out of the past

it wasn't quite this bad... but the house is kinda drafty now...
Hey, I got stuff to write!

Last night Wes came over to help me with another “project” I’ve been wanting to do. The puny one-bulb wall light that came in our garage is just not enough to light that place up. Since it’s attached to a switch inside the laundry room, I’ve been wanting to rewire that switch to ignore that tiny light and instead control a new shop light that I would mount from the garage rafters. Sounds easy enough right? Problem is, I’m cursed.

When it comes to “mechanical” projects I am utterly hopeless. Murphy’s Law seems to be in full effect every time I have to use hammer, nail, drill or saw. It’s just the way it’s always been. I have a feeling I inherited it, because I can remember helping my dad and uncle hang paneling in our spare room once – you know where you slather the back of the paneling with something not unlike Liquid Nail and press it against the existing wall? Yeah, we got about three or four panels in place and realized we had been hanging them upside down. Too bad that glue binds stronger than anything on earth… we just hung the rest upside down. Pretty little flowers, all growing right down towards the floor. There are so many more examples… but I think you get the idea.

Anyway, since Wes had successfully done some wiring projects at his house – his resume impressed me, so I asked if he wouldn’t mind helping me out. Being the sucka he is, he graciously agreed. He had previously hung a shop light in his own garage, as well as put in a couple ceiling fans and done other miscellaneous projects. He also once recounted to me a story in which, during one of his projects, he managed to put a knee through his ceiling from the attic. Sounded bad, but I wasn’t worried. Looking back, I shoulda realized that Wes had a history…

We made a couple trips to the Home Depot (see, you can never go to the HD only once for a project… it always requires at least two trips – one usually involving a return or exchange) to get the necessary tools and materials. After which we studied the problem, ordered some iffy take-out Chinese, and got ready to work. The initial work went great, we hung the shop light and drilled a new wire hole in the in the to-be-bypassed light wiring box, all in little time. With our spirits up, we headed into the attic with the fish tape to drop a new wire into the existing light box.

Fishing wires through existing walls is hard; not to mention supremely frustrating. I don’t think anything can be as aggravating as trying to hit a 1″ area from above with a metal tape, and doing it all blind, while breathing dust and insulation. After much cussing and sweating, we finally managed to fish a wire through. After some wire-nutting, drilling, and breaker-tripping, we finally managed to get everything done. I now have a super bright shop light hooked to the switch. It’s like noon in that garage now, I love it.

Ahhh… but I skipped the good part… As we were toiling in the attic trying to fish the wire through the garage wall – Wes Vila struck again. Yup, you got it right. Crash! Right through our laundry room ceiling. All I can say is, I managed to not fall through the roof… maybe the effects of gravity are slightly more on Wes than all other humans or something. Anyway, check it out:

wes’ hole, i stuck my hand thru and “pointed” in case you couldn’t see it
every time we open or close the garage door, a snowstorm of insulation comes raining down

despite wes’ “accident,” i have a beautiful new shop light!
my attempt to get the switch action and new light in the same shot… worked ok i suppose.

Anyway, I still gotta thank Wes for coming and helping me out. New skylight notwithstanding, we got a lot done in one evening – and my new light is awesome!! Although I did have to update my “list of jobs I think I might like:”

  • Farmer
  • Mammographer
  • Special Effects Wizard
  • Video Game Tester
  • Fishing Show Host
  • Firework Maker
  • Standup Comedian
  • Rock Star
  • Retaining Wall Builder
  • Home Wiring Expert

Did you guys notice the comment from “Shaine” on the blog yesterday? Holy crap man, lemme ‘splain a little.

Shaine and I were best buds way back in 5th grade. I’m pretty sure we were the two coolest kids at our whole school, at least that’s what we thought. We “owned” the last two swings on the line of swingsets (the farthest from the schoolbuildings, so we could cuss and tell dirty jokes without fear of punishment). If people were in them, they would actually get out when they saw us coming. Shaine lived across the field from me, and we used to run across the field and climb his backyard fence when going between houses (the farmer didn’t like it very much). Man, did we have some awesome times… I’ll write about them sometime. I just wanted to mention it because it blew my mind to finally talk to him again (on IM). Thanks for reading, and commenting. If all goes well – we plan to hook up again when I go down to visit my folks next, possibly even visit some of our old haunts in Lompoc. I’m totally pumped.

Finally, sorry this blog is so late… but honestly, it’s pretty big and kinda complicated. Little images and bulleted lists in tables, man… crazy. Hope you enjoyed it.

Dave out.

wasting time

which of you gen-x'ers out there can spot this?
Late and light blogging today, as usual I wrote the entry last night, but didn’t get a chance to upload right away. My apologies to the blog-faithful (do they exist?). Holy crap I found a fun website last night. Check this out, it’s a sincere site that allows you to make custom “safety signs,” printable ones at that. Doesn’t look terribly fun right? But oh man is it. I played around with it for a while last night and created some signs. I made this one and this one and this one and this one and this one and, just in case, this one.

Pat sent me this link today, I got a chuckle from it. The Onion always comin’ correct with quality. I never thought of hiding my blog from the moms and/or pops, I think they pretty much know I’m a good lil’ kid now – and they probably pretty much know what a bad lil’ kid I was so long ago. Either way, they gonna find out.

Mercedez Benz is in Taiwan right now, but when he gets back we got a new load of concertin’ to do. We have the much-anticipated Death Cab / Nada Surf show, as well as the possible wildcard show from Broken Social Scene / The Stars. Should be a good week!

OK I’m spent. Brain frazzled, not in a writing mood. Enjoy the signs, enjoy the links, bash the article in the comments… whatever.

Dave out.

playing with fire

this bear hates me... if we were in a cartoon i would be his nemesis
I actually get a little embarrassed to “publish” some of the dumber things I’ve done, but the blog has kinda morphed into this two-purposed thing. One: to document what’s going on in the present, and two: to write down funny stories from the good ol’ days. I try not to glorify the bad stuff too much, to me now it’s mostly just head-shakingly funny. You know, like “oh man I was an idiot back then,” chuckle chuckle. Anyway, I did it, and I like writing about it, so I’m gonna keep doin’ it I suppose. Meeting Sharaun really cleaned me up, thank God – and I’m no longer the awful miscreant I once was. Don’t hate me for what I was, love me for what I am. Hopefully most of the stuff is back beyond the statute of limitations of my hometown PD.

I can trace my fascination with fire back to such a young age that it’s hard for me to believe. The very first place in this world that I can actually remember is our house in Huntington Beach. We lived there until I was somewhere between five and six years old, so you gotta realize these aren’t the best memories. However, one of the most vivid memories I do have of those times involves fire. I had gone a couple houses down from ours to play with a friend, who I think was older than I was. We somehow ended up with a book of matches. I remember I lit a match and burned the crap out of my finger. I remember wanting to cry and run to mom, but knowing I’d be in trouble. I hid the burn from my folks. That’s my very first memory of fire, you’d think it would have deterred me from further experiments. (I know it seems strange to think that I was playing with matches at five, but I swear my memory is correct on this one. I’ve tried to imagine it happening at other ages and in other houses – and it was definitely back in Huntington Beach. Can you even talk when you’re five and half?)

Growing up, I have memories of staring into campfires for hours, begging Grandpa to let me strike the long match and start the fireplace, and biking around on the 5th of July to collect the spent fireworks people left in the street (I loved that burnt smell).

My next real memory of “playing with fire” comes sometime near the 4th grade I think. I convinced my dad’s dad to let Frank and I “shoot” matches in the backyard one day. My parents weren’t home, and he let us hold the match to the strike pad on the side of the box and “flick” the matches into the air as they lit up. We shot matches in the backyard for a while, thinking it was so cool. (Actually, I can remember feeling genuinely guilty for asking my grandfather to let us do that. I knew my folks wouldn’t allow it, and I also knew that my Grandpa probably wouldn’t object. I remember feeling like I had “used” him, and to this day that feeling of guilt still sticks to that memory).

Probably sometime shortly after that, I had another experience in the same backyard with “shooting” matches. Our neighbors on the one side had a stone wall instead of a regular wooden fence. I was arcing lit matches over the wall, why – I have no idea. Luckily for me nothing caught fire (I don’t think I was really thinking of the possibility anyway). However, I also didn’t think of my neighbor finding a small pile of burnt matches in his backyard. He came over and told my folks, and next thing I know my mom is taking Frank and I down to the fire department. Once there, we got a nice tour of the building – and then got sat down for a lesson on “playing with matches.” I remember the fireman being stern but nice, and I remember thinking we were in trouble, but I don’t think anything ever really came of it.

I think the remainder of my gradeschool years were relatively fireplay free, although I do recall spraying words on Ryan Lopez’s fence with hairspray and lighting them on fire. I think I must have chilled out for a while though.

When we moved to Florida, I met a group of friends who were as pyro-crazy as I was. In 6th grade we learned how to make what we called “napalm” (really just styrofoam dissolved in gasoline). We used to keep a coffee can full of it hidden behind a friend’s house, and pull off the sticky chunks to light and throw around. I remember learning that Brut stick-style deodorant burned, and frequently lighting mine on fire in my room. We also developed some crazy game where we’d spray our forearms with Off! and light them on fire, to see who could last the longest without waving themselves out. Joey discovered that aerosol white lithium grease is perhaps the most flammable aerosol on the planet, and burns forever. I can remember sneaking out at night with friends and us all pouring lines of gas in the street so we could light them and “race” the flames down the line. Filling mason jars with gas, tying them to string above a campfire and shooting at them with BB guns. Trying to make the “hearts and diamonds” bomb from the Anarchist Cookbook (probably tweaked out on “bananadine” at the time – Anarchist Cookbook joke, sorry). And always having a stash of fireworks to play with. For a couple years, I wore this old army jacket everywhere I went. We all had one, all filled with various “useful” tools. Matches and ladyfingers were a staple item in the jackets.

Sometime around the end of middle school, our firelust got dangerous. I can recall starting at least five fires in the woods, a couple of them being fairly large. I think there were more than that, but there are only five that I can specifically remember. There would be four of us, each with a book of matches. We’d walk in a line, shoulder to shoulder through dry brush. With each step we’d “shoot” lit matches over our shoulders until the books were empty. The rule was that you couldn’t turn around or look back until all the matches were gone. No matter what you heard or felt, you could only look back when it was done. Oh man, did that ever work. We used to run away and come back later to watch the firetrucks put out our work. Gawd… we were truly horrible.

At this point in my life, I consider myself lucky. I’m not dead, and I’m not in jail. I did so many stupid and just plain mean things. For the record, I no longer burn things? and my love of fire is now limited to campfire gazing and firework watching. And for an afterschool special wrap-up: What I did was dumb. Don’t ever do it. I’m actually pretty ashamed of a lot of the stupid stuff we did, but I can’t erase it, so I might as well write about it. In fact, I went back through my journal and searched for fire-related stories – there are a couple really good ones related to specific incidents (the “Tex fire” and the “tire fire” in particular). I’d put ’em in here, but they’d triple the size of this already bloated and boring entry.

I promise I’ll write something worth reading again soon… promise. Dave out.

pictures in the dirt

thick like a milkshake
Thinking back on it, I’ve pretty much been a huge nerd from day one. Wait… you mean you’re only reading this so you can find the link to the Halloween gallery? OK, here she is: Halloween Bash ’03 in Pictures. Back to the subject at hand: I’ve never liked sports, mostly because I’ve never been any good at them. I suffer from some huge insecurity about organized sports. I get out on the field, court, diamond, whatever? try my best, and look like a fool. There’s almost nothing in the world that can make me blush in shame or embarrassment? sports can.

Oh, I’m not bad at quasi-sports. I can play a pretty good round of disc golf. I’m OK at horseshoes, darts, and bowling. I’m an OK shot with a .22 or bb gun, been known to take out a lizard from a hundred paces with the latter. I just realized all those sports are solo things, you don’t really have to “pass” or coordinate. Maybe that has something to do with it. I dunno, I’ve just always sucked at sports so I’ve always stayed away from them.

I played AYSO soccer when I was young, maybe 1st/2nd grade or something. I was goalie, but I mostly sat down under the net and drew pictures in the dirt with sticks. My cue to wake up was the parents and coach yelling that the ball was coming. I vaguely remember taking wrestling lessons at the YMCA or Boys Club or something (which seems really odd now, thinking about it), I sucked at that too I’m pretty sure. I recall taking karate for a while, I can still remember how to count to like three in Chinese or something – but that’s about it. I’m fairly sure I took swimming lessons at the local public pool around 4th grade, don’t think I ever got deep-end privileges. I tried to play baseball at my little brother’s birthday party and ended up cracking some girl in the head with a bat. Her parents sued us. I sucked at kickball in gradeschool, and flag football in middle school. I sucked at volleyball and basketball in high school gym. Pretty much if there’s a sport, I’ve either sucked at it or not tried it due to me being afraid of all sports.

Much to my surprise, I tried to play soccer with some guys from work this year. I really sucked, but I was incredibly proud that I even got out there and ran around. No one has any idea how unbelievably hard it was for me to put on that uniform and drive to the field. To feign “stretching” and “running” before the game, like I knew what I was doing. It’s so strange but when I’m attempting sports, I feel like every move I make is under a microscope. When I’m trying – everything I do is potentially humiliating, and my lack of skill just compounds it. So much so that the smallest criticism makes me wanna quit to spare myself the embarrassment. Thankfully, I injured myself trying to snowboard (which I also suck at) and didn’t get to play in too many games. I wonder where that fear came from? I know it’s dumb, but I must have developed it somehow.

A geek from day one, I remember writing a “what do I want to be” essay in gradeschool where I said I wanted to be an “animatronics engineer.” That’s right, that’s what I wanted to be? in like 3rd grade or something. They are the dudes that work on the electronic puppet things like the Country Bear Jamboree. I imagined working on something like Westworld when I grew up, helping make special effects type fake people and animals. Several times in the 5th grade, I brought in my electronics kit to show off what I’d made. A decibel meter, a door security alarm, a three note piano, etc. Sheesh, what a nerd.

Changing subjects, what’s a playa gotta do to get a pair of jeans that fit? I wonder how much it costs to get some custom jeans made?? because apparently no one else has measurements like me. There are three key aspects of “fit” I look for in jeans. Can I button and zip them? Can I wear them without having to roll up the legs? And can I walk in them without there being what I call “stress lines” going from pocket-to-crotch? I usually end up getting one out of three, and more often than not it’s the waist. I have to settle for too-long legs and Chinese-finger-trap-style thigh-constriction. Ugh.

Anthony says the caliber of the blog articles is slipping. He predicts I will abandon the blog eventually. I’m not so sure, I’m having more fun writing and posting it online than just writing. It motivates me to write more, which is cool. So I think the blog is here to stay, maybe with no one reading it… but it’ll be here. Also I hate Anthony.

Dave out.

i’m a jerk

fried = good
I’m a jerk. I overcommit, I don’t call people back, and I sometimes don’t answer the phone when people call. No one in particular, I’m pretty impartial. I forget stuff, I pretend to forget stuff. I get in moods where I just wanna lock the door and be in my box. Other than that, I’m a fairly social person I guess.

Weekend roundup: Friday night Sharaun and I did a “double date” kinda thang with Eric and Suzy. We grabbed some dinner and then took in a show of the new Matrix. And yeah, what you’ve read is true – the new Matrix sucks pretty bad. Saturday Pat and Eric came over and we watched college ball and drank a few beers from the neverending keg (all served up without pumping the thing once). Sunday I woke up feeling pretty crappy, this cold seems to have migrated into my chest. Time to call the doc I guess. I tried to work in the backyard, but it was too muddy to get anything done. So I took a nap instead because I wasn’t feeling well. Sunday night is “Alias Night,” where we rotate houses and cook dinner for each other before we watch Alias – it was at Kristi’s last night and we had some yummy fried chicken. Wow, what an exciting life I lead.

Why the heck does Word always open up with the “reviewing” toolbar active? I don’t think I’ve ever used the stupid reviewing toolbar – yet every time I start the program, there it is, just takin’ up space up there in the toolbar place. I mean, I’m starting a new document from scratch, there’s nothing on the page, what the crap could I be reviewing? Stupid Word always doing the wrong crap. Why is the third bullet in my bulleted list a different color and size than every other bullet, seemingly for no reason? Why, all of the sudden, did the font size of the last sentence I typed increase by 1.5x when I hit the carriage return? Stupid stupid Word. How many years has Redmond been working on this dang thing anyway? No, I don’t want that little lightning bolt by that address, and get those red mountains out from under my wife’s name – I think I know how to spell it, thank you.

Finally got a haircut last night, and shaved this morning. With the addition of wearing a newish shirt, I figure I’ll probably get several phone numbers today. I did that “oops I don’t have that much hair anymore” thing with the shampoo this morning, squirting out a nice huge glob and having it run off my no-hair down into my eyes. I swear… While I was in the shower, I got to thinking about various diseases – and had a funny thought. What if all diseases could be cured by something that rhymes with the disease? Like, you could cure the flu with stew, or pneumonia with ammonia… yeah, those were really all I could think of. I thought maybe AIDS with parades or arcades, but I gave up on cancer and bronchitis.

So as you can tell I have nothing to write. I didn’t scan in any love letters, or write any short stories, and I can’t think of anything more to write. A full Halloween pictorial is upcoming, but other than that I don’t really have any planned topics. Guess I better start doing something interesting soon. It was cool to see my dad comment on the blog the Friday past, but I still see he maintains hi innocence in the Niagra debacle… shame pops, shame. Man, I’m even too lazy to go back through this entry and do the customary hyperlinking thing. So that’s it, I’m done. Dave out.

ok… but… where does the water go?

see what I'm saying?!
I remember when I was a kid, I dunno, let’s say 4th grade or so – my parents and I having the (now-infamous) “Niagra Falls Discussion.” I think I remember it so vividly because it was so supremely frustrating to me, and to this day I can’t understand why my mom and pop couldn’t help me out with it. Lemme set the scene: I was a curious child, prone to asking crazy questions. I had always seen pictures of Niagra Falls, but had never been there. In every picture I’d seen, the falls were always shown as this massive half-circle waterfall with tons of water gushing over the edge. I’d even seen flyby’s on TV where a helicopter or plane would follow the semicircular edge of the falls taking footage. I was always totally impressed with it, but a question began to nag me.

See, in my head, since the only image I knew of the falls was an arc with water pouring over – I for some reason got the impression that the entire falls must be a complete circle. I mean, in my mind – Niagra Falls was a large “cup” in the earth with water constantly pouring into it… like a crater or something. I just never considered anything else. My question? Why didn’t it “fill up?” So one day I posed my question to the folks: “Hey folks… why doesn’t Niagra Falls ever fill up?” I can see now how absurd it must have sounded, but holy crap. We went around and around on this for over an hour. I went so far as to get out paper and draw them what I was asking… with a huge circle representing my concept of Niagra Falls, and arrows showing water rushing in from all 360?. Their initial answer was that “there’s a river at the bottom.” Fine, I thought: “So there’s an underground river that takes the water away?” “What do you mean ‘underground?'” my day would say. This went on and on, and I can remember being so frustrated that they did not understand what I was asking.

Looking back, I place the blame entirely on my parents. I mean, I was drawing a circle for pete’s sake, calling it a “cup” and “crater,” and asking why it doesn’t fill up – how hard would it have been to figure out that I was mistakenly thinking of it as a closed hole? I wonder if they were just messing with me the whole time? Even to this day, whenever I struggle to understand something they’re talking about, one of them inevitably says “Is this going to be like the Niagra Falls thing David?” Punk parents, screwin’ with a little kid’s head. When I explained to them many years later why I was confused, they acted all like they didn’t know I thought the thing was a crater… punk parents. (Not really guys, I love ya. Punks.)

Last night was the Beulah / John Vanderslice show in SF. We had six people going, so we borrowed a larger vehicle from Anthony’s sister. The night started like most other SF concert outings: a stop in Davis at the House of Chang for some eats, and the commute to the Bay for the show. Anthony was driving on the way there, so we didn’t get the least bit lost. After the show, however, he wisely (considering his narcolpetic tendencies) let me ferry us home. At which point I immediately, and confidently, got us lost trying to leave the city. I somehow ended up on the 101 towards San Jose. After making a u-turn on Caeser Chavez Blvd. NE #1c, we hit the Bay Bridge and were on our way to Krispy Kreme and home.

As for the show, it rocked pretty hard. We had great timing, getting there about 15min before Vanderslice took the stage. When we walked in, Ben spotted him milling around in the crowd – checking out how his cd’s were selling and whatnot. He played for about 40min, and sounded excellent. I was impressed with the harmonies and sound quality, plus the tunes were catchy as all Hell. Ben and Ant each bought a cd. Beulah came on around 10:30 or so. They sounded really good, even though Miles was coming off a case of food poisoning. They played a pretty mixed set, material wise – pulling from all four albums. By the time they finished their marathon set, it was 12:30 and the crowd was duly pleased. I really enjoyed ’em, they rocked, they sounded good, and they were really interactive and fun. Worth the $15 and more.

Yesterday I caught myself reading nearly the entire 138 page Prosecutor’s Summary of the Evidence from the Green River Killer case. Sorry, I’m fascinated by crime, serial killers in particular. Yeah, I’m a forensics show nut, and frequent crimelibrary.com. Whatever, step off. Anyway, it’s some really interesting reading, although at times disgusting, I was totally enthralled.

In keeping with the spirit of sharing old love letters, here’s one from late 8th grade. Found it the other night while digging around for pictures for the Astro story I posted yesterday. Reading it now, I’m totally thinking I coulda got some play back then. Jeez, it’s pretty embarrassing to read, so I tried to pixelate a name or two. Beware: contains coarse language!

Holy crap that’s painful. See all those song lyrics and crap? I was a Beatles nut way back then, and I guess so was she (no, it wasn’t Sharaun). Anyway, I have some good memories of them days… and that kinda brought ’em back.

OK, this thing is turning into a blog of Beulah-concert proportions… Dave out!

a dead dog with sticks in its eyes

i think these things are bruising my ears
Yesterday my headphones at work broke. That sucks, I knew $20 Target headphones wouldn’t be the pinnacle of quality, but c’mon… I’ve only had ’em for like a month and half now. It sucked, because I was totally groovin’ to some old Beulah at the time – and then I realized I couldn’t hear the left channel. Turns out I’d been listening to one channel for like two days and handn’t even noticed it. I thought the chorus on those Vanderslice songs sounded kinda weak.. sounds much better with the left channel. Sheesh.

Anyway, Anthony had an old pair of Kenwood noise-reducing headphones that were broke. He gave ’em to me and showed me where to order the replacement part, $25 for $150 headphones ain’t bad… sucka. Since I need music to survive at work, I’ve got these things taped up and lookin’ way ghetto on my head – but I’ve got tunes.

Tonight’s the show in SF, we’re leaving here at 5pm and heading over. Should be a good show – I’ll put a some impressions up tomorrow. Steve asked me this morning what my annual concert budget was like… that’s a good question. I’d say it’s the majority of my “entertainment” costs, and since the little indie bands we go see usually only charge ~$15 per ticket… I think it’s not a bad deal.

I have been getting closer and closer to pulling the trigger on a 4-track lately. My camera sold for $375 on Ebay, and I could get a nice used Tascam for that. I was thinking the other day how I used to just lock myself in the room and try to make songs. I’d like to do that again, only this time I actually think I might be able to put something together. Who knows. I’d probably buy it and use it for a week before it went on a shelf.

Looks like they are finally going forward with the plans to put a mall by our house. Hopefully that will make my property value go up and I can be rich. I keep waiting for that day when I suddenly, and without any effort on my part, become stinking rich. I mean, I know it’s gonna happen… I just have to be patient and wait for the waves of money to overcome me.

Oh yeah, I found a new band to love. Stumbled across a group called The Decemberists on absmi the other night, I did a quick lookup on Pitchfork and saw both albums rated in the 8’s – so it was on. The singer reminds me of the dude from Neutral Milk Hotel, but the music is pure awesome. Beatlesey, old-timey, and very E6ish in general. Dave say: “good!”

That’s about it today, nothing too entertaining. Anthony said I shouldn’t drop this link, that I should rewrite it in first-person. I kinda agree, but I just wanna be done with it, since my writing inspiration sometimes comes in spurts – and that subject has been all spurted out. Anyway, some light afternoon reading.

Dave out.