all the better to see you with

Sunday afternoon and I’m done mowing both lawns before tells me the approaching clouds plan to loose their loads. Mowing with haste under the threat of grey skies makes a man sweat, warrants a shower before he heats up some leftover fajitas for lunch.

Anyway, I’ve decided that I’m gonna wake up and head into work early tomorrow, give myself a couple “bonus” hours on the day. I don’t like to do this, but the week ahead dictates it I’m afraid. I’d planned on working some tonight, getting that head start, but I have fundamental thing against using my weekend to do work. I know, if my issue is with work cutting into “my time,” the weekend or pre-8am are the same. I don’t think it’s that though, it’s more: work for five days, rest for two. Don’t work on those two, just don’t. So it ends up being that I don’t mind pulling longer hours during the “work week,” as long as I can sufficiently atrophy over the weekend.

Folks, I’ve decided what I’m going to do with the loot I’ll get from selling off my CDs (a shoddy, never-finished, out-of-date and incorrect webpage explaining this can be found here). Yup, that $1300 was calling all kinds of things out to me: HDTV, Keaton’s college education, downpayment on a new vehicle, etc. But, while showering Saturday morning it hit me: I’m going to use the money to get Lasik surgery. Last time I went to the optometrist, he casually mentioned that I’d be a great candidate for the newest Lasik procedure (apparently even less invasive, or something), and that piqued my interest. Plus, it seems that, within the past year, my eyes have grown less and less tolerant of contact lenses – I used to not even know they were in, and now I can’t stand them after ~12hrs.

Anyway, ever since the idea graced my brain, it’s been all I can think of. The thought of camping or hiking or going to a concert and not having my contacts dry out and bug me, not having to deal with my eyes tiring of them each evening – I’m so pumped. I think my vision plan will actually match a certain percentage up to an amount, and I plan on checking into it tomorrow (today, as you read this). I’m actually really excited, and would do this before I left for Germany if there was any way to… but I doubt it. As it is now, I really am going to try and get something scheduled as soon as I get back – this bug has really bitten me. I keep thinking how awesome it’ll be to be able to wake up and see again, no more worrying about fumbling for my glasses when that burglar breaks in before I can aim my gun and cap him.

This weekend, I set out to make my mp3 collection all the better. By normalizing the volume not just of individual files, but all my files relative to each other. Most MP3 normalizers just adjust individual mp3s to a peak level within each file, but not necessarily relative to other files in that album, or other files from other albums. This used to confuse the crap out of me, I’d normalize my files to 89dB thinking now I wouldn’t have to adjust the volume on the iPod when switching from the Moody Blues to Nine Inch Nails… but t wouldn’t work like I wanted it to – the Moody Blues were still half a spin of the knob quieter than Trent. Then, this weekend, I discovered the open-source MP3Gain, which allows you to normalize all your albums to an average 89dB while preserving each file’s relative album volume (i.e. it doesn’t just “amp” all the songs on an album to a certain volume). This little program is awesome, and it’s volume adjustments are not only lossless, they’re completely undo-able should they break something (MP3Gain stores some undo info in the mp3 tag itself). I also used Zortam to auto-import album cover art from Amazon for my entire collection. Took all weekend, but now I just have to completely empty the iPod and repopulate it with the volume-corrected albums… bummer, but worth it.

It’s nearing the end now, running out of steam. Let’s finish this off with a random bit I wrote Saturday.

I thought the local Tapei newpaper’s April Fool’s joke was pretty good. They pretended to “out” a top-secret government weapons program based on betel nut spit, or Operation Bin Lang Fen Nu. I’ve written about betel nut before, so just the fact that I “got” the joke made it funny for me. The device is described as “an aerosol-dispersal device to shower enemy positions with red betel-nut juice, leaving enemy personnel feeling slightly ill, while possessing them with an uncontrollable desire to sing at a KTV.”


what’s another twenty dollars?

Meaningless to rich folk like me.
Hey y’all, how’s it going? Sharaun said I was mumbling about Halloween props in my sleep last night, which kinda freaks me out…

What? The crank ghost’s motor burned out. I’ll just buy this wiper-motor. What’s another twenty dollars? Oh, I don’t have any leftover foam from last year to fill out the corpse’s body? I’ll swing by and pick up a couple at the Wal Marts. What’s another twenty dollars? Oh man, I forgot I’ll need a yellow light for the witch and a pack of eyehooks and screws. Big deal; another twenty dollars. I’m tired of another twenty dollars. I have a feeling I could’ve purchased a pre-built pneumatic coffin-popper and had it shipped to me in time for Halloween for about the same as I’ve spent so far on this year’s setup. Really, it’s shameful. I read online about all these folks doing their super-impressive projects on the cheap – but mine are always incrementally cost-insane. $20 here, $20 there… it adds up. Stupid Halloween – there’s no way I should be wasting money on this crap. But dang, do I love it or what?

I saw this list the other day: top 10 blog design mistakes; and was happy because sounds familiar actually passed on most of them. Sure, it’s some dude’s arbitrary list – but it’s a neat thing to talk about, right? I’ve got: an author bio (#1) (although it’s somewhat buried under a possibly misleading heading on the sidebar) and it’s got pictures of me (#2). I think my posting titles are pretty descriptive (#3), and creative to boot. And, while I do often use a hyperlinked “here” to point readers to more info, it’s usually prefaced by what and where the “here” is (#4). I completely violate #5, and I actually really like the idea. I think I’ll add a “Best Of” link to the sidebar with 5-10 of my favorite posts. I have category and calendar navigation (#6), post what I consider to be more often than most (#7), and write about all sorts of crap (#8). Now, #9 is tricky… because, for the most part, I completely pretend no one will ever judge me by what I’ve written here. Stupid, naive, whatever… I guess I break #9. And finally, I’ve had my domain for years now (#10). So, eight out of ten ain’t that bad, and after I get a “Best Of” implemented I’ll be at 90%. W00t.

Mike over at The View from Taiwan has an interesting, and super-long, post about the Formosa-bent blog-collective’s speculation about a pre-2008-Olympics invasion of Taiwan by China. If you enjoy military conjecture or the intricate dynamic that is China-Taiwan relations, it’s a good read. These kind of “what if” scenarios are really interesting to me, since, in my line of work, I work closely with folks in both China and Taiwan. It gets me thinking, the tech industry alone relies so much on the economies and employees in each of those countries – that a China-Taiwan conflict would be a catastrophic disruption to businesses all over the world. Yes, I’m putting aside the of-course-more-important humanitarian impacts of war right now, we all know human life is the #1 concern; it’s just that the economic implications are interesting to speculate on as well. Say for instance that Taipei fell to China, and the whole workforce I deal with there was suddenly displaced – the size of the wrench that would throw into the works is almost incomprehensible. Not to mention the whole grey area of US involvement in such a conflict – and the implications of business during/after.

I’m done, bored with writing. Goodnight.

homeland security

Back in the good ol’ US-of-A after a long week in Taiwan, mostly spent not blogging.

Y’know, I’m not one of those folk who put a lot of stock in vitamin supplements, herbs, fish oils or flax seed. However, I do take a daily multivitamin; and I actually think it does some good. For example, while in Taiwan last week, I made sure I faithfully took my two Mega Man pills a day – I have this unspoken (until now) fear that, should I forget them one day, I would somehow be sapped of strength and energy. This becomes more important when trying to keep the sleepless pace of a “business trip” to Taiwan. Part of the reason I have confidence in the power of my Mega Man is because, anomalous or not (but almost certainly so), my last couple cases of the common cold have happened to manifest right after I’ve run out of them. I did entertain the idea that perhaps GNC actually puts some common cold bacteria in each pill, but also puts in enough common cold antidote (something that exists only in this particular evil-GNC fantasy) in each to stave off contraction. Then, when you run out of pills, the virus can take root… or something like that. So, conspiracy or not – I fell for the Mega Man bit 100%. Wait, was this paragraph going anywhere?

Come October 7th, we’ll be able to schedule our sex-ID sonogram for Lil’ Chino; that’s two weeks from today (right?). This is the sonogram where we’ll be able to tell how sexy Lil’ Chino will be. I have my own thoughts, being that he’ll be the offspring of super-sexy me and uber-sexy Sharaun – but, from what I’ve heard, the sonogram will be able to tell us for sure. I’ll figure he’ll swagger out of my wife’s vagina, swishing a gold cane in front of him; wearing a crushed velvet smoking jacket and smoking a cigarette, faint echoes of Barry White wafting from his former home. The nurses will immediately faint at the sight of his thick, luxurious, and impeccably styled quaff, and his jewel-encrusted umbilical cord will fetch thousands at Christies. What? That’s not what the sonogram is about? Really? Oh; I see. I guess it’ll be good to know if he’s a boy or girl too – but I think the sexy test would be better.

I was forced to watch the Emmy’s last night. Oh. My. God. I sat through the opening “performance” by Earth Wind & Fire and the Black Eyed Peas – where they changed the words to one of those super-recognizable EW&T “smooth jams” from words about love and humpin’ to words about TV and TV shows. Seriously people. The Black Eyed Peas were up there rhyming about Everybody Loves Raymond and Desperate Housewives. Man, I hope those guys got paid a buttload of money for that – as it was one of the most embarrassing thing I’ve seen in a while. I was actually embarrassed for the Black Eyed Peas up there, spitting game about such gritty “keepin’-it-real” topics as Must See TV and TGIF. It’s a good thing the BEP aren’t a real rap/hip-hop outfit and don’t expect to be taken seriously, that way they don’t run the risk of ruining their reputation as serious artists. For real, I heard they’ll rap about Gynolotramin and Preparation H if the check is big enough.

Listening to McCartney’s new album… y’know, because my love for music was born with, and will always be with, his early efforts with the best band in the history of time: the Beatles. Macca’s solo output over the years has been hit or miss for me. The early stuff was great, and some of the pre-late-70s Wings is simply outstanding. Then there’s the albums I don’t know very well, and don’t dig that much. I adored Flaming Pie, and then there was that last one that was OK. First listen to this one and I dunno… some slow jams, some rock tinkering, but it’s most assuredly McCartney. I’ll reserve judgment until I can manage a few more listenings. But either way – rock on Sir Paul, glad to see you still turning out wax.

Goodnight folks, I love ya all.


I got my 30-nights-stay “thank you” letter from the hotel last night; one entire month of my 2005 was spent at this hotel. They gave me three-thousand Taiwan dollars worth of free food or beer or whatever. Yeah, just what I need: “free” beer. For the first time on this trip, I’m simply sitting in my room doing nothing. So I decided I’d try and at least get one proper entry done before my regulars bail on me.

I did write this week, despite what the calendar shows. I started and never finished an entry a day, on average. As proof (for some reason), here’s a potpourri of unfinished stuff from this past week, at least it’s better than nothing:

3000 miles into the trip and I’ve exhausted the visual media I borrowed from the internet for the flight. That internet, he’s a great guy, loaned me the Family Guy movie and Fox screener of the O.C.’s season-opener for the flight. With both consumed and enjoyed, I’m at the point where I type for a bit and listen to music, at least, until I get tired of typing and decide to nap. On a plus note, I’m listening to this extremely 60s-tinged Field Music album, which is quite enjoyable. Reminding me a bit of the Shins, and strangely like a less-prog Yes at times, I think; damn fine, whoever they sound like.

I already miss my wife, now-lonely as I fly and future-lonely over the prospect of two other long-distance trips before the year’s out: Shanghai in October and Bangalore in December. In some way, I hope both trips materialize, as I’ve never been to either place – and am particularly interested in seeing India. I suppose it’s better to get the traveling out of the way before Lil’ Chino comes, since I doubt I’ll want to be away for very long afterward. Meaning this year is my boon year for travel, as well as my travel swansong of sorts.

A shorter one:

Been no time to write y’all, no time.

Throat is scratchy from beer and cigarettes and belting out exaggerated versions of such karaoke standards as “House of the Rising Sun,” “Hotel California,” “Friends in Low Places,” and “The Final Countdown.”

An ambitious one with no hope of being completed:

Taiwan, the text-based adventure game version.

You are standing in the lobby of an opulent hotel. All around you, people in tuxedos are waiting to serve you, and all flat surfaces are made of marble. A man is happily polishing anything brass. To your left is the concierge desk. To your right, a staircase. In front of you, a set of large glass doors, and two immaculately dressed doorman who are eagerly awaiting the opportunity open them for you.


You are standing at the foot of a staircase which is, of course, made entirely of marble. The staircase winds around and around upward and out of sight. Above you, hear can hear the faint strains of piano and laughter.

>climb staircase

You begin up the winding stair. As you crest the top, ahead of you is a dimly lit open room. It’s hard to see from here, but it appears to be a bar, and you can now better make out the sound of clinking glass and conversation.


You can’t shit here.


There is no one here to damn.

>go to bar

You walk toward the BAR. The floor opens up to your right, looking down on the lobby where you stood moments below, a large crystal chandelier hangs from the ceiling. As you come to the entrance of the bar, you can now make out couples hunched over drinks and shelves of bottles on the wall. There is a sign at the entrance to the bar.

>read sign

“Henry’s Bar, Sherwood Hotel, Taipei.”

>eat sign

You cannot eat the sign.

>make knuckle-babies.

Does not compute.

>enter bar

You walk inside. The friendly staff immediately recognizes you for the VIP pimp you are, and ushers you to a seat at the large marble bar.

>check pockets

You rifle through your POCKETS. You find a wallet with several thousand dollars of local currency, a room key, and a cellphone.

And, I have no earthly idea what this one is or when this week I wrote it – but it was in my drafts folder and made me laugh so hard when reading it, I had to post it:

World population growth rate in light of human and technological development making life much safer than living in caves and dealing with your food not wanting to die so you can eat.

Bought a fake watch this time in Taipei. Lots of people do it, and I guess I caved to the pressure. Somehow, I either lost or forgot to bring my watch on this trip. I never realized how much I looked at the thing until it wasn’t on my wrist all the time. It’s a fake TAG, which the fake-watch man told me retails for like $2500 if it’s real; I paid $70. At least I got a new watch, even if it does scream “pompus brand-whore” quietly from my undeserving wrist.

What an ugly entry. Goodnight.

tied to the mast

Mizzen you already.
Hey folks! Check it out!

The 10/12Z notations are dates slash times. If you look, between 12 Zulu on September 10th and 12 Zulu on September 11th, typhoon Khunan will grace Taiwan with its presence. Doing the Zulu-to-local conversion (providing my math is right, I never was good with time), that puts this thing in Taiwan sometime between 8pm Saturday and 8pm Sunday. My flight is due to arrive in Taipei at 8:15pm Saturday night. It’s almost like Khunan and I got together and planned it!

Direct hit?

Swirling red wine in a glass at Wayne’s place… midnight on the eve of my departure. Too much wine, really… stubborn fingers are ugly on the keyboard.

Goodnight, fare-me-well. Until next week, in Taiwan. Goodnight.

output enabling

Patterns... mmmm...
Wednesday already, wow. Two more days and I’m off to Taiwan [cut to stock footage: Dave wants to go, but also doesn’t want to go]. Sitting at home and having a beer after a strange day of “now I’m a manager” realizations at work… where I’m finally realizing I have to “let go” of the stuff I used to covet and start focusing on more intangible things. For someone that craves the little gold stars on the top of good work, it’s a tough transition. Scary, actually, when your goals shift from a personal-output-based model to an output-you-enabled one. I take heart, though, that I at least “get” that, and that I’m cognizant enough to recognize and do my best to address it.

So yeah, I’m late to the Cloud Room party… dunno what happened there – guess you can’t be first to every party. Another one of the out-of-the-bowels-of-NYC wunderkind, their debut single is impossible to hate… seriously, listen to it try to think nasty thoughts about it. Put it on your headphones and think about punching it in the face, see how impossible it is. Give it a spin and try and make a disparaging remark about its mother, you won’t be able to; the dang thing is disarming. I say we give this track to the Army, have them aim humongous loudspeakers at Al Qaeda training camps, and play it over and over again. Then, rather than ascribe to extremist Muslim theology, prospective terrorists will instead clasp hands and dance around euphorically in a circle, smiling ear-to-ear while singing “… we’re goin’ downtown, take the bus there, pay the bus fare!!…” in broken English. It’s OK terrorists; it’s OK that your body wants to bounce around in its seat, OK that you “duh-duh-duh” along with the bassline, it really is OK – Allah said so, he digs the Cloud Room too – I saw him at the show at CBGB last week… he really knows how to let his turban down.

This weekend, I was finally able to see Sharaun’s pooch. Wow, that sounds massively dirty… but I assure you it’s much more academic than that. What I mean is, I can now see the beginnings of Lil’ Chino’s expanding 9-month lease. To me, this is huge; this is what I’ve been waiting for – even more validation than the indisputable ultrasound images we got weeks ago. Her growing belly is the physical evidence of progress that I’ve been craving! It puts my mind at ease, and makes me tingle with a heady mixture of anticipation and pride. It really is impossible I explain, I think, what a brick-wall realization it is. Lil’ Chino is more than halfway here… 55% here, to be exact. Thinking about February, it still seems interminably far away… but more than ever I’m realizing it’ll be on us in a flash. I guess I won’t even fully understand it until it happens, 5-months and counting in some semi-disconnected state of shock and no sign of the fog lifting in time. Bring it on, Lil’ Chino, bring it on.

Bedtime. Goodnight.