November 23, 2008
i <3 electronics. car going boom? not so much.
a couple of weeks ago i ordered a griffin journi. it's a portable ipod speaker system. it sort of looks like a leather-bound planner. you unwrap the leather outside and it gets used as a stand for one-piece inside which houses the speakers. the ipod fits in it and stays in it the whole time (i.e., you can wrap up the leather and the ipod is snugly wrapped inside). it has rechargeable batteries, and a mini-usb connection for charging. it also charges your ipod. i'd seen one at target, but they didn't have a floor model and i didn't want to pay $100 for something if it wasn't loud and didn't sound decent. when i got home i looked online and read some comments about it. it sounded pretty cool. then while searching prices i found it on buynow.com for about $55. not refurbished or anything, just almost half the price everywhere else was selling it. so i bought one, figuring if i didn't like it i could give it to someone or something. i used it some over the weekend. it'll get pretty loud, and the sound quality is pretty good, but it's not amazing or anything. still, not bad for $55 i don't think. and i can wrap the leather and slide it under the seat easily whenever i stop somewhere, unlike a lot of the more bulky or oddly shaped speaker systems. hopefully this will do until i get a real car stereo.
friday a few of us from work had lunch with the hrc (olive garden), and since i knew she had some time to kill in the afternoon she went with me while i took a couple of hours off of work and went by the tweeter store on kirby again. the prices were the same but they'd added an extra 10% off (the discount price). the deals on the tvs still weren't very good. but i did end up making a purchase. so...the thing is...my sony receiver (str-da2000es) has no hdmi inputs. it came out barely before hdmi became common. so...knowing i now had a blu-ray player with hdmi, and would be getting a tv with hdmi, if i wanted to pass everything through my receiver like i do now then i needed something with hdmi. they only had one model of sony left, but it was a pretty good model, and better than my current one, so i bought it. i got a sony str-da5300es. it has 6 hdmi connections, up-conversion, and more connectors and power than my previous receiver. and it's black. i got it for around the best price i could find online (around $1100 after tax), so it seemed like a reasonable choice.
to thank the hrc for driving me around and waiting at the tweeter store, i pointed out a shop right around the corner from tweeter that has a bunch of modernist and modern furniture, house wares, etc. it's a small shop, but they pack it pretty full. i think she may have o.d.ed.
i spent friday evening pulling all of my connectors out of my old receiver and plugging everything into my new one. there was some amount of deliberation on my part to figure out how to connect everything back up. i got it all set up, then spent some time reprogramming my logitech harmony remote for my new configurations (new receiver, plus some new options on input sources and such).
saturday i ended up going to the tweeter on westheimer, just to see if their selection varied much from the one on kirby. i had asked about panamax line conditioners on friday at the kirby tweeter, but they only had one they'd been using. this tweeter had one (m5100-pm) that had no box or cables or anything, but at $200 (after tax) it was about $60 cheaper than the cheapest online. i bought it. i also realized that at 1/2 off plus 10% (so 55% off the original price), the cables were a pretty good deal. i bought several audioquest cables -- three hdmi x 2-meter cables, two pair of sidewinder 1-meter rca cables, and one optilink-1 1-meter toslink cable. my receiver can up-convert any video connector (rca, s-video, component) to hdmi, but can't down-convert from hdmi, so i won't need the hdmi cables until i get a new tv.
when i got back home, i spent some amount of time redoing all of my power cabling to go through the panamax, plus replaced some of my old cables with the new audioquest cables. in the process, i bent the mini-optical to toslink converter and heard a crack. the plug was loose. but the itures streaming still worked through it. *shrug* also, the panamax and the ups i'd been running power through did not like each other at all (can you say infinite power cycle loops?), so i removed the ups. all power to all components on my tv stand is now going through the panamax. now if only this old house actually had 3-plug grounded wiring in it. :)
today i went by tweeter on kirby again to perhaps pick up a few more cables, but they were about to close to i left without buying anything. probably just as well. i settled on eating at goode company bbq to console myself (this was later in the day from the vehicular event below).
last week sometime i used netflix streaming to watch the documentary helvetica. it's a documentary about the history and usage of the ubiquitous font called helvetica. if you are any level of font-whore, or find the art of fontography interesting, or just think it might be interesting to hear the history of one of the most commonly used fonts ever along with comments by well-known font designers, you should watch this. i really enjoyed it a lot, but i find fontography very intriguing so your mileage might vary.
yesterday evening i met up with the potts. evidently when one of their kids loses a tooth they called it "tooth day" and the child who lost the tooth gets to pick where they are going to eat that day. dietrich lost a tooth, so it was his day and he picked alamo draft house. so i went with them and saw madagascar 2 (even though i'd never seen the first one, i don't believe). i went to their house and went with everyone but jack, who was somewhere else and meeting us there. humorously, i got a call from jack while we were in the theater ordering our food. he asked if we were already in the theater and i replied we were, then he inquired if we'd gotten him a ticket and i said i didn't think we had. at which point he replied "well, they're sold out." haha. one of the waiters heard me and asked if we'd saved a seat for him and we said yes so he said he'd go let him in. the movie was pretty good. afterward, i went back to the potts house and we watched snl.
today i did some laundry, then sue got in touch with me to see if i wanted to join them around 2:30pm to eat. i hopped in the belair and went off to meet them. as i was driving down 59 toward 610, my engine started making some funny rhythmic sounds. i pushed in the clutch and was coasting, but every time i gave it gas it made bad sounds. then it made worse sounds and smoke blew out of the engine compartment and my engine stopped running. i coasted to the exit before 610, down the ramp, through the light, and maybe 100 or so yards more, then came to stop. when i got out i could see a trail of fluids behind me. i was trying to figure out what the fluid(s) were. i could definitely see antifreeze. i popped the hood and i could see liquids dropping from the bottom of the block. i didn't see any popped hoses or the radiator. i called aaa and they requested a flatbed for me. then i waited in the feeder lane, walking around trying to make sure no one plowed into me or my car. the tow truck showed up and took us back home.
once the tow truck moved the vehicle, and on the bed of the tow truck after i got back to the house, it was easy to see i had both oil and antifreeze leaking. not a good sign. even though i've had no one look at it yet, my current theory is that i cracked the block and i need to buy a new engine. i'd been planning on buying a new engine anyway, so it's really not upsetting. although i hadn't been planning on it right now -- i was planning on rebuilding the pickup engine first. oh well.
November 18, 2008
cubicle mod + other stuff
in my nov 15th entry i mentioned they are moving people around at work, and i had started modding my cube. well, i pretty much finished the big changes on monday. i spent most of today moving my copious amounts of junk from my big cube into my new small one. anyway, here is the before:
typical office cube. one big entrance and a wrap-around desk, a couple of drawers and a few shelves. institutional, bland color palate. this one is 7.5 feet by 7.5 feet.
here's the after:
i completely removed all of the desktops. i kept the shelves and drawers, although i moved the drawers around. i bought a cheap metal and glass desk and a 5x7 area rug from target. and i made the best of things.
my immediate management was pretty unsure of things the whole time. an upper management guy had come by and kind of complained to me on monday morning about some of the moving of things i'd done in front of the cube. so i tried to move that stuff (mostly) back to appease him. but a bunch of co-workers and other lower management had come by and said it was really cool. then they wondered if i'd get to keep it.
happily, today i was visited by my complete chain of management, all the way to the top of i.t., and they all had positive things to say about it. so it looks like i'll probably be able to keep it.
moving on...a week or two ago i gave some money to soma fm. that's now the second time i've done that. it's free to listen to, so why don't you go check it out? they have some really nice channels of different types of music. my personal favorites are space station soma ("spacey" electronic), boot liquor (alt.country and old country), and digitalis (electronic alt.rock). lush (electronic alt.pop with mostly female vocals) is pretty nice too. secret agent (if you like james bond soundtrack music) and illinois street lounge (space age bachelor pad music) i enjoy in limited doses. anyway, i already paid for you to listen -- go do it.
jack gave me a copy of luxe magazine a while back. he's done some photography for them in trade for ads. i helped him some with ideas and layout for an ad that ran in this issue. i tell you, some rich people have some really cool houses. some others have really insanely ugly houses.
last night i went to brasil. i was trying to decide where to sit. there was a band playing kind of island music, but it sounded like electronic stuff...probably just a keyboard. i looked over and there was an older guy there playing double mallets on a marimba of some kind. i knew i had to go watch the band. there was him and a female guitar player, then later another (male) guitar player joined in. evidently the marimba player is there mondays, usually by himself. he's really good. i talked to him and i think he's been playing a long, long time. he showed me the gear he was using. it turned out to be a foam/mat-based pad keyboard layout (really slick!) that he was running into a korg synth. the synth played drum and bass lines, then he had the velocity/pressure-sensitive pads playing a bamboo marimba and triggering some kind of violin tones or something. (obviously what it is triggering could be completely changed, but he's a percussionist and has played vibes/marimba for years.) the violin tones would follow his playing in key, and he had a foot pedal for sustain on the violin. he also had another foot pedal that could turn on/off the bass/drum accompaniment. it was a pretty slick setup. and like i said, he was really good. and it was obvious he was enjoying playing.
some of you may not know, i was a drummer in jr. high and high school and played marimba, xylophone, and vibraphone in concert band along with the many other percussion instruments. so that's part of the reason i thought watching this guy play was so cool. but you should go check him out some monday night. he's really friendly and approachable, he's funny, and (did i mention?) he really is good. plus the food and coffee at brasil are good as well. the hrc lives and dies by the b.l.t. with guacamole, and multi-shot lattes. i like the margarita pizza, and the mediterranean sampler (with hummus, tabouli, and substitute chicken salad). plus their house coffee is a nice blend, in my opinion.
and now for an amusing story. friday afternoon i was riding my motorcycle to work. 59 north was jacked up, so i decided to take side streets. i wound my way through neighborhoods until i got to the museum district, then i cut down to mecom fountain. there was a lot of backed up traffic, so i had to wait to hook around and shoot off by the museum of natural science. once i rounded mecom, a hispanic kid in a black tux with blue shirt was holding his hand up stopping traffic. i was right in front of him in my lane. some other hispanic kids -- some guys dressed similarly, some not, and girls mostly made up and wearing tube tops and hot pants -- were walking from the fountain to the courtyard area. people -- hispanic in particular -- love taking wedding pictures at that gazebo. and quinceaÃ±era pics. anyway, one kid yelled something at me in spanish as he was walking by, but i had no idea what. then a kid walking by behind him said something excitedly to the one stopping traffic and then ran over to me and stood beside me. the first one that'd yelled saw him, so he turned back around and ran to my other side. then four or five dolled-up hispanic girls all ran over and stood around me as well. a car or two were starting to honk behind me at this point. the guy took a picture, then they all ran off on their way. that was kind of an odd experience. i hope they liked the picture.
November 16, 2008
cds, books, movies, and a (delicious) monster
a while back i bought a fair number of containers from office depot. i also purchased some more metal bookends. i've been buying the 3-liter, 4-liter, and 9-liter sizes of the really useful boxes. (that's their brand name.) they're stackable and such, but i've been getting them because they are really good sizes to fit in the ikea storage cabinet and the teknon metal cabinet i have. i'm trying to organize my various junk into containers, so i've got one for audio cables, one for computer cables, one for computer-related hardware and accessories, etc. we'll see how that goes. i'm also hoping to be using the bookends to help get my books into some kind of better order.
over the last week or two, i picked up a few cds. borders had a 40% off coupon on cds (limit 3), including multi-cds and box sets, so i picked up these:
- nashville rebel - waylon jennings (legacy/rca)
- the complete atlantic sessions - willie nelson (rhino/atlantic)
- at folsom prison - legacy edition - johnny cash (legacy/columbia)
interestingly, those three guys are all linked in numerous ways. waylon and johnny were roommates in an apartment in nashville for a while, waylon and willie both left nashville and ended up recreating themselves in Texas, and all three of them were in the highwaymen (their song "highwayman" is on the waylon box). (i just checked my itunes catalog and i have one song off a compilation by the 4th highwayman - kris kristofferson. although i'd like to at least get a copy of "if you don't like hank" at some point.)
the nelson box has three albums: shotgun willie, phases and stages, and live at the Texas opry house, plus a bunch of bonus tracks from those three recordings that weren't on the albums.
the folsom album is both of the complete concert recordings (he performed two shows that day, so they'd have two takes to choose from for the album), plus a dvd about that day with photos, video, witness accounts, etc. thus it does rock mightily.
i also picked up a couple of "bargain books" while i was at borders, as well as using a 40% off coupon (good on one book). here they are (the first two were bargain price):
- flatland - edwin a. abbott (dover)
- lord of the flies - william golding (penguin)
- Texian macabre: the melancholy tale of a hanging in early houston - stephen l. hardin (state house press)
i'd heard a couple of math teachers talk about flatland over the years...i think at some point in high school and then again in college. i'd never read it before though. it's a story from a square that lives in flatland (2-d space) about his encounters with pointland (0-d), lineland (1-d), and spaceland (3-d). all telling is done based on what inhabitants of each land can see inside of their own perspective. the story is a satire on victorian social systems (it was written in 1884) and talks a lot about the hierarchical caste system in flatland, but also provides a lot of mathematical explanations about dimensions. it was a cool find.
i had gotten some coupons in the mail for "buy one, get one free" at yankee candles, so of course i had to go and use them. here's what i purchased for myself:
- black cherry (large jar)
- mango peach salsa (large jar)
- berry jam (medium jar)
okay, so if you were to combine my first topic (organizing) and my second (purchases of cds, books, etc.), what area would you end up in? the organization...or perhaps cataloguing...of purchased items. which leads me to my third topic...
a few days ago i broke down and bought delicious library (by delicious monster, of course). what is it? a mac only app that keeps track of your stuff. originally movies, cds, and books -- it now adds gadgets, clothes, tools, toys, video games, software, and anything else you want to force into those categories. the cool bit is it uses your isight or webcam to scan barcodes, and then automatically scans amazon (and maybe some other places?) to add info about your product and a picture. or you can enter isbn, asin, upc, title, author, etc. and search. you can also enter info by hand. it's really a pretty slick piece of software. and if you have tons of things (like me) and aren't cheap (unlike me), then you can buy a wireless bluetooth scanner ($215 iirc) with your purchase and use it instead of your isight. when you walk too far away from your computer, the scanner stores what you've scanned until you get back into range of your computer and then uploads them all. very slick.
so i've been scanning some of my books and cds, and i've scanned all of my dvd and blu-ray movies. i even scanned some a/v cables and my blu-ray player. (did i mention delicious library is very cool?)
and i scanned all of my yankee candles. it found a few, which were placed in "gadgets". (i had started placing them all in "tools" but eventually i gave up and went with where the few pre-entered ones already were.) and since you can build custom shelves in the software, i built a view of only yankee candles. once i publish my shelves to the net, everyone can see my yankee candle collection for themselves. (and the complimentary remarks about my fine taste in scents can commence.)
November 15, 2008
being sick: boo, blu-ray: yea
well, i spent most of this week feeling like crap. the last half of last week i had that feeling like you're possibly about to get sick, then sunday i started feeling kind of sick. i was thinking it might pass so i figured i'd take part of monday off, but then i ended up feeling worse as the day went on. i spent most of monday and tuesday asleep. i went in to work on wednesday, but still felt bleh. i took thursday morning off. friday i was better but still somewhat ill. today i finally started feeling pretty close to normal. i guess i had a flu bug or something, i don't know. it never developed into a cough or went into my chest, but i had sinus problems and fever on and off, along with tiredness and general body aches and a complete lack of energy. i ended up going through several theraflu packs and several rounds of dayquil. i guess they helped alleviate the symptoms some, but not as much as i thought they would. usually i don't take anything and just let my body work its way through it.
yesterday was downtime at work, so i got to sleep in and go into work in the afternoon without having to take sick time or anything. they also recently finally gave us our marching orders as far as cube reassignments go. in my numerous years at my current place of employment, i've gone from an office with no windows, to a cube against great windows (building move), to an office with windows (promotion), to a pretty large cube (building move.) (the office with no windows starting point was kind of a fluke since they were in temporary digs when i started due to flooding from hurricane allison. still, it was nice. that building gave free garage parking to tenants.) now -- due to an influx of new employees -- they are going to be doubling up the large cubes, so i am moving into a small cube. in every place i've been dropped, i've manipulated the environment to better suit my needs. for some reason, companies or upper management or cubicle makers love to make it so the worker's back is to the entrance. i understand it can be seen as more simple and efficient use of space, but it creates a work environment i hate -- i hate having my back to the door, i hate people walking up behind me and peering over my shoulder. so i jump in and take apart the cubicle pieces and reassemble them in some less efficient pattern that lets me face the entrance (or at least not have my back to it). so that is what i did friday afternoon when i got to work. i didn't finish, but i got everything pulled apart, and i have a general idea of how i'm going to piece it back together. we'll see how management feels about my creative transformation. usually with the stuff i do, they are uneasy and unsure about it, but when no one above them complains about it they accept it. so far i haven't had to undo much of the many things i do to push the envelope.
i finally got around to trading in my mummy sleeping bag and one-person tent. i upgraded to a sleeping bag that is sort of like a hybrid between a mummy and a standard square bag, and i went with a two-person tent. a couple of days later i went to r.e.i. and picked up a waterproof compression bag to stuff the sleeping bag into. that will help make it take up less space. compression bags are cool.
amazon sent me my country legends jerry reed cd (buddha/rca). now i'm just waiting for the criterion blu-ray bottle rocket to be released and shipped. i almost bought some other blu-rays while they were buy two get one free, but i forgot to actually make the purchase before the offer expired. oh well.
and speaking of blu-ray...last week on thursday or friday i went to best buy and picked up a samsung bd-p2550. they had it on sale for $350 instead of $400. it's a blu-ray player that does hqv. dvds are supposed to look pretty nice. it also has a network connection. once home and hooked up, i used that to download the latest firmware upgrade. which then gave me the ability to use my netflix account on the player to watch streaming netflix movies, as well as log into my pandora account and play my pandora channels. the bd-p2500 will do netflix, but the 2550 does pandora also (and appears to be somewhat exclusive to best buy?).
my old rca 36" tube tv is now the weak link and will need to be replaced. but i've been planning on that for some time. the samsung blu-ray doesn't seem to understand how to display pandora on a 4:3 exactly, so some of the data is off the screen. but pandora sounds good. the netflix...i watched high fidelity as my first test, and it was visually low fidelity. sadly. the "quality" meter showed one of four dots -- the audio was fine, but the video was fuzzy and low quality. a couple of days later i watched maxed out. the "quality" meter showed two of four dots -- both the audio and video were good. i immediately tried high fidelity again...one dot, and fuzzy video. i'm not sure what factors are involved in determining that, so i'll have to experiment some more to see if it's network bandwidth, the encoding of the movie, both, or something else, or what.
all of that also means i spent a good amount of time rewiring a lot of my entertainment center. since i wanted to use digital audio optical (i don't have hdmi on anything yet), i ran the blu-ray to the tv/sat input. i moved the old rca plug from the dish satellite input to video 1. i kept my old dvd player on dvd input with its digital coax audio line. and my airport express is still doing digital audio optical to the md input. based on cables i had versus what i needed, i ended up buying a new fiber optic (toslink) digital audio optical cable and a component video cable (since component quality is better than composite - which is the old rca plug -- quality). i had thought i could use the component in and my receiver (a sony str-da2000es) would downgrade to the rca plug monitor out to my old tv (the tv only has rca video in). but no, evidently my receiver can do s-video/rca conversion, but not component. (my dvd player had component, but i'd never tried it.) upon learning this i searched around for another rca video/audio cable, but i ended up having to go buy another one. *sigh* it's kind of sad, since once i get a new tv i'll be able to do component as well as hdmi -- then several of my cables will become unnecessary. i also purchased a package of those velcro cable ties for organizing and bundling things. we'll see if i use them.
the other thing all of the reconfiguring meant was that my harmony 676 universal remote was all out of whack. i spent some time reprogramming it so that it would do the right things with the right components. i think i got it pretty much worked out. it's still difficult to know how some buttons map from the original remotes, but for most basic functions it's pretty easy to figure out.
today when i was having a couple of bagels at einstein bagels, i noticed a guy with a sandwich board stating that the tweeter store nearby was closing and everything was up to 50% off. since i'm in the market for a new tv (and who knows what else if it's a bargain) i figured i'd drop in. but of course, their prices weren't that good. yeah, yeah, they're below retail. so is pretty much everyone else, even when they aren't going out of business. plus all sales are final, no refunds or exchanges -- so it's basically like buying from an online company. you run the same risk of having to deal with the manufacturer directly if you have problems. and unfortunately, their prices weren't any better than online shops. although in some instances they were close to the best online prices. plus you have to pay sales tax at tweeter. and i'm betting on some of the cables and accessories, the prices went up before they went down. i thought it was funny when i overheard an employee tell a customer these prices were below cost. or perhaps they define "cost" differently than i would think...like they include operating expenses and other things that are not the actual price they paid to the maker of the product. (or they were just getting ripped off by the manufacturers.) still, the stuff left in a couple of days might actually become decent price-wise when they're further marked down.
i think i'm actually going to turn the heat on for the first time...
November 4, 2008
i went down to alief and voted this afternoon. why back in alief, you ask? well, when i updated my driver's license address i checked for my voter registration address to be updated. i got something in the mail that looked like a voter registration card and i guess i assumed it was. but it wasn't. it was a voter registration address confirmation card. i never sent it back in. so my voting location was still at my old address. so i left work early and went down to the southwest side of houston. the voting process was fast and relatively painless. but the important thing is that now i've got the right to complain for the next four years. ;)
on the way to vote, i made the decision to finally drive by the old house on belle glen. i didn't stop or anything. i really didn't get to analyze it much. it had a much better paint job that matches the brick better. it looked like they'd tinted all the windows. and they'd painted over all the glass in the doors and windows on the wall of the garage. there were a couple of cars in the driveway, one of which was either a police or security vehicle. it makes me smile to think those punk kids next
store door (assuming the family still lives there) are having to live next to some kind of authority figure now. overall, the whole experience didn't really affect me much -- it all seemed sort of curious and surreal.
when i got home, i called the houston police department records division about my license plate. i wanted to make sure it wasn't still listed as stolen in their system. i gave the plate info, then the incident number, and the officer looked it up and said the plate had been reported as stolen in january 2007 (which it was), recovered in march 2007, stored in property, and then destroyed in july 2007. and at that point it was made available as a plate choice again. the thing is, i was never contacted or anything to let me know it was recovered. i wish i could have picked it up. that way i'd have one to keep in my house. oh well. at least it appears i don't have to worry about being pulled over by gunpoint and dropped to the ground and handcuffed because my motorcycle plate shows up as stolen.
November 3, 2008
combining existing rhn (red hat network) accounts
let's say at some point you created a red hat network account. now you're working for some company and they've got some red hat systems, and they want to manage them through the red hat network. and there are a few fellow employees you work with, some of whom already have rhn accounts. "easy" you think -- "i'll set up a red hat network account for my company, then i'll create accounts for the people who don't have them and join/add/import the already existing accounts to the organization." sounds look a good plan, right?
well, you can't do it. when you create a new account, it is tied to the organization it was created with. further, the email address you used is tied to that account. so you can't join that account to other organizations, and you can't re-use the email address on a new account, and you can't use the same rhn account name. so what options are there?
well, as far as i know from talking to support, you have to have or create an account, and use that account as the organization administrator. then, using that account, you have to create new, never used by anyone, red hat network accounts. with never before used email addresses. (granted, they allow you to do the trick where you put "+1" (or whatever number(s) or character(s)) after your email account name and it doesn't recognize it as the same account -- and as long as your email system knows to ignore anything after a plus sign in the account field your mail will arrive to your single account.)
i put this up because i spent some amount of time doing searches on how to combine or import or add existing red hat network (rhn) accounts to an organization. when i finally gave up and called support, they said it wasn't possible due to accounting issues.
so...get started creating all those accounts. but don't get tied to your rhn account name or email address, as you can't really take them with you.
and if anyone has information contrary to this, i'd love to know about it!
November 2, 2008
narrenschiff: official crew member
last saturday (25th) i went to discovery green park downtown for dietrich's birthday party. there were a few people there i knew, and a number i didn't. the hrc and her daughter went as well. afterward, i accompanied them to the apple store in the galleria so she could get her first gen iphone fixed/replaced. i managed to keep from buying anything. her daughter wanted to eat at subway, so i went there with them. it was the one right by crescent city beignets, so afterward i convinced them to walk over and i got some beignets. i don't think her daughter was too impressed by them.
last sunday i had a new experience. through a raffle at work, i'd gotten two free tickets and a parking pass for the texans-bengals game. the tickets were for nov 9th. being the meticulous pre-planner that i am (heh), i (miraculously) made plans early. the first person i thought of that might truly appreciate going to the game (if she wasn't already going) would be natalie. so i emailed her, and she very quickly called me back and accepted. she was already planning on going tailgating there with some friends, but she didn't have a ticket. however, she thought my date was off. the texans were playing the bengals in a couple of days. i looked around online and it turned out the bengals game had been moved to the 26th as part of a shuffle because of hurricane ike. man, i'm glad i tried to make plans early, otherwise i would have completely missed the game. natalie asked me if i'd like to tailgate with her and her friends, and when i said i never had she said i had to. so i did.
they came by and picked me up around 11am, and we went to reliant and parked, then walked to the tailgate location. the people had three parking spots in use. they had several big tents, a tailgating trailer, several tvs, some satellite dishes, loud music, etc. they were making chili, and there was a lot of beer. around 2:30pm or so we left there and went into the stadium and watched the game. it wasn't a particularly exciting match, but it was a good game because the seats were pretty good (and in the shade) and the texans won. and i saw history, as it was the first time the texans had won three games in a row. which would be much better for them if they were in the 4th or so week of the season. oh well. after the game, we went back out to the tailgaters and stayed there for a couple more hours. then we walked back to the car and they drove me home.
in a rare turn of events, someone even got a picture of me not covering my face. and looking at the camera, in fact. i was hoping it wouldn't make it out into the wild. but since it did, i might as well acknowledge it.
a while back, i finished reading downtown owl by chuck klosterman. i enjoyed it. i thought the ending was kind of abrupt. after i read it, i went around and read some reviews. other people thought it was good, but not as good as his other works. and a common thing was people seemed like it was too long. maybe since i'm not familiar with his other stuff i enjoyed this one quite a bit. i don't know. i like his writing style, and i thought his characters were interesting. i recommend it.
i also read no country for old men by cormac mccarthy recently. i'd never read anything by him. but i had seen the coen brothers film. i was pretty surprised by how faithfully the movie followed the book (both visually and plot). (not that it was perfect, but much more than i figured it would.) i could almost replay the movie in my head as i read the book. it was a good read, and i recommend it as well.
on halloween day, i decided to dress like i had last year. basically, black motorcycle jacket, skeleton gloves, and skeleton mask. i put goggles under the mask so it didn't poke me in the eyes, then put goggles around the outside but on the forehead (to keep the mask in place). i rode to work that way. unfortunately, when i hit about 70mph on 288, the mask caught a bit of wind and the goggles came off. i didn't stop. during lunch we went up 288, so i asked my coworker if on the way back we could stop and get my googles. i wasn't sure what shape they'd be in, but on the way back we saw them and they looked to be in one piece. so he turned around and make a big loop. the goggles were right before an on-ramp, so he took the on-ramp and then stopped a ways up and i got out and walked across the on-ramp and up 288 to get them. just as i was getting to my goggles, a police car pulled over. "great!" i thought. "they're going to hassle me." as i bent down to pick up the goggles, they rolled down the window and said "what are you doing out here?" i held out my goggles toward them and they said "you dropped your glasses?" "yeah" i replied. "where's your car?" i pointed and told them i was up ahead, but i was a passenger and it was a friend's car and he was driving. "well, we got a report of a 12-year old out on the highway." i paused and looked at them, then i looked down at myself, then i looked back up at them. "huh" i said. they said "get in back and we'll give you a ride." i opened the door and then tried to get my feet in. there was only a few inches (like 3) between the backseat and the plexiglass separator. "how...uh...how do i get in?" i asked. "just turn yourself and sit back in" the female passenger cop said. i always wondered why they put people in that way. i figured it was because they were cuffed. i guess maybe it's because you can't get your feet in. i got in (awkwardly) and said "i've never been in the back of a police car before." i'm not sure if they believed me. i'm not sure they even heard me -- they didn't respond or react at all. they drove me up to my co-worker's car, and the whole time i was laughing internally thinking about how my co-worker was probably responding. he can be kind of highly wound about some things, so i figured he was going "oh great! the cops showed up. oh man, he got in the car. oh great! now they're coming up here! i'm probably going to get arrested or something!" (and for the record, i told him that later and it was pretty accurate. i still laugh thinking about it.) once they stopped, the cop rolled down the window and told me to lean out and open the door from the handle outside. which was difficult, since i was leaning on my legs toward the door. eventually i managed to get my body contorted enough to get my hand to the handle and open the door. i got out and thanked them, and they drove off.
my goggles were scratched some on the lenses, so i'll probably have to buy some new ones. (scratched mirror tinting ain't so great to look through.) but it was worth picking them up for the experience. and, yes, i did wear my mask with them over it on my trip home after work. however, i didn't take the freeways. : )
yesterday i went by stubb's on telephone road to pick up a license plate support mount kit, and to see if they had any of the same goggles. they had a license plate kit i liked, but not the goggles. i guess i'll be ordering some goggles over the net soon.
in the afternoon, sue stopped by with most of the kids and we watched return of the jedi and went outside for awhile and such. later we met jack and jackson at the house of pies on kirby.
yesterday and today i went by office depot and picked up some containers. they're a size i was searching for a month or two ago when i bought the storage unit from ikea. i also bought some more bookends. maybe one of these days i'll actually get organized.
today in the midst of trying to do some organizing, i decided to try going through some of the crap tamara left behind. it sucks that it still ends up making me cry. i don't know what i'm crying for. for what she was, i guess. or what i thought she was. for what i thought our collective future was supposed to be. for the painful things we went through. i'm not even sure if she liked me anymore. ever. much less loved me. i don't know. maybe she just loved the ideas of things, and i seemed like i would be able to fill the role. who the fsck knows. i need to get that crap out of my house.
how bizarre. in the middle of writing that last paragraph, i got an email from john leatherwood. i haven't talked to him in years. they were friends of tamara's and mine back years ago. (in fact, that 77 vw camper bus i have used to be his.)