July 2006 Archives

food and video games

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friday a vietnamese coworker came up to my desk and offered me something he'd gotten from a vietnamese shop. he does this from time to time, and i try to have a good attitude about trying things that sometimes seem a bit odd, and are about as likely to turn out poorly for my tastebuds as not. well, these things were excellent. the best way i can describe them is sort of like cajun hushpuppies. they're made of corn meal and look like wedge fries. they are deep-fried, evidently involving curry and some kind of pepper. they're also somewhat sweet. another co-worker tried them as well and commented how well they would go with beer. he was right on the money. i thought i'd get some friday after work, but the directions/instructions weren't accurate so i couldn't find the place.

today after lunch, my coworker showed up with a bag of them just for me! and he told me he'd given me incorrect info. i called up brad and kelli (i saw her credit card last night and realized i'd been spelling her name wrong all this time) and asked them if they wanted to meet me at the west alabama ice house for some beer and these wonderful things. they did. we met there and had a couple of hours of deep conversation about G-d, free will vs. predestination, spiritual matters, etc. over a couple of beers. afterward we headed to taco cabana for supper. another nice evening.

i was able to see kelli's card last night because i hung out with her and brad last night as well. they called me and said they were in the area, so they dropped by my house. we then drove down westheimer and stopped at late nite pie. brad and i played a number of rounds of two-player joust on a stand up arcade there. man, i used to love playing joust back in the day. that and frogger.

but my absolute favorite arcade game was wizard of wor. hardly anyone seems to know that game, but it was great. especially two player. i used to get on my bike and meet up with a neighborhood friend at leo's. they had a game room with 10 or so video games and a couple of pool tables. we'd spend saturday afternoons there, playing video games and pool, listening to joan jett and ac/dc and other stuff of that era on the jukebox, eating grilled cheese sandwiches and drinking burt braton (sp?) specials (which was some kind of concoction of sprite and cream or something, named after the guy who i guess had ordered it for years). that was probably sixth and seventh grade or so. ah, the joys of growing up in small town Texas when life was simpler and you were more isolated than the networked, connected, high-speed world of today.

i watched linklater's waking life a couple of days ago. the rotoscoping was interesting. some of the conversations were really clever and/or interesting, and the idea for the film was cool. some of the use of animation over live action was also unique and added a new layer to the experience. overall though, the film just didn't "do it" for me. perhaps with another viewing or two it'd click more. i'm curious after seeing previews for a scanner darkly how much the rotoscoping process has matured.

friday i got a package i ordered from cafepress.com. it had 4 "bob wills is still the King" bumper stickers, a diablos tejanos shirt, and a bible rtfm shirt.

friday after work i headed over to the west alabama ice house. brad and kelly met me there later, then we headed over to barrett's for a dj show pre-party. i'm not much of a partying socialite, but i got to have a good extended conversation with a guy there. i prefer having a meaningful conversation about interesting things to a bunch of social chit-chat with lots of people. later the party headed over to the m-bar to see mark farina. however, there was some confusion in line with tickets and discounts and i wasn't sure what was going on so i decided to stay outside. i ended up heading over to frank's pizza, then walked back over and sat outside on main street. i talked to a few people, and then a homeless guy set his sights on me and i talked to him for 15 or 20 minutes. it's intriguing for me to sit there and watch all of these people walking by, wondering what they're doing and where they're going and what's happening in their lives. around 2am i headed off to my bike and went home. would i have enjoyed farinza's set? i may never know.

saturday afternoon i went to the alamo draft house and saw clerks ii. i kind of have this love/have thing with kevin smith. i feel like there are a lot of ways i identify with him, but in his films he is willing to be way more vulgar and offensive than i can personally enjoy. some aspects of what he does comes across as brilliant and insightful, other aspects just come across as base and pointless. it's the later i have a hard time sitting through sometimes. does the good outweigh it? i don't know. i guess it depends on who you are and what your sensibilities are.

saturday evening i met brad at poison girl, then we headed to river oaks and saw the midnight showing of napoleon dynamite. at the poison girl i ran into groovehouse and jennifer "the intern". after the movie, brad and i headed over to the house of pies and had an extended conversation about G-d and science and all sorts of theological and social matters. nice stuff. maybe i'll convert some of it into a post or two. i've got to find something to post about -- the more interesting tidbits of my boring life don't exactly make for engrossing reading.

that said, yesterday i updated my powermac to 10.4.7 and now i don't have any sound output through my griffin imic. i'm assuming it was something in the 10.4.7 update. i searched the net and found people describing what appeared to be similar goings on, but i didn't find a solution. how that's for exciting reading? ;)

swiss alp dance hall

it was supposed to rain on friday and it didn't. it was supposed to be nice on saturday and it rained like crazy. so i didn't get to make my trip on my motorcycle, but went in my car instead. to make up for it, i drove most of the way with my windows down (except when there was too much rain) and took more rural roads than just shooting down i-10. the drive was nice and i was looking forward to the evening. i stopped in la grange and ate at the dairy queen. then i headed north on 77.

yeah, north. i had forgotten to take any directions and for some reason -- even though everything i'd read said swiss alp was south of la grange -- i thought the online map had shown it being north of la grange so that's the way i headed. after driving awhile i realized i had no clue where it was and it might be off on a county road or side road or something. being a resourceful and modern type, i broke out the cell phone. called my brother -- no answer. again -- no answer. called sue -- no answer. called my parents -- no answer. sue again -- no answer. parents again -- no answer. so i tried using the web/media access on my phone, but it couldn't display the swissalptexas.com website. huh.

at this point it was getting to be around 9pm and it started at 8:30pm and i was frustrated. and i was in giddings. i stopped at a convenience store and asked the lady there if she knew where swiss alp was. she didn't. she said she could call her daughter...or tom..."yeah, tom delivers oil rig parts to all these small towns no one has heard of". then, as i followed her, she walked back to the drink coolers to the beer section and opened the door. i'm thinking "okay, she's grabbing herself...or me...a beer?" then she addressed the cooler: "hey, can i make a call?" okay, maybe she's just crazy. then the cooler answered with some number. ah...someone was in the back. she went back and called -- you guessed it, no answer. so then she said i should head over to the police department ("unless you've been drinking") and ask at the desk. i drove over there (it's a small town...it's only a couple of blocks)...and it's 9pm, of course the front desk isn't opened. duh. all the lights are off. so i headed off again. at some point, i realized i left my phone in the car when i went into the convenience store, so i picked it up to try another call, thinking "wouldn't it be ironic if linc called?" he had called. and left a voicemail. "hey terry, we're here. wondering where you are." you see, he'd told me a week or so before that his phone was messed up so he didn't know when someone was calling, so as far as i knew me calling him would do no good...he'd need to call me. great. so i figured i'd try calling him, what could i lose at this point? evidently his phone was working better, because he answered! and told me it was, in fact, south of la grange. so i had to drive about 30 minutes from where i was to get there. now that all that is out of the way...

the swiss alp dance hall is pretty cool. it's basically a corrugated sheet metal wood-frame barn on the side of the road, with a big open wooden dance floor. the sides open up and prop open for circulation of air. they have seating around the outside of the dance floor near the opened sides. since a big rain had come through, it was a bit humid but a decent temperature. and coming from houston, the humidity wasn't a problem. the wild river band was sans herb remington, which made me somewhat sad because he's a western swing legend and probably played the place back in the day when it was running full tilt. plus the band played a way more traditional Texas dance hall set than a western swing set. but it was still an enjoyable evening. also, all the beer was served in cans and came in at $1.50 (except shiner bock and michelob ultra (?) at $2.00). cover was $5. later they served breakfast tacos at $1.00 each.

i recommend taking a road trip to the place some weekend sometime. and it's south of la grange on 77. just a few miles north of schulenburg, actually.

the netflix clog is gone

well, i'll be dropping the third formerly semi-permanent netflix movie into the mailbox. i watched the tale of two sisters again tonight. it'd been long enough that i'd forgotten a lot of the details. it's a really impressive film, and i stand behind my comments from back in early march. i watched some extra features on the thumbsucker dvd last night before i sealed it up, and i think after watching the author and director discuss things i was probably pretty accurate in my feelings about the film the first time i saw it. i didn't find it as depressing or whatever this time around though. after watching the discussions, it does makes me curious about the book itself.

i originally thought i was going to catch a new movie tonight, or maybe go and see sixteen candles at midnight at river oaks. but i'm not. i'm calling it a night in hopes that i'll be well rested and feel good for tomorrow's festivities. i'm feeling better today than i did yesterday, so that's a good direction to be headed.

drugs and music

i hate it when i think an illness is getting better and then it starts getting worse. usually that means the onset of a sinus infection. so after sleeping until around noon, i decided to go to the doctor today. usually some antibiotics do a fast number on a sinus infection, and i wanted to feel well this weekend so i could execute and enjoy my weekend plans. what plans, you ask?

well, saturday i'm planning on heading to swiss alp, Texas. (that's about 10 miles south of la grange.) you see, they reopened the dance hall there that had been closed for a number of years (i've heard over 20 years), and saturday night the wild river band is going to be playing. my brother and some of his friends are supposed to be heading down from austin and meeting me there. so hopefully it'll be a grand time watching a good western swing band carry on the tradition that entertained lots of Texans back in the day, and in one of the places they used to do so.

go about halfway down the page of this link to read about a bit of the history of the dance hall. and here's the site for the dance hall itself, these days: swiss alp dance hall

so, hopefully my breaking down and going to a doctor and getting medication will not be in vain.

this evening i managed to rewatch thumbsucker and will be sending it on its way back to netflix. two down, one to go.

while waiting for my prescriptions to be filled today, i headed to high times and bought some incense and a nice incense holder. i always feel somewhat out of place going into those types of establishments, because i've really got about 0% of that culture in my makeup. but it's a good place to go for incense and an array of holders.

i was going to say it's funny how easy it still is to be reminded of the major trauma my life went through with the failure of my marriage and the loss of my best friend, but it's not all that funny and it's not really that hard to see why it'd still be easy.

in a conversation somewhat recently someone told me i should be happy being alone, or perhaps it was content...but that seems much easier to say or state as a goal than to actually be able to reach. which doesn't mean i'm never happy or content, but i miss the companionship and familiarity that existed with what i fully believed would be a lifetime relationship. when a worldview like that is shattered, it's really hard to not miss what you knew before, what you believed in. even if the partner of that worldview no longer exists in this world, or at least not in the same state (intended figuratively). though i believe i've gotten over most of the emotional pain and trauma of the event, starting back at the beginning -- at a point that i never relished (and was really never able to function at, to be honest) -- is a difficult and daunting task. makes one almost wish one could be happy and/or content being alone. :)

i think i had an electrical spike at my house today due to the bad weather that came through. it appears to have scrambled the brain of my 24-port kingston 10Mhz hub, as well as the nic it was attached to in my freebsd firewall/nat box. so i've had to move some components around and reconfigure some stuff to get back online.

today i had to go to jury duty. it was for civil court. unfortunately, i didn't get to do anything. they told us the case was settled and we got to leave. so i still have yet to serve on any kind of jury.

friday night was the monthly geek gathering for the radio show, this one celebrating the 11th anniversary of technology bytes being on the air. it was at dean's credit clothing downtown. i showed up late, coming from byzantio (sp?), and it didn't take me long to take up residence on a stool outside in the entrance so i could smoke a cigar and talk with the various people that showed up. hopefully everyone didn't think i was too much of a recluse or snob. i just sort of have an aversion to crowds, and prefer to "find a darkened corner" where i can be mostly immobile and deal with people in smaller numbers in a quieter, more controlled environment. after the gathering i headed over to frank's with jack and sam for a slice of pizza, then i headed to river oaks to catch the midnight showing of fight club.

saturday evening, after a few hours at work for some maintenance/upgrades, i had the opportunity to go to the poison girl on westheimer. it's near agora and brazil. i'd never heard of the place, but evidently it's sort of a hip dive bar for indie rockers and alt folk. i thought it seemed pretty cool. a bit pretentious, and a bit of the beautiful people (as alt/indie rockers, of course), but overall it seemed cool. i might have to add it to my rotation of possible places i'd hang out. it gets bonus points for the name. (unlike the proletariat, which loses points.)

i've spent some amount of time trying to help a friend with some computer stuff. without going into any details, i'll just say that having backups of important data can really come in handy. not having backups, on the other hand...

i also started getting sick on sunday and have spent the last two days feeling tired and pretty blah. man, being somewhat sick is annoying. it sucks sitting at home being bored, but going to work is mostly pointless because i can't accomplish much because i feel tired and can't focus. of course, feeling really sick isn't so fun either. especially when you're by yourself and you know no one is checking on you or going to provide emotional comfort. so why isn't it that i could just not get sick at all? that'd be nice.

i did get my mail-order from ersatz audio today, which is like healing medicine. here's the haul:

  • various - misery loves company (ersatz audio)
  • n.o.i.a. - n.o.i.a. (unreleased tracks) (ersatz audio)
  • adult. - resuscitation (ersatz audio)
  • adult. - d.u.m.e (thrill jockey)

they also threw in a few free stickers and 1 inch buttons.

the only one i've listened through much so far is resuscitation. it's an early adult. release, appearing to be a collection of a lot of their earlier work from various sources. it's really nice. it may be my favorite adult. album at this point.

some people will be happy to know that i am finally returning one of the three netflix films i've had sitting around for a couple of months. i rewatched me and you and everyone we know this evening and will be dropping it in the mail tomorrow. it really is a very good film with a very unique perspective on things, and there are some great lines and observations about relationships in our modern times. none of that is surprising, coming from miranda july.

a few weeks ago i got worried i had contracted some kind of flesh-eating bacteria. that's probably mostly due to having heard about a couple of recent instances of it happening in houston within only a couple of degrees of separation from me, but the fact that things on my feet went from nominal to "holy crap that's extremely painful and scary looking" within a matter of a couple of days had something to do with it too. i saw a couple of doctors and they didn't seem freaked at all, and just gave me some general antibiotics and some antifungal stuff. within a few days things had left the critical and worsening phase and were subsiding.

during this time i had to once again reconsider my choice in footwear. for most of the last 16+ years all i've worn is full leather shoes or boots. seeing as i ride a lot these days, it's currently also the most practical and appropriate footwear. but from what i hear, feet like to breathe. stupid feet, getting in the way of my fashion (or lack thereof) choices.

i have some blue dr. martens fisherman sandals i've had for 4 or 5 years but only wore on and off (and hardly at all in the last 3 or so years), so i broke those out and was wearing them while trying to get my feet recuperating. unfortunately, within three days of wearing them they started falling apart. i think it's just the glue, so i may try to get them repaired. nevertheless, i began a search for new sandals. i looked around online, then went around locally, looking and trying different styles and brands. in the end, i ordered a pair of dark brown dr. martens fisherman sandals online (image at onlineshoes.com). the exact same style as the ones i had.

why? i like the look and coverage, plus it's a design that is a little better for my wide/high arch. and that, by the way, is why i don't plan to buy 'd' boots any more...i tried some 'ee' boots for the first time a couple of years ago and my feet thank me for it all the time. people were wrong when they said the boots would become comfortable after breaking them in...they never stretched enough. i think these new sandals were a tighter fit than the first ones i bought, but they're still pretty close and it's just the edge of one leather strap that needs to stretch a bit.

seeing the general practitioner about my malady is also what led to him scheduling me for a physical (which i mentioned in my july 5th entry). i got the lab results back today and i'm basically at the same place i was last year: everything's nominal, except i'm overweight and have somewhat high cholesterol. the numbers this time: 151 ldl (low density or "bad"), 34 hdl (high density or "good"), and a total cholesterol value of 214. (the desired values are >41 hdl, <130 ldl, and <200 total.)

i also had them go ahead and run the hep/hiv battery while i was at it and everything came back negative. so all of you ladies that were holding out because you thought i might be packing something nasty due to my reputation as quite the ladies' man, i've got a photocopied clean bill of health to ease your fears. i'll be waiting for your call. ;)

shifting gears now... over the last couple of years i've from time to time perused belt buckles to see if i could find one that just lept out at me. i've seen a few decent ones, but nothing that really caught my eye. i've bought three super-cheap antiqued chrome/silver-colored seal of Texas buckles, but they wear down and look pretty nasty within a few months and have to be replaced. it was time for a fourth and i was thinking maybe i should pay a bit more and buy something that should last longer.

i still didn't find anything that totally just made my heart leap, but i made a purchase. i paid $40 for a montana silversmiths "german silver" (which has no silver in it) medium oval buckle. it's a silver buckle with leather-style scrollwork and flowers with a raised gold Texas state centered on it and the word "TEXAS" in an arch across the state in a black-filled western style font (image at cavendar's site). while i'm not a fan of gold, it was the best compromise i could find for something fairly simple but with a bit of gaudiness and about Texas.

the 11th anniversary party for the radio show i am a part of (geekradio.com) is this friday. (more info by following that link.) come out and make fun of me.

county courthouses in Texas

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a few days ago i finished reading the courthouse square in Texas by robert e. veselka. it was a book birthed from a dissertation on all of courthouse squares in Texas. it discussed different styles and their racial and cultural origins and traditions. it also attempted to show any possible correlations between the types of courthouses and their status in the community through time. it had some interesting information in it, but overall was a bit dry. i guess that should be expected from books based on dissertations, for the most part.

for me, it would have been nice if it would have included more pictures of the various courthouses. the county courthouse intrigues me, and there are some pretty beautiful and amazing ones in Texas. (as well as some pretty bland and boring ones, mostly ones built in the 60's forward.) i would bet many of them have interesting histories.

one day = one year

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gee...one would almost be led to believe by the lack of my blog entries that i have started to have a real life. i assure you, good reader, that is far from the case. so quit worrying that you might not be able to read about my woes, you have nothing to fear at this point.

thursday (the 29th) i went to the doctor for a physical...not because i planned one, but because i'd gone a week before and he mentioned it'd been a year and asked if i wanted to go ahead and schedule another one. we'll see how things turn out, but everything they could tell me while at the office was okay.

friday evening (the 30th) after work i met sue and calista at the west alabama ice house. i'd been there once before with brad and kelly, but this time there was a band playing and i stayed there a lot longer. it's a cool place. i feel like the people there are more..."real" is the term that comes to mind...than many other places around town i go. like most people seem to be themselves and be unique in some way, rather than having a look-at-me-i'm- fashionable or hip or successful or whatever feel. i think i could see myself developing a fondness for the place. ash showed up later and we all hung out there for awhile, then sue and calista headed home. ash and i hung out some more, then we went over to the house of pies. it was good to see ash again before he takes off for taiwan. he's been trying to get me to get my passport and plan a trip to visit him out there. we'll see.

saturday i was woken up at 9am by my parents, then my grandmother. i ate a late lunch at the house of pies with sue and calista, sat around the potts house awhile, went home and took a nap for a few hours, then spent the rest of the night on ebay looking at old pickups. ah, the excitement. and so passed my birthday. i did pick up a frame, put the johnny cash at san quentin lp jack gave me months ago in it, and hung it above my cds. i also got a 3-disc set of roger miller songs in the mail from my brother (roger miller - king of the road: the genius of roger miller - mercury polygram).

sunday i ate supper with sue and calista at p.f. chang's, then we headed to church. afterward i discussed living arrangements with raj and kiera. we'll see what happens. later that night i realized i don't think they have a garage, which means i'd have to improvise covered or enclosed parking for my motorcycle. and i might not want to buy an old pickup that's in good shape since i'd hate to pay money for something old and nice and then leave it out in the sun and weather all the time.

monday evening i watched syriana on dvd. no, i didn't return any of those three netflix films -- i went and rented it from the kiosk at h.e.b. it was a somewhat complex plot that unravelled as you went along, but i thought overall it was an interesting and enjoyable film. i didn't think it was anything incredible, but a solid job. after the movie i went to the continental club and saw the last 1.5 hours or so of the el orbits show. i was also made aware of the fact that dale watson is playing the continental later in july.

tuesday i celebrated this great land's independence by going to very-swedish ikea with sue and calista. and that's about it.

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