the abhorrent spinning of everything

12:30am and I have precious little time to write before all cognisance is stolen from me by those consecutive shots of tequila.

It’s a brutal set of paces I’m putting my fingers through, they plead and moan and beg and the spellcheck is in spades and things are difficult to type.  Stupid tendons fight every push and pull of keyboard.  Furious fibers pretend they are going to obey, yet betray none the less.  It’s like the Gods are trying to tell me something: Don’t write tonight; don’t.

To say that my intake was over-met tonight is an understatement.  Mark me, internet, I don’t revel in these excesses; I truly don’t.  I promise.  I have some amount of regret, it’s true.  But what’s hard is that, with each incremental keystroke, with each purposed muscle movement, I’m falling off the cliff.  If you, dear friends, could comprehend the effort taken to jot down these few phrases, you’d lavish praise upon me.  For I, tendons and acuity and muscle-memory protesting with ever fiber, have triumphed and written.  I, like so many other pathfinders before me, have overcome the stupor from within which I elucidate… and flipped my handicap to virtue.

What?  You have no idea of which I write?  I am not surprised.  Were ye with me this eve?  Were ye Pat?  Were ye Brian?  Were ye Lang?  Were ye Aquiles?  Nay; ye were not.  Then don’t come to me, step to me, and profess your allegiance and foreknowledge.  This cabal is tight; is locked; loaded.

Can you even understand that I ventured to write?  I somehow think this odd; why would I?  Sharaun, when I informed her so, mocked me slightly.  “Why would you try to write?   You’re obviously in no shape to string together words.”  Not in those words, no… but close enough.

Home.  Both kids and the wife have fevers.  I must attend.  This will not be good.  Water; it is required for said tasks.

But, y’all, because I care.  Now… I must go address the abhorrent spinning of everything.  Goodnight.

portland was good to me tonight…

Waiting is death.It’s 1am and a man shuffles unsure down an empty city street.

Staring into the sterile glow of his phone, trying to reckon his direction from where he is, he resorts to asking a scruffy looking fellow for help. Eventually this man, still dressed for success in his workplace clothes, ambles aboard a westbound train (the last one of the night, the lines are all shutting down) and settles into a seat. He pulls his knees in on himself, a purposed outward show of youth through flexibility, and puts the new Mew album on his iPod for the ride home.

His head lolls as the train clucks and clicks and clacks down the track… and he thinks to himself, “Portland was good to me tonight… Portland was good to me tonight.”

Well folks, as you read this, the details of the federal government’s auto industry stimulus package, called CARS, are set to be communicated to dealerships tomorrow. As you may know, Sharaun and I have been awaiting this day – as we’re ready to take advantage of the legislation by dumping our old Ford in favor of a new ride. You can read more about how we’re personally planning to use the program in my original entry, and then about my experience earlier this month talking to our local dealers about it in this entry.

Back a couple weeks ago, most dealers were either in a fog about the plan (not entirely unexpected, as they had no hard details from the Fed) or were completely unaware of it. At each dealer I visited, I was the most knowledgeable about the plan, and had to speak carefully to avoid sounding smarmy and patronizing when explaining it to them. After a few days of fruitless negotiations, however, I realized that I was just chomping too hard at the bit – and that only patience would resolve my issues. Put simply: I would have to wait for the July 24 date on which the government promised to send the program’s logistics to dealerships. So, I hunkered down and watched the lot inventories online in hopes that the vehicles we are after stuck around.

Then, on Monday evening, a shimmer: The local Ford dealership called me while I was in Oregon to relay good news. They’d got “all the details” on the Cash For Clunkers program “ahead of other dealerships” and were “doing the deals now.” In fact, they said, they’d already done nine, count ‘em, nine, deals under the program. Impressive, I said… and after some chit-chat, I told them I’d give them a ring when I was back in town. Unfortunately for Ford, Sharaun and I have pretty much decided on a non-Ford vehicle. However, I was able to use that Ford cold-call as a nice datapoint with the other dealers. I made the calls, and here’s what I learned…

I called the GMC place and they are by-the-book. No deals until the 24th, said the sales manager. Not until they’d got the communication from the Fed explaining what they have to do in order to make a deal comply with the legislation. In fact, he went as far as to say that, even when the “magical” details are received on the 24th, that it may take time for the dealer to get the mechanics of the system implemented. In my mind, this is the most logical dealer position, and makes the most rational sense.

I called the Chevy place and they landed somewhere between Ford’s salesmanship and GMC’s transparency, saying that they were indeed doing C4C deals now, but that they were doing them “outside” the governments program. They explained this as basically giving buyers trade-in cash equal to what they would qualify for under C4C (using the governments qualifying criteria site) and then hanging onto the trade-ins to submit for the federal program when they got the details. I’m certain that’s what Ford is doing too, although I think they are misrepresenting themselves as having “insider info” and thus a leg-up on their competition.

Right now it’s down to a battle between the Chevy place and the GMC place. At this point, I’m really hoping that we can make a deal this weekend. I’m hoping that the C4C details are easy enough that the dealers can make deals on them ASAP. If that’s the case, then, for us, it’s the perfect storm of car-buying conditions: The C4C rebate, Obama’s new-car stimulus sales-tax writeoff, GM’s 0% APR, and the “friends and family” employee pricing hookup from a Godsend GM-employed friend. So, this weekend is the prime weekend… this weekend is where I’ve reset my expectations around… you think it’s gonna work?

Wish us luck.

It’s 1am and a man shuffles unsure down an empty city street. Staring into the sterile glow of his phone, trying to reckon his direction from where he is, he resorts to asking a scruffy looking fellow for help. Eventually this man, still dressed for success in his workplace clothes, ambles aboard a westbound train (the last one of the night, the lines are all shutting down) and settles into a seat. He pulls his knees in on himself, feeling young and carefree, and puts the new Mew album on his iPod for the ride home. His head lolls as the train clucks and clicks and clacks down the track… and thinks to himself, “Portland was good to me tonight… Portland was good to me tonight.”

a day in a tent

Twelve and a half hours in the tent yesterday. Twelve and a half. In an hour after the doors opened and out when they turned off the lights and security came around to clear house. It was a day at Oktoberfest, to be sure.

We arrived at 10ish and barely got a space inside (we missed the holiday opening, which was an hour earlier than we expected). But, thanks to a sympathetic waiter and a begrudgingly accommodating German and his companion, we scored a wonderful spot directly beneath the bandstand. Soon, our German tablemates forgot all about the invading American host which was our party, and by noon we were fast friends.

As the day plodded on, the room got increasingly warmer and wetter, the collective heat of near 10,000 bodies permeating the air. We marched on through liter after liter and oompah after oompah as the long hours were filled with delicious beer, delicious food, and incredibly friendly people. Some of us outpaced others, but on the whole our party consumed a staggering fifty liters of beer. For you Americans, that means the eight of us (plus our two German tablemates) quaffed a standard keg and then some.

Surprisingly, the drawn-out day aided in setting a naturally moderate pace, and combined with the food breaks, I’m happy to report that everyone walked out under their own power and made it back to the hotel safely. And yes, it was a sound and welcome sleep that took us once there.

And now, as I thumb-blog these very words, we’re back at the tents again, sitting outside this time to escape the crushing sauna of indoors, each enjoying another fine liter of helles bier.

And so it begins again.

Shawn and I rode the roller-coaster, I tried my hand at the shooting game, and we all did some shopping for souvenirs. So far then, the day is good. With today being our Oktoberfest denouement, it seems a fitting close.

Until later then, please excuse the typos, and wish us luck at the tents.

Auf wiedersehen.

Cheers from Oktoberfest

No post-accompanying image today, blogging from the BlackBerry means text-only. Hope you’ll excuse me.

First day at Oktoberfest and we went kinda hard at it. Hoping to nurse my way through today so as to avoid death. I slept relatively well, owed, likely, to our land-and-go-directly-to-beer strategy. It was a good night afternoon and evening though, and I went to bed well-fed and head-swimming. Today, day-two, I made a conscious plan to take it easier, as I don’t want this trip to be one continual hangover.

The weather here is gorgeous, and I’ve donned my shorts for our day-two outing today to Kloster-Andechs, the monk-beer place. We lounged around Andechs for most of the afternoon, after a short hike up to the hilltop sanctuary. It was complete unburdoned heaven. Nowhere to be, and no time to be there. We sat, ate, and laughed over beers.

Probably the most off bit of our meanderings thus far, however, is that we haven’t even been to the tents yet. And, we’re not even sure we’ll head down tomorrow, either – as current thinking has is seeing more “local” beerhouses tomorrow, and doing the tent thing on Wednesday and Thursday. Bottom line is thatwe have no firm plans, and prefer it that way – helps maintain the air of relaxation.

OK then, until my next occasion to blog – cheers from Munich!

bad dad

Monday night, didn’t feel like I got to see Keaton much at all tonight – made me sad to put her down knowing I really won’t get much time with her again until tomorrow night. Got the Ford washed after work today, the first time in nearly six months (I know because of the dates on the pictures of the ski trip Pat borrowed it for). Driving it around afterward, it was amazing how different it is to be able to see clearly on my periphery. No more dust-clad windows. Varied topics today, I actually split this up into two – as I got off on a very detailed “co-op” tangent which I think deserves its own devoted entry (tune in tomorrow for that). And, we’re off:

Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of “feeling good” about the house Sharaun and I bought (and currently live in). With real estate prices here in the streets-of-gold utopia of Northern California soaring to the realms of insanity, I think we did a good thing buying what we did when we did. At first, as more and more of my friends began purchasing their own, larger-than-ours, homes, and our little family expanded with Keaton, I felt a little bigger than the place. Even entertained the idea of moving in the not-so-distant future to accommodate our growth. I mean, ~1,500 sq/ft isn’t exactly a palace, y’know. More recently, though, I’ve developed a sense of “job well done” in our purchase. Instead of lamenting our lack of closet space compared to the walk-in jobs that our friends have, I decided to put up more shelves. Instead of worrying about the guestroom-to-nursery conversion leaving us incapable of proper hospitality, we got a sleeper-sofa and are considering repurposing the “computer room.” What’s more, as I trod the short hallways and modest living space – I begin to feel good about not living beyond our means. Not to insinuate others are, it’s just that I feel a bit better about the realism I now see in our choice.

The more I find inventive ways to improve and get the most out of what we’ve got, the better I feel about our purchase. Really, only in America do you have the luxury of wondering if your family of three needs more space than the quarter-acre, 1,000+ sq/ft house with central heat/air and running water. The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced we should continue to enjoy the space we have until it really does become unfeasible (which, conceivably, could be never). I mean, I don’t think the house I grew up in with my brother and folks was near as big as where we are now – and we coexisted peacefully just fine. I look to things like the ample space we have for all our stuff, and all the amenities we need to stay healthy and happy, and I feel proud for living within our means… for not going overboard. Who’d’ve thought I’d have a sense of self-satisfaction having a smaller home than the Joneses? Now, I just want to convert to solar power…

At Sharaun’s birthday party at our house this past weekend, both of us ended up imbibing a little too generously. When I woke up in the morning hurting, I was pretty disgusted with myself. I didn’t really let on to Sharaun, but the fact that we were both not quite in our right minds as Keaton slept peacefully in her room really got to me. I felt utterly irresponsible, and mentioned to her that, from now on, even if we’re at home there’ll be only one of us drinking. It really got to me, running through the what-if scenarios in my head… made me feel painfully selfish for putting myself before Keaton in some way. Of course, nothing bad happened, but that’s not the point. The extent of my punishment this time was simply a day wasted to recovery as I lay useless around the house trying to sleep of my self-inflicted poisoning, and I don’t intend to give the fates another chance at some assigning grimmer consequences. Bad dad; bad, bad dad. No, seriously… bad dad.

After years of spending frustrating hours on the phone with my dad attempting to help him when he has a computer issue, I finally wised up and worked out a more practical solution. To be fair, pops has become increasingly computer literate, but being that he’s still not a worthy apprentice to my mastery I still struggle with things that, while basic to me, are not so natural and simple-seeming to him. To make things easier for us both, I walked him through signing up for a account and had him add me as a secondary user of his PC. Now I can access his PC remotely from anyplace with a connection and a browser. The acid-test was on Sunday though, when I remote-troubleshot (and solved) a particularly nasty iTunes issue he was having. Logmein worked like a charm, I shoulda done this a year ago.

Goodnight my friends.


major player in the cowboy scene

Summer’s here, and our social calendar is filling up appropriately. The weather here has taken a turn for the hot, as it always does ’bout this time of year. Air conditioning has to be one of humankind’s greatest achievements – right up there with flush toilets, beer, and the space shuttle. This entry started out as a “one liners” entry, but a few of them developed into more complete thoughts. So, here are some mostly one, and occasionally many more than one, liners for your enjoyment.

Saw a terrible car accident Thursday morning right in front of work. I arrived on the scene just after it’d happened and no rescue vehicles had yet arrived, but it was clear to me that the driver of one of the vehicles had either been badly injured or killed. Seeing something like that makes me immediately think of my family, and makes my stomach all queasy. Eerily enough, just as I eased through the intersection the song on the Sunset Rubdown LP said, “There are things that have to die, so other things can stay alive.” Creepy.

Why do you think humans, males in particular, get so excited over more exotic methods of cooking meat? You know what I mean? How males love a good pig-burying, or are willing to wake up at 5am to put a pork shoulder on the smoker. Must be some kind of distant connection we feel with our kill-to-survive ancestors.

I keep getting all these spam mails urging me to join a site called Do I pull off blackness that convincingly?

Driving to work the other day and watching the sprinklers water public, or city-maintained, grass. Were you the pilfering type, you’d never have to buy a lawnmower-ruined sprinklerhead at home depot. Just head to the public park and fill your pockets.

I wonder a lot about, should there be a world-altering event that left only a few alive, what modern technologies and items I could recreate from my working understanding of them. Which of humankind’s greatest inventions and innovations do I have a good enough grasp on that I could actually re-invent or re-innovate them? Even with the help of other survivors, if the population was vastly depleted – I’m willing to bet that some technologies and items would be lost forever.

Remember when I talked about reading that article about how men get dumber as fathers, while women get smarter? I think this is based on the same research, but it’s a lot less negative to us dads.

My first Father’s Day was nice, not a lot of fanfare, but nice. In celebration, I uploaded week fifteen’s pictures to the ongoing set in Keaton’s gallery. Check them out and try not to smile to yourself at how dang cute she is.

I love my iPod, can’t hardly think how I used to get along without it. But, some things it does do piss me off:

  • Sometimes it gets freaked out when 1st powered on and playing the initial tune, inserting music-less gaps in playback during what sounds like hard drive spinup or processing time.
  • Sometimes it refuses to turn off via holding down the play/pause button, instead only responds to a hard reset.
  • Sometimes it indicates it’s playing a song, yet the progress indicator does not move and no song is actually played. Pressing play/pause, switching songs, or even jogging to the middle of the track all fail to “revive” this “false playback,” and only a hard reset remedies the issue.
  • Sometimes it takes up to ~20sec to display artwork once a song is played, especially if the thing has just powered on and it’s the first song you’re listening to.
  • Occasionally it skips tracks altogether when in “shuffle songs” mode. A track will flash up as the next shuffled song to be played, and then quickly give way to the next track in the shuffle without ever playing. Maybe there’s an algorithm that enforces a minimum gap between shuffled tracks, and if a song takes too long to seek on the physical disk – it’s skipped and the shuffle marches on? Maybe, but it’s still annoying. Particularly when the song that you’re teased with is a good one.
  • Pressing play/pause after the thing’s been idle only “wakes” it up – you have to press it twice to actually get a song to play.

I found this photo-narrative of a trip into North Korea to be really interesting, maybe you will too.

Setup a TiVo season pass to record the recent VH1 documentary series, “The Drug Years.” Chronicling the history of drugs and their use in the US, the series is extremely interesting. After watching the segment on the cocaine heyday of the late ’70s, I told Sharaun how it almost made me want to run a couple bumps. Turns out that was a mistake, and I spent the next ten minutes explaining how I didn’t really want to try coke.

Drugs have always been enticing to me. Ever since my middle school years, when I adopted musicians three generations my senior as my idols, I became bound and determined to emulate them and try marijuana. Later in life, after I’d satisfied my curiosity and given up recreational toking, I became interested in the more academic aspects of drug use: How drugs have impacted human cultural and spiritual development, how they were used by people throughout history, etc. Reading about shamans using entheogens to experience spiritual nirvana, and the ability to experience concepts like “ego death” almost make me want go out and have my own psychedelic personality-melting experience.

You can do it, you know. There are several highly-potent natural and laboratory-synthesized psychedelic substances sold online by legitimate purveyors. You can hitup so-called “research chemical” shops and purchase any number of yet-to-be strictly controlled designer drugs. At your fingertips are powerful psychedelics like the multitude of phenethylamine variants or 5-meO-AMT/DMT. All of which, and much more, can shipped to your doorstep with nothing but a web browser and a credit card. If you’re not into synthetics, you can go with something natural that has a long history of human use by surfing on to any decent online headshop to purchase a vial of salvia extract or other entheogenic plant-derivative. Point is, there are a number of ways one could experiment with psychedelic mind-altering substances and stay within the law.

Well… the letter of the law, at least… if you don’t count that pesky Federal Analog Act. Actually, I better stop writing about this before I start placing orders and soliciting “sitters.”

Lotta content, if you skipped some – go back, it’s all gold. Goodnight.