Monday, May 31, 2004

What I Found Out This Weekend

- A cracked windshield on a plane will cost you two hours on the ground, and about twenty-five dollars on the liquor bill.
- Bleached tips look 'fierce' on me.
- It's suprisingly easy to insinuate yourself into wedding pictures and breakfast buffets.
- Getting served bread by the bride is not a bad thing.
- You make more friends by keeping your food on your plate.
- German chicks worry about how their feet look.
- Don't ask a paranoid waitress that's only worked five days for the grapefruit.
- Punk rock and regga are connected by 'political affliation.'
- Sometimes reality turns out to be better than dreams.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

PIRATE Act

EFF:
'The PIRATE Act (S.2237) is yet another attempt to make taxpayers fund the misguided war on file sharing, and it's moving fast. The bill would allow the government to file civil copyright lawsuits in addition to criminal prosecutions, dramatically lowering the burden of proof and adding to the thousands of suits already filed by record companies. It would also force the American public to pay the legal bills of foreign record companies like Bertelsmann, Vivendi Universal, EMI, and Sony. Meanwhile, not a penny from the lawsuits goes to the artists.

'Don't let the record industry use your hard-earned dollars to pursue this fruitless war; tell Congress to sink the PIRATE Act!'

I'll try not to use this as a soapbox too much, but this one really annoys me.

How to make friends by Telephone

Contact Sheet: This age-old pamphlet answers the age-old question of 'Who should end the call?' and offers such tips as 'It's also irritating to try to understand someone who whispers or mumbles.' Hmm, everyone has been right all these years.

World's Largest Collection of World's Smallest Versions of World's Largest Things

Worlds Largest Things Traveling Roadside Attraction. I have the smallest collection of the world's largest versions of the world's smallest things. It fits in my sock.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Tricks of the Trade

A few years ago I really got into the idea of lucid dreaming (before 'Waking Life' BTW). After reading about it for a bit I put a few of the techniques into practice. The main points are first recognizing you are in a dream, and secondly, staying in the dream after that recognition.

The first part is done through a couple ways, a big part recognizing motifs and patterns in your dreams. (For instance, 'Fiona', because even though she inhabits my dream life, unfortunately she does not show up in my waking life.) To do this, of course you have to remember your dreams. As to that, just mindfulness will work wonders. At least in my case, I wake up a few times during the night. At this point you can either say to yourself, I'm going back to sleep, in which case you will forget that dream, and probably the fact that you were awake at all. If instead, you decide to make the dream concrete, by pondering it, figuring out the story, grabbing all the fragments together, it will be much more likely to be remembered later. I actually do have a pen and pad by the bed, but that's a pretty recent occurrence (coinciding with the start of this blog), and jot down the dreams now. (I can't really read my own writing, but the writing makes it even more concrete in your head).

BTW, the other tricks to figure out if you are in a dream, are taking a look at a piece of writing, or a clock twice. Writing isn't stable in dreams. I spent awhile doing double takes on clocks, or carrying around a note that said, 'This is not a dream.'

Eventually I got bored of lucid dreaming, because I would just spend the whole time flying, and couldn't get much else to happen. I think it's because I can't visualize things when I'm in a conscious state.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Dream Log

It starts out with some sort of renovation of the loft. In any case there is a reinstall of my mail client for some odd reason. I send out an, erm, private email to Fiona, to all her friends instead. Panic stricken I drive a van that stinks with rotten meat to school to find Fiona and explain the situation, before it hits the fan. We are both mortified.

Back into the stink van, now piloted by my sister, (who is back with her husband for some reason), and they drive us to the library. We wander the stacks.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Dream Log (Insomnia Edition)

Thirst, hunger and a slight hangover have conspired for this latest bout with insomnia. The latest dream is a pretty mundane one concerning a blonde biker chick. I met her at a party at my parent's house. (Though they weren't there and my most of my friends here were). I hitched a ride home with her on the back of her Harley, somehow making the 3000 mile journey in a few minutes.

I wish I had a bike like that.

Friday, May 21, 2004

Dream Log

I had another roomba. It was red. I smashed it to fix the other one, but then realized it was better to have two, so I fixed it.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Dream Log

I bought/acquired five dogs. I was taking care of them at the loft, they had taken over the loft area, and I was staying on the ground floor. I think I would forget to take them out for walks, and had to let them out on the balcony at some point. They told me that they would have to follow my grandmother out when she went out for her walk.

Then it morphed into some computer game where taking care of the dogs would give the player, (who was now not me, I was regulated into an observer rule), points which were redeemable for auditioning at a pro baseball team.

This was all mixed in with a different dream thread where me/not me went to some sort of misfit camp with Fiona/not Fiona. She wrote bad poetry, he talked about physics and k-rad speak.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Post-flight checklist

The first time you wake up from a blackout is a slightly worrying thing, but over time you get used to it. At least you are in your or someone's bed, (or perhaps on a park bench, or once in front of your classroom), at least you are still on the ground.

First you register the loud white noise, then you open your eyes to the bright sun, and the face of some stranger, who you are knees to knees with (goddamn Southwest planes). You realize you are 30,000 feet up. You don't know how you got there. You have a feeling that you should be on a plane anyway, you just wonder if you got on the correct one. Hazy fragmented memories sludge through your head, the edges of which don't fit together. Drunk dialing, angry sullen emotions, waiting in an empty cab in front of the airport. 'Keep it together, keep it together.' You repeat that mantra a thousand times until you hear the captain reassuring tell you that you will be landing shortly, at the correct destination.

Where's the most frightening/confusing/worst place you've woken up from a blackout?

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Pre-flight Checklist

I fight my way to the bar, picking my way past the other weary travelers surrounded by their baggage. I find a seat and sit.

'Oh, a new person at the four drink minimum seat' quips the bartender. I flash him a smile, 'Double jack and diet, please.'

Psssht, click. Psssht, click. I listen to the automated shot pourer, angry at its efficency. I'm already a bit drunk from the happy hour drinks with B, but the allure of an airport bar is too much for me to turn down. After all I have to go through my 'seeing the parents' routine.

When I'm going to see the parents, I stop at the airport bar and take down three or four double jack and diets, so I can slip into sweet oblivion during that cross country flight, and usually not wake up until we touch down. However this time, the flight is only an hour since we are meeting at the OC. This calculation takes a bit more care, I still need to drink enough to be comfortable on the plane, yet not too much so as to be sober enough to deal with my parents, who will be picking me up at John Wayne. I carefully calculate that I've probably passed that point sometime during happy hour, but there's nothing more comforting than habit.

'Taste that,' the bartender asks. I sip on the cocktail and look at the bartender quizzically. 'I thought so. The color didn't look right.' He takes the drink back. Psssht, click, the shot pourer goes for the third time. I choose not explain to him that he has poured me the proper drink, it's just that I've lost the ability to react to the amount of whiskey in a drink. I watch the NBA playoffs for a bit, and get an idea in my head. I slam the drink and head back to my gate.

I situate myself where I have a view of all the children that are running around the gate(Oh this flight will be a joy), and dial up Fiona. We chat until I start seeing the queue form and I join it. I had already printed out a web checkin. However I don't trust this thing, this ratty tattered print out(paper doesn't survive well in my care), when everyone else has nice official cardboard boarding pass. I get to the head of the line, and I hand this thing over, feeling like a schoolchild trying to get out of gym with a mother's note. It passes inspection and head down the gangway.

Luckily I'm in the last row, and the plane isn't full. After takeoff I'm able to curl up on the seats and pass out, hoping that my liver will be able to get me back to some degree of soberness.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Dream Log

Since part of the impetus for this blog was to record my increasingly female dominated and embarrassing dreams. There was a lot of meta-dreaming flimflammery last night as well as:
- Fiona in a bath (blame that darn friendster pic).
- Fiona as a cheerleader, trying to wake me up from a meta-dream.
- 'First time you kissed me to end an argument.'
- Pam Anderson and a hot-tub in a meta dream. (unfortunately I kid you not)

Don't worry about the interpretation, it's pretty obvious.

Friday, May 14, 2004

You know, the one where Anthony Perkins dies...

Sure, we all know where we can find out who is in what movie. Stern has made it quite clear about how to find out where they are naked. And, yeah, we can find out if they are actually still alive. But do you know where you can find about their movie death scenes?

____ and Adoration in Las Vegas

What is the opposite of fear? I'm don't buy that it's bravery, not in this context. I feel like it's more like titillation, or even fetishic desire. Whichever it is, that's how I feel about Las Vegas. It gives me the warm feeling of returning to a lover. A lover that has spurned you multiple times, stolen your jeans, emptied their pockets, kicked you in the head and leaves you on the ground smelling like cigarettes, cheap booze, vomit and strippers. But it's all worth it for that one time that crazy gal hands you a scotch, takes you into her arms, caresses your face and whispers those sweet words into your ears... 'Dealer busts.'

I felt slightly cyborgish when I was packing for this 4 day trip. Besides the clothes; the electric toothbrush, phone(with charger), camera(with charger), mp3 player(with charger) goes with me. I'm thinking about bringing the laptop, but I don't think I'll get that much use out of it staring at the pretty Keno balls through a drunken haze.

Hopefully, this trip won't be the one that sees me dead or incarcerated and I'll see you all on Wednesday.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Retrospective

I really dislike the back of my head. Actually more of the back profile of my head. Sometimes I'll glimpse it in pictures or the well-mirrored surfaces of the gym, and shiver in disbelief. I think the problem is that it's so foreign to me, yet I know it's me. Must be an uncanny valley thing.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Brainz Eating

I got a new toy last week. It's like an iPod but more geeky and less sexy. In other words, perfect for me. So I spent a night uploading my collection to this thing, only to find out that much of my music was mistagged, untagged and worse, completely all over the map in terms of spelling and capitilization etc. You don't want to know how many 'spellings' of 2Pac there are out there.

So I find MusicBrainz which uses some sort of mp3-fu to fingerprint the music and be able to look it up. More importantly for my purposes, it has a community that is very fastidious about normalizing all the artists and album names according to their style guide. So I spend a few days submitting and resubmitting my music to this thing, and retagging my collection.

For the most part it did the right thing, but it does have a few annoying quirks, like tagging the track number as 0, or spreading the music over different albums. So I write a little perl script to audit the results and fix those up. Second problem are the bootlegs and the mix CDs. The 'right' thing to do with the mix CDs is to let the tagger throw them into the right directories, and create a playlist based on that, and through that somewhere. But I'm a bit compulsive, and I don't like seeing albums that aren't complete, and I don't want to go around trying to find, or waste hard drive space, on the rest of Right Said Fred album. The 'right' thing for the bootlegs is to submit them to MusicBrainz, but I'm a bit too lazy for that.

So the solution that I've undertaken is to support two different trees, one that is tagged by MusicBrainz, and another that has no Brainz, and write another script that merges the two in a symlink tree. It should probably also synchronize the tags somehow, but I haven't gotten around to that. Basically whenever I acquire new music, I let MusicBrainz chug on it for awhile, if it comes up with something, it'll copy it into the Brainz tree, otherwise I'll put in it other tree. From there it's just a matter of a Unison call, and I'm in organizational heaven. I use Unison instead of simple rsync so that if I upload something from work or a friend, I won't lose it.

The next problem to deal with is that MusicBrainz doesn't tag genre, which is a bit annoying. I can either go and retag these things on my own, or write something that does a lookup on All Music Guide and does the right thing from there.

Or I could actually enjoy my music.

Skynet Genesis

I would be more comfortable with this game, if it weren't for a fact that it is backed by a company that claims 'email marketing' amongst its services. It's still fun for a whirl or two, and if you have me to thank if it answers 'whiskey' with 'yep'.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Man vs. Food

My well-fabled gluttony (I've been thrown out of two 'all you can eat' buffets) took a blow to its ego at lunch today. Only time will tell if it was ravages of age, or if it was just an off day. As it was 'Double Stamp Tuesday' our venue of choice in the Cheese Steak Shop. I come in and get my regular order: 'Large Bacon Cheese Steak, onions no peppers, extra large portion of meat, mayo on the roll.' This time though, I add 'Please make sure I get the extra meat this time.'

When I receive my cheese steak all looks normal. As usual I follow my procedure of shoving all the meat into the side of the bun, so as to attain maximal meat to cheese density. I've not taken but three bites, (well the procedure is a bit more complicated than a bite, it involves forks, short sleeves, and a blast radius of about 2 feet), I know something is wrong. I'm already feeling full! Me! I take these things down like pez. This should be but a snack to me, before my nightly feast of Prime Rib. I look around at my companions, and whisper, 'I think this one will defeat me guys.'

However, I venture back into fray, and continue to work on that half of the cheese steak. As I am methodically plowing through it, my elbow slips off the table. I look down, and the grease and fat from the cheese steak had dripped down my arm onto the table and onto the floor, forming a grease puddle the size of a small pancake.

Astonished I look at the paper of the tray. Completely transparent. I lift up the platter, another puddle of grease had formed below that.

Now this place usually is greasy, as that is part of the charm of the place, but this was phenomenal. I now understood what had befallen me. Sparked and re-ignited by this affront, I tear into the the remaining part of the half I was holding, and started in on the other half. That half of course, had been sitting in this grease and had for the most part had the integrity of tissue paper. Soon my platter was a crime scene of bun pieces and gristle, swimming in a mixture of mayo, fat and mustard.

But, alas, all my valiant efforts were for naught, as I just couldn't finish off those last two bites. I look up at Chris and say, 'Let's get out of here. It beat me, Chris, it beat me.'

And now I sit here arm still slick with grease, my heart pumping little spikes of pain, remembering my glory days.