The Sidekick is here! I thought it would take another week or more, but it showed up during lunch, and I plugged it into the charger right away. My old SIM card from my VisorPhone fit right in, and when I fired it up, it asked me to set up an email account right away. I got the name jkonrath (at the host – feel free to drop a line) and everything worked right away! So I am very happy about it.

Everything about the Sidekick is pretty cool. The display flips open in a very cool way, and the LCD is very crisp and easy to read. The whole thing is very compact, and small – like the size of one of those hard-wired pocket videogames or something. The keyboard isn’t too bad to type with, although it takes some getting used to using the edges of your fingers as opposed to a full-size keyboard. The whole design in general feels more like an appliance, a usable tool than something like a pager or Palm pilot. It’s some pretty Star Trek bullshit.

The OS and applications are the icing on the cake, though. There’s a good email program that operates about like Eurodra or Outlook, and it’s integrated into an address book that also feeds into the portable phone application. AOL IM is built-in, as well as a calendar, notes, todo list, and a handful of games. The Web browser is pretty cool – unlike WAP phones, this goes through a proxy that crunches down sites and graphics so they are easily viewed and so you don’t download as much. You still get graphics though, enough to make it much more rich than a WAP phone. And there’s a detachable camera, about as big as a small keychain, so you can snap a photo (color, but very small) and then mail it as an attachment or access it on the web aside all of your mail and other stuff in their secure portal site.

The coolest part – UNLIMITED DATA FOR ONE PRICE! You only get 200/1000 minutes for $39 a month, but you get all the data you can download. Pretty cool.

By the way, I have a small web log that I can update on the go that is located at I don’t know if I will actually update it regularly, but it lets me send in pictures I take, so it’s pretty cool to mess with.

I booked a vacation to Hawaii today. I am going in the second week of May, to Oahu. I got the airfare and four nights in a hotel right on the beach for $900. Now I need to do some research and actually figure out what to do there.

Gotta go watch wrestling and play the games on the Sidekick…


iPod, CD binging

This iPod is incredible. It’s a great experience to have a big plurality of your music collection with you at all times, in a tiny little box as big as a deck of cards. And it’s great to listen to everything on shuffle, hearing old favorites next to new CDs next to things I cherished ten years ago but haven’t heard in ages because they were on a compilation CD buried somewhere in my apartment. I’ve been ripping CDs nonstop, and I’m barely filling up the 20 gigs of space. I’ve got about six gigs on there, and another gig or so of stuff I’ve ripped today.

I went to Best Buy today, the new one in Chelsea. It was a minor pain in the ass because there wasn’t an N/W train running to Manhattan, so I had to get on the 7. Then I got on an F, and it took me right to the door of this new place. The whole store is actually underground, and it’s big for a store in Chelsea, although it’s probably one of the smallest Best Buys I’ve been in. I went on a CD rampage, and here’s what I got:

  • CKY – Infiltrate, Destroy, Rebuild
  • CKY – Volume 1
  • Twisted Forever – A Tribute to the Legendary Twisted Sister
  • Iron Maiden – Powerslave
  • Iron Maiden – Piece of Mind
  • Iron Maiden – Somewhere in Time
  • Iron Maiden – Iron Maiden
  • Orgy – Vapor Transmission
  • NWA – Greatest Hits
  • Green Day – Kerplunk
  • Dead Kennedys – Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death

The Iron Maiden CDs are all the new “full cover” versions, with shitty bonus tracks available as multimedia only. I should’ve bought them all five years ago when they were in the cool Castle reissues with a bonus CD in a brilliant box, but I’m an idiot. I don’t have any of them on CD – all of my old Maiden stuff was on vinyl. The CKY is new to me, but I really like them a lot – I first heard them in the Jackass movie. The rest of the list were impulse purchases or stuff that was at a good price, so there you go.

I also picked up a copy of The Sims for PS/2, not really knowing much about it except that a lot of people like it. I played it for an hour or so this afternoon, and it is a total pain in the ass. You have to tell your dude what to do: eat, crap, bathe, watch TV, learn stuff, pick up the house, etc etc. If you don’t do stuff, your meters go down. For example, if you don’t talk to other family members, your social meter goes down. If you don’t watch TV or listen to the radio, your fun meter goes down. And you never, ever have time to do everything. So basically, it’s like real life. And I can’t manage to keep my own house clean or eat three square meals a day, so there’s not a chance I can do it on the computer. Despite this, it’s hard to put down. Go figure.

OK, gotta get out of here and get some stuff done.


Subway balance

I spent way too much money on computer stuff today. I got a 120 Gig Western Digital drive ($200) and a copy of Adobe Premiere 6.5 ($550). I’ve snagged a copy of Windows 2000, so once all of this crap gets here, I should have a fairly decent video editing machine. I also found out last night that my camera supports frame-by-frame and time-lapse recording. I made a stop-motion test movie tonight (40 seconds of video shot in 30 minutes – I forgot how tedious this shit is) and I have a lot of ideas for time-lapse stuff. It would be pretty cool to sit out in Times Square with a camera and do a time-lapse, or maybe out of my window during a snowstorm. Lots of ideas, not a lot of time.

The new Hunter S. Thompson showed up in the mail today, and I’ve read 30 or 40 pages so far. It’s a good read, but I wouldn’t say it’s incredible. At least I finally have something to read – maybe after I get done, I’ll be ready to start writing again.

On the way home, I saw this woman sit down on the train, and she was holding like 3 or 4 pots and trays full of food, plus balancing a backpack and reading a book at the same time. This is on the subway – the New York subway, the one that goes from 0 to 40 in about .2 seconds, creating sideways forces of about 10 G’s, knocking loose everything that isn’t firmly seated or grabbing onto a rail. I stared in amazement as she balanced all of this food – hot food, you could even smell that some of it was chicken – in bulky, metal containers, while the train sloshed the rest of it around. People like that truly amaze me, the people with the John Kennedy gene that can step in from a hurricane perfectly dressed and without a single hair out of place. I remember a day last month when it was about 80 below zero, and I saw a guy in Times Square, walking around with nothing but a fucking t-shirt on. He wasn’t sprinting to a subway, or running back into a store after a smoke, or anything else. He was just reading a fucking Playbill and walking down the road, while I was freezing to death in my coat inside of a damned restaurant. Every day, I at least put in a marginal effort to groom myself and get dressed, and yet I know I look bloodied, beaten, and fucked to the casual observer, while many New Yorkers look like a god damned Calvin Klein ad. Did I miss an immunization as a kid, or is this the product of private education?

Okay, back to reading.


Book done, Seattle nostalgia

Well, I think it’s time to start writing here again. Aside from the number of people that keep writing to see if I’ve jumped off a building yet based on my last entry, there’s been a lot of nothing going on in the writing world, and I don’t want to resort to other less savory methods of wasting my time after the 9 to 5, like watching prime-time TV. So here we are.

The biggest news is that my book is done. I sent off the masters on July 5, and now I’m just waiting for the designers to send me proofs to correct and approve. I’m also working on a site (located here) that all of you should check out and keep up with as I add more great new content and news on what’s up with the publishing process. I think I’m looking at a mid-September release, so start saving your pennies.

The lack of the book means my daily process has been screwed. With no deadline and no project, I’ve been drifting. Everyone keeps asking if finishing the book is exciting, and honestly, it isn’t. I think if I would have kept writing and rewriting for another ten years, I still wouldn’t feel done. So it feels like I submitted an incomplete work. Secondly, this wait is killing me. I want instant gratification, but at least this is much shorter than most publishing cycles. And most of all, it’s hard to not be immersed in a project. I know I should be working on Rumored, but I can’t force myself to get started, and it will take some time to get back on it. So until then, I will drift.

Today I bought a new stereo. Actually, it’s one of those home theatre in a box things – five surround sound speakers, a 100 wattx5 receiver with DTS, Dolby Digital, and many functions, inputs, and outputs I will never fully understand. It also came with a huge-ass 50 watt self-powered subwoofer. The receiver does a good job of powering its 5 matched speakers plus my old 12″ 3-way Pioneer speakers when I’ve got a CD in the player. I’m listening to the Zappa Au20 gold disc for One Size Fits All and it sounds better than ever, especially with the sub to pull out all of the bass. And Top Gun and The Matrix in AC-3 both made me glad I don’t have neighbors underneath me. I can’t use my remote for my CD player anymore (long story having to do with proprietary Kenwood system interconnect crap) and it’s sort of difficult to jockey the volume sometimes on Dolby Digital movies. When you lower things so the Terminator’s motorcycle isn’t waking the dead three houses down, you can’t even hear peoples’ dialogue. There is a special mode to correct this, but it also flattens out all of the ass-kicking sound that I just paid a bunch of money to have. I guess you can’t win there, unless you live in the middle of nowhere.

I still haven’t found any magical answers to life, although I’m getting a little better at dealing with things. I’ve had rough spots, but I’ve also been slowly figuring out what’s bugging me and why. I still basically have nothing to do in my life except my job, but sometimes doing nothing can be enjoyable. Nothing’s better than cooking some dinner, reading a book for a while, and making a few phone calls. It’s not the way to Carnegie Hall and it won’t earn me any Nobel Prizes, but I think this downtime is important. I seriously need to regroup, figure out a few things, and get a little more comfortable with my surroundings.

Case in point: like an idiot, I bought the DVD for Singles. Okay, Bridget Fonda is nice with the first-season-Agent-Scully haircut, and as long as you don’t think about the Kevin Bacon thing, Kyra Segwick ain’t bad, either. And I was at Virgin and there was some “buy 4, get 1 free” deal, and it was the first thing I saw. So I put it in the player tonight, and all of this imagery of Seattle hit me like a sniper’s bullet to the temple. It made me wish it was a Saturday night at 7th and James and I was climbing in the Aqua Ford Escort to drive around in the darkness and do a lot of nothing. All of those comfortable memories hit me – the places I used to hang out, the scenes I used to stroll through and the drives I used to take. After about three minutes of this, I tore the movie out of the player, and spent a long time thinking I needed to get the hell out of New York and go back to Seattle so it could be 1997 all over again.

Then I realized how stupid this was. It’s not 1997. And I can’t go back to Seattle, any more than I can go back to high school or the third grade or living at my mom’s house and working at the mall for my pizza and CD money. I have strong memories of the Seattle experience, and maybe there was something magical about the scenery or the people I knew, but I think a lot of it was how I perceived myself there. Because I wasn’t happy in Seattle – in fact, I was pretty depressed a lot of the time. There were many Saturday nights I went to the Barnes and Noble to sit around and read magazines because I didn’t have anything better to do, and at the time, I thought it was pretty pathetic. So why don’t I go to Borders or whatever in Manhattan and do the same thing? Good question. And that’s what it all comes down to – I have all of these convenient memories of my past, but they are of mundane activities in a glamorous setting, and the whole thing is blurred by time. So if I went out every Saturday and wandered through the streets and ate at 24-hour diners and went to bookstores and maybe even picked up a copy of the Voice and found something slightly more interesting to do, maybe I will create the same memories, the same experiences. I can’t expect to talk to people or make lifelong friends or meet the lover of my dreams, but I can expect to get out, and expect the occacional weird stuff to happen.

So I guess that’s the plan. Except it’s raining and shitty tonight, and I stayed in all day running wires all over high hell to get this surround sound stuff working. I am exhausted now, my arms hurt from hauling in a hundred pounds of wood and plastic, and I feel about ready to drop off to sleep. But before I do, I’m going to keep cleaning, rearranging electronics and cables, and wear myself down a bit so I’ll drop off like a baby.

I don’t know when I’ll update next, but if it’s not for a while, just assume I’m still trying to program all of these remotes. Why can’t they write decent documentation for this stuff? Wait, I should know the answer to that one.