I really don't know what I do with my time. A lot of nothing, it's starting to look like.
So, the ghost tour was fun. We had us some cowboy goth kid named Maverick, friend of Lifto, as a guide, and he took us around, told us all about the history of the town, and showed us all the hotels and theaters and houses over by the gravel pits and stuff that are supposed to be haunted. The governor's mansion and the capitol building, too. All spooooky and stuff. We got a good deal of walking in, and he was a great little story teller, and we had us a good old time. The thermoses full of coffee and whiskey and baileys and kahlua and amaretto and such didn't hurt none, either.
Me, I'm not so big on the ghost thing. I suppose I used to be into all that occult and paranormal stuff when I was younger, but I'm pretty much resigned to the Region of Thud these days, and I reckon what you see is what you get. Fun stories, though, especially the scary serial killer type stuff. I mean, there's no debating about the reality of that stuff, and there's not a lot of getting around it. Here in Austin, we had the first string of murders that you could really say were the work of a "serial killer".
This was around 1884, 1885, a good three years before Jack showed up in London to re-educate some of the girls on the street. Over the course of a bit over a year, the Servant Girl Annihilator (as the papers called him) did his business with a dozen or so young ladies here in River City. This business of his was pretty nasty. He caught the first one in bed with her husband - he usually struck while his victims were sleeping. The husband was a big guy, who could probably put up a good fight, so he took him right out of the picture by splitting his face open with an axe. Then he knocked the girl upside the head with the blunt end of the instrument, and dragged her outside, back behind the outhouse. Sometimes people will draw parallels between the Annihilator and Jack the Ripper, because they both apparently had some kind of medical knowledge. Our killer here would incapacitate the unconscious woman further by driving a metal rod into her temple, through the forebrain, and back out the other side. Even if the pain snapped her awake, his messy little proto-lobotomy would keep her warm, but unable to struggle too much, while he raped her, and then mutilated her by carving up her arms and torso. When he was done, the Annihilator would finish the job by slitting the girl's throat ear to ear, leaving a pretty ugly sight to be found by whoever happened by the next morning.
They never caught him.
The other fun story was about Charles Whitman sniping from the UT clock tower in 1966. Maverick told us that his father was on campus when the shooting began. In true Texas fashion, he got the hell out of the way of danger, went home, got his deer rifle, and headed back to the tower to return fire. I don't know if that's really true or not, but if it's not, it should be.
So, I called Jet about my lathe part. They told me that I had to talk to Amazon to get things done, because that's who I ordered it through. I called up Amazon, and the guy I talked to didn't seem to be too hip to the whole power tools thing, and told me that I had to send back the whole thing, and they'd send me a replacement. This lathe weight upwards of around 75 pounds, and last time, it took around two weeks to ship. That's no good, and I let them know that. I got a call back from a manager a few hours later, who was more sympathetic to my needs as a consumer, so now they should be shipping off the replacement parts to me toot sweet. Let's see if they get this right.
We, that is Bernie and I, went and has us some lunch at Gene's with some of the crew, that is Dave, Mel, Strawberry, and Hissy Fit. They've got some tasty chicken special going on there, and good sweet tea. We got to hear all about the pre-championship rollergirl hijinx, with the tp'ing of houses and the pooping on porches and so on. Those crazy girls.
Also, I fixed a toilet today. Replaced the whole valvey floaty thinger and did the water stuff and put in this anti-leak jiggerbob and everything. I'm so handy.
We're going on the Austin Ghost Tour tonight with Dave and Mel. Very scary, kids!
Oh, yeah, and I said I'd give a presentation on the Flash MX drawing API at the next meeting of our local Flash nerd group, so I guess I've got to get that together now. Neato.
My lathe showed up on friday! Unfortunately, the tailstock handle was broken off from the screw that screws the tailstock bit into the wood, so I can't really turn anything yet. Bah! And it's too late to call now, so I'll have to wait until Monday to get my customer service on. But I got a lathe! And it's freaking heavy. So, I need to unbolt and re-drill holes for the bandsaw so I can fit the new machine in, but things are looking pretty good as of right now.
We went and saw Bubba Ho-Tep with Dave and Mel at the Drafthouse up north. There was an opening band, some weird sort of Elvis impersonator band that didn't look like Elvis, didn't really sound all that much like Elvis, and only played songs that nobody's ever heard before. The movie was pretty good - not the non-stop Bruce action that one might expect, but still funny, and kind of sad. Melancholy, even. But, Elvis-fu, zombie-fu, and some good flying giant bugs. Check it out. The writer and producer were also there, talking, answering questions, and selling their schwag. It turns out that Mel already knew the writer, and liked some of his other books, which sound interesting; I'll have to take a look at them sometime.
We ate fried good stuff at the Drafthouse, too. They served grilled peanut butter and banana sandwiches with bacon. Dave had one. It was reported to be "good". I waited till afterwards to get ugly, when we stopped at Mrs. Johnson's donuts. We asked for half a dozen glazed, and would up with six glazed, six chocolate, and three fresh warm ones on top. Mel and I discovered the beauty of a glazed donut smooshed on top of a chocolate donut.
I'd been playing me some SSX3, which arrived a few days ago, and, really, I was kind of disappointed with it. Don't get me wrong, it's a fine game, but it's just not grabbing me like Tricky did. There are a few neat new things in it - a seamless world, new freeride challenges, grind tricks - but it's lacking a lot of personality that I'd become accustomed to. The characters are all essentially the same, and the voice acting is really weak, so there's not much incentive to play every single one through. They took out some nice touches, like the different skill levels on the characters, and the different kinds of boards, and so on, and the new music sucks, and the new announcer is way way too relaxed. But still, kind of fun. Which is why I played it straight through from Friday night to 3pm Saturday afternoon. And then slept. A lot.
So, I woke up today, puttered and cleaned around the house some, went to Home Depot to get some wood and stuff, and built some shelves and rails for the closet off of the living room, which I guess is the new linen closet. After a minor mis-measuring tragedy, the project pulled through just fine, and we now have one hell of an organized closet.
Bandsaw bandsaw bandsaw bandsaw bandsaw bandsaw bandsaw bandsaw bandsaw bandsaw bandsaw bandsaw Drill Press Drill Press!
Bandsaw bandsaw bandsaw bandsaw bandsaw bandsaw bandsaw bandsaw bandsaw bandsaw bandsaw bandsaw Drill Press Drill Press!
Lathe! It's a Laaathe! Laaaaaaathe!
Bandsaw bandsaw bandsaw bandsaw bandsaw bandsaw bandsaw bandsaw bandsaw bandsaw bandsaw bandsaw Drill Press Drill Press!
And so on.
Turns out, actually going stuff all day is kind of tiring. So, I got my band saw, I got my drill press, but I got nowhere to put 'em. So, I got tools - let's build stuff! I made a quick run to Home Depot to pick up lumber and a few other supplies, and measured and cut and nailed and drilled, and before you know it, I have a work bench - pretty sturdy, both Bernie and I can sit on it - built into the side of the shed, and the two machines are securely bolted down. Plugged 'em in, took 'em for a test run. The band saw bands, and the drill press presses. Goes through the wood like butter, all nice and stuff. So, time to make toys, I guess.
Bernie made a tasty beef stew for dinner. There was pecan pie for dessert. I made stuff. Did exactly jack on the computer. Good day.
Today's lunch: Turkey plate at Meuller's BBQ with Bernie, Cam, Dave, and Mel. Tasty stuff. I love their beans. And their sweet tea. And the pecans that dive bomb you.
So, I made the leap, and bought a whole ton of woodworking tools. Picked up a band saw, and a drill press, and ordered a mini-lathe, which should show up in a week or two. All sorts of other goodies, too - and there's still more I need. I'm turning the shed out back into a little wood shop (well, except for the storage part up top) and I still need to get some sort of dust management solution set up, and I'm pretty weak in the sanding area. But hey, it was either this, or get a new laptop, so I think I'm still coming in way under budget. I'm still sort of in the "build tools to build stuff with" stage, which feels a lot like writing perl scripts to pre-process data files before working on the actual application. Which is pretty fun.
Bernie's not slacking, either - she's got it in her to re-paint the living room windows before hanging the new curtains. Those windows are in pretty bad shape - if we can, I reckon we'll be replacing them come springtime.
Oh yeah, I'm trying out the new iTunes for Windows. It's pretty nice.
I was driving up north to check out a lathe at this woodworking shop that uncle Bernard recommended to me, and I heard this great band doing a little live set on one of the local radio stations. Turns out, it's the Mosquitos, and they're playing tonight at Emo's. So, hey, why don't we check them out... holy crap, they're opening for Shonen Knife! I totally forgot about that!
Well, we went, and it rocked. The Mosquitos sound sort of like a more mellow Pizzicato Five, only in Portugese, instead of Japanese. The music is great, and their singer is mesmerizing. Then Shonen Knife came out to play their first show in Austin ever, and completely rocked the house down. I'm not sure who's who, to tell the truth - they've got a (really cute maniac alien) new drummer, and their old drummer is their new bass player, and I'm assuming that the other chick playing guitar and singing is the same as what I'm used to hearing, but then again, they may all just be robots. It was tons of fun, even with the creepy white guys up front desperately grasping for the little japanese chicks on stage. And the giant sweating freak trying to start a mosh pit of one. But I had a funnel cake, and that was tasty. Also, we ran into our pal Dan, and Beth, one of the derby girls.
Cousin Nick went to the show with us, which was cool. He came over early, and had some of Bernie's tasty peanut noodle pork thingie, and brought some pie, which we didn't get to eat yet, but which I will be having for breakfast tomorrow. Er, today. After I wake up.
Yesterday, I watched five movies. There was only a little bit of goodness in them, but I am now all caught up with Netflix and the stack of going-out-of-business-sale discount DVDs I bought a while back. So, I guess that means I either need to get back to playing some video games, or actually do some of that work I keep talking about.
You know, I'm not really down with the whole oppresive Communist regime thing, but I've gotta say: go, China! Maybe this will kick-start some more of the space-man action on our side, unless America has truly become too stupid and lazy to do anything unless there's a Starbucks or an SUV involved.
A friend of mine just wrote me to ask about a drink I introduced him to a while ago, Liquid Bodacity. He couldn't find a match for it on google, which is probably because my pals Geoff and Casey (I think) made it up sometime in college, so I figured that it was about time to expose the formula to the world. Anyway, the recipe for Liquid Bodacity is as follows:
- half-shot of Rumplemintz
- half-shot of Jack Daniels
- five dashes of tobasco sauce
Drink it all in one gulp, and then dance around like James Brown, while making the appropriate noises. It's better for everyone concerned that way.
Now, if you don't mind, I have to go make some chamomile tea.
A lot of times, in the shower, I forget whether I've already washed my face or not. Sometimes I'll end up washing it twice, or, actually, I can't really be sure about that. I'll be standing there, thinking about whatever while I let my body go through the automatic motions of washin' up, and then I'll have a little break, and stop, and think, "damn, where was I?" I'm not sure if I'm going prematurely senile, or it's one of those mad scientist things, or if I just have some neural off-by-one error that causes me to want to do the last step of my scrubbing loop twice.
Went to the Drafthouse last night to see Ichi The Killer last night with cousin Nick and a friend of his. I've seen it in the theater before, and I've got a, uh, preview copy at home, but it's just such a fun and disturbing spectacle that I had to see it again. I love the way the director makes it look so easy, and mixes the horror and comedy so finely. Also, I was pretty curious to see how an Austin audience (which was the smallest I've see at the Alamo, maybe twenty) would react to the film, especially when they're serving food there. The servers made themselves pretty scarce during the actual showing, which is understandable - although, you'd think that the staff at a theater that has a cannibal film festival (complete with five course meals and a trailer featuring a moviegoer eating his own hand) would be made of sterner stuff.
We got out of the movie just before midnight. The block on Colorado between Fifth and Sixth Streets is a sight to behold. There's all sorts of trendy little places with valet parking, full of people I do my damndest to avoid if at all possible. Obnoxious drunk square-heads, teetering bleach blondes cheeping into their cell phones, for the most part, flocking between Polly Esthers and the chic new Latin dance place. It's like the worst parts of the '80s exploded all over downtown. I blame the republicans; fortunately, if things go as they should, we should get a bitchin' new crop of punk rock out of all this.
Bernie and Dave and Mel had prior commitments, so they couldn't go to Ichi, but they saw something almost as horrifying - Xanadu. Fortunately, the Mr. Sinus guys were there, along with a bunch of roller girls, and a special guest star, Michael Beck, from The Warriors! I'm sure it wasn't as fun as it sounds, though, so I feel warm and confident in my decision to go with the nipple slicing and hot oil torture.
I've been falling behind on my media consumption lately. I finally got through a couple of Netflix movies (Windtalkers sucked so much), and took a night to zip through Chuck P's new book, Diary. I'd been putting it off for a bit, because I heard it wasn't all that great, but I think it's a pretty strong bit of work. Some people have a problem with his writing - to me, he just feels like a pissed-off Tom Robbins who hasn't had his coffee yet. Or maybe too much coffee. Or both.
We pulled out the old medicine cabinet from the side wall in the bathroom. I had some resistance to getting rid of it, but I wasn't sure why, and it was pretty crappy, and needed to go. After it was gone, I realized that I always turned to take a brief peek at myself after going to the bathroom - today, I turned and there was just a big patch of unfinished wall where I was used to seeing my face for a second. It's still pretty disconcerting. I'm sure it'll get better once it's painted.
My H.P. Lovecraft tarot deck showed up today. The cards are pretty crappy quality, but the artwork is very nice and evil.
There's a sandwich place down our way called Delaware Subs. Not only do they have completely awesome subs there, but the guys who work there are pretty cool, too. Whenever we go in, there's some good music playing, and when you ask them what it is, they get all excited and tell you that it's some local band, and their buddy is producing them, and they're playing here and here on Saturday and Sunday, and there's a party here on Wednesday, and you should come. Which is a damn sight better than the grunt and "uhdunno" you get at most places. So, they rule.
Just for the record, it's going to be a while before anyone from California gets to talk shit about Texas again.
Plus, I always thought that if you tell someone that they have a booger hanging, the correct response was, "thanks". Guess not.
(Note: This rant is not specifically aimed at any of my current or recent clients, just the shitty state of things in general. And a big Fuck You to you, Arnold.)
So, I think I've identified a serious problem with the way things are currently working around here. A lot of the people who control the money are scheming, soulless bastards, and I can't, in good conscience, have any of that. One of my worst qualities - from a certain viewpoint - is that I have certain strong opinions about the way things work, and I'm really bad at being diplomatic about expressing those opinions. Honesty, apparently, is not the best policy, at least, if you're trying to get paid. Oh, right, and don't dare have a sense of humor about yourself, or anything you do. Because those guys with the fat wallets, they don't want to hear a single critical word about themselves, and if you even hint at the bald facts of what they're doing, even if you pass it off as a joke, they will turn on you and rip you apart in the blink of an eye. So, it looks like the only way to make a decent living is to get really good at lying to people, until you've done it so much that you convince yourself that you're not really working for unscrupulous scumbags, and you've scraped yourself hollow of all self-respect and personality, and become a perfect little ass-kissing corporate toadie. And hey, if you suck up well enough, maybe you'll make it through one more round of layoffs with only a small pay cut.
Okay, so that's kind of harsh. I'm sure that people working in and for these kinds of companies are just regular, and possibly good, people, just trying to make a buck and keep their shit together in this crappy economy. But that sort of thing just doesn't work out so good for me. If I don't have a lot of respect for the things you do to keep yourself in business, I find that I have a hard time concealing my contempt, one way or the other. This tends to piss off or freak out people who can't handle the truth - or, at least, my version of it. Which makes it difficult for me to work with them, and vice versa. (Of course, this also has the bonus side effect that if I'm being friendly and not taking the piss out of you, you know that chances are good that I don't think you're a jerk. Funny how that whole honesty thing works out, huh?)
I know that there are good people working out there, and running businesses. (I know, because I'm working with one of them right now.) But, and I know this will come as a great shock to everyone, good people don't always pay so well. It has been my experience that it's generally the scumbags and cutthroats that make, and hand out, the big bucks. Which sucks, because I tend not to get along with those guys for very long. Once in a while I'll get a gig that I know I'll hate, but I need the money, and I'll take it anyway, feel dirty, say the wrong thing to the wrong person, and get shit-listed. Which sucks all around, especially if there are actually good people in there who get caught in the middle of the atmosphere of fear and panic.
So, hey. How about I not do that any more? Can I find enough work that I'm not ashamed of doing, that will bring in enough to cover the mortgage and DSL? I know the jobs are out there - some of the gigs that are potentially coming up seem to be decent folks, doing interesting and not-evil work. But, again, not so much with the steady flow of non-evil dollars. It's been a rough year for me, jobwise. I've had plenty of time to slouch around and indulge in my own slothful and occasionally personally interesting pursuits, which has been great, but the money I've saved up over the Good Years is just about out. Fortunately, Bernie has a steady contract that pays in California dollars, so we're not totally screwed yet. That might end come January, though, and the combination of dry leads and my pesky ethics are making things look pretty unpromising on my side of things. If I tighten the belt a little bit, I could probably stick out another six or seven months with what I've got here - one of the advantages of moving to a reasonably-priced part of the country - but after that, it's back to knocking over liquor stores.
So, what to do? Given the above, I see two clear options. One, start busting ass and digging around for more clean jobs. I'm done with dirty work - if I get a bad feeling about a job, I'm not taking it. If I know that it's likely that I'll let some "unprofessional" behavior slip through because I don't respect the person I'm working for, I'm probably better off not working with them in the first place. This strategy is going to make me feel a bit better about myself and what I'm doing, but it's not likely to straighten the money thing out so much, and I'm pretty much stuck doing that forever. If my eyesight or wrists or brain goes, I'm screwed, with no health insurance or retirement plan.
The other option carries a lot more risk, but has the potential to suck a lot less. It also involves a lot more paperwork, a lot more ass-busting, a lot more investment up front, and a great opportunity to look like a jackass if it all goes terribly wrong. But hey, I take the opportunity look like a jackass every damn day, so I may as well go for it. My badass accountant recommended a badass lawyer to help me get stuff in order, and I've got a pile of documentation and a handful of demo code to start with. Now I just need some follow-through on the business side, a couple months of development time, and a lot of luck. Oh, yeah, and a couple of small jobs that don't take up a lot of my time, and pay enough to feed me while all this is happening, maybe? Anyway, I'll give it until January. If nothing happens by then, feel free to berate me soundly about being a slapass.
Off we go.
!) I skipped my last drawing class at UT Extension because the class sucked. I'm pretty sad about that.
@) Our special promotion time is over, so tomorrow, we go sign up for Tai Chi class for real. Been better about going, but not as good as we should. Twice a week now, at least, for sure.
#) Way to split that infinitive down there, boy.
$) I just threw together the basic functionality of an XML-driven powerpoint-type thinger in Flash today. About halfway through, I realized that a) I'm re-inventing and re-implementing CSS-type stuff, which b) is supposedly supported in Flash MX2004, and c) maybe Flash isn't the ideal medium for this thing, anyway. Sort of lost momentum, there. Well, it'll be a good portfolio piece, anyway.
%) I'm falling way behind on stuff that I want to do. I'm not sure where my time is going. Even reading, watching movies, and playing video games are not getting done. I need to do some time management analysis or something.
I'm amazed at how incredibly pissed I, a straight white male who could give a crap about marriage one way or the other, am about this. I just don't know what I'd do if I met one of these corpse fluffers in real life.
In other news, it's time to start eating more healthy again. I was all agitated about something or other last night, and made a midnight run to the Krispy Kreme drivethru for a half dozen glazed and some chocolate milk. That's the end of that. Only celery and protein smoothies from here on out. Really. Okay, and I'll throw some of that frozen ground-up critter on the grill, but no more donuts. Or carrot cake. Or pie.... mmmmm, pie.... Well, not today, anyway.
This is me being lazy.
Derby championships last night. Big fun, Hustlers won, but it was a vicous, vicous bout, all around. Dislocated shoulder, couple other injuries, lots of rollergirls flying into the crowd. Pretty glad the season is over, though. Whew. I've got a lot of cleaning up to do on the website, along with the rest of the stuff in my Big Stack of Fun Projects That I Never Get Done. Because, you know, lazy.
Working on paying gigs is a much better excuse for not doing my own stuff than, say, sititng on my ass, so maybe I should work on getting another job now.
I am so fucking sick of Microsoft's broken-ass shit.