Land

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I’m thinking about selling my land. There are a few reasons why I’d like to dump it, and a few why I don’t. One of the big reasons is that I have doubts about ever building a house out there, or living there. The conditions are so harsh, and it’s such a long way to even a small hick town, that I would quickly go nuts. I also don’t know that I have it in me to build a house. I’m pushing 40, and I remember when I was 21, I barely had it in me to do roofing. I couldn’t imagine framing a house by myself, unless I had a lot of help, and help costs money, and by the time it averages out, I might as well pay $900,000 for a condo in Santa Monica.

There is a part of me that likes the idea of having the land. It would be nice to build a vacation house there. Of course, I could have bought a waterfront timeshare in Hawaii for the same amount of money. It’s less of a pain in the ass to get to Maui, the amenities and view are just slightly better, and I don’t have to dig my own sewer by hand or worry that meth-heads are going to strip the wiring out of my walls in the 51 weeks a year I’m not there. Or if I had the payment instead of putting it to my mortgage, I could have taken one really kick-ass vacation a year to a different place each time.

One big thing that also motivates me is that prior to this year, my annual property tax averaged about $7. This year, my property tax was $440. Why? Nobody can tell me. The county re-evaluated the land, and I guess my land is now worth two and a half million dollars. In reality, I think if I found a buyer, I could probably get about twice what I paid for the land, and that would be a decent chunk of change I could apply toward a down payment on a house. And getting a house would be the best investment, because I use it every day, and despite the urban legends and common misconceptions, there is absolutely no tax advantage to owning raw land without a residence or business on it.

So who knows. But if you’re gung-ho about owning 40 acres in the Sangre de Cristo mountains and you’ve got cash burning a hole in your pocket, ignore everything bad I said above, and drop me a line.

I can’t believe it’s been so long since I bought that land. It all started on a birthday trip to Vegas, in one of the Elvis suites in the Stardust (which is now a smoking hole in the ground.) No, I didn’t win the land in a poker game; I was researching some way to blow my annual bonus, and got the ball rolling on that purchase. It was six years ago, although 2002 seems like last year. I had one of those “holy shit where has time gone” moments as I tore through all of the old journal entries. I tried not to stop and read too much, but I still think now and again, I should scrape everything into a lulu book, so I can read it not at the computer. I also think I should make a list of my favorite journal entries and put them in that right side bar.

But first, I have other work to do…

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Dental torture #9343

The dental visit yesterday was pure medieval torture. To be fair, the new dentist was very careful, and did good work. But I got two teeth ground down for crowns, and temps slapped on there until next week. The grinding part is brutal, but the temp crowns are the bad part. They’re roughly like the dental work you’d get if you went to a dentist in Cuba or North Korea: very rough, not perfectly shaped, and not permanently glued in. They actually look like they’re tacked in with a giant clump of silicone gasket sealer from a car parts store, the stuff you use to tack on a valve cover gasket. And I now live in fear that anything I eat will snap loose one of these things. It’s going to be a long week, a long week filled with many slimfast lunches and dinners.

I think all of the initial fixits for the journal are done. If you ever flip through the old entries and find a busted one, let me know. Two features I’d like to add are some kind of paging links at the bottom, and the ability to add tags to articles. The first is easy, the second is hard. I probably won’t do either until some point in the distant future, because that’s the way things work around here.

I really wish I had my old VW back. Not the gas 2-door I had in Seattle, but the diesel 4-door I had back in Bloomington. This was a car that I could drive like I stole it, and still get 50 MPG city. Diesel is five bucks a gallon here, but even at $50 for a 10-gallon tank, that’s 500 miles CITY on a fill-up. I’m surprised every single VW diesel from the 80s hasn’t been resurrected and put back on the road. I’d expect to see more Rabbits than Hummers these days.

Speaking of stealing cars, I’m still picking away at GTA4. I think I have 13% done; you need about 20% done to get into Manhattan (aka Algonquin.) The missions are starting to get harder, so I might hit a wall soon. The biggest difficulty is actually finding time to play, since I’m too busy with other projects. And I think it’s Tuesday, but it’s actually Wednesday, which means I have a conference call in an hour, and I better get a move on.

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Indiana Jones and the battery-powered mobility scooter

I saw the Indiana Jones movie last night. It was okay, but not incredible. I don’t know – I was never 100% into the movies as a whole (although I liked the last one.) I think part of it is that so many people have taken the genre of action movie and ran with it, so now when they try to do some “fakeout/the hero is so slick” moves, it doesn’t do much. Like, after the first few Jackie Chan movies where he’s doing all of this crazy kung-fu shit, seeing Harrison Ford get away from the bad guys wasn’t that impressive. I don’t have any great loyalty to the first three movies, so it wasn’t like the movie was raping my childhood or anything. It was a good popcorn flick, nothing more. And I saw it at the Arclight, so that can make a bad movie okay.

I’m still dicking around with the old entries in the journal, fixing things. I’ve been trying not to read old entries and get all nostalgic and then waste half my day reading them, but it’s hard to avoid. I updated a lot more back in the day, but the entries were much shorter. And over half of them had to do with me not being able to sleep, or trying to overanalyze what I was supposed to be writing. It’s a lot like repeating the same word over and over for five minutes, and then really thinking about it and saying “but what is ‘strawberry’?” Anyway, sometimes I think I should do another journal book, with entries from 2000-2008, but then I remember I will fuck around with it for weeks, and nobody will end up buying it. So I’m on another project.

Dentist just called – I am in at 3:30 for a crown. It should be fun. I should go get a steak for lunch, something that I won’t be able to eat.

I have lost almost 15 pounds. My pants are starting to not fit anymore. My wedding ring is a tiny bit looser, which freaks me out, because I don’t want to have to get it resized, and then if I do, I will surely gain all the weight back. But it was a touch tight, so it’s fine now.

I am going to Las Vegas in two weeks. Sarah has to go to a conference, so I am tagging along. I don’t know what I will be doing during the day, especially if it’s 120 degrees outside. I do want to go to a minor league baseball game. And Simms will be there, I think. But I have to avoid the food and avoid shopping and avoid gambling. So unless I buy some food coloring and glass jars and make sand sculptures in the middle of the desert, there’s not a lot of other options. Wait, are fireworks legal in Nevada?

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Cardinals @ Dodgers

I think most of the kinks are out of the new journal improvements. They should be largely invisible, but the backend of the system is much simpler, and most of it is now written in PHP. I still have not gone back through the old entries, but I will get there. Another change is that individual entries will no longer have a time on them, just a date. I used to do it this way back in the 90s, mostly so I could write at work without getting busted.

And yes, all of you in the “blogosphere” who are celebrating your one year “blogoversary” – my first entry here was ELEVEN YEARS AGO last month. I think most bloggers were still playing with their Blues Clues toys eleven years ago. (To be fair, I am sure some of them still are.)

We went to another game on Saturday – Cardinals at Dodgers. Sarah and I went with Julie, and here’s the bulleted list:

  • We got to the park with a few minutes to spare, and did a million different things to mentally denote where the car was. “Under the 10 globe, next to the biggest tree, across from the US Bank building on the horizon” and so on.
  • The parking lot “sorters” were completely useless. We wanted to ask where we could park to be close to our section, but anyone we asked either told us to ask someone else, or just screamed “GO GO GO GO GO!” while waving around a flashlight wand.
  • We were at 154 Loge, which is a deck back and slightly back from first base, about 3/4 up. They were OK seats, but these are $50 seats, and would be $30 seats at almost any other park except Fenway or Yankees Stadium.
  • Julie went the night before, and the game was half-rainy and cold all night, then started to pour rain in the last inning. Dodger Stadium is a no-umbrella stadium, and we forgot our other raingear. It was cool and dreary when we got there, so we expected the worst.
  • There were a lot more people in Cardinals gear than I expected. The people sitting next to us were from St. Louis.
  • Brad “I almost killed an umpire” Penny was pitching. He immediately started fucking up, and in the third inning, gave up four runs.
  • I did not listen to the game, because Vin Sculley has gone completely sideways, and not in the fun, drunk grandfather way like Harry Caray. (example. And while we’re at it, go check out http://helloagaineverybody.com/)
  • I brought a bunch of popcorn, and then ordered a pita plate, which was not as good as the one in San Diego, but I avoided Carl’s Jr. and Dodger Dogs, so I did good.
  • Some douche in the deck above us was dumping food and drink from the balcony, which was hitting about ten rows in front of us, causing some guy to get up and scream at the people. Eventually, one of them was so stupid that they dropped their phone, and the guy grabbed it and started screaming “COME DOWN HERE AND GET IT, YOU FUCK!”. Eventually the cops caught the guy, and the whole section cheered.
  • The Dodgers always do this “match up” video thing where they have one outstanding fact about each team, and they’re getting stupid. Like “Cardinals Fact: Albert Pujols killed a pitcher the other night with a 674 MPH line drive. Dodgers Fact: Dodger Dogs no longer contain trans fats.”
  • After the game was 4-0 for a few innings, it got fairly boring, and most people were more concerned with playing with the beach balls going around the stands.
  • The torture cells in Guantanamo have better bathrooms than Dodger Stadium. Seriously, just have some dignity and piss your pants. Or wear Depends.
  • It got really cold, and we hoped they would not call the game. But it eventually petered out with the Dodgers not scoring, and the Cards not tacking on any more, so 4-0. The Cardinals got a game closer to the Cubs, and the Dodgers dropped a game, which always helps those of us with favorite teams struggling at the bottom of the NL West.
  • We actually found the car and got out of the stadium in record time, which was the real victory.

There’s another ship on Mars, which is pretty freaky. I forget the URL, but there are pictures. It’s on the North Pole, so they are either looking for water or the Martian Santa Claus.

Gotta go celebrate Memorial Day now…

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Cardinals @ Padres

Last night I went to a Cardinals game in San Diego, my first time down there for a game. I have been to San Diego before; I went to a conference for a week in 2000. But aside from the Denny’s by my hotel, all I did there was read books (I guess I did find a Border’s) and I made one trip up to LA for an evening. On this trip, I went with my NY friend and former AITPL contributor Julie, who drove. We also picked up a college friend of hers in Carlsbad for the game. Anyway, here is the beloved bulleted list:

  • We had no traffic problems whatsoever getting there, and made the trip in about two hours, thanks to HOV lanes.
  • The area around the stadium is all entirely new, and exactly resembles the townhouse apartments and condos that have magically appeared around Coors Field in the last few years. It seriously looked like they ordered the same buildings from the same catalog, with the same colors and even some of the same names.
  • I was looking at one apartment building thinking “damn, that looks exactly like our place in Denver”, and then I realized it was on the corner of Market and Park. Our old place was on the corner of Market and Park. And our place overlooked a parking lot used on game day, and so did this.
  • PETCO Park was built in 2004 by HOK Sport, who has designed many of MLB’s parks, including Coors Field. It’s one of those throwback-yet-super-modern designs that are all the big deal in baseball.
  • Things I liked:
    • The park is very integrated into the surrounding area. There’s an Omni hotel that is connected directly to the concourse, and it has its own box for guests. There’s a city park that’s connected to the back part of the concourse. It slopes above the furthest part of the outfield, and for $5, you can sit out there during a game. Also, they saved a hundred-year-old building that was supposed to be demolished (the Western Metal Supply Co.) and restored it to use as offices and a store.
    • There’s a lot of food, and a lot of weird food, like a fresh seafood place.
    • There was “Fielder’s Choice”, a restaurant of just healthy food.
    • The bathrooms were excellent, with honest-to-god full urinals. F the Dodgers and your stupid waterless trough urinals!
    • Good (but not great) scoreboards and signs.
    • The fans were fairly civil (but I didn’t wear Rockies gear.)
    • Parts of the stadium are these weird angular buildings that look like something from Total Recall.
  • Things I really didn’t like:
    • Not a big fan of the Padres.
    • We were in fairly good seats at the top of the field level, and a bit behind third. But our seats partially blocked the scoreboard.
    • I still think Coors Field has the best dimensions and position of stands around the field of any park out there. PETCO is smaller, but it appears splayed out more, and I think that’s because of the illusion of the outfield not being perfectly symmetrical, and dodging around the existing structures and park in center field. It just seems like the close seats are further out from the field; Dodger Stadium is like that, too.
    • There was a really close Giants-Rockies game at the same time, and I spent the entire game glued to the other games scoreboard, which gives you no info but the score and the inning, and it was like watching a clock with only an hour hand. The Rockies lost by one point.
    • I brought my AM radio, but the announcers were fairly horrible. They were both mumblers, and emotionless mumblers at that.
    • They didn’t really have a lot of walk-up music, or at least it wasn’t that loud.
    • The one exception was when Trevor Hoffmann, the closer, came out, they played the start of Hell’s Bells really, really, really loud. I’ve seen him fuck up enough that they shouldn’t make a big deal out of him. It’s like if you tried to film a Beatlemania-type movie about Dick Cheney.
    • There’s a lot of strange Catholic imagery (Padre => Father => Friar.) Their mascot is this weird friar guy, which is even more odd when you see him playing air guitar on the sidelines or whatever other weird shit mascots tend to do. Everything goes along with the friar theme, like Friar Dogs, Friar Fries, etc.
    • Getting from point A to B on the concourse was more involved than it should have been; it wasn’t all on the same level, and there were a ton of zigzag ramps.
  • Not good or bad, just different:
    • There was a lot of nautical themed stuff, like scoreboard graphics of sailboats and piers and fishermen. I think baseball teams should do a lot more of this to make each park bring out the unique aspects of each region, instead of just looking like yet another HOK-designed park.
    • The Padres are HUGE about the military. There were a lot of Navy and Marines folks at the game, although not in uniform. (Sometimes, entire sections are in uniform.) There were a lot of Navy propaganda stations on the concourse, including a big scale model of the aircraft carrier Midway.
    • Traffic was a little clogged getting out of the immediate area, but once we got to I-5, it was open throttle the rest of the way home.
    • They had the camo jerseys, which I wanted to buy, except I don’t like any of the Padres, I don’t want a Padres jersey, I don’t want to spend money, and someone else doesn’t want me to get a camo jersey. Fair enough. I’m saving for that Nolan Ryan throwback jersey anyway.
    • I managed to stay with my diet for the most part, save two regular Cokes at the game. I figured I would go 4000 calories over, but I think it was about 450 over. I’ll go for a long walk today.
    • Cardinals lost. I was indifferent about this one, but Julie is a huge Cards fan and I don’t like the Padres, so I was rooting for them. It’s also good to see Pujols play, unless it’s against the Rockies.

Anyway, I’m going to Cards @ Dodgers on Saturday. Should be fun!

Other news, I have been filling up my iPod with free music, and maybe I will review some of it, or at least provide links. Until then, I need to get some writing done.

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WELL WHY DONT YOU BRUSH YOUR TEETH

I’ve had many horrible dental procedures over the years. I’ve had crowns, titanium posts screwed into my jaw, root canals, redone root canals, a lasered root canal with no anesthesia, impacted wisdom teeth extracted with only a local, a wisdom tooth that broke and the roots got stuck, necessitating the incompetent dentist (that looked exactly like Craig Kilbourn) to pack my mouth in cotton and send me across town to the hospital to wait for hours on a surgeon, a crown that came off during a cleaning, and some filling drilling with no anesthesia. (And yes, everyone that hears this says “WELL WHY DONT YOU BRUSH YOUR TEETH”, and it’s more complicated than that. A lifetime of Cokes is a problem, but so is 18 years of well water with no fluoride, and a medication that really puts the zap on your teeth.)

Last week, one of my fillings came out, while flossing. It was a slice on the back of one of my front teeth, which makes things complicated. The new dentist said I’d need that crowned, and that’s what I would have guessed, so there goes $1200. (Plus another for $1200, minus 50% insurance, so $1200.) But if he puts a shiny white new crown next to my other not-so-white teeth in the front, I would look stupid. (I could have opted for a gold crown and became a pimp, but it’s hard to be a pimp in a Toyota Yaris.) So the newest torture is that I have to bleach all of my teeth to a pearly white to match the new stuff. And I’m not against having movie star white teeth, but there’s more to the story.

The way this works is, he made imprints of my teeth with a weird rubber junk. Then they made ceramic positives from them. (I got to keep them, and they are weird. here are pictures.) Then they made little clear trays from those, and gave me a syringe of a high-powered bleaching gel. This differs from the stuff you find in the drug store in the toothpaste aisle because the tray is form-fitting, and the gel is ten times stronger. So I fill that up and put it in for a half-hour a shot, twice a day, and in a few days, my teeth will be bright white. And my existing dental work won’t be, which will require some resurfacing on a few teeth at a later date. And there’s one crown that is already white, and two more on the way.

This issue is this: the bleach opens up these “pores” in your teeth and infiltrates them, zapping out all of the dark stuff in the enamel. And if you eat any staining stuff during the regimen, or for the same length after the treatment (i.e. four days of bleaching + four days of recovery = eight days) the staining stuff will get in and make it worse. So, no soda, coffee, tea, tomato sauce, and anything else that would stain a white shirt. And as you know, I drink several servings of beverages in that category. Furthermore, any citrus food or drink will basically feel like you’ve put battery acid in your mouth. And I am trying not to drink any sugar because of my diet. So what does that leave? Water. And milk, but I hate drinking milk. I guess there are various soy milk things, but let’s get back out of the milk category here. I think there are a couple of clear energy drinks with no sugar and a million milligrams of caffeine. At any rate, yesterday was a pretty crashed-out day for me. But the teeth are getting whiter.

And yes I saw the Manny high-five catch. For those wondering, a player can get ejected for any interaction with a fan, which includes high-fiving them; it’s in the rules. It’s the same as if a fan hit a player from the stands – they would be in the parking lot in seconds. Anyway, if you’re at all interested in seeing Brewers announcer and sports legend Bob Uecker in a swimsuit (and I mean 2008 Uecker, not 1854 Uecker), check out page 51 of the latest Sports Illustrated, the one with Danica on the cover. Anyway, I always love those behind-the-scenes articles, and there’s a good one following the Brewers on a brutal 10-game trip. I don’t usually read SI because you can get the gist of the whole thing by reading their web page, but they gave me a free subscription when I got the MLB audio season pass. And that has been fairly worthless, other than the chance to hear the Rockies get beat for the tenth time in a row. Colorado is now last in the NL West, and I don’t think they will do much more than third or fourth this year. Arizona is definitely first, and I am sure they will go to the World Series. Oh well, at least they aren’t last in their division with the biggest payroll in baseball.

Two games next week – Cardinals at San Diego on Tuesday, driving down with my friend Julie to see Petco Field for the first time. (I don’t know if it’s where the pets go.) Then on Saturday, it’s Cardinals at Dodgers. Not really looking forward to Dodger Stadium after last time, but at least it’s not the Rockies, and the Cardinals are doing better this year. Still, I can’t wear a Rockies jersey there. I really want to get a vintage Astros jersey, maybe Nolan Ryan, when they were all psychadelic dayglo orange. But those jerseys were pullovers, not front button, and any jersey costs a hundred bucks, so I’ll stick with a t-shirt.

It’s beautiful outside. I should go out there.

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414 S. Mitchell

I know I just talked about the folly of nostalgia, but the other night I found myself googling my old address on Mitchell Street in Bloomington. Long-time readers (both of you) know that 414 S. Mitchell was my home base from 1991-1993, and also the backdrop of my first book, Summer Rain. Anyway, I found out three interesting things. The first is that the house is on google maps street views, so you can see what it looks like.

I also found a picture of a woman in front of the 414 side of the duplex, and it looked pretty much the same as when I lived there – same grey paint, crappy trim, etc. But it turns out the picture was from 1979. I emailed the person and it turns out he and his wife lived there from 1976-1979, and the house was in pretty much the same shambles as when I lived there. The big difference was that then it was a true duplex, basically two apartments with many bedrooms each, and living rooms. When I lived there, the house had been de-duplexed and cobbled together walls re-divided it into maximum room space with no living space, so it could be run as a boarding house with maximum profits. I always wondered what the house configuration was like in the past.

Further googling showed me that the new owners (“new” – I think they bought it in 1992) have re-duplexed the place and tried to fix it up a bit. (Listing here) It’s now painted this hunter green color that looks like a travesty to me. There is a blueprint of the 414 side (I technically lived in 416) and it looks like they turned one room into a living room. I also found someone on craigslist trying to sublet for the summer. That room is directly above my old one; the kitchen is the one by my room, and it looks like it has new appliances (in 1992, ours were from like 1947) and cabinets. It’s odd that they are asking $450/mo. I paid $177/mo back in the day. Also, I totally forgot about this – I tried to sublet for the summer of 1992, and I plastered fliers everywhere saying I’d rent it out for the entire summer for $100, or five cases of beer. Everyone that looked at the place thought that price was highway robbery.

Speaking of robbery, I got Grand Theft Auto 4 last night. It’s interesting – a little different than I thought. The other GTA games have this cartoony, unrealistic feel to them in some ways, which makes the whole thing seem like much more of a parody. But in 4, they really tried to get the audio and small details to be more realistic. If you pop your car onto the sidewalk at full speed and hit a fire hydrant, it knocks over and sprays water everywhere. Hit something too fast, and you will fly through the windshield. Look at someone the wrong way on the street, and they will give you shit, with plenty of profanity in their tirade. The cops are pricks. The subways are slow and delayed. There’s too much traffic. People are trying to hit you up for money. In other words, a complete New York experience, minus the smell. It is weird, because they have really mapped out a good chunk of the city. It is not 100%, more like a Reader’s Digest version, but all of the landmarks are there. Of course, they’re all renamed. Queens is Dukes. Brooklyn is Broker. Astoria is Steinway. Manhattan is Algonquin. Long Island City is East Island City. Tribeca is The Triangle. The Lower East Side is Lower Easton. Chinatown is Chinatown. I am still stuck in Queens/Dukes (history repeats itself) until I do more missions, but it’s funny when I’m driving and I think “holy shit, this is the way I used to walk to Best Buy…” I got lost once, and then realized I was at Fulton Street in Brooklyn, where I bought my last pair of Nike high-tops. The stores there are run-down and gaudy in the same exact way as the real thing. My old apartment is not there. The beer gardens are. I wonder if my place at Seward Park is there. Anyway, looks like I won’t be writing the great American novel for a few more months.

I have been looking for free MP3s – not the kind you get from Russia because of a loophole in the international copyright treaty, but the kind that unknown bands hand out so you will get into their stuff. I am sick of every one of the 6885 songs I have in iTunes, and I want to look for new stuff, but I realize I don’t know how to do that anymore. And I don’t want to keep buying crap from the past that has been re-re-re-remastered. I have no idea how this could be done, but I would LOVE to write a script or program that scraped the names of all of the bands in my current library, and then gave me a huge list of stuff of theirs I don’t have, stuff by related artists (like those big flowchart books) and stuff that I might like based on that. Does Amazon have a web service that does part of this? I don’t know. But it would be cooler than shit to have that script, so I could run it and it would produce a big giant web page with links where I could either buy (or preview) the CDs on Amazon or iTunes. It would also be nifty to put this in some giant Web 2.0 bullshit that makes charts and graphs, but I just want the info.

In a fit of stupidity (I have many of these), I got on iTunes and bought every song I could find that a Rockies player uses for their walkup music. Three things surprised me about this. One: the Rob Thomas song “Streetcar Symphony” is something that they played before games, and twenty years from now, I will be listening to that and thinking “man, remember 2007″ because it is such a strong association. Second, I really hated Brad Hawpe’s walkup song, Nickelback’s “Rockstar”. But now that I have listened to the entire song, I like it. Third, I had no idea what the fuck reggaeton was prior to going to baseball games. Since every other player is Dominican, a ton of them use Don Omar or Daddy Yankee songs for their walkup. And now that I’ve heard “Salio El Sol” a thousand times when Yorvit Torrealba bats, I find that I actually like reggaeton. I mean, I feel like an idiot if I’m listening to “Gasolina” in my car while I’m driving around El Segundo, because I think someone’s going to pull up to me at a light and think “what the fuck is that esse’s problem?” And I have no idea what other reggaeton I would buy, because it’s one of those genres where there are endless numbers of greatest hits compilations, and all of them sound like some dude just pressed ten buttons on a Korg and spit out the song.

That’s all. Go to http://twitter.com/jkonrath if you haven’t already, to see how that experiment is going.

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The 89 Playlist

Last week, in a fit of nostalgia/stupidity, I decided to make a playlist in iTunes consisting solely of music I would have listened to in the summer of 1989. I use iTunes for music while I’m sitting here at my desk working, and also use it for my iPod for in the car or when I’m walking around or at the gym. This was harder than it seems, because I lost a lot of tapes back in the day (my car had a hole in the floor) and I can’t remember all of my music from back then. (My brain also has a hole in it.) There’s also the issue that everything I have in iTunes is ripped from CD, and although I spent a good deal of the late 90s trying to recreate my old music library by sending CDexchange my paycheck every week, there are many holes in my collection. Not every tape from the 80s made its way to CD, and not all of those ended up in the iTunes store.

The biggest factor in doing this is that certain songs greatly remind me of the feel of that area, which is what I wanted to capture. I wanted to be able to drive around with the playlist going and forget I was in a 2008 Yaris in Southern California and have that brief thought that it was 1989 and I was driving the back roads from Goshen to Elkhart in a 1976 Camaro (with holes in the floor). That meant two things: some of the music I’d have in the car back then wouldn’t make the cut. For example, even if I had any of Voivod’s first three albums, I don’t think I could stand listening to a single second of them, let alone put them on the list. I probably would not want to load up the list with vintage Metallica, although I put a couple of specific songs on there. Most of the rest of the stuff is either prog-rock (although no Rush, because for whatever reason, I’m really sick of them at the moment) or various pop-rock stuff I’m embarassed to own, but I listen to constantly.

I have not been horribly nostalgic lately, because it’s something I’ve been really unsure of. I never thought about it before, but I started seeing someone for DBT therapy, and there’s this concept that being heavily buried in either your past or your future can be unhealthy. For example, if you were the Al Bundy type who always gravitated toward living in the past thought of scoring three touchdowns for Polk High School, it could be indicative that you are avoiding or having problems with what’s happening in the present. And I find that when I’m most depressed, I’m usually looking back to some era and avoiding what’s happening at that moment. (Case in point: I wrote Summer Rain when I was heavily depressed.) I’m sure there’s some balance, in remembering the past but keeping this strong sense of mindfulness and moving forward with life, without being in a constant bubble of “I wish things were as great as 1992″ or whatever.

And next year is twenty years from when I graduated high school. Aside from the great feeling of depressing in thinking that so much time has passed since then, there will probably be a barrage of various emails and reunions and whatnot, and I don’t have a great desire to deal with that. But nostalgia is such a huge pull on the internets. You have all of these classmates sites, and high schools have reunion pages, and half of the function of facebook is to find people you haven’t talked to in a decade and see how many kids they’ve popped out. At first, I thought facebook was interesting in that I did find a lot of old high school pals, until I realized I had pretty much nothing in common with them anymore, and couldn’t really talk to them about anything.

I had part of a white filling fall out while flossing on Saturday. I didn’t know what it was at first and was like “what the hell did I eat?” but then felt a huge gap in the back of a tooth. I found a dentist just up the street from us, and I will start that whole process at 8:00 AM tomorrow. I always hate going to a new dentist, because they always look in my mouth and see their next four boat payments. I really don’t care about the pain or drilling – they could drill all of my teeth for days straight like some kind of Daytona 500 marathon, as long as it was free. The most painful part of a root canal for me is getting the bill in the mail and seeing what my insurance didn’t cover.

Just finished reading that Halberstam book on the ’49 baseball season, and it was pretty decent. I’ve read an insane number of baseball books this year, and should probably get back to fiction soon. Suggestions always welcome.

Speaking of unnecessary medical appointments, gotta go drive up to Santa Monica to see a rheumatologist. But first, I need to tweak my playlist for the trip up there.

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Twilight Zone

Ah, the Twilight Zone. I’m in the middle of a half-dozen or so episodes that show up every night on cable, halfway paying attention. It’s always fun when another episode rolls onscreen, and I can remember the general plot of the episode before Mr. Serling appears. The current one is some weird Civil War-based (read “we have no money for a set this week”) story about people returning from Gettysburg down a trail, and a widow seeing soldiers that are really dead. Or something. It’s better than watching NBA wrapup coverage, anyway.

Baseball season and the Twilight Zone always go hand-in-hand for me. When I was a kid and in love with Serling’s master work, I would stay up late to watch the episodes on WGN. They were on at 10:00 Monday thru Friday, and in grade school, that meant I could only watch on Friday, unless it was a vacation, then I got in five episodes. Anyway, WGN was the home station of the Cubs. And when there was a west-coast away game, sometimes the 10:00 time slot would get pre-empted for a little Cubs@Giants action, which always thoroughly pissed me off. And considering this was the early 80s, when only the Mets kept Chicago out of the dead last spot in the NL East. But aside from that, most commercial blocks had a bumper announcing the next game.

Much like the Cubs, the only think keeping the Rockies out of the bottom slot of the NL West are the Padres. The pitching rotation has fallen apart; defensive ace Troy Tulowitzki will be injured for weeks if not months; the big bats are not so big; and things are not well. And the thing is, last year, my first game was on June 7th, and they were not doing that well prior to that. Maybe if I would have started in April, I would have seen as many losses as I have this year. I think the rational thing to do would be to give it up and become a Dodgers fan, or even better, a Diamondbacks fan. But for me, it’s about the nostalgia (which is the wrong word, when describing a team I’ve followed for less than a year – loyalty maybe), and because I am not paid according to the team’s performance, it doesn’t matter that much. They won today, so that’s good.

I am drinking a large glass of sugar-free Kool-Aid right now, and it’s not a 100% replacement for the real thing. But I am slowly getting off the sugar kick, and I even drank a Coke Zero without retching yesterday. The whole diet thing is getting better, and as of yesterday, I’m below 200 pounds for the first time in about ten years. The headaches and random crashes are about over, and I’m running fine on the smaller amount I’m eating. And to be clear, this diet is not a “diet”, like where you only eat grapefruits or bacon bits or whatever. It’s just portion control, a hard limit on fast food, and cutting out all of this sugar. This is roughly like what I did in 1997, and I was able to drop about 30-some pounds with no problems (until I went back to Cokes and junk food.)

I have a new idea for a blog-like project, and I have been hacking away at that. Stay tuned.

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Konrath’s Law of social networking sites

I don’t know how many of you use twitter, or see the little box to the right (that I will probably remove in the near future.) Twitter started as a good idea, but it has already been rendered stupid for the following reason:

Konrath’s Law of social networking sites:
Any given social networking site will eventually be rendered inoperable by insufferable prick sociopaths jamming the entire system with drivel about how great their kids are.

Actually, the problem with twitter is that there are only three types of messages: “I’m bragging about something that makes me better than you”; “I’m whining and bitching about something”; and “I’m sending a reply to one specific person to my entire list of friends because I’m too much of a douchebag to just IM it directly to them, and not to n-1 people who don’t know what the fuck I’m talking about.” That’s twitter in a nutshell, and if there’s anything more redeeming about it, I’d love to hear about it. (Don’t forget to send it to @jkonrath and your entire friends list, too.)

I have a bigger gripe about the whole thing: it’s killing communication. In the Civil War, soldiers wrote home these epic letters, very formal, and you can still tell the whole history of the conflict by these archived letters. I know when my dad was in Vietnam, they made reel-to-reel audio tapes, rambling stream-of-consciousness recordings they sent back home. 40 years later, nobody knows what the fuck a reel-to-reel is, and even if you did, the tapes would probably turn into flakes of dust if you tried to play them. Now in Iraq, Marines are probably twittering home, “SEND ME A PLAYSTATION 3″, which removes any content, and is also completely unarchived. It’s the same way in the internet world: I go back to my archives from the early and mid nineties, and people used to write thousand-word emails all the time, telling of their days, telling stories. Now, 90% of the internet population is a read-only audience, and the thought of writing like that is completely alien. And the other 10% turned to blogging, which got more impersonal, especially when the old late-nineties model of web journals got derailed by people writing two-line livejournal entries. And now twitter is going to derail that by replacing both IM and blogging with inane little 140-character messages about how their kid just took a shit.

So anyway, all of my twitters as of late have been sort of mocking this. If you’ve been seeing them and thinking I went off the deep end, don’t worry. Actually, you should still probably worry, but not about this.

I’ve been back on prednisone again, but a smaller dose. This means I have not been up all night or eating everything in the house, but I also haven’t had a manic snap that enabled me to write 100,000 words a day. The biggest thing this week is I am trying to get back on the diet bandwagon, and one of the major components has been eliminating caffeine and sweetened beverages. I don’t really eat that much, but I drink a six-pack of Coke a day, plus juice, gatorade, root beer, orange soda, and whatever else I have in the house. So that’s a couple thousand calories a day I can shed. Unfortunately, this week has been nothing but migranes and extreme cravings for a super double big gulp. And all things Splenda and Nutrasweet still have a weird taste to them. It’s hard to exercise with the gimped-up foot, but it’s mostly better, so I’ve been taking long walks after work every night.

I walked down to the ocean yesterday, which is always fun. If I walk over the ridge, to the water, down the shore a ways, and then back, the big square path takes me about an hour. Yesterday, I walked the shore portion in the sand, because it’s a little harder, and my theory is that it will strengthen my ankles more. (Maybe it will tear them up, too.) It is always so astounding to be on the sand, looking out over the water, thinking that there’s not something else out there, and that’s really the end of the continent. And all of the sand with the strategically spaced park buildings every half-mile or so always reminds me of the Warren Dunes on Lake Michigan, where I spent a lot of time as a kid. After I got home (and washed all of the sand off of my feet and out of my shoes) I looked up some stuff about Warren Dunes, and it’s bittersweet. It’s neat to see pictures of the place and remember driving there with my dad as a kid. But that giant mountain of sand – it’s only 250 feet tall. Worst of all, Google Maps doesn’t have a high-res image for the entire area. Oh well.

I’ve wasted over an hour writing this, because I keep googling the Warren Dunes. I should go get some more work done now.

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