junk

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I’m back. I had a pretty good trip to Vegas, and the photos and a quick bulleted list are here. It was cool to see my sister and brother-in-law, and it’s always fun to go to Vegas with people who haven’t been there before; it makes everything seem new to me. Probably the highlight of the trip was seeing Blue Man Group again, this time in the 5th row of the center section. The lowlight was getting delayed on my way out because of the California fires. And also the last day was depressing, being by myself and being almost out of cash as I walked around without much to do. The weather was beautiful the whole time I was there, but I didn’t feel like doing much other than going to the movies and going to Denny’s. But now that I’m home, I wish I was back there again.

I’m still sick – it never really went away, and just got worse in different ways. I stayed home today and slept all day, which seemed to help a bit. Now I hope that two more days of extreme sleep and much more juice will make it clear up. I have a lot of stuff around the house to get done, and I am editing the glossary on paper, which makes for a good in-bed project.

I didn’t do anything special for Halloween. I was going to watch Psycho, and I started watching Motel Hell, but I don’t have the attention span tonight to stick with a whole movie. Instead, I flipped channels and ended up on a Friday the 13th sequel, the one in Manhattan (8? 9?). It was funny only in that it belongs to that sub-genre of cinema best described as “I hate NY”. There were all of these films in the late 70s/early 80s that formed my early impressions of the big apple, the kinds of things like showed the city as a total disaster, with people getting killed on subways, and every other building on fire. Now that I live in the post-Giuliani version of the city, it’s very amusing to watch these films. It’s almost like watching campy 60s movies about the futuristing 1995, with floating cities and rocket jet-packs and stainless steel robots. I need to hunt down a copy of Escape from New York and see if it measures up.

Not much else is up. CSI is on now, so I’m getting pulled in…

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“swing your arms really high in the air” march

I’ve got a headache, and I’m watching Las Vegas on TV, sort of in the background now that only 15 minutes are left and I pretty much know where all of the plot lines are going. I’m also editing crap for the glossary, slowly trying to lock down the last of the changes. I noticed that all of my old comments had vanished, so I dug around the HaloScan web site and found out you need a premium account to get to your old stuff. So $10 later, all of my stuff is restored, and I think there are some new features I’ll be able to use at some point in the future. I also took all of the entries from the letter A and brought them into FrameMaker to see what it will look like in print format. The template needs a hell of a lot of work, but at least I know how much effort it will take when CafePress finally offers perfect bound books.

I was watching Army TV (whatever the hell it is, Armed Forces TV, maybe – it’s on public access at like three in the morning) and they were showing footage of troops training the new Iraqi police. In general, I am all for this sort of thing, and it’s the kind of stuff we should be doing over there. Instead of a bunch of mafia-type thug men taking protection payments and lording over the local businesses, they can get some policemen trained to help keep down the local crime, and then pay them a decent salary so that bribery and corruption isn’t a major problem. So that’s great, and they show the Army officers training these guys on due process and careful searches and first aid and all of that stuff. Then they show the police guys, and they are marching around a football field or something, but doing that goofy, “swing your arms really high in the air” sort of march that you normally see armies do in countries that have their current leader on every piece of money printed and in four places on every intersection. It’s the same weird-ass march that the North Koreans do when you see their annual Communist “we’re the elite troops that still have bread and water and uniforms that match, unlike the other 99% of the army” parade. Is this some kind of cultural thing? Wouldn’t it be better to teach them to march the regular way? I don’t know, it’s not like anyone has actually marched in perfect lines straight into battle in like the last 200 years, so marching doesn’t do a damn bit of good when your most formidable enemy is a Toyota Corolla full of RDX and packing nails. At least they didn’t get the NYPD there to train the cops, or they’d all be unloading their service pistols into the first black guy they saw in Baghdad.

Not much else is up. I got a new DSL modem via UPS today, and when they get my line hooked up on that end, my home speed will go to 1.5Mbps download and 256Kbps upload via lineshare, at the same price as my current 768/128 dedicated line. It means I have to dig behind some dressers and the entertainment center to install line filters on the phones, so I will probably inhale a metric assload of dust bunnies in the process. But that’s a small price to pay for faster speed.

And with that, it’s time to play SOCOM.

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Xmas in October

It’s October 5th, 59 degrees outside, and I’m listening to holiday music already. (“Christmas” music to you non-atheists.) I don’t know why, but it’s chilly enough in here that one of the Windham Hill winter’s solstice albums seemed apropos. I really love listening to one of these albums when there’s a foot of snow on the ground and it’s a Saturday and I don’t really have to go anywhere. Today, all of the leaves are bright green and still on the trees, so I’ve got a ways to go before then.

I haven’t done much today, and haven’t left the house, with the tail end of this cold in my system. I didn’t really feel like stressing myself out by rolling out of bed early and climbing onto the petri dish train to get into the city. So I’ve been spending the afternoon ripping a round of CDs for the iPod. I keep running into CDs that will not rip on my CD/burner combo. Some eventually work on my old CD drive, but at a painfully slow rate (sometimes less than 1x.) And no, these aren’t CDs with any of the new, hare-brained copyright protection schemes; these are discs I’ve had in my collection for 10 years or more. It might be that the burner is an el-cheapo generic house brand, though.

I’ve been reading Gray’s Anatomy pretty much constantly all weekend. (The link goes to a fairly cool online version, but I have the half-foot thick paper rendition put out by Barnes and Noble, which works better in bed.) Every once in a while, I start to wonder stuff like “what is a gallbladder, and how can you live without one” or “how exactly is blood and urine exchanged in utero with a fetus?” I mean, I know there is an umbilical cord, but where does it go? It’s not like there’s an umbilical cord hookup jack inside of the uterus, like an RV sewer hookup at a trailer park. So whenever I get on one of these kicks, I spend hours going over the pages, trying to cut apart the latin doctor-speak and figure out what goes where. It’s the same sort of instinct that makes me read a road atlas for hours, except instead of knowing where I’m going or what’s around me, I sometimes like to know what I am, at least in the anatomical sense.

I’m slowly trying to re-order some of the books in the house, which is sort of a joke project, because there are enough of them and there’s no space for all of them, and many books are filed by size instead of any sort of subject matter system, because my shelves are of various heights. I don’t know, I have this book called At Home With Books, I think, and it has a house where the library, which is at least ten times bigger than mine, is sorted BY COLOR. So I guess my quest to get all of my travel books in one place isn’t as much of a windmill as that.

OK, I think a trip to the grocery store is in order.

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Winter

Well, I guess it’s winter now. It seems strange that only moments ago, I was trying to think of a way to turn my refrigerator into a giant dehumidifier, and now I’m thinking it’s time to turn my stove into a giant humidifier. So let us begin the season where I bitch about the fact that my landlord is an idiot because I don’t have heat, and where my first concern in life is not getting a cold, or toning down the one I have.

I’m actually sick right now, although I hope I’ve stemmed off the worst of it. I’ve been taking huge amounts of vitamin C, beta-kerotene, multivitamins, all but eliminating any sugar from my diet, and drinking a fuckload of grapefruit juice. In the last 24 hours, I’ve seriously drank a gallon of the stuff. That plus the Indian food I had for lunch Friday to try and burn out the sickness has made my gastrointestinal situation something that you really don’t want to know about.

I also slept all day today, from about midnight last night to about 7:00 tonight. In a sense, I don’t like sleeping that much and killing an entire day, but if my body needs it and it helps, it sure beats sitting around the house. I slept without any drugs or cold medicine, and had bizarre and self-referential dreams, where heavy REM sleep usually takes items from everyday life and replays them, but because of a lack of anything but other sleep in recent memory, it turns dreams into total chaos.

I actually like that kind of thing. I remember at the end of 2000, I had a bunch of “use it or lose it” vacation, so I took something like two or three weeks off, and had no real plans except to hang out, and maybe write a bit. I got really sick and spent most of the time sleeping, sleeping all day and then waking up at three in the morning and drinking a quart of juice and eating a grilled cheese and playing Gauntlet on the Nintendo 64. Then I would go back to bed for another 20 hours, and have these bizarre, self-referential dreams where I was writing down my dreams in a journal, and then writing down that I was writing down dreams in a journal. It was fairly fucked up, but I wish I could have written it all down into a book.

So all of the windows are closed in the house, and it makes it feel much more isolated, but also much warmer. (It unfortunately, is not *warm*, because the heat isn’t on). But it has a much different vibe to it than the summer, and I’ve noticed it a lot more since the two were so close together this year. In the summer, I’m much more a part of the life right outside my windows, which I don’t entirely like. Now, the house is more of its own sealed ecosystem, like being in a space station or something. I think I like that a lot more.

Speaking of space stations, I’m done reading Red Mars and now I’m working on the very beginning of Green Mars. The book moves to the next generation of people, the kids that were born on Mars, and are now becoming adults. The first book takes place over an extended generation, maybe 50 years in all. It’s amazing, like reading the Lord of the Rings books, except I’m not a fan at all of that stuff, and this has been a more compelling read for me.

I think I’m running down on working on the glossary. I mean, I am still doing the limited-edition print book when CafePress starts doing perfect binding. But I don’t feel like adding more material now, I need to get back to writing. I am working on the next book, the “next Rumored”, and even though I am not writing, I am thinking. Unfortunately, because I am sick, I’m not thinking. I’m sitting in front of the TV with a comforter over me and a million empty grapefruit juice bottles, flipping the channels. I actually watched a big chunk of that Josie and the Pussycats movie last night. One show that I did watch tonight that was interesting was this new NBC show set in Las Vegas, about the life of a casino worker. It’s very catchy, well-filmed, and gives you this insider look at a huge empire behind closed doors in the same way that ER gives you an insider look at the adrenaline rush and horror of working in an emergency room. They showed two episodes of this show tonight, and I really did like it. It also makes me really ancy to get back there, which I will later this month.

Not much else. I’ve put a heating pad on my computer chair, and it works well. My back is a little torqued out, a mix of doing nothing and this cold. The heat coming from my chair feels great though. Now I need to move it to the couch and fire up the Playstation 2 for some old fashioned lighting people on fire with flamethrowers in Red Faction.

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