sweating out the bennies

I’ve got a pretty spotty entry today, but link to some pictures so maybe that makes up. Just got done doing the dishes from dinner, spaghetti and a green salad, quite good. I’m now drinking some white wine while Sharaun and Melissa watch the Oscars. I’m adrift in sea of gown-critiquing, heartthrob throbbing, and the occasional look up from the laptop on the off chance Natalie Portman is on the screen.

Sitting here on a Sunday afternoon in the shirt I wore yesterday, well, at least partly yesterday. It’s still got some chocolate frosting smeared into the fabric on my right breast, I can smell sweet whiffs of it every once in a while. Keaton’s sleeping and Sharaun is at a baby shower luncheon thing so I have the place to myself. I’m using my time wisely, writing and watching old episodes of the original Star Trek. I tried to listen to some music, but found I’m in one of those moods where nothing sounds right, nothing quite fits. So, Star Trek it is.

Saturday was Keaton’s 1st birthday party, and I think it went off swimmingly. I’ve posted some picture to her gallery here, which you can peruse here at your leisure. Incidentally, this is the 1st batch of photos taken with our camera, and I’ve also upped the size at which I “shrink” them to for web usage (1024×768 instead of 800×600). Anyway, my folks flew in for the party, and I think they got some good Keaton-time over the days they were here. I like seeing them with her, love to watch the way she makes them happy, especially my mom. Tuesday is her real birthday, a day on which, on year ago, I sat hunched over this very laptop in a hospital room, writing out the event in real time. It really is hard to think that she’s a year old now…

Spent a good two hours reading On The Road last night before bed (I think book titles, at least from what I remember from 10th grade, are supposed to be underlined, but on the web that’s reserved for hyperlinks, so I put ’em in italics). At some point, as Sal Paradise finally spent his first night in San Francisco and he says, “Boys and girls in America, have such a sad time together.” I had no idea the Hold Steady’s album took it’s name from the book, and was pleasantly surprised to “discover” a bit of cultural cross-pollination for myself. After patting myself on my literate back, I read on. I’m still excited about the book, still looking for moments to steal when I can read a little more. Even the stink of my own shit is made more bearable by plowing through a couple chapters. I’m hoping that whatever book I pick next in my “educate myself” 2007 read-a-thon doesn’t bring me down.


reevaluating invincibility

Tuesday evening and Sharaun’s at a volleyball game. I put Keaton down to bed about 15min ago, and am now enjoying some Malajube whilst writing up tonight’s blog.

Before tonight, I was off to a slow start on Kerouac’s On The Road. The long introduction was interesting, but stole some of the immediate thunder I had expected. But, oh man, once I got into the book proper I was spellbound. Kerouac’s writing seems just barely strung-together enough to tell a story, like it was written in some mad fit (I know, it was) as if he was afraid it all had to come out at once or else be lost (I know, he did); but at the same time it’s so beautifully detailed and descriptive that I’m almost there with him, belting back whiskey on a flatbed racing across the west. I’m only six chapters in but I can barely put the thing down. I can’t wait until he gets to San Francisco. That said, then, I’ll go ahead and write this up snap-quick so I can get to reading, maybe get my voracious on. Here we go.

I think it’s time for me to reevaluate my invincibility. Over the past couple years, the number of times my body has succumbed to sickness or ailment has risen sharply. I used to be untouchable, completely impenetrable to disease. Recently, though, I’ve had to take a day off work here, another there, and have lost a few good weekend days to sleeping and sniffling. Is this what happens when you get old? Instead of ignoring the signals my body gives me, should I now pay attention to them and react accordingly? What crap. When did I become weak? This morning, I woke up with a sore shoulder, apparently my body didn’t like the way I slept on it, it ailed me all day, pins and needles. I remember when I could sleep in the reclined front seat of a Nissan Sentra and wakeup no worse for wear. Then, my mouse-hand has been protesting some movements lately, almost like the years of totally un-ergonomic use I’ve forced it to endure are coming to bear. Sometimes, I even get heartburn after eating a burrito (extra large, extra-extra spicy, please). What’s worse, I get super sleepy around 4pm every day. Oh Father, why hast Thou forsaken me?

A thought occurred to me the other day whilst pondering some work stuffs. I’m sure you’ve all heard the phrase “good old boy” used in reference to the way some organizations are run. Usually what’s meant by this is that a small network of back-slappin’ buddies run the company, promoting and demoting according to how well others fit into their “good ol’ boy” mold. So that regular Joes sometimes feel like their chances of being favored or given the big job or being promoted are hindered because they didn’t go duck hunting with the clique on the weekend, or some other such nonsense. Anyway, what I was thinking was, that this whole notion of a “good old boy network” probably isn’t that wrong, and furthermore shouldn’t be that surprising.

Dealing with people is tough, there are so many assholes, so many who are ungrateful, so many who are under-appreciative and over-demanding, so many who are abrasive, impossible to relate to, unpredictable, unprofessional, abstract, difficult. The old adage rings true, you know, “birds of a feather…” I wonder, though, if this “flock together” pack-mentality may be the subconscious (and sometimes all-too conscious) reason behind the classic “good ol’ boy network?” By surrounding yourself with an army of like-yous, you have to deal with a lot less. You know a lot better where the lines are, know what’ll motivate and what’ll correct. It makes me think, however, that the school of “relationship based management” may have hit on something. Developing relationships with the people you work with and who work for you is probably a good way to avoid the “easy out” tendency to populate the ranks with you-clones. Whatever, all I was trying to say is that maybe those folks who look at the good ol’ boy network with envy are just the square pegs…

It’s been well-established now that I love ARGs (Alternate Reality Games). I think my first real experience with the genre was the with the whole Lost Experience thing, which seems late when you consider the “I Love Bees” stuff and many of the other “armchair treasure hunts” which have gone on, but arguably I was smitten all the way back when the Smashing Pumpkins did something very similar with their album Machina, and I was way into that. I also got into the whole Lonelygirl15 thing for much of the same reasons. The idea that you can participate with others in a real-life Hardy Boys type mystery adventure is awesome to me. So, when I found out that the Nine Inch Nails, a collective of whom I’ve been a casual fan since high school, are slowly “leaking” tracks from the new album “Year Zero” as part of a viral marketing slash ARG thing, I was thrilled. Not only do I get awesome tunes, I get to follow a neat post-apocalyptic storyline to boot.


super heavy-headed tired

Sunday night, a long, rather expensive weekend. Friday night we went out to eat, and then returned home and got an unexpected reprieve from parenting with a snap decision to take advantage of a babysitter and head to the local brewpub. Saturday we took Keaton to the zoo, and I went four-wheeling – lots of walking and driving and moving and stuff. I didn’t really want to run down the litany of the weekend though. The main thing on my mind is sleep. I don’t think I’ve managed to catch up from my late-night workathon Thursday night. And we’ve already established that the weekend wasn’t particularly restful. So I’m tired, super heavy-headed tired. I’m not going to write much, and what I do write won’t be good. Live with it.

I got a Barnes & Noble gift certificate for Christmas, and have been wondering what to do with it. I decided I was going to spend it acquiring and reading as many “classic” novels as possible, using this list as my guide. If nothing else, someone visiting will look at my bookshelf and think I’m a well-versed literary. Turns out, Barnes & Noble is super overpriced, so I bought only one book (a Bukowski novel not even on the list) – and I’ll just use the library for the rest. I think my fascination with the fantasy genre has served to sour me on reading, as I’ve been half-finishing most of my reading for a year or more now. With the recent Vonnegut novels I devoured, I think the subject-change helped a lot. I hope that by putting aside trolls and dragons for a bit I might be able to get back into the habit of reading again.

Turns out the new camera we ordered back in January was still on backorder through buy.com. Late Saturday night I gave up waiting, canceled the order, and went through Amazon instead. Ended up saving $10 losing the sales tax from CA-based buy.com, kinda mad I didn’t check Amazon to begin with, but I suppose all’s well that ends well. So, hopefully, our picture drought will end in the next week and I’ll be busily uploading pictures soon again.

Well, I can barely keep my eyes open or my head up, and my mouth tastes like garlic from one of the many finger-foods I ate at the Super Bowl party. My stomach is swollen-full and I can’t stop thinking about sleep. So…

I think I used this post’s image before… owell. Goodnight.

but it’s free money

Wednesday night and I’m half asleep and have a headache. Just finished the Vonnegut books Ben got me for Christmas, nice books those: Cat’s Cradle and Slaughterhouse Five. I enjoyed both very much, so it goes.

I already took out the trash, did it right when I got home so I could ignore the annoying reminder that my cellphone will screech at me around 10pm. Cleaned out the catbox too (I don’t call it a “catbox” in real-life, but it works better on paper). We watched a movie tonight, and I left the laptop powered-down until now so I could enjoy it. We don’t watch movies much, so that was fun. Feeling better today too, not 100%… but better still. Good enough to do a day at work, blech.

Check out the targeted spam-comment I got on Keaton’s (dust-gathering) gallery recently, right here. Gotta be a one-man effort, congratulates us on Keaton’s arrival, and then tosses us a link to his Ebay-front golf supply website. Hey, if they guy went to all the trouble of entering in the captcha and doing the BBcode to make the link clickable – he deserves all the traffic my modest site can send him (but watch out Mr. Golf Supply, the flood of visitors could bring down your server). Ha!

I don’t talk about my family much here, I guess there are things I tend to keep out of the spotlight. I mean, you know how it is. But, I spoke to my brother today and had an interesting conversation. The VA assessed him as 60% disabled, and now the Army is going to give him money every month – for the rest of his life. I guess it’s not relevant exactly how much money, but you may be able to guess based on the details of our conversation. “Yeah, 60% disabled.” “Wow,” I say, “I guess that means you’re a little more than half fucked-up, huh?” “Ha, yeah. But the Army is going to give me amount every month, tax free, for the rest of my life – and they’re backdating payments back to last year.” “Wow,” I say again, “You know, you could totally live like a king for that much in some coastal village in Mexico; never have to work a day again in your life.” “Yeah,” he says, “I already thought of that.” “Cool, I guess,” I summarize, “Cool except you’re 60% fucked up for it.” “Yeah,” he says, “But it’s free money.” “Yeah,” I say.

Before I go, I wanted to mention a question Sharaun asked me tonight. When we saw an 11 o’clock news teaser teasing “California may ban incandescent light bulbs in favor of compact fluorescent, because they use a quarter of the power,” she said “Power. Where do we get out power?” I guessed a bit first, “Hoover Dam, maybe. Maybe Shasta? I think we have reactors too. I think we also get some from Oregon and maybe Nevada.” Anyway, my desire to validate my own guesses led to some fascinating (to me) research on the ever-awesome Wikipedia, where I learned about the completely rad-sounding Pacific Intertie and the X-Files sounding “Path 66.” Check it out if you’re a nerd, you’re sure to enjoy it.


dustin’ smokies the whole way

Sorry if this is your kid.
Just got back from the “urgent care” clinic with Sharaun, but let me tell you, there ain’t nothing urgent about it. Those people move with all the urgency of an turtle. Anyway, Dr. Professional at the clinic diagnosed her injured knee as.. an injured knee, and said she should get an MRI. Mission accomplished though, she got a quick referral to a specialist who’ll really be able to figure out what’s wrong.

Saturday Kristi walked into my place and held out a couple smallish paperback books, offering them to me. Looking at them, they appeared to be graphic novels. Since I’m not really a comic book person, I didn’t know what to think. Turns out these books, called Maus Parts I & II, are part graphic-novel, part memoir, and part history lesson – all about the life of the author’s father, a Holocaust survivor. Finished the first one tonight while the doctors at the clinic must have been using up all their urgency on some other patients, and I’m anxious to start Part II. Interesting stuff and easy reading.

Sitting here listening to some A Silver Mt. Zion, frantic apocalyptic violin and percussion sounding really rad right now. Sometimes I just need to kick back and get my instrumental on, y’know? Words can wreck a song sometimes anyway, and instrumental tunes make for great thinking and working soundtracks. You know, blaring in the headphones as you pound away on the keyboard for your paycheck? Cranking out PowerPoint presentations to give the flashy-graphic addicts their daily fix of 38pt drop-shadowed Arial text and multicolored block diagrams. Wait. Why didn’t I go to trucking school again? I could be smugglin’ an 18-wheeler full of bootleg beer across statelines right now, dustin’ smokies the whole way.

Anyway, I guess it’s time for bed. So until then, when the next the world hears from me will be the customary sounding of my “morning claxon” as I trumpet my own response to the alarm clock’s horrid beeping.

Dave out.

codes ‘n’ chemicals

There's gold in them thar base metals!
A good weekend. The brake light in the Ford is now off, since Pat helped me do a complete brake overhaul. I was pretty amazed at how easy it was to change brakes and rotors on the front and back of the truck. I mean, seven bolts per brake/rotor and you’re done. From now on I’ll do my own brakes I think, it’s stupid-easy. After working with the brakes, I got a little curious about how the whole braking system actually works. Since I never took a hydraulics course in school, I haven’t really had any formal introduction to how pistons and force works in a hydraulic machine. Anyway, it’s boring engineering stuff – but I can always count on howstuffworks.com to teach me these things. After a half hour of reading, I think I could build my very own hydraulic system.

Over Christmas, someone gave me a Barnes & Noble gift card (can’t remember who, Tyler maybe?). While cleaning out my wallet the other day, I noticed it had a “scratch-off” area for an “online use” PIN code. I thought that was neat, so I started browsing the B&N website for something cool to order. I love books, and I like to collect them. I like to just “have” them almost as much as I like reading them. Anyway, because of some recent interest on my part, along with the fact that I’ve always had my eye on it, I ordered a book which contains a collection of 17th century alchemical engravings. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been fascinate by alchemical ideas and history for a few years now, and the drawings, illustrations, and engravings related to the practice of alchemy have always looked so cool to me. Very mystical and interesting.

As I mentioned above, I have become somewhat re-interested in the whole alchemy thing lately. Mostly just the history associated with it. It all started when I stumbled upon a webpage that collects and lists unsolved “codes and ciphers.” Ever gradeschool, and then being fueled further by Astro, I’ve been really keen on cryptography. Secret codes and stuff have always intrigued me. So when I happened upon a link from the above page about the Voynich Manuscript, I was immediately engrossed. Some theories about the manuscript say that it’s an alchemical or astrological text, which got my brain on the whole alchemy thing again. Anyway, why am I writing this down? Sorry.

Also sorry for Friday’s lack of blog. I was kinda put out, mostly because I read this (warning, may be NSFW) and it made me feel dumb. Hey, I’m a sensitive dude. Before I go, here’s a cool site that lets you “mix” two webpages together. Taking the content from one and the layout of the other, it make a composite of the two pages. I thought it was kinda neat to see the blog formatted like CNN.

Until tomorrow, Dave out.