dressed in cobra

Who cares, I'm going to bed.
Gonna try and make this an early-to-bed night, I have to be at the airport tomorrow for a 6:20am flight… which means leaving the house before 5am. Bummer. Another there-and-back-again one-day trip to Oregon, work crap. Then, we’re off to camp this weekend in the Sierra foothills of Northern California. Hopefully, we can get the gold equipment working: highbanker, pans, etc. Should be an interesting weekend if nothing else, and I’ll be glad to get away for a bit – even if the lawn does need mowing something awful.

I dunno; I’m not wholly opposed to rap as a form of music. But I’m not 100% why the new Kanye album is so good. Sure, there are some good tracks – but I’m not sure why it’s gush-worthy to the level of the reviews it’s been getting. I can appreciate things like stellar production, I really can. I like to think I’ve got an ear for an extremely well put-together album… something where the production is the keystone of the whole thing’s success. But I dunno, while the production on this album is indeed stellar, some of the tracks aren’t so noteworthy. Call me a hater, whatever you want, I guess I just can’t get as full and appreciate for rap as I can for more “rock ‘n’ roll” type jams. Sorry Kanye.

This page’s two-year anniversary is coming in a little under two weeks. The approaching milestone got me thinking statistics, and I looked back over the entirety of my written output – since I’ve been writing. I started my original journal in 1995, and wrote fairly faithfully through 2000 (exactly 100 pages worth). I started a new journal upon graduating college / getting married / moving to CA, that one covered 2000 to late 2002, clocking in around 200 pages. Then I guess I took a break. That 2nd journal goes through September 2002, and this page didn’t start until that same month, 2003. A one-year gap. I don’t remember taking a year off, I guess I just got wrapped up in other things. That would’ve been my “growth” years at work, where I was likely coming into my own in my role there. Who knows how long this one will last, two years is a good start. I’m sure I’ll have more to write about when Lil’ Chino gets here… so no worries I suppose.

Tonight I bought tickets to see Architecture in Helsinki at Slims in the city. I’m so pumped.


five months and counting

Sunday night on the eve of a busy Monday. Landscapers coming to quote me some damage for a helping-hand in the backyard, a many-times-rescheduled appointment at the dentist, and sometime to squeeze in a bit of work if I’m careful. My day and a half vacation did me well, especially in the beauty and solitude of the Californian high desert… sleeping under the stars and not taking showers. With another long weekend coming up, I’m looking forward to a continuing recharge.

I can’t wait until Sharaun’s belly begins to show. At this point, the notion that we’re pregnant has pretty much sunk in – but there’s not much in the way of outward signs to confirm it for me. I think, when I can see her belly swollen with this new thing that’s living and breathing and growing… that’s what will really get me. I really shouldn’t have to wait much longer, a month maybe, and I’ll get this visual reward. Somewhere in one of the baby books we have, it talked about the child being able to hear inside the womb. I don’t think it’s until much later, but the thought of that blows me away. Lil’ Chino can hear us talking and laughing and singing and everything. And to round out the baby paragraph, another of our high school friends just had their 1st baby. That makes a uncountable number of people my age that I used to know that are new parents. I guess it’s that time or something, the babies-before-thirty thing perhaps.

This weekend most of the regular and extended friend/acquaintance collective packed it up and headed down south for Erik & Kristi’s wedding. Ceremony and reception were held on her ranch, which has been worked by their family for five generations, since the late 1800s. Surely this was one of the grandest affairs I’ve ever been to. Planned to a tee, and the whole thing going down in the most amazing of locations. Just walking through the tall pasture grass on the property, you get a feeling of history and hard-won homesteader success – the fruits of early westward settlers’ labor. Most of the “young kids” opted to camp on the ranch, in a makeshift shanty village dubbed “tent city.” We had a rock-rung firepit, babbling brook running through, and even a porta-john to relieve ourselves in. If you’ve ever read the Lord of the Rings, the chapter about Bilbo’s party – right in the first few pages – that’s what this thing reminded me of. An amazing outdoor celebration, abundant with food, song, drink and dance… lights on trees and candles on tables. The sounds of kids running around and champagne bottles popping. It was an affair to remember; and on top of it all we got to camp and stare into a fire each night – a universally enjoyed spectator sport which I’m convinced is hardcoded in human DNA.


happy birthday sharaun!

Lil' Chino?
Didn’t write last night because I had nothing to say. Went out for some beer and “networking” after work, ended up staying out late and talking shop with some other work-folk. Nearly Wednesday now… or at least Tuesday night, the week is flying by again. Time for another post, so here goes.

Tonight, Sharaun and I watched some show on the Discovery channel that documented the conception-to-birth process through a mixture of following actual pregnant women and some pretty decent CG animations of the baby’s journey from egg and sperm to birth. It was a pretty cool show, documenting the fetus’s development throughout the pregnancy (do you know I had to look up how to make “fetus” possessive? The whole s-apostrophe/apostrophe-s thing is one grammar concept that I still get confused on). Anyway, the show of course culminated with video of the women who’s pregnancies were followed finally giving birth. At several points during the show, I had to stiff-face back some tears, lest Sharaun realize that the whole thing was so blindingly amazing to me. Crying isn’t something I’m accustomed to, but seeing some of that stuff and thinking about it going on in my wife’s belly at that very moment was just too much.

Oh man, I want this so bad. Honestly, I could watch the Andy Griffith Show every day – I always revert to the TiVo’d episodes when there’s nothing else on. These are even better though, because they’re restored and uncut, containing scenes that even TV Land doesn’t air, and as a bonus have the promo-spots that Andy did for products. DVDs are funny because, for the most part, I don’t care about them. The few I own (less than ten), I never watch. So, I don’t normally desire to “own” movies or DVDs of TV shows. However, with things like this set – and the Land of the Lost set I ordered on impulse – the obsessive collector in me takes over. For the completist, these “season” compilations with full uncut scenes and bonus items are like the Holy Grail. Now if they’d only come out with an authorized version of the Wonder Years… because this one is bootleg as hell.

No visible results yet from the deadly poison I administered to my ailing lawn last week, but I’m still encouraged by stories on the ‘net that mention at least a week timeframe for results, and some at two weeks with a couple applications. Hopefully the death will be widespread and completely unexpected by the weedgrass – I’m thinking shock and awe.


world debut

Sharaun and I went to get Lil’ Chino’s first ultrasound last week. Man… what an amazing thing that was. This little baby, barely four months old and two inches long… was kicking and squirming and moving all over. Going in there, I expected so much less… people had set me up to expect seeing a peanut-looking thing with little definition. Turns out that’s about as wrong as wrong can be. This thing had a lot of definition… little arms, little legs, fingers and toes you can actually count, and clearly visible facial features. Looking at the little guy, alive and moving around on the screen (and even more impossibly, alive and moving around somewhere in the depths of Sharaun’s belly), it was hard to believe that something that’s already that real-baby-looking is, in reality, just a two-inch long “tadpole.” We got to hear the heartbeat, and got to take home Lil’ Chino’s first pictures. I was going to post them today, but my scanner is broken…

This weekend was a barnburner for music. Heard some ill tunes while at a party at Ben & Suzy’s place, and downloaded that. The album’s by some group named after an REM song, World Leader Pretend, but there’s this one song on the album that is just outstanding. I’ll try to find a link before I post this. Also at Ben’s party, he decided to kick the new Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! record, and to my surprise, it sounded different than mine. Then I remembered that my copy was seemingly patchwork in song titles and bitrates, and figured it must have been cobbled from various sources – some obviously including EPs of the same songs that were much different than the released album versions. Still, it’s nice to have heard the fetal version of some of the tracks – but the album versions have a nice shiny polish of studio applied, and I like it better. Then, Saturday morning, someone leaked the new Death Cab album. A pretty boast-worthy leak which surprisingly wasn’t accompanied by any release group hubris – which leads me to believe a lowly college-mag reviewer or record store worker ripped and released his/her promo copy for the love of the tunes. Not sure how I feel about it yet, but I’ll let ya know.

I think, had I been born 5 years later, I would’ve been a great MP3 release group insider. For those not familiar with how the whole pre-release MP3 thing works, the general process involves an “insider,” someone who has access to new albums before they are released for sale. This person could work at a radio station, newspaper, or in a record store that has access to promos. The insider gets the album, and sends a copy to the group’s encoders. The encoders follow the release group’s ripping and verifying protocol, ensuring a high-quality rip. The encoders then send the newly ripped MP3s onto the packagers/releasers. The tracks are then “packaged” for release and posted to one of the top-echelon underground FTP distribution sites. Within hours, a secondary group of folks, distributors, go in and download the album and spread it around to file-sharing locales accessible to us folks who aren’t “in.” Speed is key in the entire process, as the bragging rights only come for those who hit the ‘net first with the newest stuff in the best quality. It’s a huge deal, and it’s the machine that keeps me fed.

Anyway, when I was in college, I worked at a mom-‘n’-pop record store, and had daily access to promo releases of big albums. I know, because I used to beg my manager at the time to let me take choice ones home and rip copies to cassette (the pirate’s medium of choice at the time). That’s how I was tired of the Pumpkin’s Mellon-Collie before it ever hit the shelves; why, to this day, my copy of OK Computer is just a white disc with a black and white illustrated paper sleeve. Once I became “assistant manager,” I had unlimited access to whatever promos I wanted – and I used the privilege to be benefit. Transplanting those days five or so years into the future, I can completely see myself participating in the digital pre-release trade. Maybe not hooking up with a release group proper, but at least being an “indie” ripper/releaser for the glory of it. Y’know, the whole “I had it first, but am feeling benevolent… so here, you should hear this” thing.

I like the headline from CNN today, “Typhoon hits China, killing at least 1.” Not that I like typhoons, or them hitting China, or even killing, I just like the statement. Doesn’t the fact that some “killing” happened pretty much guarantee “at least one” was killed? If it were any less than one, you couldn’t really say any “killing” happened at all. I think it was the “at least” part was funny to me, it’s like CNN got some word that folks had died – but no hard numbers. Then, in a macabre desperation to post a body-count, they went with the safe “at least one.” Hey if there’s death, at least one poor dude must be dirt-nappin’… logical to me.


yet they still call

Flarin' up real good there.
Tuesday morning, and I have enough of a respite from my fever/flu/whatever that I feel like writing. Last night was different, and found me covered in sweat the entire night long – rather than the one or two sweating-out sessions of the previous nights. It was uncomfortable, but I sure felt better this morning. Better still isn’t quite “good” yet, but it’s getting closer. Today my fever is hanging around 100-101, a few degrees cooler than Sunday and Monday – but still high enough to make me feel crappy. My throat isn’t doing too hot either. Hurts to swallow. Taking my mom’s advice, I made an appointment to see the doctor for this afternoon, just to see if they can possibly pinpoint my problem – and maybe even tie it to my mysterious ER visit last week. I dunno, I’m never sick… is this what getting old is like? My body has betrayed me.

I think I worry too much about missing work. Even feeling like crap, I surreptitiously log on a couple times a day and check my e-mail. I have a great fear of falling behind, but honestly, I also have a great love for “dropping out.” Things as they are right now at work, I wouldn’t think of pulling the old “mental health day” thing and taking a couple unwarranted days off – but I have no problem using deserved, malady-driven, sick days. Oh sure, calls still come in on my cellphone… and I hit the “silence” button and think of how I’ll claim I was probably sleeping at the time. I have been asleep a lot, after all. I’m not delusional, it’s not like I think that work will crumble without me. It’s just hard, especially in extremely busy times, to accept that the world will continue to turn should you step away from the small post that you man – but, it most certainly will. Having said that, I guess it’s obvious that it’s more of an ego thing than a genuine concern for the job. Peoples, humans that is, are funny like that – so accomplishment driven and high on themselves.

Sharaun and I have been talking about the things we’ll need to do before Lil’ Chino gets here, and one idea she came up with was to have a garage sale to try and move some of our built-up junk (potentially, for a profit). I thought it was a great idea. There is so much junk I could stand to get rid of (no, I’ll cling to my Garbage Pail Kids collection with my last dying grasp), and Sharaun’s got plenty of clutter too. Actually, it was the idea of a garage sale that got me excited – I’ve only “participated” in one once before, at least that I can remember. I’ll never forget making the decision that the potentially realizable $10 I could get from selling my entire He-Man and Star Wars action figure collections was more appealing than holding onto them for posterity (pure idiocy). There’s something very American about having a garage sale, very appealing.

Late-breaking update: Went to the doctor today, turns out I have strep throat. Means another sick day tomorrow, since I’ll be contagious for at least another 24hrs. That, and I still feel like crap. Woohoo – another day of fevers and sore throats and daytime TV.


I feel like I deserve a beer tonight

Stop the ride.  I want to get off.
Friday! Friday! Friday! I feel like I deserve a beer tonight. For a week well-done or something. Yeah, or something, I need a beer for “or something.”

Slow week in the writing department, breakneck week in the working department to blame. Pulling late nights every night so far, becoming all too accustomed to coming home from work, relaxing, computerless, for an hour or so while I eat dinner, and then hopping right back online to do this and that. I’ll tell you what, as brutal and unceasing as it’s been – I really do feed off it. Somewhere deep down, I find a perverse enjoyment in feeling important – the age-old sin of pride festering right in my puffed-up chest. My mouth complains about working long hours half because I don’t like it and half because I want others to hear it. I’m just a braggart at heart… someone who’s trying to avoid letting the fact that he’s got a big head show outwardly. Always feigning humility, I hope it works. But really y’all, isn’t “feigning” just a precondition for humility? It’s a conscious thing, not an inborn one. So, while I do hate it, I do love it. Figure that one out.

I’m still somewhat surprised that the crew over at PF haven’t written up the Most Serene Republic album. I’ve about worn the grooves off the thing (I know, grooves are old-school, but it’s a good expression), and I’m wondering if they’ll dig it as much as I do. It’s one of those fantastic, but relatively unaccessible LPs. Things like the Arcade Fire and Bloc Party are not only super, but arguable fit for commercial consumption. Things like the Most Serene Republic, however, really aren’t. The style isn’t consistent enough, and those used to happening-packed 3min pop nuggets may get confused with the meandering and often seemingly aimless song structure. But… none of that matters to me. That album is the toppermost of the poppermost, as John would say. If you’re interested, you can get a good idea of what to expect from this sample clip. I’m not afraid to make the halfway call and say that the race for 2005 is so far neck-and-neck between this and the Architecture in Helsinki album. Oh, and in case you’re really interested, I figured out how to direct-link to 1min clips of every track on the album. Yeah, that’s right – no one is safe from my “View Source” javascript reverse engineering mojo.

If you keep up with my travels… you may recall that I was supposed to be boarding a plane for Shanghai today, but I’m not. I canceled the trip. Sharaun’s first real appointment at the baby-doctor is this coming Thursday, and they told us they’d be doing an ultrasound and listening to Lil’ Chino’s heartbeat. For a while, I was actually considering missing that. Can you believe that? Thinking about it now, I don’t want to miss that for the world. I’m going to try and get a cellphone recording of the heartbeat while we’re there – and knowing me it’ll be online the next day. I remember when I was in middle school, I paid entirely too much for a still-sealed copy of John & Yoko’s rare “Unfinished Music No. 2 : Life With the Lions” LP on the avant-garde Apple offshoot, Zapple. Since the music hadn’t ever been issued on CD at the time, I simply couldn’t resist the urge to completely ruin my investment by slicing through the 25 years old cellophane and putting the virgin plastic on the turntable for it’s only spin while I recorded it to tape. The LP sucked; sucked bad. All John’s whacked out Zapple stuff did. But there was one “song” that stuck with me. Called, appropriately, “Baby’s Heartbeat,” it was a recording of their (sadly later miscarried) baby’s tiny heart swisha-woosha-swisha-wooshing blood through his tiny developing body. I thought it was fascinating. I wonder what I’ll feel when I hear Lil’ Chino’s… part of me thinks I’ll be stricken dumb with awe, while part of me thinks I’ll take it in stride. Whichever it ends up being, I’m ultimate-glad that I chose to stay home for it.

It’s 11pm now and I came back here to try and write another couple paragraphs, this sentence is as far as I got.


chapter two

They say bad things happen in threes. Not sure if that’s true for good things too, or maybe just “things” in general. I guess if you lose the bad/good qualification, the statement doesn’t make much sense: “things happen in threes.” Sure they do, and fours and eights too. Good things, to me, though, have indeed seemingly been happening together. I may even talk about one or two in today’s entry.

Let’s get right down to it then: we’re having a baby.

We created life. I wrote this the day I found out:

Your birthday will be in February or March. Which means you’ll likely be an Aquarius or maybe Pisces or, in China, a Dog – not that I hold with that kinda stuff. I will be 29 when you arrive, a good age for a father, right?

I thought about you when I called my pops on father’s day and it hit me that it would be my last non-qualifying one. I thought about you when I remembered our non-refundable tickets to World Cup in Germany next year. I thought about you and how much I’ve been away from home for work this year. I thought about you a lot when I was drunk in a seedy club at 3am in Manhattan; and how I feel like I’m ready to be done with that scene and wished you were already here so I wouldn’t have been there.

I kinda think I want you to be a boy, but I won’t be mad should you choose a vagina.

I’ve already started thinking about converting the spare bedroom into your nursery, about whether those little outlet covers are just 1st-time parent paranoia, about diapers, and high chairs, and carseats. Your coming arrival has got me thinking about all sorts of things I’ve never considered before… Money; you make me think about money.

I guess I wonder the same things as most people… and I guess, in reality, I know the answers to most. I mean, things like how our relationships with our friends will change. I know the answer already, it’s just kind of sad to realize that a whole way of life that we’ve become accustomed to over the past few years is coming to and end. Then again, it’s the most exciting prospect I’ve ever dealt with… not the changing relationships part, the creating another human part.

Like billions and billions of humans before us, we’ve managed to do our part in sustaining the species. It’s an amazing prospect, really, and completely mindblowing. To think that there is a completely “new” human, growing up from what I’d consider essentially “nothing” somewhere inside my wife’s own body. This thing is busy transforming from nothing into something completely amazing. It will come out as a working thing, and I’m sure one day when it’s a teenager it’ll love that I referred to it as such. “Thanks dad, I’m a ‘working thing’ huh?” But really, I’ve long been staggered by the thought of babies. What an amazing process, how incomprehensibly complex and precise, how perfect that it just “works.” Oh, we’ve been reading books and doing our research and whatnot, and, man, I can see how you could potentially get really freaked out that it might not “just work.” I mean, it’s amazing how precious this little developing thing immediately becomes to you, even if it looks more like a tadpole than a human right now; you want to protect it and the vessel carrying it like they were the Crown Jewels.

I remember reading somewhere that, in the old days, expectant Chinese women would work tending the rice fields right up until they went into labor, and, after popping out their new child, would return to the paddies as soon as they could walk. That’s interesting to me, because it tells me that, at some fundamental level, pregnancy is supposed to work. I often find myself falling back to the “caveman argument.” It’s something of my own invention, really, but, I always catch myself thinking things like, “Cavemen didn’t have toothpaste,” or, “Cavemen didn’t know about cholesterol.” Likewise, cavemen probably didn’t do much in the way of prenatal care… yet here we are, living proof that their lineage survived. Makes me think that the process has been designed to just work, designed not to go wrong. Not that I’d use that as some Christian Scientist cult-think and forgo the benefits of modern medicine… it’s just a point of comfort for me with all the potential fear-mongering out there.

In other news, I continue to work myself ragged. I’m not kidding. I’m working till midnight most evenings, trying to do my best to suppress the list of “to do tonight” things that I pile up during the day. Semi-related, work promoted me to a management position. It’s not the reason I’ve been working so hard, but it sure isn’t helping. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not going to start talking about work in depth here, I firmly decided against that on blog day one, but I figured the promotion is having a big enough impact on my life now that it’s worthy of documentation. Anyway, it’s exciting, and a bit daunting, to think that I now have people who “report to” me, whatever that means. I’ve never been a control freak… and I still maintain that I’ve managed to coast to success with the help of luck more than skill or knowledge. Call it humility or whatever, but I know my deep-down slacker core, and it is alive and well. Underlining it all, though, is a intense feeling of accomplishment. I feeling of vindication, like I’ve been formally recognized for doing well, officially acknowledged in front of my peers as someone who’s worthy of leadership. Maybe that’s a bit big-headed, but it’s honest.

So, those are my two big things. I’ve been keeping these couple things to myself for over a month… trying to write around them and come up with other things to talk about, even though they’re really the only two things that’ve been on my mind at all. Work has been all-consuming from a non-emotional standpoint, and Lil’ Chino (what we call the growing child in my wife’s belly) all-consuming from the emotional side. I’m not sure to what extent either happening will or won’t change the blog, but it’s kinda silly to think there’ll be no impact at all. Blogging with-child will at least give me plenty to write about, and blogging as-manager will likely reduce my already slim “grindstone” category… as I’ll likely be more guarded where I may have previously been somewhat candid.

I wanted to mention that, at my ten year high school reunion this past weekend, someone I literally hadn’t seen in ten years told me that they’d been to this very page. Now, I don’t know if said person is a recurring visitor, but it was an interesting statement to hear. It of course made me happy, being the attention-feeder I am at heart, I always love to hear about unknown readership. I shouldn’t try to pawn it off as some amazing thing, after all, I did link our classmates.com profile directly to sounds familiar… so it’s not all that far-fetched that someone I went to school with might happen here. Continuing on the reunion theme, I wanted to give it a proper writeup.

I thought it was excellent, although I wish we’d had more time to socialize. There was a dinner even the first night, which Sharaun and I were able to attend in full, as well as an after-party that night. But we had only ten short minutes at Sunday’s “kids invited” BBQ, which is where I really wish I could’ve spent more time catching up with those whom I didn’t already know what was going with. The first evening’s after-party made me a bit sad… to see some folks seemingly still stuck in that endless cycle of booze and dope, despite the fact that they are nearing their 30s and now responsible for children as well as themselves. The drugs in my hometown are plentiful, to say the least, and it’s all to easy to get trapped in that scene. I didn’t like seeing mothers whose children were asleep in beds far away puffing on joints or coming out of the bathroom in threes. I dunno, I guess that’s the real world, or something… I still don’t have to like it. Not that I’m knocking you, dope-smoking mothers, should you be reading this… you can do what you want and may be a stellar parent – you’re bag just ain’t my bag, that’s all. We’re still cool.

I shoulda split this one up over two days, to at least guarantee some posting consistency… but I didn’t. Before I go, someone at work turned me on to this homemade thing the other day and I thought it was pretty funny. Maybe that means I’m a huge nerd…