Friday, November 10, 2006


Yom Kippur is just over, and I'm thinking about stuff I want. I think stuff I want to do is okay. Like I might want to go to hear David Macaulay (ooh - didn't realize it costs $17, though). Ooh, but Berkeley Breathed is coming. That might be good. I mean, who can't help but to take pity on this puppy?

I want this CD from Guided by Voices. But only that CD.

Well, this CD is okay, too.

H. Monkey's shopping lists for the fortnight starting Sunday, August 27th

I ended up buying less than half of these.

  • my daily bread
  • iPod Shuffle
  • gym shoes (one pair)
  • work shoes (brownish)
  • post-workout protien low-carb things
  • bananas
  • a PCI 802.11g wireless card that doesn't choke using WPA preshared-key with AES
  • belts, one black and one dark brown
  • tailoring for the suit
  • Gormenghast
  • Yamaha CLP (Clavinova) series digital piano or equivalent
  • FM radio adapter for iPod shuffle
  • FM radio adapter for iPod Nano as gift later this year for sister
  • Subscription to "The Believer" as gift for birthday for sister
  • Ubuntu Linux
  • a couple pints of Vermont's Finest if I actually get all this done

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

To sister;

I do not need to express feelings on your hobbies, because others have done so for me:



That is all.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Random acts of...

...singing and dancing.



Notes on show covers

Saw Echo & the Bunnymen.

Songs covered (in whole or in part), in no order:

  • "Roadhouse Blues", The Doors
  • "The Bends", Radiohead (they did the whole song)
  • "Walk on the Wild Side", Lou Reed (I hate to say it, but he flubbed the rhythm of the "doot-da-doot" part a little).
  • I can't remember — was it the Wilson Pickett tune "In the Midnight Hour" or was it "After Midnight" by J. J. Cale?
Crap, are there any others I'm missing?

Boy Kill Boy was the opening act. For the first couple and last couple songs they played, I felt like the band was pulling against thier own drummer. Then the Bunnymen came out, and right off the bat the drummer was like, "Follow me, boys!" And that's why some bands still headline after 25 years.

Ooh, I feel all connoisseur-y right now. I used to be drummer ignorant, until I had a roommate (brother of the girl with the bed of nails side-show side-job) who had a band. I found out how little I was aware of the difference a good drummer can make. A couple years of paying attention, and now I'm all critiquing and shit.

Zap Squeeze

I had a dream I was working on a device that could squeeze the juice from an orange using microwaves. There was also a bunch of stuff about eating in restaurants of various nationalities (probably related to the Japanese and Korean restaurant conversation with Josh from the day before). A waitress at the English pub-like place was working part-time while she finished an engineering degree, and was fascinated the 3-D mock-up I was making of the device on the restaurant's table. I made out of origami boxes I folded from thick white paper stock and tied together loosely with red string.

On wakening, I realized that the 3-D schmatic was crap, but the core concept would actually work well for purifying water by distillation. My gut tells me it's not worth trying because microwaves probably wouldn't be more cost or enegery efficient than gas or solar heat.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


The blogger's clichéd lament: sorry for the delay in posting.

My big excuses this month are that I have been looking for a new place to stay which I find no where near draining as actually trying to move, that my ability to sleep regularly has waned from the month prior, and that my credit card was taken — most likely picked up in a grocery store parking lot, and was used to buy $200 dollars of something at a gas station (presumably gas) and at other locations — which in turn hindered my ability to enjoy some of my culture's traditional activities, like buying two hotdogs at a baseball game.

I've been delayed for technical reasons, too, since, even though I have two computers, each has a failing hard drive. On one computer, either my insistence on keeping the failing hard drive plugged in so I can seek out salvageable data or the fact that I just added in the new one without upgrading the power supply has prevented me from installing any operating system without the computer rebooting unexpectedly partway through the install, except for a specific version of Windows for which I have lost the registration key. On the other, it's an out-of-warranty laptop with room only for the one drive, which I scavenged because the only thing wrong with it was a corroded IO chip that to get to you have to take the laptop apart as much as humanly possible without destroying it, but once that's done fixing the corrosion is easy except for trying not to lose all the little screws when putting it back together. I still have most of the screws, though I lost my optometry-sized screwdriver, so I can't go back and reconnect the wire that powers the LCD display backlight that the drop from the edge of the sink to the floor must have dislodged during along with causing the aforementioned hard drive failure. But at least the laptop still boots and lets be bring up a web browser, which is good because the only working wireless card I have left is a PCMCIA card that won't fit in the other computer (though of the USB adapters, both of which are bent because I inadvertently rolled on top of them after I fell asleep while listening to podcasts, I think one really only needs a touch-up of solder on a bent connector to be working again, and it's at the bottom of my laundry hamper so I wouldn't forget it and put heavy things on top of it, damaging it irreparably).

And before I forget, there was the whole incident with going to court to argue about a speeding ticket (I still don't think I was going that fast), which didn't work out well; not to mention that I can't find my driver's license, though I think it's one of the boxes where I've packed my books (though to be honest, I've only packed one box and am way behind schedule for moving this weekend) but then, I thought that about my credit card, too.

Oh, and even though it's my own damn fault for working a 14-hour day, I got sick after doing so and haven't been able to shake it off for the past few days.

And believe it or not, I didn’t think I had anything worth blogging about.

I have no talent at living simply, much less writing simply. I think that’s enough for now. I’ll come up with more later, but first I’ll finish my post on differences between Fight Club and kill puppies for satan.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Breakfast of Champions

— no relation to any cereal product implied.

I just finished reading Kurt Vonnegut's breakfast of champions. I think it influenced a couple of my recent posts. It's written with the pacing of instructional children's book, and it'd be a good one at that if it weren't ham-handed with regard to race and too subtle about the martinis and olives. The sex it gets more or less okay.

(I'm sure the racism was intentionally ham-handed, but unlike other blunt parts of the books, the black characters seemed too flat, and I couldn't find any knowing wink from the author indicating that the flatness in particular was a parody of stereotypes.)

The book has an interesting layout, in that it reminded me of some of the best and most cleanly designed web pages, which is nice coming from a book that predated HTTP. The prose also shows the power of simplicity.

I hope it is, as the author has admitted, one of his worst books. It wasn't very good, and I certainly enjoyed reading it.

The favicon from the author's web site comes from one of the hand-drawn pictures in the book: chocolate starfish.

It is a depiction of the author's anus.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

You might say

I've been in a bit of a daze since Sunday night. I was dead to the world Sunday night at about 8 PM, and just haven't been able to shake off the sleepiness until today. Apologies to anyone whom I tried to hold a conversation with the past few days.

Part of my problem is this weird sleeping condition where I'll have hours of sleep without any REM sleep (I have proof of this), and then it feels like I'm trying to make up for it in the last hour (which is a guess). Yesterday, writing about it seemed to help, so here it is:

Monday morning dreams

A wise man taught me how to freeze and thaw ice at will. He was explaining to me that this was not illusion but true transmogrification. I could walk between the Aleutian Islands by freezing the water underneath my feet, one block of ice one step at a time.

I'm searching for the wise man who can finish my lessons of this form of control over the elements. I'm on the Pacific Ocean riding on a gigantic rubber duck, that looks like a real brown duck if you look at it from a distance. I keep going due north and due south, back and forth, looking for the man. Either someone points out to me or I realize myself that I should probably branch out and look to the east and the west, but I don't.

There is a Saturday Night Live skit with an actress — it's someone who resembles Natalie Portman, but isn't quite her — point is, there's this very slap-stick skit where she's fallen out of her parents' minivan and is somehow skidding along with her left foot in a hubcap scraping the pavement. A rope or a torn strip of her own clothes is stuck in a car door, keeping her attached as the car drives on. It's at night, and it's all downhill. At one point, her right foot catches fire from friction with the road. There are young couples in love whose dates are ruined. A pier catches fire. There is a ridiculously disproportional explosion caused by the still-flaming foot.

The SNL skit plays again, briefly, but by day.

That guy who used to be on the Drew Carey show and now has a spot after Letterman comes on TV. He and Drew Carey make fun of the SNL skit of the actress going down hill. That guy is dragged behind the car; Drew Carey plays a couple of people he passes. Wilford Brimley is there.

Wilford Brimley is fishing off a pier. As he pulls his rod back to cast forward again, the line entangles on a telephone line above his head and the hook catches on the back of Natalie Portman's (or whosever's) t-shirt collar as she's dragged behind her mom's van. He gets pulled up towards the telephone line as Natalie (or whichever actress it is) continues down.

There are three Wilford Brimleys fishing. All their fishing lines get tangled with each other. One is also tangled on the telephone line above, which gets hooked to the person being dragged down hill. All three dangle in mid air, just below the telephone wires. Eventually the tension is too strong, the line snaps, and the men collapse to the ground in a heap of Wilford Brimleys.

Tuesday morning dreams

I'm lying down in bed and it's really early in the morning. It's not my bed, it's a sleeper-sofa at my parents' house, and Mom and my sister are sitting on it, too, waiting for me to wake up already. We're talking about funny things we remember from our childhood. There are some anecdotes I can't remember because my memory of the dream is fading. My 93-year-old (keyn ay'hora) grandmother has finally published a book based on the memoirs she is writing. I'm reading a paperback copy of it (a trade paperback) looking for funny things to add to the conversation. Bubby's prose style is a little stilted, which makes it not quite as funny as it could be. Someone in Bubby's story of remembering people at Synagogue when she was young has a gigantic mole. Mom remembers one of the people in the story. The book rambles, but that's Bubby for you.

Mom tells a story about how she ordered a shirt and had the shop alter it for her. Both Mom and the salesperson then forgot about it. Over a year later she got a call saying her shirt was ready, but the guy from the shop was somewhat rude. He didn't say, "Hello, we've cleaned and iron your shirt for you to pick up," he just said, "Steamed shirt." Mom thought he said "Steve Shirt," and thought that was an odd name. So Mom continues the story, "After almost two years, I wasn't sure I still wanted to buy the shirt, especially since the shop had completely forgotten me. I tried to explain this to the guy. Eventually I said, 'Look, Joe...'" at which point both my sister and I interrupt by saying, "Joe Shirt!" For some reason this actually is funny, and the three of us laugh.

My sister tells a story about the Minnie and Mickey Mouse stuffed animals she had. Sometimes she would have them argue. If it got bad enough, Minnie would leave Mickey at the chest at the foot of the bed (there really isn't a chest in my sister's room — never was) she'd put a sock on the dresser as a flag, and hide away near the dresser at the window sill. When she took the sock away, that was a signal to Mickey that she was no longer mad at him. When she got older, my sister had Minnie say to Mickey, "We're out of socks to use as flags. If we get into a fight again, I guess we'll just have to stay together and tough it out from here on."

I think she's trying to draw a parallel between this story and Mom and Dad's relationship, and how appreciative she is of both of them. She starts parodying a noir film to take an edge off the sappiness of what she's about to say; "I've spent a million years in this city; and met millions of people, and..." I interrupt, "One of them named Joe Shirt!" For some reason this is now hilarious. The three of us are rolling in laughter.

Dad is waiting in the garage for us to go to breakfast. He's already started the car. It's really early in the morning, and I'm surprised anywhere is open this early. We get ourselves up, snickering about "Joe Shirt" and something else from Bubby's memoirs. We head out to talk with Dad and figure out where we want to go to eat.

* * *

I'm lying down in bed and it's really early in the morning. I wake up and it takes me a minute to be sure that it's my bed and I'm alone. The clock says it's five-ish. I stumble into the kitchen because I'm really hungry for breakfast. I don't find anything I particularly want to eat, so I return to my bedroom and try to remember the dreams I've had the past couple mornings.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

And I'm not entirely sure why

My car smells very strongly of bergamot.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

...two bits.

I got a haircut last Wednesday.

I had the barber use the shortest attachment made for electric shavers, the #1. Here's an interview where one co-founders of PayPal, after pulling an coding all-nighter, babbles about how he prefers the #2.

I like this haircut. I like scratching my own head; the novelty of it probably won't wear off for another week.

I think I'll buy a full electric shaving kit for my own use. It'll pay for itself after the first couple uses (well, maybe after the third — I'll probably botch it once or twice at first). More importantly, I wouldn't have to rearrange my schedule when my hair gets shaggy, since I can do it before bed some evening.

I'd still want to have a professional for important occasions, and maybe trimming up around the edges. I like my hair faded in the back (which I'm certainly not going to try and figure out how to do on my own), but that's because trying to make a straight line on my neck and saying, "okay, now the hair can be on this side but not on this side," will never look right. Where would you draw the line? My neck topology isn't the most user-friendly.

I think it's not his real hair

Yesterday I had a dream my hair had grown out like Louis-XIV-the-Sun-King-of-France-hair, though I dreamt mine was more just wavy instead of curly.

Monday, May 01, 2006

On all other nights we eat sitting or reclining...

I like the "Donation Derby" at Cat and Girl: if you donate $5 or more, the artist will draw a picture of how your money was spent. I assume from her comics, that she wants "derby" to mean the kind of hat, not the race. A donation hat, see?

Anyway, the one where they bought beers and then discussed Epcot Center reminded me of the time when I was about six and the family went. There is, in fact, something in "the silver hexagon thing" (Buckminster Fuller would be aghast at that description). When we were there, it contained something like "America's Glorious Bounty (brought to you by ADM™)". I distinctly remember images of amber waves of grain whisking past.

Sadly, while we were there the ride was in need of fixing (get it? ADM ... fixing? Eh? Ah. Never mind). I have fond memories of being stuck sitting at a 45° slope for several minutes at a time while we waited for the theme park workers to get the ride moving again. Thankfully, our familial sense of humor shines during irrational pauses. Dad is his most funny at an angle or otherwise under expectant duress.

Maybe it was brought to us by Kraft. They also sponsored a four food-groups singing and dancing show at Epcot (this was pre-food pyramid days). I still have a plush version of the dancing eggplant somewhere. It has a thin, dark mustache and ruffled sleeves (no shirt, just white arms jutting out with ruffled sleeves on them).

Wednesday, March 29, 2006


feeling today.

Today, I left the house carrying a banana and two packs of balogna. As I stepped out of the car, I realized I had bread waiting for me in the car, and I was going to meet friends for dinner and have a burrito. So I arbitrarily decided I would only eat things today that I can wholly sum up with words that begin with B. I had trouble at the vending machine, because I wanted trail mix. There was a Baby Ruth, but that's two words, and one begins with R. Mae and K asked: weren't there any Butterfingers in the machine? (I didn't see any.) What if there was flour in your banana bread? (That's okay. "Banana bread" is sufficient to wholly describe a thing of which flour is just a component. But if I wanted extra flour with my bread, that's a negatory.) You can have butterscotch? (Right, but not butterscotch candy.) Then Long-J stopped by and somehow we devolved into a conversation about Klingon weblogs.

But then I went to Chipotle, and I wussed out. I did get a buritto with black beans and beef. But then: toppings. I asked for the berde salsa (yeah, it was a stretch, but I got what I wanted), and then broke down and asked for my habitual corn and lettuce. Spanish wouldn't have helped (maí­z y lechuga). Bummer.


Well, I know I'll be rereading my copy of The Cyberiad tomorrow. There are very few authors whose honesty and completness of vision I respect as much as his.

Requiscat In Pacem, Stanislaw Lem.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Defective time-traveler

So I set my RSS reader back up. I hadn't touched the thing since I moved at the end of last year.

Matthew Baldwin at Defective Yeti blog must have some good taste. Not long after I started re-reading The Time-Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, I see it on his best of 2005 list. Sure, I'll grant the book's critics that the characterization was weak in spots, and it may be much more satisfyingly believable in its central conceit than in the characters emotions, but I enjoyed it too much to notice those flaws the first two times I read it. I like the Ulyssean part of it, the journey. Its twist on and old story is nice: the wife is waiting for or husband to come home, but sometimes she has him there while she's waiting. At least Niffenegger handles writing about the paradoxes better than I can.

Most of my enjoyment I'm sure comes from my identification Henry. After Henry first meets his eponymous wife-to-be, Claire, she realizes how selfish and self-destructive Henry is compared to the older him she knew so well. Henry tells Claire, "Stick with me, and sooner or later, he's bound to appear. That's the best I can do, though."

I want to say that to my girl. I don't have the proof backed by unintentional violations of the laws of physics, but I believe that living life well will make me a better person. I'm rereading The Time-traveler's Wife for its optimism.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Also about music,

I didn't want to forget to mention that Ali Farka Toure passed away last week.

For a slightly different pace than last post's rap, I have the CD he did with Ry Cooder, which I like immensely. One of our local radio stations already broadcast the Afropop Worldwide show that included most of a live concert. If you're quick, you can still catch the podcast.

As a fair warning, if you really don't care for the Afropop Worldwide program, Toure's music is probably not going to do it for you. If you do like it, don't skip out on the late Fela Kuti and his son, Femi. (He came to the 9:30 Club not that long ago. I should have gone, but I didn't.)

Monday, March 13, 2006

Music was just on the tip of my tongue

Okay, no it wasn't. There was no way I was going to remember this guy's name until I got back home and looked at my stuff.

Lyrics Born, dammit. The only page Google returns that has the snippet of lyrics I was thinking of that isn't some scummy lyrics page is this review of "Same !@#$ Different Day". The track is "Do That There".

Ladies and fellas,
I was hella bored
So I pedaled hella hard
To a seminar
In Zanzibar,
Ben & Jerry, tennis star,
And Pat Benatar
Ridin' on my handlebars

While I swear I saw some off-hand comment comparing Aesop Rock and Lyrics Born on some blog I linked to off of Tucker's site, I think I heard it first on NPR, of all places. It was in one of the Fresh Air reviewers' best of 2005 list.

Not that Ken Tucker (no relation) doesn't do a good job, but hearing him review rap on the radio is pretty damn incongruous to say the least, and the little icon photo on the NPR web site isn't helping: Ken Tucker

As for the music itself, the Aesop Rock comparison isn't completely unfair, but Lyrics Born takes himself and his lyrics much less seriously. I think Aesop Rock is better more consistently — Lyrics Born lets slide a few that shouldn't — but it's nice not having to be as cerebral all the time. There's a sample of "I'm Just Raw" in the review at NPR, if you want to give a listen.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Bed of nails

So, you remember me talking about the roommate who made her own bed of nails? Here's my proof.

This was on one of them one-time use cardboard&plastic cameras that I just got developed. It took me a little while, because I bought two and kept forgetting which was which and which I wanted to use up first. The image is kinda big but worth viewing in its glory, so here's a link to my shot of the newly-varnished wood for Mab's bed of nails, sitting out to dry. It just looks like a piece of varnished wood with holes in it. Once she put all the nails in, it started to look pretty intimidating. I'm not sure if I have a picture of that anywhere. When finished, it looked more daunting than it is, but that's the point.

More pictures to come; this one was one of the few that didn't need color correction.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


This is a test of the Emo Broadcasting System.

This is only a test. Were this an actual emogency, this post would be followed by crappy poetry or a long dissertation on the mournfulness of a bizarre dream I had last week.

I suck.

Thank you. This was a test of the Emo Broadcasting System. This was only a test. We now return you to your regularly scheduled Internet.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

This blog is not delicious

Even when I hadn't been blogging regularly, I did update my page frequently. Sure, I could make notes for myself by ssh'ing to my home computer to check on or update the list of things I wanted to remember, but this way is quicker and more convenient when showing others.

Anyway, it's a good list of what was rummaging around in my mind recently. The history of how instruments are tuned is still blowing my mind -- I knew modern instruments make compromises, but it's another thing entirely to have the math of those compromises quantitatively spelled out for you. I've been watching Good Eats on TV, thinking of signing up for martial arts classes, and playing around with various computer tools, both useful and time-wasting.

And I was pissed that my genius idea from October -- to have 3-D glasses that work by alternately shuttering in synch to a monitor's refresh rate -- I found it in November already sold by someone else.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Lessons learned so far this year

Since my loyal readers (how you two doing?) complained about me not posting enough, here you go.

I'm going be optimistic here: last night was a flawed ending to a flawed year, as opposed to a bad sign for the next. And what's more, it was a learning experience.

Here's what we learned yesterday, chum:

  • While you may want to do something impressive for New Year's Eve dinner, an hour or two prior is not the best time to try some culinary cleverness you have never before attempted.

  • Don't use quite so much oil.

  • Don't thoroughly clean your kitchen and then start cooking.

  • When you follow DIY instructions from a guy on television and he shows you how to use oil you already own, but suggests some other oil that would be better, go ahead and spring for the better stuff.

  • The smoke alarm still works.

  • While it's a good idea to take a 450°F cast-iron pan of smoking oil outside to forestall it catching on fire, and it's a good idea not to put it on the matting covering the stairs leading to your door (because, hey, won't that catch on fire, too?), the front sidewalk next the building's gutters is not the best place, especially if you're going to leave it there while you dash to the local 24-7 grocery store for cleaning supplies and air fresheners, because your brand new pan will not be there when you get back.

  • If you start with good supplies, horrible mistakes are often still redeemable.

  • Buying quality cookware when it's half price during a post-holiday sale is a good idea because someone's just going to steal the pan anyway.

  • While spraying aerosol air freshener to cover a large area, do not simultaneously spray forward, face forward, and walk forward.

  • Seriously, who the hell walks by the sidewalk on New Year's Eve and takes someone else's brand new cast iron pan full of bubbling oil?

  • Preparing for something, even when preparation goes wrong, can still be far, far more worthwhile than the thing itself.

  • Where the fsck is the damn pan?

I'm sure we all can agree these are universal life lessons that will serve us well in the year to come.