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3

I just had to restart xmms (aka my mp3 player), which meant that it went back to the beginning of my play list and went to the first album in the mp3 directory. For most people, that’s probably AC/DC’s Back in Black, but for me, it’s an odd little album called …To the Power of Three, by a band called 3. They’re basically Keith Emerson and Carl Palmer, 2/3s of the prog-rock band ELP, with Robert Barrie singing. This is a 1988 attempt at a serious rock album, back on the tail end of when Yes actually got a lot of mainstream airplay and even time on MTV. (Anyone else remember the April Fool’s day when they played like 267 different versions of the video “Leave It”, with the band upside down and singing? Except they swapped out band members for roadies and office staff at the studio and whoever else for the different iterations, and even played some of the commercials upside-down to keep with the joke. I know only like three people found that truly hilarious, but I was one of them…)

Anyway, the 3 album is a pretty weak stab at world domination. It’s got a cover of “Eight Miles High”, and the whole thing is basically 37:38 of vintage cheesomatic synth and very cookiecutter drums. I think I borrowed the tape from my friend Derik Rinehart at the time, and I’m not sure if I ever returned it (my old car had holes in the floors, many tapes didn’t make it.) A couple of years later, I found a copy of the CD for 88 cents, and picked it up. It’s one of those albums that is definitely stuck in my head, that I listened to at the time and thought “wow, Emerson sure can fucking play! This MIDI shit is the wave of the future!” and then got sidetracked when like Primus came out or something.

It’s been a nice three-day weekend here. I woke up way too early on Friday and had a bug to rewrite the backend of the glossary. I have a lot of work done on it, but I got stuck on something and decided to take a quick break and work on other stuff. I’ve been messing with this bike too, although it’s been a total pain in the ass trying to scavenge parts off of the old bike. I should have just parked that piece of shit somewhere without a lock and bought a completely new bike instead of trying to build one. I realized it’s been almost 20 years since the last time I built a bike, and everything’s changed. Every piece requires a specialized tool. It used to be with a POS Huffy all you needed was a crescent wrench and maybe a screwdriver, but now it’s like working on the Space Shuttle. I stripped off and totally fucked the crank on the old bike, so I gave up and bought a new crank and bottom bracket on eBay. That’s another hundred bucks and week and a half of time, but at least I will get a nice one, and save more weight. I have a huge problem with the front headset, but I think I’m going to tap out on that too and just bring the thing to the shop and have them put on a new one. (Probably another hundred.) Those things used to screw on, but in order to save like a dollar a year, they moved to these threadless ones that have to be pressed on with a hundred dollar tool. Well, at least I’m going to lose a lot of weight with this new bike. Not from the exercise, but from not being able to afford food anymore.

More photos are online. I’m also in the process of setting up a section of free stuff where you can download any of my books for free. You pretty much can do that already, but I want to put some section that screams “FREE STUFF! TOTALLY FREE! (p.s. sign up for my mailing list.)”

Also, has anyone ever installed vinyl flooring? Like those stick-on, foot-square things? I want to redo my bathroom and maybe kitchen floor, which have ceramic tile, but the shittiest tile in the world, and I figured if I could buy a hundred bucks of the stuff and a box cutter and invest a Saturday in it, maybe this place would look less like a crack den or something. I just don’t know if this stuff will stick to tile OK or if it’s a bad solution for what I just described. I was actually at Bed Bath and Beyond, and they had a big rack of it and no sorts of samples or pamphlets, so I took out the camera and started snapping away, and two big security guards sprinted into the flooring section like I was about to shoot the president or something. And when I asked if they had any samples or pictures or whatever, and they were like “look at our web site.” Which is pretty stupid, because what’s the difference between me taking a digital picture of the tile by myself, or going to their site and downloading a picture? So I just go to their piece of shit web site, and I CAN’T FIND THE TILE.

Oh yeah, and Best Buy was closed for Easter. I had to go buy DVDs and Barnes and Noble for like double the MSRP. I’m going to write them a pissy letter and complain that they don’t close for any of the Satanic holidays. Or at least a half day off for the Firestorm.

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new camera

My new camera is here! I got a Fuji S3100 from Amazon. It is very neato and the first test photos look pretty good, although some are out of focus because I don’t know what I’m doing. It’s a neat new toy though, and should be good for the trip to Hawaii. I have some rechargable batteries on the way, as well as a 512 MB xD card, which is good because the 16 MB card holds only 16 pictures.

It’s also a good time to mention my little project to put together a PHP-based gallery that works and doesn’t require MySQL and half the Linux libraries and packages available in the world to operate. Go here to check it out and look at a bunch of old photos. It’s very crude now, but it’s all dynamic and doesn’t require a lot of editing each time I drop in new photos, and that’s cool.

It’s weird to think that I bought my old camera about five years ago, and it was 1/4 the resolution and about 1/4 the zoom, but it cost about twice as much. Moore’s law in action. Anyway, pizza’s here.

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big trip

I am excited – I finally planned and booked my “big trip” for the year, and it will be… Hawaii!. I didn’t get anywhere near enough time there in 2003, so I will be going back at the beginning of May. I’m going to Oahu again, flying into Honolulu and staying in a hotel in Waikiki. It’ll be a different place this time, the Ohana Maile Sky Court, in an oceanview room that purports to be a little larger than my micro-capsule of a room last time (but hey, I had my own deck!) I got the whole deal through Delta for maybe a hundred or two more than my ultra-stellar deal back in ’03, although this does include an extra night free, and most other deals I found cost twice as much. It’s not the cheapest time to fly, so I’m happy I locked in this rate. I’m also happy I will get another 10,000-odd frequent flier miles, which means a free trip later in the year.

I haven’t planned at all what I will do when I get there. I’m not sure if I will go flying again – it was fun, but it was also expensive and took up the better part of a day. I think I will climb Diamondhead again, although I’ll try to remember a flashlight and some suntan lotion this time. I’d like to find some more stuff like that to do, and bring a bit more money for shopping. I also didn’t try any good food while I was there last time, unless you consider the Spam at McDonald’s to be good. (It’s not horrible, but not worth the trip…)

I had Balti beef tonight, from the local Indian delivery place. I guess I’ve never tried it before, and when I googled around, I found several sites explaining the origins and virtues of this style of cooking that’s named after the Hindi word for “bucket”. It’s essentially a poor man’s stir fry, done up in a pot that’s brought out to the table, and then eaten with nan bread. It’s a northwestern/Pakistani style of spices, hot but different than the curries you’d get from Southern India. I like a good vindaloo, especially when it’s cold out and I’m trying to beat a head cold. But the Balti is a slightly different mix, and I really like it. Also there’s just this whole tactile difference, the novelty of having it all together, that somehow appeals to the gadget-head in me. Plus you get a shitload of food for not much. So that’s cool.

I really feel that I should be writing this book, but I really want to play Mercenaries. Which one do you think will win?

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Mercenaries

I’m in the middle of eating a huge burrito from the tortilla joint on 30th ave and failing miserably. Time to go get a fork…

This was a weekend of media consumption. I did get out on Saturday and do some shopping with some fairly decent weather on hand, about 40 degrees and clear. I made a mega-purchase at Best Buy, since I was still getting over the whole sick thing and wanted some stuff to do while planted on the couch. The big thing that I spent too much time on was Mercenaries for the PS2, which is a very strange little game that’s a mix of Grand Theft Auto with SOCOM, and then some. You play an “independent contractor” who is dropped in North Korea to go through a deck of cards that contains all of the evil generals and lieutenants serving under the big man dictator. Like GTA, if you see it, you can pretty much steal it, as far as all modes of transport are concerned. Pandemic (Star Wars: Battlefront) did the game for LucasArts, and it’s got all the little touches while still being immensely playable. I’ve finished almost the whole lower rung of lieutenants, although I still haven’t figured out how to take people alive, since I usually end up nuking everything from orbit and then identifying the corpses for my reward money. It’s a lot of fun, but I think it’s going to turn into a huge time-suck. And I finally got the first season of the Chapelle Show on DVD, and laughed my ass off at that for a few hours.

I’m waiting on an eBay auction for a new mountain bike frame for another endless project I think I’m starting. I have this idea to strip my old bike of components and build up a new one with a lighter frame that doesn’t have a rear suspension. The rear shock is a nifty looking toy and all, but it actually sucks when you’re really torquing down on an uphill and the whole frame is bouncing up and down on you. Also, the bigger problem is that I have two different racks I’ve tried to put on the back of that bike, and neither one works well because a bike with half of its frame moving doesn’t really have three stable points to mount a rack. I want to get a good, rideable bike by spring and maybe get out of the neighborhood a bit more. I’ve rode from my place to Flushing Meadow a couple of times, and although it’s slightly a pain in the ass to get there, you have miles and miles of strips of asphalt to ride up and down, and also a lot of dirt trails with fun hills and stuff.

There is no way I am going to finish this burrito. I need to put this thing down and get back on the Playstation or something…

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Cockeyed Ghost, Naked Lunch

I’m waiting for dinner to show, listening to Adam Marsland’s band Cockeyed Ghost, a CD I got for free a long time ago (99? somewhere back in Seattle, anyway). I don’t even know what category in which to put this CD, except that I never would have bought it on my own, and now I think it’s one of my favorites. I guess if you started with something like Verve Pipe or something and added in more of the whole singer/songwriter tradition of the late seventies with a bit of later Beach Boys (after they were done trying to get chicks on the beach and were trying to tell you how truly fucked up life really was) and made the whole thing fairly modern with a decent dose of alt-indie sprinkles. Anyway, I don’t know why explain any of this except I don’t want people thinking I just sit around listening to Gwar all the time.

I have been on and off sick all week, mostly with this pinkeye thing. My right eye has been alternately been seeping battery acid and/or wanting to clog shut and/or feeling like it’s got a large grain of sea salt stuck deep under the eyelid. I think the best thing you can do for pinkeye is not mess with it, which of course is exactly what I do on a constant basis. It seems to get about 10% better a day, although staring at a computer all day also makes it get about 8% worse, so maybe it will clear up by the fourth of July. I also have a slight runny nose, just enough to mess with me, and a certain amount of wheeziness that is probably just because of the 4% humidity in my apartment. I really do wish I had one of those Bacta tanks like they had in Empire Strikes Back so I could just sleep in some fluid healing gel all night and maybe make some headway on this whole cold season disaster.

I woke up about three hours early today, mostly because I called in sick yesterday and slept all day, and decided rather than sit in bed and listen to the radiator wheeze for three hours while tossing and turning, I’d just give up, take a shower, and go to work early. I found that before eight in the morning (at least at this point in the year), my cube is absolutely flooded with sunlight as the sun rises. It was nice to eat breakfast and get a ton of stuff done before people started showing up, and it was even nicer to split just after five and go home early. I saw a completely different crowd on the train, which mixed things up nicely. It’s so weird to see the same people on the train every day, and yet never know who they are or what they do. It was nice to see some new faces.

I’m re-reading Naked Lunch for the first time in years, and enjoying it so far. There is a new edition that came out in 2002, based on some old thought-to-be-lost drafts that were recently found in a library collection. Burroughs is a strange influence on me; I think if you read Rumored to Exist and any Burroughs back to back, you might see how I structurally and stylistically owe a lot to him. But I think when you talk to most people about William S. Burroughs, they assume queers and junkies and whatnot, and that’s not my gig. It’s like how I’m reluctant to tell people that I’m a big Bukowski fan, because they’ll automatically assume I write bad poetry about getting drunk and beating women, when that’s entirely not why he interests me. Oh well.

Looks like I will have a reading in Boston on the first Friday of June. I am planning on making a min-vacation of it, driving up for a long weekend and exploring points north. More details when I have them. I also have a brand new/never published snippet of a piece in the next issue of Zeno’s e-zine, whenever it comes out. And I got a royalty check from iUniverse for a whopping $28.85! Drinks are on me! (If you’re drinking Big K soda. Limit 1.)

Food’s here…

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Sadaam’s gun course

This has been the longest week in the god damned world since they switched to the 7-day calendar. I forget when they actually did that, but I remember writing the Gregorian to Julian crap in Pascal about 15 years ago, and I seem to remember something about the Mayans using ten-day weeks, but maybe I just made that up, I’m not sure. Anyway, I’ve been slogging through a cold all week that hasn’t done a lot to my respiratory system, but has made my eyes all runny and gunky and crud-encrusted, and it’s made it impossible to focus on the screen for too long. To add to the mix, I’ve got this differently-resolutioned tablet PC that I use in bed, and today I got a new LCD panel at work, and it supports higher resolution, hence tinier fonts. So my eyes have felt about ready to explode all week, and I think I might just sleep all weekend, except for the thing about wanting to write.

Wanting to write: I am still picking away at this book, or ideas about this book. I hate the story I have written so far, but I read all of my random notes are really incredibly funny. So I need to spend more time on getting that stuff to work out, or drink a bunch of Robitussen, or something. But mostly, I need to get more time into this thing. I wish I could work out some kind of short stories from this material so I could put them up here and get some reaction, but everything’s in too much of a jumble right now.

I had this intensely realistic dream this morning that I was riding in some bike race around the city, and I had it planned that after the first ten miles, I would be right at the front of my apartment and I could stop to get a drink and go to the bathroom. So I chugged this entire 64-ounce glass of cold water, and then I went to the bathroom to pee, and I pissed for a moment and then started urinating pure blood. The dream continued and I was trying to clean up this blood, and then I woke up and it was about six in the morning, and I really had to pee. Let me tell you, that was the scariest piss in my entire life, because I was 100% certain I would start bleeding and need to rush to the ER to get a new set of kidneys installed. But all was well.

A few weeks ago, I had another very vivid dream in which I went to this gun place in Florida ¬†and I was going to take an AK-47 class. When I got to the classroom, there were 4 or 5 other dudes, and… Saddam Hussein! He was secretly being held at a prison outside of Tampa, and through some kind of federal work-release school tuition program, he was allowed to take classes, so he took this gun course. I was really scared to even look at him or say anything, because I was certain if I somehow disrespected him in some subtle way, a couple of Iraqi expatriate goons would jump out of an alley some night and destroy me ten times over. But, surprisingly, he turned out to be a really cool guy. He was cracking a lot of jokes as the instructor taught us how to field-strip the AK-47, and he even gave me his mini-butterfinger bar from his Lunchables when we all stopped for lunch break. At the end of the class, I got him to change my answering machine message to freak people out. It was a pretty abnormal dream.

That said, I’m about ready to hit it. I haven’t been taking any Nyquil lately, but I might just dose up a bit to make sure I sleep in tomorrow morning.