houston performance: my experience

this was supposed to be my post where i talked about how i’m still not satisfied with my car, but at least all the work i got done involving the new engine is functioning properly. of course, since it’s me we’re dealing with, it’s far from it.
i told work i was going to be out this morning to go pick up my car. jack and his daughters gave me ride up to the place. the place is houston performance (houston performance website), located on 249 a little inside beltway 8 north. i walked in and after a minute or two the owner (steve) showed up and said “yeah? oh, it’s you. the keys are in it.” when he had called a few days ago to let me know the car was ready, i thought it was odd he just said “your car’s ready” since i’d asked him about doing some other work for me, like looking at the clutch, problems shifting, trying to see if my transmission has overdrive, etc. but he hadn’t talked at all about anything, just “your car’s ready”. so i now asked him about the shifting (as one thing), and he said “yeah, it’s messed up. you need to talk to a transmission guy. i’ve got a card for one.” i said “so you didn’t look at any of the other stuff?” to which he replied “yeah, it’s not really our thing.” i was kind of annoyed he completely blew off everything i’d asked about, especially given he’d made it sound like they could look at that stuff. but, oh well, what could i do? i wasn’t having to pay them so i wasn’t losing anything. i went out and got in the car and took off.
within 50 feet the engine was clicking just like when i dropped it off. “well,” i thought, “maybe it just needs to get some oil in it when it starts up.” so i kept driving it. no, the sound was…worse. louder. same sound though. we were only going about 1.5 miles to eat, so when we got there i told jack and we turned around and went back to the shop.
i walked into the office and the boss and his two workers were sitting in chairs. i said “the car’s still making the same sound. i think it’s worse now than it was before.” they looked at each other for awhile without saying anything, then the boss said “well, i don’t know what to tell you. we did what edelbrock told us to do.” pause. “i thought it sounded better. but i didn’t drive it. you?” (aside: this comment is rather interesting considering the first time i was there he talked to me about my shifting/transmission as if he’d looked into it some.) one of the other guys replied “nah, i just started it up and moved it back. so, uh….” pause. then the boss said “i guess you need to just call edelbrock.” that was evidently all they cared to say on the matter. i was shocked. they hardly talked, would hardly make eye contact…not a single one of them went out to look at or listen to the car. they couldn’t even bother to get out of their fscking seats. i turned around and walked out. (and for the record, i was not angry, confrontational, taking attitude, or anything at any point with them.)
i went back to my car and immediately called edelbrock. fortunately the guy at edelbrock was at his desk and answered his phone. i told him the story and he seemed surprised. i told him i was still in the parking lot, so he said he’d call the shop. i sat outside and waited while he called and talked to them. while waiting and checking my engine, i noticed that several cosmetic hex nut inserts that go on top of the rocker arm covers were missing (which i’d never noticed being gone before.) i could see oil left on the spark plug wires and headers they didn’t clean off. so i guess at least i could tell they’d done something to the engine. after some time, he called me back and said the guy told him he thought it’d been fixed. i was still letting the car idle, so i told him i could let him hear it over the phone. he was shocked a shop would give an engine back to someone when it sounded like that. he even brought a mechanic over and let him listen to it over the phone. he was shocked and said it sounded bad too. i told him how they’d acted, and he told me he got the impression they weren’t really interested in dealing with this at all, so he thought we should take it to another shop. i agreed, saying i was concerned at this point they would be annoyed with me, even though none of this was my fault at all. the edelbrock guy agreed. i made sure i should still be able to drive it, since it was making the same sound as before and he’d told me i could drive it. he said it was fine. note during the 20 or 30 minutes i was outside and they were on the phone with edelbrock, plus the time they were off the phone with and i was talking to edelbrock, they never came out to me or anything. their bay doors were open and i was right there near them. i hopped in the car and off we went back to the place to eat.
about 200 or 300 yards into the drive, my car started making a new sound. a bad sound. not a high-pitched ticking like with the lifter knock, but a low-pitched loud clanging/thunking…more like pistons hitting valves or something. i let off the gas and it subsided, so i hoped it was temporary. but the next time i gave it some gas and started to get rpms beyond idle it started doing it again. it did this a couple of times, so i ended up having to mostly let the car coast or move at very low speeds. i called the edelbrock guy while driving and told him the new twist, and gave the car some gas to let him hear the engine. (oh, it was way loud enough to hear over a phone.) he said that sounded really bad and i shouldn’t drive it. i agreed. to be honest, it sounded about like my previous engine did before it blew. (thank goodness i hadn’t immediately taken it onto a highway, because it may have happened under high rpm at highway speeds, and it might have been really bad.) i was at the parking lot for the restaurant so i pulled in and stopped the engine. he said he’d talk to his guys and come up with a plan. i told him i had aaa, so i could tow it somewhere. he said they could pay for it, but if i wanted to use my aaa he’d appreciate it.
we ate, then we left my car and went to an auto zone to get a fuse for jack’s van. he called me and said he was trying to get me into fast lane. which looked like a very nice shop from when i looked up their web site a couple of months ago. plus it was only a few miles from where my car was. i felt pretty confident fast lane would probably do a good job. but then he called me back later and said fast lane was overbooked and couldn’t take me. so he told me he was calling the Texas edelbrock rep to find somewhere, and he’d call me back. so we went to the mall. he called me back an hour or so later with contact info for a new shop to try.
so i called them. they couldn’t take my car today. *sigh* so i had to get my car towed to my house, and i’m supposed to tow it to their shop (which is only about 7 miles from my house) tomorrow. of course, i had to miss the whole day of work, which wasn’t planned. and now i’m going to have to miss part of work tomorrow too. i called aaa and set up the towing, but i also learned aaa only gives you 4 free tows a year (i thought it was 5) and i had already used 3. so today was my last free aaa tow until my membership renews (in august). so i called edelbrock back and told them i couldn’t use aaa tomorrow because my free tows were gone. he told me keep the receipt and edelbrock would reimburse me.
now, at this point i’m a little worried about what is going on with my engine. i’m hopeful that everything will be taken care of under warranty, especially since the edelbrock rep has been on the phone with me for the whole ordeal today (as well as the last couple of months in getting it into a shop) — but anytime stuff like this happens i always get worried that they’re going to find some reason to blame me or the mechanic that put the engine in or something. i don’t think that’ll happen this time — i drove it probably 1000 or 2000 miles with the lifter knock and no other problems before houston performance had it — but who knows? i spent a lot of money buying a brand name “performance” crate engine, and had to pay way more than i thought i was going to have to in order to get it installed. so it’d just be nice if you spend the money to get nice stuff done that it would fscking work. it’s annoying to feel like you could have spent money better on getting crappy work and crappy parts and it all probably would have worked better. or at least it would feel like you got your money’s worth.
but mostly what i’m on about right now is houston performance. they are a mustang shop, and almost all they had there were mustangs. so maybe they don’t deal with my kind of engine often. but why did they agree to take my job, tell me (and edelbrock) they could do stuff (and the edelbrock guy said they described the work properly), but then act as if they’d washed their hands of the whole thing and were completely disinterested in the work they were supposed to have performed when the work they did didn’t fix the problem? and now it seems very likely that something they did while working on my car has actually made it really messed up. (even if it turns out to be an easy fix.) i’m pretty sure if i would have pushed the engine, it would have irrecoverable damage. hopefully just the little amount i did drive it today didn’t mess it up. based on my experience with houston performance today, i don’t think they’d give a sh!t anyway.
maybe you can expect that sort of crap from some shade tree mechanic that is self-taught, irresponsible, and (perhaps) incompetent. but i don’t see how a business that is supposedly “performance” and specialty can act like that. seriously? blow off customers and their problems, ones that you were specifically contracted to work on? even if it’s outside of your normal work/experience range, what you don’t do as a professional business is act like you could care less about the work you did and the operation of the vehicle you just worked on. it’s beyond unprofessional, it’s almost a level of poor customer service and inconsideration that you have to work at to achieve.
i guess we’ll see what happens with yet another shop. why is it so hard to find a mechanic that is competent and professional? i sure hope this new place turns out to be an exception to most mechanic shops. if they seem to be, i’ll certainly sing their praises.

another note from an npc

well, it’s now been over three weeks without soda, tea, or coffee. to be honest, the only one i’ve missed much two or three times is coffee. it’s the only one of the three i don’t drink regularly (i probably only drink coffee on average once…maybe twice…a week), so i don’t think i’m craving it exactly…it’s more like something i occasionally do and i miss having the opportunity to do it. i think because it usually involves sitting at a coffee house or somewhere, reading or talking or such. i’ve also still managed to stay away from fries or chips so far. i do sometimes find myself wanting a few chips or a few fries, but excepting a few fried onion strings once i’ve avoided anything similar. as i’ve said before, it’s not like i’m eating anything else differently or more healthy — i’m just trying to cut some calories i usually consume for no good reason. (although i am hungrier more often now.)
i’ve watched a few movies, all via netflix streaming:
4 (2005) – this is a modern russian film. it starts off with 3 strangers plus the bartender hanging out and talking in a bar. they basically all lie about what they do for a living, for whatever reason. the pace is pretty slow, but all of the stuff before and including the bar scene was pretty interesting. after they leave the bar, the movie gets rather weird. and really slow. (the movie clocks in at over 2 hours, and the bar scene portion is about the first 30 minutes.) the girl from the bar finds out a sister died, so she treks into the country for the funeral. (i mean like 15+ minutes of trains and her walking through mist and mud.) a lot of stuff is somewhat surreal from that point on, and some of the lies from the bar are perhaps hinted at as actually being true, although nothing is for sure. most of her story involves a bunch of old women crying, yelling, fighting, gorging, getting drunk, yelling, and sewing dolls. i’m not sure i can recommend the movie, although it was…unique. i think part of its point is to show the huge difference between urban and rural russia, as well as modern and “old” russia, in modern times, but there’s more than that.
the battleship potemkin (1925) – this is a classic silent black and white russian film by eisenstein. it tells the story of some of the beginnings of the bolshevik revolution, starting with mutiny on a military ship and including the resulting anger and then crackdown in odessa. (not Texas 🙂 it’s definitely has a pro-soviet propaganda slant, but it’s interesting historically.
the king of kong: a fistful of quarters (2007) – a story about drama around the world record score for the stand-up arcade game donkey kong. steve wiebe got laid off and decided to try and beat the 20+ year old donkey kong record set by billy mitchell in 1982. no one had ever gotten close. he did it, but drama ensued. this documentary delves into the world record score arcade scene and culture, the players, the fighting, etc. this is a really cool film! i highly recommend it.
man, woman and the wall (2007) – this is a japanese film about a magazine reporter who moves into an apartment building with thin walls, and he can hear the hot girl in the apartment next door. he gets kind of creepy about learning things about her and finding ways to listen to her better and fantasizing about her, but her current actual boyfriend is really screwed up. i think this is sort of a male fantasy movie where the sort of creepy infatuated guy defeats an even creepier perverted guy and gets the hot chick. but the movie was okay for what it was. 🙂
october – ten days that shook the world (1927) – this is another classic russian black and white silent film by eisenstein. this was sanctioned to commemorate the 10 year anniversary of the bolshevik revolution (1917). like …potemkin it’s pretty heavy-handed propaganda. the peasants and bolsheviks all portrayed as great, friendly, people of character, all others (provincial government, tsar system, etc.) are grotesque, odd, laughable and/or evil. plus it embellishes the gravity of the events leading up to and during the october revolution. but the general history is accurate, and it was filmed in actual locations just ten years after the events, so it’s got some pretty impressive visual historical value. plus eisenstein was ahead of his time as far as directing/editing.
saturday afternoon i went by sears and picked up a new washing machine raj bought online. i brought it home and got it all hooked up and such. so on sunday i was finally ale to do some much-needed laundry.
i recently finished the best short stories of dostoevsky, which included “notes from the underground”. i think i might need some notes from a scholar to better understand some aspects of that story. i did enjoy “a gentle creature”, “white nights”, and “the honest thief” though.
the shop called me and my belair is ready to be picked up. hopefully it’ll actually be fixed. this month i’ll also finish paying off the credit card i used to get the engine and other stuff (thus resulting in a 0% interest loan, except for the one automated payment glitch which cost me a late payment fee). and i should be close to done paying myself back for the money i borrowed from my ranch account. which will leave the harley as my only debt.
i’ve gotten a few things from ebay and amazon, but i’ll detail all that once most or all of it arrives.

this post’s hidden theme: dirt

tuesday last week i went to lunch by myself. i went to brasil. it was the first time i’d been there for lunch in some time. i was on my motorcycle. on the way back from lunch, somewhere on 288 something managed to fly through/around my goggles and hit my left eye. it hurt when it hit and it hurt to blink. i had no choice but to keep going since i was in the middle of traffic. when i got to work i looked at my eye in one of the mirrors on my bike, but i couldn’t see anything. same thing once i got in the building. after a few hours of it still hurting when i blinked and me trying to find/remove whatever might be there, i decided maybe it’d scratched my cornea and i should see an optometrist. i called and made an appointment before they closed, then left work a bit early and went. he irrigated my eye and checked things out. he said i had some small scratches, so he gave me some antibiotic/anti-inflammatory drops. i was glad it wasn’t anything worse. my eye as of the last day or two seems to be pretty much back to normal.
last tuesday night i watched a 99 cent itunes rental: happy campers. it’s about a group of camp counselors and their goings on at a summer camp. it sort of plays like it could have been cool, but unfortunately it comes up very, very short. there is a lot of moral ambiguity, and a lot of complexity, and some darkness, and things are “learned” i suppose — but it’s couched in so much slapstick and goofiness, and perhaps is too unfocused or has too many irons in the fire, that it doesn’t come across as dark or complex as much as shallow and silly and you just don’t really care about the characters. (except maybe pixel. but that’s because i’m screwed up. 🙂 when i was watching it i kept thinking “it’s got the possibility to be a great, extremely dark comedy like heathers, but it falls so short.” interestingly enough, and unknown to me at the time, this was the directorial debut of daniel waters…who wrote the heathers screenplay (and also wrote this one).
thursday i called the auto shop to ask about the lifters from edelbrock. they said they’d had them for a few weeks. *sigh* i them i’d drop it off monday.
thursday night i watched zach galifianakis: live on netflix streaming. zach’s humour is odd, groan-inducing, and much of the time awkward and stilted…but man, is he funny.
friday during the day we suddenly had a major saturday dr test that had been in the works for months cancelled. someone higher up complained at the last minute i guess. it seems kind of stupid since it’d been on the calendar for a long time, and i’m not sure the testing would have affected anything related to this person anyway. whatever. it’s kind of annoying to be all geared up and prepared to do some work in uncharted territory, then have the plug pulled at the last second. it also meant my saturday was suddenly free.
friday night i came home and didn’t see any interesting live music shows going on, so i stayed at home and watched a 99 cent itunes rental: rescue dawn. it’s based on the true story of dieter dengler, a german-american u.s. pilot who got shot down during a bombing run over laos before the u.s. was supposed to be involved there (pre-vietnam war). he got captured and spent months in a prison camp. eventually he planned an escape, and somehow made it far enough to get rescued. christian bale plays the main character, and it was directed by werner herzog. it plays a bit slow, and doesn’t feel like it tries to pump drama like a lot of movies — but i thought that made it feel more realistic and true, and i really liked the style.
of course, i didn’t really take advantage of the open saturday. i’d thought about going on a motorcycle rally ride, but it got canceled due to the major weather going through most of Texas. (it was a ride to san antonio and then to kinky friedman’s utopia animal shelter.) so instead i just took my bike to a fundraiser wash brad was doing for his youth group. i’d been waiting to wash it due to the weather being colder, so i was happy it was going to finally be all cleaned up. but i learned there was stuff all over the bike that couldn’t be washed off. grr. a while back late at night i’d had to drive through some liquid running across the highway where they were doing some work. it was a tan/grey liquid, and it looked like they were cutting the concrete. well, evidently whatever that tan/grey stuff is, it stuck to my paint, my chrome…pretty much everything. i’m hoping maybe some tar remover will clean it off, but i don’t know yet.
remember me replacing raj’s busted washer with mine? well, now my washer isn’t working right. it does everything okay except it won’t do the spin cycle at all. i spent a couple of hours sunday pulling it apart, removing the motor, taking off the clutch assembly (and breaking one of the stupid pad support prongs), testing the motor, etc. i’m not sure what the problem is, but i cleaned up the clutch assembly and if i can fix the pad support (jb weld?) i’ll see if cleaning the clutch assembly fixed it. otherwise it’s either the motor burning out (in tests it still works during the spin cycle with no load) or the motor-to-basket transmission seizing. in either case, i think it’d cost so much to get replacement parts it’d be more cost effective to just ditch it and buy a new one with a warranty.
sunday night i watched extreme engineering: offshore oil via netflix streaming. it’s a documentary about a company in mississippi that is building a “jack-up rig” for the gulf of mexico. while it talks about deep water offshore drilling rigs, how they work, how they’re set up and moved and such, most of it deals with some of the process the company was going through in the process of building out one of these while the film crew was there. it was interesting to find out more about how they do this stuff.
monday i took off work in the afternoon and dropped off the belair at the shop. jack and the kids went up with me and gave me a ride back to my house. we stopped and at saltgrass steakhouse on the way back.
monday night i watched the 99 cent itunes rental bad lieutenant. i’d seen it a few years ago and didn’t see what the fascination people seem to have with it. i thought perhaps a few years’ time might change my perspective of it. nope. it’s not that it’s bad or anything, i just don’t find it deserving of a lot of praise. it doesn’t move me. and i still think harvey keitel’s periods of anguished wailing seem odd and unnatural rather than moving.
tonight i watched the island via netflix streaming. no, not the michael bay film from 2005 with scarlett johansson. this is ostrov, a russian film from 2006. it’s about a man who makes a fateful decision under pressure as a young man, and ends up in a remote russian orthodox monastery as a father who seems to be crazy but is visited by a lot of people because of the powers/insight he seems to have. he is constantly seeking forgiveness for his sins, particularly for that fateful decision he made. all of the other orthodox fathers struggle to deal with him. he is what is considered a “fool for christ”. the pace is slow, but the visuals and contemplative nature of the story are beautiful. the dynamics of the interactions of the characters and what it reveals about people — our perceptions, our vices, our misunderstandings, etc. — is really great. you really should see this beautiful film, particularly if you search for something deeper and more meaningful to christianity than a lot of the mainstream american stuff you see around you. and from reviews, evidently it really hits at the heart of russian culture as it ties to faith. the more i think about the movie, the more i like it.
i’ve now gone two weeks without having any soda, tea, or coffee. mostly water, some fruit juice. i’ve also been pretty successful at avoiding eating purely “filler” sides. i’ve completely avoided fries and chips so far. i’m sure i’m still making poor eating choices, but i’m not trying to be healthy, just healthier. and it’s probably just temporary anyway.

“a sick, sadistic side” –dignan

after writing my last entry i suddenly fell horribly ill. as in i felt utterly like crap and after i got in bed monday night, with the exception of getting up to go the 30 ft round trip to the bathroom every few hours, i was not out of bed until late wednesday morning. i had chills and was semi-delirious. picture me in an old western (or movie set in the 20’s or so) where people are in black and white and in bed covered in blankets with a wet cloth over their head and mumbling incoherently about things that don’t make sense. that was me. i knew i was talking nonsense, and doing it to an empty house, but i couldn’t help myself. i suppose it’s from having an engineering/technical background, but my delusions tend to involve some weird variation on my body and/or the world being systems that have weird rules that i need to follow in order to help alleviate the pain and suffering. this time it had to do with the orientation of my torso and limbs, and some kind of distribution of energy or flow or something and how it would affect my overall body. i would intentionally place my limbs in certain configurations because i *had* to or i would feel worse. oh yeah, i also didn’t eat or drink for that day and a half. i finally drank about 12 ounces of water the last few hours i was in bed.
when i finally did “get up” i still felt awful, but the illness had “broken” and it wasn’t *as* bad. with much difficulty, i convinced myself to get in my car and drive to a clinic. i got there around 1:30pm. and of course they were out to lunch until 2pm. so i went to the house of pies and ate a big bowl of fruit and drank water. i went back to the clinic and they gave me a 10-day supply of horse pill antibiotics. i also picked up some cans of soup (2 low-sodium chicken noodle and 1 won ton) and “hint of salt” premium crackers.
thursday was about the same as wednesday. in total on wednesday and thursday i ate two big bowls of fruit with water, one english muffin, and three cans of soup with crackers. i also learned salt adds a lot of flavor to campbell’s chicken noodle soup. but i wasn’t feeling up to being picky. i had no energy and felt too crappy to go to work, but i’d slept so much my body didn’t want to sleep. so of course i ended up watching the television. but not cable, i watched movies. (and all but the first was via netflix online streaming.) here’s what i watched, and my thoughts:

  • picture this: the times of peter bogdanovich in archer city – this was actually an itunes 99 cent rental. it was interesting, as i really like the last picture show, but it’s a documentary and not explosive or anything. it gives some interesting history of the various people and what was going on in their lives before, during, and between the filming of the two movies in archer city. it also discusses archer city’s opinion of itself as an object of mcmurtry’s writings, citizens take on the people, places, etc.
  • this is england – a semi-autobiographical story about a young school kid in england whose father dies in the falkland war, and his having to deal with that. he ends up befriending some skinheads (which isn’t in and of itself a bad thing, as most skinheads aren’t evil or racist…although they are sort of gang/mob-mentality-oriented usually). but an older skinhead who went to prison comes back with white power ideas and everything gets messed up. it is a good movie.
  • fast food, fast women – i had already seen it before. it’s a kind of odd movie about quirky people in new york acting quirky. but there’s an innocence to it that makes it cute, even though there are really a lot of kind of bad situations and choices. i wouldn’t say the acting is that great overall either. but it’s a quaint story.
  • the price of milk – this is a surrealistic story set in new zealand. the colors are pretty nice in the film. the story is odd. imagine perhaps a classic fairy tale, but set in modern new zealand. odd “magical” things happen, and sometimes people in the movie think it’s odd, sometimes not. mostly it plays like a fairy tale — bad choices, evil people, manipulation, trickery, and — something not in all classic fairy tales — a happy ending.
  • the animatrix – i had already seen this, but there are some *really* good segments. various animation styles and various storytelling styles, but the world/framework created in the matrix provides such interesting possibilities.
  • le femme nikita – i saw this a few years ago, but it is worth seeing again. it made me miss the hrc. 🙂
  • lady vengeance – this is a korean film, the last in the “revenge” trilogy (which includes oldboy, which i’ve also seen). a young lady confesses to a murder she didn’t commit, and during the years she spends in prison (acting like the model prisoner, but being anything but) she plans her revenge on the person who forced her to confess to the murder. beautiful imagery, graphic and disturbing. i love the importance asian cultures place on symbolism, ritual, customs, honour, etc.
  • for all mankind – this is a documentary based on video and audio footage from the volumes of material from the apollo missions. it’s really cool to see documentary footage of the astronauts and engineers and crafts and everything from then. it was an amazing feat of determination and will (and luck), and it must be incredible to have been a part of it. all that stuff is what made me want to be a part of the space program when i was a kid. but the drive and support died in lots of ways before i made it, both for the program and inside myself. it’s still cool to know that i *did* make it though, and for 4 years actually was a part of the u.s. space program as an aerospace engineer. (and 2.5 more as a unix admin.) usually the job was boring and drab, but every now and then i’d have a moment of clarity and think “i’m at jsc working at nasa on the space program. how *fscking* rad is that?”

friday i went back to work, even though i still wasn’t feeling too great. but it went okay. it was a maintenance window, so i actually didn’t have to go in until the afternoon. but of course i had to work until around midnight.
saturday i ate lunch with the potts, then i went and saw how to train your dragon in 3d with them. this being an animated film, it was “filmed” in 3d, so the 3d stuff was better than clash of the titans. i still think it’s gimmicky though, and i’m not sure why some people seem so excited by it. the movie was fun to watch and was a cute story. some of the animation bits were really impressive, even if the characters were very cartoony. i had forgotten about it being record store day, so in the early evening i went to a couple of places to see if i could pick up the devo 7″ of new songs. no luck. i had been thinking about doing something that night, but my body reminded me it was still sick and still had way less than normal levels of energy. i ended up staying home and watching snl by myself, then going to bed.
sue had been bugging me the last several days to get a neti pot, as she’d recently started using one and evidently thought they rocked. neti pots are the short long pots (like tea pots or watering pots) that are used to irrigate your nasal passages. yeah, you take lukewarm saltwater and pour it up your nose for a minute or two. it sounded odd, but i watched a lot of youtube videos of people doing it (including doing it horribly “wrong”), so i figured “how bad could i do at it?” i ended up buying one at whole foods (a nice ceramic multi-colored glazed one) along with some fine-grain non-iodized salt for it (you can also use kosher or sea salt). i then went over to the potts and all of us (minus sue, who was working) ate at sweet tomatoes. then we went to fry’s. at fry’s i bought a new multimeter (i’ve only ever owned pocket ones, so this full-size one is my first), a bit set for very small screws (security, hex, torx, etc.), 3 different color 7ft cat 6 cables, and a netgear 5-port gigabit switch (with management features…which unfortunately is configured with software for windows only).
when i got home, i broke out the neti pot. i was a bit nervous, but i’d seen plenty of people do it on youtube and read enough about it to not feel too freaked. the deal is, if you get the salinity and temperature right, it doesn’t burn or feel painful or anything. so i mixed it up and…it feels a little odd, but it didn’t feel like burning or getting water up your nose (haha). and it definitely helped clean out some stuff that was just sort of hanging out up in my sinuses. after i was done with that i set up my new switch and cables. it’s to network all of my home entertainment center devices, which were previously all on an old 10base netgear hub. i’m hoping it’ll provide a better pipe for streaming and downloading with my apple tv and samsung blu-ray (it’s what does netflix streaming).
i should also mention after having gone 4 days or so without any soda, tea, coffee, etc., and having eaten “healthier” stuff, i decided to try and continue that for awhile. i’ve now gone one week without sodas, tea, coffee, etc. and i’ve decided to not get combos with fries. i’m not trying to become a health nut or anything, i just figure cutting out sugary sodas and fries should get rid of a fair number of calories i normally consume because they’re there. even if i continue to eat everything else the same, that’ll probably cut my calorie intake one third i’d bet. i’ve done this before though, so i doubt it’ll last too horribly long. it begins to lose its value when you don’t see any results in making the effort to sacrifice something and change your habits. (it’s either that or my ex’s theory that i hate myself…choices, choices.)
i still feel somewhat sick today, even though i’ve been taking the meds. since antibiotics usually work pretty fast, i’m guessing this was actually a virus. hopefully the antibiotics will at least keep anything else from cropping up during my body’s weakened state from fighting the virus.
tonight i watched (via netflix streaming) this film is not yet rated, a documentary film about the inconsistent and secretive practices and ratings of the mpaa that also serves as an attempt to expose the “secret” raters. while i wasn’t shocked by much about the mpaa and their behaviour, it was interesting to learn more about just how few people make the arbitrary and somewhat inconsistent decisions about the rating each movie gets. and how horribly secretive they want it all to be.
“…that if our paths cross again, you’re going to see a side of dignan that you haven’t seen before. a sick, sadistic side because i’m furious at bob…” –dignan, bottle rocket

“guess who lost the go in the go-for-it” –grandaddy

last friday (april 2nd) was a work holiday. i don’t think i accomplished anything. i had a cafe au lait at coffee groundz in the early afternoon, then ate a late lunch with the potts at fu’s garden in rice village. (my fortune said “a romantic mystery will soon add interest to your life” …i wish i believed in fortunes.) afterward i went next door to half price books and picked up some cds:

  • my life with the thrill kill kult – 13 above the night (interscope / atlantic / time warner)
  • styrofoam – i’m what’s there to show that something’s missing (morr music)
  • porter wagoner – wagonmaster (anti / epitaph)
  • hank williams, jr. – high notes (curb / warner)
  • dwight yoakam – hillbilly deluxe (reprise / warner)
  • various – napoleon dynamite soundtrack (lakeshore / fox)
  • various – pulp fiction soundtrack (mca / columbia)

in the evening that very same friday was the geek gathering. on my way there, i stopped by the half price books on westheimer near montrose and picked up a few things for wheresthatbeen.com. i managed to get 3 softcover sandman compilations (i can’t recall for sure which three…i think maybe the doll’s house, dream country, and fables and reflections). i also got a copy of aliens. barrett and amanda brought some of her dj gear to the gathering to play music, but i guess barrett didn’t have much to play. i offered to play geeky/tech music from my iphone, so i actually ended up playing dj the whole evening. i’m not sure anyone really paid attention to the music or cared that much, but i did it anyway. perhaps emboldened by my fortune earlier in the day, before my arrival i’d decided i would perhaps try talking to someone who’s been at a few geek gatherings. but once there events and my mindset persuaded me otherwise.
i don’t recall doing anything good with the daytime saturday (april 3rd). in the early evening i ate at chili’s with the potts clan. afterward, i joined jack and jackson and dietrich for a “guy’s night out” (using my belair). they were planning on seeing alice in wonderland in 3d but it wasn’t showing or something so we ended up watching clash of the titans in 3d. it was the first 3d movie i’ve seen with the new, hip 3d technology. i wasn’t that impressed by the 3d. although i’ve since read neither was the director. the movie wasn’t filmed in 3d, the studio added it later. which means it comes out looking sort of like a viewmaster. the movie itself was pretty enjoyable, although i didn’t think it was epic or anything.
easter sunday i met the potts at the martin-weber’s place. we talked and ate and drank and had an easter egg hunt, then hung out and talked more. i spent most of the day and evening there. i don’t know them that well, but they seem like really cool people. their neighbor and her son joined us on the egg hunt. i didn’t really get to talk to them much, but they seemed cool too.
one night earlier in the week i watched a 99 cent itunes rental: showtime. this isn’t a movie i would jump at seeing, but itunes has three a week at 99 cents and the trailer looked like it might be funny. it’s a cop movie with robert deniro and eddie murphy. deniro is a serious detective, murphy is a beat cop that wishes he was an actor (but doesn’t have the chops). deniro gets tagged to do a “reality” show about cops, murphy gets picked to be his partner, wacky hijinx ensue. william shatner plays a small role as himself in the movie, and his bits are pretty hilarious. deniro is also fairly funny as the straight guy. but overall it’s mostly predictable, and nothing to get excited about. still, it was okay for a laugh.
tuesday night after work i was going to see a free screening of after.life with sue. but i guess a lot of people had the same idea, because i was there about 45 minutes before showtime and there was a long line and they’d already given out all the tickets. so instead i met sue at chuy’s and we sat on the patio and had some margaritas and i ate supper. i went home and watched the henry jaglom film eating.
tuesday i got my new pair of boots. these fit better, so i’ll be keeping them. i’ll probably take a pic at some point, but they’re really just black steel toe engineer style motorcycle boots. i have learned that after the accident i don’t think i can bend my left ankle quite as much as my right, as the left boot is a little harder to get on. also, since the boots are “stovepipe” style (that’s what i’ll call it…not sure if that’s actually a used term), my left leg/calf doesn’t fit as well as my right. ever since the accident my left leg from my knee down is a little larger than my right, plus as i’m up and about the left still retains fluids and bloats/swells some. (i’m assuming that may never go away.) it doesn’t hurt, but it’s there. this makes the top of the boot not fit as well as it should. but it still works okay.
wednesday a strange thing happened on the way to the show. it’d been raining lightly some for awhile, so everything was somewhat wet. i was in my pickup on alabama and turning left onto montrose, when suddenly about one third of the way into the turn my pickup stopped turning and started going straight ahead. i let off the gas and hit the brakes, but that didn’t solve anything. as my backend started to come around, my right front tire bumped the curb and jumped it, soon followed by my right rear tire. fortunately, there is nothing but grass and then sidewalk there. i put it in first and took off. i was worried my steering had gone wonky, but after driving and playing with the steering i guess i just hit a slick spot and my front tires lost traction. it being a pickup (and one with lots of torque and a low gear ratio), i have that happen with my rear tires all the time. but i almost never have my front tires lose traction.
late in the week i had another dream in my recent thematic dream sequence. this time it was back to tamara. i was hanging out with a bunch of people i didn’t know very well, and somehow tamara ended up there and knew at least one or two of them. then she and i ended up going back to where she lived, which i was unsure about doing the whole time i was going with her, but i did.
friday night i watched the 99 cent itunes movie igby goes down. i saw it in the theaters when it came out, but it’d been awhile and i hadn’t seen it since. it’s a pretty good movie about a dysfunctional rich family on the east coast, igby being the youngest of two sons. his father went mental, his mother is overbearing, and his brother is a manipulative overachiever. igby is just sort of screwing up his life. (although with that family, it might be hard to not want to screw up your life.)
saturday around noon i finally made the call for a plumber to come by and fix the leaking (no longer dripping, as it got worse) shower fixture. he came by a couple of hours later. $316 in time/labor, $24 in parts = $340 total. time here? i’m guessing about two hours tops. plumbers make bank. but the shower is no longer leaking, and it would have taken me much longer to learn about the fixtures and find the parts i needed (if i could find them) and do the work…then hopefully it wouldn’t have leaked when i was done.
saturday i also got a shirt i ordered. what shirt? why a brand spanking new shirt for the crucified! pretty much just like my old, threadbare one. same old versions of their name and logo on the front and back. sweet!
saturday evening i dropped by a liquor store and picked up some potato vodka, then i went by luling city market and picked up some brisket and sausage links. why? meat and martini, of course! this of course is the yearly party thrown by chris and mary, where you dress nicely and drink martinis and eat lots of red meat (although bacon is temporarily deemed a red meat for the evening). i wore my green fedora with brim up all the way around, my black 50’s style dress shirt with two vertical grey stripes down the left chest and “v8” buttons, grey slacks with my wallet chain, and black and white wingtip docs. i thought i looked appropriate for a 50’s-era martini party. but that’s one of the ways i dress anyway, so it wasn’t really out of the ordinary. the party was cool, as usual. even though i don’t really expect it to happen, i still generally hope maybe i’ll meet someone there and we’ll hit it off. i guess it didn’t happen again. 🙂
i’ve still not gotten a call from the shop about my belair lifters from edelbrock. i guess if i haven’t heard anything by near the end of this week i’ll break down and call to see if i can figure out where the hold up is. this process has been insanely, stupidly long.
and tonight i did my taxes. it’s nice that i don’t have to fill out all kinds of forms related to all sorts of things. while it’s possible i may pay more in taxes than i need to, i don’t know that i really care. if i do overpay, the rest of you that pay taxes and/or receive benefit from the federal government can thank me.
“my head they tried to wreck
and i just laughed and said
guess who lost the go in the go for it”
  –“the go in the go for it” by grandaddy from sumday

“my mind grows dirty while my clothes get clean”

well, i think i may have figured out why i had that rash problem. maybe. this evening i did some laundry, and when i went to get it something didn’t look/feel right. the laundry was still loose instead of being against the wall, and it felt like the stuff at top was not that wet while the stuff further down was really wet. i started a cycle and sat and watched it, and sure enough when it got to the part where it should start agitating…nothing. then when it should have started spinning…nothing. so something is wrong with the motor. belt, fuse, dead…don’t know. everything else seems to work. anyway, the fact that the clothes weren’t really washed and rinsed right might explain the rash (i.e., lots of detergent on certain clothes).
luckily, when i moved here i had a washer and dryer. they’ve just been sitting in the garage. so i moved the current washer over and put mine in place. i hooked it up and then ran a full cycle of warm water through it with bleach. everything seemed to still work on it. so now i’m re-doing the load of laundry i’d already done in the broken washer.
last night i rented the 99 cent movie from itunes, venice, venice by henry jaglom. i don’t think i’ve seen any of his films before. the review or two on itunes were negative, but i looked on imdb and it was more positive so i rented it. i’m glad i did. half the movie was filmed in venice, italy, because he was going there for the venice film festival for an earlier movie and decided to take the opportunity to film something there. and he’s the main character. it’s completely a character- and dialogue-driven film. utterly. but i found the dynamics and views of the characters interesting, and enjoyed the thoughts. there is a lot about reality versus perception: in the film itself, between characters in the film, in “interviews” with women in the film, and ultimately in our own lives. one of the biggest themes is how relationships in movies affect our perspective of what relationships in real life should be like. it sounds like he likes to be very free-form about the writing, and lets actors ad lib a lot. i’m interested to see some of his other stuff now. fortunately, one of the 99 cent movies for this week is another jaglom film, eating. which was released before venice, venice. eating sounds like it has to do with the way women view eating, and how it compares to relationships. (not sure if he always has that angle, or i just happened to hit two where that seems to be a very relevant and important theme.)
the last two or three weeks, every few days i’ve had a dream that i recall when i wake up (or wake up having just had). they aren’t the same, but there’s a theme. the first one was a very, very good dream involving a previous coworker (i won’t give the name, but it’s not the hrc). i’ll let your mind run about what “very, very good” means. the next involved tamara, and while it was better than i’d expect any interaction with us to be, there was still a lot of apprehension and tension in the dream, and i woke up feeling somewhat uncomfortable and frustrated. the third dream involved the hrc. i ran into her in front of a downtown building and she tried to ignore me. i kept talking to her until she started talking to me, then she would flip between being nice / fair / friendly / affectionate and being distant and rude. plus everyone walking by was looking at us. i woke up and was feeling pretty frustrated. at this point i wondered who the next dream would be about, and how bad it might be (since the trend was obviously going more and more negative). well, the fourth dream was the hrc again. this time i was with a couple of co-workers and we ran into her. again at a downtown building. my co-workers were talking to her, but she kept being snide to me and saying hurtful stuff. i was pretty perturbed in the dream too. the co-workers seemed unsure how to handle themselves. when i woke up from that one, i was pretty flustered. again, i wondered what the next dream might be, and how it might get worse. well, this morning i woke from having a dream. this one was actually fairly positive. i was at some kind of festival and i met a couple of girls. they were trying to find something, and i used my phone to help show them where they were and give them directions. they were with a couple of guys, but the guys didn’t want to wait so they walked off. we were sort of flirting (which i don’t really do, but it’s a dream), and when they went to leave one of them and i kissed. that was a much better way to wake up than my last few dreams on this theme. i wonder if the theme has run its course?
“there’s a girl washing her clothes
i’m in love by nobody knows
she looks sixteen or seventeen
my mind grows dirty while my clothes get clean
she’s so young and tall
i’m gonna give her my all…or borax”
  –“laundromat song” by the dead milkmen from big lizard in my backyard

pretty much shoes and movies

in my last entry i forgot to mention why i’d almost decided to not go to austin last weekend. on wednesday evening when i got home i was itching a lot, and when i looked i had red, raised spots on my upper arms and sides. i went to sleep like that, but when i got up in the morning it was all gone. i thought i had an allergic reaction to something, but i wasn’t sure what. on thursday evening the same thing happened, but it was even worse. i didn’t know what was causing it, and i was worried it might not be just an allergic reaction. but it didn’t happen friday night, so i went ahead and went to austin. and it hasn’t happened since. i’m still not sure what might have caused that. i tried to think of all the various stuff: new soap, new laundry detergent, new deodorant, etc., but none of that applied. weird.
at some point in the last couple of weeks i watched platoon via 99 cent itunes. i think i forgot i’d seen it. well, i wasn’t sure. i guess i had at some point, but i don’t recall when. because a fair bit of the plot stuff was hazily in my brain as it came up, more than just a trailer or someone talking about it. it’s a good movie, but it didn’t seem incredible. of course, some of its impact was probably the time it came out versus what else was in existence at the time.
last week another 99 cent rental on itunes: running on empty. i’d never seen it. it’s the story of a couple who are hiding from the authorities because they were in a radical protest group during the vietnam era and blew up a napalm clinic, seriously injuring a janitor (who wasn’t supposed to be there). they’ve had a family (two sons), and move around a lot and create new identities. river phoenix plays the older son. the problem is the oldest son is near the end of high school, and he’s never had a romantic relationship or any aspirations for college. he can play piano well, and catches the attention of a music teacher at the newest town they move to. plus he gets interested in the teacher’s daughter. i thought it was a very intriguing story, and at the end of the movie i wanted to know what happened after that. i figure if a movie can make you care about the characters and their lives like that, it’s done a pretty good job. it’s from 1988 and had a couple of oscar nominations, and won several other awards.
friday after work i had supper at mission burritos with jack and the potts kids. then a few hours later sue got off work and came over and we went to watch a movie. we ended up agreeing on hot tub time machine. based on the preview, it was one of those that could either be pretty funny or pretty bad. fortunately, it ended up being pretty funny for the most part. the story is about these four guys, three who are older and they’ve sort of not had good adult lives, and one of their sister’s sons who hasn’t ever really done anything with his life except stay in the basement playing second life. one of them almost dies from a running car in a closed garage, so they decide to all take a trip to this awesome ski lodge they went to back when they were younger. but the place has fallen into hard times. then the hot tub turns into a time machine and times them back to 1986, where they are their old selves (except the son, of course, who wasn’t born yet) and have to relive that time. hilarity ensues. like most comedies these days, i guess everyone feels the need to have at least a few over-the-top gross / disgusting / sexually perverse bits. this movie was no exception. but gladly it wasn’t out of control with the number of those.
kind of funny, when sue and i were leaving the theater i let a couple walk down the aisle in front of me. when the guy was passing i thought “man, his jacket looks a lot like my black dickies hoodie.” then when i got in behind him i noticed he was wearing black and white wingtips. doc martens ones. what are the odds? happily, i had decided to not wear either my dickies jacket or my wingtip docs that evening.
speaking of the shoes, yes, i got the doc marten wingtips. fortunately, these are the right size and don’t have any discoloration or bad spots. here are a couple of pics. first, lounging on my couch:
doc martens black and white wingtips
and here is a closer view of the shoes themselves:
doc martens black and white wingtips
i managed to call the place i bought my boots from, and i was able to exchange them. so i shipped the boots off via ups on saturday. hopefully the exchange will go well and the new size will fit me better. (at which point i guess i’ll be taking a pic or two of them as well.)

“he looks like a little banana” –futureman

since i last put up an entry, the pairs of shoes and boots arrived, as well as the shirts i ordered. unfortunately, one of the shirts was a little snug (even though it was the same size as the other two) so i had to return it for exchange. and one of the shoes had a visible stretch/discoloration mark on the top, plus they were a little big — so i had to return them for exchange as well. that leaves the boots. they’re a little big too (long, not too wide), but i’m trying to decide if i want to exchange them or not. a lot of times i can only find things i want online, but not being able to try stuff on first can be annoying.
last week on wednesday the mechanic shop called and told me they’d talked with edelbrock and edelbrock was shipping them new lifters. they told me when they got them, they’d call me and let me know so i could take the car to them. so hopefully this will get done (and done correctly) soon and i’ll feel better about the money i spent on the engine.
thursday night i made some major changes to the dns infrastructure at my place of employment. i figured i’d start around 6pm and get through enough by maybe 9pm or 10pm. i decided to stay at the office to work on it just in case working on it from home would be difficult or impossible. as is often the case with major things, issues arose that one couldn’t really expect or plan for, so i had to try and work through those. finally around 12:30am i got to a point where i felt like i could stop, but things weren’t all finished. i came home and tried to work from home, but i couldn’t get my mac to play well with the java app that is run as an admin interface. (good thing i decided to stay at work…i would have had to go back there anyway.) i gave up around 2:30am and went to bed.
the next morning i got up and went into work around 9:30am. i continued working on the dns changes. eventually, even though i hate doing it, i called tech support and they gave me some pointers and info, and offered a couple of paths to take. i spent the rest of the day making all of the necessary changes to the bind config files on all of the various dns servers, as well as setting up all of the zone files on the admin piece. finally around 5pm i pulled the trigger and started propagating all of the changes. this was a pretty major change, one that could affect…well…pretty much everything. if your dns is borked, pretty much everything for you is borked. i checked the bind logs as i pushed things out, checking to make sure zone files transferred properly, resolution still worked, recursion still worked, etc. everything seemed okay, so i left work and went home.
around 8pm i got in touch with sue to see if she wanted to do something. she was working and would have no vehicle access, so she declined. after a while i decided i had no other plans, so i said i could hang out at their house if she wanted. she said that was cool. i got some movies together and headed to their house around 10pm. when i got there, it turns out they had no electricity. jack and the kids were going to bed, so sue and i took off. we decided to go to sherlock’s, but sue didn’t bring her i.d. so we couldn’t get in. so we went over to the fox and hound. around midnight, while i was drinking a shiner, a security person from work called. they were doing a firewall upgrade (which is why i’d started my dns work on thursday night instead of friday night), and she was calling because dns seemed to be acting weird. *gulp* but she said it was recursion, and the changes i made friday should not have affected recursion at all. she said they’d keep looking at it and hung up. sue and i had another beer, then i took her home. i got home about 2am, and was sort of annoyed at myself since the plan was for me to go to austin on saturday (which it now was). i got in bed and started reading a bit before i turned out the light. then my phone rang.
one of the security guys was calling. things still seemed weird. pings generally worked but lookups mostly failed, etc. i still didn’t think i made changes which should cause that problem, but i knew i’d made some major changes, so i couldn’t be sure. after talking on the phone a while, i went to my computer to log in and check the dns servers. vpn wouldn’t authenticate me. i couldn’t ssh to a gateway server. (i even tried by ip, which should bypass dns, so i wondered if it might be something else. the problem is when dns goes south, lots of weird things can happen.) some things did seem weird. finally i told him i’d be there in about 10 minutes. my car was about on “e”, so i hopped on my motorcycle, blew through a few lights, and got to the data center. the two security people who’d called me were there. they had the firewall vendor support on the phone and had been talking to one of our network guys, and who knows who else. i hopped on a system and logged in to the dns servers…processes up, zones files okay, transfers seemed okay…but something was weird. i was just getting to the place in one of the named logs for the point in time where they made the firewall change, when the security guy walked over to me and said he thought they figured it out. when they did the upgrade, they evidently missed re-entering an allow line for a route. the main route out of our company. oops. once they put it in, everything started working fine. so around 3:30am i left work and went back home. i hopped in bed, read a bit, and went to sleep around 4am.
i woke up saturday around 11:45am and got ready to go to austin. it was going to be cold, so i had decided to take the car. unfortunately, i woke up to it thundering and raining and the windshield wipers on my car had stopped working a few weeks ago. i went outside and crawled under the dash to see if a fuse had blown, or wiring seemed loose. from what i looked at, things seemed okay. (of course, i’d never looked at it before, so who really knows.) i popped the hood and looked at the wiper motor. i played with the wire that turns the motor on and off. nothing. then when i was tracing the power line, i wiggled it to see if it felt loose and the wipers started working. i guess it was just a loose line. *sigh* i finished getting ready and hit the road around 1pm.
within about 10 minutes of being at highway speeds with rain and mist from the other cars, i realized the blade on the driver’s side was messed up and wasn’t really actually touching the windshield much. so i could only barely see from one thin section of the glass. i kept driving anyway. it cleared up on the other side of sealy and the rest of my trip was without wetness. i arrived in austin without incident.
my purpose in going to austin was mostly to help my brother do home theater work. i’d bought him some new speakers for xmas, as well as some surround speaker wall mounts and some wall outlet speaker post plates (since the previous owner of his house had done two of the surrounds right with plates, but left the other two as just wires sticking out of holes in the walls). i brought some good speaker cables with me for him, as well as my old logitech harmony remote i described fixing before here on ye olde blog. since i was messing with his a/v equipment, i noticed he could be using hdmi and digital optical cables in a couple more places than he was. we hit lowe’s and best buy and got some stuff. we were working on things when my parents arrived. they’d decided to come to austin to eat supper with us. we went to cannoli joe’s. it’s an italian place that turns out to be all-you-can-eat. after eating, our parents dropped us off at his place and headed back to brady. we did some more work, then stopped and watched moon. i’d almost seen it when it was in theaters, but hadn’t gotten around to it (like a lot of movies over the last year or two). it was good. a sci-fi psychological thriller, which doesn’t seem that common these days.
on sunday i was supposed to have lunch with a girl i haven’ seen…probably since 1991 or something. i was friends in college with a guy, and i went with my church group to his hometown church one weekend, plus i went a couple more times, with my friend and while i was co-oping in san antonio. she was…i think in junior high at the time. back in the day i was actually a letter writer, so i had a group of people from different places that i traded letters with. anyway, she and i had lost touch…maybe in ’96 or so. (maybe i stopped writing.) but then a year or something ago she found me. so we’d talked some since then, and i was going to be in austin so we’d made tentative plans to have lunch. all that to say, she ended up having to back out so we didn’t. maybe some other time.
since that didn’t work out, linc and i ate brunch at the galaxy, then we hit lowe’s, best buy, radio shack, and discount computers. why? we got some other stuff, but mostly we were looking for a firewire-800 to firewire-400 adapter. why? because their powermac system had “popped” and stopped working some months ago, but when i plugged it into the network and turned it on (sans monitor) it managed to get online and show up. they had bought a new 17″ macbook pro linc was setting up, so i was going to use the cable to attempt a migration. we finally found a cable at discount computers. when we got it hooked up, it turns out their powermac evidently is running os 9, so it couldn’t do the migration. but the drive was being shared via firewire so they could pull data off it onto the laptop. and if they get a new monitor (or hook it up to the tv) they can use the desktop. we got all of the speaker post plates in the wall okay, got all of the surround speakers mounted and working okay, rewired several devices to use higher quality cables (hdmi vs. rca, digital optical vs. rca), and got the universal harmony remote set up. i also hooked his blu-ray player into the internet and downloaded/installed a firmware update, and after i did that his blu-ray player gained the ability to stream netflix. so he set that up. and i re-setup and tested the airport express i’d given them. all in all, i think it was a pretty successful outing.
his wife (heather) and their son (miles) had been out of town visiting her parents, and they returned in the afternoon/early evening. i hung out for a couple of hours, then headed back to houston. not long after i left my brother called to tell me the cable box was only playing the lowest (local) channels. i didn’t really know what could be causing that. he called the next day to say unplugging it and powering it back on fixed it. so i think so far things seem to have stayed stable.
tonight i rented and watched erik the viking as one of the 99 cent movies of the week from itunes on my appletv. it said copyright 2005, but i thought it was (and looked) older than that. at the end of the movie it said 1998, which makes more sense. i’m not sure why the copyright would have slipped, although i know that happens sometimes. the movie is done by terry jones (of monty python), and it kind of has that feel to it. tim robbins plays erik, which seemed funny to me. i guess i imagine him being a more serious actor, even though i can think of more movies he’s played odd/silly parts in than serious ones…so maybe it’s just me.
futureman: what the hell you wearing?
clay: yeah
dignan: it’s a jumpsuit.
futureman: clay, look at this guy.
clay: he looks like a rodeo clown.
futureman: he looks like a little banana. […]
(from bottle rocket)

joe’s garb hot rod in black and red

here are a couple of images of my first pair of new shoes. they are black and red “hot rod” shoes made by joe’s garb. which evidently is no more, as their website pages redirect and/or comes up with errors.
from poking around online, joe’s garb was a mid-range brand based on shoes designed by esquivel. it was around and active in the early 2000’s. esquivel also made high end shoes, and evidently he caught the attention of the right people and became well known for his shoe designs (and expensive ones at that). so i guess the joe’s garb line was shuttered at that point.
anyway, here are a couple of pics of my shoes before they get all scuffed to hell, taken in my ’55 bel air. first, lounging in the front seat:
joe's garb shoes - black and red hot rod (flames), lounging in a 1955 chevy bel air
then, behind the wheel:
joe's garb shoes - black and red hot rod (flames), at the wheel of a 1955 chevy bel air
joe’s garb made at least two color combos in the men’s model, and i actually wanted the black and white version. but when the pickings are slim, sometimes you have to compromise. (just don’t tell the ladies you say that about them. and they won’t tell you they say that too.)

back to “normal”

the shots and pills appear to have worked. my sinuses feel as normal as they usually do (which is still probably not quite normal), and my sleep patterns have gotten back to as “normal” as they usually are.
i went back to the doctor on monday morning for the results of my blood test(s). no mono, nothing abnormal except the expected elevated cholesterol levels (overall a bit high, bad cholesterol too high, good cholesterol too low). the doctor was able to utilize his years of experience in studying and understanding the human body to deduce this: i’m overweight and should exercise. i was shocked. shocked, i tell you! however, unlike my ex-wife’s year-old analysis of the root cause of my body weight, he didn’t come to the conclusion i am overweight due to “self-loathing”. he seemed to think it might be because i eat too much of too many rich/fatty foods, don’t exercise, and lead a sedentary lifestyle. what a quack, huh? seriously though, my ex has proven she does struggle with issues directly tying her body in harmful and unhealthy ways to her self-perception, -value, and -worth. unfortunately, i don’t think she can be fair or rational about me regarding this issue. maybe others too, but pretty definitely not me. that may be the way her horse and cart works, but she’s got the cart in front of the horse for me. i don’t manipulate my weight to match the way i feel about myself (either in a rational and healthy way, or an irrational and harmful way). although i would like to weigh less, the “short cuts” are rife with problems (and many of them rather scary), and the legit ways to do it don’t seem as enticing or enjoyable as being able to eat the things i like and not having to devote chunks of time to being bored exercising, even though the end result would be nice, good for me, and help my opinion of how others perceive me. of course, shaving more often, paying to get my hair did, and wearing nicer clothes might do that too. perhaps my cost-benefit analysis is out of whack, but i know i’m not alone in the world. i doubt most people smoke because they hate themselves either…but maybe i’m the crazy one.
completely off-topic: for the last week or two, i keep hearing some bird outside of my house. sometimes when it sings, it sounds just like that bit of the song “peanut butter jelly time” where it goes “where he at, where he at” “there he go, there he go”. (i.e., the tones the bird sings are the same.) then i get the stupid song stuck in my head. thanks, bird.
this past friday evening was the geek gathering. i had to go straight from work, so i didn’t really get to do some stuff for the gathering i’d planned to. but i did drop by the house and pick up kojo’s books and the toothbrush i brought back from taiwan for jamie (it was a hotel disposable toothbrush and toothpaste set, and the toothpaste was called “j. me”). i need to step outside my normal bounds of waiting for people to come talk to me. there are sometimes people i’d like to meet and maybe get to know, but i rarely take it upon myself to make it happen.
saturday i was woken about 9am by brad calling to see if i wanted to go riding. brad and i met up with four other guys and we rode around the tomball area for a couple of hours. then a couple split and the four of us left rode to washington-on-the-brazos. afterward i hung out at brad’s and talked for an hour or two, then we rode around some more and eventually ended up at antidote for some coffee. from there i met the potts at a five guys burgers (which i’d never eaten at, but is good) and then went to their house and hung out until late.
i was planning on buying some new sha sha shoes (different color, same style — i wanted the black flames on white shoes), but once i started trying to buy them i figured out they must not be making them anymore because they were hard to find and i couldn’t find my size. ain’t that how it always is…i search around forever disappointed with my choices until i find something cool, then it’s not available or not in my size or whatever. even my second and third choices were not working out. so i gave up on the sha-sha’s.
i’ll use that as a segue to talk about my recent emotional struggling. you see, this last week was significant for a couple of reasons: [1] friday was the hrc’s birthday, and [2] the same week was a two-year marker of sorts. so those things just gave me extra reason to think about the loss of her in my life, and the current lack of anything new. when my mind is positive (which isn’t that often:) i like to imagine she bailed on me by quietly slipping away because she knew she didn’t have the ability to be the woman she felt i deserve. i mean, after all the things she told me and said about me and such, just ceasing to care about even interacting with me at all seems rather incongruent. but as samuel jackson (as jules…a bit of a coincidence) says in pulp fiction: “and i’d like that. but that sh!t ain’t the truth.” i don’t know the truth obviously, but i imagine it’s not really any reason that’s good to/for me. whatever. the problem for me is i’m not one to cut and run and move on. i’m slow to commit / get into things, but once i do it runs deep. i can’t just move on. i have a hard time giving up, accepting loss, and forgetting about it. (see: the time invested in me trying to deal with and get over tamara and my marriage.) still, i guess it’s probably for the best. it’d just have been nice if something good could have come out of it. (other than the time itself.) i think, like jennifer before her, i was really good to julia. (it’d be nice if i could find someone to actually legitimately appreciate that, and me.) still, as much as there were so many things i really loved about the hrc, she probably would have consumed and destroyed me. (that doesn’t change the fact such a thing is kind of my ideal relationship i guess…watch true romance to better understand.)
back to the shoes…i thought about buying some new vans old skool shoes, but as usual i can’t find color combos i like that much. you can make custom ones on their website, but the end price is about $85. i’m still trying to decide if i can make myself believe having canvas shoes custom-designed (the color choices) by me is worth that. i do think the ones i made look pretty cool though. we’ll see. in the meantime, i did manage to find some shoes that compete with the sha-sha’s so i ordered them. as well as three retro-50’s / lounge / rockabilly / greaser button-down shirts. then i ordered a new pair of doc marten’s. then i ordered a new pair of motorcycle boots, as i haven’t had any motorcycle boots in some time. i’ll provide more info about all of these once they come in.
a couple of days ago when i was looking for vans i went by soundwaves to see what they had in-store. nothing exciting. but i did pick up a couple of cds:

  • the beat farmers – van go (curb)
  • johnny cash – american vi: ain’t no grave (american)

today i am going into work late, so this morning i called the shop edelbrock had gotten in touch with for me. they told me i could bring the car today for them to look at, so i drove up there this morning. they’re near beltway 8 and 249, pretty far north-northwest. i got there, they came out, i turned on the car, all 3 of them said “yup, it’s the lifters”, i turned it off, i gave them my info, then i made the drive back home. he’s going to call edelbrock and then get them an estimate, so he’ll hopefully be calling me back pretty soon so i can drop the car off to get the work done.