I also got an email from my Tai Chi teacher, Sifu Lorens, today that said, "marc, where have you been? get back to class soon!" Oh, the guilt. I've been a terrible slacker, and haven't been to class in almost three weeks now. Tomorrow, for sure.
Holy crap, it's hot.
We're getting our air conditioning all redone - new furnace, intakes, ducts, blowers, insulation, whatever the hell they've got up there. All of it! It's pretty expensive, but we've been getting electric bills over two hundred dollars lately, and this is a pretty mild summer, from all accounts. Only been over a hundred degrees a couple of times - last year, they say there were forty-odd days like that. So, Austin is pretty cool with the energy stuff, and we're getting a big old rebate from the city for the work, and it should pay itself off in four or five years, anyway.
But that's not what I'm here to talk about tonight. What I am here to talk about is this: it's really fucking hot. They started work this morning, and found a good stopping point around three or four, which means that we spend the evening without air conditioning. It was around 95 this afternoon, and the weather pixies tell me that it's a bit over 80-something right now. So, hot. We've got one small window unit in the back, so we closed off the bedroom/office to create a temporary cool zone, but the rest of the house is pretty hellish. So, we're huddled back here, with the rest of the house closed off, trying to not melt, and hoping that the computers don't catch on fire. Tomorrow, though, we'll have a badass new energy-efficient thingy, and all will be well again.
Aside from staying out of the way of the workers, it's been a pretty lazy day. I had lunch with my pal Justin out eastways; he just got back from his first trip to New York City, and wanted to share some stories. We had lunch at an awesome little barbecue place, Mueller's - super tasty brisket, pinto beans and sweet tea. I brought him a laptop case from my giant evil pile, and he lent me some trade paperbacks of The Invisibles, which, by the way, gets a whole hell of a lot better in the second series. We also headed out to the flash mob in the evening - it was pretty small, only a dozen or so people, but spirits ran high as we grouped up and did stuff on the Congress bridge. Fun.
I also ate a whole watermelon. Now it's time to lay flat.
This is retarded, and makes me furious: EFF co-founder John Gilmore was prevented from flying because he was wearing a button deemed to be in "poor taste" and refused to take it off.
Here is my feeble attempt to capitalize on this sorry situation: Suspected Terrorist Schwag
I found some Polish guys using my last name for a group about something. I have no idea what it's all about, but it looks fascinating to me, probably because it feels like they're talking about me all the time. And I'm fascinating. If anyone knows what what this is, I'm real curious to find out.
I've been doing a bunch of research - that is, playing and reading about space exploring and trading games. Galtrader, Elite, Earth & Beyond, Escape Velocity, and a bunch of other games that don't start with the letter "E". Now, time for specs, and then the coding. Watch this space. Unless the movie watching and the HTML hating gets to me first, that is.
We got this stuff from my aunt, Hasta-Grow, or Insta-Grow, or something, for to make the plants all grow like crazy. The packaging and labeling reminds me a lot of the Dr. Bronner's soap labels. Only, you know, for plants.
Dave and Mel came back from their Hootenanny thing in LA, and told us all their adventure stories. I bet Mel has a bunch of stuff about it over on her site, so, less work for me.
Guys like this are why Texas rules.
I'm not happy to be here, and I'm not happy to see y'all are here. You people I do feel sorry for, to a degree. We should have Tom DeLay and Rick Perry and George W. Bush sitting up at that table! They sent you out here to take their heat; they sent you out here to sell a program that they're afraid to come and sell. Do you hear me, Mr. Chairman and Ms. Shapiro? Do you hear me, Mr. Everett? Honorable members of this senate, and this committee, I'm in opposition to this proposal that's being perpetrated upon me. As one of your constituents, one of your consituents, I oppose this proposal. I stand in opposition to a corrupt politician from Washington. Who, in fear of his own political security, has perpetrated this fraud upon us. I stand in opposition to corrupt politicians of any persuasion, who regard their constituents with contempt, with remarks like, "rude and obnoxious people". I oppose you - your betrayal of your constituents and colleagues are beneath contempt, and your days in office are numbered. Are you listening, Mr. Bush? Are you listening, Mr. DeLay? Mr. Perry, do you hear me? Any corrupt politician, or corrupt official, your days are numbered! You cannot buy my statehouse, nor my white house. My government is not for sale. Yet, you boast about the millions of dollars you raised with two thousand dollar hot dogs. I've heard the words of my black brothers and sisters, my brown brothers and sisters - I join with them in the struggle against this corrupt, power-mad administration, and what it represents to my state, and my nation. I'm madder than hell! (standing ovation) You return to Austin, take this message to that corrupt administration in my statehouse, you tell them for me: I'm Bill Walker, constituent, I am your worst nightmare! Your days of illegitimate occupation in my capitol is no longer tolerable with me, and I will expose you, whatever party you are affiliated with. Your days of corrupt betrayal are numbered! You cannot hide from me, I am a voter. Your cowardly effort to divide my state and my nation by this contemptible redistricting plot must be defeated, and I do not thank you for your attention.
Man, there are some unhappy-looking politicians sitting at that there table.
One of the things I hate most about not smoking any more is the lack of readily available fire sources.
Guess what I've been doing? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
And it was everything I thought it would be.
I've been trying to get into this new (to me) game, Earth and Beyond, and I'm having a bit of a time with it. Here's a friendly little tip for all you game programmers out there, from one of your own: one thing I never want to see, as a player, is a dialog box that says something like "No DOCTYPE specification" when I'm trying to register and send you money for your game. I have a pretty good idea what that means, and what kind of trouble you're having with your registration server or whatever, but as a customer, I could really give a crap. I want to hit a few buttons, and then jump in and start blowing shit up.
Fortunately, patience, persistance, and a few kind words to the technical support lineworkers paid off, and I got in. It's pretty fun, but I think I'm going to have to set a kitchen timer on my desk and only play for an hour or so here and there. The game is basically a massively multiplayer version of GalTrader, with 3D graphics and a storyline, but I know more than one person who seriously damaged their ride through college with just the text-terminal version of that game. Hell, I remember when a fistfight erupted outside the computer lab after someone rolled up on a guy's ship and blew them away. I'm sure there's a lesson in there somewhere, but you really can't expect me to do all the work here. Help a guy out once in a while, huh?
Hrm, I'm having some trouble with one of the sites that I'm working on; I just can't get things working right using just CSS and fully-valid XHTML, and I can't get over feeling bad about it. The worst part is, I don't know if it's the design that's out of hand, or if I just suck so bad at HTML that I can't make the damn thing go.
On a lighter note, I'm really enjoying having a backyard, especially one with pretty serious cover all the way around. Standing outside in a thunderstorm with nothing between me and the lightning but the warm raindrops is a pretty fun thing to do. All I need now is a campfire to shoot at, and the picture will be complete.
Man, I woke up with the worst migrane ever today. It felt like I had a bunch of railroad spikes stuck in my face, and if I moved at all, I thought I was gonna puke. (Coincidentally, Phil said that he had a dream last night where he was trying to pound railroad spikes into solid rock, using only his hands. If this happens again, I'm calling the cops.) It pretty much flet like the worst hangover ever, only without the fun of drinking. Lesson: drink more. Anyway, a couple of fistfuls of pills and some coffee later, and we're back to normal operational parameters.
Except that I just now realized it was Sunday, not Monday, so my plans to do stuff are all wrong. I have no idea what happened to yesterday. Poked around the yard, exercised a little, played a little GTA3, made some buffalo stir fry, watched a really terrible movie... nothing productive or stressful. Mrrg. More coffee.
Did I mention that I got my banjo back from my uncle Bernard, and it totally rules now? He put in a new bridge and tightened stuff up and did whatever magic he does, so the strings are spaced properly and everything, so I can actually get a chord out now and then without my fat fingers getting in the way.
Wait. I was gonna get some coffee.
So, instead of trying to pack in with everyone else downtown to see the fireworks over town lake - which, as far as I can tell, isn't a lake at all, it's just a spot where the river get ever so slightly wider - we drove up to Mount Bonnell, to see what we could see. About a hundred or two other people had the same idea, but we still got a pretty sweet spot, and got a good look at the various incindiary displays around town.
Maybe I don't get out enough, but I'm developing an even lower tolerance for people on the outside than I remember ever having. Ignorant, rude, swinish baboons, the lot of 'em. Rant, rant, rant, delete.
We made it over to Katz's Deli over on 6th street for some post-splodey foods. Good burgers, and they're always open - they were the only place open when we went foraging on christmas eve, for real. Of course, a whole horde of scrooges and sinners had the same idea as we did that night, so we never made it in, but still, good to know.
Remember that the 4th is not just a celebration of America as a kick-ass military-industrial nation-state - it is also to honor the patriots who fought and died to free themselves and their countrymen from oppressive rulers. They were not yet Americans - they were British subjects fighting against their own government. Just something to keep in mind over the next few years...
Plus, blowing shit up is always good. Especially when you're drunk.
Holy crap, kung fu is about a hundred times harder than tai chi. It was our first day, so they just showed us the basics - a couple of stances, a few basic punches and kicks, and one or two simple self-defense things - and then, we just practiced those. Turns out, I'm a lot less flexible than I remember being, and my legs get pretty darn tired after kicking that stupid pad about a hundred times. Luckily, the little beginner group that we're in consisted of me, Bernie, two teenage girls, and a little round guy, so I think we're still in pretty good shape, relatively.
It's weird - the stuff we've learned so far is exactly 100% opposite from what I'm used to, from aikido and the like. Instead of "someone grabs you, you slide around, do this wrist flippy thing, and they're on the floor crying for their mommy" it's more like "someone grabs you, you knock their shit down, chop them in the neck, and knee them in the junk". Not to say that I'm not completely down with the ass-kicking, but I guess I've always seen kung fu more as exercise than anything else - for a martial art, I'd prefer to learn something that'll still do me some good when I'm 90, or against some psychopath twice my size. The new stuff seems to be more about blocking and hitting, instead of getting the hell out of the way. That being said, some of the stuff the more advanced students are doing some badass stuff, and I'm eager to move it on along and get to the head-booting.
Speaking of which, I got me some new boots. Bernie bought me some Fluevogs to replace my falling-apart Timberlands. They're kind of shiny and stuff, but they're apparently Satan-resistant, which seems like a plus. Also, they've got little angels on the bottom, so I can take pride in the fact that I'm stomping around on little winged servants of the lord all day.
In other news, There is still really boring. I jumped in for a minute to see if any of the new stuff I heard they added made it any more interesting, and it hasn't. Still, a neat idea if you're, say, a fifteen year old girl with a really good computer and nothing better to do all day. I also got a ping from the Tale In The Desert guys - they're doing some special thing for the fourth of july tomorrow where they're introducing this new test in which players have to find different ingredients and make their own fireworks and stuff. Plus, they're opening it all up for the day to anyone who's ever had an account, and have some "special goodies" for anyone who's had a paid account. (Which I did, for a month or so, until I got tired of running around for hours, doing nothing.) It's a shame that their game is so unengaging for the casual player - I really like the guys who are working on it, and I think they've got some really good ideas. Me, I think I'm going to go back and play some GTA3 again.
Oh, yeah, I didn't want to say anything until I was finished, but I'm just about done with a script for a comic that Scott and Emerson will be working on. It's based in the Matrix universe, and it's a short story about a program that's about to be replaced, with the agents and the running and the shooting. It's been a while since I've written any fiction, and this was fun, but harder than I thought it was going to be. Hopefully, it'll all turn out well, and there'll be more work like this in the future. Keep watching the skies.
Also, Star Blazers is the best cartoon ever. Holy crap, they even have phone cards. I want.
Went to get a haircut at Pete's Flat Top Shop, forgot that it was closed on Tuesdays. Went to return the tile samples to the Tile Guy, and we'll be putting in an order when we figure out what design we want. Installed a new toilet seat, one that doesn't smell so bad. Went to Fry's, picked up a motion sensor, some batteries, and a KVM switch that doesn't work. Bah. Watched some Star Blazers and ate some tasty chicken and potatos. Found more people doing stuff I'd love to be doing, if I wasn't so lazy.
Crap. I was totally convinced that today was June 1st, until I started to try to line up days a couple of weeks from now, and sensed something was wrong. It's July! Crap! Where did that month go? The last date I have crossed off my calendar is Monday, 5/30, and that was filled in with stuff I did yesterday. I hate these damn rips in my own personal space-time continuum. Now I have to do my calendar all over again...
"If I didn't have disappointment, then I wouldn't have any appointments..."
There was a time, not too terribly long ago, that I viewed my life mainly as a series of disappointments. Nothing too tragic, of course - I mean, I'm a white male, I came from a pretty solidly middle class background, I haven't had any major illnesses, and never really spent any time in jail, except for that one afternoon. Until about five years ago, though, my worldview was primarily shaped by the various ways that I'd failed, or been failed by those around me.
I was never really a popular guy in school. I was a nerd, obviously - not the absolute bottom of the ladder, but, well, let's just say that I was an eager participant in some of the first computer classes offered in my area, and I founded the Dungeons and Dragons club in my junior high school. So, there wasn't really much of a social life going on for me until late high school. The first time I kissed a girl was in the back seat of a bus on the way back from a math league meet; I was 17. I had a handful of pretty close friends, but not close enough that I really stayed in touch with them much after I skipped town. I still keep in email contact with some people from college (/me waves to Brian), but except for a core group of freaks, not so much.
My folks split up when I was a kid, maybe nine years old. (I know, like everyone else.) I never really thought that this affected me much, but I guess I never really had anything to compare it to. I mean, I always had a mom and a dad right there for me, but I suppose that sort of thing puts a little wedge in a kid's brain, that doesn't really go away. I don't really see or hear from my sister much any more - she hit the road just about as soon as she could, and we catch up with each other maybe once or twice a year. Which is too bad, because I think she turned out pretty good, despite all the crap she's had to put up with. Then there are the step-parents. I like my stepmom, Jane, now, although we never really got along too well when I was younger. Overall, I think dad did alright for himself. My mom went through a series of guys, until she wound up with the guy who would become my stepdad, who was a piece of fucking work. I could tell a bunch of stories (and eventually will), but I won't right now, because it'll just be trouble. I'm already getting really pissed just thinking about it. *cooling down* So bad. Anyway, let's talk about something a little less traumatic, like work.
I never thought that my career was anything great, even before the whole "work" thing. Despite being moderately intelligent, I never really felt like I clicked in school - I knew exactly how much I could do to get by, and a lot of the things that I was interested in learning, I could find out on my own. I never even went to my college graduation - I had a couple of outstanding parking tickets, and they were kind of dicks about that. I'll probably still have to cough up that sixty bucks if I ever want to get a transcript to apply for gratuate school or something. After college, I got the usual string of jobs here and there - I've always been into computers, and had my CS degree, so that was the "duh" path to take. Again, most of the stuff that I learned, I learned on my own. Working shitty technical support jobs, I taught myself system administration and more programming. This whole web thing sort of took off, and so did I, to start an ISP in southern California, which tanked hard. I headed back up to the SF Bay area with my new webernet skillz, and worked for a series of companies that made me some money, but also made me hate a lot of the business that I was in, and a fair amount of the people in it, too. Then the web shops, and the IPOs, and the sucking and the bitter. I've been working for myself for a couple years now, and although I'm not making solid money like I was before, I sleep a lot better. Not to say that having a straight job doesn't have its advantages - I met a number of great people, and got to do some fun things - but overall, I'd have been just as happy doing my own stuff, on my own time. I feel like a lot of my energy was spent, squandered, misdirected, and just plain wasted on a bunch of bullshit that didn't make a lick of difference in the world, except make a couple of rich guys a little bit richer. And, you know, screw that. Hmm, what else?
Oh yeah, the girls. When I was coming out of New York, I actually sat down and made a list, a la Jack Nicholson's "Ballbusters on Parade" in Carnal Knowledge. I lost that list a good while ago, and I'm pretty glad I did. Every now and then, when I'm trying to get to sleep, one of them will pop into my head. This one went really bad, this one was too good to be true. This one went out in a blaze of screaming glory, that one stayed friends until she just faded away. This one laughed at me behind my back. This one fell in love with someone else, that one was hooking up with my friends, the other one just plain cheated. This one never even knew my name. This one I missed out on because I was staying faithful to the one I already thought I had, that one was being unfaithful to the one she already had. This one went crazy on me, like, walls melting and hearing voices crazy, and that one, she was just a bitch. This one lead me on for years, that one came at me too fast. This one just up and disappeared one day. This one I took off on because she got too close, that one never got close enough for me to find out.
(This one totally rules, and nobody's going anywhere.)
Now, though, things are pretty good. I'm not working, but I'm not minding not working. Sometimes I have some trouble motivating, but for the most part, I do what I like. This whole house thing is working out pretty well, and I'm liking the new town. I'm hooking up with a branch of my family that I never really knew, and they seem pretty cool. I've got me a good woman, some good friends, and a porch to drink beers with 'em on.
Every now and then, the bad stuff from the past makes its way to the surface, and maybe I dwell on it a bit too much sometimes. These days, though, that sort of thing never lasts too long. What's done is done, and there's plenty more good times ahead.
So, lunch was pretty good. Larry and Dineen took us out to Matt's Famous El Rancho, right down here. We've been meaning to check it out for a while, and it turns out that it's pretty darn tasty. I had myself a couple shredded beef brisket tacos, which works out to about fourteen pounds of meat, give or take. Cousin Nick also showed up, and Dineen brought us some DVDs of an interview she did with my dad around christmas time, and had a bunch of old childhood movies and tapes converted for Nick. Nick's sister, cousin Laura, is on her way off to Denmark for a month and a half or so, on some student program or something, and they're all freaking out a little bit. Sounds like a good time, though.
A while after we got home Nick's folks dropped by to see the new house. Aunt Kathy and Unlcle Bernard took a look around, and lo, it was good. We'd just put in a bunch of plants from her nursery, too, so the front of the house is looking pretty decent. The back yard, not so much, but I'm in complete agreement with Uncle B - we should just let all the bamboo grow as much as it can, all over the yard, and just hack little paths through it. The girls disagree. Ah, well. Bernard also checked out my banjo - he builds and repairs pianos and other instruments - and said he would take it into the shop and give it a good once over. Which rules. So, we'll be heading up there to visit them directly, maybe catch the "market days" thing that goes on every couple of weekends or so.
In other news, I've stopped keeping track of everything in my daily log. I know that didn't last very long - a week or two, maybe - but I think I got enough data to know what I'm doing right now. Frankly, it's not very interesting, and I'm not sure how much it helps. I already know that I waste a lot of time doing mostly useless stuff - the trick is to figure out how to properly motivate myself into doing the stuff I should be doing. I'll let y'all know how that works out.
I also started reading some of the old Robert Anton Wilson books I have lying around again. It's so weird. My life is so much different than it was when I first started picking those up, what, ten years ago? It's interesting to see what I've integrated into my day-to-day way of thinking, and what I regard as absurd bullshit now. Plus, my life is a whole lot more stable now than it was then, in almost every way, and I don't feel that pressure from inside busting out like I did back then. Well, a bit, but the shell is a lot thicker now, and the likelihood of any of it breaking out is pretty slim. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing, I don't know. Still.