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better sir?

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I'm trying to recall the last time i wrote anything.

Wow, I can't.

I sort of want to blame facebook. Just because I hate facebook so much that it seems like a good thing to blame.

My updates are all there, I want to say. And on twitter.

Only it's not true. I don't update on facebook, and a barely tweet.

Is it any wonder then, that my friends keep asking me if i'm ok?

My answer: I don't know.

My yardstick for 'ok' is so askew these days, I can only answer in relation to how I was.

Than last week? Yes, much better (I had a cold).

Than last weekend? Yes, a bit, the cortisone shot helped the pain in my shoulder.

Than last month? I can't fucking remember.

Than six months ago? Yeah, i think so. I think, just maybe, yes.

Than a year ago? Than two, or three?

I can't remember when I was just ok, with no caveats. Or to be more specific, I remember the times - the short, sweet, perfect moments are crystal clear in my memory, with flavors and scents and sound.

I just can't remember how long ago that was; it's too much of a fucking blur.

So I have to reel it in, measure on a closer scale. And that gets really, really hard. Because the context, the perspective, the range and distance are all missing. Dead-reckoning by instinct in the dark, the way you walk through your bedroom in pitch black and know where the door and the bed are, unless you stop and think.

But today? Yeah, ok.

I keep trying to get a breath, though. To get that little bit of distance ahead to start thinking, what do I need to actually be good again? And I can't see it. Too close in; I'm in the thick of battle, fighting so many small and large fights all the time that I can't see a battle, let alone know how to win it.

I'm wearing down; I can feel it. I can feel my body aging, and my mind with it. Some tide of battle surges up against me every time I think I've almost a some skirmish.

This would be easier if my battle-field metaphor were more true; brute force solves some problems so elegantly.

This is the battle on inches though; of minutes. And I'm losing it in tiny, almost immeasurably small increments. Like when something moves so slow you can't only see it if you sit utterly still.

I can't sit still; I can't see the tiny progress forward or back.

So I need to do something to change the scale. I just don't know what.

Cleared to resume

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I kind of want to write something erotic and edgy, full of nameless back-alley couplings, violent, passionate encounters, or stolen moments in dark smokey bars.

Unfortunately, I keep getting disrupted by things like severe lack of sleep the last four weeks.

Supposedly, I'm still healing incredibly well; my doctor cleared me today to start working out (slowly), and to resume normal activity. Not that I have any idea what normal means, but I'll assume that means I can ride a motorcycle or put full weight on my knuckles now (both things I've been generally avoiding for a while).

However, I have no patience with weakness or discomfort. The fact that it still aches at night may be 'normal', but it's drivin' me up the wall, and completely interfering with my sleep. I want to attack things, and the lack of sleep is leaving my generally ineffective and groggy (and pretty severely grumpy as well).

Next week I start physical therapy, which should hurt, but in more of a good way. I'm hoping the aches of activity will be far preferable to the aches of inactivity (ie, I'd rather have it hurt for a good reason, if it's gonna hurt).

I keep trying to actually get writing done (with 'done' being relative, since I haven't been able FINISH anything in forever), so possibly, possibly, I'll get traction here soon.

My Shoulder

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I kind of had this plan to blog my way through my surgery this week. I kind of think that was over-optomistic, considering a) I haven't been blogging at all most of the last year and b) I haven't really had much use of my left arm.

I didn't quite get there; best I managed with posting photos f the inside of my shoulder on facebook, and tweeting about how looped I was on percocet in the middle of the night.

To summarize though, for those who aren't following me elsewhere - December 23, I had arthroscopic surgery on my left shoulder

worst october since last october

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So here's how it's been the last month or so.

First, about a month ago, Barb had to go in for abdominal surgery - a long story, which maybe I'll tell much later. The short version is that the surgery was more complicated than planned, lasted twice as long as planned, and had a much longer recovery than planned.

The week before surgery, one of my kids brought home some ailment, the primary symptoms of which were dizziness and fatigue. Barb came down with it the evening she came out of surgery. Which means that in addition to pain and wooziness and nausea from surgery, she had spectacularly bad bed spins for the better part of a week.

At this same time (the actual day oo surgery), my eleven year old daughter Ruby sprained her ankle so badly we all thought it was broken (clearly she inherited my feline grace; she did it by trying to walk while her foot was asleep). She wound up on crutches, barely able to move; her whole foot wine purple and her ankle swollen up like a grapefruit.

Also around this time, we took one of Olivia's favorite pet rats (Eddie, which is short for Edgar Allen Poe) in to the vet to have a cyst on his foot looked at. The conclusion was that it wouldn't heal, and the choices were looking like euthanasia, or amputation. Now, normally I'm opposed to major intervention of any kind with pets that don't live more than a couple of years; but I think we all transferred a bit of worry about the rest of the members of the family onto this big gray lump of a rat; we made a choice that's opposed to my rules, and had him de-legged.

Since that time, Barb has caught every ailment that goes around. She's had two or three different cold-like viruses (one of which might have been swine flu, her doctor says, though he can't tell for sure). The last round developed into - in order - a sinus infection, then bronchitis, and then into full-blown pneumonia, with a lovely case of pleurisy (just take a look at the famous cases for a fabulous list of people who died of pleurisy.). She was very close to needing to go back into the hospital. She's been fighting that - with an array of meds that makes me very, very glad I have good health coverage) - for well over ten days, and is still unable to do much of anything.

So it's been a bit of a rough patch.

Last week, Eddie (legless ed, eddie the tripod, eddie three legs) took a turn for the worse. He'd been healing well; he was moving around like a tiny fuzzy elephant seal, eating like a champ, and seemed happy to get picked up twice a day for his medications. We figured he was out of the woods. And then infection set it.

I again had to make that hard choice; follow my rules and euthanize, or spend more damned money. I broke my own rules again. The vet had to remove a hunk of infected muscle the size of a sugar cube, and then stapled him closed again and sent us home with a double dose of antibiotics.

We though we were losing him; he pulled out his staples and left behind something like you'd see on a battlefield. And then, suddenly, the wound started to fill over with granulation tissue, stopped weeping, and Eddie started to come out of his little house to greet us when we come to get him out. He's back to moving loping like an elephant seal, pathetically clumsy and yet fully able to get around his cage. He's not, as they say, out of the woods yet. But we're starting to hope.

Eddie and Barb and Ruby all seem to be on the same schedule; Ruby just got put of her cast, Barb's ailment is slowly receding, and Eddie the Gimp is looking better. So (I almost want to knock wood here) maybe we're past the end of one of the worst octobers in memory (at least the worst since last October, but more on that later.

Amazingly, Olivia and I have gotten through all this without ever getting sick, despite stress and severe lack of sleep. I've missed way too much work due to my nurse-and-single-parent role this last month, and I've been at no better than half capacity when I'm there; but I haven't picked up a case of the flu, haven't come down with a sinus infection, didn't pick up the swine flu.

Either there's a crash coming, or it's my immune system doing that hyperdrive thing it does when I'm under extreme stress. We'll wait and see how that plays out this next week or two.

We could walk for ever

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Forty years ago today, I sat in my family's living room in San Jose, watching ghostly black-and-white images and listening to a message from as far away as any message ever delivered by a human voice.

The little things are what I remember; the furniture, where the tv sat. The color of the drapes. And my brother's screaming tantrum, while Neil Armstrong said one small step.

The universe changed. The sci-fi world inside a seven year old boy's head was, suddenly, real, and possible.

All of us have moments that sear into memory forever; in a real way, moments that define generations. Where were you when Kennedy was killed, people used to say, for the generation just before me. My parents told me about about hearing serious, breathless voices reporting over the radio - A day that will live in infamy. Some of you, younger than me maybe, talk about Kurt Cobain's death that way, and almost everyone I know over the age of 10 remembers the exact instant when heard, or saw, or read about two planes hitting two towers in New York City.

Some of these moments change the world; some only define a generation. I say only as if that carried less significance; yet for some, the death of Elvis or Janis, Buddy or Kurt or Jimi, \Jim or even Michael, may be the day your music died. The point is that they're those moments we will always remember, for whatever reason. Time and place and feeling burned like a brand into us.

But some of these moments, in a real and permanent way, do change the world. Who knows, when Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto sailed his fleet of aircraft carries toward an archipelago in the middle of the pacific, if he had any inkling that he was steaming toward the hinge point in the most significant war of his century, possibly the most significant war in human history. The nineteen hijackers in 2001 may have been in the grips of some delusion of grandeur; personally, they were simply fools attacking an irrelevant symbol, for the imagined glory of a mythical god. Yes, they cost many lives and billions of dollars; but the impact that lasts, decades later, will be changes to the political and social landscapes of the United States, the middle east, Europe; in a sense, the entire world. Industries were permanently changed. The word Terrorism entered the daily lexicon of ordinary people. Governments fell.

Violence, fear, destruction, and death defined both of these events. And ripples continue to roll outward from them; even now, 64 years later, Perl Harbor and WWII still define much of the relationship between Japan and the USA.

But some events change history, not with destruction, but with creation.

June 20, 1969, an entire world looks up at the moon, physically, or virtually, and say, we're up there. Men stand beyond that unimaginable gulf, we realize; they may be looking up into their own sky, and seeing this blue and green ball. They may be walking, leaving footprints where no living thing has, ever.

Children looked up and said, I have no limits. I can go up, and never stop. I can fly. Men and women looked up and said, that's why I do what I do, making what I make, learning what I learn. For one moment, we had won an almost inconceivable battle. We'd done the impossible. We waved flags and claimed a victory in an imaginary race, but every pair of eyes, every pair of ears, every mind that was in any way able to hear or see or read Neil Armstrong's words, knew we'd just won some intangible victory over space and impossible odds.

Every scientist I know, every engineer, every writer or teacher or pilot; every one who was old enough to know men stood there above our heads, felt things change around them. We felt the limits move unimaginably far back.

We could do anything.

The generation who witnessed that moment went on to invent almost every single thing upon which our lives depend today. Medicines, weapons, tools. Computers, networks. We invented ways to fly, ways to go to space, ways to live in space.

And ways to die, tragically and pointlessly; proving that no matter how many years have come since, space is still a dangerous place, a place we don't belong.

I was seven years old when Michael Collins, Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong lifted off a launch pad at Kennedy Space Center, and already, I lived only for space and adventure. I played with my G.I. Joe space capsule, watched Star Trek and Lost in Space with my father, and knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I would be up there one day.

At 7:39pm PST on Sunday July 20, 1969 (forty years almost to the minute, as I type this), my family were clustered around a TV set that seems absurdly small now, watching a picture that was all but incomprehensible with snow and interference. And I was as glued to that image as I ever have been to anything, before or since.

Behind me on the couch, my brother Ian - five and a half years old - was in the middle of a screaming tantrum. He'd given himself a nose bleed, and, twenty nine years before the invention of TiVo, was demanding at the top of his lungs that we make the TV wait until he could watch it.

My memory of the event is rich in detail. Ian's insane screams and wails, my parents frustration as he distracted them from the event; my own confusion and elation, (and irritation) as I tried to make sense of the snowstorm on the TV and Armstrong's brilliant, nonsensical, unforgettable quote over my brother's howling.

That night I lay in my bed, looking at G.I. Joe and Major Matt Mason, and all my other space related toys and books, and I imagined heroic men in space suits cooler than anything artists or toy makers could think of. I wondered what they were doing, where and when they slept, what they ate, and how they went to the bathroom.

Over the next days, I watched every piece of television news I could get; I read the papers with my parents. I ate and drank and dreamed words like Apollo, Eagle, LEM, Mare Tranquillitatis, Command Module.

I'm not sure, once the country had gotten used to the idea, gotten over the wonderment, that most of us really knew how much human history has just changed. I'm not sure most americans, busy with work, with school, with getting by, scoring, getting laid, thought about the hardware left behind in the deep thick dust, about the men who'd gone up there, about the ones on the ground working non stop to get back again, only better, and safer.

But for a generation of children and young adults, that was all we thought about; the gateway that had just opened. The fundamental difference the universe had after.

Eight years later, Star Wars premiered; movie makers who's sat in front of their televisions like I had, had turned it into mythology that would leave it's own explosive impact. That same year, the first space shuttle, named Enterprise by science fiction fans and young man who lived and breathed space ships flew it's first test mission, as far beyond the Gemini and Apollo craft as they were beyond bi-planes.

In the years following the Apollo program, technology advanced in almost every field upon which the high tech industry depends. The study of power, physics, heat; battery technology. Things as basic as the teflon that coats our pans, the chips that drive digital wacthes and iPods and cell phones. Aerodynamics which are used everywhere from airplane design to cars to bicycles to speeding up swimmers in the water and skaters on the ice.

There's been a great deal of dark history for Nasa and the space program in recent years. Budget cuts in the mid seventies caused stagnation in culture and technology; we've seen two massive, entirely preventable shuttle disasters, and no forward progress on what's next in decades. Nasa, like any under-funded, over-worked government agency, began to make choices based on protecting itself instead of reaching out and up. Today we fund Nasa at a fraction of the (effective) budget they had to spend in the mid sixties; and worse, we began to say, as a culture, space? it doesn't matter. We felt we needed to worry about here and now and how I'll pay for a tank of gas.

Today, while I should have been catching up on work, squashing bugs after some weekend network updates, I instead watched videos of the Lunar Module docking with the Command Module, remembered building plastic replicas of them with polystyrene and glue and paint.

I'm not sure when I, personally, said goodbye to my certainty that I'd walk up on the moon some day. Maybe it got lost in my adolescent discovery of girls and music and drugs; maybe it was when I realized that astronauts weren't the daredevils of fiction, but in fact were dedicated students and military men. I wasn't a good student, hating authority and having no attention for anything that wasn't interesting to me at that exact moment. I never forget that dream though; when I glide through deep water, the images of men and women in zero g comes to mind. When I watch video of multi-billionaire 'space tourists' visiting the international space station, I feel a searing envy, not over the money they have to waste, but that they have what it takes to go out to the far frontiers of human experience.

What changed in 1969 was that, for the first time in human history, we were there on the outer edges with adventurers and explorers. No one saw Richard Francis Burton search for the source of the Nile; no one but a few sailors were witness to Captain Cook's 'discovery' of most of the islands in the south pacific. And in both cases, the discovery was one culture finding what another culture already knew.

But in June of 1969, an entire world watched and listened, in real time, as one single foot stepped on a square foot of dust no human foot has ever trod, no human eye had ever seen. And we knew it minutes after the explorer himself. The world of 1969 was decidedly short on frontiers; Neil Armstrong and his compatriots defined, for every human being alive, where the frontier was.

It's going to be a long time until someone moves that line. When it moves, the universe is going to change again.

cobwebs and biomechanics

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I've had my share of hallucinations in my time. Both the pure-fatigue type (which consist mainly of non-persistent but repeating peripheral visions), and the chemically induced type which can be persistent, but also include a distinct muzzy-headedness, and often don't repeat.

Last night, though, I experienced a wholly unexpected side effect of a medication i take semi-regularly.

I suffer insomnia sometimes; not consistent, but often enough that it's a factor in my life. Sometimes this is good, because I used to get a lot of writing done after 2am, with bleary red eyes and fevered mind. More recently though, it's been more the in-bed-on-the-edge-of-sleep kind; the kind where worries dominate and the brain gets stuck in repeating loops.

So on occasions, I use sleep aids which easily gets me past that portal to the land of dream.

Now, hallucinations are known side effects of certain meds; I see that every time I read the labels and warnings (which I obsessively do; I research every med I take, and every med my friends and family take, just because pharmacology fascinates me). BUt I've never experienced a single hallucination from normal sleep meds.

Last night, I had a full-blown hallucinatory experience, from a very normal dose (10mg) of a very normal med (@mb1en, spelled that way to avoid spammers).

I was watching the tail end of this week's the fashions show, bravo's project runway knockoff. And as the show ended and I turned off my teevee, I began to see ghostly cobwebs reach out from the still glowing teevee toward my ceiling fan.

I looked around the bed, and there seemed to be similar cobwebs on on the bed and, and then they began to stretch out onto the walls.

I looked at my bedside lamp; in bright light, I saw nothing other than a very slight haze. But in shadow, the general moving, drifting webbiness increased.

"I'm starting to hallucinate," I said.

I began to describe the visuals to my nearly-sleeping bedmate, who tolerantly said 'go to sleep'. But as I looked around, I found my wall paper (which is covered with a deeply-detailed, dark leopard print, as can be seen in the background of this image) was beginning to breath and roil, and then manifest in living, dragon-like shapes which would move as I did (likely it was my shadow and shifting point of vierw that animated it; the motion generally ceased when I held still).

I got up to pace around the room, wanting to explore what I was seeing. Close to the wall, the paper's patters became blowing prairie grass, so vivid I felt I should feel it moving. Yet to my fingers, it was cool and papery-smooth. My eyes retained the visual of blowing fur or grass, but the experience wasn't the least bit tactile.

I turned on bright overhead lights, and was left only with haziness; but when I turned the light out, all the visuals returned.

One corner of the room began to manifest as a sort of bio-mechanical, moving figure; made of webwork, but some sort of intricate flexible metal spider web. The shape resembled a witch or scarecrow, and again, it moved with my movements, breaking down into hazy cobweb when I moved close, but re-assembling into a consistent form when I walked away. Lights cleared it completely.

I turned and looked into my closet, where a figure stood - and this was the first one I actually found alarming. What looked like some sort of three-musketeers swashbuckler all in black, with a broad-brimmed hat. He grinned, though only grin was visible, no eyes. He bent his head and then faded into the shelving as I moved close, one of my hats and a pair of my boots clearly the source of the vision. I saw that only once, but it was startlingly vivid.


I prowled the room for several minutes; the experience was delightfully puzzling; never have I experienced hallucinations so consistent and visually organized. I roamed the rest of the house, still seeing creeping cobwebs and movement in shadows, but nothing in bright light (I think my daughters guinea pigs thought I was death from above when I tried to pet them, but I wanted to feel the webby trails they were creating as they scuttled and squeaked.)

I tried looking at my face in a mirror, and saw nothing but sleepy eyes and vague haze. Whatever I was seeing clearly had a light threshold. And I began to feel too sleepy to continue investigating what I was seeing. I went to bed and turned out the lights, and darkness obliterated any further experience. "I wish I could write this down now, so I don't forget any of it," I think were my last words before I drifted off.

----

The most interesting things about the experience, for me, were that I felt completely lucid; I wasn't high, or confused. I was sleepy, because that was the intent of the medication. But I wasn't befuddled, so my attempts to define the difference between visual and tactile stimulation felt organized, almost scientific. The other thing was that the medications I was on - teh sleep med, above, and an anti-inflammatory I sometimes take a bedtime for my achy shoulder - are things I've taken many times, separately and together. So I have no explianation for why the hallucinations manifested so strongly this one night. I'm puzzled about it, and curious about a repeat of the same experience. The sleeping dose I took was on the higher side (I usually take a half, but a whole 10mg isn't unusual). I tend to have a high resistance to medications, so this amount wasn't anything Id' have ever expected a visual side effect from.

I remain curious.

time and burnout

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I think one of the reasons I haven't be blogging lately is that I feel like a broken record.

No time, fatigue, stress, burnout, beat until frothy and place in 350 degree oven.

I get tired of saying it. There are few thing in the world a hate like I hate self-pity. Those who put themselves in a situation and then bitch; those who won't take action to solve a problem.

But when I try to write, what comes to mind first is, how completely fucked up I feel right now. To the point that in blots out all other thought.

I look back at my last year's blogging and in between tattoo posting and links to porn, humor, music and art, I find the interconnections all have the same theme. Burnout.

So I'm trying to figure out why it is I feel that way. It's not that I'm working that hard right now - in fact, I'm not really getting much done at all. But I feel, for the first time since I joined apple nine years ago (almost to the day), like my job is dragging me down into quicksand.

My life is organized around my greatest strengths. What I do is solve problems. I didn't have any grand plan for a career, so I derive what my career has been only by looking back at it. And to a one, the jobs I seek, or create, or thrust into, all have that thread. I'm not a projects guy, I don't do organization and follow-through well. What I do, though, is look at systems and see the flaws, the missing pieces, the inefficiencies. My life also seems to follow that pattern. The people to whom I've been most drawn are broken in some fundamental way. Not that they need help, per se, but that they have some vast physical, mental or character deficiency

The cost of all that, of course, is that I put myself into broken systems, and being that I can't stand things that are broken, I strive fix them, often via sheer brute force. I become the link that holds the chain together, and I'm the strongest link, because I tolerate no less of myself. But to steal a line from genesis and a hundred others, we’re only as strong, As the weakest link in the chain. So no matter how strong I make my one link, the chain will always fail elsewhere.

Chaos is the default state of the universe. We impose order for a while; but only will and energy can maintain it. Living things are a system slightly more organized than the baseline chaos of an ecosystem; an ecosystem is a system slightly more organized than the universe. Only man's mind can create and maintain a system more tightly and carefully organized than biological organisms, and only constant thought can produce the ongoing effort that maintains such systems.

Thing want to fall apart; buildings want to fall down. Computers want to fail.

Due to inherent aptitude, genetic inheritance, and the way I was raised, I feel a great compulsion to hold that line against chaos. When I think if it, it turns into an almost cartoonish vision of some Moorcockian champion of order (where's my black fucking sword? Where's my companion and his winged cat?). But the reality of it isn't as much fun; I won't have another incarnation to continue the fight; I can't call another version of myself for help through some portal in the multiverse.

I do this alone. Not because there's no help, but because I can't stand help that isn't absolutely under my control and on my terms. Help, when I ask for it, has to be exactly the help I need and no more.

The cost of this is that I put myself in situations where I'm absolutely vital, and absolutely irreplaceable. Not only at work, but everywhere in my life, I have vast lists of things that need to be done, and in ways that no one else I see around me can handle. Because solutions have to do more than solve a problem; they have to strike blow against encroaching chaos.

That battle seems to get harder each year. I don't know if it's simply the natural progression of the world, the inherent growth of a system over time. I don't know if it's that life, inevitably, grows more complex as one acquires more things, builds investments, raises children. Or if it's the inevitable fact of age. To steal another line,as soon as we're born we start dying. But it isn't linear; it accelerates with time, picking up speed with each round of auld lang syne.

Whatever it is, more and more of late my mind is full of the maddening minutiae of life, the crushing weight of task lists that grow only longer. And I find, at the end of days which flash by ever faster, that I have nothing in that part of my mind that yearns to put words together in creative ways. It's easier to reach for a beer and the remote control. Because when I reach for my computer, nothing comes out but the same worn and blacked refrain about time and burnout.

done now, kthxby

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Holy shit it's been a week.

This is almost entirely work stuff, so of course I can't talk about details; you know how my employer is about details.

But it's been the kind of week that phrase like 'for fuck's sake' were invented for. I've reached the point where I'm jumpy and flinching every time I open my email or check my phone for messages, wondering what's broken now.

Here's how things have been this week, in the insult-to-injury department: we actually had a server farm taken down this week due to a lightening strike yesterday, and then early this morning, my key software vendor who's doing support lost his home phone, internet, and cell, all due to intentionally cut fiber optic cables.

Because we needed more goddamn chaos.

I don't even have time this week to get my taxes finished, so I'm in danger of having to take an extension; I don't have time to go to the doctor even though I'm pretty damn sure I've got a sinus infection going (wow, the allergies have sucked this season). I don't even have time to take a goddamn shower.

Anyone want my job for a day so I can go sleep? No? I didn't think so.

On the other hand, I had the most wonderful dream last night, about a stunning, exotic brunette, though I woke before we could get past the 'looking at each other like something good to eat' phase. But still, it was enough that I woke up vaguely in love/ Maybe I'll actually have time to write the rest that down sometime next goddamn year.

RIP, PJF

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Philip José Farmer, one of sci fi's great minds, is gone (see entry on him in BoingBoing).

Damn. I shed a tear.

PJF was one of the writers who turned me on to the genre. Not just to what sci fi was, but what it could do and where it could go. WHen I discovered his work as a youjng teen, First via his Edgar Rice Burroughs pastiche, HAdon of ANcient Opar, which actually was one of the best books he ever wrote), and then with 'vebus on the half shell' and the 'world of tiers', it changed how I read sci fi.

When I began reading, it was because I wanted fantasy and space. Narnia, Tolkein, Asimov. But it wasn't until I found two authors (Farmer and Zelazney) that I encountered what I'd call 'adult sci fi'; sci fi that isn't just about space, but is about life and people.

Farmer isn't by any means a great writer. His work can be clunky and awkward to my reader's eye today. But it wasn't his prose skills that made him important. What made him important was the wild, bizarre imagination, and the impossible yet believable world he created. Who else could have invented River World, with every human ever to live reincarnated along the banks of a seemingly endless river? Who else could have invented the World of Tiers (a world shaped like a giant wedding cake), or Day World where everyone's in status 6 days a week and gets to live only on one week day. Who else could have gotten into the minds (and crotches) of tarzan, doc savage, teh Wizard of Oz, and so many other characters? He invented the 'Wold Newton' concept, interconnecting characters and real people in common universes. Zelazney's 'lonesom october' and alan moor's "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" certainly owe him direct debt, as do dozens of other writers who use this device.

PJF was, for many years, my favorite write; and he's still one of those few who I think changed sci fi, not just for me, but for the genre itself. He opened doors between the real world and the fantastic one in a way no other writer I can think of (then, at least) ever did.


He'll be missed.

not for three weeks

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I had these plans to post additional pictures for two of my last posts; better pix of the Thurxton, and of course, new pictures of my back once it was healed up.

Clearly we're still waiting.

My back is, to the best of my ability to tell, completely healed. Which means it's time for more ink, obviously. Only thing is, I have a conflict next week when I was scheduled to get the next session. So it's going to be another month or so 'til we have progress.

The bike, though, is everything I'd hoped. It is, without question, the most fun ride I've ever had (at least the most fun ride that didn't have a pulse). As I've gotten to know it, I've liked it more with each ride. The handling is fantastic, the exhaust note from the TOR pipes is gorgeous, and it's got all the speed I need (no, it's not the fastest bike I've ever owned, but I'm ok with that). I just need better weather to get on it and ride every day (I no longer own any rain gear for riding, so I'm still your basic fair weather rider).

However, both things need to get postponed for a while, since I'm going in next week for rotator cuff surgery; I'll be off my bike for three weeks, and obviously the surgery conflicted with my tattoo schedule.

Honestly, that's the main reason I'm bothered by the surgery. The repair in my shoulder will be minor, and the recovery should be reasonably quick. But for a boy with a brand new toy, hearing "not for three weeks" sounds like an eternity.

On the other hand, enforced time off work isn't sounding that bad, even if it comes with pain. And there's percocet. Mmm, percocet.


EDIT:

After spending the weekend working on clearing out mom's house and my brother's long-ignored storage space, I realize there's no fucking way I can be down for three weeks right not. I've postponed the surgery (for a couple of months, I suspect).

Luckily, my tattoo appointment was still clear; which means I *can* get inked after all. Which is WAY better than getting cut open.

bad wing

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Looks like I need surgery on my left shoulder. You know, the one with the flower tattoos, not the one with the swirly black tribal ones.

This shoulder has given my trouble ever since I took up weight lifting ten years ago, and eventually it got bad enough that I pretty much gave up weight lifting a couple years back (because every time I lifted, I hurt myself). The last year it's gone from occasionally annoying to painful when I sleep, so it's now having daily impact.

My diagnosis based on the location and character of the pain was a tear in my rotator cuff.

I had an MRI the monday after xmas, and while it didn't confirm a tear, it did show a lot of swelling and fluid buildup in the joint, and what my doctor called a "down beak" in the bone which is rubbing on a ligament and causing the damage.

Verdict: I need surgery. At very least the damage to the surrounding tissue needs to be cleaned up, and the bone needs to be ground down to reduce the wear. There may be a small tear we can't see on the MRI, which he'll also repair.

The doctor wanted to do the surgery the 14th of Jan, but I have too many schedule conflicts (including a tattoo a week later), so we had to put it off until early Feb based on his schedule.

I'm not looking forward to this. I have little patience with things that impede my physical ability. Pain is no problem, but having my arm useless for two weeks really, really annoys me. The good thing is, it's going to be arthroscopic so the procedure itself is quick and the recovery reasonably short. Plus, there will be pain medication, which is always a treat.

what happened to the last year?

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I don't know what happened to the last year.

I looked around last night at holiday decorations and wrapped gifts and thought, it seems only a month or two back that I was cleaning up the detritus of opened gifts.

I can't remember where my year went. I can't think of anything I did without looking back over my blog, and then, I see a summer vacation that was over in a blink and seems to be a few weeks ago.

Is this just how it works as one gets older? Time compresses, years becoming seasons, then months, then weeks?

When I was my kids age, I recall the glacial pace of time waiting for xmas; the feeling, when it ended, that it would never come again. I remember starting to count hours after my birthday, wondering how it could possibly be so many 'til santa arrived.

A month ago I was shocked at how quickly thanksgiving had come up; I remember thinking at the time christmas will be here in a blink, and I'm not ready for it.

Is it just that my mother's death - and the stress, trauma and exhaustion that came with it - re-set my clock? Anything before september seems oddly compressed.

I feel oddly disconnected from the world. Christmas for me has always been an emotional time; giddy and happy, or dark and sad. This year, I look at tinkling lights and hear my favorite christmas music, and I feel like I'm watching a movie about something other people celebrate. Even Disneyland, with it's old-fashioned-holiday-on-crack atmosphere, didn't break through the bubble I'm in. It made me smile - I enjoyed the music and the beautiful holiday decorations (because no one, anywhere, does xmas decoration like disney), but it never crossed over into my nervous system and lit me up the way it has in the past. I didn't care. I rode a few rides, but it didn't matter than much if I missed one, or if I spent half my day waiting in a line.

It's not that I'm sad - it just feels like I fast-forwarded past half the year. I seem to have missed the season changes, missed the leaves changing and the air growing colder. I missed the summer sun. It went from early spring chill to early winter chill without me knowing anything.

Where are the breaks on this thing? I want to slow it down.

ukuleles

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This afternoon I went to a 'ukulele jam party' at the Poor House Bistro (a remarkably authentic cajun joint in down town San Jose near the Shark Tank). Friends (Kenny, Heather Courtney, DB Walker played, and then the gang from Ukulele Underground jammed for a couple hours.

It wasn't that the music was good - it was in every sense a jam party. Sloppy, disorganized, happy, slightly drunken. It wasn't even that they were playing hawaiian music, 'cause there wasn't that much of it. I think it was just the sound of 'ukes playing that made my eyes go hazy.

For a lot of reasons, it's been a fucked up year. Much of it I've been buried under work, to the point where having a life seems like a faraway dream. And of course, there was the growing burden of Mom's care. With the benefit of hindsight, I can see now that it wasn't just an increasing level of nuttiness, but in fact was the beginning of a sharp physical decline. But it was one more thing I had to do in a year where I've felt like I was drowning in un-done work and responsibility.

There was a brief instant when I felt the pressure lift; when I realized that I could say a peaceful goodbye to my mother and let her go, not burden her and myself with a long, miserable struggle, it was like a weight off my shoulders. But the weird elation was short lived, soon replaced with the realization that work was about to bury me again, and that I'd had no time at all to process what had just happened.

If a crisis can ever have good timing, mom's did. There was a short lull at work, a month or so where we were able to catch our breath. Mom, for once in her life, timed something perfectly. But the window snapped shut far too quickly for me. Plans to combine vacation with work shut-downs evaporated, and of course, my finances are in disarray, with mom's death and the maintenance needed on her house far exceeding the liquid cash she had when she died. So even if I had time, going anywhere far, for long, is out of the question.

So today, as I sat drinking a beer and listening to ukuleles play, it all hit me, very very heavily. It felt like someone had dialed gravity up.

Hawaii calls me; not just as a physical place, not just as a vacation destination, but as a mental state. And more than anything else, Hawaiian music gets to me. I hear ukuleles and slide guitar, and I can almost feel hot tropical air on my skin.

It didn't matter that these kids were playing bob marley songs; the sound of 'ukes is so much a part of my mental Hawaii that I could almost smell the damp earth of Kauai.

It hasn't been that long since I've been there. August of '07 in Kauai, and before that, exactly this time of year I was in Kona in '06. But the last year feels incredibly long, and I feet more tired than I been in five years. For the first time since the day I started work at Apple, I hate going to work every day. My weekends blink by and all I can think of is, when is my next day off.

I really, really need to get the hell out of here. I need to have a long time to do nothing.

I always hate entries like this and usually threaten to delete them. Just nobody tell me to fucking breathe, ok?

i can't even think of a title

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I keep meaning to write something long about this because it's a topic that needs to be addressed in depth.

The short version is that I'm in an utter funk right now because my elderly mother is is a state of decline and I'm fighting kaiser to get her taken care of, AND fighting my own inability to feel sympathy for her choice to stay helpless.

One of the tag lines in my rotating 'description' line in the header of this blog says better at euthanasia than at sympathy and I'm finding it painfully true. I've always been the one who dispassionately handles injuries and deaths; dispassion I can do. Commiseration with those who give up, I find, I have no stomach for.

In any case, I've disconnected from everything non-essential in order to get my job done and take care of what needs taking care of, so if I've dropped anyone, it's not personal. The fact that I can't even think of a title for this entry - something that's never happened before - indicates my level of distraction.

one without so much ferret

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I'm only posting this because I'm sick of looking at those stupid fucking ferrets.

While I certainly have plenty to talk about, I'm actually way too aggravated - not to mention fatigued - to be all that eloquent.

It's just been one of those weeks at work. The ones where everything breaks and you get caught holding the bag for crap that's someone else's fault. You know the kinda think I mean, you know you do.

In our case, it's a combination of tool problems, pilot errors, and impossible expectations, coupled with new management and executive personnel who haven't quite figure out that mean team are the Ghostbusters and Team America and Winston Wolf all rolled into one. Oh, they're figure it out after a while, but not 'til after they try to manage us for a while (and when I say manage, I mean et in our goddamn way).

Oh, and there's that choice to double our workload, now, with no resources and no ramp time, and no budget. Thank You Sir, May I Have Another.

But nevermind. I just want those ferrets gone.

Meanwhile, I'm trying to figure out what to have embedded in one of these incredibly cool custom-made shift knobs for my car. I can't decide if i should take one of my skull rings (one of the ones I like the least), or if I should get a flaming spade from my friend Carlos from Sinners in. Or maybe some kind of pin that says elvis if I can find the right one (I want something in silver script). The guy can also embed stuff like pins or badges or even something like a poker chip or a spade cutout from a playing card.

Too many choices. And I'm open to ideas. I don't wanna spend a shit-load of money though 'cause I'm already spending too much on crap for this car (it's that kinda car)

There. Now at least we're somewhat ferret-free.

Pieces of Childhood

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After Disneyland was opened in 1955, for whatever reason (economy? inspiration? copycatism?), many communities seem to have opened small local theme parks.

I say this because every park I read about seems to have opened between 1958 and 1962.

In 1961, we didn't have much to do at home on summer days; we had longer summers (because school got out when summer started and went back when fall started, unlike today's ten week summer vacations). We had no home video, no arcades, no wii, no ipods and internet. We had to go someplace.

In the bay area, we had parks like Frontier Villiage, Santa's Villiage, Happy Hollow, Children's Fairyland, and Marine World.

These parks were simple, inexpensive to visit, often incredibly cheesy. They had no roller-coasters, minimal rides. They were more akin to what we'd think of as a carnival today. No one traveled here from elsewhere for them; they were local attractions. By today's standards they seem quaint and ridiculous.

However, for those of us who grew up with them, they were wonderful places.

Most of them are gone now; and I imagine that's true most everywhere. Victims of better parks with wilder rides, of increased travel, and later, of sheer quantity of other entertainment, few of them could make make it. hose that survive are mostly now part of chains like six flags, and cater to modern crowds with cookie-cutter rides.

A few of the old ones survive. One such is Happy Hollow, a park every bit as silly and down-home as it sounds. This is a park my family visited often in the summer. Decades later, the park survives, changing little and slowly decaying. I haven't been back since I was a teenager, even when my kids visited with other friends and family. I couldn't quite bring myself to go see how small and silly it had gotten when in my memory, everything was new, shiny, and huge.

This weekend, Happy Hollow auctioned off some old artifacts. The claim is that they will modernize without changing the look and feel; new attractions, more environmentally friendly rides (ie, no more diesel). I assume some of this is seismic retrofit, and some of it may be a need to bring things up to modern safety standards for insurance reasons. The story sounds good, and the park remains under the same ownership, not part of some huge corporation. I hope what they do is to preserve this piece of americana, rather than obliterate the other-time-and-place sense old parks have.

I hadn't planned to buy anything at this auction; I went more to see what the old park looked like, and to see what was being sold. But auctions, you know, they have a way of catching one up.

Next weekend I take delivery on the lamp, below.

This thing is fifteen feet tall; I've no idea who built it, but it was one of four, built in 1961.

Sometimes, one just has to own a piece of childhood.

light+post.JPG


2064376843_168ccd6e7c.jpg

inelegant S curve

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I've had trouble doing any writing all week - or, in fact, any work at all, at least any involving a computer. This is a bit problematic given that at least 75% of my work day involved eyes to screen and fingers to keys.

The trouble would be more interesting it it was some existential crisis, some most of clarity about real life vs the virtual reality behind an LCD screen. Unfortunately the issue is purely mechanical. Something I did last weekend jacked my neck; maybe it was moving a seven-foot by fourty-inch bookcase (ah, I love new book cases) in from my truck. Maybe it was something else. Maybe it was just several weeks of bad posture at work or the configuration of my twin monitors.

Whatever it was, I've spent the week feeling my neck cramp into an inelegant S curve; a shape the human neck is most certainly not made for.

This makes productivity at the computer hell; I can't be effective when I'm uncomfortable (pain? Sure. Discomfort? I don't have the patience for it). Fortunately, with repeated applications of ice, adjustment, and therapeutic chemicals, I'm finally starting to be able to turn my head again, and my shoulders are finally below my ears for the first time in a week. Ok, I admit it, only some of the chemicals were therapeutic; some were just entertaining.

I'd intended to write about the jazz I've been listening to, and the book I just finished (Art Pepper's incredible autobiography, Straight Life; that will have to wait though, until I have a chance to post some musical samples, and 'til I can fully process the book. I finished it last night, and was left quite speechless.

Meanwhile, tomorrow, I get tattooed, something I've been looking forward to for a month. Later, we can talk about art, and Art, and maybe the, we can get back to the sex.

Marks and scars and lusts

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The wound in my hand wasn't as bad as all that; the following morning the pain was gone entirely, leaving behind only a vague tenderness. More interesting, though, was the leathery texture my skin has now. It's like it's someone else's hand, when I feel it against my skin. The ridges and whorls are burned entirely away in a few places, leaving only the exact imprint of the pan's handle on my palm and fingers.

The only discomfort, amusingly, is when I put on my one my skull rings on my left middle finger.

In any case, marks lead to marks; I've been thinking about tattoos.

I think it's time I got back to work on long-shelved tattoo projects. With things at work getting back within the range of 'normal' at work, my mind's had a small amount of space to wander.

I called a local shop today, and sometime in the next three or four days I need to visit to pay a deposit and arrange a start date. I'm planning to finish my half-naked right arm.

It just feels like time. And the other things I'm obsessing over are harder, both financially and logistically, to manage just now. Yesterday I started to fantasize about boats and diving and tropical breezes, and spent a few minutes looking at trips to cozumel or la paz or some such lower-cost diving destination; though in truth the windows I have for travel this year are small, and, well, we all know what finances are starting to look like in the next weeks or months, for most of us.

It's not a surprise I'm a creature driven by desire; one of the things that tells me how hard I've been working, how buried I've been, is that my mind starts to re-direct the energy of avaricious thoughts into basic survival. I stop thinking about who and what and where I want, and think about how to get through a day without losing more ground.

It's clear that I feel better, despite (or even because of) a little pain and a visually striking injury. It's clear because I'm now looking at motorcycles, thinking, how can I swing a new bike; I'm planning tattoos, trips to warm, sunny beaches, and fantasizing about who-and-what I'd be doing in any given scenario.

I feel like me when the low, simmering desire begins to come back. So that must be a good thing.

Remind me, though, not to shop for any new motorcycles. At least not this week.

Shindig at the Chateau

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I sort of intended to blog about my short trip to hollywood as it happened, every stripper-encounter, every meal or drink in a local hot-spot, every random celebrity sighting.

It didn't quite work that way in practice; work chased me down over and over, and I spent the majority if the two-days-three-nights in SoCal fielding questions and answering email.

That's not to say there wasn't fun to be had; but I didn't manage to write any of it down as it happened.

When I say fun, of course, I mean, well, a celebs-eye-view of paparazzi action.

The party mentioned here was going on in my hotel wednesday night; I walked through the middle of it as I came home from seeing a show, after waking past an absolute phalanx of paparazzi to reach the door.

I was sitting in my room later in the evening watching celebs like Paris and Nicky Hilton, Gary Dourdan, Adrian Grenier, Gene Simons, etc etc, leaving the party and getting mobbed - and note that all those links are photos taken that night, as I was watching it from the hotel side.

I didn't spend a lot of time actually *at* the party, other than walking past Elvis Costello and Diane Krall, Natalie Portman, Charlie Sheen and Jon Cryer, Matt Leblanc, and likely several others. The real entertainment was the view of exactly how insane the papaprazzi swarm was. Even when I couldn't recognize the particular people from the back as they left the party, I could tell exactly how big a deal they are at the moment by the number of flashes that went off as they walked down the driveway.

It's a nutty life, being a celebrity; seeing it first hand from the inside really drove that home. And it's funny to walk into a scene like that and have every eye go to you, asking the silent question are you anyone?

Happy V

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I've talked about it before; I will again. I don't think a lot of the idea of valentines day.

Pink candy hearts and paper cards are not part my celebration of carnal, physical love, nor are they pat of my celebration of romantic love.

My kind of love leaves marks, bruises, welts. It leaves one spent. It doesn't include a sugar rush and a lot of packaging.

All that aside, though, love is what we make it, and it needs to be celebrated. We need to remember to say it out loud, and to show it with forgiveness and acceptance, respect, an open mind and an open heart.

For those to whom I've not say i love you enough lately, I do, even when I forget to say it. For those to whom I have said it, I mean it. Those words don't come lightly from my lips, and when I say they, they are absolutely real.

Happy Valentines Day, people.

baby it's cold outside

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Sometimes a guy needs a new coat.

I had a coat like this in about 1971; a real vietnam-era vintage m65 field jacket. I loved that coat, wore it constantly. It was covered with patches with things like peace signs and the Sgt Pepper drum head and various hippy-dippy sentiments; I wanted Freewheelin' Franklin painted or embroidered on the back but I never found anyone who could render it properly. The left breast pocket was full of rat chew holes; I always carried my pet rat in that pocket.

My mom still has that jacket, and I started thinking recently that I wished I could get another.

The vintage ones are hard to find, and obviously, the commonly desired sizes like L and Xl are virtually impossible. So I started looking at new ones. They turn out to all be cotton-poly now, the new ones, which wasn't the same. And I didn't want a black one, or camo, just the same old green, cotton field jacket I had when I was a kid.

Then I found the jacket above; all cotton, vintage styled, skul-and-spade logo which, you know, is so damned me, and *on sale* for a third the price of the current GI surplus ones.

I couldn't be happier. Has kind of a travis bickle look to it, doesn't it?

I'm Your Plaything

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Lego Me

Legate yourself here.

(Thanks,E!)

Happy Birthday to Me

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Someone on another blog pointed out the significance of today's date.

The trouble with a birthday on a wednesday is that it limits the amout of trouble I can get in somewhat. Wednesday is not the ideal day to celebrate anything.

Still - lift one for me wherever you may be.


meet me at musso n' frank

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I've been having' one of those days - weeks, actually - when I'm just craving a cocktail.

But not - you know, just alcohol. It's not really alcohol I want. It's the time, the place, the, you know, the thing.

There are those places you miss; not a place place, not Hawaii or London or the Scottish Highlands, Venice or New Orleans. That's bigger, and sadder. That's a spirit, a feeling.

No, I mean that smaller scale sense of missing. A coffee shop where one once sat, eating greasy food and drinking bad coffee after late nights. The book store where one used to sit and read in a dusty corner. The bar where one once met friends and heard local bands.

And it doesn't have to be a hangout. Some places I've been, they got under my skin after one visit. A pub by the river in York; a fish n' chips stand on the Royal Mile; a bar down below canal level in Brügge.

One such - and the place I've been visualizing now - is a silly place indeed. You know the place if you live in Hollywood; you know it by rep if you read about LA. If you've read crime novels by Michael Connely or Robert Crais or Jonathan Kellerman, you know the place as if you've been there, eating steaks and drinking mid-day with rough men.

Musso and Frank. Hollywood's oldest eatery they call it; it feels like it. It feels like it's seen more old hollywood action than any studio or any mansion. You can imagine Welles, Chaplain or Valentino; the Mark brothers or Clark Gable. You can imagine writers, Bukowski, Faulkner, Hemmingway. They live on in the dark walls and worn tables.

It's the kind of dark, wood paneled room, the kind of old-fashioned chop house ambiance, that just seems to have ghosts and seem to inspire dreams.

Aside from that kind of cuisine, aside from the feeling that someone very important or deeply sinister may've sat in this same seat yesterday or may tomorrow, the thing one goes to musso n frank for would be martinis. And that's what I've been salivating for. Ice-cold, served with an odd, tiny carafe on the side (so you get an extra pour), this is place that understand exactly how a martini should taste.

And I've been sitting here all day, trying to concentrate on incredibly dull but important data gathering (to prove with numbers what everyone already knows to be true). But my mind is in that dark, smokey room, (because never mind the silly laws, in my head it's smokey, like it would have been in those days), with a fine, mysterious dark-haired girl beside me, and we're drinking icy cold martinis.

Outside it's daylight - because it has to be. But here inside, I shade my eyes with the brim of a hat, and I breath in the perfume of her, and sip icy cold gin - always gin, never vodka.

Thats where I am today. But the martini I might make when I get home - or not - wouldn't taste the same. Because the scene is what I want, and the company, the company of ghosts and beautiful, mysterious women. The drinks? Well, they're just the taste on my tongue.

vacation from *

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Damn, I wish I could get a day where no one else wanted anything, needed anything, had to have something fixed, looked at, cleaned up, or taken care of.

You know, there's a down side to being problem solving guy; namely, when do I get the bandwidth to work on some of my own?

I have a gift - it's the thing that turn up on my work reviews, even when I've otherwise completely screwed the pooch, work wise; a knoack for debugging things, for seeing the root cause. Well, THERE's your problem, and Jaime Hyneman might say. I'm just good at knowing, through some combination of intuition and observation, what makes a system work and thus what's making it not work.

So I find myself forever in that role; the better I get, the more constant the need.

I don't mind, you know? It's not just what I do, it's who I am. It's what I enjoy. That lightbulb moment, when seemingly un-connected points of data suddenly assemble into a picture, and I can see the point of failure. It's the tiny highlights in generally drab work days. And more, at home, in real life, when I say, this is the failure point and can apply, or help apply, some solution, it makes me happy.

There are points, though, load exceeds structural resistance and I want to simple give in, let the crushing weight win.

There are the points when I need time away from every single ounce of need, want, issue. No one saying help me or this is broken or can you fix.

This is, of course, the kind of blog entry I usually don't post. I've written it a couple times a year since I started blogging, and rarely does it see the light. Because as much as I don't want to help, I don't want any help.

I need a vacation from the universe. And it makes me understand why people find the spike to appealing; let me go away from myself for a bit. Only then there's another need to manage, and the cycle gets smaller and tighter.

The list of things I need to do gets longer only - never, ever shorter, and the list of what I want to do is almost forgotten under load. I was trying to recall the other day the last time I felt free enough of pressure to cut loose and create, and I cannot recall; it's lost on the blur if the last year and a half. Even on my last vacation, never did I have a day where I could say, this is my time, forget what other people are doing or want to do.

I feel the edges of a crazy sort of rage at the edges of things. Sadness and anger are lurking at the back of my skull all the time now, and I need someplace to put them.

A good friend asked me the other day if I was ok - really, really ok. And I had to think back a long time to the last moment I felt really ok; moments of time, too soon gone.

I need to be back there, in those fleeting, warm, soft, truly happy moments. And I don't know how to get back there.

fish geekery

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I spent far too much time this weekend in tropical fish stores.

After years of down-sizing my tanks, I got fed up with the one little tank I have. So I did the typical thing, and shopped myself up, and up, and up, and by the morning I was just about ready to drop the better part of two grand on a 75 gallon hex tank with furniture quality stand, high-end lighting and a built in wet dry system.

And then I thought about the tattoos I could spend that on.

I've been doing that see-saw for a couple weeks, trying to figure out how to get the fucking thing without spending a stupid amount of money. But after finding an amazing new fish store in San Jose (King Aquarium, which was, amusingly, in a shopping center along with 'king eggrolls' and 'king cigarettes'), I was in full on fish-geek mode.

I'd settled on a hex tank because I have a space in my living room where one fits exactly; no wall space for a big tank, and the viewing angle winds up poor if I put up some flat thing. But they haven't gotten any cheaper over the years, and oddly, the stand was going to cost me twice what the tank would.

I'd pretty much talked myself out of my own price range though.

Then I want back to what started me on this silly idea. I just wanted a slightly bigger tank than the 20 gallon hex I have now, and an inexpensive 47 gallon tank in sort of a tall cube configuration I'd seen at a local pet super-emporium would work. But the tanks, on special a couple months ago, were all gone from my local store.

Today, it occurred to me to just, you know, call the other branches.

I wound up with the tank I really, originally meant to buy, for only a little over $200 including stand and filters.

Sometimes things just work out of you hold off pulling the trigger.

Now, my living room is a jumble of fish tank parts, and I have to figure out how to migrate existing livestock and gravel while (hopefully) not killing anything (which won't be too hard given the sheer number of fish tanks - both mine and my friends - I've moved over the years). But I'm looking forward to a tank full of bright, small fish again, which I haven't had for quite a while.

I miss the tanks. I once had nearly twenty of them. I just don't have time for much of the hobby that supports it. One tank though - well, I seem to be able to manage that.

block

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It's a funny thing how a writer's block shuts one down.

A friend asked me the other day, 'when will you write me something'. And I stared at the message and thought, when will I fucking write me something?

Buck made mention in a recent comment of good stuff I've been writing and I wondered who's blog he's mistaken for mine. Mine, you see, has become a series of place-holder posts, made just so I still have some change on this page, or because I've found some funny lolcat or a song that fit my mood particularly well.

I look back and can't even find the last entry I'd call writing.

Where in the fuck did my creativity go? The worst thing is, most of the time, I don't even care. I look at my blog editor, ecto, and have nothing. Nothing at all.

I was accused of starting a new, secret blog, but if that's true, it's so secret even I can't find it. If you find it, let me know, ok? Because maybe I left what used to be a decent ability to write over there someplace.

Even writing this is a struggle. The effort seems ill-spent when I know I'm getting nothing.

My collection of writing ideas is growing, and yet, they're notihng but a line, a concept, a description. I can't convert to narrative. I can't find the voice I need.

Last night I was watching Moonlight, the new angel rip-off series about a vampire detective. I wanted to like it, for all the heavy stylistic borrowings; vampire as hard-boiled detective. The show's got some good actors, and a lot of appeal. Yet the writing was horrible; a grab-bag of hard-boiled cliches linked with clumsy dialog and self-conscious pop-culture references. And I couldn't stop thinking, god, I could do this so much better. I can do hard-boiled. God knows I've read enough of it to know all the hammet/chandler/thomas/macdonald/parker cliches. I can write that stuff in my sleep.

And then I thought, no, I can't. I can't even write a blog entry anymore.

Where'd it go? And why don't I care?

Mister Peet

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RIP, Alfred Peet

 Content News News 8213

If you love coffee, this man should be one of your culinary heros. He's one of mine.

Ever wonder where the funders of starbucks got the idea? From Alfred Peet, that's where. The guy who founded Peet's Coffee - the guy who pretty much started america's current love affair with quality coffee. Odds are, if you're not from the Bay Area, you've never heard of Peet's; but next time your drink your extra-hot-no-whip-de-caf-fat-free-soy-milk-uber-grande-complicato, thank Alfred. Cause he started it all.

I won't buy any beans but Peets, and their short-pull espresso has spoiled me for anyone else's. No one else does it right.

Thanks, Alfred.

missed by ...that... much

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Here's a good pic of the house I was staying in last week, on Hanalei bay, Kauai; view from the edge of the bay.

Hanalei Plntn-1


I post this as a visual reference. Between the house and the vantage point from which this was taken lies the main road that runs through Hanalei and on up to the very far northern drivable point.

Saturday, I want to a borthday bbq for a friend; a friend from a big gang I used to hang out with a lot, but have faded out of lately for various reasons. Old San Jose music scene people, bands with names like frontier wives, sugarbombs, exploding cadillacs, sioux nation, and a bunch of others only san jose scene people would remember.

One of these people was my pal lex.

I post this because I found out saturday, he and his lovely wife Kelly were - literally - less than a mile away from my on Hanalei Bay the entire time were were there. They drove by our house every day on that road (nearly pictured, above), ate in the same restaurants, grocery shopped in the same store. And neither of us ever knew it.

We spent satrday's party alternately comparing recent tattoos, and lamenting the fact that fate got us that close in a place that stunning, and never crossed our paths.

Fuckin' fate, man.

We also talked about getting our backs tattooed, something Lex and I have been talking about since we both turned fourty, *cough* years ago. Neither of us have yet started; it's almost a race at this point though I'd ahead, since I actually have a design picked out.

In other news - there is no other news. I am hit hard with that post-vacation malaise, the lack of any interest in work or the details of real life. Back to work, back to bill-paying and errand-running and housework. Back to school for my kids (when the fuck did school switch to ending and starting in the middle of summer? When I was a kid, early june we got out, mid-september we went back. When did this stupid before-labor-day thing get started?)

I can't really even work up energy to send email, and I'm only managing to read because I have this awesome
short story collection by Dennis LeHane; I can't get unough focus for anything longer.

Plus there's the Harry Potter hangover. We recently finished a marathon out-loud reading of Deathly Hallows, and how can one not feel spent after that book?

All in all, I just want to be sandy and salty and not have to come the fuck back.

The tattoos on my feet are (as expected with foot tattoos) healing slowly; these things are as irritating to heal as they are to get. I'll post pic in a week or so when they start to look healed and are no longer flaking off like a sunburned comics page.

Monday. I think I'll go back to bed.

Temptinglhy Delicious

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Sometimes words fail me.


Temptinglhy-1


I wonder if they had consonants on sale also.

A Forest in Winter

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You think the 911/pot brownies thing was all about *bad drugs?

Think again.

This fuckin' thing is about bad drugs.


*when I say bad drugs, i of course mean good drugs. You know what i'm sayin.


One can add only three words to this.

"What The Fuck"

(I had to move this after the cut because for some reason it totally fucks my formatting in safari)

days that conspire against you

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some weeks just seem made of days that conspire against you. I am now in one of those weeks.

Grumble.

More on this theme when bullets stop flying over my head.

wild animals

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One of those things i think is just plain good for the psyche every now and then is to work with kids.

Now, I'm not one of those people who's just nuts for kids. I'm not above describing a child as an asshole, and my tolerance for any kid, even my own, isn't that long. I was, for most of my life and including some moments after having them, firmly against the idea of having kids. And I could not get the big snip fast enough after I reached child capacity.

But sometimes proximity to childhood just makes one feel good.

I got shang-hai'd into being a chaperone today for my older daughter's seventh grade class (i know, what are they thinking - me, the very picture of bad influence, as a chaperone) on a field trip, and this was my first with a public school class. My kids have both been in smallish private schools, so it's always been a small crew, small trips, usually with parent drivers.

Today's trip, the group of parent chaperones was larger than my kids whole grade at the old schools. Seven buses - big coaches, not yellow school buses), something on the order of three hundred kids. Again, bigger than the whole school in days of yore.

I had a crew of five thirteen year olds. And was warned abundantly by my daughter that I had a couple of the grade's bitchiest girls (she didn't say bitchy - if she said bitchy, she'd have then had to go wash her own mouth out, but I can't recall the word she actually used), and a couple of the grade's biggest trouble-maker boys.

I wasn't in any mood for any of this. My week's a fuckin' mess. The same old story about work, ad infinitum, and personal business matters that are getting further and further behind. I agreed to do this a couple months back when I didn't quite have the foresight to know I'd but buried. Plus, you know, morning. I'm not the world's happiest morning guy - I'm an ogre before coffee (not the cuddly green shrek kind), and while after, I'm awake, I'm not particularly what you'd call gregarious. So having to get up an hour early for the task didn't help.

But once I started talking to to kids it didn't matter. The four or five I knew said cheerful hellos, and the teachers (whose job never gets quite the respect it deserves, if only for shepherding skill) gradually got the amorphous crowds of kinds formed into lines.

My daughter brought over my small group (what's the collective noun for a group of teenagers anyway?), and introduced them. One of the girls shares my daughter's name (Olivia); I greated her with I have your name tattooed on my chest, which was data she seemed utterly flabbergasted by. The two boys proceeded to try a flim-flam on me by quickly switching up names ("No, I'm nick! No, I am nick!"). I pointed at the tall one and said, "no, you're Beavis", and to the short one, "and you're Butt-Head. Clear?" They looked at each other and started to giggle, but didn't play the name game with me again.

Later, my daughter reported the over-heard conversation;

"Olivia's dad is scary."

"No, he's not really"

"He is, kind of - imagine meeting him in a dark alley."

In other words, we now had our understanding.

And so, into busses and off to San Francisco zoo, on what you might call a typical San Francisco late spring day; foggy, damp, bitterly cold.

I have mixed feelings about zoos. I love animals; while I don't really like owning pets, I'm endlessly fascinated by the behaviors of wild animals. I grew up watching documentaries (and in fact, when I find time, still turn to cable channels that play nature stuff), I used to endlessly study books on all sorts of animals. I grew up learning about simian social behaviors as my father studied it (he was a communications teacher, and I grew up on evolutionary biology and communication physiology).

But zoos, particularly older ones, are very often filled with too-big creatures in too-small enclosures.

As with many older zoos, SF zoo is gradually replacing out-dated enclosures and building more natural exhibits. They've a long way to go, but they're heading the right direction, and many of the older enclosures (like the elephant house) are closed down right now while entirely new exhibits are built.

So the trip didn't leave me with the usual sense of sadness I tend to have when I leave an older zoo. Maybe that's cause my main focus wasn't on the wild animals that live there, but the wild animals that I had under my temporary care.

I haven't spent a lot of time with packs of free-range teenagers (at least, since I was one). And I was pleased to see that, even though in some ways these suburban thirteen year olds are much older than the calendar shows (my god, a lot of them seem to be dating already, and a lot of the girls are wearing clothing that could have made me insane at that age), in many ways they were very much kids. They wanted begged to see the petting zoo, first thing after we finished visiting each child's assigned animal (where each child in my group did a small public recitation of facts about black rhinos, chimpanzees, meerkats, kangaroos, and hippos - the recitations being their own idea, not part of the assignments). They were dragging me in five different directions at once at some points in sheer excitement over howler monkeys, tapirs, lemurs, prairie dogs, and capybara.

Despite the fact that the day was freezing and none of us was dressed for it, none of them bitched or whined. There was no show of i'm too grown up for this, no jaded eye-rolling. When it was time to go, not a one of them wanted to leave. Only the fact that the bus was warm and that the wind was getting colder got them out the gate.

I've spent a lot of time on field trips with classes from pre-school through fifth grade; I was afraid this was going to be a completely different experience, particularly when the kids I had today were described as so-and-so and so-and-so's girlfriend, in both cases. I was wrong; they were just kids, and I remembered why, every now and then, I think working with kids would be a great thing to do for a living.

Of course, I got to leave them all at school and get in my truck and go home. Which is what lets me think that from time to time. People who do this every day have a calling, or a level of patience I can't fathom. But doing this every once in a while - getting the hell out of work, watching kids be kids, and showing 'em that authority figures can be cool, weird people who get it, it just feels like a really good way to spend a morning.

Words are the children of reason

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After the medication wore away, I was left with a soup of words. It wasn't a fetid thing, but it was un-refined, incoherent. The ingredients were there, but inexpertly mixed.

It wasn't incomprehensible; it was simply kaleidoscopic.

This is something like what I was trying to say the other night. I'm not sure it makes as much sense now as it did then, but what sense it makes is more readily parsed by those outside the writer's own skull.

forward more and backwards less

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it just turned summer somewhere between friday and monday - i can't quite tell when because I was well and truly out of it all day sunday.

But it's 75 already and headed the general direction of 90, and i can NOT get my head around the concept of work today. I keep thinking, don't go don't go don't go. Only thing is, work laterly has nothing to do with progress, it has to do with run-as-fast-as-you-can-to-slow-the-backwards-motion. Which, in a word, sucks, and which drains me slowly of all will to work.

It's goin' to hell anyway, I think; instead of fighting it, let's facilitate it.

There' part of me that wants to step back from anything that looks like a sinking ship and add fire; if it's going down, send it down in a spectacular fashion. Don't just crash your car, roll it and send it off a goddamn cliff.

I don't like to do things in small ways. Subtle, to me, means use a smaller sledge hammer.

Of course the sinking ship and crashing car analogies are hyperbole; nevermind though. That's the feeling the struggle sometimes has, when the struggle is not toward good or great, but toward mediocrity, and when the cause of the struggle is corporate strategy meets corporate schedule. The result for me is an excercise in frustration, and of all things, I tolerate ongoing frustration least well.

But let's get back to summer. Because it's summer, when the sun shines and the clothing decreases, when skin darkens, that I most long for days by the sea, boats, the scent of sweat and coconut and rum. I walk out into the bone-dry northen california heat and wish, desperately, for that island-dark girl who's supposed to be bringing me my drink.

Instead, I spend a monday morning, as the mercury creeps up, in a DMV waiting line to replace a lost driver's license. No sea, no rum, no coconut. No beautiful dark-haired, nut-brown girl beside me on glittering black sand. No salt on my skin, no smell of ocean, fruit, tropical flowers. No afternoon trade winds. Just a queue, bored government workers, a large room filled with people who wish, like me, to be anywhere else.

Kurt Vonnegut, RIP

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One of my literary heros, Kurt Vonnegut, has shuffled off this mortal coil, as they say.

Cory says it better than I can.

Vonnegut's short story collection, Welcome to the Monkey House, was one of those books that opened my world. My first significant sci-fi, my first read by someone who'd be considered a major, modern literary figure, my first encounter with short stories. Pieces like Harrison Bergeron, Monkey House, and Tom Edison's Shaggy Dog made huge impressions on my young mind; possibly the still influence my thinking to this day (certainly I still refer to Bergeron often.)

One more hero gone off into the sunset. Hey, Kurt? Say hey to Hunter for me, k?

love you must have

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I ran across a bit of dialog in a book I was reading last night - a CJ Cherryh novel, one of Fantasy/Sci-fi's perennial greats, and in my opinion, one of the greatest writers working today (even if her recent books have been someone off her usual mark). She's a brilliant, insightful, lyrical writer, someone who seems to understand human beings on a more deep and fundamental level that most, and someone who can take that understanding and build characters with the full, conflicted, confused richness that comes with being human.

Strangely, some of her best observations on the human heart and mind come from the point of view of non-human intelligence; as if humanity's real nature is best seen from outside.

This quote then is from such a character, Tristan, from Cherryh's Fortress series.

"This too: love you must have, love that come to you from outside, un-bought and unasked for. Do you understand? You cannot hold it. You cannot compel it. But you must keep it when it comes."

"How do I keep it, then?"

"Deserve it".

This captures something that is central to the way I try to live and what I expect in others. Love isn't a thing to be expected, assumed, compelled, or demanded. Love is something that is earned; one gains it by being deserving of it. One keeps it my striving to remain deserving.

I tried to express this the other day, and failed, and then found this quote; That, I said to myself, is exactly what I was striving for.

not even angry

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Christ, I wish I could marshall my thoughts enough to post something coherent. I just keep wanting to post songs that have the feel of the moment. I've started to post Richard Thompson songs, Be Bop Deluxe songs, Miles Davis songs, Graham Parker songs, and several more I can't quite recall.

What I really want though is to post my own words, and they're just not... coming... together...

It's just been a bitch of a time since the new year; so many little or not so little things have gone wrong or needed attention or consumed my time and energy. I have a list of shit that needs doing that just gets loner and longer, and the things I want, like writing, like taking off from work here and there to appreciate the beautiful things, like just catching my breath, are off the fucking table completely right now. I'm having to steal minutes for myself, not hours.

Work is a fucking pressure cooker. we're working on some new product or other (and as usual, no, I don't know what it is, and if I knew, I couldn't say, and if I told you, I'd just have to kill you), and it's one of those projects where we need eighteen months to do it, so are asked to do it in three. My team, being the support-and-infrastructure people, have to deliver everything from new internal web sites and wikis to CAD tools and licenses to new machines, to new development methodolgies, and we have to do it yesterday. We're all spinning and the work, the real design and engineering work, hasn't even started yet.

I feel like I ain't had a day off in three months, and I'm not seeing the end of this when I look forward. My team went into this short handed by three people and have effectively had our workload doubled.

I am, how you say, a bit stressed.

But what bothers me is that I can't tap into the creative center to even express it. I'm just bitching here, and I don't want to bitch. Bitching-blogs are a royal bore (almost as bad as how-great-is-my-sex-life blogs). In the past I've been able to get angry and I can't even work that up for any prolonged rant. I wind up with low-grade irritated rather than that big seething angry that I can channel into sex and violence. THAT makes me feel better, this, I just wind up fed up with myself.

Feh.

Shiny little things

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Seems I've pretty much given up blogging.

I could claim it's for lent, but I've given religion up for lent.

In fact though, it has more to do with time than with anything else. Work has become a fuckin' whore, a new project starting up, a new team in lower-middle-upper-management and a re-org, bringing with it a sea-change in priorities that switches direction as often as a witched-up wind.

We're short of hands and long on tasks, and the hoped-for new staffing is still a dream, not even a hope.

I've tried to work up the energy to be creative, or even communicative; it's not coming, aside from a burst of inspiration in a blog comment or other. In truth only minor moments of joy are getting me through the day without my head exploding.

Little things, like the ipod jack that came stock in my truck, finally letting me choose my own music and getting me playing several bands I hadn't listened to in a while.

Little things like the ring I'm due to get any day from my pal Carlos at Sinners Inc.

Little things, like watching firefly with my daughter; she's old enough to get the sci fi now, and old enough to handle the more adult moments, without understanding jokes like I'll be in my bunk. Plus, no one else appreciated the fact that I own the exact same bowie knife Jayne carries (including a replica of the sheath) quite as much as Olivia did.

Little things like looking out my east-facing window and seeing winter turning into spring, and knowing that way lies better things and better times.

Little things that make the day better. Shiny, as they say on firefly. Shiny little things.

Need a phone?

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I have a Verizon Razr I *just bought* that I no longer need, as I just switched to cingular.

Like this. Plus! It has this super-cool skin.

If you can use it, i'll sell cheap (it cost me like $200 bucks but I just wanna get some of that back). Talk to me...


EDIT: The phone's gone, I found a victim buyer. Thx baby, and you know yer gettin' the goods.

hyperdrive

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Between work and real life issues, I'm completely failed as a blogger lately. I'd say I'm taking a break from blogging only that's far more organized than i feel right now. I don't even have time or bandwidth to think.

My world's gone into hyperdrive - and I'm not seeing anything to slow that down for a while.

I think I'm only updating because I'm tired of seeing the same post sitting here day after day.

Oo-ee, oo-ee baby

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I posted the caricature version of me from that bar-mitzvah-on-the-bay; here's the real version.

Escape From Alcatraz1
(click for full size)


That's Alcatraz to my right (your left), and the city of San Francisco on my left (your right). The bridge you see is the SF bay bridge, and if i were looking over my left shoulder I'd be looking at the Golden Gate Bridge.


I got to get t'movin' baby I ain't lyin'
My heart is beatin' rhythm and it's right on time
So be my guest, you got nothin' to lose
Won't ya let me take you on a sea cruise
Oo-ee, oo-ee baby
Oo-ee, oo-ee baby
Oo-ee, oo-ee baby
Won't ya let me take you on a sea cruise

night's demons

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I had another of those plaguing 3am wake-ups last night; 3am, which I've taken to calling the worrying hour for it's always the hour at which people wake to brood, or dread. It's the hour when we stare into the back heart of despair and can't see a way out.


It's not a singular thing that wakes me up at 3am; the BIG ISSUE I can sleep on; i know it, I understand it, I can cope. No, it's Bukowski's Shoelace, it's the small, sharp implements of life, boring tiny holes into the skull. You can hear them at 3am; the world, and the mind, quiet down, and let in the grinding, scraping sounds of creeping madness.

I lie awake at 3am and stare at an invisible ceiling and make fatigue-addled lists of things I need to be doing; lists in my head that will be gone before morning, sleep or not. I let hopes run away with me, dread both named and un-named all the while dragging me down into the mire.

I dare not hope at 3am; it's the meat the night's demons feed on.

I lay in the dark for two hours, chasing elusive sleep, knowing that around me people blissfully slept, or rose for jobs that start at ungodly hours; finally one thought drew me from bed.

Coffee.

I sat in the dark waiting for a sunrise, drinking hot, black coffee and thinking; giving in to thoughts and hopes and dreams but not fears; they're swept away with the cobwebs of sleep, at least for a moment. Chased by caffeine and sunrise, they retreat into dark, grim holes of night.

I look for a battle to fight. Enemies evaporate like smoke; I've nothing to smite, and the prize of my mind's eye remains just beyond reach.

I hate nights like these.

dead by now

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I was talking to a friend the other day, and she mentioned how many years she'd been working without a break.

I started to do the math for myself.

I started working when I was 18 or 19. Seriously working, full-time working.

The next couple of years I went through a few jobs, fired twice (once my own fault, once not, and then a few temp or short term jobs). Started my own business doing hauling and odd jobs, working as hard as I've ever worked in my life for crap pay (but damn, I looked good, tan and fit, hands calloused, covered with bruises and scratches. My hair was long and sun-bleached, I looked like a surfer and I was my own boss).

While the work wasn't constant, there was no break; when I was outta work I was also completely out of money, no one taking care of me, no one funding me, and constantly struggling to get work.

By the time I was twenty-two or twenty-three, I had full time work (at Seagate). I worked there for three years, and then was laid off, and went to a startup company as quick as I could find work. That also ended in a layof,f after a couple years where I built computer systems, tested them, managed inventory, worked shipping and receiving, wired computer rooms and phone systems, and drove the company truck. After that I went on to my other most physical job, working in a used computer parts warehouse; a filthy, dusty warehouse full of the most amazing junk you've ever seen. I ran the warehouse, driving a forklift (god DAMN I was good at that), packing weird, heavy equipment, climbing pallet racks like a monkey to get shit we could not reach with a forklift. I came home every day sweaty, filthy, covered in greasy black dirt. The job sucked, but not because the work was hard; I liked that. No, it sucked because my boss was not just a crook, but a madman in all the wrong ways. But again, it was work that made me strong, and work that connected me, via a random association of friends-of-friends, into some friendships I still have today. And I thanked the boss when he fired me, saying I needed to get myself the fuck out of here.

From there, I went directly on to temp jobs; Apple being one of the places I work for a short time (in what's now the iPod team headquarters building, though in between then and now it's been several other companies), and then went to Sun; not a break in between.

Six years at Sun; hard work, and connections made, friends I still have. Some of them even read this blog. And then Cisco, a job I had before I even left Sun. Nine long hard years, where I learned to be an engineer (a complete career re-boot), got a taste of managing people, and burned myself out in a lot of ways, working harder and harder for little or no recognition (but for a good chunk of money thanks to the dotcom era). Cisco was where I learned how big corporations eat people alive.

And then out of Cisco and to Apple; another career reboot, moving from software to hardware; six and a half years now, both some of the best times and the worst times in my adult life (for reasons that have little to do with work, yet which make getting through the day and getting to work even harder than usual).

I add all this up, and I get something like twenty-seven years. That's how long I've been working. Twenty-seven years, and while there are gaps in there, the gaps are times when I was trying desperately to find work. Not times when I had time.

Almost 8000 work days. 16000 commutes. 64000 if we only count eight hours a day; though I average more like ten hours a day in truth.

The numbers freak me out a little bit. This wasn't quite how I visualized my life; wage slave.



I was talking to my friend Jeff - my long (very long) time friend, my tattoo brother, my former boss, my current bosses bosses boss (or something like that); and it was one of those bizarre conversations you can only get with a long time friend. It started with Jeff peeking over the divider between urinals while we were taking a leak; he's theatrically checkin' out the business; I of course, with the week I'm having, didn't even notice that the man next to me was looking at my cock.

"You're extra spaced today", he said, and I had to agree. And Jeff is the kind of guy who's seen me as spaced as I get, so he should know.

We started chatting - we don't see each other as much as we used to at work. We talked about how hard we're working, how burnt we both are; we talked about the tattoo I'm getting and my choice of who to do it. He asked how old my kids are now, and was aghast at the numbers I gave him. We stood looking at each other, shaved heads no longer tight and shiny, 5 o'clock shadow hair-lines receding now on their own under the shaving that has always been a style choice. Both of us with bright silver-gray threads in our facial hair that were not there a year or two ago.

"We're fucking old, Jeff" I said to him, and he shook his head.

"This wasn't how it was supposed to me," he answered. And I agreed.

"We were supposed to be dead by now," he said.

"That's what I'd planned on on."

He's right. We didn't figure, when we were twenty, on someday being tired, over-worked middle-aged guys. We rode our motorcycles and did drugs and didn't always do safe things, we didn't worry. We looked for risks to take. We were not afraid. We tattooed ourselves and pierced ourselves and didn't think about what it'd be like to be old men.

Jeff's right. We really were not meant to live this long; Jeff and I were our own sort of warriors, and we should have gone into battle of one sort or another, shone bright, flashed, and then gone down. Fight and drink and die.

Somehow we didn't. And neither of us are sure how that happened. But it's nice to have a brother there who understands.

3.

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I was going to post some fluffy light-hearted thing today about it being the anniversary of three years blogging. Today though I don't feel like a party.

I feel more like a silent, angry brood. I feel more like banging my head against a wall than like waving the big foam finger.

Why? Fuck if I know. Maybe I just slept wrong. Maybe I'm just grumpy 'cause it's a holiday yet I'm working. Maybe I'm exhausted with other people's problems.

Whatever.

This is the kind of day where i tend to take my blog down 'cause I'm generally so out of sorts it just makes me angry. So if this all goes away, you know why.



EDIT:

I for some reason woke up in a total fuckin' funk this morning. Dunno what's up. I somehow managed to turn my day around a bit by just gettin' outta work a little early for a change. So I'm not feeling anywhere near as sullen and I did this morning.

I would have deleted this entry if there were not already comments on it. But I'm nowhere near as crabby.

elmo likes fire

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This is so utterly fucked up.









Tickle Me Elmo On Fire
"Immolate Me Elmo" - click to play

Uh, props, or something, to Cory at boingboing for that.

A drink to...

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I sit on new year's eve. I'm drinking wine, cooking for family. And thinking of those not present.

My mother, alone in the prison of her home and her infirmity and her fear; she could come here, but will not.

My father, my brother, dead now ten years or so; the first, a heart attack because he loved his cigarettes and brandy and bacon better than he loved - well, than he loved anything; my brother, because he chose self-pity and the need to justify himself, to himself, over treatment for an ailment that was mostly between his ears.

My father in law, who lies now in a hospital bed, drugged into insensibility because waking forces him to deal with his own mortality; a surgery that took half his insides to save his life. He sleeps, thanks to chemicals, with the innocence of a baby, while tubes bring him nutrients and fluids, and take away his waste; machines help him breath, and insure his heart keeps beating.

And I imagine others; some who should be here and are not, friends with families or loves or responsibilities; or those across a country or an ocean, missed, longed for, desired.

I drink to you all; be ye here, or me there, or all us in some fine, warm place where the new year can be welcomed by the light of bright stars.

My wine glass sits empty, and i've a pot of soup to stir, stock from christmas' roasted turkey, a bounty of vegetables, butter and cream and herbs and fresh baked bread perfuming my kitchen.

Happy new year, friends, lovers, loved ones, relatives, readers.

Happy new year, those gone, across a distance of miles, or years, or below a layer of simple dirt. Happy new year all ye; love to all, and I drink to a better year for us all.

Some days

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Some days you just wake up fuckin' mad at the world.

You know what I'm sayin'. King Kong on the big 'ol building, swatting away annoying insect airplanes. Pissed and with all the power in the world to do nothing back to life's tiny, maddening annoyances.

Bukowski said it better.

I want it to be pissing down rain or better yet, white-out ice storm, thunder and lightening, sturm und drang to match my mood inside. Instead i look out my window and it's a dull, gray sky and a dull, gray city.

Though sometimes, some small spark comes out of it all and lights up a day like this, something that makes one feel better. I try to smile, and take pleasure in life's smaller joys, rather that it's over-whelming small annoyances. Otherwise, i just go looking for ways to hurt myself.

suddenly winter

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Hell, when i left California, it was fall, almost summer weather.

Now i come back and it's freezing - literally. That is a cruel trick to play on someone who's been wearing a kikepa/pareo and flip flops and nothing else for most of the last three weeks.

brrrrrr!


And yes, that means I'm home. More to say, and pictures, as soon as I get time.

v-minus

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I'm incredibly wired.

If you've met me you know this isn't unusual. But I mean, I'm incredibly wired even FOR ME.

It's just sunk in that i have one week before vacation, and at least three weeks worth of things to do; mom to take care of (my mother's having some health issues and is needing a little help but mostly a whole lot of emotional support, and being the only surviving relative it's been me and only me for a couple months now); work, which means all the things no one else (literally, no one else in the whole company, i'm one of THOSE people) knows how to do have to be written down in my wiki so that people have a chance of being able to get through a week without calling me. I have to gather up my scuba gear - unused for two fucking years if you can belive that, i havn't been underwater since fiji in August of '04 - and make sure everything's working, replace what needs replacing. I have to pack that up (more gear than it used to be, now that my daughter's diving), i have to take care of my in-laws computer melt-down (which, typically, happens at the worst possible time).

And of course i have that time-compression moment where the mental list of things to do feels bigger than it really is, and the time feels less, in inverse proportion.

What this all does it put me in a near-fugue state where I'm vibrating so fast I'm still; i can't get anything done for task switching. I'm about to split in two and fire off in different directions.

One more week i keep thinking. Soon that will be good. Right now I just feel the stress and can't see past it.

It's been two years since i've had a real vacation; and in a lot of ways that two years seems like a lifetime, fire and destruction and re-construction, and i can barely remember a time when I was able to take off twice a year for stress-reducing tropical holidays. I took it for granted then; when i had all the vacation time i wanted, and the incredible luxury of dotcom money.

Now, i'm all too aware of my own luck in being able to travel at all, but today all i feel is - i just heard someone say 'pinball' as I was typing this and that's how i feel, like the big ball-bearing in a pinball game, whack-whack-whack-whack-clunk-ping-thunk, lights flashing, and around in a circle I go.

One more. week. Sigh.

saving my daylight

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i did the usual fall back thing this morning and went out with my watch wrong, and got myself confused because the place i went opened at nine and my watch said nine. Though of course here in the real world it was only 8.

It's only an hour, yet a disagreement between internal and external clock somehow tilts the axis of the universe just slightly, so that everything looks the same but feels in a fundamental way wrong. Like everything in your house - walls, floors, roof, and everything your house contains - has just been moved an inch to the left. It all looks exactly the same; yet in some fundamental sub-sensory way, we feel it to be wrong.

It isn't, though, the satisfying temporal displacement of travel and jet lag. Because that means we're somewhere, somewhen, and have a reason to be out of sync with the air around us. We have the thrill of difference, and a different sun rising and setting at a different time, the fatigue of travel, soon solves the problem for us, for good or ill.

Here, home, we're simply knocked out of balance, like a tire hitting a pot-hole. We spin a bit off-center for a time until we again find equilibrium.

But you know, at least now the clock in my Jeep - a clock that requires some elaborate vulcan-neck-pinch of buttons to set, and for which I last saw the manual around the turn of the century - is once again correct as it is half the year. So that's something.

Life Beyond IM

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I decided to try something new at work today.

Not turning on any IM client.

I know. Radical. Weird. Crazy Talk. But I'm just that livin' on the edge kinda guy.

I just had this insane idea that maybe, just possibly I'd get some work done.

Lost fucking Posts

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Crap. I spent an hour this morning writing something about nightmares and - nightmarishly - i nuked it somehow rather than saving it. I was just going to finish it up and post it and --- nothing.

I can't even begin to describe how much that irritates me.

On the other hand, I saw a baby great white shark today at the monterey bay aquarium. So you know, it ain't all bad. And damn, it's a cute lil' thing.

Lost Boy

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I can't say for sure when this was. Obviously it'd have to be the 80s, but given that I'm clean shaven, i'm thinking early 80s. Last time i can recall having that hair and no beard would have been about 85, but we could go a couple years either way from there.

Lost Boy-1

See? I told you Kiefer got his look from me.

The other thing that's really funny is the arms. I recognize that face. I don't know those bare arms.

San Diego - some cloak, some dagger

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Anyone out there in the San Diego area?

I've need of a little, you know, covert action, kind of a black ops deal.

You know, black ops:

Black Ops Small

(No, I'm not above stealing a graphic from Dave Navarro)


Drop me a line if you're ready to, y'know, go undercover.

large, angry rat

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Ever have that feeling, like there's a large, angry rat inside your skull and it's trying to tear it's way out?

You know, like it started below and behind your left ear, and it's making it's way toward your left eyeball?

No? Well I can't recommend it.

I am now in day three of a a migraine that feels pretty much like that. And I'm over the part where having an excuse to take percodan mid-day is a fun novelty. I've over the 'i'll just go to bed and sleep this off' feeling. I'm now on the to the fuck you fuck you part where I'm on a hair-trigger and get mad if you even think about looking at me funny, and where I want to take a mallet to my own head to MAKE THE GODDAMNED RAT STOP.

Which is to say I'm not particularly chipper just now.

Someone get me some more ice. And some fresh percodan.

On the other hand, I'm havin' a great conversation with the cats from Skinny Dog about how they make jewelry with modern CAD/CAM technology. I should have a better post about them up soon.

It's the shrinkage

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I started with a new therapist this week.

I don't know why I'm saying that, other than that it's true, and that it's the sort of thing I tend not to ever say in a public forum. for some reason it seems like a good idea, though, to simply say it.

It's not the first time I've done this; I've tried a couple times, with varying degrees of success. So far, I guess, so good, I didn't feel any immediate desire to take this latest head-shrinker out with an angel/24 style head-twist-neck-snap move, which is what happened the first try. Well, ok, I didn't actually do that, but I sure thought happy thoughts about it. The second try, last year, was a bit better, though I think these things have a shelf-life and I stopped when the cons began to out-weight the pros.

But you know, sometimes the loose bolts in one's head need to get screwed back on and tightened down.

I feel incredibly exposed talking about this. And odds are I'll take this entry down in only minutes. But it just seems kind of important.

Dâr Durbatulûk Loves Me

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For some reason i'm gettin' a mess o' hits from the Dâr Durbatulûk forum.

But of course I can't see what they're saying 'cause it's members only and I can't find a way to register. So if one of you lovely Dâr Durbatulûkians would care to hip me to what's been linked (and what vile things are being said), I'd love you long time.

Hello Bankruptcy!

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When you finally get ready to buy your hello kitty guitar, here's how you're gonna pay for it.

Card

Because you know, debt and bankruptcy are so adorable!


(props to boingboing, i guess, though I'm a bit queasy from all the sugary-sweetness)

stolen moments and entries unfinished

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I keep figuring I'll get some time, soon, to get progress on blog entries.

And now, I'm starting to think that's not true and i'll never have anything to say ever again.

I've got these entries started on movies, teevee shows (and why 24 went from best to worst between seasons two and three). On books and the new rings I just got from the brilliant Julian Lamb that I need to review. On tattoos (wanted, gotten), on guitars and my desire to start taking lessons again (so that I will have an excuse to buy a new guitar).

Seems like I ain't gonna get that time i keep thinking I'll have, not in the near future. Today i managed to grab an hour sitting in a bar reading a greg rucka novel and and sipping a guiness, and it felt, for a little while there, like i was on vacation, just having time utterly to myself. All too soon though my phone rang and it was time to go pick up my daughter.

On the other hand, I'm making serious progress on a blog template i'm co-designing with another blogger, so it's not like it's all work and no play (because i'm geek enough to find that entertaining). So it's not like my entire output of energy is being sucked down a black hole. Not every ounce of it, anyway.

Pleasure in the small things, I keep thinking, and eventually this gets better. I'm hoping.

Right?

Let's Pretend

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Let's pretend it's my birthday.

And let's pretend you're all going to get together and buy me these.

 Dsc0099-3 Dsc0093-2


That store was right across from my hotel in hollywood last weekend, but somehow I never got over there while they were open. And maybe that's a good thing, for my wallet's sake.

puddle-deep wallow in self-pity

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I posted something last night that was a puddle-deep wallow in self-pity. The kinda shit that makes me want to bitch-slap myself.

It makes me angry, you know, when I feel like that. I get angry with my own inability to express myself verbally, by inability to just spit out what bothers me.

So I go mute - and the muteness makes me angrier. I'm angry and want to be left alone, when what i need is contact; I isolate myself from the treatment I need.

It becomes a cycle, a spiral, and the only things I can think to get me the fuck out of it require that I reach out.

Even now I'm thinking, fuck this, I want to delete it, I'm just fucking whining.

I'm in that teeth-griding state of low-grade irritation; I'm looking for someone to hit, metaphorically. I need to take the slow-boil of rage I've had sitting behind my eyes, in my neck and shoulders, and point it at something.

How many times have a written this same fucking entry? This is why I think I should give up blogging.

...never write

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I'm back at that point where people are asking me if I'm mad at them, wondering why I don't write.

I don't fucking know. Like I said recently, sometimes the shark gets you.

I can't seen to communicate at all - I'm sittin' here alone this eve - family gone again for a short trip - and feeling like unplugging phones and shutting down my internet connection and just drinking myself stupid, wishing I had some sorta goofballs that'd knock me into dreamland for a good day and a half.

Maybe not blogging is the new blogging.

Wanna buy a fish tank?

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Any of you local (nor cal) readers wanna buy a fish tank?

I have a really cool 90 gallon tall tank, plumbed for wet/dry (that is to say it was an overflow built in) acrylic tank i wanna unload. Tank, black wood stand, hood w/lights. Also a big fluval canister filter with it.

It's a bitchin' tank but I just don't need one that big, I moved all the livestock into a 20 hex and they're quite happy there.

Let me know if you're interested and I'll figure out a really fair price.

This would be an absolutely awesome reef tank, you'd just need to add high-intensity lighting and the rest of the wet/dry. It's a great size because it doesn't take up gobs of floor space.

Talk to me if you're interested...

Hot as Hell and Time Alone

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It's been hotter than hell the last few days here in northern CA. The kind of days where I don't feel like being anywhere near a computer.

Not just hot for here - hot for anywhere, anywhere that's not AZ or NM or some death-dry desert.

It's the kind of hot we almost never her here - when it doesn't cool at night, when the house is as hot in the morning as it was the night before.

The kind of hot that blows out transformers and causes rolling blackouts. Today, we're not allowed to turn on our office lights at work, and if it gets worse, they'll start shutting down less-essential systems in order to keep vital network and data systems on line.

It's the kind of heat where i think about putting the top back on my Jeep; the gearshift knob (an 8 ball) was literally so hot it hurt my hand to shift gears, the steering wheel was uncomfortable to touch.

Even a swimming pool doesn't help - when the pool is 95 degrees and one can over-heat in the water.

I like the heat, usually. I like to sweat, to feel the hot air on my skin, the sun on my shoulders. But not like this. I need more tropical in my tropical heat; island breeze, tropical rain.

I'm not a desert creature. No bone-dry air and smog. I need wind and sea with my heat.


Starting tomorrow, I'm alone for the week, family off to southern CA. I have the house to myself, and as usual, I look forward to my few days of silent, empty house.

I always hope I'll write; though more often, I wind up simply working, and then enjoying the peace and silence of a house with no kids, watching movies I've been saving. Having the house empty winds up almost a vacation. I usually make plans for things I'll do; dinners, or strip clubs, or movies I'll go see by myself, or things I'll cook or projects I'll finish. And almost always, it winds up not happening. The pleasure of solitude wins out, and I spend by night or two or three simply decompressing. Doing nothing at all.

This time? We'll see.

Kick In the Eye

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And he spoke of pastures green
I was never told why
Each journey lasts an age
And my throat feels dry
It must be the lesson
Hidden deep inside
It must be the lesson
So roll the tide

So I began the crossing
My throat burned dry
Searching for Satori
The kick in the eye
I am the end of reproduction
Given no direction
Every care is taken
In my rejection

Kick in the eye

Every care is taken
With my rejection
And my abduction
To my addiction
Every care is taken
With my protection
And my abduction
From my addiction

Kick in the eye

     -Bauhaus, Kick in the Eye



I wish I had something meaningful to follow that up with, or some meaningful reason to post it, but the truth is that I was looking for a line about a poke in the eye and wound up on this instead.

And I was looking for that only because I feel like I've had the classic poke in the eye with a sharp stick. I've got that walked into a door look going . And the worst part is, I have no idea what I did to my eye. I'd rather have a punch to make the story good, show you the skinned knuckles to go with it.

Grumble. I need an icepack. And a long island ice tea, while I'm at it.

Kid, have ya ever been arrested?

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"Kid, we only gotone question. Have you ever been arrested?"

And I proceeded to tell him the story of the Alice's Restaurant Massacre, with full orchestration and five part harmony and stuff like that and all the phenome... - and he stopped me right there and said, "Kid, did you ever go to court?"

And I proceeded to tell him the story of the twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy pictures with the circles and arrows and the paragraph on the back of each one, and he stopped me right there and said, "Kid, I want you to go and sit down on that bench that says Group W .... NOW kid!!"

And I, I walked over to the, to the bench there, and there is, Group W's where they put you if you may not be moral enough to join the army after committing your special crime, and there was all kinds of mean nasty ugly looking people on the bench there. Mother rapers. Father stabbers. Father rapers! Father rapers sitting right there on the bench next to me!

--Arlo Guthrie, Alice's Restaurant


I didn't have have to pay fifty dollars and pick up the garbage in the snow. I didn't have the twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossies with the cirles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what it was and how it could be used as evidence against me.

But yes sir Officer Obie, I have been arrested.

...than hell

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It's hotter than hell, I still have not even caught up on all my email accumulation from last week's vacation, I've got server issues at work and server issues here on the m'sphere (teach me to go fucking with unix groups without knowing what I'm doing). I'm havin' a fucked up allergy attack from this damned weather, and I managed to break my sprinkler controller last weekend when I decided I should move it.

And did I mention that it's hotter than hell?

All this adds up to not feeling at all like being in front of a computer, for work or play or creativity. So blogging's gone by the wayside for a bit.

I need another vacation already.

On the bright side, I finally got my motorcycle out of the garage, cleaned, batter charged, and am riding again. It's been months since I've ridden, and it feels really good, apart from the heat (see above.) I gotta not let it go so long next time. If it gets cooler, I'm thinkin' I need to take off for the coast and just keep on ridin' one of these days...

But not today. Because, you know, it's hotter than hell.

Coop Boot Lust

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My god, I want these boots - made custom for Coop by a bootmaker named Pascal.


Img 0740

I'm a sucker for boots and a sucker for custom-made shit. Coop, I'm afraid to ask how to get 'hold of Pascal, I can feel my wallet protesting already...

(image from Coop's site, props to BoingBoing for the find)

I Have No Mouth, and I Must...

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Evidently I've not only stopped blogging but stopped communicating almost completely. Even my mother just asked me if she'd pissed me off, and she's never said anything like that to me, ever. I'm certain there's a list of people who are likewise wondering if I'm angry, or who are angry with me.

Mea Culpa. I'm sorry. It's been a weird week or so. I'm trying to settle down and write something, anything. The words slip through my grasping fingers like eels.


He is called the human nest-egg
Is known as Prince of Leaves
He is hidden now but you can see
The bubbles where he breathes
He has mastered all the hard things
And is difficult to shock
Has a muscle on the bottom
Which attaches him to the rocks

     --Shriekback, New Man

Leigh Ann Hussey

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Fuck.

This is a friend of mine - or used to be, hadn't talked to her in a couple years. Old 'net friend from motorcycle newsgroups; a gifted violin player who played in local celtic bands.



LIVERMORE - The Alameda County coroner's office identified the motorcyclist killed when a dump truck ran over her Tuesday night as 44-year-old Leigh Hussey of Berkeley.

Authorities were investigating late Tuesday the circumstances that led Hussey to inexplicably lose control of her BMW bike about 7:20 p.m. and slip under the back axle of a yellow dump truck on westbound Interstate 580 near North Livermore Avenue, Highway Patrol said.

Hussey was crushed by the truck's two rear tires and was then thrown to the right hand shoulder, Highway Patrol officer John Pabst said. She was pronounced dead at the scene from massive trauma.


http://www.contracostatimes.com/mld/cctimes/14596956.htm

While she wasn't a close friend, she's a close friend of several of my friends. And I don't even know what to say. Other than, you know, ride safe people.

I think it's a message

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There is something so bizzarly sweet/funny about this.

This is a message I found on my voice mail. I edited it down - chopping out some identifying things like phone numbers and locations, and chopping about four and a half minutes of dead air out of it. It's still six and a half minutes long though.

One of the many things that are annoying about vonage is that it sometimes maintains a persistent connection even after you hang up. So when someone calls me, and then calls me again, vonage may maintain the same connection and treat it as a single call.

That seems to be what happened here. This is several calls strung together but it's all a single call on my end, in one unbroken voice mail message.

So here's the story, in case you don't wanna sit through six and a half minutes. A little girl, attempting to call her friend or her friend's mom from pre-school, because she wants a play-date. She's sulky and whiney and won't give up. She wants that play date. Her pre-school teacher can't talk her out of it, her mom can't talk her out if it. She's calling from the pre-school's phone, and thinks she has her friend's mom's phone.

Clearly, she has a wrong number, but that ain't stopping her either.

The best part is toward the end, at about the four and a half minute mark or a bit after, when she starts to leave this incredibly sweet message fro her friend, I love you, I'll do that forever, and I'll never forget that, and then starts to ramble, and then starts to grumble at some friend and ends with "...I think I have a splinter..."

I have no idea why this makes me giggle so much, but something about it is just deeply amusing in a 'found' sort of way.

Click here to play (it's a .wav file).

(props to GregggggggPTX for settin' me up with a decent sound editor, Audacity. It got the job done.)

What a difference ten hours makes

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Sometimes you don't know how fucking tired you are until you get un-tired.

I've felt like shit since last thursday; had one of those days where i made a plan for something and organized my whole day around it, and then it went off track through no fault of my own. But it set my head up in a bad place. And then the next day I hacked a hunk outta my finger, then had a totally shitty weekend, with a lot of time working, and then this week it's just been one thing after another.

Finally, yesterday, i went outside, got away from work on a beautiful day and had lunch, and just sort of got my head clear a little bit.

And then last night, I crashed out and slept, and slept, and slept. I think I slept ten hours or more, where I usually tend to sleep less than six.

I feel a whole hell of a lot better today that I have in a week. I dunno how much of that's just the sleep (I suspect a lot), and how much is just getting outside a little, getting work out of my head for a couple hours. I dunno how much of it's just the feeling of the emotional load being a little lighter.

Whatever it is, I no longer feel quite as much like doing bad harm to myself or someone else (though, you know, good harm always has strong therapeutic value.)

Whatever it is, I've been listening to some good songs a friend sent me, and daydreaming about tattoos and flowers and sunshine, and meanwhile actually getting a lot of work done.

And you know, the gash on my finger even healed up.

Random nonsense

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Random thoughts since I can't make sense of much today.


The cut on my left index finger still hurts. Man, I did a number on this. But I don't think I can blame it for my lousy typing anymore.

The Sharks are up two-zero over the edmonton oilers. Don't tell me the strike killed hockey; not when the shark tank is sold out every game and generally considered the loudest arena in the NHL. What strike? Hockey's back, and my team are rippin' it up. I smell stanley cup.

I need to write something. I desperately need to write. I can't seem to get anything to come out when I try.

I love 24. There, I said it. I don't care how many plot holes it has, how implausible the plots, how nonsensical the dialog, how purely wrong some of the techno-jargon. It's the best fucking thing on teevee. Jack Bauer is the hero's hero. I don't know how they do it, how they maintain this quality of breathless intensity, but it's fuckin' brilliant.

There's a new Tool album out. I dunno about the music, but the packaging is amazing. This is one to buy on CD, even if you're a downloader.

I'm tired of waking up feeling depressed. This is getting kind of old.

Why is no one saying - this is what Big Love is based on. The press hasn't seemed to make a peep about it. And I must say, I don't know why, but I love Big Love. And it's not just because I got to see Chloë Sevigny riding on Bill Paxton last week. As much as I'd like to pose her that way on me, there's just something so involving about this show.

I just got Trica Allen's new book, and it's fabulous. If you care at all about polynesian tattooing, it's a must-have.

I'm reading Deja Dead by Kathy Reichs. This is the series Bones is based on. And let me say, 1) The show is much better than the book (so far), and 2) my god, this woman loves to fill her books with irrelevant personal detail about the characters. The forensic, technical stuff's great, but who fucking cares about anything thing not related to that? Yet there are pages and pages and pages of it. I'm just hoping this gets better, cause the good parts are really interesting.

I'm thinking about sailboats again. *Sigh*.

And on yet another teevee note - who doesn't love Supernatural? After 24, it's my favorite show of the year, and as with Big Love, it's hard to say why. It's not that great, not that well written, not that fantastically well acted. Yet it all comes together perfectly, just the right amount of camp, great looking cast, all the right borrowings from westerns, quest stories, detective shows, X-files, Buffy, and Kolchak, The Night Stalker. And it's got the best damned soundtrack of seventies rock, and the coolest car. The season just ended, but pick it up in re-runs or look too DVD (Soon, I hope). It rules, but you have to just let it be what it is and not expect too much in any one area. Enjoy it's rich, campy goodness.


I'm having the devil's own time getting any work done this week. I have deadlines on stuff and I'm behind on everything and yet my head's oh-so-full of non-work shit. Other people's problems, my own problems, people I want to help, see, talk to. The desire to be outside instead of at a desk. Tattoos. I need to get shit done and I can't.

And I'm writing this when I should be getting ready for work.


the shoelace
by Charles Bukowski.


a woman, a
tire that's flat, a
disease, a
desire: fears in front of you,
fears that hold so still
you can study them
like pieces on a
chessboard...

it's not the large things that
send a man to the
madhouse. death he's ready for, or
murder, incest, robbery, fire, flood...
no, it's the continuing series of small tragedies
that send a man to the
madhouse...

not the death of his love
but a shoelace that snaps
with no time left ...

The dread of life
is that swarm of trivialities
that can kill quicker than cancer
and which are always there -
licence plates or taxes
or expired driver's license,
or hiring or firing,
doing it or having it done to you, or
roaches or flies or a
broken hook on a
screen, or out of gas
or too much gas,
the sink's stopped-up, the landlord's drunk,
the president doesn't care and the governor's
crazy.

lightswitch broken, mattress like a
porcupine;
$105 for a tune-up, carburetor and fuel pump at
sears roebuck;
and the phone bill's up and the, market's
down
and the toilet chain is
broken,
and the light has burned out -
the hall light, the front light, the back light,
the inner light; it's
darker than hell
and twice as
expensive.

then there's always crabs and ingrown toenails
and people who insist they're
your friends;
there's always that and worse;
leaky faucet, christ and christmas;
blue salami, 9 day rains,
50 cent avocados
and purple
liverwurst.


or making it
as a waitress at norm's on the split shift,
or as an emptier of
bedpans,
or as a carwash or a busboy
or a stealer of old lady's purses
leaving them screaming on the sidewalks
with broken arms at the age of 80.

suddenly
2 red lights in your rear view mirror
and blood in your
underwear;
toothache, and $979 for a bridge
$300 for a gold
tooth,
and china and russia and america, and
long hair and short hair and no
hair, and beards and no
faces, and plenty of zigzag but no
pot, except maybe one to piss in
and the other one around your
gut.

with each broken shoelace
out of one hundred broken shoelaces,
one man, one woman, one
thing
enters a
madhouse.

so be careful
when you
bend over.


Rent Bukowski, Born into this. Or better yet, buy it.

Ow.

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God dammit. I was just opening my new Utilikilt - the new black workman's I bought after selling the Survival last month - and I did one of those stupid things.

I keep my knives really really sharp. And I picked up the package and grabbed my gerber folder and slash. Only my aim was off and my finger happened to be right there.

And you know I slashed much much harder than I needed to. Taking out a little anger and frustration on the inanimate object, I guess, after a very disordered and frustrating day yesterday.

So I didn't just cut my fingertip. I fuckin' hacked it. Normally a super-sharp knife cut feels like almost nothing, but this felt like I'd just slammed my finger in a car door. And then it started bleeding.

I'm still soakin' through bandaids. And typing without the use of my left index finger. Good thing blood and pain don't bother me.

Spring Fever

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ok, so it's way too nice suddenly in sunny northern california to be inside or anywhere near a computer. I want to take the top off my jeep and just go, beach, mountains, whatever. Just out-fucking-side.

Damn work.

I don't wanna be anywhere near computers...

if you knew sushi

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No, I didn't run off today and play hookey. I didn't go get tattooed or blow work off to go drink beer or ride my motorcycle in the blue blue sunshine.

I didn't even blog much.

Instead, I worked. Or at least tried to, though I'm finding concentration hard without a day off. Somehow this many straight days working doesn't play like it did when I was in my twenties, when I could do 12 hour days seven days a week for months and still go out drinking at night. And work well, and hard.

Meetings, and shell scripting, and the usual users with problems who need help right now but can't describe the problem; that's my day. And tech support for newly mac'd friends, which is the good part. I wish I could get paid to only support people I like.

Now that the sun's out, finally, I'm immediately taken with the desire to get out, to be outside, to feel the sun. It's suddenly so much harder to get anything done when out there is so stunning, warm and clear. I think about sailboats and sunny shorts and being deep under water, and it's oh-so-hard to care about work. Daydreams rule me when it's like this. It makes me want to run, and it also makes me want to write. I'm having ideas for stories again after months of not really feeling inspired, but as always I run into the time shortage that rules my life. I have to go do something all the time. A day, a week, a month, does not contain enough hours to manage all the things that must be done.

Maybe I could give up sleeping.

No, I'd rather give up working.

I had a daydream today about asking the chef at my local sushi bar for a job. I have the knife skills, easily. I know my way around a kitchen, I know sushi (if you knew sushi, like I know... Sorry.) I can do the whole shtick, the shouting and bravado. Man, how much simpler things would be, fun fish and drink with customers all evening. I can make a killer spicy tuna, and poke that tastes just like you get in Hawaii. Who cares that I'm not asian, man, I can do this. I wonder if they'd let me work in a kilt. It makes me understand the temptation my friends have to get the fuck away from computers, to do work where they're not sitting down all day. I'm not made to sit still this much, not made to do work that's so abstract. I need to do something that makes a difference now.

Instead, I'm going to go write another shell script. 'Cause someone has to.

Grumble.

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I'm still without a decent computer; managing at work with an old Sun Sparc u60 with an out-of-focus monitor, and an incredibly slow g4 tiBook.

If I'm not particularly communicative, that's why. I'm finding the basic tasks of computation frustrating. You get spoiled, I find, having a really good computer.

Evidently my boss is working on getting me a decent machine but not ETA.

Grumble. Grumble.

Entry number 666

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Well, jolly fucking nice.

My laptop just died. This is my only computer, my work machine, my play machine. My fuckin' life is on that machine.

Ok, ok, so most everything that matters is backed up, aside form some photos and some music. I try not to keep important shit on that computer. But still, all my bookmarks, all my cached passwords for the bazilion sites I have accounts on.

Crap.

AND of course I'm now unable to work, or write, or anything. And it'd friday, which means even if machines are available at work, it'll be days before I can get my mits on one.

Fuck me. I'm going away someplace where it's sunny and where they've never heard of the fuckling internet. Call me next year.

Fuck Monday

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I won't sing that song but you know the song I mean.


God, I don't want it to be monday. I've been trying to drag my sorry ass up outta the chair to get dressed for work for at least a fuckin' hour and I can't face the idea. I'm in that irritating place where I'm mostly well but don't have my energy back; I feel enough better that I'm happy about being better, but not enough better that I can deal with picking up the loose ends I left lying around last week.

I keep thinking about swaying palm trees and tropical breezes and a delicious, Beautiful island girl by my side. Someone fetch me a coconut full of rum and then rub some oil on my shoulders, hmmm?

Ok. Here's me getting into my jeans and going to work. Really. Any second now. Watch me go. That's it.

Really this time. I mean it.

*sigh*

forty days in the hole

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Is it forty days and forty nights yet?

Pretty damned close. We've just set records for all-time wettest march here in sunny northern california and I'm wondering, here on this april fool's day, if we're getting the same sort of april. Because looking out the window I'm not seeing my sunny april weather. I'm not even thinking about taking the top off my jeep, which I usually start doing around this date.

It's been grim and wet and depressing. people are looking pale and stressed and cold. We're a delicate bunch, us californians, we need our sun and don't manage well when the temp stays under sixty degrees for long.

I need sun. I need heat. I need to see a sky that's another color than gray. I'm ready. C'mon, mutha-natcha, lay a little of 'yer sunshine on me. Help a brutha out.


I'm feeling way more human than I have in a week and a half. I think I didn't realize how sick I really was, I kept thinking I was just worn out. But I was worn out after not really doing anything. I wasn't getting anything done at work, really, I wasn't even feeling like writing, I was passing out on the couch soon as I turned the teevee on. I couldn't drink because that hit me like a brick and knocked me down, one drink and gone.

Just Tired, I kept thinking, but it wasn't that. It was my body tryin' to say, shut the fuck down, stop fighting, rest. But you know me, I'm dumb as a fuckin' rock, I Never. Fucking. Listen.

I'm not 100% yet. I know that. I'm five days in to a week-long course of anti-biotics and my doc said he expects to switch me to some other med on monday when I go back, to make sure we nail the secondary infections. But this is the first saturday in three weeks when I've felt like getting up and going out rather than just wanting to spend the entire day layin' around like jabba the fuckin' hut.

Not to put Jabba down, of course, I mean, if I had a floating yacht and a young carrie fisher in a chain-mail bikini, that's be ok. But still, it's nice to be thinking about what I feel like doing today rather than just wanting to crawl in a dark hole and brood.

Now, if the sun would just come out, we'd have something here. I guess I should go get my motorcycle outta mothballs, I haven't been on it in two months, and it's lookin' lonely. I could use some open road, wide-open-throttle time.

L O V E - H A T E, baby!

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This rules:



Love Hate Baby Mittens


I of course also own a pair of "L O V E - H A T E" motorcycle gloves, which I think you can't get now, but which rule. But I'm gonna have to snap up these baby gloves, for, you know, whoever breeds next. B^)


(via boingboing)

I don't want to go on the cart

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A quick update - despite what people say, I'm not dead. in fact I'm feeling much better. I think I'll go for a walk. I Feel Happy!

Thanks to modern medicine (and visions of nubile slave girls), I'm startin' to feel human again. I took some time off work and did pretty much nothing but watch travel channel and re-runs of House (Ok, and hack on Hiromi's blog templates a little). I didn't even really read much 'cause I finished that Chris Moore book a few days ago (Review to come but in short, it rules).

It's been a long time since I've been sick like this, and I'm remembering now why people say just give the fuck into it and rest. I'm not so good as giving in, it turns out.

Walkin' Pneumonia and the Boogie-Woogie Flu

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I wanna jump but I'm afraid I'll fall
I wanna holler but the joint's too small
Young man rhythm's got a hold of me too
I got the rockin' pneumonia and the boogie woogie flu


Well, I finally listened after several people said go to the doctor you stupid bastard. And you know, you people love me more than I love myself, it's true. Why won't I listen?


Anyway, the diagnosis is that I have Walkin' Pneumonia.

That's as opposed to the on all fours barking like a dog kind, or the on my back with my legs in the air like a dead bug kind. So I guess that's ok.

Doctor-man says that I've likely had this for like, a month or six weeks. Which explains why I've been feelin' like sandy-assfuck without a kiss for the last three weeks. I only noticed it when it decided to move to also being some bronchitis with a side of sinus infection.

But now I have giant horse pills, an order to stay in bed for a couple days and be waited on by nubile slaves, and a chest x-ray with my nipple rings showing clearly as great big white circles. So I'll be heading off to bed and doing my very best to do not a fuckin' thing for at least two days.

(ok I made up the part about the nubile slave girls, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't have them or that they would not make me better just that much faster)

interruptus

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I keep having these ideas for things to write about - a couple good memes goin' around, some more on the desire to get inked (two new ideas in the last week), a book I finished that I wanna review, and then some ideas for fiction that are starting to come together.

I want to write a review of the new HBO show (Big Love), I wanna talk about how much I love 24, about how happy I am that Amazing Race looks like it's old self again.

But my god am I having a high-interrupt week. I have a stack of stuff I need to take care of, emails I need to answer, a web project I can't seem to make headway on for work and another for myself (a skull ring web page; I have a domain and everything but I've spent maybe 20 minutes on it in the last month).

I hate it because if I don't get the ideas down when they happen, they tend to slip away.

I don't even have the attention span to make this a good rant. and that should tell you the week I'm havin'.

Worn Thin

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It's nearly midnight. I'm tired and should be sleeping, something, as usual, I'm not doing enough of.

Instead I'm working on a few things, cleaning up loose ends from my day. I'm scheduling training for a group of users (when did I become training guy? I suck at training), answering email, closing out tracking tickets for stuff I did the last couple days.

I'm doing this instead of sleeping, instead of writing. Either of which I'd like to be doing, but both of which elude me this evening.

I'm tired, in a way that isn't just hard work tired, not enough sleep tired. I'm tired deep in the core of me, my heart, soul, whatever you want to call it. I'm worn thin.

I had a line in the header for this blog recently, in the field they call 'description' but in which I usually have song lyrics. The line was from an STP song, Big Empty:

     To much walkin', shoes worn thin
     To much trippin' and my souls worn thin

It captures how I feel these days, like something's been shaved away. A protective layer, a shell, gone.

Tired. The word does not do justice. Yet it's the only word I can think of. Sometimes english is so poor in descriptive words.

Blogless Weekend

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Wow, I managed to get all the way through the weekend without a blog entry. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing, but it's, you know, a thing.

I also managed to put off paying bills for another weekend. I keep looking at the pile and thinking, didn't I set you all free? Go! Go! Move on! Yet it never works.

I did manage to draw blood (my own), do a mountain of laundry (not all my own), watch a football game (my team won), drink too much tequila (though not very much too much), and watch a lot of Veronica Mars (it's almost all gone).

I did not get any writing done (despite staring at the screen and trying about five times), but I also didn't do any work-work, which is good with the week I had.

Two days isn't enough to decompress. I need another two, or three. But that's one week down, two to go. Unless I go violently mad in the meantime and start to dig my teeth into someone. Which, you know, doesn't sound so bad. Actually the more i think it, the more I like it.

Meanwhile, think I'll just go off and think the wrong thing about several tasty females from Veronica Mars. Mmmm, blue hair...

Take Me With You

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(forgive me for a work interlude)


Typically, I'm the guy at work who knows everything.

The guy who's got it all in his head, the guy who gets the phone calls with obscure questions at 3am. The guy who's gotta write out a novel of process when he goes away on vacation for more than a couple days, and who still gets called in Hawaii or Turks and Caicos or Fiji.

Only it's not true anymore.

One of the things that happened to me this last year is that I had a horrible year personally, the same time that my group at work got completely re-purposed. We used to be all about chips, and then one day last april, my employer stopped caring much about custom ASICs.

We were the guys who kept the chip designers working, and suddenly we didn't have a job. So we had to convert to being all about boards. We did it - and we did a great job. The proof is in our latest - and next - products. But to do it, my team had to learn a new business from scratch. And for the first time in years, I wasn't the guy who was in deepest, first. I've been playing catchup ever since.

There are a lot of reasons why, and that's a much longer, more painful story, a story for some other time and place. The part that's relevant now is that I'm finally catching up.

I'm catching up because the guy I work with, the guy who wound up in my usual role, the go-to guy, the technical leader, the guy who knows everything, is leaving on a month-long trip to africa. And I have to learn everything he knows and everything he does in about two and a half more days.

This is good - in theory. I need to get back in fighting trim, work-wise. I need to get back to the point where I can manage fifteen things at a time, keep on top of everything, know who's doing what where. And this forces me back there. Writing it down (thank god for wikis, they make documentation so fucking easy), training people, solving problems. That's what I do, so having to take over again as the focal point gets me back into the mind set I need.

But god damn, I wish I were taking off for a month in africa. I want to tell him, take me with you.

I woke up with the need to go incredibly strong in my mind, the need to be out the door. The need to feel the weight off my shoulders, the need to be warm and free and open.

There are moments where I hear something out there call me so loud it's everything I can do not to answer. I woke up thinking, quit my job, quit my job, quit my job. The kind of voice-in-my-head moment where I feel like screaming shut up shut up shut up at the inside of my own head.

My head's finally getting back in the game, and yet, the call gets louder and louder. I need earplugs on the inside, or I need to listen to the call. Some days it's a hard choice not to listen to it.

One of my little episodes

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I think I've said this before but I seem to have hit one of those phases where I can't seem to communicate. I stop sending email, I don't call, I don't always respond to IM. I'm suddenly not stunningly clever and seductive.

It's funny, I crave contact when I get like this, but I seem unable to maintain a conversation and don't reach out. It seems to be a periodic phase. Sometimes I stop blogging as well, but honestly sometimes these phases lead to more writing so I try not to fight it.

I just lose the ability to stay in contact from time to time.

Home Alone

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Family are taking off on one of those quick weekends away with another school family (Who also have the dad-who-has-to-work issue) The kind you can do when you get things like MLK day off. Not like us workin' stiffs. Which means I'm all by my lonesome this weekend. I'd like to picture the moms goin' down to the strip club while the kids are sleeping, a kind of moms gone wild weekend, but I'm more thinking it's going to be a fireside cocktails and ice cream weekend.


So my agenda:

In my imagination: Wine, women, song. Debauchery. The kind of weekend you half wish you could remember, and half wish you could forget. The sort of weekend when you wake up with a wedding ring you don't remember getting, or half a set of handcuffs, or a tattoo on your face, or knife wounds across your abdomen, or in bed next to someone you've never seen before, who hopefully isn't dead. The kind of weekend that leaves permanent scars and breaks hearts.

In my hopes: Maybe I'll get some writing done. I'll go the the gym and re-start my workout routine (I faltered over the holidays).

What it'll really be like: Work (work-work. I have so damned much I need to finish). Blog work (Yeah, Hiromi, I'm gonna try and fix your little problem). Rent a couple movies, take down xmas lights, put up temporary fencing where the tree took my fence down. Do a lot of laundry. Clean my hot tub. Cooking for one. Porn. Try and find a book I actually feel like reading in my huge to-read shelf. I'll stare at my computer for a while, trying to think of something to write, then blog something pointless instead and go watch Bones.

And you know, that doesn't sound bad. Other than the take down xmas lights part, because I always say you only have to leave them up 'til june to call it up early.

Tree to Firewood in only minutes

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The tree butchers are here dismembering my fallen tree.

A moment of silence. Plus chain-saws.

(I can't help it, whenever I think of a chain-saw I hear Ash's voice saying "Tool Shed")

You know I'd gotten used to this monstrous fallen thing in my street. I kind of liked it. It gives my street corner a primeval forest forest look. If you, you know, squint n' shit. Maybe it's more Prime Evil.

But anyway, it has to go, not least because it's on my fence, which will need to be re-built, and because it's half on a city street. And while my city may be your perfect corrupt, up-scale suburb, I'll run outta bribe money way too soon to get the city to ignore this for long.



85364919 Ad1Fa9Ea5A

Ok, now who's goin' into the wood chipper? I have a few candidates. It's not the same without snow, though.


More tree removal pictures are over on flickr

Another Fucking Year

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(I was working on this new years day before my power went out and my tree fell down, but find that it's worth posting)

It's another new year. 2005 is behind me, and god, does it need to be.

Some day I may write about all the things that went badly off track in my life this last year, or better yet, some day it will filter back out in the form of fiction, turned backwards or inside out or distilled or exaggerated. If the fiction is anywhere near as good as the stories that drive it, be ready to buy my novel.

But now it's a new year. And I don't make new year's resolutions (or maybe I just don't keep new year's resolutions). Yet, there are things I want, need, from this meaningless turn of a calendar page.

I need to take care of myself. For too many years of my life I've given up everything. I need to focus on my own sanity and my body. My health, physical and mental.

I need to focus on my job. For too much of the last year I've fooled around and coasted. I used to be a pretty good engineer. I used to be the glue that holds it all together at work, the way I am at home.

I need to be more open with my friends. I hide too much, I build walls. The people who truly know me could be counted on one hand with fingers left over. I need to not be afraid to hurt. Physical pain is nothing to me, but when I open my heart a knife goes through it. I need to not fear that.

I need to strive for what I want, and not ever give up. The HOLD FAST tattoo on my hands mean that; like joe pike in robert crais' elvis cole novels, who has arrows on his shoulders meaning never give ground, never retreat, never back up, I need to stand and fight. I can have what I want, it's out there to be taken. I must take it, and not let life's small obstacles defeat me. I must look you in the eye and tell you how I feel, each one of you that really matters to me.

2004 was a year of glory and love and friendship; 2005 was it's inverse, a year where I could feel my soul being flayed, where I could feel the things I wanted, needed, slipping between my fingers, evaporating like smoke. I won't see another year like 2004 in the near future, and yet, if I do not see another year like '05, that will be ok.

It's only the turn of a page, a digit, another day. Yet the year turns and marks a unit of time that defines an incredibly bad series of events, bad choices, bad times, bad feelings. It needs to be over and I need to find a way to make my life what I want it to be, rather than what it's been made for me.

Hello, 2006.

More of the Morning Wood

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Click the image to see the whole set on flickr. (I fuckin' hate flickr.)


(and I blame Whirly for the title of this post)

if a tree falls on my house, will anyone hear it?

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I'll have more pictures on flickr as soon as I can upload them (flickr's being a bitch right now), but here's the tree that almost fell on my house new year's day (click the pic for detail).

Img 1274 2

We had what is, for northern california, a major storm come through new years eve. Major winds and flooding rain (I'm glad I live in the foothills, no flood watch within miles of me - it's still pissing down as I type this). We woke to power out new year's day, but then about 9:30 am our neighbor came to the door and said "Did you see your tree?"

We didn't even hear it fall. Missed my house by a few feet. You can't really get the scale of this tree from the picture, but it goes way past what you see here.

No one was hurt, and the cars that are usually parked here were missed completely. The only damage is to my fence and the play structure in the back yard.

The phrase dodged a bullet comes to mind. My kids and my friends kid were playing on the other side of that chimney you see in the picture when the tree went down. This could have been a very different entry if the wind had shifted a little.

The box in your boxing day

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I can't seem to find a lot to say this morning, partly due to my being sick, partly due to the way-too-much-food hangover. I had a decent xmas day - lower than usual in-law tension, due to one old irritant having died and one being out of town this year, and due to my having done most of the cooking (which also meant the food was better than usual). I don't think anyone wound up crying, which may mean my kids are growing up.

But here's to Shay, who certainly knows how to put the box in your boxing day. That right there is the xmas spirit I'm talkin' about.

Stinky Boxes and Dead TiVos

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Life's trivial annoyances.

Yesterday, I got a shipment from Sephora.com - items selected from someone's wishlist for xmas. Like, a hundred and fifty bucks worth of high-end beauty products.

So the box just reeks when I get it. Like a fucking french whorehouse. And I'm thinking, this can't be good.

Turns out one of the products inside - a bottle of Jonathan Product shampoo, has burst during shipment, completely soaking everything inside, including all the fussy gift-wrapping, the paperwork, everything, with this stinking golden goo.

Fuck. So the labor-saving idea I had, to order it, turns into another xmas week mall trek to return this dripping slimy box.

Mmm. Dripping box. Wait, the clerks at Sephora are generally total babes, maybe this won't suck.

And then there's my TiVo. Which picked yesterday to die. And of course a TiVo is a commodity like a cell phone, you don't repair it, you just buy a new one when it's out of warranty. Which it is, of course. Nevermind the hours of teevee I had saved on it to be watched over my holiday break, movies and marathons of Nip/Tuck (which I admit I'm saving because it's suckage seems to know no bounds this season; yet I can't look away).

But it's another of those fucking expenses I can't really afford, yet have to pay.

I don't even watch that much teevee. Why do I need two TiVos? Yet, of course, the few things I do watch are always on the same day, at the same time. And I never, ever watch teevee live anymore, once you get used to TiVo you can't.

I'm thinking about bypassing the mall and just heading for the horizon when I leave work. Who's with me?

We Wants the Redhead!

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A late birthday gift from Brutha Ray, shipped from the Magic Kingdom. Thank you my friend, You know the way to a pirate's heart.

Strike your colors you brazen wench! No need to expose your superstructure!

Img 0996 1

(click the image for detail)

Hello Kitty, Hello Dave

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You know, really, I hate the whole hello kitty thing. I just don't get how it became some sort of pop icon.

And yet - for some reason I don't understand - I love this Fender Hello Kitty Guitar.

Maybe it's just the image from the web site:

Picture 1

I dunno. But someone I find the whole idea utterly charming. And not only do I want to buy this guitar for several female friends, I also [shudder] want one of my own.

Ken? Ken? You need one also. When you sell that Selmar horn, think pink kitty.

But it's not just me. Even my man Dave Navarro has to have one:

Hellokitty-Thumb

Mmm. Pink Kitty.

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