as I didn't name anyone recent that it would be fine. But in hindsight, I probably should not be naming anyone under any circumstances.

The decision here, I think, is that I will use code names. But then the question is whether to rotate the code names, or keep them static. The upside of static is that you will probably be able to follow my stories, and maybe even identify the players. The downside of static is that you will probably be able to follow my stories, and maybe even identify the players. But it would at least keep random people from stumbling upon their own, or their loved ones' deep dark pasts.

I'd love to know what search engine hits on his name, because I can't get my page to come up with Yahoo, Google, or MSN... must be some crappy search engine that doesn't prioritize things properly.

Decisions... decisions...

28 May, 2008

the most ironic thing you have ever heard

Location: the lexicon
Mood: precarious

The German word for "poison" is "gift".

Can you believe that?

Thank god for the 2nd Amendment

Location: folk life
Mood: a little bit schizo

You've all heard about the shooting at folk life. And it turns out that the guy has a history of drug abuse and mental illness. Schizophrenia, to be specific. And yet he had a valid gun permit. The laws around this are surprisingly lenient, although in this guy's case, it was a bureaucratic error that allowed him to maintain his permit.

But still. Why is it that we have an "innocent until proven guilty", or "eligible until proven ineligible" philosophy on the books for something as utterly lethal as gun ownership? Why is it that our right to bear arms doesn't have a high standard associated with it? Wouldn't you think it would be reasonable that someone submit to an elaborate records check, and waiting period, in order to purchase and own/carry a gun? Sure, there are background checks to make sure you aren't actually an escaped felon! But how about something more stringent? Maybe we could do a basic psychological examination, and determine if you seem stable? And so what if we accidentally err on the side of too much caution! Do we, as a society need to feel bad about a borderline case where someone who is "barely sane" is accidentally tested as being "barely not sane", and denied the right to buy a gun? Oh, too bad, so sad, for that person! Because I am sure that plenty of people who are barely sane are on their way to becoming barely not sane.

But nope...

One of the foundations of this country is the right to own a gun. And bullets. Of course, the fact remains, that guns are only dangerous when used for their specific intended purpose. So I don't know what all the fuss is.

What else do we have?

Freedom of speech... great. Except that it has been bastardized into the freedom to publish and broadcast anything you want, regardless of its veracity, and leave it to the commoner to figure out what is truth, and what is rubbish.

And then, the next great right we have, beyond gun ownership and freedom to lie, is that we can buy or sell anything for whatever price people are willing to pay for it, within reason, as long as it is not a drug, other than tobacco, or alcohol.

And of course, the freedom to practice religious faith. Great that we do not burn people for their beliefs. But that's where it should stop. Instead, we have woven a pretty little web between government and religion, with politicians needing to invoke the Lord (the Christian one, at that!) in order to be representatives of the people. And so many of the issues on our agenda stem from issues that can fundamentally be seen as religious ones.

It's just so fucking ironic, this country. We regulate all the shit that we shouldn't be regulating, and we either don't regulate, or under-regulate, all the things we should be regulating!

And in the meantime, our education system is a joke. Healthcare availability is pathetic. And the tax system still seems to have a soft spot for rich people and corporations.

But I digress.

Waiting in anticipation... and...

Location: inside the shadow
Mood: um... letdown

I was excited when I saw on T-Mobile's (shitty) website that there was an update for my phone. There were some things that worked a little funky, so it seemed like a great thing to do the software update.

What they did not tell me is that it blows away ALL of your settings, and ALL of your contacts, and ALL of your pictures, and ALL of your word-recognition history. It basically formats the fucking phone and starts over.

This is MASSIVELY inconvenient because everything I ever installed needs to be reinstalled. And nowhere, obvious, during the upgrade process did it say "be sure to backup all of your things, because we're about to blow them away". This really irks me.

The one good thing is that it got rid of the 9000 Hotmail contacts that had been inadvertently ported to my phone. But I am really starting over here. And I am not happy about it!

Maybe the phone will work better. But to give you an idea of what this cost me, in terms of time and effort... this is what I need to REDO:
  • create gmail account in phone
  • install gmail application
  • create yahoo account in phone
  • install office communicator
  • install smartphlow traffic map
  • install zenyee stay-unlock tool
  • get all new photos for my contacts
  • change all ring tones and alert tones
  • modify all settings so that battery is not drained rapidly
This will take forever.

Fucking T-Mobile.

27 May, 2008

Arbitrary things I have decided to do

Location: my life
Mood: insistent

From now on, until further notice, my standard breakfast and lunch will consist of high-fiber cereal with low-fat milk. Yes. Breakfast and lunch. I will not eat pizza. I will not eat various other things. The reason for this is that I am out of shape and part of the reason is that I have developed unhealthy eating habits. And you might say "well, how healthy is it to eat the same thing every breakfast and lunch?" To that, I say "Mind your own fucking business".

No, I'm kidding. I don't really say that.

I say "Well, every time I go to the cafeteria, I spend large amounts of money, and have massive temptation to eat unhealthily. So avoiding the cafeteria eliminates those issues." To that, you might say "Why don't you just start learning some self-discipline and eat a fucking salad". And to that, I would say "Why do you need to be so confrontational all the time? I was just trying to say that this is something that I think might work for me, and that I could stick to it!". And to that you would say "Why are you being so defensive?", to which I would reply "I am NOT being defensive! I'm just sick of you always attacking me for every single idea I have!", to which you would say "Whatever. Do whatever you want. Just don't even tell me about it if you don't want my opinion!", to which I would say "Fine!", and then you would say "Fine!"

Or something like that.

Issue number 2 is the coffee issue. Up until 2006, I never drank coffee at all - probably only had like 10 cups in my entire life, and most of those were in the North End of Boston at Cafe Vittoria. But suffice it to say, I started drinking coffee when I went to Europe, and was regularly drinking a cup a day ever since. However in the past few months, for various reasons, I let that number increase to 2 and 3 per day. Well, I am weaning back to 1 per day, because I don't want to be subordinate to stimulants in order to function. And I also don't want to get headaches if I can't have it.

Of course, on the weekend, or special occasions, I am willing to bend on that one.

Then there's the exercise thing, and I am not going to bore you with those details, but leave it at "I'm going to do more than I have been doing" which translates to "Any".

Vague for the sake of being vague

Location: the corners of my mind
Mood: intrigued, to say the least

Did you ever discover something about a person that you considered to be quite a substantial discovery, after knowing them for a fair amount of time? I am not talking about finding out that someone is a serial killer, or that they have a rabbit fetish, but just little tidbits that change your perception about them, in a positive way, or a negative way? Usually a positive way, though.

I love it when that happens.

There was some guy who I used to know at work, when I worked at the Bloedel Hearing Research Center. And I knew him as one of the computer guys - an IT guy. He wrote software for various applications, and he dealt with server or computer issues, as they arose. He had a decent sense of humor - dry - and he was reasonably quiet. So I didn't know him well at all. Then one time, I was invited to a work barbecue, and discovered that he was driving a really old, refurbished vehicle. So I asked him about it, and it turned out that this was a deep passion of his. He owned more than one vehicle, and is incredibly knowledgeable about them. This is what he lives for, but you don't really know about that in day-to-day life.

Another example. There was a woman who was responsible for doing all of the rodent breeding and care-giving in the lab that I did my doctorate. She was again, a quiet woman, and she did not share very much of her personal life at all. But you'd probably figure that she has a few friends, and maybe she watches TV a lot, or that she has some cats, or whatever. Well, it turns out that she has her pilot's license, and was an avid flyer. And when you get to talking about it with her, you find out that she has even crashed a plane before, and lived to tell about it! And it was a deep passion and skill of hers. Again, who would have ever known.

I guess people are surprised sometimes when they find out at work that I am also a guitar player in a band. And sometimes they'll say something like "so do you get together and jam with other people?" because they usually don't expect you to be playing in clubs. And then they will say "so do you play rock and roll? do you write your own songs?" and so on. And to them, this is an intrigue. But to me, it's just obvious! This is what I do. This is where my mind is, when I am not here. This is my passion.

And the really cool part is that everyone, or I should say, most people, have a passion.

It's true that some people just sit and watch television all the time, and too bad for them. But almost everyone has something that they do that is unique or interesting or unusual, at least.

I found out that my former manager at work here is into doing GPS-based treasure hunts!

My manager before that builds robots and enters them in competitions where the goal is to destroy the opponent's remote-control robot! And they're good! They're running regional champion! This is their passion.

Another colleague works at a shelter for homeless people and he speaks fluent Japanese (and he's Caucasian).

These are all things you don't know just by looking at a person, and it is exciting to think about this hidden, surprising side of all of us. It's not even so much that it's hidden. I suppose some people's hobbies are willfully kept a secret, for whatever reason. But most of us haven't shared our passions simply because you haven't asked.

So... I love it when I learn something new and unique, and special about a person. And I have to say, in some ways these discoveries can instantly endear me to a person because there's a new dimension - and now I need to reassemble that entire puzzle around the new information. The world becomes a larger place, for no other reason than because of an increase in my own awareness.

I guess that wasn't really very vague after all. But if you knew what got me writing this, then you'd see how it is that I was being vague. Because I am thinking about a cool example of this phenomenon that just occurred. But I'm keeping that one to myself.

So there.

25 May, 2008

The ongoing nightmare that is the red guitar...

Location: blah
Mood: blah

Finally started assembling the red guitar. I discovered that the two screws that were "missing" were actually not missing - but hidden stuck inside another part. So I waited an extra week for nothing. But no worry! I started assembling the tuners today, and managed to break one of them on installation, so now I need to beg Stew-Mac again to give me replacement parts, and in the meantime, I must use an unmatching tuner on this guitar because I honestly can wait no longer to assemble this stupid thing.

At this point, I am officially frustrated.

Will it sound good?

It had intercoursing better.

Random events and goings on

Location: out and about capitol hill
Mood: this and that

The past few days have seen some interesting activity... think of this as like the local police report, except it's not reporting crime. It's reporting my activities.


Rehearsal. We're getting closer to being ready for the upcoming shows - my first with the band. There is hesitancy to lock in on a set list, because, fortunately there are too many songs from which to choose. I've learned somewhere in the ballpark of 25 plus or minus 2, and we are considering about 16 of those to be "gig-ready" or close to it. I really want to have them all be ready, because I feel like I must do more more more, but it's better to be a little bit leisurely about adding songs, so as to not overwhelm myself. But we're doing well. The good news is that we'll have a few new songs ready for the shows, so the band will not be coming out of hiatus with nothing new to show for it. After practice, hung out and talked for awhile about random stuff. I really enjoy these guys. It was a good choice for me, and I think it's very important to be able to feel like not only the music is good, but the social time as well, because being in a band involves a lot of that.


Finished my lab study, and this was fortunately yet another success for me against large odds that I created for myself out of procrastination and apathy. I think maybe I am ready to snap out of the absolute funk that has been upon me for either 2 weeks, 2 months, or 2 years, depending on where you set your "funk-o-meter". Actually doing a lab study always kicks me in the butt, and maybe what I need to do is to always have something that I treat with the urgency of a lab study. And then, more importantly, when the study is over, I need to stop "rewarding" myself with the privilege of more slacking.

That said (heh heh), I needed to leave work early Friday after the study was completed, so I could deal with the emissions testing for my car. And while I was at that, I decided to go to Trading Musician (no, I did not buy another guitar!). But I did buy a new pedal. I was looking for 2 more pieces to add to my musical puzzle. I am sure I needed one of them, but not sure about the other one (I am foreshadowing the fact that I bought yet another pedal on Saturday, but let me not get ahead of myself). So I bought this thing called a "Double Muff" which does not mean "two chics at the same time" (to quote Lawrence from Office Space). It's a distortion pedal that does a nice job of giving a wet distorted sound, without messing up the tone of the signal. I won't go into one of my musical rants, other than to say that the one thing that is a problem with most pedals that do distortion or overdrive is that they tend to eliminate the low frequencies of the sound. This is actually by design, as I understand it (unless I am mistaken). The circuit "filters" out the low end before doing the "make distortion" part of the circuit. And (as I understand it) the reason for this is that most of the distortion circuits will do bad things with low frequencies, and make the tone very muddy. So to prevent that, they filter it out. So the challenge is to find pedals that a) don't lose the low end, but b) don't get muddy either. And of course, these are usually more expensive. So when I found the "Double Muff" I was happy. And they gave me a good deal ($50 cash) so what the heck. Another toy for the pedal board.

Friday night continued with meeting Dan at Piecora's, my favorite pizza place in Seattle. When I got there, I saw this guy who I recognized but could not figure out from where. Thought about it for a minute or so (and probably freaked him out) and then figured out that he was my friend Renee's brother, who apparently moved here from LA not too long ago. I had met him at her thesis defense party a couple of years ago. Pizza was good.

Then we went to King Cobra, a great new club right next to the Comet Tavern. This is one of the nicest clubs in Seattle now. The interior is like a small version of Neumo's, with an upper level with seating, and a lower level with a great stage. Need to play there! The band was "Holy Ghost Revival" - at least that's the band we came to see. The first two bands were absolutely horrible posers who played music that was somewhere between bad versions of The Clash, and bad versions of Poison - so you can probably imagine how that was. It was so bad, that I almost left before the headliner, but I am so glad I stayed. HGR is amazing. The lead singer is completely out of control, falling into the audience, and being tossed around, and dropped, and propelled around the room, all the while not losing a single note, or singing out of key at all. The songs are progressive - a little bit like Queen, a little bit like Bowie, but heavier. And his body movements and look are somewhat reminiscent of Axl Rose, but in the best possible way (if there can be one). Things were so crazy up front, that I retreated to the balcony, but it was entirely enjoyable, every minute of it. Actually my retreat occurred because he decided to spray-spit beer over the entire audience, and that was when I was like "Okay, fuck that!".


Music stores. Needed to pick up my amplifier from Aviator Guitars. Dan came with me, because he needed to bring his bird to the vet in Bothell. He really likes that bird, "Rhea". When we got to the vet, they're asking him how she's been doing (she had an infection before) and he says "She's doing much better. She's been singing again, and she is eating normally, and she's even started masturbating again".

Yes. You heard me correctly. Masturbating.

The young assistant, who was probably like 22, looks at Dan like he's crazy. Then he explains to the counter people again about the masturbation, and they ask him what he means, and he said she's backing herself up against a stick and rubbing her multipurpose cloaca on the stick while making particular noises. Um... okay. The veterinarian people already thought me and Dan were a gay couple, not that there's anything wrong with that. But when he's talking about the masturbation, he says to them, "I know Bob is probably going to be mad at me for talking about this".


So then we get the amplifier, which all things told, cost me $800 for all the repairs.

Then we go to Guitarville, where I buy another pedal (Fulltone Fulldrive 2) to complete my quest for the holy grail of guitar tone. There, I find out from their repair guy that he would have probably done my amp repairs for a little more than half of what Aviator charged. Now maybe he's just saying it because he knows it's history - but it does make me realize that I probably got soaked on that repair. Good thing I am made of money, huh!

Anybody want some money?

I only have 100's though, so I hope you have change.

Saturday night, went to a really cool play at The Annex with Darcy and a few friends of hers from La Tienda (after going to the Elysian, and spilling an entire Mojito on her lap while shaking Linda's hand... I thought it was my fault but apparently, as usual, I was taking the blame for things). The play was very unusual, and I guess would be called post-modern, but I am not sure what post-modern is, because I am not sure what modern is, and I am making that up, so maybe it wasn't even post-modern, other than that I think that simple stage with black outfits could be construed as post-modern, okay I am digging an even deeper hole of ignorance here. The play is worth seeing, and it was called S2, and it is still running, and I will not ruin the plot for you, but will instead provide a link right here to it, if you wish to consider. It's only $12 and is worth it.

Click here to read about S2 @ The Annex Theatre!

There, I did my part to promote it.


Well, I am supposed to be working on my guitar right now, and I will commence shortly, but first I must write this blog. I went to Cafe Presse (walked there) this morning/afternoon and ate another Croque Monsieur, which is like a Monte Cristo sandwich, almost, but not quite. Toasted Ham and Gruyere and Dijon, with the fromage melted on the outside. And drank three small CUPS of good coffee.

Read Harper's Index on the way out and gleaned the following interesting factoids, which were both upsetting to me in various ways:
  • Number of countries in the world that do not legally guarantee paid maternity leave for women: 4
  • Average per capita annual income of the three countries, other than the United States: $1226
Can you fucking believe that? What's the explanation? Freedom? What? Tell me. Nobody seems to care that the US is woefully positioned in so many categories.

And then another factoid:
  • Factor by which children who are spanked enjoy masochistic sexual relations as adults compared to those who were not: 2 to 1
I have nothing more to say right now. Guitar for a few - hopefully get partway through the soldering - and then off to a band-related barbecue.


23 May, 2008

You really are gluttons

Location: the twisted minds of my readers
Mood: jubilant

So it appears that my complaining really hasn't deterred you any. I know this because I took a look at my handy-dandy hit counter, and it appears that you are still reading my blog in spite of my incessant whining. I guess this makes me feel good. Here's proof, in case you don't believe me - although I guess if you're reading this blog you don't really need proof. However, I guess it might feel good to know that you're not the only one.

See. I would not lie. I realize that you're not exactly among "hordes" of people, but what can I say? I guess there are 9 people (8 plus me) who have a morbid curiosity with my life.

I am going to go deal with the annoying automobile registration process right now. And probably take a royal ass-whipping for doing the title so long after purchasing. But what can I do? No choice.

I will have more to say later. I need to go formulate new topics about which I can complain.

22 May, 2008

Oh, and I forgot to mention...

Location: mouth
Mood: stress

My back teeth hurt from some sort of grinding in my sleep. That, and I had a dream that my old boss, Denise, was driving like a maniac in some sort of Oldsmobile Cutlass from the 1970's and I needed to get a ride from her, and it was parked in a space that was more like a large sloping pit, that she had to back out of. And then I dreamed that one of my ex-girlfriends was stuck back with one of her ex-boyfriends, and she was unhappy, and I was staying with them, and it was uncomfortable for everybody.

There. That's better.

I also neglected to tell you about my dream where I rescued someone from a fire in the woods in some building, but then had 2nd and 3rd degree burns on large parts of my body, especially my arms, and had bandages with some type of salve on them, and I woke up feeling like it had been real.

How can I complain? Let me count the ways...

Location: the complaint box
Mood: plaintive

Eventually you will get tired of reading this. And when you do, I will know because my Google Analytics fancy tool will show me that nobody is clicking anymore. Then I will be completely invalidated and I will probably either stop writing, or just moan about it here even more for the 2 or 3 people who are so self-abusive that they continue to read out of morbid curiosity.

I got the car stereo, as I mentioned. But it doesn't recognize my mp3 player. This means one of 3 things. Either:

a) Car Toys will make it work, because there's some setting that needs to be done
b) It cannot work, because my mp3 player sucks, and I will need to buy another one
c) It cannot work, because my mp3 player sucks, and I will live without mp3 connectivity

I am really not that upset by this. But I am secretly trying to push all of you away by annoying you so much that you eventually stop reading. I could try other tactics.


But see... that didn't work. You're still reading. If I can't count on you to stop reading, then why should I bother to stop complaining? Where's the negative feedback loop?

21 May, 2008

Strange noises

Location: the corner of the room, inside the plastic cable container
Mood: apprehensive

I am sitting here and I hear an occasional noise in the corner of the room. Near the plastic tub that has cables and other random shit in it. And I notice things like bubble wrap, and a pile of bumper stickers, and it is most likely that something shifted. Yeah. That's the only thing that makes sense.

Only I am hearing noise that is not just gravitational shifting. And it is also not provoked. There is nothing forcing it. Things don't just move, every few minutes, unless there is a reason for them to move. Or unless they're exceedingly unstable. And they are not. 

I go closer. And there is another sound. It's movement. Something is moving. And I am pretty sure this something is alive. And I am also pretty sure this something is larger than, say, an ant. Could be a mouse. Could be a very large spider. Either way, I don't want it moving freely. Maybe it's not in the container. Maybe it's in the wall! I don't like this one bit.

So I put on clothes and grab the cover to the container so I can make sure that if something is in the container, it remains there. Forever. Or until further notice.

And I have the thing contained. Assuming, of course, that it is in the container. If it is elsewhere, then who knows.

Add it to the list...

In case you were wondering...

Location: all over the greater seattle area
Mood: a little bit all done

So... I am slowly trying to deal with all the shit on my list. I forgot to mention there is even more shit than what I had on my list before. It turns out (are you reading this, Matt), I was supposed to do something special in order to get the title of my car transferred to my name. I thought it just happened automatically. But I need to do all sorts of shit. Emissions test. Bill of Sale. Blah blah blah. And unfortunately because we had to renegotiate the price after the initial paperwork (due to long story of issues), I am now fucked and will pay tax on the original sale amount, since that is the amount written on the bill of sale AND on the title. Goodbye $100. Super.

So, at some point in the near future, I need to do that. Oh yeah, and because I neglected to do it within 15 days, goodbye another $100 because I will pay a penalty for not filing for the new title. There's $200 down the drain for nothing. And I also got pulled over by the fucking Medina Police for going NINE miles per hour over the speed limit. Of course, this resulted in them determining that I was not the owner of the vehicle. It's a damn good thing I had my insurance card on me, because otherwise, they might have suspected me to have stolen the vehicle.

Wonderful. So now, every time I take the short cut through Bill Gates' neighborhood on the way home from work, I need to drive 25 mph and piss everyone off, because if I get pulled over again, they will probably hang me.

So today I dragged my amp back up to Aviator Guitars. They think it's just a bad preamp tube, but we decided I should leave it with them to make sure, or else I would be driving back there again for nothing.

Then, I spent the entire afternoon and evening on lovely Highway 99 bouncing between Edmonds and Shoreline. I went to Car Toys, initially to have my old stereo installed in place of Matt's stereo (which has no faceplate and has therefore been mocking me for the past 2 months, unusable). But I figured out quickly that I would spend as much to install my stereo as I would to purchase AND install a new, better stereo. So that was what I decided. Was going to get a Panasonic stereo, but then I ended up upselling myself to a nicer Pioneer Premier system because it had a special where new speakers are included for free. Pretty good. So I got Infinity front speakers. And now I have music. And it plays WMA discs, and it also has input in glove compartment for mp3 player. I am interested to see how that works.

Blah blah blah.

Still have a hundred million things to do.

Red guitar project is going swimmingly poor. Waiting for Stew-Mac (parts company) to send me the 2 screws that were missing from the new tuners, and then made the annoying discovery that I stripped a screw for my new 5-way switch, so I am just going to use the old 5-way switch, and why do you care about this anyway? Stop asking me all these annoying questions.

I am too tired to do the rest of the guitar tonight. And tomorrow is practice. And Friday is supposedly band practice, which seems incredibly hard to get excited about, since the entire band is about to go on maternity leave in about 11 days. But playing is always better than not playing, so let's do it.

What else?

I figured out what happened with my prescription. Stupid fucking beaurocracy. Check this out. I received a letter from Medco (instead of my Lipitor) telling me to contact them immediately. So, after a few days (okay, 6 days) I contacted them. And here's what I found out. They did not have the correct shipping address for me. But that's not really true. They had the wrong shipping address on record. But when I placed my order through my physician, the physician and insurance company supplied a new address to Medco. So I received a letter at my new address - NOT FORWARDED - from Medco - telling me that they need my updated shipping address. They also (it turns out) sent the exact same letter to my old address, which got forwarded to my new one.

Now here's the part that I don't understand. If those fuckers have my new address to send me the letter, why not just send me the damn pills?

But why would we ask such questions? No. Of course it is far more logical to send 2 letters. Why don't they send their 4 fastest ships to the 4 corners of the world? That would be almost as efficient.

Or. Better still. Why don't they just open the window at the Medco headquarters and start yelling my name out the window?

Yes. That would work.

In addition to my other activities in the North, I also visited Guitarville, where I wasted time playing through some overdrive and tremelo pedals. Again, aren't you glad you asked? And then, here's the part I am ashamed to tell you. When I was waiting for my car to be stereod, I ate a burger from Jack-in-the-Box. Yes, it's true. I have never gone there before. This is what my life has become.

20 May, 2008

Annoyed about my guitar amplifier

Location: inside my amp
Mood: annoyed

I have a 1974 Fender Twin Reverb. This amplifier is reasonably sought after, and it is worth a fair amount - probably $1200-$1300. I bought it for $600 in the mid-90's. Having not done much maintenance on it, I decided it would be a good idea to bring it to the repair place to have it looked at from a prevention objective. The reason for this is that I am about to start using it very frequently for the shows with the band.

Upon bringing it in, they decided that to make it reliable, it needed to have a significant amount of rebuilding done. And lots of old components needed to be replaced. I was without my amp for maybe 3 or 4 weeks. And they ran into some complications. And in the end, to get my amp serviced, I spent more than I paid for the amplifier in the first place.

The worst part is that the amp was not behaving badly when I brought it in. Apparently, it was not perfect, but it was at least functioning without major glitches.

I bring it to rehearsal last night, and turn it on. And it immediately starts making a crackling and humming noise that it has never made before. This disappoints me greatly. I turned it off, and turned it back on again, and the noise went away. But the problem is that the noise happened once, which means it might happen again. So I need to bring it back to the repair place (note to self: contained within the word "repair" are all the letters required to spell the word "rape").

I call the repair place, and they say that's under shop warranty and that looking at it, and possibly fixing it will be at no charge. But the guy was kind of annoyed with me (presumably because of frustration, as he stated). But I guess I expect them to be a bit more kind to me after I give them $700 to return my amp to me with a problem that is more visible than the problems I brought it in with. And instead he's giving me attitude because I couldn't give him a conclusive answer about exactly when I could bring it in there (because I have to work).

So, the big problem now is that it is looking increasingly unlikely that I will have the amplifier in time for the gigs that are coming up next week and the week after, and at the very least, I will not be able to rehearse with it during next week. These are all really shitty things. And there's nothing I can do about it. And in all likelihood I will probably need to spend more to get this fixed.

The thought "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" comes to mind... but I did not want to bring a questionably reliable amp out to shows.

So I'm annoyed.

19 May, 2008

All this procrastination is wearing me out...

Location: End of Day 1 in my lab study
Mood: wiped out

I cannot believe that I made it through the study. Day 1. Only minor problems. I have been so distracted and had such difficulty focusing on the work for so long now, that I really got pushed up against the utter limit in my preparations. Should have delegated more. Should have started sooner. Should have checked things more carefully. Should have come to the office yesterday instead of working at home. Should not have gone to dinner last night. Should not have gone to the Radar Brothers at the Sunset last night. Should not have gone to brunch yesterday.

But, so it goes. It all worked out. Is it that I work well under pressure? Or is it that I am lucky? Or is it that I am a really good judge of the minimum amount of time required to accomplish a goal, and I spend no more than that minimum.

Who knows.

But I am feeling alright now. And going to go play some music.


she's a chameleon
capable of many different colors
and many different displays
to attract my attentions

18 May, 2008

Baby steps...

Location: the loft
Mood: hopeful... sort of

I don't want to brag about how well I am doing with this new "alone" thing, but I cannot help it. I am bubbling over with enthusiasm. 

Here's the reason for my joy.

Today.  I dusted my end tables.  Yes, it is true. They were dusty. And I dusted them. They've been dusty for weeks. And every time I look at them, I think to myself, "Self, you should really dust those end tables, because they're getting out of hand". Last week, I went to Target (not alone) and I bought a feather duster. So, you could say I was gearing up for this eventual task. The feather duster was used last week to dust the lower part of my bedroom (I was testing it out). Then the duster sat on the extension arm of my Jerker desk. Don't ask. If you don't know what a Jerker is, look it up. Google "Jerker desk" and then smile, because it actually exists. And last night, as the feather duster sat upon my Jerker extension arm, I kept seeing the feathers rustling out of the corner of my eye, as wind blew in from the window. And every time I saw this gray feather duster moving, I thought it was a cat. And this occurred more than once.

Maybe I should get a cat.

But I don't like to clean a litter box, and if I got a cat, I would need to dust more frequently. And someday when I sell the house, the house will probably have at least a subtle odor of cats, unless I become much cleaner than I am right now. And if I get a cat, I would not be able to leave the cat alone for extended periods of time without food or water, because it might die, or at least become extremely unhappy.

Best not to get a cat.

Lev Yilmaz - a comic genius

Location: You Tube
Mood: impressed and amused

This guy is awesome. I saw one of his video clips (because Denise sent it to me... it was one titled "How To Break Up With Your Girlfriend"). I think she was trying to provide some levity, which when you think about it, is a pretty decent double entendre since this guy's name is Lev.  Get it?  Lev-ity?

So, all I can say is that you must watch the video clips. Once you see a few, I think you'll really want to watch all of them. But to make it easy for you to get started, I will link a few of them below:

How To Break Up


How To Cope With Depression


I'm Not Going To Think About Her

A Typical Conversation With My Mom


16 May, 2008

On a happier note...

Location: The Shadow
Mood: impressed

I am using my cell phone for the first time as a "memory device" for bringing files home.

How cool is that?

I hate the Mariners. And here's why.

Location: Redmond
Mood: stuck

We love our sports teams, we humans do. Not just in Seattle. Not just in America. But everywhere. I suppose it's a good thing that we don't kill the players when they kick the ball in the wrong goal, as is done in some countries. But I would actually argue that perhaps we would be better off if this happened all the time because eventually there would be no more players.

And then we would not have so much traffic here.

Why do people want to go to the Mariners game? Because it's fun? Is it fun? Or have we just been conditioned to think it's fun. Because I have gone many times, and I really don't think it's fun at all.

If you watch a sitcom like "Everybody Loves Raymond" and they remove the laugh track, guess what? It's not so funny anymore. Really. I am not kidding you. We laugh because we hear laughing and we are conditioned to join in the experience. Of course there are some funny sitcoms, and of course, there are movies that are hysterically funny without a laugh track to cue us as to the funny parts.

But a baseball game is sort of like a sitcom. It happens all the time. It's the same thing every time, with minor variations. And there are a million cues happening to tell us what we should be feeling, and when. There are few places in life where I feel my dignity is as challenged as in a stadium. First you are forced to herd yourself like cattle. Humans are not herd creatures. We don't belong in herd. I don't think we really belong anywhere but that's another story altogether. We are herded into a large seating area, where there will be a game. The game is played by people who would represent, probably, the lower end of society, if not for their "god-given" (tongue-in-cheek) talents with which they are endowed. These people are usually uneducated, or poorly educated. Usually very religious. Usually Republican. And they are now living millionaire lifestyles. I highly doubt, based on the vehicles you see them driving, that any of them give one iota about the environment. They are "superstars". And the world (or at least America) hangs on their every move out on the playing field. They are the people we idolize. Children have posters of them. I am getting on a tangent here.

And I realize there are plenty of ballplayers who are charitable. However, I would argue that that's because they are religious and they believe that they must be charitable or they'll go to hell. And furthermore, I have hard time feeling that thankful when guys who earn millions of dollars a year give a few hundred thousand of their "found money" to charity. How kind. How generous.

I'd love to see a player sign a $10 million dollar per year contract, and immediately announce that he will be give $9.9 million of this money, each year, to charity, because he really doesn't need to live in excess, and $100k/year is more than most people ever see.

Yeah. That would be priceless.

But I am still digressing.

What I wanted to complain about was traffic.

Right now, I cannot get to Seattle from Redmond without encountering a traffic nightmare, because our beloved Mariners are in town. People flock to see them. So they can sit in dirty seats, and look at tiny little spoiled dots moving around on a field. All the while, they will be instructed when to clap, when to stomp, how to clap, when to cheer, when to make "noize", and all this, while having the great opportunity to buy fast food at 100 times what it costs to produce it, instead of the usual 20 times what it costs to produce it.

So much fun.

And these people clog our roadways. And fuck up traffic for all of us. And yet, when it comes time to vote on whether or not we should spend more money to make roads or public transportation better, these people say "no", that's not how we want our money spent!

And where did our tax dollars go?

Um... to building new stadiums! Excellent. That's progressive living for you.

And how are the beloved Mariners doing so far this year?

Let's take a peek...

Oh look! They're in LAST place in their division.

16 wins
26 losses

Nice. Definitely worth paying to see THAT happen.

In fact, out of THIRTY teams, only 2 of them (San Diego and Colorado) are worse, and barely.

But we still sit in traffic.

Because we are all just human cattle.

15 May, 2008

Progressive Fuel Tax - not a crazy idea

Location: below the earth's crust
Mood: stingy

I have an idea.

I have pitched this idea to several people, and for some reason, no one seems to like it. And I am not sure why. Maybe I am not preaching to the right choir? But anyway, my faithful readers, I will present it to you here, and I would be VERY eager to hear your feedback on the idea. In case you are curious, by the way, there have been 71 unique visitors to this site. Not bad. Of course, it may just be one person who has viewed the site from 71 different computers, but let's not rain on my parade now, please.

So here's my idea.

Progressive fuel tax.

How does it work? Simple. A bar code or chip is mounted inside the gas tank rim on your vehicle. The nozzle of the pump at the station detects this chip, and knows what kind of car you are driving. The price of your fuel is set according to the fuel efficiency of your vehicle.

Your first question might be "What about tampering?"

Answer: No chip = No fuel

Your second question might be "How could you keep someone from putting a Hybrid chip into their Hummer, to spoof the system?"

Answer: When you do your emissions test every other year, they scan the chip, and make sure there has been no tampering - the chip would be embedded in the material of the vehicle in such a manner so as to make it very difficult to remove without leaving very obvious visible evidence.

See. I have thought all this through.

And it would go something like this (assuming today's prices of about $3.80 per gallon):

Driving a fully electric car: $1.00/gallon
Driving a hybrid: $2.50/gallon
Driving a Toyota Corolla: $3.25/gallon
Driving a Toyota Camry: $4.50/gallon
Driving a Ford Explorer: $6.00/gallon
Driving a Hummer H1: $10/gallon

Here's your next question - I know it's coming: "What about 18-wheel trucks?"

Answer: Commercial trucking would need have some type of exemption, but I am not sure exactly what it should be. Because obviously, if fuel prices for diesel were to suddenly triple, then it would stand to reason that everything we buy would be much more expensive too.

See, I am thinking about the details. Really.

And 100% - yes, one hundred percent - of the amount over and above the average gas price goes to environmental and/or energy efficient technology development - not the oil companies.

The "discounted" gas prices would actually constitute a "subsidy" whereby the government would be paying the "delta" on price to the oil company for you. So if median price that the oil company sets is $3.75, then for your hybrid, the government pays $1.25/gallon to the oil company. But if you're driving an Ford Explorer, then $2.25/gallon of your money is going to the government as an energy surcharge for wasting fuel.

Maybe the price gradient should be even more steep? To be honest, I think the price step should be oppressive. If someone can afford a $100,000 vehicle, they probably don't mind paying a couple of hundred a week on gas. But that's just me being draconian. And the auto industry would probably rightfully go bonkers if we tried to put their high end market completely out of business. The main goal is to penalize waste, and promote conservation, and provide resources for alternative energy research. So, it doesn't really need to be completely over-the-top to be worthwhile.

But nobody seems to like this idea.

I have heard other people suggest that we should tax people based on odometer readings - so the more you drive, the more you pay. But that is not really fair because it is a tax on people's occupation choices and living arrangements, and is somewhat ignoring circumstances in individual lives that might make people forced to have long commutes that cannot be done with public transportation.

How about this? Another idea.

Part of this graduated gas tax could be used to make ALL public transportation FREE in every city at ALL times. That would be a breeze. I bet you that even a 10 cent per gallon tax on everyone would be enough to make public transportation sustainable with no per-use charge. But we don't do that. Why not?


Why not?

I will resist the urge to start my "corporations have too much power" rant. But, boy, do I want to start that rant!

14 May, 2008

Observations and Musings... Part 1

Location:  Corner of 41st and University
Mood:  passively confrontational

This morning, I got a coffee in the U-District at a shop on "The Ave" after my appointment at the therapist.  I parked on 42nd, and walked over to the shop.  On the way back, I crossed the street against the traffic light - 42nd is not a main street, and there were no cars close, and this is something I do all the time.  As I crossed, and was almost completely across, a woman driving a Jeep Cherokee is flying down the street, and she blares on the horn at me.  Now, there was absolutely no danger of her hitting me.  And in fact, had she not been going at least 10 miles per hour over the speed limit, she would have been over 100 meters away when I was completely crossed.  But nope.  She blares on the horn.

I mouthed the words "What's your problem?" and that was all.  End of story.

But it occurred to me, in that split second, that I wished I had done something else.

I wished I had stopped dead in the middle of the street and watched her slam her brakes.  And then I would have confronted her and said "Do you have a fucking problem?" and I could have also pointed out to her that she needs to chill the fuck out, and perhaps consider not speeding in a crowded urban neighborhood.

She might have got into an accident...
She might have hit me with her car...
I might have received a jaywalking citation...

Lots of possibilities.

But I didn't do any of that.  I just went to my car, briefly angry that this person is so annoying.  Maybe I have been that annoying on other occasions.  Probably.

This reminds me of some other instances where I have wanted to "escalate" instead of just walking away, or minimizing damage.

One time, I was walking through the UW campus, and cutting through a parking lot, I saw a friend's pickup truck parked in the lot.  I wanted to leave a little funny joke for him, so I walked over to his truck, and I stood up the windshield wipers so they were sticking out.  No big deal, right?


A UW Police car sees me doing this, and they stop and get out of their car, and say to me, "Sir, put those wipers back, and step away from the vehicle".  And I said "This is just my friend's car, and I was leaving it as a joke".  And the officer says "Sir, I said, 'put the wipers back, and step away from the vehicle'"

And in that moment, my dignity challenged, something welled up inside of me, and what I wanted to do was escalate.  I wanted to challenge the officer.  I wanted to get arrested.  I wanted to create a situation where I would basically be exemplifying unnecessary police response.  Hell, I wonder if I can get the officer to strike me, without even doing anything other than refusing to not play a prank on my friend!  How far will the officer go?

My heart is getting worked up all over again right now.

But I didn't.  I put my tail between my legs, with the coaching of my girlfriend, and I put the wipers back, and walked away pissed.  And after the officer got back in his car, I swore at him, quietly enough that he would not hear "you fucking asshole".

The reality is, if I had not backed down, I would have been arrested.  Plain and simple.  And I would have probably been cited with malicious mischief or trespassing or some bullshit like that.  And I would have had to go to court, and miss work, and it would be thrown out, after a lot of my time wasted.  And what point would I have proven?  None, except you can't fuck with the police.

Another time, also in the UW campus, I was walking down the Burke-Gilman, and two police cars were apprehending an African American man, who seemed to be either drunk or on drugs, and they were yelling at him.  He was trying to speak in his own defense, and they kept telling him to shut up.  They did not let him say a word.  What I wanted to do was to walk over there, and get involved and say "Why are you violating this man's civil rights and dignity?"

But I didn't.  I kept walking.  Because the police would probably either tell me to mind my own business, or ask me if I have a problem, or maybe even tell me I am obstructing injustice or something like that.

You can't fuck with the police.  They have guns, and they're allowed to shoot you.

13 May, 2008

Something I wanted to tell my mother...

Location:  the calendar
Mood:  pensive

I just saw a headline on MSN news - it said today was the 10th anniversary of Frank Sinatra's death.  I never knew that, and it's not really that important of a factoid.  Except that today is my mother's birthday.  May 13th.  It's the first time in 81 years that my mom doesn't get to have a birthday.

So when I saw this factoid, my first thought was "I should tell my mother about that - because isn't it coincidental that Frank Sinatra, whom she liked, died on her birthday?"  But I cannot tell her this, and I probably cannot even reliably find out if she was aware of this.

So now I am curious.  If Frank Sinatra died on my mother's birthday, who was BORN on my mother's death day?  Morbid thought?  I don't know.  Just curious trivia:

April 12th:  David Letterman, Shannen Doherty, Claire Danes, Andy Garcia, Ed O'Neill, Herbie Hancock, Tiny Tim

And since I never knew who else was born on my mother's birthday, how about that?

May 13th:  Stevie Wonder, Harvey Keitel, Stephen Colbert, Dennis Rodman, Joe Louis

And for good measure, I'll take a peek at my birthday too :)

October 11th:  Eleanor Roosevelt, Steve Young, Joan Cusack, Luke Perry

Looks like my mother shared her birthday with a much more colorful set of people than me.

Fun times.

Compliments of FamousBirthdays.com

If you don't like what I am writing...

Location:  MY blog
Mood:  indignant

Don't read my blog!

That's really the way I feel right now.  I will, I think, always be respectful of people who are in my world - I may not be so respectful in telling of stories related to people so far in the past that they are long forgotten, or never known by any of my readers.  But I have some respect for privacy, and for dignity.

But that said, please don't read this if it is going to upset you.  We are all responsible for our own macabre urges to look at the car accident as we drive past.  Nobody is holding our heads and saying "you must look".  

The reason I write a blog is because:

a) I enjoy writing
b) It helps me process my emotions and my situations
c) I do enjoy (perhaps too much) sharing my life with others
d) I hope to provide some type of entertainment in the writing, and maybe connect with people

And I have spent a lot of time thinking about self-editing because of worrying about this, or worrying about that, or the impression it makes, or the feelings I hurt.  But what am I going to do?  Sabotage my entire intention for even having a blog in the first place?  I don't want to resort to moving the entire blog to a private permissions-oriented site, to protect the innocent from themselves.  So the alternative here is to just say as I said at the beginning:  

If it upsets you so much, or pisses you off, or seems inappropriate... don't look.

(edited by me, because I feel like I said too much)

12 May, 2008

No easy way (out)

Location: this very moment
Mood: trying not to try too hard

There is no easy way. Just need to accept that. It will be painful. That much is certain. It is always possible to rationalize and rationalize and justify and justify and delay and defer and convince and wish. But things invariably are what they are. And it's not always what we want them to be. And all the wanting and wishing in the world cannot change it.

Makes me wonder. What if two people's gut feelings are in opposition? Where is truth? Is it just that one person is not in touch with their gut? Which person? How do you know? It seems to me that if everyone followed their instincts, everything would be much simpler. If everyone were just "pure being", it would be much simpler. If we were all fundamentally "unattached" to our emotional responses to things, and instead just spent every moment accepting reality as it is at this very moment. Allow it to flow through us. Experience our emotions as they relate to the actual physical response of our bodies in the moment.

And not project to the future, or dwell in the past.

I wish I could do that. And I am absolutely trying.

Luke Skywalker... blindfolded... staggering around with my light saber... trusting my instincts (I doubt... I doubt... no I don't... but what if... no, it's okay... but how do you kn... it's okay... are you su... it's okay... what if it's a mista... it's okay)


Deal of the century

Location: the corner of roosevelt and ravenna
Mood: triumphant

I am getting quite good at this bargaining thing. And I am also getting quite good at stockpiling musical instruments.

Yes, it is true. I bought another (!) guitar. And another good deal. I think this might be the steal of the century though. Went into Trading Musician yesterday to try to sell some tuners that I bought on E-Bay that turned out to be the wrong ones (see other blog). They didn't really want to offer me much for them, so I bailed on that plan. But I did my usual once-through the store, and saw a new instrument that hadn't been there previously.

A USA American Standard Fender Telecaster, made in 2000. Very good condition.

Price: $419

This seemed completely out of whack. These things should go for more.

But there's a reason. The guitar was custom painted with an "interesting" green paint on the front and back, including bizarre stickers of children on the back of the body, plus a sheet of yellow lined notebook paper under the lacquer with some strange children's writing on it.

They said that because the guitar had the crazy paint, it was going for a deal.

I played it, and it was definitely a legitimate good player, and sounded great. Another backup guitar? So I thought about it overnight, and went back there today.

The key to my negotiation depended on a little secret that I did not tell them, but I will tell you now, here, my fellow blog friends:


i l o v e t h e p a i n t j o b

shh... don't tell anyone.

so i went in, and started asking all sorts of questions about "what would it take to get this guitar back to looking acceptable again, etcetera, etcetera". and joe, one of the manager guys, was patiently explaining what he'd do. i yammered on a little bit about how i thought this would make a decent backup guitar, but i was concerned about how much labor it was going to take for me to make it acceptable... how many hours, and all that.

all things told, here's how it ended up. asking price was $419. i offered them $360 cash, out the door, to which he looked at me and smiled, and was like, "um... no... this is already a great deal", which i of course knew was true. i never expected them to take $360. but it sort of is the necessary "borderline low-balling" pre-offer that one must make to anchor oneself in the reality zone of "i know what you're really going to be willing to take for this guitar, so we're going to do this dance now, and then we're going to come to an agreement".

i ended up getting the guitar, a new strap, and a VERY NICE NEW padded gig-bag for $400 cash, out the door, no tax. given what was included with the instrument, this was probably about a $100 savings over the asking price for all items. my guess is that the gig-bag alone was worth $30 or more. and my cursory search suggests i am correct. so i basically got the guitar for about $325 plus tax, or $100 off, which sounds to me like a 25% discount. not bad for trading musician.

so... now... i am finally done buying guitars.


Facebook is really becoming too serious for me

Location: friends for sale
Mood: feeling depreciated

I logged on to Facebook, and saw that I had a new notification this morning. And this is what it was:

I really don't have any response for this, but it is just odd to me that Facebook has become such a powerful tool for communication.

Stale cupcakes

Location: The Paramount
Mood: disgruntled

Tonight was a disappointment in some ways, but a relief in others. It's partly my fault, and I accept the blame. But some of it is beyond my control. Really.

So, a few months ago, I think I may have mentioned, that I decided to buy tickets to see Cake play at the Paramount. And I think I also mentioned that I made the unfortunate discovery that this show conflicted with the National Geographic lecture series. I want to save you some of the boring details since it's late and I just want to get this out there. But I made the *bad* decision to try to do both things. I already had to get rid of a Cake ticket because I did not find someone to use it - and I sold it at a loss to a Craigslist dude named Nathan. Lucky Nathan. And I tried to get rid of my National Geographic tickets too, just to make the night simpler. But that was unsuccessful. So the verdict was to try to do both.

Cake was doors at 7pm.

National Geographic lecture was 7:30pm.

My estimation of things was that doors at 7pm means that the opening band will start at 8pm and probably play until 8:40, and that Cake will play at 9pm. Wouldn't you say that's a reasonable assumption? Yeah, I thought you'd agree with me on that one.

National Geographic is fairly reliable at going for 1 hour - so figure that's over at 8:30pm. I should make it there no problem, right?

I tried to obtain more information in advance. I wrote to someone at The Agency Group, the squad that books Cake. I randomly emailed someone, and was surprised that she wrote back at all! She was not their agent, but she was kind enough to reply and give me the name of the correct contact. So I emailed the correct contact. And of course, I received no reply.

Tried to contact the Paramount, but that is basically always going to be an answering machine. So no info was available. Stick to my assumptions. All will be fine.

I leave National Geographic at 8:35. Walk up 6 blocks and over 2 blocks to the Paramount. Arrive at the Paramount at maybe 8:45 or 8:50. Cake is playing. They've been playing since 8:15pm. What the fuck?

When I walk in, they're playing "Wheels", which is followed by "Stickshifts and Safety Belts". I am peeved.

But what peeves me more is that Cake was incredibly annoying and pretentious. They are soulless, and lifeless, and full of themselves. Spoiled little assholes up there. Singer John McCrea must be doing all he can to contain himself to merely being "clever" on the recordings, because put this guy on a stage, and "clever" quickly has become "obnoxious". They wasted massive amounts of time with a Mother's Day Tree Giveaway to the woman with the most children in the audience (a Google search reveals that they give away a fucking tree for some reason or another at every goddamn show). Every song had an annoying sing along. In spite of the Paramount having a spectacular sound system, the mix was not that great, though thankfully modest in volume.

And get this. After those 2 songs, they played like 3 or 4 more songs, and then ended! And then their encore was maybe 3 or 4 more songs, which were not among their greatest tunes, and that was it. Done. Based on how much time they wasted, I would guess that I only missed maybe 4 songs in the 30 minutes of the show that occurred before I got there. So it was a 12 song set, encore included, for a 45 dollar ticket (including fees).

Cake you are a bunch of assholes.

They mentioned that they were glad to be out from under their record label. But I wonder if "out from under" is a euphemism for "dumped". Well, no matter - just means the pretentious fucks took in more cash for themselves on this tour.

The audience was interesting because the majority were completely infatuated with Cake, and responding to every silly request he made. But there was a small, but non-negligible faction of the audience that was jeering him at various points, yelling "come on".

And the best part is that at one point near the end, when he really carried on an audience participation thing for too long, the members of the band became noticeably aggravated, and were looking like they had had enough of his antics.

Five years ago, I passed on seeing Cake because I had heard that they put on a crappy show. Why did I not heed that logic this time, too? Thankfully, I did not give up or waste the National Geographic experience in order to have seen their first 4 or 5 songs. That would have been the tragedy of the night.

10 May, 2008

Building the perfect beast... continued

Location: amongst a pile of clean (but dusty) laundry, and spare parts
Mood: eager (and slightly annoyed)

Well... all of my parts arrived for doing the guitar modification. By all my parts, I mean the following:
  • 1 x set of 3 Lindy Fralin Vintage Hot pickups
  • 3 x 250 kiloohm potentiometers (for volume and tone controls)
  • 1 x 5-way pickup selector switch
  • 1 x Fender replacement pickguard
  • 1 x output jack
  • 1 x set of 6 Gotoh locking tuners
I started off by mounting some of the parts on the new pickguard. And I modified one of the 250 kiloohm potentiometers to convert to a "Blender Pot" which is a true frankensteinian modification involving disassembling the component and cutting a notch out of the resistive carbon strip. All went pretty well with that, I think.

But I have already run into 2 problems.

First, the new tuners that I got seem like a really stupid design, and I am not comfortable with either the installation, or the method of tuning using these, and believe that I have made a poor selection. Thus, I am forced to order more new tuners (this time Grover locking tuners, with which I have much familiarity, and should not give me any problems). I thought I was saving money by doing this (and I foolishly listened to the guy at the guitar shop, who recommended Gotoh, even though I was familiar with the other brand). So now, I am sitting on a set of Gotoh's that I'll need to unload in some fashion. Not sure how to go about that. I may try bartering with Aviator Guitars when I go in to collect my Fender Twin Reverb (which is costing me more to "rebuild" than it cost to buy it in the first place - ugh). One of the repair guys at Aviator loves to use this particular expression when he's talking about investing a lot of money in a problem without knowing what the end result will be - he says "It all depends how far down the proverbial rabbit hole you want to go". And unfortunately, with both the amp, and now this guitar, I am in the rabbit hole, and living with the rabbits.

The good news is that the tuner problem will not be a show-stopper - just a temporary delay. Actually, I think I'll put the old tuners back on, and do all the electronic work, and then deal with the tuners on my next string change.

The next problem I discovered is that the "replacement" pickguard (the white plastic thingie on to which all of the parts of a Fender Stratocaster are mounted) is not a perfect replacement for the one that was presently on there. I guess the older Japanese Fender Squiers did not follow the exact rules on hole positioning. It is slightly off, and to use it, I will pretty much need to drill mostly all new holes for mounting. This is annoying, but it is also not a showstopper, and will not result in any visible difference in the guitar. But why the hell aren't the holes in the same place!? How difficult is it to follow a specification!?

So that's where I am tonight.

Tomorrow, I need to go to Radio Shack, to purchase a 220 kiloohm resistor (less than a dollar) and a couple of 0.002 microfarad capacitors (also less than a dollar). That will give me everything I (think I) need to do the electronics for this guitar. Then I will put the old tuners back in the guitar, and complete all the wiring, drill the new pickguard into the body (ugh), and string the guitar, and see what we've got for sound, for starters.

Actually, maybe I should just not bother assembling until I have the new tuners... the guitar was not staying in tune that well with the tuners that were on there, and it would therefore be somewhat of a waste of a set of strings. But I'm kind of eager to hear how all this sounds.

I suppose one other option would be to use the old pickguard, and put all the new parts onto the old pickguard, and that way I do not need to drill any new holes.

Decisions... decisions.

09 May, 2008

Norwegian friend... IDENTIFY YOURSELF!!!!

Location: Oslo
Mood: extremely curious

So, it appears there is somebody reading my blog who is in Oslo, Norway. I know this because I am sneaky. And I want to know who you are!

hallo. hvordan har du det?

See. I found that specially for you! I care about my audience.



08 May, 2008

Memories... continued

Location: to be determined
Mood: unsure

I don't really know where to start today. Spin the wheel and see where it lands, I guess? The question is, "Where have I not gone before?"

Okay, here we go.

Somerville, 1998. Maybe I should go back and fill in the location and mood?

That would be sort of dishonest, though, wouldn't it! So I'll just start over here.

Location: Somerville, 1998
Mood: uncomfortable

Edna and I moved to Somerville, Massachusetts, probably in June of 1998. Prior to that, we'd lived in Watertown, in the first floor of a 2-family house owned by Paul and Libby. I know I should not be using names, but I think these are generic enough names that I am not really damaging anyone's anonymity. And I don't really have anything bad to say about them anyway, so who cares?

I should back up a little bit and talk about that period of time. Or maybe I shouldn't. I don't know. Okay. I just decided. I will talk about it. Need to be very careful not to step on anyone's privacy wishes! But I think I can keep it kosher.

Wow... so I now find myself wanting to back up even further!

Do I dare go back to... Sarah?

Sure. Why not?

I met Sarah some time in 1996. It was probably Winter, or maybe it was Autumn of 1995. I could do the math. We were together about a year and a half, and it ended (finally) in February or March of 1997. So, it was Autumn 1995. Wow. A long time ago. I was living in Waltham with 3 former fraternity guys from Worcester Polytechnic Institute - Ed, Mike, and Craig. I could tell you lots of stories about living in that place, and maybe I will. But I got in there because Ed was a coworker of mine at Raytheon, and we became friendly. He heard I needed a place to live, I guess, and the two of us both moved into the Waltham house, on Goldencrest Road. I still remember the phone number - 890-8611. I don't know why I still remember that. I can't remember anyone's phone numbers from today because now that I am completely cell-phone-centric, I don't bother remembering such things. But there was a time where I could remember all numbers.

I was not in the fraternity with those guys because I did not go to WPI. They were nice guys, and certainly a lot of fun - but I am not sure I ever really fit in with them. There was a bond between them, and all of their friends, male and female, and I was always sort of an outsider. But occasionally I was welcomed into their events and gatherings. Fair enough.

Jumping forward.

It was around this time that I met Sarah. I am not sure who I was out with when I met Sarah, but I think I was out with Nick and his girlfriend at the time - or maybe it was Nick and Debbie (John's girlfriend). We were at a bar, late night, and I think it was in Beacon Hill but I am not really sure. And there was this extremely drunk blonde girl there (Sarah). Whoops. Rewind. That's not how it happened.

It's coming back to me now.

Sarah lived on Beacon Hill, but that's not how we met.

Starting over.

I was out with my housemate Ed, and I think Nick and Debby may have been with us? Or at least Nick. And we were out seeing the band Big Character - which was the band that rehearsed in the Waltham house. The guy who used to live in the house was this guy Brian, who was one of the singers for Big Character, and they still rehearsed in our place, even after he moved out. And we had all gone out to see the show. During the show, I noticed there were a couple of girls sitting near us (Sarah and her roommate Liz, I think, plus some guys). They were quite drunk. And at some point, Sarah started kicking my chair, and then she apologized, but it was obvious that she was just drunk and was flirting. It is funny thinking back on that, because it was a very playful, carefree moment - and I don't really remember Sarah as being playful or carefree. I remember her as being nervous and self-absorbed. But maybe the alcohol helped.

So after the band was done playing, they were leaving, and she said that they would be at such-and-such a place down the street, if I remember correctly (which I may not). I convinced Nick and whomever to go over to that place. By this point, Sarah was absolutely wasted. We chatted a little bit, and she gave me her name and said to look her up in the phone book.

The next day, I take out a note with her name, and much to my dismay, I realized that I cannot really read the writing. What is her name? Actually, what am I talking about? It's entirely possible that she didn't even write it down, but just told it to me, and I didn't remember correctly or hear it correctly.

Suffice it to say that after a trial period of guesswork, I found her in the phone book, and I got in touch with her. And we went on a proper date (at the bar in Beacon Hill), and we hit it off pretty well. I guess you could say there was chemistry. It didn't take long for us to be in a relationship, and that lasted, all told, about a year and a half. Sarah never really seemed that interested in me, though, and definitely non-committal. We never got to more than 3 or so times a week of seeing each other. She always wanted her free nights with her friends, and occasionally we'd get into phases where she wanted to spend even less time together. I think what it was is that she didn't really like me that much - but there were certain aspects of the relationship that kept it going. For that matter, I guess I didn't really like her that much either.

Sarah came from Fairfield, Connecticut, which is where rich people live, and her father was a rich, renowned doctor. She had three sisters, who were all as attractive as her, and for the most part, nicer than her (and younger). I visited the family down there several times, at least. I remember they had this Pembroke-Welsh Corgie named Beau.

No matter how much Sarah annoyed me, and she did annoy me a lot, I kept with that relationship, and sadly it is because I had this stupid idea stuck in my head, that came from my brother. At one point in time, maybe during that relationship, maybe earlier, my brother had said to me "If you marry a rich girl, you'll never be sorry!"

Well, every time I got annoyed with Sarah, I would think, "I'll never be sorry... never be sorry... never be sorry" but I was definitely feeling kind of sorry.

First of all, my brother didn't exactly marry a rich girl himself, so I am not sure where he got that idea from. And second of all, I think the idea is a crock of bullshit. There was no way I was ever going to marry Sarah, because she wasn't going to marry me - but either way, if you marry someone who really annoys the shit out of you, you will be annoyed as shit, regardless of how much money their family has. Nonetheless, I was caught up in the Sarah concept for awhile.

Sarah was really into sensual things. She liked "smells". Flowers, and that kind of stuff, would get her very emotional. And at one point, as a present, I bought her an aromatherapy kit. She really liked this a lot. But not enough to want to see me more than 3 times a week.

Other than the aspects to which I alluded earlier, I think the other thing that kept me interested in Sarah was that she always needed me to help her with things. She needed advice about her job, about her finances, about all sorts of problems. And I guess I needed to feel needed. And she certainly was needy. I don't recall us ever dealing with any of my issues. Maybe we did. Maybe we didn't.

I do recall that every time I came to pick her up at her apartment, I would need to wait for no less than 15 minutes for her to be ready, because she had zero concept of time, and zero respect for mine. That got really old, really fast. It's not fun to start a date pissed off because your date is never ready on time. And every time I came over to her place, I would be stressed from needing to spend 30 minutes looking for a parking space. Sarah didn't even own a car, if I remember correctly. Yeah. So rarely did she come to my place, and if she did, it was always me picking her up.

When I met her she was in her final year of law school. So I needed to constantly give her support about that, which was another stressor in her life (I realize I am not telling the story about Somerville, but maybe I'll get there eventually). In the end, Sarah finished law school, and then failed the bar exam. And during the time that I knew her, she never retook the bar, though she did start working for Fidelity Investments in their Compliance department, which sounds like about as much fun as organizing beads into different piles according to size and shape. But that's just me.

Sarah and I had a lot of fights. Over things like the lateness. That was a big one. And we probably also had fights about the relationship itself, since it was never really advancing. I am not even sure how we lasted as long as we did.

Did I mention that she was not the brightest bulb? I know that's a mean thing to say. But she really wasn't. She was kind of fun, and knew how to party. And I thought she was attractive - though some of my friends referred to her as "Monica Seles" or "Miss Piggy", and other friends commented on how close together her eyes were, and noted that this was an indicator of low intellect. I can't really argue with any of those. If she was Miss Piggy, she was at least Miss Piggy with a really nice body!

On one occasion, after a family get-together, my sister takes me aside and says to me "So, I'm not trying to be mean or anything, but... like... is she going to be smart enough for you?"

So it was that obvious.

The breakup was kind of messy. We were on the way toward falling apart. Then somehow I bought us tickets to go to Cancun, Mexico. And we were very close to broken up at that point, but we went on the trip. And it was really like bringing a complete stranger on the trip. We did, as I recall, have a romantic time - but it was like romance with a stranger. With someone to whom you have no real connection. Something on the inside was already dead. Unfortunately, something else on the inside was alive - namely some funky bacteria in my intestines - I got incredibly ill on that trip, intestinally, and was not right for almost 3 weeks afterward, and needed to take Ciprofloxacin to recover.

I think we broke up almost immediately after the trip. We didn't speak for about a month or so. Then I think there was some type of relapse. If I recall correctly, she called me. I remember that I was "doing so well" and not calling her. I was upset it was over, but I had "stuck to my guns" and not called. And then she called me. And well, I figured, I did the best I could sticking to my guns, but here's the opportunity for the booty call, and I am not going to pass on it. So we had a little relapse that didn't last very long at all.

Then, I ended it. The second time I ended it. And I ended it angrily, and with fairly brutal finality. I drove over to Sarah's place, with a friend (story to follow) waiting in the car, and I went up to Sarah's apartment and we yelled at each other for a little bit, and I took all my stuff, and I left. And that was the end. Final.

I only saw Sarah one more time, ever - over a year later. It turns out, she moved to Somerville too. And I think, in borderline stalker fashion, I may have run by her house a few times, but I never went up to the windows or rang the bell or anything! So I am not a stalker.

But I did see her one time. I was out running, and ran by the T-Station in Davis Square. And she was coming out of the subway, as I was running by. We stopped and talked to each other for maybe 5 minutes. And it was quite awkward. The stone cold reception suggested to me that she was not single. And neither was I. It didn't really give me anything - no closure, no nostalgia. It was just a meeting that didn't need to happen.

It would be nice to stay friends with our exes, but I think that one precondition for that is that you must have been friends with them in the first place.

So, I got myself to Somerville. Sort of skipped over Watertown. And I never even told you the story that I planned on telling. So I'll save that for next time. Unless I get sidetracked again.