Christmas present

becomes another Christmas past (always liked the double entendre implied in Dickens' A Christmas Carol: Ghost of 'Christmas present'). it was a nice one, as i was / we all were able to spend it with my / our entire family- something remarkably rare.

i finished wrapping Loren's gifts unusually early this year, despite a later-than-average start on my shopping, and got a bit more sleep than i'm used to on Christmas Eve; another welcome change.

as normal (when Loren's here on Christmas), Loren spent the morning opening his gifts from me (and those Santa brought him). usually Santa brings me something as well, which is really very thoughtful of him. Santa gave me a box of Boston baked beans (the candy, one of my favorites) in my stocking, as well as some gummi bears (another fave), and a much needed box of pencils for the cup on my desk, which has been conspicuously bare for weeks now. two things i like and one i needed; i certainly can't complain.

i also took matters into my own hands this year, buying a dart board that can accept either steel or soft-tip darts, and scores electronically. i've been wanting a steel-tip board for a long time, and it should provide us a decent return in amusement for the money.

i also splurged and bought another freestanding lamp for the living room, since it's usually dark when i get home from work, and what i've had in the living room proves insufficient to get the place clean. it's full-on winter shedding season for Chowder, and the dog hair's going to be a constant battle for weeks.

got some nice pictures today, which i'll eventually get to posting somewhere...and sending along to those who've requested them (or will now....), which brings to mind both the nagging USB interface problem which seems to linger on in this computer, and the running back-theme of if i should establish my own domain.....something else to chew on, but not tonight.

i got too many nice presents from my Most Excellent family to name in the time i'm willing to spend posting tonight, including a couple rather unexpected belated birthday presents. many thanks to everyone! Loren enjoyed himself, and it was great watching Ethan and Cole.

i wrapped some books for Cole in a box that was large enough but too deep, so i packed an old bath towel in the box on top of the books to keep it from collapsing while wrapping it. when Cole opened the gift he pulled out that frayed, old, pink towel and exclaimed, "I got a towel!"- which was hilarious. i tried to explain to him that it wasn't his gift but he wanted none of that- he was happy with the towel. Loren tried to help him out by taking the books out of the bottom of the box for him, at the same time as i was trying to direct Cole's attention back to the "real" contents of the box, so of course Cole saw an empty box that everyone was trying to convince him held his real present! totally funny. Jason said he'd be pretty tempted to let him have the towel. have to admit i was tempted to do just that myself; but Nichole had intervened by this point and directed his attention to the books. all in all, i think Ethan and Cole liked the little Superman and Batman action figures the best of what Loren and i gave them.

we give up a lot which has value, growing up, and we don't notice it until it's a moot point. it's really a joy to have children around to remind us of who were were, and how we used to relate to the world.

i took a picture of Loren with my parents before we left this evening, and Loren stood between them, with his arms comfortably around their shoulders. he's in between Mom and Dad in height now. there's not a lot of little left in him, and i'm going to miss him when he's out in the world. sometimes, maybe especially times like Christmas, i miss him already. five years, ten years from now....i can't imagine. i'm going to have to find something to fill in the big hole that'll leave, because right now....there's nothing else there.

Loren decided Chowder would have a better time staying home in the warm house than staying out on the deck or out in my folks' back yard (he'd be much too rambunctious in their house with a crowd like we had), so that's what he did. i slipped him a half dozen dog treats and a big piece of roast beef as we left. this evening, as Loren and i capped off the day with a little Deep Space Nine on DVD, Chowder got some more of my Boston baked beans, and one of Loren's Milk Duds, and he helped himself to a couple pig ears from the open bag in the den. i think he felt like he made out OK today, too.

off to work tomorrow to earn the mortgage payment and the first dent in the Christmas credit card bills. Jason & Melissa are off for the week, and Loren's going to spend the day with them tomorrow. Melissa generously offered to come pick him up tomorrow, which gives me an extra half-hour to an hour of sleep (quite welcome) and Loren and Melissa even more...plus Loren gets to hang out in the house and sort of acquaint himself with some of his new stuff.

so, ol' inf here's for the sack.

Merry Christmas everyone.


done with nights

Benny and i managed to finish the last of the trees the night crews were taking care of on Saturday night. the paychecks for the last few weeks have been more than welcome, but i've been ready to be done with graveyard shift for a while. time to move on to other things.

yesterday i tried to stay awake long enough to get my schedule turned back around. made it until about 2pm, figuring i'd get up and watch the Seahawks / Broncos night game, but i slept right through the alarms and kept right on sleeping until about 4:30 this morning. oh well...there are still a few games left in the regular season, and they're playoff-bound, so i'll get some more Seahawks football in.

today found me putting the finishing touches on my recommended reading page, getting it all up to date with my reading list page, as well as my page of what i've been watching, and putting another chapter in my latest book behind me, eating some food, and generally getting ready to experience this thing called "daylight" again.

i'm presiding over a board meeting for the homeowners association tonight, have to spend a little time getting reaquainted with the issues i've planned on raising. if i'm to be the one who drags this board and community kicking and screaming into the future, i want to be prepared. i'm certain the others involved in the board aren't going to be as prepared as i am, and doubt many of them will even be familiar with the association rules and guidelines, despite having literally months to get acquainted with them. in the end, this gives me an advantage i intend to press. nothing ever gets done around here, and i aim to make sure that changes.

the meeting conflicts with Monday Night Football, but unfortunately MNF didn't seem to be a priority to anyone but me.

i have some other observations to make regarding the board and its members but i'll save those until after the meeting, since i'll likely end up talking about what went on there a little anyway.

besides that, i'm a little behind on the chores, and i'd like to be caught up before i leave the house for the evening. a couple hours ought to do the trick. chore time also translates into time listening to music, which is always welcome. i've really developed some consistent habits over the last few years, and that's one of them.

Loren's mom called me this morning to try to talk Loren out of bed; he didn't want to get up and her first impulse was to call me to attempt to coerce him. i did, since i'd rather not see him be late for school, but he literally put the phone down and refused to talk to me. that was pretty rude, but not altogether surprising. i actually feel like i should have told her she'd have to handle the situation on her own; i have enough instances of "being the bad guy" without being her hammer as well. hindsight....

guess that's it. guess it's a shower, some coffee, some music and chores then.


Happy Birthday to me.

hurray. i made it to 39.

spent the last 2 hrs winding down from another night of hanging Christmas lights in downtown Seattle, specifically by continuing the update of my 'recommended reading' page (link's in the top right section of this page). it's gonna take me a while to finish updating all with reviews of all the books i've read since i initially published that page almost 2 years ago. that's one page that hasn't been getting its fair share of attention. oh well, no one's perfect, and it's not as if editing this stuff takes no time.

time to put something in my stomach and hit the hay, see if i can actually wake up in time to pick Loren up from school this afternoon, and squeeze in a little time with him before heading back to work tonight.

plus ça change. i think that's the right accent....


damn it's cold

Benny and i spent the night hanging Xmas lights outside the historic Mayflower Park Hotel, just northwest of Westlake Center in downtown Seattle. the overnight low was somewhere in the neighborhood of 18-20 degrees- very cold. we got the two trees finished and got the hell out of there. i put hand-warmers in my shoes, which helped considerably even though they were about 5 years old and only got about lukewarm. i was already cold by the time i got to the shop, and my toes were starting to go numb, despite 2 pairs of socks in my sneakers, before we'd spent an hour on the site.

driving conditions aren't all that bad overall, but the ice is 2-4" thick, and the overlying snow drifts were about 12-18", depending, on the road i live on. i got out there with a 6" wide flat-blade shovel and busted up as much ice and shoveled as much snow as i could get out of the way after getting pretty stuck this morning trying to leave to go to the bank. one time getting stuck was plenty.

for about 4 months now (that's a guess) i haven't had a heater core in my truck; makes for cold driving, but even worse is having to scrape the interior windows as well as the exterior ones. there's more moisture in the truck than outside it, and by the time we got back to the shop this morning i had to scrape the interiors again. words fail to capture the annoyance, but i suppose it's my own fault for not saving enough money to put in a heater core before the weather got cold....even though it's usually not this cold until January or February around here.

but all that's recent history now, as i sit here drinking the reheated remainder of what was (still, impressively) lukewarm coffee from my thermos, and trying to soak up the heat in the den.

got my tail stomped in fantasy basketball yet again last night. injuries are killin' me. i have a chance to eek out a W this week, but it's rapidly diminishing.

still have the full 6" of snow on flat ground up here, though it's not so pristine as it was when it was fresh. temperature never got above freezing here yesterday, and i'm hearing we might get some more white stuff today. i don't mind the snow, and honestly, the cold is easier to deal with than the slightly-warmer-but-still-cold temperatures and RAIN.

i found this site with some pics of what we've been hangin' (saves me the trouble of posting my own pics). he must have taken the shot about halfway down the page (5 pictures below the heading "And now a series of Christmas light images from Downtown", the photo's called "downtownE.jpg") about 2 weeks ago.

suppose that's all the news that's fit to type at the moment. i'm soon for the sack; all you faithful readers have a good day. PEACE


up the power outage estimate

to about 35,000 statewide.

i met Loren's 2nd cousin Elijah this morning, seems a nice boy with good manners. all three of the variously-sized young-uns are out soaking up a little more snowshine. since i finished my book, i started on Deception Point by Dan Brown; not that i've finished working my way through ...Tristram Shandy yet, but sometimes you just want to read something you don't have to jump to the appendix every other paragraph in order to understand the references the author's making. don't get me wrong; the effort's worth it, but i'm lazy enough to appreciate entertainment that doesn't require as much effort.

tried to get my clock back on the nights by staying up all night last night; hopefully Loren's mother will get back early enough that i can get at least a solid 4 hrs of sleep before i go in tonight...if i had to guess- and i haven't been out in this yet today- looks like conditions aren't too severe for commuting, at least from the north end. not even sure if my partner Benny's had power or not; he might not be able to make it, and i don't intend to call and risk waking him up before about 5pm to find out.

the boys just returned from their snow jaunt. apparently they got in quite the snowball fight, and their heroics will live on in the annals of neighborhood lore for generations, though they sadly came out on the losing end of the stick. can't help but think the outcome might have been otherwise had they not been kicked out of the neighboring apartment complex's playground as illegal aliens. the managers of that complex are on the board of directors of the homeowners association here, along with me. long history of problems from their residents, and rack my brain as i may, i cannot come up with a single instance of Loren's having caused any problems for them...so i'll be bringing that little matter up personally, while i have them conveniently present at the board meeting i called for Dec. 4th. they're certainly within their rights to kick them out- but it was unnecessary. Loren tells me now: the ladies weren't all that nice about kicking them out, but added that they were told they were trampling a flower bed. Loren's response was that it was a little hard tell what was a flower bed when everything's buried under the snow. good for him! she pointed at a sign and told them there were "signs all over" that said only residents of the apartment complexes were allowed there- but she pointed to a sign that only mentioned unrelated things, and he pointed out that the sign said nothing of the kind. i love this kid. i guess the lady finally pointed out one of the actual ones, so they left. gotta smile....love it when Loren knows he's not doing anything wrong and doesn't let people- even adults- just push him around. not that i've ever had a problem with authority, mind you.

those are the same ladies that used a feeble excuse of the "possible impending collapse" of the roof of the basketball court as an excuse to forbid some children of one of their residents to throw a Halloween party there. i was annoyed about that and told them that while i supported their right to make a decision concerning the use of common facilities by their own residents, i thought their concern of damage to the court was an overreaction, and the argument they gave the parent and kids involved was disingenuous. i'm sure they didn't like that much, but i offered it as a personal opinion, so screw 'em.

live and let live, already. seems to work for many who actually give it a try.

damn it's late

just completely devoured the 5th book in Orson Scott Card's Alvin Maker series, Heartfire. i'm pretty familiar with a lot of his work now, having read all the books in the Ender and Homecoming series (both sci-fi) and all but one of the Alvin series. if there's a running theme in his work that i can see, it's his knack for creating moral dilemmas for his characters. the Alvin series takes place in an alternate history of the United States in the late 18th & early 19th centuries, fictionalizing some well-known historical figures (Washington, Jefferson, John Adams, Henry Harrison, Andrew Jackson, and Napoleon, to name a few) almost, but not quite, to the point of unrecognizability, and using them to lend some historical weight to the landscape his completely original (and more central) characters inhabit. fun stuff.

another theme in Card's work is obviously to use children (often fantastically gifted ones) as his main protagonists, and i'm not sure if this makes it easier for everyone to empathize with, or just me in particular, but it's certainly effective where i'm concerned.

moving on to other subjects:

it snowed nearly all day today, from about 10am on, letting up a little in the afternoon and coming back for real in the evening. knocked out power to at least 2500 people in northern snohomish and south whatcom counties, and piling up about 5" deep in the most average place i could find to measure this evening. a blanket of white, which Loren wasted no time getting out and snowballing it up in. i joined him for a bit but since i've been freezing my tail off hanging Christmas lights on graveyard shift in downtown Seattle for the last couple weeks, i'm a bit too fond of the warmth to spend a lot of time out in it. barring a heap more severe weather, it'll be more Christmas lights to hang tomorrow night (tonight, now- i believe i mentioned it's quite late) and i'm sure i'll get a fair measure of cold for ducking out of it this afternoon.

Loren's school is cancelled tomorrow, which simply broke his heart.

Chowder went nuts when i let him out in it this afternoon- that dog does love the snow. pretty much anything new and different is OK by him.

Loren and i spent the 4-day weekend hangin' out. he spent a good deal of time messing with the new Nintendo video game system (the Wii) she bought him. it was originally supposed to be a Christmas present, but she opted to "guarantee" she got one by camping out in front of the local Target store for the first shipment, which necessitated her bringing her younger son Phoenix along, and the surprise was sacrificed, so she just gave it to them. Loren's loving it, especially the Dragonball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2 game she got as well. the thing's got an unconventional motion-sensitive controller (which you already know if you don't live under a rock) which allows realistic motions to be used interactively with the games, i.e. swing the thing like a bat to hit a baseball, use the two pieces of the controller simultaneously in punching motions to hit an opposing boxer, swing the controller forward underhand to bowl, etc. pretty neat. it'll be interesting to see what types of things the game designers come up with to exploit the technology.

Loren also spent a fair amount of time playing games on his computer, which made me quite happy, since i spent a fair amount of time getting it set up and workable, and doubtless makes his grandparents happy since they gave the bulk of the system to him.

tomorrow Loren's mom's going to drop off Phoenix, and Loren & Phoenix's cousin (damn-i-forgot-his-name), who's 5, while she wrestles the bad roads to Children's Hospital in Seattle with her neice Jennifer (the boy's mom) and Jennifer's other son, age 1, who has some fairly rare sort of bone cancer. they're going to postpone a bone marrow transplant treatment (if i understand correctly) for the boy until after the holidays, which should be good for everyone involved. neither Phoenix nor Jennifer's older son would have much fun making a likely 5-hr round trip to Seattle, as well as waiting through the brain fluid tap procedure they're going to do on the little one tomorrow, so they're coming here. Loren was all thumbs-up to that.

i saw Nichole on the news this morning, at the beginning of the Seattle Marathon- first time i can remember seeing anyone from my family on television. Loren saw it too. fun stuff there.

Loren kicked my butt in the first 2 of 3 chess matches we played this evening- beat me pretty handily in the first 2, and fought well before i defeated him in the last one. just when i think his attention span in the game is suffering, he does something brilliant. either that or i'm not very good, or possibly both. fun, though. still like to play chess, and though we don't play all that much, there's a table with a board set up on it in the living room pretty much all the time.

haven't exactly enjoyed the experience of hanging Christmas lights in the cold and wet at night, but the timing was near perfect and i really couldn't turn it down after finding myself summarily dismissed from my former job. sounds like there may be some work for me through the end of the year at Hollywood Lights, if'n i can do it. i've been wearing my wrist/thumb brace hanging the lights; i tried it without and it left me in a lot more pain than normal. there's really no improvement in my wrist to speak of, and i need to get back to the doc. i've given up on filing paperwork over the internet, a method i was more than a little inclined to use, given the amount of writing necessary on the work history forms they sent me, but eventually just grinned and bore it since their web site is just one more jumble of red tape. i haven't been back to the doc in quite a while, partially because i've been working nights and partially because Labor & Industries hasn't compensated me for my claim-related expenses or paid the doc yet, since they've been waiting on the paperwork to allow or reject my claim. the holiday weekend's been a little more delay for me, but this week i'll get their forms in the mail and the ball rolling again- the injury's been around for months now, and isn't healing on its own.

suppose that's all the news that's important to print. PEACE


flat bushed

it's 7:09am. just got done filling out my ballot, just in time. first time i've ever voted mail-in, rather than going to the polls, which would have been difficult this year since they don't exist.

never mentioned here that i got laid off a couple weeks back. interesting timing, considering the wrist problems. boss said he was closin' up shop, not sure if i believe him or not....seen him lay off other people he wanted to get rid of before. regardless, it's not my problem anymore. i've run my last doubler, burned my last triangle, smelled that damned stomach-turning, bacteria-rampant coolant for the last time, which doesn't exactly break my heart, despite the fact that i got laid off without any notice whatsoever, nor received any severance pay for that inconvenience.

i could grouse about all this and dwell on hard feelings, but i'll just wash my hands of the place and move on, in a couple more sentences. the family that owned and predominantly operated the shop were certainly nice enough people to work with, but i have to count that job among the worst i've had, considering i worked pretty darn hard, pretty darn consistently, for a very long time, and showed aptitude for tasks beyond those assigned to me, without ever getting the chance to expand my skills or even take full advantage of what i brought to the table. that's a good enough note on which to end this little summary of my experiences there.

hope to receive my outstanding paychecks in the mail today, and i'm hoping the $20 or so (maybe more?) in expenses i paid out-of-pocket for company supplies, gas, etc., will be included in that. wouldn't surprise me if i never saw that money, though, but i could certainly use it right about now.

obviously the next step was to apply for unemployment benefits, so i did. then it was time to update the resume (imagine the last 'e' in that word with the proper accent mark, if you'd be so kind...i'm not feeling ambitious enough to copy one out of the character map). this was the point at which i realized that particular document failed to survive my last hard drive failure. wonderful. found the single remaining hard copy in my possession, and recreated it from scratch, with the required updates. i think those things are like a work of art; it's never really finished, you just reach a point where you think you have to stop working on it, already.

started looking for something to do, when an offer to string Christmas lights for Hollywood Lights came along and i couldn't refuse, despite the fact that it's likely a couple weeks of graveyard shift in what's likely to be a significant amount of precipitation. desperate times, and all that. i haven't made a late mortgage payment yet, and i'd rather not start now- it's really one of the few things that's keeping my credit rating from being completely in the toilet. actually, i manage to pay all the credit card bills on time as well, but the balances keep going the wrong way a little at a time, and since they raised the minimum payments on the cards i'm beginning to get a little nervous about being able to make them on time. and we all now what that means: ludicrous hikes in the interest rates, followed by even more difficulty making the payments.

guess i have financial stuff on my mind....

must be about time for a cup of coffee....too bad i'm all out. guess i should go make some. i've been trying to get my schedule turned around for the graveyard thing bit by bit, and i'm still awake at 7:36, so i guess i've just about got it. wow...25 minutes goes by fast when you're blogging.

the NBA is back in action, and i'm on board a fantasy league with 30 teams (of which i think 28 are actually helmed by Real Live Humans, from the far reaches of the globe in some cases). i missed the live draft, but ranked at least some of the players i wanted beforehand, so my automatically-picked #1 pick, Ben Wallace, who's playing Center for the Bulls this year, landed on my roster. with this many teams playing, everyone's got maybe 1 superstar at best, and the rest of the team is fairly deep into the league's talent pool. 10 players per fantasy team, for 30 teams, is basically the top-rated 300 players in the league. so far i'm doing alright; i eeked out a win in the first fantasy period (1 week) with a win, outperforming my opponent's team in 6 of 8 of the stat categories, which are: field goal percentage, free throw percentage, # of 3 point shots made, overall points, assists, rebounds, steals and blocked shots. i made my first trade early on, trading Matt Carroll of the Bobcats for Johan Petro of the Sonics, partially because i needed another center for the days Ben Wallace doesn't play, and partly because the Sonics' starter Robert Swift tore his ACL and is out for the year (providing the opportunity for Petro, the only returning Seattle Center, no pun intended, to get increased minutes), and partly because he was an available Sonic that might fit into my roster, and partly because he was the highest rated Center on the free agent list when i figured out that i was overly heavy at the Power Forward position and underpowered at Center.

this year's standout performers so far are Leandro Barbosa, Ben Wallace, Al Harrington and Carlos Arroyo. Delonte West has been a disappointment so far, and Petro really hasn't done much yet at all, but i have some hope for both those guys. filling out my roster this year are Antonio McDyess, who can't seem to hit a shot to save his life in the first 4 games of the year, but plays decent defense, Brian Cook, of the Lakers, who's doing fair, Eddie Jones of the Grizzlies, also doing fair, Antonio Daniels, the former Sonic, with the Wizards now, not performing too badly, and the aforementioned Petro. fantasy basketball is grueling, and trying to perform well with a so-so team in a head-to-head league means keeping a close on everything, and being able to schedule your guys properly. scheduling your guys is easy when you don't have to choose between players, but considering you can only field 7 starters, and 5 of them must occupy all five positions, and some players are eligible at only 1 position (others two, but which two varies), that means you can only choose two other players of the remaining 5 if everyone's playing that day. knowing which three players to bench requires knowing what statistical categories you're likely to win or lose, easily or marginally, knowing which of your players are likely to give you the best chance to win those close contests, and what stat categories to give up on, and when, in order to score a win in a majority of the categories on a given week. in practice this means (for me, anyway) tracking my guys' stats daily. last year i had less players on my team, and less stat categories to keep track of, so i had to rework the spreadsheet i built last year...which required a lot of doing. also, the percentage categories are figured for the team as a whole rather than an average of the individual players' averages, which requires inputting 4 sets of numbers instead of 2. then of course, you have to arrange the data in a form that's easily digestible or it's all worthless....takes some fairly involved formatting. but my fantasy spreadsheet this year is a work of art; again, a work of art in progress, but it's better than last year's (which wasn't bad at all), despite being more complex, and i've learned a little about conditional formulas and formatting, as well as graphing, in the process. the joys of obsessive compulsions....

well, i've now been typing for 58 minutes solid, so i gather this is going to be a long entry.

i figure no entry this long should go by without saying something about Loren, so i'll mention that he's nearing the end of first period in school at this moment, on the 2nd day of the 2nd quarter of 8th grade. he spent the last weekend here, Thur-Sat, and we watched a lot of TV, which i didn't feel extremely bad about since we had such crappy weather. Fullmetal Alchemist, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Monty Python's Flying Circus. you get the picture. we played a bunch of games of chess too, each of us playing a lot more quickly than we have in the past, which made for some interesting games. i think he plays better when we don't spend so much time on the games, and in a lot of ways it's more fun. i might still win most of the time, but he certainly makes it difficult- and he very nearly beats me quite a bit.

his mother brought him by my folks' house on Halloween, as usual, and we took some decent pictures, which i haven't uploaded to my computer yet. i'll prob'ly post some on here when i do. afterwards we all headed over to Scott's house. nice to see him, it's been a long, long time again. Scott's dog Loki has a fairly advanced case of cancer in his lymphatic system; Loki looks downright healthy, but we all know how these things usually go. can't help feeling like Loki's got a lot more life in him than the vets might think, though. he's a tough one. prednisone treatment is doing him some good, and i hope it continues to for a long time- always liked that dog.

Loren's mom's dog Sid was killed by their neighbor's dog (their conclusion, though no one saw it actually attack Sid). bitten in the abdomen. not sure if they found it dead or not, but no matter- still terrible. liked that dog too, despite his contribution to the cacophony that is a house full of Chihuahuas. he was feisty for a little guy. Loren was pretty upset, as i'm sure everyone in their household was. tough to lose your longtime pets.

suppose i'm all typed out for now, having typed all the news, bad, mundane, and otherwise that comes to the top of my head. not bad for 1hr 13min of a Tuesday morning.


ya learn something every day...if you log on to Wikipedia

i'm fairly well acquainted with music theory, but i have to admit i didn't know:

the smybol for a treble clef is a stylized depiction of the letter G superimposed over the letter S, and the curl on the G commonly surrounds the line of the staff denoting G, hence the name 'G clef'. i also didn't know that moving the vertical position of the treble clef symbol so that the curl on the G surrounds another line changes which notes are assigned to the lines of the staff. For example, moving the treble clef vertically down on the staff (as was sometimes done in the Baroque period for music in a high range) changes the bottom line of the staff to G above middle C, effectively rendering the whole staff 3 semitones higher in range. handy.

similarly, for the bass clef (also known as the F clef) the depiction is of a stylized letter F, with two dots representing the letter's horizontal strokes, and (you guessed it) those dots surround the line of the staff representing F. vertical variations in placement of the F clef on the staff also similarly alter the notes assigned to the lines of that staff, with named variations including the baritone clef (F assigned to the 3rd line down on the staff) and the subbass clef (F assigned to the bottom line).

and there are a ton MORE clefs. the more i learn about musical notation the more i realize how much i don't know. understanding the scales and modes will only get you so far....i wish i could sight-read.


closing in on the end of October

i just seem to always get too busy (read: lazy?) to post anything here....ridiculous, really, considering the small amount of time it takes to make some kind of comments about what's going on. however, there have been times (in the last...what...four weeks?) that i've actually considered posting about this or that, but the details seemed more important than a brief gloss over would do justice to, and so: i end up with nothing. not exactly a better alternative....

can't even remember where i left off last time, so i'll try to post something currently relevant and possibly, in the process, address the ever-widening information gap.

let's see. wow, it's been well over a month...

i suppose mentioning that a couple weeks ago i initiated an L&I claim for my left thumb/wrist, which had been bothering me increasingly for the last couple months (since early August). actually, Loren was having some trouble with one of his feet for a couple weeks, intermittently at first, then more regularly, and i took him over to have his Uncle Chris take a look at it, on the off chance that the problem was more serious than it seemed to be. Chris's advice to Loren was to take it easy on it, and wait another week to see if it got better, and if it didn't improve to get it X-rayed. turned out to be unnecessary, it's much better.

while i was there, i mentioned to Chris that i was having trouble with my wrist, and that i thought it must be something related to repetitive motions or something, considering i can't remember doing anything specific to injure it. he asked me to show him where it hurt, and in a very brief examination came to the conclusion that i have something called De Quervain's Tenosynovitis- a repetitive stress injury to two of the tendons from the thumb. they take a diagonal turn over the wrist, passing through a sheath, and continue up the forearm, and they're used in pretty much every grasping motion you can make with your hand. the test for this condition is called a Finklestein's test: you place the thumb in the center of your fist, and rotate the wrist away from the thumb- and this proved extremely painful. it's a no-brainer that this is at least a good deal of the problem i've been having.

knowing the problem and getting it treated are two separate things, and i decided to go to the Everett Clinic close by my house to get it looked at. i opened the L&I claim and went to the doc, mentioned Chris' preliminary diagnosis, and the doc checked it out for himself, performed the same test Chris did, and came to the same conclusion. he prescribed wearing a thumb splint (which i'm wearing at this very moment), and a week's worth of hydrocortizone, in gradually diminishing doses, to fight the inflammation in my wrist. my condition improved somewhat, and i suspect that wearing the brace, which precludes my doing some of the more strenuous activities i perform with regularity at work, had as much to do with it as the steroids did.

at the end of a week i went back and got it re-examined. the movement is better but it's still painful, and my range of motion without pain wasn't much better, though the pain wasn't quite as bad. new presription: another week in the wrist brace/thumb splint, and 800mg 3x/daily ibuprofen (anti-inflammatory). tomorrow's Monday, and after work i'll be heading back to the doc for another look-see.

i'm not seeing as great an improvement in it this week as i did the first one, though it has improved somewhat, and i'm curious to see if the doc's going to immediately jump to shooting my wrist full of hydrocortizone (ostensibly the next step in the treatment procedure, and likely the last one before surgery may be indicated). i'm also wondering if it's possible that he'll recommend i continue another week in this brace (and the anti-inflammatories) before shooting me up. i'll find out tomorrow.

i've pretty much concluded that i'll let it go as far as getting my wrist shot full of hydrocortizone before consulting a specialist, but i'll certainly seek the advice of a specialist before consenting to any surgery...this is my hand we're talking about here, the dominant one at that, and i'll be damned if i want just anyone cutting into my wrist....i've never had any problems with my wrists before, and i want an expert doing the diagnosis before anyone touches me with a knife.

on to other subjects.

in my usual obsessive manner i've begun downloading and conventionalizing (in my way) a series of live performances from the group Sound Tribe Sector 9...an ongoing project. they're a jam band that's kinda captured my attention; not everything they do is golden, but they're definitely good, and free music is always welcome. i found a large cache of their stuff here as, well as a ton of other free, legal, live music downloads at the same overall site here. i like the idea of taper-friendly bands, and i think it's interesting that a group would consider their live performances open season for bootlegging, in this day and age. while i certainly understand a group's prerogative to maintain financial control of their work, and their inclination to profit from it, i have to admit i respect that there are musicians who are more motivated to expose people to their music first and profit from it second. since i certainly don't consider the (pitifully few) recordings of the music i've written to meet a sufficient standard of professionalism to be commercially viable, i've allowed (some of) them to be freely distributed for the sake of the music itself. i'm not sure i'd do the same with recordings which were more professionally produced, at a greater expense, but i'd certainly consider, at least in the short term, allowing recordings of my live performances to be freely distributed. especially in the short term, that's excellent publicity. of course, since i'm not currently performing, it's a purely philosophical position....maybe someday i'll be lucky enough to have the opportunity to put it to the test. in any case, Sound Tribe's pretty good, check 'em out.

changing gears again:

Loren spent the weekend here this weekend, most welcome, as always. we didn't do much. watched a lot of Star Trek. i let him stretch his legs on his computer, which i recently got running, after a long- much too long- period of down time. actually, kudos go to my friend Nic at work, who made the suggestion (which i'm slightly embarassed to admit now i didn't think of myself), of trying a USB mouse on the machine. sure enough, though the trouble with Loren's computer likely started as a combination of problems, after completely wiping the system and starting from scratch, it's evident that the last remaining problem was a faulty PS/2 mouse connector on the motherboard, and the USB mouse is an effective bypass. so, i spent the majority of last weekend installing and configuring games on his machine, and this weekend he spent a good deal of his time enjoying the fruits of my labor. my mom salvaged a computer desk from her next door neighbors and it fit into the only possible place Loren's computer desk can be located, so it's an upgrade from the other free-on-the-side-of-the-road table that was serving as his computer desk....an upgrade all the way around. and i gained a laundry table, a little more horizontal space with which to offload and fold clothes. i also picked up a new mouse for this dinosaur-of-a-computer, an optical one, which effectively ended the maddeningly frustrating experience of using the dilapidated $7 old-school ball mouse i've had for the last year or so. should have spent the $20 a long time ago, but couldn't stomach spending more for a really nice mouse....maybe when i get my new computer, which i'm completely chomping at the bit for, since using Loren's machine for a few days...way outclasses this one. Loren's computer (predominantly donated by my dad, though i contributed a few components) has three times the processing speed, three times the memory, twice as good a video card, a faster CD drive, and double the hard drive space. the only thing better on my computer than Loren's are the speakers and the sound card. the speakers stay on my machine, but Loren will likely inherit this SB Live! card when i upgrade as well.

enough on Loren's computer.

i spent a fair amount of time this weekend doing chores, getting other horizontal spaces cleared. Loren and i watched plenty of Star Trek; we're now through the first two seasons of TNG, DS9, and VOY. no series hits a home run every at-bat, and the Star Trek series are no exception, but by and large they're the most entertaining shows on television (and occasionally brilliant) and pretty much Loren's favorite TV. we continue to work our way through the Fullmetal Alchemist anime series as well, and we're still plugging away (more slowly) though the Frieza saga of Dragonball Z. we've seen most of those before, but it's fun to watch them in order, without commercial interruptions.

today was week 7's big day for the NFL; the Seahawks lost at home to the Vikings, likely largely due to Matt Hasselbeck's game-ending knee sprain early in the 3rd quarter. Seneca Wallace came in and handed the ball off once before throwing an interception, and the Seahawks never recovered. they've had to deal with a few key personel changes and some key player injuries this season, but they're doing fairly well despite today's loss. everyone here's hoping for a repeat trip to the Super Bowl (though a rematch with the Steelers seems increasingly unlikely at this point) and they've certainly got a shot at it. i'm personally getting amped for the NBA to get underway. spent a little time this weekend checking out the NBA fantasy leagues offered on NBA.com; so far haven't officially begun a team with a viable league yet, but there's still hope....which reminds me i should go check on that...

work is still work. i've spent the last two weeks mostly running the CNC torch, which is the easiest thing for me to do in this wrist contraption. i expect i'll be doing the same tomorrow, before i head out to the doc.

i suppose that's enough for one post. always seem to be playing catch-up on the blog lately. guess there's nothing really to do for that; sometimes you make a choice between living your life or writing about it...and if you spend too much time writing about it you start writing about writing about it...and who wants to read that? not me.

ciao and if you haven't seen it, watch Miyazaki's Porco Rosso- it's a good flick.



new page goin' up

consisting of info on worthy tunes that have moved the air here at inf's place. sometimes i'm in a totally different room than my speakers, doing chores or whatever, and something just speaks to me, "come and check this out...." these are those tunes. oft times they're by someone i've never heard of, and that's all the better. someone once told me, and i kinda subscribe to this philosophy: the best part of music isn't writing it, or playing or singing it, it's discovering it. not all the tunes that make my "random tunes" page are new to me, but a lot will be, and if they're new to you too, it might be worth givin' a band or two from the list a listen- ya just might expand your musical horizons and find a new favorite; i've certainly found a few by listening to stuff outside of what i normally hear. the page will carry a slightly different theme than the ones i actually author the code for; i'm not interested in spending a ton of time on that page; it's more like a scratchpad and i'll let Excel kick out the HTML for it as best it can (which isn't great). the link will remain in the left sidebar. enjoy :)


small addendum to last post:

i was under the impression John Madden wasn't joining Al Michaels on NBC for Sunday Night Football this season, but i was wrong :) totally khoul that Madden's there too. guess Sunday's the new Monday for me. Monday night is still Monday night, but nothing compares to those two.

back to whipping the house into shape.

cloudy Sunday

stayed up pretty late conventionalizing MP3 filenames and re-loading archived files. slept in through the 1st quarter of the Seahawks / Cardinals game, but the last 3 quarters were great. talked to Loren for a while on the phone. still looks good for him to come back Monday, still tells me he's happy, and his mom isn't, with the situation as is. tells me she's of the opinion that he should have 1 primary home, but he just doesn't understand what her problem is. told me she told him "she might have to force me to take her court" over this....as if it's not a decision that Loren made! maybe she should take him to court. whatever....one step at a time. personally, i couldn't care less if she's upset with the situation, though i'd certainly rather she was happy with it, but after 6 years of dealing with whatever visitation bone she felt like throwing me, and constantly meeting a brick wall trying to work something more equitable out, and ultimately bitching incessantly about the unfair arrangments, her lack of compliance with anything resembling either the court-mandated schedule or our supposedly-mutually-agreed-upon alternative, and what can only be called her blatant manipulation of the circumstances, but (fearing even worse consequences for Loren and myself) stopping short of going to court to attempt to remedy the situation, i can only conclude that karma finally came back around and bit her. it's not like i haven't bent completely over backwards trying to work something out.

but that wasn't the point of this post, and casting justifications of my mindset into The Void is only minimally cathartic, and less productive....

the remainder of the day holds chores and more football for me, and some time letting some Rhapsody radio instrumental grooves sink in to my subconscious. looking forward to checking out Al Michaels on ESPN's Sunday night NFL coverage for the first time- he's my favorite football announcer, for sure.

won't be long before it's NBA season again- hoping to do better than a 2nd place finish in the fantasy finals this year.

now to make some coffee and knock out some of those chores....


soundclick stats


7,202 TTL page hits; 3,187 in 2006
638 TTL downloads (all tunes combined)
2,401 TTL plays (streams, all tunes combined)

that's something, at least....and not too bad considering i haven't updated the tunes there in like...forever.

my unsignedbandweb.com stats

i basically put four songs up on a page on their site, and let it go do whatever it would do. i used to spend some more time listening to stuff there than i have for a while now- really should do that more, there are a ton of good unsigned artists.

as for my stuff posted there, newest stats:

Liquid Motion Experiment #2 [demo]
TTL plays: 137; TTL streams: 51; TTL downloads: 86

TTL plays: 120; TTL streams: 45; TTL downloads: 75

Distractions [live]
TTL plays: 118; TTL streams: 43; TTL downloads: 75

A Little Bubbly [demo]
TTL plays: 123; TTL streams: 43; TTL downloads: 80

another September sunset in the bag

[subject leans back in chair, lights a smoke. the soft crunching sounds of kibble float in from the next room.]

one more week in the can. worked fairly long hours this week. today our CNC torch took a crap while i was cutting. the tip and tip cover are held in place by a specialized retaining nut, and the male-threads it screws in to are stripped. scratch head. think for a moment. wish for aluminum foil. look around briefly for something that will serve....find energy bar wrapper from co-worker. what the hell- tear thinly-metal-coated-mostly-plastic energy bar wrapper into strip and wrap around threads like pipe tape. screw on retaining nut, light torch. leaks flaming propane/oxygen mix still. strip it down, try again with thicker layer of energy bar wrapper. light torch. success! cut 20 link sliders. energy bar wrapper go snafu. wish for aluminum foil. co-worker go on aluminum foil run, return somewhat belatedly after brief sidetrack mission. receive foil. strip torch head. replace energy bar wrapper with foil, reassemble torch head. success! lasts for a couple hours before slightly-loose torch head moves when removing slag BBs. disassemble, clean tip and tip holder, replace foil, reassemble, light torch- success! lasts the remainder of day. despite the stripped head problems, i managed to cut some of the finest link sliders i've seen. getting the torch business down to a science.

tomorrow's my short week, and hopefully Loren will be coming back Monday after school. nothing's ever set in stone where his mom's concerned. always waiting for the other shoe to drop.

watched The Scarlet Letter last night. alright movie. nothing special. Demi got naked briefly. Gary Oldman didn't disappoint. always like period pieces. much more Native American storyline than i anticipated- nice surprise. Robert Duvall was a nice surprise, too, but i couldn't help feeling the movie was missing something. Hester is a nice name. i used to know a girl named Aggie, another name you might associate with old folks, but she was quite young (and pretty). a new face definitely brightens up an old name.

so, a weekend to myself this weekend. chores, i suppose. work on the back yard? heater core for my truck? football on Sunday- Seahawks home opener vs. the Arizona Cardinals. Kurt Warner at QB over there, plus Deon (sp?) Branch in the lineup for the 'hawks. 1-0 on the year so far, and 22-3 at Qwest Field since 2002. bring on the 12th man! have fun Jas, if you're not still outta town on HL business.

s'pose i should git to watching The Thin Red Line this weekend too. dig into my book, Shadow of the Giant, or my other book, ...Tristram Shandy, Gentleman.

neighbor's car stereo got stolen the night before last, and i had some camping gear and a boom box in my truck (among a whole pile of other less-likely-to-be-ripped-off things) but they didn't get taken, even though the one neighbor who saw what was going on watched the guy scope out my truck. had a saw stolen from it right after i moved in, and i've made a serious effort not to leave anything valuable in it ever since.

so far, so good. so roof, dagos. so for, so goad. so go rod sofa. so doofos arg. sodas for goo. so sad for goo.

really oughtta get back to conventionalizing my MP3s. wonder where the hell i left off on that endeavor? always get into it and get distracted by something. usually a major holiday or something. tells you how long the process has taken. craziness. nothing more frustrating than having a (conservatively estimated) 6-month-full-time project dragged out over a period of years by....LIFE.

tired. think i'll go wash up, get the shop off me. sit someplace more comfortable for awhile before i completely and utterly hit the wall.


experimenting with Flickr's site / contemplating a domain, again

i've posted some pics on Flickr.com, and i'm pretty much liking the way their site behaves. still mulling over whether it's worth it to host my pictures on a service like theirs, or to spring for a full-blown domain, and have an offsite backup and web server.

one of the things i like about Flickr is the ability to post pictures directly to my blog, but FTP is just overall a much better interface for large file transfers. however, Flickr does automatically index the captions i create for pictures. there's just so much i don't know how to do with databases! if there were good, easy to use, quick, powerful tools for creating indexes parsed from file names on my own server, that would be the way to go, because i could make dynamic pages. but i just don't know diddly about the nuts and bolts of database creation and management.

anything reasonably quick and functional beats anything time consuming. i guess i should explore the 3rd party upload tools for flickr a bit more and see if they can improve on Flickr's proprietary ones.

...and if i could only get IIS to work right, i could just run my own ASP, CGI or PHP scripts onsite, on a dedicated server. maybe the new Windows will solve my problems....

you know you're broke when you hesitate to spend $25 to squeeze the last bit of functionality from something you're contemplating.

and i suppose the fact that i'm sitting here debating about the best way to serve content on the web, to an audience as small as mine, smacks a little of tilting at windmills. who's the patron saint of lost causes? he's my guy.

everything seems to point to needing to know more than i do about databases and dynamic pages....which is wierd, since i'm actually a pretty big fan of static pages....but there's just so much manpower involved each time you add content that way.

i'd like to have a simple link on my main page, that opens a dynamic page with keyword or date/time searchable (and sortable) automatically created thumbnailed images of any visual or textual content added to the server. and i'd like another simple link on my main page that opens a dynamic page with keyword or date/time searchable audio. and another simple link on my main page that connects to a 24/7 streaming audio broadcast.

i have means of doing most of those things manually, but nothing that can be connected together into a coherent site with the functionality i'm looking for. this blog is a perfect example of a low-maintenance high-functionality tool, which is why i've managed to stick with it for the last couple years. it does what i need it to do with a minimum of hassle. but anything media-related still seems to take forever to deal with. i need better options, and i'd rather not spend (even a small amount of) money or invest time in semifunctional near-solutions. i want to solve the whole puzzle at once. the more i think, the more it sounds like i'm leaning toward a domain solution, which makes me even more hesitant to spend a lot of time on a Flickr photo posting site.

but i'd certainly like to know what anyone else thinks about the Flickr thing, so here's a link to all (for the moment) of my pictures hosted there, taken in mid-August. it's a single series of only 7 pictures, so a likely candidate for a trial run of Flickr's service. anyone who signs up for a free Flickr account should have access to the highest resolution files made available from free accounts like mine: 1024x768- much higher resolution than those available from any other site i've seen.

time to fold the last load of laundry before bed. actually a little tired tonight.



well, Loren's sitting here playing old Atari games with a friend, and i just finished posting pics from our recent trip. yes, we made it out for a little adventure this summer after all. i put up a quick (ha!- that's a relative term, for sure) page with 49 pics of our whirlwind 820 mile, 3 day 2 night, rafting / camping / caving trip, including the (huge, 8 megapixel) shots the pros took of Loren and me and our party actually coming through some of the rapids on the Deschutes River. unfortunately the pro shots of our boat don't really show how bumpy or wet the ride actually got, but it was definitely nice and rough in a dozen places, and the looks on everyone's faces (except maybe the guide's, who was pretty much workin' hard throughout the rough spots) show how much fun it was. Loren had a blast.

thanks again to my sisters and their husbands for a great birthday gift for Loren (the rafting trip), and enjoy the pics, guys.

click here for the pics page.



it's late, but a post is in order

i'll try to justify the occasion with a worthy offering- and still manage to get to bed at a reasonably sane hour not to sleep all day tomorrow (again).

Loren's been here for nearly two weeks now. he's been on his own quite a bit during the work week, but he seems to be enjoying himself. he always seems to relax when he's here for a while, and this is the longest amount of time he's spent here in at least a year- and by the time he goes back to school, it'll be the longest unbroken time he's spent with his pops since he lived with both his parents. i've given him some chores to do, and gave him a good book to read, and made sure he's gotten some exercise, but left him time to spend doing whatever he wants- which has pretty much translated to TV, video games, creating pictures in MS paint, messing with his Yu-Gi-Oh and Magic: The Gathering cards, reading up on D&D and making characters...all the usual stuff. just what the doctor ordered, i think. Chowder's certainly been loving the company; someone's been home all day and Loren takes him out for walks.

as for me, as of today, i'm on vacation! i had to work off the hours beforehand to get a paycheck this week, and even so, i came up about a day short of 40 hrs, but i have the next week off. tack on the weekends on either side, throw in Labor Day for good measure, and you get 10 days off in a row. well deserved, i think. i'd originally planned a trip for us earlier in the summer, river rafting in Oregon followed by some hiking and camping (which those who've been reading already know), but his unexpectedly extended stay in Alaska put the kibosh on that. when he made it back here, i managed to allow work and spending time with him to distract me from remaking those plans....so now i'm hoping we'll be able to put something together on short notice. procrastination strikes again. either way, 10 days off with Loren here will be fun, trip or no. Loren will be going back to school the day i go back to work, and i'll be dropping him off for his first day of 8th grade, the first time i've gotten the privilege of sending him off to school since he was in 1st grade....that's a long time.

i have my fingers crossed that he'll have more success academically this year than he did last year. he seems determined to make some effort toward that end, and i'm determined to help him as much as i can. i'm of the opinion a little success breeds more success, and i mean to see he gets to enjoy some.

the return of school also means the return of soccer season, so now i have to figure out how to get him signed up for that, if it's still possible (which is likely). one more birthday and he'll be too old to play in the league he's played in for years, then it will be a matter of whether his school has a team, or finding another league.

had a chance to spend a little time with my friend Chris this week. he was in town from Hawaii after the recent death of his grandmother, who lived here. their family had a lot of her effects to find a home for, or dispose of, and his mother (who also lives here) decided to move back to Hawaii herself, which required packing a bunch of stuff as well. those were two jobs and a half, and kept him pretty busy. i was the grateful recipient of a nice dresser, a large shelving unit, and some power tools. Loren chose a WWII-era machete, possibly from the Philippines, owned by Chris's grandmother's husband, and a pair of eyeglass-frame type flashlights that run on AAA batteries- nifty. i just realized i could be repeating myself here...but i might have mentioned these little details in an email rather than a blog post. the dangers of not posting for extended periods....

in any case, it was damn good to see Chris. he came over last night (again, it's still Saturday to me, i haven't slept yet) and we got to hang out for a while. the conversation turned to the same types of things it always has with Chris: building things, music, common friends and family, creative pursuits. i hooked him up with a few boogie board blanks i've been holding for him for quite a while, and an old GK amp that's been gathering dust on a shelf here, which he couldn't take to Hawaii with him when he moved there about 4 years ago. hard to see him go, he's one of the few people i truly enjoy spending time with, and a True Brother. Aloha, Chris! hope to hook up with him again on his home turf...always wanted to see Hawaii, and hangin' with him over there would be the more Worthy.

Chris is another one of those guys who's always got something brewing in his head, like i do. there's what's actually going on, and then there's what you'd like to be involved in if you had more time or energy. sometimes just a little push in the right direction is all it takes, and mulling those types of things over with Chris always pushes me into a more-likely-to-take-action stance. i guess if i really have a little more motivation than i've had, the evidence will show up here.

but back to the mundane: gotta get some school shopping for the boy accomplished this week, give us both a haircut, get him mentally prepared for school, and talk with his mom about a more acceptable visitation schedule for the next 9 months. i've discussed a likely option with Loren, and he agrees it's worth trying, so now it's up to me to broach the subject with his mom. the last time i was over there i told her i thought my reception the previous time was pretty chilly, and that i didn't feel like i'd given her any reason to be upset with me, and that i'd like to feel like we could get on with the business of trying to work with each other- and she seemed genuinely happy to let the tension go, at least for the moment. that's a step in the right direction, i guess. i'm all for more of that.

after Chris's visit last night i had a pretty decent headache going, and hit the hay. Loren wasn't inclined to wake me up, and i'd killed the alarms, but i didn't expect to sleep until 2:30pm. must have really built up the sleep debt this last week. i was certainly exhausted yesterday (Friday). but even that wasn't enough sleep; i managed to fall back to sleep on the couch for another hour and half later in the afternoon. Loren seemed alright with it; i can't help but feel a little guilty when i'm sleeping all day on his time, but (while it's certainly not the rule) it's not unheard of for me to be exhausted and crash like a Big Dog. i feel 100% better than i did at the end of the work week, and if you can't sleep as much as you want on vacation, when can you? the rest of the week'll be a different story- hopefully i've gotten the sleep debt out of my system.

so tomorrow we try to accomplish some things, and still have some time for some fun, and i get to spend a Sunday not dreading work on Monday. and maybe i'll have a little more time and motivation than normal during the next week to post, and again have something interesting enough to make posting worthwhile.


well, well...another couple weeks with no posts.

haven't done anything exceptionally noteworthy; mostly just work and chores. wheee! what a life.

Loren's mother eventually returned from AK with him, and we managed to make it out to see the Blue Angels. it was good times. hung around "backstage" with Matt and Chuck for a while after the air show. there was another group of jet pilots there called the Patriots; don't know who they're affiliated with, but they put on a good show too. at one point two of the jets made a big heart with red smoke, and a third put a white smoke "arrow" (just a straight line, really) through the middle of it. the crowd really liked that one.

after the air show i took Loren to see his Grampa at his new inline store in Northgate Mall, and then we went for a (very) late lunch at Wendy's before heading over to see his Gramma for a while. then it was on home.

Loren simply wasn't prepared to spend the rest of the summer here, so i wrestled with that one quite a while. eventually i decided to let him return to his mom's if she'd put it in writing that he'd return this weekend- today at 3pm, actually. after the events of the last week i'll not be surprised in the slightest if he doesn't return today- but i remain hopeful. we're long overdue to spend some time together.

finished The Damnation Game by Clive Barker yesterday. other than sleeping, it's really the only thing i did. hated to see a perfectly beautiful day go to waste, but i certainly must have needed the rest, since i slept the whole night through as well.

saw Chris's band Fallback at the Boxcar Ale House, a bar on the north end of the Magnolia area in Seattle. it was their first live gig, and they acquitted themselves pretty well. they managed to squeeze their 6-piece onto an absurdly small stage, and rocked before a crowd of mostly friends. they were well received. from a critical point of view, i'd have to say their mix was remarkably good, especially for a first gig, and considering that they miked only the vocals, relying on their amps to get levels. i only noticed a couple minor hiccups in their performance, which probably went largely unnoticed by those in the audience for whom critically appraising a performance isn't part and parcel of the experience of taking in a show. i suppose being fascinated enough by an art form to pursue it for yourself does in some ways detract from the pure enjoyment of that form for its own sake. i doubt a filmmaker can watch a movie without being aware of the camera moves, and the editing, and the lighting techniques, etc. in some ways, the price paid for the greater understanding of an art form is compensated for by the greater appreciation of fine execution of the principles involved, but in others, i suppose it's akin to knowing how the magician performs his illusions.

in any case, it was fun, and i got to see some old friends of Chris's i've met before, and meet some new ones. even pulled a little roadie duty, carrying Chris's amp back to their ride. it was great to see the breathalyzer i got Chris for Christmas last year passed 'round- i don't think we were using it quite properly, since i had 3 or 4 beers and a shot of tequila in the space of about 3 or 4 hours, and blew a .02%- i expected it to be about .04% or so? i only had a little minor buzz though, so i suppose it could've been accurate. if it was accurate, and the effects of alcohol accumulate at a somewhat linear rate, then the state's .08% limit is certainly not an unreasonable place to draw the line past which someone is clearly 'under the influence' of their drink. for instance, Chris's sister Jennifer blew a .06%, and she seemed clearly a bit tipsy to me....as well as, i might add, enjoying herself.

and, back to the musical part of the observations, the whole thing made me think i'm spending entirely too little time on musical pursuits, reminding me (again!) how much fun it is to play live music before an audience. i'll have to remedy that.

but on to other topics.

today is another sunny day in what amounts to the longest string of nearly-unbroken fantastic weather that i've ever seen in this state. it's been simply gorgeous all summer, with no more than 3 days that remained overcast and only 1 of rain. actually, if anything, there's been too little rain this year. my hydrangea is certainly suffering. normally i don't need to worry about watering the plants, but this year the hydrangea flowers (usually beautiful this time of year) are almost all brown. the leaves are green as ever though, so the relative drought isn't threatening the life of the plant. the rest of the plants in the front jungle are surviving as well. the rose tree isn't as prolific as it has been in years past, but it stil sports a glorious red blossom occasionally. more time spent watering the plants would definitely be in order.

haven't done a damn thing to the back yard in ages, much to Chowder's chagrin. he's long overdue for some running around, and i'm forced to conclude that wishing i was finished with the project i set myself won't get it done. unfortunately i haven't been up to the task for weeks. i was just getting ready to give it the last big push when i dropped a pretty big piece of steel on my foot at work, the hard way, edge-on. it landed on the knuckle of my big toe and i've been hobbled ever since. i'm getting to where i can walk basically normally again, but i still can't bend the damn thing right. on top of that, i cut the hell out of my left little finger in a futile attempt to catch that piece of steel on its way down. actually, my foot hurt so much i didn't notice it immediately- i only realized i'd lost a fairly large chunk of flesh when i saw a little pool of crimson, with some brightly shining steel dust in it. then, a few days later, i punctured the end my right middle finger on another piece of steel, and it wouldn't stop bleeding either. hobbling around my trenches with bleeding hands wasn't the most appealing prospect, so i gave up on the idea for the moment. as of this writing, i'm feeling physically up to the task again, so i expect the motivation to get to it will follow soon.

i found a piece of software online called 'Inform' that's a tool for creating interactive fiction (such as the old adventure game Zork). the moment i saw this (free) piece of software i knew Loren would be interested in it, so i downloaded and installed it. he took to it immediately. he's had more time to play with it than i did, so he's becoming the resident expert on it. he spent most of his alone time here (while i worked last Monday), and a good deal of time at his mother's since, putting it through its paces. should be interesting to see what he does with it, as well as how long he plays with that before something else captures his attention.

for his part, Chowder seems happy to have my (somewhat less than thrilling) company this weekend. he's certainly a social animal. i think he'll be quite happy to have Loren here for a while. i've set Loren the task of walking him while i'm at work, and though Chowder's certainly more enthusiastic about that than Loren is, i think it's good for both of them.

well, i suppose it's time to move on to something else for the moment. the chores, after all, only wait so long before the house becomes unbearable. and i suppose a little music might be in order, while i put the house in order. PEACE


for all those clamoring for the info

i finally updated my watchlist page. yay. link's in the sidebar on the left. now you can get off the edge of your seats and on with your lives...or not.

best movies i've seen lately: The Gift (superb acting by both Cate Blanchett and Giovanni Ribisi), Monster (absolutely riveting performance by Charlize Theron), Ray (stunning acting and musical performance by Jamie Foxx), The Human Stain (great writing; a layered story that draws you in at an even pace, with solid performances all around but particularly by Nicole Kidman), Vanity Fair (gorgeously filmed- if somewhat long- period piece with solid performances throughout), Mirrormask (reminded me very much of Cirque du Soleil so it didn't come as a shock to find it shared creative talent with Cirque). and The Exorcism of Emily Rose (stunningly brilliant performance by Jennifer Carpenter, solid performances by the rest of the cast, unique combination of genuinely suspenseful horror film with a contemporary court drama.....very well done). links to some more info on all of 'em (if you've been living under a rock, like me, and missed 'em when they were actually fairly new) are on the aforementioned watchlist page.



made a minor edit to the last post, since the dates i wrote were a bit off. always more editing to do. and that's what i get for putting in a bunch of links instead of just writing.

just finished watching The Gift. yes, i know it's an old movie, but it's new to me. really liked it. Cate Blanchet (sp?) was fantastic. it might be the best thing i've ever seen her in, and that's saying something since she was Galadriel in Peter Jackson's LOTR films. she's really pretty damned talented. but Giovanni Rabisi (sp?) gave her a run for her money in every scene he shared with her- that guy's amazing. if you don't know who he is, i bet you do: he played the doctor who got shot in the stomach in Saving Private Ryan...i'll always think of the guy that way, since that's the first thing i ever saw him in.

ok enough with the errata notice and miscellaneous film comments. it's late.


wow- 6 weeks with no posts. thanks to Melissa for reminding me ;)

crazy. what's been happening? wish i could say more than, "not much," but i can't, so here's all the 'not much'.

last post was June 6, and i believe i watched Elektra. haven't done much since then except watch movies and work. do chores.

Loren's summer started June 21st. this is the part of the year when it's supposed to be 'a week here', 'a week there', etc. so far this summer Loren's spent an entire week here, and the rest with his mom. right now he's in Ketchikan, AK with his mom, visiting relatives. they're staying with Loren's aunt, and he's hangin' out with some friends he's known for a long time and a bunch of cousins and, of course, his bro.

i've been just workin' my butt off trying to build up some hours to use toward a week off after Loren returns. i've planned a little trip for us, nothing extravagant. Aug 5-9, pretty much, but after the 7th or 8th we're going to be playing it by ear. would be nice to just have a paid vacation so i didn't jump in all exhaustified, but i think i'm ahead of the 8 ball enough to manage to have a decent time while we're out and about. the itinerary so far:

Aug 5: get an early start driving to Maupin, Oregon. get set up in our room at the All Star Lodge (my 2nd choice...took me a little too long to make the plans i wanted and missed out on a nicer place). then i'm thinking we'll take the (very) short drive over to White River Falls State Park and do the short hike down to the old power plant, check out the falls, etc. fart around, kill time. have some dinner someplace in town, settle in to our room for some rest before rafting the next day.

Aug 6-7: so 9:45am we hook up with River Drifters, for a trip down the Deschutes River. opted for the all-day deal, and the generous gift cert that Loren's aunts and uncles got him (and me!) for Loren's birthday left only a balance of $35- totally reasonable, considering the trip's about 3 hours longer, and they stop along the way for swimming and a barbecue. they also take pictures (they have cameras set up along the banks, i gather) and sell them (for a not inconsiderable fee, i might add....pretty steep. prob'ly have to pick the best one and stick with one shot.) that whole thing should wrap up about 4:30pm or so, and then a short drive back to where we started from, and Loren and i will hit the road. i contemplated staying another night in the lodge, but i think we'll manage a 2.5 hr drive to Battle Ground State Park alright. i was thinking i'd really like to stop somewhere along the Columbia River for a day, but you almost have to spend two nights anywhere to get a whole day in, and packing up and moving every day is a little much, so i opted for the easier thing. we'll get in to the park around 6 or 7pm, if we don't stop along the way for anything else. still thinking we might get some swimming in on the Columbia River at Columbia Hills State Park, or maybe on the Oregon side of the river at the Deschutes River State Recreation Area, but that's an on-the-road decision i guess. we actually have until 1:30pm Aug 7 to keep our spot on Battle Ground Lake, so we might be able to squeeze it in. here's a good map of Battle Ground State Park; i chose it because it had some hiking and swimming, and it was on the way to Mt. St. Helens, which i've never seen. if you're REALLY interested, here's a good closeup of the spot where we'll be camping, site #37, right by the swimming beach. and here's an actual photo of very near the exact spot. so we'll stay overnight here, and the whole next day, do some barbecuing, swimming, hiking, etc. pack up in the morning and head to Mt. St. Helens.

Aug 8: i'm thinking we'll get up and check out something called Ape Cave, which is the longest continuous lava tube in the contiguous U.S., at about 1.5 miles long. basically, you go in one end and come out the other. there are two routes (from the same entrance), a short one that's a dead end, running the opposite direction of the main climb, and another that rises about 600' and requires climbing over a lot of boulders, etc. i'm going to take Loren through the whole thing. should be a blast (no pun intended!). here's a better overview of the place, with diagrams of the cave, etc. it's about a 2.5 - 3 hr hike underground, on the 'challenging' upper hike. you can get lanterns there, but they recommend bringing three light sources- that's a long time. i may spring for a lantern and a bring a few flashlights anyway. hope there's not an earthquake or eruption while we're down there, but it's actually a fair distance from the mountain, and they actually opened the mountain up for hiking to the rim of the crater at the top last week, so those in the know seem to think it's safe for the moment. Loren took a school field trip to the Johnston Observatory once (NW side of the mountain), so i'm thinking when we go check out the mountain we'll do it from the east side, the opposite side of the mountain, somewhere in the neighborhood of the Windy Ridge Viewpoint. should be plenty of hiking in the area to last us through a day. after that, it's either back home, or possibly a stop over by Mt. Rainier, or maybe even by Lake Kachess (off I-90), the only spot Loren and i've camped before. would be interesting to see if we could nab the same spot on Box Canyon Creek we did before- Loren's always good for a little nostalgia.

so that's what i've been doing in my off time, watching movies (OMG i have a lot to fill in in my watchlist...last entry was June 5th i think) and planning a little road trip.

hmmm.....what else. Chowder's been actin' funny lately, not wanting to go outside in the morning when i go to work. i think it's because the back yard's fenced off at the deck line (gotta get both the motivation and time to finish diggin' my trench!) and he's not having fun. not touching his food (or water!) until i get home. i think he's depressed. it's a dog's life. i'll make it up to him.

ok that's enough for one post. got a bunch of stuff to do this evening and i haven't even taken a shower after work yet. and i'm especially grubby today, having spent all the free time in between swapping out parts (i'm actually running something fairly complex for a change!) on my knees scraping the 1/8" - 1/4" thick grunge off the shop floor on my hands and knees with a 1" wide putty knife (best tool available). the floor is actually flat again, though, in the places i've finished. sound like i deserve a raise? i think so. call up my boss and put a good word in for me! but i'm outta here.


scene 5 from the movie Elektra

is one of the best pieces of filmmaking i can remember seeing. the shot selection, post-production, lighting, photography, editing, music, dialogue, acting...two minutes of absolutely perfect filmmaking, and very moving. this is why we watch films: to be inspired by both the story and its expression through the work of the artists. to discover or be reminded of some aspect of the truth, of what it means- or can mean- to be human.

i, like most people, experience very little personally that is truly inspiring, and like many i'm more inspired by fictional characters and events (in films, or books) than by real ones. i enjoy movies (and books) precisely for the rare moments the art is executed so deftly that it becomes invisible, and i empathise so completely with the characters i disassociate from my self, and live in their moment. the best movies (books....stories) aren't just a trip to another world, they're a series of opportunities to experience the distillation of someone else's more inspiring existence, and even when the moment's passed, that experience becomes part of you, enriches you, expands your perspective. you carry it with you; it changes you a little. those less-than-common moments become real for me in much the same way events experienced in dreams do; they're as valuable in their way as any real life experience, because they gain you insight into who you are, what you value- and that's powerful stuff!

as i said, i don't get those moments from a film often; only through a compelling story, its elements revealed in precisely measured sequence; through great dialogue, delivered sincerely, often subtly, through a graceful performance, captured in beautiful cinematography, deftly edited; all supported, driven, and accompanied by ever-present, thematically sympathetic music, masterfully composed, performed, recorded and mixed, reinforcing and adding emotional depth to all the other elements.

film is meant to be a marriage of all the art forms: story telling, graphic representation, music, acting- and there are certainly scenes in Elektra- like the one i mentioned above- that meet that goal.

Elektra flashing back, on the deck of a ferry. remembering dying in an ambulance, then being brought back to life by her mentor, the sensei Stick. training in Stick's compound, devastating her sparring opponents...

Stick [instructively]: "Do you know the way, Elektra? Kimagure, the ability to control time....the future...even life and death?"
Elektra [strongly]: "I know I'm the best student here."
Stick [patiently]: "Not the best....the most powerful. You understand violence, pain....but you do not know The Way."
Elektra [respectfully, determinedly]: "Teach me, then."
Stick [regretfully, firmly]: "That's my point. I can't teach you. I want you to go."
Elektra [hesitantly]: "Is this a test, sensei?"
Stick [sadly, resignedly]: "No. Not a test. Just go."
Elektra [meekly]: "...I don't have anywhere to go."

[no response....brilliant end to the dialogue allows the actors to play out the scene through facial expressions and body language, while the music speaks volumes]

it doesn't get much better than that.

but evidently, i'm the only person who appreciated this movie? well, i'm no critic, just someone who loves movies and music and books, and that's just my two cents. one man's truth is evidently another man's drek. to each their own, and may we all find inspiration where we can.


still Tuesday to me...not much to report, really

went to work. on a break i saw the same golden eagle (at least i'm pretty sure it was the same one) i saw during a break the other day at work. didn't get a shot of it this time, but here's the one from last time:


but back to today. i got paid last weeks' check. i'm about a week behind now, and won't get paid tomorrow (regular payday). need to be all current by payday next week; crossing my fingers that it happens. without 2 checks next week the mortgage payment won't happen. not my favorite scenario to contemplate, so i'll move on:

talked to Loren on the way to the bank after work. cell phones are addictive on commutes. nice to have something to do to pass the time though. at least when i stay as late as i did today the traffic's not too bad on the way home.

watched the Suns beat down the Mavericks to tie the Western Finals series at 2-2. incidentally, i think the refs took Nowitski out of that game. just my opinion. maybe the league really wants these series to go the full 7 games as much as possible. certainly can't hurt the revenue stream. but what do i know, i just watch a lot of basketball- never had to officiate a game. after basketball i watched a movie (Daredevil, a lot better than the criticism it received but not on par with say Spider Man 2 or Batman Begins). waiting for Superman Returns to come out....saw one shot from the film during a preview in the theater before X-Men: The Last Stand the other day, an extreme closeup in slow motion of a bullet crushed under its own force against Superman's open eyeball- pretty cool. but back to today: did laundry. updated the site and posted this and i'm OUT.


OK, so technically it's the 30th now

but as far as i'm concerned, it's still Loren's birthday....i'm still up.

Loren had a friend over at his mom's Sunday night, they stayed up practically all night (not surprisingly) and Loren kinda paid the price this afternoon when he pretty much ran out of gas. he dozed off a couple times at his mom's, and though i talked to him this morning and wished him a Happy one, i didn't get ahold of him again until late in the afternoon. he wanted to come and see me today, though his mom didn't want to drive him. i told him not to feel pressured to come, but i'd come get him if he wanted to, and in the end his mom met me halfway. i took him out to KFC and we got some chicken to go and came home. we ate and he opened his presents- all but one, which would have been difficult to open since i haven't yet gotten it. i was planning on saving one for his party next weekend so i haven't rushed out for it yet. we were a little rushed since he came so late, so we really only had time to eat and do that- but he had a good time and so did i.

a happy newly-teen-ager opening a present:

and, like always, i always like to look at the other things that happen to show up in pictures. in this one, two things that caught my eye were:

the Pistons had just taken the lead with 3:22 left in the 3rd quarter and :14 on the shot clock, in game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Heat. for the truly curious, the Heat came back to win it and the series went to 3-1. do or die for the Pistons now.

and lastly- the poster that i made for Loren for his 9th birthday party (incidentally the only one he's ever had at my house) has now been on the wall for fully 4 years:

but back to the story. after dinner and presents i took him back to his mom's, and headed back home. i watched a movie (Tristan + Isolde....pretty good movie) and now you're right up to the second on what's happening with my life. and now you are again. and again. actually....you're not. for that to be true this site would have to update as i type. as far as i know that's not possible; it's certainly not possible with the facilities available to me. and even if it were, i'd have to assume that you were reading at the same speed i was typing, without so much as the tiniest waiver in your concentration. so let me rephrase that: you're now up to date with everything that might be considered vaguely important, irrespective of the unremarkable experiences i deem too mundane to warrant publishing an account of.

speaking of which (catch the segue?) back to work tomorrow. at least it's a short week.


Mavericks by a nose at the end of the 3rd

and i figured what the heck...during the commercial break i might as well post a couple shots i took today.

my new moat:

one of the first two roses to bloom this year on my rose tree:

back to the game. go Suns!

and another three weeks go by

without any posts. let's see if i can fill in the gap...

on the 12th i took in the Cirque du Soleil show Varekai over in Redmond's Marymoor Park. that was a fun show, and the first time i can remember actually going out with both my sisters since my whole family spent the evening at a nightclub in Edmonds on Nichole's 21st birthday- ancient history. Loren was with us, and he really enjoyed it. the two of us met up with Nichole's family at their place before the show, and we all met Melissa at Red Robin in Bellevue, for a little pre-show dinner. the Sargent boys seemed pretty happy to see Loren, as it's been a while, and Loren always likes seeing his cousins. Cole was a bottomless well of hugs for Loren at dinner- much to Melissa's amusement. good times.

here's an excerpt from an email i wrote for a friend of mine who asked for a review:
great show. music was pretty good, if a little loud at times for that small a venue (they play live the whole show, backstage, except the vocalists, who are in costume and onstage) and the dancing/acrobatics/costuming/lights/etc. were all great. nothing i've seen before really compares with it for spectacle, it's not a circus in the Ringling Bros. model (but i knew that going in). basically, in this show, they blur the line between musical-theater style storytelling (it follows a theme and loose plot throughout the show, which you can basically follow though the lyrics aren't in English and there's not really dialogue), dance, and acrobatics.

there were times the show was flat hilarious- they break up the whole thing with some basically unrelated hijinks a couple times, which keeps it fresh, and it's fairly long, at maybe 2.5 hours. there's a pretty good intermission in the middle. they do some clowning around in the stands before the real show starts, while people are being seated. seems like they pretty much have it down to a fine art, and it's fun.

worth the money i spent. i got the best seats i could get 4 in a row of (maybe 15 rows back, toward center stage, in a tent that holds about 2,500 seats). most of the show wouldn't suffer much from being farther back, and to a certain extent they play to all areas of the crowd, on a circular stage in a circular tent in an amphitheater-style horseshoe arrangement of seats, but i'd definitely recommend getting as close to center stage as possible.

moving on the remainder of that weekend, i spent some time digging in my yard, doing chores, etc. i've been taking advantage of bouts of decent weather and free time to dig a french drain into my back yard, attempting to alleviate the drainage problem that's been plaguing me since i bought the place (almost six years now!). Loren spent the day on Saturday, and we caught up a little on our Star Trek DVDs, as usual (TNG flavor this time). i think it's definitely doing him some good to have things back to normal. he seems to be making an effort in school. he was definitely struggling in a bunch of classes at the beginning of this quarter, but he's addressed a lot of those problems and brought most of those grades up. i couldn't resist pressuring him a little when i saw things bottom out as low as they did, but he was receptive to what i had to say and responded, so i'm proud of him. he's still stinkin' up his language (writing) class though- that one's definitely going to take a significant effort to change.

Sunday the 14th was Mothers' Day. i got Loren over to his mom's before noon; i made the decision he'd be going. and i made it out to see Mom, which was nice. the other day when i was in Safeway i saw the biggest strawberries i've ever seen in my life, so i picked some up so's to not show up empty-handed. brought my camera with me, and Melissa was kinda enough to take this pic:

2006. - Dad, me and Mom on Mothers' Day

of course, Mom (or was it Dad?) was kind enough to turn the tables on Melissa and get this one:

as you can see, Melissa got a little sun that day. i gather she'd been helping Mom and Dad move a rediculously large pile of rocks out of the big ol' hole my dad put in the yard, widening their driveway. in my book, manual labor from the daughter beats strawberries from the supermarket by the son....but it wasn't a competition ;)

here's another email excerpt, from the following Tuesday, the 16th:
been diggin' a trench in the backyard. three trenches, unless you count this shape: |_| as one trench.... ran into a monster rock today. way too big to pick up- must weigh 180-200 pounds? buried a foot deep. managed to get it free and up out of the trench but it completely ruined my trench line, of course, and it was right in one of the corners (just missed it when i dug the perpendicular trench), so it actually ruined 2 lines. did me in for the day. yesterday i told my folks i was about 3/4 done with 2/3 of the digging (which is a slightly more descriptive way of saying "about half done") but today i'm more like 3/4 done with 2/3 + 1/3 done with the other 1/3, so now i guess i'm about 11/18 done. give or take a little. depends on how deep the whole thing ends up- and if i run into any more boulders. so far i've managed to miss all the concrete i buried last year, which is very very good. that would be a big pain to work through.

most evenings after work find me glued to the NBA playoffs this year; the postseason play's been as good as i've ever seen. i have to say the West has far out-excited the East. kinda rootin' for the Heat at this point, for no other reason than i'd like to see Gary Payton get a ring. i don't think Alonzo Mourning's got one either, so that'd be ok also. problem is, i kinda like the Pistons and they'll have to lose for the Heat to go to the finals....so be it i guess. none of their important guys are nearing the end of their careers. but in the West, the Suns are vying with the Mavericks for the conference title, and i think it's a toss-up who'll take it. i guess i'm sort of rooting for the Suns, to make it a Suns-Heat finals. if i had to put money on it, i'd bet on the Suns in that series, but still going to have to root for the Heat i guess. it all just gets so muddled when your team (the Sonics baby!) doesn't make the playoffs. maybe next year, if they're still in town. the ownership of the Sonics franchise (Howard Schultz of Starbuck's fame et al) want some serious remodeling done to the (recently!) remodeled Key Arena or they want to sell. they asked exactly $1M shy of the highest price ever paid for an NBA franchise....maybe they're somewhat willing to sell, if the price is right, but it doesn't ring convincingly that they just want to get out at any cost. we'll see. the team played well after the trade deadline, the new additions of Chris Wilcox & Earl Watkins especially. both guys stepped in and filled gaps in the team's arsenal, inside game and explosive play from the perimeter, respectively. but enough about the NBA, and back to filling in the remaining 12-day gap in this blog....

the next weekend (May 20-21) was the first weekend Loren spent at my place since all the BS that began in March. we watched a movie i've been waiting a while to watch with him, How'ls Moving Castle, which was every bit as good as i hoped it'd be. once again, Dad nailed Loren's taste to a T. really, that's not very impressive considering he's likely to enjoy anything that's really good- and many things which aren't so good. but he does seem particularly impressed by movies i'd judge be particularly well done.

the weather was nice, so i also enlisted his help with the French drain in the back yard, and he jumped into the task enthusiastically. sometimes hard work is fun- it's a matter of perspective, as with most things. he got out there and sweated behind a shovel and sorted out rocks from what we dug up.

we spent a little time playing ball, and some more time playing chess, and we even got in a game of poker- dealer's choice, like we always play. he sort of steadily lost for a while, but after about an hour of playing he won a couple good hands and got nearly even before losing interest in the game. i think we played for about an hour or so. good times, again.

here's a couple shots i took on Saturday the 20th:

one of a pair of European starling's that's taken up residence in the attic over the den:

not sure if this is the same bird or the other of the mating pair:

and one more, of my favorite strange bird:

i'd been carrying on an email conversation with my uncle Terry about philanthropy in general and Bill Gates' brand of it specifically. this is an excerpt from an email i wrote on the 21st:
Uncle Terry wrote, likely somewhat tongue in cheek, unless i miss my guess:
>Even if all of the richest people impoverished themselves, there would just be a never ending new supply of tragedies to remedied, and unending multitude of excruciatingly poor people forever. in line, always needing help just to get through each day.
this was my response:
i have to agree that the number of people sitting around waiting for (expecting!) the world to help them up seems to keep growing. and as i truly believe in the right of individuals to accumulate (or inherit, or otherwise possess) their fortunes, and to use or hoard them as they see fit, it follows that i can't stomach socialism in principle, let alone in practice. an even playing field (even a predominantly even one) is a difficult enough goal. so, myself, i'm left hoping the silver spoon crowd occasionally tosses a few bones to the little guys; i don't think compelling them to- or attempting to eliminate financial inequities in society in general- is the answer.

living on my quite meager (for this country) income, and struggling to maintain what most here would consider a very modest standard of living, and judging as i do the value of this standard not against a higher standard enjoyed (and often taken for granted) by the richest, but against the lower standard of those multitudes of excruciatingly poor, and feeling a certain degree of shame that i've not used my relatively fortunate position to do even what little i might to help out, i'm not sure i could live with myself if i was in Gates' position and still did nothing.

i'm fairly certain i could exist quite happily indefinitely on about twice the money i make now, adjusted periodically for inflation, and manage to provide for all my needs and many of my wants and still find something left over to spread around a bit. but sitting on tens of billions of dollars is another thing entirely. i'm absolutely certain i couldn't rationalize a purely selfish purpose for that kind of scratch.

what i can't decide is this: is it really possible to desire to help someone less fortunate than yourself for purely altruistic reasons, and not to some degree be motivated by guilt? or putting it another way: is it possible to believe you can and should help someone, without feeling that if you don't help them you've done something wrong? if it's not, and i kind of suspect it's not, than is there any true altruism? isn't everyone who "does the right thing" simply choosing to avoid feeling the shame of doing the wrong thing?

comments directed on that or any other thing can be directed to the email address indicated at the top of the page. forms in triplicate not required.

the next day, the 22nd, i went to traffic court to address two tickets. here's an excerpt from an email i wrote at the time about that:
went to traffic court today, and i'm once again convinced it pays to go put your $.02 in. i was sitting on $235 in traffic tickets, one for 51 mph in a 40 (my speedometer never exceeded 44, i was paying attention since i saw the cop and was pretty sure i was being clocked) and the other for not having a driver's side mirror on my truck. the mirror thing just got dropped since the cop didn't write anything up in his report about it- even though i was going to admit fault for that, and went to court with proof i fixed it. the speeding ticket was reduced to $85. it would've been nicer if the speeding ticket had been dropped and the mirror ticket reduced, but i'll just count myself lucky the other $150 is still in my pocket.

after going to court i went back to work. need to get my hours in order, been a little light on income lately.

on the 24th i got an email from a friend who turned me on to a new web-posted video by a group in Florida, who put out what i'd have to consider a perfect pop song called 'Stay'. here's a link to it: [aforementioned link]. give 'em a listen, it's good stuff.

on the 25th i got a card from my long-time very good friend Shaun, who's recently become a mother! i'm really happy for her, i know she'll be a great mom. Congratulations again Shaun!

this is from an email yesterday; my sister Nichole wrote in response to my troubleshooting a file attachment my aunt Carol sent:
>Lowell - how come you don't have a job in computer nerdy stuff? Or else as an editorial writer. They both seem suited to you.
this was my response:
at one point i was certainly well-qualified enough to have a job working in IT, but for the most part i'm viewed as unqualified at this point. it'd take a leap of faith on the part of a prospective employer to learn i'm actually pretty well qualified to do 90% of the things an IT guy takes care of, but i'm definitely not qualified for any of the higher level stuff, like database management, network administration, etc. not that i wouldn't be able to figure it out- just my skills aren't comparatively as good these days as they were when things weren't so specialized and businesses' computer networks weren't as complex. a couple years of school or half a dozen really good books might fix that, but you need money and time for school and study, and i don't have the money to get a degree. if i had the money though, i have to admit i'd prob'ly be able to make the time. doing just about anything with computers would beat the hell out of what i'm doing now.

as far as writing goes, that would be a hell of a lot of fun, i think i'd really like it. i flatter myself to think i have a little talent with words- at least written ones- but i seriously doubt anyone would consider someone who finished high school with a 1.3 GPA (yes, i totally screwed off my senior year!) as qualified either; certainly in any kind of journalistic capacity or what-have-you. so again: school, to get a degree, to convince someone you're worth the risk. same problem.

but writing fiction or books- that's something else. anyone can do that if they can complete the work and take hundreds of rejection letters until someone bites. i keep thinking someday i'll write a book. i'm pretty sure i could finish at least one. in all my free time....

or maybe i'll just get some really good software and make a hell of an animated movie of my story. singlehandedly, since all my former co-consipirators have completely abandoned any and all creative endeavors.

or i could hit the lottery and start a recording studio; i'd be damn good at that, i know how to run everything and i have a good ear. i actually got trained for that, but i think there's a grand total of 20 people in the Pacific NW who hold actual jobs doing that. i bet more people actually make a living playing music than recording it.

which brings me to my first and greatest love: writing and playing music. i could just get all re-dedicated to finding yet another group, working really hard writing music the likes of which has never been heard, and have my name drop from the lips of enthralled masses worldwide, rabid fans flocking to hear these world-shaking sounds for themselves by the tens of thousands.

but in reality- and this information is real, taken from actual statistics in the music industry- for every 10 guys who pick up an instrument, 1 is actually talented. for every 10 talented guys, 1 is really talented. for every 100 of those really talented guys, 1 gets a record deal. for every 100 record deals, 1 record takes off, and for every 100 records that take off, 1 actually cements a guy's career. that makes it about 10,000,000:1 odds, and realistically, i missed the cut somewhere between the talented guys and the record deal. and i'm not getting any younger or better looking- a little long in the tooth to become a rock star. but never say never, i always say....you just never know. and there are other types of musicians than rock stars.

but there i go dreaming again. i'm allowed to do that in these brief pauses between the unending string of days through which i trudge doggedly, hour after spirit-crushing hour as a mindless automaton.

i'm like Salieri in the movie Amadeus: cursed with the ability to perceive and understand greatness, but lacking any for myself. it's a rather sad thing to expect from yourself, as i did from a very early age, that you'd do something the world would remember you for when you were gone, or at the very least to create something you judged important that would outlast you- to make a mark- and to be rapidly approaching middle age and realize anything you might claim to be proud of really doesn't amount to very much, even by your own standards.

and it's then that you really start to try to learn to be thankful for what you have rather than wanting what you don't.

me, i'm thankful for having a beautiful kid who's a really nice person (to his credit, not mine), with almost limitless potential if i'm any judge. he's still got all his opportunities ahead of him, and i suppose the most important thing i can be doing at the moment is preparing him to grab those chances and make the most of them.

and for our great family, who value me despite my insignificance on any larger scale.

and hey- you never know; once Loren's out in the world i'll have to focus on other things, and maybe i'll find a little greatness of my own.

so that pretty much brings us up to date. Loren was here Friday night, with his brother Phoenix in tow. Phoenix spent the night over here, and we watched another fun movie i've been waiting to see with Loren for a while, called Steamboy. score another one for the dad, they both liked it. they had a good time, and the next day we all went to see X-Men: The Last Stand. that was fun- i'm all for the blockbuster summer movies, the more the better. this one provided a couple shockers i wasn't expecting, which is always a plus, and they gave it a little gotcha at the end, just to keep the door open for more sequels. Hollywood does try to keep their options open on their successful franchises.

Loren left for his mom's after the movie, and i headed home to catch the Heat / Pistons game, #3 in the Eastern Conference finals. which brings us full circle, i believe.

spent a little time this morning brewing up another batch of my latest coffee pollutant, which i've yet to properly name. non-alcoholic, this time....i'm all out of Irish whiskey. doing a little laundry, getting ready to go out and scare up a little birthday largess for m'boy, and getting this blog up to date- which i've now done, so:

a good remainder of the weekend to all, and this blogger is taillights. PEACE :)

post labels

1979 480p a perfect circle accountability ADSR adventure age progression AIDS AIG alfred molina alternate geography alternate history america animation anxiety apology apprentice array instruments art crimes attention spans audioslave avatar bad weekend bailey's bailout beach beavis being broke benefits beverage big three bill the cat bitching black and white blogger blogging blue screen bob marriott book bored brinsley schwarz bus schedule butthead c.s. lewis cable coiler car crash car repair carolan's cartoon cate blanchett charles darwin charles van doren chloe moretz choir chores chowder chris cornell christians christina ricci christmas christopher mintz-plasse chrome cigarettes cinnahoney cinnamon class envy coding coffee comcast comedy commuting contact list cooking crime da vinci code dakota dan brown daylight savings time deconstruction display resolution dodge dog park domino dozer dream dreamworks drinking driving e.t.a. economy edmonds edmonds marina electricity elvis costello email england epic escape ethan everett chorale evolution fabricate facebook fantasy fiction film trailer first post fitness test flag flash flickr font ford fotomorph free hugs free market freedom freedom of speech freeware friends futility galapogos geology GFHS girl glitch GM good will google gratitude green screen hallmark version handwriting happiness harley harry potter harry thompson harry turtledove HD headache healthcare hershey hershey's syrup hip hop history of knowledge HMS beagle hollywood lights honey hosting HTML human rights IE immigration indispensable opposition intelligentsia internet explorer interview Ira Glass irish cream irish whiskey it got big jakob dylan jason jenny lewis job hunting journalists julia navarro junk kalimba kansas kick-ass kitty knights templar la fete nationale lacking motivation last airbender lego lineman live looseworld loren love m night shyamalan malacandra malaguena manifest destiny mark millar marriage martha stewart mbira mcafee megamind melissa memorial mickey microsoft monotony montreal music music video my life my music mystery natural philosophy naturalist new car new chair new computer new TV new zealand nick lowe nicolas cage NSFW obama old friends opening atlantis opinion opus organ out of the silent planet overheat peace performance pic post picasa polygons PUD puget sound quebec qwest field racey radiator random realD 3D realism recipe redletter media reggie watts reginald veljohnson repairs reunions ridley scott robert fitzroy robin hood robin williams robot rockstar russell crowe sarcasm science fiction sea voyage seahawks shroud of turin sick puppies siphon smoking sorceror's apprentice soundclick south america special effects speech spring starling stats suicide summer sundome syntax error syphon taking offense tesla test the atlantic the bus This American Life thriller tim hawkins tokyo plastic toni basil trade-marx train trouble turning 40 TV UAW understanding unemployed unions vacation video vimeo virus vundo W3schools walter lippman water pump wayward son web design weekend whiskey white house windows 7 windows live mail windows vista wordpress work writing xmas xmas spirit XP yakima yourfonts zoey deschanel