Tuesday, December 30, 2003

You're So Real

Here's one that moves a little more than the last. I like this one on a bunch of different levels. Go ahead and listen to You're So Real by Matchbox Twenty while I talk. This song is great. Aside from it's good tempo, I love the attitude and quite honestly I love Rob Thomas' voice. I've always had a weak spot for singers who were so good, they could shine with just an acoustic guitar backing them up. So you could imagine when Rob sings "You taste like honey Honey. Tell me can I be your honey?" in this acoustic version of Disease, I just want to eat him up. Yeah, I know. This one is on This is Alice Music 7 and a benefit CD for breast cancer research.

Where was I? Oh yeah, You're So Real. I love this line too.

You always know just who you are
You never needed someone else
To realize yourself

As I get to know who I am, I appreciate the thought. It's always good for a reminder that this is one thing we don't need others for, since we define who we are with our own words and actions. So as we roll into a new year, be yourself, be real.

Saturday, December 27, 2003

New Year Crap

Today I noticed that I’ve been holding my breath just a little when talking to people. I figured out that it’s because now that Christmas has past, we are now officially in New Year’s Resolution season. Thankfully New Year’s Resolution is the shortest of all seasons. Early birds start thinking about theirs as soon as Christmas is over and late bloomers contemplate theirs while nursing their first hangover of the year on New Year’s Day. As most of us blow our resolutions fairly quickly, eating our guilt and drinking our remorse before moving on to the regular issues of day to day life, I thought I might perhaps just skip it this year.

To fill the gap, why not stick in something somewhat more positive. I would make a list of all the things that were good this year. This does not have to be limited to lofty accomplishments like: 1. Discovered cure for deadly disease 2. Started multi-billion dollar corporation and 3. Nominated for Nobel Prize. I'm sure there are things we did by accident that happened to turn out well. That counts right along with planned goals actually completed. Even the little positive things are good: 1. Stopped stealing my neighbor’s Sunday paper, 2.Increased fuel efficiency by 4 mpg 3. got to bed before 1am most nights.
(Note: these are just examples not actual things I did this year).

And just to add an element of fun on New Year's Eve it easily morphs into a drinking game. With each drink you must list something good you've done. Have someone keep track of what each player says to avoid repeats. Be sure to bring a deadbeat loser friend along to be the designated driver or perhaps just stash a few bills and your address in your shoe to pay for cab fare. If you've been especially good, you can count on getting totally sloshed.


Good things I’ve done this year
Starting painting again
Kicked my TV addiction (replaced it with a Netflix habit but hey one thing at a time)
Managed to remain employed all year long
Found a great place to live
Got off my butt and started moving and eating right
And did it again after taking a break when I got sick
And then again (third time's a charm, yes?)
Wrote a whole bunch of entries in my online journal
Paid off a ton of debt and didn’t buy everything I wanted
Did volunteer work that helped people who needed it and still had fun
Was able to take two trips home to spend with Mom (using money I made from my job and overtime I earned from the volunteer work I did)
Bought and tended to 3 garden plants (2 tomatoes and 1 basil) that produced actual and edible produce.


Can't Handle Change?
Of course I realize that some people can't handle change. For you, here's a quiz to help you pick the best New Year's Resolution. Mine?




Take the What Should Your New Year's Resolution Be? Quiz


Anyone want to volunteer? Line starts to the left.

Friday, December 26, 2003

The Way You Move

I'm not sure if it just me but this time of the year tends to bring out this "settled in" feeling. I used to blame it on the cold and downtime between Christmas and New Year's. Perhaps it's just a habit. For those of you that aren't dashing about stocking up on deeply discounted decorations and wrapping paper, here's the first of a few songs that are sitting the MP3 player I take to the gym.

The Way You Move by Outkast is not a fast one, more a song that gets me moving during that warmup phase of my cardio workout. You can speed it by listening to the back beat and doing double-time. I guess the point I'm making is just to get moving. Now I do realize that the sort of moving the song talks about is fairly specific if you listen to the lyrics.

I will admit that I've been naively grooving to this song for a while before bothering to pay attention to the lyrics. This phenomenon is what I call "Lyrical Laziness". You enjoy the song maybe even learn the words but don't really put them in the context to which they were written. The song Afternoon Delight might have been my first foray into this area. I had no idea it was about sex, I was, like 10, when this was playing on the radio. I had no idea how many people fell into this place until I was in college and Marcia was telling me how upset her father got when she and her little brother Roger got when he caught them singing the song. Since then there have been many and given that I'm listening to more dance and hiphop at the gym, I'm sure it will continue.

Oh and if you sing along with practically any song sung by Robert Plant, it's a fairly good guess that you are in fact discovering a new way to describe sex. Don't worry about it really. Just know that if the woman standing behind you in the supermarket line gives you that look, while you sing that song in your head, it might not be because you have more than 10 items in the 10 or less aisle.

Oh yeah, get moving. More on it's way.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

December update

I had been thinking about doing a week in review sort of post, but I realize that it's been a month since I've been here. D'oh! I have been in recovery from the copious amount of time off I've had the last couple of weeks in November. I have been trying to blame it on this three week lingering cold I picked up from the office. Workouts have shifted to evening hours which I hate because it cuts into my loafing time. I am formulating a plan to get me out of the weird headspace I get into when I've been good and compliant for a couple of months. Since this happens again and again, finding a way to get me out of this rut and to help avoid getting stuck in it would be good.

I spent Thanksgiving at Betty's and had a great time. Dinner was great and her pies, totally from scratch, were well worth the wait. Thanksgiving rolled right into December. I decided to buy a tree on Wednesdayand Esther helped me haul it up the hill in her sporty new Tribute. Earlier that day she invited me to see Cirque du Soleil's Alegria with her. Alegria means joy in Portuguese, which is a perfect way to describe the first time I had ever seen them perform live. I had been watching their Bravo program, Fire Within, and really want to see Varakai live. This was a still a great show and the seats were just 3 rows from the stage.

After this excitement, I spent time cleaning up the house, tarting up Doug, the Douglas fir, and buying crabs for a crabfest. It was nice having a few people over and feeding them until they begged for mercy. Okay they didn't beg, but they certainly left with full bellies.

I did some Christmas shopping, but the late Thanksgiving has thrown me off a bit. I did get back into my exercise but feel like I've lost a lot of the momentum. I need to figure out what I need to keep myself motivated and eating and exercising consistently, otherwise all I've managed to do is develop the ability to binge exercise and eat properly. A weird and disturbing thing to do.

Our holiday party at work is coming up and I'm trying to come up with cool stuff to buy that is under 20 bucks. Unless someone comes up with some great ideas, I'm going to buy some cheap DVDs of old TV shows like The Little Rascals, I Love Lucy and the Three Stooges.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Seasonal Spirit

This year I'm doing it differently. I'm going to try the Christmas spirit thing. It's been a little harder this year with two local radio stations deciding that mid-November is the time to start playing Christmas music 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And to think I thought the crazy format changing stations were out of hand a couple of months ago.

I've bought a tree, Doug (he's a Douglas Fir and my creative bone was cold and tired that evening), and he's all tarted up with bright baubles, twinkling lights and strings of gold beads like a drag queen at the Pride parade. (Aww, c'mon like you're surprised that I, the queen of anthropomorphism, have a flaming tree?). I cleaned and organized a crabfest for some friends. I make a point of turning on the pretty blue outdoor lights on our house every evening. I made plans to see the Nutcracker on Christmas Eve. I've said yes to all the holiday invites that I've received. Last Sunday I was shopping for some last minute items for the crabfest and found myself slipping in and out of various stores. At one point I caught myself singing a jazzed up version of Sleigh Ride that had stuck in my head.

Man isn't that just a happy little song? Even when I'm not socked in with a Nor-Easter blowing feet of snow on top of friends and family back East, I have to admit it's a cool little song. I was thinking about the special history attached to that song. I do believe that Leroy Anderson's arrangement of Sleigh Ride was played at every Christmas Concert I was in for 7 years. I remember liking it because it had a good french horn part, jazzy yet not too tricky. I know I got better at it with the repetition, but I suspect I still owe my Mom big time for making her sit through 3+ hours of these concerts year after year.

For your listening pleasure I have the good version for you. This is the one you hear every year on the radio, right down to the neighing of the horse at the end. I believe this particular one is done by Arthur Fiedler & The Boston Pops. Hit of the sites on the left sidebar from the main page to buy a copy for yourself.

If you were wondering about the lyrics, here is a lyrics page of this Sleigh Ride. Since I only have the instrumental version, consider it a perfect karaoke version for your singing pleasure.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Where is the Love?

Here is a fresh song that I've been hearing more and more. Since today is Thanksgiving, I thought this would be especially appropriate for a day when we think about our lives.

Where is the Love by Black Eyed Peas talks about the general craziness in the world these days. It's got a groovy hip-hop beat to catch your ear but it's the words that I find so thought-provoking. In addition to giving thanks for the good things we have, don't forget to put some thought into doing our part to make the world a better place for everyone around us. Remember, it's not just in our words but our actions. Give to the things that are important to you. Stop and make conscious choices to lead by example. Vote every time, elections big and small. Let the people who represent you know how you feel about what is going all around us, the good things and the bad. We've seen how a small action can grow and multiply until big changes happen. So whatever you do, know that you can make a difference.

Friday, November 21, 2003

Martin Sexton and comfort foods

I was introduced to Martin Sexton by Karen S back when we were living in New York. She was born in Worchester, Mass just like the diner cars in this entry's song, Diner. But she not made of Aluminum Bakalite and glass, but sugar and spice and everything nice. It's a dubious disctintion to have spent any amount of time in "Woosta", but not so much to have spent time hanging out in diners. I bought his CD, Black Sheep, for the diner song, but grew to love his rich magical voice and clever guitar playing. If you have the chance to see him live, you too will see that his style is not made up on the mixing board.

I have a long and glorious history of time spent in diners. It started when I was a kid. My dad would take us to the Red Fox Diner where his friend Ari (we called him Harry) would serve us ice cream in ice-y cold metal parfait bowls. These types of experiences can have a strong influence. Years later when I was still too young to go to bars but old enough to drive around with friends, I would find myself looking for a diner to hang out in. Christopher and I would drive around listening to music way too loud on the stereo of the family Ford LTD Country Squire station wagon. He'd drive me crazy by quizzing me to identify the song after only a bar or two of music. And everytime I challenged him he would get it right. But I was talking about diners. The New York suburbs are filled with them. From the glitzy, neon-laced Greek ones to the quaint country-kitchen ones up near Albany where I went to college.

I have been blessed with friends who share my pleasure in the foods that you can get here. I still recall trying to get dry toast from the greasy one across the street from my first apartment in a slightly seedy neighborhood on Washington St. They were so damn efficient there (or else I might have been a little slow in my hung-over state) to catch them before they slathered the bread with butter.

Alicia replaced Chris as my regular diner companion. Often it was for a cup of coffee or a late night dinner of pancakes, because breakfast food always tastes better after a long day when you can really savor it. I'd love to hear about your diner stories. Oh yeah and if you think Martin rocks as much as I do, buy his CDs.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Another Year Older

Here it is another year gone by. Somehow it seems like they are going faster. I was off this week. Toby came to visit from Toronto and I finally have some vacation available after a year at my current job. I've been coasting by with overtime and floating holidays so it's nice to be able to use some of the days I've earned. Even though I was just off a few months ago in September to go home and see Mom and Dad, the last day or two of work were hard. All sorts of things are going on at work this week too. But it'll be just fine without me. This is my week of play. So far it's been so good, I may do this every year.

I woke up somewhat early for the first of many birthday phone calls. Aside from the nearly constant stream of calls and songs from loved ones, it was a fairly low-key day. We made some omelettes for breakfast, went by blockbuster to pick up something interesting to watch. We had been out and about for the majority of his visit so it was nice to just stay in and play. In the evening we met up with Karen, Jay, Betty and Esther to try to eat as much seafood at Todai. I'd never been there before but the food was good and the company was excellent. Birthdays can be these weird stressful things filled with awkward expectations. This year it was perfectly divine spent with great friends.

Here are some pretty flowers that Cat sent to me.

On Saturday I am taking a silk painting workshop. I've been dabbling again and working on some older pieces that have sat unfinished for way too long. I'll try to post a new update with a photo of how things turned out. I've admired silk paintings, similar to my admiration of watercolor, so that seems enough to give it a go.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Poe's got attitude

I have been reevaluating my music selections of my MP3 player. Some songs have a good tempo for aerobic workouts while others have the right pace and attitude for weight training.

I'm Not A Virgin by Poe has got attitude overflowing. At some points it's a little too quick paced but great for getting past the last few tough reps.

I heard Poe interviewed on the radio a while back. I was going to the Berkeley Bowl for a fresh produce run and sat in my car tormenting other shoppers keen on scoring my primo parking spot. You've probably heard her song Hey Pretty where her brother, Mark's voice tells the story about a seductive drive up Muholland Drive while Poe sings these haunting refrains. The album, Haunted, is the one I have and it's moody and intense. I also paint to this one, so I'm sure it will have some influence.

She's also got a huge fan club, even though she hasn't put out an album in a while. Give Poe a listen and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Get Those Poppies!

Oh what a beautiful day today was. It was even more beautiful that I was off today. I slept in. Oh c'mon you all saw that coming. I rolled out of bed and went to the gym. Usually I am one with my own sweat but this morning this woman got on the machine next to me reeking of coffee. I like coffee. When I am feeling well, I drink it daily. But it was horrible. I only had about nine minutes left, but it was hard to concentrate on what I was doing. I wonder if everyone smells like that when they drink coffee (I only drink water before I work out) or perhaps this woman bathed in it (or dumped a cup on herself) before she arrived. Whew!

I had an appointment to do some PC support for a couple getting DSL and hooking up and showing them how to use this new printer/copier/scanner/fax machine. She wants to get away from AOL (she may be calling them to cancel her account right now) and move on into a new era of computing. Since I don't do a lot of PC support outside of work anymore I have noticed that the people I still support coincidentally happen to be people I enjoy spending time with. So it was a pleasant afternoon for all. Even the cable guy had a laugh as we showed them the new baby goldfish that have managed to survive for the week or so they have been alive.

Nothing like a couple of baby anythings to amuse you. I have been googling images of things I want to paint and poppies have been in my head. So you could imagine how after the first hour, I was getting a little punchy. The phrase, "Get Those Poppies!" kept dancing through my brain. I couldn't get Cruella De Vil out of my thoughts. I stopped cruising for flowers for my idea box and did a search for puppies. Oh my God! If you are down or feeling blue do this search yourself. I challenge you to not cheer up after a page or two of cute puppies.

This evening I was conferring with Diana. We are doing the Body For Life program together. So now our frequent calls include how well we ate that day and if we did our cardio or weight training for the day. Even though we don't work out together, I am finding having a buddy to talk to (or whine to, on occaision) a huge help. I suspect most of you really don't care about our in-depth conversations about flax oil research and which "nutritional" bars are not just shots of protein with a sugar chaser. One web site that Di found is great - both entertaining and informational. Renee is a self-professed freak. Her last post shows off her kick ass biceps. I especially love her What I Eat page. Aside from the reassurance that I am NOT a food obsessive person, I enjoy her obsession photographing her various meals. Most of them are healthy, but a couple are less so, like the protein shake/cadbury cream egg combo. Whoa! But at least she is honest.

Wednesday, November 5, 2003

No Rain

** This entry's song has been pulled. You guys are blowing my bandwidth quotas. Go hit a used CD store and buy the CD. It's all good and worth the money **

Well the rains of winter have begun. Unlike last November where I was tormented by rain pouring into my freshly slashed convertible top, this one was less traumatic or dramatic. Sure with the rain comes the little things like the leaky on the left side of my truck and weird no-radio-on-wet-days problem. Both of which are solvable given a recent cruise on the Internet.


But all these thoughts of rain, got me thinking about a favorite song. The song, No Rain by Blind Melon, was on the radio a lot a few years back. I know all the words, the timing and odd filler noises just from their copious play time. This song reminds me of my Blue Amigo mostly. I have this clear memory of Fid, Scott and I driving crosstown after an evening of sushi indulgences. I was singing this song out loud and joking about how I managed to do more offroading in Manhattan's urban pothole-filled roads than anywhere else. I loved that car especially when I drove to the Catskills in the middle of a snow storm, then up to Toronto with Toby and West (I still love you guys for suffering through the bad heat circulation and truck-like suspension for hours) and then home.

I don't have that car anymore, but I love this song for a variety of quirky reasons; certain lines in the song, and the way lead singer Shannon Hoon sings the song. Unfortunately Shannon died in 1995, you can still enjoy his music.

You've all been kinda quiet out there, so please send me or post some of your music memories. What songs make you think of different times in your lives?

Tuesday, November 4, 2003

Here for now

Ani DiFranco has gotten a reputation as an angry young girl. I remember a few years back listening to an Ani tape that someone made for me as I drove to Lafayette for my dot.com job. It took me about 3 weeks to realize that the music was responsible for some serious mood modification. I was a little more aggressive than the reverse commute traffic warranted and I had attitude with a capital A in the office. Luckily I was seen as being a hard worker meeting my deadlines and not a something worse. I did swap out my music to something a little more suitable for my mellow persona. Of course if you hear me pull up behind you blaring old Ani, do me a favor and let me pass, okay?

Well, Ani's not really a girl anymore, maybe still a grrl, with her alternative punk rocker sensibilities and she's not as angry as she used to be. Her sound has matured and now she is playing with a band. If you were an old fan, don't worry, she still tells it like it is. It's just that years of singing and performing do make a difference. This entry's song, Here for Now, is from her latest album, Evolve. It's got a chunky mix of different sounds - jazz, funk, folk, latin rhythms. And to quote the the man at the counter of the It's All Good bakery in my old North Oakland 'hood, it really is all good.

I keep trying to work this music into my workout routine, but it's just not quite right. At best I can clean and fold laundry while listening to CD. Most likely this will end up in my painting music play list and that's all good too.

Listen to the song, one of my favorites, listen to the others she has on her site, and buy it. It's All Good.

Friday, October 31, 2003

Spooky!

I had the weirdest dream last night. I should say the weirdest group of dreams. Unlike most nights where I don't remember anything, last night I remembered 3 distinctive dreams. I was being stalked by this seemingly nice couple. They were trying to interest me in something, but I wouldn't let them start their spiel. So I kept bumping into them and thinking that it was coincidental. Until I find myself on the New Haven line commuter train going into Manhattan and there they are. Now I'm freaked out. This is not a coincidence anymore. So now I finally try to call the police and can't figure out my phone because I don't know how to work my cell phone. In fact this is a carry-over from the dream before where I keep getting different cell phones and I can't seem to make or get calls since the controls and phone numbers are different.

I manage to ditch these weird people in a second cross country trip. I'm now in the movies with a friend. I am approached by a woman who attempts to give me a horribly bad neck and shoulder massage. Seems she is trying to make money and can make money offering services to movie patrons. huh? I feel bad and sign off on the bad massage, mostly so that she would go away. Well this was a bad idea and somehow she finds out where I live and is outside sitting on the stoop when I go out to throw out some trash. This girl needs a lot of help and I really don't know if she is serious or looking for some kind stranger to take advantage of. I really want to help her and decide to learn more about her to find out about her. [pause] Wait, what am I thinking. The only thing I could possibly describe that is less fun for you would be to describe my favorite Get Fuzzy strip. Which I will just include here allowing you to contemplate your potential horror privately.

I was more amazed that I was able to remember this much about my dreams than the subject matter. I am a little curious about what has been going on in my real life to make these things come up.

In other spooky news, there were these seriously spooky clouds out this morning. Tut tut, looks like rain. Nice billowy dark clouds. Back when I was lifeguard, I'd be packing up the loose bits and kicking the kids out of the pool with clouds like this. It hasn't rained yet, but it will.

I have been buying books. My favorite Neil/Neal's, Neil Gaiman and Neal Stephenson both seem to have snuck out books while my attention was elsewhere. If you don't know who these guys are, write me, because it is likely that you should read at least one thing they have written. I promise this to be an enjoyable experience not to mention how cool you will appear at your next soiree when you casual mention that you not only know who they are but loved their last book.

Monday, October 13, 2003

Recharge Day

I had the day off today. I'm trying to hold back my inner glee a little, so you don't hate me. It was as close to a perfect day as I have had in a long time and just what I needed. It started with me sleeping in. I woke up around 9:30 and finally rolled out of bed at 10 am, got dressed and went to the gym. It was a lot busier than I would have expected. I suppose there are a lot of people who work evenings and of course a slew of unemployed folks too. Afterwards I went to a small cafe a few blocks up on 18th and York and grabbed the coffee I so desperately needed. I sat outside, flipped through the paper and took time to smile at passersby and pet the occasional dog. Then back to the car. It was such a beautiful day I had to take the top down on the car for my drive up and over to the marina.

A while ago I did a google search on "the wave" "san francisco" and found this page for the wave organ, an art installation right off the bay. I couldn't resist it since it merges the senses; sounds, sights, smells, tastes and touches. Yum. Reviews from visitors recommend the best time to go was high tide, so I found the tide tables and set off. Since I have never been there it took a longer stroll than I anticipated to get there. But accompanied by an icy cold bottle of water and my mp3 player, it was an enjoyable walk.

As I walked along the marina I was reminded of the place I had on Delancy St in Mamaroneck that was across the street from Harbor Island Park. I miss the cherry blossoms in the spring and the ever constant but subtle songs boats in the harbor play.

The wave organ was interesting and peaceful. Swarms of sailboats left the marina as the patient waves of high tide were drawn into the organ. I was a lot like a giant surround-sound sea shell. When you need some quiet time for yourself and your sound check the tide tables and head over to hear the bay play it's tunes.

Sunday, October 12, 2003

Life imitating Art?

I have been thinking about what music to share with you. Rather than just picking the latest song du jour I thought I'd go back a little. I came across Lili Anel way back when I was still in New York. West had gotten me hooked on folk and world music with her MR2-full of CDs. After I wore down those Alphabet Soup tapes she made, I started to find my own sources. Sure I still listened to WLIR (or WDRE for a while back then), but more often than not I was tuned to WFUV, a public radio station out of Fordham. One night I heard this song, Dance the Life Away, playing and fell in love with the singer's voice. It was rich and intoxicating. I bought her CD, Laughed Last, and it was so good it never left my 6-pack Pioneer CD player (slot #6).

I never got the chance to see her perform. I certainly did frequent the places she has played, The Bottom Line in Greenwich Village with Karen and George and the Turning Point in Piermont, NY with Marcia. But her music came to mark events in my life.

Trying to pick just one song for you to listen to was hard. I mean, there was an entire heart-wrenching 6-month love affair that I can mark by her first CD. It started with the ecstasy of Tonight and the happy Laughed Last. A short dip of anguish on her part marked by The Wrong Time. Did I mention she was married. Yeah okay, not the wisest move on my part, but wait, we make up and Love Is It expresses those sentiments. Then come the broken promises and the distance of a 1000 miles between us. Did I mention heart-wrenching? Baby When? says it all, I'm too miserable. So I'm not surprised when I find out there is someone else just like what happens in Say It Isn't So. Okay I wasn't so completely heartbroken not to notice the eerie similarities between my life and Roberta Flack's song, Killing Me Softly.

I actually took her out of my CD Player for a month or so and tried to be a big girl and get on with my life. But there is nothing that makes you feel more alive than the ecstasy of love won and the agony of love lost. Really my scorpio nature couldn't stay away. So I put her back in her slot and I couldn't think of anything better to get into a properly bad mood than to listen to all those happy fall-in-love songs. I had forgotten about this one song nestled in with all the rest that oddly made it all better. Let Her Go (available for your listening pleasure) got me out of my funk of despair. The fabulous rhythms in this one will cheer you up if you need it. On an interesting small world side note, the guy playing the kick-ass vibes is Jeff Berman, who I met through Marcia at his funky Brooklyn apartment. He played a song for me that he was working on for one of his CDs. Find them and buy them if you love the sound.

I had secretly hoped that Lili would come and whisk me away, just like in the song, but I got over it. I got into painting and found other things that make my heart happy. Of course I will always have a weak spot for serenading strangers.

I am happy to add that Lili is back with a new-ish CD, Hi-Octane Coffee. I am still listening to the new one. Laughed Last however does qualify for that special satisfaction guarantee. Listen to the song here and if you love it, buy Laughed Last. If you really hate it I'll buy it or trade it for something you will like.

How's that, eh?

Saturday, October 11, 2003

Magical Pyrotechnics

It is a miraculously clear evening and I just came in from watching fireworks exploding in the bay. It's fleet week and the air has been filled with thunderous planes that rattle windows with every sweep of their wings. Everytime one flies over, all eyes look up trying to catch a glimpse. Driving in a convertible on a day like today has especially generous rewards.

This evening I went to listen to some music and ended up getting home around 8:30. I heard a booming sound in the distance. And without a doubt I knew it was fireworks and not thunder. Rather than sitting and listening from my living room, I got up, and ran out to watch. I could see the flashing lights ahead as I ran to the top of the hill. I looked down upon the tall buildings of downtown to the north-west. The fireworks were visible between two sets of buildings, perfectly placed as if I had the best seat in the city. Miles away spectators, shivering in the cool autumn air, had this magnificent display spread out before them. I watched from my view, fireworks exploding over the twinkling San Francisco skyline. A photograph of this would appear fake, a computer modified image. The finale roared one last flurry of color and then it was over.

I walked home shivering and happy from the impact of color and sound.

Monday, October 6, 2003

Thinking in Hypertext

I have come to the startling realization that I think in hypertext. Anyone who has ever spoken to me, or perhaps more appropriately, listened to me go on about something understands that I tend to go off on tangents. So ten, twenty years ago I was merely unfocused and unable to stick with a conversational topic. Now I am hip and cool with words that describe my easily distracted nature.

So when I talk about some topic, I can visually link to another topic and yet appear focused on the original thought.

Of course the real trick is to find people who can listen in hypertext without getting distracted by all those blue lines! Of course I'm not the only one thinking this.

Well until that happens I will leave you with small diversions that give you warm fuzzies and loud gaffaws courtesy of Evany.

Bubble Toes

This one is for Diana and Karen. I made a comment about Jack Johnson being a modern day Neil Diamond, or perhaps James Taylor. What I mean by this before you send me flaming email, is that Jack will be the sort of person that has a loyal niche fan base which I feel will last him as long as he'd like it to. This thought has more to do with my recent retro musical listening than any desire to offend Neil, James or Jack fans.

Bubble Toes was the first Jack Johnson song I ever heard. I was on my last nerve as I slinked closer to the 5th and Bryant St entrance ramp onto the Bay Bridge. I was instantly captivated by his catchy lyrics and wanted to here more. I lucked out and the DJ told me the song and artist right away. I managed to write this information down on an old gas receipt without careening into a fellow commuter. I bought his CD, Brushfire Fairytales, and enjoyed many of the other songs as well. I was able to enjoy some of the So. Cal references after a few trips to see Cat. I had no idea what the hell a tarball was until I picked up one of my own walking along a beach in Ventura. So you learn something new everyday.

Sunday, October 5, 2003

Oldies but Goodies

When I came back from my trip to New York last month, I noticed that not one but two of my favorite radio stations changed format. The Drive, classic rock from the 60s, 70s, and 80s is now a Country station. Not that I hate country music, but not at the cost of my rock, baby! I mean, nothing like a little Led Zepplin on the clock radio to get you up in the morning, y'know? So imagine my sheer exasperation and sadness when I discovered that The Wave washed out to sea. Okay perhaps the SF Bay area wasn't enough to hold onto a World Music and Reggae station, but it's still sad it's gone. You could always count on it having something different when everyone else was playing the same music.

So I have been wandering up and down the radio, scanning for something new. I assumed that if two radio stations can change formats maybe some other station that I hated now has cool music. Reasonable, yes? One of my gaps on my car radio has been filled with KFRC, an oldies station. I remember when oldies music was stuff that was made before I was born. Now it is music that I listened to when I was a kid. The best part is that it all has memories. Thanks to my mom, would always had the radio on, in the house and the car, I've got tons of songs in my head. I hear a song that reminds me of the summers we would go to Oakland or Jones Beach. The lyrics to these songs are also in my head. Sure a lot of them are in that, not quite right way, but rather than using my mind for uber-good, like discovering the cure for cancer or even the common cold, I have all these 'oldies' lyrics in my head.

This song, I’ll Take You There by The Staple Singers keeps popping up, in movies, on television as well as being covered by tons of people. Go ahead listen to this and try to keep still.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Getting and Losing Lost

I just got back from a visit home to see my parents. It's been over 5 years (6 in January) since I left New York and that neighborhood called Silver Lake but in many ways it will still be home to me. It's where I was born, where I spent my childhood and even a handful of years as an adult. My last apartment in New York was in the heart of this cool primarily Italian neighborhood near the top of the hill. At the bottom was a little strip of shops and restaurants. There were more delis than gas stations in this little village which always struck me as funny.

Now that I've been in San Francisco for a while I have managed to lose some of my memory of how to get from point A to point B. I dropped off Mom at her chemo appointment and was running some errands. I was trying to get from the supermarket to the library. There is this little shortcut you can take behind the supermarket that will bypass about a gazillion traffic lights and would drop me off right on Lake Street which goes right to the library. Easy. Well about 5 minutes in I realized that I must have missed a turn. About 3 minutes later I admitted that I had no idea where I was, but suspected that I might be on Buckout Rd, our own little suburban urban legend street, that ran behind the lake and was host to dozens of horror stories.

I mostly remember it as the street I find myself on when I am completely lost. Well I managed to find my way to the library and back to Mom, with only these pictures to remind me of this little misadventure.

I was a little embarassed. When I was bored or sad or just wanted time to think, I would get in a car and drive around. As long as I could find one of the many highways or parkways that ran through Westchester County I could always find my way home. The summer I spent doing pre-canvas for the Census Bureau connected numerous neighborhoods for me, so I had alternates to alternate paths if my main route was backed up. So getting lost in an area that I once knew so well was a little sad.

I didn't think much about this until I got back to San Francisco. I was driving back home after dinner with my friend Karen. I was a little tired and halfway home realized that I was on auto-pilot. Her neighborhood, Golden Gate Heights, is filled with winding streets that seem destined to pull innocent passerbys into wrong turns at every block. I didn't make a single wrong turn. It was as if I knew instinctively which was to go.

I realize that there are fewer and fewer places I can go that are strange for me in San Francisco. Like most people, I have my routines and tend to frequent the same stores and shops for my errands. Even though I've been here 5 years, there were a lot of places I'd never been to until recently. Interestingly, I'm beginning to picture the best way to get from here to there. Even when here and there are places I go to only once in a while. In some ways I miss the thrill you get when you are getting to know some place new. How exciting it is to find the perfect coffee shop to meet a friend or the best place to grab a quick bite before a movie. I'm losing the lost sensation in San Francisco.

Friday, September 19, 2003

It's All About Me

I've been working out for a while. This song is one that is completely upbeat and great about 15 minutes in when I start coming up with reasons why I could stop. I don't think I would have ever stumbled across this song if it weren't for Amara's desire to put together a mixed CD of her favorite songs. I highly recommend that you stop and listen to what kids are listening to. Sometimes it's total soda-pop and and sometimes it's not. The fact this this one is about Me, Myself and I also makes it a statement about being yourself, no matter what.

Okay this is soda pop, but give it a listen and let me know what you think. But at least it's got Vitamin C in it!

Thursday, September 4, 2003

Trip Home Checklist

Things I am doing while I'm home

Relaxing
Catching up with mom and dad
Testing the effectiveness of my new allergy medicine combo (works great so far!)
Wishing I had packed more clothes for rainy weather
Taking pictures of people and places I’ve seen on this visit
Hooking up the ‘rents with a reasonable mobile phone that meets *their* needs.
Catching up with a few friends and family, especially those I missed last visit.
Finally finishing the book that West loaned me last year when I saw her and Jim at Worldcon!
Driving in mom’s car enough to enjoy what a midsized car with decent suspension can offer, even if I did feel like I was driving an SUV because I was sitting so high off the ground.
Enjoying classic summertime things like the cricket/highway combo noises at night, the smell of a summer rain, walking through Dad’s garden
Shamelessly spoiling Oprah and missing Peaches - These are cat names not backup singers.
Fixing little things around the house and trying to do things the Girl Scout way (leaving things looking the same if not better than how I found it) because it makes Mom happy.


Things I’m not doing
Working on the online photo gallery (I don’t know why I thought this would happen since mom and dad are using a dialup service.
Thinking about work or problems back in San Francisco.

Things I’m going to do
Put together something to help sibs quickly edit and post pictures that can be viewed easily by everyone, but especially those with dial-up connections. 1 MB pictures? Ouch!
Catch up on my email
Make a list of things I need to finish from this visit
Make up a non-list entry for the journal
Get that convertible top finally installed

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Songs with Two Contractions are better than just one

Okay for those of you that have never heard They Might Be Giants (TMBG) before here is the first TMBG song that I heard on the radio, Don't Let's Start.

I was discovering the eclectic joy that is college radio and my initial reaction was was horrified delight. Huh? Their songs are weird. Really weird and calling them quirky isn't strong enough. But they are also so damn catchy. Go ahead and try to listen to this without finding a snippet of a song stuck in your head long after you heard it. This is from their first album, They Might Be Giants and I have it on vinyl. (Okay Mom and Dad have it on vinyl in the basement, next to the utility sink on the laundry room which is probably ruining the records, but I digress.)

I'm linking the lyrics of this song because it's only fair to give you the opportunity to avoid Two Line Syndrome. Two Line Syndrome can best be described as the tortuous realization that you have a song in your head but can only remember two lines. You sing those same two lines again and again until it is hopefully replaced by something else. I still remember standing waiting for the elevator in Mohawk tower my junior year of college with Marcia Ryder. She was singing, "Woke up in my clothes again this morning. Don't know exactly where I am." She would stop and then start again and the beginning. After about 5 minutes I yelled at her to stop for The Love of Mike before something bad happened to her. I did end up buying the album so that I could get closure on that damn song. So don't blame me if people start threatening you. You've got the lyrics. Oh and if you like this and want more, see the links on the sidebar for purchasing opportunities.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

End of the Week of Sheets

Tonight is a normal San Francisco summer night. The fog has been rolling in from the west and swallowed the peaks and valleys all evening. A few hours earlier you could feel the chilly dampness as the fog mists over the peak of the hill I live on. Since I live near the top I can watch it slip around the North Slope as it continues west into the bay and Oakland. On the right sort of night it’s downright creepy. Ah, nature’s air conditioning is working again.

The past week I’ve been sleeping in sheets and fending off the new generation of mosquitoes that have been eating me alive every night. It was cool enough to sleep if I left the window open but then the critters get in. The next night I tried to sleep with the windows closed and ended up waking up in a sweat. Both stink. Before you, non-San Franciscans tell me about screen windows, let me explain why there are few of those here. According to the locals, there are no bugs here. And mostly they are correct.

Growing up in New York where summertime meant moths, Japanese beetles and june bugs hugging the screen door trying to get in, crickets and cicadas making their own special kind of white noise to fall asleep, fireflies lighting up the early evening hoping to pick up a firefly chica with their seductive glow. Here those bugs don’t really exist. I read something about insecticides being sprayed in the Bay Area and as a result there aren’t really any bugs here. Or maybe they just hate the fog? So as a result when you open the window, there is no mesh screen to keep things from flying into the house.

During the day it’s been hot, which is good for my tomatoes but bad for the rest of us who would prefer something less balmy. Saturday Cat was up and we went down to Palo Alto to stroll through their Art Festival. It was a nice drive down in the convertible and aside from the constant need to rehydrate ourselves it was a nice day. On the way back we got caught in traffic around candlestick park. At one point the driver in the car in front of us put something on his head that looked like horns.

We gave him the thumbs up since it seemed like a cool thing to do when bored in traffic. As we passed him we were able to get a quick glance at his horns before he took off for the 49ers game.

Sunday we met up with a bunch of friends in Napa. Ordinarily Napa Valley, like all valleys in California, is nice and warm. Great for the grapes y’know. But today it was unbearably hot. It was fun to see everyone and meet Kris, who is back in the area but working her tail off, but damn! it was too hot. It did allow us the opportunity to go back to San Francisco and feel that it was substantially cooler since we did have a somewhat cool breeze blowing.

Of course now that it’s cooler I’m losing all of my heat acclimation. I’m getting ready for a trip home to New York and a few days of cool weather may totally throw me off. I hope that this heat-wave thingie will sweep across the country before I get back East.

Thursday, August 21, 2003

How Annoying

This week has been a moderately annoying work week. It seems that I am dealing with more people who take a simple task or procedure and make it complicated. I am actually going to attend a meeting to discuss how to contact my group in the event of an outage. Because it seems that a written note that says email this address or call this one phone number is too complicated. I wonder if Mars has anything to do with this?

So this has brought out my defiant side. See me here sneaking a ride in the ever so convenient freight elevator.

Oh and here is that picture of the new blue furniture I got from Anne. I swear I know someone who looks like the woman in the picture. I love the fact that this was taken in someone's real home (see the real sofa in the background?) They should have put this in the rec room or in the kids room to make it seem more realistic. Once I get them out of the box and inflated in real life I'll update the pictures on this site. The color looks better inside the box than outside.

But I haven't been piss and vinegar all week. I did a good deed and supported a couple of web journallers I have read for years along with the Oakland Public Library. Pamie heard about how the Oakland Public Library has lost their funding and started a campaign to get some books out there. Having lived in Oakland for years, I knew where all these branches were and spent many a day distracting myself from the unpleasantness of unemployement. Nothing like a good book to get your mind off of things. I was going to send them Pamie's book, but they have a bunch. I just got another book by another web journaller, Fred Anderson, who wrote a book, From Chunk to Hunk, about how he lost a considerable amount of weight without any freaky diet plans, drugs or surgery. He published the book himself so I thought it would be apropos to send a few copies of Fred's book to Oakland. So I did.

Still cranky but feeling good.

Friday, August 15, 2003

Don't be so serious

Once I decided to start doing this, I realized that the first song carried great importance. You see I knew that you would listen to this song and read this entry and wonder. So I stopped and realized that often in life I would catch myself taking myself way too seriously.

So in that vein, I am offering my first song in a lighter and sillier vein. This song is called 10 Puppies by Deborah Pardes. I first saw her at a Viva Variety and fell in love with her songs and style. She's funny, quirky with a quick wit and great songs and showmanship. On top of that she also involved in community issues like the SIBL project , which uses music to inspire low-level readers to read. Plus she's a local artist, so I never know when she'll be playing some place nearby that will make my day.

I love all of her songs, but this is my favorite. Listen to 10 Puppies and tell me what you think. Seriously.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Welcome to Tunes Talk

Hey welcome to my latest little procrastinational device. I often find myself so easily influenced by music. It can make me happy where I want to sing out loud and dance around the room. If I'm sad or mad, there are tons of tunes that can be my personal soundtrack for my own pity party. Some songs have memories attached to them. Like a shadow they are there lurking. So in the spirit of sharing and starting interesting conversations, I've started this music blog.

I'll include the song so that you can listen to it along with links for more information on the artist or band and places you can go to buy a copy of your own. Please don't ask me to post the entire CD. I don't intend for this to be a place to download CDs. If you like what you hear, buy the album and support that artist.

I like all sorts of music, so you're bound to get a taste of things you like and things that will cause you to question the strength of our friendship. From time to time, I may have some guest posters talk about their favorite songs.

Drop me a note if you'd like to post something.

They Might Be a Documentary

I'm all hyper and in a good mood tonight. It might have a lot to do with the fact that dinner consisted of popcorn and cherry coke. Maybe. I went to see the 7 o'clock show of Gigantic: A Tale of Two Johns. It is about the band They Might Be Giants, a quirky alternative rock sort of group. I thought about who I knew that might actually be interested in going with me. As far as I know, the only person who would be as equally jazzed about this is Brian, but he's 3000 miles away in NY. Anyone who's had the domain Blue Canary is a fan. It seems Betty would have gone if she and Jack hadn't already seen it last Saturday when it came to the Castro Theatre. So I went tonight by myself. Just as I expected there were a bunch of other fans who had no friends to drag along, and why would you do that when you could revel in their coolness without having to explain stuff like the Dial-a-Song. Even the snitty guy in the box office who somehow interpreted, "One please" to be "Two Adults" and they gave me attitude because he screwed up (or perhaps he just got distracted by some cute hunk walking behind me) couldn't ruin my good mood.

I first discovered They Might Be Giants (TMBG) back in college at the record co-op at SUNY Albany. I bought their eponymous album, They Might Be Giants after getting hooked on Put Your Hand in the Puppet Head and Don't Let's Start. It was so weird yet so completely catchy I couldn't stop playing it. I bought it as an actual LP, vinyl, the big round black thing when cool album art meant something and when a CD was an investment instrument. I bought a bunch of their records. There was this cool guy who worked there, I think his name was Jeremy, who would stop me if there was a new album out because he thought they were the best and loved talking to anyone about them.

In any case it was neat to see that there were a lot of younger fans there too. I mean, these guys are 39 and 40 years old and married and still just as geeky as they were back in 1986 when I discovered them. Sure it didn't stop me from trying to decide which one I liked best in that fantasy date/fuck/new best friend way. Yeah, well I still can't decide. The documentary would have been boring if you don't like them, so don't go and see it and then complain to me. Come borrow a CD or something. Hmmm...maybe I better go grab those old LPs from Mom and Dad's basement.

Speaking of Mom and Dad, I was talking to my mom the other day. Dad's been reading a lot lately in an attempt to fill his crazy days of retirement. It reminded her of a day when my father "punished" me. It was a Sunday and I was sitting around reading when he came in and found me lounging about. "Is that all you can do - sit around and read a book?" he said. "Well you can stay in your room and read then." I suspect he was planning on doing something fun, but making me stay and read was hardly a punishment. I'm afraid it didn't make a lasting impression on me. Of course any Go-to-your-room punishment was anything but punishment since there was always something to do.

Well anyway, I've been fussing with the idea of a place to talk about music and maybe even give you a little taste of a group or artist that you probably wouldn't know about. Music is such a powerful thing and on a really bad day, I can always count on a good song to remind me that it's not that bad and that things will get better. Or that I'm not alone and someone else is there with the soundtrack for my pity party. Rather than intermingle the tunes with my written, ahem, pearls, I'll be setting up a link on the side which will point to the sub journal or blog. I've got an introductory page up and you can join the notify list if you want to get an email when I post new songs.

Thursday, August 7, 2003

Oh Can't Complain

Today is my older brother’s birthday. For a change I was aware of its approach and I pre-purchased and sent out a card well in advance. I even remembered to call him and we talked for hours. While this isn’t an unusual thing for me, some people might find it for him. As a kid, Jerome was the one who always managed to find something interesting to do and didn’t mind if I watched or tagged along. Granted he often got into trouble with his thinking outside of the box activities (I think Dad still has pieces of that lawnmower you disassembled.) I know I’m probably repressing some of the torturous moments, okay I’m not, I still remember being locked into the tire well of the family station wagon. I still don’t like tight spaces.

But I mostly remember the fun times, like sneaking off on a Saturday morning to take a bus all the way to Yonkers to see the latest James Bond movie. Of course we would stay in the theatre all day long, y’know because they wouldn’t kick you out if you were behaving yourselves. And the sledding ramp he showed us how to build was great. I can remember taking pitchers of water outside so that we could ‘set’ the ramp. Setting meant going out after dinner and pouring water over hard packed snow in the shape of a ramp until it froze solid. So now we could careen through the air into the piles of snow the plows left at the bottom of our dead end street.

He also helped me to be more self-sufficient. In high school if we missed the school bus, rather than going back home to incur the wrath of Dad and have to listen to him yell at us for the entire 20 minute drive to school, we’d walk into White Plains and catch a bus to school from there. Sure it would take 40 minutes, but it was a peaceful 40 minutes and at most I’d miss 1st period, which was usually band or a science lab. By the time he graduated, I was able to get around most anywhere by bus. This is a good idea when there are so many kids vying for the keys to the car.

But with all of these things, chatting on the phone for hours is not something Jerome is known for. This seems to be a late-in-life trait he’s developed. I can’t even tell you all the things we talked about, although talking about work or computers is a good bet. Otherwise it could be anything. I totally forgot to ask how his bees are doing.

And just as I was thinking about how much I appreciate and enjoy my brothers and sister, I get an email from my s-i-l, Hyunjoo. It’s a great newsy letter that just made me grin. So I suppose I should expand my thought to include my sibs-in-laws too. While they don’t have all those weird idiosyncrasies you get when you grow up in the same house, they are still pretty damn cool. Not everyone is so lucky.

In general, life’s been good. I’ve been procrastinating about things I want to get done. But things seem to get done eventually. I guess a better way to look at it <watch for the spin> is that I am enjoying the summer more by doing things I enjoy with people who are fun. If that means that I drive around another two weeks with my funky taped up top and primer grey fender, then okay. I can deal with that. I’ve seen some great movies, had engaging conversations, and seen vistas of San Francisco that would take your breath away. Oh yeah and all this at the lowest stress level in years. So you know when you ask someone how they are doing and the respond, “Oh can’t complain.” Well they really mean to say things are good and I’d like it to stay that way for a while.

Got any complaints?

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Getting down with the Pacific Ocean

I went for a walk this evening with Cabala. She was responsible for dragging my sorry ass to the beach last summer while we were house-sitting in Oakland. So it shouldn't be surprising that our walk was out along the ocean. Of course this being San Francisco, it was completely fogged in. Rather than making it grey and bleak, it was mysterious and moody. We got to the beach around six o'clock and there were only a few guys with their fishing gear getting set for their evening. We walked down to the end before descending onto the beach. We took off our shoes (don't worry I was wearing my old sneakers) and left them by the wall. Walking down to the water, the beach was littered with these cool looking jellyfish.

I think we past about 12 people and 14 dogs in the hour or so that we walked. Two of those people were in hang gliders. It was fabulous even though I managed to soak my pant cuffs in the water. Of course the muscles in my legs are all happy to have gotten some attention. I brought my camera and left it in the car, thinking that it would be a boring palette with everything a homogeneous grey. I was *so* wrong. While I didn't get a classic color drenched sunset, there were so many things that were begging to be photographed. It is probably this that is the main reason why I am going to do this again.

It's Summertime, get outside!

Thursday, July 17, 2003

Wot's this now?

Tuesday was a day of many packages. The woman who works at my storage/mail box place was expecting me as I checked my mail after work. As she opened the door she asked if I wanted to take my stuff in two trips. I had no idea what she meant until I glanced past her into the package room to find that I had one whole shelf of boxes and envelopes. Now I was expecting a few things but I just didn't expect them to all come at the same time. It was in fact, Christmas in July.

First there was the digital camera. Yep, I decided that the old old old Kodak DC50 wasn't cutting it as my only digital camera and the thought of scanning standard photos makes me blue. So I am the proud owner of a spankin' new Canon A70. As a result I will soon be providing photos for you to view here soon.

Next was a cheap memory chip for the camera above.

After that was a free CD and the first issue of a new magazine subscription for Girlfriends.

Then I was pleased to see my mail-order allergy medicine arrived. there is no good reason to pay a higher co-pay if you can get 90 days for the price of one month, right?

Then the last box, the biggest box of them all, was a set of inflatable furniture. In blue. I'm not sure why or who sent this. There was no packing slip in the box. No invoice information on the packing slip. A true mystery package. I did call the place it was shipped from, Sam's Club in Tennessee. I called the number on the return address and explained my situation to the customer service rep who couldn't quite understand why this was a problem. I wanted to reach through the phone and shake him while screaming, "Some one sent me furniture you can blow up. I am almost 37 years old and I really need to know if this is someone important enough to me to explain why this sort of gift is so wrong on so many different levels.

But no, I got no satisfaction. On the bright side, this could be a great gift for someone else. Or else I can make someone's day by having a great garage sale find.

Can you believe it?

Sunday, July 6, 2003

Was this a good idea?

I've been driving around with a dent in the right read fender of my car since April 2002. I've been sad, annoyed, embarrassed, and stubbornly indifferent about it all. Along with those feelings I've been stopped at least a dozen times by complete strangers with offers to take care of the dent. At first I turned them away because I was unemployed and fixing a dent was certainly not worth the cost. Later I dismissed them because I was attempting to defeat the car pride that seems to be an integral part of me. Most recently I would turn them away - Geez, enough already! Go find someone else to pester!

But yesterday I said yes. Partly it was that he said the right things in the right way. But mostly it was a decision I had made to do something, even if it wasn't perfect to deal with that annoying dent hanging over my right shoulder. A co-worker and I have been joking about taking a bathroom plunger to it, since it looked like that was all it would take.

So when I pulled into the car wash stall down the street from my house I said yes. John started out asking for a much higher rate, but was willing to accept the 50 bucks I had in my wallet at the time. He did deliver more than that for me, but the act of repair was more traumatic than I would have imagined.

There are many things in life that you really don't want to see first hand. Some people can't look at needles, but accept them because they are a necessary evil. Other people keep their eyes closed on wild amusement park rides because they are frightened of the heights or speed but still love the exhilaration and excitement the ride brings them. Some people don't watch as their hair is cut, leaving their trust in their stylist to make them look better than they did when they walked into the salon.

I shouldn't have watched. It started off okay. I thought it was going along rather well and was pleased at how much of the dent was coming out with just a few simple tools. Then he got to the complexity of the indentation. Yeah, just look away. You probably don't want to see this either. I was lost in how he was working one side of the dent then the other, shifting over to a secondary section and then back to the first. I could see some parts weren't cooperating. But I wasn't prepared for him to pull out the hammer and screwdriver and bang a bunch of holes right through the metal. I remember thinking, damn the paint is chipping. Like the holes weren't a bigger deal. He didn't hesitate and I gritted my teeth and let him continue because it would look worse if he stopped here.

He kept going, pulling at the dent, adding more holes and more holes. For the Love of Mike! How many more will it take!? Before I knew it he was done. The dent was gone too. All that remained were the bullet holes and chipped paint of my right quarter panel. I thought, If this ends badly I'll just take it somewhere and get it done properly. But he mixed and blended and smoothed on a salve of Bondo and grey primer over my baby's hip. She actually looks better. Better than she did with the dent. She still needs a paint job and if I were feeling particularly masochistic I have John's number and I can call him to do the paint.

I'm going to take it to get it painted in a shop that will cover-up for overspray, sand it down and make it look pretty and shiny like the rest of the car. I don't want to watch it. My jaw is sore. I can't bite down on anything chewy on the right side of my mouth. The muscles in my jaw are still a little tense from this experience. But I'll recover and once I get the new top on the car, it'll look pretty again.

My advice? Turn away, you don't want to watch this.

Tuesday, July 1, 2003

Lip smacking good

I've managed to misplace my favorite lipstick lipbalm. Certainly there are more pressing things in life, but today I've been all pouty, and not in a good way, about it. A few weeks ago I managed to get across the Bay Bridge into Oakland considerable faster than I expected, like an hour faster. So with my tomatoes doing well I thought I would eye the pretty plants at the good Long's Drugstore on Broadway and 51st. I wandered inside thinking I would see if there was anything I needed. This is when I found the magical balm. It seems that old Burt has been busy as a bee expanding into cosmetics.

Their marketing people will be pleased to know that I was drawn in by the clever names of their lipsticks. I wanted Honesty, but they were all out. My second choice was Willingness. However I'm not sure what I'm supposed to be willing to do. Honesty seemed to be an easier option and less likely to get me into, erm, trouble.

In any case, my Willingness has disappeared. Or perhaps someone else was lured by its, y'know, willingness. This weekend was Pride and Cat came up to visit. In addtion, we had a young visitor who came to stay with me and have Cat and I as his Pride weekend aunties. It was fun having a 14 year old kid around and he reminded me how much I miss Bek's daughter. We did a little shopping in the Castro after having a good breakfast. Then hung around, before setting off to a BBQ at Betty's and the Dyke March. This time we watched them as opposed to being in it. We made friends, exchanged beads with a friendly girl and then met up with our friends. Back for cookies and tea and off to bed.

Since last year's plan worked so well, we set out early for a spot on the parade route. We were running late, but still managed to find a nice place behind 4 older women who were sitting on the curb. With a row of locked newpaper boxes behind we were protected. After the parade, lots of walking around before our guest was tired and ready to catch the next BART train for home.

But we weren't exactly tired yet. So we grabbed some dinner and went to see Matrix Reloaded at the IMAX theatre at the Sony Metreon. Great weekend of the sort that require a week to recover from. So the only thing I was willing to do was sleep.

How is your summer turning out for you?

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Character defining moments

After reading this article in the local paper, I have to wonder if we, as a society, are moving in the right direction. Perhaps I'm just showing my secret Luddite ways. Having been employed as an IT (information technology) professional for the past 13 years or so, I used to be all about getting kids to become more proficient at keyboarding, basic computer use as well as having an understanding of technical topics. Given how technical most consumer electronics are, they seem to be doing okay. But now I'm having some second thoughts.

It used to be receiving a personal letter in your mailbox was something you could reasonably expect to show up around the bills. Okay, even I will admit that getting a Birthday and Christmas card was typical fare, but if you got lucky it had a personal message in it. There have always been those special subsets of people who send newsletters to 'catch people up' with what they and their family have been up to since you last heard from them (not surprisingly a year ago since their last Christmas card), but I digress.

Now you get eGreetings wishing you a happy birthday in your email. In fact most of the correspondences I give and receive is done using my computer and not with pen and paper. It's a great way to speed up communication and when I consider that most of my family is thousands of miles away I can appreciate the medium.

But do you remember learning to write? I still remember getting my handwriting primer (for left-handed students) in first grade. It has pictures showing you how to hold your pencil (those big fat red ones with no erasers on the end) and how to make all the basic letter shapes. First you copied the ones with dotted lines and then went off on your own filling the page with slashes, curves, circles and lines. From there we covered letters and numbers and once the book completed we could write any letter we wanted anytime we wanted.

Cursive was like a foreign language and it was a lot harder to get the shapes to look like the sample alphabet that hung over the blackboards that circled the classroom. But still we persevered because this was 'grown-up' writing. I remember being so proud of my handwriting even at its most clunky and awkward state. Computers didn't show up until years later so we weren't spending any time at a keyboard. All of our book reports were handwritten and double-spaced. When we got older, we were first allowed and then expected to type up our reports. I remember being envious of kids whose moms were typists. What took me hours and hours they could do in the space of one bad sitcom.

Questions I have are: What will handwriting look like when these kids are grown? We are going to have to live and work with them. Maybe everything will be computerized and writing things on a piece of paper will be considered a quaint past time.

Years ago when I bought my first PDA (it was an Apple Newton) and then a Palm PDA I learned the shorthand they called graffiti. Will the next type of handwriting not be Spencerian or the Palmer Method or even the current relaxed print cursive (italic) but graffiti?

A piece of me sees this as part of our evolution. Kids will be learning fancy handwriting in art class and not part of the Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic of yesteryear. Well, I've decided to fight this transition to Scanning, Keyboarding and Coding and will do my part to keep handwriting alive.
Send me your address and I'll send you one honest-to-goodness handwritten letter. Tell me what you've been up to and in return a will reply with a thoughtfully scribed letter, possibly even with the occasional spelling error (no spell-checkers in real-life darlings!). If you'd like to impress the pants off of me, let me know and I'll send you my mailing address so that you can send me one of your own!

Let the handwritten letter revolution begin!

Monday, June 16, 2003

Toll Booth Stories

Just the other day I was catching up on some of the journals I like to read. I used to read a lot of journals. I blame it all on an old co-worker who innocently asked if I knew anything about online journals. I started reading some of the ones she sent me. When I was working at the dot.com a couple of years ago, I spent much of my 'look busy' time reading journals. I read 5 years of archives and thought that I could do this too.

Last October I went to JournalCon 2002 since it was in my home town. I've been keeping up with a bunch of journals from journallers that were there. One guest speaker/journaller Pamie has been re-posting some older entries from her archive. This one reminded me of a trip I took with my younger brother Bill. And this one from Jette convinced me to post it, knowing that he'd be okay with it.

It was back in 1985 and Bill and I decided to take a class to learn how to scuba dive. After several weeks of classroom and pool work, we were ready for our open dive test. Now this was back when I was living in New York and it was late April. I wasn't sure how cold it was going to be even with a wet suit at this time of the year, but off we went with images of diving in the warm waters of the Caribbean with colorful tropical fish all around us.

When the weekend came, Bill and I decided that I would drive down and he would drive back. Lovely Dutch Springs Diving and Recreational Facility was your basic flooded quarry. Someone decided to turn it into a "facility" by putting in platforms at varying levels as well as submerging a few items of interest, boats, a helicopter, an airplane, a few shopping carts and whatnot. The dive itself was marred by a few tragic errors on our parts. One - I should not have had a soda with my lunch prior to the afternoon dive. Gas bubbles in your stomach are small and somewhat managable on land, but 30-50 ft underwater they are larger and well, they scared the shit out of me, I freaked out, made an emergency ascent and had to be calmed down before I could finish the rest of my test. Bill wasn't laughing at me as much as he might have ordinarily. The reason? Well, in all the excitement, he managed to not exhale out of his nose at any point during his dive. Doesn't sound like that big of a deal, you say? Well when he got out of the water and took off his mask he had what in the trade is called mask squeeze. In layman's terms he had a giant face hickey. It sorta looked like he was a human raccoon or that I whacked him in the face while he slept. In any case it made it hard to look him in the eye without snickering.

The second day of diving was uneventful and we started our drive back home. We were in the family car, a big white Ford Country Squire station wagon with faux-wood decals on the side and back - a classic 80s vehicle. At one point during the trip, this sweet-looking candy apple red Mustang zoomed by us as we approached a toll plaza. The driver tapped his brakes once, threw the quarter toll into the exact change basket and roared off. My smirk turned to shock and dismay as it dawned on me that we weren't slowing down enough to pay the toll. I turned to look at Bill, a testosterone-charged gleam of challenge in his eye. He tapped the brakes once and furiously cranked the window down.

He took aim and pitched the quarter as we approached the toll booth. I really did wish that his aim was true and that through some miracle, the quarter might hit the mesh basket. However this was not what happened. In a flash, the quarter zoomed out past the tollbooth, not even close to its intended target. Bill jammed on the brakes, just past the basket, but not so far as to set off the alarms. He reached out and gestured for me to hand him another quarter. With his jaw firmly set, he shakes his head and says, "Don't say it, just hand me a quarter."

I'm silent but grinning as I hand him a quarter and he backs up the car to toss it in. As we pull away I can't hold it in any longer and laugh and laugh. You see he had been busting my chops for about 20 minutes prior to this stunt. I managed to navigate us in the wrong direction while looking for gas and we went through the same toll plaza twice. He joking informed me that I was going to have to pay extra for that mistake. Now, I figured, we were even.
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Thursday, June 12, 2003

I heart shoes

I know that many people love shoes. Some people have rooms just for their shoes. Other people have shoe fetishes which bring loving to a whole different level. I've loved shoes as long as I can remember. One of my earliest shoe memories is a pair of red Buster Brown Mary Janes. Those shoes rocked my little 5 year old world.

I used to have a lot of shoes. Some of them lived life as only favorite shoes can; worn almost constantly until there was nothing my cobbler could do to keep them alive. With all the moving I've done over the past year or so, I've pared down considerably . My stable of shoes is about a baker's dozen from the 50+ I had when I was living in Emeryville. Most of the survivors are what I consider my favorites.

A favorite is typically comfortable, cool-looking and often functional. There are some specialists like my biking shoes or the winter boots I bought my last Winter in New York. I want to let the boots go, but know one day those babies will save my life (or perhaps just keep my feet warm). These shoes are infrequently used, but are comfortable and have a certain practical coolness to them.

Often shoes have a story behind them. My black patent leather Doc Martens were discovered at the Oakland Museum White Elephant Sale. I had only been in California a few months and decided that Doc Martens were the kind of cool shoes that I wanted to have. I wandered the Haight street shoe stores drooling over cool shoes that were just too damn pricey for my budget. On this special overcast day in March, Becky took me to this uber-garage-sale to in search of bargains. The Oakland Museum Association has this huge warehouse in the Fruitvale neighborhood where they store things that they receive from others, mostly Estate Sale leftovers and once a year open their doors to the public. Walking in is like going through a Tag Sale Walmart with different department like Women's Clothes, Books, Furniture, Housewares, Fabrics, Kids Toys and Shoes. granted someone else's used shoes are not what I typically get into, but since it was the first section on the right as you walk in, it was a natural place to start.

I saw these Doc Marten shoes in the size 4 section. I was heading for my 6-7 section, but these shiny babies caught my eye. I picked them up to whine at Becky how they had a pair, but not in my size. She commented how they might fit since British sizes are a smaller than US sizes. I tried them on and they fit. Perfectly. I wasn't sure about the patent leather part. they were really shiny. I noticed that they were in good condition and wondered if they had ever been worn since the soles were clean and the insoles didn't have any of the tell-tale wear you get when someone else's feet have been there. These were brand new shoes. The part that closed this deal was the price. They were priced at $10, which is fabulous since these shoes run about $100 in the stores. So I bought them.

Unfortunately these had a break-in period prior to becoming my most favorite shoes. Once they are broken in they are perfect. But until that point, my heels pay in flesh. I try to get shoes that are good fits and cool looking now since I'm sure the chronological age of my heels are about 30 years older than the rest of my body.

The docs are getting old and worn now with their shine not so shiny anymore. They are in good company with other cheap finds like my outlet store Birka Birkenstocks, my red Kenneth Cole Reaction shoes from Shoe Pavilion and my latest find the crocus Eccos from Sierra Trading Post. The joys of inexpensive shoes to obsess over are boundless. I have actually found myself looking at my shoes while waiting in line at the market or in long meetings and thinking in my head how spiffy my feet look with them on.

Other shoes were spurge purchases. Often these were well thought out and anguished over prior to purchase. I would visit them periodically to see if it pulled on my heartstrings as strongly as the first. It may be love at first sight, but often my more practical wallet will ix-nay the purchase after a few weeks.
My Clark Clogs were bought at full retail after a few weeks of debate. Sneakers also seem to be bought at a higher price since they get so much wear. My younger brother Bill in a fit of wisdom beyond his years (he was 25 when he shared this with me) once said that you spend one third of your life on your feet and another third in your bed, so you should expect to spend more for your shoes and your mattress.

It was with this thought in my head years later that I splurged on a pair of black leather Italian shoes. It was in November 2000 and I was at Shoe Pavilion a week or so before my birthday wandering up and down the aisles. I was wasting time and trying to use some retail therapy to get through the fear and panic that Becky wasn't going to get the liver she needed and might die. I knew these shoes were something special when I touched them. They were soft and smooth and I couldn't stop fondling them. I found a pair in my size and tried them on. They fit nicely and looked sharp, and sooo soft. I looked at the price, 60 dollars, on the high side for Shoe Pavilion. I put them in their box and walked around with them. By the time I reached the counter I knew that we were meant to be together.

Do you have a special pair in your life?

Wednesday, June 4, 2003

anticipation

I've got this overwhelming sense of anticipation coursing through me lately. I'm not sure what's up with that but I'm not worried. I keep waiting for it to pass, like gas or nausea, but it's been around for atleast a week or two and I'm just rounding eagerly antipation and heading toward being really annoyed.

Y'see it's not like I have concert tickets or a big trip scheduled. In fact I don't have anything specific planned. Okay, there *is* a garage sale in July, but I'm pretty darn sure all this excitement isn't about me unloading some old tupperware, computer parts and coffee mugs. I'm trying to relax into it. It's like when you misplace your keys, run around frantically looking for them, retracing your steps and still don't find them. In a moment of desperation, right before you call the office to tell them you'll be late, you go for the zen approach - take a deep breath - and pretend that you aren't looking for them anymore. Following the believe that things will appear when you stop looking for them. That's where I am right now.

Damn! I'm still annoyed. Okay so I've been getting things in order, y'know so that I'll be ready for whatever is coming my way. (ooh, maybe I will win Super lotto. Wouldn't that be cool?) So anyway, I've pulled out the few boxes still hanging around and I've sorted and discarded a bunch of papers. I did get those sweet little tomato plants into their containers. I rescheduled the dentist appointment that I missed when I was too distracted by my trip to New York to see my mom. I made an appointment to get my eyes checked, my radiator flushed and squeeky brakes replaced. (The last two were for my car not me. Sheesh!). Things are right on track. Yessiree.

*sigh* okay at some point I'll be all organized and it's a district possibility that this sense of anticipation will just slink away without making a grand appearance. There is nothing good to watch on TV and once I finish the last few books on my reading pile I'm going to be bored.

So this is your chance to come up with some great distractions for me. What movies should I be renting from Netflix? I actually watched large chunks of Monster House, Monster Garage and American Chopper last Monday night, so you've got to help me out here. What books should I be reading and for those SF Bay Area people, what things should I be doing?

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

To-mah-toes

Yeah all day I've been thinking about my tomato plants sitting in the backyard. After excessive research and several trips to 3 disappointing and 1 great nursery, I have two plants waiting for me to come home with some dirt to plant them in their attractive and spacious containers. My reputation for having a black thumb has come after years and years of herbicide (or whatever the fancy name is for killing green things). It's one of the things that seems to set me apart from the rest of my family. I'm the only left handed person in my immediate family and I'm the one Mom used to give plants when all she really wanted was the pot back for something else. I don't know if the two characteristics are linked, but it seems the most obvious.

In any case I have managed to keep three houseplants alive and mostly happy for atleast 3 years now. Last Autumn I managed to get a bunch of farmers' market basil to stay alive for over 2 months. If I had left my roommates with orders to keep the glass filled with water it might still be alive today! So with this encouragement, I am going forth with hopes of yummy tomatoes all summer long.

Whatcha got growin' in your garden?

Monday, May 26, 2003

Memorial Day

Wow, I can't believe how fast this year has just flown by. I was down in Southern California visiting Cat and taking advantage of a luxurious three day weekend. It was fun even though it wasn't as sunny as most people might think. We shopped, saw a movie, had a retail therapy session or two and mostly relaxed. I was able to take advantage of the long drive (without too much traffic I might add) to reflect a bit upon what had come before.

It was just over a year ago, I was packing up my life and stuffing it into two 7x7 containers sitting in the driveway. I'm amazed that I was as together as I appeared given the general mess that I was in at that time. The ex had moved out on Saturday while I met with the couple I was to be house-sitting for on the next block. I got back and organized things and moved box after box from the top floor of the house down to the main level. The next day Cat came to help me pack things up in a way that makes me wish that everyone could have a Virgo like her in their lives.

I still remember about halfway though the packing, I was carrying things out the back door down to the driveway and in my mind had determined that there was no way all of my stuff was going to fit. As I walked back into the house, I eyed my remaining belongings to determine who wasn't going to be going with me and how I was going to get rid of them. Cat reassured me that it would all fit and it did. Amazingly we crammed those suckers full. I remember stifling a laugh as the guy from the storage place had to put down the extra supports on the little forklift they use to get the containers on the flatbed truck. My boxes were that heavy. He smiled as I joked about him being careful with my brick collection. Yeah, he'd probably heard that before.

Aside from the packing there was the added bonus of taking Cat out for her first pupusas at El Zocalo and a long soak at Osento. I ended up having extra time at the house since the house-sitting job was delayed as they dealt with a few last minute problems. This delayed me getting my critical stuff out of the house and over to the new place in time to clean the house with my ex.

By the way, this is a bad idea. Really of the worst kind. Nothing good will come of it and you are far better off spending good money that you probably can't afford to pay someone to come and clean the house.

So as you may have already surmised, we had the worst fight of our relationship. A bitter, nasty fight. We had a minor point of resolution and sad agreement that neither of us wanted it to end like this. Aside from tying up a few loose ends I didn't speak to her for about a year. And the worst part was - no makeup sex. There was no making up. Nope, just me and the damn inflatabed that I kept having to bring out to the car to re-inflate every couple of weeks because I bought the bed with the car adapter, not the AC adapter.

But that all happened so long ago. In my head things are so much different. I know Memorial Day is all about remembering and not forgetting what came before. Sure they really mean soldiers fighting the good fight. But in our own ways aren't we also soldiers? We have our causes, our orders, things we do out of honor and pride. Things don't always come out like we'd wish and in any conflict there is always loss. What we take away from it is our lesson and our history. Do we learn from it and move on trying to do better next time? I sure hope so.

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Change is good

I have descended into the latest form of geekitude. Yep, I finally went and loaded Movable Type onto the domain that I acquired last Fall and with a minimal amount of fuss I got the system loaded up. I've been porting over old entries from diary-x. It was very good to me for the last year or so. A simple place for me to dump my thoughts out for free. If you are thinking about doing something like this, I can highly recommend the site. In addition to simple easy to use journaling, it also allows you to lock your journal if you decide that you are a little too shy to bare it all to anyone that stumbles across your site.

In reality, very few people will notice unless you are a train-wreck of a person. Everyone loves a good train wreck. Interestingly enough many of the people who read this either know me already (you're the reason I'm writing here, why don't you ever write or call me damn it!?) or somehow wandered over as a result of meeting me at Journalcon 2002 (hey nice to see you still hanging around). I'm debating about going to Journalcon 2003. For one, it's not in my home town so I'd have to travel to Austin, TX this year. I am still mulling it over, because it would be fun to see people again. Plus I always seem to get the urge to write more here. So send encouragement.

Don't be surprised if things keep changing here. I'm tweaking this and that as I go along. It'll be like a bunch of little surprises. I especially like the fact that I control the notify list and while Notfylist.com has been good about keeping things advertisement free, how long could that last? All you notify list people will be ported over 'specially. If you've been wondering what you've been missing, go and sign up now. I send you a message whenever I manage to write something and I have no idea why some of you haven't gotten on board. It's not like I'm a stat slut looking for page hits (hmm that sounds a little kinky) and you could be doing other things like buying books for Oakland (I'm so *not* going to turn in my Oakland Library card now knowing all the great books I can get at a bunch of the branches. I have no idea how Piedmont is going to cram all those new books into their tiny little building. )

Okay enough nagging, do what you want, I'm already accustomed to your stubbornness. Sheesh!