a very slight amount of debauchery

thursday was my birthday. i’m not into celebrating things much, so i didn’t really do anything too exciting. for lunch at work i and a couple of co-workers went to double dave’s. it was there i had my first soft drink since april 11th — a coke from the fountain. i had one glass, with ice, then went back to water. after two and a half months, coke tastes really sweet and very carbonated.
after work i went by Texas tattoo emporium to see if byriah was there. he was. (so if you’re looking for byriah dailey from taurian, he is currently working at Texas tattoo emporium on westheimer.) unfortunately, the selection of 2-gauge jewelry was somewhat limited and they didn’t have anything i really wanted. i talked to him about stuff i’d seen online, and he said to send him an email with the link and he’d look at it and let me know if he thought it looked like decent stuff. seeing as i was already there, and not getting my ears stretched, i decided to do something i’ve wanted to for years and years but never could convince myself to actually go through with. here’s photographic evidence:
eyebrow-piercing.jpg
eyebrow-piercing-2.jpg
he pierced with a two-angle technique, and i had him put in a bent barbell. this should allow me to switch to a hoop if i want to in the future (after the piercing heals, which should take 6-8 weeks probably).
from there i went home. later jamie came by and got me and we went to brasil to eat supper. while there, i got to watch a couple right in front of me working their way up the pda ladder — after they both were running their hands on each others’ legs and doing some hip grinding, i was half expecting them to just throw each other on the floor and go at it. but they restrained themselves, and eventually went elsewhere. after that we walked over to poison girl. guess who was at the bar? yep, the couple from brasil. still draped around each other. so i had a few white russians while hanging out in the outdoor area in the back. i hadn’t been to poison girl in a while, but i still <3 it. i guess that was about the extent of my debauchery for my birthday.
wyatt earp: been hitting it awful hard, haven’t ya?
doc holliday: nonsense. i have not yet begun to defile myself.
(from tombstone)
once home i fell into a slumber. i wasn’t sure i was going to make into work the next day (i’d actually asked for the day off since at one point i thought i might be headed to austin that day), but i woke up right before my alarm went off and was not sleepy. part of that was due to the fact that what woke me was an annoying dream involving the hrc (julia). that was kind of a bitter ending to an otherwise fairly pleasant low-key birthday.
kate: aren’t i a good woman to you, doc?
doc: yes, it’s true you are a good woman. then again you may be the antichrist.
(also from tombstone)

“you gotta weigh the pros and the cons”

a few days ago i got a book in the mail:

  • a heartbeat and a guitar: johnny cash and the making of bitter tears – antonio d’ambrosio (nation books / perseus)

i didn’t order it, so i’m guessing it’s a present…probably from my brother. but there was no name or anything connected to it, and no one has ‘fessed up or mentioned it, so i’m not sure.
also a couple of days ago i got something i ordered off ebay. it’s the canopus advc-110, which is an analog-to-digital video converter. so you can hook any analog video source (vcr, analog-only video camera, etc.) into this and it will convert to digital, which can then be imported onto your computer. there are cheaper devices around to do this, but the canopus product is generally considered one of the best consumer-grade devices. there are three canopus models: 55, 110, and 300. the 300 has extra features but is about twice the price of the 110. i had watched them on ebay on and off for the last few weeks, but last week a brand new one with the power supply (an optional accessory) popped up on ebay as a “buy it now” for $100. the device retails for $200-$250 and the power supply is usually around $40. most of the ones on ebay, used without the power supply, end up going for around $160+. so i am pretty happy to have gotten what i did at the price point i did.
saturday morning i got up around 10am, then went to meet loopylow at a mexican restaurant on airline drive called teotihuacan. the food i had was good. from there we headed up to near intercontinental airport to go to apollocon.
i had a harrowing experience on the way up. i was on my motorcycle following scott (loopylow). just as we crested the 610 overpass on i-45, traffic immediately came to a dead halt. i mean completely. the car in front of loopylow slammed on its brakes and started fishtailing, scott hit his brakes hard, and i hit mine…but i could tell i wasn’t going to stop in time. we were in the middle of three lanes and i knew there were cars to my right. i hadn’t seen cars to my left so i quickly decided to veer to the left to go near scott, hoping there wasn’t anything in my left blind spot (i didn’t have time to turn my head or anything). as i started to slow and veer i heard my tires lock up and start squealing, but i managed to pop around him okay. fortunately no one was right behind me to my left so i was able to pass scott and slow down. (i guess maybe it’s a good time to mention that when i renewed my driver’s license this last time i agreed to be an organ donor.) the rest of the trip up was uneventful.
the main reason i went up to apollocon is because barrett (from technology bytes) and kd5gzi (david — a radio show listener, irc-er, and geek gathering regular) were doing a presentation on open source hardware and following it up with a workshop on building your own arduino on a breadboard. i find the arduino stuff and open source hardware community somewhat interesting, but i’d never jumped into it on any level. (for example, i’ve been eyeing the ice tube clock kit on ladyada’s adafruit site. not arduino, but a cool build it yourself kit nonetheless.) i figured this was a good way to push myself into getting my toes wet. i managed to be the first one in the group to get my kit to perform its first task: blinking a light. that was really all we were supposed to do, but i went ahead and started playing with it some more, changing it to blink morse code “sos”, then adding a bunch of cables to control 6 leds and turn them on and off in sequence, then sweep back and forth like a cylon. i still don’t really feel like i accomplished much, but i guess it’s small steps that build toward something bigger and better.
the rest of the con reminded me of why i usually don’t go to cons. it’s not the con’s fault at all. i know some people might think i should feel like i’m in my element there, but they’re wrong. i used to be into and collect comic books, and i enjoy sci-fi/cyberpunk books and movies (fantasy not as much), and i played some d&d in high school, and i’m into computers/tech stuff — but most of the people at cons seem like they’re just living it all at a whole different level than me. maybe it has to do with my growing up in a small town. plus this was really a writing/gaming con and not a comic con, so even my history with comics couldn’t make me feel like i fit in. and while the whole steampunk thing is intriguing, it’s not something i want to get into myself. that one chick in the polished silver tight-fitting robot suit that completely covered everything head to toe — based on sorayama’s “sexy robot” work — was pretty swank though. (and evidently won the costume contest, although i only saw her standing outside in the hallway since i missed most of the contest.) i managed to find two pics of the apollocon sexy robot: solo sexy robot and group shot sexy robot, both on facebook. i stayed around late because i was intrigued by what music dj hawz might play at the party, especially with his really cool poster of a skull with a mario hat on it over crossed classic nintendo console guns — i was hoping maybe he’d be mixing some 8-bit, glitch, electroclash, etc. — but while i was listening he played pretty typical party songs mixed with the occasional tip of the hat to geek culture (like a remixed imperial death march, the dr. who theme, etc.).
monday after work i went over to the flying saucer downtown thinking i was going to meet someone there. i got there and didn’t see him, so i sat down at the bar and had a breckenridge vanilla porter. i didn’t really taste vanilla, but it was pretty good overall. i still didn’t see the guy, so i moved on to a southern star buried hatchet stout. (southern star comes from conroe, Texas.) it smelled like coffee, a bit of chocolate, and was pretty yummy. still no guy, but i decided i should probably stop. i got on my motorcycle and started heading home. on westheimer it started raining on me some, but i didn’t really care. it rained on me most of the rest of the way home, but never really heavy. i got home and took off my wet clothes…then i woke up in my bed and it was 4am. i’m really unsure exactly what happened after i got home. but after i woke up, i couldn’t get back to sleep. i guess maybe i’d gotten at least 7 or 8 hours of sleep already. so i was up very early for the next day.
tuesday i took the bike to work again. when i left work rain was coming in, but i figured i had 30 to 45 minutes before it arrived so i decided to go by taurian. i got about a block or two from them and then decided i wouldn’t have time to go in and look and talk to them before the rain hit. so i turned and headed home. i got about 2/3rd of the way through downtown when big giant raindrops started pegging me. by the time i got on westheimer it was coming down pretty hard. i kept thinking i was going to get ahead of the rain but i never did. i was completely drenched by the time i got home. coming home drenched and cold is always a much better situation when you have someone waiting at home for you. when you’re by yourself it pretty much just sucks.
tuesday night i made my first trip to the house of pies in a couple of months. a guy who used to be a co-worker that has been living out of state the last year or two was in town, and we planned to meet there for supper. we were there for some time, so i ate supper and then ended up getting a slice of bayou goo.
wednesday between work and the radio show i went back by taurian. i rang the doorbell but no one answered. i waited awhile, then rang it again. no answer. so then i tried the door, but it was locked. i started trying to call their phone number, but the line kept immediately dropping. after the radio show i started poking around online, and i learned that taurian had closed down. after some more google-sleuthing, i found someone that said byriah was now piercing at Texas tattoo emporium. i called their phone number and asked about him, and found out that is indeed where he is. so i decided i’d drop by the next day.
mr. henry: well, i mean, it couldn’t hurt could it?
dignan: no, it couldn’t hurt. but…well, you gotta weigh the pros and the cons, and you’re the one who hit me to that, mr. henry.
mr. henry: shoot, go ahead. what are the cons?

screening (yes, multiple meanings implied)

even though i don’t really want to drive the belair now, it was raining thursday morning and the belair was in the driveway closest to the street, so i took it to work. it is continuing to make some odd sounds, but it hasn’t fallen apart. after work i went by petco (the one where i totaled my vtx motorcycle), then i headed over to whole foods. as i was walking into the store, i saw what appeared to be julia (the hrc) walking out with some guy i’d never seen before. i didn’t see her dead on, just a profile, so i wasn’t sure — so i turned around and walked back to my car. if it wasn’t her, which it might not have been, this girl was a shocking replica. she looked like her (hair, face, body), she walked like her, she even had a big red leather purse, although not the same one julia used to carry. they got in a car he was driving, which was parked going in the opposite direction of where my car was. i started walking back to the store, but the guy ended up looping around the lot so he drove right beside me. and then stopped for another car. so at that point i walked right by her. she had looked straight forward the whole time, until i was walking right beside her. when she finally turned and looked at me, she registered no response. (as in, usually you can tell recognition in someone’s face — postive, negative, whatever.) i’m still not sure it was her. the whole thing ended up feeling sort of like that odd/awkward scene early in eternal sunshine of the spotless mind where patrick (elijah wood) walks up to joel (jim carrey) and taps the window on his car. joel rolls the window down and:
joel: yes?
patrick: can I help you?
joel: what do you mean?
patrick: can I help you with something?
joel: no.
patrick: what are you doing here?
joel: i’m not really sure what you’re asking.
patrick: oh, thanks…
(if you’ve seen the movie, you can probably see the similarities of awkwardness. although i didn’t actually talk to this person. and i’m not really comfortable with me being identified as patrick, since he was sort of slimy. although perhaps in this situation it’s more appropriate than i’d care for it to be.)
whether it was really the hrc or not, what i can say from the experience is that i’m obviously still not done with my emotions over her — which isn’t surprising given my tendency to forge strong bonds with romantic interests and have them not go away very easily or quickly at all. my adrenalin was pumping, my heart was racing, my hands were starting to shake some. it’s really kind of stupid of me. perhaps it’d be nice to be able to slash through emotional bonds like lots of other people seem to be able to do.
i went home, then drove to jack’s to try and knock out the back of the techbytes 15th anniversary party t-shirts. unfortunately, jack was waiting in line for an iphone 4. so i went and ate, then came back to his house. he still wasn’t back, so i went ahead and started getting stuff ready. it took awhile to get everything set up, and doing the back was slower and more complex than the front was. so i gave up around 4am, having completed about half of the shirts.
friday morning i managed to wake up a little after 9am and go into work (neither of which i was confident was going to happen after my late night). friday evening i went back over to the potts’ and continued working on the techbytes 15th anniversary party shirts. this time i managed to get them knocked out before i left (around 3am). jack moved some speakers into the garage where the screening machine is, so i was able to hook up my iphone and listen to music while i worked. that helped make the process more enjoyable, since without that all you hear is a large shop fan.

no title chosen

last week i netflix streamed the roast of bob saget. it was okay.
monday i had my first fry/chip in over two months. it’s not a conviction or anything for me, but it was still difficult since i’d gone so long without any. i decided it was kind of silly not to have one though, as it was a special circumstance. a coworker had another coworker bring them back some interesting chips from india. these were lay’s potato chips, but the flavor was chicken and thyme. so i had one. it tasted sorta like chicken noodle soup, or rotisserie chicken. kind of weird to have that taste sensation as a potato chip, but it wasn’t bad. still no coffee or sodas for over two months.
monday after work i went over to the potts’. we went by and picked up all of the t-shirts we’re going to be using for the techbytes party. jack and i spent the rest of the evening screening the front of all of the techbytes 15th anniversary party t-shirts. considering that neither of us really had any experience with silk screening, and printing white is supposed to be more difficult to get right (the ink is thicker, etc), i think they came out pretty good. i think my technique was a bit off, and i’m not sure the screen distance from the shirts was just right, but i’m still pretty happy with them. hopefully we cured them long enough and the ink will stick to the shirts and not crack or peel off or anything.
tuesday after work i went back over, but we ended up not getting too much accomplished. we needed to make one more screen and the first attempt didn’t go quite right, so we had to do another one. by the time we got another one done, which was good, it was already late and i didn’t want to start then since we probably wouldn’t have been done for at least two or three hours. i was already tired from staying up late the previous night. we should be working on getting them finished tomorrow night.
after driving my car to the potts’ and back on sunday i noticed the engine was running hot and getting hot really fast. when i checked the radiator it didn’t have much fluid in it. monday i was able to pour in a full one gallon jug of radiator fluid, so i’d have to say it was pretty low. it still seems like it’s running hotter than i think it should. but i didn’t see any radiator fluid leaking. so i’m not sure if i’ve got a leak or what’s going on at this point. also over the last couple of days the car has started making an odd sound. it appears to be related to the flywheel or clutch or transmission, as it definitely relates to the speed of the engine but goes away if i push in the clutch. so, yet more things to deal with on the car. that vehicle just does not want to play nice.
i don’t think i mentioned it, but after driving to brady and back again, i’m definitely leaning towards giving up on the 3-on-the-tree. as much as i love the uniqueness these days of having one, i just can not enjoy higher speeds with the 3 gears i currently have. one option is overdrive, but if my current transmission doesn’t have overdrive then i’m not sure it’s worth replacing it with another 3 that has overdrive. a guy from work has talked about some rear axles that have an overdrive built into them, so that’s an option (although i don’t know how common those are or anything about them). or i could change the gearing on my current transmission. but again, if i’m doing junk like that, it’d probably cost enough that just putting in a new 5-speed transmission with a floor straight shifter would be worth it. it just makes me a little sad to think about cutting a hole in that virgin floor. of course, not having that column shifter would also free up engine bay space on the driver’s side for more exhaust header choices. *sigh*
last night i upgraded my iphone (3g) to ios 4. because it’s a 3g, i’m not going to see most of the benefits of the new os (such as multitasking), but i do get the unified inbox and some other stuff i think will be worth the update. i’m probably going to be getting the new iphone here at some point though.
after freaking out for a bit after i got back from my trip last weekend, my desktop has seemed to run without problem. it’s still a 6+ year old machine, so i keep thinking about replacing it. i originally was waiting for a mac mini refresh. that happened, but now i’m not as excited because they bumped the prices up on them. what to do. also, i realized tonight the battery on my macbook air is kind of sucking. it went from full charge to near dead in only about 2 hours.

disappointments. (and learning silk screening.)

i didn’t mention in my last entry that someone(s) scanning for vulnerabilities found a php-based software on my server that was crackable. fortunately, all of the ips that were hitting it appear to have been script-kiddies (or didn’t spend time mucking with my box), as they don’t appear to have actually used the access to crack my box (which they could have done). one (or more) of them ended up using it as a relay to spew spam, which is how i noticed it. i figured out what the flaw was and modded the php code to error out with a snarky message to them. *sigh* that’s just part of what goes with having anything available to the internet-at-large. keeping up-to-date on your software helps, but even then there are 0-day exploits and lag times between when the world (and thus the crackers/script-kids) knows about an exploit and when a patch is made available by the vendor. and that is ignoring brute force cracking, social engineering, etc.
i was supposed to be working all day saturday to do disaster recovery site email testing, but it got canceled friday afternoon. so that’s now the second time it’s been canceled the afternoon of the day before. it’s really annoying because you get geared up and ready to do it, try to make everything fresh in your mind — then you’re told it’s not going to happen. it’s a major mental and emotional let-down.
speaking of major mental and emotional let-downs, i suppose i should mention today would have been my 12 year wedding anniversary. and it could be father’s day for me; i could have a 6-year-old kid. but it’s not, and i don’t. does that aspect of my past matter any more to me? sure. but not like it used to. for all intents and purposes, the tamara i believed i married back then is dead and gone from this world. she has become a painful memory in my past, a tagged mental note that you can never be sure what is lurking underneath, and just how unfair and two-faced they can turn out to be because of it. enough time has passed that it doesn’t fill my thoughts very often any more. and even when i do think about it, though there is still pain and anger and sadness there, it’s much less intense overall. but, at the same time, marriage and a family is a desire i have for my life, so that failure and loss can bring me down a lot if i let it (focusing on it and/or starting off in a poor emotional state). it’s still relevant to me because i’ve never really had new memories in that area to shift my focus onto. (i wish jennifer or the hrc could have done it, but neither of them were ever really very committed toward me.) because of that, my experience with tamara is always sitting there available to me when i get lonely or sad or depressed — especially over that facet of my life. as the crucified song notes: “my loneliness is evidence of my failure” (though in the song they are trying to point out that is flawed thinking, so don’t trash them for being negative or such nonsense…trash me instead :). anyway, enough of that subject.
yesterday and today i spent some time over at the potts’ house working with jack trying to figure out how to silk screen. he got some equipment from someone, i came up with some designs for a simple shirt for the party for the radio show i help with, and we’re supposed to screen some shirts. yesterday was the first day for either of us, and we learned we didn’t really have stuff figured out. earlier today jack and jackson figured some stuff out, then this afternoon jack and i made the screens for the techbytes shirt. tomorrow we should actually try screening some shirts. i watched some youtube videos today trying to learn more about silk screening and techniques and such. it’s so nice to have an instant resource for all kinds of things right at your fingertips whenever you want it. hopefully our stuff will come out well.

boy, the excitement never ends ’round here

i forgot one of the russian books i bought with the others, plus i bought another book:

  • beginner’s russian script – daphne west (teach yourself)
  • rapture ready! – daniel radosh (scribner)

rapture ready is the adventures of a non-xian guy who decided to look into the xian pop culture scene. i’ve read a couple of other books in the same vein, but i’ve read some excepts and reviews and this one seems like it might be pretty decent as far as the guy having a fairly open mind and being even-handed about everything. (more like body piercing saved my life and less like righteous.)
i finally finished lovesick blues by paul hempill. it’s the story of hank williams. i’d started reading it probably a year or more ago, taking it to crescent city or coffee houses with me. but i hadn’t been going out like that for some time, so it’d just been sitting there. it was good. i also read why i am not a calvinist by walls and dongell. it seemed to walk a pretty good line to me between being very simple and complex. some ideas relating to predestination, election, evil, and the attributes of G-d just can’t be made simple. who’d ‘a thunk theology ain’t easy-peasy? anyway, i really enjoyed the book, and i thought they did a good job of opening up some holes in the reformed/calvinist positions that i hadn’t thought of before. they were also able to articulate much better several things that i’ve thought/felt but never been able to flesh out very well. the reformed camp tends to have lots of verses to point at, but it always felt like to me the overarching theme of the bible is choice and free will. it just doesn’t seem like the G-d of the calvinist/reformed position is the G-d throughout the bible. i could go on for some time on this subject, but i i’ll save you the pain.
i also bought some cds over the last couple of weeks:

  • borko – celebrating life (morr)
  • daft punk – homework (virgin)
  • daft punk – discovery (virgin)
  • it’s a musical – the music makes me sick (morr)
  • peaches – fatherfscker (xl / kitty yo)
  • playradioplay! – Texas (island / def jam)

i’ve watched a few movies via streaming netflix over the last couple of weeks. first up is revolution os, a documentary about the history of gnu, linux, and the free software / copyleft movement. it was pretty good. next up is second skin, a documentary about people who game online. it includes some of the history of computer gaming, but mostly focuses on the culture and lives of various people. it was pretty enjoyable, and went into a lot of different aspects (both good and bad) of gaming culture, focusing mostly on wow. then i watched the dark ages, a history channel piece on the dark ages. it was pretty interesting. although i know lots of fragments of historical information, sometimes it’s nice to watch something that kind of puts timelines into order and shows where/how things fit chronologically. after that i watched visioneers, a fairly black comedy about a dystopian future where no one is supposed to dream because people are exploding. it stars zach galifianakis, playing it straight…although it’s a quirky near-future world. he works in a life-draining sparse office doing menial tasks with a few people, barely interacting with other workers that he rarely sees. he’s unhappily married. imagine perhaps brazil mixed with idiocracy and a bit of donnie darko or something. i liked it, but i flipped between times where i felt like i was totally getting the point they were trying to get across, and other times having no idea what of several points they were trying to get across…especially since it seemed to contradict the ones i thought i was pretty sure of earlier. i’m not sure if that makes it a complex good film, or just a confused jumble of seeing what sticks. last up, i watched welcome to macintosh, which is a documentary about the history of apple and the culture around it. they interviewed quite a few key players, which was nice, and it was cool to get some aspects of the history of the company i was unaware of.
the friday before last i had a lunch meeting at work and they only provided tea. so i had a glass of tea. but i put no sugar in it. other than that, i’ve still had no soda, tea, or coffee. or chips or fries. i’ve finally started hitting the point where i sometimes think about having some coffee or a soda, but so far i’ve continued to completely abstain. i’ve been drinking water or 100% fruit juices, but mostly water. i can’t say as i can really tell any difference in anything (energy, etc) but i’m still doing it anyway. it can’t really hurt much to cut out sodas or “fruit”/flavored drinks with insane amounts of sugar / high fructose corn syrup.
last week or the week before at some point i replaced the hard drive in my desktop. i’d switched from an 80gb to a 160gb a few months ago i think, but i’d almost filled the 160 so i put in a 500gb. i have plenty of room to spare now, and should for awhile probably. it’s very nice being able to put in a new drive, boot off the os cd, install the os on the new drive, then tell it to copy all of the old accounts, files, configs, etc. off the old drive. (i did that on the 80-160 upgrade too.) the only problem i noticed either time was the license keys for the macromedia products don’t get set up right so i have to re-enter them.
friday i worked in the evening, so i used the daytime to get my motorcycle inspected and then go renew my driver’s license. i had renewed online last time, so i had to physically show up this time. the license renewal office is the typical soul-sucking, depressing, slow-moving, cheerless government setup. at first i showed up around 12:30pm and there were a bunch of people just sitting waiting…bleh. plus i didn’t have cash and they didn’t take credit cards. so i left and ate lunch, got some cash, and came back. i think the line was shorter. somehow, they’d never retaken my picture since 1996 when i first got my motorcycle license. that’s 14 years. but they retook it this time, and i must confess it looks pretty fine. you see, my goal in license pics is to make it look as much like a mugshot as possible. my pic from the last 14 years was pretty good. but i think this one might top it. i’ll have to wait and see the full-color, full-size version though. i also was happy i was able to pass the eye exam, so i still am not required to wear corrective lenses while driving (which sucks on a motorcycle if you wear goggles).
saturday morning i got up and decided to drive to brady. i hadn’t been since xmas, plus it was the leifeste family reunion on sunday. i took my belair. since i have no a/c and i was driving between 12pm-7pm, it was pretty hot. but it was okay. i arrived and my parents and brother and miles had just left for underwood’s in brownwood. i called them and they decided to come back and get me. while i was waiting, a lady came over and asked me if i could help her. a lady next door had fallen and she couldn’t get her into a wheelchair. i got over there and the lady was sitting on the ground near the open driver’s side door of a pickup, although she didn’t appear to be able to use her legs. even though i’m a bulky guy, i do computer work all day in an office so i’m not exactly strong. but i managed to get her into the wheelchair. a little while later, she went by driving the pickup and smiled at me real big and waved. odd. my parents got me and we all went to underwood’s and ate, then came back to brady. that was a lot of time in a car for saturday.
sunday we ate breakfast with my grandmother, then everyone left and i stayed and hung out with my grandmother. a couple of hours later my parents came by and picked me up and we went to the reunion. it was about the same as usual i suppose. i hadn’t done anything on the genealogy stuff in the last year or two though, so i felt kind of bad. we drover back to brady, then after a nap i got up and drove back to houston. i didn’t leave until around 6pm, so the temperature wasn’t quite as bad on the trip back.
my brother gave me an early birthday present:

  • lightnin’ hopkins – from the vaults of everest records (collectibles)

it’s a 4-cd set of recordings lightnin’ did on everest records. of course, he recorded on tons of different labels, of all different recording quality and such. he also would record multiple versions of the same songs on different labels, as well as making up songs on the spot. the story is if you came to him with a bottle of jack and some cash he’d let you record an album of him.
when i got back sunday night, my desktop wasn’t working and the fans were spinning at full tilt. i don’t know how long it’d been like that. it’s happened a few times, and usually is due to some process running out of control, spiking the cpu, and locking the system. but when i went to power cycle it, it crashed before it ever really started booting. it did this a few times. after that i waited a few minutes with it off, then powered it up. it got further, but locked up again. i thought maybe my machine had finally bit it. i wondered if maybe it was just too hot to operate though, so i went to bed. the next morning i got up and started it up and it booted up fine. and has been running okay since.

b: books, beer, bike, bel air, brakes, ‘bacco

here are the books i bought off amazon recently:

  • d!rty russian – coyne & fisun (ulysses press)
  • essential russian grammar – kemple (dover)
  • how to learn any language – farber (mjf)
  • random house webster’s pocket russian dictionaryreference (random house)
  • russian word picture book – rogers & steadman (dover)
  • teach yourself russian – west (teach yourself)

obviously all of them are related to the russian language. except how to learn any language, which was suggested by ash as a guide for how to go about learning a language (such as russian).
friday after work i took my bike to meet the potts (minus sue) at the petrol station in the heights for supper. it’d been awhile since i’d been there. it was a pretty happening place, and they had expanded their tap beer selection. no giant domestics at all on tap. (awesome.) they had also fenced in the back area and put in some landscaping elements. it felt more like the back of poison girl or such, although there were lots of people with kids. (they are kid-friendly and have kids’ items on the menu.) i had a stone brewing company imperial russian stout and a burger with swiss cheese. i gave the fries to the potts. the burger was juicy and fresh, on more of a sourdough style bun than a generic white bread bun. it was good. then, unexpectedly, the rain came. the potts left, and i waited for the rain to stop and the streets to dry up some. so i had another beer while i was waiting: the hairy eyeball by lagunitas brewing co.. it was very good. unfortunately, it’s a seasonal. i figured i’d wait for the roads to dry up some, but i checked the radar on my iphone and another band was coming, so i hopped on the bike and rode home. i didn’t get rained on, but the streets were still wet and at one point i slid some coming to a stop at a light. i also narrowly avoided getting splashed by cars a few times. but i made it home in one piece, with only my pants’ legs wet.
at midnight i went to river oaks and saw a midnight showing of a clockwork orange. i had hoped i would have someone to go with, or at least to meet up with there, but of course i ended up watching it by myself. and i of course neither met nor talked to anyone. normally i’d just not go anywhere instead of go alone (which is why i stay home often), but i really wanted to see the movie again on a big screen. it was nice. there were maybe around 200 people for the showing, half a dozen to a dozen dressed as alex and/or his droogs. i wore my moloko vellocet shirt. no one else cared. 🙂
i had decided saturday i would try to get my brakes on the bel air fixed, so that’s what i did. since it was only the brakes, and the brake system is fairly simple, i decided i’d drop by brake check just to see if they would look at it. (the one at 5637 southwest freeway, since that’s the one jack went to a few weeks ago and they seemed nice.) they didn’t know how to drive a 3-on-the-tree, but they said they’d try to check it out. i drove it into the bay, then they took the tires off and checked all of the drums and everything looked fine. they then said they could try a bleed and flush, since that would show any blocked lines or air in the system. and if it went fine, that meant it was the master cylinder or something mechanical with the pedal itself. it was only ~$40, and couldn’t really hurt, so i figured that was worth it. they did the front brakes and everything was fine, but when they went to the back brakes both sides barely leaked. they brought me out to look at it at that point, because the connectors on the rubber line between the steel line coming from the front and the split on the steel lines in the rear were corroded and they weren’t sure they could get it off without mangling/breaking the hose. (which meant waiting for and buying a new hose.) i told them to go ahead and do it. the steel line from the front flowed just fine, but the rubber hose barely leaked. so the rubber brake line hose was the culprit. based on that knowledge and the way my brakes were acting, apparently the clog was causing both rear brakes to always be at least partially on (thus the feeling my brakes were on at all times) while in the front the pressure was all messed up so my brake pedal was immediately tight (and was only really working the front brakes). they had to order the hose and said it’d be in the next day hopefully, so i decided to walk home. (probably about 4.5 to 5 miles.)
i walked over to chimney rock, then up to richmond. i stopped in the hat store to look at their fedoras (they didn’t have that many…they’re mostly cowboy hats) and see if they had plastic travel boxes for fedoras/bowlers (nope, just western size). i continued walking down richmond, and after i passed 610 i decided i’d stop in the pipe and cigar store there by luling city market. it’s called serious cigars (4722 richmond ave, it used to be crofts pipe and tobacco shoppe). i was in there i guess a couple of hours, talking to the guy working there about all sorts of things while i looked at the pipe tobaccos, meerschaum pipes, and briar pipes. a guy smoking there gave me an aromatic to try, and the employee gave me a blend they’d made for xmas. i bought a custom blend he made, and i also bought a new pipe: a savinelli black rustic (trevi rustica, style 626). it’s only about a 1/4 bent, with a fairly small bowl. so it’s somewhat different than my other pipes. but i like the way it looks. (and of course i paid more than if i would have bought it online.) while i was in there for so long, brake check called me and said they’d gotten the hose in. so i told them i’d walk back. i made my purchase and left.
i only made it part way back before they called to check on me. they were already staying late to get mine done. i told them i was still walking, so one of them came and picked me up. we hopped in my car to test drive it, and the brakes were obviously better. i got about 1/4 mile and my car almost died. i guess i should have put gas in it. i drove a bit further down the road, asked if there was a gas station that way, he said “no” so i did u-turn to head back to the closest station. the car died and i coasted across the road and up to a pump. whew! i got out and put some gas in it, then we were on our way again. the brakes seemed fine. so fixing the brakes cost about $120: $40 for the bleed/flush and $80 for the hose/labor. anyway, i recommend these guys. they seemed fair, and willing to explain to and discuss things with me.
after leaving brake check, i went back by the pipe store to pick up another thing of tobacco. i had smelled it earlier and it reminded me of…something relating to our family land. maybe the house, or the barn. i couldn’t place it exactly. but i smelled it again and it was still in there. i’m going to send some to my dad and brother and see if they can connect the smell as well.
saturday evening i went over to the potts and watched snl, then i came home and watched district 9 on netflix streaming. it was a good movie, although i wasn’t overwhelmed by it. i seem to recall hearing it was done pretty cheaply, and if that’s the case then the cg work is pretty impressive.
sunday afternoon i ate lunch with the potts, then sunday evening i went over and had supper at the potts. we had pierogies, sausage and links, sauerkraut, french bread, and real ale‘s devil’s backbone (a belgian-style tripel). later that night jack and i watched art & copy via streaming netflix. it’s a documentary, sort of about the history of advertising in america but really focused on the work/history of about six or so gods or rock stars in advertising. it was pretty interesting, although i think i would have liked it more if it delved into the creative process and the life cycle of ads from brainstorming to print more than being more of a reminiscing. they tried to stitch it, or add a different angle, by interleaving data and interviews with a guy who actually puts up billboards — but, while connected in a general sense by the topic of the film, it really seemed sort of disjointed instead of in the flow.
today i ate a late lunch with the potts, then i headed over to the half price books on westheimer way out west. i picked up a few comics to add to wheresthatbeen.com, and i bought a few cds and a book for myself:

  • belle and sebastian – the life pursuit (rough trade)
  • circlesquare – songs about dancing and drugs (!k7)
  • japanic – red book (plethorazine / southwest wholesale)

not sure i’ll like the belle and sebastian, but i figured i’d pick it up and try it. i’m hopeful about circlesquare based on the label he’s on and the description of his stuff i read via google. japanic was a local houston band…i think i heard them on ktru back in 2001 or something and always meant to try and see them and pick up their cd(s). well, i finally got this one. (i think they had two, one before this one.)

  • the torrents of spring – ivan turgenev (grove press)

tonight i finished watching alexander nevsky, a 1938 russian film by eisenstein. it tells the story of alexander nevsky, a 13th century russian prince who (for the part of his life the movie is concerned with) protected novgorod (and thus most of what is now russia) from the germans (an order of the teutonic knights, actually). it was, in fact, part of the northern crusades — the roman catholic church trying to take north and east (pagans and orthodox) instead of the east (muslims and the holy land). by chance ;), at the time this movie was made and released the nazis just happened to be building in germany and looking at russia. this was a motivational call to arms to the russian people to defend their homeland from invaders (such as…oh, the germans). in fact, nevsky was used throughout that time period as a symbol of protecting russia from the invading germans. the movie worked, as nevsky is still considered one of the most important people in russian history by the russian people.

this is only a ceremonial title

a couple of weeks ago i failed to note the 12 year anniversary of failure.net. yea, failure.
here’s the rest of the stuff i mentioned last time that i ordered from amazon and ebay:

  • the knife – silent shout 2-lp vinyl (rabid / brille / mute)
  • madness – one step beyond… (salvo / union square)
  • madness – absolutely (salvo / union square)
  • madness – 7 (salvo / union square)
  • miss kittin – batbox (nobody’s bizzness)
  • trentemoller – the last resort (high note / poker flat)
  • various – the box collection no. 1 (international deejay gigolos)

the knife album is a still-sealed 2-lp vinyl version. the 3 madness cds are 2-cd re-releases. they have remastered versions of the original albums, plus some videos, plus b-sides and live recordings and such. these are their first three albums. (evidently they are going to do this will all 7 of their old albums.) and for the record, somehow i never knew (or i forgot) the self-titled madness album i played and loved all those many years was actually a compilation album. even though i had a cassette copy of one step beyond…. the miss kittin album is a fairly recent release of hers. the trentemoller cd is an asian version which has an extra bonus cd of remixes. it’s an interesting jewel case design too…i’m not sure if it’s common in other countries or it’s just uncommon in general. and finally is the gigolos box, which includes the first four dj gigolos compilations (plus a bonus disc, unless comp 4 was always 2 cds…they pitch it as a bonus disc).
last friday night (21st) i got off work and though “man, i feel like going out and doing something.” unfortunately, i have no single friends that i hang out and do stuff with, so i had no one to call or meet up with somewhere — so i just drove around awhile, then came home and watched a movie by myself. i ended up watching machine girl (2008), which is one of those hyper-violent / extreme asian films. in other words, tons of gratuitous and completely over-the-top blood and gore and such. it was kind of stupid.
saturday (22nd) i went and watched the film exit through the gift shop at river oaks. it’s a documentary (of sorts) about the street art scene. it’s supposedly done by banksy, although his identity is sort of secret. the story is that this french guy obsessively films everything and lucks into hanging out with and filming all of these street art guys, then says he’s making a documentary, then befriends banksy. he has tons of film but no skills with editing, so banksy says he’ll take over and tells the guy to go do street art. he does and becomes mr. brainwash. the movie never really lets you know what’s real and what’s not, but it’s obviously edited to poke fun at art culture. my personal opinion is that the entire movie is pretty much an elaborate setup, and mr. brainwash (who in real life had a giant opening in l.a., sells art, does interviews, etc.) is a giant joke on the “elite” art community. the movie doesn’t state that bluntly, and no one has admitted the joke, but come on…”mr. brainwash”? and his techniques are basically ripoffs of other street artists? and in the film some of his comments about himself once he becomes “mbw” seem to totally come off as belittling what he does (without his realizing what he is implying about himself)? the movie starts off believably, but once you get to the part where banksy takes over it gets somewhat asinine. i have a hard time believing banksy isn’t “taking the piss.” however, it’s still cool to see all of the footage of these famous street artists at work, getting arrested, etc. which is what i think the actual point of the film was. i’m betting banksy, sort of like andy kaufman, is in it for the personal lulz and doesn’t care if almost no one else is let in on it. but then i really liked kaufman’s mindset.
sunday morning (23rd) i got up early. even earlier than i do for work. why? because myself and a couple of co-workers had made plans to go down to galveston for the day. first we went on an airboat tour of part of the bay. the water was murky and i didn’t see much of anything in the water at all (i finally saw one small stingray, murkily, for a couple of seconds), but now no one can say i’ve never been on an airboat. from there we headed over to the strand and walked away for awhile, eventually eating at fisherman’s wharf. i don’t like seafood so i had the burger. it wasn’t that good. then we walked on the strand some more, ending up at a “bar”. it was like a biker bar, sort of, but i don’t think they have a liquor license because all i saw for sell was beer and machine-mixed mixed drinks. so they are probably wine-based. we were there for a bit, then we headed back to houston. it doesn’t sound too exciting i suppose, but it was nice to hang out with the guys outside of work and do something different.
man, i’m about tired of things. i ordered several books on russian from amazon, which arrived recently. i’ll list them later. i’m not sure why i want to try and learn one of the more difficult languages to learn, since i’ve never learned any others and have no reason to believe i can do it.
the last few days i’ve been trying to play with my korg electribe sampler, seeing if i can manage to do something besides come up with cool 1-bar or 4-bar loops. (which i’ve done.) i’ve never really tried to write out a full song before.
i finished paying off the “one year no interest loan” (credit card with 0% interest for a year) i used to help get the engine put in my bel air. i still owe myself a bit for the trip to taiwan, but i should have that paid off within the month. then i can start saving some money to do some more work to the bel air.
i’m still sticking to my “no tea, coffee, or soda” and “no fries or chips” stance. i don’t really know that it’s doing much of anything, but i’d assume it’s got to be cutting 200 to 700 calories a day from my normal eating patterns. but if i want to see results of any value, i’m sure i need to exercise too. i hate exercising. i hate it with a passion. end results do not motivate me to do it. nothing motivates me to do it. it may be a contributing factor to my life sucking, but at least i’m not having to exercise. 😉
i’ll catch up things from the last few days in another post. i want to go ahead and put this one out instead of sitting on it even longer. (i originally wrote it about a week ago.)

in soviet russia, you don’t fix car…

monday evening i watched paths of glory (netflix streaming), an early kubrick film starring kirk douglas about a french troop during world war one. it was pretty good, but played like a fairly normal movie to me. (although i’m not well-versed in movies from that time period, so it may have been quite out of line for its time.) it’s kind of negative about the abuses of power and rank in the military, as well as showing the decisions and…well, the culture…of the military as being less honorable and noble than it presents itself to be.
tuesday and thursday nights i watched the two parts of ivan the terrible. it’s yet another russian film by eisenstein. this one was filmed later than his others i’ve watched, so it’s a talkie! but it seems like a stage acting style also took over — it feels much more like filming of a stage play than the earlier movies (that i watched). by “stage acting style” i mean overly dramatic gestures and facial expressions, etc. it was kind of out of control. it was interesting just for some history about the russian czar system and what was before it.
speaking of russian history, i’m still trying to figure out a way for me to move to russia. it doesn’t seem like the job market there is very active, at least for foreigners looking for tech jobs. i’ve started to consider teaching english, since there is some demand for that. but it doesn’t pay that well, and it can be sort of a crappy job (depending on the company you work for, etc.). plus i’m not actually a teacher, nor do i have a teaching background. and my degree and experience are technical, not in linguistics or some area of liberal arts that might relate better. but it’d get me over there and some of them would give me a chance to learn russian while i’m teaching. of course, i’ve also starting wondering if russia is a very safe or stable place for me to be. i really have enjoyed reading russian novels, watching russian movies, and i think the culture and history are interesting (plus i enjoyed many aspects of the time i spent with a russian — the hrc — here, although she didn’t really seem to care about her russian background much), but i’ve heard a lot of stories about russia being a sort of hardened, rough kind of place due to their history. (not just recent, either.) so i don’t know. plus the two big cities for jobs are moscow and st. petersburg, and they are both pretty far north and really cold for stretches. i’d still like to do it anyway, because, “hey, why not?” it’d be way out of my comfort zone, and what really do i have to lose anyway?
i got my car back on friday. the new shop i took it to was very good about contacting me, telling me what was going on, etc. it turns out houston performance had pretty much not adjusted any of the valves correctly (with one on the driver’s side having over 1/2 inch of play). in addition, they’d not put the distributor on correctly so the timing was all off. and they’d re-used the gasket on the thermostat housing at the manifold so it was leaking. the new shop fixed all that stuff, although they said even with a new gasket the old thermostat housing was still leaking some so they put on a new one. (that’s probably because the original mechanic re-used a lot of parts of my old engine.) the only out-of-pocket cost to me was the new housing. i talked for some time with both of them during my visits, and they both seem to be knowledgeable and professional. i’m thinking it’s very possible i’ll be looking to them to do some work for me in the (near?) future.
of course, it wouldn’t be my car if something wasn’t wrong. so with the engine seemingly fixed, something new had to start up. now it feels like my brakes are constantly at least partially on. (yes, i checked to see if i left the parking brake on.) in addition, my brake pedal feels really tight, like it won’t depress much (as much as it used to). it also feels like my brakes don’t work as well, so it takes me longer to stop. i don’t see how any work of either shop should have affected my brakes. i guess it’s possible that during the tow the towing hooks crimped one of the metal brake lines or something. i’m not sure yet. it’s just yet another thing to keep me dealing with the car instead of enjoying it. my pickup, on the other hand — while sounding like crap and being in moderate to bad shape — just keeps plugging along.
saturday i went by ikea, then headed to an auditorium at a middle school to see calista perform in a dance recital. the whole thing was a bit painful. (not meaning calista’s performance or anything.) i mean: all of the kids dressed up and performing on stage, all of the proud and overly support parents, all of the costumes and music and announcing. i kind of felt like the jaded guy with earplugs in little miss sunshine. fortunately, none of the dances played the song “superfreak”, so i didn’t have to stand up at the end and yell “yeeeeah!”
this evening i watched video games: behind the fun (by the history channel) on netflix streaming. it’s somewhat outdated, but it provides some interesting tidbits of info about the history of computer gaming. plus it’s kind of fun to see people talking about some of the older games, as well as what was current and expected at the time the show was made.

update #whatever

friday morning i got up and called aaa Texas towing, and they came by and picked up my car and towed it to the new place. the guy there seemed professional and knowledgeable, so let’s hope they’re competent.
friday night was the geek gathering at coffee groundz. i once again got to play dj. which is basically me picking songs off my ipod one by one. i’m not sure if anyone cares, but it keeps me somewhat entertained. i’d like it if i could actually dj (i.e., cross-fade via two sources, loop, etc.), but i don’t have the skills. or the equipment.
saturday i went with the potts to the art car parade. i found jay and dwight where they were announcing, but they were busy so i didn’t interrupt. it’s sometimes weird being in that huge of a crowd who pretty much all live in the same city and realizing i don’t really know any of them. it reminds me of how few people i actually know.
afterward, jack dropped sue and the kids off with me at my house and he took off for some work. the kids played around while sue tried to help me dig up a smallish tree and its roots. its root system was big and going under the corner of the house and concrete walkway. we got it about 3/4 free, but that 1/4 kept it from budging. i broke my new tie-down strap trying to pull the tree/roots with my pickup. later i drove them all back to their house, and i hung out there until late. when i left, i borrowed my chainsaw from them.
today i got up and went to work on the tree again. the chainsaw was better, but wasn’t working that well. i decided to go buy a new chain and some chain lube. the new chain helped a lot. but it was still stubborn. i left and went and ate with the potts, then came back and worked on the tree some more. i finally got the big root torn/pulled out. unfortunately, some of it goes under the concrete for the walkway, so i think it will grow back. but maybe not. i thought about buying some root killer stuff, but i had pulled up some lillies or some kind of bulb plant that was right next to the tree, so i wanted to try and get them replanted before they died. (of course, they might die anyway, but i tried to give them a fighting chance.) you might be surprised to learn i don’t have to do much of anything physical for my job, nor do i ever exercise. so my hands and body don’t seem too excited about the physical labor involved in pulling up a tree.
this past tuesday evening i watched the vanished empire (2008). it’s set in russia in the 1970’s, and follows a high school kid dealing with friends, relationships, and “rebellion” by going against his family’s intellectual heritage. instead he sells his family’s books at second hand stores, buys contraband american rock albums on the black market, drinks, chases women, gets in fights, etc. difficulties ensue and he has to come to terms with his choices and his path in life. it was a pretty good movie.
this evening i watched 12 (2007), which is a modern russian reworking of 12 angry men. it deals with a chechen teen accused of murdering his russian step-father with a knife. the jurors are from various backgrounds with various baggage/perspectives. the film intermixes the jurors deliberating with scenes from the chechen kid’s past. the characters are kind of quirky, the acting a bit odd at times, and there are some weird bits of symbolism and such — but in the end i thought the movie finished off really well and i think it’s worth a view.
even though i’m still waiting on some things i’ve ordered, i’m going to go ahead and list the stuff i’ve already received:

  • adult. – suck the air 7″ clear vinyl 378/2000 (ersatz audio)
  • the dead milkmen – bucky fellini (restless / fever)
  • the dead milkmen – chaos rules: live at the trocadero (restless)
  • devo – e-z listening disc (ryko)
  • the knife – hannah med h soundtrack (rabid / cooperative / v2)
  • kraftwerk – the catalogue (klingklang)
  • lowfish – frozen & broken (noise factory)
  • memory systems – ad placement for the collective unconscious (form)
  • miss kittin – radio caroline vol. 1 (mental groove / emperor norton)
  • miss kittin – a bugged out mix by miss kittin (system / resist)
  • various – electrecord cd 2000 (k7 / electrecord)

i’m close to having all of the adult. stuff now. just a few more vinyl, although the few left are mostly pretty scarce. i’m not sure how i never got bucky fellini, since i really liked the dead milkmen. but i never had. i picked up the live album on a whim since the guy selling bucky fellini had the other for sale too. the “musak” devo album put out by ryko in1987 is kind of hard to find, and usually sells for $25 or so. i scored one at about $9 so i was pretty happy. and it’s in great shape! the knife cd is a soundtrack album they did for a movie. a movie i can’t find on netflix. the kraftwerk bit is an album-sized box set containing 8 of their albums (it’s missing the first three they ever did), all remastered. new artwork, 12×12 booklets for each album all in a hard slipcase, etc. i used a 40% off coupon from border’s so i got it at a pretty reasonable price. the rest on the list above are i guess all considered part of the “electroclash” scene of the late 90’s and early 2000’s. although miss kittin is also a dj, and her two albums are dj mixes she did (a bugged out mix containing two sets/cds).