Phantastic Fotomosaics

So for a while now (remember this?) I’ve been looking into how to make something kewl using a number of smaller parts. I had, back in the day, made a wallpaper I was fond of using Nine Inch Nails lyrics. But this time I wanted to use just photos, like a photomosaic So I started looking for some software that could help me out, and I’ve found a few, including one linux command line version that thus far has worked pretty swell for me (metapixel). So I thought I’d show you my intial trial of it.

For these things you really need a lot of photos to make these things work well, so I decided to put together all of my Europe (Italy, France, UK, and Ireland) photos, and then pick a good photo from one of those trips to test it out. You’ll remember this shot Joel took that I really liked… well this will be the photo I want to recreate:

Me Hunched Over

So after collecting all the europe photos together into a directory, I ran the thing a number of times, altering some settings until I got a result I was impressed with. Here is a closeup of the final result at full size. This section contains my head.

detailed shot

And here we have the full photo (Scaled down of course. I have a big version, and a giant version to check out.. the actual image is twice the size of the giant image, and you’re not going to wait for it to download…

photomosaic me

Who Are 3 People Who Have Never Been in My Kitchen.

Hey there. It’s been a good day, and here I find myself with time to write. Score. As I type this I am watching Rachel play Zelda: Windwaker on the big TV with the Surround sound going.. and I have to say, it both looks and sounds awesome. She’s having a bit of trouble swinging from hanging torchlight to hanging torchlight. For those of you who are quite interested in these kinds of things, she and I started dating a little while ago.. so whomever had the beginning of January in the betting pool, you win a prize. Okay, I just did the torchlight swingy thing. I really like Zelda.

So, a while back, while I was doing my exercises and waiting for my TV to arrive, I heard this really loud cracking sound. So I looked outside, and there was a van stopped just short of falling into the small creek running by our building… And it looked like it had run into the wood railing set up to prevent just such an event. So I started taking pictures of it, and it turned out to be pretty entertaining.

A L-O-N-G while ago, Tuuk, Joel, Andy, and I played, and defeated, Zelda: 4 Swords. Now it’s no secret that I like Zelda, but this game is worth praising, as it managed to make an extremely enjoyable multi-player game out of a genre that has up to this point been solely a one player affair. I was particularly impressed with the length of the game, the variety of the puzzles, and the way they were adapted to really require all 4 players to work together (while still secretly scheming to screw the other 3 players over somehow). Playing all that Zelda made me want to get back into the swing of gaming.. so I picked up Zelda : Link to the Past which I was about halfway through, and ended up playing through and beating on the Gameboy Advance.. I quick played through Zelda 1 again just for fun, and now I’m a small ways into Zelda : Link’s Awakening DX.. though I suspect that’ll remain on hold for a while….

If you haven’t heard of Jim Gaffigan, you should check him out. He’s a stand up comedian, and he’s hilarious. Also, he was Toby Gibbons on Ed.

I got a new work computer, and have spent most of my time the last week or so setting it all up.. I gotta say, now that it’s all set up, it’s pretty snazzy. I even got those play/pause/stop/skip forward/skip back buttons working in Linux.. and getting anything to work in linux is a bit of a pain.

Here’s the deal: Paris Hilton is neither a marketing genius nor a character to be looked up to. Why is she on TV so much, and who are these people that are interested in her?

In that same vein: Ashlee Simpson. Why does she still have a career? Why did she get one in the first place? Your 15 minutes were up the minute you stepped out for your second “song” on SNL.

If you want to weep for the future, turn on the Disney channel. Within a few minutes you will forced to sit through what is generously called a “music video”. It will make a small part of you die inside. and it will probably feature Raven Symone at some point as well. And here’s the thing: Hillary Duff: It’s not even fun making fun of you anymore. It’s like you’re not even trying. I was gonna spoof the trailer to your movie… but the trailer was just so bad, that a simple transcript of the thing was more funny than anything I could have written. Here’s the deal: You’re not talented. There, I said it, Please plan your life accordingly.

Anyone else tired of those NFL Officials beer commercials? Yeah. Dear Ad Wizards: Time to move on.

I’m in physical therapy now.. 3 times a week. They say I’m making good progress, which I take as a good sign. It’s occasionally painful, but nothing horrible. I’m assuming that comes later.

I started doing that trivia thing. You may have noticed. I don’t know if any of you remember that episode of Cheers where Cliff was on Jeopardy, but Cliff answered the final question “Who are 4 people who have never been in my kitchen.” Alex Trebek shows up in the bar, and explains that although many answers can be technically “not wrong” there is only one “correct” answer for the question that is asked. Well, just remember that. Your answer may not be “wrong” but that doesn’t mean you’re getting points. Deal.

Now I’m tired. Goodnight

UK and Ireland, Day 6.

A few things first:
Spider Update: I killed that nasty thing the other day. I saw him on the floor, trying to make a break for it, and I beat that thing to death with my fists. With its last breaths, it cursed my name, and screamed “I will have my revenge!”

Also, I cleaned out my closet, and am getting rid of a ton of computer stuff.. so if you are in in need or for any reason desire: old printers, cd-roms, keyboards, mice, speakers, towers, RAM, motherboards, processors, or various PCI cards, I’ve got plenty. Everything works, I just have no need for any of it… not until I give it away, anyway.

Now on to this post. Day 6 was a traveling day, but turned out to be a fantastic day anyway, providing us with what I think we all now agree was the finest moment of the trip: Listening to traditional Irish songs sung by good old drunken Irishmen on the train. Anyway, the goal was to go from Edinburgh to Galway (Scotland to Western Ireland), but we ended up staying in Dublin, which worked out even better, I think. As much of the time was spent on the train, I had plenty of time to write.. Here’s where I caught up quite a bit on previous days, and just sorta rambled about things that were going on… until the music started, and I just sat back and enjoyed it all. Pictures as always.


6/8 Train to Glasgow

it’s about 8:11, we’ve just hopped on the train from Edinburgh to Glasgow… today is or big travel day, going from Edinburgh to Glasgow, across to the coast, then take the Ferry across to Ireland, then to Belfast, then across Ireland to Galway. We’ll see how we do. We woke up at 7:15, got set, and had breakfast at 7:30 (When the free breakfast starts), headed out by a bit before 8, then hit the 8:11 train. I ran around the station looking for a place that sold razors, but no love. Oh well. Any cue what the “Roseburn Stand” is? We just past it… I was guessing it was a football stadium. So now we’re on our way to Glasgow.. I think it’s about an hour. Time to catch up on day 1 and 2.


6/8 Glasgow Train Station

We’re about to leave for Stranraer..which is where the ferry to Ireland [Belfast] leaves from… we just spent the last few (2ish) hours in Glasgow.Glasgow our [this] train didn’t leave til 11:40, and we arrived at around 9-something, so we had some time to kill.. First I ran to a store and bought some razors.. Yea! Course they didn’t have just one, so the cheapest I could buy was a package of 10. Such is life. Next we headed out.. and followed Robb as he led us … in one big circle… It was starting to rain a little bit, and looked for a time like it would rain harder, but then it cleared up. Meanwhile, we headed off (in the right direction) towards Glasgow Cathedral.. We hit George Square, which had a number of statues, and a war memorial… then continued on our way towards the Cathedral, but it was still a decent ways off, and we decided to head back… we grabbed some food at Burger King (Where all Dragon-Masters eat!), ( I got a giant Orange Fanta!) then they called out our train, and we boarded, and that brings us up to now.

mountains We all had things that we wanted to see/hear/experience on this trip. I mean besides the obvious stuff, like Big Ben, and the Cliffs in Ireland (though I think i was the one that really pushed for those cliffs. they’re going to rule). and castles and stuff. Just small random things. Mine was Suits of armor, and I got those in the Tower of London and Edinburgh castle. Joel wanted to here that recognizable English siren .. the “EEE-Ooh, EEE-Ooh, EEE-Ooh” sounding one that you hear in the movies. Robb’s was… Robb wanted to see someone working on /putting up the straw on their straw roof of their house somewhere out in the hill country.. hey.. we all have different priorities, and who am I to judge his… His seems somewhat less likely to be fulfilled, but you never know.

Also, “We Built This City on Rock and Roll” had made no less than 10 appearances in the last 2 days.

We’re about an hour or two into the trip, and it’s really beautiful out here.. old timey, with old stone walls cutting across the tall green hills.. and sheep EVERYWHERE. the sheep look like they’re having a good time.


6/8 Harbor

We’re currently sitting in a waiting room at Stranrear. We’ve gone through security and now just need to wait another 10 minutes for the boat to be ready. It was pretty kewl when we got into this station… We were moving along fine and all of a sudden…BAM! Surrounded by water! Very kewl.

We’re watching a British soap opera…It isn’t good..at all.


6/8 On the Ferry

Okay, when I hear “ferry boat”, I think that ship that Balki was on in the opening theme to Perfect Strangers… You know, a little thing where everyone is standing outside against the railing, battling the elements… ferry boatYou know… Meanwhile the poorer classes are down below in steerage dancing traditional homeland dances, and dreaming dreams of their new life in the New World…. Okay, maybe not that last part… Anyway.. this thing is more like a mini cruise ship.. or at least what I imagine a cruise ship to be like, having never been on one before.. there is a Quiet Lounge to my right, then a Burger King and a Cafe’ Next to that is Stingers Bar and Spikes Sports Bar. Guest Services is right next to the shopping center.. (and we’re not talking Ferry Gift Shop here, we’re talking Mall. then there’s the Kiddie Play area and family center (including child Cinema).. then there’s a Trucker’s Lounge/restaurant. then there’s a first place section with seats facing out the front… I’m assuming they’re special heated massage chairs that slip gold coins into your pockets while you sit there.. This Ferry rules. Robb and Joel have run off to see the rest of the ship… I don’t expect to see them again until… maybe next Monday. We’re finally getting a mix of Scottish and Irish accents now, so that’s fun… I have a bit of trouble differentiating the two, so we’ll see how well I do.

I hope Joel buys me some chips. [As in french Fries.. not potato chips.. though man, I could go for some potato chips too…. ]

He totally bought me fries… I’m in heaven.

they have these little chicken thingers, and they are so very good.. Joel got some.. and I had a few.. then I bought some (well, I sent Robb off with money.. cause I’m fat and lazy). Very Very good.

We’re alongside some land now.. not sure what it is. We’re got another half hour or so.. then it’s on to another train to hopefully get to Galway. It’ll be a shame to leave this ferry, though, cause it’s really nice.

Okay, we nearing the end of the ferry ride and we were just given chocolates…This ferry rules!

Also, this little girl just came running into this section to say (yell) to her parents:”I flushed the toilet!”
Awesome.

We’ll be docking soon.


6/8 Train to Dublin

Well after a nice long walk (about 20 minutes I guess.) we arrived at the station.. there was another guy on the boat, Thomas, originally from Norway, now living in Dublin, that was headed to the train station..thomashe had a full pack as well, and was asking the guy near the front of the boat harbor dealie where the train station was, so when we followed right after to ask, the guy said “follow him, and if you get lost, you all get lost.” Joel talked with him much of the walk to the train station.. I was behind a bit, taking pictures (shocker, eh?). Anyway, we eventually made it to the station, and by the time I returned from the bathroom (That Super-sized Orange Fanta filled me up, then wanted out bad) it was determined that we’d be unable to make it to Galway this evening. Now the decision must be made to either stay in Dublin tonight and tomorrow, and try to hit Galway on Thursday, or try to head out tomorrow morning to Galway, then head back that same evening. I’m leaning towards that latter one, but don’t really care that much.. Either way, we’ll see the same stuff. There is also talk of staying in Galway for the night, which seems unnecessary (unless forced by train schedules) or trying to go from Galway all the way to Wales… which seems not likely to work, time wise.

So anyway, at the moment I’m in Belfast, Well, on the train. So there’s another city I can add to the list of places I have been. There’s a large group of what I believe to be field-hockey (though it may be some other sport where kids are armed with small curved wooden sticks with fairly large flat heads) players (kids.. age between 8-14).. Then there is also a large group of older men, all wearing suits with crests and seals of something important (I’m thinking military), and they’re all very jokey with each other (and everyone else, it would seem.)

Anyway, we are now debating what the best plan of action is for the next few days. There’s a lot of conjecture about train times and all that, and occasionally Thomas (he’s sitting by us on the train) will chime in with some helpful information like “I doubt you’ll be able to make it from X to Y in one day.. it’d be quicker to go to to Dublin, then across to Wales then down through Wales.” Without a train schedule, it’s kinda hard to make definite plans.

Thus far Ireland looks just like Scotland, only with more drunken anger. Zing.. Take that Ireland!

I slept, for about a half hour… and now I’m all nappy/yawny.. We’re going pretty slow, on the train that is… so Thomas doesn’t think we’ll make it there til 9ish.. (we’re due to arrive at 8:30ish?) Joel and Thomas are talking about piano stuff (Thomas is a piano player, apparently) It’s all interesting, and Thomas is a very nice, friendly guy. At this point, I’d very much like to shave, cause I feel disgusting.

Oh also, it’s beautiful outside.. very green, very rolly hills.

Irish SingersSeriously, these old guys sitting near us.. actually they’re filling the whole car. .. They are very loud, kinda old, and very Irish.. Thick accents… Um.. If you’ve ever seen “Return To Me” think about those old guys in that movie.. all sitting around, drunk as hell, (these guys are.. the ones in the movie prolly weren’t) yelling at each other (in a jokey manner) all telling jokes and constantly demanding that the other “give us a song!” It’s really, really funny.


6/8 Dublin Hostel

I’m now sitting in our Hostel in Dublin. Joel is snoring in long, loud explosive type snores. I’ve just finished shaving with my 7.4 cent razors, and turns out, I butchered myself with them… Nah, just a few nicks, but turns out shaving with shampoo as gel doesn’t work as good when you’ve got cheap razors to boot. And boom.. another explosive snore… it’s almost like he is gasping for breath, and it’s all going through one narrow part of his throat.

So I stopped writing while I was on the train… and for good reason.. those shouts for “give us a song” did not go unheard. After a while, one of the older Irish dudes in a suit (must’ve been an old army group or something) stood in the aisle, and began to sing, just behind us, facing towards us, and the table along side us (the guy at the table across the aisle was the vocal one, calling for songs much of the trip.. They were all drinking heavily.) Anyway, he began singing, and when he got to the chorus, the 4-some at the table beside us would sing along.. The vocal guy would try to sing, and when he got the words wrong or couldn’t think of them, he’s get all excited and slam his hand into the table.

I saw some 20/20 special many years ago on how to defeat snoring.. and one of the solutions was to wear a bra backwards, and place tennis balls in the cups so you couldn’t sleep on your back. that seems like a good idea.

So the guy finished singing, and we clapped for him, and soon he started up again.. meanwhile throughout the entire trip those field-hockey kids were running up and down the aisle, I think to go to the food car and back.. so the guy would be singing, and someone would shout out (in a fine drunk Irish shout) “Dublin train comin!”, and the guy would move to the side. A number of songs were sung.. then they convinced another guy to sing, and he sang, then the 1st guy sang.. the vocal guy at the table across tried to start a song or two, but would only get so far before bursting into laughter. Eventually they sang a song Joel and I recognized: I think it’s called White Rover.. but it’s the song Jonathan’s band, Craic Wisely, sings with the Clap, clap clap clap…. Clap clap…. clap.

So we all sang along.. and by then we were very near the station.. they sang a song or two more, and believe me, many of them were very funny. One was about a Spanish bullfighter that stole some dude’s girl, so he went to kick the bullfighter’s ass. The first song was about a train that kept breaking down or falling off the tracks. It was very good. When we finally reached the station, the vocal guy stood up and came over to our side and shook our hands, and said we sang well. we thanked him for the compliment and the singing, and wished him well. throughout the entire time, other guys in the train would be shouting out things like telling the vocal guy to stop singing, etc.. all in that drunk jokey kinda way. One guy shouted it out just as the vocal guy was finishing up a song, and right afterwords the train announcer voice (it sounded robotic) apologized (I though for the delay in arriving) but everyone started laughing so hard as soon as the apology started cause they all thought/said it was for the dude’s singing… It was really funny.. then the vocal guy wanted to know where that announcer dude was so he could “kick his bleeding arse”. Easily one of if not the finest moment on this trip.. that ride, in that car, with those drunk Irish singers..

After we arrived in station, we said goodbye to Thomas, and headed out to find a place to stay. Dublin Hostel We ended up checking nearly 10 hotels/hostels, until we found an especially sketchy one that Robb haggled down to 60 Euros a night (so 20 a piece) I guess that’s pretty good. We;re fairly certain the Russian dude at the counter will be slitting our throats in our sleep tonight.. but either way, we’ve got the room booked for tomorrow as well. After we finally got the room (2 small bed and a double bed… I got into the room last, and the double was all mine.. Score.) Afterwords we walked around the city.


6/8 Dublin Hostel II

Dublin at NightSo we were walking around the city, but it was getting pretty dark pretty fast.. so after walking for a while, i said we should prolly get food and head back soon… so we began the search for food.. We didn’t have much success, and ended up at some fastfoodish small Fish and chips place. I ordered two hot dogs, and the Irish accented Chinese dude behind the counter said “haddock?” and i said “Two Hot Dogs”… He said “Haddock”. I thought “whatever” and got two haddock. I was hungry, and it tasted okay, but was really really really hot, and I burned the top of my mouth quite a bit. After food, we walked back, past a few Pubs, but none that looked either open or not packed full, so we headed back to the room, where I could finally shave and take a shower, and Joel and Robb fell asleep.. Then I started writing..

I think the plan for tomorrow has changed to being a Dublin day… though we’re not so sure the Guinness factory is really what we once thought (i.e. it’s not a brewery, but just some museum place or something.) I’m not sure.. I also don’t care that much… I’m interested in seeing the Cliffs near Galway, the castle in wales, Stonehenge, Bath, Westminster Abbey [the inside this time] and the changing of the guard. Anything beyond that is just frosting.

4. Counting Crows – August and Everything After

cd cover 4. Counting Crows – August and Everything After

There are some albums that get bonus points for introducing me to bands that I proceed to love. So you get albums like Throwing Copper, Live Through This, Grave Dancer’s Union, Weezer’s Blue Album, and Lost and Gone Forever on my list. This album introduced me to Counting Crows…. and I love Counting Crows. If you do the math, it was fairly inevitable: 1 chronically depressed, girl obsessed lonely high-schooler + 1 music album written by and filled with songs about a chronically depressed, girl obsessed lonely guy = me likey.

At this point in my countdown, I’m starting to get a bit repetitive as far as reasons for liking an album. This one will likely be no different. As I’ve said, the subject matter makes this album, and this band a favorite. But I find the lyrics to be particularly well written. I really like lyrics that take some thought and some time to understand. Counting Crows songs have a tendency to use really interesting metaphors to get across certain ideas or emotions. This album does that particularly well, I think. It’s an issue that comes up with a number of bands: The first or second album released comes across as very genuine, as lonely, angsty singers sing about being alone, and angsty. Then they get popular, rich, and famous…. They might still be angsty, and hell, they might even still be lonely, but it’s a very different kind of lonliness… one that’s a bit harder for listeners to associate with, I think. Me anyway. Adam Duritz is a little different, in that he seems determined to be unhappy, and thus I associate with him even more strongly… but there’s still that noticeably change from album to album… this being the first album, the songs still have that genuine feel to them. From his songs, and his lyrics, and the things he says in interviews, I see Adam as this lonely guy that’s just desperate to be in love, and falls easily, but then heaps so much pressure on himself and everyone for it to be perfect that it all just falls apart… and he spirals into depression. And he manages to take all that, and put it into songs and metaphors, and make it all real.

This album has been out for quite some time. I’ve mentioned songs from it before, and I’ve gone through on my own time and tried to figure out what all is being said before, but never the whole album, so this might be fun, or painful, or dull. Time will tell.

Round Here – I’ve seen the Counting Crows perform um.. 4 or 5 times now. They put on a good show, though some were far better than others. Anyway, the last few concerts I was at, Adam introduced this song by telling the story about how, back in the day before they were famous and rich and everything, A few of them (maybe just Adam and Dave) lived in this place in or near Berkeley, California. They lived on 4th street, 3rd street was train tracks, 2nd street was a dirt road, 1st was the highway, then the bay, then the ocean, then Japan. And he kept repeating that “4th street, 3rd street was train tracks, 2nd street was a dirt road, 1st was the highway, then the bay, then the ocean, then Japan”. I remember even now how boring I found that story, especially since it wasn’t even a story, cause it didn’t go anywhere, it just took a long time. It was worse the 2nd time, cause I knew it was just going to go on forever. Well, later on, thinking about that story, and what it had to do with this song, and reading other interviews, etc. I started to make some sense (or at least my own interpretation) of the song. I’ve linked the titles here to a lyrics page, but odds are I’ll be including snippets here and there. If you’re actually reading this all, and want to know what I’m talking about, reading those lyrics might be a swell ideas. Listening to the album repeatedly until you know all the words by heart would be a pretty swell idea as well.

Anyway, I was talking about “Round Here”. I’ve pretty much gone ahead and assumed that all of the songs are being told from the point of view of Adam Duritz, but it’s usually a part of Adam’s personality being personified by a fictional person (Like how Stan Lee created superheroes to represent parts of himself. Go watch Mallrats if you’re confused.). Well this is a song where he’s simultaneously talking about his life, and the life of someone else: a girl “Maria”. Maria shows up every once in a while in Crows songs (“There’s a piece of Maria in every song that I sing.” — Mrs. Potter’s Lullaby from This Desert Life). I’ve taken “Maria” to mean the ideal girl. She’s this idea, that might be based on a real person, or maybe a conglomeration of people… and prolly represents different people at times, and no one but an idea other times. Maria is the girl he wants to love. Anyway, this song is talking about her, and how she’s kinda losing it, and is growing more and more disillusioned with life. Meanwhile he’s going through the same thing, and is seeing that all those things he’s been looking forward to and working up to since he was young aren’t really leading to the kind of joy he expected. There’s that idea when you’re young that once you’re older, you’ll be allowed to do those stupid little things that seem like such a big deal when you’re younger, like staying up late, and eating when and what you want, and all that. (Think the pilot episode of Undeclared: “I can like.. stay up til 11… and eat nothing but junkfood, and watch all the TV I want.”) You get older, and you realize that that stuff kinda sucks, and the ability to piss away entire weeks doing nothing but play baseball with your friends, run around outside all day were far better than all this. Anyway, starting with the 2nd verse the verse lyrics talk about the girl, and the choruses talk about the guy. But it’s the first verse that I think ties the story about the 4 streets in with this song. There they are, right near the ocean, and they’re pretty much broke, working shitty jobs so they can be in this band, and their friends are all off getting “real” jobs, and their lives are progressing like “normal”, but they’re taking this big risk in the hopes of “making it” as a band. And that’s gotta be scary. You’re this nervous guy desperate for validation, and you’ve got to have your share of days when you think you’ve majorly screwed up your life, and you walk outside and look out to the ocean, and you think about your life, and what it’s become, or what it’s becoming, and you don’t know if you’ve made the right choices, and you don’t really know what’s going on with anything anymore, you just know that life isn’t panning out the way you thought it would when you were younger. And you’ve found that adhering to all those trite words of wisdom you were given when you were younger isn’t making life better. You’re trying hard to be an adult, but you don’t really know how. You’ve got the line near the end of the song “Round here we’re never sent to bed early, and nobody makes us wait.” There’s that idea that they’re adults now, and they’re off on their own. But it’s followed by “I can’t see nothing round here“. All those things you used to think were so important really don’t matter at all.

I found this snippet of an interview with Adam where he talks about Maria:

“Maria is the only one who’s not completely real. She’s just an idea of someone I came up with when I was writing “Round Here.” I mean, she’s me. It’s through the eyes of a girl, but it’s someone very much like me struggling at the edge, not sure if she’s going to fall off on one side or the other. It’s a theme that’s stuck through songs. So she keeps popping up.”

There is an amazing… no, that’s not good enough.. AMAZING version of this song on the Storytellers album. It has snippets of Have You Seen Me Lately mixed into it.[They tend to alter the songs, sometimes significantly, when performing them live]. and it kinda slows down, then explodes into such a rocking version of the rest of the song (starting with “There’s a girl in the car in the parking lot…“) There are moments in some songs where everything seems to just come together perfectly, like potential energy had been building up, and it’s suddenly released right at that perfect moment, and it just powers through the rest of the song. I mentioned something about that with Who Cares on III Sides to Every Story, and off the top of my head I know I feel it with Run to the Water off of Live’s The Distance to Here… there are many others. Truly an amazing song.

Omaha – I read this on a blog entry from some guy I don’t know: “Also, if anyone out there has ever wondered about what exactly “Omaha” is about, Adam gave us the secret: it’s about Dan. Just replace every occurrence of the word “Omaha” with “Dan,” and it all makes sense. It really works, I promise.“. I remember that at the first concert I saw them at, they said it also about some prick of a teacher they hated back in the day, or something. I’ll be honest with you, I like the song, but it has no real meaning to me at all… besides the part where whenever anyone says “Omaha” I’ll respond with a line that includes “Somewhere in mid America”.

Mr. Jones – I’ve already mentioned that this song reminds me of working at the greenhouse, just because it got played all the time… so I won’t talk about that. One thing I find funny about this song is how literal it is… it’s like when I read the story behind Long December, which was more or less word for word what Adam was doing at the time (Visiting a friend a the hospital each day, then driving up to a house they called “Hillside Manor” to hang out with people, and talk about life, the year almost past, and hopes for the following year.) Anyway, here’s a clip from an interview about Mr Jones:

It’s really a song about my friend Marty and I. We went out one night to watch his dad play, his dad was a flamenco guitar player who lived in Spain, and he was in San Francisco in the mission playing with his old flamenco troupe. And after the gig we all went to this bar called the New Amsterdam in San Francisco on Columbus and we got completely drunk. And Marty and I sat at the bar staring at these two girls, wishing there was some way we could go talk to them, but we were, we were too shy. And we thought, we kept joking with each other, that if we were big rock stars instead of such loser, low-budget musicians, we’d be able to, this would be easy. And I went home that night and I wrote a song about it.

I’ll admit to being sick of this song back in the day. I’d try to find a clever way to get around the “overplayed” argument, but really that’s what it was. I couldn’t get away from it, cause it was on at work all the time.. and it was a good song, but I really didn’t think it was the best on the album, so the fact that it got played a ton, and songs like Sullivan Street, Anna Begins, and Raining in Baltimore didn’t get played at all upset me. But time passes, and new memories are associated, yada yada yada. Looking and listening to it now, I can’t help but like it. Here’s a song about guys too damn nervous to talk to girls… so convinced that once they’re famous that everything will be better, and everyone will love them, and girls will flock. (okay, realization #1: that last part is true, and for that I hate them. Seriously, some no name dude at a bar doesn’t hook up with Jennifer Aniston and Courtney Cox) But anyway, looking at the lyrics now, I see a fair amount of myself. Two guys hanging out, looking around, seeing girls, and “telling each other fairy tales” about how “she’s looking at you”, convinced that when everybody loves me I’ll never be lonely… wanting to be a big star, but each person has a different reason. We just want to be important, so people will like us, so we can be happy.. and stop being so lonely.

Perfect Blue Buildings – This is one of a few slow, very sad sounding songs on the album that I very much like. (others include Time and Time Again, Anna Begins, Sullivan Street, Raining in Baltimore, and Ghost Train). This song could easily begin “Woke up today to everything gray“. It’s about how life just becomes mundane, and repetitive, and boring, and you just want it to end. (“..in these lives which are completely meaningless“) The person in the song isn’t suffering anything horrible, really, no catastrophe, just the daily little things that make life dull and lousy: problems in a relationship, (“ain’t this position familiar, darling?“) envy of others, unrequited feelings(“I got an attitude of need“), boredom… Anyway, all of those added up make the idea of just sleeping life away, or sinking into a coma or something really appealing (“Help me stay awake, I’m falling asleep.“)… Dreams where things are better: Colors are crisp and clean, and the dull complications of real life are gone (“Asleep in perfect blue buildings, beside the green apple sea. Gonna get me a little oblivion, baby“). So here is this plea from the guy who doesn’t want to slip into that, but has a hard time wanting to not want to slip into that… So the person inside him is kinda dying, but he’s trying to break free of it all. (“Beneath the dust and love and sweat that hangs on everybody, there’s a dead man trying to get out. Please help me stay awake, I’m falling..“).. he’s just not doing all that well. I can recall on more than one occasion lying on the couch in the dark in my dorm room at Calvin, staring at the ceiling, listening to this album, and this song in particular, and praying that I could just fall asleep and not wake up for a month.

Anna Begins – This might be my favorite song on the album. The story behind it: Adam met this girl, Anna, on vacation, and they hooked up, but it was supposed to be a light casual relationship, but things started to get more personal, and so in an attempt to kinda shield themselves from feeling.. they try to convince themselves, and the other person, that the feelings aren’t real, and they just end up hurting each other.. and in the end, they realize the thing they really couldn’t face wasn’t the feelings, but the realization that they’d never see each other again. I take two things away from this song: 1.) Validation for the belief/realization that it’s impossible to deny feelings that exist, and that you just do more harm than good to yourself and others if you try to pretend they don’t exist, or deny that they exist or whatever.. Even if that means allowing yourself to feel like complete and utter shit because those feelings go unrequited.. 2.) If the feelings exist, you may as well do something about them. Letting chances slip away just leaves you filling with regret and self loathing. Maybe everyone needs an Anna to make you really appreciate the next one… I dunno. This song is just good. Read it:

    My friend assures me "it's all or nothing"  I am not worried I am not overly concerned  My friend implores me for one time only  make an exception. I am not not worried  wrap her up in a package of lies  send her off to a coconut island  I am not worried I am not overly concerned  With the status of my emotions  "Oh, She says, "You're changing."  But were always changing    It does not bother me to say this isn't love  because if you don't want to talk about it then it isn't love  and I guess I'm going to have to live with that  but, I'm sure there's something in a shade of gray  or something in between  and i can always change my name if that's what you mean    My friend assures me "It's all or nothing``  but I am not worried  I am not overly concerned  you try to tell your self the things you tell your self to make yourself forget  i am not worried  "if it's love" she said, "then were gonna have to think about the consequences"  She can't stop shaking and I can't stop touching her and.....    This time when kindness falls like rain  it washes her away and Anna begins to change her mind  "these seconds when I'm shaking leave me shuddering for days" she says  and I'm not ready for this sort of thing    But I'm not gonna break  and I'm not going to worry about it anymore  I'm not gonna bend. and I'm not gonna break and  I'm not gonna worry about it anymore  it seems like i should say "as long as this is love..."  But it's not all that easy so maybe I should just  snap her up in a butter fly net  and just pin her down on a photograph album  i am not worried  I've done this sort of thing before  but then i start to think about the consequences  because i don't get no sleep in a quiet room and...    This time when kindness falls like rain  it washes me away and Anna begins change her mind  and every time she sneezes I believe it's love  and oh lord.... I'm not ready for this sort of thing    Her kindness bangs a gong  it's moving me along and Anna begins to toss and turn  and every word is nonsense but i understand and oh lord...   I'm not ready for this sort of thing

Time and Time Again – Another song about loneliness. When you’re so lonely, whether because someone you love has left, or because someone you love never came in the first place.. and you just want to disappear, or fly off someplace else, cause it has to be better than here.. or just throw yourself into the ocean and call it good. This is another song where you have to hear it to really understand it… because it’s not just the words, but the brokenhearted way in which it’s sung. You really can’t hear it without just feeling sad.

  I wanted so badly somebody other than me  Staring back at me, but you were gone  I wanted to see you walking backwards  And get the sensation of you coming home  I wanted to see you walking away from me  Without the sensation of you leaving me alone

Rain King – Apparently the title Rain King came from a book. According to Amazon it’s a “Seriocomic novel by Saul Bellow, published in 1959. The novel examines the midlife crisis of Eugene Henderson, an unhappy millionaire. The story concerns Henderson’s search for meaning. A larger-than-life 55-year-old who has accumulated money, position, and a large family, he nonetheless feels unfulfilled. He makes a spiritual journey to Africa, where he draws emotional sustenance from experiences with African tribes. Deciding that his true destiny is as a healer, Henderson returns home, planning to enter medical school.” Adam described the book like this: “ Just someone who maybe pours out a little too much. Sort of a vision of excess. You know, just someone who does everything just a little bit too excess, like a big open wound of a person. For good and for bad, get yourself all over other people. He’s a figure of excess. He wants more than he has; he thinks he deserves more than he’s got. Joyously and pathetically, he pours all over everyone like a big open wound.“.

There’s a live version of this song, I think it’s on the Live at the 10 Spot album (there’s a double disc Across the Wire that has the Storytellers concert and the Live at the 10 Spot, and it’s simply amazing.) [I just checked, it is on that album] Anyway, it has this snippet in thrown in the middle:

  She said.  She said "when I think of heaven"  She said.  She said "I think of you,  How come you don't think of me too?"  And I said "you know, it's Cause  When I think of heaven  Deliver me in a black-winged bird  I think of dying..."

I like that.. There’s a fairly basic example of the glass being half empty or half full. Some people (I won’t mention any names, but it’s me) seem forever cursed to think of things as negative when there’s any chance of it being negative. Here we have heaven.. perfection, and the end of suffering, pain, everything, and all he can think of is the fact that you have to die.

Sullivan Street – Another amazing slow, sad song. Another song about a specific relationship where you realize at some point the relationship has to end (“Pretty soon now, I won’t come around.“) I hear the song, and I think it’s sung about the point in the relationship where you both know it’s not going to work, but you haven’t broken up.. either because you haven’t come to terms with it, or you’re scared, or you really just don’t want to… you know it won’t last forever, but you can’t imagine not being with them. You get the line “It’s almost everything I need“.. acknowledging that it isn’t, in fact, everything you need, but man.. it’s close. That’s what makes it so hard.

Ghost Train – Here’s one of those “metaphorical songs” I was talking about earlier. Adam has this thing with ghosts.. it seems to refer to a number of things: In a few songs, Ghosts refer to people who are kinda fading.. like their lives have started to fade, and they don’t really know they are, or what they’re doing.. be it because of apathy, loneliness, boredom, fear, or whatever. But most often, ghosts are memories. (“If dreams are like movies then memories are films about ghosts.“) So we have this life that’s like a train ride, and there’s that person that you’d like to get to know, but getting to know them means exposing all those ghosts to the other person. So in this relationship, the whole thing starts up (“How do you do? She says ‘Hey, how do you do?’“) but when this guy starts thinking about all those ghosts he’ll have to share, he can’t do it. I guess he freaks out, or is just too nervous or embarrassed or something, but he can’t do it, and he bails. (“‘Remember everything’ She said ‘When only memory remains’“) So now he’s left with just the memory of the time he almost went for it, but then didn’t.

Raining in Baltimore – Here’s a song about being lonely (go figure, eh?).. Being lonely, and wishing you were with the person you love, but you can’t.. and it’s your own fault that you can’t. (“Where you should be no one’s around.“). There’s that feeling you get.. okay, there’s this feeling I get where I feel completely and utterly alone, and it’s honestly so hard to deal with that I can’t even sleep. I just lie there praying the phone will ring and make me believe that someone else is out there. And when that phone rings, it honestly makes the entire world seem good. Suddenly everything is okay, and life seems wonderful. It’s when it doesn’t ring… I hate it when it doesn’t ring. (“I need a big love. I need a phone call.“). You’ve got this section here that matches up to the previous song:

These train conversations are passing me by  And I don't have nothing to say  You get what you pay for  But I just had no intention of living this way

It makes me think that there was this relationship, and it starts to get serious, and she’s headed off to somewhere else, and wants him to come with, and he gets nervous and bails.. The “train conversation” being that talk about where the relationship is at, and if he’ll go with her or not.. but it passes him by.. he bails.. he has nothing to say. So now he’s got to deal with his decision.. or more likely his lack of a decision. It’s like he’s crippled by fear, and it leaves him stuck where he’s at, and he hates it… This is one of the saddest songs I’ve ever heard. “I miss you. I guess that I should.

Murder of One – It wasn’t until recently that I understood the title of this song. A group of crows are called a “murder”… like a pack of wolves or a pod of whales. So a murder of one is a group of crows made up of only one… Yeah, another song about loneliness. I love the Counting Crows. It’s a song about a relationship gone bad.. and the girl refuses to leave.. she’s too scared to leave, and it’s safe and comfortable there.. but it’s obviously not good for her. And here’s Adam singing to her, tell her to get out. So we start with this:

  Curiosity, Kitten, doesn't have to mean you're on your own  Your can look outside your window  He doesn't have to know  We can talk awhile, baby  We can take it nice and slow  All your life is such a shame  All your love is just a dream

Which makes it sound like he’s trying to steal her away kinda.. but it’s possible he’s just trying to be there for her, to support her and help her out so she won’t go running back to that guy. And it ends with the repeated line “You don’t want to waste your life“, and “Change, Change, Change“. I have a excellent live version of this song where at the end, there’s an added part that’s, I think, supposed to be the girl’s response to the previous verses: “She said ‘How does it feel to be one of the beautiful people? How does it feel to be one of the fortunate ones? How does it feel to be one of the beautiful people? How does it feel to be all alone under the sun?’” It’s like “okay, you’ve said all of this to me, but look at you… Have you taken your own advice? Here you are, a big famous celebrity, and you’re still miserable and alone.” This is another of my favorites on the album.

So here we are. I like Counting Crows a lot, and this is my favorite album from them. It’s not really a happy album, and there are times when I can’t listen to it cause it’d just depress me to much, but man, this album is just amazing.

It’s 5 am. Should I even try to sleep?

Oh, it’s going to be a late night.

The West Wing

I’m watching the season finale of the West Wing. It’s sad how very, very attached I’ve become to some of the characters… to the point that my body now feels the way that it feels when something bad has happened and I don’t yet know how bad it’s going to be. (e.g. I’m in my car, and it’s spinning around on the highway and headed for the ditch. Or I’ve just accidentally cut myself pretty deep with a knife while cutting something in a stupid way, and it hasn’t started to bleed yet, and I’m wondering how bad it’s going to be, or if once the blood starts gushing if I’ll just pass out, and bleed to death.) If you don’t follow the show, then you won’t care. If you do, then you probably already know what happens. It’s a season finale, so it’ll end with a cliffhanger… which sucks. Tomorrow I’ll wake up and not care, but for today, right now, this is all I can think about.

X2

Thanks to Tuuk, I was able to go and see the new X-men movie a day early, which worked out well, as I was going to be busy both Friday and Saturday.

Aside -> Ha! King Ralph is going to be President. That’s grand. … Ah, he’s a complete prick too. and it ends. Son of a.

Oh yeah. X-men 2 was really good. Here’s one thing though: Don’t call them “X-mens”. I’ve heard that from at least 2 or 3 people, and they sound like idiots. “Men” is already the plural form of “Man”, so “Mens” is just stupid. And don’t try to play it off like it’s a possessive, cause it’s not the X-men’s movie. It doesn’t belong to them, it’s about them. They are the “X-men”. I’m not going to spoil the movie for those who haven’t seen it, but I had a big beef with the major scene near the end… Pretty much, they could have done something one of a zillion ways, and they did it the stupidest way possible. Way to be, X-mens. Either way, it was a grand movie, and I eagerly await its follow-up.

Dream

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I’ve been in a bit of a lousy mood the last two weeks or so, and I think a fair amount of that might stem from the fact that I have not been sleeping well at all lately. It’s common knowledge that I don’t get much sleep to begin with (averaging between 4 and 5 hours most nights.), but for the past two weeks, I’ve been getting more around 2 1/2 – 3 hours of sleep, which just isn’t enough. As a result, I’ve been feeling pretty lousy, which leads to bad moods, irritability, and pretty consistent bad attitude towards just about everything. It’s an unfortunate situation. I’d attempt to get more sleep, but I just wasn’t able to. I’d lie awake at night, mind racing over a billion things that I couldn’t possibly figure out or get rid of, like trying to make logical sense of an Escher piece or something. So I’d just lie in bed, waiting… and eventually I’d drift off to sleep… and I’d have these dreams. It’s not really fair to call them nightmares, because they aren’t scary at all. There’s nothing disgusting about them, or gory, or haunting. They just suck. They’re dreams where bad things happen, and I’m powerless to stop them. And they’re repetitive… the same things keep happening, over and over. Different people, but the same events. It’s like replays of past events with a new cast of characters each time.

Now I’m no stranger to repetitive dreams.. There are whole worlds that seem familiar to me at this point, as I’ve had many dreams in the same setting, with the same cast. Where certain things are just reality. I’ve even got a dream world where I’m married with two kids (a boy and a girl), and I’ve been having dreams there since I was about 13. (My wife has changed appearances a few times, but has never really resembled anyone I know closely enough for me to think she represented her.) That dream world is really nice, and I always feel a little let down when I wake up.. alone. But anyway, these repetitive dreams I was having lately were not of the “wonderful” variety, and I don’t understand why I was having them, and I just wanted them to stop. On the bright side, today I finally got a lot of sleep, as I slept right through many alarms, and consequently missed church, which was quite upsetting. But I don’t recall having any of the dreams, which is a good thing. It had gotten to the point where I was daydreaming certain aspects of it as well, likely because I kept thinking back to them so much. I hope that goes away to.

Room

Last Friday I worked from home, as I’m giving the whole “work from home 2 days a week” thing a shot. As a result, Wednesday and Thursday evenings (late, late evening) I put some work into rearranging my room to better accommodate working from home. It’s one thing to work from home one day a week. I feel fine sitting on my bed, with one main project to work on, coding away. But with two days working from home, I felt the need to set up a more “business-like area” for me to work. (Business-like area –> An area free of distractions but still close enough to all that I need that I don’t just up and leave. It should be comfortable enough to make me able to stay there for 8 hours in a day [e.g. my bed], but uncomfortable enough to make me eager to leave once the 8 hours are up [e.g a prison cell].) So far, this is what I’ve managed to come up with : my home cube. It still need some work, but it’s getting there.

The problem with my room is this: I still don’t feel like it’s set up the way I want it. My room at my house in east town was perfect. Everything fit exactly how it was supposed to… and it had to, because I needed to have everything I needed to survive fit inside the room. Fridge in the closet, TV, Music, Bed, Computer, Clothes. It was perfect. Now I’ve got a ton of room, and I guess I don’t know what to do with it all. I think my room as it is right now is functional, but not particularly “nice” looking. And more importantly [to me], I don’t think my room really represents me all that well. Right when Julie and I started dating, back in the day [when I was still living in East Town] she made casual reference to the fact that my room seemed like a “picture of who I was”. It displayed both my interests: with posters and pictures covering the walls, Television, movies, music, and computer gear placed in areas of importance, and prominently displayed, and my personality (? habits? compulsive behavior?) with things all very neatly arranged and symmetrical, everything organized and placed exactly where it belonged. I don’t get that sense with my current setup. I try to keep things neat, and I like the fact that I know exactly where everything, so that I could find it in the dark if need be (and that’s come in handy on a few occasions) but I still just don’t like it. So I’m trying to rearrange it. I tried once, and took almost everything out of my room, cleaned and vacuumed and dusted everything, and then starting bring things back in, and just putting them where I thought they’d fit best. The end result: one desk was moved about 4 feet, and turns to face the other wall, and the guitars got moved to the opposite side of the room. Everything else stayed exactly the same. Such is life. Hopefully I’ll figure something out. It’ll probably involve some Java programming, or graph paper and some cut outs.

Softball

I mentioned earlier that our softball season started, and we go toasted our first game. Well, last Wednesday we had our second and third games (doubleheader), and it went much better. We still lost both games, but I thought the team played fairly well, and more importantly, I had a complete blast playing. Brian, the coach, had made the rule that I couldn’t be subbed out, as I had sat for most of the game last week, which was quite nice. (the rule, not the sitting out the week before). I started out in the outfield, and later moved on in to shortstop. I could tell I was pretty rusty, but like I said, we aren’t great, and I had a blast playing. The one downside was the catcher on the 2nd team we played, who despite being up 10 runs and well on his way to certain victory still felt the need to elbow the first basemen, attempt to take me out on second with a slide (I jumped over him.. and no, there was no play at second, he was just sliding cause he’s a jackass), and then bowl over Tuuk at home (again, there was not a play going on, as the game was already over). I’m all for playing competitively, and being a aggressive, but this kid was a dick, and I hope he gets what’s coming to him at some point.

love/hate

I was talking to Alan the other day, and we were talking about a certain line of thinking that we both agreed was pretty much impossible to capture in words that others would understand, so here I am to try to do it anyway, because I’m fearless. (Fearless –> 1.) A complete idiot. 2.) A mild idiot made more foolish by the consumption of alcohol. 3.) Secure enough in his/her own self to not mind making a complete and utter fool of him/herself on occasion.). The basic gist is this: “I both love and hate my life.” I reminded of the time I was asked if I could be anyone else, (i.e. live their life instead of my own) who would I be. I ended up saying no one. I think part of it is that I feel like I’ve invested so much into this life, I own it to myself to see how it turns out. Part of it is that I really think I’ve been doing a decent job, and have certainly tried to better myself with each mistake I’ve made. There’s always that “grass is greener” thought, but when you really start to think about it, and all the things you’d lose if you were to abandon your own life for someone else’s.. it’s not as easy a thing as it once seemed.

So I love my life. I love where I’m at. I’ve got a great family, a good job, great roommates, I’m somewhat attractive, and I’ve got some pretty decent abilities in a variety of areas. [I’m fairly certain I’m going to be excellent at sex too, cause if most things are 90% mental, and I think about it all the time…. You do the math.] I’ve got great friends who are loyal, funny, intelligent, loyal, thoughtful, moral, loyal… I certainly have far more than I deserve.

But I hate my life. I’m never content, I’ve spent a good chunk of my life really depressed, lonely, sad, and bitter. I haven’t achieved most of the things I thought I’d have achieved by now. Many of my dreams seem to have faded away in the cold face of reality. Things that used to be so important to me are all but forgotten now. People that used to mean the world to me have slipped away. And people that still mean more than life to me I’m kept from for one reason or another. I’m alone, even though I’ve got all these friends. I don’t have that one person that I can turn to at any time. I don’t have that person where whenever anything happens, I can’t wait to tell. Even when I thought I did, I didn’t. I don’t have that person that would rather be with me than be anywhere else. And since that’s what I want, I feel lonely and sad a lot of the time. And it’s not for lack of trying, I’ve seen guys who have done far less, and seem to deserve far less have exactly what I’m looking for just drop into their lap, while I sit alone. I certainly haven’t gotten what I deserve.

At the end of the day, I come back to this thought, though: “I’d rather be me than anyone else..But I’d like to be the me that I’m working towards, not the me that I currently am.” I think there are good things about not being content.. it keeps you driven towards your goals. It’s just when you are so disillusioned with where you are that you’re misery overcomes your ambition that you run into problems. You got to have faith.. faith that the efforts your currently making are helping you reach your goal, and you’ve got to have hope.. hope that the goal you are driving for is achievable. A decent sense of humor about the entire thing probably helps to, to smooth over the failures, and to placate the soul in the meantime… I’d like to think I have those 3 things in decent supply.

Mandace Conversation

A little while back, Mandace and I were hanging out, somewhat late at night (maybe 11 or 12, I don’t really recall). We ended up getting into quite the long discussion about a great number of things, and about midway though (and then again at the end) I wondered allowed exactly how we ended up going from the original topic to the topic currently being discussed. I’ve always found it fascinating how one subject can lead to the next, and on to the next, and randomly connect to totally disconnected topics in a short period of time. Even within my own crazy thinking, I sometimes try to retrace the steps my mind took to go from thinking about what type of juice I want to drink to trying to figure out the name of the stuffed prong-horned antelope I once owned (Orange Juice -> O.J. -> O.J. Simpson -> the Naked Gun movies -> Leslie Nealson -> Police Squad -> Watching Police Squad in Wyoming on a family vacation -> Yellowstone -> buying the prong-horned antelope at a souvenir shop in Yellowstone -> “Dusty”). Anyway, the conversation Mandace and I had I thought was really interesting (it helps that it hit on a number of subjects that I find quite interesting), so here’s a quick look at it:

Cracked Tulip -> Holland Tulip Law -> Tulip Time Festival -> School Band -> French Horn -> Trumpet -> Small Band -> Bassoon -> Star Wars Soundtrack -> Episode 1 and 2 -> The Emperor -> * ->name on the website -> spelled name wrong -> Veins -> tracing veins -> Movie PI -> Math PI -> Calculus 2 -> E -> sign language E -> My own sign language -> Events at work.

Now to explain that a bit: It started when it was noted that one of the tulips we now have at our house was cracked. I noted that you’d best not do something like that in Holland, because there are laws against damaging Tulips.. what with the tulip festival and all. We started talking about how I had off of school for Tulip time things because so many people were involved (dutch dancing, school bands, etc.).. that segued into talk of school bands. Mandace mentioned playing the French horn, which I had always wanted to play, but got kinda stuck with the trumpet. It was all fine and good, and I liked it well enough, but my school was really small, so our band was small, and we could never keep a band teacher for more than a year, which really, really sucked… plus, the teachers started to get lower in quality, to the point that I no longer deemed them worthy of my time. (seriously, if I’m in 7th grade, and I look older than you, and you’re supposed to be a band teacher, it’s not going to work.) The worst was in grade 6, when It was just me and David Martin (on clarinet) making up the entire band. Concerts would consist of 2 duets and a solo for each of us. I’m not kidding. Yeah, it sucked.

I casually mentioned that an instrument I really liked was the bassoon. I just loved the way it sounded. It always reminds me of the jawas from Star Wars, because the music on Tatooine, and with the Jawas especially, featured the bassoon heavily. (Listen) [It was at this point that I realized I hadn’t listened to the Star Wars soundtrack in a long time, an really ought to] I went on to explain how the Star wars soundtracks had a number of different themes for different people (Luke, Yoda, Leia, Darth Vader, The Emperor, etc.) and events (the Force). So you could get a decent idea of the story just by listening to the music, and hearing the way these different themes wove themselves together. I think it’s grand. I talked about the Love Theme from Episode 2, which I just absolutely love, and used to listen to endlessly until it got too tightly bound to things, and now must be listened to sparingly. From that came a discussion on my I liked the two prequels so far, despite some unfortunate parts (Jar-Jar Binks, and some stilted acting). I talked about how much I liked the underlying story of the Emperor; His rise to power, his crafty use of other people to set himself up in a position where no matter what happens he wins every single time. I found that, and still find that to be an amazingly interesting story, and I think for that reason, the two prequels so far have been great fun to watch. It was here that I began to wonder out loud how we got on the subject of Star Wars. Neither one of us could remember, and I refused to let it go, so Mandace began bringing up random subjects in the hopes of changing the subject.

She mentioned that she was surprised to see her name on my site, and wondered if other people even knew who she was. (JHo, at the Matrix, later stated that he believed her to be a black man.) I mentioned how I had spelled her name wrong the first few times, and Swac never bothered to correct me. (jerk..) I then asked how we got to talking about Star Wars…

Mandace asked if I had seen the movie PI (this was brought up because she mentioned enjoying tracing the veins that stuck out on her sibling, I think, which in turn was brought up because the veins on my arm always stick out.) Apparently, in PI someone does something with tracing or tattooing or something, on their face, I think. (I’m sketchy on this whole section). From there we got to the mathematical PI, cause I couldn’t understand how a number could go on infinitely without repeating. If this number was the product of some sort of division, then the remainder had to be smaller than a certain number (I wasn’t sure what, yet.) but if that were true, then dividing at least that many times would necessitate getting at least one remainder to repeat, and once a remainder repeats, you’ll have a repeating answer. But that all depending on PI being the solution to a division of two non imaginary numbers, which it couldn’t be. I then wondered aloud how we found PI in the first place… We both agreed it had something to do with circles. (Addendum : I’m pretty sure it’s Circumference / Diameter, and it’s infinite because it’s based on a polyhedron with infinite sides. Math majors out there, is that right? I’m just kinda guessing, as I didn’t feel like looking it up. Besides, I’d feel smarter if I was able to logically deduce it.) Well that discussion lead to us talking about our Math classes. I had, for a short time, considered getting a math minor, until i got a D+ in Calc. 2, which I blame mostly on the fact that my professor didn’t speak English, didn’t like me, and gave me 0’s on my assignments without bothering to read them. (Okay, he didn’t give me zeros, he wrote “No” on the top, and then just didn’t grade them.) So I stopped doing them. I hated that class so much. Mandace then told of her math woes, and at one point attempted to make a sign language E to indicate a grade, I believe. (Her E was essentially the “3” sign, with ring, pointer, and middle finger all pointing to the side). We then started doing sign language for a while… and Mandace told the story of how she learned sign language, which segued into stories of home schooling and a few other things which I can’t recall at 3:30 in the morning. Eventually I told of my own creative sign language that I’ve developed at work, which lead to a great number of work stories that ate up much of the next hour. I then questioned how we had started talking about my work, and how we got talking about Star Wars, for that matter. We then retraced the conversation back from work to sign language to math to Pi, and then Mandace remembered the bassoon, and everything made sense, and I called it good, and went to sleep. I’m a fan of conversations, and I hadn’t had a nice long conversation in quite a while. So thanks Mandace :)

Tire

I was on my way back from a horrible, horrible golf outing Tuesday, doing about 78 mph, when my tire decided to explode. I was already pissed off, as I had had a lousy day in a string of lousy days. So I managed to get the car off to the side of the road, which was a bit of a struggle, because my car very much wanted to just run into the ditch in the center of the highway.. The tire was on the driver’s side front, so changing it would mean standing/kneeling a few feet from oncoming traffic, which I wasn’t to thrilled about. I had also never changed a tire, and while I wasn’t afraid to do it, nor did I think it to be all that complicated, there’s still that thought “this car is expensive, and I’m about to do something that I haven’t done before, and I’m fairly certain I’m going to somehow screw it all up. So first I had to move all my stuff (baseball bats, 2 pairs of shoes, golf clubs, 2 tennis rackets, etc.) out of the trunk, then I got the spare out, and the jack, but I couldn’t find the wrench anywhere. I checked the owners manual, and it said it should be sitting right under the tire. I looked again, and there was nothing but metal, some foam, and a piece of carpeting. So I called my roommate, so see if he had any bright ideas. Robb suggested looking in the trunk. I mentioned that I had already thought of that, but figured I’d give it another shot. Still no sign of it.. although the carpeting looked like it could be moved, so I grabbed it, and sure enough, the thing was hiding inside. A smarter man would have figured it out sooner, but I was pissed, and fairly certain that if my car could screw me over in any way, it would. So I said goodbye to Robb, and decided to get going on this tire. I’m amazed at how willing I am to break stuff when I’m in a bad mood, or perhaps when I decide I hate something. When I went to take the hubcap thinger off, I didn’t see where I could unscrew it or anything, so finally I took the crowbar-like part of the wrench, and just jammed it in there and gave it a whack, and off the thing popped… into the middle of the slow lane. So I darted out there and got it, and it turns out that’s what I was supposed to do. So score one for the Ohio/Michigan school system.

So then I went to jack it up, but it was too close to the road, and I was getting pushed over by the wind wake of trucks that apparently didn’t feel like moving over a lane. So I moved the car a bit closer to the giant gaping chasm along side all Michigan highways, placed there by some evil dictator who loves to see cars roll off the sides of these high speed roads, apparently. There was finally enough room for me to get to work, so I start jacking the car up, and as I’m doing so, I can hear the tires sliding ever so slightly on the loose gravel. I’m beginning to picture the horrible sight of my car sliding down the ditch, tumbling over as I sit there with a spare in my hand ready to switch tires. So I proceed cautiously, every half-turn another gamble with the god of car-ditch-jack catastrophes. Finally, it’s up high enough, and as I was smart enough to loosen the thing before jacking it up, I was good to go switch tires. Just then a cop shows up. I approached…

Cop: “have a flat tire?”

I could tell instantly that this cop was a smart man.

Me: “Yes.. Flat driver’s side front. I’m changing it now.”

Cop: “So you don’t need a wrecker?”

Me: “Nah, I should be set in a second.”

The cop asked for my license, so I gave him that, then went back to work on chancing the tire. I got the tire off, tossed it in the trunk, and then got the spare on. Then I was set to remove the jack, so I started turning the thing, and it’s making that sickening noise again. So I started turning the other way, and it’s making that noise again. I’m thinking “righty-tighty, left-loosey” but I’ve never known how that’s supposed to help me, cause it’s going in a circle, it’s going to be going both directions at some point. Finally, I realize I’m screwed, so I check the book, and yeah, counter clockwise is what I wanted, quick jack the thing down, put all the supplies away, get my license back, hop in, and drive away, doing a smooth 45 mph until i got to the next exit, and somehow managed to find my way home using back roads. (turns out it wasn’t that hard). Later that evening Robb kindly took me to the Pick, and I stayed at Joel and Adam‘s place for the night. [thanks, guys]. Finally got myself a new tire on Thursday, and all is well, I love my car, but once I get a new one, I’m beating the hell out of this one.

Mattb and the kindness of strangers

A while back I mentioned mattb comics, and soon afterwards I wrote to him mentioning how much I enjoyed his work, and requesting a few (okay, all) of his old back issues, which he sells. He mentioned a book that would have a number of the issues in it, which would be coming out later in the year, and I mentioned that I’d likely pick that up at some point, but for now, the plain old photocopies would be good enough. So I sent a few bucks in, and waited. A little while later, I received this in the mail. Yup, he sent me the book, and then the remaining back issues that the book didn’t include, and a few mattb buttons to boot. He even autographed the thing for me. I thought that was really kewl. Every once in a while, something happens to restore my faith in humanity. My favorite is still the time I was in downtown Holland, and I swung by Cobblestone crafts to by something, and paid in cash. I left, and headed on to Holland Cd. While I was walking, I heard someone running at high speed a ways behind me. I finally turned around, and there was the guy from Cobblestone running towards me. He caught up to me, and explained that there was another $5 stuck to the bill I had paid him with, so he wanted to return it to me. Seriously, that’s pretty nice. I can’t think of all that many people that’d go that far out of their way to return money that could just as easily have been stuffed into their pocket.

GoJplant, Go Jplant

Got a call today fromJplant. He explained that he was out near me, and that he was in need of a bike pump, and there was free ice cream in it for me if I came out to his aid. So after some searching, I found Swac’s bike pump (in his golf bag… yeah, I dunno), and headed on out there to meetJplant, and the two lovely ladies that were with him. [an aside, I suck at following directions, but I’m pretty sure you said 88th St. Jeff.] So we hung out for a while, I enjoyed a grape slushee, and pumped up 2 tires, and was on my way. I enjoy it when I can do my good deed and not be punished for it, so this was a good one. [another aside: I should be biking more.]

The Matrix: Reloaded

Thanks mostly to Swac, we had a big ole Matrix outing on Thursday night, which included: Swac, Mandace, Robb, Mindy, Joel, Adam, Tuuk, Dave, JHo,Jplant, and Myself. We saw the 7:30 showing at Rivertown, then many of us headed off to Fridays for some dinner. I won’t spoil the movie for those of you that didn’t see it, but I will say this: I enjoyed the movie. I think I went in expecting just the right amount. I didn’t think it would change my life, so I wasn’t disappointed. I didn’t think it would suck, so I wasn’t overwhelmed. I expected lots of special effects, lots of nifty fighting along with crazy camera/time altering, and I expecting some kewl sci-fi-ish storylines/concepts to be presented. All of these things were true. I found the conversation with the architect to be really interesting, and I hope to either see it again or read somewhere that full conversation, because I think some really kewl concepts were brought up there. All of that being said, I have a bullet for the guy who decided that a 40 minute Rave scene inter-spliced with shots of Neo’s ass would be a great addition to the movie. So yeah. I can understand why some people wouldn’t like it (especially those of you that are either anti-fun, or anti-American), and I can understand why some people really like it (people kicked each other a lot, then drove really fast, and that’s just plain kewl).

Adam Young

My old roommate from Junior year [the 711 House], and good friend, Adam Young, was in town this weekend. So Adam, Sven, Swac, and I went out golfing on Saturday, which was a ton of fun. Golf is a great sport if you’re with a bunch of guys of fairly similar skill level who are just interested in having a good time. It is made even better with beer. We headed off to Max and Ermas for dinner, which would be the 4th day in a row I went there, and the 3rd day in a row I had Joe as my server. Joe no longer doubts my dedication. I’m trying to convince Adam to give Metroid Prime a try, as he’s nearing the end of Windwaker. Seriously, Adam, just go get it, cause it’s amazing.

Vroom

After Adam took off, I headed off to Tim Vroom’s new place, which is near the meeting point for my car pool place. He’s got himself a really nice place, and it made me think about the advantages of having my own place… until I remembered that I’d turn into a hermit, and I’ve already got a giant room to myself, and all the space I could need, with the added bonuses of people to hang out with, and food to steal on the occasional day when I decide that eating is necessary. It was good hanging out with Tim, though, as I’d not seen him in a while. I was so wiped out by the time I got there that I doubt I made much of an impression on the other people that were over (mainly co-workers, I believe). But I did get to see a Nomad Zen, and they are sexy. The drummer from Mustard Plug had one, and he was there, as he works with Vroom.

So that’s all for now. It’s about 5 am, and I have to work tomorrow. I still have a few things on my list that I wanted to talk about, but I’ll have to save them for another day.